Chapter 36644513

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Chapter NumberXIV
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Full Date1867-06-29
Page Number2
Word Count5324
Last Corrected2020-01-24
Newspaper TitleLaunceston Examiner (Tas. : 1842 - 1899)
Trove TitleThe Maxwells of Bremgarten
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THE MAXWELLS OF BREMGARTEN. A STORY OF TASMANIA. [Founded on Facts.] (ALL RIGHTS ARE RESERVED.) (Continued from last Saturday's issue.) CHAPTER XIV. FARMING OPERATIONS.—ARTHUR EARLSLEY, ESQ., J.P., AND BAXTER THE CARRIER. The presence of Jacob Singlewood being no great acquisition to the family circle at Brem- garten, that individual was directed to build a residence for himself with as little delay as possible. Maxwell continued from day to day to keep himself and his sons fully em- ployed is grubbing and fencing, and his bul- locks in dragging timber, while Mrs. Maxwell busied herself in rendering their cottage more and more comfortable. The river becoming fordable again in a few days, the settler visited Johnson Juniper, and purchased two cows, also a mare with a foal at foot. The cows being near their time were brought home at once, and carefully watched until they calved. Mrs. Maxwell, however, found that the science of milking them was not so easily learned as she had imagined ; and Griselda was a long time before she could succeed in extracting as much as a single wine-glass full of milk at a sitting. But by dint of patience and perseverance—mingled with a few sighs now and then, perhaps a quiet tear or two if the milk vessel happened to be kicked over—they managed to supply their establishment with milk and butter. By degrees the farm began to assume a more cheerful appearance. A little garden, at the back of the cottage, had been enclosed, and planted with young fruit trees, flowers, and vegetables. A stable of unpretending exterior could be seen in a quiet corner. A shed had been erected purposely to protect Mrs. Maxwell and her daughter while milk- ing ; also a small hut wherein reposed con- tented an individual of, as some of the learned people at Cook Villa would probably say, the great natural family of the Suidœ, resigned with many regrets by Mr. Johnson Juniper. Days and weeks passed by without any important or unforeseen event occurring. The farmer's labors were severe, his perse- verance and attention almost unremitting, and his patience and energy in surmounting difficulties surprising even to his wife. It had for some time been a matter of sur- prise to Griselda that she had not heard from Isabel Arnott. A mutual promise to corres- pond had been exchanged between the two young friends ; and the former wrote accord- ingly after she had been a few days in Hobart Town. The irregularities of the postal ser- vice in those days were frequent, which could not be greatly wondered at, and Griselda, with a forbearance natural to her, found many excuses for her friend. At length her ex- pectations were realized. A letter from Isabel did arrive, and Griselda was rejoiced to think that their kind friends in Sydney had not forgotten them. She read as fol- lows :— MY DEAR GRISELDA,— It gave us all much pleasure to hear of your safe arrival at Hobart Town. Your description of it is very pleasing. Indeed, had I the power to choose a residence, I should much prefer it to this place, the heat here in summer is so exces- sive. I am happy to tell you, my dear, that my papa and ma'ma are very well ; but I have one piece of doleful intelligence for you, being the death of my dear Princie, my sweetest of bower birds. Well, Griselda, this ought to remind us of our own uncertain tenure of existence. I have no news that would be likely to entertain you. Papa has been much disturbed in his temper lately, increased, I fear, by his frequent twinges of gout. My eldest brother came down from the sheep station a short time ago, and told us that a terrible fire had swept over the entire run, and had burnt about three hundred sheep close to a bend of the river. As might have been expected, papa threw all the blame on Fred, and roundly accused him of having lit the fire himself. In his defence, Fred denied that he had lit it, saying also that if he had done so he most have been drunk at the time, and all the world knew he never drank anything strong It was painful and yet laughable to hear how papa went on. Elevating his voice terribly, he cried out, " Drunk ! of course you were drunk : you are always drunk. Who are you, Sir? Are you a Mussulman, or a Rechabite, that you must never get drunk ?" It was, as you may sup- pose, very unjust in papa to bring such a charge against Fred, for we all know him to be very sober in his habits. Papa has got a great idea of paying a visit to Tasmania soon ; if he does, I shall coax him to take me with him. Papa and mamma desire me to convey to you and your parents assurances of their personal regard, and beg you will accept the same from poor me. Write soon again, and tell me all the particulars of your journey into the country. I have heard a great deal of the enchanting scenery of your island. Farewell, dear Griselda. Your ever attached friend, ISABEL ARNOTT. P.S.—I forgot to mention that my brother Harry asked me if I was writing to you, and understanding I was, he requested me to say that he hoped to have the great pleasure of seeing you soon again. He has been very low in spirits lately, and I do not know what is the matter with him. Of one thing I am sure—when he takes a thing into his head he will sooner perish than give up his point.—Adieu. N.B.—We have a frequent visitor here now, the captain of a British frigate : he is the younger brother of an earl and has been wounded in battle. He is very attentive to your devoted friend— I. A. Griselda read this letter with the interest natural to a young lady on receiving one from a distant friend. When she came to the postscript the smile of pleasure she had worn on her lips faded away, and an expres- sion of thoughtful gravity occupied its place as she handed the open letter to her mother. That lady perused it with evident satisfic- tion, then returned it to her daughter with a smile and a look of maternal pride. Grisella placed it in the hands of her father when he returned from his daily employments. The conversation respecting it was not of a serious nature, still it formed a considerable portion

of the general chit-chat usually held by the fireside in the evenings. A portion of each evening was devoted by the settler and his wife to the advancement of their children's education. A selection of useful books had been brought from their native land ; old lessons in history, grammar, and other useful branches were re-learned, and new ones studied. As the thought of a pianoforte had not in those days entered Maxwell's head as an article of furniture capable of being conveyed into the bush Griselda was compelled to let the music of her fingers lie in abeyance, though her voice was often heard murmuring in soft sweet tones. A colony, small at first, of feathered families gathered round the cottage door and mingled their tuneful notes with the voices of the inmates. To guard against some of the contingencies of colonial life a stout bull- dog was chained not far from the kitchen door, while a double-barrelled gun and a pair of horse pistols were kept loaded and ready for action at a moment's warning. An addi- tional laborer had been employed, so that the work of the farm in fencing and clearing went on in a more satisfactory manner. The grant of land which Maxwell had been so fortunate as to obtain was not heavily timbered on the front, or that part which bordered on the river. Its principal features consisted of small undulating plains, diversi- fied by occasional rising grounds, amongst which might be found two or three depres- sions containing water during the winter months. In consequence of the open nature of the ground, it was the opinion of Mr. Juniper that Maxwell's residence was not so much exposed to the attacks of bushrangers and natives as the houses of other settlers, who allowed the scrub to remain in its natural state of shady luxuriance almost close to their doors. Whether Juniper was right or not, it is certain that Maxwell scarcely ever thought of either source of danger. He went to his work and returned from it as if he still lived in Ireland and not in Tasmania. His thoughts seemed concentrated upon one object—to become a thorough independent farmer, cost what it might. As the profes- sion which he now adopted was new he entered upon it with feelings of enthusiasm, and his enthusiasm was mingled with philan- thropy. Of what use was he as a farmer, he would ask himself, unless he produced food for man and contributed to the happi- ness of the poor, by helping to give them cheap food ? He found himself slightly pre- judiced against sheepowners and sheep. There was nothing but selfishness he thought in wishing to possess large flocks of sheep. A large flock required a large tract of land, from which no one seemed to receive any benefit except the owner of the flock, his shepherds, and a few dependents. Agriculture conferred a more immediate benefit ; it gave, besides food, employment to a greater number of poor fellows, who ate their bread with thank- ful hearts, feeling no doubt very grateful (?) to the farmer who labored to supply their wants. Agriculture was, therefore, Max- well's forte for a time ; how long it remained so will probably appear in the sequel. Spurred to action by ideas such as these, the labors of the farmer were continued with undiminished energy. His hands soon be- came hard so as to be above the weakness of blisters ; but if one fountain of sorrow was dried up, another was not long before it opened. From stooping frequently to gather sticks and hoe up roots, his back became sore, and from lifting logs with his men to put up on the fences, the muscles of his arms and legs were strained and became exceedingly painful. He frequently staid out in the rain till his clothes were quite wet. His wife expostulated with him in vain. The land was given to him that he might improve it, and improve it he would. When he went to Avoca, as he sometimes did to get the post, Mrs. Trapfarthing was astonished at the quantity of flesh he was daily losing ; and the boy "Jems," who had been his guide on a former occasion, and who received the shilling he had so well earned, said to the kitchen wench that--" Master Maxwell had gev him his bob, but he was a fule for all that, as he was tearin' hisself all to bits." The opinion of "Jems" was not singular. Johnson Juniper, who usually came over every Sun- day to pass away the time and have a chat, told Maxwell that if he did not relax his labors he would be the first person buried at Bremgarten. Even Jacob Singlewood got into a strange habit of closing one eye firmly at his mate and pointing with his thumb over his left shoulder when he saw his master running to the heavy end of a log. A very knowing and well-informed fellow was Jacob. Sunday was of course a complete day of rest. Maxwell made it his duty to read the Church of England service in the forenoon, and the Bible in the evening, to his family and servants if they thought proper to attend. Clergymen did not then trouble themselves much with visits to families residing at any distance from the towns ; nor can we blame them severely when the dangers of colonial travelling in those days are taken into con- sideration. Now, however, circumstances are changed, and it is satisfactory to see the good minister ready and willing to do the work of his Master ; visiting the farms, where he is always received with pleasure, and lis- tened to with reverence. One day as our settler sat at dinner with his wife and children, after one of his usual laborious mornings, he was startled by a furious howl from his watch-dog ; imme- diately afterwards the tramp of a horse was heard at the door, and a double knock came rattling upon it, evidently from a whip handle. On opening the door Maxwell dis- covered a tall slender gentleman on horse back, who bowed slightly and asked him if he was Mr. Maxwell ; the settler having re- plied, the stranger continued— " My name is Earlsley. I have called to enquire if you have seen any of my shep- herds lately."

Mr. Earsley asked this question in a pom- pous, repulsive manner. Maxwell, too proud to show any signs of displeasure, and wishing, moreover, to be on good terms with his neighbors, replied—" Do me the favor to walk in, Sir, and I will give you all the in- formation in my power respecting your shep- herds and sheep." After some hesitation Mr. Earlsley alighted and entered the cottage, and bowed with dis- tant politeness to Mrs. Maxwell and Griselda. He declined dinner, saying that he dined at four o'clock, and never ate anything in the middle of the day, but accepted a chair which Charles handed him ; this he drew near the fire complaining that the weather was grow- ing unusually cold. Mrs. Maxwell feelingly assented, and her husband resumed his dinner, Mr. Earlsley having graciously requested him to do so before attending to him. Arthur Earlsley, Esq., J. P., was a person of some colonial importance. He was pro- prietor of a large tract of land to the east- ward of Maxwell's humble possession, which he had acquired probably through the favor of the early Governors. He was likewise a magistrate, the dispenser of law and justice to the neighboring settlers and their servants, also visiting justice to the adjacent prisoner sta- tions at Fingal and St. Mary's Pass. In age Mr. Earlsley might be about fifty-five ; his features had a pinched appearance, for his nose was sharp, his chin angular ; his eyes keen, grey, and interrogatory, his hair wiry, iron grey, and very short. The expression of his face was severe, its color of a pale yellow ; and his voice was clear, sonorous, and commanding, as became a man whose duty it was to address trembling prisoners from the bench. " I must say, Sir," said Maxwell, as he finished his dinner, " that I have not seen a shepherd of yours this way for the last six weeks." " The scoundrels—the villains," said Earls- Iey, frowning terribly ; " where or how can they pass away their time ? And do you see the sheep, Sir ?' " As for the sheep," replied Maxwell, " I see them every day, and cattle, too, to my cost, in plenty." " How do you mean to your cost, Sir ?" " Why, your cattle are very fond of green corn, and will hardly be kept out of mine. I have made the fences higher, but there are two or three active gentlemen amongst them to whom a high fence is but a trifle." " Do you mean to tell me, Sir," said Earls- ley, assuming his extra-stern look, " that you see my sheep and cattle, but that you never see a shepherd or a stock-keeper ?" " For six weeks, certainly, I have not seen either," answered Maxwell. " The rascals," said Earlsley, striking his boot with his riding whip ; " I'll give them red jackets, every one of them ; I'll make them dance to the music of the cat-o'-nine- tails. I'll make them attend to their duty. And pray, Sir, where do you see those sheep and cattle—I mean when the latter are not in your wheat paddock ?" " Why in all directions, Sir—all over the plain at the back of my cottage. The cattle are continually on the marshes between this and Avoca. As far as the sheep are concerned, it would be difficult for me to tell you where they are not ; I saw about five hundred of them within a mile of Avoca the last time I was there." " You don't say so ?" said the enraged magistrate, stamping on the floor ; " they were doubtless driven there by those moon- light scamps of the township in order to weed them at their pleasure; but I'll make an ex- ample of some of them yet, or my name is Muff instead of Earlsley. But how do you know my sheep, Sir ?' " By the pitchbrand—an A and an E joined." " They were mine. I am perfectly as- tonished : I keep half a dozen shepherps and stock-keepers for this side, Sir, with strict orders to keep my sheep and cattle within their boundaries, and this is the way they do it. But I'll teach them a lesson they sha'n't soon forget. We are living amongst an awful set of scoundrels, and soon the country will be perfectly uninhabitable. Three men bolted from St. Mary's Pass the day before yesterday, and two from Fingal—desperate characters all of them ; and it is reported that eleven of the worst felons at Macquarie Harbor have taken to the bush. They will carry fire and sword through the whole country." This intelligence, was not particularly agreeable to Mrs. Maxwell. Her timid nature shrank from the idea of the violence likely to be committed by these outlaws, and she hardly felt thankful to Mr. Earlsley for. being so communicative on the subject ; but not being desirous of conversing on such matters she continued her needle-work in silence while Griselda removed the dinner things to an inner apartment. " Will they be likely to do much mischief before they are re-captured, Sir ?" asked Max- well. " Mischief, Sir !" answered Earlsley ; " not only mischief, but robberies by scores, and perhaps murders by the dozen ! Have you not heard of Jeffries, the monster who com- pelled a poor man and his wife to go with him into the bush ? They carried their young child with them ; and its crying so terrified the villain lest the noise should lead some soldier or constable to the pursuit, that he deliberately dashed out its brains against a tree." Mrs. Maxwell shuddered. " Oh !" she ex- claimed, " Mr. Earlsley, surely that cannot be true." " It is as true, madam, as that I occupy this chair." " I would sooner shoot my wife and chil- dren than allow them to fall into the hands of such wretches," said Maxwell. " I should think so, Sir," said Earlsley, " I should think so. Another rumor I have heard is, that the blacks are up again, and

have killed a whole family on the West Tamar." " Why, bless my soul," said Maxwell, " if that is true, the sooner we fly the country the better." " But does Mr. Earlsley believe it ?" said Mrs. Maxwell. " The fact is, madam," said Earlsley, " there is no knowing what these savages may or may not do. They are like the wolves of Germany : they may leave you alone for five years, and then sweep down on your homestead like a tornado, killing every- body and uprooting and burning everything. Like the aborigines of other countries, they think, and perhaps with some show of jus- tice, that this land is theirs, and that we have no business to disturb them in their possession of it. When they conceive them- selves wronged in this respect, what have we to expect from their mercy ? No man is safe from their spear, even at the very mo- ment in which he may be maturing plans for their civilization and improvement." " And what, Sir, in your opinion, may be the best way to guard against.their attacks ?" asked Maxwell. " I hardly know, Sir ; I never was at- tacked myself, but I know people who have been. To keep at home is, I believe, the only plan ; and if they should come, show them your fire-arms, but never fire at them except as a last resource. Whatever you do, let nothing induce you to lay aside your arms, let their professions be ever so peaceable ; if you do your life will probably pay the penalty in this manner a treacherous na- tive called Black Tom murdered a settler named Osborne at Jericho. He came to the house with a crowd of his fellow savages and demanded food. They induced Osborne to lay aside his gun ; two of them advanced and seized him each by a hand, as if in friend- ship, while a third went behind and thrust a spear through his body. They had another leader, a Sydney black, named Musquito, a clever daring fellow, a sort of hero of romance, in fact, if one could make a hero out of a murderer." " What became of him, Mr. Earlsley ?'' asked Maxwell with deep interest. " He was hanged at Hobart Town, he and Black Tom together. But, Sir, the main object of my visit to you is to ascertain when you will be ready to join me in fencing. It is high time that something should be done ; my sheep and cattle tres- pass upon you, and I cannot prevent them until our properties are fenced. Let the side- line be properly surveyed and marked off, and I will commence my portion imme- diately." " The side-line has been already marked by Mr. Juniper, who professes to be a land surveyor," said Maxwell. " A what ?" said, or almost shouted, Mr. Earlsley ; " Mr. Juniper a what, Sir ?"' " A land surveyor, Sir," said Maxwell, turning on his visitor a look of astonishment. " Well," said Earlsley, " I have heard some very strange things in my time, but, upon my honor, that is the richest thing ever heard Mr. Juniper a surveyor ?" and here the speaker, with considerable difficulty, relaxed his stern visage, and indulged in a short ironical laugh. " He is at least acknowledged as such by the Surveyor-General himself, Sir," said Max- well. " And what if he is, Sir ?" answered Earlsley ; " I know the Surveyor General, and I respect him, but cannot subscribe to his dictum in this matter. However, yes, Sir, I beg pardon, Mr. Juniper is a surveyor, and I will tell you what he can survey : a fat rump of beef, Sir, or a wattle-bird pie !" The settler laughed, as did all the members of his family, but he was confounded. The idea of his having located himself in a com- fortable manner, built his cottage, ploughed his land and fenced it, working himself al- most to death in doing so, and all on the strength of a false survey, forced itself upon him and made him feel rather the reverse of happy. Mr. Earlsley saw his chagrin, and gazing at him with half closed eyes, mentally observed, " Ah, my fine fellow, I have caught you napping." . But Maxwell quickly recovered his spirits. " Whether," he said, " Mr. Juniper is a sur- veyor or not it is my intention to be guided by his survey until it is found to be a false one." " I do not say it is a false one," said his visitor, rising to depart ; " this gentleman may have some marks to go by which neither you nor I know anything about ; all I say is that his survey—survey did I call it ?—is not at all satisfactory to me." " Then you will of course have the line re- surveyed ?" " Most undoubtedly, and you will have to bear half the expense." " Unquestionably not," said Maxwell. " I have already paid Mr. Juniper for that busi- ness, and in doing so I acted on the Sur- veyor-General's special direction. If I am compelled to go to the expense of another survey I shall get a gentleman from the survey office to perform the duty." " Well, as you please," said Earlsley, " the sooner the line is fenced the better. I shall have it marked by a gentleman who resides at Launceston, and who knows a little more about the profession than Mr. Johnson Juniper. I wish you good day, madam." Mr. Earlsley bowed stiffly to Mrs. Max- well, and taking no notice whatever of the young people, put on his hat and walked out ; Eugene running before by his father's direc- tion to bring his horse out of the stable, both the men being absent in the field. As soon as he was gone Maxwell returned to the cottage in no very pleasant state of mind. His wife endeavored to comfort him but found the task rather difficult. " I wish," he exclaimed bitterly, " I had gone to the backwoods of America, or to the wilds of New Zealand ; it is misery to be thus tor- tured by constant rumors about black savages

and white ruffians ; and as if that were not enough, here comes this stony-faced, purse- proud, heartless worshipper of Mammon to disturb me about his side lines and false sur- veys, making everything look as gloomy as his own magisterial brow. Juniper will not be obliged to him ; I question if he has not laid himselt open to an action at law, and I will ride over in the morning and have a conference." " If you are wise, Bernard," here inter- rupted his wife, " you will not tell Mr. Juniper anything about it whatever." " Why not, Elizabeth ?" " Because it would only make mischief ; they are hardly on good terms as it is, and it 0 possible, instead of putting further enmity between them." " Well, what course would you advise—I know you will meddle in these matters ?" " I do not wish to meddle, but as your in- terests are also mine, I would advise you to write a quiet letter to the Surveyor-General, explain the dissatisfaction of Mr. Earlsley, and ask for advice in the business." " Perhaps I had better do so, we may countermine the schemes of our long-headed neighbor." " It does not require a very long-headed person to see through some of his schemes," said Mrs. Maxwell. " Why, what do you suspect my dear?" said her husband. " Simply this, Bernard : Mr. Earlsley, they say, is covetous for land ; he comes to you with his terrible accounts of blacks and bushrangers, he frightens you by false surveys and endless expenses, he works upon your fears until you make up your mind to leave the country, and he will be happy to become the purchaser of your land on easy terms, thus making a handsome addition to his already large property." " He will be mistaken, then, if that is his drift," returned the husband ; " this land will go to my heirs, and the better to prepare them for their inheritance I will send Eugene back to Sydney to be trained on Colonel Arnott's sheep station—will you go, Eugene ?" " If it is your wish, papa ; but I wish we were all there," said Eugene. " And I wish we were at home sliding on the. Grand Canal opposite Portobello Bar- racks," said Charles. At this moment they were interrupted by another furious growl from the bulldog, immediately followed by a loud knock at the door. " I will venture my life," said Max- well, moving to open it, " that this is another messenger of evil tidings" ; but he had scarcely said so when the door was burst open, and Baxter, the carrier, appeared on the threshold with wildness and distraction written on his face. "Have you seen," he stammered, " have you seen my daughter Mary, my little girl— for mercy's sake tell me have you seen her ?" " Good Heavens ! what is the matter, Bax- ter ?" said Maxwell, " has the child been stolen ?" " She is lost—she is lost in the bush, Sir, since yesterday," said the distracted father, fling- ing himself in an agony on the large chest near the door, " and I am a miserable wretch." Mrs. Maxwell ran for a cordial, a glass of which was almost forced by her husband down Baxter's throat : it seemed to have the effect of restoring him to his senses a little. Griselda and her brothers gazed on the un- fortunate man in terrified astonishment. " Have patience, Baxter, your child may yet be found," said the settler. "I will go myself and search for her, she must be found ; -—get me the gun Charles and a few car- tridges, I'll go at once and tell the men to join in the search. Have you any idea which way she strayed ?" " She is gone," said the unhappy parent, lost to me for ever. She was a little fair haired creature, Mrs. Maxwell, and would run to me with hands stretched out whenever I came home : she would draw up my chair, and pull off my shoes, and bring me the book, that I'd been readin', just as if she was six years old instead o' three : and now to be starved to death in the miserable bush, or devoured by tiger-cats—the thought drives me mad !" " Be patient, Baxter," said Maxwell, while the tears fell from the eyes of Griselda and her mother. " Make some tea Elizabeth, and give him something to eat, he is quite ex- hausted. I shall go down along the river as soon as I have told the men ; " it is possible I may see something of her. Keep the children together, love, if danger threatens leave all in the hands of God. He is our only hope." So saying, Maxwell took his gun and went out. " It is of no use," said Baxter, perceiving that Maxwell had gone, " it is not the least use, the whole township is out, and no one can find a trace of her. I would sooner be killed a hundred times over than see such a day as this ; if my darling is lost I am con- demned to wretchedness for the rest of my life." Mrs. Maxwell tried in vain to console him. She gave him some tea, which he drank with an abstracted air ; he tried to eat, but the agitation of his mind would not let him. Suddenly starting up he said wildly—' Why do I stay here ? There may be life in her yet " let me go and search again. Oh Mary my child, my child, come and gladden your poor father's eyes once more !" So saying he rushed out of the house vainly call- ing his lost daughter. The night now fell dark and gloomy, and the wife of our settler became greatly alarmed for her husband's safety. She knew he had not yet become a clever bushman, and in broad daylight had often been puzzled amongst the hills on his own property. Even had the moon been shining it would not have made her feel more at ease ; but her anxiety became intense when she saw the clouds

gathering for a tempest. The darkness be- came deeper. The men had not returned. She and her children sat up to a late hour, hoping every moment to hear the sound of his approaching footsteps, and listening to the howling wind as it tore over the roof of their cottage ; but no Maxwell came, and they re- luctantly retired to rest. (To be continued.)