Chapter 36698784

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Chapter NumberL
Chapter Url
Full Date1868-07-18
Page Number2
Word Count3666
Last Corrected2020-02-01
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.) CHAPTER L. (Continued from 11th July.) Upon the arrival of the expected reinforce- ments, the twenty miles of camp were thrown into ecstacies of delight. From his Excel- lency's tent an encouraging order issued, an- nouncing the near approach of the Western division, commanding the army to prepare for the final and decisive movement, and hopefully congratulating them on their speedy dismissal to the homes from which they had been so long absent, when the satisfactory termination of their labors by the capture of the two most dangerous tribes now securely enclosed should be made known to him. It was, therefore, a holiday time when their long expected friends actually arrived, and re- lieved them of the horrors of idleness and hope deferrred. The line, excepting those who were detained, by strict discipline, was momentarily broken, for friends walked for miles in search of friends. Mutual recog- nitions and remarks on each other's personal appearances made the woods ring with laughter. Here was one brother making en- quiries for another, speaking to the indi- vidual he was looking for, and not able to recognise him in his beard, dirt, and rags : and there a father asked a newly found son with simulated anger whom the money was to come from to fit him out a second time as a gentleman. Amongst the rest Charles Maxwell rambled without any other object than to enjoy himself. He passed his jokes like the rest, and smoked his pipe, his eyes wandering incessantly from face to face with nods and smiles ; and at last they remained fixed upon a countenance which he knew well. He ran and caught the willing hand. It was his relative, Edwin Herbart, torn and tattered and melancholy enough.. To Edwin this was a happy meeting, for he said he had not seen a friend since he left home with the exception of Buffer, who accompanied him. The three withdrew from the throng and made preparations to enjoy ' the feast of reason and the flow of soul' over a congenial pot of tea. Edwin enquired as in duty bound after the parents of his friend Charles ; and then with a girlish blush after his cousin Griselda. " We had some glorious fun yesterday evening," said Charles. The soldiers on the left commenced firing and kept it up volley after volley for nearly four hours, and several of us went down a deep gully and up the opposite side to see what the matter was. I was puffing away up the hill when I met two soldiers, an old man and a young man, coming down as fast as they could ' What's in the wind ?' said I; ' have the blacks been seen ?' ' I didn't see none myself,' said the old man stopping ; ' but some of the people saw a quare thing go hoppety, hoppety, hop like this'—and he squatted down and began jumping like a kangaroo. ' Come on, you old fool,' said his younger comrade, and the old fool obeyed orders and went. "And we," said Edwin, " had a little sport of own too. Buffer and I had possession of a barn with about fifty other people, when who should come up but Captain W—— with about a hundred soldiers drenched with rain, for it was pouring in torrents, and what was better still the Governor himself was expected. Well, the captain rode backwards and for- wards making his men fall in to receive his Excellency, and much trouble and swearing it cost him, for the poor drowned rats were more inclined to fall out with themselves and everybody else. Then the captain came to the barn door and ordered us all off to our respec- tive stations some two or three miles off ; but some of the spirited settlers flatly refused to trudge a single inch. In vain the captain stormed and threatened, and stamped and swore ; the only concession he could get out of the wooden headed bumpkins was permis- sion to bring his horse into the barn and make him a bed in a corner ; but I noticed a young fellow, the son of a landed proprietor near Campbell Town, drinking a pannican of tea and laughing over it, and the more he laughed the wilder the captain grew." Later in the evening Charles learned that Juniper and his men were returning to re- occupy their old position in the line ; and he determined to walk in search of him in the morning along with Edwin who had accepted an invitation to share his opossum rug for the night. In the morning early they arose and lit a good fire to dry themselves, as it had rained during the night. They then walked to- gether along the line towards Mr. Juniper's tent, intending to request the pleasure of that gentleman's company to breakfast. They found the tent indeed, or the place where it ought to have been, for the bachelor slumbered soundly : in his clothes in the open. air, with a stone for his pillow, his boots lying beside him being the only portion of his apparel of which he had divested himself. Edwin was about to arouse the sleeper and communicate the joyful intelligence that breakfast would be soon ready, but Charles interposed. We love a joke sometimes, provided it is an innocent joke ; but we cannot too strongly condemn the hardness of heart and misplaced energy which Charles displayed in robbing his friend of his boots instead of inviting him to break- fast. Edwin did not arouse the sleeper, and therefore became accessory to the piece of iniquity. They returned to their own fire, leaving poor Juniper asleep on his cold, wet, hard bed ; his venerable hair bleached with frost, and his features swollen from the effects of the night air ; and ate their break- fast with internal satisfaction ! When they had eaten enough they again visited the for- lorn surveyor, and found him wide awake, bemoaning the loss of his boots and heartily abusing the scoundrel who had stolen them ; and they had the wickedness to condole with him and appear sorry for his loss. " Who- ever wears my boots," said Juniper in his excessive regret, " I hope may have per- petual blisters on his feet." If there was sin in the wish we can hardly blame Juniper. As that was to be a day of rest, our friend had plenty of time to think on what was to be done ; and he forthwith set about repair- ing his loss by making moccasin of wallaby and opossum skins, " They would not last long," he observed to his friends, " but they will leave my feet more room than the boots did, and I hope the toes of the man who stole them may be eternally pinched as in a vyce." Edwin and Charles laughed at their tortured victim, and invited him and Baxter to spend the rest of the day at their fire. An order had been issued that a strict watch was to be kept, lest the natives, harrassed within the line by the roving parties, should renew their attempts

to break through it, and each man was to be at his post at six o'clock on the following morning, when the final and decisive effort would be made. Mindful of this, and think- ing it possible that it might be their last social meeting during the war, Juniper and Baxter delegated their authority to the next in seniority, and accepted their friends' invita- tion. The time passed as agreeably as time could be expected to pass under the circumstances. Pleasant stories were told, and two or three musical men joined their voices in harmony in glees about " Hail smiling morn," and " A skating we will go." As evening fell prepa- rations were made for tea, and while Juniper was busily employed in cutting a respectable piece of pork into slices, and laying them on divers pieces of bread, a stranger with a pair of boots in his hand accosted him with—" Do those here boots belong to you, Sir ?" " My very boots," said Juniper, looking up astonished from his work ; " where did you get them ? who stole them ?" " Stole 'em !" said the man, " I don't know who stole 'em, all I know is that the shoe- maker at Sorell sent 'em back with his com- pliments, he won't mend 'em without the money ; and if so be as the money is sent he'll send 'em back to Lunnon to be mended by steam, as there's not a cobbler in this here blessed island as can mend those here boots." " Tell the shoemaker he's an impudent rascal," roared the excited Juniper ; " I never sent the boots to be mended at all." The messenger disappeared and the con- spirators laughed. The sun went down, and the spirits of the party rose up. There were, besides Charles, Edwin, Juniper, and Baxter—Walker, of Blanket Bottom ; Snowywull, jun., of Salt- pan Plains ; the lawyer, T. W. Rousal, all the way from Toppleton Cottage ; Herman Staple- ton, from Camden Hall, Perth; and others whose names, did we record them, would swell our book to the size of a cyclopædia. There were two or three military officers in search of amusement whose cognomens have unfortunately escaped the historians of that day. The company of Baxter was not ob- jected to, as he was a kind of wag ; and the peculiar nature of the service levelled to a certain extent all distinctions of rank, and nearly of class. After tea the rum bottle and water can circulated from hand to hand, and the mirth of the party grew boisterous. Great quan- tities of wood were heaped upon the social fire, the light of which illuminated the highest branches of the surrounding trees with a sickly supernatural glow. The noise and songs of the revellers called around them a large party of the men, who sometimes joined in the noise, though they did not share in the good cheer. Baxter cast his eye from time to time around the crowd of fire-lit faces, and then asked Charles, who was helping Juniper and Buffer out with ' Hail to the Chief who in triumph advances,' where Bill Jinkins was ? Charles replied that he didn't know, he hadn't seen Jinkins that day, was afraid he had deserted, didn't care whether he had or not, didn't want to be bothered about Jinkins, and wouldn't be bullied or made a fool of by Baxter. The carrier advised Charles to put more water to his grog, and Charles stood up in a passion and asked Baxter what he meant by that ? When the song was over, a sten- torian voice from the crowd roared out— " Give us that agin, gentleman Jupp ; did they give you back your boots old boy ?" Another continued, " Who was it scratched your face, the old woman that took you into the scrub ?" and yet another at a greater distance but in louder tones, " Give him a dish o' biled eggs, and a sheepskin to make a new pair o' trou- sers." " It's him, it's him," said the carrier to Juniper ; " did you hear him, Mr. Juniper ? It's that born son of old Nick, Bill Jinkins himself, and his father'll never be satisfied till he has the wretch in his brimston' furnace a roastin'." These remarkable words were caught up by the crowd and conveyed with hearty laughter from lip to lip until they reached the ears of the redoubtable Jinkins. Bounding at once into the arena with the fury of a baited bull, his stalwart figure magnified by the glare of the fire, and his hands and face begrimed with sweat and charcoal, he roared out " Where is the backbiting thief, the varmint of a carrier, Tim Baxter ?'' " Here I am, Bill," said Baxter with great coolness, " and glad I am to see you : how's then wife and family ? You look as if you was flustered, Bill ; what's up ?" " This is up, this is ;" said. Bill vehe- mently, " and I'll tell you what, Baxter : you're a low minded spider altogether, to be going about and abusing me behind my back as you do." " Who says so ?" said Baxter, feigning great surprise. " Everybody says so," replied the exas- perated Bill. " Everybody lies," said Baxter ; " don't you kick up no row, Bill, because one-half the world is fools and 'tother half rogues, and all on 'em liars together. Here's your captain, Mr. Charley Maxwell, ready to take his most solemnest oath that I don't never say nothin' about you to nobody." A roar of laughter from the assembled crowd had the effect of heaping fuel on the fire of Bill Jinkins's rage. The sympathies of the bystanders were evidently with the facetious carrier, and his antagonist became conscious that he was a butt for Baxter's wit and laughing stock for the people. He foamed at the mouth, and made a desperate attempt to annihilate the carrier by one ter- rible blow, but instead of hitting him he struck the air only, and very nearly precipi- tated himself into the fire. " Take it easy, Bill, if that's your game," said Baxter, administering to him at the same time a smart kick in the rear to let him know his whereabouts. " Take it easy, Bill," said the carrier again, jumping on one side with the agility of a rope dancer, and giving his adversary a blow on the heft side of his face ; and thus he continued dancing round him and telling him to take it easy, giving now a blow and now a kick until his enraged foe fairly baffled, suddenly made his escape from the laughing and applauding circle, bellowing as he did so—" If I'm to be hanged it'll be for you, you oudacious sar- pint and spiteful wretch of a carrier." " No it won't, Bill," said Baxter, " don't go yet ; that you will be hanged I devoutly believe ; but it won't be for me—and in course I'll go and see the sport." The victorious carrier now sat down on a log to recover his exhausted breath, a num- ber of his friends ranging themselves behind and on either side of him to guard against any treacherous renewal of the attack on the part of Jinkins. Baxter's blood was up to boiling point, his talk flowed rapidly, and he

did not require the additional stimulus of a stiff pannican of rum and water to keep his spirits from flagging. Satisfied that he was well guarded, he entertained his auditors by giving them a history of the life and exploits of Bill Jinkins, which would apparently have detained them till morning, had not Juniper told them peremptorily to leave Bill Jinkins alone, and give them a song by way of change. Baxter got on his legs and reeled into the open space before the fire, sputtering out as he did so—" Yes, Mister Juniper, I knows a song, and can sing it—with ere a man between here—and Partigonia—and I can dance the New Zealand cut—throat hornpipe with Bill Jinkins for a pardner— so which will ye have, the dance or the song ?" " Both," replied the spectators, " the song first and the dance afterwards. Baxter threw himself into a ludicrous atti- tude, commenced an accompaniment to him- self on an imaginary fiddle, and sang a ditty which our readers will excuse us for omitting. The song was received with several rounds of applause, being more gratifying to the vulgar tastes of the majority of the hearers than one of more refined language and versification could be, and the whimsical contortions of the singer had the effect, if not of adding to his own respectability, of procuring for him an enviable though short-lived popularity. An immediate call was now made for the promised hornpipe ; and the performer com- menced, having first ceremoniously called upon Bill Jinkins to come and take his place as "pardner," but that ill-used individual not choosing to appear, Baxter threw out his legs, extended his arms, and committed him- self to such fantastic gyrations that the woods resounded with the unrestrained laughter of all who beheld him. This continued for about ten minutes, when all at once the dances uttered a strange unearthly howl and fell to the ground struggling. Some of the bystanders ran to his assistance ; one poured a pannican of cold water over his face, another untied his neckcloth. " He is in a fit," said one ; " he is dead drunk," said another. " Turn his head away from the fire, Peter," said a third. As they turned him round they discovered a quantity of blood on his neck, and then a ghastly wound, and on the ground where the poor man fell was dis- covered the native spear with which the fatal deed was done. It is impossible to describe the uproar which followed this tragical event. The cries of ' To arms,' ' The natives, ' The enemy resounded on all sides. The soldiers present fired their muskets in the direction from which the deadly weapon had been launched, and civilians mustered rank on rank, and poured in successive volleys accom- panied with furious shouts. When the firing slackened, a charge by torchlight was made into the tangled thickets, but the search though kept up for several hours, and warmly seconded by fresh accessions of force, was in vain, no enemy was discovered. It is a mystery to this day by whom the unfortu- nate carrier was murdered ; but there were not wanting busy tongues which whispered that his sworn foe, Bill Jinkins, was the sole author of the poor fellow's untimely death. Early on the following morning the search was resumed. Acting upon previously received instructions the line advanced and closed around the interminable scrubs that fringed the bases of the inhos- pitable and rocky mountains of Buckingham. They now advanced into a country which resembled more the foundation of an ante- diluvian coal field than anything ever before seen by civilised eyes. Masses of dead trees lying together in decaying heaps barred the progress of the jaded volunteers, who saw their difficulties increase while they knew that a large tract of unexplored country was still before them ; and though the line from the ocean on the east to Frederick Henry Bay on the south was in length a mere bagatelle when compared to what it had formerly been, still their hopes of success, once so high and extravagant, were now considerably below zero, and this buoyant courage was found to have evaporated before the mighty influence of tattered clothing and soleless boots. Yet they continued to struggle bravely, and used every effort to overcome the obstacles which still lay be- tween them and the promised triumph, when whisper flew along the line, followed by an order direct from head quarters, which was quickly disseminated through the ranks, announcing that the Black War was at an end. The military were ordered to march on to Pittwater, and the civilians were thanked for their services and dismissed to their homes. This abrupt termination of their troubles astonished the recipients of the grateful intelligence, but disappointed the newspaper critics who believed that a large number of natives were still within the line, although it had been ascertained that the main body had escaped by swimming Prosser's River. Colonel Arthur might have reflected with some little pride that this his last order was more promptly obeyed than any which preceded it, for glad enough to be released from their arduous services the indi- viduals composing the civil portion of the grand army turned their faces towards their respective homes. Juniper and Charles, with Edwin and Buffer set out together for the South Esk, travelling in company with Walker, of Blanket Bottom, Snowywull, Junior, and others. At Walker's bachelor establishment, on the Upper Macquarie, they rested for a couple of days, and a very hospitable and excellent follow their host proved himself to be. At Campbell Town they separated, Edwin and Buffer declining the kind invita- tion of Charles and Juniper to spend a few days at Bremgarten and Skittleball Hill. They said that they were in rags, which was true enough, and they were uneasy about affaire at home ; but the fact was Edwin was unwilling to meet his fair relative, Griselda, lest the meeting should fan into fierce flame the fire, which, though it might smoulder, could never be wholly extinguished. And now the colony with its exhausted energies was at peace for a considerable time. The natives, terrified probably by such an unusual display of force, remained. quiet, but hostilities did not finally cease until they were stealthily dogged through the bush and per- suaded to give themselves up to the Govern- ment. From Tasmania they were banished to Flinders Island, where huts were built, provisions found for them, and attempts were made to instruct them in some of the more simple arts of civilised life. Many of them died it is said of home-sickness, and even since their re-deportation to Brown's River, Tasmania, the prospect of the speedy extinc- tion of the race has not diminished. All the British prisoners who had been entrusted with arms delivered them up again, and re- turned to their service. According to Mel-

ville this famous war cost the Government about thirty-five thousand pounds, and the lives of four or five Europeans who were killed by accident, while only one prisoner of war was brought into Hobart Town, and even he escaped soon afterwards into the bush. His Excellency was nevertheless, and in spite of the exertions of a few ill-natured grumblers, overwhelmed with congratulating addresses from all ports of the colony. From an able Governor he was exalted into it a hero. He had taught the colonists their strength and circulated the money which had been hoarded uselessly in the pubic treasury. His health was drunk at convivial meetings with deafen- ing cheers, his super-human exertions and heroic example lauded to the skies, and praises such as Camillus himself might have envied were lavished upon the head of this fortunate and happy commander. (To be continued.)