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an end to her sufferings, and thus frustrate the exertions of her rescuers, when upon the point of meeting with success.
The colonists have made great efforts towards her recovery, and ultimately it is to be hoped they will rescue the unfortunate sufferer. She has been seen now and then. It is said that she is always attended by a black, who watches her with great vigilance.
Her lot has indeed been dreadful. At a time of life when the faculties are most vigorous, and the sensibility is keenest, when education had given her all the accomplishments of civilized life, and cultivated her sense of its refinements, to be torn away from all she loved, at the moment when she hoped to be united to them for life, and to become the prey of the most barbarous race of men upon earth. Death, under any shape, would, have been preferable—the club of the savage, or a virgin grave beneath the waters of the Pacific.
Our destination was far beyond Omio, and we resumed our journey after a day's rest. No sooner had we left the plain than the same gloomy forest rose around us. The distance of one mile from this paradise, on either side, effaced all vestiges of its scenery. On our return I turned aside, and lingered for a day or two in a beautiful station at the edge of the plain, unwilling to leave it too soon, and even wishing that the loss of our horses, the only acknowledged cause of detention to the traveller in the bush, might furnish a pretext for delay.
At this station, among several others, had recently occurred a strong instance of the annoyances to which her Majesty's subjects residing in these remote districts are occasionally liable. The neighbourhood had been infested by a gang of bushrangers, who, being well armed and mounted, had little cause to fear the mounted police, still less the few settlers occupying that part of the country, and did pretty much as they pleased. Their ringleader, it
appears, had so much spare time upon his hands, that upon one occasion he had paid a visit to the station, during the absence of its proprietor, and had ordered dinner to be served up, quick and hot; then, sending for a “fig" of the best tobacco that the place afforded—none of your colonial trash, but right Virginian—had entertained the cook, while he tested its flavour, with his opinion of the various breeds of
horses in the neighbourhood, an opinion which, as he or some of his party had during their long career taken horses from nearly every station, and ridden them until they stood still from exhaustion, might be considered well worth having. Finally, before taking his departure, he had praised his absent entertainer as a good sort of a inan,” and, “unkindest cut of all,” had carved his name upon the dining-table.
Such was the last incident worthy of note during our expedition ; and we shortly returned through the same toilsome road (with the difference that we had to go down the “Freestone ” and the “ Pinch," and up the “Gulf”) until we once more found ourselves in the open country, where we long talked and looked back with pleasure upon my first and only trip to Omio.
A few years hence, amid the rapid progress of Australia, who shall say what change may fall upon the scene we have described ? Of that fair spot, as it now is, who can say how few vestiges shall remain ? Already, as the white man advances, the native features of the landscape are effaced, the dusky sons of the soil grow fewer and feebler still. Shall we not adinire the energy that works this change in the land, and rejoice that its sleep has at length been broken? Yet must we not, on the other hand, feel pity for the helpless savage-- whose territory we ruthlessly wrest from him—whose means of subsistence we destroy,—the very remnants of whose race, like some dream of youth, are doomed to pass away, and be seen no more?
The Overlanders—Their Qualifications—Peculiar Life-Incidents of an
Overland Journey-Crossing a River with Stock-Native Names-Beneficial Results of the Overlanders' Exertions—Industry and Idleness—A Contrast—The Settler's Grave, The Two Emigrants—The Haunted Station-The Reformed Convict.
Among the most remarkable characters to be met with in Australia are the “ Overlanders,” men who make long expeditions from one part of the country to another with stock, either for the purpose of seeking a good market, or of forming new stations in a land of greater promise than that which they had originally occupied. The toils they undergo, the perils they must surmount, the enterprising nature of their plans, while they cause the less energetic colonist to quail before them, have, at the same time, an air of wild adventure, which throws a powerful charm over the occupation of the overlanders. Theirs is, in fact, the romance of pastoral speculation—the poetry of life in the bush.
Individuals of classes and characters the most widely different are to be found among them. Some are men of good birth and education, others as rude as their own stuckmen. Whatever be their qualifications in other respects, they must all, in common, be possessed of a tolerably large capital, a good knowledge of stock, considerable bodily strength, and, above all, coolness and determination, with ready wit to assist them in moments of emergency
The expense of driving a large quantity of stock overland being considerably less in proportion than that required for a small number, it is only extensive stockowners who can embark with advantage in this kind of speculation. The overlander starts with property which must necessarily be of great value in his charge, consisting perhaps of six or seven thousand sheep, a thousand head of horned cattle, and eighty or a hundred horses, besides drays, pack-bullocks, and other minor appurtenances. With these he has to penetrate a country he has never traversed before, to a distance of perhaps a thousand miles. He must run many serious risks, such as drought, the loss of his property from fatigue, the disaffection or desertion of his men in regions where no more are procurable, and he must be prepared to sustain the sudden and troublesome, though desultory, attacks of the hostile tribes of blacks through whose country he must unavoidably pass. Above all, he must run the risk of a fall in prices ere he can reach the distant market to which he is wending his way, with the greatest part, perhaps the whole, of his worldly wealth. But having once cast the die, he must stand its hazard, and he cares little for the difficulties and dangers of the road, well knowing that at its conclusion, should he meet with tolerable success,
double his capital in the course of a few months. If a life of this kind is beset with uncertainty and hardship, it has, on the other hand, many attractions, and I never met with an overlander who did not look back upon his long expedit ns with pride and pleasure, even when their result, in point of profit, had fallen short of his expectations. At first starting the utmost care and vigilance are necessary to control, both by day and night, the numerous flocks and herds, ever seeking for an opportunity to escape; but after they have been on the road a week or two, they become much more docile, and their owner soon finds leisure to vary the tedious length of the journey by a little hunting or shooting, or, what is still more interesting, by exploring the country through which he is passing. The ever-varying scenery, too, through which the line of march leads him, tends greatly to lighten the monotony of the way. Sometimes the route takes him through a huge mass of forest, then across some pretty park-like plains ; now he must toil over arid and stony ridges scorched with drought, or, again, he may forget his toils as he follows the windings of some deep-flowing stream, which rolls its waters towards the place of his destination. Should it, however, be necessary to cross it with horses or horned cattle, a very animated and remarkable scene ensues.
Shortly before the party arrives at the river's bank, a horseman gallops ahead to reconnoitre the ford and the nature of the ground on either side, and, as soon as he has satisfied himself on these points, rejoins his party, who are by this time not more than a quarter of a mile off, awaiting his return. Every man now tightens his girths, settles himself firmly in his saddle, and examines the lash of his stockwhip, in readiness for the approaching struggle. The fear is lest the first attempt should fail, for, if it does, the animals are apt to be seized with a general panic, and refuse to go near the water in spite of every exertion, so that a delay of several days, and even weeks, may be the result. When, therefore, they are within some three hundred yards of the crossing-place, the herd, which has latterly been suffered to travel lazily along, is roused into sudden action by the united efforts of the drivers, the foremost animals being stimulated by shouts and screams, while the hindmost are well belaboured with the lash. They are now within sight of the water, and the leaders would certainly stop short—if they could, but it IS then too late. The shouts of the men are redoubled, the whole herd is by this time at top speed, “ vires acquirit eundo ;" in they must plunge; the hindmost, glad to escape the discipline of the whip, rush in pell-mell upon the rest, and force them on; for a few minutes the broad stream shows the unwonted sight of innumerable vast heads and horns just peering above its surface, and the opposite bank is gained. In short, as an old overlander once remarked to me, “keep the leaders' heads straight, and the hindmost well up, the whole must go over ; they can't help it."
But woe betide the luckless animal, whether horse or bullock, which, leaving its companions, starts back affrighted on the bank, and scours over the plains ! In an instant he is detected, and a horseman, whip in hand, is alongside of him: let him where he will, his pursuer follows as closely as his shadow; a crowd of dogs are at his heels, until he is glad to turn and spring into the water, convinced that the land, at least on the wrong side of the river, is too hot to hold him.
It is difficult to conceive the astonishment, the sort of supernatural terror, with which a tribe of blacks, as yet perhaps ignorant of the white man's existence, must regard, from some adjacent range or "scrub,” the whole of these proceedings. Their fear at the first sight of a horse and his rider has always been intense, as they usually mistake the two for one animal ;