Chapter 36696122

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Chapter NumberXXXVIII
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Full Date1868-02-22
Page Number2
Word Count3116
Last Corrected2014-10-14
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.j (ALL RIGHTS ARE RESERVED.) (Continued from Saturday, Feb. 8.) CHAPTER XXXVIII. JORGEN JORGENSON. The day was fast drawing to a close when Edwin was aroused from his long swoon and opened his eyes to the twilight. At first he remembered nothing of the events that had just taken place, and after opening his eyes and looking about him wildly for a moment, he closed them again and sank back in a per- fect state of indifference as to whether he should open them again or not. But he was not allowed to relapse into his former state of unconsciousness so easily as to evidently ex- pected, for a strong hand took hold of the collar of what had once been a coat, and shook it unceremoniously, while a voice ex- claimed in hoarse but friendly accents-- " Come, Sir, get up ; we're not going to stop here all night--stand on your pins, and thank your stars that matters are no worse." These words recalled his scattered senses, again on the point of wandering away, and he made an effort to get upon his legs ; but this he could not do without the assistance of the friendly hand which still grasped his collar. Standing up for is moment with a bewildered air he found that his legs refused to support their wonted burden, and the hand on his collar was compelled to allow him to sit on the log which lay invitingly beside him. There he sat for a few minutes, con- scious that his face was as cold and inanimate as that of a marble statue, and he looked up- ward and downward and all around him many times before he seemed to comprehend the actual position of affairs. His awakening attention was first natu- rally turned to the individual to whose timely presence and intervention he was evidently indebted for his almost miraculous escape from a violent death. This personage was tall and well proportioned, with a good   humored, open kind of countenance, having a light complexion, sandy whiskers, and blue eyes. He was dressed in a suit of coarse dark clothing, with his legs protected by   sheepskin leggings, and wearing on his head an opussum-skin cap. He leaned on his rifle while waiting for his charge to recover suffi- cient strength to leave the place, and attached to his rifle Edwin perceived a bayonet dabbled with blood. He wore also a belt, in which four pistols were arranged, and behind in military fashion were his bayonet sheath and cartridge box ; a knapsack was strapped to his shoulders, made of green opossum skins, filled to all appearance with extra clothing and provisions. Edwin looked at him with astonishment, and as he scanned the features on which a quiet smile now appeared, he slowly became aware that it was not the first time they had met. Under the influence of this dawning recollection he again rose to his feet and attempted to walk. The stranger perceiving his weakness desired him to sit down again, as they were not far from Sam Tomkins's hut, and with an exclamation to himself of surprise at not having thought of it before he unstrapped his knapsack, drew forth a bottle, and handed it to Edwin. It contained rum, and Edwin after swallowing a little returned it to its owner with thanks, saying that he was now beginning to feel strong, and would make another attempt to walk. The stranger taking a sip out of the bottle himself returned it to its place, and they both set out without further loss of time towards the hut--the same from which Edwin and the sailor had fled--the distance to which was more than a mile. They had scarcely gone a dozen yards be- fore Edwin nearly stumbled over the dead body of the savage who had so nearly termi- nated his own earthly career. The black Her- cules lay on his face just as he fell when shot, and the stranger pointed out to Edwin the way in which he himself had fallen, and the marks on the grass that his feet had made when he was dragged from under his foe. The naked savage still held his waddy in his deadly grasp, while the fingers of his other hand were buried deep in the soil, on the surface of which the life blood of his heart had already dried. A few paces in the rear lay another savage killed by a bayonet thrust, and yet another lay at a distance, but there were no living natives to be seen. They had all vanished in what appeared to Edwin to be an unaccountable way, for he forgot the fact of his having lain so long in- sensible. The sight of these unfortunate creatures filled his mind with melancholy thoughts. War to the knife had broken out   between the native proprietors of the land and the civilised and powerful intruders from distant England, though it is but just to say that the shedding of blood, except in self- defence, was strongly condemned and severely punished by the British Governor. Isolated cases of barbarity and torture cannot be blotted from the page of history, especially from that of the unhappy race which formerly roamed in freedom in the forests of Tasmania ; but it must be recollected that there are   brutal ruffians in every country under heaven ; that the English Government in- tended justice to the miserable barbarians while confessing that the progress of coloniza- tion could not well be stayed by a handful of creatures scarcely removed from the hairy animals on which they fed ; and that it was impossible to impose restrictions upon men who had themselves broken away from all restraint, who had taken to the bush with arms in their hands, waging war alike against the native race and their own peace- able countrymen. Edwin felt a sickness coming over him, and the stranger, noticing the increasing pale- ness of his face, took hold of his arm to sup- port him. " Come," said he, " you will drop down again, I see, and keep these fellows company

all night. You're a weak subject, you are : I wish I had you as an apprentice for six months. Come on, Sir, we'll bury them in     the morning, and you can cry about them all night." " Did you kill these yourself ?" asked Edwin, looking upon the stranger with a feeling of awe. " If I hadn't shot the first," replied his companion, " where would you be now ? What do you value your life at ?--worth a hundred such carrion crows as these, I should think. I killed two of them, and three soldiers killed I don't know how many-- they're scattered here and there, up and down. Come on, unless you would prefer to stay with them all night, in which case I bid you good-by." " Stay," said Edwin, " I am very weak ; I have been shipwrecked, and have lost every- thing. I received a heavy blow on my head, and the pain is now intense. I claim your protection, for I think you must be the con- stable who captured the bushranger Brady in Baxter's hut--am I right ?" " Never mind," said the impatient stranger, " whether you are right or wrong--I'll tell you to-morrow. Catch hold of my arm and come on. I might have had twenty of those blacks alive, and got my free pardon, if I hadn't stopped to get you to come to life again." So saying, he fairly dragged Edwin away, and compelled him to move along at a smart pace. It was nearly dark when they gained the hut. The hairy man, Sam Tomkins, and his wife were at supper, but they seemed to ex- pect their visitor, for the woman rose up,   brought some fresh provision, which consisted of kangaroo flesh stewed with potatoes, hot   from the fire, and laid it on the table before them. She then filled two pannicans of hot   tea and invited them to drink. The host, in his untutored way, congratulated Edwin on his escape, and confidently declared, while demolishing his portion of Irish stew, that it was the queerest concern that ever he did see: if not strike him dumb and cranky. The constable was surprised that the three soldiers who had gone in pursuit of the blacks had not returned, but on this suibject his mind was speedily set at rest, as they soon after made their appearance. Neither the health nor the spirits of Edwin had im- proved since he had eaten a frugal dinner in the same hut that day, so he had not much appetite for supper. The blow he had re- ceived on his head made it very painful, and to allay the pain he kept it bandaged with a cloth saturated with cold water, having learned from Mrs. Maxwell that it was that simple treatment which alleviated the pain of Griselda's wounds when she suffered under similar circumstances. He lay down on the bench in the corner heedless of the conversa- tion of Mr. Tomkins and his guests, thinking as was his wont of the woodbine-covered cottage on the banks of the Dodder ; of the fair face and gentle spirit which made Bremgarten holy ground ; and wondering what would be the next phase of his own eventful history. Early the next morning the three soldiers took their departure for the infant township of Falmouth, having told the constable that they would lose no time in sending a mes- senger to Mr. Fitzfrizzle, who happened to be a coroner for the territory, so that he might come immediately and hold an inquest on the dead bodies. After they were gone the con- stable, accompanied by Edwin and the pro- prietor Tomkins, set out for a stroll towards   the scene of yesterday's conflict, the last men- tioned individual carrying a spade on his shoulder, and smokiug a black pipe. As they walked on the constable asked Edwin how he was, and received for answer that he felt considerably stronger than he did since he had been shipwrecked, and the pain in his head had considerably abated. '' You were quite right in supposing, said the constable while walking slowly beside Edwin, and casting his eyes round him into the bush from time to time--" That I am the same man who made you bestir yourself in Baxter's barn, and afterwards arrested Brady the bush- ranger. If that wretched cripple of an in- former had kept good watch I should have got my reward, and been home again to my brave Denmark. I'm a Dane, Sir, a de-. scendant of the original conquerors of you English ; and may live to see the day when we'll conquer you again, great as you think yourselves." " It is possible you may," replied Edwin. " Possible but not probable you mean to say," said the constable, " and you may say it without fear of offending me. I know what I am and what my country is ; though smarting under the blows of it Nelson and a Cathcart she may rise again, and England may want a Nelson and not know where to find one." " You are no friend to England then ?" said Edwin. " Why, it is a matter of indifference to me," answered the constable, " whether she   is great or little. She has according to my belief a festering sore within her that will sooner or later bring her to ruin ; but what is it to me ? I'm not an Englishman and I don't hate her ; she may stand or fall as she lists for all I care." " I suppose you allude to her enormous debt ?" " Not only that, though I suppose her debt cannot go on increasing for ever ; but I mean her vanity, and her pride, and her gross   mismanagement of public affairs ; her squan- dering of money on pomp and show, her idolatry of royalty, her church deprived of its primitive simplicity, important offices bartered for money and held by brainless fools, important commands entrusted to men who however brave and good they may be have been long worn out with years and ser- vice. Why, of what use is it for young offi- cers and soldiers to fight for their country at a distance when they are snubbed and neg- lected at home, and their services passed

over by some honorable Jack who do nothing but toast his shins over the fire in his elegant office--who has managed his pri- vate affairs until he is overwhelmed with debt and ruin, and then gets to manage the affairs of the nation until she becomes a laughing stock to her neighbors ?" " These subjects," said Edwin, " are not new. They have been talked over in Parlia- ment and elsewhere, and have been written about over and over again for years. People must not expect perfection in human affairs.   Things may improve slowly, and no doubt they will. Are the English as vain as the French ? and do you mean to say that her national pride is not justifiable ? It is better to be ruled by a fool with a cheek upon him, than by a merci- less tyrant with no check it all. I'm an Irishman, and can snap at England as well as the rest of my countrymen, but I cannot shut my eyes to the fact that of all nations she possesses the greatest freedom, and is, by means of that freedom, the most glorious nation in the world." " What is her freedom ?" said the consta- ble. " Her boasted liberty of the press is nothing but a bar to progress, and a source of confusion worse confounded ; the best man in England can do nothing but he has a host of miserable quill-drivers worrying him to death." " On the contrary," replied Herbart, " I think the liberty of the press is the greatest blessing we can enjoy ; the best check upon tyranny and vice that ever grew up amongst men." " Well, as my countryman Rothe says,-- ' The gift of the Dane is strength, where others have inherited liberty.' If our press was is free as yours, we might have pushed one another into the Baltic long ago. But England has done some good in keeping up the balance of power, ridding the world of savages, and introducing civilization and rum and black-coated gentlemen, followed up by red-coated gentlemen, wherever she pleases ; and I wish her well, only hoping that if I ever go back and write a book in Newgate, I shall not die the death that my ancestor, Rag- nar Lodbrog, died on English ground." And is your name Ragnar Lodbrog ?" asked Edwin. " No," said the constable laughing, " mine is a more modern and musical name--Jor- gen Jorgenson, but that is no reason why I may not have descended from the adven- turous sea-king who filled the North Sea with terror. And even I, as an author and a commander, might yet become famous if I could be lucky enough to find a biographer who would do me only half the justice I deserve." " I am to understand, then, that you have been a sea-king or something similar, and that you have written a book ?" said Edwin. " I have written several,--a treatise on re- ligion, and another on the Treaty of Tilsit, a tragedy on the death of the Duc D'Enghien, a history of the Affghan revolution, and other things ; and I may write two or three more yet. I have been a governor in my time of a large island ; made laws for peo- ple, and made the people respect the laws ; commanded an army, and would have equipped a fleet, if in an evil hour I had not gone to England and subjected myself to arrest. This was my first step to ruin, I gave way to my besetting sin, gambling ; and now, here I still, a felon at large, a common constable in Tasmania."*   " You must have passed through many adventures," said Edwin, " and I should like to hear your account of some of them. You mentioned Ragnar Lodbrog just now, but I am as much in the dark about the man himself as I am of the death he died." " He was a great man while he lived," replied Jorgenson. " Himself, the son of a Norwegian prince, he married a Danish princes ; and being worsted on shore by Harald, a Danish prince, he took to the sea, and carried all before him. He conquered Rouen, and was bought off from Paris. lie extended his excursions into Spain, and at length resolved to try his hand on England ; but here his good fortune forsook him, for in a bloody battle with Ella, king of Northumbria, he was taken prisoner and shockingly put to death by being cast into a deii, in which numbers of poisonous snakes and scorpions had been put on purpose to torture and kill him. " That was very barbarous indeed," ex- claimed Edwin ; " do you know if his death was avenged by his countrymen ?" " Yes, Sir, it was ; his son Hubba went to England with it huge force, conquered Ella and put him to death with horrid cruelties. We may learn from this piece of history that cruel tyrants should never feel quite sure that the tables may not be turned against them some day." " My information respecting this remarkable character is derived from one of Dr. Ross's almanacs, kindly lent me with other books by     James Aikenhead, Esquire, of Launceston. I have     also to thank T. J. Crouch, Esquire, of Hobart Town, for similar favors. (To be continued.) NATIONALITY.-At the trial of William Halpin, the Chief Baron proceeded to charge the jury, and, referring to the ground on which the prisoner declined to plead, namely, that he was an American citizen and not under the jurisdiction of the Court, he re- pested his statement of the law, viz, that one who was born under the allegiance of the British Crown can never shake off the obliga- tions of that allegiance by any act of his own or by any act of any foreign Government. His lordship read from the commentaries of Chancellor Kent--a great lawyer and a good American judge, whose works are deemed worthy of the greatest venertion and respect is England--to the effect that the law in America, founded as it is on the English law, was the same as the latter on this subject.