|Newspaper Title||Narandera Argus and Riverina Advertiser|
|Trove Title||The Bushman's Revenge: An Australian Christmas Story|
(ft W$WveK& [PUBLISHED BY SPECIAL ARRAXGEMENT.j
WW The BDShniail's Rev(*
™Kv* *&££1k4~ ? ? |\\ ri By Salian Muib,
rJ«i^-\fy-'- [ALL EIGHTS RESERVED.
CHAPTER I.— (Continued,)
Mow the master of Kangarilla *as in no amiable mood as he watched the approach nf the stranger. The knowledge of his blighted pasturage and ot the decima tion of his flocks was ever present to hid mind, and the consequent loss to him,
although it could not materially Effect his tolvency, was sufficient to eanse his grave nxiety. The raveller had bow entered in at the panels oC the home paddook, and his identity had slowly intimated itself to the eye of tbe master of the estate. With ill restrained appreciation Alaolean ex claimed : ' By heaven if if s not the loafing Booun drel Snndown Bill. I'll teaoh him and all the sundowning crew that KaBgarilla is no haven for their idle, useless persons. 'If thon shalt aot work, neither shalt then eat,' in Scripture And sound common ?enee ns well. At tbe last meeting of the Pastoralists I moved a resolution to the effect that these idle vagabonds should not be encouraged jin their aimless wan derings by being housed and fed, and though my in: t ion woe not accepted I will, at any rate, give -?? ffact to nsfy own prin ciples. I'll (rive Sob down Bill a reception that ho wn't forget' Sundown Bill it really was. A typical Australian ' sundowner,' one of the army of bnsh dead-beats who roam yearly over vaet areas of the country, at first, doubt lees, capable workers, earnestly desirous o[ obtaining employment. But the eun. downer is a product of the country ; such being the effect of tbis free wandering life, in a genial climate and under an almost perpetually blue sty, tfcat ere long the second stage is the career of the graduating sundowner is reached — that Wherein he outwardly socke for employ ment and inwardly supplicates hravenhe may not find it. From this Btage to the third and last the descent is easy, and there is no mistaking the professional sundowner who has attained the degree of a master of the craft. The miesion o! the fully fledged sundowner is to traverse tha country avowedly with no further aim or pnrpoEe than firmly and scornfully to decline, on all occasions, to accept prof fered employment, and to live a pitcuious life by vagabondage and begglne. To thiB olaci Sundown Bill belonged. He was a iputmaeter of the order of professional tundownere.
In appearance Snndown Bill, by which sobriquet he was familiarly known, waB tall and gaunt In age he was about fifty-four, his skin was tanned by ex posure to wrather and aversion to water, and his long, unkempt hair and beard were fully interallied with grey. But Sundcwu Bill was by no means nn ignorant person, and for his knowledge of men and politics, and his ability at a. raconteur, he was usually welcomaa at the tamp fin , where to the amusement, if not the edification of his listeners he dis eusecd hU subjects find related lie ez perienoes with a full and ready flow of forcible colonial ' language.' Yet, withal, he was a useless parasite, regarded is dangerous alike to the enbetaecti and the morals of the ommunity — an upprr duotivo being:, who toiled not nor did he spin, and, in truth, it may be added, neither wae he arrayed in any particular glory. With 'swag' and 'billy' slung ov r his left shoulder, and carrying his water bag ia his right hand, the bushman slowly approached, shewing unmistakable BignB of exhaustion, and thus greeted the mas tor of Kanparilla. 'Sood-dny, Mr. Hadrian ; terribly hot.' 'N doubt,' came the ungracious reply, ' but what brings you here r' ?He-r pardon, sir, but I'm passing throngh to Mr. Blake'f), nnd I thought yon wouldn't mind me restiiw in tlm sh»do until the cool of the oroning.' ?Now, Sundown Kill, look here. Tnu kn w me. W«s've met before and you know try opinion of you ami all the oti -?r worthless blaekfiusrdo liLo you who piny on t^ifi country. Clear on«, and that very much fnntfr than you cam.i.' ?Uu', Mr. Maclean, I'm dead boat. D n't (urn mo adrift on such a torrib1* day.' plroded the sundowner, ' It's 25 miles to Mr Blake's plaoo, and 1 ain't i qual to tbn t'i;- until ftunaet.' ' Don't y«i argue with me, you loafer. Not enough to be mined by my stock
dying in thousands end eaten out by the cursed rabbits, but you scamps must pre/ on us as well, Get out quick, or b£ heavea, I'll kick you across the paddock^ ' All right, boss ; you're master here ; I'll go, but Mr. Blake don't treat me like this. ' Sundown Bill ib always welcome at his place.' After a brief pause the desperate man pleadingly added, 'For God's sake, bess, allow me to test ia the shade until eve ning, and I promise you I don't trouble you again.' ' No ! once and tor aU ; no 1 If Blake's such a confounded fool as to harbour you scamps, yon'll find my place no half-way house to Sundowner's Hotel. Clear out, quick.' ' You'll do me one favour, boss ; you'll allow mo to fill my water-bag at your task,' begged the sundowner. Then John Maclean lost control ef hia quickly rising temper, and while refusing to grant the poor man's request to re plenish his water-bag, strode up- to him with evil intent Bat Sundown Bill, with the streBgth inspired of insult and despair met the enraged man unflinchingly, and in a subdued and broken voice said : ? God help me, I'll go. Don't you tone! me. I'm footsore and hungry; and my water-bag is nearly empty, and you torn me from your door on thin awful day. You'ro a rich man, and I'm a poor worthless creature, but my word on it I'll be revenged on you yet for this cruelty .' Maclean approached manacingly ex chiming, ' You stand there and threaten me ; you cursed hound.' 'Don't; don't lay a hand ob me.' the busbman loudly entreated.' But John Maclean to his everlasting shame did, and with one firmly-planted blow, he sent the exhausted, defenceless bushman reeling against the fence. With choking utterance the aggrieved and humiliated man, recovering his posi tion, muttered, ' You cruel coward,' and bestowing a dark, revengeful look upon tbe Bquatter, he swung hiB swag on his Bhouldei, turned his back oh Kangarilla Station and its owner, and continued hie slow march across the opnn plain. It was now two o'clock in the afternoon. The hot north wind, intermittently ap proaching on wingt of fire, insidiously flicked the broszed, sullen face of tbe wayfarer with stinging effect, but, Buffer ing tbe acuter pain of wounded feelings, Sundown Bill felt it not. The ever changing currents met now and again in direc i opposition, snd, forming whirling eddies, caused columns of fine dust to envelop tbe form of the traveller, but blinded by passion, born of insult and in jmy, Sundown Bill saw it not. Consumed mentally by a wild desire for revenge, and physically by a burning thirst, the persecuted vagrant, with bowed head, plodded wearily on, and only once, until ho had pasBed from sight, was he observed to pause for a minnte to moisten His parched lips with a few drops from hie almost depleted water-bag.
CHAPrER II. On the departure of the Sundowner, John Maclean withdrew to the coolest ahainber of his house, and having par taken of a glass of cold whiaky and soda, Etretched himself upon his soft conch for his customary eiesta. Conscious of having done his duty in so summarily disposing of the vagrant, Mr. Maclean set himeelt to think o! a more pleasant subject, and founo. it in the personality of bis son — hieoneshild, Boy; the only creature on God'e earth on whom he bestowed affec tion. And Roy Maclean was a boy to be beloved. Of a gentle, kind disposition, inherit 8d from hin mother, now these three years rt sting in the gravo,thelad (by the very diversity of their naturrs, apart from ji.ieriml instinct) bad en twined himself around the hiartof his father. Rr-y was now thirteen years of ape. Uu had spent the past tun months* nt school at tha capital of the eoUny, and l.aii returned tor tne niidsuimnijr holidays not a week previously. Being thoroughly nt homo in tlui saddle, like all colonial youths Boy rodo ever on th t evining to to ego his ftionds, the boys and girls of tha BUke family, on the understanding that he would return home three dnys later. On the afternoon of the day before he waa to return, however, the dis.
oerning eye of Mr. Blake saw what be regarded as unfailing signs of a coming change in the weather, and thought it prudent that Boy should ride home is the comparative coolness of that evsaing, rather than await the ohancea of the mor row morning. So shaking handB with his friends, after, mutually exprrssiag many good wishes Koy mounted his pony at five o'olook, calculating to be home by eight r All went well with the lad until he dis mounted at the boundaiy of his father's and Mr. Blake's runs for tbe purpose of opening the gate .to-aOniit of passing throngh. Having opened the gate, the horse was led on, but not having draws bim sufficiently far forward, the oloBing gate struck the heels of the animal, which, being a spirited beast, instantly kicked out vigorously, and, sad to slate, t,truck the boy a violent blow, breaking his leg a few inches above the knee. Uttrrly helpless and in great pain, the yonth crawled to the-gate post, and there, with the best fortitude he could snuimon, awaited he knew not what He was twelve miles from his father's house, and unexpected there ; he was thirteen miles from Mr. Blake's residence, and on a track along which it was highly improbable any traveller would at that beacon paBS. Two hours hed elapsed, in which he had suf fered excruciating pain, and was now pissing off into fitful statrs of serai oomclousne*. He must lie here all night, and thronghont tbe coming storm, or perhaps the dazzling Bunshine and ter rible heat of the morrow, should the ex pected change not come. The darfcnesB was rapidly falling, and happily with it the darkness of unconscionsneeB -was supervening on the mind of the afflicted youth. With closed eyes he lay, feebly moaning. Now Sundown Bill kept the beaten track on his journey from Kangarilla to Mr. Blake's station, and being already fully six hours on tbe way, walking aad resting, he approached the boundary pate of the two properties as young Roy Ms clean was in the last stage of sensi bility. The Bundowner was not a little surprised to bear what clearly appeared to him to be the faint moans of a dis tressed human being. Arrived at the spot from which the sounds emanated, he was amazid to find the form of a delicate youth, with an expression on the face in dicative of intense suffering. 'How's this,' be queried. 'Whet has I appenad, my lad r' But eo intelligible answer came from the. boy. Then Sundown Bill threw down hi ewag, and beading on h s knees, peered into the face of the boy. With a start, he instantly drew himself back, a violent cath escaping his lips. 'Young Maclean,' he cried. HU wild eyes gleaming with eatisfaction, the sun downer again bent down beside the pros trate youth in order to make certain of his identity. ' Are you the bob of Maclean of Kam garilla r' he impetuously inquired. And feebly the reply came ' Yes.' 1 What's the matter P Are you hurt f ' ' Yes.' slowly answered the boy. 'The horse kicked me bb I was coming from Mr. Blake's, and must have broken my leg.' ' Are they expecting you home ? Will they send for you to-night F* 'No ; father doern't exp:ct me until to morrow.' With this effort at oonverBalion, the lad fell into a state of utter nnconsciousnes3, and no farther replies could be obtained to the questions of the tramp. Sundown Bill stood up. A dark and dangerouB bcowI contracted hU brow. ?His only son,' he deliberately sslilo quised, ' and I've beard, the very apple of hiB eye. What a revenge. H't- no crime to do nothing. If he ain't expected home; to-night and to-morrow will do for him. Ha 1 ha ! he refused me water that might have saved his own son I'm only a hound to be struck and insulted and turned adrift to perish in the scorching sun, I know no better, and doing nothing's no crime. To act up to his father's opinion of me, I should kill the youngster where he lies. But no, I'll do nothing, but move on, and leave him to die.' And pisking up bis swag, Sundown Bill straightway walked out at the partially opened gate, an expression of Batiffied revenge on his countenance. Then, as if pierced by a dart, tbe in dolent s'indowner, the disreputable paiiah, the abused and persecuted tramp etocd stock-still, irresolute for a second. That instant the smculderisg fire of inherent pood, which lies latent in the hearts of the worst of men, suddenly touched by the quickening spark of pathftic opportunity, blazrd out into brilliant activity. Sun down Bill struck the gate open with a violent swing, slung hie swag on the ground, seised his water-bag and kneeling beode the prostrate son of John Maclean, he poured a small quantity of the precious liquid down the throat of the insensible youth, thereafter alternately rubbing the hands, and cooling the fevered brow of tbe sufferer with a moistened handker chief. Slowly the injured lad awoke to con sciousness and pain. ' How do you feel now, sonny f ' inquired tbe sundowner. 'I have been asleep. I think. A drink, please ?' whispered the boy. ' There ain't much left, sonny, but yon'll have what there is.' ' Thank you. You're so good.' ' HuBh ! sonny; keep quiet now, till we see what's to be done.' And with a gentle touch, Sundown Bill examined and bound up the lad sfractuced limb. ? Ycu won't leave me, will you t' pleadid the boy. ' N ?, srnny, not unleBS it's necessary.' ' Y- u know where we live P' ' Yes/ said the bUBhman. ' You know my father,' ' Oh ! father will be so glad, and will be so kind to y- u. What is your name f ' ' Don't speak no more, sonny. Keep quiet. My name's Sundown Bill, Ain't your name Roy Maclean P' * Vua ' mnlioil f.-ia hnv
' Thought so. ] remember yunr mother, my boy, when you were u baby. You're n brave little man, ain't you. I'm going to try yoa, sonny. I can't carry you home. I haven't strpneth to do it, and yon couldn't bear it, anyhow.' ' Yon won't leave me P' the bay pleaded ? I must for - a few hours, sonny. I'll make you a bed of my rug and things, and m»k« yon as cmfortablo as possible, I'll the a walk bt.ck as quickly as I can to your fathers houBe aud send the buggy for you. The moon will be up, and you won't be afraid. We'll soon be back.' (To be continued.) Young H'in (somewhat agitated) : ' I have called Mr. Means, to ask your per misFion to pay my addressee to your duut,'!.t*r, Miss Huth.' Banker Means : ' My iaughtar Ruth, Mr Pi'duuelef Why, 8ne is engaged to Mr. Swacklisintner.' louug Alan (still agitated, but reflect ing ttiat all ia uot jot los»): 'Did you thiuk I said Uias Kutb, Mr. Means. I ?aid ]V*!int Gwendolan. The— er — liuilar- ity of the eouiob probably caused you 10 misunderstand me.' Norway, Smvia, Greece, and Bulgaria are the only European nations which have butjone House of Parliament,