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


Title: A Bush Bayard: Being A Romance of the Reign of Macquarie
Author: John Sandes (1863-1938)
* A Project Gutenberg Australia eBook *
eBook No.: 1000471.txt
Language: English
Date first posted: September 2010
Date most recently updated: September 2010

This eBook was produced by: Lyn Mulcahy

Note: A "bayard" is a bay horse.

Project Gutenberg 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 Australia License which may be viewed online at
http://gutenberg.net.au/licence.html

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

------------------------------------------------------------------------

Title: A Bush Bayard: Being A Romance of the Reign of Macquarie
Author: John Sandes (1863-1938)

*

Author of "Designing Fate," "Love and the Aeroplane." "Gentleman Jack,"
"The Captain of the Gang," "Turon Gold," &c.

*

Published in The Advertiser (Adelaide S.A.) 26 July, 1913.

This story was renamed as "A Rebel of the Bush" and published under
the nom de plume of Don Delaney. The story is not generally known as
'A Bush Bayard'.

*

Two contemporary reviews of the story can be found at the end of this file

*



CHAPTER I.--THE EMIGRANTS' GOOD-BYE.


The emigrants' last night in England was a dark and stormy one.

Yonder in Plymouth Sound the emigrant ship Amphitrite rocked at her
moorings. She was to sail next morning.

In the cottage on the moor that God-fearing young farmer, Tom Trevithick
sat reading his Bible, which lay on the table in front of him. Beside
him sat his wife knitting. The three children, two boys and a girl, were
sleeping quietly in their cots, undisturbed by the rain that beat
gustily upon the window. As the wind howled round the cottage, searching
every cranny, the flame of the candle flickered, and the tallow dripped
in an ever increasing pyramid that formed on the candlestick.

Tom Trevithick, following the line of print with his guiding forefinger,
read slowly and aloud, "They that go down to the sea in ships, and have
their business in the great waters, these see the works of the Lord and
His wonders in the deep."

Lucy Trevithick, his wife, got up and went over to the cot where the
smallest boy was sleeping. She raised the chubby head, smoothed the
pillow, and laid the child down again, tucking in the bedclothes. The
child smiled in his sleep, and the mother bent her head and kissed him.
Then she sat down again beside her husband.

"For He commandeth and raiseth the stormy wind, which lifteth up the
waves thereof. They mount up to heaven, they go down to the depths;
their soul is melted because of trouble."

"Tom, dear," said the woman, "hadn't we better go to bed now and get
some sleep? It must be nearly 12 o'clock."

"Aye, aye, my lass. Just wait a minute until I finish the Psalm, and
then we will go to rest for the last time in old England."

He began to read again, "Oh, that men would praise the Lord for His
goodness," but stopped abruptly in the middle of the verse. "Did ye hear
someone calling, Lucy, or was it only the wind?"

They both listened intently, and sure enough they heard a faint "Hallo!"
through the storm outside. Then there came a sound of wheels and
trotting hoofs that stopped suddenly outside the cottage door.

"Who can it be at this time of night?" said the woman, in a scared tone
of voice. There were grim tales of hearses drawn by headless steeds, and
preceded by phantom riders in Devonshire in those days. Lucy Trevithick
was wrought up by the excitement of the approaching departure, and, like
all the other dwellings on the moor, she readily became a prey to
superstitious fears.

"There's nothing can hurt us, lass, with the Word in front of us," said
Tom, with simple piety. He rose from the chair and went to the door and
opened it. As he did so the wind and rain drove in, making the candle
flicker and nearly extinguishing it.

"Tom, Tom," said Lucy almost in a scream, "there is a tall man on the
threshold. I saw him plain. Now may the Lord preserve us from all harm."

Next moment, a huge figure, heavily cloaked, stood in the cottage. "Why,
Tom Trevithick, don't you know me?" said the intruder, stepping into the
little circle of light that the candle threw out, while the rain dripped
from his cloak and made a puddle on the floor.

"Why, bless me if it ain't the squire," said honest Tom. "Come right in
out of the rain, master. And Lucy, lass, do ye set a chair for squire
and take his cloak. Ye gave us a surprise, master, and no mistake."

But the squire still remained standing. He labored under some strong
excitement, and he made no attempt to remove his heavy driving cloak. He
was a burly man of 50 or thereabouts, and his face was very pale.

"Is anything amiss up at the hall?" enquired honest Tom Trevithick,
looking anxiously at Squire Granger, for whom he had worked since he was
a boy, and to whom he was sincerely devoted with the unquestioning
fidelity, that bound the tiller of the soil to his feudal lord in the
days when George III, was king.

"Aye, Tom, there is much amiss," said the squire, with something like a
sob in his voice. "Trouble and sorrow and shame have entered my house,
and I have come to you to help me." The squire had a small bundle under
his heavy driving cloak. He drew it forth, and a feeble wail came from
the bundle.

"It's a child!" said Mrs. Trevithick wonderingly. She started forward
and took the bundle from the squire, and unwound the outer wrapping with
practised motherly fingers. "Aye, but the poor little body must be nigh
killed with the cold." She took the child in her arms, and busied
herself warming some milk in a pot upon the embers of the fire.

Tom Trevithick looked up at the squire in sheer astonishment. His
slow-moving mind could not grasp the meaning of this midnight visit of
the great landowner, who came to him bearing an unknown infant in his
arms. He waited for the squire to speak.

"Tom," said the squire, speaking under an emotional tension, which he
was unable to conceal. "I have come to you tonight because I want you to
help me--you and your good wife. I am a broken-hearted man Tom, but I
must save the honor of my house and the good name of my family, the
oldest family in these parts, and one which a sorrow like this has never
touched till now."

The squire sat down on the chair, and laid his arms on the table in
front of him, and buried his face in his hands. In a little while he
looked up. Mrs. Trevithick was feeding the infant with spoonfuls of warm
milk out of a cup, and Tom Trevithick was still listening respectfully,
but with undisguised amazement.

"My daughter," said the squire, gulping down a sob. "My daughter, who
was the pride of my eyes and the joy of my life, has brought shame on my
house. This is her child. It was born two months ago. There is no need
for you to know who is the father. She loved him, and she has paid the
price. The woman always pays. She left her home and fled with her old
nurse to a lonely hut far away on the edge of the moor. It was there
that the child was born. The scoundrel who deceived her has gone."

"Oh, poor Miss Sybil." It was Mrs. Trevithick who spoke. She was
crooning to the infant that was now sleeping in her arms, and the tears
were pouring down her cheeks.

"I went to the hut to-night," went on the squire, in low and passionate
tones. "My daughter was not there. Nobody was there except her old
nurse, Martha, who was watching over the child. I took the child out of
its cot in spite of the woman's entreaties, and I have brought it here
to you. My daughter must not keep it. Only four people know of its
existence, at present besides yourselves, namely, its unhappy mother,
the old nurse Martha, the smuggler who brought the French spy to this
country in his lugger, and myself. If the secret goes no further my
daughter's good name may yet be saved, and her whole life shall not be
ruined if I can help it."

"But, squire, what do you want us to do?" asked Tom Trevithick, in utter
perplexity. This midnight revelation was too much for him. His dull wit
could not see the bearings of it, nor guess the nature of the request
that was to come.

"I want you and your wife to take this infant--it is a healthy boy--with
you to Australia in the ship that sails tomorrow." said the squire,
speaking with swift determination. "I want you to treat the child as one
of your own family, and I desire that my daughter shall never see him
again."

"Squire!" said Mrs. Trevithick, in accents of horror. "Oh! think of the
suffering of the mother robbed of her son."

"I have thought of it." said the squire, grimly, "and I feel that though
her sorrow will be grievous, it will be healed in time. It is better for
her to feel agony now than to live with shame for her whole life."

The wind whistled mournfully round the cottage, and the rain beat
heavily on the window pane. The squire threw one quick glance out into
the night. "My gig is outside," he said, "and I must soon go, or the
servants at the hall will suspect something. Trevithick, I have always
been a good master to you, will you do this thing for me?"

Trevithick was bound to the squire by every sentiment of feudal fealty.
He looked at his wife and she nodded her head. "Aye! I will," said the
farmer, holding out his hand, which the squire shook warmly.

"I have not come to you empty handed," said the squire, drawing out a
small canvas bag, and placing it on the table. "Here are a hundred
guineas as provision for the child. When he grows up if I am still alive
write to me and let me know. You will be given land out there in
Australia, and you may count on me to provide a sum of money to start
the boy suitably as a farmer when he reaches manhood. And now, good-bye,
I shall not forget you."

Squire Granger shook hands again with Trevithick and also with his wife.
He opened the door and the wind and rain drove in fiercely. He closed it
behind him, and they heard the wheels of the gig as he journeyed away
through the storm.

Trevithick looked blankly at his wife. The big Bible still lay open on
the table. The embers of the fire still glowed redly.

Nothing was changed in the cottage, except that there was a new life
there which had not been there half an hour before. "Poor little
motherless body," crooned Lucy Trevithick, looking at her own three
children sleeping in their cot, and then at this new arrival that had
come to her out of the stormy night--the night that was her last in the
land of her birth. And then she said quite softly, "Well, I will be your
mother now, my lad," and laid him in her own bed.

In the forenoon of the next day the cottage on the cliff was empty, and
the Amphitrite stood out to sea from Plymouth Sound, bound for New South
Wales with a full complement of free emigrants, who were being sent by
direction of my Lord Sydney, at the request of Governor Phillip, who
desired to put a colony of free farmers on the rich agricultural lands
that he had discovered on the Hawkesbury River.

As the Amphitrite hauled off the head with all her canvas set and
drawing, a strange and tragic scene was enacted in the lonely hut at the
farm end of the same moor on which Trevithick's cottage stood.

"Father, tell, me what you have done with my son." A tall and very
lovely girl faced Squire Granger with flashing eyes and heaving bosom as
she reiterated once more the demand which had already been made many
times without eliciting any other answer than a determined "No."

The big burly man listened to her unmoved. His face was deathly pale.
His lips were tightly compressed. At last he spoke again. "I tell you
once more that you have no son now. I have placed him where you will
never see him again. He is well. He will be cared for properly. I have
provided for him. He will grow to manhood, but, for the sake of your own
good name and the honor of our House, you must never--"

"But father, you do not know all."

"You must never look upon his face again. I tell you. Forget, forget,
for--"

"Ha! What now?" The squire's feet seemed nailed to the floor. Something
crashed in his brain under the stress of his terrible emotion. Then he
fell forward on his face, and the little hut shook with the concussion.

His daughter and old Martha, the nurse, laid him on a bed. The squire's
groom rode off to fetch a doctor, but before the doctor could reach the
hut, Squire Granger, who had never rallied from the stroke, passed out
into the darkness, taking his secret with him--and yet, for all his
vigilance, knowing only half the truth.

Not a soul in England knew that his daughter's child lay sleeping in the
arms of the simple-hearted peasant woman on the deck of the ship that
was already hull down below the horizon.

Separated from her infant son beyond retrieving, the beautiful woman
threw herself upon the bare earth outside the hut, and all her body
shivered with the anguish of that parting, which is the little death.



CHAPTER II.--ON THE HAWKESBURY RIVER.


When the Amphitrite dropped anchor in Sydney harbor, six months after
leaving Plymouth Sound, Major Grose went on board her to greet the
little band of free immigrants who were assembled on the deck to receive
him. There were four families together, and as the big man in his cocked
hat, gold-laced red coat, and white breeches inspected them he was well
satisfied with the shipment. He even pinched the cheeks of the baby in
Mrs. Trevithick's arms playfully and enquired its name. "Tristram
Trevithick, your honor," replied. Mrs. Trevithick, dropping a respectful
courtesy. The baby had been christened at sea by the captain at the
request of its foster-mother, and as Tristram Trevithick it was enrolled
with the other three children of the Devonshire farmer and his wife in
the list of free immigrants whom Major Grose was deputed to settle on
the rich alluvial flats just opened up on the Hawkesbury, or as it was
still called by many, the Warragamba, that being the native name.

"One cannot make farmers out of pick-pockets, Captain Gaskett," said the
Acting Governor genially to the weather-beaten master of the Amphitrite,
"any more than one can make a silk purse out of a sow's ear, but these
people are just the sort we want. I would rather have a dozen of them
than five hundred soldiers or town-bred ne'er-do-weels to grow the wheat
that we need so badly."

Baby Tristram opened his big dark eyes wide at the Governor and cried
lustily. He was a singularly handsome baby, and unlike his
heavy-featured brothers and sisters, he bore the stamp of breeding. The
Governor snapped his fingers to hold the baby's attention. "He's not a
bit like you, Mrs. Trevithick," he rapped out, "but I have no doubt he
will make a good citizen and an excellent farmer, all the same."

Three days later Tom Trevithick, with his wife and the four children,
along with the other free immigrants by the Amphitrite, were embarked in
a Government cutter, and very thankful were all on board when they
rounded Barrenjoey and entered the mouth of the Hawkesbury.

For two days they sailed up the noble river, under mighty hills at
first, past many a wooded islet and round a long succession of bends
that led to new reaches of shining water. At last the hills receded and
lightly-wooded stretches of level land began to appear along the banks.
Far up the river, nearly a hundred miles from its mouth, they landed,
and Tom Trevithick was placed in possession of his grant of a hundred
acres, there to carve out for himself a home with axe and plough and
spade, receiving meanwhile Government rations for himself and his
family.

Baby Tristram grew out of his baby clothes, and Mrs. Trevithick laid
them away carefully in a great brass-bound chest along with the dainty
and exquisite little garments that the infant had worn when Squire
Granger had brought him first to her cottage.

Grose gave way to Paterson, and Paterson to Hunter, who in turn was
succeeded by Governor King. Governor King returned to England. Bligh
began and ended his brief and turbulent term of office, and Governor
Macquarie took the place of Bligh. But such changes mattered less than
nothing to Tom Trevithick, for the axe rang in the timber, and the oxen,
with which the Government had supplied him, drew the plough through the
rich, red, loam, and the wheat and the Indian corn ripened to the
harvest, no matter who held sway over the heterogeneous population of
bond and free in distant Sydney.

Two things only did Tom Trevithick fear--the floods, and the blacks. For
the rest he cared not, but worked on steadily at the seeding, the
ploughing, and the reaping, ruled his three assigned servants firmly as
well as kindly, and held himself aloof as much as possible from the
hard-drinking emancipist settlers who cultivated the adjoining blocks in
a shiftless, haphazard fashion. Also, he read a chapter of his Bible
aloud to his wife and children every night before the family retired to
rest in the bark-roofed house, which he had built with his own hands on
the highest point of his farm away from the river bank.

It was in these surroundings that baby Tristram grew to boyhood, playing
with his foster brothers, Will and Owen, and his foster sister, Marjory,
all of whom accepted him without question as one of themselves. Lucy
Trevithick taught him to read, write, and cipher, and the boy read every
book that he could get hold of, particularly history and adventures.

He bore no resemblance whatever to the other three children. At sixteen
years of age he was tall and spare of figure, and in spite of all his
hard, rough work, he carried himself with a grace that contrasted
strangely with slouching gait of the surrounding settlers. With his
olive complexion, aquiline features, and keen, dark eyes, he had nothing
in common with the Trevithicks. "Do 'ee remember the Squire sayin' about
the lad's father bein' a Frenchman, lass?" said Tom Trevithick to his
wife one summer evening, as they sat together in front of the house,
watching the ever-changing play of light and shadow on the river.

"Ay, Tom, that I do," replied Lucy Trevithick, never ceasing her
knitting for a moment, "and I reckon the lad takes after his father,
too, if we only knew."

Tristram himself, as he grew to manhood, could not help recognising the
immeasurable distance that divided him from his supposed brothers.
Stolid, hard-working and patient, like their father, Will and Owen
conformed in all essentials to the type of industrial British farm
worker, slightly modified by the new Australian environment, with its
altered climate. But even while immersed in his homely agricultural
labors, Tristram felt the surge of the soldier's blood in his veins, and
yearned unceasingly to escape into the great world of action and
achievements, where amid the clash of opposing ambitions, Fortune steps
down at times to crown the adventurer.

At last, on a never-to-be forgotten day, Tristram set out for Sydney,
along with Will and Owen, who had often accomplished the trip before,
and made light of its dangers.

Setting sail from the farm in Tom Trevithick's capacious and well found
lugger, which was heavily loaded with sacks of wheat and maize, they
carried a fair wind all day, and, camped at night on a wooded island in
one of the lower reaches of the river. Taking it in turns to stand on
watch throughout the night, so as to guard against a raid of the blacks,
who frequently attacked the grain boats in their bark canoes, the three
young men cast off their moorings at daybreak and made the run from
Barrenjoey to Sydney Heads in a couple of hours. Sailing up the harbor
they landed at Sydney Cove, on a glorious morning. They saw the sailing
boats flitting hither and thither, the old prison hulk Phoenix moored in
the Cove, and the line of white-walled stores on the west side. They saw
the great crowning mass of the military barracks on the high ground at
the back, and the windmill standing up against the sky on Windmill Hill.
On the east side of the Cove they saw the sweep of the rich park-like
land which extended round to Farm Cove. A few aboriginals were camped in
the bushes, and fishing on the foreshores, while others paddled in their
bark canoes among the smart sailing boats of the white man.

Landing at the King's wharf they speedily transacted their business with
the merchant, who purchased all Tom Trevithick's grain.

Leaving Will and Owen to carouse at the Black Dog, Tristram turned his
steps towards the Tank Stream, and as he walked along in the direction
of Government House, which was then at the corner of Bridge-street, he
noticed a daintily dressed lady going the same way.

Tall, blonde, and blue-eyed, graceful as a sapling, and beautiful as a
flower, Mary Fitzharding was a lovely girl, such as no other country
save England could produce. Shaded by a big sun hat, with broad white
ribbon tied under the chin, was a rose-leaf face of such beauty that
soldiers meeting the girl, as they clanked along the street,
instinctively saluted her with outstretched palm lifted to the forehead,
while civilians doffed their beavers and bowed their homage. Dressed in
a simple gown of sprigged muslin with the waist just beneath the soft
outline of the girlish breast, she tripped along the street.

To Tristram she seemed in very faith a visitant from some land where
humanity bore a different aspect from that to which he was accustomed.
At the sight of her he caught his breath. Upon the Hawkesbury he had
seen only the well-loved commonplace features, the homely breadth of
figure, and soil coarsened hands and arms of his foster mother, whom he
still believed to be his mother. Or on rare occasions he had seen the
wives and daughters of the other settlers.

But Mary Fitzharding was very different--a lovely young Anglo-Saxon of
the highest type. She was no dull. The sapphire eyes flashed with
intelligence. The head was exquisitely shaped, and the pure line of the
facial angle would have entranced an artist. But there was a touch of
squareness in the jaw, and in the short, broad chin, that augured
courage and determination in an emergency. Something of Norse, rather
than of Saxon, about Mary Fitzharding. Just a suspicion of Viking blood
in the form that bodied forth the character.

Tristram was absorbed in watching the girl as she passed quickly along
the opposite side of Bridge-street parallel to his own course, when loud
shouts behind him forced him to turn.

He saw a runaway prisoner, pursued by three soldiers, coming down the
middle of the road, while an excited crowd followed at the heels of the
pursuers.

Threats and curses filled the air as the crowd swept on following the
figure of the runaway in front, who dodged and doubled like a hare. In a
moment the crowd completely enveloped the girl, jostling and hustling
her with ribald laughter.

"Help! Help!" A woman's cry was heard above the din, and Tristram hurled
himself into the crowd, thrusting the leering ruffians aside and using
his fists with such good effect that he soon cleared a pathway.

Dragging the girl into a friendly doorway Tristram took up a position in
front of her, and he did such execution with his fists that the cowardly
brutes soon found that flight was preferable to standing up in front of
the furious young fighter in the doorway.

When the last of the ugly mob had disappeared Tristram handed the girl
from the doorway with unembarrassed grace, and looking into her blushing
face enquired whether he might escort her to her home, as the road
seemed hardly safe.

The girl thanked him very prettily. "It is only right I should make
myself known to you, sir, since you have rescued me from a most
unpleasant situation. My name is Mary Fitzharding, and my uncle is Major
Cuthbert, one of the Governor's aides-de-camp. I pray you to do me the
favor of accompanying me to his house, and giving Mrs. Cuthbert the
opportunity or thanking you for your bravery." Mary Fitzharding blushed
furiously as she looked up at the astonishingly handsome young rustic
who stood before her, though why she did so probably even she herself
could not have explained.

She led the way to Major Cuthbert's quarters, and smiling graciously,
invited Tristram to enter the drawing-room, while she ran upstairs to
explain, with excited rapidity, the adventure that had befallen her, and
the visit of the young man who had rescued her from her disagreeable
predicament.

In a few minutes a tall and stately woman of forty-five or thereabouts
sailed into the drawing-room, and advanced towards Tristram with
friendly outstretched hand.

"My niece has told me, sir, of your courageous conduct," she began, and
then staring into Tristram's face with an expression of bewildering
amazement, she stopped speaking, and turned ghastly white.

Sinking into a chair, she fainted, just as Mary Fitzharding entered the
room. The girl sprinkled water on Mrs. Cuthbert's face, and summoned her
maid. "It must be the heat," she said to Tristram in subdued tones, "but
she will be better presently. I am sorry, sir, that you should have to
go so soon, but I trust we may see you again shortly, when my aunt is
recovered of her indisposition. I should welcome another opportunity to
thank you myself for the service you have done for me."

Tristram Trevithick trod on air when he left the house. He had never
seen a woman like Mary Fitzharding before. He had never supposed that
such a woman existed. All the charm of all the womanhood in the world
flowered for him in Mary Fitzharding's face. He was so much absorbed in
his thoughts of her, that he gave but little attention to Mrs.
Cuthbert's strange attack of weakness. He had heard that ladies of
quality were frequently afflicted with a mysterious ailment called the
'vapors,' and he presumed that Mrs. Cuthbert was not exempt from the
affliction, but he made up his mind to see Mary again, cost what it may.

When Mrs. Cuthbert recovered consciousness under the ministration of
Mary and her maid, she opened her eyes slowly and took Mary's hand in
her own.

"Who is that young man," she asked in a whisper.

"I do not know, auntie," said the girl with deep regret. "I did not like
to ask him his name, and he went away without telling me. But I judge
from his talk that he must be one of the free settlers on the
Hawkesbury."

Mrs. Cuthbert closed heir eyes again and tried to collect her thoughts.
Ghosts of her dead youth-time thronged around her. How came Eugene de
Donzenac, just as he looked when she first met him, to be in Sydney
after all these years. They told her that he had fallen while charging
with Milhaud's cuirassiers.

Strange and preoccupied in her manner was Mrs. Cuthbert all the
afternoon, and her niece watched her with disquietude.

Was it only the heat that had upset her aunt, she asked herself, or
could it really be that the appearance of the good-looking young
stranger had affected her? Mary Fitzharding was as simple-hearted as a
child. She saw that any reference to the exciting event of the afternoon
threw Mrs. Cuthbert into a state of uncontrollable emotion, and so she
sought other topics of conversation. But the current of her thoughts was
still influenced by the memory of that extraordinarily handsome young
rustic who had saved her from the mob, and her imagination wandered away
to the Hawkesbury River, on whose banks the young man lived.

"Do you know, auntie," said the girl, "when I was out riding this
morning with Uncle George, he told me such a romantic tale about one of
those other settlers on the Hawkesbury?"

Mrs. Cuthbert stared wearily out of the window. Her thoughts were far
away in Devonshire. She was not interested in the Hawkesbury. What was
this country or its people to her? She had come here because the man
whom she had married after the death of Eugene, was ordered to the new
colony in an official position. And now, just when she had almost begun
to forget the past, the old wound was reopened by the bidden apparition
of the living image of Eugene de Donzenac. It was terrible, terrible.
Would the past never die?

"Uncle was telling me about a remarkable man," continued Mary
Fitzharding, "who had just received a conditional pardon from the
Governor, and had been given a grant of land on the Hawkesbury. The man,
it seems, was originally a smuggler, and, strangely enough, he came from
your own county, auntie. He was a Devonshire man."

Mrs. Cuthbert smiled languidly. "I'm afraid there are a great many
smugglers still in Devonshire, dear. The place was full of them when I
was a girl."

"But this man was something else besides a smuggler." continued Mary
Fitzharding. "He made large sums of money by taking English intelligence
officers across the Channel and landing them on the French coast.''

"Quite an adventurous person," said Mrs. Cuthbert, trying earnestly to
take an interest in her niece's talk.

"But this smuggler was not honest," said Mary with a smile. "He not only
took English spies across in his lugger to get information about the
French plans, but he brought back French spies who were anxious to find
out as much as they could about the British defences at Portsmouth, and
all along the coast."

"Ah!'' The exclamation came out sharply--like the cry that follows a
stab. Mrs. Cuthbert was really interested at last.

"Uncle told me," continued Mary, "that the man carried on this curious
business for quite a long time, but at last came under suspicion. His
lugger was chased one night by a British sloop of war quite near the
French coast. The captain of the sloop sent a boat's crew to board the
lugger, and they made prisoners of the smuggler and a couple of seamen
who were with him. They found a French officer's uniform on board the
lugger. But the Frenchman himself had disappeared. He must have jumped
overboard and swum to the French Coast, which was only a mile away, when
he found that the lugger was certain to be captured. He was a brave man!
Was he not?"

Mrs. Cuthbert nodded her head. She could hardly trust herself to speak.
At last she retrained control of herself. "Go on, go on," she whispered
eagerly.

"So they captured the smuggler," resumed Mary Fitzharding with quiet
impersonal interest, "and he was tried for treason and sentenced to
death. But the sentence was commuted to transportation for life, because
of the services that he had previously rendered in carrying English
officers across the Channel and landing them in France. So they sent him
out to Botany Bay, and now he is a settler on the Hawkesbury."

"His name, child, his name." Mrs. Cuthbert was painfully agitated. Her
fingers were working convulsively.

"Jonathan Wylie." said Mary Fitzharding wonderingly.

Mrs. Cuthbert slowly blanched until every atom of color left her face.
But she retained her self-command. "I fancy I have heard of him," she
said in low tones. "A rich emancipist, is he not? One takes no interest
in such people. Now, run along and talk to Captain Cartwright here
downstairs, and make some excuse for my absence. I know it is you he
wants to see and not me."

Years of training in the art of subduing her feelings came to her
assistance. The much-tried woman actually managed to muster the ghost of
a smile.

But Mary Fitzharding was anything but pleased as she turned to go. She
was bored by Captain Cartwright, and worried by the obstinacy with which
he had laid siege to her hand. The black-browed captain, with his heavy
jaw, seemed incapable of realising that in paying court to her he was
advancing upon a forlorn hope.

Tristram kept the image of Mary in his heart as he went off with light
and springy footsteps towards George-street on his way to the markets to
pick up Will and Owen, whom he reckoned confidently upon finding in the
big taproom of the Market House.

Turning his back on the massive dominating walls of the barracks, built
on the rising ground in the centre of the town, and on the red-coated
sentries who guarded the main barrack gates, he made his way to the
crowded market place, not far from the Market Wharf in Cockle Bay, which
was afterwards called Darling Harbor.

Presently he came to an enclosed area surrounded by a three-railed
fence, and containing the stalls upon which the produce of the settlers
were sold. Close by were long lines of drays and waggons piled high with
green vegetables, bales of hay made from the rich native grasses, and
sacks of wheat and Indian corn. The settlers themselves, dressed for the
most part either in short, blue cotton smock frocks and trousers, or in
jackets and trousers of coarse fustian, were gathered in knots, and were
mostly engaged in boasting loudly of their respective crops and
livestock.

Catching their scraps of talk as he passed, Tristram learned that they
brought in their wheat and vegetables for sale to the city inhabitants,
thereby being enabled to provide themselves with tea, sugar, and
tobacco, with which to help out the invariable diet of salt pork and
doughboys made of maize meal. With their bright neck handkerchiefs,
rough straw hats, or caps made of untanned kangaroo skin, they were a
picturesque lot of men, but Tristram gave an involuntary shudder as he
went amongst them and realised their stolid ignorance and insensibility
to everything that lay outside their narrow round of toil in tillage.
Was he doomed, he dimly wondered, to remain for all his life associated
with men who could not read or write, whose chief amusement consisted in
using the most horrible oaths, and whose one real enjoyment was to get
drunk.

Tristram experienced a thrill of repulsion and disgust as he threaded
his way through the 'dungaree settlers,' as they were usually called. It
was very strange, he thought, that he should be troubled by such
feelings, which he guessed were not experienced by his father and
mother, or his brothers or sisters at the farm on the banks of the
Hawkesbury.

Entering the big tap room, with the sanded floor, he found Will and Owen
seated on a bench drinking rum and water in company with Ben Matthews,
the owner of the farm next to Tom Trevithick's.

"Did yer hear the news, Trist," hiccoughed Will, as he rose unsteadily
from the bench, and waved a glass of rum and water erratically at
Tristram. "Ole Macquarie himself is acomin' up to Windsor at the end of
the month to hold an inspection of the farms on the river--'im and 'is
'ole blessed staff. Ladies and all. It'll be a great day for us chaps,
to be sure."

Tristram felt his heart bounding wildly and knew the reason. Would it be
a great day for him? He wondered.



CHAPTER III.--HOW TRISTRAM LEARNED THE SECRET.


When Governor Macquarie paid his official visit to Windsor he did it in
style, driving in his carriage drawn by four spanking bays, along the
well-made road from Parramatta, through Blacktown, where once a year a
great muster of blacks was held, and over the lightly wooded undulating
plains, already settled with free immigrants, down to the township on
the right bank of the noble river.

Mrs. Macquarie sat by his side, and facing him sat Major Cuthbert, his
aide-de-camp, and Mary Fitzharding, who had taken the place of her aunt.
Mrs. Cuthbert at the last moment had begged to be allowed to stay at
home, and had pleaded indisposition. A body guard of mounted troops rode
before and behind the carriage, under the command of the black-browed
Captain Cartwright, who sat his big black horse gracefully enough, and
was regarded with admiration, spied with fear, by little Tony Hawkins,
his bugler, who rode a horse's length behind him, ready to sound the
calls at the word of command.

The cavalcade made a brave show as it rattled through the little
township with waving plumes and glinting steel, while the townspeople
cheered and waved their handkerchiefs from the windows. The gleam of
scarlet and gold, the flash of the polished scabbards and the spotless
white of the well-pipeclayed crossbelts against the brilliant tunics
made a striking colornote with the cloudless sky above and the white
ribbon of the winding road beneath.

And then there was Mary Fitzharding's lovely face. Her eyes fairly
hypnotised the captain of the escort.

Wheeling sharply to the right as he reached the rising ground above the
willow bordered river, Captain Cartwright led the way to Government
House, which stood back some little distance from the road in a neat
garden where there were a few noble shade trees. The house itself was an
unpretentious one-story building, the walls being covered with white
plaster, and the architecture of the rule simplicity that marked the old
colonial style. The roof was covered with wooden shingles in lieu of
thatch of tiles, but the dwelling was comfortable and neatly furnished,
with one verandah facing the roadway in front, and another looking out
across the river at the back towards the rich flats and water meadows,
and away to the haze-enfolded outline of the Kurrajong ranges that ran
down to the sea--a giant spur from the distant Blue Mountains.

Seated on the verandah, which commanded that matchless view, Governor
Macquarie received the chief officials of the town and heard their
reports. He was at this time a man of about sixty years of age, of
soldierly bearing, and tall square figure. He wore a scarlet coat
heavily epauletted and braided with gold lace, and tight blue trousers
strapped under the soles of his boots. A three-cornered hat, not unlike
that worn by an admiral, he had placed on the chair beside him, and the
light breeze that came up the river stirred his short wavy hair that
curved naturally over his high forehead. Eyes of clear steel blue, set
rather close together, with a humorous twinkle in them at times, a large
aquilline nose, a mouth of iron, and a strongly protruding chin, marked
him out as a born soldier. His skin was tanned to a rich brown by his
long service in India before he was sent out with the seventy-third
regiment, of which he was the colonel commanding, to clear up the
trouble brought about by the despotism of Governor Bligh and to send the
New South Wales Corps back to England.

The officials reported to the Governor that the wild blacks from the
Kurrajong had been very troublesome and had killed many cattle belonging
to the settlers. They killed the animals by spearing them in the middle
of the forehead, making a round hole that exactly resembles the hole of
a rifle bullet, and thereby cunningly attempting to divert suspicion
from themselves to the white men. The remains of many cattle that had
been killed in this way had been found in the bush. Would his Excellency
order a small detachment of soldiers to be quartered in the neighborhood
for the protection of the settlers?

The Governor made a note of the request, and promised to send six men in
charge of a lieutenant to deal with the wild blacks. He also issued an
order on the spot that if any blacks attacked a settler's home the other
settlers in the neighborhood should at once go to the assistance of the
man who was attacked, and should employ their best efforts to disperse
the assailants. Heavy penalties would be inflicted upon any sulkers who
refused in repelling the blacks from a neighbor's homestead. The
deputation then drew his Excellency's attention to the severe losses
that had been occasioned by the last inundation of the Hawkesbury. Boats
were urgently needed, in view of a possible repetition of the flood.
Also, it would be necessary to provide certain of the settlers with seed
wheat, and with live stock to replace the animals that had been lost.

His Excellency listened patiently to all the requests, and the leading
townspeople who presented them were not only promised the relief they
required, but were also regaled by his Excellency's instructions with
biscuits, and port wine. Those who preferred rum and water were
permitted to indulge their preference.

When these formalities were over and luncheon had been eaten on the
verandah overlooking the river, Governor Macquarie announced his
intention of visiting some of the farms in the neighborhood in order to
see for himself what progress was being made. Mrs. Macquarie was too
much fatigued to go any further, and Major Cuthbert had some important
administrative duties to occupy his attention. So his Excellency invited
Mary Fitzharding to accompany him in the big carriage, and they set off,
attended by Captain Cartwright, with a couple of troopers as escort.

Governor Macquarie was delighted with all that he saw, and well he might
be, for the smiling homesteads that dotted the rich alluvial flats along
the river gave substantial promise that the grim spectre of famine which
had stalked through the infant colony in its early years would never
menace the settlement again. On the far side of the river rose deep
forests, behind which towered the ranges, but on the near side the
comfortable homes of the settlers on their hundred-acre blocks were set
amid orchard and corn lands. Cattle stood under the shade of the trees,
whisking their tails to keep away the flies, and the ploughing teams
were steadily breaking new ground to be sown with wheat or barley, or
the Indian corn that grew to such a height as the Governor had never
seen during all his long service in India.

In every homestead that he visited his Excellency found respectful
greetings and well-filled barns, while the cupboards held plenty of
wheaten cake and maize cake, and the larder invariably contained a joint
of pork or beef. For refreshment he was offered watermelons--very cool
and thirst-quenching in the heat of the afternoon. And the girls and
women shyly pressed Mary Fitzharding to take a cup of tea from the pot
which seemed to be always ready.

At last they came to Trevithick's homestead, and the rush of color flew
to Mary's cheeks when she found herself looking into those keen dark
eyes that had haunted her ever since she had first met her stalwart
young rescuer.

Captain Cartwright, slapping the leg of his well-polished riding-boot
with his switch, saw the sudden sunrise in the girl's cheek, and
wondered angrily what it meant.

Surely Miss Fitzharding could never have met this country lout before.
And yet there seemed to be an unmistakable bond of sympathy between the
beautiful girl who belonged to the flower of the English aristocracy and
the handsome young rustic who carried himself like a soldier in spite of
his humble occupation.

Cartwright resolved to keep his eye on young Trevithick, but unhappily
this resolution was quickly broken. Governor Macquarie required him to
take notes of Tom Trevithick's suggestions in regard to the more
effective policing of the river, and particularly in regard to certain
malefactors who had lately broken out at Bathurst, and who might be
expected to make a descent upon the Hawkesbury settlement almost any
day. But before he had nearly completed cataloguing Trevithick's long
list of requests and suggestions, he looked up and found to his dismay
that Tristram and Mary had disappeared. The flutter of a white skirt far
away among the peach trees in the orchard betrayed the girl's
whereabouts and caused Captain Cartwright to bite his lip angrily. He
vowed to get even with the insolent young rustic who dared to raise his
eyes to a lady so far above him. Meanwhile Tom Trevithick, whose beard
was grizzled and whose face was seamed with lines deeply cut by years of
anxious vigilance which was the price of safety from his chief enemies
the Kurrajong blacks, was revealing to the Governor some of the pressing
new dangers which threatened the settlement.

"In my opinion, Governor," he said, "that there Jonathan Wylie ain't no
good to this district."

"But I understand that Wylie is a man of considerable substance," said
the Governor, "and since he received his discharge he has never got into
any trouble? The situation is one which, in my view, entitles him to
sympathy rather than to reprobation."

"I know that he has become a wealthy man, Governor," said Tom
Trevithick; "but how has he done it? I cannot answer that question fully
but I can tell you that he is a regular bludsucker for squeezing the
settlers. He advances them a few pounds off mortgage and then ruins
them--gets them to assign all their crops to him for a few barrels of
moonshine."

"Eh, what's that?" asked the Governor, starting up in his chair. "What
do you mean by barrels of moonshine?"

"Illicit spirit, sir," said Tom Trevithick confidently. "Grog that has
never paid the King's duty. There are private stills at work in these
ranges, and it is my belief that Jonathan Wylie is at the back of a good
many of them. It's becoming the curse of the settlement, and the ruin of
the farm hands. And only last week a lot of people a bit lower down the
river got hold of a five-gallon keg of moonshine, poured it into a tub,
filled the tub up with water and then sat round it with their pannikins,
men and women, until they finished it. A terrible scene it was, too,
fighting, cursing, and ungodly ribaldry of all kinds. One man was nearly
murdered at the finish, I am told."

"By gad, I'll put a stop to that business, Trevithick," said Governor
Macquarie hotly. "I'll issue an ordinance against it immediately.
Cartwright, did you hear that?"

"Yes, sir," said Cartwright, recalling his gaze with some difficulty
from the peach orchard. "I've heard something before about this illicit
distillation going on in the ranges. I only wish we could find a clue to
the offenders, sir."

"I'll run them down, Cartwright, never fear," said the Governor. "Just
make a memorandum, will you. Patrols to search the ranges thoroughly. A
free pardon to accomplices who will give information. All magistrates to
be empowered to punish in summary jurisdiction. I'll pour boiling water
on the ants' nest at once. Illicit distillation, indeed, what next?"

His Excellency became quite red in the face at the thought of illicit
stills pouring out grog for the masses. It was almost blasphemy. Grog
was a valuable Government monopoly. Rum was practically currency. To
produce illicit spirits was equivalent to debasing the coinage. The
gorge of the Administrator rose at the bare idea.

"And then there's them Bathurst bushrangers, Governor," said Trevithick,
leaning forward in his chair and wagging a gnarled forefinger in
Governor Macquarie's face. "There's a band of at least fifty out now.
They're driving sheep and cattle in front of them, attacking the biggest
homesteads, and robbing in every direction."

"I shall deal with them," said the Governor briefly. "They'll find a
regiment of red-coats in front of them before very long. The band will
be captured or shot to a man."'

"Very glad to hear it, your Excellency," said Trevithick, with a sigh of
relief. "I haven't slept for two nights thinking of the villains. And
now let me offer you the finest dish of peaches that you'll find on the
Hawkesbury."

So Governor Macquarie ate his peaches, and down in the orchard, in the
shade of the trees that bore them, Tristram Trevithick looked into
Mary's blue eyes and thrilled at what he read there, while Captain
Cartwright glowered at the pair from the verandah, where he stood in
attendance on his chief. His thick black eyebrows came together until
they made almost a straight line across his brow, when he saw Mary place
her hand on Tristram's arm, as she listened intently to his words.

"I do not know how it is. Miss Fitzharding," Tristram was saying, "but I
must avow that there are times when this familiar scene, in which I have
spent all my life, seems strange and unreal. I could almost believe that
some evil spirit has bewitched me, and filled my head with such strange,
waking dreams."

"Fie, Mr. Trevithick," said Mary, patting Tristram's fustian clad arm
with her little hand. "Tell me of your dreams; it may be that I can
interpret them."

"Often when I am driving the plough or milking the cows," said Tristram,
"there comes into my head a vision of camps and the roll of distant
kettledrums, instead of the glittering Hawkesbury yonder, I seem to see
a river of bayonets, and the stocks of the wheat are like tents upon a
field."

"You have been reading in the evenings overmuch about the wars," said
Mary softly, "and it is natural that you should think of glory. A man
who is a real man must do that." Again she looked up into Tristram's
eyes and read there perplexity as well as--love.

"When I see you looking at me like that, Miss Fitzharding, I feel that
it is not for the first time. My mind goes back. I--I remember--I
remember in some other country seeing you look into my eyes. But we were
standing by the sea shore. Great cliffs rose up from the Beach. And
there was a boat in which I went--away."

The young man swayed and would have fallen if Mary had not steadied him
with her encircling arm. She made him sit down on a newly-felled log and
she produced a silver 'pomander' with a scented ball, the odor of which
she made him inhale. Trevithick passed his hand across his brow and was
himself again.

"Your pardon, Miss Fitzharding, for a momentary weakness. I fear the
heat has made me giddy."

Mary Fitzharding made him lean upon her arm as they walked back to the
homestead, and every pulse of her thrilled at the touch of his hand. She
felt almost vexed with herself at the feeling that this farmer's son
inspired in her. She, who had been a reigning toast in the London clubs,
and who had snubbed the advances of more than one of the young bloods of
the day, to feel her heart beat and her color rise when the eyes of this
good-looking young yokel were upon her and when his rich musical voice
sounded in her ears. It was monstrous strange, surely, that when she
came out to this remote settlement in the antipodes at the earnest
desire of her affectionate, but curiously silent aunt, who desired her
companionship, she should meet a young rustic, who had power to stir her
heart as no man of her own class in England had been able to move it.

Mary's thoughts were running riot as she went back to the homestead,
supporting Tristram on her arm, to the surprise of Governor Macquarie
and the Trevithick and the disgust of Captain Cartwright.

Tristram explained that he had been overcome by the heat.

"Ha, a touch of the sun, eh?" said the Governor, "and yet it is not
nearly so hot here as I have known it in India. Put your head in a
bucket of water, young fellow, and you will be all right in five
minutes."

So Mrs. Trevithick led him inside the house to bathe his head with cold
water, but her eyes were troubled, and she sighed heavily, as the
distressing duty which was never long absent from her thoughts was
brought visibly nearer to her. She had always known that Tristram must
fall in love some day. Her woman's intuition told her that the time had
come and the expected had happened. But it was far worse than she had
anticipated. He had fallen in love with a girl who belonged to a very
different class from theirs, and who moved among the highest in the
land. So much the more necessary was it that he should learn the truth
in good time, lest, learning it too late, he should reproach her, who
had brought him up as her own son with bitterness and unavailingly.

When Mrs. Trevithick had gone into the house with Tristram, and Tom
Trevithick was still enlightening Governor Macquarie on the subject of
the danger from the blacks, and the difficulty of getting work out of
his assigned servants, Captain Cartwright faced Mary in a corner of the
vineclad verandah, with an evil smile upon his heavy lips.

"You would be less cruel if you were more careful, Miss Fitzharding," he
began cuttingly: "for I fear your charms have quite turned the head of
the young ploughman. Pray spare such an inexperienced victim, and do not
slay him outright."

Mary's eyes flashed dangerously. "I have no liking for experienced
gallants, Captain Cartwright," she said freezingly, looking him straight
in the face, "and it pleases me to get away from them at times. I would
have you know that Mr. Trevithick has earned my gratitude by defending
me from a rude mob in Sydney when no one else came to my help."

Captain Cartwright's scowl darkened. "Yet I vow the farmer is
presumptuous," he snapped, "when he lifts his eyes to Miss Mary
Fitzharding, as I saw him lift them before he went inside."

Mary stamped her little foot angrily. "Presumptuousness is not so
insupportable as impertinence, Captain Cartwright," she flung out with
lightning speed.

Governor Macquarie turned round with a grim smile as the angry words
reached his ears. "What--quarrelling again, you two?" he said.
"Cartwright, you ought to be ashamed of yourself. We managed these
things differently when I was a young man. Come, my dear,"--he stood up
and pinched Mary's cheek affectionately--"I must be going back to
Windsor, for I entertain the officers of the town at dinner this
evening. Captain Cartwright, be good enough to send your orderly for my
carriage."

So Captain Cartwright, biting the ends of his black moustache, summoned
the orderly, and the orderly summoned the carriage, and just before it
drove away Tristram Trevithick came out on the verandah, and Mary went
up to him and held out her hand.

"Good-bye, for to-day, Mr. Trevithick," she said before them all, with
her brightest smile. "I'm so glad that you are feeling better. We shall
meet again very soon I know, and believe me, I shall be very glad to see
you. I hope you will allow me to present you to my aunt, once more, when
you come down to Sydney. I am sure she would be greatly interested to
know you."

Tristram handed her into the carriage. He could scarcely trust himself
to speak. The pain of losing this gracious and radiant visitant was
sharp and poignant. Yet he knew in his inmost heart that his life and
hers were bound up together henceforth. Shading his eyes with his lifted
palm, he watched Governor Macquarie's carriage, with its postillions and
its escort, rolling away in a cloud of dust towards the little township
of Windsor, and as he turned to go inside he met Mrs. Trevithick at the
door.

She placed her two hands upon his shoulder. "Tristram, dear, are you
quite well now," she asked anxiously, and her lips trembled.

"Quite well, mother," said Tristram.

"Then come in with me, my lad," said Mrs. Trevithick, with a meaning
glance at her husband, "for I have something to say to you that must be
said."

Old Tom Trevithick heard, and settled himself in his chair. He was
resolved to have nothing to do with the matter that had now to be dealt
with. A good farmer was Tom Trevithick, but his wife had more moral
courage in her little finger than he had in his whole ragged frame.

Ever since leaving England he had dreaded the day when it would be
necessary to tell Sybil Granger's son who and what he was. Tom
Trevithick gave a little shiver and looked out over the mighty river
that rolled on its course to the sea, as careless of human hope and
fears in its days of tranquility as it was when fed by the mountain
torrents that hurled themselves into its upper waters, it rose over its
banks and carried death and devastation to the dwellers in its valley.

"Mother'll be the best to tell him," muttered Tom Trevithick nervously,
as he filled his long clay pipe with tobacco grown and cured on his own
farm, pressed it down into the bowl with trembling fingers, and lighted
it. "Lordy, Lordy, I'm afeared the boy will take it badly."

Sitting on the edge of his simple camp bed in his own room, the room he
had slept in since he was a child, Tristram heard from Lucy Trevithick
the dark story of his birth. The woman spoke in broken tones, looking
into the young man's tense white face, while tears gathered in the
corners of her own eyes at the pain which she was inflicting. She
concealed nothing. Her frank and simple nature would not stoop to the
slightest deception, even to save from sorrow the youth whom she loved
as her own son.

Tristram listened to her dry-eyed. "And who was my father?" he asked at
last, in a dull hard voice that seemed to have lost all its ring.

"We have never known who he was," said Lucy Trevithick. "All that the
Squire told us when he brought you to us on the night before we sailed
from England was that the man whom Miss Sybil had loved was a Frenchman.
After we had been here for nearly a year Tom wrote to the Squire,
telling him that we were happily settled, and that the child had been
christened Tristram, and that he was well, but the Squire never answered
the letter."

"Of course not," said Tristram bitterly. "Why should he?"

"He promised to provide money for setting you up on a farm of your own
when you became a man," said Mrs. Trevithick, "but he never wrote again;
we never heard from Miss Sybil either."

"Yet being a woman and a mother," said Tristram, "she must have found
out what her father had done with her son. It is plain that she did not
want me either." He stared at the whitewashed wall, and his eyes had a
new hard look in them that was not there before.

"Tristram, dear lad, haven't I been a mother to you?"

The young fellow took Mrs. Trevithick's toil worn hand in his own and
kissed it. "Indeed, you have." he said amply, and then with bitter
irony--"Far better than a mother."

"I always knew that I would have to tell you this," said Lucy, "as soon
as you were a man."

"But why are you telling me to-day?" asked Tristram, still in the same
lifeless, toneless voice.

"Because you are a man to-day," said Lucy Trevithick softly. "I watched
you with Miss Fitzharding, and I know that you love her."

A radiant gleam shone for a moment in Tristram's eyes. Then it passed
away, and his two hands dropped to his sides with a gesture of despair.

"My conscience would not let me keep silence lad, any longer,'" said
poor Lucy, torn with sorrow at the sight of the young man's misery. "I
always knew that when you grew to be a man, and thoughts of love and
marriage came to you, I would have to tell you in fairness to yourself.
Then knowing all, you could decide for yourself what you ought to do."

"Mother, I have decided what to do," said Tristram almost in a whisper.

She looked at him uncomprehendingly. His face gave no indication of his
decision but as she fixed her gaze with gracious affection and motherly
feeling on his flashing eyes and dark curling hair, an aquiline nose,
and strong, straight mouth, with the upper lip shaded by a small black
moustache, she could not help noticing with a fresh pang of emotion how
different he was from her own sons--as different as a keen sword blade
from a plough share. That was the very comparison that flashed into her
mind.

"And now come with me into my own room my lad, for I have things to show
you," said Lucy.

Tristram stood up from the edge of his bed on which he had been sitting.
Under his black curly hair his face showed deathly white. He walked
unsteadily across the floor after Lucy, and only saved himself from
falling by clutching at the door. She held out her hand to him, and he
grasped it. She led him through the door into her own room with the big
four-post bed, which took up nearly the whole of one side of the room,
and the child's cot that had long been empty in one corner opposite. In
the other corner, near the door, stood the great heavy brass-bound chest
that Tom Trevithick had brought out from England in the Amphritrite many
years before. It had stood there unopened for years. The iron padlock
and the staples that it secured were both stained red with rust.

Lucy Trevithick took a key from her bunch and unlocked the padlock. She
raised the top of the heavy case and laid it against the wall. She went
down on her knees beside the case, and brought up out of it a dainty
little garment of cambric edged with Valenciennes lace--the long clothes
of the baby. There was a little under-garment, too, a pair of tiny white
socks, and a pair of blue woollen knitted shoes. She laid them all on
the bed.

"These are the things that you were wearing, lad, when Squire Granger
brought you to our cottage on the cliff on that stormy night that was
our last in England."

Tristram took up the baby clothes and the socks and knitted shoes and
looked at them closely. It came into his mind, that possibly there might
be some mark, or at least some initial, that would afford a clue to the
identity of that unknown father who had given him life, and had then
vanished into impenetrable darkness. But there were no marks--nothing to
differentiate the little garments from thousands of similar garments
made for children whose mothers were rich enough to dress their babies
in cambrics and costly lace.

He laid the things down on the bed again. "You had better keep these,
mother," he said. "They are my only birth certificate." He laughed
harshly as he spoke.

Mrs. Trevithick carefully replaced the little garments and the blue
knitted shoes in the big brass-bound box. Then she lifted from the
corner of it a small canvas bag filled with coin.

"This is the money that Squire Granger gave us when he asked us to take
you away to Australia," said Lucy simply. "He said it was for your
maintenance, but Tom and I have never touched it. We promised him to
treat you as though you were our own child, and so we have done. The
bite and the sup were always there for you, dear lad, as well as for our
other children, and we reckon that you should have the spending of the
Squire's hundred guineas yourself."

She untied the string round the neck of the bag, and emptied the coins
on the bed. Then she counted them back into the bag slowly--one two,
three, and on to one hundred. The tally was correct. Not a coin was
missing. And yet Tom Trevithick and his wife had been hard put to it
more than once since they went to the Hawkesbury. There were times,
after the great flood, for instance, in which they lost almost
everything, when a guinea would have bought needed food for them and
their children. But, for the sake of their honor, they preferred to go
hungry. The golden guineas clinked in the canvas bag as Lucy Trevithick
handed it to Tristram.

"Take it, my lad, for it's yours," she said.

So Tristram, with a grim smile, slipped the bag of guineas into the
pocket of his rough fustian coat. He would not press his foster mother
to keep the money. He knew her frank and straightforward soul too well
to dream of affronting her by such an offer.

"And now, lad, come out on the verandah, and tell my man that you know
everything at last."

Together they went out on the verandah, where Tom Trevithick sat in his
arm chair, smoking a long clay pipe, and glancing nervously at intervals
towards the door.

"So there you are at last," said Tom, with forced hilarity, "and now
what secrets have you been talking about to your mother, eh?"

"I have been listening to secrets, not telling them, sir." said Tristram
to the old man. "My dear and kind foster-mother, whose goodness to me I
can never either forget or repay, has told me--as she was bound to tell
me--the story of my birth. I find that I am nobody's child. Even the
very name of my father is unknown to me. You will understand that the
news is distressing,"--here the young man's voice dropped to a
whisper--"and especially in my present situation."

"Eh? How's that, my lad?"

"My foster-mother will tell you, sir, that I love a lady--a lady who was
far above me when I was an honest son, and who is removed from me
altogether by an immeasurable distance now that I discover myself to be
a person with no right even to the name I bear--a nameless fellow--a
waif. I owe my life, it seems, to the chance meeting of a dissolute
scoundrel and a foolish girl, both of whom cast me off at the earliest
moment that they could do so."

The young man's voice thrilled with passion. "Well, the world has dealt
evilly with me. I will requite the world with evil for its evil. I
cannot stay here any longer, pretending to a place that is not mine. And
so I must say good-bye. Tell my brothers and my sister that I have gone
to Sydney to seek my fortune. Goodbye, my mother--the only mother whom I
have ever known. Kindest and best of foster-mothers that any man ever
had. Good-bye, sir, and thank you for all your goodness to me."

He shook hands first with old Tom Trevithick who sat looking
open-mouthed at him, his old fingers clutching his clay pipe
convulsively.

Then he kissed Lucy Trevithick, who held him a moment in her arms,
sobbing, "Oh, my lad, my poor, poor lad. What will become of you now?"

Tristram smoothed her greying hair with his fingers. "Try to forget me,
mother. And if you ever see Mary Fitzharding, tell her to forget me,
too, for we shall never meet again, and now good-bye." He kissed her and
was gone.

Lucy Trevithick saw him take the bush track that led to the township of
Windsor, from which there was a post road to Parramatta, and thence to
Sydney. Just as he turned the last corner he stopped and waved his hand.
Then he passed out of sight, and Lucy could hardly see the garden path
through her tears as they went back to the homestead that would know her
handsome foster-son no more.



CHAPTER IV.--AT THE "SHEER HULK."


A long, low room, with a sanded floor, discolored walls and a small
window, provided with a heavy baize curtain, ready to be drawn on
emergency.

Round the room were benches set against the wall, and in front of the
benches were dirty deal tables stained with liquor. The smoke from the
chimney of the stinking oil lamp mixed with the rank tobacco fumes from
the clay pipes of the assembled company. This was the interior of the
sly grog shop known as the 'Sheer Hulk,' situated in one of the most
desperate quarters of Sydney--the place called the 'Rocks.'

Aforesaid company included in the first place an individual known as Old
Dan, who was the proprietor of the drink shop. Dan was dressed in a
soldier's discarded scarlet coat, very old and dirty, and a pair of blue
dungaree pants, stuffed into sea boots. He had but one eye, and his face
was deeply pitted with smallpox. He carried a huge pair of horn-rimmed
spectacles on his fiery nose, and his solitary eye was turned with close
interest upon a couple of sailors who were lately back from a successful
sealing cruise and were bent on enjoying themselves. A few soldiers who
had taken French leave from the barracks, half a dozen sailors from the
ships lying in the Cove, a few shifty-eyed nondescripts, who might be
cutpurses or worse, a man sleeping on a bench with his face to the wall,
and two girls waiting for an invitation to drink, completed the
gathering. Most of the men were seated round the various tables playing
'all fours' with greasy packs of cards, and not seldom quarrelling
violently over the game.

All at once one of the waiting girls nudged her companion and pointed to
the sleeper on the bench, whispering something in her ear. Then they
both giggled.

The sleeper was yawning and stretching himself. He sat up, rubbed his
eyes with the back of his hand, and surveyed the unedifying scene before
him. Rising to his feet he lurched unsteadily across the room and sat
down between giggling Poll and Kitty.

It was Tristram.

But a Tristram vastly changed from the smart young farmer of the upper
Hawkesbury. His flashing eyes were all bloodshot, and his dark, wavy
hair was matted and unkempt. His clothes were stained with dust and
dirt. Old Dan's vile rum had done its work well. Tristram had embarked
upon the first stage of paying the world back for the evil that it had
done him, and the experiment was not turning out well.

"Rum. Dan, rum, I say!" he shouted, "and pannikins for me and these
ladies, who will honor me by taking refreshment with me."

The pock-marked old ruffian shot a meaning glance from his solitary eye
to Poll and Kitty, who responded with knowing winks.

Thus it was that Tristram thought to drown his grief and to stifle all
thoughts of the beautiful girl whose image was locked in his heart. It
was a sorry attempt. The guineas jingled in a bag in his pocket, and he
set himself deliberately to trade away the birthright preserved for him
so scrupulously by his foster parents for something far less wholesome
than Esau's mess of pottage, namely, Old Dan's rum.

There were moments for him in which the eye of the mind penetrated the
thick reek of moral degradation as clearly as the eye of the sense
caught glimpses, through the dense fog and smoke, and oil fumes, of the
clear beauty of the stars shining over the harbor. Tristram looked
through the little window of his soul, just as he looked through the
little window of the 'Sheer Hulk.'

But even as he looked, old Dan, fearing spies, drew the heavy dark baize
curtain across the window of the 'Sheer Hulk' shutting out the stars,
and Tristram by a deliberate effort to forget, placed a dark screen
athwart the window of his soul.

"Cheer up, Cully," said Poll, putting her arm round Tristram's waist,
with the object of exploring that bulging coat pocket, before her chum,
Kitty, could rifle it. The Free Companions plundered with a light heart,
and here was a traveller who seemed actually to invite their attention.

Kitty, on the other side, was letting her thoughts wander in the
direction of the sealers. The red-haired one was a jovial fellow, and he
evidently had plenty of the rhino. She shot a look from her bold eyes at
him, and the red-haired sealer rose to it like a trout to a 'coachman'
fly. Next minute Poll had Tristram to herself, for Kitty was sitting on
the sealer's knee, and drinking from the sealer's pannikin. Black-eyed
Poll explored the bulging pocket cautiously while she nestled against
Tristram, looking into his drawn and hagged face, with well stimulated
ardour.

"Cheer up, Cully," she said again. "In love are you and hankerin' for a
girl you cannot get? Well, here's one that you can." Her breath, lightly
tainted with old Dan's spirit that passed for rum, touched his cheek.
Her fingers pried deftly in his pocket, and found the canvas bag, solid,
heavy, and tied securely at the neck. Alas, it was too solid and heavy
to be moved without the owner becoming aware of his loss.

Tristram had arrived at the dictatorial confidential-histrionic
stage--the stage which romantic adolescence, when loaded with alcohol,
never fails to reach. He was as high-flown, morbid, and desperately
misanthropical as any other decent young fellow will inevitably become
under the combined influence of too much liquor and a grievous
disappointment in love. Also, he was as talkative, and as ready to pour
confidence into any feminine ears that would receive them.

"Look, now, what think you of Fate, my black-eyed Poll? A jade, a d--d
jade, I tell you; who lets a man think for all his life that he is
somebody and then whispers one day that he is nobody."

"But you ain't nobody," murmured Poll soothingly, as she assured
herself, by her trained sense of touch, that the coins in the bag were
really guineas.

"Indeed I am a nobody, my Poll," said the young man moodily, "for nobody
has no father, and that is my situation precisely. And being nobody, I
may not fall in love with somebody."

"No, but you can fall in love with me if you like," said Poll with
cheerful frankness. "Reckon I'm nobody, too, so we'll suit each other
nicely." She was trying to count the guineas in the bag with her
finger-tips, but the task was beyond her. She had no aptitude for
figures. All that she could say for certain was that this drunken and
talkative young man had a big bag of gold coin in his pocket, and that
if she did not manage to secure it old Dan would assuredly do so, and
would probably knock the owner on the head into the bargain.

"Consider this, my Poll," continued Tristram thickly; "that I love a
lady with all my heart and soul, and loving her I naturally come to this
place. Why? In order that I may more easily forget her, of course. One
cannot imagine her in a place like this, any more than one can imagine a
spring morning in hell: And it is necessary for me to forget her, since
it is impossible for me to blot out the fact that I have met her. Oh,
Mary, Mary." Suddenly his tone changed. The curtain was drawn back for a
moment from the window of his soul. He saw his real self, and being
predisposed thereto by liquor, he wept.

This was very encouraging to black-eyed Poll. She made up her mind that
one more pannikin of rum and water would finish the business, and then
she would be able to get that solid, heavy bag of coin without fear of
detection.

"Try another little drop of rum, dearie," she murmured encouragingly;
"it's main good to keep up the heart. And don't think so much about your
other girl; think of me instead."

Tristram laughed harshly. He was exactly in that precarious mood when
laughter lies very close to tears and tears to laughter. "You are a wag,
my Black-eyed Poll, a wag, upon my soul, but give me the pannikin, for
there are things that I want to forget, and I cannot forget them, even
here."

His bloodshot eyes roamed uneasily round the noisy assemblage, and his
ears heard, but did not understand the ribald talk, for his true self
was far away on the Hawkesbury among Tom Trevithick's peach trees, with
a sweet and graceful figure in a white, high-waisted dress beside him,
and a pair of clear blue eyes looking steadfastly into his own. This was
his false self, surely, that sat in the low ceilinged, reeking room with
that audacious black-eyed girl leering at him so shamelessly.

Poll held the pannikin to his lips, and again he drank, but warily. His
mood was changing once more. It seemed, after all, that he did not wish
to blot out the picture of Tom Trevithick's peach orchard and all that
it contained. If rum would blot it out, then rum must be avoided, or
dealt with sparingly.

It was while she was pondering on her next move that Poll's exploratory
fingers, straying round to see what else they could detect in the way of
portable property, came upon a big sheath knife fastened in Tristram's
belt, right at the back. He had always carried it on the Hawkesbury as
some protection against the risk of a sudden rush by the blacks. It was
a formidable weapon, and Poll gave a little shiver when she touched it.
This self-styled nobody might be dangerous in an emergency.

"Why don't you have a good sleep, dear?" whispered Poll, "and forget
your troubles. I could kiss you to sleep in no time."

"A good idea, Poll," said the young man, who had set out to pay the
world back for the evil that it had done him, never dreaming in his
ignorance of life that every blow he struck would land on his own body.

He stood up as though to draw back to the broad bench upon which he had
been sleeping before Poll and Kitty broke in upon his dreams. He reeled
across the floor, while Poll supported him by the arm, but before he
reached the bench he stumbled and fell heavily. That was the moment
selected by Poll to make her great stroke. With swift, sure movements,
she extracted the canvas bag full of guineas from Tristram's pocket, and
deftly fixed it to a small iron hook on the leather waist belt that she
wore beneath her apron, in order to profit by just such opportunities as
this.

Tristram lay prone on the floor, breathing heavily, and Kitty's jovial,
red-headed sealer, out of the kindness of his heart, came to the rescue.
The burly, big-chested fellow, with his loud voice and hearty laugh,
grasped Tristram by the collar of his coat and the slack of his pants
and swung him to his feet. Taking him by the arm he piloted him to the
bench in the corner.

"Better bring to an anchor here, mate," said Jim the sealer, as he
dumped Tristram heavily on the bench. "Reckon your cargo's more'n you
can carry."

Tristram's eyes follow Jim the sealer stupidly, as the marine Samaritan
went back to his pipe and grog and amorous dalliance with Kitty.

Black-eyed Poll cast an anxious glance towards the door. It was a good
rule, she always found, to get away from the scene of a successful
transfer of property with the greatest possible expedition. But, alas!
Old Dan had locked the door, to present unauthorised intruders from
gaining admission to the room from outside. Hence the visitors who were
already inside were virtually prisoners at his discretion.

The girl endeavored to induce Tristram to go to sleep, but he was
obstinate now, and very wide awake. Before she knew what he was doing he
had thrust his hand into the pocket of his coat and discovered the loss
of the bag of guineas.

The young fellow was partly sobered by the overwhelming calamity.
Passion, with blazing eyes and clenched teeth, took the place of stupid
apathy. He rose to his feet and stepped swiftly to the table where Jim
the sealer sat with his pannikin of grog in front of him and his girl
upon his knee.

"You thief! Give me back my money," said Tristram in loud and piercing
tones, which caused an instant silence. He laid his hand on Jim the
sealer's shoulder, and the red-bearded giant laughed a great, rich laugh
that had a note of mockery in it.

"Go home to bed and sleep it off, mate," said Jim, the sealer. "I know
nothing about your money."

"Eh, what's this, what's this?" enquired old Dan, shuffling up from the
door, a grotesque figure, with his horn-rimmed spectacles and his faded
scarlet coat. "Somebody lost their money, and in my house, too? Take
care what you say, my lad, or t'will be the worse for you."

"This man robbed me of a canvas bag containing one hundred good English
guineas, under pretence of helping to lift me from the floor," said
Tristram, furiously.

"Ha, ha, that's a good story," said old Dan. "And where did the likes of
you get a hundred guineas? This is an honest house, and we don't want
fellows like you coming about it."

He took a big key from his pocket, hobbled across to the door, and flung
it open. "That's your way home." he shouted.

"I'll not go until I get my money back." cried Tristram, with a wicked
look in his eye. He seized Jim the sealer by the shoulder. "Give me back
my guineas, you scoundrel," he shouted.

The response of Jim the sealer to this appeal was prompt and unexpected.
He shot out a brawny fist that took Tristram in the chest and bowled him
over like a ninepin.

A loud and scornful laugh from Kitty followed close upon the sealer's
knockdown blow. All the card-players chimed in with their advice, which,
though couched in terms of the most varied picturesqueness, showed their
complete unanimity.

They demanded that the madman should be kicked out with all convenient
speed in order that they might resume their game.

Three or four men, including Jim the sealer, joined in a rush at
Tristram. One of the fellows made a vicious blow at him with a short,
heavy club, and Tristram reeled as the weapon reached its mark and laid
his cheek open. They pinned him into a corner, and rained blows upon him
with fists and clubs.

A shrill scream came from Black-eyed Poll. "Look out, boys. Mind his
knife."

He had not thought of it before, but the warning made him remember it in
a flash. As they came at him again all together he drew the knife from
his belt and struck out wildly, impelled by the sheer instinct of
self-preservation.

The blade sunk deeply into the massive shoulder of Jim the sealer, and
down on the floor went the jovial red-haired roysterer with a queer
sobbing cough. The fall made the room shake.

That stopped the fight. A scream from Kitty was followed by a whimpering
from Black-eyed Poll, who saw with dismay the consequence of her
light-fingered practice.

Tristram himself stood up to his full height in the middle of the room,
a terrible spectacle with blood flowing from a deep cut on the forehead
and from another on the cheek. The sheath-knife dropped from his hand
and stuck quivering in the boarded floor.

Again Kitty screamed in long, piercing screams that rang through the
quiet starlit night. Would the girl never be quiet? She was down on her
knees beside Jim the Sealer, and was trying to stench the blood with her
handkerchief. But still it welled up.

"Help! Help! Murder!" Kitty's thin high voice was like a sharp knife
cutting the darkness of the night. Old Dan flung himself upon her,
dragged her from the prostrate figure on the floor, and placed his great
hand across her mouth.

Black-eyed Poll, shivering from head to foot, caught hold of Tristram by
the arm. "Don't let them take you alive," she whispered. "Give them a
run for it. There's a boat on the beach."

Her quick ears had caught the tramp of hurrying feet outside.

A hoarse word of command came to Tristram's ears. "Forward, men, at the
double."

Next moment Captain Cartwright stood in the open doorway of the 'Sheer
Hulk' with a file of soldiers behind him. He had been inspecting the
near-by guard at midnight, when the cry of 'Murder' came to his ears,
and he lost no time in getting to the scene.

"Now then, Dan, what's all this? You've been warned before. It will go
hard with you this time."

The captain's eyes ranging swiftly round the room, fell on Tristram
standing up to his full height with his eyes blazing out under the dark
mark on his white forehead, and with a fearful gash across his
cheekbone. Black-eyed Poll stood before him, clinging to his arm. At the
feet of the pair of them lay the motionless body of Jim the Sealer, with
Kitty sobbing wildly over him.

"By the Lord, it's the young ploughman from the Hawkesbury," cried
Captain Cartwright in amazement.

In the same instant Tristram recognised the Captain. There could be no
mistake. It was the same black-browed, supercilious swaggerer whom he
had seen eyeing Mary Fitzharding in a manner that revealed the captain's
pretensions clearly.

"The window, the window, when I dowse the glim," whispered Black-eyed
Poll. "You'd never reach the door. The lobsters are there."

Captain Cartwright turned to the file of soldiers. "Hold the door, men?
Let no one leave the place." Then, with a savage gleam of satisfaction
on his face, he rushed in to arrest his man, drawing his sword as he
run.

"Surrender, in the King's name, Trevithick. You are my prisoner."

But the captain spoke too soon. As he laid his hand upon his man's
shoulder Trevithick's left arm shot out, and his fist caught Cartwright
on the chin, sending him to the ground like a pithed bullock. Next
instant there was a startled cry from the gaping spectators as
Black-eyed Poll knocked over the solitary oil lamp and the room was
plunged in thick darkness.

Amidst the curses of the men and screams of the women rang out the sharp
order of the corporal of the guard, "Stand fast there. Fix bayonets.
Hold the door." There was a ringing of steel in the darkness as the
sockets of the bayonets gripped the barrels.

And then there were other sounds--the rending of fabric and the crack of
splintered woodwork--followed by the entrance of a gleam of starlight
that peered into the 'Sheer Hulk' and disclosed Captain Cartwright
sitting on the floor gazing vacantly around him, and the motionless body
of Jim the Sealer lying in the centre of the room.

Old Dan and his guests had shrunk back instinctively against the wall to
get away from that silent thing in the middle of the room. The corporal
and his men, in their red coats cross-belted and their white breeches
and black leggings reaching above the knee, were standing in extended
line across the doorway with their bayonets lowered in anticipation of a
rush.

The corporal looked in astonishment at the starlight. The curtained
window was invisible before. He had thought that the wall was solid all
round, and that the door was the only possible means of escape.
Gradually his slow brain took in the thing that had happened. The man
whom the captain had tried to arrest had kept his eye on the curtain in
front of the closed window, and when the light was extinguished he
hurled himself at the curtain like a cannon ball. He had gone through it
and through the unglazed window frame, but he could not be far away yet.

The corporal gathered his wits together as quickly as he could. He left
three men to guard the door and dashed round to the back of the shanty
with the other three. His quick eye discovered a boat fleeing away from
the beach at the foot of the Rocks. The muskets rang out through the
starlit night, but the balls went wide, and the boat was quickly
swallowed up by the surrounding darkness.

The chagrined corporal went back to the 'Sheer Hulk.' He had done his
best, and yet the man had got away. He found Captain Cartwright quite
recovered and in a furious passion. The captain blamed everybody but
himself for the escape of the man who had stabbed Jim the Sealer. The
escape of Tristram was a bitter disappointment because his appearance in
that depraved assemblage was such a great surprise. Cartwright had never
imagined that he would have the luck to find Mary Fitzharding's rustic
admirer among the frequenters of the 'Sheer Hulk.' Still less could he
have imagined that the young man would become a murderer. The captain
rolled that idea over in his mind with intense satisfaction. He would
break Mary Fitzharding's haughty pride at last. Meantime there was the
hateful routine of duty to be attended to.

When Old Dan had relit the lamp Captain Cartwright mustered all the
persons in the room and proceeded to make his investigations.

And here disappointment dogged his steps. In the first place he quickly
discovered that Jim the Sealer was not dead but very much alive. The
knife had pierced the muscles of the shoulder, but had missed the top of
the lung by a hair's breadth. Jim groaned once or twice, and then sat up
with Kitty's arm around him. "Nothing to speak of Captain," he muttered
reassuringly. "I'll be out of dock in a day or two."

The Captain's next discovery was that Black-eyed Poll had disappeared.
The search for the escaped prisoner's 'disreputable paramour,' as
Captain Cartwright angrily termed her, was utterly unsuccessful. She had
vanished, but how she had vanished nobody could say, or if they could
they would not.

George Diggs, who was one of the men left to guard the door during the
absence of the Corporal, could have thrown some light upon the
disappearance of the important witness if he had cared to do so. But he
had no desire to say anything. And how could the Captain know that
Private Diggs had strong personal reasons for befriending Black-eyed
Poll and for facilitating her escape when she needed his assistance.

It was a very grumpy Captain who took down the names of all, with a view
to further action in the morning, and who warned old Dan that the
gallows on Flagstaff Hill would certainly claim him if he did not mend
his ways.

As for Black-eyed Poll, that enterprising young woman retired to the
waterside abode that she shared with Kitty, congratulating herself upon
her luck in having met such a good friend as Private Diggs at the door.

She counted out the guineas, and then she replaced them in the bag.
Trembling with excitement, she took the axe that stood behind the wood
heap and laboriously dug a hole with it in a corner of the back yard.
Rightly recognising that if she attempted to change one of those bright
English guineas she would be arrested at once and would probably be sent
to that awful penitentiary, the female factory at Parramatta, she
carefully buried Tristram's birthright at once, and pulled a big rock
over the filled-up hole before the return of her chum, Kitty, a pleasant
enough girl in her way, but one who could not be trusted with guineas.



CHAPTER V.--THE "MOONSHINE" FACTORY.


Lion Island lies in the estuary of the Hawkesbury in Broken Bay, which
Captain Cook, while scanning the shore line with his spyglass as he
coasted northward from Botany Bay, had discerned and noted in his log,
thereby providing Governor Phillip, who came after him, with a hint that
the energetic founder of the Sydney settlement was quick to act upon. It
was Phillip who first sailed up that magnificent sheet of water and
found the great river that flows into it.

The resemblance to a lion couchant is very striking. The outline of the
back and head and extended fore paws is unmistakable. Governor Phillip
lies far away under a slab in the little church of Bathampton in
England. But carved by the hand of nature, massive and motionless, this
island lion still keeps guard under the shadow of the tall cliffs of
Barrenjoey Head over the entrance to the river that Phillip discovered.

It was late in the afternoon when the prevailing north easter was making
the rollers break in thunder on the rocks fringing Lion Island, that a
small open boat with a solitary man in the stern ran up under the lee
side of the land. The man went forward and took in the sail. He sat down
to the oars and watched his chance, keeping an eye on the little sandy
beach, on the southern end between the rocks.

As the rollers lifted her he plied his oars and the boat shot in on the
crest of the wave. Next moment he had jumped out up to his knees in the
water and was hauling the boat into the little cove. Tristram Trevithick
was a good man in a boat. In his many voyages from the Hawkesbury to the
Sydney Cove he had learnt to handle small craft with wonderful
precision.

But he was utterly exhausted, and the boat was heavy. He managed to pull
her up until the bow stuck in the sand. He took the painter and made the
end fast around a great rock. Then he staggered up the little beach and
threw himself down on the sand in the shadow of a great boulder and
slept.

When he awoke it was long after midnight. Clouds were racing across the
moon. A southerly had come up while he slept. The boat was in danger of
being knocked to pieces. He went down to the edge of the beach, and,
refreshed by his long sleep, he hauled the boat up high and dry and
dragged it behind a big rock, so that it was invisible from the sea. To
quench his thirst he took a long drink from the water-breaker in the
stern sheets, and then set out to explore the lonely little islet where
he intended to lie hidden until the hue and cry for him should die down.

The recollection of Jim the Sealer, lying motionless on his back on the
floor of the 'Sheer Hulk' made him shudder.

He had found a bag of ship's biscuit as well as the breaker of fresh
water in the boat. It belonged to a fisherman, who, no doubt, had
intended to go out fishing in the morning. Lines and bait were in the
boat, with all the fisherman's gear. Well, well, his own need was more
desperate than the fisherman's. Tristram had formed a definite plan. He
would remain on the island for a few days, at any rate. He would be able
to subsist on fish and ship's biscuit, and he hoped to find fresh water
also. After a while he would venture to the mainland, and follow Bell's
line over the Kurrajong Ranges to the newly-settled country round
Bathurst. He would have no difficulty in getting work on the farms
there, and it was hardly possible that he could ever be identified with
the unknown brawler at the 'Sheer Hulk.' Captain Cartwright was the only
individual who had recognised him, and the captain had his duties to
attend to in Sydney, and was quite unlikely to go as far afield as
Bathurst.

Pondering over his scheme. Tristram climbed up the steep side of the
island to the top, which was covered with light scrub. To his delight he
found a deep pool of rain water in a hollow rock.

He made his way to the north end of the Island. It seemed to his
practised eye to be the most likely spot at which to catch fish. He
began to long for the sunrise. The solitude on Lion Island at night was
very eerie. "Ha. What was that?"

A gruff voice seemed to come out of the ground almost under his feet.
"So I sez to Peters," said the voice huskily, "it nary kind of use fer
us to stay 'ere an' be cotched,' sez I, 'with the stuff an' all,' sez I,
'an' I reckon the best thing as we can do is to make over to the
island.' sez I, 'where the cursed lobsters won't never think of lookin'
fer us,' sez I. So 'e sez, 'I'm with yer, Ben,' sez he, 'and the sooner
ye go the better,' sez 'e, 'cos old Macquarie has sent out patrols
already."

"Ow did 'e know that?" enquired a high, thin falsetto--the voice
apparently of a very old man.

Tristram held his breath while he listened. He began to guess who the
unseen creatures were, and what was the nature of their occupation.

'"E got it from Jonathan Wylie," said the gruff voice.

"Ay, ay, 'e's a sharp one, Ben. 'E don't miss much that's goin' on. So
Jonathan told Peters and Peters told you, and you thought it was time to
flit. Wery good, wery good, indeed. I wondered why we had to get away so
quick, but I see it all now."

"I reckon we'll be better here than at Saltpan Creek," said the man who
was called Ben. "There's good fresh water on the island an' Jonathan's
man wot comes to take away the stuff can bring us our stores, and we can
go for a spree into Sydney whenever we feels inclined. Eh. Wot's that?"

Tristram had dislodged a bit of rock with his feet. It rolled down the
side of the cliff with a clatter. Next minute he found himself looking
into the astonished face of a black-bearded man, who seemed to have been
shot out of the ground. Moreover the black-bearded man carried a big
horse pistol, which he flourished in a most dangerous manner.

Tristram explained very fluently that he had resorted to the island as a
place of refuge from the hated 'lobsters' himself, and Ben at last put
down the pistol.

Both Ben and his associate, old Daddy Griffin, were quite familiar with
the 'Sheer Hulk.' They cross-questioned Tristram minutely, and were
satisfied that he had really been there. No, they didn't know Jim the
Sealer, but they knew Kitty, the mate of Black-eyed Poll, and if he,
Tristram, had quarrelled with the sealer over Kitty, and had stuck a
knife into his gizzard, well, that was the sealer's lookout, wasn't it?
The argument was unanswerable, so Tristram did not trouble to relate the
loss of his guineas. It would have involved too much explanation.

Ben Matthews and Daddy Griffin felt much easier in their minds when they
found that the intruder was a fugitive like themselves from the
'lobsters,' and with even better reason than they had for remaining
hidden. So they told him just as much of their own story as it was good
for him to know.

"Ye see," said Ben proudly, "me and Daddy 'ere are the active partners
in the business, as you might say, an' Peters, well, 'e aint no more
than the agent for Jonathan Wylie. It was Wylie as thought out the 'ole
blessed thing, an' found the money for the plant, the still, and the
casks and everythink. Ah' it was 'im that got Peters to start salt works
at Saltpan Creek. The salt works was only a blind, ye see. Oh, yes, we
'ad the evaporatin pans an' all the plant. It gives us an excuse for
keeping a fire goin' there. We turned out a goodish bit of salt, too,
but we turned out more of the real stuff. Daddy Griffin 'ere is in
charge of that department. Reckon wot he don't know about distillin'
nobody else knows."

"I'm a practical man, so I am," piped Daddy in his high soprano.

"So as soon as we got the office about old Macquarie's patrols we loaded
as much of the stuff as we could into the boat," continued Ben, "and we
buried the rest of it on the mainland, and 'ere we are. As soon as the
wind went southerly we shoved off and made a lee shore just where we're
standin' now. The boat is in the little cove just below us, and the
stuff is in this 'ere 'ole in the rock."

"O' course, it was Jonathon Wylie's idea fer us to come here." piped old
Daddy. "'E come around 'ere and found the place to land. Mighty ticklish
job, too, for anyone what didn't know the place. So 'e reckoned we'd be
quite safe 'ere from the 'lobsters.'"

"Where will you put up the still?" asked Tristram, who was becoming
interested in this strange pair, in spite of his anxiety concerning the
figure that he had left lying on the floor in the 'Sheer Hulk' when he
jumped through the window and escaped.

"I'm agoin' to put 'er up in a little boiler down yonder," said old
Daddy, pointing with his bony forefinger to the lower ground, where a
patch of low scrub afforded good cover. "I'll not be able to fire up
'ceptin' on dark nights, fer fear old Macquaries patrols might see the
smoke. 'Twas different, ye see, on the mainland at Saltpan Creek. Nobody
didn't take no notice of smoke there."

"Reckon we can brew all the stuff we want by workin' at night," growled
Ben, "and then it will be my job to run it up the river to Wylie's
place. That's where they all come to buy it, ye see. Peters is the
traveller for the firm. We make good stuff, and we can sell it fer 'alf
the money what the Government rum costs."

"What do you make it out of," asked Tristram.

"Quinces, apples, potatoes, almost anything 'll do," said the ancient
expert, "if a man knows 'is business properly."

"Peter's 'ull bring us down a boat load of quinces directly and I'll
show you 'ow to make the finest grog you ever tasted. Give the lad a sup
of it, Ben."

Ben disappeared into the hole in the rocks and emerged with a stone jar
holding about three gallons. He pulled out the cork, tipped up the jar,
and poured out a little of the contents into a horn mug. It was a clear
white spirit. Tristram tasted it carefully, found it fiery and potent,
and handed back the cup to Ben, who emptied it at a draught and smacked
his lips approvingly.

"That's the way it is when I supply it to Wylie," squeaked the old man.
"He doctors it with brown sugar and colorin' stuff fur them as wants
rum, but it's gin now, that's what it is. Best London gin of the Saltpan
Creek brand." He cackled shrilly at his feeble witticism. "I reckon I'll
have a nightcap myself now and just turn in for a sleep. I've plenty of
work to do in the morning."

So the old man swallowed half a cupful of his 'moonshine.' and he and
Ben threw themselves down on their blankets in the cave.

Tristram had no blankets, so he lay down on the bare earth with his face
to the stars and closed his eyes. He shuddered as he thought of
Black-eyed Poll and Jim the Sealer with that unstanchable tide welling
from his shoulder.

How mad he had been to think that sorrow and remorse and shame can be
drowned in rum and ribaldry. And more than mad to think that the light
of a pair of pure blue steadfast eyes, clear as the son that shone above
him, could be forgotten by looking into the bold black eyes of a
mercenary in the 'Sheer Hulk.' That gold that was his birthright--kept
for him all those years by Lucy Trevithick--was lost; gone in a single
night. And the thin welling stream of Jim the Sealer's blood separated
him from all his fellow men, except those like old Daddy and Ben
Matthews, who were lawbreakers themselves and outcasts from all honest
people. Well, his lot was cast with them, and such as them henceforth. A
child of shame, a spiller of blood, an outcast--he had come to this. And
yet Mary Fitzharding's face was with him still. She even seemed to smile
upon him.

And when she smiled the horror of darkness that troubled him passed
away. He turned upon his side and slept.



CHAPTER VI.--A LETTER AND A DINNER PARTY.


In the large drawing-room of Government House in Bridge-street, Mrs.
Cuthbert lay on a low couch with her eyes closed, while Mary Fitzharding
sat on a stool beside her. The room was shaded by thick blinds and
curtains, for the afternoon was sultry.

"Read me the letter again, dear, that General Macquarie lent to me,"
said Mrs. Cuthbert in a whisper, "I want to hear every word of it."

Mary Fitzharding held an open letter in her left hand. Her right was
clasped in Mrs. Cuthbert's. Quietly she began to read again, and this
was the letter:--

5th December, 1815,

The United Service Club.

Saint James, London.

"My dear Colonel Macquarie--

"In your situation at the antipodes you are no doubt eager to hear
something more of the stirring events in Europe than yon have gathered
from the dispatches of My Lord Castlereagh, who has, I am confident,
informed you of the great battle, in which his Grace the Duke of
Wellington has under Providence utterly overthrown the Corsican
adventurer. It is now sixteen years since you and I bivouacked together
in front of Seringapatam, yet I have not forgotten that each of us then
promised that if either should ever witness an act of signal and
extraordinary heroism in battle he would write to the other a full
account of it. It is to redeem that promise that I now take my pen in
hand, yet being more accustomed to the sword than to the pen, I must
first entreat your consideration on that account. I write, however, all
the more willingly because I can acquaint you that your old regiment,
the 73rd, conducted itself in action to the great satisfaction of his
Grace the Duke. Having been engaged on the staff of his grace during the
battle, in which I lost my left arm in my country's cause, I had many
opportunities of observing the bravery of all the British regiments.
They maintained their formation in square with the utmost gallantry,
though so continually pounded with artillery, cavalry and infantry that
in some of the squares there were more dead and wounded than living men.
However, if I should attempt to describe that great battle I should
write so much as would weary out even your patience to read it. And
therefore I recommend you to wait for the accounts of the historians
rather than trust to the garbled stories of the newsmongers and
pamphleteers, who are at present deafening the public ears. Since you
know the final result of that glorious day. I shall do no more than
mention the remarkable use that General Bonaparte made of his cavalry,
and the failure against our English troops of the arm that he used with
such effect at Austerlitz, Borodino, Marengo, Eylau and Dresden. Let me
say then that Marshal Ney gathered together no fewer than 12,000 sabres
to assail our front, with the plain object of piercing our line and
severing our communication with Blucher. The French horsemen, led by Ney
himself, charged repeatedly with the greatest intrepidity, after their
artillery had pounded our squares. Our gunners gallantly replied and
discharged their cannon at the masses of horsemen at close range. Then,
leaving their guns, they ran back and sought shelter within the squares.

"Coming up the ridge the French riders attacked, but could not break the
squares, which were in two lines, the intervals between the squares of
the first line being filled by the squares of the second line. Our
cavalry, held in reserve behind the crest of the hill, then charged the
French horsemen, and tumbled them back down the ridge in good style. It
was after these tactics had been repeatedly displayed and it became
apparent that the French cavalry could not break our lines, that the
incident which I have to relate took place.

"Although the French cavalry en masse was obliged to desist owing to the
softness of the ground and the tiring of the horses, which could no
longer be induced to gallop, and also owing to the frightful losses
which they had sustained, nevertheless it happened that two or three
squadrons of cavalry here and there, aided by half or a quarter of a
battalion of infantry, several times returned to the charge and were
heavily punished by our men, these attacking parties gradually becoming
smaller and smaller in numbers. The smoke clearing in front of the
position for a few moments at about six of the clock, while I was riding
down the line immediately behind his Grace, I looked and saw an officer
of Count Milhaud's Cuirassiers, who was plainly attempting to rally a
couple of squadrons of his tired men for a last assault upon the still
unbroken British squares.

"The troopers were willing, but their horses were too much distressed to
move, observing which circumstance the officer, who wore his steel
cuirass and plumed helmet, wheeled his powerful black horse and charged
a British regiment--in square, alone. He was a tall powerful man,
wearing a black moustache, and as he spurred his horse at full gallop
straight upon the bayonets the men in the front rank, who were kneeling,
fired a volley. The horse faltered a moment, but then went on again, and
was ridden so resolutely that it attempted to leap the bayonets. Having
been mortally wounded, the animal fell upon the men who formed the front
of the square and plunging and kicking in its agony bore down about six
or eight men under its weight, thereby making a gap, which had there
been any supporting cavalry, might have been quickly widened.

"The Cuirassier himself was thrown clear into the middle of the square.
Regaining his feet immediately he cut down three men with his sabre,
before he was run through the body by a dozen bayonets and died,
shouting with his last breath, 'Vive l'Empereur!'"

"Being curious to discover the name of this brave Frenchman who took so
bold a way to reanimate the spirits of his men, I dismounted and
examined the body. I found inside his tunic a letter written to him by a
lady, apparently an English woman, and addressed to Count Eugene de
Donzenac, Captain in Milhaud's Cuirassiers. This letter I replaced and I
make no doubt that it was buried with him on the field of action.

"So now, my dear colonel, I have fulfilled my promise. When every man in
the British regiments conducted himself so much to the satisfaction of
his Grace, and to the honor of his country, it would ill become me to
say that any Frenchman could be braver. Yet at least it may be said that
Mettus Curtius himself, as he leaped into the gulf, was not more brave
than this Captain of Milhaud's Cuirassiers, who, to revive the flagging
spirit of his soldiers, broke single-handed into a British square, that
had defied for hours the attacks of Ney and his whole brigade.

"I trust that you enjoy good health in your distant quarters and that it
may not be long before I see you again in London. You will find me at
the United Service Club, a new club founded only three years ago by Lord
Lynedoch, whom you may remember as General Graham, the victor of
Barrosa, a gallant gentleman and a fine soldier.

"My compliments to Mrs. Macquarie, who I hope is able to endure with
equanimity her exile.

"I am, my dear general, your very obedient servant.

"RAWDON FERNYHOUGH, (Colonel.)"

As Mary finished the letter she looked at her aunt and saw that Mrs.
Cuthbert's eyes were wet.

"But who was the French Cuirassier?" asked the girl wonderingly.

"He was a man whom I knew once long ago in England." said Mrs. Cuthbert
in a broken voice. "I met him when I was a girl and I loved him, but we
were parted. Events were too strong for us. He went back to France. I
never saw him again. But I heard before I married Major Cuthbert that he
had died in battle a hero's death. I never knew just how he died until
this letter came."

Mrs. Cuthbert wept softly. Mary Fitzharding was deeply touched.

"Oh, Aunt Sybil. I am sorry." She stroked Sybil Cuthbert's hand with
understanding sympathy.

"I think I will go up to my room, dear, and lie down for half an hour."
said Mrs. Cuthbert. She was troubled in her soul. This letter from an
officer who had been at Waterloo had reopened the old wound. And it had
made her think again, too, of that young man, so strangely like Eugene,
whom Mary Fitzharding had brought to the house. The young man had looked
with Eugene's eyes at her, and his gaze had stirred her to the depths.

Mrs. Cuthbert went upstairs to her darkened room and lay down on the bed
to think, and think unceasingly of Eugene de Donzenac charging alone
upon the British square and of a young Hawkesbury River farmer who so
strangely recalled him, not only in his features, but in his walk, his
soldierly pose, his eagle eye, and resolute, straightforward manner.

The thoughts that chased each other through the corridors of her brain
were maddening. Why had she married this red-faced English soldier, with
his obstinacy and his narrowness, whose three r's were his regiment, rum
and the religion of the Church of England? Why had she come with him to
this lonely penal settlement, the furthest spot from Devonshire that the
earth's surface could afford? Ah, the answer to both questions was the
same. She had done everything to escape from herself, but she had not
escaped. In this vast, lonely land, with its sparse and strangely
mingled population of bond and free, she had seen a face that called
back to her those days of joy and youth and passion with an overwhelming
poignancy that pierced her heart.

Those meetings in the flower scented twilight; the last parting on the
beach that rent her soul in twain; the rapture over her sleeping babe,
and her dumb despair when it was taken from her; the furious scene with
her father, and the old squire's tragic and sudden death before she
could tell him the truth--the truth that was so much more than he
knew--these things had begun to fade softly from her memory, losing
their sharpness of outline, like clouds that drift into the distance.
But now they had been vividly redrawn, first by the meeting of Eugene's
mysterious double, and next by this letter from some unknown officer,
who told to his old comrade in arms, in words that thrilled like trumpet
notes, how Eugene died.

Sybil Cuthbert was shaken by a storm of feeling as a tree is shaken by a
gale. But gradually the storm passed away. She lay quiet in her darkened
room through the long sultry afternoon, and at last she rested.

Downstairs, in the drawing-room, Mary Fitzharding continued to read with
glowing cheeks the pamphlets and copies of dispatches that related to
the story of the great war. A goodly supply of them came out to Governor
Macquarie by every ship.

How strange it was that Aunt Sybil should have known and loved that
French officer, who died fighting for his country a noble and heroic
death.

No wonder Aunt Sybil was so silent and reserved. Major Cuthbert, with
his blind prejudices and his rigidly military point of view, would never
forgive her if he discovered that she had had sentimental passages with
a Frenchman, and, above all with a French officer serving under the
Corsican adventurer, who had enslaved half Europe and was seeking to
enslave England when he fell.

The roll of the kettledrum came to Mary's ears from the barrack square
on the hill. She heard the tramp of the sentry as he paced his beat
outside. Suddenly the measured tramping stopped.

Something was said indistinctly in a woman's voice. Mary could not catch
the words.

"Against orders, mum," said the gruffness of the sentry. "Besides, the
governor is not in."

"But I don't want to see the Governor, I want to see the young lady,"
said a feminine voice, in which tears were gathering.

"Wot young lady, mum?" The sentry was suspicious, and quite determined
not to let any undesirable person into Government House. It was within
his experience that shabbily dressed persons sometimes could not resist
stealing even the Governor's spoons.

"Miss Fitzharding." said the unseen woman, and Mary at once became
keenly interested. She could not imagine who the speaker could be.

"Wot do you want to see her about?" enquired the sentry.

"Oh, please let me in," said the woman, on the verge of tears. "I
promise you I'll not do any harm. I must see Miss Fitzharding at once.
She'll never forgive you if you don't let me in now."

All the men of the 48th Regiment knew Mary by sight, and the sentry,
like the rest of them, would do anything to win a smile from her as she
passed. He grounded his musket, and the unseen woman went in. It was
Mary herself who opened the door for her, consumed with curiosity as to
whom her visitor could be.

It was Mrs. Trevithick. Mary recognised her at once, and her heart gave
a great leap. Tristram's foster-mother, in her rough dress of brown
wincey and her big sun hat of coarse straw, was a strange figure in the
drawing-room of Government House.

"Oh, miss, he's gone," said Mrs. Trevithick.

Mary listened wonderingly, and bit by bit she pieced her visitor's
incoherent explanations together and found that Tristram had left the
farm on the Hawkesbury and had gone to Sydney.

"But surely he will go back in a day or two," said Mary, who was at a
loss to understand the cause of Mrs. Trevithick's agitation.

"No, dearie, he'll never come back any more," said Mrs. Trevithick,
rocking herself backwards and forwards in her chair, "He's too proud for
that--too proud to bear the shame, dearie. And it was for your sake that
I told him."

"Please tell me what you are talking about, Mrs. Trevithick, for I am
quite mystified," said Mary. "What was it that you told your son for my
sake?"

"That he is not my son," said the elder woman. "That's it exactly, Miss.
And I told him for your sake, because I saw that--he loved you."

A fiery signal raised itself in Mary Fitzharding's cheeks, but she did
not deny the statement. She felt that a denial would be useless. Between
women such things are known with a certitude that words can neither
increase nor lessen.

"Whose son is he, then?" asked Mary in a whisper.

"His mother was our old squire's daughter in England," said Mrs.
Trevithick, "but who his father was we have never known. The old squire
told us, when he handed the child to us, that it was a child of shame."

"Oh!" The blundering blow struck home. It reached the girl's heart. She
reeled and almost fell.

"I told him all that I knew," continued Tristram's foster mother, with a
strong effort, "because I felt that it was my duty to tell him, as soon
as he became a man. And when I saw him with you, miss, I knew that he
was a man at last. On the same day that I told him he bade us goodbye,
and he went away. His last words to me were, 'If you ever meet Mary
Fitzharding to tell her to forget me, for we shall never meet again.'
That's why I came to you, miss."

Mary turned white at that, but she came of a stock that had courage. She
did not weep like Mrs. Trevithick. She even smiled--a wan and desperate
smile.

"Thank you for coming to tell me, Mrs. Trevithick," she said without a
quiver in her voice. "We women must help each other and stand by each
other. Believe me, I am grateful to you for telling me this, but I
cannot believe that Tristram and I will never meet again."

"Dearie, you must not hope," said the older woman, taking Mary's hand in
hers. "There's no good in hoping now." She looked as if she was going to
say more, but checked herself. As she passed the sentry on her way out
into the street, she could not even thank him for having let her in. Her
voice was choked with tears.

When Mary Fitzharding went back to the drawing-room she thought no more
of the letter to Governor Macquarie, and the stirring story of heroism
that it told. But she thought much of Tristram and wondered where he had
gone when he left the homestead on the Hawkesbury.

A hot flush flooded her cheeks, and an icy grip seemed to close on her
heart, as she recalled these blunt words about the man she loved. "A
child of shame." But if it meant that she could never marry him, still
she would certainly never marry anyone else. She could not--could
not--could not.

And then she sat down on the sofa and wondered furiously who was
Tristram's father, and where the young man had gone to, and why he did
not at least make an effort to see her.



CHAPTER VII.--GOVERNOR MACQUARIE'S DINNER PARTY.


At dinner that evening there were visitors.

Governor Macquarie was much given to entertainment, and he seldom showed
to better advantage than when he chatted with the guests who sat with
their feet under his hospitable mahogany.

The Governor sat at one end of the table, and Mrs. Macquarie at the
other.

Their guests included Major and Mrs. Cuthbert and Miss Fitzharding,
several officers of the 48th Regiment, with their wives, a couple of
emancipists of the most respectable sort--one was an Irish political
prisoner transported for treason, and the other a gentleman who had been
guilty of the freak of abducting an heiress--Mr. D'Arcy Wentworth, the
Principal Civil Surgeon; Mr. Frederick Goulburn, the Colonial Treasurer;
Mr. Nicholas Bayly, secretary of the newly-formed Bank of New South
Wales; Mr. John Piper, Mr. Edward Riley, the magistrate; Mr. Edward
Wollstonecraft, and last, the black-browed Captain Cartwright, who was
placed next to Miss Fitzharding, to her extreme annoyance and
indignation.

The great chandelier, with its fine array of wax candles, threw a soft
light upon the Governor's table, gleaming with silver and spotless
napery. And the two footmen, who had been specially recommended by the
Superintendent of Prisons as competent house servants, took care that
the guests' glasses were kept filled. Fresh fish, caught that day off
Georges Head; a fine turkey bustard, sent down as a present by Mr.
Charles Throsby, of Mittagong; a magnificent baron of beef, a saddle of
juicy mutton, and sweets and jellies, prepared under the direction of
Mrs. Macquarie herself, formed the fare. The Governor's port and claret
were of the best.

Governor Macquarie was in excellent form, and his affable and
'condescending' manners, so much admired by many estimable gentlemen,
speedily set the company at their ease.

He chaffed Mr. D'Arcy Wentworth on his devotion to the great writers of
antiquity, particularly Horace; laughed heartily at Mr. Goulburn's
amusing story of the prisoner's retort to the Reverend Samuel Marsden,
who had sentenced him to fifty lashes, and gave Mr. Nicholas Bayly a few
hints on the subject of the theory and practice of banking. He was
elaborately courteous to the two emancipists who sat next each other,
having on their left and right respectively two officers' wives, who
turned their heads away ostentatiously.

To the Irish political offender whose sentence of death had been
mercifully commuted to transportation for life, the Governor told his
favorite story about the vagaries of Micky Doyle, his soldier servant,
when he was a captain in his Majesty's 77th Regiment of Foot at
Cannanore. The story of how Micky Doyle tried to drive an Indian pig to
Manantawadi by tying a piece of rope round its near hind leg and heading
it for Chamrajanagar, made the courteous Irish rebel laugh so heartily
that he upset his wine over the elaborately dressed lady next to him.
But when she muttered venomously in an undertone, "La, sir, I vow that
you are better acquainted with pigs than with ladies," he was stricken
into sudden silence.

When the turkey bustard was being dissected, the Governor took the
opportunity to raise his glass politely to the gentleman who had
abducted the heiress, and had been ordered a long sea voyage in
consequence.

"A glass of wine with you, sir," said the Governor pleasantly, and the
very respectable emancipist cheerily tossed off the contents of his own
glass with a pleased smile. He recognised the Governor as a man of his
own class, "a thorough gentleman, egad."

So Governor Macquarie told him several of his brightest anecdotes. About
the campaign in Cochin China in 1795 and the sergeant who was
court-martialled for hiding a little Cochin-China girl in the big drum;
about the lance-corporal who became possessed of a dancing girl at the
fall of Seringapotam, and could never get rid of her afterwards, and
about the regimental surgeon, who made love to a rajah's daughter at
Mangalore, and was trapped and condemned to be trodden to death by
elephants, but escaped in the disguise of a fakir and turned up at the
officers' mess in a loin cloth and a scared expression.

The Governor positively bubbled over with cheerful conversation, and
under the influence of his anecdotes and his fine old port, even the
emancipists began to feel almost comfortable in spite or the frigid
stares of the officers and the embarrassed politeness of the civil
officials.

Governor Macquarie made it part of his settled policy to show particular
attention to those emancipists who, in his judgment had expiated their
offences and deserved to be encouraged in their efforts to regain the
consideration of their fellow inhabitants in the colony. His officers
refused to see eye to eye with him on this point, and it was a constant
source of difficulty and friction with them. They were not a highly
gifted body of men at the best of times. None of them had the Governor's
easy charm of manner and fluent stream of table conversation. They
devoted themselves in silence for the most part to the turkey bastard
and the port, and the glummest of them all was the black-browed Captain
Cartwright.

He had made several attempts to engage Miss Fitzharding in talk of a
personal nature, but it was no good. She answered him either in
monosyllables or not at all.

"Gad, I will break your pride, my lady, by-and-by," muttered the young
officer to himself under cover of one of the Governor's liveliest
anecdotes. Forthwith he began to lay his plans for reducing Mary to
tears and humiliation.

After the toast of the King had been honored and the ladies had left the
room, the gentlemen closed up towards the Governor's chair, and the port
began to circulate freely. The more it circulated the more talkative
became the Governor's guests, and none more so than Mr. Edward Riley,
the magistrate.

"Egad, Governor," said the magistrate, "I think we shall have to take
strong measures with those unlicensed publicans on The Rocks. A man was
nearly killed there a few nights ago. Captain Cartwright brought a
choice lot of villains before me in the morning, but the fellow who
stuck the knife into the sealer got clean away."

The Governor's brow darkened "What's all this, Captain Cartwright? Do
you mean to say that you allowed a man who made an attempt at murder to
evade arrest?"

So Captain Cartwright had to tell the whole story. He had no difficulty
in showing that he himself had been struck down from behind, and that
the corporal of the guard was responsible for the escape of the
prisoner.

"Tut, tut," said the Governor angrily "The fellow must be laid by the
heels as soon as possible. I'll see to it to-morrow. Do you know who he
was?"

"It was that young man, Tristram Trevithick, sir, son of Tom Trevithick,
the Hawkesbury settler, near Windsor. You will remember seeing him when
you visited Trevithick's homestead."

"God bless my soul. Of course I do. Who would have thought that such a
well spoken young fellow would turn out such a desperate villain." The
Governor was seriously annoyed. He remembered that pretty Mary
Fitzharding had dallied long with Tristram Trevithick in the orchard.
The tough old soldier was genuinely fond of Mary. A pretty child. 'Fore
Gad, it was too bad that she should even have been talking with such a
young scoundrel. What was a religious and honorable man like Tom
Trevithick thinking of to let his son grow up to be a drunken brawler
and a frequenter of such unsavory places as the 'Sheer Hulk.' These were
the reflections of Governor Macquarie, and as they were decidedly
disquieting, he helped himself to another glass of port.

Listening to Mr. Edward Riley, the magistrate, whose tongue was now
thoroughly loosened, the Governor obtained a vivid though distorted
impression of the events that had occurred at the 'Sheer Hulk.'

Mr. Riley narrated the main heads of the story, that he had elicited
from old Dan, the keeper of the place, from Katherine Moggridge, the
female associate of James Small, the wounded man, and from the other
person who had been arrested, all of whom he had sentenced to varying
terms of imprisonment. It was regrettable that neither Small's assistant
nor the young woman, who was the scoundrel's paramour, had been
captured, but search was being made, and an arrest might be expected.

The Governor exploded with indignation. "Are you certain, Mr. Riley,
that the young fellow, who, I understand is the son of a very
respectable settler on the Hawkesbury, associated himself with one of
the female frequenters of that disreputable tavern?"

Mr. Riley was quite taken aback at the Governor's interest in the
missing brawler. "Quite certain, sir." he replied. "There can be no
doubt about it. The soubriquet of the young woman is 'Black-eyed Poll,'
and she is customarily in the company of the other woman, Katherine
Moggridge, alias Kitty."

It was scarcely credible. The Governor remembered Tristram very well
indeed.

An unusual stamp of man, a highly superior type; and in no way
resembling the members of his family. He remembered the evident pleasure
that Mary Fitzharding had taken in the young man's society, and the
warmth of the interest that she displayed in him. That young Trevithick
could have actually associated himself with such a person as Black-eyed
Poll gave the Governor a real shock.

"I should have said, sir," added Mr. Riley testily, "that the missing
man, who was unknown by name to old Dan or any of the others present,
had complained that he was robbed of a bag of guineas in the room. That
was the ostensible cause of his assault on James Small, the sealer. Of
course, the story about the guineas had no foundation in fact. All those
persons who were arrested denied having seen any money in the possession
of the young man except a shilling or two which he spent on drink, and
although every one of them was searched most carefully there was no sign
of the alleged gold. I therefore assume that the disgraceful brawl that
ensued was the outcome of the drunken quarrelsomeness of the missing
man."

"Hum!" The Governor was by no means convinced. He doubted the
perspicacity of Mr. Edward Riley, and dropped at once upon the flaw in
his argument. Further light might be forthcoming with the arrest of
Black-eyed Poll. He felt decidedly curious about that young person.

When the gentlemen joined the ladies at a rather late hour under the
blaze of the big chandelier in the long drawing room the Governor was
alert and steady. He carried his liquor like the hard-headed old
campaigner that he was. But Mr. Riley was foolishly garrulous, Mr.
D'Arcy Wentworth and Mr. Frederick Goulburn were benignly mellow, and
all the others presented varying symptoms of the complaint of having
drunk too much. As to Captain Cartwright, he was in that black and sulky
mood that drink unhappily produces in certain natures. He was ready to
quarrel with anybody.

As he seated himself on a sofa beside Mary Fitzharding, she drew her
skirt away from contact with him, with a gesture that infuriated him,
and he looked with smouldering rage into her calm, disdainful face.

"You haven't heard that we are all anxious to find your rustic admirer,"
he muttered in an undertone, meant for her ear only, and Mary much as
she loathed him, could not forbear to listen. Her thoughts were full of
Tristram. She gave a slight start. How on earth, had this man found out
already that Tristram had left his home?

"It seems that he has been in the habit of frequenting a certain low
tavern on the Rocks for some time past." said Captain Cartwright, eyeing
her closely.

"If you are speaking of Mr. Trevithick," replied Mary coldly, "I do not
believe you."

"I tell you that I saw him there myself only two evenings ago," said the
gallant captain wrathfully. "He was drunk and brawling. He stabbed a
man. I went there with a file of soldiers to arrest him."

"Ah!" Mary felt as though she had been stabbed herself. Was it possible
that this detestable person told the truth?

"He escaped," said Captain Cartwright, "but it is not possible for him
to be at large for long. He is certain to be recaptured, and then this
pretty fellow will be sentenced to the road gang, and probably five
hundred lashes into the bargain." He hissed the words out vindictively.

Mary became pale as death, but her spirit rose to the challenge. "I make
no doubt, sir, that Mr. Trevithick can justify himself for everything
that he has done. If he struck out in self-protection and to save his
own life he did no more than any man of courage would do, and the law
will hold him blameless."

"Blameless. Ha, ha! Ask Mr. Edward Riley, the magistrate."

But Mr. Edward Riley, red of face, and incoherently loquacious, appeared
to an unpromising fount of trustworthy information.

"He seems to be no more dependable than yourself, Captain Cartwright,"
the girl remarked cuttingly. "Perhaps your recollection will be more
accurate and your judgement less confused when you are sober tomorrow
morning. I wish you a very good night, sir."

She rose from the sofa and crossed the room with her head held high,
making for the door, which Mr. D'Arcy Wentworth ran to open for her with
his most ingratiating smile. As she passed out on to the landing Captain
Cartwright, beside himself with rage, hurried after her, while the
officers' wives raised their eyebrows in astonishment. They wondered why
that haughty minx, Mary Fitzharding, would have nothing to do with
Captain Cartwright, who obviously desired to show her attention, and who
was one of the most eligible young men in the regiment.

Mr. D'Arcy Wentworth was so surprised that he forgot to close the doors.
The guests in the drawing-room could not hear what was said, in the
tense subdued tones of the pair on the landing, though they strained
their ears to the utmost. If they could have heard they would have been
still more astonished.

"I have come to tell you that your rustic suitor is not so blameless as
you think," said the raging captain to the haughty girl, who found her
passage to the stair case barred by this most unwelcome intruder. He
almost threw the words at her.

"Let me pass, sir," said Mary, in freezing tones. "You are not
yourself."

"Oh, yes, I am." retorted the captain. "I am quite sensible enough to
remember everything and everybody that I saw at the 'Sheer Hulk,'
including even Black-eyed Poll."

"Your low acquaintance does not interest me, Captain Cartwright."

"But she interested Tristram Trevithick very much," said the captain,
leering into the girl's face brutally. "When I saw her she was standing
in the middle of the room with him, and she had her arm around him. It
was perfectly plain that she was your rustic suitor's paramour."

And then it happened.

Mary struck the captain across the face with her open hand--a hard blow,
that was plainly heard in the drawing room.

"Liar!" she said, with ringing emphasis, and the word reached the
startled guests quite clearly. There was not one of them that did not
hear it.

But Mr. D'Arcy Wentworth was the perfection of tactfulness, even after
he had drunk the best part of two bottles of port. He looked at Governor
Macquarie--and softly closed the door.



CHAPTER VIII.--A HOT PURSUIT.


"Now, look here, Wylie," said Captain Cartwright, as he sat on his horse
outside Mr. Jonathan Wylie's house, at the main ferry across the
Hawkesbury, which was the only means of communication between the north
and south of coastal New South Wales, "this young fellow, Trevithick,
that we're after belongs to the Upper Hawkesbury. In my opinion he is
sure to come back here. You are well acquainted with everyone on the
river, and I expect you to help me to recapture him."

"Um." Mr. Jonathan Wylie retained a strictly non-committal attitude. He
always liked to assist the Government whenever he could do so, without
trouble, expense or risk to himself, because he found that it paid well.
He secured many Government contracts for furnishing supplies to road
parties, simply by giving a little well-timed help--the loan of a horse
or cart, for instance--to the officer in charge. But he studiously
refrained from helping to recapture escaped prisoners, because it got
him into bad odor with many persons whose help he needed in one or other
of the multifarious enterprises by which he was steadily amassing a
great fortune.

Captain Cartwright opened a large pocket-book stuffed with a
miscellaneous collection of documents, and took out a folded sheet of
paper, which he handed to Wylie.

"That's the official description of the man who is wanted for attempting
to murder James Small, a sealer, at the unlicensed tavern the 'Sheer
Hulk.' I look to you for information as to his whereabouts. And
remember, Wylie, there's another contract to be let shortly for supplies
to the road party between Windsor and Parramatta; and there are other
people besides yourself who are on the look out for it."

Mr. Jonathan Wylie wrinkled his brow thoughtfully, and applied a pair of
huge horn spectacles to his nose, as he unfolded the sheet of paper that
Captain Cartwright had handed to him. He scrutinised the writing
closely, but if any person had happened to look over Mr. Wylie's
shoulder he would have discovered that the elderly man with the cunning
little eyes, and hard mouth, was holding the paper upside down.

The prosperous Mr. Wylie, with his numerous and varied interests, had
never found time to master the art of reading.

"Right you are, captain," said Mr. Wylie, briskly, as he folded up the
paper and placed it in his best pocket. "I ought to be able to recognise
him by this easy enough. There's a man by the name of Trevithick on a
nice little farm about three miles this side of Windsor. I think it
might be as well for you to enquire there first."

So Captain Cartwright tossed off the stirrup cup of rum and water that
was offered to him and rode off with his six weary 'lobsters' to take up
the chase once more. He had a double motive now for hunting down
Trevithick, who had not only escaped from custody, after knocking him
over with a blow of his fist, but had also enlisted the sympathy of Mary
Fitzharding. Captain Cartwright rightly attributed the girl's disdain to
his own suit to her interest--amazingly displaced as it might be--in the
son of the Hawkesbury settler. He yearned to lay his hand on Tristram's
shoulder. If the fellow resisted arrest, by gad, he would order the
soldiers to shoot him.

And so he disappeared round the corner of the white and dusty road,
followed by the six sweating soldiers and Jonathan Wylie turned back
into his house, to interview an individual who had remained discreetly
in the background during Captain Cartwright's visit. This individual was
Mr. Job Peters, manager of Mr. Wylie's large and flourishing distillery
business, which had adequately staffed branch establishments in
different parts of the rugged range country, surrounding the Hawkesbury.

Over a generous glass of the fiery product of the illicit still, Mr. Job
Peters presented his report, which was to the effect that business
generally was in a sound and prosperous condition. The demand for Mr.
Wylie's product was strong, not only in outlying places like Windsor and
Parramatta, but also in Sydney itself. Four hotels in George-street drew
their supplies exclusively from the illicit stills, and the manager was
negotiating with the proprietors of several others for their patronage.

The supply was keeping pace with the increased demand, and steps were
being taken to establish additional stills in places where there was no
likelihood of their being interfered with.

In consequence of the activity of the patrol sent out by Governor
Macquarie, it had been found necessary to remove the plant established
at Saltpan Creek, and to re-erect it at Lion Island. The removal had
been accomplished successfully by night, and Daddy Griffin and Ben
Matthews were already conducting operations on the new site. Mr. Peters
regretted that the patrols had arrested two of his regular customers,
emancipist settlers, occupying farms higher up the river, who were found
in possession of illicit spirits, but he could give an assurance that
they did not know where the stuff came from, and consequently could give
no information likely to damage the business. Both of these men, added
Mr. Peters, had mortgaged their farms in return for an agreed number of
gallons of spirit. As they were now unable to pay for the spirit, which
had been delivered to them in due course, their farms would become the
properly of Mr. Wylie.

Mr. Wylie rubbed his hands, and generously filled his manager's glass
again from the keg that stood in the corner. Although he could not read,
he had an astonishing memory for facts and figures. It pleased him to
think that, as a result of these fortunate mortgages, his landed estate
was now virtually increased by 200 acres of some of the best freehold
land on the river.

"Tell you what I think, Peters," said Wylie. "I've got nothin' partikler
to do today. We'll just have a run down to Lion Island in the cutter,
and take Ben Matthews and Daddy Griffin their rations. I've an idea that
it would be just as well for me to see where they have put up the still.
Daddy Griffin is an obstinate old fool sometimes, and I don't want to
give the patrols a chance if I can help it."

So Sam Brown, one of Wylie's assigned servants, carried beef and pork,
and flour, tobacco, sugar and tea, down to the river, and placed the
stores on board the cutter.

All day long the cutter sailed down the majestic stream, fringed with
wooden heights that matched the Drachenfels and the Sieben Gebirge on
the Rhine, and sprinkled with islands so rich in juicy native grasses
that the cattle sought them eagerly.

Just after sunset they passed a boat in which a little girl was rowing
back to the right bank of the river from Bar Island, lying in the bend.
Two cows swam after the boat contentedly. The little girl was leading
them home, after their day's pasturing on the island. She bade old Wylie
a shy "Good night!" as she passed.

"Them's my cows," remarked Jonathan reflectively. "That's Bill Barlow's
little girl. 'E owes me for stores, and he can't pay. I'm goin' to take
over his farm next week."

The kindly old philanthropist lit his pipe, and puffed away at it with
much satisfaction. "I reckon if I live long enough, and if the grog will
only hold out, I'll have every emancipist's farm on the river."

At night Mr. Wylie slept on the bottom boards of the cutter wrapped in a
rug, while Peters steered. At 4 o'clock in the morning the old man awoke
and took the tiller himself, while Peters, fatigued by his long vigil,
snatched forty winks.

They passed Peat's Ferry, and a few miles lower down ran into the
widening estuary of Broken Bay. Wylie dropped the anchor off Lion
Island, and Ben Matthews came out in his boat and rowed them ashore,
together with the stores.

"Anything fresh, Ben?" enquired Jonathan, "looking at the black-bearded
man from under his shaggy eyebrows.

"Nuthin' much," said Ben, "'cepting that we found a young chap on the
island when we got there. Bin sticking a knife into some fellow up at
the 'Sheer Hulk,' and wants to lie low for a bit, that's all."

Mr. Wylie pricked up his ears and began to calculate possibilities
shrewdly. Of course, he reasoned, this young follow must be the man that
Captain Cartwright was after; and if so, it was impossible to assist
Captain Cartwright to recapture him for if he were recaptured the young
fellow would blow the gaff on the illicit still. Besides, Ben Mathews
was a man of violent temper. He was quite capable of making himself very
objectionable if he found Wylie negotiating secretly with the enemy. All
people who wore the King's uniform represented the enemy to Ben
Matthews.

As soon as the boat swept round the reef at the end of the island and
ran its nose into the little sandy cove, Wylie saw Daddy Griffin on the
beach and the young stranger beside him. And as he looked at the young
stranger Wylie was conscious of a perturbing, disquieting sensation--the
feeling that he had seen that young man before somewhere. He tried to
think where he had seen him, but in vain. Jonathan Wylie's acute
untutored memory was for once at fault, and it worried him.

After, he had heard Tristram's story from his own lips, Jonathan told
him of Captain Cartwright's visit.

Captain Cartwright was on the track, and had handed him a written
description of the wanted man. Wylie inserted his thumb and forefinger
into his waistcoat pocket, and extracted the paper that Cartwright had
given him. He handed it to Tristram.

The young man unfolded the paper, and to his amazement, this is what he
read, in the delicate pointed Italian hand writing that ladies affected
at the time:--

"Government House, Sydney. Monday.

"Miss Fitzharding requests that Captain Cartwright will desist from
forcing his acquaintance on her. She assures him that it is most
distasteful to her, and that she will never forget the unmanly and
cowardly conduct of which he was guilty after dining at the Governor's
table. As to the young man whom Captain Cartwright slandered to her so
desperately, Miss F. desires Captain C. to understand that she
entertains for that object of his calumny a feeling of the liveliest
regard, and a confidence that defies all Captain C.'s miserable
aspersions. Miss F. further informs Captain C. that if he again insults
her by compelling her to endure his presence, she will inform the
Governor of his conduct and beg that the sentry be ordered to forbid him
admittance to Government House."

Tristram's face went from red to white as he scanned the note that Miss
Fitzharding had addressed to his pursuers. He saw in a flash the lucky
chance that had placed him in possession of this evidence of her
interest in him. Captain Cartwright had evidently taken it from his
pocket-book in mistake for a similar piece of paper containing a
description of the wanted man, and had handed it to Jonathan Wylie; but
why had not Wylie discovered the mistake?

"Haven't you read this paper, Mr. Wylie?" he enquired in blank
astonishment.

"N--no," said Jonathan confusedly, "I haven't exactly read it, as you
might say. The fact is I didn't 'ave my spectacles with me when the
captain gave it to me, and I can't read, not without my spectacles."

At this point Mr. Peters coughed significantly, and Ben Matthews made a
horrible grimace which was plainly intended to warn Tristram that he was
on dangerous ground. Old Daddy Griffin with difficulty suffocated a
guffaw. The indications were unmistakable, and Tristram at once guessed
the true explanation, namely, that Jonathan Wylie could not read, either
with or without his spectacles.

"You just read it to me yourself," commanded Wylie, cursorily. So
Tristram, taking out the paper, made glib pretence of reading.

"Tristram Trevithick," he gave out in a sing-song voice. "Height, 5 ft.
11 in., eyes grey, nose aquiline, complexion olive, small dark
moustache, teeth white and even, build muscular; accustomed to farming
pursuits. A free emigrant, ex Amphitrite. Domiciled on the Hawkesbury."

He folded up the paper and put it in his pocket.

"I'd like to keep this, if you don't mind, Mr. Wylie," he said.

Of course, Jonathan Wylie did not mind. He mistrusted any paper having
writing upon it. He was glad to be rid of it.

After making a hearty meal Wylie inspected the position in which old
Daddy and Ben had put up the still. It was in a small hollow completely
surrounded by enormous boulders, which in turn were screened by thick
scrub. A hole, just large enough for a man to wriggle through, could be
seen between the two boulders close to the ground. Daddy Griffin went
first, lying down on his stomach and propelling himself forward on his
toes and elbows. Then Matthews followed, then Peters, and Tristram. Last
of all went Jonathan Wylie, who displayed wonderful activity for an
elderly man.

"I took her in to this 'ere in pieces," observed old Daddy Griffin, "and
then I put her together as she stands." He surveyed the clumsy little
plant with the retort and the worm in which the distillation was
effected, and his face wore an expression of honest pride.

"There she is," he said in his high-pitched, falsetto, "as handy a still
as ever turned out a drop of 'moonshine,' though I sez it. We haven't
started her yet, though. I'm waitin' for them quinces."

Wylie surveyed the hollow with evident approval. "You've a good eye for
position," he said at length, "a very good eye indeed."

"Seems to me that a whole regiment of 'lobsters' might tramp over Lion
Island without findin' this 'ere place. All ye have to do is to block up
the 'ole with a big stone and nobody could tell that the rock's not
solid. They can't climb up to the top to look in, 'cos there ain't nary
a crack in that round, smooth wall where a man could stick his toe, and
the scrub all round prevents anybody from even seeing the rocks until
they're up again 'em."

"If I 'ad plenty of food and drink I could stay 'ere for a year, and the
devil himself couldn't find me," said Ben Matthews, with conviction.

Having duly admired the distillery. Wylie wriggled out again into the
open, and engaged in a business talk with old Daddy and Peters,
concerning the great questions of output and distribution.

Daddy was responsible for producing the article, and Peters for selling
it. There were many knotty points to be settled in both branches of the
business. Fuel and water were both obtainable on Lion Island, but Daddy
demanded regular supplies of fruit. He explained that the necessity of
restricting the distillation until the hours of darkness would diminish
his output considerably compared to what it had been at Saltpan Creek.
Peters would also have to provide kegs of a handy size, and it might be
advisable to make a pretence of establishing a fishing station on the
island, in order to account for the coming and going of the cutter,
which would certainly be observed.

Old Wylie listened attentively, and made mental notes. He was not able
to make any other kind.

On the question of distribution. Job Peters observed gloomily that the
Governor was showing much activity in proceeding against the unlicensed
publicans, who were the chief consumers of Mr. Wylie's Saltpan Creek
products. Severe ordinances had been issued in regard to "base and
clandestinely distilled spirits." However, the grog was preferred by
many customers to the rum of which the Government held the monopoly, and
several of the most respectable licensed publicans had hinted that they
would take regular supplies at a fair price. The most difficult and
dangerous job was the landing the stuff in Sydney. So many Government
boats were always on the look-out for smugglers that it needed continual
vigilance to avoid them.

This was a branch of the subject that Jonathan Wylie was thoroughly well
up in. His early experience of running cargoes of French brandy, silks
and laces across the Channel stood him in good stead. He had many
valuable suggestions to offer to Job Peters. At the same time an
unpleasant cold shiver ran down his spine, for he recalled the night
when all his care and vigilance did not save him from being captured by
that British sloop of war. The subsequent experience of being tried for
treason and condemned to death was a most disagreeable one! Mr. Wylie
instinctively loosened his neckcloth, as he recalled it. The neckcloth
seemed to choke him.

While this important business discussion was in progress Tristram was
standing apart, thinking of other things--of Mary Fitzharding's eyes
principally, and then of Jim, the sealer, lying on the floor of the
'Sheer Hulk.' He was roused from his dreams at last by hearing his name
mentioned emphatically by Jonathan Wylie.

"Young Trevithick is just the man for it," said Wylie to Peters. "He's a
good man in a boat, and has plenty of pluck." And then the old man added
grimly, "besides he'll be fighting with a rope round his neck, and
that's the man that allus fights best."

So Tristram was summoned to the conference, and was informed that in
return for Mr. Wylie's assistance and protection, and as a small
recognition of his generosity in abstaining from giving him up to
Captain Cartwright, he would be asked to help in the conduct of the Lion
Island distilling business by shipping the product in a sound and
seaworthy boat, with which he would be provided, and delivering it at
whatever point Job Peters required it. Whether that point might be up
the Hawkesbury or in Sydney Harbor, or at the new settlement that was
springing up at the Five Islands. That was the name of the South Coast
region which was later known as Illawarra, and which was becoming the
centre of the flourishing industry of cedar-getting. The cedar getters
were large consumers of grog. Mr. Peters had had his eye on them for
some time.

Having set out to revenge himself on the world for its ill-treatment of
him, the unfortunate young man found that by his folly, inexperience,
and mad recklessness, he had exposed himself to fresh buffets from that
implacable abstraction. There was nothing for it but to acquiesce in
Jonathan Wylie's proposal, otherwise it seemed to him that the old man
would be a formidable enemy. Tristram did not want any other formidable
enemy. He had quite enough of them already.

"Very well," he said, curtly; "I'll do it. When do you start?"

Mr. Wylie was delighted at this alacrity. "You must come back with me in
the cutter to-night." he said; "then I'll give you the other boat, and
you will take the kegs down to Daddy Griffin. When he has filled them
you'll run them into Port Jackson and land them inside George's Head,
where Peters will have a man with a cart to meet you and take the stuff
over from you. Tristram's heart began to beat high, and he shook off the
depression that had assailed him. Here he saw life, freedom, and
adventure after all. He would have to put his wits against his pursuers.
He might have to fight. It was better than quietly stagnating on Tom
Trevithick's farm in an existence that was little better than that of a
turnip.

"All right," he said, as he looked into Wylie's face, with his flashing
dark eyes. "I'm ready."

While this discussion was in progress on Lion Island, Captain Cartwright
was still busily enquiring for the missing man all along the Hawkesbury.
He had been right up to Windsor, but without result. Tom Trevithick's
conversation was a string of surly negatives, and Mrs. Trevithick
contributed nothing but tears.


So the captain had gone back to Wylie's house and found Wylie not at
home. Where had he gone to? The more Captain Cartwright reflected upon
Jonathan the deeper grew his suspicions concerning that individual. He
knew a great deal more about Wylie that Wylie was aware of. It seemed to
him most unlikely that Jonathan was as ignorant as he seemed to be about
Tristram Trevithick's whereabouts. Cartwright's distrust deepened so
quickly, once he got upon that line of thought that he resolved to go in
search of Wylie at once. He strode over to the wretched bark hut
inhabited by Wylie's assigned servants, and encountered Sam Brown
leisurely chopping firewood.

"Come here, you dog!" shouted the captain, and Sam Brown hastened to
obey.

"Where has your master gone, and take care that you tell the truth or
I'll have you given a hundred lashes."

That made Sam Brown stutter so that he could hardly speak. He had once
received a hundred lashes for being impertinent to the free settler to
whom he was assigned before Jonathan Wylie acquired him. The experience
was so awful that Cartwright's threat reduced poor Sam Brown to the
verge of aphasia.

At last he was able to stammer out that Mr. Wylie had gone away in the
cutter down stream with another man.

"Who was the other man?"

Sam Brown did not know. Yes, he had seen him before somewhere, but he
did not know his name. Even the threat of a flogging could not elicit
the name of Wylie's companion. It was obvious to Cartwright that the
shivering wretch told the truth.

Dismissing the assigned servant with a curse at his stupidity,
Cartwright walked down towards the river, followed by his six soldiers.
It flashed through his mind that Wylie's companion might be the wanted
man. Wylie was always a deep one, and was certainly in league with all
the evil-doers on the river. It seemed possible that the old man was
assisting Trevithick to escape. Trevithick would almost certainly have
returned to the Hawkesbury after the brawl at the 'Sheer Hulk,' and
Wylie, who was himself an emancipist, had a natural sympathy with people
who were "wanted."

Once the idea was started in his mind, it was easy for Cartwright to
persuade himself that his theory was sound. He resolved to go in pursuit
of Wylie and his mysterious companion, and with that object be seized a
substantial boat that he found tied up to Wylie's landing stage. As a
matter of fact, it was the very boat that Wylie proposed to place in the
charge of Tristram for the purpose of running the cargo of Daddy
Griffin's illicit still. The boat was equipped with mast, sails and
oars. She was built on fine lines. She looked fast, as well as
seaworthy.

In a very short time Captain Cartwright was sitting in the stern sheets
with the tiller in his hand, four of the soldiers were rowing, with
their red coats on the thwarts beside them, and two others remained in
reserve in the bow. When they got round the next bend they could hoist
the sail.

And so alternately rowing and sailing they made good progress down
stream, and after sunset they came to Bar Island, lying in a great bend
of the river a few miles above Peat's Ferry.

And there was little Susie Barlow, barefooted, of course, rowing herself
back from Bar Island to the right bank of the river, with the two cows
swimming after the boat.

Cartwright was by no means sure that the objects of his search were in
front of him or behind him. They might have gone up Mangrove Creek or
any of the other creeks that flow into the Hawkesbury. He steered
alongside little Susie Barlow's boat and questioned her.

She was an intelligent child. She told him that she knew Mr. Wylie well.
He had often been to her father's place. Mr. Wylie had passed her in his
cutter the day before at about the same time. There was another man in
the cutter with him, but she did not know who he was. She could not say
whether he was old or young. He was not very old, she thought, nor yet
very young. He was more dark than fair, and as far as she could remember
he was more thin than fat. At any rate, he was not so fat as Mr. Wylie.

All this was not very convincing, but Cartwright had made up his mind
about the identity of Wylie's companion, and the flimsiest evidence
assumed solidity. He ordered the sweating soldiers back to the oars, and
they pulled up to Mud Island. There they got a welcome slant of wind,
which enabled Cartwright to sail down the south channel to Peat's Ferry.
Rounding Long Island the boat headed south-east again for Broken Bay.

Darkness fell, and the stars came out, but still Cartwright kept the
boat's head pointing towards the open water. The soldiers in the bow
maintained a sharp lookout for Wylie's cutter. Hours passed and brought
no glimpse of a sail.

But soon after midnight the long suspense came to an end. "Sail ho,"
cried one of the soldiers in the bow, and, peering out through the
gloom. Cartwright saw the cutter creeping past Green Point, about half a
mile from the shore.

Jonathan Wylie saw his own boat and recognised it readily. He saw also
that she was fully manned. With the aid of the glass he could make out
at least six men on board her, perhaps seven. He saw the boat alter her
course, and head straight for the cutter. The light south-easter was a
fair wind for the cutter, but a dead muzzler for the boat.

Wylie did not like the look of her. "Better get down in the bottom of
the cutter, my lad," he said to Tristram. "These chaps are up to no
good, whoever they are." Then he caught a glimpse of their uniforms.
"D--d Lobsters," he exclaimed in disgust; "it must be Cartwright and his
men."

Tristram received the news with a thrill. He was determined not to be
taken alive by Cartwright. No doubt the captain and his men were after
him for that miserable business at the 'Sheer Hulk.'

Wylie could see that Cartwright had taken in the sail. The four soldiers
at the oars sent the boat along at a steady pace. She was headed so as
to intercept the cutter, and hem her in close to the rugged rocky north
shore of Cowan Creek at its entrance into Broken Bay.

Old Wylie saw the move at once. He altered his course to starboard. The
boat's course was altered immediately to head him off. There could be no
doubt that the men in the boat, whoever they were, did not intend him to
escape.

And then the excitement of being chased, and by an armed crew, too,
entered into Jonathan Wylie's blood, and he determined to give them a
run for it.

"Keep down," he muttered to Tristram. "Don't show your head above the
gunwale; it's you they're after."

He gave her more sheet, and the big sail flung out almost at right
angles. She was running before the wind.

Black clouds were drifting across the sky. The wind was getting up.

And then like a flash Jonathan Wylie remembered another night many years
before, and on the other side of the world, a night when he was chased
by a British sloop of war in the English Channel, and when the Frenchman
whom he was taking across to the French coast had good reason for
desiring to escape capture. Ah, that was a night that he would never
forget. The sloop of war was too fast for his lugger. They caught him
and boarded him. But they did not catch the Frenchman. What was his
outlandish name again? Don Something. Ah, yes; De Donzenac, that was it.

Wylie was still chuckling grimly at his unspoken thoughts when a hoarse
hail reached him across the water.

"Cutter, ahoy. Bring to in the King's name."

Tristram sat up in the bottom of the boat when he heard the hail, but
Wylie paid no attention to the summons. He clenched his teeth and kept
her away a couple of points. He would sail round the rowing boat, hug
the shore on the opposite side of the bay, then make a short board back,
and if the wind only held he would be safe. The cutter could outsail the
boat in a breeze, no matter how hard they tried to catch him. He would
sneak up Mullet Creek, where they would never think of looking for him.

Such were his ideas when they were rudely dispelled by a volley of
musketry.

The rowing boat was on a parallel course with the cutter now. They had
edged him further and further out towards the north side of the bay. For
an instant he thought of coming round and making a dash for Patonga, the
long narrow inlet running out of Broken Bay on the north side, opposite
to Cowan Creek. But he knew that the shoal across the mouth of Patonga
would be a dangerous obstacle.

These thoughts rushed through Jonathan Wylie's mind when he saw the
flash of the muskets. He discarded his plans when he found that three
heavy musket balls had passed through his mainsail. Evidently the
soldiers and the officer in command of them were in earnest.

"Mr. Wylie," said Tristram from the bottom of the cutter.

"Yes, my lad. What is it?"

"That's Captain Cartwright, in the stern sheets."

"I thought it might be my lad."

"And I'm not going to let him take me."

"O' course, not," replied Jonathon, though he had no idea how the
catastrophe was to be avoided.

The cutter was heeling over to port, and her big mainsail completely
shut out the rowing boat, which was steering a parallel course barely a
hundred yards away.

"Bring to in that cutter, or I'll sink you," yelled the infuriated
Cartwright; and as Tristram heard the words he climbed out on the
weather side, being completely screened by the cutter's mainsail from
the sight of those in the boat.

"Good-bye," he called, and with the word he dropped overboard. Wylie
looked in amazement and saw the dark head bobbing in the water, as the
hardy swimmer headed for Eleanor Bluff, the nearest point of land, at
the head of Cowan Creek, half a mile away. He knew that Cartwright and
his men would have their eyes fixed on the cutter, so he held on his
course for another couple of minutes until the darkness of the night had
swallowed up the swimmer. Then he put the helm hard down and threw the
cutter up into the eye of the wind. She hung there with jib flapping,
and Cartwright in his four-oared boat rowed alongside.

"Why the devil didn't you bring to when I ordered you," he began in a
fury. "I'll report you to the Governor for this night's work, Wylie, and
I'll recommend that your license be cancelled. Where is the man that was
with you?"

"There's nobody with me," said Wylie sulkily.

"Yes, there is," said Cartwright, climbing on board the cutter, "for Sam
Brown, your assigned servant, saw you coming away with a stranger, and
Barlow's little girl, whom I questioned a few hours ago, saw him with
you. From her description I am confident that he is the man we want."
The sense of relief that Jonathan Wylie experienced was so exhilarating
that he laughed aloud a genuine laugh that had the ring of satisfaction
in it.

"The man that Sam Brown and Barlow's little girl saw with me was my
overseer, Job Peters, who looks after the salt works at Saltpan Creek
for me. I reckon you'll find him there now if you want him."

Cartwright was thunderstruck. So he had made a mistake after all. "Why
are you sailing up here by yourself at midnight," he asked
incredulously.

"Haven't I a right to visit my own works at Saltpan Creek?" queried old
Jonathan in his turn. "Come now, captain, try to be reasonable. As for
the young fellow that you're after, you may be sure, I'll keep my eye
open for him--especially if there's any reward for the information."

Evidently there was nothing more to be got out of Jonathan. Cartwright
felt convinced that he had been outwitted, but he could not conjecture
how the trick had been done. He looked suspiciously over the cutter, and
even went forward and took Wylie's lantern to look into the said locker.
There was no sign of the vanished passenger. With a curse the
disappointed officer climbed back into his boat and set a course for
Peat's Ferry, where shelter and food could be obtained.

As the cutter slipped through the water with her nose upstream again,
Jonathan Wylie looked out in the direction of Eleanor Bluff. He saw
nothing but the ripple of the great river, and here and there the
reflection of a star down in the depths. The dark head of the swimmer
had disappeared.

"By the Lord," said Jonathan Wylie, slapping his thigh, "he has the
right mettle in him. A bit of good stuff that."

He was silent for a moment. "And Eleanor Bluff might be Cape Gris Nez,"
he muttered dreamily.

Another pause. Wylie lit his pipe and puffed at it.

"Well, I'll have to find another man somewhere to run the stuff for
Peters," he said to himself. "There'll be no sign of young Trevithick on
the Hawkesbury again for many a day."



CHAPTER IX.--BLUE WOOLLEN SHOES AND A STRANGER ON THE KURRAJONG.


"Auntie," said Mary Fitzharding to Mrs. Cuthbert, as they sat in the
long drawing-room at Government House, pretending to do needlework, "I
cannot tell you how desperate I feel about the disappearance of that
young man, Tristram Trevithick."

"Mary, dear, I know that you love him."

Mrs. Cuthbert felt a sharp pang at her heart. She, too, experienced an
intense and thrilling interest in that tall, dark-eyed, olive-skinned
young farmer, with his aquiline nose and his flashing eyes--'Those eye
to Mars to threaten and command.' He was marvellously like the man who
still reigned in her heart, crowned with the glamor of her girlish love.
A vain mad thought had fluttered in her brain ever since that first
brief glimpse that she had of Tristram when Mary brought him to the
house on the first day that she met him. She would not face the thought;
she fought it down resolutely. Yet after all, somewhere on the
earth--God only knew where--her son was living; if indeed her father had
told the truth to her in the last words that he ever spoke.

"I really feel," said Mary, in low, hushed tones, "as though I were
fighting a duel with Captain Cartwright for the body and soul of
Tristram Trevithick. Auntie, that man Cartwright hates him. He hates him
on my account. Whatever folly Tristram may have committed under some
strange impulse which I can only dimly understand, he is honest,
honorable, and true. I know it, because I can feel it."

Mrs. Cuthbert leaned forward in her chair, and looked at Mary with
shining eyes. "And I have felt it, too," she said.

The old look of determination came into Mary's face again. Fearlessness
looked out of her frank, blue eyes. Her square little chin seemed to
protrude itself ever so little. "I have made up my mind not to sit still
doing nothing, auntie; I must help Tristram, and in order to help him
and to save him from the hatred of Captain Cartwright I must first find
out all that there is to know of the reason that he left his father's
farm on the Hawkesbury."

"But how can you find it out, Mary?" The older woman was just as
anxious--indeed, if possible, more anxious--to find out things about
Tristram, but she lacked the strenuous will power and mental
concentration of the girl.

"There is one person, at any rate, who knows everything about him," said
Mary, decisively, "and that is his mother."

Mrs. Cuthbert quivered. It was as though she had received a blow.

"I am going up to Windsor to see Mrs. Trevithick," continued Mary. "I
want her to explain some of the things that she said to me here the
other day."

"What did she tell you, dear?" Mrs. Cuthbert's voice was almost
inaudible.

"I cannot tell you, auntie," Mary was inexorably firm.

"You see, Tristram Trevithick is much--very much--to me. That is why his
mother told me the story. But he is nothing to you."

Again that terrible feeling. It was as though a great hand--a hand that
reached out of the past--grasped and gripped Mrs. Cuthbert's heart until
it stopped beating. Was it right that she, Sybil Cuthbert, who had once
been Sybil Granger, should know nothing about this young man, whose face
was stamped with the image of the man who had once been the captain of
her soul?

"I should like to go with you to Windsor, if you will let me," said Mrs.
Cuthbert humbly.

And Mary at last consented.

The red-faced major grumbled a good deal when his wife expressed her
desire to visit the Upper Hawkesbury and asked him to make arrangements
for the journey. But when Mary Fitzharding added her entreaties, his
half-hearted resistance broke down. He would go with them himself. As a
matter of fact, there were several matters demanding attention at
Windsor, and as the Governor was absent on a tour of the south coast,
with his carriage, riding horses, tents, and a considerable suite, it
was a good opportunity to run up to Windsor and consult with the
magistrate there about the desperadoes who were reported to have crossed
the Kurrajong heights and appeared at some of the outlying homesteads on
the Hawkesbury. He would be ready to start on the following morning.

So after breakfast next day, one of the roomy carriages that were seldom
allowed to stand idle for long in the stables of Government House made
its appearance. The postilions climbed into their saddles. Major
Cuthbert handed his wife and Mary Fitzharding into the interior, and
then got in after them.

The mounted escort, provided from the barracks, took their places in
their bright uniforms, with their military trappings that reflected the
sunshine from a myriad points of polished brass and steel, and the
cavalcade trotted down into George-street, and so out to Parramatta, en
route for Windsor, 40 miles away. They changed horses once before
reaching Parramatta, and twice afterwards. Late in the afternoon the
steaming horses halted in front of Government House at Windsor, and a
well-served dinner, with coffee on the verandah overlooking the river,
helped to lighten the fatigues of the journey.

In the unexplored regions of New South Wales the travelling that was
undertaken by the Governor and his suite was often rough and full of
hardships, which were endured with cheerfulness. But such a journey as
that from Sydney to Windsor, which was accomplished in settled country
and over first rate roads, was not without a certain dignity and
ceremony that made a definite appeal to onlookers. In the morning Major
Cuthbert departed to the court house to interview Mr. William Cox, the
magistrate, while the two ladies drove down to Pittown, where Tom
Trevithick's prosperous farm was established on the right bank of the
river.

They found Mrs. Trevithick sitting on the verandah knitting. She could
still knit, though with some difficulty, as she explained to her
visitors, on account of the dimness of her sight, which made it
necessary for her to use the strongest spectacles.

She welcomed Mary Fitzharding warmly, and performed a deferential
courtesy when presented to Mrs. Cuthbert. It was a lovely morning in
early spring. The air on the verandah was deliciously soft, and carried
the scents of fruits and flowers, of lucerne and clover, and the breath
of cattle. Mrs. Cuthbert, as she stood there, was a woman into whose
soul the iron had entered in the days of her youth. Yet time had healed
the scar. She was reconciled to her fate, even if she could never be
really happy again. The years, with their merciful anodyne, had dulled
the sharpness of the agony. She could still smile, though palely, before
she crossed the threshold and entered the homestead at Mrs. Trevithick's
bidding.

After that ordeal she smiled no more for many days. She had expected to
be told the secret of Tristram's parentage, but when she heard it from
Mrs. Trevithick's lips the truth was so malignly twisted by fate that
the scar upon her heart seemed to break open again. Mrs. Trevithick did
not know the truth. The squire had not told it to her, because he did
not know it himself, and he dropped dead before his daughter could tell
him. That was the first beginning of all this terrible tangle in the
skein of Sybil Granger's life.

"So that's how it all happened, ma'am," said Mrs. Trevithick, wiping her
eyes and looking at the tall, pale woman whom she could scarcely see
through her tears. "Tristram is the son of the squire's daughter, and
the disgrace made her father take the child from its cot, when she was
away from the house, and give him to me and my husband on the night
before we left England. Of course, we never saw the squire's daughter
again. Poor thing, I've often thought of her since, and wondered if her
heart was broken."

Would she never wake from this horrible nightmare? That was Mrs.
Cuthbert's first thought. But no. The sun was shining through the
window. She could hear the ring of an axe on the timber outside. It was
no nightmare. It was reality. This weeping woman in front of her was
speaking what she believed to be the truth.

A glance at her aunt's face showed Mary that Mrs. Trevithick's story had
fallen with stunning force upon her ears. Mrs. Cuthbert's eyes were
staring. Her breath came in short, sharp gasps. But with a supreme
effort she mastered herself.

Mary slipped her arm about the older woman's waist. "I can't help it,"
whispered the girl. "It makes no difference, somehow; I love him all the
same. If he only knew it, perhaps, he would not have gone away."

To Mary Fitzharding, pure and noble soul, it seemed a monstrous and
despicable thing to delve for secrets in the parentage of the man who
had captured her heart. She shrank from asking Mrs. Trevithick the name
of Tristram's mother. She hoped fervently that Mrs. Trevithick would not
think it necessary to tell her the name.

But Mrs. Trevithick, loyal to her old squire in every fibre of her
nature, never thought of telling the name. It was to keep that name from
disgrace that the squire had robbed his daughter of her child. The price
was a heavy one. The secret should be kept.

And so it was that Mrs. Trevithick, dim of sight and blinded besides
with tears, held her peace, and never knew that the tall pale woman who
stood beside her was the girl that she had seen long ago up at the hall
in her old home in Devonshire.

Nor could Mary Fitzharding guess that Sybil Granger, who had married
Major Cuthbert and come with him to Sydney, was the hapless mother of
whom Mrs. Trevithick spoke.

Only one woman of the three knew all the story--because it was written
in her heart by the remembrance of her girlish love, and because it was
scored in her flesh by the pangs of her motherhood.

Mrs. Cuthbert kept her own counsel. She guarded her secret well. Even
when Mrs. Trevithick opened the big brass bound chest and took out the
baby's long clothes, made of fine cambric trimmed with Valenciennes
lace, and the white socks and the little blue woollen shoes, the mother
did not betray herself, though the strain on her emotions was well nigh
intolerable.

She remembered those little blue woollen knitted socks very well. She
had knitted them herself before the baby was born. Ah! The poignant
memory shot through her heart like a stabbing pain.

And now her son--her own son--with the flashing eyes and the dauntless
courage of his father, who had charged single-handed upon the bayonets
of a British square at Waterloo, was a fugitive and a vagabond. She had
heard something of the story from Captain Cartwright. 'Tristram'--they
called him Tristram, but that was not his name--was hiding somewhere
from the soldiers who were searching for him. Well, she knew the worst
at last. When the time came for action she would know how to act.

Driving back to Windsor in the carriage Mrs. Cuthbert and Mary
Fitzharding talked but little. Each was busy with her own thoughts. And
all their thoughts went forth and circled unseen round the figure of a
man who at that very moment was toiling with his face and arms blistered
by the sun, and his feet bruised by the rocks, over the great rampart of
the Kurrajong Mountains, that run down as a lateral spur from the main
range to the sea.

Tristram had determined to put as wide a distance as possible between
himself and his pursuers. He was making his way to the new settlement at
Bathurst, where he hoped to lose himself in the crowd of settlers who
were opening up the riches of the Bathurst Plains. But as he toiled
along Bell's Line, the newly-discovered route from Bathurst to the
Hawkesbury, he realised with a pang that every step he took led him
further and further from Mary Fitzharding. Yet after all, he asked
himself bitterly, what did it matter? The stain on his birth made it
impossible for Mary ever to be more to him than a vision; the blood upon
his hands prevented him from touching her.

He turned and looked back wildly to the country that he was leaving--the
country that he knew so well, and in which he had spent all his life.

From the height on which he stood he could see the winding line of the
Hawkesbury, as it flowed at first between miles and miles of fertile
flats, backed by wooded hills, and then disappeared from view among the
ranges that closed in upon it as it approached the sea. He could make
out the situation of Tom Trevithick's farm, a few miles below Windsor.
He had played upon the bank of the river as a child. He had passed his
active vigorous boyhood on it. He had talked in the orchard on its bank
with the woman who seemed to have dropped from the skies into his quiet
uneventful life, and after whose coming everything was changed.

There was the river shining like a steel blade, and there were his
foster parents, his foster brothers and sister, and his home. Will and
Owen were good-hearted, heavy-witted fellows, but Margaret, well, she
had always been his little mate in childhood. It seemed to him that if
Margaret could ever help him she would be capable of an effort on his
behalf.

He remembered the night of the great flood. It was Margaret who
recollected that the oars were in the barn and who ran and fetched them.
He remembered the afternoon, when the Cammeragal blacks, those tall,
long-armed, muscular Hawkesbury savages, who were so much bigger and
stronger than the Port Jackson natives, came out of the bush, and
appeared with spears and waddies in the orchard, when Tom Trevithick was
miles away at Windsor. It was Margaret who fetched the double-barrelled
fowling piece to Mrs. Trevithick, while he himself, an urchin of no more
than four years, looked on uncomprehendingly. And then Mrs. Trevithick,
holding the gun in her hand, walked straight down to the blacks and
fired one barrel at the tree next to the leader, blowing a deep hole in
it and sending the bark flying in all directions. Now, she said, to the
irresolute savage, with his shield and his nullah, "my gun speaks the
truth. You have heard him. You see what he can do. The next shot is for
you."

She raised the gun again, but the warrior was gone, and all his
followers with him.

These scenes came back to Tristram sharply outlined as he looked towards
the old home and saw the blue smoke curling up from the homestead
chimney. Then he turned his back upon the peaceful valley and set his
gaze forward. The scarred, gaunt eucalypts, the grass trees and the
bottle brush, the great masses of orange colored sandstone, towering on
either side of the ridge, that was his road, and the dark, deep gullies
from which there was no outlet, were as gloomy and unpromising as his
own future. But he set his face forward and plodded along the track.

At night he camped beside a waterhole and lit a fire and took food from
a bag and ate it. And as he was eating he heard the sound of a horse's
hoofs, and started up.

Into the circle of light from the fire rode a tall, dark-haired,
blue-eyed man on a powerful bay horse. The man wore a black beaver hat,
a handsome blue cloth surtout coat lined with silk, a white plaited
shirt, snuff-colored trousers, and high boots. He had a fine silk
handkerchief round his neck, and he carried a brace of pistols slung in
leather holsters, and a fowling-piece in his hand. He slipped from his
horse and sat down by the fire and talked. He talked well and far into
the night, and Tristram listened with shining eyes.

The stranger lay down to sleep by Tristram's fire, and when he awoke at
dawn Tristram went away with him, walking beside the big bay horse, and
the horse's head was turned westward towards the Bathurst plains.



CHAPTER X.--HOW MARGARET TREVITHICK WENT TO GOVERNMENT HOUSE.


Governor Macquarie sat in his own room in Government House in
Bridge-street, in a very bad temper indeed. In the first place he had
just received a long dispatch from Lord Liverpool, principal Secretary
of State for the Foreign Department, informing him that "the Prince
Regent will have particular satisfaction in witnessing every exertion on
your part in lessening the charge of the colony on the mother country,"
and calling attention to the large bills of exchange which had been
drawn on his Majesty's Treasury for the erection of public building in
New South Wales.

A miserable parsimonious soul was Lord Liverpool. The Governor was
incubating great schemes for other huge buildings, all to be inscribed
with the name of 'L. Macquarie Esq.,' and it was very hard to be rapped
over the knuckles in this way, and told to cut down expenditure.

"And from what I know of him." said the Governor grimly to Mr. Michael
Robinson, chief clerk in the secretary's department, "the Prince Regent
is much more concerned about his Royal pleasures down at Brighton than
about the building of barracks at the antipodes. Between you and me
Robinson, his Royal Highness spends as much on fallals and pretty women
in a week as would supply me with building funds for a year."

Mr. Robinson had to smile in approval of his chiefs merry jest, but it
was a very feeble smile, for Mr. Robinson was a truly loyal subject, and
moreover a poet. Had he not written a loyal ode every year on June 4,
that being the birthday of the poor old madman who was still nominally
the British King, and had not the Governor every year invited him to
recite it at the customary levee of loyal citizens? Nay, more, Mr.
Robinson was so loyal that he insisted on writing an ode for the Queen
also on her birthday, and he was quite prepared to recite it to anybody
who would listen to him. Considering that Mr. Robinson performed these
pious tasks every year from 1810 to 1820, and that his twenty odes, ten
for the King and ten for the Queen, were printed afterwards and sold to
subscribers for L.1 sterling per copy, it was not at all likely that the
Governor's levity with regard to the Royal Family would strike a
responsive note in his bosom. Still, he smiled, a weak official smile
that served to increase rather than diminish the Governor's irritation.

However, Mr. Robinson's presence was quite accidental; he had merely
arrived with a bundle of papers for Mr. John Thomas Campbell, the
Governor's official secretary, and he bowed himself out of the august
presence as quickly as possible, being thankful to escape without having
his ears assailed by any further frivolous remark concerning the Blood
Royal.

"And here's a pretty state of things, Campbell," continued the Governor,
not deigning even to glance at Mr. Robinson, who was walking backwards
towards the door. "This is a letter from Mr. William Cox, the magistrate
of Windsor, who tells me that bandits have been seen on the Kurrajong
Mountains and have committed many depredations. Seems to be a regular
gang of them. Mr. Cox writes that they were assigned servants on farms
near Bathurst, and cleared out with horses, clothes, and firearms. They
have been robbing and shooting right and left. We'll have to lay these
scoundrels by the heels and string them up in double quick time. Make a
note for the commanding officer at the barracks to send up a half
Company under a captain to deal with them."

Mr. Campbell wrote away industriously and dispatched his communication
to the barracks.

"By the-way, Campbell, there is another matter that is causing me much
concern. I find that the public have actually been making a short cut
through my shrubbery, a right of way through Government House grounds,
egad!"

Mr. Campbell raised his well-kept hands in horror. "It would be well,
sir, to draft an ordinance on the subject immediately prescribing severe
penalties. I shall take leave to do it at once."

"Ordinance be D--d. Campbell," said the old soldier testily. "I seem to
spend my life signing all your cursed ordinances. No. I'll deal with the
scoundrels in a proper and effective way." He raised his voice and
shouted, "Summers."

The door opened and Isaac Summers, private in his Majesty's Forty-eighth
Regiment of Foot, almost fell into the room.

Recovering his balance he saluted and stood to attention.

"Who is out there with you?" enquired the Governor.

"Private Moore, sir."

So Private Moore was summoned also and the two soldiers stood up in
front of Governor Macquarie. They were two members of the Governor's
bodyguard, which consisted of six men and a non-commissioned officer.
The bodyguard was a most important part of the Governor's personal
establishment.

The Governor explained to them what they were to do. They were to form
an ambuscade in the shrubbery. In fact, they were to hide in the bushes,
and if any persons trespassed in order to make a right of way through
the grounds the soldiers were to seize them, arrest them forthwith, and
bring them into the presence of the Governor, who would see that they
were punished in such a way that they would never offend again.

Private Summers and Private Moore saluted and departed on their curious
little expedition, and Governor Macquarie turned again to his secretary.
"I don't intend to let the bandits get the upper hand here, as Sorrell
let them get it in Van Diemen's Land." remarked the old soldier. "Egad!
it was positively scandalous. I heard all about it when I visited Hobart
Town on my tour of inspection."

"Ah, yes," said Mr. Campbell. "The case of Michael Howe. It certainly
did seem to me to be--ahem--unofficial, if I may so put it, for Governor
Sorrell to negotiate with a notorious bandit while still at large."

"He did it, though." said Governor Macquarie, snapping his words out in
the abrupt way that he had when he was deeply moved. "He actually
treated with the villain. Howe surrendered on terms. His life was to be
spared, and he was to give information which would lead to the capture
of his gang. Naturally he did nothing of the kind. He escaped from
custody. Rejoined his gang, and resumed robbing and murdering again as
energetically as ever. Of course, they hunted him hard after that. They
caught him eventually on the upper Shannon; awful country, too. Who were
the men who took him? Do you remember, Campbell?"

"A civilian named Worrall, sir," said the secretary, "and Private Pugh,
of the 48th regiment."

"Ah! of course. I remember Pugh very well. A most determined fellow. The
other man fired, and when the bandit ran in at him with his knife,
Soldier Pugh knocked the fellow down with the butt end of his piece and
hammered his skull in. That's the way to deal with those gentry,
Campbell. I shall not give old scoundrels as much hope as Sorrell gave
to his in Van Diemen's land. No negotiations. Lay them by the heels and
string them up. That's the best policy I take it. Just send another note
to the barracks. My compliments to the major of brigade, and he will be
good enough to send Captain Cartwright with a half company of the 48th
regiment on service to Bathurst when he receives the word. Cartwright is
the man. A very capable man, Cartwright."

While Mr. John Thomas Campbell was writing, Governor Macquarie devoted
himself assiduously to the task of getting through his routine papers,
putting brief minutes in the corner of each.

Gradually the forenoon wore on. Towards midday a shuffling of many feet
was heard outside the door, and then a loud "Halt!"

The door opened. "Front! March!" and an awkward squad, consisting of six
men and two women, followed by Private Summers and Private Moore entered
the room.

"Axin' your pardon, sir," Said Private Summers, saluting, and then
dropping the butt of his firelock with a crack on the toe of the
restless, shuffling individual who stood next him. "Them's the
prisoners."

This very capable member of the Governor's bodyguard explained briefly
that he and Private Moore had hidden themselves as directed in the
shrubbery, and had captured the prisoners by ones and twos as they
boldly walked through the Governor's grounds. Each person they had
captured was compelled to remain in the shrubbery until a squad of
sufficient size was formed. "What were the Governor's further orders in
regard to the prisoners?"

At this the two women began to cry. The men were downcast and sulky.

"The women are sentenced to a fortnight in the cells, for trespassing
without just cause upon property that is not open to the public," said
the Governor, with decision, "and the male offenders will each receive
25 lashes for the same offence. Remove all the prisoners to the
watch-house.''

"But, Governor Macquarie, I protest against this arbitrary and brutal
punishment," said one of the male prisoners. "I am a free man, not a
prisoner of the Crown. If I have committed an offence I claim to be
tried, before a proper court of justice."

"Your name, sir," enquired the Governor calmly.

"William Blake, a free immigrant," said the man.

"Well, Mr. William Blake, your protest will be duly recorded, and you
will receive 25 lashes all the same. Now then, right about, march."

The awkward squad retired to the place of punishment, but Governor
Macquarie's shortness of temper that morning cost him dear in the end,
for it was Mr. William Blake, smarting under the unmerited infliction of
the 'cat,' who was the first cause of the Governor's recall. His loud
complaint in England resulted in the visit of Mr. Commissioner Bigge.
Mr. Commissioner Bigge's report was a blow from which the Governor never
recovered.

However, the Governor anticipated nothing of all that when he dismissed
the prisoners, nor did Private Summers, either. Private Summers had
something more agreeable to think about, and handing the charges of the
prisoner to Private Moore, he disappeared into the shrubbery to look for
it.

He emerged leading Margaret Trevithick by the hand. "Faith. I hadn't the
heart to put a gurl like ye into the punishment squad,"' said Private
Summers; "and now ye'll have to pay your footing." Whereupon he gave the
buxom foster-sister of Tristram Trevithick a resounding kiss on her
apple cheek, and received in return a ringing box on the ear.

"None of your impudence, Mr. Soldier." said Margaret, smiling all the
same into the enterprising eye of this most useful member of the
Governor's bodyguard. "I'm not here to see you, but to see Miss Mary
Fitzharding, and I'll be mightily obleeged if you'll take me to her."

"How much obleeged will you be?" enquired Private Summers, with his eyes
twinkling.

"Obleeged to give you a box on your other ear, I expect," retorted the
damsel smartly, as she put her hand on the soldier's arm and moved
towards the front door. With that implied promise of a further
opportunity later on to deserve another cuff, the soldier grinned
broadly, and escorted Margaret Trevithick past the sentry box at the
front of Government House. He showed her the side door, and she soon
found Mary Fitzharding in the little sitting-room upstairs.

Mary had seen her before at her home on the Hawkesbury. She welcomed
Tristram's foster sister warmly, and thanked her for coming in answer to
her message.

"Oh, Margaret," she said, blushing like a rose, "I don't know what you
will think of me, but I cannot rest until I find out what really
happened at that dreadful tavern called the 'Sheer Hulk' on the night
that Tristram went there."

"So you want me to help you, miss?" said the practical damsel. "We'll.
I'll do all I can.''

"Captain Cartwright told me," said Mary, "that Tristram stabbed a man
that night--a man called Jim the Sealer. I want to find out for certain
how he came to stab him, and whether Jim the Sealer died or recovered,
but I dare not go to the 'Sheer Hulk' by myself."

"It's not a nice place for a lady, from all I can hear of it," assented
buxom Margaret.

"You see," said Mary, going directly to her point, "one of the reasons
why Tristram left his home was because he discovered that your Mother is
not his mother."

"Yes," said Margaret gravely. The matter had been talked over openly in
the Trevithick household since Tristram's departure. It could not be
kept hidden.

"And one of the reasons why he stayed away," continued Mary, "is because
he stabbed this man, Jim the Sealer. Probably he thinks that Jim the
Sealer is dead. I want to be sure that the man is not dead, and there is
nobody here that I could ask such a question."

"It will be quite easy to find that out," said Margaret, watching Mary
Fitzharding's face. There was something further, she felt certain--some
other reason for desiring to explore the murky recesses of such an
unsavory haunt as the 'Sheer Hulk.'

"Captain Cartwright told me," said Mary, with burning cheeks, "that
Tristram had associated himself with a girl at the tavern called
Black-eyed Poll. He made insinuations that were vile. I know that he
lied, but I want to know how he came to get such an extraordinary
impression, and what possible grounds there could have been for such a
monstrous falsehood."

"Ha!" Mary drew a deep breath. Of course it was false. Still the vile
story must be disproved.

"So I want you to help me to find out all these things," said Mary,
resolutely, "and the only way by which we can find them out is to go to
the 'Sheer Hulk' and enquire for ourselves."

Margaret thought for a second. Then an idea struck her. "I have it," she
said. "Private Summers'll take us there."

Mary was mystified, but when the situation was explained to her she was
quick to see the force of the suggestion. Margaret was certainly a very
practical young woman.

A proud man was Private Summers when it was explained to him by
Margaret, that he was to have the privilege of escorting the two girls
to the 'Sheer Hulk,' though he was utterly in the dark as to why they
should want to go there. As soon as he was off duty at 6 o'clock, he met
them at the gate, and on the way to the Rocks a brief outline of the
proposed investigation was imparted to him.

Did he remember the row at the 'Sheer Hulk' on the night when Jim the
Sealer was stabbed?

Of course, he did. Jim the Sealer was all right in three days. He had
made another successful trip to the sealing grounds since then. Probably
they would find him at the tavern that evening.

A wave of joy flowed over Mary's heart. So Tristram's dread that he had
blood on his hands was unfounded. She longed for the moment when she
could tell him with her own lips that all his fears were groundless.
Surely there was nothing to keep him away from her any longer--nothing,
at least, except the mystery of his birth, which really did not matter.
After all, if a woman loved a man and married him (Mary blushed a little
at her own hypothesis), she married the man himself and not his parent.
A man could not be blamed for his parents. It was utterly unreasonable
and unjust to suppose that he could.

She was still contemplating this self-evident proposition when Private
Summers ejaculated "Hist!" and placed his finger to his lips. Following
his beckoning finger the two girls looked through the window of the
'Sheer Hulk' and beheld, looming gigantic through the tobacco reek, a
burly figure seated at a table with pipe and glass.

"Jim the Sealer," whispered Private Summers, "and yon wench that sits
beside him is Black-eyed Poll."

It was Private Summers who conducted the remainder of the enquiry, for
neither Mary Fitzharding nor Margaret Trevithick would venture into the
long, low, dimly lit room, full of shadowy forms that moved hither and
thither, like things of evil stirring in murky blackness.

They turned their eyes from the depressing scene inside the 'Sheer
Hulk,' and saw the moon rising high in the heavens, and every cove and
inlet, point and island of the harbor touched with silver. The contrast
was so tremendous that both the girls were silent for a long while,
wondering perhaps why man, who is a little lower than the angels,
descends at times, as though by some mysterious law of gravitational
depravity to the level of the foulest demons of the pit.

However, Private Summers cheerfully volunteered to go down into the pit
in search of the necessary information. He tapped twice on the door,
gave a password, and was at once admitted by old Dan, who welcomed him
with a friendly wink of his solitary eye. Clearly, he had been there
before, for Black-eyed Poll greeted him with a wide smile, to which he
responded with an invitation to the girl to join him in refreshments. He
sat down with her at a suitable table at the back of the room, and
presently engaged her in an earnest conversation. Poll's tongue was
loosened by rum and water, and she spoke without reserve, resorting at
the end to open lamentations.

When Private Summers left the 'Sheer Hulk' he had the whole story, which
he related to Mary Fitzharding and Margaret Trevithick as the trio stood
on the rock under the moonlight.

"She told me she never seen the cully afore," said the soldier. "He
wan't her sort, not he. When he talked about a bag o' guineas she
thought he was mad, but she got her hand into his pocket and found the
guineas was there all right. So she set to work to fill him with rum,
and when he was quite full she pinched the bag. Then came the row with
the sealer, and when the soldiers broke into the room she couldn't get
away. But she got out through being friendly with the sentry on the
door, and she buried the bag of guineas under a rock at the back of the
shanty, where she lived with her mate, Kitty Moggridge. But Kitty worked
the double on her and stole the swag and fenced it, she supposes, with a
dealer in George-street, and so she had all her trouble for nothing,
after all: and then she cried and began cursing Kitty Moggridge, miss,
and so I came away. There's nuthin' wrong about Black-eyed Poll. She's
just a born pickpocket, that's all."

When Private Summers brought the two girls back to Government House Mary
Fitzharding's heart was lighter than it had been for many days. The
barriers that seemed so solid between Tristram and herself had melted
away at her touch. If only she could find and tell him so.

Margaret Trevithick accompanied her patroness into Government House, and
was accommodated with a bed in the maids' quarters. But before she
followed Miss Fitzharding--at a most respectful distance--Private
Summers received his promised slap on the other ear.

And he thoroughly deserved it.



CHAPTER XI.--AT THE KING'S BIRTHDAY BALL.


It was the custom of Governor Macquarie to give a large dinner party
every year on June 4 in honor of the King's birthday, but the idea
occurred to him in this particular year to celebrate the occasion by a
grand ball, followed by a supper. It may have been instigated by Mrs.
Macquarie, urged thereto by the ladies of the regiment, who found life
insupportable without an occasional dance, but whether the Governor
originated the idea or not, he at any rate carried it out with great
enthusiasm.

Invitations were issued to one hundred and fifty guests, including the
principal officers, military and civil, of the colony, and many private
gentlemen, with their ladies.

Government House, with its long, wide verandah, guarded by sentries, and
its beautiful lawns that sloped down towards the waters of Sydney Cove,
was brilliantly illuminated. The decorations, which were carried out
with native shrubs and flowering plants, evoked unbounded admiration.

His Excellency, attired in full uniform, and wearing all his medals,
stood with Mrs. Macquarie, who was gowned in white silk, at the entrance
of the ballroom, where the band of the Forty-eighth Regiment was already
installed. There they received their guests.

On such an occasion all private animosities were, of course, forgotten.

Hither came Judge Advocate Bent, who had spent the whole morning in
writing an elaborate refusal to draft the Port Regulations, in
accordance with the Governor's instructions, which he declared to be
illegal and so contrary to the spirit of British law that his conscience
would not permit him to give them judicial sanction. It was true that
the Governor would not receive his communication until next morning;
still the Judge Advocate could reflect with satisfaction that he had
shown the Governor his opinion of him on the previous Sunday at St.
Phillip's Church, by refusing to stand up with the rest of the
congregation when the Captain-General and Governor-in-Chief in and over
the Territory of New South Wales entered the holy edifice.

His Excellency shook him warmly by the hand. "Glad to see you, Judge,"
he said courteously. "I trust the gout is better."

Hither also came the Reverend Samuel Marsden, the principal chaplain and
chief magistrate of Parramatta, who was Governor Macquarie's particular
aversion. The Reverend Samuel devoted more of his time to trade,
agriculture, and bartering than to his clerical duties, in the
Governor's opinion.

On attending divine service on the previous Sunday, the Governor had
noted with horror that the Reverend Mr. Cowper, assistant chaplain,
acting under instructions, presumably from Mr. Marsden, had caused a
version of the psalms by one, Dr. Goode, to be sung, instead of the
version prescribed in the Church of England prayer-book. The Governor
was so much offended by this unwarrantable innovation that he sent a
sharp reproof to the Reverend Samuel at once, and also dictated a
dispatch on the subject to the long suffering Earl Bathurst declaring
that the Reverend Samuel was "not qualified by a liberal education in
the usual way for the functions entrusted to him," and also that "he was
largely tinctured with Methodistical or other sectarian principles."
Governor Macquarie could not have been more outraged if he had been
compelled to listen to a new and Methodistical version of the Articles
of War.

However, he grasped the Reverend Samuel Marsden's fat hand as cordially
as he could, and expressed the utmost solicitude regarding the Reverend
Samuel's health, which was obviously excellent.

Mr. D'Arcy Wentworth, the civil medical officer, was welcomed with
genuine pleasure. He was a strong supporter of Governor Macquarie,
concerning whose ability as an administrator he entertained no doubt
whatever. He entered the ballroom along with his friend, Mr. Edward
Riley, the magistrate, and his other friend, Mr. Blaxell.

There were not, it is safe to say, three more thoroughly loyal gentlemen
in the whole assemblage. They had to thank Governor Macquarie for giving
them the monopoly of the sale of rum, in return for building a hospital
for Sydney. They made an estimated profit of L150,000 on the
transaction.

Bowing deferentially, they passed along, making room for a long stream
of other distinguished people. For Mr. John Oxley, for instance, the
Surveyor-General, whose explorations in the Bathurst district, had added
hundreds of square miles of rich land to the resources of the colony:
for Mr. Charles Throsby, formerly of the Civil Medical Department, but
now a large landowner: for Mr. William Cox, who did so much to open up
the road to Bathurst, and Captain John Piper, and Mr. Alexander Bery,
and Mr. Edward Wollstonecraft, and Messrs. John and Gregory Blaxland,
and other persons of the most unimpeachable respectability.

But Governor Macquarie did not restrict his invitations to persons of
unimpeachable respectability.

He took special care to include in his hospitality many persons who had
been so unfortunate as to be sent to New South Wales for offences of
possibly a minor character. There is no need to particularise them, but
it may he hinted that the architect who built Macquarie Tower, the light
at South Head, was an emancipist, who was bidden a warm welcome to the
King's Birthday ball, while another guest in the same category was a
medical man who had been misguided enough to take part in the mutiny at
the Nore, and a third was an Irish gentleman who had been mixed up with
the rebellion of '98. but whom the Governor made his companion on many
of his tours of exploration, and who was a constant guest at his table.

No doubt, Governor Macquarie's sound common-sense and excellent judgment
caused him to select the most worthy emancipists as a rule for his
distinguished favor. Still, there were occasions upon which his
Excellency was unfortunate in his choice, and sometimes in his desire to
do justice to every district of the territory he invited persons who
were not sufficiently qualified by education to rub shoulders with the
polite world.

Thus it came about that Mr. and Mrs. Jonathan Wylie, from the
Hawkesbury, were announced by a well-trained footman, who had once been
in the employ of My Lord Asterisk of Belgravia, and might have remained
there, but for a tendency to explore my lord's fob for unconsidered
guineas.

And as the footman called the name of Mr. Jonathan Wylie a quiver ran
through the body of the tall grey-eyed woman, who stood near Mrs.
Macquarie, and then looked anxiously, incredulously, and then amazedly,
at the commonplace figure in black bowing to the Governor. So Mary
Fitzharding was right, it was Jonathan Wylie after all, and the same
Jonathan Wylie whose life story touched her own so strangely.

Mr. Wylie, in his best suit of Sunday black broadcloth, and Mrs. Wylie,
in a purple bombazeen, purchased for the occasion from an enterprising
Sydney importer, stood under the great cut-glass chandelier, that
carried a hundred of the best sperm candles, and blinked uneasily at the
Governor and his lady.

"Ah, Mr. Wylie," said his Excellency cheerily, "and how are you all on
the Hawkesbury? No more trouble with those confounded blacks, I hope?
Eh?"

Mr. Wylie ventured the opinion that the blacks were never any trouble if
handled properly. His own method of handling them, which he had found
very effective, was with a double-barrelled shotgun.

Governor Macquarie gave a genial laugh, and Mr. Wylie and his wife
passed on, being absolutely ignored by the 'haut ton' of the civil and
military official world. The ladies did not even seem to see Mrs.
Wylie's purple bombazeen, though it was certainly difficult to miss it.
Governor Macquarie might bring his emancipist guests into his ballroom
if he liked, but he could not get his other guests to recognise them.
Autocrat as he was his power stopped short of that. Presently the
excellent band of the Forty-Eighth Regiment struck up a stately
quadrille, and the company gave themselves up to dancing, with every
manifestation of pleasure. After the quadrille came a waltz, that
newly-invented dance, which very few were able to manage with ease and
grace, and which made the Reverend Samuel Marsden wonder privately what
the Governor could be thinking about to allow such proceedings under his
roof.

And then came a minuet and a country dance, and more quadrilles, with
frequent adjournments for light refreshments, and afterwards more
waltzes, until the ladies of the regiments--particularly the young and
pretty ones--glowed with pleasure and excitement.

Nearly a century has passed since Governor Macquarie's guests chased the
glowing hours with flying feet in the brilliant lighted ballroom looking
out over Sydney Cove. No doubt many of those ladies of old time were
young and lovely, too, but the sound of the Governor's dance music
floats no more over the waters of Sydney Cove, and where are the lovely
ladies? Francois Villon answers with his haunting question, "Ou sont les
neiges d'antan?"

While the dance was in full swing Mrs. Cuthbert took the opportunity to
invite Lieutenant Merriman, of the Forty-Eighth, to attend her while she
performed the pleasant duty of engaging in conversation such of the
Governor's guests as were not dancing.

Lieutenant Merriman was delighted. He was a fresh-faced lad of 23 and he
privately adored Mrs. Cuthbert with a sincere and whole-hearted
admiration. He proudly offered the lady his arm and conveyed her down
the full length of the ballroom to a row of native shrubs, planted in
tubs of earth, that decorated the lower end. Chairs were placed under
the spreading foliage of fern and palm, and on these chairs sat Mr.
Jonathan Wylie and his wife. Not a soul had spoken to them since they
entered the room. With surprise and delight Mrs. Wylie beheld that great
and unapproachable lady, Mrs. Cuthbert, bearing down on them upon the
arm of her young cavalier who chatted volubly to her all the time.

"And how are you, my dear, Mrs. Wylie?" said Mrs. Cuthbert graciously;
"and you, Mr. Wylie, too. So good of you to come all this long way from
your beautiful home to help us to do honor to his Majesty the King on
his birthday."

Mrs. Wylie was in the seventh heaven of delight at this public mark of
consideration from one of the most distinguished ladies present. "Oh, my
lady," she stammered, "ain't it beautiful, and the decorations are
lovely. I was just saying to Jonathan, 'ere, as I was sure Mrs. Cuthbert
had a 'and in them decorations. Wasn't I, Jonathan?"

An inarticulate grunt came from old Wylie, who had sufficient
appreciation of etiquette to rise to his feet and offer Mrs. Cuthbert
his chair, which she smilingly declined.

"No, thank you, Mr. Wylie," she said; "but you must let me show you
round the place a little bit. The view from the verandah in front of the
house is quite entrancing. I am sure Mrs. Wylie will not object to my
taking you away for a few minutes."

"Oh, no, my lady," Mrs. Wylie was overpowered by the charming and
condescending manners of the leader of the fashionable world.

"So Lieutenant Merriman will stay and talk with you until we come back,
won't you, Mr. Merriman?" She smiled most sweetly at the unfortunate
lieutenant, who had no option but to protest that nothing would entrance
him more than to chat with Mrs. Wylie.

Whereupon the dumbfounded Mr. Wylie felt a small gloved hand land on the
sleeve of his best black Sunday coat, and before he could collect his
thoughts he was being impelled by a slight, though irresistible pressure
in the direction of the door.

The ladies of the regiment looked and smiled meaningly at each other.
Two or three of them even shrugged their shapely white shoulders. They
really pitied poor Mrs. Cuthbert. The Governor's partiality for
emancipists was deplorable. But it was really hard on the members of his
suite that they should be expected to show attention to the creatures
also.

However, Mrs. Cuthbert passed on with Mr. Wylie seemingly unconscious of
the whispers of the ladies of the regiment.

Passing through the antechamber, where some of the older gentlemen were
refreshing themselves with a dram of spirits after the exertion of the
quadrille, she steered Mr. Wylie out on the wide verandah, looking over
sloping lawns that reached to the shore of Sydney Cove, which was at
that time virgin ground, untouched by quays or warehouses. The verandah
was hung with colored lanterns, making a very pretty effect, which could
be seen from the ships at anchor in the cove. On the sloping green lawns
a few young couples, who had escaped from the ballroom, walked together,
whispering of matter that concerned themselves solely.

In the darkest corner of the verandah a small settee had been
placed--apparently not without purpose--and it was to this little haven
that Mrs. Cuthbert piloted Mr. Wylie, who was lost in wonder at the
lady's condescension, and indeed, more than a little perturbed by it.

At last, when she was assured that there were no eavesdroppers in the
neighborhood. Mrs. Cuthbert threw off the mask of conventional manners
and electrified her companion with her first words.

"Mr. Wylie." she said, "is it possible that you do not recognise me? I
am Sybil Granger."

If Jonathan Wylie had been suddenly struck on the head with a knobby
stick he could hardly have been rendered speechless more effectively. He
stammered incoherently. "But--but--but," and there he stuck.

"Surely I am not so much altered that you cannot recognise me. Captain
Wylie," she said, leaning forward so that the light from one of the
lamps illuminated her face.

She called him "Captain Wylie," that was what did it. It was many years
since he had been called Captain Wylie. He had never enjoyed that
dignified title since the long distant days when he used to sail his
sturdy little craft across the Channel from the Devon coast and bring
back brandy and lace, and an occasional French officer, who paid for his
passage at such a generous rate that it was well worth the risk to take
him.

"Why yes, Miss Sybil," he said, peering into her face, that had the
light of the lamp upon it. "O' course. I remember ye now. Lord, lord,
who would ha' thought it?"

For a long time she questioned him, sitting there in the corner of the
verandah. There was so much to learn. She told him much, and he told her
more, but they talked in whispers, as even walls have ears at times.

"Mounseer told me again and again," continued Wylie at last, a little
more loudly, "that he was goin' back to you when the war was over. It
was blowing so hard that night that I couldn't hardly 'ear 'im. But he
yelled into my ear that the old priest in Plymouth would always know
where he was and would tell me. And then I was to tell you. I nodded my
head, and when I looked out to leeward I seen the British sloop of war
tearing along with as much sail as she could carry. We was about two
miles from the French coast, off Cape Gris Nez, at the time."

"Yes, yes; oh, do go on."

"Yonder's the Viper," sez I to Mounseer. "I'm afeared it's all up wi'
us."

"No, no," sez he, "plucky as a lion. Not to despair, by Gar. not to
despair. Them's his very words, and he began pulling off his boots. The
lugger was putting her best leg foremost, but she couldn't sail against
the sloop, and I could see we was going to be cut off."

"Oh, Captain Wylie, I am sure you did your best."

"Indeed, I did. Miss Sybil, axin' your pardon, Mrs. Cuthbert, mum, but
we was in a tight place. Presently there came a bang, and a big round
shot hit the water just in front of us. 'It's no good, mounseer,' sez I.
'If I don't heave to he'll sink us.' 'No, no, my friend.' yelled
Mounseer, waving his hand. 'Not stop, not stop. It will be all right.'
Well, Miss Sybil, you must know that we had the weather gauge of the
sloop, and the lugger was heeling ever handsomely to port. I was so busy
watching the big seas and trying to miss the worst of them that I did
not look at him for a minute. 'Bang!' went another gun, and the shot
struck the sea just astarn of us. I knew it was fired to hit that time,
and I ran to get hold of the sheet. Before I could get to it. I seen
Mounseer, with nothing on but his shirt and trousers, jump on to the
gunwale on the weather side. 'No surrender,' he sings out to me. 'No, by
Gar,' and over he plunged."

"We was about a mile from the shore then, and there was a heavy sea
running. I never thought he would fetch the land, but he did. I heard it
afterwards, from a French prisoner of war. I had not time to think about
it any more then, for the next shot from the Viper brought my mast down
with a run, and a lieutenant with four men came along in a boat and
boarded me."

"But they lost him."

"Indeed, they did, surely, Miss Sybil. All that they found of his was
his uniform, and if I'd only thought to throw it overboard, I shouldn't
ha' been 'ere now. They arrested me for trafficking with a French
officer in time o' war, and I came near to bein' scragged over it, too.
Faith. I don't know now how I got out of it."

"He was a brave man, Captain Wylie, if ever there was one."

"True for ye, Miss Sybil, axin' yer pardon, mum. I never seen a braver.
That's what I sez to old Father Sebastian, when he came to see me in
prison afore I was transported."

"Poor old Father Sebastian, I never saw him again," said Sybil.

"No. Miss," said Wylie. "He told me as 'ow he tried to find you, but the
old squire 'ad dropped dead of a stroke and you was gone away up to
London. So he never saw you, nor the boy, neither."

And then it was Mrs. Cuthbert's turn to speak.

She unburdened her soul to Jonathan Wylie, sitting there on the
verandah, and the hardened old smuggler marvelled at this woman's
fortitude when she told him of the deed that the old squire had done
before he died.

"But," said Jonathan Wylie wonderingly, "why didn't you tell him the
truth. Why didn't you tell him to see--"

"I couldn't," said Sybil, breaking in abruptly in vehement agitation. "I
was just going to tell him when he was seized with the stroke."

And then she told Wylie of the Trevithicks, and how she had seen her son
in Sydney. Jonathan Wylie listened in amazement to the whole story of
Tristram's love for Mary Fitzharding, and of his departure from the
Hawkesbury on account of the stigma of his birth, and then of the
trouble at the 'Sheer Hulk,' his flight, and, finally, his complete
disappearance.

"By the Lord," said Jonathan Wylie, slapping his knee, "I've seen your
son, Miss Sybil, axin' your pardon, mum: I thought I knew his face the
moment I set eyes on him." He stopped short. He had no desire to tell
even Miss Sybil Granger, who was now married to the Governor's
aide-de-camp, about the distillery on Lion Island.

"Where did you see him?" asked Mrs. Cuthbert, who was greatly agitated.

"Up on the Hawkesbury, Miss Sybil." said Mr. Wylie evasively, "and I
reckon he's somewhere in the district still. Well, well--just to think
of it."

He rubbed his hands together and rose to go. "I reckon I must be goin'
back to the missus," he said: "but if ever I can help you, Miss Sybil,
you just send word to me at the Ferry, and I'll see that you're not left
without a friend."

When they got back to the ballroom Lieutenant Merriman was yawning in
the most distressful manner. His stock of small talk was quite
exhausted, and Mrs. Wylie had none to start with.

Mrs. Cuthbert, wearing her best drawing-room manner again, gave Mr. and
Mrs. Wylie a charming smile of adieu, and departed with the gratified
young subaltern to see that everything was ready in the supper-room.

The entertainment went on until 5 o'clock in the morning, and the
Governor proved to be a wonderful host. He proposed an extensive list of
toasts, beginning with 'The King,' and 'Many Happy Returns of the Day,'
and including 'The Queen,' 'The Prince of Wales,' 'The Duke of York and
the Rest of the Royal Family,' 'The Duke of Wellington,' 'The Navy,'
'The Army,' 'Success to Our Arms by Sea and Land,' 'Governor Phillip,
the Founder of the Colony,' 'Prosperity to the Colony of New South
Wales,' 'Governor Bligh and the Squadron who lately left us,' 'The
Immortal Memory of the Hon. William Pitt,' 'The Immortal Memory of Lord
Nelson,' 'The Immortal Memory of Sir Ralph Abercrombie,' 'Lord
Castlereagh,' 'May British Commerce Ever Flourish all over the Globe,'
'The Archbishop of Canterbury,' and 'May the Single be Married and the
Married not be Discontented.'

The sun was shining into her window when Mrs. Cuthbert retired to her
own room, and Mary Fitzharding helped her to undress. Mary herself had
been bored by the long festivities. She had no heart for dancing when
her lover was a wanderer and a fugitive.

She said so to Mrs. Cuthbert. "And yet I feel in my heart that I have
not lost him utterly,'' she added in a forlorn voice.

"He will come back to you, dear," said the older woman, with intense
conviction, "and the last barrier between you two will be broken down.
The last locked door that separates you from him will be opened. I have
spoken to-night with the man who holds the key."

Mary Fitzharding looked at her uncle's wife in amazement. But she saw no
sign of wandering wit in the tired grey eyes only an immense weariness,
and with it an inexpressible relief.



CHAPTER XII.--THE-BATHURST IN-SURRECTION.


Dawn on the Fish River.

The first red streaks of the sun shot through the mountain mist and lit
up a grim and rugged landscape that nevertheless was not without
promise. There was water. There were patches of rich pasture for sheep
and cattle. Yonder to the west beyond those gloomy mountains, stretched
an immense expanse of plain land, all virgin soil that had never known
hoof or plough. For hundreds of miles a man might ride along the great
fertile untouched country that stretched away towards the sunset, and
yet never see the end of those illimitable plains. With the coming of
the white man all that spacious land was emerging at last from its
profound obscurity, even as this rocky glen on the Fish River was
becoming visible in the spreading light of the winter dawn.

It was cold on the Fish River. Tristram Trevithick turned uneasily in
his blanket and awoke.

He looked around him and saw the ground dotted thickly with motionless
figures wrapped in blankets. The embers of two great camp fires were
still burning, and by each fire stood a man dressed in a heavy sheepskin
coat leaning on a musket. There must have been fully eighty of those
motionless figures stretched out upon the ground.

It was a sleeping army, and the two men who leaned upon their muskets,
were the sentinels.

Tristram Trevithick sat up in his blanket and looked about him. He
remembered it all now. Captain Jack had brought him to this valley on
the evening before--Captain Jack, the man whom he met on the Kurrajong
heights, riding a fine bay horse, and armed to the teeth. Captain Jack
had found him a fine horse, too, and all equipments. It was a chestnut
horse. Tristram looked round anxiously for his new possession, and when
he could not see the animal he rose to his feet and began to pick his
way among the sleepers down towards the grassy flat at the bend of the
river. He had an idea that he would find his horse there.

As he passed round the angle in the valley, where the river swung
suddenly to the eastward, he looked with astonishment on the sight that
met his eyes. Dimly seen in the first streaks of the dawn, he descried a
great herd of horned cattle, together with many sheep and scores of
horses, all grazing on the rich river flat. To whom did all those beasts
belong, and how had they reached this lonely solitude? He looked again,
and saw several blackfellows among the animals. They were rounding up
the horses into a separate mob. Here and there a horse, with head held
high and tail in the air, would break into a long striding trot, that
soon merged into a canter, in an effort to escape from the round up. But
gradually the blackfellows separated them from the cattle and drove them
across the river. The horses grazed quietly in a mob by themselves, and
Tristram picked out his own big chesnut by the white blaze on the
forehead and the two white hind feet.

Half a dozen gins, with piccaninnies, were chattering together over
fires that they had made outside their rude mia-mias of bushes. The
carcase of a freshly slaughtered sheep lay on the ground near the
mia-mias. The animal had been speared, and hunks of flesh had been
hacked off without method or skill. These hunks the gins were broiling
in the wood embers.

There was no need to be careful of the meat, with all that big flock of
sheep to draw upon.

The gins were preparing to enjoy themselves thoroughly, as soon as their
black masters had had their fill. They knew better than to touch a
mouthful before the black boys had eaten. They yabbered cheerfully at
Tristram as he passed, squatting on their heels and showing their
gleaming teeth.

Tristram walked on a little further, and found a bullock-dray, fully
loaded. The working bullocks were grazing in the light scrub. On the
dray he saw casks of flour, and a good supply of tea, sugar, and
tobacco, also certain barrels that he conjectured were full of spirits.
The sleeping army that he had seen on the river bank round the bend was
provided with a plentiful commissariat.

He made his way back past the herd of cattle, and the sheep and the
grinning black gins in front of their mia-mias. He could smell the meat
roasting, and it smelt good. He walked briskly along thinking of the
strange things that had happened to him within the last few weeks, and
then he thought of the man who had brought him to this great encampment
in the unexplored solitude. While still thinking of him he rounded the
bend of the river, and almost ran into Captain Jack, who, like himself,
was making an early tour of inspection.

Captain Jack still wore his black beaver, his blue cloth coat lined with
silk, his snuff-colored trousers, and high boots. He carried two pistols
and a long cavalry sword in his belt, and he held a bridle in his hand.

"That's right," he said encouragingly. "Up in good time, I see. Take
your bridle and we'll go and catch our horses."

So Tristram ran back and fetched his bridle, which lay beside the saddle
that had served him for a pillow, and rejoined Captain Jack.

"Who are all those sleeping men," asked Tristram, who was still greatly
perplexed.

He had not grasped the situation at all, yet. It was too big for him.

"Most of them are a useless lot of blackguards." said Captain Jack
bitterly, "Runaway assigned servants, without the brains to act
together, or the pluck to stand if they are cornered. But about a score
out of the lot are the grittiest lot of scoundrels in New South Wales.
Up to now, they've done nothing but bully a lot of poor devils of
settlers, and lift their cattle and horses, but when the red-coats
come--and they won't be long now--I reckon that there'll be the biggest
fight that has yet happened in this country."

Tristram was thunderstruck. He realised that he was the last new
recruit, a recruit in the ragged regiment of not less than eighty men,
who were in arms against the Government of the country, and who
recognised no authority except that of Captain Jack--and not always his.
They lived on the country like any other invading army, and where they
met with resistance no doubt they left dead men, and smoking homesteads
behind them. Such things are incidents of war whether it is formal or
informal.

Captain Jack pointed to the black boys. "Those fellows are very useful,"
he said. "I wish I had more of them. The best scouts on earth. But they
can only tell me when the enemy is coming. They are no good in a fight.
Anyhow, what's the use?" A note of despondency crept into his voice. "I
can see that it's all a huge mistake now."

"What is the huge mistake?" asked Tristram wonderingly.

Captain Jack strode along, swinging his bridle and keeping an eye on the
mob of horses across the river. "You'll not understand me, I know," he
said, with a touch of bitterness in his tone. "But I'll try to tell you
why I went into this mad adventure. I saw the vile and hideous treatment
that the few who are in power serve out to the many who are in
subjection in this great new country, where all should be able to find
happiness and plenty. I saw the rule of the bullet, the hangman's rope,
and the lash, and the sight maddened me. I dreamed that I could end
it.'"

"How?"

"By appealing to the love of liberty and to the hatred of oppression,
tyranny, and cruelty--to the strongest emotion that the human heart can
hold. I dreamed that men would flock to join me when they knew that my
object was to defy the authority that relies upon the lash for its
support: when they knew that I hoped to set up a new form of
authority--republican if you will--which should hold sway in all this
part beyond the mountains, and which should guarantee to every man the
free use of nature's gifts--the land, the water, and the
sunshine--without hindrance from any set of men in uniform. Here in this
great wide, fruitful, empty land, too far from the rest of the world to
be subject to outside interference, was such an opportunity as has never
been given to white men before, and how has it been misused? My God! How
has it been misused?"

The listener looked at him with astonishment. Captain Jack was quivering
with emotion.

"I hoped that the few of us," he continued, "who thought as I did, could
get together such a force as would enable us to hem the whole hateful
authority of the musket and the lash within the circle of the mountains
that surround Sydney--to keen it penned up there, so that it could not
interfere with the great new republic that I dreamed might be
established over all the rest of New South Wales and ultimately over all
Australia."

Tristram caught something of the enthusiasm of this strange man. He felt
his own cheeks glow with the generous heat of a pure idealism, one heat
that has burned in many a noble soul, only to die out at last in grey
ashes of disillusion.

"At least, it was a grand thought," he said simply.

"But I have failed," said Captain Jack. "I know it already. The idea was
a just one. But it has come to nothing, because I could not get the men
to carry it out. I looked for men--and I found only cattle thieves." He
waved his hand with a gesture of infinite disdain toward the sleeping
camp. "It is always the same." he said. "It is the men who matter. I
know now how true it is that every people get the government that it
deserves."

"But what are we going to do now?" asked Tristram. He had always longed
for adventure. It seemed that he had found one that went far beyond his
dreams.

"We are going to fight," said Captain Jack, "as soon as we meet the
enemy. I hoped to raise at least a thousand men. If I had a thousand
well-armed men, all inspired with the passion that burns in my own
heart. I could march over the mountains to Sydney, overthrow the
Government of the bullet and the lash, and hurl into the sea the
Governor and the regiment of 800 men that support his rule. But I have
only 80 men, all told, and three-quarters of the number are no better
than cut-throats and horse stealers."

Captain Jack strode along for a few paces without speaking.

"When I met you in the bush on the Kurrajong," he continued, "I knew at
once that you were the man for me. Some men are born poets, others are
born grocers, or artists, or thieves, or politicians. You were born a
soldier. You have the face of a soldier. The brain of a soldier. The eye
of a soldier. That is why I took you. If I had a thousand men like you I
would march on Sydney to-day."

Captain Jack's eyes glowed with fire. "How is it that you are a born
soldier?" he asked suddenly.

"I do not know," said Tristram, simply. And then, after a long pause, "I
do not know who my father was."

Captain Jack was startled by the announcement so quietly made. "Ah," he
said. "So that is why you were travelling alone to Bathurst. Only just
found out the stigma, I suppose. And probably there is a girl in it,
too. Must be--with a fine young fellow like you. Well, that's nothing to
do with me. I'm glad to have you, but I give you fair warning that
there's a rough time in front of you if you stay with me and with my lot
of scoundrels."

"I've quite made up my mind to stay." said Tristram, shortly. "You'll
find me beside you whatever comes."

They crossed the river on a great log that spanned it from bank to bank,
and caught their horses without difficulty. Slipping the bridle on the
bay, Captain Jack placed one hand on the animal's withers and vaulted on
its bare back with astonishing agility. Tristram jumped on the chestnut,
and rode off beside the captain. The horses forded the river easily.

When they arrived at the camping ground, fires were burning, and the
rebel army was at breakfast. A bullock killed on the previous day
supplied the men with fresh beef, and there was plenty of tea and
damper. But the lack of order, discipline, and organisation was woefully
apparent.

Here was seen the curious spectacle of men, clad mostly in rough
moleskins and thick flannel shirts, advancing with their sheath knives
upon the carcase of the dead bullock, and hacked off lumps of flesh.
Each man broiled his own portion in the embers, occasionally with a
rough joke for his nearest comrade, but more often in surly silence.
They were oppressed with uneasiness that made joking a matter of
difficulty, for every man knew that in the conflict in which they were
likely to be engaged no prisoners of war would be taken. If they failed
to defeat the regular troops the gallows waited for all who survived the
bullets and the bayonets of the redcoats.

With a curt nod hither and thither, Captain Jack rode to the spot where
he had bivouacked and motioned to Tristram to dismount. They cut slices
of the beef for themselves, and cooked and ate their breakfast.

While they were still eating there arrived in front of them a very tall
and sinewy man, with sombre eyes. Six other brawny fellows stood behind
him.

"I'd like to speak to you a minute, Captain," he said. Captain Jack
nodded. "Go on, Black."

"You know, Captain." said Peter Black, speaking with a note of
smouldering passion in his voice, "that I was one of the assigned
servants of the man Cleverden, at Rocky Hill Station."

"Well?''

"But you did not know what the man, Cleverden, who is a police
magistrate, did to me."

"No."

"He ordered me this for daring to answer him back one day, when he
cursed me for a lazy, useless loafer," Peter Black, with a swift
movement, pulled his flannel shirt over his head, and stood bare to the
waist, before Captain Jack and Tristram. His back was deeply scored with
livid furrows, the weals of the 'cat'--a shocking and terrible sight.
Standing there in his coarse moleskin trousers, this victim of the lash
was seen to be a superb specimen of manhood. The muscles of his chest
and neck rippled under the skin like the muscles of a thoroughbred in
training. But the torso of this splendid figure was scarred and marred
and ruined by the scourge of the flogger.

Captain Jack's eyes seemed to grow larger and more luminous as he looked
first at Peter Black's back and then away to the broken country, beyond
which lay the limitless plains of the west--the plains where surely
freedom might be found. "The time is coming, Peter," he said, "when
deeds like that shall be done no more in this land."

The man Black rode out furiously at those words. "What do I care for
that," he said with a horrible curse. "The future is nothing to me. I
want revenge on the man who caused me to be flogged. I want to make him
understand the meaning of torture himself. I want to pay him out now,
and I'm going to do it, too."

The man was beside himself with passion. The ferocity of a tiger gleamed
in his eyes, suiting in ghastly fashion with the dark stripes across his
back. Peter Black was not at that moment a man. He was, in fact, a
tiger. The metamorphosis had been affected by his former employer, Mr.
Cleverden, of Rocky Hill Station, who had touched him, not with the wand
of the magician, but with the cat o' nine tails.

"Tell me what you propose to do, Black," said Captain Jack, who began to
have an inkling of the man's purpose.

"I am going to ride to Rocky Hill Station with six well-armed men," said
Peter Black, "and I'm going to take Mr. William Cleverden, police
magistrate, out of his own house, and tie his arms round a tree, and
strip him, and stand by him, and watch him, while my mate here, Joe
Batt, flogs him to death with the same cat o' nine tails that I was
flogged with. That's what I'm going to do, and I thought I'd just tell
you."

Peter Black put on his shirt again, and stood with his hands clenched
and his head thrust forward, staring into Captain Jack's face.

"Take your revenge," said Captain Jack quietly. "It will hurry on the
affair for which we are waiting. It will make the redcoats move all the
faster to meet us--and the sooner they come the better."

As Peter Black and his followers hurried off to catch their horses, with
the object of giving the police magistrate at Rocky Hill Station a fatal
dose of his own medicine. Captain Jack turned to Tristram with a mordant
smile.

"Justice finds strange agents," he said, pointing towards the hurrying
men.

The remark was scarcely intelligible to Tristram. He was shocked and
staggered at the ghastly programme outlined by Peter Black. "Justice!"
he said. "Murder is not justice!"

"No; but revenge is," said the captain, standing still for a moment and
driving his point home with lifted forefinger. "Revenge is a kind of
wild justice, according to one of the wisest men who ever lived--a man
who took all knowledge for his province. For my part, I find no fault
with Peter Black's method. It was not written so, but it is none the
less true that those who take the scourge shall perish by the scourge."

Captain Jack was plainly a fanatic for retribution, if not for justice.
Tristram wondered vaguely who this man was, and where he came from. An
educated man, with a well-stored mind. A man capable of lofty idealism,
and yet unable to see that a social system which gave perfect freedom to
all would inevitably produce mere anarchy. The republic that he desired
to set up west of the Blue Mountains had no more possibility of
permanence than a dream. And yet who could say that if sufficient men of
the highest type were available, the republic could not be at least
established.

It appeared that Captain Jack was like an architect who had designed a
great cathedral, but was unable to carry it out because the only stone
available was crumbling with rottenness.

As he talked with the captain, it came into Tristram's mind that this
man was made of the stuff of martyrs, and would go to his death for the
sake of an ideal as cheerfully as any of the martyrs of history.

There was a buzz of excitement in the camp all the morning, for the
insurgents were aware of Peter Black's punitive expedition to Rocky Hill
station, and they were eager to hear the result of it. They divined that
such an audacious exploit would hasten the arrival of the redcoats from
Sydney, and accordingly they busied themselves in making ready for the
expected battle.

Firelocks and fowlingpieces were carefully cleaned and loaded.
Percussion caps were examined to see that they were free from damp. Each
man's private supply of ammunition was overhauled, and here and there
might be seen men squatting over small fires moulding bullets for
muskets and cutting sheet lead into rough slugs for their fowlingpieces.
All the arms had been stolen from stations in the districts and were of
the most varied description. A few who had no guns were sharpening
scythes and billhooks on smooth stones, and they were the glummest and
most uneasy of all. What was the use of a scythe or a billhook against a
drilled soldier with musket and bayonet?

Presently these men who were without firearm began to collect into small
groups and talk together in undertones. It was easy to see that in every
group of whisperers dissatisfaction was rife, and trouble was brewing.
The men with the billhooks were not idealists. There was nothing of the
martyr in their composition. Why should they stand up to be shot at by
the cursed 'lobsters' for the sake of Captain Jack? Why should they face
the certainty of being scragged on Gallows Hill if they were not killed
in the battle? These were the questions that they asked each other with
many furtive glances towards the tall, carefully dressed man who stood
with his beaver in his hand, and his black curly hair stirred by the
morning breeze, as he talked with that young stranger concerning vague
ambitions, that were beyond their comprehension.

Their own ambitions were bounded by rum and tobacco. For those tangible
benefits they were even prepared to risk their lives on occasion. But
not for equality and universal brotherhood in a republic of the west. No
d--d fear.

Presently, having finished sharpening their rude weapons, they sauntered
away in twos and threes, carrying their saddles and bridles, in the
direction of the mob of horses that were feeding on the river flat.

Captain Jack saw them going. "They are deserting," he said bitterly to
Tristram. "I knew that they would disappear as soon as the pinch came. I
ought to shoot them; but what would be the use. Well. I want no cowards
in the cause, so let them go."

The men with scythes and billhooks caught their horses and sneaked away
without a word to the leader whom they were leaving. When they had gone
the rebel regiment was no more than 50 strong. The fifty looked at each
other grimly. Each suspected his comrade. It was not a mood that gave
presage of victory.

The men lay about on the ground smoking after they had cleaned and
loaded their guns. Their nerves were showing signs of the tension. They
spoke seldom and only in monosyllables. They were waiting for the return
of Peter Black and his companions.

Tired of remaining in the camp, Captain Jack and Tristram mounted their
horses and rode away down the valley of the Fish River, which was shut
in by rugged ridges that were then quite unexplored.

The captain called to Wonga, his favorite black boy, to go with them as
guide, and the black piloted them through sombre gullies and along the
flanks of great flat topped ranges, heavily clothed with the coarsest of
mountain scrub. The captain was reconnoitring the country.

"We shall have to shift camp to-night," he said to Tristram, "and I
wanted to see this country. I know enough about it now to avoid it. A
fine country for a gang of robbers, but that's all. Look at that cave,
for instance."

He pointed to a huge cavern that had never been seen by a white man from
the creation to that day. It was 'discovered' some years afterwards.

"A man might hide here for a lifetime without being seen," returned
Tristram, surveying the grim solitude with interested eyes.

"But why hide?" said Captain Jack with suppressed passion. "Why not
stand out and face the world and fight for freedom and for right?" And
then without waiting for an answer he turned out of the lonely gully
with a real sense of relief, following the black boy by the way that
they had come.

"I'd rather fight in more open country than this," said the captain to
Tristram. "It's too much like a prison." He pointed to the huge
precipitous walls that seemed to close the gully on every side. "And
I've lived so much of my life in prison that when I die I want to die in
the open."

So Captain Jack rode back to camp with Tristram and Wonga, the black boy
went on in front, and the Fish River gully, because it looked like a
prison, was ruled out as a possible battlefield though it was in truth
as fine a position to a guerilla attack upon regular troops as the
Khyber Pass itself.

It seemed that the captain, besides being a fanatic of liberty, was also
something of an impracticable visionary; and Tristram, knowing nothing
of his history, guessed the Celtic blood. The guess was right, for the
captain was indeed a fellow countryman of Wolf Tone and Robert Emmett,
whose deeds were known, and whose names were reverenced in many of the
remotest regions of New South Wales.

Just as the two men rode slowly up the gully of the river and through
the black camp, where the gins were again cooking great lumps of mutton
in the embers of their fires, they saw Peter Black and his six followers
coming over the rising ground half a mile away to the left at full
gallop. They could even hear the drumming of the horses' feet.

The rebel regiment in camp heard it, too, and sprang up from the ground.
From their position in the saucer-shaped hollow they could not see the
riders who were in such a desperate hurry. But they guessed that Peter
Black and his companions were returning.

Captain Jack and Tristram, who were riding slowly along the river bank
at right angles to the line of the approaching party of horsemen,
touched their horses with the spur, and reached the encampment just as
Peter Black and his six men galloped over the last ridge.

The captain rode straight up alongside Peter Black. "Well," he said,
"and how did the police magistrate take his flogging?"

"The--was not at the station," said Peter surlily. "He went away to
Bathurst yesterday. Just like my cursed luck."

"So you had your journey for nothing." said Captain Jack, eyeing Peter
Black closely.

"Not I," said the giant, meeting the captain's gaze without flinching.
"I asked his overseer to join us, and when he refused I shot him dead."



CHAPTER XIII.--TOMAHAWK AGAINST WADDY.


Peter Black's announcement fell like a thunderclap on the insurgents. To
shoot the police magistrate's overseer dead was the most effective
method that could possibly have been devised for accelerating the march
of the hated 'lobster.' It was evident that a crisis was fast
approaching.

"Boys," said Captain Jack, mounting a flat-topped red rock, in order the
better to address the assemblage. "The hour for which we have longed is
near. Very soon now the enemy will be before you."

He waited for cheers, but no cheers came. The men looked silently at
each other. Several of them shuffled uneasily with their feet.

"You will at last have the chance for which every lover of freedom is
craving--the chance of sending a bullet through the heart of a servant
of the oppressors."

Still there was not the faintest murmur of applause. It is hard, indeed,
to strike a spark in the heart of a clod.

"The soldiers will soon be here," he continued. "What are they? The scum
of England's great cities--men who wear the red livery of shame, who
have sold their souls for a piece of silver, who shed the blood of their
fellow man for hire, and take the lives of the guiltless for a price.
Boys, when you see the red coats in front of you, remember that they
stand for the cell, the lash, and the iron-gang. Remember that their
tunics are stained red with your own blood, and that their pipe-clayed
belts are no whiter than the trembling faces of your mothers when they
saw you led off to die far away from the country of your birth."

Captain Jack was possessed by his subject. His voice rang with emotion.
It was plain that he felt every word that he said.

"I tell you, boys," he went on passionately, "that only a handful of
rascals in red coats stand between you and liberty, between you and
wealth, between you and the opportunity to use the unknown riches of
this new country, for your own benefit and prosperity and happiness."

"What the 'ell, is he torkin' about, Bill," said Joe Greening, to
William Bunt, in a loud whisper. But William, who was busy filling his
pipe with tobacco, merely muttered, "Danger if oi knaow," and went on
pushing down with his thumb.

"Will you allow these wretched minions of tyranny to defeat you, or will
you stand fast and destroy them, and walk over their dead bodies to a
new, free life in the Republik of the West? Boys, I want your answer."

"We'll fight like 'ell, all right, if that's wot you want to know,
captain," said a murderous-looking man in the background. "Better to
fight than be scragged, any day."

A low murmur of assent went up from the rebel regiment.

"That's right, boys," said Captain Jack; "I knew I could rely on you.
And now for action! As soon as it is discovered that Cleverden's
overseer has been shot we shall be hunted, and as this place is
unsuitable for a defensive position I have determined to strike camp at
once and make for the Abercrombie River. There's a spot there that I
know of where fifty brave men, well armed, could defy an army."

"Right you are, captain. We're ready."

Anything was better than the suspense of waiting in idleness for the
appearance of the soldiers. The rebel regiment welcomed the prospect of
marching again. The men went off to their horses, the bullock-drivers
and the blackboys began to round up the cattle, and in a very short time
the whole mounted troop was on the march, the sheep and cattle bringing
up the rear.

They marched all night, as strange and motley a host as ever supported a
fanatical visionary, in striving for a hopeless cause.

In front rode Captain Jack, with Wonga, the blackboy, running beside his
stirrup leather, a trusty guide, who found his way through the bush more
by instinct than by reason. On the captain's bridle hand rode Tristram,
armed with an ancient fowling piece, and with Captain Jack's long
cavalry sword stuck through his belt.

Behind the commander and his new aide-de-camp came the rank and file, in
defiance of all the rules of military formation. They should have
preceded the captain, instead of following him. Also they should have
route-marched in column, with scouts thrown out in front and on the
flanks, instead of riding bunched up in groups and shameless masses, or
struggling along in single file, with such long intervals between each
horseman that the tail of the cavalcade speedily lost touch with the
head.

Under cover of the night two-thirds of the rebel regiment deserted. They
were men who had no stomach for standing up against regular troops. With
no great ideal to animate them, and with no real combative instinct to
spur them into conflict for the sheer love of fighting, they were
lacking in any influence that might have counteracted that paralysing
dread of the cold steel and the noose of the hangman's rope.

So they slipped away in the darkness and when morning broke the captain
counted his regiment and found it was reduced to fifteen all told. But
at least those fifteen could be relied upon. A hard bitten, desperate
band they were, and every man knew that he must fight with a rope round
his neck.

On the way to the Abercrombie River the rebel regiment--all that was
left of it--passed through several large sheep stations, big areas of
country that had been taken up by well-to-do pioneers--the gentlemen
settlers of the period--who were provided by the paternal government,
not only with free land, but also with the free labor of a specified
number of 'Government men,' and also, in many cases with rations and
clothing for those men. Some of the owner's of these properties lived on
their land. Others, of whom the Rev. Samuel Marsden, principal chaplain
of the colony, was one, did not live on the land, but left a 'Government
man' in charge as overseer.

It was after passing through the reverend gentleman's spacious property
that Captain Jack made an unpleasant discovery. The black boys in charge
of the sheep and cattle had not kept up with the march. The reduction of
the number of men in the regiment, which had shrunk in 24 hours from 80
men to 15, certainly obviated the necessity of driving so many cattle
along with them for food. But still it was advisable not to allow
themselves to be cut off altogether from their supplies, especially as
they were entering very hungry country.

Accordingly Captain Jack notified the position to Tristram and the
thirteen fighters who rode behind him. They all agreed that it was
desirable to go back and look for the cattle. Wonga, alone, seemed to be
uneasy. It appeared that the tribe to which he himself and the black
boys in charge of the cattle belonged, was not on the best terms with
the Abercrombie River natives, whose territory they had already reached.

"Mine tinkit plenty black fellow sit down alonga bush here." he
remarked, with obvious disquietude. "Plenty waddy, plenty spear, plenty
fightem maybe bime by."

This was not encouraging. If the hostile blacks made a descent and
carried off the sheep and cattle after spearing their hated enemies from
further east, the remnant of the regiment might go short of food. The
possibility of having to fight on empty stomachs would have to be
avoided at all costs.

So the order "Right about face," was given, and the shrunken little band
of desperate men turned back in their tracks to see if they could not
find a few of their sheep and cattle.

Riding back through the Reverend Samuel Marsden's big property, most of
which was still in the same condition of virgin bush as it was when he
took possession of it, they passed within a mile of the bark hut where
the owner's overseer lived. A white paper fastened to a big-gum tree
caught the captain's eye, and he rode up to examine it. To his
astonishment he found that the paper was a proclamation addressed by
Governor Macquarie to the blacks. A singularly humorless performance for
the old martinet, who was by no means devoid of humor as a rule. The
proclamation had been issued by the Governor in proper form. It was
dated from Government House, Sydney, and was signed by John Thomas
Campbell, secretary. It was a decidedly verbose exhortation to the
blacks, and Captain Jack read it with grim wonder. He summoned Tristram
to read one clause of the proclamation aloud for the benefit of the
regiment. Standing up in his stirrups in order the better to read the
proclamation, which the Reverend Samuel Marsden, in accordance with his
duty as a magistrate, had posted in a conspicuous position, Tristram
addressed himself to the paragraph indicated by Captain Jack.

"Thirdly," he read, "that the practice hitherto observed among the
native tribes of assembling in large bodies, or parties armed, and of
fighting and attacking each other on the plea of inflicting punishments
on transgressors of their own customs and manners at or near Sydney, and
other principal towns and settlements in the colony, shall be henceforth
wholly abolished as a barbarous custom repugnant to the British laws,
and strongly militating against the civilisation of the natives, which
is an object of the highest importance to effect, if possible.

"Any armed body of natives, therefore, who shall assemble for the
foregoing purposes either at Sydney or any of the other settlements of
this colony after the said fourth day of June next, shall be considered
as disturbers of the public peace, and shall be apprehended and punished
in a summary manner accordingly.

"The black natives are therefore hereby enjoined and commanded to
discontinue the barbarous custom, not only at and near the British
settlements, but also in their own wild and remote places of resort."

This formidable document had a preamble setting forth that it was
proclaimed by Lachlan Macquarie, Captain General and Governor-in-Chief
in and over the territory of New South Wales. Tristram enjoyed the first
hearty laugh that he had had for many years.

"I'll wager, now," he said, "that this proclamation was composed by Mr.
John Thomas Campbell, and not by Governor Macquarie. I protest that
nobody but the punctilious secretary would ever have thought of
addressing such a finely worded document to the barbarous black natives,
who can no more understand the meaning of those mysterious black marks
on the white paper than can the opossum, the traces of whose claws are
plainly perceived across the face of the document."

"With how little wisdom is the world governed!" commented Captain Jack
with mordant emphasis.

They were still looking at the Governor's threatening remarks to the
Black Natives proclaiming summary punishment for all Disturbers of the
Public Peace when yells of fury broke upon their ears mixed with the
bellowing of frightened cattle, and the thunder of the galloping beasts
as they charged helter-skelter into the thick bush that came down to the
edge of the Reverend Samuel Marsden's well-chosen park-like pasture
lands.

In an instant it came home to the rebel captain and his attenuated
regiment that the Abercrombie River natives had attacked their
hereditary enemies of the Kurrajong tribe, partly from sheer lust of
bloodshed, but chiefly in order to get possession of the white men's
cattle that they were driving.

A bullock, with a long spear sticking in its flank, came charging out of
the light scrub, bellowing with pain, and cannoned against Tristram's
chesnut, almost throwing the horse off its feet. Further away the yells
of attackers and attacked located the scene of the fight.

The Abercrombie blacks numbered about a dozen. They were big, powerful
men, who had never been touched by even the rim of the white
civilisation. They carried spears with hardwood points, and heavy
waddies. The semi-civilised Kurrajong men numbered only six in all, and
they were encumbered by the presence of their gins and piccaninnies, but
they stood their ground.

The sight of the cattle was too much for the wild blacks. All the black
natives, as Governor Macquarie called them, developed a great appetite
for beef and mutton on the coming of the white man. They appreciated the
fare much more highly than 'possum and kangaroo meat. To the Abercrombie
men, the spectacle of cattle and sheep within range of their spears was
an irresistible temptation. They threw their spears with great
precision, and the wounded bullocks dashed madly through the bush, and
out of the theatre of combat. The blacks knew that the animals could not
go far, before they would sink upon the ground exhausted. And what did
it matter to the Abercrombie men that they had thrown away their spears.
Was not the waddy a most effective weapon, with which they had achieved
many victories in the past over the Kurrajong tribes?

Some such thoughts evidently passed through the minds of the Abercrombie
men, for they advanced to the attack, roaring not only defiance, but
also contempt for their foe.

Big Peter, the slayer of Mr. Cleverden's overseer, fingered the trigger
of his fowlingpiece, as he sat on his horse watching the caperings of
the Abercrombie men. The horsemen were screened by thick timber, and
were invisible to both parties of the belligerents.

"Don't shoot yet, Peter," said Captain Jack briefly. "Let 'em fight it
out. Time enough for us to come in if our men are getting the worst of
it. Besides, we will want all our powder and shot for ourselves before
we are much older."

So the insurgents sat on their horses and watched the Homeric combat
that was enacted before their eyes.

To the average Australian a whack on the head with an ordinary waddy
was, in the great majority of cases, merely a temporary inconvenience.
It required a full-powered blow with a war waddy provided with
projecting knobs to do any serious damage. A favorite pastime with the
blacks, and one that was often witnessed by the early white pioneers was
the single combat with hardwood waddies. Armed with these weapons two
men would advance from opposing mobs, and would take it turn and turn
about to smite each other on their unprotected skulls, while their
respective partisans stamped their feet and yelled encouragement to each
doughty champion. The contest went on until one or other went down and
out under the constant repetition of heavy blows rattling on the crown
of his skull.

Many a time had the Abercrombie natives fought in this way, both in
single combat and in the melee against the Kurrajong blacks, and had
invariably defeated them. Accordingly, after discharging all their
spears at the bullocks, they advanced with much shouting, much poking
out of derisive chins, much flinging up of arms that brandished waddies,
and much stamping of feet upon the principal chaplain's rich pasture
land. The dispositions hastily carried out by Wonga were very simple.
The gins and the piccaninnies were retired to the rear, and the six
Kurrajong blacks were drawn up in line upon a slight eminence, facing
the enemy.

After a vast amount of capering and prancing the biggest of the
Abercrombie natives dashed out from his comrades and made a rush at
Wonga.

Whizz! Crack! The hard wood waddy descended with great force on Wonga's
skull, and the Kurrajong man staggered under the mighty blow, and almost
fell.

Almost, but not quite. Gathering himself together, Wonga swung his arm,
and brought his weapon down upon his assailant's cranium. The
Abercrombie man's skull was split in two, as a red, gum log is split by
the axe of the sleeper cutter, and the Abercrombie man fell dead in the
face of friends and foes.

It appeared to the main body of the wondering assailants that the leader
of the despised Kurrajongs was the possessor of some particularly potent
magic. Or else some secret enemy had surreptitiously directed a
'pointing bone' at the unfortunate victim. Still, their blood was up.
Magic or no magic, they intended to have a slap at the accursed
Kurrajong men, who had no business to be in their neighbors' country.

So with loud yells of defiance the eleven survivors rushed to the
attack, believing that they would have but little difficulty in
annihilating the enemy, after which they would waddy the gins, as a
precautionary measure, and then drag them off to hunt for white grubs
and wild honey, and to bake the 'possum in his skin for their lords.

But the Abercrombie natives, few of whom had ever seen a white man, paid
the dreadful penalty which nature levies upon ignorance, even when it is
not the fault of the ignorant. Dashing in with their waddies, they
struck blows, any of which would have felled a white man.

Yet the blows rebounded from the skulls of the Kurrajong men like
hailstones from a pavement, and in reply came slashing strokes that tore
through bone and flesh and sinew, making the hot blood spout, and
wrapping those stout-hearted warriors in that red mist of forgetfulness
which so quickly merges into the black night of death.

Four of the Abercrombie men staggered back with arms and shoulders
slashed and gashed. They fairly turned tail and disappeared into the
bush amid yells of derision from the victors. The other seven hapless
blackfellows from the west were either dead already or rolling in their
death agonies, while the six Kurrajong men, all of whom had emerged from
the fray unwounded, stamped and capered and grinned, in a perfect
ecstacy of triumph.

They brandished aloft the weapons that had given them the victory, the
steel tomahawks of the white men. The weapons of the Iron Age had
triumphed over the weapons of the Stone Age, and once again was
demonstrated the great vital fact that knowledge was power.

Captain Jack and his men rode out into the open as soon as the fight was
over.

"Poor devils," said the Captain to Tristram, as he turned over the dead
body of the attacking leader with his toe. "He was beaten by the man
with the better weapon. The waddy against the tomahawk, the shotgun of
an untrained man against the bayoneted musket of the frilled soldier.
The end must be the same in both cases."

He looked down into the dead face of the savage. "Perhaps you had your
dreams, too," he said; "who knows."

The insurgents found four cattle and half a dozen sheep that had escaped
the spears of the blackfellows. These animals the victorious Kurrajong
men drove briskly forward with many hilarious shouts, and a great
display of gleaming teeth.

Also, having found a sheep that had been speared to death, they halted
and cut it up, and lit a fire and broiled the meat. And having feasted
heartily on good fresh mutton, they set out again with their chattering
gins and globular little picaninnies, in the track of the main body of
the horsemen, who were advancing towards the unexplored valley of the
Abercrombie River.



CHAPTER XIV.--HOW MARY WENT TO THE ABERCROMBIE RIVER.


From the verandah from his private house of dressed stone on the right
bank of the Hawkesbury, Jonathan could see the approach of the
Government cutter, and with his spy glass he could make out the two
ladies sitting in the stern. The elder lady was Mrs. Cuthbert, whom he
had met at the Governor's King's birthday ball--the Sybil Granger of
long ago. The younger one he recognised as Major Cuthbert's niece, Miss
Mary Fitzharding. He knew her well by sight, and had seen her on the
night of the entertainment.

They were accompanying Major Cuthbert, who was probably coming to
inspect the small detachment of troops quartered in the neighborhood to
protect the settlers from the Cameragal blacks. On such occasions
Jonathan Wylie was accustomed to dispense hospitality to the
distinguished visitors. He called out to his wife, bidding her to
prepare for the ladies, and Mrs. Wylie hastily set the antimacassars
straight on the backs of the chairs in the parlor, took off her blue
cotton apron, and put on her best company manners.

After a dish of tea for the ladies on the verandah and something
stronger for the Major, who smacked his lips and then went off to
interview the lieutenant in charge of the detachment, Mrs. Wylie, at a
signal from her husband, retired to the kitchen, and Jonathan found
himself alone with the two ladies on the verandah.

"Mr. Wylie," said Mrs. Cuthbert, "I must tell you that Miss Mary
Fitzharding is much interested in the young man, Tristram Trevithick, of
whom I spoke to you in Sydney."

Jonathan nodded his head and waited.

"Since it is necessary that you should know," she said, "I may say that
Miss Fitzharding has the strongest personal regard for the young man,
and is much distressed at his disappearance."

Mr. Wylie blinked comprehendingly. He began to see how the land lay.
That very pretty young lady was in love with Tristram Trevithick, but
she had no idea that the tall, grey-eyed woman who sat beside her was
his mother.

Mary could not remain quiet any longer. "Oh! Do help us to find where he
is, Mr. Wylie. That is why we have come here to see you," and then she
went on passionately, "I simply cannot bear this awful suspense any
longer."

Whether it was conscious reason, or some subtle sixth sense, that had
guided Mrs. Cuthbert and Mary to Jonathan Wylie, they could not possibly
have told, but it was a fact all the same that they had gone to the one
man in all New South Wales who was most likely to be able to help them.

Mr. Wylie possessed a long list of acquaintances among the shady portion
of the population of the colony, as well as among the respectable class.
He knew every emancipist settler, as well as every free settler, between
his own place and Richmond. He knew most of the casual nomads of the
river, too, and those whom he did not know usually knew him.
Consequently, he had extensive sources of information. "There's a man
splitting posts for me out in the paddock just now," said Mr. Wylie,
reflectively, "who very likely knows where Tristram Trevithick is to be
found. I'll bring him up."

Presently be returned to the verandah with a tall, shambling,
shifty-eyed individual, who looked furtively and distrustfully at the
ladies, and positively refused to open his mouth in their presence. So
Jonathan took him round to the side verandah and cross-examined him
privately, after which he presented him with a glass of rum, and sent
him back to the wood pile happy.

Returning to the ladies, Jonathan reported the result of his enquiry.
"That was Bill Matthews, mum," he said. "Bill's wife is second cousin to
a man named Peter Black, who took to the bush some months ago."

"Took to the bush," exclaimed Mary, innocently. "What for?"

"To get a living without working for it, miss," said Jonathan,
sardonically. "To transfer property from them as 'as it to them as
'asn't."

"Oh, to be a highway robber, you mean?"

"Yes, miss, that's about it. Well, this 'ere Bill Matthews, he saw Peter
Black a few days ago--on the day that Mr. Cleverden's overseer got shot
in the Fish River country--and Peter Black told him that Captain Jack
picked up a young fellow in the Kurrajong forest, and took him along, to
join the regiment. He didn't know the young fellow's name, but he told
me Peter Black's description of him, and it's your young man, miss,
axin' your pardon, sure enough."

Mary's eyes opened wide in astonishment, and Mrs. Cuthbert put in a
quick question. "But who is Captain Jack?" she said, "and which, is his
regiment?"

"I can't tell you who he is, mum, and I don't know anyone in the colony,
'ceptin' p'raps the Governor, who could answer that question, but I can
tell you about 'is regiment, the Ragged Regiment, they call it. It's to
fight to upset the Government, and to set up a republic for the 'ole of
New South Wales outside the Blue Mountains. Captain Jack is the leader
of the Bathurst insurrection. 'E had eight men under 'im last week, but
Bill Matthews sez that they didn't look forward to the job of standin'
up to the regulars, and most of them deserted. There ain't above twenty
left, he told me, but your young man is one of them, miss."

Mary Fitzharding felt something clutching at her throat. Tristram was
with some crazy fanatic who dreamed of breaking the power of Britain and
establishing a republic in New South Wales, with himself at the head of
it. She must go to her lover: she must warn him of the madness of the
adventure. She must tell him that he was free from the stain of blood
that Jim the Sealer was alive and well.

"Where is Captain Jack's regiment now?" she asked with, the old resolute
light in her blue eyes.

"I couldn't e'zactly say, miss," replied Wylie. "I axed Bill Matthews if
he knew, but all he could tell me was that they were in the Fish River
country, when the young feller rode into the camp with Captain Jack. I
reckon they'd not stop there long, though, after the accident to the
overseer. Seems to me that Captain Jack would probably make west, to
draw the red coats as far as possible, but they'll know all about 'im at
Bathurst."

Mary instantly determined to go to Bathurst, and as the Governor himself
happened to be going there with a strong body-guard to make a personal
enquiry into the strange rumors that had reached him of an insurrection,
she would experience no great difficulty. Mrs. Cuthbert decided to
accompany her husband, who would be in attendance on Governor Macquarie
in his official capacity.

And Mr. Wylie also discovered that he had private business demanding his
attention at the remote little central settlement in the plains beyond
the Blue Mountains.

And so it was that a few days later Mary and Mrs. Cuthbert entered
Bathurst with Governor Macquarie in his great four-horse travelling
carriage, and found the little settlement all agog with excitement. A
meeting had been held that morning at the court-house, and a score of
gentlemen had formed themselves into a corps of volunteer cavalry. The
whole township was ablaze with indignation at the unprovoked murder of
Mr. Cleverden's overseer, and the volunteers, who were well armed, and
had accepted the leadership of Mr. Rutter, holder of one of the largest
runs in the district, clamored to be led against Captain Jack's band.

A desperate idea came into Mary Fitzharding's brain, and refused to be
banished. She felt a wild longing to visit the camp of the insurgents,
and tell Tristram that he had nothing more to fear on account of Jim the
Sealer, and to implore him to leave the crack-brained fanatic with whom
he had allied himself, and throw himself upon the mercy of the Governor.

And yet, with seething brain and heart on fire, she was compelled to
play the woman's part. She had to watch and wait.

She and Mrs. Cuthbert sat together in the parlor of the small house that
Governor Macquarie occupied on his visits to Bathurst. To Mary's great
surprise, Mrs. Cuthbert was affected more poignantly than herself by the
departure of the cavalry intent on killing or capturing the whole of
Captain Jack's motley regiment, including Tristram. It was Mary who held
Mrs. Cuthbert's hand, and spoke words of encouragement. But she was
puzzled to account for the older woman's terrible nervous tension.

They listened to footsteps in the passage outside. Governor Macquarie
and Major Cuthbert were coming into the room.

"Send word to the Brigade Major in Sydney at once, Cuthbert, to dispatch
that half company of infantry under Captain Cartwright to Bathurst
immediately. They ought to be here in six days at the longest. It's a
good marching road all the way."

"Very good, sir." said Major Cuthbert. '"You do not think, then, that
the volunteer cavalry will be able to deal with the rebels?"

"Volunteer cavalry be d--d," said the choleric Governor. "I want trained
troops under an officer of experience to fight these fellows, who call
themselves insurgents. Remember, we do not know their strength or where
they are likely to be found. A volunteer cavalry would do well enough no
doubt against an attack by blacks, or even a raid by cattle stealers,
but this rebellion must be stamped out by troops, or there's no knowing
where it may spread."

He turned the handle and entered the room as he spoke. "Ah, my dear," he
said, "you here still," pinching Mary's cheek playfully. "I really ought
not to have brought you up to Bathurst this time. The district is in a
state of extreme disorder. But the villains will soon be laid by the
heels, never fear, and I'll warrant that they'll never get up another
rebellion."

Mary shivered, and Mrs. Cuthbert looked at the stern old soldier with
her grey face and burning eyes--eyes that had a question in them.

The younger woman read the question, and put it into words "Then you do
not rely on the Bathurst Volunteer Cavalry to exterminate the rebels,
General?" she said with a brave attempt at an unconcerned smile.

"I do not," returned the old soldier. "I never rely upon civilians for a
job of this kind. You just mark my words. If they ever find Captain
Jack, which is very doubtful, that dangerous madman, who wants to set up
a republic in this British colony, will defy them to subdue his band of
cut-throats and will very likely teach them a bitter lesson."

"And so you are sending for soldiers, General?"

"Ah, I'm afraid you've been listening, my dear, to our State secrets.
Well, since you know it already, I may as well tell you. In a few days
you will see your friend, Captain Cartwright, marching into Bathurst at
the head of 50 regulars with fixed bayonets. Nothing like bayonets to
cool the blood, you know. I shall be much surprised if Captain Jack and
all his men do not throw down their arms and sue for mercy when they see
the bayonets round them."

Mary pressed Mrs. Cuthbert's hand tightly. She intended to find a way to
warn her lover.

Whispering a word of encouragement to the elder woman, she slipped out
of the house, and at the door of the inn across the road saw Jonathan
Wylie harnessing a pair of well-bred horses into a light, strong chaise.
She ran to him at once.

Wylie made no secret of the business that he had in hand.

"It's this way, miss," he explained. "Mr. Rutter has got information
that Captain Jack and his band have marched with cattle, sheep, and
black boys due west in the direction of the Abercrombie River. Mr.
Rutter has two of his own black boys with him, and he reckons that he
will have no trouble in tracking the rebels to their position. So he and
the twenty gentlemen under his command are starting at daybreak, with
one of the black boys as guide. They have engaged me to go forward
to-night with the other black boy, and meet them at Rocky Ridge with
supplies." He opened the 'boot' of the chaise and showed her a big bag
of provisions, a keg of spirits, and about a score of sets of heavy
manacles.

"These are the irons to put on the prisoners," he remarked with a
sardonic grin. "That is to say, if they gets them, miss."

May Fitzharding felt a thrill of expectation. Here was a chance that
must not be missed. She walked up to Jonathan, and put her hand on his
shoulder. "Mr. Wylie," she said, "take me with you."

Of course, Mr. Wylie would not hear of it. He explained to her with
suitable circumlocutions that he had only taken the job in order to keep
in favor with the Government, to ensure a continuance of the lucrative
contracts from which he was deriving considerable wealth down on the
Hawkesbury. But Mr. Wylie was an elderly man, and Mary Fitzharding was a
young and very pretty woman, who had, moreover, a most persuasive way
with her. Jonathan Wylie's protestations that what she asked was
impossible grew fainter and less convincing. As his resistance grew
weaker she pressed him all the more strongly, and at last he faltered,
and consented.

Mary ran back to the Governor's house and told Mrs. Cuthbert of her
desperate project--told her that she intended to visit the rebel
camp--find Tristram Trevithick, and appeal to him by his love for her
and his loyalty to his king and country to leave the mad-brained, rebel
leader to his certain doom.

"Surely," said Mary, "as a free-born Englishman--"

Mrs. Cuthbert quivered under some overpowering emotion, and wrung her
hands despairingly.

"As a free-born Englishman, he cannot take up arms with those insurgents
who are rebelling against the King's Government, if he realises his true
position."

Mary felt that at all costs she must save Tristram from his folly. It
was true that the followers of Captain Jack were no better than a robber
band, but from all that she could hear, Captain Jack himself stood on a
different plane. Wild-eyed visionary though he might be, he was at least
sincere in his mad programme. He plainly believed in the sacred right of
rebellion, which is a virtue when successful, and a crime when it leads
to failure. Hence, she told herself, Tristram, who had been taken into
the rebel regiment by Captain Jack, was naturally inspired by Captain
Jack's peculiar views. In no other way was his presence with the band
intelligible. He might be an insurgent, but at least he was not a common
cattle thief. She felt the blood rise to her neck, as the thought formed
itself in her brain.

"My dear," said Mrs. Cuthbert, looking at the girl in front of her and
dimly realising the struggle that was going on in her heart. "Whatever
else that young man may be, believe me, he is the soul of honor; every
single action has proved it. If he is a rebel against the Government, it
is because he feels that the acts of the Government are often cruel,
harsh, intolerable."

"Oh, hush, auntie, hush. If anybody should hear you."

"But, it is true," said Mrs. Cuthbert wildly. "The awful
punishments--the lash, ordered so often and with such sickening ferocity
by a minister of Christ's gospel; the executions for most trifling
offences; the horrors of the iron gang, when men who break under the
strain of the mountain roadmaking are knocked on the head and thrown
into the deep, dark chasms they have helped to bridge--surely these
things are enough to inspire the thought that there must be some better
way of governing our fellow countrymen if only it can be found."

"Aunt, aunt, stop, stop, I beg of you. You do not know what you are
saying. You are talking treason." Mary Fitzharding was absolutely
horrified. "Cannot you understand that severity is necessary in this
settlement?"

"Perhaps I can," said Mrs. Cuthbert, "but I can also understand the
feelings of those who experience the severity. I am quite sure that
Tristram Trevithick burns with a noble sympathy for those unhappy
people. Mary, because--because--"

"What is it you are trying to say, auntie?"

"Because I feel the same sympathy in every fibre of my own body," said
the other woman hoarsely, and then she turned and covered her face with
her hands.

"You are quite overwrought, aunt," said Mary coldly; "you must go and
lie down. I am going to Tristram now. I have arranged with Mr. Wylie
that he shall take me with him. He is driving in a carriage with
supplies for the volunteer cavalry under Mr. Rutter, and with irons for
the rebels, of whom Tristram shall not be one if I can help it."

She hurried out of the room to make a few simple preparations for her
adventurous journey, and, crossing the road, found Jonathan just getting
into the Chaise.

"Jump in, miss," said Jonathan, as he gathered up the reins. "We are to
meet Crib, the black boy, at the foot of the range, and he will find the
tracks of Captain Jack's band easy enough."

"When we find the rebel camp my orders are to keep well under cover and
wait until Mr. Rutter and his cavalry come up. The gentlemen are of
opinion that the rebels will show fight, of course, but they think that
the fight will not last long, and then there will be nothing to do but
put the irons on the men and march them back to Bathurst. Ha, ha."

Again Mr. Wylie laughed that unpleasant laugh of his. Plainly, he
anticipated that the volunteer cavalry would be disagreeably surprised.

It was ten o'clock at night when they picked up Crib, the black boy, who
jogged on silently ahead of them. There was a bright moon, and the
tracks of the rebel regiment with their horses, sheep, and cattle, were
easy to follow. Slowly among the rocks and faster across the infrequent
patches of level ground they headed steadily westward for the wild and
almost unexplored region of the distant Abercrombie. All night long they
travelled this, and Mary dozed uneasily, and dreamed terrible dreams in
the lurching, lumbering chaise. At sunrise Jonathan Wylie pulled up his
horse, and announced a short halt. The horses were fed and watered at
the creek to which Crib had guided the party. The black boy pointed to
where the bank of the creek had been recently broken away below them by
the hoofs of many animals. The thirsty creatures had trodden the bed of
the creek into thick mud. The tracks were only a few hours old.

Jonathan lit a fire, and made tea in a billy. He set out a frugal
breakfast for himself and Mary--damper and broiled mutton and tea. Mary
ate the rough food with a keen appetite. Crib breakfasted handsomely off
the mutton bone.

After a halt of an hour they started again, the black telling Jonathan
that they would reach the Abercrombie by nightfall. They camped at
midday for a little while in the shade of a big gum tree, and pushed on
all through the hot afternoon into the rough broken country and towards
the low haze-enveloped ranges in the distance. Behind those ranges was
the river, where Jonathan intended to camp for the night at a safe
distance from Captain Jack.

Not that he really feared Captain Jack, with whom he was perfectly
acquainted, and with whose aim he was quite in sympathy, though he
dissembled that fact very successfully. Ostensibly a loyal supporter of
the official class, with whose assistance he was making a large fortune,
as contractor for supplies, he was at heart a friend to all whose hand
was against the Government.

He was carrying supplies for Mr. Rutter's volunteer cavalry, and irons
for their expected prisoners, solely as a matter of business, and
because he was backing the rebels to win in the coming battle, so long
as they were not confronted by regulars.

Towards evening the weary horses dragged the chaise to a little hollow
in the hill, where Jonathan proposed to camp for the night. Crib, the
black boy, pointed to a spiral of blue smoke rising from the bank of the
river a mile away.

"Cap'en Jacka, sit down alonga big creek," he remarked, "plenty big mob
white fellers, my word. Gottem plenty pundasticks."

This was disquieting news, but Mary Fitzharding did not falter in her
progress. After the evening meal, which she ate sitting on a rock with
old Jonathan beside the chaise, while the horses, unharnessed and
knee-haltered, grazed contentedly, and the black boy knawed his bone a
dozen yards away. Mary made ready to visit the rebel's camp.

Taking leave of Wylie, and assuring him that she was perfectly safe, she
left the hollow and climbed the crest of the hill, that looked down over
a rocky gorge. The moon was nearly full, and the night was clear and
still. Yet, as the girl topped the crest of the hill she could see
nothing but the outline of more ranges stretching away into the night.

Walking steadily forward she came to a sheer precipitous rock, that made
her start back in surprise. Plainly the route from that side was
impracticable. She retraced her steps, and followed the line of the
ridge, until it began to dip gently.

She descended the sloping ground and climbed the second range a little
lower than the first one. Clambering down the further side she found
herself in a narrow gully, which she followed until it opened at last
into the valley of the Abercrombie, at some little distance higher up
stream than the rebel camp.

Then she made out the lie of the country. Between the river and the
precipitous cliffs was a lower ridge of spur running at right angles to
the course of the river and to the steep face of the range. Between the
end of this spur and the precipitous rocky place was a stretch of marshy
ground--a regular morass. The extreme end of the ridge, in fact, rested
on the morass, which in turn was shut in by the precipice. The other end
of the ridge sloped down towards the river, where the ground was very
rough and broken, interspersed with huge boulders. Behind the ridge was
a stretch of grassy open country, and there she could see the dark shape
of horses and cattle grazing.

The girl began to understand that the ground was of such a nature as to
favor even a small body of defenders. The rocks along the ridge afforded
ample cover, and the defenders were safeguarded by the morass and
precipice from a flanking movement on their right. But Mary was no
tactician. She simply recognised that Captain Jack had established
himself in a position which would enable him to defy an attack except by
a greatly superior force. She was vaguely irritated by the man's
cleverness in taking up such a strong natural position. She walked back
along the back of the ridge and through the grazing horses and cattle
without seeing a soul.

As she approached the camp fires on the river bank a figure started up
from the ground in front of her and a gun was levelled at her head.
"Halt!" said a clear young voice. "Who are you, and what do you want?
Speak, or I fire."

"Tristram, do not fire," said Mary, with a shrill cry. "It is I." Then
she staggered forward and fell into the arms of Captain Jack's amazed
lieutenant.

In a moment the pair were surrounded by angry, threatening faces. The
cut-throats who had taken service under Captain Jack were all in a state
of extreme nervous tension. Their apprehensions of intending attack were
so overpowering that they would have welcomed the end of their suspense.
But who was this woman and how had she reached that lonely spot which
was far from the nearest settled district of the colony? A spy, of
course. A spy who had come to find out their arrangements and to report
to the enemy's forces. More than one of the bearded ruffians muttered
horrible curses and loudly declared that the spy should not leave the
camp alive.

In the circle of the camp fire's light Mary stood at Tristram's side,
facing those who sought to take her life as the necessary price of their
own safety.

"Shoot, if you like," she said, confronting the dark, scowling faces
round her with haughty pride as well as unflinching courage. "I am a
woman and unarmed. I have no wish to do you injury. But first let me
speak. I come to warn you all, but particularly my friend here, whose
honor is as dear to me as his safety."

Louder and more threatening rose the murmurs. "She's a--spy," said a
beetle browed ruffian brutally, but the words had hardly left his lips
when Tristram's fist shot out and sent him to earth with a crash.

The man was struggling to his feet and groping dazedly for his gun, when
into the excited group in front of the leaping flames of the camp fire,
strode Captain Jack himself, with his beaver in one hand, and his pistol
in the other.

"I ask your pardon, madame, for the rudeness of my fellows," he said
with a polite bow to Mary, "and as for you, Joe Greening, keep a more
civil tongue in your head if you want to keep the breath in your body."

Joe slunk into the background, muttering dire threats, and presently all
the other men followed his example, leaving Captain Jack and Tristram
alone with Mary Fitzharding in the glow of the light from the burning
log.

"Now, madame," said Captain Jack, with somewhat chilly politeness, "may
I venture to enquire the nature of the circumstance that has procured
for me the honor of a visit from one whom I am able to recognise as a
member of Governor Macquarie's own household?"

"Sir," said Mary Fitzharding firmly, "this is no time for polite
phrases. My name you appear to know already, and I live in the house of
the Governor of this territory who you are defying in arms."

"By the Lord, you speak bravely," said Captain Jack with a smile, "but I
must needs bow to your perspicacity, for you express the situation
correctly enough."

"I do not know who you are," said Mary quietly. "I only know that people
call you Captain Jack, and say that you cherish a wild dream of
establishing a republican form of government in this territory after
overthrowing the forces of the British King. But I can see that you are
a man of education and refinement, and I ask you to believe what I have
come here, taking my life in my hands, to say to you."

She looked wonderfully beautiful as she stood there with her lover
beside her, facing the dark-haired rebel leader, whose flashing eyes of
Irish blue looked frank homage into her own.

"And I will answer for this lady's honorable conduct with my life," said
Tristram with a ring of utter sincerity in his voice.

Captain Jack bowed slightly, but said nothing. He was deeply moved, but
the lives of the men under him were at stake. He realised that if he
allowed this beautiful woman to outwit him, their lives and his own and
the cause that was dearer to him than life itself, would be lost.

"Captain." said Mary Fitzharding, "let me prove my sincerity to you. I
have come to tell you that to-morrow at latest you will be attacked by
an armed body of volunteers hastily raised at Bathurst."

Captain Jack curved his lips scornfully. "I do not fear them." he said.

"They have brought sets of irons with them to manacle their prisoners
before they march them back to Bathurst Gaol. The irons are now in the
chaise that brought them here in the hollow beyond the second hill.
Jonathan Wylie and a black boy are with the chaise now."

"Ah." The captain's jaw stiffened. So his enemies were closing in upon
him at last. Well, the sooner the better. He had not thought it of
Jonathan Wylie, though.

"The volunteer cavalry are all well mounted and well armed." said Mary.
"They are brave men, that I know."

Captain Jack smiled and tapped the butt of his pistol. "It will be a
fair fight," he said, with an air of almost exultation.

"But I have something further to tell you," said Mary, "and I tell it to
you now in all sincerity, so that you may disband your men while there
is yet time, and perhaps find safety for yourself in some other country.
The Governor has ordered a detachment of troops to be sent up from
Sydney. They will be here in a few days, and brave though you and your
men may be, you will be overpowered by superior strength. You cannot
stand against three times the number of trained and disciplined
regulars."

At that there was silence for a few tense moments. Then Captain Jack
spoke: "Madam," he said. "I am greatly beholden to you for this
information. As for your friend here, Mr. Trevithick, he is at liberty
to go. He joined us of his own free will, at his own free will he may
leave us. But this at least I must tell you. I and my men will abide the
issue, whatever it may be."

Mary Fitzharding looked in wonder at the rebel captain, who stood up so
straight before her. He seemed to have grown several inches taller. In
spite of herself she could not help admiring him at that moment.

"And now, madam, with your permission, I will take my leave. I thank you
for your warning, but I cannot accept it. Regulars or irregulars we
shall treat them all alike. Such poor entertainment as I and my men can
afford them shall be theirs." He bowed low. He kissed her hand. He
walked away out of the circle of light from the burning log into the
darkness.

Left alone with Tristram, Mary Fitzharding placed her hand on the young
man's arm.

"Tristram," she said, and her voice vibrated with emotion as she spoke
his name. "I have done this thing for your sake. You have nothing to do
with these unhappy men. Give up this mad enterprise and come with me,
before it is too late. I have horses and a travelling chaise in the
hollow over the hill. Jonathan Wylie is there. At a word from me he will
drive us away--together. Come, for I love you." She bowed her head
before him. She took his hands in hers.

The young man flushed, and drew himself up. "Mary," he said, "there are
some things that a man cannot do, even for love of the noblest woman in
the world. A man who is truly a man cannot desert his comrades in arms."

She looked at him proudly again. "I came to tell you in the first
place," she said, "that the man whom you struck down did not die--you
are guiltless of his blood."

"Thank God for that," he said fervently. "The thought of blood upon my
hands, though I shed it in self-defence, has weighed heavily upon me.
You have lifted a load from my heart."

"Then why not come with me?" She pleaded. "Tristram, my dear one. I know
the story of your birth."

He started at that. A look of horrified incredulity came over her face.
"Mrs. Trevithick told me of it," she continued in a low voice, that was
scarcely more than a whisper. "It makes no difference to me. I love
you--for yourself."

Could any living man resist such an appeal as that? He took her in his
arms and kissed her on the lips. "Mary," he said, "You have made it
doubly hard for me to give up life as well as love. But for me there is
one thing that is more than either love or life, and that is honor. I
have pledged myself to this cause whatever its rights or wrongs may be,
and I cannot break my pledge. I am a soldier now. I cannot desert my
colors in the face of the enemy. Do not ask me, you who are my love, my
life. Good-bye."

She stood there dazed and helpless. So all her love and all her courage
could not avail to move him, and yet she realised at last that she had
asked a hard thing. But she, too, was proud. She, too, had honor to
think of.

"So be it, Tristram," she answered, "whatever happens, remember that I
love you and tried to save you, and now farewell."

They kissed long and passionately. She left him, and half-blinded by her
tears walked away from the firelight where he stood looking after her,
and out from the rebel ramp into the night.

Two hours afterwards she reached the chaise in the lonely hollow behind
the hill. Wylie and the black boy were sleeping stretched upon the
ground. She wrapped herself in her long travelling cloak and lay down on
the bare earth beside the chaise.

Far into the night, with sleepless, questioning eyes, she looked upwards
to the stars--those inscrutable stars that see so much and tell nothing.



CHAPTER XV.--THE BATTLE ON THE ABERCROMBIE RIVER.


It was the afternoon of the following day when Crib, the black boy,
reported the approach of horsemen from the east.

Jonathan and Mary climbed the hut ridge behind the hollow, descended the
gully and climbed the opposite hill. They saw Mr. Rutter and his
volunteer cavalry riding in very straggling order along the rugged and
boulder-strewn bank of the Abercrombie. The men were about a mile from
the rebel position, when Wylie and the girl first saw them.

Mr. Rutter halted his squadron out of sight of the rebels, and appeared
to be giving them instructions. The leader, with ten men, went on slowly
at a walking pace directly towards the front of the position. The other
half of the squadron, riding in single file, made a detour to the right
and followed the course of the river, which took a wide bend away from
the spur that formed Captain Jack's line of defence.

"Ho. That's the move, is it?" said Wylie excitedly to Miss Fitzharding.

"Rutter is going to attack them in front, and the other men are to
outflank Captain Jack's left and get round behind them so as to cut off
their retreat. Not a bad move either." Most of Captain Jack's men were
down on the bank of the river smoking and discussing the outlook, when
one of the cavalry horses, in picking his way along the precipitous
river bank, stood on a loose stone, which clattered over the edge of the
bank and rattled down into the bed of the Abercrombie.

The sound alarmed the rebels, who seized their guns and rushed for cover
on the ridge. From the crest of the high ground they looked down to the
left upon the river bank, and saw the leaders of the straggling column
coming slowly through the light scrub that fringed the water.

Big Peter, lying prone on the top of the ridge, thrust the barrel of his
gun through the crevice between two and covered the foremost horseman.
Waiting until the cavalryman was well in range, he fired. The
cavalryman's horse, hit in the shoulder by the full charge of heavy
slugs, toppled over with a crash, pinning the rider's leg between the
saddle and the ground.

In an instant the whole line was thrown into confusion.

If the rest of the flanking party had galloped resolutely forward they
might have traversed the narrow danger zone between the river and the
edge of the ridge, and got in behind the rebels, turning their position,
cutting off their retreat, and taking them in the rear. But with their
leader down they faltered. There was no one to rally them. They paused
irresolutely and began to fall back. Big Peter, by his prompt action,
had caused the failure of the flanking movement.

The big grey horse in the light scrub made a frantic attempt to rise,
and in its struggles liberated the imprisoned rider, who crawled under
cover. But, with a broken shoulder, the grey was powerless, and his
rider, creeping forward at the risk of his life, pistolled him and put
him out of his pain. Then he crawled back behind his friendly rock, and
presently rejoined his main party, who were retreating upon Mr. Rutter's
half squadron.

Bitterly disappointed at the failure of his manoeuvre, the leader of the
volunteer cavalry ordered his men to dismount and take cover. They left
their horses in the rear and advanced carefully, dodging from tree to
tree and from rock to rock.

Then began an ineffective fusillade on the part of the attackers, who
blazed away at the rebels in position upon the higher ground. Captain
Jack had prepared his line of defence by rolling the rocks from the bed
of the river to the crest of the ridge. Behind these rocks the rebels
lay perfectly protected, and through the narrow loopholes they pushed
the barrels of their guns, and fired at the enemy whenever they saw an
exposed head.

They had plenty of ammunition and could afford to keep up a steady fire.

The volunteer cavalry men fought at a great disadvantage. They were
entirely untrained in military work. They were encumbered with breeches,
boots and spurs, and they were obliged to economise powder and shot, for
each man had brought no more than 20 rounds, and no further supply was
available. Mr. Rutter had not calculated upon having to fight a pitched
battle.

The rebels, on the other hand, with plenty of ammunition, and a prepared
position, had all the best of it. More-over, most of them were hardy
rascals, inured to exposure, and as hard as nails. They fought, too,
with the knowledge that defeat meant for every survivor the hangman's
rope. Captain Jack, behind the parapet of rocks, cheered them on. The
light of battle shone in his eye. He loaded and fired his musket like a
man possessed.

Tristram, who lay next to the leader on the extreme right, fired
whenever he could see a living target, in the light rock strewn scrub in
front of the position. His blood was up. He was carried away by the
rapture of combat, and it was plain to him that the defenders were far
more than holding their own. A loud cheer from Peter Black heralded a
successful shot. He had broken the arm of an incautious volunteer with a
bullet. Big Peter was blood-drunk. He was mad to kill--to kill as many
as possible of the hated gentleman riders, who had gone out of their way
to pursue Captain Jack and his band. Why did not they leave such work to
the 'lobsters,' whose trade it was? Peter had a presentiment that his
own end was not far off. He intended to make the best use of the time
that remained to him.

After half an hour's firing three of the attackers had been wounded, and
on the part of the defenders, beetle-browed Joe Greening had lost a
thumb, and a bullet had carried away half of Ben Dawson's right ear. The
smoke hung so heavily over both firing lines that it was difficult to
see anyone to shoot at.

The fire of the assailants slackened perceptibly. It was plain that they
were feeling the want of ammunition.

Captain Jack muttered to Tristram:--"Now is our chance, lad, for a
decisive counter-stroke. What say you to a charge? We shall have them at
our mercy? Their powder and shot is nearly finished." The blood danced
in Tristram's veins. A charge! Yes. He would like to die charging. That
way better than any other.

The rebels' horses had been brought up to the rear of the position, and
were being held in readiness for just such a moment as this by the
excited black boys.

Tristram grasped the long cavalry sword that Captain Jack had given him,
and his heart bounded at the prospect. At a whistle from Captain Jack
the blacks led up the horses, and the rebels hastily collected their
long knives and sharpened billhooks. God help the volunteer cavalrymen
with their ammunition spent if the cut-throats got amongst them.

But just as they were preparing to mount, a ringing cheer burst from the
attackers, and Captain Jack paused before giving the order.

A puff of wind blew away the smoke of the slackened fusillade, and
yonder at the rear of the cavalrymen, crouching behind their rocks, came
a detachment of redcoats at the double, with the sunlight glinting on
their bayonets.

A strident word of command was flung out upon the wind. Then came a line
of quivering flashes and the roar of a volley as fifty heavy musket
balls rattled on the rocks in front of the defenders. William Blunt fell
back dead with a ball in his brain, and Ben Dawson was on the ground
writhing and shrieking.

The regulars had fired over the heads of the volunteer cavalry, and
their timely appearance had stopped the counterstroke that Captain Jack
had determined should be decisive. It was a fine piece of work for
Captain Cartwright to march his men all the way from Sydney through that
rugged and unknown country. In another few minutes he would have been
too late to save the helpless volunteer cavalry from annihilation.

But it was a bitter disappointment for Captain Jack.

Jonathan Wylie and Mary Fitzharding perching unseen on the crest of the
great cerrated range that looked down upon the valley of the
Abercrombie, heard the crash of the volley and at once divined what had
happened.

"It must be Cartwright," said Mary with a groan. "Cartwright and the
regulars. The end cannot be far off now."

But Captain Jack, even yet, was not dismayed? "Never mind the cursed
lobsters, boys," he called cheerily. "Our guns are just as good as
theirs. As long as we keep under cover they cannot touch us, and we can
send them all to kingdom come if they try to storm the position in
front."

The rebels realised the truth of the captain's words, and they clenched
their teeth. In a few hours more it would be darkness. If they could
hold off the attack on their front for two hours they might ride away to
safety. Their line of retreat was open, and in that rugged country they
could defy pursuit of either cavalry or infantry.

By Captain Jack's orders, five men took post at the extreme left of the
line, making a new front on the flank, to command the approach on the
river bank, and ensure that the regulars should not succeed in the
flanking attack, that had been a failure when attempted by the volunteer
cavalry. The remaining eight resumed their places on the front to hold
the fire of the enemy in check, and to hurl back the stormers if
storming should be attempted. The rebel right was completely protected
by the morass that ran up to the precipitous cliffs of the range on
which Mary and Wylie were standing. Two of the rebels had been killed by
the first volley of the infantry. The little force was consequently
reduced to thirteen all told.

Captain Jack looked round and counted his men. He was intensely
superstitious, like most of his race. His brow clouded as he tallied the
unlucky number. Yet he made no comment. "Now, boys, we're ready for
them," was all that he said. "I want to know how they can get us out of
this?"

The fusilade recommenced intermittently, but the fire of the attackers
seemed half-hearted. They were seventy men against thirteen, and a bold,
determined rush might well have carried the position, though not, of
course, without heavy losses, which it was the duty of a prudent
commander to avoid if possible.

The black-browed Captain Cartwright, though by no means an engaging
character in private life, knew his business as a soldier. He had a good
eye for country, and was a thorough tactician, while his personal
bravery was undoubted. He had made up his mind to carry out this job to
the full satisfaction of Governor Macquarie, who had specially
recommended him for the command.

His first move was to send out a couple of cavalry scouts on each side
of the line of advance to reconnoitre the country, and, if possible, to
discover a practicable route for troops. This he did immediately upon
his arrival at the scene of action. The scouts sent out on the right
reported that by reason of the unclimbable ranges and blind gullies an
enormous detour would have to be made on that side before the rebels
could be enveloped. It could be done, certainly, but it would mean a
march of at least twelve hours, through extremely difficult country.

The cavalry men sent out on the left, however, brought back much more
cheering news. They had found a hollow behind the second range, and in
the hollow they had found a travelling chaise and a pair of well-bred
horses grazing. Further search had brought to light an elderly man and a
young woman perched on the summit of the first hill across the
intervening gully.

Here was news, indeed. Captain Cartwright leaving orders that the
fusilade should be continued, so that the suspicions of the rebels might
not be aroused, leaped on his horse, and galloped off to the hollow. He
was guided by the two cavalry men, and he took with him his own black
tracker, Berrilong. In the meantime Mary and Wylie had left their rocky
outlook. They were faint with hunger. They had come back to the hollow
to get a few mouthfuls of food.

Cartwright saw the two figures in the distance, and drawing nearer, to
his amazement, he recognised Jonathan Wylie and Mary Fitzharding. The
captain had been well supplied with information and had discovered that
Tristram Trevithick had joined Captain Jack's band. The fact inspired
him with fresh ardor for the attack. And now he found this extraordinary
young woman who had attracted his fancy in bygone days, evidently acting
in concert with the rebel chiefs lieutenant, and aiding and abetting the
insurrection. It gave Captain Cartwright food for serious thought.

"It is as great a surprise as it is a pleasure to meet Miss Mary
Fitzharding so far from the diversions at the town," he began, with a
clumsy attempt at irony.

But Mary quickly cut him short. "Whatever you have to say to me, sir,"
she answered, "say it briefly and go. I have no desire to resume an
acquaintanceship which was so disagreeable while it lasted."

Cartwright was stung to the quick by this very direct reference to his
unpardonable behaviour at their last meeting. "Very well, madam," he
said in his curt, official, soldierly tone. "Since you will have it so,
I am here by order of the Governor and Captain-General to capture, dead
or alive, the persons of these so-called insurgents, who have been
defying his Britannic Majesty's Government in this territory, and who
are mad enough to dream of setting up the detestable institution of a
republic in its place. I am now conducting a military operation in
accordance with my instructions. My purpose here is to ascertain a
practicable route for my troops through these mountains. I strongly
suspect that you have recently visited the camp of the rebels, among
whom, by the way, is a certain Tristram Trevithick, whose presence is
doubtless responsible for your country tour."

Mary turned white at that and stamped her foot impatiently. "Enough, sir
enough. My private affairs are not concern of yours.

"I require you, therefore, now to point out to me the route by which you
reached the camp from this hollow."

"And if I refuse the information?"

"If you refuse, madam, it will be my disagreeable duty to order you
under instant arrest."

"You dare not do it, Captain Cartwright. Recollect, sir, that I am a
loyal subject of the King and a member of his Excellency's household."

"I recollect, madam," returned the captain dryly, "what you have
yourself apparently forgotten. Your presence in this place is
incompatible with your professions."

"I have no information to give you, sir. Take what course you please.
You shall answer for it at the proper time."

The captain was thoroughly exasperated, but he knew that he held the
winning card, and he could afford to deal his blow with a courteous
mien.

"Gentlemen," he said, addressing the two volunteer cavalry men, "I
require you to arrest this lady, and to hold her in safe keeping pending
further instructions. I have reason to believe that she has furnished
the rebels with information, in addition to refusing it to myself when I
demanded it in the name of the Government. That is conduct for which
this lady will be required to answer."

The two cavalry men looked at each other irresolutely. Mr. Purfleet and
Mr. Beddington had not bargained for such an unpleasant duty as this
when they joined the volunteer cavalry. But there was no way of escape.
With embarrassment on every line of their faces, they placed themselves,
one on each side of Mary Fitzharding.

"I am afraid you must regard yourself as our prisoner, madam," said Mr.
Purfleet, the senior of the two, a benevolent elderly gentleman, with a
very red face, a very stiff stock, and very muddy boots and breeches. He
looked anything but a soldier.

Mary favored him with a frank smile. "As you please, sir," she said. "I
shall not attempt to run away, so you will not find it necessary to
shoot me." She awaited the next move on the part of the captain with
curiosity, but when he spoke she experienced a severe shock.

"And now for our invaluable dusky ally," said Cartwright pleasantly. He
blew a whistle, and Berrilong, the black tracker, emerged from behind
the bluff, where he had been lurking, to take his orders, which Captain
Cartwright speedily explained to him. "The white Mary had walked from
the hollow where they were to the camp where the big mob of white
fellers sat down."

"There she had had a yabber yabber with the white men's boss. Berrilong
was required to track the white Mary's footprints by the route that she
had taken right into the encampment.

"All ri'," said Berrilong, showing his teeth in a wide grin. He bent
down and examined the white Mary's dainty French shoes carefully. Then
he examined the freshly-made prints of the same shoes in the green turf
beside him. He nodded his head with complete confidence, as though to
say that nothing could be easier.

And, indeed, the task was ridiculously easy to that gifted child of
nature. Mary, who had never heard of the ability of the savages in this
matter, turned white with shame and rage, and alarm for the safety of
those whom a few days before she had condemned unreservedly, when she
saw Berrilong, the black, moving off at a brisk springing walk up the
steep side of the range on precisely the line that she had taken that
morning.

She was obliged to remain behind under guard, while Captain Cartwright
followed the black, giving her a parting smile that was in itself an
insult. Far off, on the other side of the hill, she could hear the
intermittent rattle of musketry, muffled by distance.

Reaching the summit of the range the black tracker was momentarily at
fault. Straight in front was the precipitous cliff face, at the foot of
which was a deep blind gully, from which there was no apparent egress.

Cartwright called impatiently to Berrilong to hurry up.

"All ri', boss," said Berrilong, grinning pleasantly. "Mine find 'em
plenty soon, bime by, my word."

He made a wide cast, as a huntsman does to pick up a lost scent, and a
few hundred yards to the left a loud "hiyei," announced to Cartwright
that the line had been hit again.

Forward went the black at a smart pace, and Cartwright, booted and
spurred as he was, had to run to keep up with him. They traversed the
sunless gully, and half a mile further emerged through the narrow
opening and saw the way clear to the rear of the rebel's position.

Whistling to Berrilong, Cartwright made his way back at his best pace,
walking and running alternately, and regained the hollow where Mary
Fitzharding sat on a rock with her two cavaliers in attendance.

The captain mounted his horse and rode back from the hollow, concealed
by a fold in the ground from the defenders of the position. He rode to
the rear of the attacking party, who were maintaining a desultory
fusilade that puzzled the rebel leader considerably.

Captain Jack could not understand why the troops and cavalry, with their
greatly superior numbers, did not storm the position without further
delay. If they held off much longer, he told himself, they would find
the birds flown and the nest empty when they reached it. The rebels line
of retreat was open, and, since they could not hope to defeat such a
strong detachment of trained troops, their best course evidently was to
retire and draw the soldiers on into the mazing network of ranges and
gullies where it might be possible to ambuscade them and destroy them in
detail.

These were the ideas that ran through Captain Jack's mind while a
quarter of a mile away, screened from view by the gently rising ground
in front, Captain Cartwright gave his orders to Lieutenant Merriman, in
charge of a detachment of twenty-five men from the main body.

"See here, Merriman," he said, pointing towards the precipitous hills on
the right of the rebels position, "You will take twenty-five of the rank
and file, with their muskets and bayonets, and also ten of these
gentleman riders, and you will march under cover of the rising ground to
the foot of the second range yonder. Wheeling to the right after you
pass the cliff face, you will find a grassy hollow with a chaise and
pair there, and also Mr. Jonathan Wylie and Miss Mary Fitzharding. The
lady is now in custody for aiding and abetting the rebels."

Lieutenant Merriman opened his mouth to speak, but thought better of it.
Captain Cartwright disliked argument from junior officers.

"You and your men will find the range, and then bear away to the left
for about half a mile, when you will descend into a gully, which has an
exit leading into the open ground at the rear of the rebel position.
Berrilong, the black tracker, is in the hollow and will guide you. Get
into line, under cover, if possible, with the mounted men in your rear,
and be ready to attack the position when you hear our first volley on
the front. I have Captain Jack and his men in the mouse trap at last.
Not a single man of them can escape."

Cartwright indulged in a sinister chuckle while Lieutenant Merriman
hurried off to carry out his orders, and, in a very few minutes was on
the march with his little detachment of horse and foot, to envelop the
enemy by a wide turning movement, and take them in the rear.

After the detachment had passed through the hollow and climbed the hill,
Mary Fitzharding turned her frank, blue eyes upon the susceptible Mr.
Purfleet, and preferred her simple little request. "Would he have any
objection to her climbing the hill, crossing the gully, and then
mounting the hill opposite in order to see what was happening at the
scene of conflict?"

Mr. Purfleet looked enquiringly at his colleague. "I cannot see any
objection; can you, Beddington?"

Mr. Beddington thought heavily for a moment, before admitting that the
proposal appeared to him to be one that they might be safe in assenting
to. So with the two cavalry men in close attendance, and Jonathan Wylie
bringing up the rear, Mary again mounted the second hill, which
commanded a fine view of the operations. Her heart beat fast and high,
as she looked across to the distant ridge where Tristram was lying down
with the rest of the defenders, utterly unconscious of the approach of
Lieutenant Merriman's detachment to take the defence in the rear. It was
like watching a sham fight at the manoeuvres.

She could hardly believe that this conflict was about to be fought in
deadly earnest--not mimic war, but real war. She watched almost maddened
by her sense of helplessness, while Lieutenant Merriman and his
detachment disappeared into the gully guided by Berrilong. If she could
only find some means of letting Tristram know of this new and deadly
danger. Alas, she was a prisoner, and there was no possible way of
communicating with him.

From the great height upon which she stood with Mr. Purfleet and Mr.
Beddington, and Jonathan Wylie, who was hardly less excited than
herself, she could see a great deal more than met the eyes of Captain
Jack and his men.

"Look," said old Mr. Purfleet, mopping his brow with his big, bandanna,
energetically, for the day was hot, and the climb had been a strenuous
one. He pointed to the head of Merriman's little column, just emerging
from the gully. It was still invisible to the defenders. On the front of
the position an ominous silence now reigned, but, in the fold of the
ground which concealed the main attacking party Captain Cartwright was
marshalling his men in a long line that curved slightly towards the
river on the right.

Presently, with watch in hand, he gave the order to advance to the top
of the rising ground. The men crept up on their hands and knees,
dragging their muskets.

The four observers on the top of the range could see the attack being
prepared. They saw something else, too. Captain Jack was uneasy at the
complete cessation of the fusillade and the disappearance of the enemy.
He anticipated a surprise attack in force. Accordingly he had all the
horses brought back again from the valley at the rear of the position,
whither he had sent them at the first appearance of the regulars. The
blackfellows who had been holding the horses brought them up, and each
man took his own mount.

At last the long silence was broken.

Crash! The volleying musketry on the front roared again in the light
timber, but the aim was high, and most of the balls passed over the
heads of the defenders.

"Down with the horses. Make the horses lie down!" shouted Captain Jack.

Each man took hold of his bridle tightly on the horse's withers, and
pulled the animal's head round on the off side, at the same time giving
him a sharp blow on the near-side knee. The horses sank down at once on
their sides, and each rider crouched behind his mount.

Hardly were the defenders in that position, lying behind the line of low
rocks on their front and the horses behind them, when, to their
amazement and despair, a second volley was fired, and this time from
their rear. They realised that they had been outflanked, after all, and
that the enemy was still invisible.

"This is the doing of your lady friend, Tristram," shouted Captain Jack
bitterly. "I was right to mistrust her, after all. She must have guided
the regulars through the mountains."

"I'll wager my life upon Miss Fitzharding's honesty," said Tristram
hotly, "and if I'm wrong I'll pay the wager promptly."

But Captain Jack merely laughed a hard, sardonic laugh. "She's not the
first woman that I have mistrusted, my boy, but I'm pretty certain now
that she will be the last."

Again came a volley from the front, the musket balls rebounding from the
parapet of rocks behind which the defenders crouched secure from the
frontal attack.

But they were not sheltered from the fire of the invisible enemy
concealed in the long grass and brushwood at the rear. The regulars, and
the volunteer cavalry men, who had been formed into an extended line
there, were lying prone on the ground, and firing at the fully exposed
rebels, who had no cover except that which was furnished by the bodies
of their horses.

Jonathan Wylie, and Mary, as well as Mr. Purfleet and Mr. Beddington,
saw that the desperate plight of the defenders at once.

"They are caught between two fires; they are done," said Wylie with a
groan, and Mary covered her face with her hands as Lieutenant Merriman's
detachment began to load and fire as fast as they could, each man for
himself, without waiting for the order to volley. She could not endure
to look upon the tell-tale dust spots kicked up by the balls as they
fell upon the defenders' position.

Down in the ridge the rebels found themselves in a little inferno.

"It's good-bye now, Trevithick," shouted Captain Jack, who lay behind
his horse with the rest loading and firing over the animal's back at
Merriman's detachment in the rear.

"Ha!" A bullet struck the bay horse behind the shoulder, piercing his
heart and killing him instantly. But the horse's dead body still gave
Captain Jack ample cover. He continued to load and fire with desperate
haste at the assailants who were attacking from the rear.

Tristram Trevithick did the same, though he had hard work to restrain
the big chesnut. The horse was still unwounded, but he was terribly
scared at the noise of the firing and the 'ping ping' of the bullets all
round him. Tristram had all he could do to keep the animal lying down.

A sudden warning yell from Big Peter at the far end of the line made
Captain Jack and Tristram face round to the front. What they saw was
disquieting enough.

Cartwright, sword in hand, was cheering on a frontal attack. The
stormers were running forward with bayonets fixed.

Every twenty yards or so they stopped and lay down. Then up again for
another rush.

Merriman's detachment at the rear began to come forward, too. They
stopped and fired and then ran forward again.

Eight of the thirteen horses on the line of the defence were already
killed and two of the remainder were wounded. Three of the rebels were
mortally hit.

"Look, miss, look. There goes Cartwright. The stormers are nearly up to
the parapet." It was Jonathan Wylie who shouted the words. He was
perfectly frenzied.

Mary Fitzharding steeled herself to look, and she never forgot the scene
to the day of her death.

Cartwright, waving his sword above his head, was fifty paces from the
parapet, when Captain Jack kneeled behind the low boulder in front of
him, rested the barrel of his musket upon it, took a long and careful
aim, and fired.

Mary saw the flash. In the same instant she saw Cartwright stagger and
fall. Some seconds later she heard the report. She saw Captain Jack
stand up and look over the parapet to see the result of his shot. She
even heard his yell of defiance. And in that moment a bullet struck him
in the heart. He leaped in the air, and fell down dead.

With the death of Captain Jack the handful of survivors on the ridge
lost courage. Even Big Peter was for fastening a handkerchief on his gun
barrel and holding it up in token of surrender.

Tristram took in the situation at a glance. The captain was dead. The
men were thoroughly cowed. The end was not far off. Could it be that
Mary Fitzharding had betrayed them after all. He ground his teeth in
anguish.

Looking out towards the front, he saw the stormers making ready to take
vengeance for Cartwright's death. They were kneeling on the ground in
the act of aiming a last volley before charging. The sunlight glinted on
the bayonets. The men were in close order.

Then some ancestral surge in his blood shook Tristram to the very
foundations of his being. An influence that seemed to act independently
of his consciousness took hold of him. It was as though a well-known
voice shouted an order in his ear that could not be disobeyed.

Crash! came the volley from the stormers. As the musket balls struck the
parapet or whistled overhead, the chesnut horse bounded to his feet, and
stood-trembling and snorting. At the same instant Tristram, still belted
with Captain Jack's cavalry sword, vaulted into the saddle.

He turned the chesnut towards the parapet, and touched him with his
heel. The horse took three strides and leaped the low wall of rock.

Waving the sword above his head, Tristram galloped straight for the
astonished detachment of soldiers. The men dropped on their knees and
brought their bayonets to the charge in a thick hedge of steel.

The watchers on the hilltop gazed at the scene as though hypnotised.

"My God," burst from Jonathan Wylie, "He's charging the detachment
single handed."

Tristram lived a whole glorious lifetime in a few brief seconds that
followed the chesnut's leap over the low parapet.

Resolutely the rider held his horse's head straight, guiding him with
the steady pressure of calf and thigh, as well as with the bit and
bridle. Maddened with all the firing and excitement of the fight, the
chesnut stretched himself out a racing pace.

The soldiers fell into a two-deep formation, the front rank kneeling and
the rear rank standing. A double line of bayonets made a bristling
barrier.

"Stand fast, boys," yelled the amazed sergeant, and in the same moment
the chesnut and his rider charged home upon the shining steel.

Wounded in a dozen places the frenzied horse fell upon the infantry men,
bearing half a dozen of them to earth in his death struggle. Tristram
was flung clean over the bayonets, but they quickly closed round him.

Rising to his feet in an instant, he slashed away with the long cavalry
sword, but the unequal combat lasted only a few moments. A tall fellow
lunged suddenly; his bayonet went through Tristram's shoulder, and the
fight was over.

When Tristram recovered consciousness, he was siting with his back to a
tree and his late antagonist was giving him a drink from his
water-bottle. His coat had been cut off, and his hurt, which was no more
than bad flesh wound, was dexterously bandaged.

"By the Lord, you're a good plucked 'un," said the red-coated giant.
"Man, ye ought to be one of us."

Then his captor told him the news. Four of the rebels, including Captain
Jack, were dead, and all the rest were prisoners. Lieutenant Merriman,
who was in command of the detachment, owing to the death of Captain
Cartwright, had ordered a start to be made for Bathurst, as soon as the
soldiers who had been sent to procure carts for the wounded, returned
with them.

"Man," said the good-humored red-coat, "whatever made you charge on the
bayonets that-a-way.

"I can hardly tell you," said Tristram Trevithick, whose eyes shone with
strange light.

He passed his hand across his forehead wearily. "I had to do it. But was
I alone? It seemed to me that a man in a steel cuirass and plumed helmet
rode beside me on a black horse. Just before we reached the double line
of bayonets I heard him shout. 'Vive l'Empereur.' And I looked at his
face, and recognised--myself."



CHAPTER XVI.--THE APPEAL TO CAESAR.


"But I must see the Governor at once. It's a matter of life and death."

"Can't help it, mum. His Excellency is busy with the major. 'E give me
orders not to let anybody in on any account." The sentry's bayonet came
down across the door of the room that the Governor used as his office in
his official quarters at Bathurst.

Mrs. Cuthbert was desperate. She entreated and implored, but all to no
purpose. The sentry was adamant, but the sound of her pleading had
penetrated into the room. The door was opened suddenly from the inside
and the red-raced major stood in the doorway.

"My dear Sybil," he began in great surprise when he saw that the
disturber was his wife. "I must request you to go back to your own
rooms. The general is engaged with me upon matters of the utmost
importance, arising out of the late insurrection. He cannot possibly see
you now. What on earth is the reason of these importunities?"

"George," she answered, and the sudden pallor of her face betrayed the
intensity of her emotion, "when a man's life is at stake I can keep
silence no longer. I must see the Governor at once. I have something to
tell him." The last words were uttered in a whisper.

The red-faced major was utterly amazed. What had come over his wife now?
During their short married life she had always been strangely reserved.
He had formed the idea that her past life had not been quite happy. But
he had never before seen her so terribly agitated.

He made the sentry stand back. He took his wife by the hand. He led her
into the room and closed the door.

"Your Excellency," he said, apologetically, "I find that it was my wife
who was outside, I have taken the liberty of admitting her. She tells me
that she has information of importance to give you."

The Governor was sitting at his writing table facing the door. He looked
up from a great pile of papers irritably. "Well, well, madam. How now?
Could not your business wait?"

"It can wait no longer, sir. I must speak now."

The major placed a chair for her beside the Governor's table, and she
sat down.

Her husband stood up opposite to her at the far end of the table.

"Governor Macquarie," she said, taking her courage in both hands, "I
have come to beg for a man's life--for the life of the young man who is
called Tristram Trevithick."

"Tut, tut, madam. What does this mean!" ejaculated the astonished
Governor, pushing his chair back from the table, and staring at Mrs.
Cuthbert as though he could hardly believe that he had heard her aright.

The red-faced major started back, too. Even his stolid perceptions had
lately been penetrated by the conviction that his wife had been colder
and more reserved towards him of late than she was when he married her
in England, just a year after the great victory at Waterloo. So this was
the reason of it. He glared at her furiously.

"Oh, pray, do not misunderstand me, sir," she said, addressing herself
to the Governor and ignoring her husband. "I have no unfaithfulness to
reproach myself with. The young man loves Miss Fitzharding, and is
beloved by her."

"By heaven, madam," roared the old General, "let the girl come here and
avow her disgrace herself, for I protest I can hardly credit it when I
hear it from the lips of another. You tell me that Mary Fitzharding
loves a low-born fellow, who was well enough in his way while be stuck
to his father's farm, but who has now become a traitor and a felon. It
saddens me to think that such a man should bear an honest English name."

"He does bear an honest English name, sir," said the visitor, suddenly
flaming out, "but it is not his own."

The-red-faced major kept his small green eyes fixed upon his wife in
absolute amazement. It came upon him like a flash that he knew almost
nothing about her when he married her, and that he had certainly learned
nothing from her studied reticence ever since.

"But surely his name matters a little," said Mrs. Cuthbert, hurrying
over that dangerous ground, in the hope that she might even yet be able
to save the man's life without giving up her own secret. "I come to ask
you to spare his life, sir, on the ground that he was only accidentally
associated with those unhappy men. As Mary Fitzharding's affianced
husband--"

"God bless my soul. It's incredible," ejaculated the Governor.

"As the affianced husband of my niece, who is very dear to me,"
continued Mrs. Cuthbert, "the young man's present terrible situation
strikes me with horror. Governor Macquarie, I beg of you not to cover
Mary Fitzharding's young life with disgrace and, misery by sending that
unhappy young man to a shameful death."

"Madam, I can listen to this no longer," said the Governor, impatiently.
"Your representations do credit to your womanly feeling of sympathy with
your husband's niece, but not to your sense of reason and justice. Were
I to pardon this desperate and malignant young rebel. I should have to
pardon also every single one of the other prisoners captured with him
who could claim to be the object of a woman's sympathy and love. I am
truly grieved to think that Miss Fitzharding has allowed her feelings to
draw her into such a painful situation. But she is young. She will get
over it in time. My regard for her cannot blind me to the consequences
that must follow were I to grant your request. Major Cuthbert, pray
conduct your wife to her own apartments."

Governor Macquarie rose and stepped out into the middle of the room.

The red-faced major walked forward to escort his wife to the door, but
Sybil Cuthbert sprang from her chair and flung herself on her knees in
front of the Governor. The mask was off at last. All petty subterfuges
were laid aside. The imminence of the deadly peril banished all
sophistries and conventions. She was just a pleading, praying, agonising
woman. She had something to say in truth--something that she had carried
in her own heart for many weary years. She meant to say it now.

Angrily the red-faced major sought to lift her from the floor and to end
the unseemly scene. She clung despairingly to Governor Macquarie's
knees. Her tongue was loosened by the awful nearness of the peril. She
spoke at furious speed.

"Give me his life, sir. Give me his life. On my knees I implore you. You
must give it to me. Punish me if you will. Do what you please with me.
But give me the young man's life."

"For heaven's sake, take your wife away, Cuthbert," roared Governor
Macquarie, stamping his foot. "She is quite hysterical."

"No, no," cried the unhappy woman, her heart wrung by the poignancy of
her grief. "You must spare his life. You must grant him a pardon."

"Madam! Madam!"

"You must pardon him. I tell you!"--her voice rose to a wild
shriek--"for he is my son."

Major Cuthbert reeled back at that, and bending forward stared with
dismay at the still kneeling woman.

But she had no eyes for him. She kept her face fixed on Governor
Macquarie's iron features--the clean-shaved wrinkled cheeks, the
obstinate chin, the big aquiline nose, and stern and steadfast eyes.
Even Macquarie's resolute poise was momentarily disturbed by this
staggering revelation.

"Do not misapprehend me, I beg of you," the woman went on with fiendish
speed, the words falling from her lips so fast that it was difficult to
follow her. "His father, Count Eugene de Donzenac, was married to me by
the French priest Pere Sebastian in Plymouth. That was before the war
broke out. We were married secretly because my father hated the French,
and I was afraid of him. Then the war came--that long and terrible war.
Eugene had to go back to France. He was an officer in the French army.
He parted from me on the seashore. He went away in Jonathan Wylie's
lugger--Jonathan Wylie--the emancipist--the Government contractor on the
Hawkesbury."

"Amazing!" It was the Governor who spoke.

"Eugene was to come back when the war was over. Oh, how I loved him. How
brave he was and noble. Then the baby was born. I feared to tell my
father that I had married a man who was the enemy of my country and an
officer of Napoleon's army. I tried to make my father believe that I had
made a mesalliance--that I had married an Englishman below me in
station--a man of the people. I always thought he did believe it till it
was too late. But someone had seen me with Eugene and had told my
father. He was furious. He believed that the Frenchman had ruined me. He
stole my child from me and persuaded the Trevithicks to take him away
with them to Australia. And my father died before I could tell him the
truth. The Trevithick's do not know the truth either. They told the boy
what my father told them; that he was a child of shame. It was a lie.
They called him Tristram. It is not his name.''

"What is his name?" Again it was the Governor who spoke.

"Eugene, Eugene de Donzenac. Pere Sebastian christened him in his own
house at Plymouth. The young man left the home of the Trevithicks
because he loved Mary Fitzharding and despaired of winning her on
account of the stain on his birth. That is how he came to separate
himself from all the companions of his early life, and to cast in his
lot with those desperate insurgents. Oh! Cannot you see that he is not
to blame, sir, for all that has happened? I was a coward. It is I who am
the cause of all this terrible trouble. When my husband, Eugene de
Donzenac, was killed at Waterloo, charging alone upon a British square,
as your own friend, Colonel Fernyhough has told you, I mourned for him
as for a hero. But I was alone in the world--alone with my thoughts and
my regrets. To escape from myself I married Major Cuthbert, when he did
me the honor to ask for my hand, but I never told him my story. George,
I ask your pardon now. And when I came out here, I found my son; alas,
too late, too late. General, you will not send my son, Eugene, to die on
the scaffold."

The woman stopped speaking at last. Breathless, exhausted, agonised, she
looked into Governor Macquarie's face with swimming eyes that sought
pitifully for a ray of hope, where nothing showed but resolution, solid
and hard as iron.

Governor Macquarie took both hands of the kneeling woman and lifted her
to her feet.

"Madam," he said, in slow, deliberate tones that fell upon her brain
like notes of doom, "I have heard your story. A strange and sad and
terrible one it is. I am a soldier. I have taken an oath to do my duty
to my King and country. Were I to consult my private feelings, I should
be tempted to grant your prayer. But in this matter I am compelled to
forget that I have private feelings. I am an instrument of justice. The
future of this territory depends upon the inflexible administration of
that justice. I must deal with your son--victim of an unkind fate as he
is--not otherwise than I shall deal with his associates in treason
against the Crown of England, against the King whose commission I bear,
and whose authority in this turbulent settlement I am pledged by my oath
and my honor to uphold. I must therefore refuse to withdraw your son
from the procedure that the law enjoins. He will be tried by a jury of
his peers, together with those other prisoners who were captured in arms
against the troops under my command. Upon conviction by that jury he
will be required to pay the penalty that the law imperiously demands for
the basest of all crimes--treason against one's country. This, too, I
tell you," the old soldier drew himself up starkly to his full height,
"in like case I would act no differently towards my own son."

Major Cuthbert carried his wife from the room unconscious.



CHAPTER XVII.--THE TRIAL BY JURY.


By the special permission of the Governor, Mary Fitzharding was allowed
to visit Tristram Trevithick in his cell on the evening that he was to
be tried at the Bathurst court-house for treason felony.

Mary knew nothing of Mrs. Cuthbert's vain appeal to the Governor. Mrs.
Cuthbert herself was under medical care, and the doctor in attendance
upon her had peremptorily refused to allow anyone to see her.

The Governor declined to see Mary at all, after her presence at the
Abercrombie River had been reported to him by Mr. Purfleet and Mr.
Beddington. He was deeply incensed with her, though he decided on the
circumstances reported to him by Mr. Purfleet, that her arrest was
unjustifiable, and that she must be released. It was with difficulty
that he was prevailed upon to grant her permission to see Tristram in
the gaol, but finally, and with some misgiving, he wrote the order to
the gaoler.

Governor Macquarie would be heartily glad, he told himself, when the
whole of the unpleasant business was over; when the necessary formality
of the trial had been completed, and the rebels duly executed in the
town of Bathurst, as a warning to all other malcontents in that
disaffected district.

Provided with the order bearing the Governor's seal, Mary presented
herself at the gaol, heavily cloaked and veiled. The turnkey conducted
her to the prisoner's cell, and then, after admitting her and closing
the heavy door behind her, he took up his position in the passage
outside. He was determined to leave nothing to chance. There should be
no attempt at an eleventh-hour escape.

By the light of a candle enclosed in a rough horn lantern, Mary saw her
unhappy lover, and advanced to him with outstretched arms. Tristram had
been haunted by a torturing doubt. Again and again his thoughts had gone
back to Captain Jack's bitter words just before his death. It was
incredible that Mary should have guided the regulars through the
mountains. Yet how else could they have found a way so quickly. He was
thoroughly puzzled.

But one look into Mary's eyes cured him of all these doubts. He could
not reconcile that direct and fearless gaze with duplicity. He knew that
though the insurrection was detestable to her, she would never have
betrayed the insurgents--apart altogether from the fact that he himself
was one of them.

When Mary told him that she had been placed under arrest for refusing to
act as a spy to Cartwright, and that he had achieved his purpose by
causing the blacktracker to follow her footprints all the way from the
hollow in the hills to Captain Jack's encampment, Tristram folded her in
his arms with an overpowering sense of thankfulness.

He had never really doubted her for a moment in his inmost heart, but
Captain Jack's last words had rankled in his memory. The black
accusation, launched in error, though it had been, was refuted at last.

"That was what I particularly wanted to tell you, dear," she said in a
whisper, looking up into the pale face of her lover, whose wounded
shoulder was still bandaged. "I could not bear that you should imagine
me capable of yielding and of giving information that would bring the
troops to attack that unfortunate regiment. And Tristram, I want to say
now, that wrong and wicked as that wretched insurrection was, I am glad,
yes, glad that you stayed with your leader and fought it out to the end.
I can never tell you all that I felt when I saw you riding out alone to
charge the bayonets of the whole detachment. I can only say this, that
though you seemed to be going to certain death, I was glad that you had
refused me when I asked you to leave the rebels to their fate."

Long time they talked together, these two brave souls, the woman
inspiring the man, after the manner of brave women of every age, with
new courage to meet undauntedly whatever fate might be in store; and the
man in his turn supplying fresh strength and steadfastness to the woman.

"It is hard to part like this, dear," said Tristram at last, "yet
perhaps it is better so. Nameless as I am, and not even knowing who my
parents were, how can I hope to be your mate. And if I cannot be your
mate, I would rather die than live."

Then the turnkey knocked on the door, calling that the allotted time was
up, and with one last kiss Mary groped her way from the cell and out
into the blackness of the night.

The Bathurst courthouse was crowded next day when the jury was
empanelled and the trial of Tristram Trevithick for treason felony
began. He was to be tried separately from the other prisoners, because
the Crown proposed to show that he was doubly guilty of treason by
reason of the fact that he had been accepted as second in command to the
dead leader, and was in a sense a sort of officer, whose superior
intelligence and ability had been misused, so as to prolong the
resistance of the rebels and add to the losses incurred by the military
forces in subduing it.

Counsel for the Crown presented the case against the prisoner with
damning clearness. That inexperienced young barrister, Mr. Horace
Temperley, to whom the duty of furnishing the defence had been assigned,
had no hope at all of saving his client's neck, though privately he
expressed the opinion that he had a 100 to 1 chance of procuring the
commutation of the capital sentence to imprisonment for life in the
terrestrial hell of Norfolk Island.

Sergeant Cuffe, having been duly sworn, gave evidence that the prisoner
in the dock was the man whom he had captured in the fight on the
Abercrombie River. As the sergeant, in full uniform for the occasion,
with scarlet tunic, well pipeclayed cross belts, and brass buckles all
agleam, described Tristram's single-handed charge against the whole
detachment of the stormers, a murmur of admiration was heard in the
court, and the judge sharply reproved those responsible for it.

Mr. Temperley saw an opening here. If he could touch the sympathy of the
jury as well as of the spectators, he might save his client from the
scaffold yet. It was a desperate chance, but the only one left. He
questioned Sergeant Cuffe dexterously to get out every detail.

Standing bolt upright in the witness box and as straight as his own
ramrod. Sergeant Cuffe told the story of Tristram's last ride, and every
person in the court listened spellbound.

"I seen 'im jump 'is 'orse over the low wall of loose rocks on the top
of the 'ill," said the sergeant in his strident voice, "an' I sez to
myself, 'So, 'e's agoin' to make a bolt for it, is 'e.' I reckoned that
'e would slew round and make for the open ground by the river, to try
an' slip past us. But not 'im. 'E never turned a 'air's bredth, but come
slap bang at us, waving a big service sabre. I yells out to the men,
'Prepare to receive cavalry,' and they dropped into two lines, the front
rank kneelin' and the rear rank standin' with bayonets at the charge. I
never took my eyes of 'im from the moment the chesnut 'orse jumped the
wall. 'E was goin' great guns, fo' the big 'orse was mad with excitement.
'Stand fast,' I yelled to the men, an' next moment he struck us."

"What happened then?" asked Mr. Temperley rapidly. He felt his own
professional coolness deserting him. Even the judge on the bench leaned
forward, so as not to miss a word of this remarkable evidence.

"The chesnut fell mortilally wounded," continued the sergeant, "and he
bore down about eight or ten men under his weight. 'E broke through the
two lines in falling, and the prisoner was thrown clear. But no sooner
did he touch the ground than 'e was up and at us like a wild cat. It was
sword against bayonet then, but we was too many for 'im. 'E come at me
like a 'urricane, but I parried and gave 'im the point through the
shoulder, and down he went. When 'e recovered I axed 'im what in 'eaven
made 'im go for to act like that, but, Lord bless ye, sir, he didn't
hardly know wot he was sayin'."

"But what did he say?" persisted Mr. Temperley. "Tell us in his own
words, as far as you can remember."

"'E said," continued the sergeant, "I didn't know as I was alone, 'Ee
said. 'I thought as there was a man ridin' alongside me on a black
'orse,' 'e said. The man wore a shiny cuirass and a plumed, 'elmet,' he
said, 'and I looked and saw 'is face--an' it was myself.' Them's the
very words he said, sir, as Gord is my judge."

A subdued gasp went through the court.

"An'," continued Sergeant Cuffe, looking the barrister straight in the
face, as though challenging him to disbelieve the evidence, "the
prisoner at the bar then said to me. 'Just before we reached the
bayonets the man on the black 'orse waved 'is sword and shouted, 'Vive
l'Empereur.''"

"My lord," said the Crown counsel, who was intent upon securing a
conviction, and who saw with disgust that the jury were becoming
dangerously interested in the evidence of the prisoner's sayings and
doings, "I submit that all this rhodomontade about the prisoner charging
on the troops and about a man on a black horse or a brown horse or a
roan horse, or some other colored horse, charging with him and shouting
some unpronounceable and un-English cry, is altogether irrelevant to the
issue that is before the court. As my friend has no evidence to call for
the defence, I desire to address to the jury a brief summary of the case
for the Crown, which is to my mind conclusive."

Up jumped Mr. Temperley at this, and began to argue the point of the
alleged irrelevancy, when somebody shoved a pencilled note into his
hand, and he read it hurriedly.

"My lord," said Mr. Temperley, after reading the note, "I find that I
have several witnesses to call who have very important evidence to give
in this case, and with your permission, I will first call Mr. Jonathan
Wylie, a well-known and highly-esteemed resident of the Hawkesbury
River."

Tristram Trevithick leaned forward with his hands on the spikes of the
dock, and looked eagerly round the court. He saw Jonathan Wylie sitting
unobtrusively at the back.

Counsel for the Crown was beginning to get seriously annoyed. This delay
on the plea of taking more evidence was simply absurd. He was laudably
anxious to get his man convicted and sentenced before lunch-time, and
now the country gentlemen in the jury-box were actually showing an
unmistakable interest in the prisoner, and the case threatened to be
protracted for at least an hour or two longer. It was scandalous.
However, he could do nothing further.

The judge adjusted a full-bottomed wig, from which his wizened little
old face looked out. "Proceed, Mr. Temperley," he said with an air of
resignation. "The court will hear your witnesses."

So Jonathan Wylie entered the witness box, and Mr. Temperley, having not
the faintest idea of the nature of the evidence that he was to give,
began his examination with cautious adroitness.

Had the witness ever seen the prisoner before?--Yes. Then where had he
first seen him?

Jonathan Wylie's answer startled the judge, the counsel, and everybody
in the court, but it startled nobody as much as the prisoner in the
dock.

"I first saw the prisoner when he was a baby," said Mr. Wylie, "in the
house of a French priest named Father Sebastian, in Plymouth, England."

The gentlemen of the jury were all thoroughly interested now. They
leaned forward in their box and stared first at the witness and then at
the prisoner.

"Yes," said Mr. Temperley, again plunging into the unknown. "And what
was he doing?''

"He was wriggling about in the arms of the priest," said Mr. Wylie,
reminiscently. "The priest was baptising him with water. He sprinkled
water on the child and baptised him in the names of Eugene Paul
Constant."

The prisoner in the dock turned white and red, and then white again. He
clutched nervously at the spikes with his finger. With eyes wide open
and parted lips, he kept his gaze fixed on the witness-box.

"Who else was in the room besides yourself and the priest?"

"The child's mother and an old nurse."

"Who was the child's mother?"

"Mrs. Cuthbert, now the wife of Major Cuthbert, attached to the suite of
his Excellency Governor Macquarie."

There was a crash in the dock. The prisoner had fallen to the floor in a
faint. Warders entered the dock and picked him up. They brought a chair
and placed him in it. They gave him a glass of water to drink. He sat in
the chair and looked between the iron railings of the dock towards the
witness-box. There was fresh blood on the white bandage on his shoulder.
He was ghastly pale.

After the interruption Mr. Temperley proceeded with his examination. He
was greatly elated. "Was the lady who is now Mrs. Cuthbert married at
that time?"

There was dead silence in the court before the witness replied. The
tension was terrific.

"Yes," said Jonathan Wylie, in a clear voice.

"Hooray!" cried some unknown spectator at the back of the court,
whereupon the judge threatened to clear the court at once if any further
demonstration occurred, and the unknown interrupter shrank into his dark
corner, and would have shrunk into the earth if it had been possible.

"How do you know that the lady was married?" enquired Mr. Temperley.

"Because I was a witness of her marriage," said Mr. Wylie. "It had been
performed twelve months earlier by the same French priest in the same
house. An altar had been fitted up in the little sitting room."

"To whom was the lady married?"

"To Count Eugene Paul Constant de Donzenac, an officer in the French
army," replied Mr. Wylie. "He was killed in action afterwards at
Waterloo, so I heard."

Counsel was on his feet at once. He protested that what the witness had
heard was not evidence. Surely his lordship would not allow the time of
the court to be taken up in hearing these grossly irrelevant statements
as to the prisoner's origin and parentage. The question which the court
had to decide was a simple one. "Had the prisoner been concerned in the
recent rebellion, or had he not?"

His Lordship's wizened little face peered out from the big full-bottomed
wig. "It is customary to allow counsel for the defence a reasonable
amount of latitude in capital cases, Mr. McPhea," he croaked.

Mr. McPhea sat down in high dudgeon and the examination of Mr. Wylie
proceeded. He told the whole story of the French count's wooing and of
his marriage with Squire Granger's daughter. He told how, when the war
with France broke out, the count sailed for the French coast in the
lugger belonging to witness. And how he jumped overboard and swam to the
French coast when the lugger was chased and captured by the English
sloop of war. He told how, long afterwards, he, witness, had met Mrs.
Cuthbert at the Governor's King's Birthday ball, and had heard from her
own lips how her father, acting under a fatal and mistaken belief that
she had betrayed the family name, had taken away her child and induced
the Trevithick's to bring him to Australia as their own.

The only material episode that Mr. Wylie did not narrate was Tristram's
visit to the Lion Island distillery, and his subsequent escape by
swimming ashore from the cutter when Captain Cartwright gave chase. Mr.
Wylie would have liked to relate that stirring exploit to the court, but
he thought better of it. In imagination he could see himself in the dock
very soon afterwards, and the wizened-faced judge addressing some
extremely disagreeable remarks to him.

When his evidence was finished, Mr. Wylie stepped jauntily from the
dock, and a buzz of excitement spread through the court as his place was
taken by a heavily veiled lady, who raised her veil to kiss the Book,
and was at once identified as Mrs. Cuthbert.

And Tristram, looking from the dock, saw his mother.

Mrs. Cuthbert's evidence was mainly corroborative of Wylie's, and every
word that she spoke went straight to the hearts of those very
susceptible gentlemen of the jury, in whose hands lay the decision of
her son's fate.

Mr. McPhea, looking at the jury out of the corner of his eye, discovered
indications that alarmed him. When Mrs. Cuthbert, who had to be
repeatedly adjured by his lordship to speak up so that the jury could
hear her, related how Tristram had left his home and finally wandered
away to the mountains, because he felt himself separated from the woman
of his heart by the stigma of his birth, the grizzled old foreman of the
jury dropped a tear. And Mr. McPhea emitted a low groan.

But it was not a groan of sympathy, but of disgust. The foreman's tears
were a most unwelcome augury to that experienced prosecuting counsel.

But the climax came when Mr. McPhea, who had been watching the witness
intently, with a desperate hope that he might catch her tripping, saw
her take a paper from the bosom of her dress, and twist it nervously
between her fingers. She opened it, as it seemed to him surreptitiously
and gave a hasty glance at it.

Mr. McPhea was on his feet in an instant. "My lord," he said, "I would
inform your lordship with the greatest respect that the witness has in
her hand a paper or document, the contents of which I know not, and that
she has been looking at it since she entered the dock, evidently to
refresh her memory as to her incredible story. I apply to your lordship
for a direction that the witness shall read the paper."

Mr. Temperley was quite nonplussed. He had not the faintest idea, what
was in the paper, nor what the witness would say next. He had a feeling
that the defence had got out of his hands, and was conducting itself.
However, he had the presence of mind to observe that he had no objection
to the paper being read.

So Mrs. Cuthbert, by direction of his Lordship, placed the open paper on
the ledge of the witness-box, and read it out in a low, but clear voice
to the breathlessly silent court. It was the letter from Colonel
Fernyhough to his old comrade in arms, General Macquarie, describing the
bravest deed that he had ever seen in battle--the single-handed charge
of the French cuirassier upon a British regiment in square on the
plateau of Mont St. Jean.

Mrs. Cuthbert read the letter through to the end. Silence fell on the
court. It was broken by a great sob from the witness as she turned and
stretched out her arms in the very abandonment of passion towards the
prisoner in the dock. "My son, my son," she said, "that brave man was
your father."

And the prisoner, leaning on the spikes of the dock, looked back at her,
and answered in an awed voice, "I have seen him. He rode beside me in
cuirass and helmet on a black horse. He charged with me upon the
bayonets. I hear his last words, 'Vive l'Empereur.'"

The evidence of Mary Fitzharding made matters very much worse for Mr.
McPhea. Her youthfulness, her beauty, her courage, and her devotion to
the prisoner, all made a deep impression. Every word that she uttered
conveyed the feeling that Tristram was the victim of malign fortune, and
that his association with the insurgents was the result of pure accident
rather than design. The very fact that he had refused to leave Captain
Jack, even when the woman of his heart implored him to do so, and when
he was plainly a stranger in that company of cut-throats led by a
visionary, made a visibly effective appeal to everybody in the court.

Mary's description as an eye-witness of the death of Cartwright and
Captain Jack, and of Tristram's last forlorn hope charge, held the jury
as well as the spectators fascinated. All the jury were country
gentlemen who had been born in England, and had brought all the
prejudices and narrow-mindedness of the typical Tory squire with them to
Australia. But at least they understood bravery in a man and devotion in
a woman. And they could recognise those qualities when they met them.
The toughest of the old Tories felt an unaccustomed moisture in the
corners of their eyes as Mary Fitzharding, with a stately bow to the
wizened old judge and a look of ineffable love and sympathy to the
prisoner in the dock, left the witness box.

The jury hardly listened while Mr. McPhea indignantly brushed aside all
the 'feeble sentimentalism' that had been imported into a plain and
simple case, and pointed out to them in good set terms that the
prisoner's bloody-minded treason had been proved up to the hilt.

Nor did they pay much attention while Mr. Temperley floundered elatedly
through a perfect bog of glaring "non-sequiturs."

When his Lordship began his summing up they made a great effort to
fasten their minds upon what he was saying, but it was quite plain to
the enraged Mr. McPhea that their thoughts were far away on the
Devonshire coast, on the plateau of Mont St. Jean, on the Hawkesbury
River, on the ridge in the valley of the Abercrombie--anywhere, in fact,
except on his Lordship's carefully weighed remarks for their guidance.

Not, indeed, that their lack of attention robbed them of much valuable
counsel. His Lordship adjourned them to dismiss extraneous matters from
their minds, and if they were satisfied that the prisoner was guilty of
treason in intention and deed, to find him guilty. If, on the other
hand, they had any reasonable doubt, as sensible men, that the prisoner
did wickedly and feloniously conspire with certain others against the
peace and good government of our sovereign lord the king, with much more
to the same complicated effect, then they would, of course, find him not
guilty. His Lordship plainly intimated, however, that if they took the
latter course, the 12 good men and true would, in his opinion, all be
fit candidates for Bedlam.

When his Lordship had finished, the jury filed out into the jury room,
where they remained for exactly three minutes, and returned with a
unanimous verdict of not guilty.

Mr. McPhea had seen it coming, so the shock of his disappointment was
mercifully softened. Then and there he made up his mind to get all the
rest of the rebels convicted in globo--and history records that he
succeeded.



CHAPTER XVIII.--SUNSHINE ON THE HAWKESBURY ONCE MORE.


When Mary Fitzharding and Eugene de Donzenac were married in St.
Philip's Church by the same Reverend Mr. Cowper, whose reading of Dr.
Goode's new-fangled version of the Psalms had so much upset Governor
Macquarie, an ode in honor of the occasion was composed by Mr. Michael
Robinson, chief clerk in the Secretary's Department, and the
indefatigable poet laureate of the period. Legibly written in the chief
clerk's fair round hand, it was presented by the poet to Mary as she
left the church. And here it is in all its native beauty:--

LINES ON THE MARRIAGE OF MISS M.F. AND MR. E. DE D.

Hail, glorious day! May Phibus guide his car
Propitious through his azure fields afar;
May Venus rise from out the Austral wave,
To greet this morn when beauty weds the brave.
Where rolls the flood of Hawkesbury's noble tide,
Exploring Cupid, girt with bow at side
Descried the fair and launched the fatal dart
That carried its sweet poison to her heart.
But still the hero, whelmed in sorrow sore,
Who loved his lady, but her honor more,
Was fain to tempt dread Proserpine's decree,
Where Abercrombie's stream flows wild and free.
There kindly Venus vanquished Proserpine,
And when he sought for death gave joy divine.
Now heeding not Bellona's frowns above,
He turns to seek the flowery lists of love.
Hail, loveliest lady and most valiant knight
That e'er did mock misfortune's evil spite!
May plenty fold you to her bounteous breast,
May sons and daughters rise to call you blest;
Long may your feet in joy unsullied rove
Beside the shining waves of Sydney Cove.

But Mr. Robinson very soon had to turn his versatile pen to a widely
different composition--an ode of farewell to Governor Macquarie, who
proceeded, accompanied by Mrs. Macquarie and his family, with bands
playing and colors flying, to the scene of embarkation at Dawes' Point,
where he went on board the good ship Surry, homeward bound.

The fine old soldier, autocrat as he was, had written his name bodly
across the early history of New South Wales, and after eleven years
spent in opening up the settlement with roads and bridges, like a Roman
pro-consul of old, administering a new and barbarous province of the
Empire, he looked with regret not unmixed with justifiable pride towards
the receding shores of Sydney, dotted with buildings that he had
designed, as well as erected, and intersected with highways that he had
laid out.

He was to spend the few remaining years of his life in writing laborious
replies to the accusations of his enemies, chief of whom was Mr.
Commissioner Bigge. It was an inglorious end for a great career.

As if with some premonition of the worries and anxieties in front of him
when he should have exchanged the sunny sphere of his autocratic rule
for the gloom and fogs of London, where he was to be almost a cipher in
the hurrying crowd of younger men, pushing forward in the struggle for
place and promotion, Governor Macquarie, looked back at Sydney Cove, and
at the place that had been his home for eleven years. Its green lawns
sloped down towards the water, at that time untouched by wharfs or wool
stores. It seemed to the old soldier a pleasant and a desirable home. He
felt a pang of regret at leaving it.

He did not bear the "Yeo, heave ho!" of the seamen as the sails were set
and the ship gathered way. He was lost in the land of memory. He
remembered how he had arrived eleven years earlier in the Hindustan with
the Dromedary, her consort. He had his regiment, the Seventy-third, on
board. And both ships were ready with double-shotted guns, to hurl a
broadside if necessary at the mutinous New South Wales corps, whose
officers had deposed Governor Bligh and assumed the control of the
settlement.

Happily his arrival was not opposed, and it was not necessary for his
troops to force the landing. Fine troops they were, too, the grand old
Fighting Seventy-third. They remained in Sydney for only three years,
and were then sent back to England in time to fight at Waterloo. Yes.
His old regiment, which had been quartered in the barracks that looked
down over Sydney Harbor, helped to hold the ridge at Mont St. Jean for
Wellington in the greatest battle of all history. Would to God that he
had been with them.

And then, with a quaint break in the sequence of his memories, the fine
old soldier thought with whimsical remorse of that unlucky morning when
he had caused the two soldiers of his bodyguard to arrest Mr. William
Blake for trespassing in the grounds of Government House, and had taken
steps to have Mr. Blake punished for his trespass with twenty-five
lashes. It was the loud lamentation of Mr. Blake, artfully fostered by
those two implacable enemies, the Reverend Samuel Marsden and Mr.
Justice Bent, who subscribed funds for sending the victim to London to
complain in person to the authorities, that was the first cause of the
visit of Mr. Commissioner Bigge, and all the annoyance that led up to
Macquarie's departure.

Standing on the deck of the Surry, the Governor took his last look at
the swelling hills, the multitudinous bays and inlets, the islands and
the bold promontories of the matchless harbor. Then, turning to the
Major, who stood beside him, he said curtly--"A fine site for a town,
Cuthbert; I have never seen a finer one. When you and I are gone the
capital of New South Wales should be the loveliest city in the world."

Major Cuthbert quietly assented, and the Governor walked aft and
remained looking over the taffrail in silence for many minutes.

But Major Cuthbert was much changed lately. He went across the deck to
where his wife was sitting, and wrapped a shawl about her, for the
harbor breeze was freshening.

"Are you feeling better now, Sybil?" he asked, with a new note of
tenderness in his voice. He realised how tragic her life had been, and
it became his constant aim to help her to forget.

She smiled at him with a new happiness. "Much better, thank you,
George," she said, and held his bronzed hand for a few seconds before
letting it go. Then she turned again to chat with Mrs. Macquarie, who
sat beside her, watching her famous chair of rock at the corner of Farm
Cove until it disappeared from view.

The Surry cleared the heads at sundown, and stood out to the east to
make a good offing before settling down on her homeward course.

* * * * * *

After the honeymoon Tristram, who was henceforth to be known by his
right name of Eugene, took his bride up the mighty reaches of the
Hawkesbury, to the little town of Windsor, to revisit the scenes of his
childhood and to see his foster parents. It would be necessary for him
to go to Brittany, the home of the De Douzenacs, and pick up the broken
threads of family relationships some day. It would also be necessary for
him to go to Devonshire, where, indeed, he had arranged that he and Mary
should meet his mother in the following year. But in the meantime the
Hawkesbury called to him in accents that could not be resisted.

Sailing for many a mile though the towering ranges that stood up stark
and sheer from the water's edge, they came at last to the low banks and
wide, fertile flats that opened out above the great stone house where
Jonathan Wylie still lived, a wealthy and well-contented citizen, who
was becoming very religious with advancing years, and had built himself
a stone church, under the chancel of which he designed that his remains
should rest eventually.

As they glided past the tall, frowning ranges and into the calm reach
where the little stone church made a tranquil note in the landscape and
then onward towards the corn lands and the orchards on the bank, Mary
turned to her husband with a happy smile.

"Life of late has been rather like the Hawkesbury, has it not, Eugene?"
she said. "Dark and frowning at first, but gradually opening out into
beautiful, calm reaches, that stretch on and on, with flowers and fruit
and corn and everything that maketh glad the heart of man."

"Ah, dearest," said the young man, taking her hand in his and looking
into her eyes, as they sailed on over the broad stretch of sunlit water.
"I have spent all my life on this great river seeking for something--I
hardly knew what--to make my existence complete. And now at last I have
found it. The Hawkesbury has indeed given me all that my heart desires."



The End.


REVIEWS OF THE STORY:
---------------------

The Sydney Morning Herald,
Saturday, 25 April, 1914.
http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/15503783

Although the name of the so-called "historical" novels about our early
days is legion, few of them really deserve the title. In most cases the
history is decidedly rocky, and the atmosphere which the authors seek to
recapture anything but convincing. "A Rebel of the Bush," by Don
Delaney, is a notable exception to the rule. Its merits are twofold. It
combines an excellent story with a vivid and accurate picture of life
under Macquarie's regime. The author makes use of a curious and
half-forgotten episode in our past, namely, the attempt of a handful of
convicts and ticket-of-leave men, led by a Quixotic and idealistic
adventurer, to establish a republic west of the Blue Mountains. The hero
thinks himself the son of some worthy farming folk on the Hawkesbury. We
and they know that this is not the case, although the whole secret is
not revealed till later. But when Tristram hears of the mystery of his
birth he naturally imagines he is a nameless child, the stain of whose
origin puts an end once and for all to his dreams of love. He seeks
consolation, in dissipation, and has to fly for his life to escape the
consequences of a brawl in a Rocks drinking den, where he had struck
down a man. He gets to Lion Island, in Broken Bay, where he joins a gang
of illicit spiritmakers, but he is still pursued by the jealous and
arrogant Captain Cartwright. He crosses the mountains, throws in his lot
with Captain Jack and his fellow-rebels; fights in the "battle" of the
Abercrombie River, and after a dramatic trial scene, in which the secret
of his birth is cleared up, is acquitted by a sympathetic jury. A mere
resume of the plot, however, does not convey a proper idea of the merits
of the story. We are given some extraordinarily intimate glimpses of
life on the Hawkesbury, in "the Rocks," among the moonlighters in the
rough country north of Sydney. Moreover, there are some very effective
touches, as where Jonathan Wylie, ex-contrabandist and smuggler of
spies, twice sees history repeat itself in the exploits of the son,
whose French father he had once carried across the Channel. The book is
sure to be popular, and one could wish that it had been published in a
form which would make it available to a wider audience. (N..S.W. Bookstall
Company.)

* * *

The Advertiser (Adelaide, South Australia)
Friday, 29 May, 1914.
http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/6418274

"A Rebel of the Bush." A romance of the reign of Macquarie, by Don
Delaney. Sydney: New South Wales Bookstall Company.

The hero of this story of love and adventure comes to Australia with two
immigrants. He is a baby at the time, and the son of other parents. Tom
Trevithick and his wife settle near the Hawkesbury. Later the hero is
told the truth about his birth, and decides to leave the Hawkesbury for
Bathurst. There he takes a stirring part in the insurrection of assigned
servants, who endeavored to overturn the King's Government and
inaugurate a republic. The military, however, crushed the rising, and
the story of this gives the author frequent opportunity for picturesque
episodes and writing. The hero's mother begs Governor Macquarie to
intervene and save the young man's life, but Macquarie refuses, and his
fate is decided by a jury. It is a stirring story of an historic event
in Australian history.



This site is full of FREE ebooks - Project Gutenberg Australia