|Newspaper Title||Narandera Argus and Riverina Advertiser|
|Trove Title||The Bushman's Revenge: An Australian Christmas Story|
1 !3Rrxvf2i1Ni /YAfmfo /K«Li») [PUBLISHED BY SPECIAL ABBANGEMENT.] 1 IM'EShu// W*B*i* ?
, W The Bushman's Revenge,
' Wk i# By Salian MmB-
ag^jfek.\ . jT.'V [ALL BIGHTS RESERVED.
M 1 CHAPTER II.— iCoatinurd.)
Then Sundown BUI made the in] area lad as comfortable as was possible under the circumstances, and, after vainly look ing around for the missing horse, gave the lest drop of water to the sufferer, encouraged him to keep a brave heart, promised a Bpeedy return, and set off for Kangarilla. He hoped to complete the
journey in four hours, summon aid, and return to the 6 filleted boy within two hours more. To the lad the interim of wailing seemed eternity. To the buahman tho distance to be covered was usually as nothing, bnt on this oppressively close night, in an exhausted state of bod) and mind, suffer ing privations of hunger and thirst, and his mission being extremely urgent witbal, he felt an almost overpowering sense rf weukneeB such as he had never before ex perienced. Yet Sundown Bill bravely struggled on. When well advanced on his journey it occurred to him that it was near the or* ning of Christmas Day, and he leflected that, once a shepherd himself, on that tame morning manv centuries before, the good shepherds of the East walked into Bethlehem to find the ohild Jesus, the angelic host singing tie glad refrain 'Glory to God, peace on earth, goid-will to men.'
with a pardonable conceit be imagined he saw points of analogy between bis own misBion and that of bit brother shepherds of Juiea. Perchance he, too, influenced by a beneficent unseen power to engf ge' in Mb mission ot mercy and good-will, might be rewarded with an approving smile from tbat tame great Redeemer who, humbly born in a manger, and himself despised and rejected, would not light)} .regard the good office of a puor sundowner. These and other reflections, leading SuEdown Bill back to the teachings and doings of his ohildhood's daja, beguiled many steps of hie tediouB journey, and at what he guessed by the perpendicular btaring' ot the Boutbern Cross to be the tense hour of midnight, he espied the lights in the windows of Eangarilla home station.
CHAPTER III. That undefiuable feeling of unrest which to some temperaments is the precursor of approaching storm in tropical couEtrieB had evidently seited Mr John Maclean on this eve. Remorse, resulting from his summary treatment of the despwed son downer, in no way contributed to this dis turbed feeling. In that - respect the masterful squatter considered he bad admirably performed his duty. But the disquieting effect of coming atmospheric disturbance was to some degree intensified by reflecting upon pust instances of re taliation rem'ting from such condign treatment as ho bad that day meted out to Sundown BUI. Mutilated horses and oattle, poisoned dogs, and gross acts of vandalism and arson were not infre quently caused by malicious and reta.Hn lory tramps, from whichever cause, or
combination 01 causes, it was true cnaton this particular eveniDg John Maclean w»b ill at ease. He walked to and fro in his verandah asd around his homestead, until pa«t the liour of midnight, relieving the monotony of his poregrinaiions by fre quent libations of whiBkey and soda, which increased his restlessness, sad left him in an exoited and reokleoe rnocd. Suddenly his faithful sheep-dog fol lowing at his heelB, stopped, and pricking hie ears set up a prolonged low growl, which his master teg&idod as indicative ot a etianger being in the vicinity. His thoughts rapidly recurred to the meeting ?will Sundown Bill, and who other than he, lurking in the neighbourhood until midnight, could approach t-o promieea it this unseasonable hoar, and with what putpcie other than the sinister one of
personal injuiy, incendiarism or theft. Grasping the dog by the collar Maclean quickly dragged him into an inner room, where he commanded him to lie still. He thea extinguished fcha lights, seized his revolver, ana issuing cautiously from the house, stood under aa umbrageous eucalyptus tree, there to await the deve lopments of events. Nor had he long to wait. He soon observed a moving figure, slowly eeif surreptitiously approaching the homestead. Nearer and nearer oame the form, and with its approach the more firmly did the thought take shape in Maclean's mind that the object of the visitor was an evil one. Should it b« Sundown Bill, his malicious intent was assured; for had he not that very day threatened him with revenge. Peering vigilantly into the moonlight, John Maclean presently drew himself quickly back, the visitor having come within tbe area of identification. ' It's Sundown Bill,' said the eqnatter in a tone repre86ed but breathing fury, ' I'll held do parley with him this time.' And as the unsuspecting bushman pain fully trudging along on his miSBion of mercy was distant a fow feet from the concealing tree, John Maclean with a malicious grin on his countenance, raised his revolver and deliberately fired twice point blank at the body of Sundown Bill. With in agonising cry the latter stag gered against the feace and fell prostrate to the ground, where he Jay motionless, I but faintly moaning. Then John Maclean laughed aloud at hie own astuteness in having tuned the tables so unexpectedly oa tbe sundowner, and in having so successfully circum vented him in his evidently nefarious design, ' When in doubt, play trumpB,' he to himself complacently said, ' and I reckon I're scored this time, Master Sundown Bill' He then walked leisurely towards the house, and summoning the men-servants from their abode, instructed them to carry the proBtrate man to the wool-shed. This done, and lights having been brought, he ordered restoratives to be applied to the unconscious buahman, in order that, if not dead, he might be revived and prepared for transit to tie nearest police residency, there to be charged with trespassing with malicious intent. Tho second revolver shot had entered the left shoulder of the poor sundowner; the first had missed aim. The attendants in their rough and ready manner did thuir beet to staunch the fl wing wound, ana under the (.'Sects ot tho stimulants the injured man slowly recovered con BciouBnesB and feebly inquired :— ' ' Where aro we, mate P' ? Keep quiet, old man, you'Jl be all right nhortly,' replied the stockman, Willams, not unsympathetically, for he knew the old sundowner. ?Ain't this KangarillaF* asked the buBhman.' 'It is,' said Williams. ' Where's the boes P I must soe him at once/ Baid Sundown Bill. ' Look here, Bill : you know me, don't you; Beadigo Jack, and it you take my tip you'll leave tbe boss aloae.' ' But I must see him, Jack, it's urgent. Tell him to see we quick.' ? Are you in earnest, Bill P Ton know the boss ain't violets on your eoii. ' ? Nevor mind, mate, tell him to come hero quick, or take me to him.' From the earnest ploading look on tie aundowEor's face, the utockruas aeBttmed that the injured man had really eome tfaing of importance to communicate, and wont in eitarcb of his master, whom he found smoking in the verandah. ? Sundown Bill wants to see you, sir, vrj particular; he's something on hit mind, sir, I fanoy,' Now Jchn Maclean had by this time
cometotbeooBcltuionthathehad gone, perhaps, too far in his drastio treatment of the wandering bushman, and had a ?light fear tbat in bis capacity of Justice rf the Peace and Magistrate of the oountry, his summary action would not commend itself to the authorities ot the Crown. It occurred to him that on whom magisterial honours are bestowed, from whom judicial and temperate action 1b expected! aid John Maclean was in a more reflective mood when his servant summomed him to the side of the wounded man. He went without remark to inter view the basbmw. Tbe latter had not realised, and bad not yet been informed how and by whom his injury had been inflicted. On the entrance of his master, the sundowner, slowly and with difficulty ?aidj— ?Ton doa't like me, boss, but I sever done so harm.' ? Ton know I detest yon, asd all your accursed fraternity. You're a dangerous, rood-for-notbing lab, and I reckon you've got your deserts thU time.' ? Perhaps so, boBS ; perhaps I ain't no good. T reason I'm not,' and with this the poor sundowner's voice Bask, and he groaned in pain of body and spirit. ' I'm shot, boas' ain't I ?' he plaintively inauired.
'I reokon yon are,' said the squatter, and he smiled at what appeared to him the homonr of the situation. ' Who done it P* . * I did 1 and I'm prepared to answer for it a» a justifiable deed,' emphatically responded the matter. ' Pethtps bo, boss— .perhaps so,' said the sufferer, in a low tremulous voioe,' and the tears welled np in his wild eyes aBd coursed down his bronzed and hairy face, ' bnt I done it for the beer, boss— I dose itforthebeBt' ' If yen survive, you'll have an oppor tunity to prove that in court,' was the brutal reply. 'There's no time for more talk, boss. Yont boy Soy has broke hiB leg— kicked by his horse in coming hone from Mr Blake's. He's lying now at the Bide of the boundary gate. Put your fastest horses is tie buggy, and go for him at once, and send some one to Ballowie for thedtctor. Harry up, boss; you've bo time to lose.' John Maclean was struck dumb with amazement and horror. His countenance turned wan with shock, and he trembled in every limb. For fully a minute be stood speeoblees, staring vacuously at the
prostrate man. . At last he recovered his epeoob, and in a hoarse subdued voioe in structed the stockman to harness the horses to the buggy without a moment's delay. He then bent down over the help lees man and inquired in the same con strained voice : ' Did yon ceme back to tell me this ?' ' Yes, boss ; I found the little chap in a bad way 1 I done what I could for him; geve him the little water I had, and made him bb comfortable as possible with my rugs, bnt he's in a bad way, sir.' 1 And you've walked back thirteen miles to inform me ?' asked tbe master. 'Yes, boss; what else could I do; I'd have carried him back if I could, bet he can't a-bear to be touched.' ' God help me and forgive me,' groaned Jobn Maclean, and he mcved away, bowed down with confusion and remorse. The buggy was ready; rags, pillows and restoratives were hurriedly placed therein, and, giving instructions' to Wil liams to ride poBt haste for the doctor who resided some thirty-two nrilea from
the station, and strict injunctions that Sundown Bill should have the best attention rendered him until the doctor's arrival, John Maclean entered the vehicle, and accompanied by a man and a maid servant, drove off furiously lo the scene of the accident. That eighty minutes' drive in the early Christm&B morn was not a pleasant one for John Maclean. He had been un speakably unjust and cruel in his treat ment of a feller creature, and bis punish ment was indeed severe, for what retribu tion so bitter as the requital of evil by good. Amongst a multiplicity of surging thoughts his mind rrvrted to one season years agone when hiu young wife, whose life had not been a too pleasant one, had taught little Roy to lisp : —
* Peace on earth and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled ' Peace, mercy, and reconciliation! Heavens ! what a travesty nf tho words had his unfeeling cinduct been, for at this happy season, and on this day of all days in the year, with a violent discord that reverberated into heaven, he had clanged the -dioua dAth-knell in upon the eweet harmony of the blessed refrain song on this glad morn by the heavenly choir. And verily, in boomerang fashion, the weapon of violence and malico which he bad thrown had returned to him again, for there was no peace in the anguished
eoul of John Maclean. At last the panting horses were pulled np at the boundary gats and having dis mounted from the trap the anxious father, bending over the injured boy and paasion a'sly kissing him, cried : ' Roy, dear R y, what has happened to yon f Spe«l to me, Roy !' ' Father I' was all the reply the stricken youth could utter. The msid hastily administered some brandy-and-wa'er to tho boy, who pre sently rallied, and with a faint smile on his wan face, said : 'Oh, father, take me home. My leg. Sicked bj Diamond It U bo painful.' ' I'll lift yon gently, dear Soy, and cako yon home,' answered the father. 'Where's the buehman, father ? Did be tell you f ' ?7es.' 'Where is he f ' He's at the station.' ' He was so kind to mo. and gave mo .hie rags and his last drop nf water.' ' Yes, he's very good.' ' He said he knew you, father.' 1 Yef, he knows me,' said thn father.' 'And we'll eive him Buch a merry
Christmas, father.' ? Don't talk too much, Roy, dear ; it will tire you out,' said the agonised man. And for a time Boy was quirt. They place him tenderly on the soft cushions and rugB in the buggy, and drove him carefully to his homo Arrived at the station, he was borne into a room and laid upon a couch, with every available com fort, there to await the arrival of tho doctor. His father ministered to hia wants, varying his duty by setting that every attention was bestowed on Sundown Bill, who lay in an adj lining room. But John Maoism did not enter therein. (To be continued ) ? Joha.' she Baid, ? do yru think you can (fiord a new gown for me f He Icoked at her sharply. ' Have yon ordered it P' he afked. 'Yes.' ' Then,' he sa;d, with a sigh of resigna tion, ' I can afford it.' Neighbour; 'Has your baby got ever the measles f Mother: ' No, the measles have got all cv-r her.' Belinda : ' How do you treat a stupid man who admires you f ' Maud ?? ' I do not consider any man stupid who admires me.' ? 'Do you think marriage is a failure, Mr Aekin t' said Miss Elder to a young man Bbe knew to be eneagod, ' I hn ven't got tbat far yet,' was the candid reply, I ? bnt I know that conrtahip is a high road to bankruptcy.'