|Newspaper Title||The Mercury (Hobart, Tas. : 1860 - 1954)|
|Trove Title||Ronald Walton: A Tale of Early Squatting Life in Moreton Bay|
RONALD WALTON. '
A TALE OF EARLY SQUATTING LIFE IN
Br tee Author of "AbventuresinQoeensIjAnd."
i [All Rights Reset ved ]
CHAPTER XXIT. j
Pedro's Yarït.-His Escape From Norfolk
Island - Terrible Sui-ferino. - liuaÙN Sacrifice.-Rescued ur tue "Southern Cross," whaler.
"Your father and mo, nud Snake," re-
plied Pedro, "used to nork in"(ho same
chain-gang at Norfolk Islind. After a bit they let us work witbout chains, and as wo lopt ourselvos quiet, and worked nell, Wo got to bo moro trusted. Your dad was a handy mau with carpenters' tools, and bo wns mother of our mates, so wo were employed building shedB and tho like. At last wo put our hoads together, and t.ilkod over plans to escape Ono night there was a gale of wind, and next morning wo saw a vessel anchored off the leo of tho island. It was tho Governor Phillip, bril,', with provisions for the prisonors. Wo cost many a longing look at hor, wishing it was possible to get away in hor ; but theio wns no hopo of that, for tho guards were
doubled nil round tho island. As wo
hod buen on Bhort allownnco of grub for a ¡ little while before, the Governor wns anxious to j get the stores off from her, mid ordered tho boats , to bo rim into the water for tho purpose of bring- | ing somo of tho storos ashoro. It was very j rough, but the crows wero picked mon, and reached the ship all right. The captain would not put his boats out loaded ; he said it wasn't Bufo ; that's why the Governor sont Iiíb boats. Well, about half way buck, ono of the bonis was struck by a squall, capsized, and went down with all hand3 beforo tho ether could got near her. Thon your fnthor mid the other chop _Snaho-wero put on to build another boat juBt at odd times, mostly nftor hours. This seemed n üood chanco to do something for our escape. Thoy had lots of boards nncl timber to pick from, and this is how thoy did. Every pieco of wood they cut and fitted for the' bout
they made another pieco like it, and stowed' away under tho shnvings, nncl on diirk nights we took them nway to a place «bout n milo and a half off. It wns half croek, half gully, und a thick scrub right down to the water's edgo. In that scrub wo put (ho boat together bit by bit, at nighls. Wo woro always «fruid she'd bo found, or that some of Iho boiuíiioIb would hear us knocking ; but all went woll till she was all but finished. Your father asked to bo allowed to mnko the sails for the boat ho madu in the place of tho ono (hat wns lost, and thoy jot him, I lout them a hnnd all through with
the Government boat and oura too, for I could carpentor a bit too. That's how wo caine to lie all togother. For Bomo time beforo our boat wns finishod, wo lind been saving all tho rations wo could, nnd planted it by our boat. Wo put by a good supply of flour ; and tho Bait-beef wo smoked in our hut chimney, and stowed in a small cnBk by tho boat too. All waa nearly ready; Iho things woro put inlo the boat, and wo cut a track through the scrub to tho wuter, ready to launch her next night. The beef was ^ut into a bag and stowed away in the boat, and the cask was headed and filled with fresh wnter. Tho last night carno, and wo took tho sails, and mast, und some ropo, that were meant for the Govern- ment boat, and got clear awny with thom to our boat. Thero was a sontinel near tho mouth of the crcok, but we knew his ways pretty well, for ive lind to watch him when wo woro making the boat. Ho uaod to paco between two trocs about n hundred ynrds npnrt, close to the mouth of the crook. When the wind was in his direction, we couldn't work much nt tho boat for fear ho'd hear ua. Sho wasn't so well finished as tho Government boat, of course, and lhere was no paint on her, but sho was nono tho worso for that for our purpose. Sho was Btrong, if sho wasn't beautiful. SVo pushed on our way through the scrub with the mast, sails, mid oni-3. When wo woro close to tho boat, four fellows started up and held bludgeons over our heads, and sworo they'd smash us if wo didn't give up everything mid koop quiet till (hoy got awny. This is how thoy got wind of it. About a month beforo we finished tho boat, ono of them was prowling about on a Sunday just fornmusomont, and poked his ugly nose into tho
scrub, Ho told Iiíb mates, and they guessed it wns ' us, bo thoy watched nnd found they wero right, ' and thon formed tho plan to overpower us nnd ' tnko tho boat ns soon us it wns finished. But if '
they wero shnrp, so woro wo. ' Tio thom up,' ' says ono, ' and leave them till wo get off.' Says I, ' Wo'll all shout, and bring the sentinel down on you if yon don't drop your chook, mid your sticks too.' Wo had thurn there, so thoy Baid,
' Well, we'll go togethor-tho boat's big enough.' ' ' Yes,' suys I, ' but the grub and wnter isn't.' Wo'll die of atarvntioii nnd thirst if we nil go ; bo wo may as well dio here, mid a precious sight bettor.' Wo had a lot of bnrnoy over it ; thoy swore thoy wouldn't give in, and wo didn't seo why wo should lot them havo all our work and [savings, and chanco of escape too, but as we couldn't help ourselvos, we agreed to go nil togother. We got her afloat, and dropped quietly down tho creek, under tho bank, till wo wero in sight of the sontinol. We waited till ho got about half-way to tho other end of his beat. The stars wero out bright. Wo pulled quiotly till he was near the far end of his track, thon all laid down in the boat nnd kept quiet till
he carno back and walked off again. Wo did ( that sovoral limes till wo passed his position, i and then gavo way as hard ns wo could. Ho heard us, and ran as hard as ho was ablo to-
wards tho mouth of the crook, and Bhouts, ' Who i goes there? ' ' Government boatgoing to a ship in
distress,' Bays the man stooring. ' Government , boat, give the pasB-word I' cays tho sentinel, ' Como and get it,' tho man at Iho helm shouts. Tho soldier fired, and the man fell forward, dead. It must have boen a chanco shot, for wo wero a good way off the land, and going at n good bal. Your father took the helm, mid in ton minutos more wo wero out to Ben, mid hoisted tho snil, standing awny south for New Zonland. Wo pitched tho doad man ovorbonrd, and weren't sorry ho wns shot, for wo wero thon equal in numbers, and didn't caro a pin for tho follows that had sorved us bo scurvily. Thoy weren't as big mon as oursolvos, and I could havo knifed tho whole three my sol f if it had come to a fight, but wo didn't want to hurt thom. I would have tried that game on nt first when thoy attacked us, but was afraid thoy would have mado a noise, and then our chance of escape would havo boon spoilt.
Wo bowled along at a spanking rate all night, and in the morning must havo been eighty miles from the island. Wo woro nil ploasod, mid ns good friends ns possible, thinking of freedom. Our allowance of grub was smnll/(but wo could put up with thnt. Wo lind a lot of potatoes wo stolo out of a garden tho night before we started, and wo ate thom raw, for wo hadn't a good supply of^wood for a fire ; howover, wo didn't mind thoso sort of things.
"The second day out,[wo sighted a ship a long way off, and your dad said it was a man-of-war. That put us in a precious fright, so wo uii Btopped the mast, and laid iii the bottom of tho boat. Beforo night, she was hull down again ; but we lost a sight of time, through not being »bio to pull or sail for bo many hours, for four of being soon. Wo soon saw tho necoBsity for keeping on a very short allownnco of grub j for we had double the number in tho boat that we lakl-in for. Sometimes we would catch a fish or
two by towing a lino astern, with a bit of ¡ rod cloth on the hook. I lassoed a porpoiso once, but ho got away with (ho ropo. It waa a very big ono, and the rope was too short to play him, bo ho went off nt a gallop, bucking Uko fury. The boat tore through tho water safo enough lill ho took to diving; thon he wont down with such jorks that pullod her bows under. At last he pulled hor smaak through the top of a wavo, and sho half filled, so wo had to cut hiB tothor and let him go. All hands had to Bet-to bailing her out, or wo should havo gono to Davy Jones' looker. Tho soa spoilt! our bit of flour that was loft, and we cursed thnt porpoiso, I toll you. Tho wind wns mostly fair, and wo got on well ; but we had no compass, and (teered by the sun. We hod bcon< out »even days when we noosed the porpoise,'and wore awfully mad at losing it, for we were terribly hungry. Starvation and thirst were telling on us, but we wero buoyed np with the hope of sighting land toon. There were only two days' short allowance of, grub, and a ¡pint wa « half of water in the boat when wailoii the
' ' - . - ! c
porpoise. After that wo had such a time of it that I don't wish to soo again !''
" No, by gum 1" said Snake, with n look of
" Wo thought wo hal boen going about six knots nil through, and that wo ought to have sighted land before that, for wo didn't think Now Zealand was a thousand milos from the island, but none of us know how far it was. Wo wore getting all sorts of fancies for want of wotor, as we had buen thrco days without, but tho weather was getting colder. Olio of the throo chaps got mad, and Baid nil sorts of things about Boeing land, and rivers of fresh water, and fine dinners, and that. I'o drank a lot of salt water, and diod «hen wo had boon rut ton days. It was squally that night, and your father got queer in the head, but it rained toward i morning, and we caught a lot of water in tho tail, spread our shirts and blankots out, too, and squeezed' thom into tho cask. Wo got it about half full. Didn't we drink tlmt night ! We were famishing for food, and I heliovo wo would gladly have eaton tho man that died, but no ono pro- posed it, so we hove him overboard It was no ousy job, though, thin as ho wns, for w e ivoro nivfully weak. Two moro days, mid every- thing that could bo chewed was eaton. Boots, loalher off tho oars, our belts, and everything. Nobody grumbled, but Snake and me, and your dad had a 'lijht to if anybody had, but wo couldn't say anything to the poor b=ggars that j w.ia loft, they looked uko skoloto'is. Not a a.til
waa seen ever since tho man-of-war passed us,
j and wo began to think wo had missed New Zea j land altogether, so wo held a council to seo
what «e should do If wo had passed it, wo
could not tell whether it was to tho cost or west, but wo thought it would be safest to steer west, thou ho might pull up 3omo part of Anst'iili.i cr Van Diemon's Land ; if wo were to (ho west of New Zealand Wo did ' so, but with little hopo of Boeing land again. It had boo» fine all the timo.oxcept tho night! wo caught the water. After wo altered our course, it was calm for two days,'lion we got the wind og-tin . One of the two chaps said that night at sundown, ho saw land. No ono else B iw it, and wo told him so, but ho stuck to it. Ho pointo'l to tho west, and said ho could bos it plain'.1 Ho spoko in such a way as mado us li ilf believe him, so me and your father just played ft trick on him to seo if ho was O.K Your dad was to steer tho boat round, and I was to trim tho sails quietly, and iisk him if lie Eaw the land still. Yes, ho saw it wherever wo turned the boat, so that hopo wai lo3t. The poor chap went mad that night, took off his Bhirt mid trousers, rolled thom up in his blunkot, to tako aslwro ho said, and walked straight ovorboard. Your governor broko down thou with disappointment and »caknoss, and tallied about his last job at Brisbane, his trial, how ho parted'with yon, and a lot moro-"
" And diod?" interrupted Giovanni,anxiously. "No, ho didn't, my boy. I'll toll you There was only four of us lrft, and nono of us thought we'd soo another day, so tho threo that wasn't mail that wns mo, Snake, and tho last of the four mon-talked it over, and de- cided to draw lots for who should die to keep the others alive. I wondor wo didn't do it long beforo, wo suffered so hor- ribly. Tho drawing waa dono fair, and as your falhor was crazy, I draw for him. Tho lot fell on tho last of tho four. Then wo drew agai'i,
to find who should finish him. That fell to me. He didn't care a bit, poor beggar, and only said, 'Don't hurt me much, old man.' I oponod tho voins in his neck so quick, that he nover felt it, and kopt saying, ' Why don't you finish mo oldman? I'm waiting for yon to begin.' Snako was catelan!» his blood in a billy all tho timo, and lia never knew it Wo each had a drop, and gavo somo to your dad, and it made a now man of him. Well, I won't say any more about'that part of it. \Vo were all covered with boils, and nothing wns left of us but tho hides and bones. It got colder and colder as no went un. Wo wore ninetoon days out when the last of our mato was finishod, and wo bogan to look at oach other and think-well, novor mind, let that pass. Eaoh man was afraid to lie down to sloop, for fear of his inatc3. . Wo woro all woro out at last, and droppod off " Your dad woko first ; it was about daylight. ' Sail ho ! ' ho shouts, as loud «b Iip could, which wasn't much to spoak of, but it woko us. It must have passed close to us in tho night. Oh I what agony we suffered to seo it getting less and less I About eleven o'clock, slio tackod again, thon wo took heart and tried to stand up and hoist tho sail, but wo couldn't. By five in the afternoon sho sighted us, sent off a boat and took us aboard. They treated us as if wo wore princes. They rubbod us all ovor with oil, and that made us feol com fortablo, but they wouldn't feed us as much as wo wished, so wo used to call thom'stingy devils,' and gavo thom all sorts of chook, but they didn't mind that a bit, and only laughed at us. If thoy'd fod us as wo wanted, wo would have died the first day,
" Wo loarnt that wo wero on board tho Southern Cross, a Hobart Town whalor. Sho had been out four months, and had about twonty-fivo tims of oil on board. Wo don't know whether wo got to tho east or west of New Zealand, but wo woro pickod up about a hundrod miles south of Van Diomon's Land. Another day out would have cooked the lot of us.
" We fold tho captain we woro sailors belong- ing to tho barque Sea Bird, wreckod on a barron
island about fivo hundred miles south of whero
ho picked us up. Says ho ' Then whore did you got that boat? Sho isn't a ship's boat 1' ' No, sir,' says your dad, ' I'm a ship's carpenter,and built hor myself. ' But tho captain ' know tho ropes of a ship'-i.e., was not to bo hood-winkod and lays his linger nlongnido his nose, shuts one oyo and says, ' Do you seo any green ? You'ro eacnpod prisoners, I can toll that by tile cut of your jibs, without my glass, so don't toll lies. Your ship was tho Port Arthur-or Botany Bay-or somo such craft ; but I won't split you've had onough punishment this bout, if you've all boen in for nny crime, from petty larcony to regicido. I'm noue too full-haudod, for I lost a boat, crow and all, the other day, so you can Bot in as soon as you're ablo, and finish the cruiso with rae, and I'll soo tho owners give you what you'ro worth when wo get back into tho Derwont !' Wo soon were ablo to do a littlo, but it was a good whilo beforo we were strong enough to go in tho boats. Well, to make a long story short, wo wero out seven months. All our vegetables had boon polished off months before, and thirteon of us got the Bonrvy so bad, the captain had to steer for port. We spoko several ships on our way to port. Ono was the Carolina, barque-a regular old tub, but safe. Sho'd been out sixtoon months, and was a full ship. We got fifty tmiB of oil after wo wero takon aboard, that mado Bevonty-fivo tims altogether. It wasn't a bad take for a oruise of eleven months. All the other follows wero ' on the lay,' as thoy call it-that ia, thoy wero to go shares in tho