Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub
[blocks in formation]

as much for his domestic happiness, as for the prospect of fresh eggs. Anything of far less consequence would be a matter of interest here, for such complete seclusion I have never before known. On three sides access to us is impossible; on the fourth only can any one approach ; but, unfortunately, there is no one to approach by it. Had I a good supply of books I should never feel dull; but, even then, so total a separation from nearly all that interests me in this world, embitters many hours that would otherwise pass tranquilly away.

This seclusion from society has, moreover, many disadvantages as regards the objects of my visit to this country. It is so complete, that we cannot even learn what is going on in the world around usa very desirable state of things on some occasions, perhaps, but altogether incompatible with my objects and wishes; and I resolved last night, after serious consideration, to bend my steps again to Sydney, where alone correct information can be obtained regarding the present state and future prospects of Australia.

Although I have encountered much disappointment, I rejoice that I made this voyage.

In many ways it will be a source of pleasure to me through the remaining years of my life. I am now cognizant of much that I was anxious to know; and I feel satisfied in having performed what I considered to be a duty.

7th.This day has indeed been one of the truest pleasure to me, and the happiest I have known for a long time. Letters from home just received, assure me that all there are well, and going on as I could desire. How exquisite is the happiness derived by a wanderer on such an occasion ! I have read these letters over and over again, and each time I fancy I shall discover something overlooked before.

[blocks in formation]

It is one of the few—very few-real pleasures absence affords or admits of.

10th.— I called to-day at Boree, to take farewell of my kind friends. Mrs. B- is one of the most accomplished and agreeable persons I ever met. One almost feels that for her to reside so far in the wild, is "wasting her sweetness on the desert air ;” but, with her lord by her side, she does not feel it to be so. May grass grow and water run speedily at Boree; and may my excellent hospitable acquaintance long live to show kindness to the stranger, and to enjoy the greatest blessing this world can offer to man-domestic happiness!

For the last week there has been a succession of excessively violent winds at night. About seven in the evening it begins to blow furiously from the south, drying and withering up everything, and the forenoons are sultry and hot. Should this continue, the drought will indeed become most serious everywhere. Even here, the creek occasionally ceases to flow—which it was never known to do, even in 1837, 8, and 9, when no rain of any consequence fell--and the grass is becoming dry and bleached; in a word, things appear to foretel a return of one of the long and dreadful droughts to which this land of changes is subject.

I yesterday engaged Sir Thomas Mitchell's fellow explorer of the Bogan, “Tommy Come-last,” to accompany me to Scotland. This singular name was given him by Mitchell, as being the second man named Thomas who joined him. I am anxious to obtain one of the tribe, as they are desirable in many ways as servants, when removed from their brethren, being faithful,—without any motive to leave your service, and causing very little expense. He was to have come to-day, but has not appeared, and I

[blocks in formation]

“ They

begin to suspect he is like all his caste—a man of words, and not of deeds. The fellow has some interest attached to him, as a great traveller, and his countenance is extremely prepossessing and intelligent.

The dexterity of these people in the use of their weapons is very extraordinary. That called the boomerang, a sharp-edged curved piece of wood, they will throw to a vast distance with great precision, causing it to revolve in the air and return to the place where they stand. will throw it,” says a clever writer on Australia, “ forty or fifty yards horizontally skimming along the ground, when it will suddenly rise into the air fifty or sixty yards, describing a considerable curve, and it will finally fall at the thrower's feet. It keeps turning with great rapidity, with a whizzing noise, like a piece of wood revolving on a pivot. It is observed, that it is not easily comprehended by what law of projection the boomerang is made to take the singular direction it does. In the hands of a European it is dangerous, as it may return and strike himself ; but the aborigine can inflict a most deadly wound on others.” I saw this said “ Tommy Come-last” perform this extraordinary feat, and it did certainly appear very incomprehensible.

I have mentioned my visit to the Messrs. B-, on my way to N-, and the very favourable impression these gentlemen inade upon me. I have just heard of an occurrence that has taken place in that family, almost too dreadful to be believed ; but I had the facts from the elder Mr. B-, and their truth may, therefore, be implicitly relied upon. Messrs. B— had sent off a flock of sheep under the charge of an assigned servant, to the creek called the Billy Bong, at a distance of about sixty miles from their station : though the shepherd was an old resi

DREADFUL OCCURRENCE.

233

dent something rendered them anxious about his taking the right route, and the younger of the two went after him. On overtaking him the second day, he found that he had discovered no water either for himself or the sheep; they encamped for the forenoon, both much exhausted, and unfortunately remained there too long. The afternoon was far gone before they resumed their weary journey; they lost their way and got bewildered; Mr. B-left the choice of road entirely to the shepherd, who he thought was more likely to be correct than himself. The third day came and went; the sun was fiercely hot, the nights excessively cold; no food, no water, no herb or shelter was to be found; their strength and resolution were giving way, and their situation was every hour becoming more hopeless. The fourth day dawned. Mr. B-was a little behind, and called out something to the shepherd; there was no reply; he went up to him; when, to his horror, he saw the blood flowing from a gash in his neck; he could just articulate, “I could stand it no longer, Sir ; I have done it, but not effectually I fear—but I must die -drink some of the blood, Sir-it may save you.” Mr. B hiinself nearly desperate with the agonies of thirst, was instantly rendered helpless as a child at this dreadful sight: he became sick and giddy. The wretched man gave a convulsive leap on his knees, when the blood began to flow more violently from the wound he had inflicted, and from his mouth : he was raving mad, and his last words were appalling—“I am in hell,” he cried, and shortly afterwards expired.

From this moment Mr. B- became stupified, and lay motionless on the ground. Towards night, as he lay in this state with his face downwards, he thought he heard some one near him, for his senses were still preserved to him ; he raised himself on one arm, and looking around

234

PROVIDENTIAL ESCAPE.

saw, to his terror, a native dog close by him, ready to tear him to pieces. This roused his last energies; he began to crawl onwards, when at last he providentially found himself upon a road; it was that leading to Boree, and was very little travelled; but there was now hope. Completely overcome by what had happened, weakened by want of food, and maddened by the want of water, he again fell down, just as he got a glimpse of the fires of a dray encampment at a distance in the forest; he could not make his way to them; he had no means of attracting their attention. After he had lain there sometime, however, the dogs belonging to the encampment smelt him out, and, in consequence of their violent barking, the draymen were led to follow them to the spot. The first thing Mr. B- remembers was some one offering him cold water; his tongue hung black from his mouth—he could not walk-he had scarcely any signs of life—yet, utterly exhausted as he was, his presence of mind did not desert him, and he had resolution to forbear drinking it cold; in a whisper he told them to warm it. It was done; he got some tea, the constant coinpanion of all travellers in the bush; they carried him to the nearest shepherd's hut, some miles off, where he was most carefully tended, and, in some days, he was able to return home. It was characteristic of this excellent person, that as soon as ever returning strength permitted, he endeavoured to discover the body of his unfortunate companion, but unsuccessfully. What must have been the state of that wretched man's mind, whose last words were the dreadful ones I have quoted ? He had been a convict: doubtless some crime of former days lay on his conscience, which can never now be known. From my knowledge of the parties, this terrible event has left an impression upon my mind that can never be erased.

« AnteriorContinuar »