Project Gutenberg Australia
a treasure-trove of literature
treasure found hidden with no evidence of ownership
DefectiveByDesign.org



Title: The Australian Crisis
Author: C. H. Kirmess
* A Project Gutenberg of Australia eBook *
eBook No.: 0607161.txt
Language: English
Date first posted: September 2006
Date most recently updated: September 2006

This eBook was produced by: Richard Scott

Project Gutenberg of Australia eBooks are created from printed editions
which are in the public domain in Australia, unless a copyright notice
is included. We do NOT keep any eBooks in compliance with a particular
paper edition.

Copyright laws are changing all over the world. Be sure to check the
copyright laws for your country before downloading or redistributing this
file.

This eBook is made available at no cost and with almost no restrictions
whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms
of the Project Gutenberg of Australia License which may be viewed online at
http://gutenberg.net.au/licence.html


To contact Project Gutenberg of Australia go to http://gutenberg.net.au



The Australian Crisis
C. H. Kirmess

"THE AUSTRALIAN CRISIS" is the final result of an attempt on my
part, early in 1907, to write a magazine article dealing with the
dangers to which the neighbourhood of overcrowded Asia exposes the
thinly populated Commonwealth of Australia. At that time, my thoughts
on the subject resembled those of the Australian multitude: they were
disconnected, and more in the shape of a vague fear than defined
clearly. However, when I began to work out my problem, I soon
recognized that it was too vast for intelligible compression within
the limits of an ordinary magazine contribution. I was quite convinced
of this when the central idea of the book occurred to me--the
possibility of a coloured invasion of Australian territory, organized
on such lines that the Australians would be unable to persuade the
heart of the Empire that there was any invasion.

This central idea may be termed my only presupposition, for which
reason I have been at pains to treat it from every point of view.
Granted its feasibility, the whole narrative of Parts I and III
follows as a matter of cold, logical necessity. True, the details
might vary, but the drift of events would be inevitable in the
direction indicated. Part II is an interlude, which has grown out of
my deep conviction that Australia would somehow strike a direct blow
against the invading enemy. It investigates also the possibility of
success attendant upon such an attempt.

There have been a good many abstract warnings of late on the subject
dealt with by me. Unfortunately the Australians, who have the
reputation of being a rather imaginative people, seem to have no
imagination at all where the future safety of the nation is concerned.
The past warnings have been ridiculed as being unwarrantably
pessimistic. One more bald statement would probably share the same
fate. Apparently the Commonwealth can be roused to a sense of its
danger only by patient investigation of its real position in the world
and of the possibilities arising thence. That has been my purpose.

My book deals exclusively with realities. For this reason it is
written in the form of a retrospection from the year 1922 upon events
supposed to have happened less than ten years earlier, viz., in 1912.
The nearness of the latter date has been decided on deliberately. A
deferment of action to a later time would have made unavoidable the
introduction of a fantastical element. Nobody can guess what the
conditions may be even a decade hence. My purpose did not require the
invention of unheard-of war engines or radical changes on the map of
the world. On the contrary, the introduction of new factors, of things
that do not yet exist, would only confuse the issue. But every
thinking man can foresee the probable political developments of the
next few years. I show what is possible under the known circumstances
of the hour almost, to-day or to-morrow. And I think if that has no
power to compel the citizens of the Commonwealth to seriously consider
their position, no dreadful visions of a distant future will.

C. H. KIRMESS
SYDNEY.

* This forecast romance is something more than a novel: it is a work.
So as to secure quicker publication by giving larger instalments, it has
been decided not to illustrate "The Australian Crisis."




Part I: The Feet of Clay



Chapter I: Ships That Pass in the Night



IN the evening of April 1, 1912, two white men were camping upon a
sandy rise overlooking Junction Bay, Northern Territory, Australia.
Theirs was a strange presence, at a strange time, in those strange
surroundings. But it is just as well that accident or fate had thrown
them there, for otherwise this fragment of contemporary history--as
matter--of-fact and unemotional as all history must be--would have
been bereft even of a picturesque beginning. The air was pleasantly
cooling after sunset, under the influence of a light eastern breeze
which wafted along the night sounds of many animals from the direction
of the lagoon. Low in the western sky the crescent of the young moon
hung just atop of the tall timber. Towards the sea everything was very
quiet. The sands extended far out to where a broad belt of blue mud
deadened the soft ripple of the receding tide.

On the high ground, bare but for scattered tufts of grass, the men
were safe from creeping things and mosquitoes. The calm beauty of the
night invited to a long vigil of smoking and talking. Naturally, the
Northern Territory--its vastness its present state and future
prospects--was the topic of conversation. Both men had been animated
by the same hopes to try their fortunes there. Now that only a few
pompous formalities remained to be gone through before the transfer of
the enormous, empty province to the Commonwealth would be complete, a
booming prosperity could not fail to come, and they had hastened to
the spot to be in its van.

The elder of the two was clearly an Australian by birth--tall,
darkish, of that looseness of limb which denotes the breed. His name
was Thomas Burt. He was a prospector and miner, and acted, like many
others, as a self-appointed pioneer for British Capital, which was
expected to become interested once more in the great mineral wealth of
the country. Lately he had explored the district south and east of
Pine Creek, and returning to this place for a spell, he had there made
the acquaintance of his companion, a Yorkshireman, who had imported a
stock of merchandise from Sydney into Port Darwin.

The two adventurers, attended by Burt's black boy, had departed from
Port Darwin in a northeasterly direction. The Australian scorned
beaten tracks, and they had headed straight for the wilderness.
Exploration in the season immediately after the rainfalls, which had
ceased early this year, was indeed a rare pleasure. Fresh water was
still met with in every hollow, and game abounded. Bush and jungle
looked now their grandest and loveliest. Nearer the coast the
landscape became more brilliant in colour and variety. The fascination
of the interminable solitudes enveloped them until they made up their
minds to push right on to the sea. They kept as much as possible to
the watershed, where progress was comparatively easy, away from the
impenetrable network of creeks and flood-channels, overgrown by rank
vegetation. So it happened, that after a leisurely ride of nine days,
they emerged upon Junction Bay.

When the faint gurgle of flowing-in waves marked the turn of the tide
through the utter stillness, Thomas Burt rose to stretch his limbs,
and sauntered sleepily along the crest. The night was so clear that
stars visible just above the horizon showed like signal lamps of ships
skimming over the dark expanse of ocean. But the Australian did not
look for lights out at sea; well he knew that the course for steamers
lay far out of the danger-zone of islands and reefs which guard our
continent to the north, and that proas, junks or small traders which
might venture closer inshore did not waste good oil in those parts.
Yet something must have caught his attention, for he peered out a good
while over the murmuring waters. Suddenly he gave a sharp whistle, and
faced round to his mate dozing beside the dying embers of the fire. He
soundly shook the sleeper, and shouted in his ear--

"Rouse yourself and look over this anthill. Take your glass."

The Yorkshireman stumbled to his feet. Several miles out he espied a
gleam which unquestionably came from a well-trimmed ship's lantern.

"It can't be a steamer," Thomas Burt commented; "they don't show
their noses round here for fear of smashing 'em in. As for other
navigators hereabouts, they have not the reputation of burning
bonfires on their boats."

He dropped his field-glass lazily. His friend continued watching
through his. "I see two lights now," he said.

The Australian re-applied his glass. "It must be a steamer, then," he
remarked. "They may be drifting."

They kept a silent watch for some time. From the shore rose the odour
of organic things decomposing in stagnant brine. Again Thomas Burt
spoke.

"It's two ships. They kept in line, but now they are steering
different courses right into the bay."

The Yorkshireman shivered slightly in the freshness of the small
hours. "We might give them a fire signal," he said.

"Steady!" replied the other. "There's no fog. They've passed the bar
a long way. Ah!" He gave a little gasp of surprise, for he had
discerned yet more lights. "It's a whole fleet; they are manoeuvring.
There is purpose behind this. Our help won't be wanted."

"Well," queried the Yorkshireman, "what does it mean, Mr. Know--
all?"

The Australian hazarded a conclusion: "I'll tell you. The Singapore
squadron is on a training cruise, though what they are doing here I
can't guess."

His friend laughed. "Perhaps a new idea to dispose of the scrap-iron
ships your people make so much row about. Piling them a-top some
reef."

At this moment a solitary red rocket shot up from the nearest
steamer, vanishing in a luminous haze. A merry twinkle of lights from
the more distant ships answered the signal.

"You see it is a naval affair," said Thomas Burt.

The other had a bright notion. "O, yes," he said, "and I can also
inform you that it isn't the Australian Navy, because it has not been
built yet."

"Lie down flat," whispered the Australian, dropping to the ground
himself.

From the leading vessel, which was bearing inshore gradually, and
had approached to within three miles, the beam of a strong searchlight
had been flashed on the land, and was now sweeping the shore. After
less than two minutes' play it was masked again.

Through sand and scant grass the two travellers shuffled on all
fours until they gained the inner slope of the rise. The Yorkshireman
placed a trembling hand on the Australian's shoulder. "All this is so
unaccountable," he breathed.

Thomas Burt lifted his head cautiously over the crest. The other
lights were drawing closer. "Evidently they know what they are looking
for," he said, frowning. "It did not take them long to find out,
anyhow, since they have not turned on that ray again. I wonder if they
calculated to have unasked eye-witnesses at this performance."

"But we'll have to think of ourselves, mate," his friend broke in.

The Australian nodded. They covered the ashes of their fire
carefully with sand. A call, like the wail of a night-bird, summoned
the black servant, who had been soundly asleep near the horses. By
order of his master he saddled the animals, and led them further
inland behind some thick scrub. The friends examined their guns and
pistols, and returned to their posts. It was about two o'clock in the
morning, and the tide was near its highest point, almost lapping the
base of their lookout.

Five steamers lay in a crescent, stretching east, parallel to the
beach. From the forecastle of each, a motionless, blinding cone of
light illumined shore and adjacent waters. Although the vessels might
be two miles distant, an ever-increasing din could be heard quite
distinctly. Suddenly a puffing noise approached, and soon strings of
three or four boats, towed by squat motor launches, emerged into the
glare.

The friends had to pinch each other to make sure that they were not
dreaming.

About the unintelligible event, the tropical night wrapped her
scent--laden cloak, pierced only by a soothing, lulling wind and by
the gleam of stars shining in calm aloofness on the high-vaulted
firmament. As calmly aloof shone those five bluish rays in front of
them, pointing the way for some dark Power creeping upon the sleeping
continent with the inevitableness of Fate. So far, noise and shadowy
glimpses had a curious atmosphere of detachment about them, as if the
scene were projected on curling, hissing vapours.

The spell was rudely broken the instant the searchlights beat on the
boats, which promptly executed a smart manoeuvre. Within a hundred
yards from shore, the motor launch swung round sharply. But the boats
had already thrown loose from her and from each other. On they came
nearly abreast, still propelled by the impetus of tugging. As this
relaxed, two pairs of oars shot out of each boat and pulled
strenuously for the beach. Then, as it touched ground, men leaped
overboard and dragged it upon dry sand. Each boat disgorged about a
score of occupants, who at once, automatically, began to discharge
cargo. First, rifles were brought out and built together in the
pyramids characteristic of all trained soldiery. A multitude of cases
and bags followed. In five minutes the craft were run into the sea
again. Three men jumped in, the oars started working, a file was
formed and lines were passed between. Some little distance out, the
launch hovered, waiting; promptly she caught up, the boats hitched up,
and back into the gloom the mysterious procession puffed.

The watchers strained their eyesight in vain to unravel the identity
of these nocturnal immigrants. Not more than 300 yards divided them
from the nearest group. But as the latter was approximately interposed
between the source of light and the observers, it appeared in merely
silhouette, in black outlines against the surrounding brightness. It
was evident that strict discipline was being enforced. One man alone
gave out commands and was hurriedly obeyed. Of his words, it could
only be made out that they were not English. Soon the boats landed
reinforcements, ever and ever more. All the men seemed very tired;
they lay down in the sand to snatch some sleep. This carelessness
proved that the new-comers were not in the least afraid of any hostile
attack.

When the two friends recognized that they would have to await the
break of day for closer investigation, they left their exposed
position and returned to the horses, which they found fastened to
trees. The boy was away, but he responded to the call with little
delay. Pointing to the sea he said, "Them plurry Chinamen." His senses
were sharper, perhaps, and his cat-like agility might have got him
very near to the singular visitors. The men looked at one another in
silence. Possibly they did not dare to give utterance to their secret
suspicions while there was yet hope.

At last dawn paled the east. Along the beach bugles resounded. Some
figures appeared on the crest of the rise--still compact black dots
against the colouring sky. One pointed to the ground, and shouted.
Others ran to join him. The whites knew; the morning glow had revealed
their footprints, the imprints of hoofs and other traces of their
camp.

Now with the abruptness of tropical latitudes, day broke gloriously.
The first slanting rays of the sun lit up many faces on the ridge
peering anxiously in their direction. But the thicket hid them well.
Both friends focussed their glasses on those multitudinous prying
features far off and then exchanged their thoughts in a simultaneous
exclamation:

"Japanese! The Japanese!" A bitter curse was added.

Next moment the horses greeted the morning brightness with joyous
neighs. Little the brutes knew that they were saluting the Rising Sun.
The animals' cries betrayed the presence of strangers. The Japanese
rushed to arms, and volley after volley was poured into the forest.
But the whites were safe on their swift horses and glided away in true
bushman fashion, never exposing themselves. Only once they turned back
and fired one round in reply. One pursuer collapsed, shot down. That
was Australia's welcome to the invaders. Behind, ringing bugle signals
died out echoing in the woods--a last menace and challenge. On the two
explorers tore to the south-west, to carry the fateful news to the
world of white men.



Chapter II: An Unadvertised Immigration Policy



FOR several years preceding 1912 constant reports of famine in Japan
had reached Europe. Travellers had vouchsafed for their accuracy, and
much money had been collected abroad, especially among the sympathetic
British. The Government of the Mikado did its best to prove its
concern and goodwill by continuing an ostentatious policy of
emigration to its new possessions, Korea and Southern Manchuria. But
those countries carried already large populations, and could only
absorb limited numbers. For this reason the Japanese statesmen were
compelled to look towards other emptier lands, and they began by
turning their attention to the opposite shores of the Northern
Pacific. How their bold policy was assailed by the white settlers of
the Western Canadian and United States slopes, and how in the end it
had to be abandoned, the present generation remembers well. The
Eastern Island Empire had to recant its claims for equal rights and
recognition of its subjects with the white citizens of American
communities. Its submission to the inevitable was rewarded by the
successful placing of a loan of £20,000,000 in London, New York, Paris
and Berlin.

Foiled in this direction, yet strengthened financially, Japan had
leisure to contemplate its failure with a view of profiting by its
lessons. Publicity had beaten it. Everywhere on the west coast of
North America there lived already too many white men, and every move
had therefore been detected and counteracted swiftly. Japan was indeed
in serious straits. Cramped for space in spite of victory, surrounded
by overcrowded or inaccessible nations, oversea expansion was its
necessity. Still suffering from the stress of the Russian campaign, it
could think of war only as a last extremity. And the habitable parts
of the globe were divided up and strongly held between the White
Powers. The problem was to discover a district nominally owned by one
of them where the white man had not entered into full possession, and
had thus not morally forestalled the right of other races to settle,
as long as-they were content to do so, under the foreign flag; a
district, in other words, where the first steps of peaceful Japanese
immigration could not rouse the fierce indignation which they had
caused elsewhere. Such a district existed, nearer and more convenient
to Japan than any other possible field of exploitation--the Northern
Territory of Australia, with its 600,000 square miles and less than
1000 white people.

Japan had long cast longing eyes in that direction. Since the end of
the year 1906, a steady stream of its subjects had invaded Java and
Straits Settlements. But Java is one of the most thickly populated
islands in the world; its acquisition by the Mikado would have meant,
apart from other probable complications, the repetition of another and
more troublesome Korea. The Straits Settlements were one of the
master-keys of British dominion, and were, therefore, well out of
Japan's reach as conquests. But as stepping-stones towards the
Commonwealth, the temporary penetration of both was invaluable. Thus
the ambitious Island Empire cautiously felt its way towards its goal,
until its rebuff elsewhere and the slowly-awakening consciousness of
Australian public opinion made its rulers fearful of being anticipated
by an influx of State-assisted white settlers into the north of the
Commonwealth.

Those developments may have precipitated the crisis. But several
other facts, which have lately leaked out, seem to prove that Japan
had selected the year 1912 for its descent upon Australia for some
considerable time past. It is necessary to turn to the Island of
Formosa for confirmation. Its helpless population about this time was
said to be in such violent ferment (even after more than ten years of
Tokio administration!) that a strong army of occupation was necessary.
Tokio intimated further that it was desirable under the circumstances
to isolate the malcontents from the outside world and from outside
encouragement, and it adhered to this policy rigidly, to such an
extent that news of interest from the little island dependency hardly
got into the European and American press at all in the years just
preceding 1912. Formosa seemed to be entirely forgotten--exactly as
was desired by Japan.

Yet during this period of silence a very special system of
immigration into Formosa was carried on under the direct supervision
of the Japanese Government. In some respects it was military
settlement, so that the semi-official admission merely strained the
truth. But it had several other remarkable features. The immigrants
were not soldiers of the line; they were reserve men who had served a
full term, and were now in the very prime of life and vigour. People
of low stamina might pour into Korea, Manchuria and North China, but
they were carefully excluded from Formosa. The plain of Gilan, on the
east coast, had been chosen for the site of the settlement. It
presents tropical conditions similar to those of the Northern
Territory. A still more approximate climate could have been met with
on the west coast, with its full-length expanse of alluvial plains
twenty miles wide, bounded inland by low hills gradually leading up to
the Formosan Alps. But it would not have been so suitable for the
purpose, owing to the openness of its geographical situation, facing
China, whence it had been colonized. Swarms of junks were always
employed in commerce with the mainland, and pried into every corner in
the search for profitable business. The populous ports were frequented
by European steamers. So there could have been no secrecy for uncommon
proceedings.

The contrast of seclusion on the east coast was great. The Chinese
had never crossed the mountains. What population there was consisted
of half-tamed aborigines, living in stone huts and tormented by
incursions of the fierce, nomadic hunter tribes of the hills. Jungle
and thick forests encroached on the plain, which is shut off by high
ranges descending vertically thousands of feet into the sea. It rises
towards the interior in well-formed tablelands like the Northern
Territory, though, of course, on a miniature scale. Here the parallel
ends, for the towering Alps of the Formosan background, which send
their rushing torrents down throughout the years, have no counterpart
in tropical Australia. Yet, on the whole, the climatic conditions are
similar. Equal methods of cultivation are rewarded by equally generous
results in suitable parts of both countries. In summer the heat is
very humid and enervating in Gilan, and people who have lived and
worked there would feel the drier heat of the Northern Territory as
relief. Considering everything, there can be no doubt that a better
acclimatizing stage could not have been fixed upon on the road from
temperate Japan to the torrid north of Australia.

At the end of the first quarter, 1911, several thousand Japanese had
been concentrated in the plain of Gilan. They lived in large sheds at
first, and were subject to severe discipline. No effort was spared to
give them a thorough agricultural and pastoral training. According to
one investigator, every twelfth man had passed a special Government
course in those branches, and was now appointed headman of his
fellows, for whose due efficiency he was made responsible. Every form
of suitable cultivation was practised, but the greatest care was taken
to raise a sufficiency of the necessaries of life, so that the new
settlement might speedily become self-supporting. Rice, cane, sweet
potatoes and various vegetables were grown on the plain, where goats,
pigs, and poultry were also kept. The uplands were given over to wheat
and other cereals, and to the pasturage of horses, cattle and sheep.
Much attention was paid to the making of roads. In short, it seems
that no detail was neglected which might in any way contribute to the
success of the great enterpise of which the Gilan colony was only the
preparation.

Many medical officers looked after the health of the settlement, and
their exertions kept down fever and tropical diseases. Epidemic
appears not to have occurred at all. A well-planned diet, combined
with thoughtful management, which insisted on just the right measure
of arduous open-air toil, and varied it with regular military
exercises, promoted moral steadiness and healthfulness. Physical
weaklings were eliminated by a judicious weeding-out process, and were
repatriated without delay. On the other hand, reinforcements continued
to swell the ranks. These newcomers, stimulated by the results already
achieved, sought to surpass them in their own domain, and a healthy,
absorbing competition between the camps sprang up. Nothing could have
pleased better the supervisors of the experiment. It was certainly a
difficult task to hold together such huge numbers of vigorous men long
enough for effective training. Mere discipline could not ensure final
efficiency. The settlers must also be willing to learn, and to that
end they had to be kept in good spirits. Their tempers were, indeed,
sorely tried by the incessant hard work until the introduction of a
keen sense of rivalry provided a more personal interest and added a
new zest to their labours.

Everything went well until the monsoonal deluges of autumn prevented
field work to a large extent. Then, at last, the men began to get out
of hand. Family instincts could no longer be repressed by toil, high
promises, and the weeding-out of the less disciplined. Small bands
deserted and roamed the hills searching for wives among the natives.
As often as not they never returned. When the need for female partners
made itself felt so pressingly, the authorities yielded to it. That
they had delayed the matter so long, till nearly the end of 1911, was
part of a deep-laid scheme. For the master-minds who had conceived the
great enterprise were determined to bend even the natural passions of
men to the service of the cause.

The invasion of the Northern Territory was timed to take place at
the end of the rainy season (March, 1912), as later events have shown.
That was obviously the correct moment, allowing the immigrants to
begin cultivation of the soil forthwith and to gather the first
harvest in the same year. But the official interest did not permit
matters to rest here. It was desirable to bind the settlers to their
prospective new homes by stronger ties than manual toil and its reward
could forge. Only one possible way existed by which that goal could be
attained: family settlement there. This was the consideration why the
marriage of the colonists had been postponed. The idea was that the
freshly united couples should spend a honeymoon of six or eight weeks
in the plain of Gilan. Then the men were to be hurried off to their
final destination, there to prepare proper shelter for their wives,
who would follow a month or two later. During the last quarter of 1912
children would be born--natives of whom birthright, that most powerful
moral or sentimental claim, would entitle to a share in the empty
continent.

A simpler and more thorough method of colonization could not be
imagined. It has become known to fame as the "Progressive Family
System," and admirers of Japan have called it its master-stroke of
policy. The experience of many bitter failures, no doubt, led up to
the evolution. For instance, the American venture suffered from being
a mere migration of male coolies, with all the imperfections and vices
attaching to that limitation. Evidently, a horde of bachelors,
transplanted upon foreign soil, yet excluded from intermarriage
because of race prejudice, could not really claim equal rights with
the citizens thereof who represented families. Japanese genius had
freed the Northern Territory settlement of this inherent weakness of
tenure almost from the outset.

About the middle of January, every member of the huge immigration
party, which, according to a conservative estimate, numbered now over
6,000 men, rejoiced in the possession of a wife. The young couples
lived in wooden huts, constructed in advance by the men. The whole
plan of accommodation and activity was as nearly as possible the
prototype of the later Australian colony. The dwellings formed
isolated villages of about 200 families each, some placed on the
flats, others in creek valleys and on the high lands, and linked to a
larger coastal settlement by roads and telegraph.

Suddenly the happy communities were alarmed by rumours of impending
separation. It is likely that the men had been informed beforehand
(some considerable time ago) that they would not remain permanently in
Gilan. But that may have been forgotten. At all events, it seems that
the reminder came as a rude shock. Still, the men were manageable.
Anything can be done with the male Japanese once his patriotism is
inflamed. But the women rose in fury. Perhaps they had not been warned
when wooed by agency. Now, belated reasoning had no effect. All those
subtle policy points, which awed the husbands even if they did not
fully understand them, were lost upon the women. What they felt was
that they were threatened with the loss of their husbands. The whole
weight of female influence was brought to bear on the men. These grew
restless. Contrary to regulations, the inhabitants of different
villages gathered together to exchange views, and soon the whole
colony seethed with discontent. The officers or headmen did their best
to reduce their subordinates to order. In vain; the women's influence
proved stronger. The men began to obstruct the preparations for
departure; punishment of the worst offenders led to open defiance. One
morning, a medical officer, going his usual rounds in a village, was
set upon by a female mob and beaten to death with stones and household
implements. The headman, rushing to his assistance, was wounded and
hunted into the bush. After that, the officers telegraphed to Kelung
and to Japan for military help.

The Government was greatly surprised. Human feelings threatened to
overthrow its careful calculations, because they had not been taken
sufficiently into account. That dangerous Japanese tendency, often
commented upon, of regarding men as machines, may be right enough
where males are concerned. In the Manchurian war it led to frontal
attacks against entrenched positions, and yet was a success. But now
that the principle was extended to women it broke down. Quick measures
of repression were necessary. Already rumours of revolution had got
abroad. Tokio side-tracked them by a cablegram, admitting the
existence of trouble in Formosa, but attributing it to rural workers
and miners who had imbibed crude notions of Western Socialism. This
was also a satisfactory anticipatory explanation as regards the
approaching comcentration of steamers in Formosan waters, which
otherwise might have attracted attention. Everybody would now conclude
that they were military transports carrying troops to the disturbed
districts.

When the punitive force arrived the men had gone back to work. It was
February, and the fields called for industrious hands. Preparations
for departure were, however, quite neglected. This passivity did not
prevent vigorous reprisals. The village which had given the signal for
murder was burnt down, and scores of men and women died by the
executioner's hand. Very soon the men, overawed by wholesome judicial
massacre, were thoroughly subdued. The great enterprise was saved at
the brink of ruin, and full attention could now be devoted to the
proceeding embarkation.

Here the marvellous organizing talent of the race had full play. A
superficial survey of the transports, it is true, would hardly have
suggested fancies of naval glory. They were tramp steamers of 2,000 to
3,000 tons, such as usually carry trade in Far Eastern seas, capable
of a steady hourly speed of ten to twelve knots. Everything had been
avoided which might have betrayed the real purpose. The exterior of
each vessel was weather-beaten and grimy, but inside the greatest
order prevailed. Each vessel could house 600 to 800 men in rough
comfort. The bulwarks had been raised about a foot above the ordinary,
which precaution gave the steamers the appearance of lying high in the
water, and would deceive even critical observers, for none could
suspect that the buoyancy was not real, and that every inch of space
had been scientifically put to the best use. Each craft was fitted
with wireless telegraph instruments and a searchlight. All were coaled
sufficient to last for the whole distance, but 3,000 tons of best
Japanese steam coal were shipped for emergencies by a steamer carrying
the latest appliances for coaling at sea. Two swift destroyers acted
as guardships and scouts. They had been cunningly disfigured to look
like small tramps without losing too much of their speed. There were
also cargo carriers and cattle boats, which sailed somewhat later.

The passage of a fleet through the Dutch Indies would have attracted
notice. For this reason the transports and subsidiaries were
despatched by three different routes, part passing between the
Philippines and Carolines, thence through Dampier Straits, and
skirting Ceram; part through the South China Sea and Sulu Sea,
rounding the east coast of Borneo, and beating east through Flores
Sea; and part sailing down West Borneo, entering Java Sea, and finding
an outlet south through Lombok Straits. The collier and one destroyer
went further west for scouting purposes, intent on passing through
Sunda Straits into the Indian Ocean. As the whole plan had been
carefully concerted no accidents occurred, but a Dutch cruiser sighted
the destroyer while coaling at sea off Batavia. It happened at
daybreak, and the Japanese vessels allowed themselves to be surprised.
Though they separated at once, suspicions had been roused already. The
destroyer steadily crept north, never revealing its true speed. Such a
clumsy-looking, slow-going craft was, however, beneath Dutch notice,
which turned to the more imposing collier. The latter boldly showed
the flag of the Rising Sun, and steered straight for Batavia Roads,
where she replenished her store of water. Her papers were perfectly in
order: "ss. Honjo Maru, bound for Perth, West Australia, with a trial
cargo of Japanese coal." Dutch misgivings, if they existed, vanished
before such information. Japanese enterprise was the talk of the day;
their coal, perhaps, had not been heard of in connexion with Westralia
so far, but everybody knew of the huge goldmines there, which might
well look out for cheap fuel.

The collier left next morning and steamed up Sunda Straits, through
which dangerous passage the destroyer had slipped during the night.
Together they swept the Indian Ocean and Timor Sea to the east.
Several proas supposed to have been in those waters never made port.
All the routes converged in Arafura Sea, somewhere between Timor Laut
and the Aroo Group. From this meeting-place the fleet made its
accurately--timed descent, under the shadow of night, on Junction Bay.
The strength of the first landing party can only be guessed at.
Probably it consisted of about 3,000 men. It is certain that it was
rapidly added to, and when the first collision between the races took
place the number had at least doubled.



Chapter III: Dancing on a Volcano



THOMAS BURT and his friend reached Pine Creek on April 6; exhausted
and dishevelled. Their news created such an impression locally that a
railway engine was placed at their disposal to take them on to
Palmerston without delay, and they arrived there about noon the
following day. The resident was away, over the Easter holidays, on a
shooting excursion. His understudy, full of the importance of his
temporary responsibility, granted them a patient hearing. When the
bald statement of invasion burst upon his comprehension, he paled
visibly. But the more the story was unfolded to his mental gaze, the
calmer he grew. It was so palpably impossible. By the time it came to
an end he had ceased to weigh its purport. Instead, he was quietly
bethinking himself who among his kind friends could have invented and
enacted this hoax. Therefore, to the surprise of his interviewers, the
Acting-Resident preserved stoic calmness. He satisfied his official
conscience by taking a preliminary record. As it was long after tea-
time when he had done, he dismissed the friends for the night with
thanks and a promise that the matter would be thoroughly investigated.

This diplomatic postponement gave the Acting-Resident leisure to
collect his wits. The result of his reflections was that he called, on
the morning of Easter Tuesday, a council of his leading brother
officials. Bitterly he rued the action. What was a bold and improbable
story when told first hand by men who seemed to believe in it,
appeared a preposterous joke when recited in a doubting, colourless
voice from depositions. It was a merry conference. The listeners tried
to surpass each other in sarcastic comments. Was it likely that two
men on a holiday trip should penetrate several hundred miles of
country only partly charted? Was not game plentiful nearer home? It
was, and so was also the opportunity of buying liquid poison from
Chinamen or low whites, or, at any rate, opium, which would account
for all sorts of raving hallucinations. What about the persons who
brought the news? Nothing unfavourable was known of the Yorkshireman.
But Thomas Burt had on previous visits incurred the displeasure of the
ruling set by his Australian outspokenness and very personal criticism
of existing conditions.

The meeting broke up when the two friends were announced. They met
with a chilly reception. Nothing dounted, they began the arduous task
over again of convincing a prejudiced bureaucrat against his will.
Such was their earnestness that he began to waver and their patriotic
hopes to rise proportionally, when an unforeseen development finally
sealed the official ear against them.

That morning, April 9, an auxiliary schooner entered Port Darwin. Its
owner, and captain of its Malay crew, was a Chinaman named Ah Ting, a
well-known identity on the north coast, along which he had been
trading for years. People regarded him as one of the few decent
Mongolians in the Territory. On several occasions he had been of some
service to the authorities, with whom he was consequently on good
terms. Yet he was never obtrusive, but went quietly about his own
business. However, it so happened that the police inspector had gone
down to the water-front after the conference, and, quite casually, he
encountered Ah Ting. He came from the East. How fortunate! Did he see
any steamers? No. Here the dignitary felt justified to mention the
strange rumours. Ah Ting laughed outright. Junction Bay, he explained,
was his last stopping-place four days ago. He searched the trepang
grounds of that neighbourhood. His eyesight, alas, must be
considerably worse than that of his white friends, for he saw nothing.
Of course they would send the fleet up. The Inspector hurried away to
parade his special information before the Acting-Resident, with the
effect that Burt and his friend were hustled off the premises, and
were told to be glad that nothing worse happened to them.

The two friends took the only course left open to them. They appealed
to the man in the street by spreading the alarming reports broadcast.
Out of courtesy they had studiously refrained from doing so before,
considering that the Resident should have the privilege of
publication. This tactfulness placed them at a further disadvantage.
For the members of the conference had meanwhile forestalled them by
giving the story from their humorous point of view. And when the
explorers came to supply the genuine version, the mythical rendering
had already been mentally enjoyed and digested. The pre-requisite of
sensation is shocked astonishment. This they had failed to rouse.
Instead, they confronted critical appreciation. This joke--to hold up
the Government, to bring about a solemn conclave of the chief bosses--
was voted excellent. Some of the audience applauded them for having
invented a new variation of an old bogey. Till then, the prophets had
always pictured a Japanese Armada sweeping down from the north and
dictating terms of equality while big guns were trained on the
Australian capitals. It was something to hear a different account for
once. Others, of a grumbling disposition, objected to being made the
victims of an April joke. Even granted that it might have been
conceived on the first of the month, still that was no excuse for
ramming it down their throats after a week's delay. In short, the
laugh had been against the warners, and from that moment all their
efforts to awake Port Darwin to a sense of the real danger were doomed
to disappointment.

Two days later the Resident returned. He was a a level-headed man,
and if he could have heard the report first-hand and could have been a
witness of the earnest sincerity in which it was delivered, things
might have gone different. Unfortunately, he heard it from the
understudy, together with Ah Ting's denial, and this combination
convinced him so thoroughly of the preposterousness of the assertion
that an interview with the two discoverers could not change his mind.

Burt and his friend were now officially hall-marked as "jokers of
promise, but whose present attempt had failed rather badly." As they
persisted in voicing warnings, the languid Palmerstonians voted them
bores, and forgot about them. So they were pretty much left alone.
They diverted themselves by keeping a close watch on Ah Ting. But
that, too, came to naught. There were no conspirators sneaking about
the back door of that worthy at night. Just as he piled his goods,
Chinese tit-bits and knick-knacks, into the front window of his neat
cottage in the main street to announce his business, even so he seemed
to wear his unblemished character in a glass case open for inspection,
with his mingled air of childlike blandness and dignified
patriarchalism. Nothing was known of his antecedents; that was in no
way remarkable, for the same can be said of all his countrymen up
north. But he had resided, on and off, for several years in the place,
and was respected even by the many-hued scum. The friends quickly got
tired of contemplating so much virtue, while painfully conscious that
their own reputations were under a cloud.

They determined to take the first steamer to the south-east. None was
due for some time. So they had plenty of leisure to study the peculiar
conditions of which they had become the victims. The fact was that
tropical Australia was suffering from a surfeit of warnings against
the Asiatic menace. Its white inhabitants had one dominant desire: to
hear no more about it. The position had been looked at from all
possible points of view, and had been pronounced hopeless from every
one. Yet nothing happened. There stretched the vast wastes of fertile
lands, uncontrolled, open from year's end to year's end, at the very
threshold of the over--crowded North. Nevertheless, only stray
individuals crossed over, mostly to repent of it afterwards. Mongols
and Malays who had entered quickly declined to the lowest levels of
degeneration. And wherever they came into contact with the aborigines,
it meant rapid, complete ruin to the latter. The vilest corruption
spread to them. The death-rate of all the coloured races was terrible.

Sometimes an enthusiast would arrive from civilized Australia, and
would talk for awhile. But nobody ever did anything. Soon the microbe
of drift permeated his blood, and he would become as languid as the
others. The white population of Port Darwin consisted of a set of
officials and of those who catered for their wants. A few shipping
agents and South Sea produce dealers constituted the independent
citizen class. All considered themselves exiles. The years rolled by,
and the procession of new faces went on, but the same stagnation
prevailed for ever. Once it had been broken when the great effort was
made, and a railway was pushed south as far as Pine Creek. As if in
revenge, stagnation had settled on that very railway thicker than
elsewhere, if that were possible. Under the law no coloured alien
could own mining rights. As the Chinese who did not subsist on trade,
vegetable cultivation or laundry work were miners, they had to rent
claims for working from the white proprietors, who received anything
above 10 per cent. of the gross yield for dummying. Such practices
naturally lead to parasitism on the one hand, to presumptuousness on
the other. Rusting mining machinery and a few cattle runs in the
interior represented the highest attainment of the white race; cabbage
gardens that of the yellow race.

It has been said that the Northern Territory was not a white man's
land. With far greater accuracy it could have been called No Man's
Land. For it is undeniable that the white inhabitants maintained their
standard wonderfully well, compared to the physical and moral
debasement of the immigrants of all other races. The truth is that it
was, and is, the land of the worker; only to the loafer is the climate
enervating. And the curse upon it was that no race ever set itself to
subjugate the soil, to force from it the richest yield by honest toil.
Up to April, 1912, the Northern Territory was really the Country of
Hope-Deferred, awaiting its conqueror, and the race--white, yellow,
brown, or black--which would first solve its problem by organizing
laborious, intelligent cultivation, was destined to rule.

Were the Japanese to be its masters? The two friends had gloomy
forebodings. Quite unexpectedly, however, their hopes revived. There
was a smart shipping agent in Port Darwin. As it happened, he
personated the Opposition, which meant that he had fallen out with the
official bosses. Also, he was occasional correspondent for a pushful
Melbourne daily. He heard the story. Probably he did not set much
store by it, but he chose, as a true Oppositionist, to differ from the
authorities. It occurred to him that if they had not reported to
headquarters about the affair, he might catch them napping. So, after
a conversation with Thomas Burt, he condensed the news into a stirring
summary, which he telegraphed to his paper. The editor on receipt was
worried by grave doubts. The sensational character of the copy
appealed to his journalistic instincts, but he was not sure whether
its publication would not offend his readers. For he catered for a
highly respectable merchant community, who might resent an attempt to
scare them which bore the stamp of impossibility. In this dilemma he
decided to bring the message under the notice of the Federal
Government. Next day the Resident at Palmerston received an official
inquiry by wire, and after the exchange of several more telegrams, he
was instructed to carry out a search. The Federal Government had come
to the conclusion that a cargo of Chinamen might have been dumped
somewhere upon the coast in evasion of immigration restrictions, as
had often been rumoured before.

Two days were spent at Port Darwin fitting the Government yacht for
the cruise. A heavy rainstrom delayed her departure for another might,
but at last she got away (April 15). All on board, from the police
inspector (who was specially entrusted with the investigation)
downwards, felt convinced that they were going on a fool's errand. The
friends had offered to accompany the party. But the captain ironically
insisted that they would not be safe if nothing should be discovered,
as his crew were only human after all. So they were compelled to stay
behind. On April 22 the yacht returned. The results of the mission
were wholly negative. According to the official report, they had
steamed along the coast beyond the longitude of Junction Bay, and had
landed at convenient points. At Junction Bay a bush fire had raged
recently; miles of forest had been destroyed, and the damage done
extended far inland. Probably it had been extinguished only by the
late rainstorm, which evidently was very severe in that neighbourhood,
for fresh water was still found near the mouth of creeks. Neither
ashore nor awash were any traces or signs met with betraying that any
landing had occurred, or that a large number of men had been in those
waters. No human being was seen, not even an aboriginal. They passed
no vessels, and only once a solitary column of smoke showed on the
horizon, far out towards the ordinary track of navigation.

The two friends were now completely discredited. They did not dare to
throw doubt on the thoroughness of the search, for fear of
antagonizing the local dignitaries still more. At any moment legal
action might be taken against them to wring part of the considerable
expenses out of them. Official scepticism had been justified so
signally that even the Opposition did not care to associate any
further with them. There was a general feeling of relief when the ss.
Changsha steamed into port, and it became known that they had booked
passage by her to the south. Her commander was, of course, duly
regaled with the sarcastic version of the story. So he was quite
prepared when his newly-acquired passengers boldly appealed to him to
swerve off his proper course for the purpose of another investigation,
and he blandly informed them that it was really carrying a joke too
far to ask that he should risk his ship and his certificate on a
dangerous coast. Thus the last hope vanished. Day and night the
friends remained on deck anxiously scanning the waste of waters, until
the longitude of Junction Bay had been left behind. Then they hid
themselves from bantering fellow-travellers in their cabin, defeated,
despairing men.

Their retirement did not last long. On the following afternoon the
outlook sighted some wreckage floating by. Further on swarms of sea
birds were noticed hovering over some undistinguishable, nearly
submerged shapes. The steamer slowed down, a boat was lowered. Those
submerged forms were found to be bodies of drowned men; of what
nationality it was impossible to say, as their features had been
largely eaten away. It was certain, however, that they were of either
Mongolian or Malayan stock. The ss. Changsha was now approaching the
wilderness of islands, intermingled with sandbanks and sunken reefs,
endangering the western entrance of the Gulf of Carpentaria. Night
fell, and she stood by awaiting the dawn. Evidently a ship had come to
grief somewhere near, and it was seamen's duty to bring relief, if it
were not yet too late. The morning revealed a wreck, driven on the
rocks behind Cape Wessel. The captain decided to go over by boat to
see for himself. Thomas Burt was permitted to accompany him. The wreck
consisted of the fore-part of an iron steamer, firmly wedged in
between the rocks. It presented a most singular appearance. The stern
of the vessel had broken off, and the sea had swallowed it. But where
it had parted from the bows the plates were twisted and rent
strangely; fragments of hull and cargo lay scattered for a
considerable distance along the line of reef; all the combustible
material was charred or scorched, and the metal showed everywhere the
peculiar discoloration which follows subjection to sudden enormous
heat. No human being, alive or dead, was discovered. Probably the crew
had escaped in the boats, which were all missing, and had taken the
most valuable cargo away, while the remainder, for some reason, had
been flung into the water. At any rate, there was no intact cargo
left, though it was possible, by turning over loose heaps of wreckage,
to gain a fair idea what it had been made up of. Quite a quantity of
modern rifle ammunition was collected, and many broken parts of guns,
some bayonets, tools, pieces of agricultural implements, shreds of
blankets and of a clothing material similar to khaki, also tinned
foods--in short, all the necessaries of life and defence for an
isolated settlement in the Northern Territory, as Thomas Burt pointed
out. Whoever the mysterious wrecked mariners had been, and whatever
might have been their intentions, it was plain that they had tried to
obliterate all traces of their misfortune. There could be no doubt
about it--the vessel had been blasted asunder deliberately by means of
explosives. The work of destruction had not been finished; why, nobody
was able to tell for certain. Was it because the supply of explosives
had become exhausted?

There were two heroes aboard the Changsha as she sped across the gulf
to make up for lost time. She arrived at Thursday Island on May 1.
Next morning Australia awoke to profound sensation. The Press sported
scareheads. At last, after the delay of a precious, irretrievable
month, the warning was heeded.



Chapter IV: Japan Explains



THE Japanese colony in the Northern Territory had been successfully
founded. Of its first period of existence and growth no official
information has yet become available. It seems that during the few
days that followed the landing of the men, stores and stock were
discharged in large quantities, and that the fleet then withdrew
discreetly, leaving the new settlers to themselves. Since white men
had witnessed the invasion, contrary to calculation, and therefore
inquiries might soon be instituted, that step was natural. Most
likely, as a further precaution against too early detection, the new
colonists left the coast altogether and proceeded some miles into the
interior, burning the bush behind, so that every vestige of its
presence should be wiped out. That, at least, is the only explanation
for the negative results of the search from Port Darwin.

Meanwhile Tokio, silent and alert, awaited developments. The triumph
of its policy depended on delay. Its subjects were all the time
establishing a moral claim and demonstrating their peaceful intentions
by patiently cultivating the wilderness. Given two or three months of
quiet possession, such marvellous progress would be achieved as would
touch the great heart of the British people, provided that it was
skilfully and gradually prepared for the revelation. The Japanese
statesmen had studied their problem well. Australia was merely a pawn
in the game, not a player. Everything turned on the reception which
the bold move would have in the United Kingdom. If it was there
accepted as a challenge, then indeed a crisis would be precipitated.
This was exactly the danger which had to be guarded against; a sudden
explosion of British national pride, which would vent itself in the
peremptory cry, "Hands off." After that, submission or armed
resistance would have been the only alternatives. Perhaps it would not
be safe to assert that Japan would not have gone to war under any
circumstances; that pushful Power owed its phenomenal rise mainly to
its courage in facing the worst and to its infinite capacity in
preparing for it. But Japan did not seriously contemplate war. Its
rulers relied on their ability to convince the English masses of the
harmlessness of the immigration, and to persuade them that the new
citizens of their Empire were not standard bearers of militant
conquest, but of patient civilization. None knew better that British
sentimentality and the White Australian ideal had nothing in common.

Fortune favours the bold. The white witnesses of the landing failed
in their warnings. April passed without alarm, and it was only in May
that the cablegrams as to the discovery of the mysterious wreck by ss.
Changsha, sent the first quivers of vague fear through the
Commonwealth. There was really nothing definite about it, as not even
the nationality of the wreck was known. Nevertheless, the Federal
Government decided to place the facts before the Imperial authorities,
together with a report of the Port Darwin rumours. This evoked nothing
beyond a formal acknowledgment, and then, it seems, the matter was in
the best way of being forgotten.

Several days later, however, the Japanese Ambassador became
communicative. Probably Tokio considered that secrecy could not be
maintained much longer, and that a voluntary statement, as an act of
courtesy to an ally, would serve its ends best. Accordingly, the
Japanese Ambassador informed the British Cabinet that the Japanese
Consuls in Australia had drawn the attention of his Government to some
rumours current there. His Government had pursued inquiries, and it
had been ascertained that, in fact, a number of Japanese had entered
the Northern Territory. His superiors regretted the occurrence and
must decline responsibility, as they had been kept in absolute
ignorance. It appeared that a committee of private philanthropists had
been formed for the purpose of relieving the chronic famine by
removing sufferers from the congested districts, and in its eagerness
it had shipped some to the wastes of the Australian North, where it
was understood they would prejudice no previous title, as the
Territory carried no settled population. His Government apologized
that it had failed to control private efforts properly so that no
overflow into the possessions of its ally could have happened. No
trouble would be spared to get at the exact facts, which would occupy
some time. Great Britain would be kept fully informed, and early
consideration would be extended to the question of how best to make
amends.

The right cord had been struck. A powerful appeal had been made to
the sentiment of the average Englishman, while simultaneously his
patriotic conceits were flattered. Famished people, frantic but
generous measures to help them, and a strong Government expressing
sorrow for any breach of proprieties which might have been committed--
to turn the scales against such facts would require a strong case
indeed. Of course, the explanations and assurances proffered could be
read in many ways. But British Ministers chose to take the most
cheerful view; their despatches to the Commonwealth reflected it, and
consequently had a soothing influence, implying, as they undoubtedly
did, that not the slightest misgivings existed regarding a speedy,
satisfactory settlement.

Some critics in the Empire were not so easily quieted, and the
central authorities might have come in for scathing condemnation if a
more convenient scapegoat had not offered in the person of the British
Ambassador at Tokio. It was indeed unpardonable that he had not had
the slightest inkling of events happening under his very nose,
according to the Japanese version. Yet something can be said in
excuse. In Tokio the high game of world-politics was, and is, played
at such a pace that it strained every nerve of the accredited
diplomats. The significance of incidents of local import escaped them
in this whirlpool of excitement. Perhaps the one who least troubled
about them was the Imperial representative, resting secure on the
loyalty of an ally. Nobody was more surprised than the dignitary
himself when he received rather curt orders to investigate the matter
on his part. But he was able to elucidate very little beyond what had
been voluntarily disclosed. The committee of philanthropists existed,
though he was sceptical about the accuracy of the date of its
constitution; and its members acknowledged their full and sole
responsibility for chartering and employing several steamers for the
transport of starving emigrants to the Northern Territory. They also
expressed hopes that they might be permitted to ship Japanese women to
join the settlers, so that "the stain of immorality might be kept from
Australia."

This last intimation alarmed the Imperial Government. It looked like
an inspired indiscretion, revealing that some definite plan had been
formed; for had the Japanese ever been indiscreet except for a
purpose? Henceforth the incident was regarded as serious. When the
Ambassador of the Mikado notified his readiness to supply more details
(May 13), he was subjected to searching examination. What London
wanted to know was why, under any circumstances, the Northern
Territory should have been selected as a dumping ground, while the
large dependencies acquired in the last campaign were only half
filled, and should, therefore, offer scope to private enterprise quite
apart from official policy. Was there not enough room for both?

But the Ambassador pleaded impossibility. Those provinces, he said,
were reserved to State control. The Japanizing process was being
pushed on there with utmost energy, if only for strategic and economic
reasons. It could not be accelerated further. What must not be
forgotten was that famine conditions prevailed to a large extent on
the continent, not only in China, as was well known, but also in
Manchuria, and even in Korea. So the syndicate of philanthropists had
endeavoured to open new avenues of relief.

This explanation was plain enough; yet it was merely the prelude to
straighter talk. Apparently the Japanese Government recognized that
delay and vagueness had been worked for all they were worth. Bold
bluff now took their place. The ally was overwhelmed with a veritable
deluge of frankness.

A point, the Ambassador said, which his Government desired to make
clear was its non-interference with private citizens in the
organization and execution of such a great enterprise. The fact was
that, in his country, everything in which the Government of the day
participated became a party issue. Political rivalries were so bitter
that it might be truthfully said that even the famine was blamed on to
the party in power. As no responsible Minister wished to prejudice
private charity in the eyes of public opponents, they were compelled
to take no notice whatever of these humanitarian efforts either one
way or another.

The Ambassador was now in a position to state that some thousand
Japanese had been landed in the Northern Territory about half way
between Port Darwin and the Gulf of Carpentaria. They were all able--
bodied men; sick or old people had been rigorously excluded. As yet no
women had been sent; the health, intelligence, and general usefulness
of the emigrants were such as would make them desirable workers
anywhere. Why had they been disembarked many hundred miles from places
where employment was probable, if they were such willing labourers?
Why was a secrecy maintained which justified suspicions that the real
object of the enterprise was seizure of the land? His Government
admitted that the committee of philanthropists must have lost their
heads to act as they did. It considered that they went practically
mad, face to face with huge numbers of starving compatriots, who were
doomed to hunger for want of an outlet, while yet uninhabited
stretches of fertile country were only a few days' sail away. Should
they obey restrictive laws which condemned them to inhumanity against
kith and kin? Or should they help their people if it could be done
without violating openly those harsh laws? As for the seizure of land,
that was hardly the correct expression, because there was nobody from
whom it could be taken. If consular reports were not mistaken, it was
free to the landless, even in the settled parts of Australia, to raise
and to harvest a crop on unused Crown lands. That was exactly what the
famishing refugees did. They were raising crops on unused Crown lands,
and did not claim the proprietorship of an acre. What they claimed was
the right to keep alive in a district where they competed against no
one and infringed on no vested interests. Surely no objections should
stand against the dictates of common humanity.

The British Foreign Secretary replied that no doubt humanitarian
draperies were convenient garments at times. Nothing could do away
with the fact that here they had a large organized force virtually
taking possession of country which had been under the British flag
well nigh a century. It appeared that peaceable white men had been
pursued and fired at. There was not much meekness in that; much more
did it look like a criminal attempt to exclude all others.

But the Ambassador protested blandly that his Government knew nothing
of blunders which the Japanese exiles might have committed. No means
of communication with them existed. Whatever might be their sins, or
crimes, there was no thought of sheltering the culprits. Let them be
brought to law and be adequately punished. However, matters might not
be so bad. Some excuse might be found for slight excesses. The
refugees were in strange surroundings, and therefore liable to sudden
panic. Perhaps, under the influence of some unaccountable excitement,
they used their rifles unadvisedly. That phase would soon pass.

Then the immigrants were all armed? Why, naturally. Official
immigrants, as well as committees organizing private emigration, were
supplied with discarded service rifles. In Korea and Manchuria that
was absolutely necessary for the safety of the settlers. And the
Northern Territory contained much game which, it was hoped, would help
to carry the colonists over the worst until the first crops would be
harvested.

He became stern then. "There are also," he continued, "lawless
characters in every country, particularly in borderlands of
civilization. To be perfectly frank, it is not the intention of my
Government to allow its long-suffering subjects to become the victims
of such. It would have been more in keeping with the traditions of my
race to let them perish at home, if they are to perish. But we are no
longer fatalists."

Perhaps the Ambassador overstepped his mark in conveying a hint of
such directness. But he wound up his explanations in the approved
style of guarded diplomacy. His Government, he stated, declined to
discuss British supremacy over the Northern Territory, because it must
regard the mere raising of that issue as an insult to Great Britain.
On the contrary, Japan, true to its alliance, was ready to employ all
its naval and military forces against any nation which should dare to
challenge that supremacy, Moreover, in proof of its own loyalty, it
was willing to waive all claims to the future allegiance of its
emigrants to Australia. No refugee had a brighter hope, or a desire
more sincere than to be allowed to live and die a faithful subject
under the British flag, which to his race was the emblem of justice.
Just as in the Straits Settlements the Chinese were made welcome and
soon yielded to none in fealty, so nothing better was asked by his
compatriots. It was quite true that his Government pleaded that mercy
be extended to starving exiles, but it had no sinister motives. In
fact, as soon as the Imperial authorities had made known their will
and taken the immigrants under their protection, the Mikado would be
glad to issue a solemn proclamation, releasing all Japanese settlers
in the Northern Territory from their dutiful obedience, and commanding
them to be loyal subjects of the King.

That was the parting shot aimed straight at the White Heart of
Australia.



Chapter V: Australia's Reply



THE flutter of excitement into which the Commonwealth had been
thrown by the cablegrams from Thursday Island relating to the Changsha
discovery, died quickly away for want of nourishment. Thomas Burt and
his friend were on the water again, bound for Brisbane. Taught by
bitter experience, they had resolved not to fritter away their
knowledge, but to keep their lips tightly shut until they were face to
face with the Prime Minister of Australia, when they would make their
great patriotic effort to gain the confidence of that statesman.
Accordingly, they refused, on arrival in Brisbane, to supply
information to the Press, leaving this to their fellow-passengers,
who, knowing of the alleged immigration only by hearsay, preferred to
confine their remarks to the wreck. The two friends continued their
journey without delay by train to Sydney and Melbourne.

In this way a few more precious days were lost to the Australian
people, who, in the absence of all confirmation, began to look upon
the matter as a paper scare. Suspicion had always been ripe that
Chinese sometimes entered the North without permission. If Japanese
coolies should now have followed their example, it was plain that the
thing could not go on much longer in this fashion, and that means
would have to be devised to close the back-door effectually. It was
the duty of Government to see to that and there was really no occasion
for alarm. Such was the somnolent habit of thought of the average
citizen of the Commonwealth right through the first third of the month
of May, 1912, until he was broken of it by an avalanche of disquieting
developments.

On May 10 the cablegrams of the morning press announced the official
Japanese admission that immigration had really occurred. It caused
general consternation. Nobody understood the purpose of this
astounding move. While the majority maintained that the admission was
a guarantee that the allied nation would assist in the withdrawal of
the undesirable aliens, an influential Melbourne daily took the
opposite view that nothing worse could have happened. After Japan, it
argued, had formally interfered, it was sure to side with its
subjects. This conflict of opinion was just arresting general
attention when the two friends arrived in Melbourne and sprang their
account, which left no doubt that an armed invasion had taken place,
upon the already anxious continent. At last they had a full triumph of
revenge. After having been slighted for so long by minor officials
they were listened to by the Prime Minister of Australia. And the
transparent sincerity of their forceful, concise report gained them
his credence to such an extent that a summary was at once made
available to the Press on behalf of the Government, thus acquiring the
character of an official communication. It created an enormous
impression. Within twenty-four hours there rose the cry, from the
shores of the Pacific to Cape Leeuwin, that the Japanese must go, and
that the insult to the Commonwealth must be atoned for. Backed up by
such unanimous indignation, the Federal Government hastened to lodge a
passionate complaint in London and to claim boldly the immediate
employment of all the resources of the Empire in support of its cause.

The appeal reached Downing Street on the morning of May 13, the date
on which the Ambassador of the Mikado chose to throw light on the
situation from his point of view. It was a combination calculated to
try sorely the patience of the Imperial statesmen. That an intrigue
had been laid with consummate skill to shatter the anti-colour policy
of the great southern dependency was plain enough. But the question
before the responsible rulers of Great Britain was how far they should
commit themselves in defence of principles of racial exclusiveness
which were not shared by the masses in the United Kingdom. Rashness
either way could only lead to disaster. For immense issues were at
stake: on the one hand, the estrangement of a proud nation whose
alliance was invaluable in Asia; on the other, fierce colonial
resentment. British interests, paramount to all other considerations,
demanded dilatory treatment of this awkward complication. Accordingly,
the reply to Melbourne and the dispatches detailing the latest
Japanese explanations were couched in reassuring terms implying full
sympathy with Australian ideals though carefully avoiding any definite
promise.

These early dispatches are remarkable for one striking omission,
which illustrates better than many words could do the infinite
capacity of the English Government for "riding a rail" during a grave
colonial crisis. While the Ambassador's statement of facts is repeated
fully and fairly enough, no mention is made of the Mikado's proposal
regarding the transfer of allegiance. It has been attempted to justify
the suppression on the ground that the offer was nebulous and that it
was merely launched as a ballon d'essai. But the true reason why this
suggestion was held back was certainly the fear that its introduction
would have provoked the Commonwealth beyond endurance and, as far as
the latter was concerned, would have put a stop to the further
employment of diplomatic means there and then.

Meanwhile, the Press was used to pour oil on the troubled waters
and, incidentally, to test popular feeling in Great Britain. That was
decidedly in favour of Japan. No daily paper of standing in the United
Kingdom had ever been critical regarding the ethics of the alliance.
On the contrary, all had applauded it from the outset and a sudden
somersault of any solid public organ into violent denunciation of the
ally was therefore out of the question. Some fiercely Imperial sheets
ventured on a gentle chiding, but on the whole the printed comments
ran on calm, superior, impartial lines and it became quickly apparent
that this moderation corresponded entirely with the present temper of
the nation. The syndicated cable service of the great Australian
dailies was conducted exclusively from London and, in consequence,
reflected faithfully the sentiments prevailing there. So it was even
in this case. After the first fulminations, there was a marked
relaxation, and leading articles appealed to the people of the
Commonwealth to curb their passions and to leave their grievances in
the hands of the British Government who could be trusted to see
justice done. In due course, cabled extracts of these well-intentioned
exhortations found their way into the English Press which paraded them
as a proof that Australia, with the exception of a few irresponsibles,
was quite satisfied to accept whatever settlement the Imperial
authorities should consider proper. And thus arose a misconception
than which none could have been more dangerous or more fatal to
Commonwealth aspirations at a time when the British mind was yet
impressionable before it had settled in a definite groove.

All soporific efforts collapsed before the march of events. On May 16
astonishing news reached Melbourne by wire from Port Darwin. A
Japanese deputation had arrived at the latter place consisting of
three members who made a dignified entry under the folds of a Union
Jack. Its mission was to pay homage to the Resident in his capacity as
chief officer of the Territory. Though the reception was chilly the
members did not seem to notice it. Two of them professed entire
ignorance of the English language. That was another master stroke of
Oriental cunning, for it left them free to spy about and to assist in
every way the third colleague, the spokesman, without exposing them to
the slightest risk of contradicting his statements. The spokesman, on
his part, made haste to intimate that he exercised no particular
authority over his comrades, and that he had not been selected for the
leadership of the party by reason of his exalted station in the
Japanese community, but simply because he was one of the very few who
understood English. Having thus plainly defined his personal
insignificance, he was by no means averse to answer questions, and his
replies fitted in so closely with the official explanations of the
Ambassador that no discerning observer can doubt that both emanated
from the same source. Above all, he protested against the description
of his compatriots as prohibited immigrants. They knew nothing about
that. Kind, wealthy men of their own race, pitying their sufferings
from famine, had helped them to leave the stricken provinces. But now
they had voluntarily adopted the nationality of the country which
enabled them to live and were willing to defend it against all comers.
To give expression to this feeling of loyalty they had travelled so
far to make dutiul submission to their new rulers. Everything in
connexion with their settlement, he said, was open to official
inspection. He could not state the total number of refugees, as they
had landed at different points and were widely dispersed. However, he
thought they exceeded two thousand. He hoped that business relations
would soon be established between them and Port Darwin.

Their solemn exhibition of humble loyalty was not to be its own
reward. The deputation pursued more practical aims. Towards the end of
the interview, the spokesman informed the Resident that he had been
charged by his compatriots to solicit a special favour. It was hoped
that the Government might soon see its way to open schools, in which
his people could be taught the language and the customs of their
adopted country, so that they might quickly become desirable citizens.
All expense so incurred would be paid for in produce after the first
harvest was gathered.

The Resident assigned an empty cottage for the use of his visitors-
in--state and demanded instructions by wire. Late the same evening
(May 16) the Federal Executive in Melbourne met in council. A great
opportunity was before it, for by a rare chance the invaders had
delivered themselves into its hands. Port Darwin being within
jurisdiction of the Commonwealth, the whole issue was transferred from
London to the Antipodes the very moment that the offenders--or some of
them--came within reach of the Australian authorities. Why they should
have done so voluntarily cannot be easily explained. Probably Japan
tried to bluff the Federal Government into some sort of negotiations
with the deputation, when it would have seized upon the slightest
signs of hesitation and weakness as evidence for British consumption
that Australia itself had recognized that the problem called for
diplomatic treatment. If so, its deep plot miscarried, for the Federal
Executive was not in the mood for trifling. Its orders to the Resident
of the Northern Territory were calculated, on the contrary, to force
the game against Tokio as well as against London.

Next morning the three members of the Japanese deputation were
arrested on a charge of shooting at British subjects with intent to
murder. Other "persons unknown" were joined under the same indictment.
But it was only the beginning. Warrants were issued against these
"persons unknown, of Japanese nationality, who had entered the country
without permission and had murderously assaulted white men, British
subjects." It was a sweeping, skilful move which did away with the
international aspect of the case, for it imputed to the refugees a
common crime to be dealt with in a common court of law. A few lines
from the department of Justice had made outlaws of all the invaders.

Everything depended now on the possibility of proving the charge. The
Federal Attorney-General decided to supervise the proceedings
personally on the spot. As a fast P. & O. mail steamer happened to be
in port in Sydney, she was chartered under pressure. The Attorney-
General, his staff and the witnesses for the prosecution, viz., Thomas
Burt and his friend, were rushed by train overland to catch her. At
top speed, the splendid liner raced to the north (May 19) and covered
the distance to Port Darwin in the record time of just under six days.

Australia was wild with joy over the energetic action of the national
Government. Even the great dailies, spoon-fed with Tory sentiments
from London, did not care to disagree and were content with some
guarded appeals for circumspection and moderation addressed to
Parliament. The Continent was now looking forward to the third session
of its fourth Parliament, fixed by Executive proclamation (May 18) to
open on May 30, 1912.

The Imperial authorities had not apprehended such rash enterprise on
the part of the Commonwealth, the limitations of which were so
manifest. It possessed no navy, and speedy land communications with
the tropical North were non-existent. The deputation incident could
not have been foreseen, of course. Still less, that it should be thus
rapidly turned to advantage in Melbourne. London resigned itself to
let the case proceed on its merits. If the arrested men could be
proved guilty, they would have to suffer the penalty for their crime.
No civilized people could quarrel about it. Anyhow, the trial would
take some time, and for this reason alone it commended itself to
British caution--Japan, too, refrained from protest. Doubtless its
statesmen had not counted on this development. But they could not deny
the right of Australia to have recourse to law, as the alleged offence
had occurred within its dominions. For once, they had played straight
into the hands of their antagonists and they had now to trust to
chance to regain the lead.

The trial lasted one day (May 27). The evidence of the witnesses for
the prosecution was unanswerable as far as it went. But the prisoners,
who pleaded not guilty, set up a stubborn negative defence. Admitting
that they were armed, they stated that the disembarkment had been
carried out from several steamers simultaneously, over a wide stretch
of beach. They had not discharged their rifles on the morning of the
landing and had not heard any shots. It was impossible to refute their
denials. The white witnesses had to admit that the Japanese were
distributed over a large distance and that they had probably not all
taken part in the assault. Identification of the prisoners as active
accessories to the crime was naturally out of the question. So the
case against the three Japanese broke down and they were released.

But they were immediately re-arrested under the charge of being
prohibited immigrants and promptly sentenced to gaol pending the
arrival of the first boat bound for the East, in which they were to be
deported. This was at best a Pyrrhic victory, for it restored the
international base of the dispute. Not that Japan contested this
special decision. That would merely have prejudiced its case. The
three men were prohibited immigrants and had gone into a trap. As for
the bulk of the new settlers, hidden away in the inaccessible bush, it
was quite a different matter. First of all, it would require some
effort to bring them to justice. In the enormity of that problem,
Oriental cunning would have a fair field to come into play.

Though foiled in one particular, the Federal Government abated
nothing of its pushfulness. A proclamation, issued (May 29) to the
people of Australia and cabled to London and to the Governments of all
autonomous Colonies, called attention to the fact that the
Commonwealth was invaded by hordes of murderous criminals carrying
arms, who had entered in defiance of the laws sanctioned by the King,
and warned every good citizen of the British Empire to have nothing to
do with them, but to assist the authorities in every way to punish and
to expel the miscreants. Supplementing the strong language, a body of
specially picked constabulary was despatched by sea to Port Darwin
(May 31). It numbered only twenty-five men, for the Federal Executive,
unable to put into the field at once an army strong enough to cope
with several thousand armed Japanese, affected to follow the rules of
ordinary police administration. Should they be defied, then the matter
passed continental confines, and Greater Britain would have to enforce
respect for its acknowledged methods of procedure. That, at least, was
the contention of the harassed Commonwealth authorities.

Both the proclamation and the threatened resort to force were
furiously denounced in the leading Tokio journals, which asserted that
there was no justification for them and that the real crime of the
helpless refugees was their nationality. Herein, they maintained, lay
a mortal insult to the Japanese race and the Government was exhorted
not to stand idly by to see violence offered to men of their own
colour. Officially stony silence was kept, but nothing was done to
curb the intemperance of the Press in its endeavours to rouse popular
passions.

The next step of the Federal Cabinet was the publication of the full
text of their cable interchanges with London, under the plea that the
sovereign people were vitally interested and had a right to know the
full extent of their danger. This piece of strategy was contrary to
diplomatic traditions and certain to hurt Imperial susceptibilities.
Its result, as intended, was a startling convulsion of Australian and
Colonial sentiment, leaving no doubt that the Commonwealth was wedded
to the principle of a White Continent and would not tolerate any
leader who did not champion it against all odds. That manifestation
was of the highest value to the Ministry at this moment for
Parliamentary reasons. It proved that the continuation of aggressive
policy was the will of the people. And the Opposition would have to
conform to it when it came to deal with the bold measures which the
Government was formulating.

This memorable session opened on May 30.



Chapter VI: A Study of British Sentiment



THE Japanese descent upon the Northern Territory had been well
timed. Over the world of white men there lingered the afterglow of an
epoch of unprecedented prosperity, of which Great Britain had had full
measure. Its ruling classes were glutted with success and its
enjoyment. Now that the outlook became less bright, their attention
was wholly engrossed in the pursuit of more profit, before the
oncoming period of depression, universally prophesied by experts. Even
the class-war was less fierce; unemployment had steadily decreased for
years; wages had been slowly rising, and the toilers' discontent was
lulled somewhat by a sense of uncommon economic stability. If there
was one wish shared alike by all England, it was the desire that an
even tenor of political development, both at home and abroad, might be
maintained. Consequently, there was a feeling of irritation when the
immigration controversy threatened to cause a disturbance.

Popular resentment, naturally, turned against the side which seemed
to aggravate the difficulties of the situation. It was there Japan
scored. Officially, it could afford to sit tight and to keep quiet,
for its secret work had been so cleverly contrived that it could now
be left to itself for a time at least. The Commonwealth, on the other
hand, was driven to desperate measures of repression. The shortsighted
demagogues and radical journalists, who dominated the English masses,
condemned roundly the colonial excitement about a trouble which
appeared to them, from their safe distance, fifth-rate at most.
Nothing the Federal Government did was thought right by these zealous
humanitarians. Its prosecution of the deputation was dubbed puerile
exaggeration. The fierce denunciation of subjects of an allied Power
in the proclamation was even taken as a reflection on Great Britain
for the company kept by it. It was not understood in the Mother
Country that the Commonwealth was acting according to the promptings
of an irresistible instinct. As creatures of the night, exposed to
sudden glare, dart instinctively for the nearest dark shelter, thus
Australia, dazed by the sudden perception of deadly danger, started
into convulsive movement. But the Commonwealth appeared to the badly-
informed millions, who in the last resort sway Imperial policy, as
responsible for the biggest part of the commotion, and this
misconception disposed them all the more to look with tolerant eyes
upon the case as presented by Japan. Tokio had prepared the way to
their overgrown hearts cunningly. It claimed no right; it merely
appealed to common humanity. And it thus flattered nicely the popular
idea of the Mission of Empire. Here they were asked to stretch forth
helping hands to humble supplicants; to elevate a race yet erring in
outer darkness, to their own level of goodness; to bestow material
prosperity on famishing hordes. Nothing could be more desirable.
Nevertheless, a handful of white settlers 12,000 miles away, hardly
visible in the surrounding vastness of an empty continent, told them
to desist as harshly as if they had no voice in the matter at all.

The English middle-classes, too, have always been moved deeply by
religious considerations. Only acute fears, real or imagined, about
the existence and growth of the Empire, could overcome their scruples
in that direction. Nobody alleged that there was any reason for
patriotic anxiety in the present development. The Japanese
explanations were modest, even complimentary. The assurance that the
immigrants craved the honour to be allowed to live and die under the
Union Jack might be said to confer an extra lustre on the grand old
flag. The ambitious request did not strike Britishers as very
remarkable after all the speculations of recent years, that possibly
Japanese soldiers would fight and die some day in defence of India for
the Empire. An allied nation, of which such high expectations had been
formed, could not be looked upon with contempt. Alas! they were
heathens still. But the immigrants, removed from the retarding
influence, one might almost say, from the bad example of the millions
still groping in darkness in their native haunts, would offer a fair
field for missionary work. Many ardent British believers thanked God
for the chance.

The economic aspect, which so frightened Australian workers, was not
understood by their comrades in the United Kingdom, who had to contend
all their lives in free markets against the cut-throat competition of
cheap labour, and who had also to put up with a steady inpour of East
and South European cheap labourers. Where was the difference? Toilers
in the Mother Country did not realize the significance of race
contrasts, because, so far, they had not become acquainted with them
firsthand. Distance and overcrowding formed a sort of protection. In
the industrial districts of Great Britain white skilled and trained
labour was so cheap and superabundant, as a rule, that the importation
of Mongolians or negroes would hardly have been a paying game. At any
rate, it had never been tried systematically. And thus British
workers, having been spared the degradation of contact with lower
races, could afford to take a lenient view. In their opinion, the
difference was only skin-deep at worst. It passed their minds why any
one should go into hysterics because a few Japs or Chinese wished to
make a living at the other end of the world, where there was so much
room for everybody.

Still, the middle and lower classes were not really antagonistic to
Commonwealth ideals. They were merely hampered by the small extent of
their knowledge and by the subconscious sense of superiority which
warps the judgment of the average Englishman in matters colonial and
foreign. Most of them regarded Australia as a kind of prodigal
daughter, whose pranks had to be borne with good-humouredly. Her
people were supposed to indulge in various irresponsible notions, and
to be very ticklish on all labour questions, to such an extent that
they had refused admittance more than once to honest Britishers who
came looking for work. (This was a Press invention, but it had firmly
taken root, nevertheless.) Of the Northern Territory, it was only
known that it was very big, very hot, very empty; a gap on the map,
yawning for population, yet not at all a white man's land.

But higher up in the social scale there were sections who cherished
grievances against the Common-wealth. The banking world and the Stock
Exchange interests belonged to them. It is difficult to define the
reasons for this scarcely-veiled hostility of British high finance.
The antipathy was based partly on sentimental grounds. Political life
in the Antipodes was highly flavoured with that democratic levelling
spirit which the wealthy classes in England had so often played with
for their own ends, and cheated of its prize every time, and which
they abhorred, therefore, with the hatred born of instinctive fear of
a vague, unavoidable retribution. In a word, Australian democracy
served as an irksome reminder of the smothered social conscience of
British wealth.

Moreover, the broad masses there had remained very independent and
ignorant of the obedient humility which the owner of riches can
personally command in the Old World. Instead, the most popular prints
were full of cleverly worded and ingeniously illustrated attacks on
capitalism, national and international. Political leaders of far-
reaching influence had echoed the contempt at times, and in several
conflicts big vested interests had not been exalted officially above
less gilded claims. There was, too, a steady current of legislation
towards the restriction of the money power. Even British Imperialism
had come in for criticism, and had been described as world-wide
exploitation for the benefit of millionaires at home, with little
regard for distant white toilers abroad. Such licence bred reaction.
But it was not so much verbal presumptions as material consequences
which high finance was troubled about. The new spirit, with its
demands for living wages, its regulation of working hours, and
restriction of cheap contract labour immigration, its inspection of
producing methods and products was threatening the profits of old
investments, and made remunerative new investments more complicated.

Capital, always conservative, does not easily accommodate itself to
great changes. Above all, it loathes supervision. In the United
Kingdom some modifications might be proper. But it had ever been
recognized that east of the Suez Canal moss-grown European
conventionalities had no currency, and that the road was left clear
there for the unfettered play of commercial genius out on the golden
quest, even as it had been in the old merchant-adventurer days radiant
with Indian memories of glory and gain. Yet now, in the very heart of
those privileged hunting-grounds, an upstart dependency dared to set
up as moral arbiter of business methods. And not content to govern
themselves in established communities, its citizens claimed control of
the whole continent, and foreclosed the tropical north against
Imperial enterprise.

Some things are only truly appreciated after they have been lost
beyond hope. The whole northern fringe of Australia had lain
practically unused for decades. Speculators in London had not
perceived the fact that it contained the makings of another India
until the definite formulation and adoption of the White Australia
policy had made the realization impossible. Then, of course, they did
not blame their own remissness, but the impudence of the colonials.
For several years a section of the British Press, prompted by
disappointed monopolists, conducted a campaign of slander against the
young Commonwealth, accusing it of undue interference with private
enterprise, and of a deliberate attempt to withhold its torrid
districts from colonization. It was ably backed in this particular by
"Little England" papers, which disliked the White Australia doctrine
just as much, though for exactly opposite reasons. Between them, they
drew a glowing picture of what the Northern Territory should be like
if, instead of new-fangled theories, the approved traditions of
Imperial colonization were followed. It was only necessary to appoint
a capable administrator, with Indian experience, and to throw open the
country to all comers. Or perhaps, as a sop to national prejudice, it
might be reserved to Imperial immigration--of all colours, of course.
Here was a chance to relieve the curse of Hindustan, overcrowding, by
transferring whole villages and tribes. The new province could thus be
stocked with a cheap, submissive, intelligent population, which would
transform it into fruitful fields. Rice, cotton, tobacco, wheat and
other tropical products could be cultivated. Railways, roads, ports
and shipping would have to be constructed, together with the hundred
other modern contrivances of trade required to distribute the wealth
of the land and to supply the needs of its settlers. And British
capital and industries would benefit. Why all these marvellous
prospects should be sacrificed for a fad, in the interests of non-
existent white citizens who could only be attracted by the certainty
of high remuneration, if at all, passed the understanding of the
average stay-at-home Englishman. As for the leaders of finance, they
could never forgive such folly. The White Australia policy robbed them
of profits which were as good as made but for its arbitrary
interference. Anything was better than the stagnation which resulted
from it. The present development was rather welcomed by the more
virulent section as a fitting retribution. And the Press, influenced
by them, began to hint that this complication could never have
occurred if the old methods of colonization had been adhered to.

The nobility and gentry of the United Kingdom shared the coolness of
the capitalists, partly for the same reasons; partly, however, because
of a special class grievance. It may be said that the proud,
democratic spirit of the Australian people represented the principle
directly opposed to the social conditions which evolved a hereditary
aristocracy. The contrast was too great to allow of mutual admiration.
All attempts to graft a peerage upon the young continent had failed
ignominiously. Some knighthoods had been granted, but it was a strange
fact that, in quite a number of cases, men who were considered to have
promising prospects before they were thus honoured fell victims to
political extinction soon afterwards. The temper of the nation was
republican in this respect. Members of the aristocracy, on their part,
had not forgotten the origin of the colony. Between its citizens and
themselves a great gulf was fixed. Their habits of thought were
divided by centuries. Neither was able to take seriously the ideals of
the other.

It has been shown that the general sentiments of the people of the
Mother Country were widely divergent at this crisis. General
sentiments, however, must not be confounded with political
convictions. Regarding the latter, their unanimity was wonderful.
There is really very little to choose between the most ardent
Imperialist and the pronounced Little Englander, when their
fundamental attitude towards colonies, particularly autonomous
colonies, comes to be dissected. That may sound paradoxical, but it is
true. Certainly, they disagree in their estimation, and, consequently,
in their policy. But these are mere superficialities. Brush them
aside, and there is revealed, at the back of the stolid British mind,
the firm belief that the continued existence of the colonies is a
benefit conferred upon them by the Mother Country. Through generations
this conception has been handed down until recently the loud clamour
of the daughter nations, for official acknowledgment of equality,
began to tear at its roots. It has been said that but for the
secession of the New England States, the idea of colonial equality
would never have been formulated. Even so, it caused genuine
consternation, though the expression was smothered in a frantic
outburst of Imperial enthusiasm, led by patriotic trumpet-calls of a
singularly united Press. This surprising unanimity should have given
of itself careful observers pause to reflect. It suggested that there
was something to be concealed, something to be held back or smoothed
over. And all the din could not dispel the silent indignation which
welled up in many British hearts. The pretensions were too enormous.
Here, on the one hand, stood a nation welded by the storm and stress
of a thousand years, by a struggle for bare existence at first, and
afterwards for domination; a nation which had shaped Empire, and still
maintained it by its sole strength. On the other hand, there rose a
group of immense communities hardly yet advanced to nationhood, never
tested in the furnace of adversity upon quality and extent of their
own resources: raw materials of Empire, in fact, boldly asking for
equality. In the background, as a dim warning, the spectre of the
American analogy was made to loom. Thus pressed, Great Britain
prepared to concede the demand with good grace. What passed far below
the smiling surface, in the subconsciousness of the toiling millions,
on whose ever-increasing exertions the grand structure is founded, was
conveniently overlooked, and might have been choked in its own
profoundness at last. But it was not given time. Japan once showed
admirable perception of approaching convulsions in the body of the
Russian colossus, and shaped its plans accordingly. Had its
emissaries, with judgment still more refined, correctly gauged the
symptoms which eddied faintly about the outskirts of Imperial
enthusiasm, and allowed for them in the intrigue? At any rate, the
spirited, high-souled part taken by the Commonwealth in the campaign
for equality had not won many sympathies in the Mother Country.

The members of the British Government stood too high, of course, to
be swayed by hidden undercurrents. Whichever party was in power, the
leaders, once the mantle of responsibility fell their way, kept one
aim steadily in mind--the greater glory of the Empire. That included
the advantage of all its constituents, and was the one continuous
policy. The second continuous policy embraced the cultivation of close
friendship with certain great Powers and particularly the maintenance
of the alliance with Japan. Probably it had never been contemplated
that there could be a clash between the two. When it did happen, the
issue, as it presented itself to the English Cabinet, was mainly a
question of expediency. Its first effort was to appease Australian
anxiety by insisting on the harmlessness of the incident. Japan,
perfectly cordial, rendered the attempt abortive by frankness. It
became, therefore, necessary to choose between the permanent
estrangement of a valuable ally and the passing temper of
dependencies. For of the volatility of colonial resentment repeated
proof existed within recent years. No change of front could be charged
against the Imperial statesmen. The doctrine of a white continent
might well be propounded by the Commonwealth, but it could not be
countenanced logically by the mistress of India. She tolerated it as
long as its victims were too feeble to raise effectual protests, and
Australia stood strong enough to enforce it. Once this assurance
failed, a full reconsideration of the position became inevitable.
Britannia could not unsheath her sword in such a cause.

Colonial friction with foreign Powers required careful watching.
Encouragement in one quarter might lead to trouble in others. Young
nations half freed from leading strings are very impulsive, and prone
to try conclusions without urgent need. The weakest point of the
immense Empire lay in the danger of a fifth-rate disturbance on the
periphery, thousands of miles away from the nerve centres, setting up
irritation which might end by convulsing the whole body. That had to
be guarded against, for the shock might bring down the nicely balanced
structure of British World Policy, the result of infinite care drawn
out over a number of years, and now heavy with promise. Japan's
continued cordial support was essential to carry the policy to full
maturity. Australian aspirations, therefore, would have to be
postponed.

It was of material assistance to the Imperial Government that the
British Parliament was sitting, and could be made the fountain-head
from which soothing and confident declarations poured forth. The
Opposition obeyed the time-hallowed custom not to create difficulties
in international affairs. Especially where Japan was concerned, the
Cabinet might be described as holding a brief for the entire nation.
As usual in such circumstances, successive questions were asked and
then pompously answered in the House. The replies were so framed that
they did not leave the slightest doubt as to the hope of the Ministers
of settling the matter quickly and quietly. Further, they indicated
that no dictation from outside would be accepted by the responsible
advisers of the Crown; that warlike talk abroad should not be
considered seriously; and that official relations with Japan were as
cordial as ever.



Chapter VII: Naval Power and World Politics



"THE supremacy of the British Navy is the safety of Australia, and
this supremacy is absolute." That was the conviction in which the
people of the Commonwealth, in spite of occasional warnings, placed
their entire trust, and with which they justified before themselves
and to the world, their shocking neglect of the first principles of
defence. But while they were somnolently enjoying the fancied
security, the world moved and Japan acted. It is easy to perceive, in
the light of later events, the real meaning of the stupendous maritime
armaments into which the Far Eastern Power launched out immediately
after the successful war against Russia. Its policy aimed at nothing
less than the creation of a war fleet, strong enough to overawe even
the Mistress of the Seas at a given date, under special conditions,
which had been foreseen by the astute statesmen of Japan, who had
fully mastered the axiom that victory, diplomatic or otherwise,
belongs to the side which can concentrate most power at the critical
point. In the present crisis they knew that they would gain all if
they could gain time. Whatever might be the extent of British
indignation at first, it did not matter as long as it was kept in
check by a sense of danger. Patriotic fervour cannot be bottled up.
The Imperial authorities would soon come to see that Japan was still
necessary to them as friend and ally. Then it might be reasonably
expected that the problem of peopling the empty Northern Territory
would be left in the hands of those best able to solve it, regardless
of the clamours of others who had shirked the question, and owned no
battleships to back them up. Tokio, indeed, had built the foundations
of its stupendous intrigue upon hard rock.

In April, 1912, Japan possessed six battleships of the latest type,
each superior to the famed English Dreadnought; another monster of yet
improved design was being equipped for sea at Nagasaki dockyard, to be
ready for service within three months. Three armoured cruisers of over
18,500 tons, with two more of 19,000 tons, rapidly approaching
completion, rounded off the strictly modern armaments. But in addition
there were the older vessels, which had given such excellent account
of themselves in the late war, and the former Russian ships which had
been captured and repaired. The mosquito fleet was far superor, both
in quality and number, to the one which had some years ago proved the
terror of the enemy. For crews the navy could draw largely, in the
event of war, upon the veterans who had braved the horrors of Port
Arthur and Tsushima, the only naval corps extant which had actually
been through battle, and was yet available for another round. That was
probably Japan's greatest, and quite unique, advantage. These old
hands would not be racked by soul-destroying nervousness if they
should come face to face with death again, a nervousness sure to play
havoc with the efficiency of adversaries who had never passed the
ordeal, courageous and well-trained though they might be. Behind the
veterans surged on the younger generation of sailors, all fired by
fanatic patriotism and by the ambition to enable the achievements of
the former, still fresh in everybody's mind, not far-off memories of
traditional feats of glory which had happened under conditions quite
unmodern. Position, too, favoured the Japanese. Sheltered behind the
length and width of the Old World group of continents, they would be
able to choose their own battle-ground, and any enemy attacking them
had to do so in their centre of power, where they could make the
decisive stand in narrow, dangerous seas, familiar only to them, and
in conjunction with coastal fortifications and submerged mines.

Great Britain's first fighting line consisted of the original
Dreadnought and of twelve battleships of a similar, improved type, and
of eight other vessels of nearly equal strength and much greater
speed, which were classed as cruisers. Four more leviathan crafts were
in course of construction, but they could not be made ready for sea
before 1913. There was also an enormous host of battleships and
cruisers of older designs, many of them superior to anything the
Japanese could oppose in those classes. In high sea destroyers and
torpedo boats England outnumbered its ally by two to one.

The naval resources at the command of the Imperial authorities
offered, therefore, material enough for a combination equal to the
task of blowing the Japanese fleet out of the water. There were,
however, several points of grave importance to be considered. The
evolution of the Dreadnought type had revolutionized the theories of
maritime warfare. Enthusiasts maintain that one vessel of her design
could sink a whole assortment of older battleships without much risk
to herself, by reason of her immense superiority in gun-fire, armour,
and speed. This opinion had been somewhat modified, but the new
principle had been left untouched, that a Dreadnought could only be
matched by a Dreadnought, but not by any number of less up-to-date
craft, the success of which, if possible at all, would depend on the
incalculable quality of leadership. Accordingly, Great Britain, to
discount the risk attendant on war, would have had to place in the
fighting line at least one more Dreadnought than Japan could bring
forward, besides providing for decided preponderance in the other
classes. That meant that twelve or thirteen of the largest and most
modern battleships and cruisers, at least twelve older first-class
battleships, as many older first-class armoured cruisers, and a cloud
of mosquito craft would have had to be despatched to the other side of
the globe, 13,000 miles away.

The proposition was impossible of execution, simply because the
portion of the British Navy remaining in home waters, after the
departure of such a fleet to the Far East, would not have been strong
enough to guarantee the safety of the heart of the Empire against the
ambitions of European rivals. Both France and Germany would have been
given the one and only opportunity for which the fiery patriots of
both nations had been waiting in vain for generations, the chance of
attempting the invasion of England with more than forlorn hopes of
success.

France happened to be on terms of close intimacy with Great Britain.
But its people looked with perfect composure at the discomfiture of
the Commonwealth, which had prevented the annexations of the New
Hebrides by the Republic, and was frankly impatient of its presence in
the South Seas at all. The warlike Gallic spirit was certainly
decaying steadily under the ever-increasing pressure on its north-
eastern frontier. Yet there was no telling that it might not be
resuscitated in sight of such a unique opportunity, either of its own
accord or under the influence of outside promises and promptings.

But even if France might be trusted, beside it rose a far more
dangerous and relentless rival--Germany. This "narrowly confined, yet
unbounded" nation, restless, unfathomable, firmly believing in its own
glorious future, lifted on the highest crest of the universal wave of
prosperity, teeming with a rapidly multiplying population, could not
be trusted under temptation. Its forward, enterprising policy was
confronted at every turn by the Empire, which had fathered most of the
desirable places of the earth before the birth of modern Germany. The
latter, therefore, had to play the part of the ambitious, ever
watchful Jacob, out after a British Esau, too cunning to barter away
his rights of primogeniture. In the immediate past Imperial diplomacy,
backed by the Japanese alliance and by the entente cordiale with
France, had outwitted Teutonic policy in several fields, and sixty-six
million Germans were still resenting the supposed humiliation. Would
they not see the finger of God in an occurrence which removed the
impenetrable naval screen from between their armies and the English
shores? Even official assurances of friendship could not have been
worth anything under the circumstances.

Germany had seven improved Dreadnoughts in active service, and two
more were so far advanced in equipment that they could be got ready
for war within three or four months. The keels of yet another four had
already been laid. There were also four very powerful cruisers, and
two more building. Its fleet of older battleships and cruisers was
maintained in a state of highest sea-worthiness, and its mosquito
craft was both numerous and efficient. The crews, like the fighting
machinery, had never been tested in grim earnest. But they were drawn
from the seafaring population, conversant with the intimate ins and
outs of their narrow, treacherous waters, and thoroughly trained. What
they lacked in tradition was richly made up for by fierce rivalry with
the army, the glory of which they did not despair to emulate and to
surpass.

The menace of this huge concentration of naval force within 500 miles
from London had to be neutralized before the Empire could risk the
hostility of Japan. A new British alliance with another great maritime
Power, if possible, might have checkmated Germany. Some openings may
have suggested themselves. There was France, for instance, still
mourning the loss of provinces forfeited forty years ago to the
Teuton. A treaty binding the Empire to assist in their recovery within
stated time--limits, as the price of immediate naval support, might
have been accepted. Unfortunately, even an Anglo-French alliance would
not have been a sure check on Germany, which might not consent to wait
until a dispute was agreeable to all parties, but might crush the
Republic under the weight of numerical superiority while Great Britain
was engaged elsewhere.

Russia had no fleet. It did not love the English, whose flirtation
with the little brown men was responsible for the collapse of
Muscovite expansion in Asia. Its army was nominally formidable, but
the task of propping up the tottering autocracy absorbed all available
energy and might have become too difficult if the German neighbour
should decide to aid secretly the transport across the frontier of war
material and explosives for the revolutionaries. Official Russia
recognized that friendly relations with the two allied monarchies over
the western border were its supreme necessity.

There remained another grand possibility: the enlistment of the
United States of America in favour of the British Empire. The Great
Republic owned a splendid navy, a large part of which, stationed in
the Pacific, could be thrown straight against Japan, while the
Atlantic squadron, joining the English home fleet, would render the
United Kingdom secure against invasion. Here was a task worthy of a
great statesman. If there really existed an Anglo-Saxon community of
interests, as expressed in the famous phrase, "Blood is thicker than
water," now was the hour to unfurl its banner in the cause of the
white race.

But America did not move. It was not forgotten that, a few years
back, when its western fringe was in danger of being overrun by an
aggressive influx of Japanese subjects, public opinion in Britain had
sympathized demonstratively with the latter. America had triumphed
over that organized attempt only by strong measures which led to the
verge of war, and it could, therefore, afford to watch quietly, as an
appreciative spectator, while similar tactics were directed from the
same quarter against an English dependency. Besides, there were other
potent considerations which inclined Washington to adhere to a policy
of masterly inactivity. Japan had set up as self-appointed Mentor of
China, and was patiently instilling a taste for the material benefits
of Western civilization into a population of 400 millions, whose
needs, once aroused, would overtax the comparatively small resources
of the teacher. Then would come the turn of wealthier nations to act
the disinterested friend towards China, to find capital for the
development of the country, and to reap, in exchange, commercial
advantages. And the United States were determined, in spite of
temporary unpleasantness, to secure the lion's share, to which they
were entitled by position and resources. To this end it was necessary
to regain the confidence of the Asiatics, who were deeply offended by
forcible exclusion from America. There was only one way of doing it:
by treating them with marked respect everywhere else, to prove that
colour distinctions did not extend beyond the border.

The British Empire was America's one dangerous competitor in the
fight for domination of the Far Eastern markets, and, therefore, to be
distrusted. Its alliance with Japan increased its influence, and a
quarrel with the ally must weaken its whole position. Great Britain,
however, was justified in quarrelling, for even hair-splitting
Orientals could hardly raise objections against its defence of a
colony by all means, fair or foul. But America had no such motive. If
it allowed itself to be drawn into an entangling alliance at this
moment, Asia would believe that it was actuated by racial hatred. And
in the end, England's refined diplomacy might foist upon the partner
all the blame for regrettable necessities, which were bound to occur
in such a controversy, and thus divert Mongolian fury and resentment
from itself. In that case it would probably succeed in keeping the
United States out of the Far Eastern trade altogether. There is no
gratitude in business or in politics.

The naval armaments of smaller friendly Powers did not count in this
crisis. Japan had chosen the right hour and the right place; indeed,
the stars in their courses seemed to fight on its side. Its
experiences in the struggle against Russia had first suggested to its
ally the evolution of the Dreadnought type, which created new
conditions in maritime warfare, and practically consigned the older
classes of battleships to the scrap heap. Incidentally, this
development resulted in a distribution of sea power, which for one
fateful moment, at a point which had escaped notice, rendered
ineffective British naval supremacy. It was just for a short time. In
the course of a few years overwhelming numbers of battleships and
cruisers of latest design would have been flying the Union Jack. But
the reflection is useless; the need of Empire demanded immediate
action, and it could not be risked.

1 AUTHOR'S NOTE.--I have been careful not to overstate the case
against British naval supremacy in 1912. According to the latest
available information, Great Britain will have 12 ships of the
Dreadnought and Invincible class afloat at the end of 1911 (quasi
official), Germany 13 (official), Japan, about 10 or 11 (European
estimate). It is, of course, recognized everywhere that England will
take steps meanwhile to prevent such an eventuality. I have assumed
that she will double her average constructive expenditure for the next
three years, though it does not seem likely at present that she will
make such a tremendous effort. Further, that both Japan and Germany
will not be able to execute their programmes fully within officially
foreshadowed time--limits, which every expert will consider a bold
assumption. The actual naval position of Great Britain in 1912 will
therefore most likely be much less favourable than shown by me.



Chapter VIII: Colonial Fancies



THE arrival at Port Darwin of the Japanese deputation, and the
public professions of loyalty to the British flag by its members,
induced the Imperial Government to communicate, without further delay,
the Mikado's offer, proposing transfer of allegiance, by official
sanction, to the Commonwealth authorities. It was the receipt of this
information, as well as tactical party considerations, which led to
the publication of all the cable interchanges. Australian statesmen
had naturally a much clearer insight into the political instincts by
which the other dependencies were swayed than into British habits of
mind. Accordingly, they forgot the vexation, which their indiscretion
must cause to the latter, in their desire to rally the sister
dominions to their side by the disclosure of the Japanese suggestion.
Nor were they mistaken in their estimation of the effect. The white
colonies, already deeply agitated by the first news of the fresh
immigration movement, stood aghast at the cool proposition that a
simple oath of allegiance to the King of England should be held
sufficient to open a passage for the brown or yellow man into the
jealously guarded reserves of the white race. Their stupor, relieved
by the energetic action of the Federal executive, made way for a
deafening chorus of applause, urging on Australia to persist in its
violent course, and calling upon Great Britain to keep its upstart
ally in his proper place.

The unanimous anxiety of the autonomous dependencies was perfectly
logical; they were all exposed to the same danger. Canada had recently
been the playground of Turanian insolence, and it was rather due to
the relentless determination of the United States than to British
endeavours, that the Japanese immigration into America had been
reduced to moderate limits. Its western seaboard, fertile and very
thinly populated, stretched invitingly directly opposite the crowded
eastern slopes of Asia. There was no guarantee that the latter might
not disgorge another unassimilative torrent of humanity upon the
shores of Columbia in the future, particularly if the idea should gain
ground that the white man was relaxing his hold. Maoriland was in a
still worse position. The "Little Dominion" had been even more
intolerant of the Asiatic than its big neighbour. Once the coloured
alien succeeded in getting a firm foothold there its own policy of
exclusion would become untenable. Perhaps South Africa appeared less
directly concerned for the moment. Its distance and isolation might
prove some protection. Troubled, however, by the indigenous negro
problem, as well as by the imported evil of a growing Indian coolie
population, it was also vitally interested in the principle that the
white man's pleasure should be the law of the universe. So the ring
was complete. Greater Britain was consolidated by common needs and
spoke with one voice.

And it pleaded moral justification. The restrictive laws of the
several colonies had all received the Royal assent. They were all
based on the same premises. Clearly, therefore, if they could be
broken with impunity in one instance, they might as well be abolished
everywhere, for all the security they would give after that. There was
no doubt that the Japanese landing in the Northern Territory was a
distinct infringement of a special act, which rendered all the
immigrants liable not only to deportation, but also to a fine or
imprisonment. But although Australia was thus concerned in the first
place, the issue did really pass continental confines. It was
Imperial, because the validity of the laws in the other colonies was
involved. For this reason, the oversea dominions did not exceed their
rights by demanding that Great Britain, as keeper of the Imperial
sword, should enter the ring in defence of their privileges.

England looked upon the question in quite a different light. It had,
of course, to be admitted that the restrictive laws had been
sanctioned. But the Crown could hardly be expected to investigate in
every instance whether the self-governing bodies, who promoted such
measure, and who were so suspicious of any attempt of interference by
the central authorities, had made sure beforehand of their ability to
carry out the clauses. A law which cannot be enforced must be bad.
Great Britain did not care to identify itself with failures. Moreover,
the colonies had their own executives, whom they could hold
responsible if scapegoats were required. People and politicians of the
Mother Country did not like being burdened with the consequences of
the shortcomings of others.

Excitement in the white dominions grew apace. At this early stage
Australia managed to keep its indignation well in check, and its
public protests, though firm enough, were comparatively free of
bombast. Both Canada and Maoriland eclipsed it in outward show of
resentment. There, even statesmen who had a reputation to lose, and
papers which were known for impartiality and moderation in ordinary
times, looked upon war as a foregone conclusion. After the collapse of
the criminal prosecution of the Japanese deputation, a paroxysm of
disappointed rage swept the two dominions, and the cry for war rose
louder and louder. Perhaps this violence was not natural. It may have
been an hysterical effort to conceal the military weakness of the
colonies, which this crisis threatened to expose to all the world, and
which could only remain secret if a patriotic panic in England made
available the formidable resources of that Power by forcing the hands
of its rulers.

But the Imperial Government was perfectly aware of its peril, and
retained its mastery at home by the judicious use of Press and
Parliament. So there was not much danger of a sudden national
stampede. All responsible men were profuse in their expression of
sympathy with the aspirations of the daughter nations. Nevertheless,
all insisted that the Japanese immigration was a local incident which
would have to be dealt with in the ordinary diplomatic way. The Stock
Exchange advanced the shares of certain cable companies in view of an
expected increase of revenue, while the hubbub lasted--a rather
facetious compliment. The colonies, however, were not in the humour to
appreciate jokes. Exasperated by the indifference of the British
people they changed their tune, and threats of war against Japan gave
way to threats of secession from England.

Unfortunately, this was not a new theme either. Great Britain was
becoming accustomed to these occasional colonial storms. There had
been so many of them of late. The Alaska boundary settlement, the
problem of foreign possessions in the South Seas, the Newfoundland
fisheries dispute, were all cases in point. Every time there had been
a furious outburst of indignation, followed by resigned acceptance of
the inevitable, under the noble plea of self-sacrifice for the sake of
the Empire. The recollection of past scares discounted the effect of
the latest sensation upon the stolid English mind, which was
influenced by the talk of war and secession, precisely as formerly, by
reports of Irish excesses. Instead of betraying fear and precipitancy,
it became more obstinate and deliberate than ever.

The root of the trouble was that the military resources of the Empire
were Imperial only in name, as they had been paid for almost
exclusively by the over-burdened toilers of the United Kingdom.
Certainly, some of the colonies contributed a small amount for the
upkeep of the navy; yet if the whole sum thus received had been lumped
up from the outset, it would hardly have been sufficient for the
construction and maintenance of a single Dreadnought. Great Britain
accepted the dole as evidence of good will, but without the least idea
that the givers should thereby become entitled to a share in the
control of the armaments, which was, indeed, the colonial contention,
not in so many words, but in fact. For if the central authorities
alone had the right to grant or to withhold the support of the
Imperial forces, in every instance where foreigners threatened the
interests of the self-governing dominions, then the latter were in all
essentials reduced to abject dependency on England, in spite of airy
boasts and complaisant acknowledgments of equality.

The colonies had all along mistaken territorial bigness for power.
The misleading appearance of wealth, which was in reality merely the
expression of the disproportion between the enormous natural resources
of the new countries and their smallness of population, had given them
an altogether exaggerated idea of their own importance. Born in a more
enlightened age, free of the inherited economic and political
difficulties which cleft the Old World, they scorned the European
method of propitiating the insatiable God of Battles, by pouring
ceaseless torrents of treasure upon his altars in the effort to keep
them bloodless. The colonies preferred more rational investments;
their savings went entirely into the work of opening up their vast
dominions, and they also mortgaged their future prospects up to the
hilt for the same purpose. That was well enough as long as world
policy was a hobby confined to European nations. England was too
vitally interested in the Balance of Power there, to allow any
continental rival to become too strong, either by absorbing weaker
neighbours or by establishing new bases in other parts of the globe,
which might some day become formidable. A stupendous public debt still
remained as a constant reminder of the determination with which Great
Britain had fought for security in the past. Where so much had been
suffered for the cause, and where, moreover, the probable course of
future developments was so well defined, the watchfulness of England
might well be trusted, and its daughters could afford to slumber
peacefully. But a change came over the spirit of their dreams when
Japan, with rapid strides, leapt to the front, and was introduced by
the Imperial Government into the sacred circle of Great Powers as its
friend and partner in world politics. Some honest fanatics tried to
rouse the sleepers. Yet, before they could make any deep impression
colonial sentiment was drugged fatally by the outburst of maudlin
enthusiasm, which rewarded the valiant ally for his feats against the
traditional enemy of Anglo-Saxondom, Russia.

After that the pace became furious. A new Great Power had arisen,
removed very far from the centres of British naval supremacy, an
aggressive Island Empire, dependent for its existence on the
possession of an unconquerable fleet. The two maritime nations were
drawn together by the strongest impulses, for they had the choice of
but two unalterable alternatives: to be friends or, sooner or later,
to fight to the death, as the globe is too small for two naval
supremacies. Wisely, they had agreed on the first proposition, which
promised a rich harvest to both. All points of difference had been
settled, and an extended, closer alliance was formed on the premises
of real, mutual equity. And Japan proceeded, at the first opportune
moment, to test the sincerity of its friend. It began in Canada, but
had to withdraw before the uncompromising attitude of the United
States, who dared to enforce a slightly varied Monroe doctrine, even
on foreign soil, as long as it was American. Japan, therefore, was
compelled to select a field for its experiments where the Monroe
doctrine did not apply. Hence its descent upon the Northern Territory.
And the rudely--awakened colonies perceived too late that empty square
miles don't fight, and that, having neglected to provide for
independent means of defence, they were absolutely helpless.

They could not even strike a blow at the invader, which, though
perhaps insufficient in itself, might have placed Great Britain in the
awkward position of either having to accept the responsibility of such
action, and the consequences of such moral support, or else of
appearing to desert its children before the eye of an astonished
world. For Japan, as well as the invaded district, was accessible only
by sea, and the colonies did not own a battleship between them. That
was the less excusable when it is considered that much of their wealth
was piled up on or near the seaboard, where their magnificent ports
and capitals lie open to attack from the ocean or from rivers
navigable for Dreadnoughts. It is not wonderful that in the dread hour
of disillusion, panic shook them like the all-embracing tremors of an
earthquake.

Still, some good came out of sound and fury. In Maoriland, the
charming home of grandiloquent epithets, the "Defence League of all
the Whites" was formed on May 22, 1909, and spread quickly to Canada,
South Africa, and even to the United States. The avowed aim of the new
association was the creation of a centre of enthusiasm, and the
raising of funds for armaments in the interests of Australia. But this
original purpose was soon overshadowed by its development into a
recruiting organization. Many members emigrated to the Commonwealth,
others persuaded or financed patriots and adventurers in the prime of
life to do the same, all bent on resisting and repulsing by force the
coloured invader. A considerable number of these were Americans from
the Pacific slopes--men who did not need to be taught bitter hatred
against the Japanese, and whose influence can be traced in the trend
of later events. The whole movement may be said to have one
achievement to its credit. It properly inspired, or suggested in some
way, the formation of the White Guard, of glorious and tragic memory.



Chapter IX: Parliament



AUSTRALIA was feverish. But its symptoms were quite different from
those manifested in the sister dominions, where the colder climate
makes people heavy and pessimistic. Of the chorus of rage and fierce
denunciation of Japan which resounded there, Australians caught only
the note of sympathy and applause which cheered them on to aggressive
efforts. The British attitude was not understood at this early time
and for this reason people refrained from criticizing it, the more
readily as the Prime Minister, in a speech before the House
immediately on the opening of the session, had recommended that
nothing should be said or done to prejudice the position of the
Imperial authorities. The members of the Federal Government chose to
take a cheerful view of the future. They recognized--or said so--that
caution on the part of the Empire was quite appropriate. So far,
London had given no intimation that it was not prepared to insist on
the evacuation of the Northern Territory by the undesirable aliens.
Its fancy of exhausting, in the first place, all peaceful means to
bring about that end, was certainly very trying. But the Australian
nation, as a whole, had no suspicions of insincerity, being firmly
convinced, in the consciousness of its own importance, that there was
too much at stake for Great Britain, for Anglo-Saxondom, for White
Humanity, to allow of any lukewarmness. A little bewildered by the
delay abroad, the citizens felt relieved to turn their attention to
the drastic measures and more drastic proposals of their own leaders.
There, at last, was forward movement. Australia experienced the
exalted sensations of a young hero girding his loins to beard the
prowling enemy in his den. It had so much to do, so many duties to
fulfil, that it really had no leisure for sadeyed reflection.
Everybody discussed the possibility of linking up Port Darwin by
railway with the South and how long it would take; or how many men the
Commonwealth should be able to put into the field--some day-dreamers
approached the half-million in their speculations. Of course, they all
presumed that Great Britain would be there to back them up.

On the opening date of the Federal session, May 30, 1912, a
proclamation was issued calling to arms Class I of the War Militia,
comprising all the unmarried men, and the widowers without children,
from eighteen to thirty years of age. The fact was immediately
communicated to Parliament and justified as a measure of "Resistance
of an armed invasion of Commonwealth Territory." This, under the
Constitution, amounted practically to a declaration of war.

The mobilization came as a glad surprise after the tension of the
last weeks. The liable class precipitated itself into the ranks; if
there was any regret, it was that of half-boys and older men that
their time for active service had not yet come. Parliament reflected
this happy unity. For the moment, all party strife was hushed. Even
the action of the Government, which curtailed the time customarily
allowed for the discussion of the Address-in-Reply, met hardly with
any opposition. On Monday, June 3, the Coloured Inhabitants'
Registration Act was introduced and passed through all stages in both
Houses within three days. This measure was dictated by the fear of
treachery and espionage. It had been the boast of Japan, that before
the Russian war every one of its subjects abroad, regardless of social
station or individual calling, had served as a spy, whenever an
opportunity offered. People were justly afraid that similar tactics
might be repeated in Australia. The only means of minimizing the evil
was strict control of all Asiatics. Under the new law, every coloured
alien was bound to report himself to the local authority within a
stated time, and after that once a year regularly. A pass was handed
to him, and whenever he travelled from his registered place of
residence for more than three days, his movements had to be officially
recorded on the back of it. If he could not show his pass, or if the
endorsements were not in perfect order, he became liable to
imprisonment until such time that he should prove his good faith and
harmlessness. And should he fail to satisfy the authorities, who were
ordered to keep detailed lists, then he was to be deported from the
Commonwealth.

It is to be regretted that these restrictions were necessary, on
account of the very serious consequences. The terrible cry of treason
had been raised now and must inevitably swell in volume as long as the
causes of the national agitation lasted. So far, Australia had treated
the inferior races with good-natured contempt. Their influx had been
stopped, but those who had already entered were left alone. Now, quite
suddenly, they were officially held up to popular hatred and fury. The
stigma of outlawry was affixed to all, Japanese, Chinese, Hindus,
Afghans, Syrians, Negroes and others, with the single exception of the
native aboriginals, who were not credited with sufficient intelligence
to be dangerous. Some delay occurred before the white citizens became
fully imbued with the sternly repressive spirit which shaped the
Registration Act. But the seed had been sown, and in due course the
growth of vengeful suspicion convulsed the whole community, causing
endless suffering to the innocent as surely as the few who were
possibly guilty.

Contrary to routine, this Bill was at once presented to the
Governor--General for the King's assent. Meanwhile the House debated
an Amendment to the Defence Act providing new rules with regard to
exemptions from military duty. The mobilization was being carried out
very thoroughly. Some murmurs of discontentment arose now because of
the strictness with which every able-bodied man of liable age was
enlisted. Commercial Britons have always loved to let others do the
fighting for them. It is therefore easy to imagine what were the
feelings of many prosperous parents and relatives who prided
themselves on their English descent and habit of mind, when their
young men were placed among the common rank and file and subjected to
severe drill, with the prospects of a tropical campaign before them.
In no country and at no time has it been considered a disgrace to
dodge the recruiter. And it was the same in this instance. Forged and
bought medical certificates, even artificial crippling, were resorted
to, and many a pampered young fellow fled by sea.

The amendment dealt with such evasions, providing that only the
certificates of medical men who had been sworn in as Federal officers
should be valid. Every competent physician was admitted to the oath.
High penalties were enacted against attempts to corrupt the officers
and against all malpractices. It was also enacted that men who got
married after the date of the proclamation, could not thereby escape
liability to military service. And the excuse that a liable person had
made arrangements to leave the country prior to the proclamation was
especially excluded from the grounds for exemption.

The new clauses were put into operation immediately. Their harshness
was, of course, resented violently. Young Englishmen, who had come out
on business or for Colonial experience and had remained for over six
months, but without any intention of settling permanently in
Australia, were debarred from leaving and compelled to join the army.
The outgoing vessels were kept under close supervision; escapees who
in despair had stowed themselves away or had signed on as common
seamen, were hauled back and enlisted. Cable reports of such
occurrences found their way into the British Press and the ordinary
reader, ignorant of the merits of the case and very shocked at the
signs of oppression, looked upon Australia with more unfavourable eyes
day by day.

Both the Registration Act and the Defence Amendment may be described
as non-contentious measures. Their passage terminated the happy unity
of Parliament, for now the main problem had to be faced: the necessity
of financing the defence of the Commonwealth, the method of which
could not be considered apart from party principles. Enormous sums
were wanted to maintain the standing army and to improve its
armaments. Moreover, the Railway Bill providing for the immediate
construction of the transcontinental railway to Port Darwin would call
for millions. It was here the first cleavage occurred between the
Moderates, who represented the more conservative interests, and the
ardent patriots, who preferred to suffer everything rather than
surrender the White Australia ideal and who included not only people
of every political persuasion willing to place fatherland before
faction in the hour of national danger, even at the risk of offending
British traditions, but also the entire Federal Labour Party. Mainly
because of their connexion with the latter, they were soon dubbed
"Extremists" by their opponents. Under that name, used at first as a
reproach, and then appropriated as a term of distinction, like so many
political appellations of the past, they will go down to history.

Once the Party spirit revived the Parliamentary struggle became very
confused. Until then, the Commonwealth, as apart from the States, had
never raised a loan. Now, Government proposed to do so. In addition,
it introduced fresh taxation. To begin with, a Federal income-tax of
two shillings in the pound on all annual incomes exceeding £150.
Though this was an enormous impost, even the Moderates agreed to the
principle, well aware that sacrifices were necessary, and only strove
to reduce the rate. But it was merely a commencement. For the
Government also insisted on the graduated land tax. So far the
advocacy of such a measure had been associated exclusively with the
Labour Party, who had never been able to convince a majority of the
people of its expediency. That the present crisis was used to push it
forward, enraged the Moderates. It was felt as a party affront. And
the representatives of vested interests resented this attempted
socialistic spoliation, as they termed it, and resolved to resist
firmly.

The Moderates, on the whole, were certainly as patriotic as other
Australians. True, they paid more deference to the sentiment of the
Mother Country, which to many of them was "Home." And they were
naturally more cautious, since they stood for the commercial and
industrial proprietors, for the men of means and big landholders, who
had most to lose. Some of their acknowledged leaders had not always
been over-careful in their utterances as to the merits of the
Commonwealth case. But they would have died as gladly as any of their
compatriots in defence of their country's rights against the invasion
of the Asiatic Power. Their objections to a graduated land tax were
quite natural. Once the latter had become law, its principle
acknowledged, law it would probably remain long after the immediate
cause for its adoption had passed away. Before Federation, the
predecessors of the modern Moderates had ruled the various States. In
those days, the remedy for every financial difficulty had been
borrowing. The result was that to-day four millions of people owed
nearly 250 million pounds sterling to the British investor. It did not
seem to hurt them. Why not follow the time--honoured device? The
Moderates advocated another big loan, and were willing to vote a solid
income-tax for the interest service. Further they would not, could
not, dared not go.

On the other hand, the Government insisted on its graduated land tax.
There was no party spirit prompting it. The crisis had not swept away
political principles of a lifetime, but no reasonable Australian
thought of faction strife just then. The facts were plain. The
Commonwealth was entering the gates of a future of which nobody could
foretell the portents. Was it wise, was it dignified to pledge the
public credit at once to its utmost limits, without an honest attempt
to pay out of the national pocket for the national cause? Was it even
possible? London was not exactly enthusiastic, to say the least. A
financial rebuff at this juncture might be disastrous. (Nobody, of
course, had any idea of what was to happen shortly.) But London might
be humoured by the creation of good security. The income tax was one
means. And the graduated land tax? It was the only other way of
raising a large annual amount. It had been talked about for many
years. It had many supporters. It would not come as a shock to the
people, because they were already acquainted with the idea. And money
had to be found. That was why the Government was so determined about
it.

So the Parliament battle began. Meanwhile the people looked on
stupefied. They only knew that the Continent was in danger, that every
moment was precious, that millions of money were wanted. Why was a
whole week wasted in talk? Why could not their Representatives agree?
Land tax or no land tax, the people were not in the mood for listening
to technicalities. Deeds, not words! Find money! In the heat of the
financial contest, each side overstated its case. The Moderates were
quite willing to pass the income tax, even two shillings if it could
not be helped. But as good Parliamentarians they could not have done
so without pointing out the enormity of their unselfishness. Was not
direct taxation reserved to the States? Look here, how patriotic we
are! We sacrifice all ancient traditions--it should entitle us to
consideration in other respects! The people outside are muttering: the
States! Who thought of them? Commonwealth in danger, not States!

The other side is as explicit. Behind Government, the Labour Party is
fighting. None of their responsible leaders would think of taking mean
party advantages now. The people outside regard them with friendly
eyes. They have always stood for White Australia. Also the graduated
land tax has for long been a plank in their platform. But why re-state
these things? It takes time even to tell truth, and time is precious!
They have not the slightest wish to dwell on these facts. And yet, in
the heat of debate! Ah, the people outside are out of order.
Parliament, with the best of intentions, is settling down to raise
points. The Long Parliament did so, once, around a tottering throne.
Likewise a Congress, while a Sub--Continent was blazing to the sky.
And a National Convention of France, with Hell hissing from every
crevice beneath it. It is the chief delight, the second nature of all
elected persons at all times.

A whole week lost! Something will have to happen. Ah, what is this,
this fierce cry of rage, like the shout of a Continent? Something has
happened! In the midst of hopeless confusion the Governor-General has
announced that he has been instructed to withhold assent from the
Coloured Inhabitants' Registration Act, on the ground that it is
directly opposed to British principles of fairness and offensive to
the coloured subjects of the Empire. A bombshell could not have had an
effect more deadly. All Australia is suddenly awakening to a sense of
its isolation. Government resigns at once (June 19). Melbourne,
faithful Melbourne, threatens to lynch everybody who gives way on the
colour issue. Did not some prominent Moderates counsel confidence in
England but a short while ago? These Moderates will have to live in
the House. Woe to those away in the country. They are marked men,
exposed to the first fury of a disillusioned populace, insulted, even
maltreated. Let nobody dare to form an administration while the
Imperial authorities refuse to sanction the Registration Act. His
blood upon himself! The State Governors even are moved to action. They
report that no living soul can accept responsibility for the public
peace as long as this matter remains unsettled. Never before have the
cable operators worked so feverishly.

London listens. London waits. Nearly another week is gone. The
excitement has not abated one jot. Instead, it has spread round the
globe, to the Sister Dominions. They all call on the Mother to honour
the will of a free Daughter Nation. London wavers. In the British
Parliament the Colonial Secretary explains that the measure includes
all coloured races and is therefore not directed specially against the
Japanese. (Hear! hear!) Australia holds its breath. Yes, the Crown
grants assent at last (June 26). But listen! On the understanding that
the Federal Executive is sure of its own ability to enforce the Act.
So let it be law!

Government is reconstructed at once. Nobody cares about the singular
British reservation, which, in plain language, means that England
disavows its obligation to see that the law is respected. Australia
will look to that! But shall the financial haggling now start afresh?
Wait a moment! Did not some hunted persons, during the period of
national delirium, appeal to the authority of the States, since the
Commonwealth was headless, heedless? Were there not some responses of
smothered eagerness? Nothing has come of it, nor shall ever come of
it. Resolution proposed by the Leader of the Federal Labour Party:
"That until after the expulsion of the Japanese occupation force the
High Court shall not hear appeals on behalf of the States against any
action of the Federal Executive as approved by Commonwealth
Parliament." Inter arma silent leges. In vain the Moderates fight to
the last ditch. The resolution passes the Representatives by a
majority of seven, the Senate by three.

It is the end. The same majorities vote two shillings income tax,
land tax, loan of two millions, which, alas, shall never eventuate.
Outside the people cry with one voice: Dissolution! New elections! The
Sovereign of Australia wants to take his fate into his own hands and
to re-fashion his court. Some time, of course, has still to be spent,
usefully now.

On July 12 the Fourth Parliament of the Commonwealth dies. Double
Dissolution it is, befitting the national crisis. The Orators have had
their day. Now let the People act!



Chapter X: Pax Britannica



THE events under review being of contemporary occurrence it is
naturally impossible to lay bare the hidden springs which actuated
international politics and the workings of which may fully account for
the cautious restraint of the Imperial authorities. Secret motives and
silent struggles must, of course, have existed, but they are not
touched on in the communications between London and Melbourne, and
between London and Tokio, which the British Government has found
advisable to publish at different times for the information of
Parliament. These, together with some duly authenticated, generally
hazy ministerial utterances, form the only supply of official
intelligence accessible at present. Everything beyond is uncertain.
Unfortunately, the period is too recent by nearly a generation for
those delightful indiscretions called memoirs.

The Governments of Japan and China protested against the Coloured
Inhabitants' Registration Act as soon as its clauses became known.
Japan's objections raised no ire in England. That nation was regarded
as an equal. But that even the Chinamen should dare to remonstrate,
and in such formidable company, was an innovation which could not be
stomached lightly by the Empire-conscious Britons. By the perversity
of fate, their resentment fell not so much upon the Chinaman as on the
Colony which had made such a slight possible. The protest and the
popular distaste had probably some connexion with the refusal of the
King's assent to the measure. And when the sanction was granted at
last, the Imperial authorities, apart from the special reservation
mentioned before, thought fit to request the Federal Government not to
take any further restrictive steps without consulting them in advance.
They particularly warned against any attempt to subject the Japanese
immigrants to a violent police persecution as threatened by the
dispatch of a force of constabulary to the Northern Territory, on the
ground that such a course was calculated to drive the refugees to
despair and might result in armed resistance and bloodshed. The
Commonwealth was, however, officially assured that its just rights
would be protected by all the forces of the Empire. This was vague
comfort, at best, and it drew, consequently, merely an evasive reply.
The haste and harshness with which the provisions of the new act were
brought into play soon taught the British Government that verbal
behests on its part were apt to be overlooked.

It became therefore necessary to show plainly who was in reality
master of the situation. The means employed for the purpose were most
emphatic. In the evening of July 1, all serviceable vessels of the
Australian squadron left port. Only three small craft remained behind,
together with the old gunboat Protector, which represented the
Commonwealth-owned navy in its entirety. Two days after the departure
the British Government coolly informed the Federal Cabinet that
colonial provocations were disturbing the friendly relations between
the Empire and its neighbours, and that it had been compelled thereby
to concentrate the fleet in Eastern waters, at Singapore, as a
preparation for all eventualities.

There were voiced in Australia no wild official protests against the
withdrawal of the naval screen. Only once was the matter referred to
in a dignified manner in the Federal Parliament. Expressions of
disgust were left to the Sister-Dominions, which did not disappoint
expectations. A perfect yell of execration went up in New Zealand and
in Canada.

Especially in the latter colony the Press and the politicians threw
moderation to the winds. Oldestablished, reputable papers charged the
Imperial authorities with selling their white dependencies to their
yellow allies, and delivering them over bound hand and foot.
Responsible Canadian statesmen indulged in self-congratulations that
they, at least, had not spent money on a foreign navy to be left in
the ditch in the hour of need. In New Zealand, a Minister of the Crown
refused to be interviewed on the subject, stating as his reason that
he could not help talking high treason if he opened his mouth. The
sudden explosion alarmed the people of the United Kingdom and had
farreaching results. But it did not frighten the British Government,
which knew that it was so much empty sound.

Its members were far more concerned about the reports regarding
internal developments in the Commonwealth. The overthrow of the
Moderates, the rise and popularity of the Extremists, and the forcible
opening of new sources of revenue which promised to provide the money
needed to open active hostilities against the Japanese immigrants,
were so many danger signals. Only in the Northern Territory was an
immediate clash between organized forces of both races possible. So
far the special constabulary had limited their efforts to Port Darwin
and the neighbourhood of the railway, where they found ample work to
do. The tributary system of mining was suppressed, and a majority of
the Chinese were deprived in this way of their livelihood. Some whites
who were disliked because of their familiarity with the coloured scum
were tried on trumped-up charges and shipped south. But now Palmerston
district was reduced to order, and open preparations were made for an
expedition into the invaded territory. Already rumours gained currency
that the police were to be reinforced by militia. The execution of
this design would bring matters to a climax at once.

It seems that Tokio, during this anxious period, abstained carefully
from identifying itself with its emigrants to the Commonwealth.
Nevertheless, it is only natural to suppose that the Japanese
statesmen paid close attention to the drift of events and that they
entertained grave fears that the presence and plans of the
constabulary might precipitate a crisis. There were other threatening
developments. Since the first half of June an irregular corps of
bushmen, intent on making merciless war on the invaders, was forming
in North Queensland. It was called the White Guard, and all the most
determined men and pioneers of the back blocks were enlisting in it.
Hand in hand with this movement went an evergrowing bitterness against
the coloured aliens. Most probably the Japanese Government had agents
who kept it well informed of these complications. Whether and how far
it used its knowledge to impress on its ally the necessity for rapid,
energetic action, must remain pure conjecture in the absence of
documentary evidence to date.

The suggestive fact is that on July 12 the Imperial Government
proclaimed the north coast of Australia between degrees 132 East and
137 East a closed area for ordinary navigation purposes. All landing
and discharging operations within these limits were prohibited except
in the case of vessels furnished with special certificates signed by a
nominated Imperial agent or by an officer of the British navy. Vessels
without such permit approaching to within three miles of the mainland
were declared liable to confiscation with all cargo. To enforce these
rules, cruisers were despatched from Singapore. A gunboat anchored off
Port Darwin. Its commander had orders to supervise the shipping at
that port. A strict watch was kept also over the Western shores of the
Gulf of Carpentaria by patrolling men-of-war. Of course, no
difficulties were put in the way of through navigation from Port
Darwin to Bourketown and further east, so that the intercolonial and
oversea trade was not interfered with. But the measure practically cut
off the invaded territory from the nerve--centres of the Commonwealth,
as no convenient overland routes existed. Moreover, to complete the
isolation, the commander of the gunboat off Port Darwin was vested
with Imperial authority to control not only the waters, but the dry
land as well, for the proclamation empowered him to take such
precautions, within a coastal stretch twenty miles wide, as he might
consider necessary to ensure the proper working of the maritime
restrictions. Though the Japanese immigrants were not mentioned once
in the extraordinary decree, it was evident to all observers that it
was entirely in their favour, and that further proceedings against
them from Port Darwin were made dependent on the sanction of an
Imperial naval officer. And thus the use by Australia of the only base
within striking distance of the enemy was suspended.

This meant, to all intents and purposes, the arbitrary establishment
of a British protectorate over part of the Commonwealth. Tokio
professed immediately to look upon it as such, and instructed its
ambassador to entreat the English Government to garrison the
settlements of the refugees by an Imperial force, on the ground that
this step would serve best to refute the invidious colonial aspersions
that Japan was coveting Australian soil.

Downing Street considered it prudent to explain the motives for its
action and to disavow the ulterior aims which were charged against it
in an official communication addressed to all autonomous colonial
Governments. This document, which was published at once, laid stress
on the point that British protection, and still more British
citizenship, formed a privilege which could only be extended to
applicants who conformed to a certain standard. There was no attempt
to define the standard in the document, which, however, ran on with
the reassuring statement that there was no reason to apply different
rules in the present case. The temporary control of a small stretch of
Australian coast line, it continued, was decided on for reasons of
expediency, and questioned in no way the sovereignty of the
Commonwealth. But as it was clear that the latter was not in a
position to deal with the difficulty single-handed, Great Britain had
to step in. This necessity had not converted the closed area into a
protectorate, and no British garrison would be placed there.

As a further sop for the self-governing dominions, the Imperial
authorities suddenly adopted towards Tokio an attitude of impartial
firmness. The Mikado's offer was curtly rejected as an attempt to
force citizens upon an unwilling nation. His Majesty's Government
regretted that subjects of an allied Power had created, by tactless
management, an untenable situation. Imperial claims must prevail on
Imperial soil. The maritime restrictions would be enforced against
Japanese shipping with equal thoroughness as against every other flag.
And any interference with Commonwealth navigation by Japanese craft
would be regarded as an unfriendly act.

The concluding sentences of the declaration of policy were calculated
to appease Australian anxiety. For rumours were about that warships
flying the ensign of the Rising Sun had been seen hovering off the
coast, and the excited people believed that their mission was to
pounce upon the unprotected shipping. Although the absurdity of the
idea was palpable, its circulation had already led, in the general
nervousness, to a rise of the local maritime insurance rates. It is
doubtful whether the belated and merely verbal demonstration regained
many colonial sympathies. But it is certain that the strong language
of the British Government created widespread consternation in England.
There the financial reaction caused by the long drawn-out disturbance
overshadowed more and more the political interest. And a sudden fear
of further complications, even of war, removed the last sentimental
barrier against a panic in colonial securities.

The London Stock Exchange had taken jokingly the first reports of a
Japanese invasion of Australia. Antipodean stocks were looked upon
favourably, on the whole, in consequence of the very satisfactory
harvest of the preceding year. Quotations ruled rather high, for the
prospects of another splendid season as the result of sufficient early
rainfalls were just being discounted. The economic outlook in the
other self-governing dependencies being similarly reassuring, the
condition of the markets for colonial state-land and railway
securities could be summed up as remarkably healthy at the opening of
the second quarter, 1912.

When the official Tokio explanation became known, consols declined
slightly, but recovered quickly on the calmness shown by the Imperial
Government. The big financial interests lent their support to steady
the home funds, for now that cheaper money could be expected for the
summer months the ground was being prepared already for a general rise
in the more speculative markets, and a decided weakness in gilt-edged
values would have spoiled the game. On reflection, this inflow of
coloured labour into the empty spaces of the tropical Northern
Territory was voted rather a good thing, and all the better if it
should become a permanency.

But there was a small well-informed section with oversea connexions
who quickly discerned great possibilities of a political scare.
Quietly, a bear position was reared. It is not probable that the
professionals committed themselves heavily at the outset: first
honours, as is Stock Exchange custom in ticklish cases, went no doubt
to gay outside plungers who exist to be egged on and sucked dry.
Australian stocks began to give way. Next settlement disclosed a huge
bear account. These pioneers fare badly, for strong forces
counteracted the decline. People considered that the Commonwealth pace
was too tremendous to last, even with all the applause of the Sister-
Dominions thrown in. The line of policy which the Imperial Government
proposed to follow became more clearly visible and inspired
confidence. The fear of international complications diminished
accordingly. A satisfactory solution was regarded as possible any day,
after which the bulls were expected to have a great innings. This
uncertainty, tempered with hopefulness, made prices move in jerks, now
up, now down, within narrow limits.

Then came, as eye-openers, news of the mobilization, of the
Registration Act and of the crisis in its wake. They marked the first
serious set-back of high-class securities and the jubilant inrush of
professional bears who were badly bitten however, for a vigorous
rebound followed--the British Treasury had entered the fight. Large
amounts of consols were taken up. It was rumoured that the Government
had fathered a trust formed by leading banks and capitalists to back
colonial issues from time to time, when the depression became too
pronounced. No doubt the responsible statesmen wished to financially
assist the daughter nations, in the hope that generous economic
support would dispel the growing distrust of the latter and would
render them more tractable with regard to political necessities.

The Stock Exchange, which was adversely influenced by the protest of
the Far Eastern Powers, became more cheerful immediately afterwards on
the report of the withdrawal of the Australian squadron, which was
hailed as a well-deserved disciplinary lesson for the colonies, and
turned gloomy again in contemplation of the overthrow of the Moderates
in the Commonwealth and of the frenzy raging in the sister-dominions.
The tension was now approaching the danger point, but was relieved
once more by the establishment of British control over the invaded
territory. Then came the strong note to Tokio, and vague fears of the
possibility of war began to haunt the prosperous classes of England.
Their alarm found expression in a steady stream of sales of all kinds
of securities. Once this instinctive movement was fairly started its
persistence defeated every attempt to stem it. And suddenly the bottom
dropped out of the colonial markets altogether. Curiously enough, the
first big raid was made not on Australian stocks but on Canadian
issues. This flank attack showed rare disquistion. Perhaps it was
accidental. But it carries the suspicion that at last the master minds
of British High Finance had determined on severe chastisement of the
obstreperous dependencies. If so, their strategy was helped by the
fact that Canadian funds ranged considerably higher than the
Antipodean equivalents, without possessing a larger intrinsic value.
The reason for this was purely sentimental: it was a manifestation of
the popular conviction that the trend of Canadian legislation had so
far been more closely on time-honoured English lines. That sentiment
being rudely shaken by the uncompromising advocacy in the Great
American dominion of Commonwealth methods, the higher prices were no
longer justified before critical eyes. Consequently Canadian Threes
dropped six points within a few hours. In the midst of wild panic, the
more speculative issues followed the head. Canadian Pacific Railway
shares lost nearly twenty points before pulling up. Grand Trunk
Railway, Hudson's Bay and industrial ventures suffered in proportion.
There was no holding back the inevitable after that. The baisse
tendency spread to other departments. All Australian and New Zealand
values tumbled heavily. It became now apparent that the system,
championed by colonial treasurers, of draining their states of every
surplus shilling so that they may pick up a profit by investment, for
fixed periods, at good rates of interest, in London, was at best a
fair-weather luxury. At the critical moment, when ready money at call
might have done wonders, all the cash was locked up and unavailable.

Next day many descriptions of stock were practically unsaleable.
Support had ceased. Probably the British Government had been converted
to the opinion that the cause of peace would be served best by the
debacle of colonial finance. Even if it had been willing to help, it
had no moral influence. For the economic policy of Great Britain, the
unrestricted licence of the individual which is affected there as the
commercial ideal, has internationalized the London Stock Exchange and
has emancipated it from official control. It has become impossible to
emulate the example of Continental Powers who, at times, have
transformed the courses of their capitals into machines for waging
financial warfare against a political enemy. Even unruly Wall Street
is not unmindful of hints from Washington, because its money kings are
dependent on indirect support from the national treasury in periods of
scare and stress. But the London Stock Exchange acknowledges only one
dominating factor: money power.

It seems that Japan had studied the financial side of the problem
with its usual thoroughness. Its various funds lost some points during
the first week of the panic, mostly on large continental sales. A few
English papers, indeed, commented on the unpatriotic method of
smashing Imperial values while the securities of the country with
which the whole disturbance originated were maintained at a high
level. Very little attention was paid in London to such exhortations.
The bulk of the prosperous classes was against quarrels with the
ally--now more than ever. For the losses were quite big enough
already, without any further engineerings of international panics.
Moreover, a severe fall in Japanese funds could only be brought about
by spreading and magnifying the fears of war, which course would have
been certain to affect adversely the price of consols and to lead to
still further complications. And the great banks and capitalists were
vitally interested that the ring should be kept, that the trouble
should be confined to the colonial field. There were, nevertheless,
some adventurous baisse speculators who organized attacks against the
Japanese issues and occasionally succeeded in depressing them sharply.
But the agents of Tokio had enormous gold reserves--part of the last
loan--at their disposal in London, New York and Paris, and soon forced
quotations up again.

Subsequent events impaired the credit of Australia further. Apart
from temporary slight recoveries the prices of its State issues
continued on the downward grade, until in the darkest days of the
Commonwealth the old Victorian and New South Wales Threes went begging
at half their face values.

Never before had the airy pretentions of dependencies been reduced
to more complete absurdity. The shallowness of the talk of perfect
equality, of the right of autonomous states to shape their own
destinies, was glaringly exposed. British supremacy had successfully
asserted itself. Not by violent altercations or by force, but by the
simple process of lowering the values of colonial stock. It was in
vain that the victims shrieked furiously, and that they denounced the
methods of the manipulators of the collapse. Undeniably there were
sounds reasons for the decline, which the sordid features surrounding
it could not do away with. It was all very fine to sing high Imperial
strains in quiet times. But when the tail tried to wag the dog, when a
few free and easy millions attempted to overlord the toiling masses of
the United Kingdom who paid for the display, then the make-believe of
pretty phrases and ornaments had to be brushed aside. Without regard
for the sufferings of individuals, great Britain seized the baton. It
was true that the act involved tremendous sacrifice. Many millions of
pounds were lost to the backbone of Imperial power, the sober, steady
English and Scottish middle classes. That, however, was merely a
rearrangement of wealth, and the disadvantages might be turned to
profit in the long run, if the decline was severe and lasting enough
to cause a permanently higher rate of colonial interest on loans
advanced by the mother country.

Nevertheless, the cruel lesson did not have all at once the desired
effect on Australia. There was too much at stake for it. It could not
acknowledge the mastery of London on any conditions at this moment. It
was actually invaded, and the surrender of its principles might have
meant its extinction as a white nation. Besides, the force of the blow
was not realized fully because the citizens of the Commonwealth were
kept in excitement by internal political developments, which appeared
far more important to them. Indeed, nothing could have driven more
disciples into the ranks of the Extremists than the financial
collapse, which must be held largely responsible for the civic
convulsions which followed.

But the Sister Dominions were stunned by the shock. The complete
cutting off of the national credit sobered the calmer leaders. Appeals
to caution were heard above the last wild shrieks for instant
succession. That proposition was settled, anyhow. It was recognized
that the colonies were wholly subject to public opinion in England,
and that they would have to fall into line with the declared British
policy regardless of their own wishes, whenever their opposition was
taken so seriously as to lead to panic in London. The outlook was
black. Many self-governing states had millions of loan funds falling
due at early dates, which must be renewed. Most of them had started
works, the progress of which called for more loan money. Nearly all
had borrowed already to the limit, confident of the exhaustlessness of
the British purse and of the splendours of their own future. Even in
good times only a small part of the sums required for development
could be secured locally. A further part might be had in France,
perhaps, provided that deep peace reigned. Under present circumstances
the pockets of the whole world were sealed against colonial needs.

Thus the White Dominions had pawned the right to work out their own
destinies and to go their own way. They had pledged so recklessly the
national credit, and thereby national independence and honour, that
they had become counters in a game in which they had no say. It was no
use blinking the facts. There is no equality between creditor and
debtor if the latter cannot meet his bills without the help of the
former. This unlooked--for position had now arisen: the colonies had
no option but to propitiate London by conforming to its views on
international issues. After some vexatious delay, they might hope to
be allowed again to negotiate for financial accommodation on
reasonable terms, though, perhaps, they would have to consent to a
higher rate of interest than they were used to in the past.

Some time elapsed, of course, before the return to unquestioning
loyalty by Canada, New Zealand, and South Africa was complete. For
several weeks after the Stock Exchange panic, colonial indignation
seemed to lose nothing of its intensity of expression. Popular orators
still bragged of the national ability to stand alone, of being at the
mercy of none. But one by one the politicians with any aspirations to
responsibility dropped out of the performance. The language of the
leading papers became moderate. The "Defence League of All the Whites"
began to show signs of paralysis, brought on by the retirement or cool
reserve of its wealthiest members. Those who persevered began to lose
caste. It was not that the sympathy with Commonwealth aims diminished.
But deference to the sentiments which swayed the great heart of the
Empire was of higher importance, loyal acquiescence in the world
policy of the Central Government took precedence before all other
considerations. Once more Pax Britannica ruled triumphant.



Chapter XI: Furor Australiensis



SO Australia, at last, was made to wake up--under sledge-hammer
blows: Imperial attempt of legislative interference, annihilation of
naval screen, isolation of the invaded territory, debacle of public
finance; under such an avalanche of disasters the young Commonwealth
staggered into consciousness of its desperate position. But it was no
longer a merciful Commonwealth marching proudly in the van of
humanitarian effort. It was a wounded giant groping blindly round, in
the first fierce transport of rage, for something he might wreak
vengeance on--for some victim. In vain the beginnings of the election
campaign! That could wait. Later, when its time was ripe, it would
grow of itself into that raging, tearing convulsion known to history,
for good reasons, as the "Flaming Elections." At present the elections
seemed too far off to attract popular passion. Some immediate
scapegoat was wanted. And who was nearer than the unfortunate coloured
aliens still residing in the country? So far the genius of Australia
had been opposed to the infliction of personal revenge on private
individuals for failings of the race to which they belonged. But where
so many sacred illusions were swept away, this fine generosity could
not last much longer. Imperceptibly and rapidly the idea gained ground
that it must be the first and foremost business of Australia to get
rid of the Asiatics altogether, before other problems could be taken
in hand. At this moment immigrants from the western slope of North
America began to enter the Commonwealth, firstfruits of the "Defence
League of All the Whites." The new arrivals were yet few in number,
but quite sufficient to permeate the seething multitudes with Yankee
notions of race standards and with Yankee methods of dealing with
inferior races.

The storm broke in Melbourne. A pushing Emporium there, famous for
topical advertisements, alluded in one of these to the universal
brotherhood of man. It also exhibited in one of its show windows a
white and a yellow figure shaking hands over a conciliatory motto. Of
course commercial men might wish for relaxation of the tension, but a
more ridiculous blunder could not have been made just then. Crowds
assembled in front of the shop and soon became threatening. The window
was smashed and the whole concern on the point of being sacked. Only
the valour of the police and the presence of mind of the proprietor
saved the situation. Big posters were made hurriedly and pasted
everywhere, reading: "Down with the Japs," "No quarter for
Mongolians," "White Australia for ever," a change of mind which
satisfied the besiegers and proved a sound stroke of business as well.
From that moment onward nearly all shops displayed signs: "No coloured
people served." The boycott had begun.

It was merely the prelude to racial convulsions all over the
Continent. Some of the worst excesses have become known as the Sydney
Riots.

The immediate cause was a quarrel on board a ferry steamer on
Saturday afternoon (July 13). A couple of Chinamen were accused of
having annoyed, either by looks or words, some white girls. In the end
the alleged offenders were thrown into the harbour. When the boat
arrived at Circular Quay the police made an attempt to arrest the
supposed ringleaders. But they were rescued by other passengers. The
Quay is always crowded. Soon thousands thronged round the wharf where
the disturbance took place. They were thickly interspersed with rough
elements, who quickly got tired of looking on passively. Some Japanese
seamen from a Nippon Yushan Kaisha steamer which was in port, passed
at this moment and were subjected to jeering remarks. Other coloured
marines received the same attention. There are generally plenty of
them about in that quarter on their way between the City and the
transoceanic steamers. Feeling secure by reason of numbers of
supporters within, call, they did not conceal their resentment. A gang
of half-grown boys, emboldened by the chance of exhibiting pluck
before a large audience, thereupon began to pelt them with dirt. The
coloured men retaliated forcibly and some young-fellows were badly
beaten. This spectacle infuriated the crowd, while the noise attracted
comrades of the seamen from the ships near by. They brought iron bars
and other heavy weapons as means of defence. The opposing forces soon
came to blows and a pitched battle raged between the white riff-raff
on the one hand and a yelling multitude of maddened Lascars, Chinamen,
Japanese and other Asiatics on the other. Knives and revolvers came
into play. Night had fallen before the police, compelled to side with
the populace and to use freely their firearms, succeeded in crushing
the resistance of the coloured crews. About a dozen of the fighters
and some harmless citizens caught in the throng lost their lives, and
many more were wounded.

Crazy with the sight and scent of blood, the masses surged up town,
amidst cries of revenge. Their numbers were continually swelled by
fresh recruits. A huge mob assembled round Belmore Markets, on the
other end of the City, in the Chinese quarter. On Saturday nights a
cheap fair used to be held there, which attracted, beside a large
contingent of the poorer decent classes, a goodly percentage of the
lowest scum. Many selling-booths were hired by Orientals and the
coloured element was much in evidence. It is not probable that a
demonstration there had been planned beforehand. Rather it may have
been that the chance of loot under cover of racial excitement animated
the meanest whites. Anyhow, a series of scuffles ensued round the
Asiatic booths, the owners of which defended their property with all
the stolid obstinacy which marks the race. In the overwrought state of
public feeling, this was sufficient to start a general fray. Even
decent, order-loving whites took part in it, and they and meek,
peaceable Chinamen battled against one another like maniacs.
Everywhere goods were strewn, shrieking women and children were
dragged down and trampled upon. The harassed police stopped the uproar
by cutting off the electric light. Hundreds rushed to the exits,
careless of prostrate bodies which they trod down. Suddenly, a fire
broke out in the wooden shed. Somebody picking his way through the
darkness and confusion may have dropped a lighted match on the heaps
of inflammable stuff littered about. Many persons, men hurt in the
fight, women and children, were still in the tottering ancient pile. A
terrible panic followed. The flames leapt up and enveloped everything
with lightning speed. Within three minutes it had become impossible to
save any one. The surrounding streets were choked with multitudes
demented by horror. Through them the police, assisted by volunteers,
now opened approaches for the fire brigades. No further regard was
paid to human life. Over quivering forms, which had been flung into
the roadway by the jostling crowds, fire-engines thundered. For the
conflagration, raging next to the gasworks in a district of produce
and dry goods stores, threatened the whole city with destruction. This
was Sydney's delirious night of colour riots.

How many were burnt and otherwise killed had never been officially
stated. According to private computations, over two hundred perished.
The fire was overcome in the early hours of Sunday morning. Quiet
reigned all that day. No coloured seaman was allowed to leave ship.
The alien inhabitants kept behind closed doors, and when they ventured
forth again they were seldom exposed to anything worse than occasional
horseplay. Sydney had had enough of the ruling passion.

The centre of the disturbance swiftly shifted to Melbourne. Some
disgraceful scenes occurred there, too, on Saturday night in the
pleasure part of Bourke Street. However, the police managed to
suppress outrage in that quarter. But the ball had been set rolling.
The pushes, alert to perceive the advantage vouchsafed to them by the
moral lapse of the community, organized little private raids on
unprotected Chinese shops in the suburbs. Windows were smashed, goods
robbed, and occasionally, in a well-timed rush, the till-money was
carried triumphantly. Bad as this was, when Sunday morning dawned,
Melbourne was yet free of murder. The papers, breaking the local laws
against Sunday publications, issued extras detailing the Sydney
happenings exaggerated beyond their hideous reality. All town
discussed them, and in the evening suspicious gangs appeared in the
crowded streets. As the aliens had been warned and did not show
themselves in public, the police relaxed their vigilance somewhat,
especially as no excesses were reported during the most lively hours.
About 9 o'clock noise arose in the Chinese quarter. It appears that a
band of larrikins had invaded Little Bourke Street. At that late hour,
the Mongolians had most likely grown less anxious, reassured by the
previous unbroken tranquillity. Some youths, at any rate, managed to
close with the yellow-skins who, conscious of their numbers, struck a
defiant attitude. All at once a piercing cry was heard. A young
Australian had been stabbed; he staggered along the street, only to
collapse in the gutter. Within an incredibly short time, hundreds of
rough whites filled the back street, athirst for revenge. Many of them
carried weapons. The Chinese retreated behind walls, but it was too
late. While the advance of the police was blocked under showers of
stones, doors were beaten in, windows forced open, and in dens,
courtyards and alleys a mortal combat raged. Half an hour elapsed
before the constabulary, with full reinforcements from the central
barracks near by, could restore a semblance of order. Several
policemen were killed and wounded; the civilian losses on both sides
were considerable. It was rumoured that some ruffians, caught red-
handed as they were setting fire to a place, were despatched on the
spot. On Monday morning Melbourne had resumed its usual busy way. As
in Port Jackson, no coloured seamen were allowed to land. And the
Asiatic inhabitants were too scared to give further challenge by
parading in the open.

The example set by the two sea-capitals was emulated all over the
interior of the Continent wherever the hated aliens dwelt. A long list
of deeds of violence against a helpless minority stains the fair
record of Australia here. Everywhere the same features were repeated.
Ingrained contempt changed into sullen suspicion; some imprudence or
impudence committed by a yellow man followed by a white blaze of
indignation quenched only by the trickling of the red blood of the
maimed offender or his unfortunate kinsfolk. A number of the wildest
outrages has never become known outside a restricted local circle.
They are of interest only to the student of national waves of
dementia.

In the big ports the resentment against the coloured aliens
smouldered on, although its expression did not again become so
sanguinary. The struggle became now economic.

On Wednesday, July 17, 1912, an edict was issued by the Trades Halls
of Sydney and Melbourne forbidding to the affiliated maritime unions
any work in connexion with any vessels carrying coloured crews. Every
Australian port, large or small, fell into line loyally as soon as the
telegraph had transmitted the message. With twenty-four hours, it had
become impossible along the whole coast of the Commonwealth to coal,
load or discharge, or even to victual ships coming under the
prohibition. The employers of the sea-capitals very naturally tried to
break down the boycott. But they found few willing hands to aid them.
A handful of unfortunates recruited by King Hunger--for that potentate
too was on the point of invading the Continent where his very name had
been unknown so long--were overawed by the populace and had to be
withdrawn, since even the police would not guarantee their safety. The
imagination of the whole nation was fascinated by the boldness of the
boycott. Though the White Australia doctrine was threatened at the
heart, the Extremists, undaunted, declared that the Ocean should be
white as well. It was not a new policy, as it had been a pet ideal of
advanced patriots of years, and had been officially advocated by the
Commonwealth delegates at the last Imperial Navigation Conference. But
its reassertion in the present crisis was a stroke of daring worthy of
the stern Romans of old who carried war into Africa while unconquered
Hannibal still menaced their gates. Alas, the times and circumstances
were very different now!

Nevertheless, at first, results were not of a kind to make the
Extremists repent of their thoroughness. The suffering on account of
the partial stoppage of oversea circulation was counteracted to some
extent by a sensational decline in the price of the necessaries of
life. Monopolistic rings, which had kept high the local values while
shipping cheaply for competition in the world's markets, collapsed
when the shrinking of export facilities overwhelmed the outlets with
supplies of perishable goods.

While the maritime boycott was in full swing, news arrived from
Queensland of further excesses eclipsing in cruelty the southern
riots. In the latter, the white riff-raff had borne the largest share.
It was quite different in the North, while on the contrary decent,
influential white men were the ringleaders. In tropical Queensland,
Japanese used to run many of the bad houses, to which coloured
womenfolk resorted. Unfortunately, the matter did not rest there. They
insisted on running them on such peculiar lines of their own that it
had often been prophesied that one day the whole thing would be washed
off in blood. After the invasion, the hatred of these Pandars was
augumented by the fear that every one of them might be a spy. Their
opportunities in that direction were certainly considerable by reason
of their trade. The disgust which had accumulated against them had
become at least equal to the ferocity which burned negroes at the
stake on the other side of the Pacific.

Upon this poisonous ground Western Americans, with all their
traditions of race violence, set foot in quest of the White Guard. It
is not probable that their influence was employed in the interests of
law and order. Soon after their advent, in poured the reports of how
the South had dealt with the Asiatics. What followed has never been
cleared up fully. It seems that a secret league was formed among the
best white elements and rapidly extended to all the picturesque
townships scattered along the blue Pacific and round to the Gulf of
Carpentaria. One evening, nearly a fortnight after the capitals had
given the signal, an end was made with one accord right over North
Queensland (July 27). The brothels were entered, all inmates seized.
Of the subsequent proceedings no official version exists. Close
private inquiry on the spot would be unsafe, for too many influential
persons are still alive who were deeply implicated in the conspiracy.
Apparently the culprits were not only exterminated, but exterminated
in the most degrading fashion. In towns where only a few were taken,
they were burnt at the stake. Where the numbers were larger, they were
hanged and made targets of. So far it is hardly possible to pity the
victims much. But there is one blot. The coloured trade goods
disappeared for ever. These unfortunates, brought up to a life of
infamy, perhaps sold into it by fond parents, were irresponsible. Some
say that they were shot and buried quietly; others, that they were
drowned. As a fitting termination, the Asiatics who plied less
contemptible callings received warning that their safety could be
guaranted only until after the departure of the next few steamers
bound north.

The first news of anti-colour riots was served up to the British
public as Sunday reading. Several up-to-date preachers referred to it
in their sermons, likening the misguided Antipodeans unto Assyrian
wolves. On Monday the London Stock Exchange marked its disapproval in
a more practical manner by depressing Australian State funds several
points more. And they fell still lower when the meaning of the boycott
was realized. There never was a worse dislocation of trade. The
leading shipping companies met boycott with boycott by holding back
steamers due for the journey out or by diverting them to other parts
of the world, and by cabling orders for the vessels in Commonwealth
waters either to leave undischarged or to be laid up where they
happened to be at the time. The stoppage sent up the prices for meat,
butter and fruit in the markets of the United Kingdom. Moreover, the
woollen industry began to suffer under the uncertainty of the outlook
in the chief wool-producing country at a period when the early
shearing should have started.

But the material losses were of small account compared to the damage
inflicted upon the national pride. The greatest indignation was caused
by the alertness of competitive foreigners to gather profits at the
expense of British shipping supremacy. Continental lines discovered a
method to end the deadlock. As is well known they already maintained
regular services and had secured a large portion of the best paying
Australian trade. Very quickly they rushed out a steamer-load of white
seamen sufficient to work their laid-up vessels independent of
coloured labour. Other steamers manned exclusively by European crews
followed in quick succession, calling at English ports for cargo and
thus giving a long start to the enterprising Continentals, who were
placed incidentally in a position to dictate monopoly rates for return
freight. At last the British companies had to adopt the same course.
The counter boycott was broken. For the moment white labour had won
the day. And the foreigners had established still more firmly their
hold on Pacific trade.

The disgust of classes and masses alike in the United Kingdom against
the Commonwealth had had time to become deep-rooted when the first
rumour of the Queensland atrocities--so called by the London Press--
leaked out. Public opinion was emphatic in condemnation. The effect
was electric and transformed the existing bitterness into a dead set
against Australia which nothing could overcome. Should Britannia bare
her righteous sword in defence of such brutal, bloody deeds? The thing
was not to be thought of. Several sensational journals demanded
bombardment of the guilty ports and a blockade of the Commonwealth
until all the perpetrators of the outrage should be punished, and
until satisfaction should be given to the insulted nations. There can
be no doubt that the series of violent outbreaks, and particularly
this culmination, did immense harm to the Australian cause. Above all,
weak-kneed adherents in the sister dependencies who were peering round
anxiously for a chance to conciliate the financial over-lords, were
supplied with a pretext to recant their former implicit applause under
the plea of horrified humanity. From this period may be dated the
ascendency of the Moderates in the other autonomous colonies.

Japan and China renewed their protest in more pressing terms. Ominous
accounts were bruited about of significant movements on the part of
the navy of the former Power. The Imperial Government promised a
searching investigation and immediately lodged a claim with the
Commonwealth for a substantial indemnity to be paid to the victims or
their relatives. The Federal Executive replied that they were willing
to consider favourably all reasonable demands on condition, however,
that the beneficiaries should agree to leave the Continent for ever.
Moreover, they insisted upon the speedy removal of the prohibited
immigrants from the Northern Territory, on the ground that without
such a safeguard they were unable to guarantee the non-recurrence of
excesses. It was a clever piece of strategy, diverting the attention
from the past to the future by a counter-claim the perfect legality of
which rather weakened the case for Asia as long as it was not complied
with. The advisers of the Mikado did not relish the proposition.



Chapter XII: Pereat! (The Flaming Elections)



DECKS clear for action! What matter if a world outside cries horror
over thee, Australia? Better be Devil than King Log, croaked over by
Frogs. The violent rearrangement of race-standards, too, was merely an
incident of clearing the decks, had become, in the fatal course of the
stars, thy Necessity. Onward, Australia, now face thy other
Necessities.

Only a month has gone by since Parliament wrangled about financial
tricks. How ridiculous it looks to-day, this fierce debating of a loan
and what should be done to make it attractive! How very simple
everything has become! Loans! The whole rich world has not a penny to
spare for Australia. Even a usurer would not lend to a dying man who
has already pawned his valuables. If thou wilt money, get thee to thy
own pocket. Let us count up the cost. Armaments by sea and land: they
will swallow millions. Transcontinental railways: tens of millions. Be
humble, Australia, thou canst not do it!

It cannot be done? This is election time. What throngs round the
platforms! What seas of heads and excitement! What strange mutterings,
stranger silences! Listen! Listen to the men to whom the people of
Australia listen. They do not talk of impossibilities. Are we not,
value calculated for heads, the wealthiest nation on earth? Where are
the limits of our rural production? Our mines, but last year, yielded
in gold alone sixteen million pounds sterling! Who dares suggest that
this treasure, torn from the bowels of our country by our hands, is
not ours for the sacred purpose of defending our rights? Private
claims? Fatherland before dividends! Traitors and cowards are those
who say otherwise.

Traitors! Yet another old-world word, the true meaning of which had
never before been fathomed in Australia. Multitudes mutter it, half
shyly at first, with downcast eyes. Already they steal furtive glances
at each other. Whisperings rise into plain language. Traitors! Are
there any such among us? That Hell-Hound, Political Suspicion, is
unchained. Its bark shall be heard throughout the length and width of
the Commonwealth; its bite, too, shall kill without mercy.

Look at the men who draw the largest crowds. Nearly all our polished
orators are gone, Moderates and Extremists alike. They were far too
prettily articulate to voice the tempestuous fury now coursing through
the veins of the nation. Only a few who have overcome their
Parliamentary experience are still tolerated. Beside them other
leaders, unknown to fame the day before yesterday, have risen into
prominence; persons quite ignorant of diplomatic methods of
expression, yet possessed of something infinitely more impressive at
the present moment. Note the gloomy fires of conviction smouldering in
their feverish eyes! They unburden themselves, in endless procession,
at every busy street corner in city and country town, at all times of
day and night. Money! Find money! is their eternal refrain. Money to
blaze a track to the invaded northern wilderness! Money for armaments
to strike at the enemy! Millions of money. And at all times, day or
night, listeners crowd round, eager to absorb, to discuss every new
suggestion. It is a continual roar, accentuated by yells of defiance,
broken into by groans of dissent, and reasserted triumphantly in
thundering applause, as some appeal strikes home. What strange words
the attentive ear catches above the din! Forced loans! Embargo on gold
exports! Absentee taxes! Ah, the money must be found. Shout again, ye
patriots! Drown protests in applause! Let universal hoarseness be the
badge of patriotism! Roar of storm, roar of sea, what are ye against
the roar of a despairing people!

Tremble, therefore, ye Moderates! All those who have to lose most.
Call it not spoliation, class war, socialism. Not the bitter partisan
would dare to think of faction shibboleths now. It is Necessity! Life
or Death of a White Continent! Those pitiless new leaders do not stoop
to inquire how a man voted in the past, or what are his general
political principles. Even many a smiling Labour orator, happy in the
knowledge of having whooped all his life for a White Australia in
well-rounded periods, has been pulled up short by them with that icy
question: What else did you do for the cause besides talking? and has
been ordered rudely to stand down. No Parliamentary procedure here.
Down they did step, pale, noiseless, under storms of angry hoots and
jeers, to political extinction. Where such things are happening daily,
what chance for the faltering Moderate's excuse: The whole nation
neglected its defence! All are equally guilty! All should suffer
equally! There should be no singling out by which some are made to
lose more than others! Ah, my friends! A continent in convulsions is
not a Court in Equity. Those others will have their full share of
suffering exacted from them. They will have to hunger, to die; it is
all they can give. But the fortunate some ones whose all includes the
ability of material sacrifices will also have to give this all, as a
privilege and honourable duty; their lives, too, if necessary. What is
the use of digging up old party differences, as if they did matter
now! Are you willing to lay down everything to save White Australia?
Are you for or against the Sacred Will of the People? That is the only
test.

Honour where honour is due! Many prominent Moderates are doing their
best without any invitation. Among them men who have always held
strict views on the rights of property, and of whom unselfishness is
least expected. They are spending their cash, they are mortgaging
their possessions--God knows at what heavy loss, for the first weeks
after the London panic are not the correct time for financial
transactions. Some are equipping companies. Orders for four completely
armed torpedo boats, payment for which is guaranteed by private
deposits, are cabled to Europe. Alas, not everybody can be a hero.
Every man of means has already suffered terribly, directly or
indirectly, by the funds debacle or the maritime boycott. Wives and
children have to be considered. Moreover, who can say that the
Commonwealth will win? If not, what then? Good Moderates, we shall
have beggared ourselves for nothing! Let us bestir ourselves. Let us
appeal to common sense. It may be dangerous, but desperate men must
risk something. The call is not made in vain. Some courageous
Moderates begin to talk back at the pitiless street leaders. Our
battle cry? Filial obedience to England! It is, after all, the grand
old Mother Country. Even the Extremists cannot deny that without its
help we cannot succeed. Our propoals? Accept unreservedly the
intervention of the Imperial authorities in the Northern Territory
dispute on condition that the Japanese Government will undertake to
stop all further immigration! Unhappy Moderates, not far wrong!--whom
fear made drop, by accident, on a constructive idea. So much the worse
for you, because you are an hour too early. Blood, red blood of white
men alone, can cool the delirious fury of Australia. Meanwhile the new
suggestion complicates the confusion. Numbers of the old generation,
who were born in Great Britain, listen. Their responsive chord has
been struck--for the last time. Good patriots, these old folks, but
not good enough for the present emergency. So their sons think--native
Australians, who know little of past associations. Bark, Hell-Hound:
Father suspect to son, son to father! Families rent by deadly enmity!
Tears and curses. Some more poison. Will the cup never fill?

It is filling, steadily. It is brimming over. What hurrying,
shouting, haranguing in the busy street! A human torrent surges in
front of a newspaper office. Of late the Press has obediently
reflected the overwhelming national opinion. But now one important
daily has come out in defence of the Moderate proposals. In support,
it has published some severe condemnations of the Commonwealth
attitude from British contemporaries and has even dared to point the
moral in a leading article which seemed to approve to some extent of
those strictures. The crowd have set out to ask the meaning of this
relapse; they have arrived to give their answer. Down with traitors!
Constables, do not strike patriots! Crash of breaking glass; men,
mounting on other men's shoulders, climb through the windows; the
police guard, attacked from rear and front, is overwhelmed; the
torrent pours its hundreds into the building, whence the terrified
staff have escaped by a back entrance. Smash! Those linotypes will
never print offensive views again. All the reinforced police can do is
to dissuade the avengers from burning down the whole concern. Thus the
People have corrected the Press. There will be no need to repeat the
lesson.

The mouthpiece silenced, it is the turn of the instigators.
Triumphant procession along the main thoroughfares. Those quaint
figures dragged in front and kicked at, spat upon by the populace, are
the effigies of prominent Moderate spokesmen, which will be cremated
publicly. Half the city leaves its work to witness the solemn function
in the park. Bright are the flames, more fiery the oratory. What can
the police do? They are but men, patriots too. Still they have
presence of mind to send urgent warning to the objects of national
aversion. It was high time. Excited multitudes returning from the park
gather before the offices of some leading offenders. Down with
traitors! has become, under the stimulus of mock executions, death to
traitors! Thanks to the foresight of the police, the terrible words do
not yet become terrible deeds, for the intended victims are in hiding,
where they will remain for many a day. Ridicule ruins their cause all
over the country.

Straightforward Moderation is dead. With their battle-cry: No
surrender of the White Australia doctrine! the Extremists will carry
every electorate. It is madness to fight them on that issue.
Instinctively, the remnant of Moderates tries a diversion by the
introduction of minor questions into the election campaign. Rattle,
rattle, old bones: Sectarians, Single-Taxers, State-Righters, to your
guns! Political extinction threatens all of you! Fate offers you a
rallying-point. A session of the State Parliament of New South Wales
has begun. All eyes of a continent are looking towards Sydney.

New South Wales Parliament has been convened (July 16), for the
purpose of assisting the Federal authorities in the organization of
defence. Very laudable intention! Why, then, are various hostile
allusions to the growing pretensions of the Commonwealth tolerated?
Why do not Ministers state more definitely their conviction that
everything, even constitutional points which might be interesting in
peaceful times, has to be subordinated to the vital needs of the hour?
Could not a more suitable moment be found for the airing of the well-
known grievances of the Mother State? Defence is hardly mentioned. The
Moderates, dominating the Government Party, are fighting tooth and
nail for a diversion, in the forlorn hope of inflaming party passion.
Who can blame them? It is their last chance. Alas, the floodgates of
Parliamentary talk are opened again; who can shut them? Not the Labour
Opposition. It is very strong, and most patriotic. But it is not
foolish enough to terminate this opportunity of exhibiting its
patriotism in brilliant colours. So it only creates scenes in the
House, which end in the exclusion of the majority of its members for
three sittings. Finality seems as far off as ever. Sydney grown
restless. Those pitiless street leaders, who have no time either for
Moderate tricks or Labour tactics, become attentive. What! shall the
world think that Australia is disunited because a handful of
professional politicians cannot hold their tongues? Much good have
they done!

On Tuesday, July 23, the debate on the Address-in-Reply is to
continue, after having swallowed all last week. Suddenly it is
interrupted by a hoarse roar outside. Honourable members pale visibly.
Macquarie Street is a sea of heads, all turned in gloomy menace
towards Parliament Buildings. The officiating Senior Constable
whispers to the Speaker. The House begins to thin rapidly. Mr.
Speaker, in a great hurry, adjourns it. Too late. Ghosts of all
departed Parliamentarians! Some thousand rude feet of unelected
persons trample upon the sacred precincts. A few dare--devil members
who strike the attitude of Roman Senators are hustled, flung out
bodily. It is the end of the Mother State dignity. Ministers have fled
for their lives. Until nightfall, New South Wales is without a
Government. Then, under cover of darkness, a semblance of order is
restored. The Cabinet, as many of it as can be found, agree on the
needful: indefinite prorogation of Parliament. Henceforth the Federal
rulers may sleep quietly, if the utter collapse of State assertion can
lull them in the present circumstances. The entire East, nerve centre
and backbone of the Commonwealth, is solid. All the old fads, bugbears
but four months ago, have dissolved in the furnace-heat of national
excitement.

And now commences--retribution! The first days of August witness the
growth of the movement known to history as the Baiting of the
Moderates. Alas, unhappy Australia, how changed thou art in so short a
time! For a hundred years, thy men, whatever their political
differences, have fought each other on terms of equality; they have
never yet forgotten that antagonists, though misguided or wilfully
blind, were men and brothers; they have listened before they struck;
they have reasoned; above all, they have forgiven. But to-day? Proudly
be it said humanity dies hard in Australia even in this frightful
crisis. Innumerable instances are still told how men generously risked
their lives to save others whom they loved not, how political enemies
of a lifetime rushed to rescue each other and, clasped in mutual
silent embrace, disarmed for the moment the mob fury. What are such
isolated rays of light upon the surging sea of national despair,
clamorous of victims! Ever since the race riots, it has been dangerous
to express any opinion not concurrent with the popular conviction. Now
it becomes a crime even to say nothing. It seems so suspicious. If one
is a good patriot, why not state the fact boldly? Aye, and act up to
it? Suspicion is the great sickness of this people so bitterly
disappointed in the Empire. After that experience, what is not
possible? What if by some mysterious means the Moderates should manage
to control the New Parliament? The idea is extravagant, ridiculous.
Yet otherwise sane citizens discuss it under their breath, their brows
clouded with grim determination. Rather anything, rather death! Smash
the Moderates' organizations! Burst up their meetings! Hunt down their
partisans!

Nomination Day arrives (July 31). It seems to confirm the secret
fears, for Moderate candidates stand for a good many electorates. Poor
fellows, at any other period they would be sincerely pitied. Not among
them are the traitors to be sought after who would destroy the
Commonwealth. Every one would bear arms for his country. But
patriotism, too, has its bounds. It is the courage of despair which
animates them. Shall they all be beggared? Shall their women and
children starve? They will, if those stern street leaders get their
way. No, a thousand times no! While the Moderates, who have to lose
most, can help it, the Extremists shall not conquer, come what may.

The roar of the streets has become deafening. The Moderates have no
chance there. They met by invitation, their electioneering takes the
form of a vigorous house-to-house canvas of all possible supporters.
The streets scent danger. Patriots meet and speak openly. Why this
sneaking conspiracy? It must be stopped. But how? There is only one
means. And so the last, worst happens. The canvassers are tracked
down, private houses entered, law and order completely set at naught.
Riot and flame! Death cries! The Moderate cause extinguished by
terror! Yet with all its terror, wonderful is the oratory of the
streets, which glorifies every deed of violence. Heartbeat of a
maddened nation! Not the desultory talk of former elections, when some
party or persons tried their best to divert Australia from its vital
interests for the sake of their own aggrandisement. Lifegiving talk,
straight to the point! Like panting of enormous machinery getting up
steam ready to rush, to crush down, to create!

August 10 is Polling-Day. Such enthusiasm was never seen. Dying
citizens totter to the booths to record their votes; they know it is
their last sacred duty upon this earth. All country roads are black
with the multitudes of vehicles and passengers streaming to the
polling-stations. Some districts poll nearly every registered vote, in
none does the percentage fall below ninety. And now the returns roll
in. Four Moderates have just squeezed into the Senate, six into the
Representatives; all the rest are Extremists. Many brilliant men of
all the old parties find themselves left in the cold. Their places
have been usurped by those pitiless street leaders. For once Australia
has chosen a Parliament of Necessities, not of Ornaments.

Triumph! Triumph! And a deep, sudden hush! Do the people realize what
this victory has cost and that it is only a beginning? Not a long
respite is granted. Already a new tremor of excitement issues from
Melbourne. The Federal Government is thrown into feverish activity.
Again something has happened. Several elections have been prevented by
riots in Western Australia.

Western Australia! Why, nobody has thought of it! Accessible only by
sea, hidden behind the turbulent waters of the Great Bight, it slipped
from the popular mind during this convulsive period. There are less
than 300,000 souls thinly fringing its coast or dotting its desert
goldfields. Less than 300,000 human beings in a million square miles,
in complete isolation. They cannot be a great help, and the
Commonwealth has more important matters to trouble about. The
seaboard, it is said, does not cultivate Federal sympathies. Its
numbers are not awe-inspiring. As long as the East is solid, nobody
need worry about the West, which will follow the example of the
former. Such are the notions of the average Eastern citizen.

The Federal authorities have so far shared this point of view; the
more indignant are they now. Western Australia, of all places! Did we
not place entire confidence in it? When after the conference in
Melbourne of all our District Commandants prior to the mobilization we
dismissed the others again did we not keep back here the Commandant of
the West because he was of more value for the pressing work at
headquarters than for drilling the scarce recruits in his own
department, who might be licked into shape just as well by local
soldier men? True, the Commandant himself, an officer of merit, by
name and title Colonel Ireton, warned us that his absence might lead
to complications. At any rate, we have now sent him back at last. He
is on the water this very moment. Wait till he has landed if he will
not make things hum!

Things are humming already, it seems. Perth, too, has its streets,
but they roar a tune very different from the East. The maritime
boycott has made the loose connexions with the nerve-centres of the
Commonwealth looser still. Listen, for a change, to the particular
Western note. It started right in the Australian key. We, too, have
raged and trembled about the invasion. Then came, at the most
inopportune time, the financial debacle. We had just negotiated a huge
loan, sufficient to counteract for some years our chronic deficits. Of
course, all these sweet hopes have now come to nothing. Should we not
be disappointed? Are our politicians wrong in charging the failure
against the Federal embroilment? For we have solid grievances. We
joined the union on the distinct understanding that the construction
by the Commonwealth of a transcontinental railway across the deserts
to South Australia would be taken in hand at once. Nine years have
passed and only a survey has been sanctioned on the result of which,
it is now said, the execution of the work will depend. Meanwhile,
South Australia, which has always done its worst to block our scheme,
need not wait for its own transcontinental railway. Do they not talk
of unheard-of sacrifices to be borne by the whole continent to make it
possible? Sacrifices! Nothing else has ever been our share! Under the
rules of continental free trade, the more advanced East pours in
manufactured goods and agricultural produce in cut-throat competition
with our local articles. Are we ever to suffer thus and to get nothing
in return?

There is in this world a sure retribution in store not only for every
sin of commission, but for also every sin of omission. Cut off by
waterless wastes of land, by watery wastes of sea, the West has little
in common with the main body of Australia. Such an isolated detachment
must bear bitter fruits. Many public men of the State have been
pronounced Anti--Federalists. Of late there has been a lull in the
expression of their sentiments. But the financial failure revives the
criticism. Mistrust follows in its wake. Is it to be pay, pay, pay,
without end? And for what purpose? Can the Commonwealth, which spurns
the advice of Great Britain, win? We, the State, have every reason to
be friendly with England, our Mother! At any rate, she cannot fail us.
She may not wish to fight on account of the incursion of a few
thousand Orientals upon the Northern Territory. But if ever Japan
should descend upon the west coast, which commands the routes to India
and South Africa, she cannot remain inactive. So what have we to fear?
Why should we ruin ourselves for the Commonwealth, which laughs at the
idea of straining its purse for our sake?

Thus the talk grows wilder. Of course, it is only talk. None of the
glib critics has any clear idea of what is to be done. None of them is
conscious that they are firing a train connected with a hidden mine of
latent rage the explosion of which will rain blood upon all Australia.
But if men walk the brink of a precipice they should beware of
giddiness. This continual play upon grievances may yet inflame popular
passions which the talkers never reckoned with.

The election campaign is now at its height in the West. And here the
Moderates, shouted down and hunted out in the East, get a hearing. The
sea coast, in contrast to the interior, has always been Moderate. Its
well--to-do middlemen have been struck hard at their most vital point,
their pockets, by the maritime boycott. The farmers, too, conservative
and parochial as everywhere else, back them. They know that the
goldfields, Federal to the back-bone, will return Extremists. All the
more reason why the Coast should see to it that the other side is not
quite silenced. But is it possible? Labour-in-politics, with its White
Australian platform, is strongly organized even here. In the last
Parliament, one of the seaside constituencies was represented by a
Caucus man. Can he be ousted? It shall be tried!

All the time, the telegraph is transmitting confused reports of the
terrible struggle in the East. Still, they are quite sufficient to
embitter the campaign of the coast. The Moderates, feeling themselves
in strength, are fighting like demons! They have hit on a happy name:
the Great Westralian Party! So violent are their arguments, so strong
their grievances, that many a good Labour man cannot quite shut his
ears against them. Nevertheless, the toilers are too strictly
disciplined as that they could be relied upon. They may humour the
loudest talkers, but who knows how they will vote? The nearer draws
that fatal hour of decision, the more soul-racking grows the suspense
of the Moderates. They cannot explain away the complete mastery of the
Extremists everywhere else. Will they be extinguished here, too? Their
antagonists pursue the campaign steadily, without the wild fever of
the East, yet without laxity. This calmness is aggravating. We
Moderates are in force in this corner. Why not use it? Why not do as
we are done by all over the Continent? Is not the Commonwealth
devouring us? Rouse party fury! Burst up meetings! Shout down the
enemy! Alas, it is not always that two can play at a game. The
Extremist gatherings are thickly attended, every attempt to break them
up is stoutly resisted; they hurl defiance with mocking cheers:
"Federation for ever!" And so it happens on the eve of Polling--Day
that the surging crowds of State partisans, beaten back with hard
blows in their last great effort and despairing of success, yell
answer: "Down with the Commonwealth!" The streets of Perth resound
with the echoes of popular fury, which die away in the night, little
heeded.

Voting is brisk next day. The polling, proceeding orderly during the
morning, soon leaves no doubt that the Extremists will retain Perth
and may win Fremantle. These startling rumours are whispered round
among excited mobs of State-Righters, whose temper is swiftly rising
beyond control. And suddenly, the mine blows up. There is a wild rush
upon a polling-booth in the threatened constituency. The officials are
attacked, the ballot boxes seized and smashed, voting-papers and lists
torn up and scattered. After that, nothing can hold back the rioters.
Mobs, continually swelling in numbers, hurry to the next booth and
repeat the work of destruction, among cries of: "What's the good of
Federation!" "We don't want the Commonwealth!" "Down with the Federal
black-guards!" Fate flies swiftly. By five o'clock in the afternoon,
nearly every polling-station within the three metropolitan divisions
had been similarly ransacked.

That is the news which agitates the Central Government and penetrates
on stormy wings into the remotest recesses of the Commonwealth. What
matter that Perth sobers down, that State authorities and local Press
declare with one voice that the whole affair has been a mere street
disturbance caused by a spontaneous impulse due to disappointment and
fear, totally unpremeditated? Quite right; but what are facts against
frenzy? Do not argue, act! One thing only is clear: Federation has
been insulted, the elections are cancelled. Why are not the culprits
brought to justice? The whole solid East gasps but two words, which
the Federal Executive duly telegraphs: immediate satisfaction: the
Coast receives the imperious message indignantly. Why are we to
prosecute every second citizen? Men, too, who have done nothing worse
than allowing themselves to be carried away by a mistaken outburst of
State loyalty? Let the East mind its own business. How is it that
their own jails are not overflowing? Such violence as they indulged in
we never thought of! The State hesitates; its Parliament is being
convened; that may decide how amends are to be made. Delay therefore.
And the Commonwealth has time to reflect. What kind of reflection! The
new members, those pitiless street leaders, look to it that the insult
is never forgotten. Western Australia! Is it not there that public men
dared to boast, among great applause, that they were willing to draw
swords to sever the bonds of Federation? At that time, the
Commonwealth, being then in its right senses, smiled and went about
its work. Now, in its mad hour of disaster, the Commonwealth
remembers! What if they meant it? So this insult, and all that led up
to it, was merely accidental? Listen to the reawakening roar of the
East! Is not Western Australia our biggest gold producer? Do we not
propose an embargo on gold exports? Is there nobody who might be
interested to thwart us? Questions like these, once asked, shape their
own answer in such a crisis. Ah, it is conspiracy! An attempt to rend
to pieces our indivisible continent! Bark, Hell-Hound of Suspicion!
Gnash thy teeth! Out of thy hundred throats spit black poison!
Westralia, a human life is staked on every minute of delay! Quick, for
God's sake and thy own! Strike down the offenders with iron hand! Or
thyself shall thus be struck down.

The Flaming Elections may be said to have terminated the first great
epoch of Australian history. So far the young community has developed
largely on the lines of older civilized white nations, sheltered for
all purposes, as it fancied, beneath the world-sweeping draperies of
the British Empire. That illusion has now been shattered. Upon the
outer gates of the Commonwealth a relentless enemy hammers, with whom
there exists no possibility of mutual understanding and conciliation.
Within, those who have to lose most and whose most sacred duty it
should have been, for this reason, to organize the defence, are
victimized of necessity. The accompanying convulsions are paralyzing
the national vigour. Still worse, one of the links binding the
component parts of the Continent is on the point of snapping under the
strain of misunderstanding, jealousy, suspicion, and the spectre of
fratricide rises against a background of inextricable confusion. To
crown all, public credit, the life-blood of modern defence, has been
cut off without mercy at the critical moment. All the bonds of
nationhood, in the accepted sense of the term, seem to break together.




Part II: The Romance of the White Guard



Chapter I: The March over a Thousand Miles



THE deliverance of the Commonwealth depended entirely on material
force. But a century of peaceful development based on legislation had
modified profoundly the character of the people. There existed,
particularly in the more settled parts where politics had been raised
to the level of a fine art, an almost superstitious belief in the
power of law. Though it may sound strange, it is a fact nevertheless
that the ordinary citizen was firmly convinced that restrictive
enactments, duly sanctioned by Parliament, formed an unsurmountable
bar against coloured invasion. This respect before the law is
certainly the best proof of the high standard of civilization to which
the Australians had risen. Unfortunately, though well aware that the
crowded millions of Asia were impelled by instinct or necessity
without regard for codified reason, they had neglected to draw the
correct conclusions from their knowledge. Only very slowly did they
recognize that force, brutal force, alone could save them. The
unquestioning confidence in the efficiency of moral pressure can be
traced right through the first period after the invasion, up to the
refusal of Royal Assent to the Coloured Inhabitants' Registration Act.
Then came a period of doubt and anxiety, followed at last by the
violent reaction of repentant disillusion as expressed in the anti-
colour riots.

Far removed from the law-bewitched nerve-centres of population,
there lived a more aggressive type of Australian. Away out in the
backblocks in the borderland of savagery, the skin-hunters, drovers,
station-hands, prospectors and other adventurous vagrants heard the
rumours of the invasion which spread like wild-fire to the loneliest
camps. Many set out for the coast, eager for closer information which
promised stronger excitement. Nothing more seems to have come of this
spontaneous movement in the southern parts. But in North Queensland,
the near neighbour of the invaded territory, it led to important
developments. As the travellers met, they began, of course, to discuss
the news: reaching the more settled districts, they exchanged ideas of
revenge and retribution with kindred spirits. And in this casual
manner was evolved the bold project of a raid against the Japanese. It
was a tremendous enterprise, considering the distance and hardships
which had to be overcome. But the daring bushmen made little of
natural obstacles in those feverish days. Everybody was acquainted
intimately with the terrors of the wilderness and had braved them
often before. Everybody could ride and thought nothing of sitting a
horse day after day, week after week. Everybody bore in his heart
undying hatred against an enemy who contested the white supremacy and
who was doubly loathed because of his inferiority of race, environment
and ideals. Probably it will never be known to whom honour is due for
having originated the patriotic conception. Before it matured and was
put into execution it was possibly influenced by outside suggestions.

At any rate, it was not long before the project met with official
encouragement. The State of Queensland, with Federal sanction,
proclaimed the formation of an irregular defence corps, ostensibly for
the purpose of guarding the western frontier which travels for its
whole length with that of the Northern Territory. For the Commonwealth
Government, who controlled, under the terms of the constitution, the
regular army, preferred to have nothing to do officially with a
volunteer force. In this way a greater freedom of movement was ensured
to the latter and immediate Federal responsibility for its actions was
evaded. Secretly, however, they furnished arms and advanced money. But
though the local and central authorities worked hand in hand at first,
their interests soon began to clash. Queensland, of course, wished to
launch its best manhood against the enemy in a supreme effort. On the
other hand, the officers of the regular army claimed all the able-
bodied men included in Class I of the militia for service. Their
demands were upheld by the Federal Executive, which, perceiving the
first ominous signs of civic disruption, desired to increase the power
of the Commonwealth against separatist tendencies of which the
Northern State was suspected at this early time. The only means to
defeat the insatiable zeal of the regular officers consisted in
rushing the liable men out of their reach, and the local organizers
were not slow to act accordingly, with the result that the
preparations were hurried very much. Still, a great deal of energy and
thoroughness was devoted to the cause. Rifles, ammunition, horses and
stores were despatched to Bourketown, which became the centre of the
enterprise. Several able and strenuous patriots proceeded by sea to
Port Darwin, where they founded a secret league of active sympathizers
and arranged a system of support. This place, being the solitary white
stronghold near the scene of operations, was, indeed, the only base
from which some help might be rendered once the campaign had begun
properly. At the outset, it was planned to transport the raiders by
steamer across the Gulf of Carpentaria and to land them within easy
striking distance of the enemy. But the idea was abandoned owing to
the fear of Japanese cruisers, which were supposed to hover round the
coast.

Tokio received probably early information of the new danger menacing
the Japanese settlement. There is the fact that Downing Street made
inquiries--which it would hardly have done without prompting--in
Melbourne and afterwards in Brisbane with regard to the object of the
irregular armament. The artful reply was to the effect that it was
merely intended to protect the stations and the stock route within the
possible zone of the activity of the immigrants, in short, to
safeguard the recognized property of white people in those parts. As
it was not likely, however, that the Imperial authorities and the
pushful ally behind them would accept such an explanation as final,
the organizers decided to baffle any further restrictive attempts by
coming to the point at once. Without waiting for reinforcements, the
first company of the irregular corps entered upon its famous ride over
a thousand miles of desert and jungle against an enemy whose numbers
and resources were absolutely unknown.

A finer body of men never took the field to do battle for Aryan
ideals. It was composed of the sturdy sons of the Australian bush set
off by just a dash of a more refined cosmopolitan element made up of a
few Americans, Canadians and Australian city bred. All the members
were in the prime of manhood and health. None were frightened by the
prospects of hardships and isolation. The latter was indeed necessary
to the success of their sombre mission, the import of which they
realized instinctively, though perhaps nobody cared as yet to define
it in plain words. But they felt that nothing less was expected of
them than the extermination of the invaders. That was, after all was
said, the only way to punish and to end the intrusion of the alien
race on Commonwealth soil. Mercy had not--could not have--a place in
this tremendous enterprise born of mortal hatred and big with the
certainty of terrible privations. Neither would mercy be pleaded for.
Away in the silent wilderness, in the fight against a determined foe
who had had leisure to acquire a good deal of bush--knowledge and
whose martial qualities were above suspicion, there would be no room
for sentiment. The gallant volunteers were convinced from the
beginning that victory alone could save them from the only other
alternative--death. But they did not worry much about fears of
failure. In the midst of the unbroken solitudes, their thoughts were
fully occupied with preparations for the task before them.

Tokio, again, seems to have been informed almost immediately of the
departure of the first company. At any rate, it addressed another
appeal to London reiterating the willingness of its former subjects to
become British citizens, and adding a warning that the advisers of the
Mikado could not accept responsibility for the tranquillity of the
nation, if harmless settlers of their own race should be treated with
violence. The Imperial Government communicated this intimation to the
Federal Executive and demanded guarantees that the peace would not be
broken. Melbourne retorted that it had nothing to do with the
irregular force, which was regarded as a special State constabulary,
and that it must disclaim all liability for the actions of the latter.
This was the last official reference to the volunteers: soon
afterwards, international anxiety was monopolized by the anti-colour
riots in the south. But probably there was some connexion between the
evasiveness of the Commonwealth attitude and the closure by Great
Britain of the Northern Territory coast.

It seems that the Japanese had not reckoned with the volunteer
movement in spite of their characteristic thoroughness. There are many
good reasons, however, which would account for the oversight. In the
first place, the project to carry war into the settlement across an
unknown wilderness, barren of any resources upon which the aggressors
might fall back, was so audacious, even quixotic, that the methodical
Japanese mind may well have refused to consider it seriously.
Moreover, though the emissaries of the Mikado had no doubt studied the
Commonwealth with a perspicacity similar to that displayed elsewhere
in the past, they had naturally turned their attention to the centres
of population and national power. Japanese squadrons visited the big
ports frequently, almost regularly. Tourists had travelled over the
pleasure resorts, merchants had looked over the country in all
directions in ostensible pursuit of business, and a more intensive
research had been carried on by pseudo-Chinese or frankly Japanese
domestics, artisans and gardeners, by Asiatic delegates of Christian
religious sects, and in every other practicable way. But all these
moved, or drifted, into the more settled parts or at least into the
households of the great landholders. And they found there all the
symptoms of indolent culture, love of play, indulgence in luxuries and
careless national pride, which seemed so real though they were, after
all, merely the result of imitation, by a section of the young
community, of the economic excrescences of old Europe. The Japanese
agents may have reported all they saw. But apparently they did not
penetrate under the surface and overlooked the typical Australians:
the hardy pioneers who wrestled with and conquered hostile nature in
the arid heart of the Continent, the selectors, stockmen, miners,
drovers, carriers and other bushworkers who loved an uncrowded life on
the borderline of civilization. And such spies as gave them a passing
glance may have been deceived by the peculiarities of the men of the
vast interior. For the solitude, monotony and sadness of the bush
breed, as a natural protection against its oppressive influence, a
picturesque emphasis and descriptive exaggeration of the language of
its dwellers, which conveys to the superficial observer an impression
of irresponsibility on their part. This is especially the case if the
language takes the form of boastful carelessness or disdainful
blasphemy, which serves--and often is meant to serve--as a cloak for
the true sentiments--pride of battle and triumph in the face of
disheartening difficulties; fierce devotion to the boundless sweep of
virgin country which every bushman regards as the priceless
inheritance of his race; and an unconquerable love of freedom as the
pre-requisite of life. The rough outside had hidden these sterling
qualities from the prying eyes of the Asiatics, and the threatening
concentration of the bushmen came as a surprise to Tokio.

The first company of volunteers left Bourketown on a Sunday, June 16,
1912, after divine service, and was escorted to the boundary of the
township by an immense concourse of people. The bells of all the
little churches and chapels rang, volley after volley was fired, and
cheer on cheer went up. It was an outburst of wild enthusiam and
patriotic rejoicings. They called themselves the "White Guard," a name
as appropriate as it was happy and inspiring. The White Guard departed
615 members strong, all well armed and mounted. There were 200 reserve
horses, most of them carrying stores. The advance was rapid in the
first stages. They rode into Woolagarang, 140 miles away on the
Northern Territory border, on the third day after sunset. Progress
became more difficult now, for they had to pass through almost unknown
country to reach the McArthur River. But they pushed on without delay
and arrived on June 24 at Booraloola, where they crossed the stream.

So far their route had skirted the jungle for the most part and the
enervating charm of this Lotosland had tired the men. Though its
tortuous formation, full of fantastic vegetation and animal life,
offered so much variety, it seemed always the same kind of change,
lulling to rest and forgetfulness. Above all, the slow silvery trickle
of water like mocking voices of wood sprites beneath the impenetrable,
luxuriant undergrowth, imparted to the parched-out, sun-baked riders a
tantalizing yearning after dreamful ease. True, there were dangers
everywhere. The jungle was alive with gliding, running, jumping,
gloom-loving things. Snakes, centipedes and large spiders abounded.
Some men had been bitten; they had been driven mad for the time being
either by excruciating pain or by the horror of the thing; two had
died. Mosquitoes and ants swarmed in places, and though every measure
of protection was taken, some would find an opportunity for inflicting
their tortures. But the memory of hardships on the march faded away in
the strange drowsiness borne on the cool night-air. When on an open
patch high up the creek bank the camp fires had been lit and evening
had turned the sky of burning blue into ethereal green and gold, a
forlorn enchantment began to weave its meshes round the weary
adventurers. Dark shadows indicated the tangled undergrowth below. The
tops of the higher trees rose over them like a grey mist rolling
upwards. Much more distinct in the clear atmosphere above these swam
the proud fronds of palms, the slender stems of which could be rather
imagined than perceived. The sky paled rapidly, pierced by the
leisurely steadying flicker of stars like pleasing fancies slowly
embodying themselves into clear thought. A noisy chorus of parrots and
other birds filled the woods. Bats began to circle. Some kangaroos
might bound across the line of sight, or the patter of a troop of emus
would be heard. Long after dark, sleepless listeners could often
distinguish, above the many rustlings, whisperings and cracklings of
night life in the tropical jungle, the heavy wing-flappings of geese
as they flew on in ghostly files changing from pool to pool. Early in
the morning the air was sparkling fresh and the green looked many
degrees brighter in the first slanting rays of the sun. The sombre
undergrowth dissolved into quaintly shaped, delicately leaved shrubs
bearing gorgeous blooms or luscious berries or into dainty tree-ferns
and dwarf-palms. Graceful garlands of creepers linked majestic trees,
and even above their mighty crowns the palms reared their heads in
effortless supremacy. Setting, colour scheme and scale of vegetation
seemed to be conceived always in the superlative. Human energies could
not resist for long the voluptuous invitation to forget that there was
such a thing as purpose in life. The jungle breeds slavery. It will
have to go if the white race wants to people the Northern Territory.

After the crossing of the McArthur River the real hardships of the
enterprise commenced. The White Guard had determined to attempt a
short cut across the interior to Katherine, a mining camp situated
about sixty miles south of Pine Creek, the terminus of the railway
from Port Darwin. Four hundred miles stretched before them, never yet
traversed by white men. Nevertheless, general relief was felt when the
jungle was exchanged for the dry plains. The members were by no means
too well under control, and there had been signs of impending
demoralization. But this would have to give way now to strict
discipline, for the only chance of overcoming the dangers of the
desert ride lay in mutual loyalty and prompt obedience to the leaders.
The contrast between the creek country and the interior plains is
unsurpassed in the world. The blazing sun cracks the grassy surface.
No shadow offers anywhere; the patches of sparingly foliaged gum trees
afford none, neither do they give any shelter against the clouds of
fine dust sweeping along before the steady breeze. The outlook is
bounded only by the horizon, apart from an occasional sandstone ridge,
often intersected by quartz bands of blinding whiteness, and rising
above the level like a petrified wave of desolation. From its summit
the eye roams over dismal views of weird melancholy. The rugged
patches of forest below consist of trees huddled together so closely
that their tops of dull, drab, contracted leaves, thus seen from
above, give them the appearance of thick scrub. And the belts of real
scrub are frequent too, which can be traced for long distances by the
lines of glistening sand-hills driven up by the wind against the
living barrier of invincible growth. All over the plains depressions
occur suggesting creek beds, in which, however, no water can have run
for ages, for ancient gum trees grow in them, besides acacias and
shrubs. But it is at the bottom of such depressions that water is
found, sometimes in a deep hole difficult of access, sometimes in a
pond or in a chain of ponds, surrounded by swamp gums. Unfortunately,
these abound also in many low-lying spots without surface water, and
their deceitful presence adds thus to the tortures of the thirsty.

Still, the White Guard managed to push forward. Often the endurance
of the horses had to be taxed to the utmost on the long stages
intervening between waterholes. The men had to fall back largely on
the provisions which they were carrying. For fresh meat they depended
on rock wallabies, and now and then on a kangaroo. Plump pigeons
furnished a welcome variety of diet. These were the only birds
thriving on the plains, with the exception of uneatable kites living
on grasshoppers. Mere good intentions were not sufficient to sustain
the men on this march of privation. The weaklings of the force did not
survive the test. Some died outright from exhaustion; others, maddened
by the exertions, by heat and thirst, stole away into the desert to
perish. And others again committed suicide by bullet or blade. Their
comrades had no time to mourn them. On they rode, and the dust soon
blew over their tracks and obliterated all traces of the heroic
venture. And the dingoes, the haunting, sad howls of which resound
over the plains in still nights, cleared away the remains of the
fallen. All the men were unanimous on two points: that there was no
possibility of retreat by the road they had come, if they should be
beaten or weakened, and that it was not probable that many
reinforcements would reach them by the same route. The White Guard
emerged at last from the Unknown at All Saint's Well, on the overland
telegraph lines. Three days later (July 11) it camped eighteen miles
north-east of Katherine, on a pond in the bed of the river of that
name. It had lost eighteen men and over sixty horses during the
passage across the interior.

When the White Guard left Bourketown, the bonds of discipline were
very loose. A leader had been chosen, by name McPartoch. He was a
robust Scot, member of the League of Frontiersmen, and had seen much
fighting in the British Colonies before he settled down to a small
cattle run near the Gregory River. From the outset of the panic, he
had thrown himself with enthusiasm into the movement for resistance by
force, and the rapid formation of the first corps was due partly to
his endeavours. His experience, patriotism, straightforwardness and
Scotch common sense marked him for its command. But his appointment
was the only approach to a military system, and the White Guard had to
evolve its organization on the march.

There was much in this method to recommend it. The aspirants to
leadership underwent the most rigorous practical test imaginable. They
had to prove not only their circumspection and resourcefulness, but
also that they had the gift of handling men. So, after a week's march,
a mere handful of serious candidates remained. As befitted such a
democratic set of volunteers their foremen were finally selected by
the equal vote of all. McPartoch refrained carefully from showing
favour for any one--a well-considered impartiality which increased his
influence and popularity immensely. But on his suggestion it was
decided to fix the number of sub-leaders at six, which left each one
in command of about a hundred men, and to confer upon them the title
of lieutenant. Every member of the corps pledged himself beforehand to
strict obedience. The men who were chosen to the responsible posts
proved themselves worthy of the confidence bestowed on them by their
comrades by their behaviour in the subsequent campaign. Among them
them was Thomas Burt, who, after the trial of the Japanese delegates
at Port Darwin, had proceeded by sea to North Queensland and had
interested himself at once in the volunteer movement. His accurately
kept diary is the only reliable source of information about the
evolution, the march and the first campaign of the White Guard. (His
friend, the Yorkshireman, had had enough of colonial experience and
had just escaped compulsory enlistment by taking first steamer from
Port Darwin to Hong Kong.) Of the other five lieutenants two were
Queenslanders; New South Wales, Tasmania and Canada supplied one each.

In the apportionment of duties which followed the appointments,
Thomas Burt was entrusted with the commissariat. This service was
without doubt the most difficult to render satisfactorily. For it had
been agreed upon on all sides that the stores should be kept in
reserve for emergencies. Meanwhile the White Guard depended chiefly on
the results of the hunt for sustenance. As long as it marched through
the jungle game was plentiful. Nevertheless, in the beginning the best
part of a day was wasted several times to procure a sufficiency. It
was evident that a better system would have to be organized and with
this end in view the commissariat was created; 120 men were placed
under Thomas Burt's command. All the surplus horses and stores were
entrusted to their care. And the best bushmen, to the number of fifty,
were formed into a sub--company of hunters. They travelled in advance
until they reached a spot where good sport might be expected. Then
they fell to work, until often the sombre forest and jungle re-echoed
the shots as if a great battle was already in progress. The spoil was
piled up to be bagged by the comrades, while the marksmen would ride
on to the next promising hunting-ground.

Later this arduous task was simplified with the help of natives. Some
genuine tribes still roamed at that time the vast interior, shy of
either white or yellow men, and thus free of the depravity of the
coastal blacks. They lived entirely by the chase, and in periods of
starvation were supposed to resort to cannibalism. Withal, they were
not considered treacherous, and not so lazy and abandoned as those
aboriginals who have mixed with higher races, but rather gay, healthy
and active. McPartoch was diplomatic enough to overcome their initial
suspicions that the whites intended to drive them out. Once confidence
was established by just treatment and presents of tobacco and small
silver coins, the volunteers reaped many benefits. The natives
possessed an intimate knowledge of the plains and were most valuable
guides to the waterholes. Moreover, they could indicate the richest
haunts of game and were skilful to secure it with less noise than a
shotgun made, a method which would be of enormous advantage as soon as
the White Guard should be in touch with the enemy, to whom random
shots might betray its whereabouts. McPartoch, therefore, determined
to enlist a number of the blacks. Their services were bought readily
by little gifts. Great, however, were the lamentations of their chiefs
who protested against the desertion of their choicest warriors; they
had to be propitiated, too, for the White Guard could not afford to
leave enemies in its back. Forty picked aboriginals accompanied the
volunteers. They were, of course, supplied with horses and learnt
quickly to manage their animals and to get pace out of them. It was
partly due to their assistance that the White Guard crossed the
interior without suffering worse losses.

In camp on the Katherine River the White Guard was joined by
twenty--seven volunteers from the Palmerston district who brought
several hundred reserve rifles and much ammunition smuggled in from
Queensland as well as some luxuries in the shape of tabacco and
liquor, and thirty spare horses. The latest news and rumours current
in Port Darwin about events in the South cheered the weary patriots,
as they heard for the first time of the overthrow of the Moderates and
of the uncompromising attitude of the Commonwealth Government. But the
information that the Imperial authorities had just ordered the closure
of the Northern Territory coast caused profound consternation. At Port
Darwin a strict control had already been established; all firearms had
been seized by the naval commander as far as it was possible for him;
those who wished to retain the use had to take out a licence and to
sign a guarantee. The volunteers from Palmerston district were even
afraid that a naval detachment might be sent after them once the
reason of their departure and their whereabouts became known. To ward
off surprises on the part of compatriots of the second degree, the
White Guard shifted camp about fifty miles further north-east to a
chain of waterholes in a creek bed known as Snowdrop Creek, and scouts
were posted to guard the approach from the railway line.



Chapter II: In Touch with the Enemy



THE White Guard decided to make the camp in Snowdrop Creek the base
of all further operations. Part of the stores and ammunition were
hidden away thereabouts. A large shelter shed was constructed, with
the idea that it might serve as a hospital some day. A paddock was
fenced in for the horses. And to the north a track was blazed, marked
for many miles in such a fashion that no true bushman could miss his
way back to camp. Several parties of scouts had gone in that
direction, accompanied by natives. The country which they had to
traverse forms the backbone of Arnhem Land and rivals in barren
desolation the arid plains over which the adventurers had come.

Nearly a week elapsed before the first parties of scouts returned.
They had discovered Japanese villages much further inland than had
been expected. On the high plains, in fact. How far it was from there
to the sea they could not tell. For afraid of surprises, they had not
penetrated far beyond the foremost lines of the enemy. They had a good
reason for this display of caution. The settlements, two of which they
had located at a distance of about eighteen miles from each other,
were linked up by telegraph, and other wires had been detected
stretching away into the unknown North. Other signs of intelligent
management and organization abounded. Cultivation paddocks extended
round the villages, the bush had been cleared away and the timber had
been used in the construction of neat little houses.

The failure of the scouts to explore the Japanese position
thoroughly was redeemed somewhat by their activity in another
direction. They had made a searching survey of the intervening country
and had found a convenient locality which could serve as a stage of
the impending campaign, being in much closer proximity to the enemy.
Thomas Burt refers to the matter in his diary as follows:--"Our scouts
urged that the present base was very suitable as a final refuge, but
not within reasonable striking distance, particularly because the hill
district was too awful to be crossed more than once except in case of
direst need. They recommended that we should move about ninety miles
to the north-east to a gully where fresh water was plentiful and
whence the Japanese outposts could be reached in an easy ride of two
days." The suggestion was acted upon at once. Nearly all the spare
rifles and ammunition, and half the stores were taken to the new
camping-ground, which, as subsequent exploration has proved beyond
doubt, was situated in one of the head gullies of Liverpool River. And
for greater security of retreat two different routes were marked from
there to Snowdrop Creek.

Everything was avoided which might convey a premature warning to the
enemy. McPartoch never ceased to impress this necessity upon his men,
which may account for the want of push exhibited by some of the
scouts. But all precautions were in vain, as was shown when two bolder
pioneers, who had relied on the fleetness of their horses and good
fortune to carry them right to the seaboard, returned to the new base
in company of a Japanese dignitary attended by two servants. It was
altogether a curious incident. The two whites had come unexpectedly
upon a number of Japanese working in a depression in the forest, who
did not give them time to escape unnoticed, but, throwing away their
implements, rushed forward to meet them with all the signs of
pleasurable excitement. It was, for representatives of the ruling
race, too late then to run away from unarmed Asiatics. So they allowed
themselves to be escorted to the nearest village, where to their great
surprise they were welcomed by an English-speaking, polite headman,
who gave a dinner in their honour. Under cover of his hospitality, he
questioned them closely on the motives of their presence in those
parts, and even alluded, in an easy, confidential way, to the White
Guard. But the Australians remained perfectly cool, as if they did not
know what he was talking about. They played the part of tourists on an
excursion from Port Darwin. After dinner, the dignitary arrived on
horseback and was introduced by their host. He, too, proved to be a
good linguist and interesting gossip and did not forget to refer to
the Queensland irregulars also. At last he said: "I have been
entrusted with a mission to the commander of the White Guard. As you,
gentlemen, have come to enlarge your knowledge of the Northern
Territory, you would surely like to make the acquaintance of this
distinguished officer; if so, I shall be glad to show you the way in
the morning." Enraged at the manner in which they were made the dupes
of the wily Asiatics, the Australians agreed on condition that he
would guide them back if he failed. They stayed for the night with
their host and were made quite comfortable. The Japanese dignitary
kept his promise. Starting at sunrise, he conducted them back to camp
without going wrong once, and he did so, moreover, in record time,
arriving in the middle of the second day. The two whites noticed that
he was guided by minute signs on tree stems and rocks. It was proof
that the enemy, on his part, had explored the country well.

The Japanese dignitary did not beat about the bush. He requested the
honour of an interview with McPartoch, and told him that the headmen
of the settlement had been warned--by the Imperial authorities at Port
Darwin, he pretended--that a large number of Queenslanders were moving
against them in no friendly spirit. For some days the outposts had
reported their presence. So it had been decided that he should hasten
to meet the whites to assure them that his race stood for peace and
progress. As the white friends who accompanied him and whom he had
encountered in the zone of settlement could confirm, the only war his
compatriots were waging was against vermin and wilderness. In doing so
they were fighting for the cause of humanity and civilization, and
they would allow nothing to stand in the path to hinder them.
Therefore he had come to implore the whites that they might not break
in suddenly and without notice upon the refugees, because the latter,
in their ignorance, might take alarm and might, if thrown into a state
of excitement, inflict very serious harm upon incautious, unannounced
visitors.

The menace, lurking beneath the calm courtesy of this emissary,
aroused the anger of the white leaders. They regarded him as a spy.
Some demanded that he should be treated as such with all severity, and
a good many others were in favour of his retention as prisoner. But he
never flinched when McPartoch told him plainly that he had a good mind
not to permit him to go back. The Japanese dignitary wanted to know
what he had done to deserve punishment. He had placed himself in their
power, trusting to the principle accepted by all civilized people,
that voluntary negotiators should be immune, whatever the quarrel
might be. And he added that, if he should remain away for long without
any satisfactory explanation, his compatriots would lose confidence in
the fairness of the whites. For which reason he recommended strict
adherence to international custom and to the highest standard of fair
dealing in all relations between the two races, as a matter of the
greatest interest to the Australians, who were in a minority in these
parts and should, therefore, for their own sake, be the champions of
law and order.

After a short deliberation, it was decided that the dignitary should
be allowed to return to his own people, together with his servants.
But he was asked to understand that the White Guard did not recognize
him officially, and that he would not be looked upon and treated as a
messenger of peace if he should be overtaken after a period of grace
of twenty-four hours had elapsed. It seems that his dauntless bearing
and cool audacity gave rise to some anxious discussions among the
volunteers about the chances of the expedition, though it is most
unlikely that anybody should have proposed the abandonment of their
task. Probably the bushmen indulged merely in that inveterate habit of
theirs to "argue a point," to dissect sportively the pros and cons of
their chances. There must have been some dispute, because without some
reason McPartoch would not have delivered the following address, which
has been written down in Thomas Burt's diary:

"Australians! Comrades!" he said, "was our cause just when we set
out, or were we fools to come all this way? If the latter is the case,
it behoves us to finally expose our true character by applying for
board and lodging to the British authorities at Port Darwin. For back
we cannot go. Apart from a worse repetition of the hardships which
have cost already the lives of so many brave friends, how could we
dare to show our faces again anywhere among upright sons of the
Commonwealth after a ghastly failure through cowardice? If we were
right in the beginning, I do not see that our risks have become
heavier meanwhile. We came to make war on the invaders and we did not
count on any help from outside. Some may say that the Empire must have
forsaken us, judging by the impertinence of the enemy. Let it be so,
or otherwise. It cannot make our sight keener, our aim surer, our
rifles carry any further. And it is on these matters our own cause,
the cause of Australia, depends for success. If the people of the
Commonwealth seem to hesitate and to be slow of action, it must be
because they are not fully awake to their danger, or because they do
not yet trust firmly their own strength. It is for you to decide if by
our example we could inspire our nation with this confidence, if we
could impel her to get rid of doubt and doubters, to rally to our side
in the fight for our common destiny. I believe we could. Let us but
maintain our position, and we shall not stand alone for long. Six
hundred willing whites should be able to render the soil of their
country too hot for brown or yellow mongrels to camp on. And should
defeat be our lot, all I can say is this: let the survivor remember
that Australia is big and full of harbours of refuge where patroits
need not fear betrayal."

This manly speech brushed away all scruples, if such had really
existed. Loud shouts of applause rewarded the brave commander. The
dice had been cast. A handful of bold bushmen had declared war to the
knife against the subjects of a great power. Camp was broken
immediately afterwards as a precaution against a possible Japanese
surprise, and was re-formed at a point about fifteen miles further
north under different conditions. For now, so near the enemy,
concentration of the whole force in one spot would have been courting
disaster. It was never done again over the entire period of which
records are left. Instead, an ever varying number of sub-camps became
the rule, mostly three or four, but as many as six or seven in
dangerous localities, and the number was never the same for two nights
running, for the purpose of confusing the scouts of the enemy. The
camps were arranged now in a straight line, now in some simple
geometrical figure, as suggested by the nature of the ground. Sentries
kept up the connexion between the sub-camps, which were strictly
guarded. The night was divided into three parts, and one third of the
inmates watched while the others were sleeping.

During the stay on the Katherine River the organization had been
perfected. The leaders had recognized that the nature of the country
and the disposition of the men made pitched battles an improbability.
The White Guard was, indeed, best fitted to guerilla warfare, which
would set free every man to act according to his own ideas and to
exploit his own knowledge of the bush to the greatest advantage. Under
such circumstances the course of contest would be sure to become most
intricate. In desultory action it is necessary to specialize the
management, so that individual impulse may be given a wide field,
while timely checks are ever in readiness to be applied at the right
moment in the proper place. It was evident that six lieutenants would
be unable to exercise such intimate control. This consideration led to
further incisures. Each company was divided into three sections which
were entrusted to sub-lieutenants; each section was broken up into
three files under the command of sergeants. Thus responsible
leadership was created for every file of ten men. The entire staff was
selected by equal votes; each company and each section picking its own
favourites. But once the choice had been made, stern discipline was
exacted. Yet so devoted were the men to the cause, or so little
leisure for quarrel was left them by the vigilant enemy, that there
are actually no records of insubordination in Thomas Burt's diary. The
sub-lieutenants were distinguished by a thin red ribbon, the sergeants
by a thin black ribbon worn on the left sleeve. For the democratic
spirit of the force did not permit the use of more pronounced badges,
which, besides, would have given a cue to the Japanese marksmen.
Perhaps for this reason the Commander-in-Chief and his six lieutenants
did without any decoration, relying wholly on their well-known
identities.

All the search parties had returned. Only in one further instance the
enemy had taken notice. It happened to a file led by a daring
Queenslander, who was bent on a flying trip right through the invaded
territory. Skirting a village the file was called upon to halt. They
rode on, until a hail of bullets, whistling over their heads, stopped
them. There was a shout. On all sides Japanese broke cover, waving
white handkerchiefs in sign of peace. One of them advanced smiling,
asking in very good English whether the visitors had a permit.
"Australians do not carry permits on journeys in their own country,"
was the cold reply.

"It is indispensable these times to prevent misunderstandings. I
believe you can get them on application to the Imperial authorities at
Port Darwin," the Japanese said. "With a permit, I shall be glad to
show you over our little settlement myself," he added. "Without one,
your way lies there." He pointed south.

"You're wrong. To the north, to the sea," the Queenslander cried,
with a curse. "I'll see who can stop me."

His interviewer turned to give an order. Quick as lightning, the
Japanese disappeared behind trees and rocks. But the muzzle of their
guns showed threateningly. The spokesman changed his tone, "Don't be a
fool," he exclaimed, in a stern voice. "Within fifty yards round
about, you are outmatched ten to one. One signal from me--or one
insult," he cried, for the Queenslander raised his whip, "and you will
be wiped out. I act on my orders, I warn you. We don't want bloodshed.
Our race is strong and proud enough not to wish to fight with odds on
our side."

The white men had to accept the position. They had no orders to open
hostilities. Of course, they might have feigned retreat, and might
have continued their advance afterwards. But such a course would have
exposed them to similar, or worse, insults at any time. So they turned
back, vowing vengence under more favourable circumstances.

The humiliation was felt deeply by their comrades. Nevertheless the
occurrence lifted a weight off their minds. There had been harassing
doubt about the method of opening hostilities. The idea of marching
into the Japanese zone of settlement and beginning to shoot people on
sight right and left without proper warning, had always seemed
hateful. All qualms of conscience or chivalrous objections were set at
rest now. For it was the enemy who had committed the first act of war
by stopping the advance of white Australians with bullets. If their
own rifles rang out, it would be in reply to a challenge and in
retribution. Every man yearned for the moment when first blood would
be drawn. Realities were wanted to give relief from ever-increasing
nervousness which, apart from the influence of isolation and
uncertainty, was fostered by the anxiety of the returned scouts, many
of whom seemed to scent spies everywhere. That the Japanese had a
splendid intelligence service and followed closely every movement of
the White Guard, was proved, indeed, by the events of the immediate
past. Obviously, the best defence against their tactics was a rapid
blow at the heart of their organization, strong enough to crumple up
the artfully woven net in which they evidently thought to enmesh the
Australians.

High spirits, gaiety even, marked the last day of the great march
which brought the White Guard right up against the enemy. It camped at
night less than fourteen miles from the nearest Japanese village. The
men were in fine condition, and so were their horses, after the
interval of rest. Australian horsemen have no peers the world over.
They relied on their extreme mobility. Fear was far from their hearts.
Like a hailstorm they hoped to sweep over the Turanians, beating to
the ground all resistance, and vanishing into bush and jungle before
the enemy would have time to collect his wits. The volunteers knew
well that their opponents, whose military virtues they respected
otherwise, did not excel mounted. That was the great advantage of the
White Guard, as long as it did not permit itself to be drawn into a
pitched battle, where its superior agility would be neutralized.
McPartoch and the more thoughtful leaders never ceased to warn their
men against mock heroics.

And their persuasion counted for something. So stern, so bent on
success were these six hundred Australians, that they even agreed in
solemn council that night to sacrifice their wounded rather than to
make a stand under unfavourable conditions. Rescue work was to be
strictly limited. If a man fell, a comrade might help him on to his
horse, or might get a sound horse, if handy. But if the man was too
badly wounded to maintain himself in the saddle, and the enemy was
pressing hard, then he should be left to his fate. For the attempt to
assist a dangerously wounded comrade would soon gather about him more
or less stationary and exposed groups of his mates, who would form a
welcome target for the hostile marksmen under cover. The weal or woe
of incapacitated individuals could not be allowed to threaten the
cause with ruin. Even if one or the other might be saved temporarily
he had not much chance to survive the tear and wear of the campaign,
without the slightest hospital comforts. He would be a drag on the
force, his sufferings would propably depress the spirits of his
comrades, and there would be no equivalent for all this trouble. It
was better not to try. If the wounded man had energy to scorn the
mercy of aliens, the last shot from his revolver would place him
beyond their reach.

Such were the merciless yet necessary rules formulated by the gallant
volunteers, before whom there was no other alternative but victory or
death. In practice the rigour abated somewhat. Within each file the
promptings of natural friendship drew together little clans of two or
three or four members, and it soon became customary among these to
bind themselves solemnly that, whatever might befall until the end of
the war, they would live and die together. Friends thus linked always
rode and fought side by side. As only a few men were involved in each
case, and this system served to restrain outsiders, the leaders
tolerated it. It was, of course, understood that, where duty demanded
such heroic self-sacrifice, there could be no room for Asiatic
prisoners. That logical conclusion required no official proclamation.

On July 20, 1912, early in the morning, the White Guard advanced to
the assault. Every man knew that the first clash could not be delayed
for many hours longer, for the line of march led straight upon the
southernmost Japanese village. They rode in a very open formation. The
rifles of the vanguard, composed of one company, extended over a wide
stretch of country. Two more companies protected the flanks, a fourth
the rear, while the other two companies occupied the centre. Spare
horses were divided among the groups to provide against losses, but
the reserve animals and the stores, which had been re-packed on the
quieter steeds, remained with Thomas Burt's commissariat company in
the middle column. Altogether, the few hundred men covered, from the
scouts of the extreme front to the last rear file, about five miles in
length and three miles in width. Though very often lost to each
other's sight, the divisions remained in perfect touch by means of a
simple code of signals--animal cries, in the striking imitation of
which bushmen are adept. As they developed their lines in halts and
dashes, it would not have been possible even for a careful observer to
estimate correctly the strength of each unit or of the entire force.
This was another measure of protective deception well thought out.

The scouts had advanced about eight miles when they were challenged
suddenly by a small detachment of Japanese who pushed forward boldly
within talking distance, waving white handkerchiefs. McPartoch had
ridden immediately behind the vanguard and hurried to the spot, curtly
asking what they wanted. The Japanese, meanwhile, had thrown down
their ensigns of peace and raised a long pole, on which they unfurled
a Union Jack. Then they solemnly bared their heads to the flag. The
Australians looked on in stony silence. McPartoch repeated his
question. In reply the flag was pushed under his nose, as if it was
expected that the white man should salute it. He pushed it
disdainfully aside, among shouts of derision from the volunteers.
Next, the Japanese covered themselves before the spokesman, addressed
him in these words: "In the name of His Britannic Majesty! why do you
come here in martial array? We are peaceful subjects of His Imperial
Majesty. You are welcome, but first lay down your arms!"

A roar went up. All the pent-up fury, all the mortal hatred against
the impudent invader who dared to dictate to Australians on Australian
soil, found vent in it. A hundred muzzles were lowered--the answer
came in a flash. From the bodies of the fallen Japanese, dark blood
oozed, staining the Union Jack which had tumbled in between them.
McPartoch dashed forward and seized the flag. The van wavered for a
second or two, then swept back in wild stampede, fleeing instinctively
from a prepared trap. And the whole White Guard was engulfed in the
panic-like retreat. It saved them from loss. For immediately
afterwards, from thickets on the left flank and from a ridge in front
the enemy discharged volley after volley. Some miles back the
fugutives eased their pace. As the men of the different companies met,
pale, dishevelled, they broke out, all at once, in a great shout of
laughter. It ran right through the ranks. The tension was relieved.
They were now committed irrevocably. Swiftly and resolutely they faced
round again. Order was restored. The scouts plodded on tenaciously,
and soon the firing began quite lively. At last the death struggle
between the two races had begun in earnest.



Chapter III: The First Campaign



McPARTOCH determined to dislodge the enemy. The nature of the
country favoured the display of Australian bush craft. A shallow,
densely wooded depression was in front of the strong ridge occupied by
the Japanese and a belt of scrub bent round its flank. They were soon
expelled from the forest and scrub, but made a stubborn defence of the
hill, whence they made frequent sallies against the Australian
vanguard which had dismounted and crept forward steadily. But the
position was too strong to be taken by frontal attack without
disproportionate sacrifice. At length the white commander tried a
ruse. He ordered his rear company, which was out of sight of the
enemy, to the back of the ridge under cover of the scrub belt. Then
the vanguard fell back, feigning exhaustion. This stratagem proved
successful. The defenders, noticing the front attack was weakening,
dashed out in great force, flinging aside the scouts. They found,
however, their further advance stopped by terrible volleys from the
Australian's main lines and were driven back again. Before they could
regain their orginal position, it was carried from flank and rear by
the ambuscade, and they were surrounded by a ring of fire. Only a few
escaped. About 300 Japanese corpses were counted in the bush. Twenty-
one Australians were missing.

After all, McPartoch was only half satisfied. His own losses were
considerable. But the worst was that here, at the outset of the
campaign, the White Guard had been drawn into a pitched battle, in
spite of all good intentions to the contrary. As it happened, fortune
had smiled. If reinforcements could have been hurried up on the other
side, victory might have been turned into disaster. And the
Australians, elated with success, might now be tempted to try a
similar game under less suspicious conditions without reflecting that
even in this case surprise tactics had won the day. McPartoch
addressed his men on the subject in great earnest, candidly blaming
himself and warning them that, if any section should imitate his
proceedings without special orders, it would be left to its fate,
because he would not consent to ruin the cause for its safety.

The advance was resumed. About noon, the White Guard skirted the
southernmost settlement of the Japanese. Scouts dismounted and
approached cautiously. It was not long before they drew fire. But
nothing could be seen of the defenders, who remained invisible
throughout, though the Australians, enraged by the shooting of a
comrade, tried every means to lure them from their haunts. This
peaceful village was, in fact, a well-contrived fortification, like
all the others which were subsequently discovered. It was surrounded
by a breast-high earth rampart steadied with logs. The abutting huts
were constructed of stout timber with narrow slits on the outside in
place of window-openings. Each formed a separate stronghold and was so
flanked by others that even if it should be carried by storm, a
destructive crossfire could be concentrated upon it from the nearest
buildings. Big logs, apparently thrown about carelessly, afforded in
reality cover for free communication between the several points of
importance within the settlements. Many strong trees and some patches
of scrub had also been left standing within its confines and completed
the almost bullet-proof screen behind which the inhabitants could move
in comparative security. Outside, a large space had been cleared
thoroughly from protecting vegetation, thus offering no scope for
bushman tactics. The village stood on a gentle slope. No doubt wells
had been dug inside providing for an independent water supply. A few
hundred men could hold it against an army without artillery. They
could only be dislodged by a general assault, and the White Guard was
not strong enough to risk many lives in such a desperate venture.

After a close watch extending over several hours, enlivened by an
occasional exchange of shots, the siege was raised. A mile outside,
the telegraphic connexion was cut off by the removal of a long stretch
of wire. As the search parties had reported already, a network of
telegraphs linked up the Japanese settlements. Information of every
movement of the Australians, therefore, was sure to be transmitted
without delay to headquarters, wherever that might be. The White Guard
was determined to find out. That night it camped ten miles to the rear
of the first unconquered line of the enemy.

The Australians rode on all next day (July 21) without meeting with
any traces of Japanese occupation. They had been compelled, on account
of the advanced season, to swing round to the east, so that they might
remain in the vicinity of water. Incidentally, they hoped to outflank
in this way the foreworks of the enemy. For it was the aim of the
White Guard to locate his headquarters or capital. McPartoch
conjectured that it must be situated on or near the seaboard. Before
accurate knowledge had been acquired of the Japanese centre of power,
it was impossible to form a useful plan of campaign.

The night passed without disturbance. But on the following morning
(July 22) the Australians became soon aware that they were being
shadowed. Sometimes, they caught a glimpse of horsemen dashing across
some far-off opening in the forest. It was the first intimation that
the enemy had a cavalry force. A few were laid low with unerring aims,
but, of course, the whites could not waste time in the pursuit of
solitary foes. By noon, these scouts had disappeared entirely. An hour
later, the Australian vanguard came unexpectedly upon a village. All
at once it received fire from a point about a mile to the west of the
settlement. The leading company rushed forward, under the impression
that the inhabitants, working in their paddocks, had been cut off from
their base. But McPartoch, old campaigner as he was, restrained his
men and contented himself with concealing two sections in a patch of
scrub whence their rifles commanded the settlement. Then he began to
surround the locality from which the shots had been fired. He was soon
satisfied that he was opposed by a force of several hundred men,
evidently a military unit, and as eager for the fray as the White
Guard. As they were in thick country, where bushman skill had a fair
chance, he attacked them with two companies. The Japanese, impatient
of battle, met his advance with a vigorous counterstroke, calculated
to push the Australians back in the direction of the village. But the
latter, experts at taking cover, withstood the blow. The struggle
became very bitter. At its height, the villagers, who so far had given
no sign of existence, suddenly dashed from behind their ramparts to
take the White Guard in the rear. So they exposed themselves to the
fire of the two sections hidden in the scrub, who poured volley after
volley into them. They wavered, then turned and fled. To complete
their defeat, a few mounted files swept down upon them, riding them
under foot. But the mounted files were subjected to a severe fusillade
by the defenders of the village who had not participated in the sally
and who shot upon them without regard to the damage they might do to
their own compatriots who were still outside.

The ambush of the Japanese had failed, their field force was
enveloped and in danger of annihilation, when an unexpected noise of
rifle discharges coming from the extreme rear induced McPartoch to
break off the fight hurriedly. The commotion was caused by Japanese
cavalry which was engaging, at this critical moment, the last
lingering lines of Australian scouts. It was not numerous, and was
quickly repulsed. But it had gained its end. The White Guard retreated
in some confusion, which cost several valuable lives. Once more it had
been impossible to restrain the ardour of individuals. Even the
cautious commander had been carried away by his zeal. And again the
result had been a pitched battle, with its corresponding
neutralization of the one great Australian advantage of superior
mobility. If there existed no possibility of preventing this, it was
easy to foresee a day when the Japanese, improving in staying capacity
as they became ingrained to guerilla warfare, would succeed to lure on
the White Guard until they should be able to overwhelm it by force of
numbers. What did it matter that the Australians would sell their
lives dearly? The enemy could evidently afford huge losses, as was
shown by his action of firing into a crowd of his own people to deal
death to its pursuers.

Sixteen Australians had been killed. A score was wounded. Among the
latter was a young Tasmanian, who had been shot through the neck. He
was a mere boy, about twenty years old, and very much liked. Often he
had entertained the older comrades by exultant little stories of his
sweetheart, a photograph of whom he cherished as his most precious
possession. Now he was carried back from the battlefield in the arms
of a herculean mate, his eyes closed, his face the pallor of death,
while beside the pair his own horse cantered like a big, faithful dog.
Not before the White Guard fixed camp for the night, many miles from
the scene of bloodshed, could he get medical attention. Then it was
too late. The young fellow died under the hands of the doctor. His
comrades stood by silently, while the doctor, who seemed strangely
interested, made a post--mortem examination. Suddenly he jumped up.
"By God," he cried, "I had my suspicions before. This settles them.
Boys, they are using dum--dums against us as if we were niggers. This
wound would not have been mortal if it had been caused by a Christian
bullet. It was a dum-dum did the work."

He showed the men the jagged sides of the egress hole, the torn,
widened channel of the projectile. For the moment they were too
stupefied to say much. The poor boy was buried under a big tree, with
the picture of his sweetheart upon his breast.

Then the necessities of the living demanded their right. As it had
been impossible the last few days to secure a sufficiency of game, and
as it was prudent to reserve the tinned provisions for a real
emergency, the Australians had been forced to rely for food mainly on
the superfluous horse of their dead. It was not a time to cultivate an
over-dainty taste, and once the prejudice had been overcome, the flesh
of young horse became recognized as a toothsome diet and as the great
stand-by for men who, being in the saddle all their waking hours,
required strong, sustaining meat. The horse of the fallen Tasmanian
was selected for the evening repast. But in this case, the simple act
of killing an animal for food was transformed into a rite of terrible
significance.

Thomas Burt, in his diary, has left a suggestive description: "How
the idea originated," he writes, "I can't explain. Several men of his
section ran into the bush and returned with some flowery creepers and
bright--leaved boughs. With these they garlanded the horse as if for
sacrifice. He was shot, and after the jugular vein had been opened for
bleeding, they dipped their fingers into the gore, whereupon they
joined bloodstained hands and swore a frightful oath, calling on the
name of the dead boy, that they would never spare the life of a
Japanese, war or peace. This example had a hypnotic effect. Men rushed
in from all sides to imitate it. Everywhere groups formed of
bloodsmeared comrades, the camp-fires playing gruesomely on their
inflamed faces and eyes reflecting a paroxysm of rage, who took the
vow in the same words, often in low, strained voices which imparted to
it the character of some ghastly incantation."

The manufacture of dum-dums by means of removing or cutting the tops
of bullets became at once the established industry in the Australian
camp. Their employment by the enemy had silenced for ever the last
lingering misgivings prompted by humanitarian considerations. The
Japanese had revealed their secret thoughts: that for the white vermin
infesting the tropical wilderness dum-dums were the correct thing.

Benefiting by the experience of the last two days, McPartoch again
subdivided his force by halving the files into squads, doubling the
number of sergeants. This measure resulted in a more perfect scouting
service and a still looser formation, which permitted a more rapid
withdrawal from action of the units. So, under the pressure of
circumstances, a wonderfully agile and elastic organization had been
evolved. Some further adjustments were made calculated to increase the
efficiency. Till then, rests on the march had been ill regulated, and
particularly the breaking of camp in the morning had often been
somewhat disorderly. It was now ordained that breakfast should always
be finished before sunrise and that a general halt should be the rule
during the hottest hours of the day, provided that the safety of the
corps should allow it.

Early next day (July 23) there was no sign of the enemy. Everything
seemed favourable to a swift advance. The changing character of the
vegetation left no doubt that the coast was not very distant. Surface
water was met with more often, and the White Guard was now able to
travel right across country in a north-westerly direction. It passed
one village during the morning, and later two artificial clearings in
the forest. Had these latter been abandoned as places for habitation,
or were they being prepared for new settlers? In the second case,
where would the settlers come from? Would they be drafted from older
villages or from concentration camps on the sea board? Or would new
imports arrive from oversea? So early, according to an entry in Thomas
Burt's diary, the white men were struck by this idea of a steady
inpour of invaders.

But, after all, progress was not so rapid as had been hoped for. The
country became more difficult. In places the high plains dipped
steeply into creek valleys, which were covered half-way up with dense
jungle and formed ideal hiding nooks for ambuscades. Further north the
network of water-courses, dry channels, headlands, jungle, forest and
rock became ever more intricate. It was impossible to explore
thoroughly over such ground. Several times the intrepid Australians
had to turn back in their tracks, confronted by insurmountable
obstacles. These happenings caused much anxiety. For if ever their
advance should be barred by natural impediments while the enemy was so
close in pursuit that they would have to fight a retreat through his
ranks, terrible disaster might follow. But apparently the enemy had
lost touch again, for they did not see a single Japanese scout that
day, and the inhabitants of the solitary village passed by them did
not venture outside their ramparts.

Next morning (July 24) the White Guard was crossing the head of a
gully when it received fire from a narrow neck on the further side.
Its march, of course, was delayed while its scouts pushed forward to
reconnoitre the hostile position. The enemy seemed to have counted
upon this hesitation. Suddenly, a strong division of Japanese cavalry
attacked the Australians in front and from the left flank. It had
abandoned the Fabian tactics for which it had been distinguished
hitherto. Instead, it dashed in at a tremendous pace, and so wild and
well--directed was its charge that the foremost squads of the White
Guard were cut to pieces. Reinforcements rode up quickly, throwing
themselves into the battle with enthusiasm. They belonged to Thomas
Burt's company, which now shared in the struggle for the first time.
The famous diarist himself led his men, whose dexterity on horseback
soon outclassed the Turanians. Still, the latter resisted stoutly.
Though overwhelmed on all sides, they preferred to die rather than to
give way. And those who fell mortally wounded took a parting shot at
the horses of their opponents if they felt their sight growing too dim
to hit the men, or they killed their own animals. There was a grim
significance in that act. For the White Guard, unhorsed, would be
doomed to speedy extermination in the hands of their relentless
enemies.

The cavalry contest had diverted the attention of the Australians
from the Japanese infantry in front, which had had time to develop
long lines of marksmen in the scrub. And these now made a furious
assault on their part. At the same time, a desultory fusillade came
from the rear and left flank. It proceeded in rapid succession from
several places and led McPartoch to the belief that more cavalry was
approaching from that quarter. He apprehended another rush, with the
result that his force would be caught between two fires. He also
recognized that the infantry, extended in a thin line followed by two
more lines, could not be repulsed without great loss on his part.
Already men and horses were falling under their deadly volleys.
Instantly, he gave the order to retreat. The signal ran along his
ranks and next moment the White Guard was racing away, bearing to the
left, and over-riding the Japanese horsemen, who had survived the
encounter with Thomas Burt's company, in their flight. Once more the
volunteers had escaped with honour, but not unscathed. Forty-one
comrades were missing. Six more were so badly wounded that, though
they had contrived to save themselves from the battlefield, they were
unable to ride on any longer.

Here was a new problem. Men were in the ranks who had been wounded
lightly--on this occasion there were about two score of them--and who
had been able to look after themselves, when the surgeons, who
numbered four in all, had dressed their injuries. Two or three,
indeed, had committed suicide, when they felt worse and did not wish
to become drags. But not everybody possessed strength of mind to
emulate this heroic example, though there was none unwilling to
sacrifice his life in honest fight. As mercy was neither expected nor
conceded, the possibility that men struck within an ace of death
should escape only to collapse in utter helplessness a little later
had not been thought of previously. Instinct revolted against the idea
that disabled comrades, still warm with life, should be left behind to
perish in the wilderness or by the hands of loathsome aliens. It did
not matter that a solemn covenant existed approving of such a course--
the thing could not be done. On the other hand, the safety of all
demanded that the mobility of the White Guard should not be lessened.

A handy bush carpenter solved the difficulty by devising a
combination of stretcher and chair, made of stout sticks and a wicker
work of pliable boughs, and provided with uprights at the back which
would keep the occupant in a half-sitting position with his legs
stretched level before him. The whole was well secured with telegraph
wire and covered with blankets and clothing to ease its roughness.
Each stretcher was mounted on a quiet horse. Then the wounded man was
lifted into it. By means of a long bridle, he could control the animal
himself, if he felt well enough, otherwise, a comrade would lead it.
Ingenious as this moving field hospital had been arranged, the ordeal,
which the sufferers had to undergo during the swift march of the White
Guard over rocky ground or through forests where the horses stumbled
over roots and creepers, was terrible and killed most. Still, the best
had been done for them under the circumstances, and a few were saved,
and were spared ultimately for a kinder fate than was in store for
their hale mates.

The best part of the afternoon was spent in caring for the wounded;
so that not much progress could be made during the remainder of the
day. But the scouts discovered two telegraph lines running parallel to
each other at a distance of about three miles and in an almost
straight northerly direction. There could be no doubt that these wires
connected outlying villages with the Japanese capital and that the
White Guard was now right in the centre of the zone of settlement. The
lines were not cut, so that the enemy might receive no warning of the
whereabouts of the Australians. The night passed without disturbance.

In the morning (July 25,) it was found that two of the badly wounded
men had died. Some others, who had been reported as slightly hurt and
had been present after the battle, did not respond to the roll call.
Everybody knew what this meant: a few more brave hearts had felt
unable to keep up the pace any longer and had retired to some quiet
nook to make an end, so that they might not become a burden and an
impediment. Gloom began to spread among the patriotic rough-riders and
grew ever more supreme. The gaiety and high spirits so natural to the
children of sun-kissed Australia, which had marked the commencement of
the enterprise, vanished bit by bit, as the terrible odds against
which they were fighting were more clearly realized. None, of course,
had believed that they were marching against famishing weaklings. All
the same, none had expected such fierce opposition. The majority had
not troubled themselves much about the details of the impending
campaign. It had been sufficient for them to know that the
Commonwealth was invaded and that every good Australian was bound to
revenge the insult. Still, at the back of the mind of nearly every one
traditions of the colonial exploits in the Boer war had survived and
made him look forward to something like it: a series of raids on farms
and ill-defended settlements, a continual harassing of the enemy,
sudden surprises, a never-ending guerilla war in which the mounted
bushmen had imagined themselves as appearing, phantom-like, now here,
now miles away, but always aggressive and vanishing before the
adversary should have recovered breath to strike back. And this game
was to be continued until the Turanians should be reduced to such
despair that they should have to appeal to Great Britain for
protection, which would never be granted, or else to land armies, and
thus to reveal their real designs, when the Empire, for its own sake,
would have to rally to the side of the Commonwealth.

It was a beautiful dream, but the disillusion came after the first
few days of the campaign. Then the Australians began to understand the
haughty bearing of the Japanese dignitary who had warned and vexed
them. He had an army at his back, perfectly organized, splendidly
equipped, under a subtle leadership undaunted by disaster and losses.
The latter had been enormous, but it seemed that the enemy looked upon
them as fair payment for experience. Possessed of such spirit, he
might bring about a complete reversal any day. Already the Japanese
were not content to defend themselves; they had taken the offensive
and had thus touched the weakest spot of the White Guard. For a corps
of horsemen, with no stronghold to fall back upon, without reserves,
living from hand to mouth, must become demoralized in the end if they
were made the hares instead of being the hounds. The enemy had the
advantage of the inner line of well-placed fortifications in
telegraphic inter--communication and, consequently, of a reliable
intelligence service. His scouts rivalled the Australians in daring.
And the latter noticed resentfully that the brown men looked spick and
span in prime condition, while they themselves began to have a rather
tattered appearance.

Possibly this contrast of drab raggedness fast losing the faintest
vestige of smartness was more than anything else responsible for the
depression ruling in the ranks of the White Guard. The influence of
the natural surroundings was another dispiriting factor. Thomas Burt's
diary gives, in itself, a very good indication of the progress in
intensity of the sombre moodiness which cast an ever-darkening shadow
over the gallant band. At first all sorts of little traits are noted
down in it, personal items and even humorous snapshots such as a man
might write who had gone on an excursion of pleasurable excitement. As
the days passed, the purely human interest grows steadily weaker,
until it gives way entirely to military records, of councils of war,
of moves and counter-moves, of battle, pursuit and plans, of
privations and losses, in short, to records of the technicalities of
the campaign. Towards the end, the clearness of the depositions
suffers under an intrusion of speculation about the enemy and about
the chances of success, and the accents of the hopelessness of it all
became dominant. Then men, even the leaders, appear puny, mere drifts
on the implacable course of events, even as in the moment of an
earthquake the whole surface, hills, rivers, houses, trees, people,
everything, seems insignificant in the sway of the all-enfolding
tremor--waves.

There is a remark in the diary to the effect that the author could
not turn his thoughts upon any other subject but the enemy. Others
confessed the same. They were strangely fascinated by the stealthiness
of his methods, so much so that the bravest would run all sorts of
unnecessary risks to investigate more closely. Scouts pushed on and
on, fancying that they had picked up some thread of special
information, until they had lost all connexion with the main force,
though they knew that they were infringing discipline by their action.
Something unfathomable seemed to lurk in the silent bush and to lure
them on. There was monstrous deliberation, an impassive stolidity
foreign to white men, something vague and fantastic like a troubled
dream about this menacing settlement of an Asiatic race separated from
them by a mutual gulf of incomprehensibility. It was as if a monster
had made the wilderness its lair and was lying in wait there, playing
its warriors like pawns in a game of chess, without compassion,
without fear, and planning all the time the destruction of White
Australia. Men unconsciously lowered their voices discussing it. Often
in the stillness of night, men would suddenly cry out in their sleep
and jump to their feet, startled by a nightmare of the unutterable
horror they were fighting against.

The supposed proximity of the Japanese main settlement induced
McPartoch to exercise the greatest carefulness. But an incident
happened after a ride of some hours which convinced him that for once
the enemy had lost touch entirely or had miscalculated the whereabouts
of the Australians. For the White Guard overtook a Japanese detachment
of about 200 men marching north, which allowed itself to be attacked
unawares. Here, at last, the volunteers had a chance to spring a
surprise in the style which should have been the rule of the campaign
as once imagined by them. And they acquitted themselves handsomely.
Only a few Japanese escaped into the bush. As a military force, they
were wiped out completely, at a cost to the Australians of but two men
killed and three slightly wounded.

After this exploit, McPartoch turned to the north-east. He suspected
that the noise of the battle might have been heard in the capital of
the enemy, which could not be distant, as the White Guard had crossed
several telegraph lines in rapid succession which were no longer
running parallel to each other, but converging upon a point farther
north. And he concluded that on the spot where they would intersect
the Japanese headquarters must be situated. He was leaving the
straight direction because he wished to evade the reinforcements which
the enemy, alarmed by the shooting, might hurry up.

It was about three o'clock in the afternoon when some vanguard scouts
on the left wing reported that they had had a glimpse of a large
river, or inlet of the sea, and of a big settlement on its far side.
Half an hour later, McPartoch and his leading officers were scanning
the scene through their glasses. There lay, on the western shore of a
sheltered inlet about two miles wide, a town or rather a group of four
villages, sharply divided like the quarters of a mediaeval city, round
a central fort. The fort stood on a gentle rise and consisted of
several wooden sheds or barracks surrounded by an inner wall and outer
rampart and ditch. All the telegraph wires ended in a small watch-
tower on top of the biggest building, thus marking it as the
headquarters. Sentinels paced to and fro, and several hundred men were
being drilled in the grounds of the fort. It was evident that
considerable excitement prevailed. Messengers on horseback arrived and
departed frequently. A large cavalry force left town. The men of the
White Guard knew the reason for the activity. It was they who were
being searched for.

They were separated only by a sheet of water from the goal of their
endeavours. Yet they saw that it was unattainable. The Japanese
capital was impregnable. Thousands were guarding it. Thousands more
were doubtless scouring the country to take revenge for the massacre
of the morning. It did not seem to enter the mind of the enemy that
the Australians were on the opposite bank. Half a dozen boats and a
steam launch were anchored in the inlet, but nobody came to use them
for investigation. McPartoch, on his part, was careful not to betray
the whereabouts of the White Guard. Of course, the men could not be
restrained from having a peep. But they had to dismount in the bush
and to creep up softly by twos and threes. Night was falling while
they were still thus engaged. And under the sunset sky of gold and
green the settlement and the cultivation paddocks around it looked
indescribably peaceful. But the Australians could not permit
themselves to be deceived by appearances. The leaders recognized now
that they had located the headquarters of the enemy, that their hope
of success did not lie at its gate. Its neighbourhood was fraught with
danger of annihilation to them. Their only chance lay in the open
country against the isolated villages. Perhaps they might yet achieve
something there, after having gained a thorough knowledge of the
Japanese methods.

Above all, the White Guard required a reasonable rest of a few days
after the unbroken excitement of the first week's campaign to
recuperate its moral balance and to prepare a sensible plan of further
activity. But no respite could be had as long as the Australians
remained within a short distance from the enemy's centre of power. The
leaders, indeed, looked forward with grave anxiety to the night which
of necessity had to be spent so near to it. Tinned provisions were
served out, no fires were allowed. Retreat was the password for the
morning.



Chapter IV: Retreat and Reinforcement



THE ignorance which the movements of the enemy on the previous day
seemed to imply regarding the whereabouts of the White Guard, was
either another strategic trick from the outset to lull into a false
security the watchfulness of the volunteers, or it had been dispelled
very quickly. Even before dawn the Japanese scouts began to attack the
outposts. Probably the former had marched throughout the night, guided
by the light of the full moon. The Australians broke camp hurriedly
and rode to the east, partly with a view of outflanking the pursuers
and partly because they were afraid of being surrounded on the land
side and driven back upon the inlet of the sea, if they made a stand
in this unfavourable position. The country was not at all suitable for
the full development of cavalry. It was flat, covered with thick
jungle and permeated with a tortuous network of channels, mostly dried
out, but forming veritable pitfalls among the dense vegetation.
Apparently the Japanese had limited their pioneer efforts of
civilization to the districts further west over the water, for there
were no traces of settlement here. But that they had explored and
charted this wilderness was evident from the rapidity with which their
own forces moved. Moreover, they had pressed the local natives into
service as guides.

The aboriginals of the interior accompanying the White Guard were
nearly as much at a loss in the coastal jungle as their masters. They
were, however, ahead of the latter in their ability to make themselves
invisible during critical periods. This trait had been noticed from
the first. Every time a battle waxed hot, they had vanished
mysteriously, rejoining the volunteers when the air was clear again.
During the whole course of the campaign, they had lost so far less
than half a dozen of their number, which fact was the best proof of
their sagacity in taking care of themselves. The White Guard did not
resent their caution. It had never been intended to make them fight
for the cause of White Australia. That was the sacred privilege of the
ruling race. The blacks were employed as hunters and scouts, and in
this capacity they had proved serviceable and willing enough. When the
first shots were exchanged that morning (July 26) they had all stolen
away quietly, and their prolonged disappearance was accepted as a sure
sign that serious trouble with the enemy was brewing.

The Australian van and right flank suffered heavily under the fire
of Japanese marksmen concealed in the thick growth. After a ride of
about two hours, the foremost squads came to a bare patch, a kind of
spur of the high plains. Here they were charged by hostile cavalry. A
fierce battle raged for half an hour until the aggressors, cut to
pieces and much reduced in numbers, fled back. But the delay enabled
Japanese infantry to concentrate behind their gallant horsemen in such
strength that the further progress of the White Guard was effectively
barred. It turned north, towards the sea. Again the cavalry attacked,
to gain time, so that the infantry might push on in that direction.
Though decimated, the mounted Turanians had lost nothing of their
energy. But the exasperated Australians were now determined to make an
end of them, regardless of cost. After a terrible struggle they
succeeded. The Japanese cavalry was annihilated and all its surviving
horses captured. Nevertheless, the purpose for which it had sacrificed
itself, had been attained. Long lines of infantry hemmed in the van
and both flanks of the White Guard.

At last, the genius of the invading race had invented a method of
counteracting the superior mobility of the raiders. It consisted in
the employment of thin files of infantry, no longer stationary, but
hurling themselves against the horsemen, taking advantage of every
tree and rock for cover, yet ever advancing and followed by other
files like successive waves of destruction. Horsemen had no chance
against such rushes. They could not override them. They might fling
them aside, only to be confronted by the second and third lines, while
the first one, which had been broken through, would re-form and pour a
deadly fire into the rear of the advancing cavalry.

This method was tried for the first time on this occasion with very
satisfactory results. Before order had been restored fully in the
ranks of the White Guard after the cavalry contest, an infantry rush
occurred. It increased the confusion, and after a short stand the
Australians were repulsed. Some daring scouts of the enemy had got
into the rear already. About eleven o'clock the squads of the extreme
western flank touched the inlet again and had another glimpse of the
capital. In the blinding noon glare of the sun the impression was no
longer peaceful. Even as they looked, troops were hurrying over the
cleared cultivation paddocks, no doubt sent to help in the work of
destruction. The fort, in its inaccessibility, seemed to represent the
embodiment of the deep Oriental disdain against the Whites whose Star
Cross was to pale in the Northern Territory before the victorious rays
of the Rising Sun.

The position of the Australians was desperate. Behind them the river;
to the east, and bending north and south, superior hostile forces.
Everything had remained quiet so far to the south-west, but this
silence was really disquieting, because the connexion between the
Japanese headquarters and their eastern army lay across that line, and
it was natural, therefore, to assume that strong reserves were massed
in that neighbourhood. McPartoch held a hurried consultation with his
lieutenants, in which it was decided to strike out straight to the
south, in the hope that the enemy might be compelled to disclose his
plans more fully by a diversion in this direction.

Fortune favoured the White Guard. As it happened, the Japanese had
concentrated the bulk of their army in the east in their eagerness to
block its progress. Their southern outposts, commanding every opening
in the jungle, every neck between creeks, had thus been denuded
temporarily of defenders. When the volunteers were falling back, the
defect had been noticed and reinforcements were despatched. But it was
too late. The Australians, wheeling south with great rapidity, ousted
their opponents in a series of magnificent charges. To delay them, the
last remnant of cavalry at hand was thrown against them. But they had
learnt from their experience of the morning. They wasted no more
precious time in a pitched battle. Cutting a way through the cavalry
and overriding the van of the infantry reinforcements before they were
able to develop their new tactics, the White Guard at last escaped
into the open. It continued its ride all the afternoon, unpursued, and
fixed camp for the night well out of the enemy's reach.

The death list of the battle was enormous. Two lieutenants, five
sub--lieutenants, a surgeon, fourteen sergeants and sixty-eight men
were missing. Moreover, forty reserve-horses had been killed and some
stores were lost with them. This latter calamity was relieved somewhat
by the seizure of over sixty Japanese horses, which were mostly
Australian--bred. There was irony in this. Commonwealth citizens had
reared the stock, had realized a profit on it, and now it was employed
to defeat their compatriots. For without efficient cavalry, the enemy
would hardly have been able to take the offensive against the White
Guard. More stretchers were constructed for the transport of the badly
wounded. Of the first batch, only two were still surviving. Eleven
others were added that night.

Burdened with this further impediment, the leaders were compelled to
come to a clear understanding about the further course of the
campaign. They conferred during the evening, and before sunrise next
morning (July 27), they placed the results of their deliberations
before a general council of war, which had been called together
originally for the purpose of rearranging the decimated units and
electing subordinates for the fallen officers. McPartoch, in another
manly speech, pointed out the insurmountable difficulties in their
path. It could not be denied, he said, that the White Guard had been
thrown upon the defensive owing to the overwhelming numerical
superiority of the invaders, and that it could not hope for victory
under the circumstances. He regretted that it should have been his
advice, in the last instance, which had persuaded them to carry
through the desperate venture at a loss, so far, of almost a third of
their comrades. Here the brave fellows interrupted him with cheers and
passed a resolution by acclamation, thanking him for his unselfish
leadership and assuring him that he continued to possess their full
confidence. His proposals were warmly debated. But in the end they
were carried with practical unanimity. Retreat, as speedy as possible,
to the base in Snowdrop Creek was determined on, so that the wounded
might receive proper care. And a thorough consideration and final
decision regarding future action was to be postponed until after that.
It was a touching attempt at self-delusion. For in his heart every man
felt convinced that a handful of white fighters could not defeat the
organization created by the enemy, though every one be a hero. Yet
they tried to evade that last bitterness, the open acknowledgement of
failure to each other, as long as there was a chance.

The march was resumed. They were still within the danger zone, in the
circle of outlying villages. One they passed before noon, but its
inhabitants did not seem to take any notice of them. McPartoch had
decided to travel straight south to avoid the jungle with its rank
vegetation, which would have delayed progress, and with its animal
pests, which would have tormented the wounded. In the afternoon they
skirted another village. They kept always to a rough track cleared by
the enemy. Shortly before sunset they came to a waterhole in a
depression, about twelve miles further on, and camped there for the
night. It was by no means an ideal spot strategically, being
surrounded on three sides by a wide sweep of hill country and on the
fourth to the north, by a belt of thick scrub and patches of acacias
which restricted the outlook. But the volunteers knew that the
Japanese main force could not have kept pace with them on their
retreat and they did not particularly fear attack from the isolated
settlements, because according to all previous observations, these did
not contain more than one hundred, or at most two hundred, men each.
Of course, the usual watch was kept.

But the White Guard had underrated the resources and tenacity of the
enemy, who again took advantage of the moonlight to creep up to its
position. This time the Japanese scouts penetrated silently the line
of outposts and with the dawn, a furious infantry assault was directed
against the two most exposed sub-camps of the Australians.
Fortunately, some confusion ensued among the enemy in the dim light.
His own scouts shot upon mounted reinforcements hurrying to their
help, apparently taking them for the withdrawing volunteer outposts
whom they had passed under the cover of the scrub. Thus the occupants
of the sub-camps were enabled to escape, leaving tents, blankets and
other belongings behind them. These were secured, however, in a
successful counter-attack immediately afterwards. Day had now broken
fully and revealed a large force of Japanese infantry approaching from
the high ground to the west. Already they were forming the long thin
files preparatory to one of their characteristic rushes. McPartoch had
just time to sound the signal for retreat, when the first line hurled
itself against the Australians, coiling about their flanks like a
poisonous breath before which men and animals staggered and fell. The
rear of the White Guard resisted for a moment, then followed the
others in headlong flight eastwards. They were pursued by cavalry.

For an hour the volunteers rode on without lessening their speed
appreciably. And still the Japanese horsemen doggedly stuck to them.
Their presence was a disagreeable surprise to the Australians, who had
flattered themselves that they had exterminated the mounted service of
the enemy, and who were now running away from an inferior number of
that arm. McPartoch had to yield at last to their entreaties to make a
stand. The rear faced round. But the shock of the outset proved too
much for it. It had to give way, and the hostile cavalry, still about
150 strong, fell upon the centre of the White Guard, commanded by
McPartoch in person. Here the advance was arrested. The Japanese,
surrounded, were shot down in numbers. The survivors, however, never
wavered. Their leader, a man on a splendid horse, gave them a
wonderful example of heroism. Riding into the thick of the fight, he
brought down man after man, seemingly invulnerable himself. He came
within ten yards of the Commander-in-Chief when suddenly a member of
the Port Darwin contingent cried out: "Ah Ting!" At the exclamation,
the Japanese leader half turned, and found himself face to face with
McPartoch. Two pistols were levelled at the same moment, two shots
rang out in one. Ah Ting threw up his arms and fell to the ground,
dead. McPartoch's mare staggered and broke down, throwing her rider.
Some men ran to his assistance and lifted him on to Ah Ting's horse.
The fall of the leader decided the fate of the Japanese, hemmed in on
all sides. They perished manfully.

The contest had reduced the number of the White Guard to about four
hundred, counting in the badly wounded. To make matters worse,
McPartoch was half-dazed in consequence of his accident. He
surrendered the command to Thomas Burt until he should have fully
recovered. Under the pressure of their misfortune, the volunteers did
not have leisure to ponder over the fact that such a large force,
independent of the main army of the enemy, should have been away in
the open country. If they could have done so, the truth might have
dawned upon them, and thus warned, their ultimate fate might have been
different. For it is most likely that this force had been despatched,
even before the rout of the White Guard near the capital, with a view
to cut off its retreat. Of course, the truth will never be known until
the Japanese choose to publish it. But appearances seem to show that
they made this attempt thus early, the repetition of which was to be
so terribly successful afterwards. Ah Ting, no doubt, had been
entrusted with the execution of the task. He failed because the
Australians retreated too quickly. And rather than return a beaten
man, he sought death. It is impossible to explain in any other way his
fool-hardy pursuit of a superior number of superior horsemen.

Next day (July 30) the White Guard passed the southernmost village,
where the parting shots of the campaign were exchanged. It was noticed
that the telegraph lines had been repaired already. On the following
evening (July 31) the Australians camped again upon the old spot at
the head of Liverpool River. They spent a day there recovering vigour
after their exertions and afterwards continued their retreat to the
base in Snowdrop Creek, arriving on August 2. The seven badly wounded
comrades who still survived were then removed with infinite care to
Katherine and distributed among trusted friends. So well was the
secret kept that the Imperial authorities at Port Darwin remained in
ignorance of these happenings. But perhaps they did not wish to know
anything.

A general council of war held in Snowdrop Creek decided that it would
be madness to renew the fight. The only question under dispute was the
manner in which the White Guard should be disbanded. Some adventurous
members proposed that they should all return to Queensland by the
route over which they had come. They had no doubt that reports of the
campaign had transpired in Palmerston, and they were afraid of arrest
if they should place themselves within reach of the British commander
in that port. The overwhelming majority, however, justly dreaded the
overland march mainly because the dry season was now far advanced. In
the end, all agreed to send a deputation to Port Darwin to investigate
the real state of affairs there and to arrange, if possible, for a
quiet refuge and gradual absorption of the volunteers in that
district, whence they might disperse by sea by and by.

Meanwhile the White Guard remained at Snowdrop Creek to await the
result of the mission. And during this period an event occurred which
changed the destiny of the corps. Quite unexpectedly, reinforcements
from Queensland arrived at Katherine (August 7) and, in due course,
were directed to the camp. The new-comers were in a pitiable state,
having traversed the same overland route, conducted by aboriginals.
They had lost thirty-two men on the march. According to their
statements, the deficiency of water in the Interior precluded
absolutely all further help by land until the end of the year. But
they did not mention this to discourage the others. On the contrary,
as soon as they had refreshed themselves by a few days' rest, they
declared themselves quite ready for action. The relief force was
certainly a fine body of men. It numbered 564 members, with 200
reserve horses and a vast quantity of stores. Cosmopolitan elements
had entered into its composition to a much larger extent than in the
case of the first corps. For before the date of its departure (July
16) from Bourketown there had been time to get to North Queensland for
adventurers from all the states who objected to the drudgery of
regular drill and were yet too patriotic to shirk the duty of defence.
In addition there were over a hundred Canadians and Americans from the
Western Slopes.

The views of the old campaigners--the heroes of the first campaign--
were strongly modified by the fresh development. The optimists among
them were inclined to bury the remembrance of the terrible experience
of the recent past under a hope of revenge, now that the losses had
not only been made good but the original fighting strength had been
increased by one-half. Others, more cautious, pleaded that the
Japanese had gained an intimate knowledge of Australian tactics and
would be able, therefore, to meet all efforts with even deadlier
effect than in the opening struggle. These warners reminded their
comrades that the enemy thought nothing of sacrificing the life of his
own warriors. They doubted if even the united white forces would be
sufficient to expel or to exterminate the invaders. Anything less
would not be worth the risk of so many lives valuable to the
Commonwealth. Was it not better to wash their hands of a hopeless
affair and to save themselves for another battle some day, in the
regular army of Australia, where their experience would be of the
highest importance?

But the reinforcements wanted war. Their leader offered to serve
under McPartoch. They could certainly make out a good case. Having
come all this way, they claimed the right to be given a show. It
seemed unfair to desert them. No description of Japanese methods and
the hardships of a campaign could cool their ardour. They still
believed fondly in the immense superiority of their own race. Their
point was that if the enemy had gained knowledge, so had the
Australians, and that the imperfections natural to a first effort need
not be repeated.

These remonstrances were not wasted. Yet more than by anything else
the old campaigners were influenced by a singular circumstance. The
mission returned from Port Darwin to camp on August 14. It brought all
the news of the anti-colour and election riots, from which one fact
could be gathered plainly--that no support could be expected from the
Federal authorities, whose energies were absorbed fully by civic
disruption in the centres of population. But the mission had to tell
of something much stranger. Nothing at all was known in Port Darwin of
the doings of the White Guard. Its sympathizers, indeed, had become
quite anxious about it. Was it loafing? Had it no courage to come to
blows? These were the questions which assailed the members of the
deputation, whose replies were received with incredulity. There could
be no doubt that the Japanese had been absolutely silent on the
subject, that they had lodged neither protests nor appeals. It seemed
that they regarded the White Guard with calm contempt and officially
ignored its existence.

No intelligence ever caused a more profound sensation or more violent
indignation. With feelings akin to consternation the heroes of the
first campaign asked one another what might be the policy of Japan
that it did not seize the opportunity to condemn publicly a raid of
irregulars which could not have cost it less than a thousand lives. It
drove the blood from the heart of the brave men who had fought so hard
and borne so much, to contemplate how their exertions were stifled in
studied silence. Were they of so little importance? So they had not
made themselves dreaded enough? Had all the sacrifices, the deeds of
mates now dead and rotting in the interminable bush no worse effect on
the enemy than so many flea--bites, scratched casually and dismissed
from memory? Ah, they had not done yet! The brown horror would yet
squeal at the top of its voice for protection against the intrepid
sons of Australia! The lofty disdain displayed by the Japanese so
incensed the old campaigners that the resentment practically decided
the issue. A vote taken exclusively among them, which every man bound
himself beforehand to stand by, resulted in favour of a second
campaign by a twelve to one majority.

Although the leader of the reinforcements--a Canadian named Grimpan--
had announced his willingness to serve under McPartoch, he objected to
being reduced to mere lieutenant, while others previously under his
command were elevated to the same level. A regrettable element of
jealousy, foreign to the old campaigners, was thus introduced. The
matter was compromised by forming two companies of 150 men each, with
five sub-lieutenants, and by appointing the Canadian to the command of
one of these. It was also arranged that the supreme leadership should
revert to him in the event of McPartoch being killed or disabled. All
the old campaigners regarded the second concession as an affront, for
they looked upon Thomas Burt as the rightful heir--presumptive to the
honour, as his stewardship during the last stage of his retreat had
won their entire confidence. For the moment the settlement was
accepted, but the slight rankled nevertheless.

The command of the other increased company was entrusted to Thomas
Burt, who again received that most responsible office, the
commissariat. He would have preferred a place in the fighting line,
but he bowed to the pleading of McPartoch, who knew only too well that
the very existence of the White Guard depended on the safety of the
stores and particularly the horses, and that it was to be feared just
for this reason that the Japanese would try to gain possession of or
to destroy them. In the commissariat was also vested the supervision
of the aboriginals. The old band seemed to have sustained some loss,
after all, in the final stage; about a fourth of their number was
missing. Now the blacks brought by the reinforcements were added. The
total, then, amounted to about eighty. On the whole, the second
instalment was not up to the former level. It had not been treated
with so much consideration by its masters, and sulked rather. A close
watch was very necessary.

Among the old campaigners there were several of the lighter wounded
who had not quite recovered. Some of them were, for the purpose of
war, no better than cripples. Yet they craved permission to share in
the new venture. But McPartoch would have none of them. He even
refused to move while they were present. So these brave fellows,
twenty-three altogether, had to return to Katherine, thence to Port
Darwin and civilization. To one of them Thomas Burt entrusted his
diary--all that is left of it. And this foresight has preserved to
white humanity the only strictly contemporary record of the first
campaign of the White Guard--one of the most unselfish and tragic
sacrifices of all times.



Chapter V: The Second Campaign



OF the second campaign, no well-ordered written record of an eye--
witness exists, nothing indeed, at all comparable to Thomas Burt's
diary. That able patriot perished in the unknown. Some survivors have
given their versions of different phases of the disastrous enterprise,
though not always quite as lucidly as could be wished, and their
reports have been pieced together as well as possible in this account,
which therefore cannot be regarded as absolutely correct in every
detail. Even the dates cannot be ascertained exactly. It is known,
however, that the White Guard left the base in Snowdrop Creek on
August 17, 1912.

The volunteers then numbered about 900 men, with 250 reserve horses,
and were accompanied by 80 aboriginals. Two companies, led by the
Canadian Grimpan and by Thomas Burt, consisted of 150 men each. It
seems that in every other particular the organization evolved and well
tried during the first campaign was adhered to. The force reoccupied
the camp at the head of Liverpool River for one night. There some
surplus stores were hidden away. Two days later, in the early
afternoon, it arrived once more in the neighbourhood of the southern-
most Japanese village. A few settlers, working in the cultivation
paddocks, were cut off and killed. But though the enemy appeared to be
surprised, he gave no chance. The vanguard, rushing forward in the
hope of carrying the village before the inhabitants should have time
to think of the defence, found itself exposed to a severe fire and had
to retreat. No further attempt was made; the main corps passed by at a
safe distance, as if it was not thought worth while to risk lives in
an attack upon a fortified outpost.

If McPartoch had wished to convey this impression, of which there
can be no doubt, his ruse proved successful for once. The Japanese
seem to have allowed themselves to be inveigled into a false sense of
security. They did not keep in touch with the White Guard, which, in
reality, came to a stop only eight miles further on in a dense bush,
awaiting the night. For it had been decided to assault the hostile
position after dark. The idea was to employ fire as well as the sword
against the invaders; it is, indeed, already mentioned in Thomas
Burt's diary. Then it came to nothing. But now more careful
preparations had been made. A supply of kerosene and torches had been
drawn from Port Darwin, and thus the execution of incendiary plans had
become feasible.

The moon, past the first quarter, facilitated the task. About 11
p.m. the village was surrounded by strong detachments. Apart from
these, a storming party had been formed, consisting of fifty picked
volunteers. At midnight, when the moon was sinking in the west, the
charge was delivered. The Japanese sentries were on their guard. But
making their accustomed rounds, they had all been marked and were shot
down. Before the inhabitants, startled by the noise, had time to fly
to arms, the stormers jumped the low rampart, carrying light bags
filled with dry twigs and grass and saturated with kerosene, which
they piled against the walls of the nearest houses. In a moment the
highly inflammable stuff blazed up. Among the settlers indescrible
confusion reigned. Some dashed forward recklessly to fling the burning
bundles aside, but they fell instantly under the massed volleys of a
hundred crack shots. Within a few minutes, the sun-dried timber of the
huts on the east side of the village was well alight and the inmates
had to run for their lives, pursued by the bullets of the triumphant
Australians. Their task was finished. They had now merely to look on
while the fresh eastern breeze spread the flames to adjoining
buildings and over the wooden defence works. Above the roar of the
conflagration rose the frenzied cries of the victims, blinded by the
glare and suffocated by the smoke, doomed to death within and without
their perishing homes. As the assured success of their scheme of
vengence calmed the wild excitement of the volunteers, they began to
wonder why the Japanese did not try to escape. Suddenly somebody made
a remark about the shouting. Next moment all the men about him found
themselves listening attentively, all struck by one idea. They could
now distinguish plainly above the throaty voices of men quite
different treble shrieks of agony, as of women. The surviving
inhabitants were by this time huddled together at the western
extremity of the village. The flames, bursting through the clouds of
smoke, threw a flickering light over the several groups working away
desperately to clear a free zone which the fire should be unable to
overleap. In their feverish haste, they exposed themselves recklessly
within easy range of the Australian rifles. But an awful hush had
fallen upon the volunteers. Hardly a shot was discharged now on their
part. For in the uncertain illumination they had discerned, beside the
well-known, squat shapes of their foemen, other more slender forms,
some crouching in wild fear, others dashing about planlessly, rending
the air with high-pitched yells. They were women. But how did they get
there? The question passed from mouth to mouth, sending a thrill of
horror through the ranks of the White Guard. Never before had the old
campaigners set eyes upon them, or known of their presence in the
hostile camps. They began to understand why the Japanese had not made
a bold bid for escape at the outset. It was because their womenfolk
were too panic-stricken and they would not leave them behind. Now it
was too late. The flames had leapt the break before it was complete.
Among the doomed inhabitants a command was given in a clear, firm
voice. There was a last appealing cry, cut short by a great volley.
The slender forms dropped to the ground, dead. In a flash, the squat
shapes jumped the rampart and threw themselves upon the aggressors.
For a minute or two the rattle of pistols and revolvers was audible
above the roar of the conflagration. Then the surrounding darkness of
the bush swallowed the surviving Japanese. This finish cost the White
Guard five lives, and as many were wounded.

In the morning, one of the missing Australians was found in the bush,
with only a slight hurt on his right arm, yet dead. A Japanese, twice
shot through the chest, was clutching his throat with both hands; the
cold, stiff fingers nearly met in the flesh, so savage his grasp had
been. No truer expression could have been imagined of the mortal
hatred which inspired the fighters of both races and of the grim
determination of the Asiatics; the members of the new contingent were
deeply moved by the sight.

Inspection of the ruined village, where the charred timber was still
smouldering and a stench of burnt flesh filled the air, left no doubt
that women had fallen victims. So many female bodies, disfigured by
the blaze which had consumed their clothing, were discovered, that
there was only one explanation for their presence; they had been the
wives of the settlers. The enjoyment of victory was spoiled completely
by this untoward incident. All white instincts rebelled against the
slaughter of women. And horrible as it was, the Australians could not
banish the thought that it would happen again, unless they were to
abandon the struggle. For if they wished to retain the offensive and
to prevent the enemy from always choosing his own battle ground, they
would have to strike at other settlements in the same way, regardless
of the possibility that both sexes might dwell within. From a
patriotic point of view the White Guard had even the right to welcome
the terrible complication, because it might divert the attention of
the Japanese and loosen the bonds of discipline. No feelings of
repugnance could absolve the Australians from the plain duty towards
their country to exploit this temporary advantage. It might not last
long. The enemy, who had fought well for the sake of the young colony
and from race pride in the past, was sure to surpass himself in
defence of the most sacred personal possession, as soon as he should
have recovered from his initial surprise. The volunteers yearned for
the clash of arms in the field. Unknowingly they had been made women-
slayers. That stain would have to be washed out in more blood, the
blood of men and foes. And thus the second campaign became from the
outset what the refined savagery of the Japanese would have it as
proved by their employment of dum-dums in attack and females in
defence: a merciless scramble for mastery as between primeval beasts
in the tropical wilderness which fitly surrounded them.

The White Guard rode on unmolested all day. The next village had been
deserted by the enemy and was burnt down. But while the Japanese kept
out of sight, the aboriginals of the force began to create trouble. As
usual, they had remained invisible during the night attack. Now it was
noticeable that they kept much more to themselves than formerly. Their
sulkiness, which since the arrival of the second band accompanying
Grimpan's corps had become more and more pronounced, caused some
anxiety. The blacks of the interior were not considered to be
naturally treacherous, but of course they had their price. And if the
Japanese should see their way to offer better terms, larger presents
of tobacco, silver, arms, and especially liquor, than were in the
gifts of the White Guard, then it was conceivable that the natives
might be seduced from their present loyalty. There was, however, the
reassuring thought that it would not be easy for the enemy to gain the
confidence of the aboriginals. Of themselves, the latter would not
dare to make advances. The only danger was that the Japanese might use
the coastal blacks for the purpose of establishing relations. But it
was known that deadly enmity prevailed between the tribes of the
interior and those of the coast. When they met, the stronger,
according to all precedent, would make a meal off the weaker. Where
such customs ruled, it was difficult to imagine where the chance of
peaceful dealings could come in. With this consideration the
Australians silenced their secret misgivings. For the natives had
proved so useful in many respects that they did not view with
equanimity the prospect of dispensing with their services. It seemed,
however, that the blacks, with the instinct of primitive beings, felt
the distrust with which they were regarded. Perhaps it was in
consequence of this that their morosity increased steadily. Some of
the boldest even ventured to complain that morning that their horses
were no good, and to ask McPartoch that they should have the pick of
the reserve horses. Needless to say, they did not get their will.

At night a council of war was held. The more optimistic new members
looked upon the fact that the enemy had abandoned one village as proof
of his unpreparedness and surprise at the return of the White Guard.
Accordingly, they recommended a rapid attack upon his capital. Though
the old campaigners were less enthusiastic, they were not impervious
to the pleadings of their inexperienced friends. If the Japanese
headquarters should also be encumbered with womenfolk, as was
probable, then the chances might not be so bad. After all, dash and
daring was the life--blood of the hazardous enterprise. It was
resolved to face the risks by attempting a night attack, or a day and
night attack combined, against the capital. The fate of the White
Guard was to be staked upon one throw of the dice. That, according to
common report, was the project, the deliberate aim, the hope of the
Australian leaders. Its boldness shows that the infusion of fresh
blood had brought about a resurrection of high spirits. Or perhaps, as
far as the old campaigners were concerned, the stage of mental
depression, under the stimulating influence of the latest horrors, had
been finally superseded by ferocious exultation.

About noon on the following day the vanguard approached another
village. It was found to be strongly occupied. Moreover, a large
detachment of the enemy had transformed a rocky ridge to the west of
it into a fortification. McPartoch, foreseeing a pitched battle, gave
orders to ignore the Japanese by passing to the east of the
settlement. But the reinforcements, and even many of his old men,
entreated him to attack the position. They proposed to repeat the
strategy of incendiarism after nightfall and to make this possible,
the enemy outside had to be dislodged first. He granted their request
reluctantly and at 2 p.m. an action was begun. Progress was slow and
its successful culmination was spoilt by a furious sally of the
villagers, which rolled back the eastern enveloping lines and allowed
the Japanese field force to slip through the opening into the
settlement. This, too, was evacuated later in the evening and all the
occupants got away. Ruddy flames, soon afterwards, informed them of
the fate of their recent homesteads.

The White Guard pursued in the moonlight without much success. Four
camps were formed at last, and, as usual, a full third of the force
was put on watch service. Nevertheless, just before dawn some Japanese
infantry managed to penetrate into the northernmost sub-camp, which
was occupied by men of the reinforcements. A panic broke out among
these and several were killed or wounded before relief arrived, and
exterminated the aggressors. It was a most unfortunate affair,
especially in its consequences.

For three men had been so badly hurt that they were unable to ride.
Transport by stretcher was out of the question. The Australians could
not storm the capital of the enemy and guard a hospital at the same
time. That was so evident that the men, agreeing that the former
should be attempted, had come to an understanding during the same
council of war that the helpless wounded should kill themselves. As
cases were conceivable where the energy of the doomed might not be
equal to his duty, all the comrades of each squad had bound themselves
that in such an extremity one of them should administer the coup de
grâce. It was terrible, yet necessary. Death was the only manly way
out. For such was the loathing of the coloured aliens that no member
of the White Guard would have accepted mercy from their hands, even if
it had been proffered. Nor would he allow his friends to do so. A
sense of rough justice, perhaps, had also something to do with this
determination; white men were too proud to accept from the enemy what
they would not have granted him in return. And a lingering end in the
wilderness, by starvation or vermin, was too cruel for contemplation.
Two of the badly wounded were firm enough to shape their own destiny.
But the third one faltered on the brink. He was shot through the right
lung, near the heart, and could not possibly live. So a friend, drawn
by lot from his squad, rendered him the merciful service which, in
saner moments, he would not have refused to a comrade in his own
hopeless condition. It was the first time that the stern measure had
to be resorted to, and though the men had adopted the rule voluntarily
and knew what it might mean to every one of them, its translation into
reality had a depressing effect on all.

The advance was resumed. Again it was afternoon before the enemy was
encountered. He was in great strength, at the edge of the jungle
country, and employed new tactics. The country was very broken;
gullies and ridges alternated. His infantry formed long, thin lines as
usual, but they were stationary. The rushes were left to small
detachments of cavalry, which, sweeping forward from a fold in the
ground where they had been hidden, drove back the Australian scouts
upon the main body, and then returned to shelter while the pursuit of
the volunteers was stopped by the terrific fire of the infantry,
which, moreover, drew its file steadily longer, enveloping the flanks
of the White Guard. After a desultory fight of about on hour, the
Australians, retreating somewhat, succeeding in luring the hostile
cavalry further into the open and inflicted severe punishment upon it.
A little later their scouts on the western wing outflanked the
Japanese files and rolled them back. Shortly before sunset the enemy
began to retreat in good order into the protective jungle.

Some Australians had concentrated their fire during the final
struggle upon a diminutive cairn on a ridge, the defence of which had
been well sustained. As they did not notice anybody leaving this
sheltered spot in the general retreat, their curiosity was aroused.
They crept up cautiously and their suspicion that the occupants had
remained in possession was quickly verified by several volleys,
resulting in the death of two comrades. About twenty Japanese issued
from the neighbourhood of the cairn, running hard to escape. Finding
themselves outmatched by the horsemen, a few returned to it and
resisted stoutly every attempt to dislodge them. But the Australians
were the better marksmen, and soon the last defender had fallen. Their
pains were rewarded by a most important discovery. The cairn, which a
short distance off looked like a natural feature of the country, was
artificial and served as rampart of a circular cavity staved and
planked with boards. On the floor were several sleeping places, and
telegraphic apparatus was mounted on a rough table against the wall.
From there a cable was laid along the ground, hidden in the rubble,
for over a mile to a large tree on the slope. The wire ascended its
stem and was thus continued overhead. The whole cunning contrivance
made it most unlikely that the subterranean station should be found
even by an unusually persistent white man who might have followed the
wire and even traced the cable. There being no indication of its
termination so near at hand, he would very probably get tired long
before he reached the cairn. Thus accidentally these volunteers had
stumbled upon the true explanation of the marvellous accuracy of
Japanese information. For such pits, in telegraphic connexion with the
nearest village or directly with headquarters, might--and undoubtedly
did--exist all over the zone of settlement, and from them an incessant
watch could be kept on every movement of the White Guard, which,
though perhaps passing within close range, would not be aware of
prying eyes.

The enemy fell back, undefeated, his cavalry guarding the rear and
keeping in touch with the Australians, who camped on the battlefield,
where, in a gully, a plentiful supply of fresh water had been
discovered. Each company formed a separate camp, the two largest in
the centre, and three on each side. The Japanese being so near,
McPartoch expected a troubled night. Exactly for this reason he had
stopped the march early. While the full moon shone brightly, his
sentries could be trusted to ward off the prowling scouts of the
enemy. In the small hours before the dawn, it might become necessary
to have every man under arms. Rest for men and horses had to be
snatched while it could be had.

McPartoch's fears were more than realized. About 3 a.m. fierce
skirmishing began all along the lines of the furthest outposts.
Through the dim light diffused by the moon, now low on the western
horizon, lithe forms wriggled from cover to cover among the dark
patches of thick scrub, a thousand times more deadly and hateful than
reptiles. Steadily they moved forward against the white men, who had
to gather in groups of two or three and to change places continually
for protection. Not many years ago, comfortable Australians at cosy
breakfast tables had been delightfully thrilled by stirring
descriptions in the morning press of the patriotic daring of the
little brown men, who in white Manchurian winter nights glided
snakelike behind big lumbering Russian sentries and, jumping on their
backs, slit open their throats or strangled them in noiseless death
embrace. Perhaps none of the interested readers had thought for a
moment that one day in the near future Australia's best and most
unselfish sons would be exposed to all the horrors of this applauded
artfulness. Now and then flames leapt out of some thicket, followed by
rattling reports. Then there was the trampling of hoofs or a heavy
fall. Silence afterwards, or as often, the guttural call, in the
plaintive note of the wild swan's cry, of some Australian crouching
behind the carcase of his horse and signalling for help. On the other
side, the shrill whistle of the lucky Japanese marksman was heard,
appealing to his mates to back him up so that his work might be
finished thoroughly. A reckless abandon was over this nocturnal
carnage. Life counted as nothing on both sides. Each fighter was like
a tiger at bay, contemptuous of bullets, intent, with bared claws, on
his chance of a murderous bound. Slowly the white scouts were driven
back. After two hours they had suffered so heavily that the camps had
to be alarmed. McPartoch gave orders not to prolong the skirmishing,
and led his force into the jungle to the north before daylight. And
the enemy was soon outdistanced.

Very early that morning some scouts on the extreme western wing made
a strange discovery. They had a glimpse of a strong Japanese
detachment on the march. But it did not proceed north, as might have
been expected, while the White Guard was threatening the capital so
closely, but actually hurried south as fast as due precaution against
possible surprise permitted. Cavalry covered its advance. Apparently,
McPartoch and his subleaders did not attach much importance to the
reports. Perhaps they thought that it was a belated relief corps. At
any rate, they refused to turn out of their way in pursuit of this
isolated detachment and thus to waste time. Nevertheless the singular
fact was talked about a good deal, as the survivors testify.
Considered retrospectively, it throws a flood of light on subsequent
events which have never been explained fully.

The Commander-in-Chief had really no leisure for abstract
speculations on the meaning of some particular hostile move. He was
kept busy attending to immediate difficulties. During the night
skirmish, several coastal blacks, who had actively engaged in it on
the side of their Japanese masters, had been killed. They, at least,
had not vanished from the danger zone as was the habit of the natives
of the interior, who were nowhere to be seen, as usual. But it seemed
that the latter had been audible. Several Australians stated that they
had heard a call peculiar to the loyal aboriginals, which had not been
included in the signal code of the White Guard, and which, moreover,
the coastal blacks had never been known to employ. This might mean
that the loyal natives had merely warned each other. On the other
hand, it might mean that they had been bought over. At any rate, on
former occasions they had either not hovered round the battlefield or
they had at least remained silent, for nobody had heard their call
before under similar circumstances. The change of habit aroused the
latent suspicions anew. Had they turned spies? No doubt the Japanese
could offer better inducements. The only question was whether they had
succeeded in establishing relations. But perhaps the blacks had met
half-way. Even a black might see, as somebody remarked bitterly, that
the White Guard was playing a losing game.

During the first hours of the march, and afterwards while the
Australian had a hasty, belated breakfast near a small pond on the
foot of a hill--for they had now entered the jungle country where
water was met with throughout the year--a good many natives rejoined
the force. They kept apart, however, showing pretty clearly that their
temper had not improved much. Some were smoking. This was certainly
uncommon, as the last dole of tobacco had been handed out to them more
than twenty-four hours ago. Natives do not hoard their possessions in
this way as a rule. One of the whites, struck by an idea, went up and
managed to get a piece of tobacco from them. On comparison it was
found to be different from any brand in the Australian stores. The
blacks were examined, but they sheltered behind the sulkiness affected
by them ever since the opening of the second campaign, and no
explanation was coming forth. This untimely obstinacy settled their
fate. Such subsidiaries could be tolerated no longer. They might make
away at any moment with the horses they were riding, or they might
even steal more horses. A few volunteers, remembering their good
services in the past, advocated simple dismissal. But it was too risky
to let these cunning aboriginals go forth as open foes; they knew too
much of the organization and resources of the White Guard. Some
sterner Australians, who had been through the war in South Africa,
remembered how the Boers used to deal with Kaffir boys who had become
dangerous or superfluous. Necessity demanded a similar course. The
unfortunate blacks, whose horses had been watched closely during the
discussion, were suddenly surrounded and shot down. And like
punishment was meted out to every absconder who returned later.

After this act of red-handed justice, a roll-call was held, which
revealed that the losses in battle had reduced the White Guard to 753
men. Though the percentage was enormous, it compared very favourably
with the death-rate during the first campaign and the old hands were
accordingly elated. Before the count-out had been finished, there came
from the north, very faintly, yet very unmistakably, the sound of a
steamer's siren. The effect was electric. The sea had wafted greetings
to them on the breeze. It was near, the goal was at hand. All minds
turned to the great task immediately before them. Every one agreed
that the signal must have proceeded from a vessel in the inlet,
probably a Japanese steamer, and that they were at most a dozen miles
inland. If the Australians wished so, the decision must fall that
night. And many powerful reasons urged them to strike the supreme blow
at once. Behind them, large, unbeaten forces of the enemy were massed.
But these had been outdistanced and were therefore useless for the
defence of the capital. The slightest hesitation would give them a
chance to come up, and then the outlook for the White Guard, caught
between two fires, would be black indeed. It was true that failure of
the attack would probably mean extinction, for in that case the White
Guard, defeated and demoralized, would be driven right back upon the
army in its rear. That terrible alternative, however, could not be
evaded by Fabian tactics. The only way to escape from it was by a
rapid diversion either to the east or west, in both of which
directions the enemy did not seem to be in great strength yet. Instant
advance or instant diversion--that was the real question before the
volunteers. And there were not wanting voices who recommended the
latter. A calm survey of the position could, indeed, only lead to one
conclusion: that the odds against the success of a direct assault upon
the Japanese headquarters were too tremendous to be faced. But the
overwhelming majority regarded the suggestion to turn aside within
sight of the goal as nothing less than disloyalty against the fallen
comrades whose self-sacrifice had enabled the survivors to penetrate
thus far. The worst that could befall them was to die as those heroes
had died. To the everlasting glory of Australia, its White Guard
scorned the counsels of cowardice at this frightful crisis and decided
that the only alternative before it was Victory or Death.

The volunteers made every preparation during this halt. Two companies
were appointed storming parties and two more for each of these were
told off as special support, while the remaining two largest
companies, under Grimpan and Thomas Burt, were to form the reserve
under the direct command of McPartoch. Every stormer received two bags
filled with dry twigs and grass, two tins of kerosene about half full,
and a dozen torches. The surplus horses and stores were divided
equally among the six companies, barring the storm parties. It was
past midday when the march was resumed.

Of the great assault no detailed description can be rendered with any
claim to accuracy. None of the survivors have been able to give more
than a medley of personal recollections confined within narrow limits,
owing to the fact that the main action was fought in the night and
extended over a wide stretch of country. The White Guard followed a
rough road leading straight north. Its advance was slow, with a very
broad front, for scouts were pushed out for miles east and west on
either wing. About 3 p.m. Japanese infantry contested further
progress, but the Australians burst through its lines in a splendid
dash. At sunset they reached the border of the jungle, within two
miles of the capital, the buildings of which, dominated by the fort,
could be discerned plainly across the cultivation paddocks. They
remained under cover until it had grown quite dark. Then the scouts
pushed forward: they were met by outposts of the enemy and the battle
waxed fierce at once. The Japanese had drawn several lines of barbed
wire across the paddocks, about a foot from the ground. These had to
be cut, in spite of swarming multitudes of the brown men, before a
general attack was possible. A company dismounted and went to the
assistance of the scouts. Fighting with the courage of despair, they
gained their end under terrible hardships and losses. By 9 p.m. the
remnants were right in front of the rampart of the south-eastern
quarter; a passage had been cleared for the storming parties. Just as
the moon rose these advanced at a terrific pace. But a determined
sally from the south-eastern quarter drove them back. For an hour the
wildest struggle raged round that locality. For the Australians wanted
to set fire to the settlement at the eastern end, whence the breeze
would spread the flames. Again and again they tried, and always
without success. The defenders of the western quarters left their
fortifications in large numbers and pressed upon the flank of the
White Guard. At last three companies had to turn against them to stop
the enveloping movement. The western Japanese lines were broken and
hurled back. Close behind them, and mixing with their rear, poured the
aggressive volunteers, and among them a number of stormers. These,
seizing the opportunity, penetrated into the eastern corner of the
south-western settlement, piled their bags against the nearest
buildings, and applied matches. Before the enemy was well aware of it
the conflagration had made good headway. Every attempt to extinguish
it failed. As the flames towered up, cheer after cheer rose from the
decimated ranks of the White Guard. With renewed ardour the men
returned to the attack upon the south-eastern quarter. But the enemy,
recognizing the impossibility of saving the burning section, hastily
withdrew the troops from there and used them for the defence of the
other threatened position. At the same time the infantry, which had
been scattered in the afternoon, opened fire upon the Australian
reserve from the jungle. Front, flanks and rear of the White Guard
were assailed simultaneously by overwhelming Japanese forces. It did
no longer fight for victory, but for life. About midnight McPartoch
gave the signal for retreat. By the light of the moon and the
reflections of the conflagration, now at its height, the survivors cut
their way through the opposing hordes. The supreme effort had been
defeated.

The enemy did not pursue closely. Mutual exhaustion had the effect of
a short truce. A few miles away in the jungle the Australians gathered
once more. They snatched a short rest before dawn, and continued their
retreat at sunrise. Their position was truly hopeless. They did not
number over four hundred. All the leaders, with the exception of
McPartoch, Thomas Burt and Grimpan, were missing. As the death of half
the sub--lieutenants and sergeants had broken up the organization
completely, and as there was no time to restore order, these three
divided the command--Thomas Burt led the van, McPartoch the centre,
Grimpan the rear. For about two hours the White Guard rode on swiftly.
Only the most necessary scouting was done. Everybody knew that the
Japanese forces, which had been outdistanced during the three previous
days, would be encountered again. The one chance of the volunteers lay
in their speed, which might yet carry them through the hostile lines,
before the enemy to the south had been fully informed of the events of
the night and had perfected his plans for the annihilation of the
fugitives.

About 10 a.m. the first shots were exchanged. The Australian vanguard
immediately headed off to the west, as had been arranged between the
leaders. But it was subjected to a furious fire and fought to a
standstill. Meanwhile, the centre, under the intrepid McPartoch, threw
itself right forward and was soon at close quarters with Japanese
infantry, the foremost lines of which it scattered. Already McPartoch
had given the signal for the other divisions to follow him through the
opening, when he noticed that some of the scouts broke down with their
horses, while others parried theirs and turned back. The animals had
become entangled in coils of twisted barbed wire, which had been
hidden in the long dry grass. A little further on several lines of
wire were stretched from tree to tree one above the other, thus
forming an insurmountable obstacle, behind which the enemy lay in
wait. And away to the north signals could be heard more and more
plainly, leaving no doubt that the garrison of the capital had started
in hot pursuit.

A New South Wales man, named Terry, who had been wounded in the night
and was half dead from loss of blood, here sacrificed himself to save
his comrades. Urging his horse forward at a terrible pace, he burst
right through the iron fence. Man and horse tumbled to the ground on
the far side, cut to the bones by the wires. But the end had been
gained. The centre of the White Guard poured through the gap, riding
down the astonished enemy. Immediately after it followed Thomas Burt's
company. Unfortunately the rear, under Grimpan, had moved far to the
east, where it was engaged in a fierce fight so deeply that it did not
respond to the calls. Rather than leave it to its fate, some brave
fellows volunteered to ride back. Meanwhile the main body hovered
round the opening to prevent the enemy from repairing the breach.

An anxious quarter of an hour flew by, giving the Japanese time to
recover from their surprise and to hurry reinforcements to the
critical point. Before these were in position, however, Grimpan's
company had come up. With cheers the march was resumed, among a thick
hail of bullets. Suddenly McPartoch was seen to fall. A few comrades
rode to his side to carry him off. He stumbled to his feet, only to
collapse again in violent pain. A dumdum had struck him in the hip.
His parting words were a command to his men to look after themselves
and to follow Thomas Burt as the leader whose experience and
circumspection might still save them. Then he drew his revolver and
killed himself, true to the last to the rules of the White Guard.



Chapter VI: The Death Ride



THE death of the beloved Commander-in-Chief electrified his troops.
Far from discouraging them, it filled them with a supreme desire for
vengeance. They fought like demons and inflicted tremendous losses
upon the ever-increasing swarms of the Asiatics. Still, all this
bravery was thrown away. Conquest was out of the question. Cavalry
from the capital now entered into the contest. During a temporary
lull, Thomas Burt, assisted by thoughtful friends, succeeded in
reorganizing the retreat. But the enemy granted no respite yet.
Japanese detachments held favourable positions for many miles along
the western flanks, and action after action had to be fought, with the
result that the White Guard was pressed more and more to the east.
Late in the afternoon the pursuers were left behind. The night was
spent with hardly a pretence of a watch service. But the camp was not
harassed. The exhaustion seemed to be mutual.

At dawn the Australians, somewhat refreshed by the unbroken rest,
continued the flight. Of the gallant nine hundred, only about two
hundred and sixty survived now. All the proud hopes of two days ago
had vanished. Instead, quarrel arose within the ranks. Grimpan, the
leader of the reinforcements, claimed succession to the chief command,
in accordance with the original arrangements. Every one of the old
campaigners, and not a few of his own people, objected fiercely. It
was he who had commanded the rear, the delay of which had led up to
McPartoch's death. Probably he was not to blame, and there certainly
seem to have been no allegations that he did not equal the bravest in
courage. Yet the fact told against him. Besides, Thomas Burt enjoyed
greater confidence; he was McPartoch's choice, and it had been
entirely due to his efforts that order had been restored on the
previous day. Thus he was already the supreme leader by reason of his
merits. Still, Thomas Burt stood down for the sake of peace. But less
than two hours later Grimpan was missing. Some personal partisans,
fellow-Canadians, raised accusations of foul play.

Shortly afterwards the Japanese attacked again, near the place where
the White Guard, but five days ago, had burnt down a village after
driving back victoriously a detachment of the enemy. It seemed that
the latter had waited patiently thereabouts for the return of the
Australians. Thomas Burt now took command as a matter of course. All
his skill and devotion, however, could not make up for numerical
weakness. After a disastrous fight, the volunteers were thrown still
further east, hotly pursued by a small body of cavalry. As on the
previous day the Japanese had again attacked from the west and their
horsemen did not so much pounce straight upon the White Guard as ride
parallel to it on its western flank. There is a grim significance in
this fact. It is just conceivable that Thomas Burt, who had explored
the country before the invasion, might have resolved to retreat
directly upon the Pine Creek. The successive attacks from the west may
have given him the impression that large hostile settlements were
situated in the intervening district, the present condition of which
was totally unknown to the Australians who had entered upon both
campaigns from Liverpool River and were therefore only acquainted with
the eastern part of the zone of settlement. It is, indeed, probable
that this cunning Japanese strategy induced Thomas Burt to avoid
unknown risks by regaining his old base in Snowdrop Creek viâ the head
of Liverpool River, every inch of which route the bushmen were
familiar with. And thus, it appears, he played right into the hands of
the enemy.

During the last struggle some Australian scouts on the extreme
western wing had been cut off from all connexion with the main force.
They, too, were hotly pursued by Japanese cavalry and at nightfall
they had given up all hope to regain the others. There were eighteen
of them, and one of the number was a volunteer from Port Darwin. This
man suggested that they should try to reach the railway. Under the
circumstances his advice was accepted. The little band had a final
skirmish with the enemy next day and lost five comrades. The thirteen
survivors arrived at Pine Creek a week later, utterly exhausted.

With the exception of the thirteen, who were separated from the
remainder, not one member of the White Guard has ever returned to the
haunts of civilized men so far as is known. Its fate is one of the
unexplained mysteries of history. There is only one document in
existence which, if genuine, may throw some light on the matter. It
was found, in 1917, about a day's ride south from the site of the base
at the head of Liverpool River in a hollow log, faintly marked, which
had evidently been overlooked by the Japanese. The discovery was made
by a party of English tourists, among whom, however, one of the
wounded men of the first campaign had managed to get himself included.
Being, therefore, familiar with that strange wilderness, he was the
actual finder. The document was enclosed in a gun-metal watch-case. It
was merely a crumpled slip of paper bearing the following pencil
inscription--

"Again attacked this morning. Enemy occupied our base beforehand. Are
still 116 strong. No surplus horses. No stores. Am slightly wounded.--
T. B."

The writing differs so much from that of the diary that some experts
doubt if it was done by the same hand. But it must be remembered that
the writer, according to his own statement, was wounded and probably
in the last stage of despair and exhaustion.

Curiously enough, about the same time a Japanese, who had fled his
country for some offence and was engaged in the household of a British
merchant in Hong Kong, indulged in some indiscretions. When his
stories began to attract attention he disappeared unaccountably, for
which reason it has been impossible to verify the reports. This fellow
seems to have boasted that he helped to conquer the Northern
Territory. His version was that immediately after the burning of the
first village a Japanese force, consisting of infantry and cavalry,
set out to seize the Australian base (he meant the camp at the head of
Liverpool River, no doubt). When the remnant of the White Guard
returned, a series of severe struggles followed, in the first of which
it had been completely surprised and had lost its baggage. The wounded
men were "put to sleep" by the surgeons. All the dead, white or brown,
were cremated. The end came one morning before dawn, when in the
moonlight the last survivors were surrounded and destroyed. But the
Japanese did not lose so many fighters as had been feared.

The statements of the talkative Japanese domestic are quite
compatible with the shred of information on the tiny slip of paper.
And his disappearance certainly does not disarm the suspicion that he
spoke the truth. The few lines--or rather death cries--which have been
recovered do not probably represent Thomas Burt's whole account of the
second campaign; he must have continued his diary, for the survivors
all agree that he wrote a good deal. This priceless manuscript may
have perished in the flames together with the corpse of its author, or
it may be hidden away in some secret archives in Tokio.

Though it may seem incredible, the fact is that the Japanese have
never admitted, either officially or unofficially, any knowledge of
the existence of the White Guard. Tokio simply sheltered behind the
plea that there was no official connexion with the late subjects of
the Mikado, who were considered, to all intents and purposes, as
British citizens in an Imperial colony. The settlers themselves have
remained marvellously silent with regard to this matter. It is easy to
see why they should do so. If ever the people of the United Kingdom
should wake to a clear understanding of the terrible treatment meted
out to its kinsmen, before the affair has passed into ancient history,
all the little peevishnesses and jealousies would vanish before the
thunderclap of a national explosion, the consequences of which would
be incalculable. That a bloody secret should be known to thousands of
Orientals without ever being divulged to Europeans by one of them was
by no means a unique occurrence. And in this case the Japanese had the
advantage that, as a result of their refined diplomacy, the Australian
nation was confronted with issues of such vastness that, for the
moment, the guerilla war in the far north of the Commonwealth seemed
to be of very little importance compared to them. The vanishment of
twelve hundred men, who had never been prominently before the public
eye, attracted hardly any attention. And the handful of survivors lay
low in the Palmerston district, afraid of arrest by the Imperial
authorities. Moreover, for several months afterwards, the fate of the
main body of the White Guard remained uncertain. It might have been
mad enough to attempt the overland retreat to Queensland. There is the
possibility--and if ever the Japanese should be hard pressed for an
explanation, they will probably fall back upon it--that this attempt
was made. Possibly the bones of the volunteers are strewn about some
dried-out waterhole, or buried in the sand-drifts of the interior.

But Australians do not believe it. And with due regard to Thomas
Burt's last message, as well as to the Hong-Kong indiscretion, the
main features of the final struggle, as it must have been, may be
reconstructed without any special effort of the imagination. While the
White Guard was still dreaming of conquest after the burning of the
southernmost village and the annihilation of its inhabitants; while
its members, thinking that they had struck terror into the hearts of
the enemy, were pushing forward to deal a decisive blow at his nerve-
centre of power; all the time a Japanese army marched southwards,
patient, day after day, sure of ultimate revenge, leaving detachments
in commanding positions, probably near the principal waterholes, and
never resting until it had occupied the Australian base. The bulk of
this force consisted, no doubt, of the garrison of the southern belt
of outlying villages, some of which the volunteers had found deserted.
If so, the distance which had to be traversed by it cannot have been
over eighty miles and it must have had plenty of time to enter into
possession and to prepare its future course of action before the White
Guard returned. There is something fascinating about the tenacity,
thoroughness and subtle leadership of the Japanese which compels
admiration and places their conduct of this obscure bush campaign on a
level with their world-famous exploits on the Manchurian plains. That
must be admitted, though white men may regret the fact. It mattered
nothing to the invaders that an Australian élite corps was threatening
their capital. Not content to ward off the danger, they organized,
simultaneously, a deadly counter-attack.

Their calculations proved correct. Crushed between overwhelming
numbers, the White Guard fled for life. For two days Japanese
detachments harassed its western flanks, driving it eastwards so that
it might not escape from the prepared trap. Then, when it had passed
out of the zone of hostile settlement to supposed security and was
approaching the base, the enemy suddenly swept down upon it, causing a
wild stampede in which the reserve horses and stores were left behind.

The last night. Utter exhaustion in the Australian camp. The leader
wounded. The moon, proud and early on that triumphant night of fire
and sword which marked the outset of the second campaign, rises late,
waning. Her misty beams light the way for Asia's hordes, valuing life
only as a means of destruction, who creep up steadily, steathily on
all sides. A final roar of battle. At daybreak the Turanians look upon
their completed work. Surgeons deftly move among the fallen
volunteers, dispensing the crowning mercy where the suffering is not
yet ended. Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth. They are excellent men,
though not Christians. The first rays of the morning sun glitter upon
the metal and glass of cool little syringes, as, one by one, the
wounded men are "put to sleep." Meanwhile the Japanese troops have
been busy heaping together dry wood. The corpses are flung on top, and
soon the flames envelop them. It was an appropriate termination--the
blazing funeral pyre; just the manner in which the old Norsemen, whose
blood had rolled in the veins of many of the dead patriots, used to
honour fallen heroes. That probably Turanian carcasses were consumed
in the same fire did not lessen the grandeur of the end; these were
merely additional fuel.

So it may have been. Some day the Japanese may tell a later
generation their version of the racial struggle. Then the details will
have to be modified most likely. But one thing is certain. The short
and hitherto uneventful history of the youngest Continent has been
ennobled by one sublime episode which ranks equal to the proudest
traditions of Old World nations--the Death Ride of the White Guard.




Part III: Birth-Pangs of Twentieth Century Nationhood



Chapter I: Storm-Clouds Gathering in the West



ON August 12, 1912, two days after the Federal election riots in
Perth and Freemantle, ss. Katoomba, under charter to the Commonwealth,
steamed into the latter port, and landed the Federal District
Commandant, Colonel Ireton, and two staff officers. His instructions
were most severe. For the ease with which the entire East had been
brought to bow to the supremacy of the central authorities, had led
these to believe that the adoption of similar measures would have
similar results in West Australia. Colonel Ireton was the right man
for the task, but with the wrong orders, into the composition of which
no spirit of forbearance had entered, nor any consideration that the
State might have a mind of its own.

Even before the arrival of the Commandant, the local Government had
received a peremptory wire from Melbourne demanding the punishment of
the ringleaders in the election disturbances. And on the day following
his return, the State legislative discussed the matter. It was a
stormy sitting. Ministerial partisans pointed out that Western
Australia was by no means the only place where acts of political
violence had occurred. The Attorney-General denied that there were any
ringleaders in the case, which he termed a spontaneous mob excess. In
the end a resolution passed regretting the incident, and appealing to
the Federal authorities to let bygones be bygones and to fix a near
date for another polling, when care would be taken that the
irregularities should not be repeated.

Though this attitude was studiously moderate, the temper of the
local governing classes was not, as Colonel Ireton soon discovered. He
found the coast militia totally disorganized. Owing to his prolonged,
though unwilling, absence, Federal influence in the army was dead.
Class I had been duly recruited in accordance with the proclamation,
but it had fallen under the control of the State Government, which had
appointed officers from the leading families on the coast, who were
known for their separatist leanings. The Commandant's first act,
therefore, was to call upon the Premier to cease all interference and
to assist him to re-establish Commonwealth authority. In reply the
Cabinet insisted, before everything else, on a guarantee that the
constitution would be respected in all particulars. Colonel Ireton
declared that such an undertaking was outside his department.

Immediately the cry of Federal insolence was raised. Another debate
took place in the Assembly, the Premier calling attention to the fact
that the arbitrary resolution of the late Federal Parliament had
removed legal means of safeguarding the constitutional rights of the
State. Other speakers complained that nothing had been done to
strengthen local fortifications, although money had been poured out
for such purposes in the East; that would show the danger of trusting
entirely to the Commonwealth rulers for the defence of the State. The
outcome was another resolution affirming the need that Western
Australians should remain masters in their own house, and authorizing
the Premier to retain control of the army unless constitutional
guarantees were given.

Colonel Ireton received due information of this decision together
with the intimation that the local forces would be organized on
Federal lines, to which end his advice would be welcome. Moreover, he
was assured that the troops would always act in harmony with the
Federal army, provided that there would be no demands the fulfilment
of which would leave the State defenceless. This was a plain hint that
the local levies would not serve outside West Australia. The Colonel
refused to recognize restrictions. He boldly proceeded to Perth
barracks and appealed to the patriotism of the rank and file. His
antagonists evidently did not care to employ personal violence against
him. But they hit upon a means much more effectual and insulting. The
soldiers were ordered out of his presence by their own officers and
marched off rifle on shoulder, leaving him in possession of the empty
building.

The Commandant, in a towering rage, wired a detailed account of the
affront to Melbourne. It made a profound impression there, and from
that moment, probably, may be dated the triumph of Extremist policy
against the obstinate State.

He was instructed by telegraph to allow nothing to stand in his way,
and to seize control of the militia at all hazards. It was simply to
be insistent from a safe distance. The Colonel could not help noticing
how fierce passions were being worked up. Harsh measures, he knew,
would precipitate a crisis. He was not merely a military man, but a
patriot. And it caused him intense pain to think that his actions
might end in bloodshed. For two days he tried to come to a friendly
understanding by a judicious use of private persuasion. But he was
quite unsuccessful. Even Labour men and advanced Radicals, who had the
reputation of being staunch Federalists, held aloof. For the issue was
no longer theoretic. By the resolution of the late Parliament, and by
subsequent developments in the East, the Commonwealth rulers had shown
disrespect of constitutional obligations. Whatever their private
opinions were as to the necessity, or otherwise, of this policy,
Western Australians, within the circle of influence of the local
authorities, now drew together in defence of their State. History
repeats itself. It was the same thing in America fifty years ago.
There, in the southern parts, many citizens lived, whose hearts were
with the north for the abolition of negro slavery. Yet, when the call
to arms sounded, they enlisted loyally under Confederate colours, in
the cause of their home states against overbearing Washington. Matters
were not advanced so far in Western Australia, but the current ran
already in that direction.

Colonel Ireton recognized that his mission on the coast had failed.
He could do nothing there. The naval detachment on board ss. Katoomba
was not under his direct orders, and in any case too weak to be of any
use. For a moment he thought of throwing up his commission. But that
would merely have meant his professional ruin. Australia had no need
of men in high positions who lost heart in a crisis. Moreover, his
retirement would not improve the outlook. On the contrary, it would
probably increase the madness of the State-Righters, There was still
one chance for the Commandant--the miners of the interior were true
Federalists. If he could get away to the goldfields, he might win
their allegiance and, by training them to war, overawe the coast.

To gain time, and to throw his enemies off the scent--for they
closely watched him--he fell ill. Nothing could have pleased the local
authorities better, since it allowed them to postpone harsh measures
while they quietly strengthened their hold on the masses. Colonel
Ireton sent for the commander of ss. Katoomba, a naval lieutenant born
in South Australia, whom he trusted and with whose assistance the
escape was arranged. It was certain that, as soon as it became known
in Perth that the Colonel was in the interior, his telegraphic
connexion with headquarters would be interrupted. For this reason he
wished to take with him the wireless apparatus fitted on the Katoomba
as well as two experts to work it. As for the electricity required
Kalgoorlie would not miss it.

The young lieutenant played his part well. Colonel Ireton got worse
and worse, so bad, in fact, that he could not receive visitors for
several days. Long cyphergrams were exchanged with Melbourne, but,
under the circumstances, no suspicions were aroused. The two experts,
with the wireless apparatus, left by rail, in ordinary garb, without
attracting any attention. And on August 21, after the arrival of the
mail steamer from Europe, a middle-aged gentleman of commercial aspect
booked passage to Kalgoorlie by first train. It was the Colonel! SS.
Katoomba remained in port for the best part of another week. Then she,
too, steamed away. The entire Federal establishment on the West coast,
which was looked upon with so much hatred and annoyance, had vanished
suddenly.



Chapter II: The Mastery of the Goldfields



COLONEL IRETON, alighting in Kalgoorlie, found himself in
surroundings very different from those he had fled. However, he was
quite prepared for this, for twice before he had been in the interior
on journeys of inspection. He was not recognized and, indeed, he did
not choose to proclaim his individuality and his purposes all at once.
Instead, he renewed old acquaintances and made it his business to
gather a circle of influential supporters round himself on the quiet.
In this respect, he met with much success, and within twenty-four
hours he felt strong enough to throw off his disguise.

The population of the Eastern Goldfields--as of all others--
consisted mainly of adventurers who had drifted there from all parts
of the world. Victorians, whom the decline of their own mines had
driven further afield, and men of the other states of Eastern
Australia, preponderated. There were many Europeans and Americans, but
hardly any natives of Western Australia. Such a mixture of
international elements did not understand the narrow parochialism of
the coast. From the very nature of their toil in a hot desert country,
at the bidding of wealthy companies, the shareholders of which resided
mostly in the distant pleasure grounds of the globe, the miners were
imbued with advanced socialistic ideas. Their vote had carried the
accession of the State to the Commonwealth and was responsible for its
permanent exclusive representation by Labour men in the Federal
Senate. Moreover, the mining electorates never failed to send advanced
Socialists into the House of Representatives, as well as into the
State Assembly. In short, politically they formed a pronounced
contrast to the coast, where a majority of the people cherished
Moderate ideals and, consequently, resented fiercely the tendencies of
the interior. For as the result of co--operation between the coastal
labour minority and the interior Labour majority, advanced radicalism
dominated the local legislature and continually menaced the coastal
vested interests.

Yet the bonds of union were stronger than the mutual aversion. For
the barren, arid goldfields depended absolutely on regular outside
supplies of the necessaries of life and of all luxuries, which could
only be drawn from the west coast as long as no transcontinental
railway existed. On the other hand, the social and economic
organization of the Coast was based on the needs of the goldfields,
and must collapse if these should be diverted to other quarters.

When the Japanese invasion became known, the goldfields had
faithfully reflected the alarm of the Eastern States and had loyally
indulged in anti-colour riots after the fashion set there, though on a
smaller scale. The energetic steps taken by the Commonwealth to create
a national army roused much sympathy. In all the centres, Class I
formed companies who zealously practised shooting. As the policy of
the central Government became more relentless, so martial enthusiasm
increased. Many a patriot, tired of the monotony of the dusty desert,
looked forward gladly to the chance of a change, particularly if it
should be full of excitement. Message after message was despatched to
Perth demanding instructions and officers, and, above all, modern
arms. Nearly every man possessed an ordinary shot gun, good enough to
serve for drill or even firing practice. But the recruits were eager
to have proper service rifles, so that they might get rid of the idea
that they were playing. The State authorities, however, were not in a
hurry to equip and train the miners. They could not hope to exact
support for the cause of narrow parochialism from this large body of
reckless, self-conscious Federalists. Perth, therefore, aimed at
keeping the population of the gold-fields unorganized while arming,
and thus placing in an advantage the coastal districts.

Colonel Ireton, on reaching Kalgoorlie, discerned at once that the
underhandedness of the State Government had resulted in universal
discontent. Many leaders of the miners were quite circumspect enough,
especially with the aid of the latest advices, to penetrate the real
meaning of the neglect. He set himself, without delay, to benefit by
the resentment. Having assured himself privately of the assistance of
a number of stout partisans, he called a secret meeting of the leaders
of trades-union and friendly societies. Economic and political
organization was very complete, and every association had become a
centre of the malcontents. It was on this occasion that the Colonel
threw off his reserve and carried his audience by a straight-forward,
patriotic appeal. He received a unanimous promise of support. But it
was now necessary to prevent that Perth should be warned early. He
proceeded to the Post Office, and, proving his authority, ordered that
no telegrams dealing with political and military developments, and no
cypher telegrams, should be forwarded to the coast. He had no
difficulty there, as he had to do with Federal officials. This
precaution did not suffice, however. There were the railway telegrams,
of which he had to secure control. Moreover, if he did not wish to see
defeated all his efforts to maintain secrecy, he had to interrupt the
train service, so that the conveyance of passengers or letters might
be impossible. As the railway was under State management, he had to
employ force. At the head of a numerous band of patriots, he overawed
the staff of Kalgoorlie station. His wireless experts seized the
telegraph. Others removed vital parts from engines, and even blocked
and guarded the line. A special train, managed by the most determined
and trusted Federalists, was despatched in the direction of Perth.
These men were under orders to confiscate or destroy every telegraphic
installation as far west as Merenden, to block the line at that place,
to keep a strict watch there, to disable or to shunt back to
Kalgoorlie any engine on the wayside stations. Colonel Ireton had
opened hostilities. To account for the stoppage of the railway
traffic, the authorities in Perth were informed by wire that a great
train disaster had occurred. Apart from misleading them, this move was
calculated to attract as much rolling stock as possible. The Colonel
compelled the station people to make urgent appeals for relief trains,
which he intended to seize, thus diminishing the means of
communication at the disposal of the State.

Such strenuous measures could not remain secret even for hours.
Kalgoorlie was thrown into fits of wild excitement. And the Commandant
deemed it wise to take the citizens into his confidence forthwith. At
night he addressed a huge open-air meeting by torchlight and unfolded
his plans and his reasons with the utmost frankness. He said that he
was instructed by the only lawful authority to organize the militia of
the State, and that he would do so, even if he had to lead the loyal
miners upon Perth. He adjured his audience to stand by him in defence
of White Australia, in defence of the glorious inheritance of their
race. He said that he did not plead for mercy or for favours; he
merely pleaded that they should act like men, not like cowards, and
should declare their allegiance there and then--for the misguided West
Coast or for the Commonwealth. The ground had been well prepared by
his supporters, and hurricanes of cheers signified the decision of the
gathering. Afterwards the town council held a special sitting. At
midnight the Federal Commandant was introduced, and the members placed
themselves at his disposal in a body. He lost no time. Next morning he
attended a conference of the managers of the chief local mines and
promised that the stoppage of traffic would not last for over five
days, on his part. Training hours were fixed in a friendly spirit so
that the unavoidable work of the industry should not be interfered
with. Then he worked out a simple but efficient course of military
exercise and appointed the first batch of officers of the local
militia. He slept in the train which rushed him off to other centres.
His journey was an unbroken triumphant process. Everywhere he received
ovations; everywhere he won the gratitude of the most influential and
capable partisans by rewarding them with officerships. Within a few
days Colonel Ireton was the undisputed master of the great Eastern
Goldfields.

Meanwhile, relief trains rolled down from Perth. The comedy with
regard to the imaginative disaster was, indeed, well maintained.
Detailed lists of the casualties and descriptions of the losses were
wired to the departmental heads. It was alleged that the line had been
torn up and that considerable time must elapse until repairs could be
finished and the traffic resumed. That all seemed so reasonable that
no suspicions were aroused. Goods trains, too, went down the line. For
there had been quite a burst of orders from the interior. Shrewd
traders foreseeing prolonged trouble, thought it worth while to
increase their stocks. Colonel Ireton rather encouraged this business
venture--for reasons of his own. The merchants had fullest use of the
telegraph for the transmission of open commercial messages.

But never an engine, or a car, or an employee returned from the
West. Something seemed to be radically wrong. The responsible managers
became restless. And the Minister for Railways had just decided to
travel to the scene of the accident when the secret of the Colonel's
illness leaked out. An employee, anxious for promotion, evaded the
watch set by the Federals by leaving Southern Cross on a bicycle one
dark night. He stopped a down train, but had much difficulty in
convincing the startled attendants that he was not joking. The train
was rushed back to the coast, where the news created consternation.
Colonel Ireton was nearly forgotten. His retirement was explained
satisfactorily by his illness. Courteous inquiries were as courteously
acknowledged by his orderlies, who guarded his sick-bed and regretted
deeply that personal callers could not be admitted, on account of the
patient's nervous breakdown. Nobody really cared about him as long as
he lay quiet. Disabled, he was preferable even to a more pliant
substitute. And now the truth came out that his illness was a trick,
as well as the railway disaster, and that he was in a position to
menace the State authorities. Perth rang with the news. The two
orderlies, hearing of it, hurried on board the Katoomba, which left
Freemantle at once.

Until then (August 28) the State Government does not seem to have
regarded seriously an armed conflict with the Commonwealth. Probably
the former considered that it could bullock through by sheer
obstinacy, relying not a little on the inaccessibility of its nerve
centres by land, and on the fact that its antagonists possessed no
navy. This assurance was no longer possible. Colonel Ireton's actions
spelt compulsion. At the same time the complications caused by them
went far to make a peaceful understanding unlikely. While only the
Commonwealth had to be reckoned with, such an understanding might not
have been popular, but it was neither very distasteful. It was quite
different now that a Federal officer had succeeded to seduce a
component part of the State to disloyalty. The whole west coast felt
the blow as a mortal insult. Under such pressure, submission would be
dishonour, and was therefore out of the question. As it had been all
over the Continent, so it was in its western corner: when the crisis
developed, Extremists gained the upper hand. Though the Government did
nothing for some days, seemed, indeed, to be paralysed, strong
influences were at work under the surface, shaping rapidly a course
towards open resistance against the Commonwealth. The movement was
directed by the officers of the local militia, who were afraid, with
some reason, that the first Federal measure would be their own
removal, after the insubordination and malice with which they had
treated their lawful chief. Those who had shown their disdain too
openly might expect even worse punishment. The fruit of their alarm
seems to have been a regular conspiracy for the purpose of retaining
power by means of the continuance of State control over the troops.
These officers, forming the best organized body in the community, and
being connected by ties of kinship with the leading families, rapidly
acquired influence enough to overawe the official Government. While
Ministers were still feebly struggling against being reduced to mere
puppets of a military oligarchy, an incident happened which spurred
the malcontents to action and committed the whole State to a policy of
violence.

Immediately on receipt of the first news of the Japanese invasion,
the Federal authorities had ordered war stores in England. After the
mobilization, Parliament had voted large amounts for further
purchases. As haste was deemed an important consideration, these had
not been confined to Great Britain, but ready modern armaments had
also been bought up in Europe and America. Among the latter was a
large parcel of rifles--several thousand--with proper ammunition, and
two light batteries of four guns each, from prominent German
factories. A German steamer, manned entirely by a white crew, brought
them out, and called also at Southamption, in consequence of the
British maritime counter--boycott, where she shipped several thousand
regulation service rifles. Somehow, in the stress of work, the
responsible Federal officials seem to have lost sight of this cargo.
At any rate, the vessel steamed into Swan River for further orders
(September 2). The Freemantle agents informed the local authorities. A
hurried meeting of the Cabinet was held. This was the crisis; for the
seizure of all the high-class war materials would ensure the
superiority of the coastal militia over any forces which Colonel
Ireton might be able to put forward. But it would also be tantamount
to a challenge against the Commonwealth. Some Ministers had not lost
yet all sense of proportion and entreated their colleagues to be calm
and loyal. At this juncture, it was proposed that the commanding
officer should be consulted. That settled the question. The military
demanded practically unanimously that they should be provided with the
best weapons available, to which right they claimed to be entitled as
much as their Eastern comrades. The Government declared its
willingness to accept the consignment on behalf of the Department of
Defence. It was landed quickly without demur, for the agents,
overwhemed with profitable business on account of the maritime
trouble, wanted to get the steamer away as quickly as possible.

When the vessel arrived at Adelaide, the occurrence became known, and
a torrent of abuse was poured upon the Federal authorities for the
carelessness of their officials. The Commonwealth Government breasted
the criticism by assuming at once an uncompromising attitude. Perth
was requested by telegraph to make immediate restitution of Federal
property. But the more closely the State rulers inspected their
acquisition, the less did they feel inclined to part with it.
Moreover, they were already committed too far. Even a belated
submission had ceased to be regarded as a guarantee against reprisals.
Too much bitterness had been engendered; the populace began to grow
accustomed to the idea of resistance in preference to slavish
obedience. Better, the State-Righters argued, a fight in the open, now
that the local troops were splendidly equipped, than exposure to the
silent revenge of the Continental Extremists after the last
constitutional safeguards should have been surrendered.

The Government of Western Australia replied that State money had been
spent in the purchase of war materials and that, therefore, the people
of the West were entitled to a share. Particularly so since a Federal
officer had created dissensions within the community and was doing his
worst to bring about a breach of the peace. Nevertheless, restitution
would be made on condition that Colonel Ireton should be recalled, and
as soon as he had left the state. Melbourne rejected these terms and
repeated its demands, adding, moreover, a request for a formal apology
and punishment of the responsible officials. Perth, in return,
remained obdurate and revived the question of constitutional
guarantees foreshadowing an appeal to the Imperial authorities for
protection in case of coercive measures. This message terminated the
diplomatic intercourse between Commonwealth and State.



Chapter III: Clash of Arms



EVEN when the Government of Western Australia seized the consignment
of Federal armaments, it had not finally decided on open resistance
against the Commonwealth, though this action was distinctly hostile.
Nothing illustrates more plainly the irresolution than the fact that
the telegraphic connexions between Colonel Ireton and Melbourne
quarters were not interrupted until the middle of September. So the
Colonel had received timely warning of the improved equipment of the
coast militia. But he was urged nevertheless to establish Federal
authority throughout the State, by all means and at all hazards. In
this effort, the cyphergram stated, he would be assisted by armed co--
operation on the part of the Commonwealth, if it should become
necessary. The Central authorities, and the Extremists at their back,
dared at least to face the situation squarely. However, as soon as the
wires snapped Colonel Ireton found himself completely isolated. The
Federal department had not finished its wireless installations, and so
his own apparatus was useless. He was thrown back on his own resources
at a most trying time.

The District Commandant had made good progress with the organization
of the miners. He had gained the confidence of his subordinates, and
generally made the men feel that they were now parts of an efficient
machine which could be relied upon to work smoothly. He hoped that a
month's patient drill would render his forces superior to the coastal
militia. It was a bitter disappointment for him to hear that, owing to
a departmental blunder, the enemy had been given the advantage of
better armaments. But he wisely kept his troops in ignorance of this!
His own equipment had been a source of trouble to him from the outset.
Altogether, he could put forward about 5,000 old service rifles, which
had been sent down in the past from the coast which, with usual
selfishness, had retained the newer patterns for its own use. In
addition, there were on the goldfields about 4,000 shot guns of all
makes, which had been requisitioned for public needs. Under any
circumstances it was risky to match an army possessed of such weapons
against a better--armed enemy. But when the latter was now equipped
with the most modern rifles, and with artillery into the bargain, the
venture became well-nigh desperate.

Inactivity, however, presented a danger still worse--the certainty
of being starved out. Since the State rulers had found out the trick
of the alleged train disaster, railway communication with the coast
had ceased entirely. And the goldfields were absolutely dependent on
imports for the necessaries of life. Thanks to the speculative
enterprise of the traders, substantial additions had been made to the
stocks. The traders were not permitted to reap the benefits of their
smartness immediately. As soon as it became evident that the trouble
would be prolonged, Colonel Ireton declared all provisions Government
property and paid for them in receipts for settlement by the Federal
authorities. This precaution staved off a panic. But it did not really
improve the situation, which was, briefly, that, with the utmost care
and economy, the resources of the eastern goldfields might last,
without supplements from outside, into the second half of October. By
the end of that short period of grace, therefore, new sources of
supply would have to be opened either by the decisive victory or by
the unconditional surrender of the army of the interior.

Everything considered, the Colonel did not feel justified to wait
idly until the Commonwealth should have struck a blow. His orders were
peremptory. Hesitation would merely discourage his men. Perhaps the
Coast would submit rather than fight all Australia, which would be
inevitable if it should forcibly resist him. His hopes of peaceable
settlement, however, were rather low. Neither did he overlook the
formidable difficulties in his path if the Coast should make a stand.
But, at any rate, an active campaign would teach his forces the
practice of war and would prepare them for a great effort when time
should be ripe for co-operation with a Federal expedition. These
reasons induced Colonel Ireton to push forward. On September 18 he
moved his vanguard by rail to the vicinity of Spencer's Brook
Junction, which was occupied after a sharp skirmish with a picket of
the enemy the same night. The consequence was that the railway
communication between the State capital and Albany districts was cut
off.

On the following morning, the citizens of Perth and Freemantle were
startled by the alarming headlines of the Press: "Civil War,"
"Commonwealth Breaks Constitution." "Federal Commandant Opens
Hostilities." By noon an official proclamation was published calling
to arms all males from eighteen to under forty-five years of age. In
the Assembly, the Premier declared that they would uphold the rights
of the State, war or peace. The Government was, indeed, confident that
the attack would be repelled. For the call to arms was, after all,
only a formality. Class I stood ready to take the field. And during
the last few weeks rifle corps and volunteers companies for the older
classes had sprung into being by private efforts. It was well known
that the enemy was badly equipped and had no artillery. The only point
on which the State-Righters were anxious was whether the local
Labourites would espouse the State cause or whether they would refuse
to fight their comrades of the interior, in which case resistance
would be practically at an end. But the Labourites sided with their
fellow-citizens. Probably the alarming reports spread broadcast in the
capital about Colonel Ireton's tactics were not without influence on
their final decision. In fact, the invasion had degenerated into a
great victualling raid. Conscious of the menace of famine, the miners
confiscated all the live stock and all the provisions in the
agricultural districts where they found themselves. That was
unavoidable, but it had a very bad effect, especially as there were
some ugly incidents of maltreatment of the enraged owners. There was
no time for calm reasoning. Every man on the coast fancied that not
only the community but his personal property was in danger. And the
subtle contrast between opulent city and predatory province, which
stretches through the ages, was revived in this modern place, under
modern conditions, fanning world-old passions to fever-heat.

The command of the State army was entrusted to a retired British
officer of distinguished career who had settled on a small estate near
Perth, and with an energy and thoroughness peculiar to old military
men, had identified himself with the cause of West Australia to such
an extent that he hated the very name of the Commonwealth. His name
was Morthill, and he was honoured by the title of "General," perhaps
because the Federal leader ranked only as Colonel. General Morthill
enjoyed the entire confidence of his staff, and soon became the
virtual dictator of the State, in whose hands the responsible
ministers were as soft wax. He was, in every respect, a foeman worthy
of Colonel Ireton's steel.

General Morthill's task was by no means simple. There was a large
element of uncertainty about the situation, which had to be faced--the
possibility of a Federal attack from the sea. To meet this danger, he
concentrated his army at Perth. It consisted of nearly 4,000 well-
trained men of Class I, who were all armed with new regulation service
rifles, and of a reserve of 6,000 men, who were now being organized
and for whom an abundance of good modern rifles was available. There
were also the two batteries which had been seized, and four older,
somewhat heavier guns. The General was a little inconvenienced by the
shortage of rolling stock, owing to Colonel Ireton's confiscation of
railway material of the Eastern line. In consequence the traffic of
the other lines had been reduced to narrow limits, and every engine
and truck which could be spared had been brought to the capital, the
terminus of all the railways, whence, accordingly, troops could be
moved out rapidly in every direction. Against Colonel Ireton's forces,
the General, who fully recognized their desperate situation, proposed
to play a waiting game, in the hope that they would be starved quickly
into surrender. Their danger, however, was also their protection
against attack. For the small State army could not be wasted in
warfare in an arid desert, dependent on a single railway line.
Wherefore only a detachment was posted at the fringe of the
agricultural country to prevent raids by the enemy.

But the occupation of Spencer's Brook Junction was eagerly accepted
by General Morthill as a challenge to battle. Both sides spent the
following day hurrying troops forward. On September 20 the first
skirmishes were fought and towards evening a State company succeeded
in ousting the miners from a prominent hill, known as Mount Mary,
which commanded the station. After that Colonel Ireton decided to
retreat. His opponent had at least 5,000 men on the spot, while his
own numbers did not exceed 4,000, because he had to leave behind
strong detachments to guard the railway and the waterworks against
treacherous destruction, there being some State sympathizers on the
field, though they did not dare to proclaim themselves as such. Above
all, the day's struggle had convinced him that he had no chance
against the superior equipment of the enemy, whose fire was effective
over a much longer range. During the night the army of the Interior
entrained for the east and the main body was beyond the reach of
General Morthill at dawn. The Colonel, however, to mask his failure
and to counteract the discouragement likely to follow in its wake, had
resolved to execute a surprise attack upon the most advanced State
position.

For this purpose he retained 400 volunteers. A train stood ready
about a mile beyond the slopes of Mount Mary, its last two carriages
occupied by marksmen. Before sunrise (September 21) the volunteers
crept uphill towards the hostile encampment, and as soon as it was
light enough, a rush was made. But the enemy was on his guard General
Morthill had decided on the previous evening to mass his foes on Mount
Mary and to plant artillery there. Some reinforcements had already
arrived under cover of the darkness. So, after some disorder at the
outset, resulting in heavy losses on the part of the defenders, the
fight came to a standstill. And soon the superior numbers and weapons
of the State troops began to tell and the miners were thrown back.
Before they could regain their train and safety, General Morthill,
hurrying up, launched a counter attack. A party of his sharpshooters
took up a sheltered position on the slopes whence they could range
over the whole ground over which the volunteers had to return. Colonel
Ireton was wounded in the arm. Just as he reached his carriage, two
guns opened fire. There was only one escape left to him, if he did not
wish to fall into the hands of the enemy with all his men. That was to
leave the loiterers to their fate. After a warning whistle and another
short wait, which during the struggle raged round the cars, the
occupants of which fired from the windows and platforms, the train
started, carrying off about 230 passengers. The other 170 stayed
behind dead or wounded and in captivity. Altogether it was a
disastrous affair for the Federals.

Colonel Ireton did not deceive himself regarding the consequences of
the rebuff. His men, it was proved, were equipped too inferiorly to
hold their own against the State troops. The usefulness, even the
salvation, of his organization depended now on Federal action from the
sea, which would divide the forces arrayed against him and would give
him a chance of co-operation. Two days after his return to Kalgoorlie,
there was a development which somewhat revived his hopes. At last he
was able to communicate with Melbourne by wireless telegraphy. The
main station had been constructed at Cape Borda on Kangaroo Island,
which was already in cable connexion with the Continent. Three
steamers, fitted with the necessary apparatus, completed the system.
One was stationed in the centre of the Great Australian Bight near the
point of intersection of 131° East and 35° South, another about five
degrees further west and the same latitude, and the third was anchored
in Port Esperance. This latter intercepted the messages from
Kalgoorlie, only slightly more than 200 miles distant in a straight
line, and transmitted them by way of the floating station to Cape
Borda. None of the intervening spaces exceeding 300 miles, the
installation, after some experiments, served its purpose very well.

Colonel Ireton at once telegraphed a summary of his failure to
headquarters and insisted on the following alternative. Either a
maritime expedition would have to be dispatched within ten days, or he
would have to disband his forces and to surrender arms and his person,
to prevent the horrors of famine in the loyal districts under his
care.

But he was not the only one who received encouragement about this
time. On October 1 a British cruiser steamed into Swan River to the
immense joy of the coastal population, which knew that its leaders had
appealed to London for Imperial protection less than three weeks ago.
The arrival of the warship was interpreted as a prompt response and
hailed as proof of British sympathy for the State. And the local
Government did nothing to disabuse the masses, though it was aware
that the demonstration, in reality, meant nothing of the kind. The
cruiser had been sent to re-assure and to calm the people, not to
excite it. For the lessons of the immediate past had not been quite
lost upon England. Its statesmen did not wish to interfere in the
domestic arrangements of the Commonwealth. Any other course would have
been open to the suspicion that it was an attempt to exploit the
present unhappy situation of Australia, and would probably have led to
a violent revival of indignation in the sister-dominions. Moreover,
educated political thought in Great Britain favoured Federation of the
distant possessions as a means of concentrating and increasing
Imperial power. Assistance to secession in one case, for the sake of
temporary advantage, would have created a fatal precedent which in
future might be fastened upon by malcontents in other colonies. For
this reason alone it was not to be countenanced for a moment. Perhaps
the trouble in itself was not regretted in London. While it lasted,
the Commonwealth certainly could not devote much attention to the
Northern Territory, and things there would be allowed to settle down.
But all that would come about without Great Britain taking sides.
Accordingly, the reply to the anxious State Government was couched in
non-committal terms and merely expressed a firm hope that all parties
would adhere strictly to a constitutional course.

It was a pious wish. Already rumours were current in Perth that a
Federal fleet was on the point of sailing for the west coast. The
Commonwealth Government, while maintaining the greatest secrecy with
regard to the strength of its preparations, had allowed this fact to
leak out, in the hope to alarm its antagonists and to induce them to
concentrate their forces in defence of the capital, relieving the
pressure on Colonel Ireton's army.

The Colonel, now in constant communication with headquarters, did not
fail to scatter broadcast the good news of approach of succour from
the East among his faithful followers. The work of reorganization
proceeded with renewed energy. He established a reliable scouting
service. His horsemen starting from a point on the railway about
thirty miles east of Spencer's Brook Junction, which point he had
fortified as an advanced base, made stubborn incursions into the
enemy's territory. It was arduous work, in which many lives were lost,
for in this guerilla warfare no side gave quarter. The most daring
scouts pushed forward to within sight of Perth and kept the Colonel
informed of every important movement of the hostile army.

Meanwhile General Morthill did not sleep on his laurels. He quite
realized his danger of being caught between two fires. Yet he did not
lose hope. His troops had already shown fine spirit. They fought for
home and hearth, and had this advantage, that they were not in their
own country, where the entire population was backing them up, where
losses could be promptly filled and the wounded would be sure of
loving care. On the other hand, the Federals would be absolutely
dependent on a floating base, and from the moment they set foot on
land they would find themselves on hostile soil, without any refuge in
case of rebuff. The same considerations applied to Colonel Ireton's
army, which, with every mile of its approach towards the coast, would
be removed further from friendly support. General Morthill was
inclined to underrate the importance of the miners. He knew that they
were armed badly, and concluded from the hurried retreat after the
first encounter that they were not possessed of the right enthusiasm
either.

Business was at a standstill in Western Australia. The Government had
no longer any real influence. For some days, there was much talk of
its resignation. But as such a course would not have relieved its
members from the responsibility for events which had already happened
it came to nothing. The military opposed resolutely all backsliding
tactics and insisted that the State should face its fate with dignity.
Probably there was still a hope that allround firmness might lead to
Imperial intervention. The Cabinet again protested by cable in London.
But the Imperial authorities did not choose to depart from their
attitude of correct reserve.

It was evident that the State stood alone. The Government now called
upon General Morthill to see that the community be in a position to
repulse outside violence. He became dictator. At his command Albany
district was abandoned, and its defenders withdrawn to Perth, on the
principle that the available forces, small as they were, should not be
distributed over large distances and exposed to the danger of being
cut off. Nine thousand men were massed within fifteen miles radius
from Perth Post Office, and 3,000 more were camped at Midland
Junction, ready to be thrown against the army of the interior, which
was further opposed by a vanguard of 600 men strongly entrenched at
Spencer's Brook Junction. Albany and Freemantle ports were mined.

These were the preparations of the State when the Federal fleet was
signalled in its waters off Port Esperance (October 4). It stood out
to sea again and proceeded to Albany, where a demonstration was made
(October 5). For several hours the big steamers hovered round the
entrance of King George Sound and several shells were fired into the
quiet town. At nightfall the fleet continued its journey. There was
method in these manoeuvres. The Federal Commander-in-Chief had
established wireless communications with Colonel Ireton and had
exchanged plans of the campaign. The delay in the South had the
purpose of attracting attention to the threatening invasion, and of
facilitating thus the quiet advance of the army of the Interior within
striking distance.

Colonel Ireton acted promptly. He had organized a mounted corps of
2,500 men and had equipped them with the best rifles. But this was his
striking force, which he wished to keep intact for the decisive blow.
The honour of opening the road was reserved to the second line,
consisting of about 4,000 miners, who were to return to the gold-
fields as soon as they had succeeded. About noon on October 5 the
miners attacked the entrenched position of the State vanguard, after
scouts had blown up the railway behind to delay the hurrying up of
reinforcements. They were repulsed several times with severe losses.
Again and again they charged, until after more than two hours they
carried the rebels' camp. The still fierce resistance was stamped out
finally by the free use of handbombs--a miner's contrivance. Only
about 200 survivors escaped. The casualties of the victors outnumbered
the entire strength of the defenders before the battle.

Before nightfall another engagement was fought along the railway line
between the retreating miners and belated State reinforcements. But
Colonel Ireton, with his picked cavalry and others, to the number of
4,000 altogether, did not wait for them. Instead, he turned southwards
and occupied York, on the direct highway to Perth, in the afternoon.
His chances were much improved. He had captured nearly all the modern
rifles with which the State vanguard had been armed and, moreover, he
had gained a start of several hours. In fact, he had outflanked the
enemy.

General Morthill, who had hastened to the scene of trouble on the
first news, was the man to make good a passing mistake. As soon as his
scouts had informed him of Colonel Ireton's movements, he stopped the
fight and arrested the advance of his troops. All night he diverted
further reinforcements to the neighbourhood of the highroad, a
distance of about ten miles over rough tracks in hilly country. His
intention was to seize Mount Observation, fifteen miles from York in
the direction of Perth. But herein he was forestalled by the Colonel,
who had dispatched a vanguard to occupy this commanding point, and who
followed with his whole army at dawn on October 6. All day long, the
miners held Mount Observation successfully in a merciless struggle,
mainly owing to their exclusive employment of handbombs, with which
they repeatedly defeated the frantic rushes of the State troops at the
critical moment. In the afternoon, however, a most discouraging
development occurred in the rear of the Federals. General Morthill had
repaired the railway and had sent several trains filled with troops to
within two miles of York, which township had fallen into his hands.
The retreat of the army of the Interior had been cut off. Its direct
advance by road on the capital had also become impossible, because the
enemy, though not yet victorious, was invincible by reason of his
numbers and his equipment. Next morning, then, it would be surrounded
on all sides. Artillery would come into play against it. And the final
result, under such circumstances, could not be doubtful.

Colonel Ireton had, of course, left his wireless apparatus on the
goldfields. So he was absolutely isolated from the outside world,
without accurate knowledge of the activity of the Federal fleet. But
he was aware that by this time the latter must be ready to land the
army of invasion, and that the descent upon the coast would be
attempted southwards of Freemantle. If he, therefore, wished to be of
service in the decisive battle, he had only one chance of arriving
early enough, or at all. It was quite feasible for him to evade to the
south, before the ring had been closed tightly, and to lead his
mounted corps over rough country and through thick forests upon
Rockingham, in the vicinity of which township the disembarkment would
probably take place. However, if he did so, he would have to sacrifice
the infantry of miners, which, contrary to original plans, had
followed him so far. Its presence would merely have hampered the rapid
passage of the cavalry. With a heavy heart the Colonel divided his
forces. After the losses of the day, still about 3,200 men remained.
Two thousand horsemen he placed under his own command. The others, 900
men, infantry, and 300 men, cavalry, exclusive of the wounded, he
entrusted to the leadership of his oldest captain. About three o'clock
in the morning, Colonel Ireton, with his 2,000 riders, crept down the
eastern flank of Mount Observation and marched south. Soon the deep
head gullies of Helena River separated him from the State army; from
that section of it, he had to fear no more.

At daybreak (on October 7) the Federal fleet appeared off Freemantle
and began to shell the town. But the forts made such stout resistance
that two hours later the fleet headed southwards again, without having
accomplished much. The information was telegraphed to General
Morthill, who was busy preparing a new attack on Mount Observation.
That able leader perceived the vital necessity of crushing the army of
the interior at once, before an invading force should be ready to co-
operate with it. His conviction found expression in a series of
furious assaults on the miners' position. The heroic little party of
defenders had formed numerous subdivisions to mask its weakness and
practised bushman warfare with admirable tenacity. About 9 a.m. the
camp was carried. Shortly afterwards General Morthill, whose presence
was urgently required on the coast, returned to Perth, leaving his
most trusted subordinate to finish the work of destruction. This the
latter did thoroughly. The miners were hotly pursued and driven right
into the arms of the State detachment approaching from York. And the
proud subordinate, looking about him on the field of carnage strewn
with over three thousand dead and dying men, little dreamt of Colonel
Ireton's escape, but reported to his General that the active army of
the interior had ceased to exist.



Chapter IV: Civil War in Australia and Its Inevitable Result



THE Federal Parliament assembled on August 28, 1912. The first weeks
of the session were given over largely to the evolution of order out
of the chaos of the elections. Where so many interests clashed, where
so many intricate political questions required the utmost nicety of
balancing and confidential negotiations before they could be handled
safely, the startling developments in the farthest West were rather
welcomed by Parliament as a means of diversion. At first nobody
understood the seriousness of the situation. But when the drift of
events at Perth became unmistakable, the great governing party of the
Extremists entered wholeheartedly into the contest. Among them the
most uncompromising and aggressive patriots, in whom, whatever their
former political opinions, the crisis had fostered the wish to end the
States misery for ever, blended with men whose economic ideas were
socialistic and pre--required, if not a united Universe, at least a
closely-knit Commonwealth for an experimental base. Both these
sections had thus, from different motives, the same interest to seize
this chance of enhancing Federal supremacy. After the confiscation of
armaments in Perth, the Government hastened to fall in with their
demands of rigour, which, indeed, no one in the House opposed. For the
remnant of Moderates had learnt the value of silence on all points
where Commonwealth and State Sovereignty collided; they did not wish
to expose their patriotism to further suspicion.

Votes were passed to enable the Executive to grapple with the
rebellion, as it was termed. Troops assembled at Adelaide, drawn from
New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia. Steamers were bought or
chartered and altered into transports. While these preparations were
going on, the reports of the defeat of Colonel Ireton reached
Melbourne. The Government was accused by its own supporters of
unnecessary delay in the despatch of the penal expedition, and saved
itself only by promising that an army strong enough to impose the will
of Parliament upon the rebels would leave within a week.

On October 1, 1912, the Federal Fleet departed from Adelaide
conveying 15,000 men with 28 guns. After demonstrating off several
points on the coast of West Australia, it arrived, about ten o'clock
in the morning of October 7, off Rockingham, the port of the Yarra
Timber Company, situated about fifteen miles south of Freemantle, and,
after a short bombardment of the little township, began to land there
the army of invasion. Telegraph and telephone reported the news to the
State authorities, and large forces were immediately hurried
southwards from Perth. Early in the afternoon, the first shots were
exchanged between the scouts of the two armies. The Federal Commander-
in-Chief was not at all anxious to precipitate battle. He knew well
that his men were raw soldiers, and therefore liable to sudden panic.
The enemy, on the contrary, could not be supposed to be suffering from
similar weakness, having already become accustomed to concerted action
under fire in the struggle against the miners. For these reasons the
Commander-in-Chief did not like to take chances; he preferred to go
slow and to rely on the more thorough training of his men, on his
superior artillery, the efficiency of which could be augmented by the
guns of his four auxiliary cruisers, as long as he remained within
range of the latter.

General Morthill, who arrived at Clarence, halfway between Freemantle
and Rockingham, at 3 p.m., was, on the contrary, eager to strike a
decisive blow, being aware that the Federals, after having been
cramped together on board ship in rough seas for a week, could not be
in the height of condition. He rapidly led his vanguard against the
Federal outposts and succeeded in sweeping them back. Night fell and
stopped further progress. But the State troops were able to occupy
Mount Brown, a prominent hill less than four miles distant from
Rockingham, and to place eight guns in this commanding position.

This move practically forced the continuation of the battle next
morning (October 8). For Rockingham could not be held by the Federals
unless the galling fire from the State batteries on Mount Brown was
silenced. During several hours a murderous struggle raged round the
hill. The decision was brought on at last by a tremendous bombardment
of General Morthill's key from the cruisers. One of the vessels took
ground and had to be abandoned, sinking soon afterwards. But the
heavier calibre of the remaining three ships' guns proved too strong.
A State gun was wrecked. The defenders suffered terribly. By noon they
had to quit the position, which was occupied at once by two Federal
regiments with four batteries.

The advantage gained by the Commonwealth troops was exploited with
energy. Another battery was established even further north on the road
bend between Mount Brown and Clarence, well within the cruisers'
range. Meanwhile the State army had retreated behind Clarence, which
was burning fiercely. It was nearly three o'clock in the afternoon
when a strong force of Federal volunteers rushed at them to complete
their overthrow. But General Morthill was not beaten. Now that he had
withdrawn his whole army beyond the cruisers' range, his resistance
became desperate. Rush after rush was repulsed. And in the end, his
front lines turned tables on the Federals in a furious counter-
assault. Broken and decimated, and not too brilliantly supported, the
volunteers fell back. Close behind, in hot pursuit, followed the West
Australian élite, the sporting young manhood of Perth and Freemantle.
General Morthill, by a masterly stroke of tactics, diverted them upon
the advanced battery on the road bend. The covering Federal force,
about 600 men strong, suddenly found themselves confronted by
overwhelming numbers pressing so closely upon them that the batteries
on Mount Brown and the cruisers had to cease fire in that direction,
fearful of shelling their own ranks. It was the culminating moment of
the battle. The Western Australians--in imitation of the miners--used
handbombs with such deadly effect that every attempt to reinforce the
advanced position was defeated. After a strenuous quarter of an hour,
two-thirds of its defenders lay dead or wounded; who of the survivors
could run, did so; and the battery was in the hands of the State army.
But now, the spot having been abandoned by their own side, the Federal
artillerists had their chance. From hill-slope and sea, they swept the
battery with a hail of shell. As quickly as relays of horses could be
brought up to remove the conquered guns, they were shot down. At last
men hitched themselves to the guns, trying to drag them away, but they
too, were mowed down in ranks. The position had become untenable. So
the battery was wrecked with bombs. Then the State troops retreated,
and the oncoming darkness saved them from further losses.

The terrible struggle of the afternoon left both armies in possession
of the lines occupied by them at its beginning. General Morthill held
a council of war, which resolved that the further advance of the
Commonwealth should be contested inch by inch. Trenches were thrown up
during the night. The State troops derived considerable encouragement
from the arrival of reinforcements, belated portions of the Eastern
division which had operated against Colonel Ireton. These, after the
supposed annihila-of the miners, had thoroughly destroyed several
miles of the Kalgoorlie railway. Not the slightest danger, therefore,
was apprehended from that quarter.

All this time, Colonel Ireton was making a forced march across the
Darling Range, that low cordillera unsurpassable in tristness,
barrenness and steepness. His division passed the first night on a
high hill near the junction of the gullies through which, in wet
seasons, the waters rush which then form Helena River. About sunset on
the second day they crossed the railway south of Kelmscott. The roar
of the guns, twelve miles away, was plainly audible. Farms dot the
country hereabouts, but the miners were not regarded with suspicion.
Everybody took them for a Southern contingent which had been
compelled, owing to the wholesale railway destructions, to make this
short cut to the sea. Thus no warnings reached Perth in time. Just
while the mortal combat round the advanced battery was at its height,
two orderlies sent forward by Colonel Ireton reported themselves to
the Federal Commander-in-chief. Officers departed hurriedly to confer
with the Colonel. It was arranged that the miners should spend the
night near a pond, still eight miles from the battlefield, so that the
men and horses might be quite refreshed and fit for the great task
before them. Many messengers passed between the two Federal camps in
the dark hours, and the plan of action in the morning was perfected.

At dawn the Commander-in-Chief informed his army that Colonel Ireton
would attack the enemy without delay. The news caused unbounded joy.
Soon the frontal battle was renewed with undiminished vigour, but the
Western Australians planted firmly on a bush-covered ridge behind
trenches repulsed every effort, and their ten guns, three towards the
sea, three in the centre and four on the Eastern wing, replied
uninterruptedly to the fierce cannonade of the Commonwealth artillery.
Three hours elapsed, and still the Federals had made no headway. Many
anxious eyes and ears were straining for a sign from the miners.

Colonel Ireton proceeded with the deliberation of a man sure of
success. Leading his little army right into the rear of the State
position upon the road from Clarence to Freemantle, he concealed an
ambush of 400 men in a forest patch. The remainder of his troops
silently enveloped the eastern wing of the West Australians. Suddenly
1,500 rifles burst into flames in flank and back of the Rebels. A
thundering charge of cavalry flung aside the rear guards, rode down
the detachments covering the eastern battery, and conquered the four
guns, among wild shouts of "Colonel Ireton! The Miners!" Throwing
round the guns, the miners opened fire at point-blank range upon the
State centre, supported by a deadly fusillade. Further south, the
Federals broke into frantic cheering, hurling themselves upon the
trenches where they no longer met with resistance, and exerting the
pressure of victorious thousands upon the wavering enemy. Nothing
could stop the panic in the State ranks. General Morthill tried to
save his remaining guns and to organize a retreat. For a few moments
he revived the courage of his immediate followers by his personal
heroism. In vain. Quickly he fell, mortally wounded, fighting
valiantly to the last. It was the signal for his troops to begin
throwing away arms and to stampede, a lawless rabble, towards
Freemantle. But the ambuscade soon barred their progress. Behind the
Federals pursued hotly. No quarter was given. Only very few of the
vanquished, who had the presence of mind to capture riderless horses,
arrived at the port before the victors.

The chief instigators of Western Australian resistance had proceeded
on the previous day to Freemantle, where they would be nearer the
scene of action. As soon as they heard of the defeat, they rushed to
the river and surrendered themselves to the commander of the British
cruiser. This officer thus found himself in a most uncomfortable
position. He had, of course, been friendly with these men. And now
they threw themselves upon his mercy. He knew that the Commonwealth
authorities would be furious if he gave them shelter. But he also knew
that Great Britain always protected political refugees. So he allowed
them to stay on board until he should have consulted his superiors by
cable. While terror stalked the cities and every acre for fifteen
miles south was red with the blood of victimized patriots, the
ringleaders, whose blunders and obstinacy were responsible for
everything, were out of immediate danger.

By noon Freemantle was completely in the hands of the Federals, who
hurried on, by rail and road, to the capital. Perth offered no further
resistance. Colonel Ireton, at the head of his mounted miners, was the
first to enter it--a fine compliment paid him by the Commander-in--
Chief. His men were quartered in the General Post Office and he
himself was the guest of the State Governor, whose authority for the
last few weeks had been more nominal than ever, all the most important
and far--reaching measures having been ordered in the form of
departmental instructions issued by General Morthill. A proclamation
was fixed at the principal street corners guaranteeing the safety of
private citizens, but stating that every one who should be taken
prisoner in State uniform after sunrise next morning would be dealt
with summarily.

The State army, as an organized force, had ceased to exist. During
the afternoon and evening, its scattered units continued to pour into
the outskirts of Perth. The more orderly elements who lived there or
had friends or relatives near, destroyed their uniforms and reassumed
common garb. Others bought or begged or, in the general confusion
commanded ordinary clothing and set out for the country. But a more
reckless or patriotic remnant refused to submit so quietly. There was
a small nucleus of resistance left. Several companies of the reserve
who had remained in the capital and its port on police duty or for
supervision of the supplies service, had retreated to Guildford, that
rural suburb of Perth, at the first news of the disaster. Here they
were joined by numbers of Irreconcilables. At first they had no common
aim. But a former Federal officer, who had violated his oath by
fighting for his State and was quite aware that no mercy would be
extended to him and his kind, proposed that they should retreat to the
northern farming district and carry on their defence from there, as
all avenues of escape by sea were cut off. Of course, only horsemen
could take this risk. Moreover, it was important that they should be
provided with the necessaries of life, with victuals, spare clothing,
money and valuables. These could be had at Guildford, but not for the
asking. For the terrified inhabitants, trembling for their own skins,
did no longer look with favour upon a soldiery which was important to
protect them.

There was no time for parley. What was not given voluntarily, the
Irreconcilables seized by force. Where resolute men defended their
property arms in hand, blood was shed. All the fury and despair of the
losers broke out in a final orgy. Soon the flames of pretty residences
towered against the midnight sky, like giant torches in honour of
civil war. Happily, the horror did not last long. Colonel Ireton,
roused from the first comfortable sleep which he had enjoyed for
months, came to the rescue of sacked Guildford. An ever brightening
glare in the east directed his march. After a short, sharp encounter
with the completely surprised Irreconcilables those of the latter, who
had their horses handy, got away. The less fortunate ones were shot.
And the deliverers spent the small hours fighting the flames.

For the next week, the Commander-in-Chief, in his capacity as Federal
High-Commissioner, was kept busy reorganizing the civil government of
Western Australia. His task was not easy, as all the leading men of
the State had fled the country, or were dead or in hiding. Military
officers filled the most important posts temporarily. The first
practical work was the repair of the railways and the despatch of
provisions to the Goldfields. Colonel Ireton was sent on a special
mission to Kalgoorlie to convey the thanks of the Commonwealth to the
loyal miners and, incidentally, to supervise the transport of the
enormous quantities of gold piled up during the interruption of the
coastal train service.

Later, the Colonel was employed to stamp out the last embers of the
rebellion. Troops were transported by sea to Dongara and Geraldtown.
Armoured trains were fitting to control the northern line. A war of
extermination was waged against the Irreconcilables who were commanded
by former Federal officers who had sided with the State. These held
out for weeks in inaccessible localities on the fringe of the farming
districts. But their wants soon reduced them to stock-raiding and
other predatory practices, with the result that in the end the whole
countryside made common cause against them, and so the last phase of
the fratricidal struggle deteriorated into a man hunt away in the
backblocks north of Perth and the southern districts, full of heroic
incidents, but devoid of historical interest except as far as serving,
by reason of its sordidness and cruelty, to extinguish thoroughly any
lingering sympathy which the coastal population might still cherish
for the lost cause of Western Australia.

Like all civil wars within civilized communities, the rebellion was
marked by extreme bloodiness. Considered relatively, the sacrifice of
life had scarcely ever been equalled. Of the Federal regular forces,
about 1,200 men were killed and nearly twice as many wounded. The
casualties of the army of the interior were even higher; it is
computed that 3,500 miners died in battle or perished afterwards. The
State army is said to have lost 7,000 men, though no doubt many of the
wounded recovered under the care of their friends. These numbers do
not include the victims of the campaign against the Irreconcilables,
whose last stand was literally smothered in blood. Altogether, it is
hardly an exaggeration to place the deathroll at over ten thousand.
Such a sacrifice of Anglo--Saxon life had not been contemplated for
generations. And the entire population of the mutinous Coast did not
reach 150,000 souls!

Yet terrible as the ordeal was, it had its uses. It removed for ever
the contention that the Continent lacked internal stability. Parochial
politicians had so often played with the idea of secession that the
world had become doubtful whether Federation expressed the true
sentiment of the Australian people. The energy with which the struggle
for mastery had been conducted and the rapid, complete victory of the
Commonwealth provided the answer. The lesson had been taught that no
backsliders were tolerated, and that Australia was indivisible.

All eyes turned now on the Federal Parliament, the sole arbiter over
the fate of the West Coast. Contrary to the fears of many, the ruling
majority, though dominated by the Extremists, showed wise moderation.
Complete amnesty was granted to the rank and file who would join the
Commonwealth colours within a month from date of proclamation This
extended to the irregular officers, with the limitation that these
were to be transferred to the Eastern States and enlisted there
without regard to their former rank in the rebel army, a humiliation
mitigated, however, by the promise that they would be allowed, after a
while, to qualify for promotion by examination. All private citizens,
who would take within a month a new oath of allegiance to the
Commonwealth before specially appointed commissions, were granted
immunity from prosecution for any political or military acts in
connexion with the late insurrection which might become known
subsequently.

Excepted from the general pardon were Federal officers who had
violated their oath by fighting for the State. Much might be said in
excuse for their transgression, but it was considered advisable to
make a warning example of them. That these men were quite conscious of
the enormity of their offence is proved by the fact that not one of
them surrendered to the mercy of the victors. Penalty of death was
pronounced against them. It was in reality superfluous; for the
survivors had all joined the Irreconcilables, who were shot without
trial whenever caught.

Throughout Australia, the sheltering of the ring-leaders of the
revolt on board a British cruiser was resented bitterly. Melbourne at
once opened negotiations with London for their extradition. But the
English Government refused to do so on the ground that their crime was
political.

In vain the Federal Executive urged against this contention that the
refugees were British subjects who had committed high treason, not
foreigners worthy of protection against tyranny. To cut short the
dispute, the cruiser was ordered to Colombo, where the fugitives were
landed. So they escaped the felon's death, and Parliament had to
discover other means of punishment. Their private estates were
declared to have reverted to the Commonwealth inclusive of all rights
and future benefits to which the former owners and holders might be
entitled. In this way the nation became possessed of much city and
country property in the West, as well as of a large amount of money,
valuable mining interests and other securities. However, generous
provision was made for the families of the culprits; wives were
granted annuities of £200 each, with an addition of £5 per year for
each child under age. But a very important restriction was inserted:
the recipients of such annuities were bound to reside in Australia.
Thus the escapes were deprived of re-union with their families, or, as
an alternative, the latter forfeited all claims of financial support.

Under the firm management of the Commander-in-Chief, order in West
Australia was being restored. Life began to return to its ordinary
channels; men again schemed and toiled for wealth. The removal of so
many leading citizens had made room in front for others; and in the
renewed vigour of business people strove to forget the hideous
memories of the recent past. But this was impossible while military
government continually reminded them of it. Therefore, genuine joy and
gratitude was felt when it became known that a Civil High Commissioner
had been appointed (October 30), and that, moreover, the choice had
fallen upon a fellow-citizen, who in the days before Federation had
been the idol of Western Australia and whose sympathies for his own
State were above suspicion.

Timely relentlessness, then, as timely forgiveness, had restored--for
ever, it is to be hoped--the unity of the Commonwealth.



Chapter V: Great Britain Garrisons the Northern Territory



EVER since the closure of the Northern Territory Coast the British
Government had been anxious to extend its control right over the
district invaded by the Japanese. It is doubtful whether it was
prompted by its ally; if so, the latter must have felt somewhat
fearful of the White Guard, then on its march; and the eagerness,
calmness and destructive thoroughness with which that body was met
rather discount this assumption. Quite possibly the English Cabinet
was moved entirely by a desire to achieve some progress regarding the
interminable Australian entanglement, not only from reasons of
Imperial import, but also from party-tactical considerations. So many
signs were laid at its door by an amiable Opposition--estrangement of
the Colonies, insecurity of foreign policy, financial weakness--that
it was about time Ministers should score on their part, if they did
not wish to be overwhelmed politically. The difficulty was to find a
method which could be represented to the Home electors as tending
towards a final settlement while meeting also with Australian
applause.

The Imperial statesmen found themselves in a tight corner. Though
the masses of the people, in their present temper, would have
applauded any pressure put upon Australia, it would have been very
unsafe to rely too much on the fact. As soon as calmness would prevail
once more everybody would be forced to admit that it was not the
Commonwealth which had started the trouble, though its methods of
dealing with it might be considered objectionable. Democracy is always
sure to turn back from its extreme moods and to crush in the process
the tools which gratified them. Apart from this danger, fully
recognized by the astute managers of the party in power, it is certain
that these were honest patriots and quite willing to help forward the
cause of Australia as long as such a course did not imperil the
delicate balance of international forces upon which their world-policy
rested.

The Federal intimation that compensation would be granted to the
sufferers from the anti-colour riots, on condition that the Japanese
would leave the Northern Territory, was made by London the base of
negotiations with Tokio, which was informed that the justice of its
protests and claims would be greatly enhanced in the eyes of civilized
humanity, if the immigrants, who had in effect broken the laws of the
community entered by them, would be repatriated. In exchange for this
graceful re-arrangement, Great Britain promised that it would use all
its influence to mitigate the severity of the Commonwealth enactments
against Asiatics.

But the Japanese very naturally preferred the bird in hand, and
pointed once more to the famine existing in their provinces, as
rendering impossible the proposed step. London retorted that nobody
asked them to return the refugees to the districts whence they had
come originally, while in the Island of Formosa and on the mainland
fertile, thinly settled lands abounded. In reply, the advisers of the
Mikado stuck to their batch of old excuses. Their ally was quite
right, and even as was suggested, they did unceasingly. Consequently,
all resources were strained to breaking point in the effort of
hurrying famishing hordes to salvation in those inviting spaces.
However, there was a limit; it would be criminal to dump larger
numbers without preparations and provisions to keep them alive. Others
would be doomed to perdition, if a check was applied in favour of
outsiders who were well off where they were now.

It seems that the British Government went so far as to propose
unofficially that the Imperial Exchequer should bear a share of the
repatriation expenses, in recognition of the economic crisis which
Japan was just passing through. But Tokio, on the ground that it would
be more merciful to shoot the thousands of refugees than to kill them
by slow starvation, refused definitely to agree to their removal,
insisting that they were interfering with nobody's rights. Moreover,
it revived the offer regarding the transfer of allegiance. Nothing was
gained by the diplomatic effort, except that Japan did not choose to
push any further its claims for an indemnity and satisfaction from the
Commonwealth. Meanwhile, the control of the Northern Territory waters
was quite one--sided. It was absolutely preventive with regard to
Australia navigation. But if the stories of naval men, since retired,
can be believed at all, there is no doubt that the restrictions were
merely formal as far as Japan was concerned. Steamers under the ensign
of the Rising Sun were always hovering about the prohibited coast,
ostensibly employed to convey stores and love-gifts from their native
country to the "famishing exiles." So much has been admitted, in fact,
by members of the English Cabinet, who have stated in Parliament that
out of humanitarian considerations the supply of provisions to the
settlement had been permitted, because such large numbers could not
support themselves in the wilderness from the outset, and because, as
long as their presence was tolerated, it would have been an impossible
cruelty to let them starve. Apparently the indulgence was carried to
the extent that the Japanese vessels were never searched and that
nobody watched their movements closely. Under the circumstances it can
be imagined easily how the cunning Orientals may have taken advantage
of the laxity. Not only the manifold necessaries and even luxuries of
life in an uncultivated country were imported, but also arms,
ammunition, more men, and lastly the women who had formed part of the
original settlement in Formosa and were to bring forth shortly a new
generation, heirs by birthright of the new land.

Perhaps the British Government received, about the end of July, some
special information which made it desirous of exercising, after all, a
closer supervision. At all events, it proposed to the Federal
authorities that an Imperial garrison should be placed in the Northern
Territory. At first Melbourne would not hear of this, suspecting, no
doubt, that a wish to interfere with the movements of the White Guard
lay at the bottom of the suggestion. Moreover, its materialization
would have looked very much like the establishment of a British
protectorate over a province of the Commonwealth. But time passed, and
nothing became known of any brilliant achievements on the part of the
White Guard. Then came the revolt of Western Australia, and the
turmoil and convulsion of that great crisis seemed likely to tax the
resources of the Federation to the utmost for a long period. At this
juncture London renewed its proposition and undertook, in proof of its
good faith, to issue a declaration to Tokio, stating that the
occupation of the Japanese settlement by an Imperial garrison would be
on behalf of and without prejudice to the sovereign rights of the
Commonwealth. As an additional bait it was hinted that the occupation
would prepare the way for a later substitution of the Federal garrison
after the restoration of law and order throughout the Continent.
Probably this last suggestion induced the Federal Government to
consent. After some further negotiations, Great Britain gained its
point. No time was lost in giving effect to the agreement.

On October 1, 1912, a force of 400 marines, drawn from Singapore,
landed in Junction Bay. Two days earlier the Imperial Government had
addressed the note to Tokio, which had been formulated as the pre--
requisite of the occupation. The advisers of the Mikado confined
themselves to a courteous acknowledgement. And the Japanese settlers
welcomed the garrison among great rejoicings. For nearly a week the
most suspicious landmark in the wilderness was the Union Jack, which,
on its pole, seemed to be their most cultivated plant. The fort in the
centre of the main village was given up to the marines as barracks--
the same block of buildings upon which little more than a month ago
the doomed heroes of the White Guard had gazed with eyes burning and
mortal hatred in their hearts. Everything was done to make the new
occupants comfortable. Very soon the headmen, quiet citizens in shabby
European dress as befitted honorary magistrates of a struggling
community, paid calls to do homage to the English officers, for whom,
afterwards, a gay round of life began. The Japanese, with childlike
blandness, quickly won their hearts: what a good impression the
members of the garrison gained is plainly discernible in the books and
articles written by some of them.

Sport, of course, was the chief means of combating the dullness of
the sojourn so far from civilization. Nearly every form of it could be
had in a district abounding with animal life, some of it not
altogether harmless. A coolie was told off as body-servant for each
officer, and others were ready to obey their orders, happy as kings at
the magnificent remuneration of a shilling per day. But the rank and
file were not forgotten either. Plenty of amusements were provided for
them also; they had even the advantage of their officers, for no
settler would dream of expecting payment for voluntary assistance
rendered. An Anglo-Japanese cricket-match was arranged and went in
favour of the British, as might have been guessed. In water sports,
however, the Japanese more than held their own. At one end of the
capital several houses of pleasure catered for the men, at whose
command was a considerable number of lubras of all ages and some Malay
women. Later, several geishas lent variety to the charms. A more
select establishment in another quarter was reserved for the officers.

In spite of so many diversions, the garrison found leisure to explore
the district thoroughly. It had the guidance of Japanese dignitaries
who explained everything. Nevertheless, in the voluminous reports of
the commanding Lieutenant-Colonel not many fresh facts are brought to
light. They are marvels of exactness, but their compiler did not view
things with those "eyes full of suspicion" which enabled Thomas Burt
to discover so many formidable defence works. The British were, and
felt, safe with friends. That has to be remembered at perusal of their
despatches. The breast-high ramparts behind ditches must have appeared
to these observers as mere lines of demarcation, and the logs placed
cunningly to provide shelter passages as trees felled for timber or
firewood, for nowhere are these features alluded to as possible
fortifications. Some comment, however, is made with regard to the
exceeding solidness of the houses, built not of boards but of stout
timber, forming the outer ring of the villages.

There is nothing but praise on the state of the cultivations and the
good condition of stock. "Apart from the race question," the
Lieutenant--Colonel sums up in one report, "there can be no doubt that
these industrious settlers have done a great service by their careful
cultivation and methodical penetration of the wilderness." In another
one he says: "Judging from what I have seen, not only in the central
settlement, but in and around the outlying villages, I must state that
English colonists, working individually, could hardly have done
better. Occasionally an experienced farmer might have done better in
some particular, but there would not have been such systematic
thoroughness. The immigrants are eager to ask advice, and now that
they have become better acquainted with us, they are glad of any
casual hint which helps them to improve on their work. Unfortunately,"
he continues, "the poor fellows do not always seem to be sufficiently
educated to grasp our meaning, and persist in going on as they did
before." The Commandant shows that he has not grasped the working of
the Japanese mind nor its method of cloaking iron tenacity under
bland, seemingly yielding civility, or he would not have made such a
refreshingly artless remark. He mentions that a quarter of the capital
was being reconstructed at the time of his arrival after having been
destroyed by fire; also, that during his wanderings he came across
several burnt-out villages. No doubt these were the places burnt by
the White Guard. But that struggle, or any fight against white men,
was never alluded to by the Japanese in the presence of the British.
Probably the garrison, fresh from Singapore, had either not heard of,
or paid no attention to, the rumours at this early period.

Yet one fact impressed even the unsuspecting Lieutenant-Colonel: the
complete absence of any male aboriginals, while so many native women
were about. Inquiries on this subject evoked a rather feeble reply on
the part of the Japanese. The lubras, they said, had been sold to them
by their relatives, who, however, could not immediately enjoy life on
the proceeds because the supply of tobacco and liquor to the blacks
was prohibited. Therefore the latter had probably departed to the
vicinity of Port Darwin, where they would have better opportunities.
Others had always been shy of approaching the settlements, being
afraid that they would be forced to work. But these stories, no doubt,
were made up. It is not difficult to imagine why the presence of the
male natives must have been inconvenient to the immigrants. The
fellows had seen too much and might begin to boast of it to the
British as soon as they should have discovered, with natural cunning,
that the white and yellow races were really opposed to each other in
spite of momentary friendliness. Moreover, the blacks were no longer
useful as guides, since the country had been explored thoroughly, nor
as subsidiaries, now that no further attacks were apprehended. On the
other hand they might have become troublesome enemies in the bush.
That possibility had to be guarded against. Probably the Japanese
copied the example of the White Guard and butchered the male
aboriginals.

However, the British accepted the explanation of their fellow-
subjects of the second degree. As was the case all through, nobody
felt called upon to push independent investigations. Some exceptions
to the rule, men who had grown somewhat suspicious, perhaps on account
of vague tales of the lubras, were discouraged officially to pursue
too far adventurous quests, which it was by no means their duty to
engage in. Imperial troops had to preserve above all England's old
reputation of dealing fairly by Asiatics. A prying policy among people
who showed every confidence and friendship would not have been in
account with this aim. The moderation had its reward. The longer the
garrison stayed the more British interests benefited, and the
popularity of the Empire became even more pronounced among the brown
candidates for citizenship under the Union Jack.



Chapter VI: A Transformation Scene in the North.



THE Imperial garrison had hardly arrived in the Japanese settlement
when the Federal Government began to regret that it had ever consented
to its establishment. It had done so in the belief that the internal
dissensions in Australia would be prolonged. The rapid and complete
triumphs of the Commonwealth army had proved the wrongness of that
assumption. Immediately after the occupation of Perth, the Federal
Executive cabled to London that it was now prepared to garrison and to
police the Northern Territory with Australian troops. But Great
Britain was not at all pleased with the offer and objected that
Australia was still practically at war with Japan. Melbourne, however,
hastened to deny the existence of a state of war as strongly as it had
insisted on it a few months ago. Tempora mutantur.

Every report of the excellent relations between the garrison and the
invaders increased the disgust of the Commonwealth patriots, whose
secret hopes that the Imperial force would serve as an exponent of
white supremacy were quickly superseded by suspicions that the whole
display was more in the way of a compliment to the Japanese than a
measure of protest against their claims. The Extremists, particularly,
professed deep anxiety lest the British statesmen should be encouraged
by the exemplary friendliness which had sprung up between their
soldiers and the public enemy of Australia to make permanent the
present arrangement. Under the constant pressure from all sides, the
Federal Government continued to urge its request. Its main point was
that London had promised the substitution of Australians, and that
otherwise the Commonwealth would not have acquiesced in the matter at
all.

Great Britain was very unwilling to withdraw its men. At the same
time, however, its rulers had learnt by the experience of the past
half--year and were not at all desirous of further colonial quarrels.
Already the temper of the great southern dependency grew very ugly
over this affair. Press and politicians there threatened that Federal
troops would be sent into the invaded district even without Imperial
permission, and that England would be given a chance to prove whether
it would dare to interfere with Australian actions on Australian soil.
If so, then, it was pointed out, let Canada look to it that it might
not be treated one day after the same fashion in Columbia, or New
Zealand in the North Island, or South Africa in any of its own large
possessions. In fact, here were all the materials for another national
explosion in all the autonomous dominions, cowed as they were for the
moment. Faced by these awful possibilities, Great Britain felt
inclined to yield, especially as the Commonwealth merely proposed to
place a garrison in the Northern Territory, not an army.

But there was another factor which had to be reckoned with--the
Japanese Government. Though no doubt well informed about the new
Federal demand, it maintained a correct silence, any arrangement about
the Northern Territory being clearly an internal affair in which only
the Empire and the Commonwealth were concerned. An opportunity to
speak their mind, however, came to the discreet advisers of the Mikado
when the impending change was communicated to them by the allied
power. Then Tokio, calm and courteous as usual, mentioned its
misgivings. It recognized that it had no voice in the matter, but
asked to be allowed to express regret that its former subjects should
lose a protective force which had shown them so much kindness, and
also to utter a hope that the successors would cultivate similar good
feeling. Only thus the full benefits of the labour of the immigrants
could be secured for their adopted country. For the refugees were
proud of their race and conscious of the service they were rendering
to humanity by civilizing the wilderness. They were also very
sensitive, a quality which they shared with all Japanese, for whose
resentment of irritation or insults nobody could accept
responsibility, least of all their own Government, which was only too
painfully aware of this particular national failing.

The Imperial authorities did not hesitate to cable a full account of
the diplomatic pronouncement, so carefully veiled in its language and
yet so ominous, to Melbourne. But the Commonwealth was bent on having
its way, and London did not care to oppose its demand much longer.
Hardly had the consent been gained when two crack steamers of the
Federal fleet were raced from Adelaide, where they had beeen
overhauled, to Perth. There Colonel Ireton embarked with a large
special staff of the most energetic and promising officers and 350
picked men, who had all been through the Western campaign (November 2,
1912). The whole force proceeded by sea directly to the Northern
Territory and arrived at the mouth of the inlet, on which the Japanese
main settlement was situated, on the morning of November 11. On the
same day the British garrison evacuated the fort for their successors
and was taken by the Federal steamers to Port Darwin, whence they
returned to Singapore. Both these vessels were fitted with wireless
telegraphy. One anchored in the harbour of Port Darwin, the other in
the inlet leading to the fort. In this way Colonel Ireton was in
practically uninterrupted communication with headquarters in
Melbourne.

The Japanese settlers extended an outwardly cordial welcome to the
new garrison. They sported once more their large stock of Union Jacks.
But the Australians were less appreciative than their precedessors and
refused to salute the flag, the use of which by the aliens was,
speaking strictly, improper. Moreover, as soon as they had entered
into possession of the fort, they lowered the British ensign flying
over it, which had originally been supplied by the Japanese, and
unfurled the Commonwealth banner. The significance of these actions
was not misunderstood by the ceremonious Orientals. The friendly
services of the polite brown men, so highly valued by Tommy Atkins,
were now rarely asked and always paid for, a practice which reduced
the mutual relations between the two races to cold formality and
prevented absolutely the growth of a better understanding. Colonel
Ireton did not regret this development. He had his instructions. The
encouragement of fraternizing tactics was not mentioned in them. His
garrison was expected to show plainly by its conduct who was the
sovereign of the country. His duty was to explore the invaded district
thoroughly, to gain an intimate knowledge of the enemy's methods and
resources and, if possible, some insight into his further plans; in a
word, to prepare everything for the ultimate campaign. And he set to
work upon his task with rare zeal.

Many reports compiled by the Colonel or members of his staff, dealing
with the subject, very detailed and from every conceivable point of
view, are now in the Federal archives. Through all of them runs the
same note of astonishment at the efficiency of the Japanese
organization which is also sounded in the official reports of the
British garrison, though the Australian comments are more subdued and
tinged with a bitterness reminiscent of Thomas Burt's diary. Great
changes, of course, had taken place since the latter was written. The
soothing influence of womanhood, of motherhood, was now penetrating
the whole settlement. Numbers of children were born there daily.
Perhaps no other fact did more to deepen the coolness between the two
races into revengeful estrangement. For the Australians, who keenly
missed appropriate sex partnership of their own race, watched
helplessly the rapid progress of the despised Asiatics from a mere
horde of invading nomads into a settled nation bound to the conquered
soil by the most sacred ties--by little brown babies quite unconscious
of their own significance, all young Australians--Austral--Mongoloids.
And the white heirs to the Continent had to stand by impassively,
condemned to look on and to record the event. Contrary to ordinary
Oriental customs, the women were splendidly cared for. They were
forbidden field work and other hard tasks. District medical officers
made regular rounds several times a week through all dwellings, and in
the capital the married couples frequently assembled in the Public
Hall to hear lectures in their own language, probably on sex hygiene
and the treatment of infants. Evidently the Japanese authorities had
thoroughly mastered, and were not afraid to carry into practice, the
principle that public health and the protection of child-life before
and after birth is the first duty and the grandest asset of a
progressive State.

The neighbourhood of the main settlement had been cleared for miles
from bush and jungle: irrigation had turned swampy lagoons into
paddyfields protected by strong embankments at the mouth against the
brackish water of the inlet. A mixed system of farming had been
devised. Each family owned a plot of some acres which the proprietor
cultivated individually and the produce of which belonged to him. But
large areas of the richest agricultural and pastoral land were
reserved near each village and were worked by gangs of the male
inhabitants, who had to give their services in regular rotation once
or twice a week. These gangs were also employed to clear the country
and to make roads. And they did the harvesting both in the private and
public blocks, under the leadership of the elders, who directed them
in such a way as the condition of the fields seemed to demand, without
fear or favour of individuals. Such a system was possible only for a
highly enlightened race or for a slavishly disciplined one. While it
lasted it must beat out of sight any results obtainable by
individualistic white colonization. The Turanians bade fair to
establish a record which Aryan people would be unable to equal. If
they were allowed to go on, their claims to possession would become
ever stronger by right of their achievements.

That the invaders had no intention of leaving Australia was evident
from the diligence with which they made themselves at home. Several
roads were made connecting the capital with the outlying settlements
and the latter among each other. Their construction was solid though
rough, and they led over the high ground, wherever possible, so that
they were little exposed to damage by floods in the wet season. Where
swamps had to be crossed, the roads had been steadied with logs, and
light wooden bridges, easy of repair or renewal, were thrown over
creeks. Then there was the network of telegraph lines. It was really
difficult now to get lost in the district, which less than a year ago
had been an impenetrable wilderness.

Relentless war was waged by the Japanese against vermin; thus they
justified their possession of arms. They drove away the romance of the
tropical bush, and wherever they went they created an atmosphere of
hard work-a-day reality. But this was the inevitable result of
civilization, which at last had come in triumphantly in spite of the
Australians who had hesitated too long about it. The wholesale
destruction of game in the vicinity of the main settlement compelled
the garrison to rely for its food supply almost entirely upon Port
Darwin, where Federal depôts had been established. Several vessels
catered for this service, and combined with this open purpose the more
secret one of closely watching the coast.

The Japanese possessed two steam launches, a cutter and half a dozen
whale boats. A wharf was under construction for building more small
craft locally. The timber was derived from the opposite shore of the
inlets about two miles further up, where thick forest slipped down
nearly to the water's edge. In this locality a saw mill was situated.
That was not the only factory. Near the wharf a flour mill was in
course of erection, though the machinery had not yet arrived. Around
it several large stores for the collection of surplus produce had
already been finished. Each stood isolated, surrounded by a high earth
rampart and a ditch filled with water. These were the largest
buildings in the capital, with the exception of the central offices,
the headquarters of the district and municipal authorities and the
terminus of all the telegraph lines. In an adjoining outhouse, a steam
engine, coupled to a dynamo, furnished the necessary electricity. The
public hall was another large edifice and appeared to serve both as a
temple and a lecture-room, where often in the evenings addresses were
delivered to crowded audiences. As the Japanese language was employed
exclusively, the whites had not even a decent excuse for being
present. The purpose of these meetings, however, seemed to be quite
harmless; apparently they dealt chiefly with demonstrations on
agricultural subjects, such as irrigation and the use of modern
implements.

Though the discipline of the invaders was marvellous, they were
managed so discreetly and their authorities dispensed with pomp and
circumstance to such a degree that it was difficult to discover the
real rulers. Colonel Ireton observed that much deference was paid by
the multitude to the medical officers, which conduct is quite
intelligible in the light of subsequent revelations regarding the part
played by them in Formosa. But he soon noticed that they, too,
received orders in turn from higher instances. At the head of the
whole organization stood a board of five Elders, as they named
themselves in English. Every member of this set seemed to wield equal
power. In their dealings with the Australians, they consulted together
about every step. The Board of Five was the final court of justice and
inflicted capital punishment. Many of its responsibilities, however,
were transferred upon the Headmen, who governed each quarter of the
main settlement and every village. These again were assisted by small
councils of the most worthy citizens. No military display was indulged
in; although all the inhabitants of the capital owned rifles, they
never underwent any warlike training within the knowledge of the
Federal garrison for the whole period during which the latter resided
in their midst. Nevertheless it is probable that at least one or two
high military officers served in the Board of Five, that every headman
was a staff officer, and that the village councils consisted in
reality largely of former non-commissioned officers. Everything, in
fact, was calculated to preserve discipline and to prepare defence.

After a fortnight of strenuous work, Colonel Ireton was able to draw
a map of the invaded district, in which, besides the capital,
seventeen outlying villages are shown, the nearest about twelve miles
and the most distant over ninety miles away from that centre. He
computed the population from the number of private dwellings, which
were as a rule tenanted each by a family consisting of husband and
wife. As every quarter of the main settlement contained between five
hundred and six hundred residences of this kind, and the villages from
one hundred and fifty to three hundred each, he calculated that the
total number of adult inhabitants could not be much less than twelve
thousand. In addition, there were the infants, which continued to be
born at such a rate that the natural increase of the community at the
end of the first year would amount to about forty per cent.

Colonel Ireton prided himself on his conviction of having charted
everything worth notice. His surprise passed all bounds when a party
of his men reported that they had discovered, on a hunting trip, a
path not on the map leading south-east to the banks of Liverpool
River, where they had met with a gang of about 150 Japanese actively
engaged in clearing the land and utilizing the timber for the
construction of houses. Near by were temporary shelters after the
fashion of the aboriginal mia--mias. None of the gang understood
English, so that no verbal information could be had, and protracted
investigations failed to reveal any clue as to the manner in which
these immigrants could have got into this place. But the headman of
the nearest charted village, over twenty miles away, who was known to
speak broken English, volunteered an explanation. He said that the
gang had come from a settlement farther west, the inhabitants of which
had quarrelled, because they belonged to adjoining districts in Japan,
separated by fierce rivalries and long wars for ages. The faction
whose forefathers generally had the worst of the deal had been taunted
with the fact, when remembrances were exchanged, to such an extent
that the strife of long ago had nearly been revived. To prevent such a
calamity, it had been decided to remove one of the contending clans by
forming a new community. The statement was so uncommonly
straightforward that it roused the suspicion of the whites, for as a
rule the Japanese were most discreet, especially where the concealment
of internal difficulties was concerned. So the party visited several
villages farther west on its return. But everywhere a full complement
of male and female residents was found. It was strange, because no
women were with the gang on Liverpool River.

The fact set the Colonel thinking. To his knowledge, all the western
settlements were inhabited by couples. Therefore, if the story of the
headman was correct the outside faction must have left its wives in
the care of traditional rivals. That was most unlikely. Sexual
jealousy was the only passion of the patient, toiling immigrants which
had sometimes asserted itself so strongly in ugly brawls that its
existence could not be hidden entirely by their leaders from the
prying Australian eyes. Suddenly the truth dawned on Colonel Ireton.
These womanless colonists were not exiles from another camp. They were
new arrivals. Their presence meant that, while he was scouting inland
to obtain accurate information with regard to the resources of the
enemy, a steady stream of the invaders kept pouring in all the time.
Until he should have discovered by which way they came and at what
rate, all his calculations were valueless. It was certain that they
did not enter the country from the official port, for his garrison
watched the approaches and surroundings closely and Federal steamers
patrolled frequently the whole western expanse of coast on their
journeys to and from Port Darwin.

The waters farther east were supposed to be searched regularly by
British men-of-war, for the prohibition of commercial navigation there
had not yet been cancelled. In reality, the supervision was very lax.
A small cruiser stationed at Thursday Island made occasionally the
round of the Gulf of Carpentaria. It had never called at the Japanese
port or in Junction Bay since the Federal occupation. Practically, the
enemy had a monopoly of several hundred miles of coast line, where
many sheltered inlets invited unostentatious landings. Colonel Ireton
remembered that he had had a significant warning immediately after his
arrival. The experts managing the wireless telegraph on board the
steamer which conveyed him here had mentioned that the apparatus was
intercepting wireless waves from an apparently very distant source.
Two days later a Japanese steamer made her appearance and proceeded
right up to a jetty running into deep water in the inlet, near the
stores, where she discharged cargo for the settlement. The Colonel and
his staff were invited by her captain to lunch on board, and were
afterwards shown over the vessel, which was of the tramp type, tidily
kept, provided with up-to-date discharging gear, manned by an ample
Japanese crew, and fitted with apparatus for wireless telegraphy, a
fact which interested the Colonel more than anything else. As he could
not discover anything like a wireless station ashore, he concluded
that the steamer must have communicated with other vessels far out at
sea. Having accounted thus to his own satisfaction for the observation
of his experts, he forgot the incident. But now he began to doubt the
correctness of his former surmises and resolved to investigate
personally and at once.



Chapter VII: Like Tigers at Bay



EARLY on November 25, 1912, Colonel Ireton left the fort with an
escort of two officers, a sergeant and four men. The latter led
several spare horses carrying provisions and a collapsible boat, the
parts of which were well hidden under the other baggage, for the
explorers did not wish to let the Japanese into the secret of their
destination. With this intention they travelled due south to deceive
possible watchers and also to evade the swamps and creaks of the
coast. Ostensibly they were bound on a hunting trip. About noon on the
following day they turned eastwards and were soon out in the original
wilderness. Progress was slow, continually impeded by natural
obstructions. But from time to time a marked tree or rock was passed
showing that the intrepid invaders had penetrated even here, and these
observations filled the explorers with fresh hopes. At nightfall they
crossed Liverpool River and camped not far from its right bank.

Next morning they pursued their quest further. Fortune favoured
them. They found a track running from the north-east to the south-west
about four miles distant from the river. It was very rough, but its
condition indicated plainly that it was much frequented. Soon it bent
round to the north near a village in a clearing. There were many
dwellings, but only very few settlers were to be seen. It occurred to
the Colonel that this must be a kind of half-way house established for
the comfort of weary immigrants on their march to the interior, and
that a similar station was probably situated on the banks of Liverpool
River at the end of another day's journey, which station he had missed
luckily by crossing farther down. He had no wish to make his presence
known to the villagers, who might have means to warn the secret
coastal base--the existence of which could no longer be doubted--of
the approach of the whites. Much time was lost in the endeavour of the
little party to pass through the bush surrounding the settlement out
of sight and hearing of its inhabitants. The explorers were just
expecting to come out on the track again when the din and tramping of
a large moving crowd made them recoil. They left the horses in care of
some of the rank and file far back in the thickets; then the officers
crept forward cautiously to ascertain the cause of the commotion. They
beheld a force of about two hundred Japanese marching inland. A
vanguard of twenty men, rifle on shoulder, headed the procession.
Behind, in motley array, the main crowd followed, some carrying
burdens, others leading horses laden with crates of living poultry or
with bulky packages, still others driving cattle, sheep and goats.
Another armed detachment brought up the rear. It was afternoon before
the track was clear once more. The explorers pushed on for another
twenty miles and camped for the night in a sheltered spot.

Little more than two hours' spirited riding after sunrise (November
28), and the party had the first glimpse of the sea--the endless,
sparkling crescent of Boucant Bay. At this point the track turned
sharply to the west to the mouth of Liverpool River. Quite
unexpectedly it opened upon a village on a side channel of this river,
nestling in a fold of the ground, which position, in conjunction with
thick lines of high mangroves on the banks, hid it completely from the
sea. It seemed that the Japanese were using the place merely as a
temporary convenience, as a residence for immigration officials. It
consisted of less than twenty houses and three large sheds serviceable
as stores or barracks. There was no sign of any cultivation around it.
About a mile further down was an opening in the mangroves. A log-paved
road led down to it from the sheds and a gang of coolies were removing
goods from there on hand-trucks. The explorers hurried down and espied
a large steamer standing out to sea. It was too late to stop her for
inspection, but that was really needless. There could be no doubt that
she was the transport which had landed the immigrants encountered on
the previous day. Moreover, something else attracted the Colonel's
attention. A small steamer lay motionless in the mouth of the river, a
few hundred yards away. She had two very high masts, with loose wire
dangling from the top. One glance through his glasses convinced the
Colonel that this was the floating Japanese station for wireless
telegraphy. He jumped into a boat and was paddled over. For the sake
of safety, his escort carried a supply of Commonwealth flags, one of
which was unfurled with satisfactory results. The crew lined up,
cheering. Unfortunately, that was the only British accomplishment
acquired by them. None, from the captain downwards, confessed to a
knowledge of the English language. They did not try to interfere with
the close inspection to which the vessel was subjected, and which
proved it to be admirably adapted to its purpose. On the contrary,
their courtesy was perfect, but explanations, of course, were
impossible in the absence of an interpreter.

On shore the farce continued. The headman of the village gloried to
conduct his vistors in dumb show. It was noticed, however, that he
persistently overlooked a certain building, on which, consequently,
their curiosity soon centred. As the door was locked and the guide did
not seem to understand that the key was wanted, Colonel Ireton and his
officers entered through a window, to the pantomimically expressed
horror of their cicerone. The place was a splendidly equipped
telegraph office, though there were no overhead wires. The wires
disappeared in a wooden pipe running down the wall. This was another
proof of Japanese cunning. The station was evidently connected with
the capital by underground cable. Subsequent investigation upheld this
supposition, and revealed plainly the whole scheme of the enemy's
carefully planned communications. Every fresh reinforcement was thus
telegraphed to the capital where the Board of Five was kept informed
of all details and was enabled in turn to use unimpeded and
unsuspected the wireless service of the existence of which no white
man had dreamed. It was possible, indeed likely, that other floating
stations were hidden in unfrequented waters among the island clouds to
the north of Australia, forming a connexion between Tokio and the new
Japanese colony.

Colonel Ireton did not prolong his stay. He was powerless to
interfere at present and wished to transmit his astonishing
discoveries to headquarters as rapidly as possible. For a moment he
felt tempted to cut the cable, but he was sensible enough to recognize
the uselessness of such an action. He departed the same afternoon,
intent on following the track right to its end. Next day the party
covered sixty miles and passed five villages, two of which were mere
refreshment stages, but the three others lay in fertile country
farther south and teemed with population. No women were visible--
conclusive evidence, beside the unfinished state of the settlements
and the backwardness of the cultivation paddocks, that the inhabitants
were recent arrivals. Some miles farther on the track, which after
crossing the river had turned due west and then north-west, lost
itself altogether, and the explorers had to face again the hardships
of slow, pathless progress, until in the afternoon of November 30 they
crossed a telegraph line and knew that they were within the confines
of the district of older settlement. Under the circumstances it was
not wonderful that neither the Imperial garrison nor the Federals had
conceived any suspicion of a beyond, owing to the prudent policy of
the Japanese to leave a broad strip of untouched wilderness between
their public and secret spheres of operation.

The Commandant's return was timely. The garrison was in danger of
getting out of hand, irritated by the demeanour of the invaders, whose
coolness began to change to defiance, as many incidents, petty in
themselves, showed. He affected to ignore them in the hope that a
bolder move on the part of the enemy might give him an opportunity to
employ stern measures. It occurred very soon. Probably the Elders were
much annoyed over his successful excursion, which had taken them by
surprise, and were eager to get in a counter-stroke. They requested
the honour of an interview (December 2) in the course of which they
intimated that they wished to terminate the occupation of the fort by
the Federal troops, because they required it for their own use. They
justified this remarkable demand with the plea that the fort had been
built by Japanese labour and was therefore the property of their
community. Admitting that they had loaned it to the Imperial garrison,
such courtesy did not signify that they had parted with the rights of
ownership to all comers. The former surrender was an acknowledgement
that they considered themselves part of the British Empire. The
Australian army was not Imperial, but a local force, and they had
never asked for a Federal garrison. At any rate, the site was too
central and too valuable for military purposes and was wanted for
civic extensions.

Colonel Ireton replied that the site, and indeed all the land
occupied by the Japanese, was vested in the Commonwealth and had never
been lawfully alienated. His interviewers did not wish to open that
portentous question, yet they were not so easily beaten. Politely
declining to discuss this point with a military officer, they attacked
his position from another quarter. Apart from the issue of ground
rights, they said, there could be no doubt that the buildings belonged
to their community, wherefore they craved permission to remove the
materials, as timber was getting scarce in the immediate surroundings
of the capital and was urgently required for new constructions.

The Colonel simply stated that he knew nothing about the men who
built the fort. It might have been their people, or it might not.
However, he took it over as the successor of the Imperial garrison and
meant to keep it. Here, indeed, the Japanese had committed a sin of
omission. In their joy of having in their midst an Imperial force, the
presence of which gave an air of loyalty and legality to their
sinister proceedings, they had not foreseen that one day Federal
troops might be substituted. The evacuation of the fort had been a
spontaneous act of gratitude, without any records or reservations in
writing. They had now occasion to repent of their hastiness. For
Colonel Ireton was not a man who overlooked any weakness in the armour
of his adversaries, and declined politely but firmly to discuss the
matter any further. A letter addressed to him by the Board of Five was
returned with the remark that he regarded this particular incident as
closed.

On the following day (December 3) a Federal cargo boat arrived from
Port Darwin with stores for the garrison and steamed right up to the
Japanese jetty, as had been done before. It being Sunday, the
discharging did not commence at once, and the captain and crew, with
the exception of a couple of men, spent the evening in the fort,
retailing the latest news. Suddenly, in the dead of night, an alarm
was raised. The jetty was enveloped in flames, so that it was
impossible to get to the vessel from the land side. The few hands
aboard tried their utmost to push the steamer out into the stream away
from the wooden structure, which burned fiercely as if it had been
soaked with some inflammable stuff. But wind and current seemed to
drive her against it. In the end they had to jump into the water to
swim ashore. Jetty and steamer became a total loss.

The Japanese Elders insisted that the disaster was due to the
carelessness of the whites and claimed heavy damages for the
destruction of their property. Colonel Ireton repudiated
responsibility on the ground that the fire had broken out on the
jetty. He refrained from hurling accusations which he could not prove.
But every Australian was convinced that the disaster was due to
incendiarism. The spirits of the little force, isolated from all the
world, had never been very cheerful. A deeper gloom now crept into the
brave hearts, when it was realized that the enemy was not afraid to
strike in the dark, from the back, and did not hesitate to sacrifice
his own work if he could gratify his hatred by doing so.

Still it might have been worse. The Federals congratulated each
other on the fact that the first attempt had not been directed against
the fort, which was entirely built of timber. Every reasonable
precaution was taken immediately. Several sheds not used permanently
were demolished and the material covered with earth. The guards were
strengthened and received orders to fire on any nightly prowler who
should ignore their challenge. Colonel Ireton informed the Elders of
the new rules under the pretext of preventing misunderstandings; they
did not deign to acknowledge the communication.

The Federal Commander was very much disquieted. His instructions
enjoined mainly the ceaseless assertion of Commonwealth sovereignty.
How that was to be done against an enemy who had all the advantage of
possession and real power, he was left to find out for himself. He
began to fear that the Japanese would not recoil from the use of
violence, if they should think that they had a good case. It became
necessary, in the interests of the many lives under his care, to
enlighten the Federal Government with regard to the precarious
position of its garrison and to ask for more detailed orders. Though
he was in wireless connexion with headquarters, this service was most
roundabout and altogether too much dependent on go-betweens for his
needs. He could never be sure that his messages were rightly
interpreted in Port Darwin and transmitted in full to their
destination. Therefore he decided to proceed to Port Darwin, where he
could place himself in direct communication with Melbourne by the
overland telegraph. Moreover, there were several local matters he
wished to attend to personally. Since the bad feeling between the two
races had become more pronounced, the Japanese had gradually stopped
the sale of foodstuffs from their cultivations to the garrison, which
consequently had to rely more and more on imports from its base. So
far these had not been too well regulated, and the Colonel desired to
make better arrangements.

Colonel Ireton never hesitated once he had made up his mind. He
entrusted his command to the oldest captain, a man whose coolness and
courage had been tested thoroughly in the civil war, and boarded the
fast steamer which served as his floating wireless telegraph station,
bound for Port Darwin (December 4). He did not forget to issue a final
warning to his men not to provoke the enemy during his absence, which,
he promised, would not extend over more than a week.



Chapter VIII: Bleeding White



FOR a man who, like Colonel Ireton, had sojourned for a month in the
silent bush, surrounded by a silent enemy, Port Darwin presented a
scene of dazzling activity. The township was very full. Several well-
known Federal officials were there in connexion with the railway
construction to the south. This great work had been taken in hand from
both ends, and the line from South Australia advanced rapidly. Though
nearly everything had to be imported, the combined efforts from the
north and south added about a mile every two days. But even if this
rate of progress could be maintained throughout, years would elapse
before the completion of the transcontinental link, without the
possession of which the Commonwealth could not strike at the invaders.
Many people doubted whether the enormous task could be finished at
all. Some wagered that the work would soon stop through want of funds.
Wild rumours were circulating of the extreme measures to which the
Federal Government was driven in a hopeless attempt to avoid
bankruptcy, and wilder prophecies foreshadowing the worst
complications.

Colonel Ireton loathed listening to the idle talk. Nevertheless he
could not but perceive that the interests of his garrison did not seem
to receive much attention at headquarters. In vain did he demand
stricter orders. The Federal authorities confined themselves to an
assurance of their continued unlimited confidence in his ability;
beyond this they merely repeated that details would have to be left to
his discretion; that he should decide each case on its merit, always
bearing in mind, however, that the invaders should never be given the
slightest advantage on which a title to any possession in the Northern
Territory could be based; and that he should never cease to assert the
supremacy of the Commonwealth. The Colonel was bewildered by this
strange indifference. He looked, so to speak, through the wrong end of
the telescope, placed, as he was, 2,000 miles away from Australia's
nerve--centres, at the terminus of the overland telegraph. It was as
well for him. For if he could have seen things in their true
proportions, he would have despaired.

Alas, Australia has entered the phase of passive suffering. Its
determination to keep the whole Continent white remains as yet
unbroken. That is still the tacit presupposition of all national
development, but the enthusiasm with which the establishment of the
Federal garrison was greeted only six weeks ago has died out. What
influence can a handful of white soldiers, buried in the boundless
North, have upon the vital issue? They cannot reconquer the Territory,
they cannot hunt the enemy out. Fools those who expected great things
from them! Both official and popular interest in their doings are at a
low ebb. In one quarter of the world, it is true, there is no sign of
weariness with regard to the garrison. Every now and then the Japanese
Press speaks of it with increasing bitterness. Just at present, while
Colonel Ireton is in Port Darwin, a heated discussion is carried on
about his exaggerated claims--so called--of ownership. The Tokio
journalists take their cue from the British Press, which, of course,
is denouncing wildly the financial measures of the Commonwealth, and
make invidious comparisons that the same censured tendencies are being
indulged in even against the poor refugees.

So the respectable British Press has continued hostile against
Australia. The official relations, however, between London and
Melbourne have become less strained, for the Imperial Government,
benefiting by the lessons of the immediate past, is refraining
tactfully from any further interference with Commonwealth legislation.
Since the middle of November several English warships are again
stationed in the capital ports. Perhaps this improvement has had
something to do with the indefinite attitude of the Federal
authorities towards the Colonel. They may be aware that new troubles
with London are likely if they associate themselves publicly with a
policy of oppression against the Japanese settlers, though they may
secretly encourage it. Less directness will leave them free to plead
that any particular action of their officer was not ordered by them,
and to uphold or disavow him without loss of dignity. Perhaps they,
too, have been taught the value of a better understanding with the
Mother Country. Poor Colonel Ireton!

If there is any reapproachment to Great Britain, it does not find
legislative expression. Parliament still rushes on undaunted--like a
steam-roller, crushing through all accepted principles of fiscal
policy and crushing vested interests right and left. Needs must when
the devil drives. Ruthless action, not regretful sympathy, is the only
means of avoiding bankruptcy. Forced loans, embargo on gold exports,
absentee taxes, another shilling on the income-tax, which steadily
yields less, double land-taxes--all the old nightmares of troubled
Moderate consciences have become realities. And, in spite of
everything, money is pouring in. If only the transcontinental railway
and the armaments, which might have been financed leisurely in the
good years gone by, did not swallow up every penny. Call it pounds,
shillings, pence! It is nevertheless the very life-blood of the
community, drained away in a ruddy, irrecoverable torrent. For all
imports have to be paid for in gold. Though the mines produce at high
pressure and every ounce finds its way into the official coffers
against due certificate, they can hardly keep up with the demand. For
internal uses, there is Commonwealth paper, of a value fixed by
statute.

Even so, everything might yet be well, but for another pitiless If!
If only the nation would go on creating wealth in accustomed fashion!
Unfortunately, Parliament alone seems to be working. How unsettled the
people have grown, how restless! The avenues of employment have
narrowed. Trade is at a standstill. Military training has thrown the
labour supply out of gear. Whatever business is done is transacted on
a cash basis--in paper. Who knows how much the paper will be worth at
the final reckoning? Who can concentrate his mind on ordinary toil
while the terrible uncertainty lasts? Like a black thunder-cloud
suspense hangs over Australia.

Spring is far advanced. It has been a glorious season. Soaking rains
in many parts have clothed the countryside a rich green. Nature, like
mankind, seems to be mocking the doomed Continent. The wheatfields are
bending in golden heaviness, harvesting should begin. Wool, the staple
product of Australia, should already be choking the ports. Instead,
much of it is still on the sheep's backs, shearing is proceeding
painfully slow. Everywhere there is an outcry for labour. Political
excitement has kept in the cities this year large numbers of men who
in ordinary times would have gone up country about mid-winter.
Certainly there is no plethora of employment in the towns either, but
the general disorganization of business creates many casual jobs. At
any rate, in the centres of population one is an active member of the
body politic, one knows what is happening and takes part in it--
thrills so dear to half--educated democrats. Away in the backblocks,
on the contrary, one becomes a mere machine, grinding through hard
tasks--not a pleasant change while so much is going on. The young men,
moreover, are absorbed in the army, and though the authorities are
doing everything to release them for agricultural work, many prefer
the easy military life and hold out for increased monetary
inducements. On reflection even ardent patriots do not like paper
money. It is not a safe investment to toil for. Hard cash or no hands!

Meanwhile the landholders are reduced to despair. Most of them have
only touched a few silver or copper coins of late. The harvest will
rot on the fields if it is not secured quickly. Already rural
associations are forming, at first for the purpose of mutual
assistance in harvesting. The large owners are distinguishing
themselves in this movement, uniting their permanent hands in gangs
and setting them shearing, the drawing of lots deciding the rotation
in which the various stations are to be taken. Such firmly knit
bodyguards, having been once created, are found useful in more ways
than merely shearing or reaping. And quickly the recruiting of forced
labour becomes their most important function. To such a pass have
things come in Australia, the Land of the Free!

Liberty or no liberty, the wool must be marketed, the crops must be
brought in. If not voluntarily, the necessary work must be done by
compulsion. Law and order have been set at naught so often that one
more transgression does not count. There is no authority out back to
which the victimized bush workers and small selectors can appeal for
protection. Those who become reconciled with their lot and show
willingness, are treated fairly well, and even persuade friends to
join. So the ranks of the dependents swell. In like proportion the
mettle of the organizers rises. The insignificant local unions are
drawing towards each other and are rapidly being forged together to
powerful district leagues. Soon the moving spirits will begin to dream
of an all-embracing Rural Association, stretching from Central
Queensland through Middle and West New South Wales to North-West
Victoria and into the interior of South Australia. And the big
proprietors, whose retainers form the backbone of the organization and
who naturally control it, may then hope to influence the inevitable
land legislation of the Federal Parliament in favour of present
holders.

Already the enormous increase of numbers is begetting a
consciousness of strength and an impatience of opposition, which has
also grown apace. For a large percentage of the western toilers
belongs to the Australian Workers' Union, one of the most
uncompromising labour bodies in the Commonwealth, and defies the
incipient Association. No wonder the latter resents such behaviour, if
only by reason of the dangerous example set to the more pliable men.
The latent antipathy between the landless and the land monopolists is
changing to revengeful fury. Occasional explosions of violence on both
sides become more frequent. Soon the illimitable bush, so well adapted
to keep its secrets, will be turned into a battleground of the worst
human passions. Press gangs will infest it. Boycott and kidnappings
will be daily occurrences. In retribution, fires of unaccountable
origin will rage and consume many a proud homestead. And not many
questions will be asked of any suspected incendiary--his end will be
swift and sure whether he be guilty or innocent.

In the cities the misery is just as intense. Is it not spring, the
season when that other dreaded Oriental invasion, the Plague, rears
its head? It has been fought bravely in the past, it has been kept in
check, but never quite exterminated. Now is its chance. No funds for
sanitary improvements. A general enfeeblement of health. Universal
listlessness. Famine rampant. Not plague alone, typhoid, low fever,
consumption and a host of other diseases find a fertile soil. The
death rate is multiplying.

Groan, ye mothers! Wrestle in prayer, fathers! Pray, not for the
lives of your dear ones, but that they may have a chance to die in the
defence of their country, striking a blow for deliverance--not like
drowning rats in a sinking ship! Alas, the Heavens are deaf. Lost
opportunities never come back. Stagnation everywhere! Only a solitary
something is felt moving by all, creeping nearer and nearer like a
death-reptile with fascinating, paralysing eyes: Public and Private
Bankruptcy!

The contemporary historian, to be of any use, must poleaxe his
sympathies and bury them at sea, by night, with a heavy weight for
ballast, so that they may never trouble him again. Else he becomes
unreliable. It is his duty to accumulate hard facts. Hard facts point
their own moral. And yet, may not even memories of his dead sympathies
visit him in the darkest hour, to lighten his cruel task?

Australia, thou didst not deserve this fate! Numberless were thy
mistakes, but generosity was responsible for the most of them. Many
hearts full of sorrow, many eyes dimmed with tears, were cheered by
thy triumphant march in the van of humanitarian effort. It seemed that
under thy congenial blue skies a new Greece was arising, a more
perfect Athens, scorning slavery and conferring the sacred rights of
citizenship upon its entire manhood and womanhood; and which, even as
in Athens of old those deserving citizens had been ostracized who
monopolized political favour, would dare to ostracize Old-World
monopoly and injustice. And is this to be the result?

Perhaps it is all not true. It may only be a nightmare. Thou wilt
awake, Australia! Thou wilt arouse thyself, thou wilt gird thy loins.
Thou wilt confound the false coiners of cheap insular phrases who
would persuade thee to rely on what thou canst not control! Every one
of thy sons shall be a warrior, every one of thy daughters a warrior's
helpmate! Not for conquest. But in defence of thy inalienable right of
shaping thy own destiny. Then, only then, thou mayest safely continue
thy triumphant march. Then thou wilt enter into thy proud Twentieth
Century Nationhood, which will be a joy, not an oppression! Thou
wilt--What? ... At present thou art staggering through the midnight of
thy fate, tired, dead tired!



Chapter IX: Massacre



UNDER the circumstances, Colonel Ireton did not accomplish much in
Port Darwin. Apart from a more satisfactory arrangement of local
services in connexion with his mission, his one success was the
exaction of a firm promise from headquarters that two more steamers
fitted with wireless telegraph would be despatched to the North at
once. One of these he intended to station off the secret Japanese
base, while the other was to patrol the coast regularly. He did not
prolong his stay, and on the evening of December 9 he arrived again in
the fort.

The Federal garrison had hardly ventured out of barracks in the
meantime. One night a determined attempt had been made by swarms of
the enemy to burn down the fort. The free use of firearms had kept
them in check. But the prowlers had carried off their dead and wounded
under cover of the darkness, leaving no trace by which they might be
identified, and no proof of their criminal enterprise. Otherwise, the
Japanese continued to ignore the existence of the whites, except in
one particular. A new jetty was being constructed in place and on the
foundations of the old one which had been destroyed. The invaders
worked at it in a great hurry. Large gangs of toilers were employed
day and night. Even some of the most substantial buildings were
demolished, so that the seasoned timber, of which there was evidently
a dearth, might be used for this structure. And a few Australian
soldiers, who followed the peaceful occupation of fishing, were warned
off its neighbourhood. As they did not seem to take notice, fences
were erected on land, and well manned Japanese boats patrolled
unceasingly the waters round the jetty.

Colonel Ireton had no sooner heard of the fresh development than he
regarded it as a hint of providence. The jetty was all but completed.
So next morning he ordered his steamer alongside. As she approached, a
Japanese hastened forward and asked the captain for a wharfage fee. He
was referred to the Colonel, who, of course, refused to listen to such
demands. Nothing more happened until the steamer began to discharge
cargo. Then an unarmed party of Japanese advanced boldly and seized
the first cases. They held their ground unflinchingly, though the
carriers tried to drive them off with blows, and unfolded a Union
Jack, thus imparting an official character to their proceedings.
Colonel Ireton, on being informed, perceived that he had fallen into
the trap of the enemy, who had foreseen what he would do and who had
devised a careful plan to outwit him. It was too late to withdraw with
honour. Accepting the situation, he alarmed the garrison and marched
down to the jetty fifty men under his personal command. Meanwhile the
other side had not remained passive. The Elders were wending their way
to the same place, attended by a large escort. Both parties arrived
almost at the same moment. The Colonel ordered his men to remove the
goods, which consisted of half a dozen cases. But the Elders prevented
the execution of this instruction by sitting down, in calm
deliberation, on top of the disputed cases. Even the Colonel recoiled
from the idea of treating these magistrates with the offhandedness
which would have been meted out to the common rabble. There was an
awkward silence. Then he asked curtly what they meant by robbing the
Commonwealth. "We rob nobody and nothing," their spokesman replied.
"We simply place embargo on the goods in lien of payment of the fee
due to us for the use of the jetty." "This is Australian soil," said
the Colonel; "nothing will be paid for landing cargo in our own
territory." "That may be so," was the retort, "but this jetty was
built under your eyes by our people for the benefit of the community.
We do not wish you to have anything to do with it at all, for fear it
might be burned down again. But if you use it, it is only just that
you should pay the ordinary fee which we charge against our own
steamers, and which would be enforced against the shipping of all
nations."

It was evident that nothing could be gained by arguing the point. So
the Colonel said: "Apply to the courts. But I won't have violence here
while I and my comrades can shoot straight." Turning to his men, he
called out: "Remove the goods. If any fellow resists, shift him." The
Elders exclaimed in chorus: "The British Empire stands for justice. We
cannot get justice here." "Go then where you can," mocked the Colonel,
and added: "You have no case at all. In every civilized country you
have to get a permit before you can start building. I am the Federal
officer in authority in this district, and I know you did not apply to
me for permission. By the law of the nation, I can command you to
remove your jetty altogether. I shall do so if there is any more
obstinacy. Forward, men!" The spokesman stepped close to Colonel
Ireton: "Take care," he hissed, "Japan is stronger than your
Commonwealth."

He was cut short by a scuffle, in which he and his colleagues were
brushed aside contemptuously, while the coolies were knocked down in
all directions. Next moment the Australians had secured the goods and
were continuing the discharging of the steamer regardless of the
multitudes of Japanese thronging round, who for once had deserted
their ordinary duties and were standing about in thick clusters at
short distance, as if they had been invited to witness the hoped-for
discomfiture of the whites. Though sadly disappointed, they never
stirred. No sign, no order came from the Elders, and in its absence no
Japanese dared to spring to the assistance of his leaders. Discipline
held the Asiatics in an iron grasp, which even the sight of acute
humiliation could not relax. The Elders exchanged a few words in their
own language and retired, followed by all their faithful subjects.
Obviously, they considered that, after all, the propitious moment had
not yet arrived for a final reckoning with the hated Federals. The
steamer left the jetty before nightfall, for Colonel Ireton did not
like to court the risk of another conflagration.

After the jetty incident the Japanese did not let a day pass by
without some demonstration of their utter dislike of the Australians.
They had already exterminated the wild animal life in the district of
older settlement to such an extent that hunting trips had to last over
several days before sufficient game could be had to vary the
monotonous diet of the garrison. Now they began to destroy the fish in
the inlet by explosions of dynamite, doubtless for the purpose of
putting an end to the angling sport, which formed perhaps the chief
recreation of the lonely white exiles. This callous behaviour outraged
the clean sporting instincts for which the Australians are famous,
and, probably more than anything else, caused the latter to loathe the
alien race.

But this was not the worst. Even while Colonel Ireton was still
absent on his visit to Port Darwin, curious accidents commenced to
happen. Bridges, which had often been crossed in perfect safety,
became unstable. Planks shifted. In the log roads over swamps, deep
treacherous holes opened, concealed mostly under a cover of branches
or grass. Several horses had been hurt at these danger spots and had
to be killed. A man broke his leg; another was thrown by his
frightened animal on such an occasion, and fractured his collar-bone.
At first it was thought that the rainy season, which was now at its
height, was responsible for the bad state of the tracks. Colonel
Ireton's sub-commander wrote a letter about it to the Elders and
received a courteous acknowledgement regretting the mishaps, but
pointing out that the roads and bridges had not been designed to
withstand the weight of horse traffic. Colonel Ireton himself was
inclined on reflection to suspect a new villainy on the part of the
cunning Asiatics. There seemed to be so much method about these
occurrences. He could not prove anything, however. So he had to hold
his peace and to be content with warning his men to be very careful
and to travel only in broad daylight.

The Colonel kept his men much in the fort now. His idea was to lie
quiet until the promised steamers should arrive, when he intended to
boldly plant a detachment at the secret base and to generally overawe
the enemy. But this penning-up of a garrison bereft of enjoyments and
diversions could not be carried out for long without evil
consequences. Although the Commander was well liked, discipline began
to suffer. The veterans of the Western campaign grumbled. That affair
had been breezy. Nobody thought much of the heavy losses, which were
forgotten in the great patriotic stir. Here, on the contrary,
everything stagnated. There was no action to defeat the creeping
tactics of the coloured aliens, no hope of a change by which this dead
waste of weeks and months might be justified. It was bad enough to
break the hearts of heroes. So Colonel Ireton had to give way by
consenting to another series of hunting trips. As it had not rained
for some days, he decided to lead personally the first party.

He rode out with fifty men on the morning of December 12. About
twelve miles to the south he came to the largest bridge of the
district, over a creek dry in winter, but through which torrents
roared often in summertime. However, there was only a chain of ponds
in it now. A gang of coolies were working at the bridge when the
whites approached. But these fellows disdainfully turned their backs
on the latter, as had been their habit of late, and retired without
uttering a word. The Colonel called out a warning. Three men cantered
over the structure and signalled that all was safe. They were too
hasty. Suddenly, when they were within a few yards of the other side,
a crash was heard. Planks broke, and two riders were precipitated into
the bottom of the creek. The third just managed to parry his horse and
to hurry back. The coolies looked on from some distance, without
moving a limb to render assistance. This callous apathy threw the
Colonel into a violent rage. Leading his escort through the bed of the
creek, he ordered the arrest of the loitering Japanese. While some
soldiers pursued and secured them, without meeting with any
resistance, others attended to the victims. One was dead, having
dislocated his neck in the fall. His comrade was unconscious and
suffered from a broken arm. Both horses had to be shot.

Colonel Ireton immediately returned to the fort with his eleven
prisoners. He was determined to bring matters to a head. In his
capacity as Chief Federal Magistrate and Commander-in-Chief, he
proclaimed martial law over the Japanese settlement the same afternoon
and informed the Elders that he would try all offenders, and in the
first place the arrested coolies, before a summary court of justice
consisting of Commonwealth officers appointed by him. He further
stated that the trial would commence on the following day at 10 a.m.
in front of the fort, and that an alleged ignorance of the English
language on the part of the accused would not be allowed to interfere
with the course of the justice in Imperial territory, before an
Imperial court; if, however, an interpreter should be furnished by the
Japanese community, his appearance would not be objected to. Notices
to this effect were also nailed to the outsides of the principal
buildings in the four quarters of the capital, and a further supply
was handed to the Elders by an orderly of the Commandant, with the
peremptory demand that they should be published in every outlying
village.

The Board of Five solemnly protested against the introduction of
martial law, on the ground that it had not been proved that properly
constituted civil courts would be unable to deal with any matters
arising among the settlers. For this reason they refused to help the
court without a guarantee that such action would not be taken as an
acknowledgement of its powers. The Colonel refused to listen to any
conditions. Nevertheless, a Japanese offered his services privately.
But he would accept no payment from the whites. He said that he would
rather rely on the prisoners for his reward. All this, of course, was
a farce originating in the desire of the Elders to get into touch with
the captives. The Asiatic mind ever prefers to move in curves rather
than in a straight line.

Proceedings opened punctually at 10 a.m. on December 13. Deal
benches formed the seat of justice, surmounted by a tent roof
supported by bare poles, so that sun or rain were kept out and yet the
view of the audience was not obstructed.

The court consisted of twelve officers under the presidency of
Colonel Ireton, The two other officers acted as Crown Prosecutor and
Counsel for the Defence. Fifty men, with fixed bayonets, kept guard.
The remainder of the garrison was held ready for instant action within
the fort No Japanese were visible, with the exception of the
interpreter, who begun by doubting, on behalf of his clients, the
competency of the court and subsided only when he was told that he did
not represent counsel. The ordinary routine of courts was observed.
The Prosecutor outlined his case and called witnesses--the members of
the hunting party--who were then cross-examined by the other side.
Their evidence brought out the facts clearly, the collapse of the
bridge, the presence of the accused, who had uttered no warning and
had rendered no help. As for the defence, the interpreter was
irrepressible in spite of the previous snub and soon ran it himself.
He maintained that it had not been proved that the prisoners had been
on or near the scene of the disaster. The witnesses, in reply, stated
that all the accused belonged to the gang which had worked on the
bridge. So the interpreter was thrown back on the old assertion that
the occurrence was an accident and that any possible blame must attach
to the whites, because they had carelessly subjected the structure to
an overweight.

The court found that the prisoners worked on the bridge when the
hunting party approached, and that it was their duty to warn
travellers of its unsafeness. This had not been done, either from
gross neglect or from malice, and loss of life had been the direct
consequence of the omission. Furthermore, no help had been rendered,
either by them or by their mates, which callousness aggravated the
offence. The prisoners, therefore, were found guilty and were
sentenced to a public flogging of twenty-five lashes each.

During the afternoon Colonel Ireton received a communication from
the Elders intimating that they were unable to vouch for the
maintenance of peace if the feelings of the Japanese community should
be outraged by the public execution of the sentence. But he resolved
to persist without mercy. His men were enthusiastic and looked forward
eagerly to the moment when brown malefactors should writhe under the
whiplash of the whites in revenge for so many silent insults. Some of
the officers were more anxious, but even the most cautious man had to
admit that it was time to take risks. That the Elders, so
imperturbable and cool hitherto, should have become so frantic that
they condescended to a threatening message, was considered a good
sign. The Australians were still convinced that the enemy would not
dare to employ open violence; though the Empire might tolerate the
outwitting of one of its units by diplomacy, it was inconceivable that
its rulers would look on calmly if arms were raised against men who
wore its uniform. These soldiers, a mere handful, felt that the whole
striking force of the Empire was at their back and conducted
themselves accordingly.

Early on December 14 the tent was set up again. Twenty-five yards
away four flogging stocks were constructed of broad deal benches
fitted with stout leather straps. While these preparations were under
way, the Elders requested an interview, but the Colonel postponed it
until after demands of justice should be satisfied, as he could not
permit criticism of the findings of the court or interference with
their proper performance. At 10 a.m. fifty Australians, fully armed,
marched out and surrounded the tent where the court was already
assembled. A few minutes later the prisoners were brought down,
escorted by another detachment of soldiers. An officer read the
judgement and then showed the signatures to the oldest captain, whose
duty it was to see it carried out. Eleven floggers, who had been
selected by ballot from the ranks, one for each culprit, stepped
forward and seized their charges. A military surgeon hurriedly
examined the prisoners to ascertain whether they were physically fit
to undergo the punishment. Then the oldest captain called out in a
loud voice: "Now let justice be done!"

Opposite, in a wide half-circle, groups of Japanese clustered in deep
silence, nearly without motion, in attitudes of panting suspense. So
they remained until they heard the slashing noise of the first blow,
and the shriek which followed. A hundred voices took up, repeated,
intensified the cry. It was like the wail of a wounded monster. With
the suddenness of lightning, the groups dissolved into a whirling sea
of humanity, surging forward with stretched arms. They carried no
weapons--their mission was a last peaceful appeal of a warlike race. A
short command--a white file formed to meet them, dividing, breaking,
pushing back the brown flood. Behind, the flogging went on as if
nothing was happening. For a moment the Japanese wavered. But the
fourfold screams of the victims spurred them to fresh exertions. On
they came again, and now they closed with the soldiers, who were
forced to use their rifle butts, even their bayonets, to repulse the
ju-jitsuing fiends. Suddenly an alert mob outflanked them and rushed
swiftly towards the flogging stocks. Before, however, the rioters
could interrupt the execution of the sentence, the Colonel had sprung
forward and ordered his men to fire; they did so at point blank range,
with terrible effect. The rapidly advancing crowd fell back in
indescribable disorder. Many of the survivors threw themselves flat on
the ground. Their bodies, and those of the slain, remained after a
minute the only visible sign of the formidable onset and its fatal
end.

The flogging had been done with: the culprits were set free; orders
were given to succour the wounded, when, all at once, a new commotion
in the Japanese quarters attracted the attention of the Australians.
There rose, from behind the low ramparts, a well-armed host. Thin
lines dashed forth, curling around the flanks of the handful of
Federals. These were now retreating leisurely, as if unconscious of
the singular manoeuvre. At a bugle call, the Asiatics threw themselves
down. Instinctively, the whites did the same. A volley rang out,
followed by terrific sectional fire. The enemy, at last, had come into
the open. A large force tried to intercept the retreat to the fort.
Colonel Ireton's efforts were all in the direction of defeating this
purpose. With the help of the reserves, who had been left within, he
succeeded. The majority of his men regained the sheltering barracks.
He himself had to be carried in, shot through the hip. Five officers
and forty-two men lay outside, dead or wounded.

As quickly as the battle fury had broken loose it died away. The
Japanese army withdrew out of the firing zone and assumed a waiting
attitude at a safe distance. From the central offices the Board of
Five approached under a Union Jack surmounted by a white towel. They
came to dictate the terms of surrender. For that was what it amounted
to. Only about two hundred and fifty unwounded defenders were left to
oppose the invaders. The provisions in store would hardly last a
fortnight and, of course, no relief could be expected. Indeed, the
Elders did not look forward to a siege. Apologizing for the painful
necessity which had brought them there, they announced that in case of
a renewal of hostilities the fort would be a mass of flames within an
hour. On the other hand, if peaceful counsels prevailed, they promised
that the wounded would receive immediate care. Under the
circumstances, the conditions were soon formulated and accepted.
Colonel Ireton agreed to ship his whole garrison to Port Darwin as
rapidly as the Federal steamer, which served as floating wireless
station, could be got alongside the jetty. Only the badly wounded men
were to remain behind in charge of the military surgeons, and the
Japanese bound themselves to do everything in their power to assist
the latter and to supply proper food. The whites retained their arms.
As there was not enough space in the vessel for the horses, it was
determined that the Japanese should take care of them for three weeks,
and should deliver them to any authorized person who might demand them
within that period. After that they should become the property of the
settlers.

The garrison embarked early on December 16. It must be admitted that
the conquerors behaved modestly after their triumph. There was no
jeering, no ironical cheering. Colonel Ireton, who should have
remained with the other wounded men, insisted on being removed at
once. He died at sea, less from his wound than from a broken heart, as
his faithful soldiers are fond of asserting. According to his last
wish he was buried in the placid waters which lave the shores of the
Northern Territory, wastes which he had battled for so bravely, and
died for in the bitter end.



Chapter X: Black Christmas--Peace on Earth, but No Great Joy for
Australia



IN the afternoon of December 16, London time--two days after the
massacre of the Federal garrison therefore--the Japanese Ambassador to
the Court of St. James informed the British Government of the
unfortunate occurrence. This was perhaps the most remarkable proof of
the wonderful organization which enabled the invaders to flash
wireless messages to Tokio within a few hours. That this method of
communication existed was no longer a secret, because the quick
response of the Japanese Press to the alleged oppression of the
settlers by the Commonwealth Commander could only be explained in this
way. The Ambassador was very suave on this occasion, as usual. He said
that the dreaded clash between the tyrannical Federal garrison and the
harassed refugees had at last come to pass. As far as he knew the
blame rested with the Australians, who had presumed to maltreat
several of his former compatriots under the pretext of a crime which
without any doubt was no crime, but an accident, and any connexion
with which, moreover, had not been proved against the hapless victims.
Nevertheless, he was charged to express the sincere regrets of the
Mikado and his advisers for the lamentable affair, which had resulted
in the death of about a score of white soldiers, while the losses of
the settlers were even larger. His Government must reserve the right
to lodge reasonable claims against the Commonwealth on behalf of the
refugees, since the latter, to the sorrow of every one of them, had
not yet been admitted to British citizenship. At the same time he
could assure the allied nation that Japan felt no resentment against
individuals who, of course, had to obey orders, and was willing to
consider favourably any suggestion of a compensation to the wounded
and to the near relations of the dead, provided guarantees were given
that the conditions, which had led up to the climax and were the cause
of the proposed monetary sacrifice, could not recur.

But what the diplomat left unmentioned the Tokio Press boldly spoke
out. The papers, which had already made furious comments about the
jetty quarrel, now called distinctly for war against Australia, even
against the Empire. With regard to the latter case, they indulged in
some exquisite contortions for the purpose of conveying the impression
that they could not contemplate or even talk about such a possibility
without pangs of acute suffering. "Every one in this country is proud
of our alliance with the Mistress of the Seas," one journal wrote,
"and every one desires to be loyal to her. These feelings are
reciprocated by the people of Great Britain, as we know. But Britain
is merely part of a whole, and if we may believe the clamours of other
portions of her Empire she is a part rapidly diminishing in
importance. We have to consider those others. The loudest among them
at present is Australia. Who are the Australians? They are the men who
have owned a Continent for a century and imagine that a handful of
them have a better right to it than hundreds of millions of our race.
They are the men who could not hold it for an hour against our will by
their own strength. Yet they think that they may oppress a small
number of our starved compatriots. They defy us daily. They insult us
daily. By God, we shall end this shameful thing. If England can be
ordered about by such people, she can be our friend no longer. We are
all very sorry that our honourable friendship should terminate for
such a paltry reason. But it is not our fault. Honour commands us to
make war on Australia. Let us do so, and then we shall see. Let us
make war against every one who helps Australia. They say England will
have to help her. If so, we may be beaten. We are not afraid to face
our fate and may admit at once, therefore, that according to all human
calculation of probable events we shall be beaten by mighty England.
That will not be a dishonour. The sons of Day Nippon do not quarrel
with the inevitable. But do not let us drift into war. If Great
Britain wants to fight us, not because of her own grievances, which do
not exist, but because she has no will apart from the other portions
of the Empire, well, let us strike the first blow with all our power,
with all our heart."

Other papers wrote in a similar strain. Moreover, Tokio gave an
exhibition of its dreaded public opinion in another form. Crowds
gathered in its streets and listened to popular orators denouncing the
Commonwealth. Afterwards there were some riotous demonstrations. The
Japanese Government did not forget to point to this occurrence as an
expression of the will of the people. But another little incident had
a far deeper effect on the temper of the British masses. It was
reported by cable to the English Press that on December 18 a Japanese
squadron, composed of three battleships of the Dreadnought type and
two enormous cruisers, had paid a friendly visit at Weihawai, the
British station at the entrance of the Gulf of Pechili. The same issue
of the London morning papers which brought this item contained also a
summary of the first Federal statement and protest to the Imperial
authorities about the Northern Territory affair, which was described
tersely and correctly as a massacre.

And that afternoon (December 19) the Japanese Ambassador demanded
boldly an official apology on the part of the Commonwealth for the
flogging of the eleven prisoners. He insisted that there was no
justification for the punishment, because the offence of which these
men had been accused, even supposing that they had been guilty of it,
was not one for which flogging was resorted to in civilized
communities. It was an outrage, an incitement to bloodshed, and his
nation was proud of the fact that it had been revenged instantly. But
that was not enough. Japan, as the representative of the Asiatic races
against which this foul insult had been levelled, regretted the
necessity of having to ask its ally to exact satisfaction from the
latter's dependency. This request was the crowning mercy of the
record-breaking Far Eastern diplomacy. It did not only compel the
Imperial authorities to take sides at once, but it determined the
choice for them. The British people would never tolerate Ministers who
shielded floggers. Everybody knows to-day, of course, that Colonel
Ireton's method of dealing with cowardly assassins erred rather in the
direction of leniency. But if he had shot the male-factors, he would
have had a better chance with the well-meaning, but insularly narrow-
minded humanitarians who rule the Empire in the last instance and who
have an inherited horror of corporeal chastisement.

That very influential section of the English Press which preaches
Imperialism from a capitalistic point of view, and which would have
smiled at the flogging of Asiatics if it had happened in India or in
some other colony with approved conservative principles, had nothing
to say to the Commonwealth. It did not even wax furious any more about
the legislation passed by the Federal Parliament. Its readers, the
wealthy classes of the United Kingdom and their hangers-on, had become
resigned to the thought that Communism--as they termed it--must run
its full course in Australia. They were no longer alarmed at any
particular manifestations of those tendencies. In fact, they took such
a hopeless view of Australian affairs that they were surprised at a
state of mind which denotes the death of all sympathy. And their
papers reflected the apathy and were only strong on one point: that
the helpless and demoralized Commonwealth was now less than ever worth
the risk of exposing the Heart of the Empire to danger.

The great hope of the Australian people, overwhelmed with so many
internal difficulties and stupefied by this new terrible blow, was a
resurrection of sentiment in the sister dominions. If anything was
able to fan into flame again the hatred of coloured races, it was
surely an affront directed against a section of the Imperial defence
forces. But the autonomous colonies were as tired of the interminable
Northern Territory deadlock as the mother country. Before it was
finally settled, London refused to lift colonial securities out of the
slough of despondency or to find fresh funds, which were required most
urgently. The ordinary citizens of those far-away dependencies did not
understand the causes which compelled the Australians to hang back
from the enemy, instead of rushing at him in the good old British
style. They would have joined gladly in a willing, closely contested
war. This melancholy stagnation, however, proved too much for them.

Already in the evening of December 16 the Imperial authorities had
preferred a peremptory demand that the Commonwealth should place the
Northern Territory into their hands. The Federal Government, in its
turn, asked for guarantees that the principle of the White Continent
would be upheld. Its action was applauded by the whole nation. On
December 19 Great Britain proclaimed a blockade of the whole
Australian coast. Probably this step had been contemplated for some
weeks, as the vessels of the Australian squadron, which were usually
concentrated at Sydney, had been distributed among the capital ports
about a fortnight ago. Now the men-of-war left the harbours and
stationed themselves off the heads of the ports of Brisbane,
Newcastle, Sydney, Melbourne and Freemantle. Two gunboats cruised off
Adelaide. No merchant ships were allowed to pass in or out. Never had
a blockade been rendered more easily efficient. There was a subtle
irony in it, too: Australia's subsidized navy was employed to coerce
Australia.

The blockade created consternation in the ranks of the Extremists. It
interrupted completely connexion with Western Australia, Tasmania and
Northern Queensland. If it should last for some time, old separatist
hopes might be revived. Moreover, the construction of the
transcontinental railway to Port Darwin, which was wholly dependent on
imports for its materials, would have to be stopped. On the other hand
the Imperial statesmen, who had taken this desperate step, were
secretly at least as anxious as the Federal politicians to terminate
the blockade, which arrested absolutely the circulation of produce and
was sure to bring about the entire economic ruin of the Commonwealth
within a few weeks. Great Britain feared one thing--the repudiation of
the public debt by Australia. There was really little danger of it as
long as any other chance remained of restoring the fortunes of the
community. For even the most resolute Extremists, while impatient of
personal privilege and private monopoly, were too patriotic to
contemplate calmly the disgrace which the disavowment of obligations
entered into voluntarily would bring upon the nation. But a prolonged
blockade might force the Continent into bankruptcy.

Under the circumstances it was natural that cable-grams were
exchanged unceasingly between London and Melbourne. About noon on
Christmas Eve it became known that a preliminary understanding had
been arrived at and that the blockade was ended. That Christmas will
never be forgotten in Australia. It was Black Christmas: Christmas of
desolation. The open country was in the throes of a silent, merciless
struggle. The harvest was in danger of being spoilt. Desperate
landholders and farmers stopped short at nothing which would give them
labour to prevent further damage. Men were hunted, trapped and, if
they resisted, even killed like vermin. In retribution, many a fine
homestead, many a grand wheat paddock blazed to the sky. In the big
cities, people were hardly yet realizing the state of the interior.
Still a few precursory murmurs made themselves heard already. Soon
they were destined to swell into another wild street roar of sympathy
with the oppressed toilers, which would drown all excuses, every plea
of necessity by the owners of the soil, and would precipate the whole
vexed, vital land problem for settlement by popular fury, suspicion
and resentment. Buildings and streets, damaged in the riots, had
fallen into disrepair. Many citizens, wealthy or well-to-do a short
year ago, were beggared. Others, less unfortunate, did nevertheless
feel beggared by comparison with their former standing. The principal
financial institutions survived only by reason of protective
Parliamentary enactments. The rate of unemployment was frightful. A
majority of townspeople seemed to depend on casual jobs for a
livelihood. And all over the Continent there remained hardly a family
which did not mourn the recent death of some dear member killed in the
wars, the riots, by disease, famine, or by some other horror for which
the great crisis was responsible.

After the preliminary understanding had been announced, several weeks
passed during which negotiations were carried on between London and
Tokio, and between London and Melbourne. The final agreement was
published on February 26, 1913, and contains the following clauses:

1. The Commonwealth cedes part of the Northern Territory to Great
Britain, viz., the district between Alligator River west and the Gulf
of Carpentaria east, and between the Roper River south and the sea to
the north, including Coburg Peninsula and all the islands within the
limit of 50 miles from the main land, but with the exception of all islands in
Van Diemen's Gulf and also of Groote Eylandt on condition that Great
Britain guarantees never to cede this territory to any Foreign Power.

2. The Commonwealth has no voice in the Government of the ceded

territory, but if Great Britain should desire at any time to retire
from the possession the Commonwealth is to have first option of requirement.
before a separate State or Colony may be formed of it. The retirement
of Great Britain shall not be permissible before the year 1940.

3. Great Britain pays to the Commonwealth £10,000,000 in
consideration of this cession and will guarantee another Commonwealth loan of
£8,000,000 extended over five years. The influence of the Imperial
Government will also be used to facilitate the renewal of Australian
loans falling due within the next five years.

4. Great Britain recognizes the right of the Commonwealth to exclude
coloured races from its own territory.

5. The laws passed by the Federal Parliament, which have not yet
received the formal Royal assent, are to be submitted to a referendum
of the people, and such as may be accepted by a simple majority will
then receive the Royal assent.

6. Great Britain acknowledges the Federal High Court to be in future
the last instance in all civil disputes within the Commonwealth.

The White Continent was now a memory of the past. But the White
Commonwealth had at last become an acknowledged reality. In spite of
its failure the defence of the greater ideal was not without
beneficial results. Its very violence had destroyed the causes which
underlay the failure and what had been saved had at least been saved
on basic conditions which made the recurrence of former mistakes and
sins impossible. Above all, a long peace was wanted now. Australia
required immigrants, time to recover breath, leisure to work out its
destiny along the track blazed in the Terrible Year. Therefore a
practically unanimous Parliament accepted the agreement against the
chief principle of which it had waged heroic war in vain.

It is impossible to review here the aftermath of the Commonwealth
crisis--the prolonged economic convulsions, the agrarian excesses, and
the slow, painful recovery. Suffice it to say that few outward traces
of the national collapse remain to-day (1922). A rarely interrupted
succession of good seasons has brought into full play the marvellous
fertility of the soil. Again wealth is increasing, though the
financial burdens incurred in consequence of the Japanese invasion are
pressing heavily. The transcontinental railway to Port Darwin has been
completed and is now being linked up with the Eastern lines.

A great deal depends on successful white settlement in the North. So
far little has been achieved; perhaps the time has been too short. But
it is the problem which in vital importance overshadows all others.
For the alienated extreme Northern corner--Australia Irredenta--is
flourishing with a hostile civilization. Under lenient British rule a
new Japanese empire is in the making. Already it is said to contain,
if the second generation is counted in, an Asiatic population of
200,000 souls. It is constructing railways and ports. A truce has been
cried until 1940 A.D. Till then the Commonwealth must get ready for
its relentless march to the North to save the purity of the race by
sweeping the brown invaders back over the coral sea. The alternative
is the irretrievable conquest of tropical Australia by the hordes of
the Orient. In this struggle the still larger issue is bound up
whether the White or the Yellow Race shall gain final supremacy.
Christian civilization cannot afford the loss of this Continent, FOR
AUSTRALIA IS THE PRECIOUS FRONT BUCKLE IN THE WHITE GIRDLE OF POWER
AND PROGRESS ENCIRCLING THE GLOBE.



THE END



This site is full of FREE ebooks - Project Gutenberg Australia