" Oh, bull ! oh, bull ! what's brought thee here?
Thou'st been dragging sawn stuff this many a year,
With whips and oaths and foul abuse,
And now brought here for convict use."
Marching by the side of this hard case " The Vet." foolishly placed his belt beneath bis blue shirt. Twigging this the bolter performed an acrobatic feat by managing suddenly to pull the serge surplice over 'The Vet's." head, and then be darted off into the scrub with the handcuffs on. Fighting his way out of the shirt "The Vet." found his game escaped. This necessitated a retrograde movement. Some young fellows, headed by John Groombridge, instituted a systematic search, and the runaway was brought back and handed over to " The Vet." "Eighteen months' imprisonment," said Kirwin at the trial of this " bolter." "In chains," of course suggested Freeman, who was a profound believer in the music of Vulcan's jewellery.
In a day or so word came from Hobart Town that the four men had been visiting Southport, where one of them had been assigned to Mr Edwards, a good kind master. A party was sent from town, and, with "The Vet.," journeyed to that Southern settlement via Franklin, Honeywood, Flight's Bay, and Port Esperance. " The Vet." carried pro-curations for victualling the party. Tired out, the police reached Southport, and I and Mr Edwards, who started the bolters, had left there.
A march was proposed for the " pub," a rude bush hut. There was no sign over or near the door, but a calico bill announced that "timber was taken in exchange by Mr Thompson, late architect." Some information was obtained here from a pitman sawing timber for the Victorian railway, to be shipped by the Islander, brig. Beating a retreat to Ward's Town, "The Vet." was ordered off to Oyster Cove, Constable Gleeson, of Peppermint Bay, having made a statement regarding the bushrangers.
Calling next day at Phil. Denehey's, Tommy O'Brien's, and Bembow's, " The Vet." was told of Lalla Rookh, the aboriginal, being found dead on the public road. She had fallen down drunk, with her nose and mouth in a cart-wheel ruck, where only 1in of water obtained. The poor creature had suffocated, nevertheless. At Brown's River news was received that the four men had been seen in company with Dougherty, the flogger, at the Snug River, by Happy Jack, the boatbuilder, making for Nor'-West Bay. Tobin being now married to Mary Montgomery from Ferguson's at Tinder Box Bay, his station was empty ; so " The Vet," made at once for that locality to restore confidence among the unprotected families there.
It was now clearly ascertained that "the four men out" were James Quinn, Joseph Swinscoe (Piggy), Chas. Brewer and J. Twitty. All were armed with fowling pieces. John Campbell, a milkman at Vigor's, and the two boys Groombridge were all the help who volunteered to assist in apprehending the daredevil runaways. Quite unexpected Kirwin rode into Margate, but evinced great doubt re the reports of the bolters being in that vicinity, How beit, 'The Vet' requested assistance, suggesting John Campbell, the milkman. " Oh, certainly, if you wish it,' acquiesced the accommodating Kirwin. "Get a Bible and I'll do the job at once, my man." Several houses were tried, but there was no Bible procurable. Here was a dilemma. How to " well and truly " administer " the oath" without the prescribed instrument would be Hamlet with Hamlet left out. " Ah, well," quoth the stipendiary, " a book is a book all the same, so get anything, as time is pressing." A volume of Campbell's songs was found, and J. C. was sworn in " a special constable for the Island of V.D.L. and its dependencies" and placed on pay and duty, as the stick-at-nothing country justice galloped off to a crowner's quest at " The Myrtle Hotel."
On the following day some young children brought word to the police but that the bushrangers had stuck up a family named Worsely near the back settlement. "The Vet." was just in the act of putting out a fire. Essaying to bake some meat for dinner, and having no knowledge of cooking, fool - like he bad placed the combustibles under the oven and ignited them. But instead of heating the oven the flames burnt it down, the fire being placed in the wrong aperture. Of course the joint was cooked ; so was the oven, as it was built of wood, and clayed over. Moral—A knowledge of a trade is the secret of the business.
Arrived at the house " The Vet." soon saw the report was too true. Mr R. Worlsey was absent at the goldfields, and Mrs W. was surrounded with her family of young children, crying, as they had not quite recovered from the fright, though no violence was attempted by the four Armed men. " On the contrary, they were most polite," said Mrs W. However, they bad robbed the house, taking away a swag of rations, a gun, and a pair of Mr W.'s Wel- lington boots, for which Quinn paid, so he said, by dancing an Irish jig in them. In " turning the place over " they found some cash secreted between the beds, and of course appropriated that. Then they coolly sat down and had "a heavy feed." When leaving they implored the dear woman " not to be frightened or offended, as they in tended to call again some other day."
Here was a go. Which way did they make with a heavy swag ? Surely they could not be very far off. " Oh, they've gone to old Bushell's," said the charcoal burner's boy. So off they start on a wild goose chase. Bushell had not seen them. Certainly not. This old rip wanted to put the traps on the wrong scent. Just then shots were heard ; and now to follow the direction of the sound. More shots, this time in several directions; then silence, and nothing further to guide or indicate their whereabouts. Purely a game of chasing shadows on the part of the pursuers, and a ruse only by the pursued. News now flew fast and furious regarding these men at large. Imagination pictured them murdering whole families, which afforded a very favorable opportunity to petty pilferers to help themselves and lay the crimes to the bushrangers, and this was too often the case. Wild rumors reachcd town, and the names and deeds of these absconders ran through the columns of the Press like the Nile through the land of Egypt. Some splitters knocked off work in the bush, accounting it dangerous to be safe, and got on the spree.
'Tis passing strange that not an extra constable was sent to the help of "The Vet.," though the authorities, as well as Kirwin, were posted up in the doings at Margate, and the close proximity of the gang to town—only 15 miles. Quinn kindly sent word that they intended to slick up the " pub," as they knew the landlord was away, actually mentioning the night they were coming. Measures were accordingly taken, and they would have been nabbed but for treachery on the part of Happy , Jack. That evening a few old birds dropped into the " pub" to obtain news of the " bolters." Sydney Sam, old Frenchy, Happy, and others started yarning about " old times." Model prisons at P.A., solitary confinement, flogging, the gag, heavy irons, marooning, and the gallows, with an occa- sional ditty washed down by beer made up the evening's programme of these strange fish. A spice of the highly cultivated ideas, and the edifing poetry they spouted, will not be out of place, as most of it has been lost in the waters of Lethe.
En passant, it is a matter of wonderment that Mr Martin Dumphy, who collated the incidents in "The Life of Martin Cash" for John Woodcock Greaves, made no mention of the epics dedicated to the " Doughty Deeds" of that Red Rapparee, by Frank the Poet, There was a tacit understanding at the " pub" that no remarks should be passed concerning the visit of the gang that night, but " The Vet." made all snug for them, having a man or two stationed with arms in three of the rooms, and the windows about 1½in up to allow the barrels of the guns to protrude. Preparations being completed, "The Vet." sauntered into the tap-room where the fun was going on, the beer going down, and the cash going into the till. Sydney Sam was howling a wretched ode of the Botany Bay standard, the refrain being taken up by the little knot of carousers—
" But of all those places of condemnation,
Each penal station in New South Wales ;
To Moreton Bay I can find no equal,
Excess of tyranny each day prevails."
Then a " pebble," one of "Major O'Gellon's men, " here for always," been a lifer, with anything but a melodious voice, and a syncopated habit of bitting off his words, regaled the select party with a response, the others taking up the coal-box as before but after the first verse his memory played him false, so with several efforts he collapsed, all he sang being—
"When landed in this country, to different masters went,
For trifling offences to Hobart Town gaol was sent;
But a second lagging being incurred, was ordered for to be
Sent to Macquarie Harbor, that place of tyranny,"
"Do better next time," said Happy Jack. Having agreed that these splendid, specimens of " Elegysing Heroes dead and gone " was the " Kerrect nick," Happy's mate followed with " The seizure of the Cypress Brig," and for an encore substituted " Martin Cash." A verse of this once popular song (popular with a certain class) will be excused, in memory of that well-known entity of O'Brien's Bridge.
" Ye sons of Caledonian's Isle, at former heroes ye may smile,
Remember William Wallace, and Montressos of Dundee,
And Nelson, who, for England's glory, boldly fought at sea,
Likewise Napoleon Bonnyparte, at Moscow where he played his part,
And strove with all his head and art
To vanquish all his foes ;
But Martin Cash of daring fame,
That great man well deserved the name
Of a valiant son from Erin's Isle,
Where the sprig of shamrock grows."
Then a battered female, with a face like a butcher's block, carvcd and ornamented with a bushman's knuckles, mumbled out an old time rhyme of
" The rose shall cease to blow,
The eagle turn a dove,
The stream shall cease to flow,
E'er I will cease to love."
But she looked as though she had ceased many a year lang syne. However, she ceased her drone, and some of them ceased almost to breathe as the dog chained in the back-yard set up his honest, watchful bark, and a little boy ran in with a white face, exclaiming, " They are coming." Frozen with fright, dread silence reigned around ; Every tongue was at rest, and we heard not a sound, 'Twas not a cow, nor the big bow-wow, But the magic signal—" Oh, the bush rangers !"
[To be continued next Saturday,]
"BOLTERS OUT." No. 2. [By 'THE VET.']
Everybody in the "pub." was disappointed; so doubtless' were the bushrangers, as they expected the coast was clear, or only the lone woman and her family at home. Lights in a road-side inn late at night were no uncommon occurrence, and no one could have given them " the office" of the plan to capture I them. But the chances are, if help had been sent in time, as it ought to have been, the police would have been posted outside, and the men taken. There this adventure would have ended.
However, they were at large still, and the district disturbed for months, as the bolters laid low, living on the plunder they had gathered, and lulling excitement, until people began to believe they had left the colony.
Not so; during the respite "The Vet." visited Ouster Cove, the home of the residue of the aboriginals. While nearing the station a party of these blacks, going hunting. with Tippo at their head, ascended the hill. There were about a dozen in the party. The females wore dressed in black serge gowns and red nightcaps, the men any- how. Sidling up to "The Vet." they began to clamor for 'bacca, white money, and so on. Being asked how long they were going oat for, they answered " No long time" and on their fingers they explained a quarter of a moon, or a week. Interrogated as to what was o'clock, they replied, " No long time," looking up at the sun, puhh a brenah, and motioning it was early in the day. Seeing the carbine and blue shirt they knew thev were talking to a constable, pronounced by them cus-sa-bella. Their manner be tokened that of simple, harmless children of the bush. One lowanna (woman) ex- plained that kianna (white man), Mr Dandridge and his good lady langunya, were very kind to them, pallawah (black man). Mention was made by Tippo of Briggs, a settler there, who was designated some years afterwards by a Judge of the Supreme Court as " Honest Joe Briggs." Thev seemed to have great affection for Mammy Lights, viz., the wife of Joe Flight, the publican, at Oyster Covc. But Mr Dandridge, they said, looking up at Warrantiona (the skv), he good, Ke hanna clangoonya !
Billy Lanney was not present, nor was he about the station. Poor fellow, though a native king his regal position did not save him from the great curse of our boasted civilisation, drink. He was hocussed at the Dog and Partridge public-house, Goulburn street, Hobart Town, on the night of Wednesday, March 8, 1869, aged 50 years. The disgraceful scenes connected with his death, beheaded, his body stolen out of its grave, a white man's head stuck on his shoulders, etc., etc., will furnish an article later on.
Bidding the hunting party good sport Tee yalle, "The Vet." proceeded to the Cove, and the party into the bush, where their cries and yells could be heard for some time. Returning towards evening to the Snug River " The Vet" made a visit to old Phil Denehey, the king of the Snug. The Huon in these days was A1 for hospitality. Bush folks always slung the billy when they saw a stranger approaching. This call at Phil's was made on a Friday, but " The Vet," not being a Mahometan, set no especial value upon the Mussulman's Sabbath, so wired in at the salt junk set before him by Phil's daughter.
A change, however, came over the scene when half-a-dozen rough splinters came into the hut healed by Dougherty, the flogger, who scowled at " The Vet." and rushed for a huge iron bar doing duty for a poker in the big fire-place. A hint from the girl rose ''The Vet.," who rushed for the door, Dougherty after him, but holding the carbine in his teeth. " The Vet." gained ground by taking a short cut into the creek, and so out-distanced Mr Dougherty and his malign intention, rest ing on the bank at the corner of the road, laughing at the maddened flogger being out-witted. The following week " The Vet." was ordered off to the Franklin, to get the police abstracts signed and return with the same to Brown's River.
When nearing Ironstone Creek, and not far from Mr Parsons' house, " The Vet." came upon a spot in the track that looked as if some straggle had taken place, and stopping to recognise, lo, and behold ! a dog belonging to Sergeant Gillies was hanging by the neck in a tree, dead. Here and there were sundry bits of wearing apparel, proof perfect that some queer work had been going on recently. Hurrying down to the pub, "The Vet." heard that an escort had left there some time before in charge of Sergt. Gillies, with Constables Gregory and Shea. Across the ferry some stragglers confirmed the report that an escort from the Franklin, consisting of a sergeant and two policeman, had brought a deserter named Bexton, of the 39th regiment, and another man, to Ironstone Creek, en route for Brown's River, but the man who ferried them over being a deserter also named Brown, who had broken out of the prison in the military barracks, they apprehended him as well.
Having stayed for refreshment at the pub, and allowed the prisoners to drink, too, the escort made a mess of it, thus—
They took the handcuffs off the prisoners somewhere about the spot where " The Vet," found the dog hanging, and just at that juncture several men came along from town, and another deserter was with them. Shea suggested that he should be brought back, so the sergeant directed Gregory to go after them and apprehend the deserter. The sergeant carried a fowling piece, Gregory an old musket, Shea a stick only. Gregory therefore proceeded to capture the soldier. In a few minutes cries of " murder" and " help" were heard. Shea, distinguishing Gregory's voice, begged Gillies' gun and ran to the rescue. There was a desperate fight going on, so Shea brought the gun down on a fellows bead, bending the barrel and breaking the stock. However, the chaps all escaped, deserter included. Gregory (sober now) bleeding and torn, returned with Shea to the sergeant, who was sitting upon a stump alone, as the three prisoners had all ran off into the bush, having muzzled the sergeant and hanged his big dog.
Here was a pretty go. The man who was struck with the gun might die in the bush, and one or all three of the police be hanged for murder. In this fix the best thing to do was to return to the pub and booze up, regardless of the ultimate consequences. At the " pub" John Dean, a tickct-of-leave man, who was in the row with the police on the track (having just returned from town), was drinking and singing. Gregory, knowing him to be such, insisted on arresting him without any charge whatever. Another fight ensued, and though Gregory had succeded in putting on the handcuffs Dean managed to get away into the bush.
Here was another mess added to the previous ones. Finally the bobbies started back to Brown's River minus prisoners, guns, dog, and the prisoner they bad taken with them to identify the deserters. How this exemplary trio escaped punishment can only be put down lo the style in which such argumentum baculinum reigned in penal times. At the police station, Franklin, "The Vet." saw District Constable Ladds and reported the circumstance of the trouble on the track. Having visited the spots were Dicky Bird and Fairchild bad been murdered, " The Vet." made for an hotel kept by Yorkey Hudson, or rather his wife, as Yorkey was absent at the " diggins."
That evening in the tap-room some adjustment was being come to by two factions, viz., Killaway's men and J. D. Belife's, out of which split heads and broken limbs were well represented. Order having at last been restored, " The Vet" essayed to put the united crowd into good humor by singing an Irish song. This concluded, another uproar took place in consequence of the sudden appearance of John Dean, with Gregory's handcuffs on, in the centre of the tap-room. Without stopping to think " The Vet." jumped from thc'table on top of Dean, and bobby and prisoner were rolling over towards the door. Cries of " Kill the trap, " " Smash the —" were heard on all sides, but a pacificator in the person of one huge Irishman, who enjoyed the exalted position of king of the faction, settled the question and allowed 'The Vet.' to depart unhurt. '' It's not the man so much we care about," said big Mick, " as Her Majesty's bracelets ; them's contraband yer know, being Government property."
Having confined Dean, " The Vet." thought it imprudent to return to the tap-room for fear of a reconsidera-tion, so got all snug with Mrs Public-house, the maid-of-all-work, and Mr Ladds till next morning. During the night the troublesome customers left en masse, making night hideous with their drunken howls. These were terrible rough times in the Huon district. These reminiscences of an old time police force may appear somewhat heightened by romantic hues, but they are mild compared with what will yet follow in due course.
" Strictly private and confidential" news came to F. Burgess touching the four men at large. "They had been seen at several points between Desolation Bay and South port." Very quietly the police boat at Three-hut Point was commissioned to proceed thither, Mr Ward was instructed by the stipendiary magistrate of the Franklin (Mr Walpole) how to act, and to go with a full crew, adding Sergt. Allen, Constables Fred. Bailey, Geo. Gregson, Yorkey Fairclough, and Pat Kelly. The " information received" proved correct. The police, one morning at daybreak, espied smoke ascending from a gully running out of Surveyor's Bay (? Surges Bay). It was well known that the bush hereabout contained no inhabitant, neither cockatoo, soogee settler, sawyer, splitter, nor charcoal-burner.
Reasoning from analogy, Mr Ward concluded that the bushrangers alone lit that fire, and as it burned so steadily, without shifting with the wind, therefore it was stationary. Moreover, the smoke in contention must, from its spiral form, be started from a chimney. Then there must exist a break-wind, a mi-mi, or badger-box up the gully, as bolters would hardly trouble to erect a hut, seeing they might have to abandon it at any moment. But a badger-box of sheets of stripped bark is easily and expeditiously slapped together. Cautiously advancing on both sides of the gully, fearing to break even a twig, which sound would echo through the silent gully, the police, creeping along, were unheard.
Advancing stealthily and cat-like, they soon discovered that Mr Ward's surmises were confirmed. Here was a newly made bark badger-box, the smoke now hardly discernible ; having answered its purpose, the fire was dying out. The voices of the four men could be distinctly heard in argument ; without doubt they had just concluded their first meal, and, peradventure, were discussing the day's programme, when suddenly at the top of their voices the police shouted to the four bushrangers to surrender in the Queen's name. In an instant Swinscoe put his head up the chimney and fired at random. The police were running and closing upon the badger-box. Quinn rushed out and shouted to the police to fire and be d——. Brewer and Twitty also came out of the badger-box with their guns, but seemed irresolute about fighting. Swinscoe fired again from the chimney, having his head and shoulders exposed, Yorkey aimed at Swinscoe and shot him through his neck. Several shots were now fired, and one by Bailey took effect in Quinn's thigh, who ran limping into the scrub thereabout.
Seeing the turn things had taken, Brewer and Twitty surrendered at once, and were secured. Quinn was found, and though he declared his leg was broken he managed to walk to the boat. Swinscoe had to be carried, and, notwithstanding a bandage round his neck, the blood flowed freely,, and the police concluded he would not live long. The prisoners being securely bound and placed in the boat, the crew pulled for dear life to town. The wounded men were lodged in the Colonial Hospital and the two unhurt in gaol. There was no such thing as a hospital in the gaol in those days. As soon as they arrived in town the magistrate was summoned to take Swinacoe's dying deposition. He expired within an hour after. The ball was extracted from Quinn's thigh, the doctor declaring the bone was neither broken nor hurt, but Quinn persisted it was ; a good ruse on the part of Quinn.
Neither of these men was hanged, the law having been considerably toned down that executed eight on one day and seven the following. Quinn lay in bed very comfortable in a ward, with the companionship of a constable night and day. These constables were constantly changed. In a day or so there was detailed for this hospital duty one Thomas Thomas, a new chum, and a simple Welshman. Taking this greenhorn's measure, Quinn stuffed him that down the Huon he (Quinn) had a planted money and jewellery worth thousands of pounds. Thomas, poor silly fellow, believed Quinn, so they entered into a compact, and that night, or rather in the very early morning, the agreement was faithfully carried out; for when the relief came they found Thomas asleep in bed, and Quinn gone with Thomas' uniform, i.e. dark trousers and blue serge shirt, hat, boots, etc.
Thomas was taken to quod, and the same day sentenced to nine months in irons. 'Tis needless to remark, poor Thomas never saw or heard of the treasures Quinn so graphically portrayed. Nor did he see Quinn again, as our would-be Jack Shephard was soon recaptured in the Huon, tried with his mates at the Supreme Court, and sentenced to imprisonment for life at Norfolk Island. There was a very heavy calendar at this session, and certain citizens were interested in saving the lives of a number of escapees in a launch from Norfolk Island. They reached New South Wales, and were betrayed by the blackfellows and brought back. The Rev. Maitland, backed by these influential persons, cheated the gallows of 19 criminals, who, had no one interested themselves, must have suffered, Quinn included with the rest.
But Quinn was not born to be hanged, nor did he deserve such a fate. He was no coward, nor was he revengeful, for at a subsequent period bc informed " The Vet." how he could have easily shot him when the little ones came with the report from Worsley's, " The Vet." actually passing over the bridge that spans the Agnes River near the township of North West Bay while the four bushrangers were underneath, drinking rum they had purchased that day at Mrs Groombridge's Star Hotel. Like many others, Quinn was a devil - may - care sort of fellow, volatile and excitable, and had all his vices been virtues no doubt some day the saints' list would have been extended by one. How Quinn finally escaped from the colony in company with a number of other prisoners and reached Peru, in South America, is written in the book of the Chronicles of Van Diemen's Land, to be told by " The Vet." anon, who, thank his lucky stars, did not come to grief during the days of " Bolters Out."