Moondyne : a story of convict life in Australia

Moondyne : a story of convict life in Australia

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Moondyne : a story of convict life in Australia
O'Reilly, John Boyle
G. Routledge
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Australia -- History -- 1788-1900 -- Fiction ( lcsh )

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University Of South Florida
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University Of South Florida
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022735427 ( ALEPH )
16572171 ( OCLC )
I15-00014 ( USFLDC DOI )
i15.14 ( USFLDC Handle )

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CONTENTS l3ook jfirst THE GOLD MINE OF THE VASSE CHAP. PAGE CHAP. I. The Land of the Red Line 7 VI. The Bribe II. The Convict Road-Party 8 VII. The Iron-stone Mountains III. Number 4o6 II VIII. Tbe King of the Vasse IV. Bond and Free 12 IX. A Dark Night and Day V. The Koagulup Swamp 14 X. On the Trail JBook Secont:l THE SANDALWOOD TRADE I. The Mate of the Canton -IL Countermining the Miner III. The Sandalwood Agency IV. The Teamsters' Tavern V. In Search of his Sorrow I. Miserere i II. A Flower in the Cell III. Following a Dark Spirit IV. Mr. Haggett -25 VI. The Door of the Cell 29 VII. Millbank 3 r VIII. Sir Joshua Robb's Convict ::\Jill 3 2 IX. Mr. Wyville 35 X. The Upas Tree :I.Gook Ubirt:l ALICE WALMSLEY 53 56 61 63 V. 'I\vo Heads against One VI. Female Transports VII. After Nine Years JBook jf ourtb THE CONVICT SHIP 1. The Parliamentary Committee 70 IX. How a Prisoner might break a BarII. Harriet Draper 74 X. D ea d Sea Fruit Ill. A Captain for the Hougue111ont 77 XI. The Fever IV. Captain Samuel Draper -79 XII. Husband and Wife -v. Koro and Tepairu So XIII. Woman's Love and Hatred VJ. The Child's Grave -82 XIV. The Darkness of Desolation VII. The Sailing of the Houfuemont 85 xv. The New Penal Law VIII. Face to Face -86 XVI. A Prisoner at Large l3ook jftftb THE VALLEY OF THE VASSE I. Alice Wrumsley's New Home -10.5 V Mr. Wyville faces a Storm -II. Sooner or later a Man must face his VI. The Valley of the Vasse Sins 107 VII. The Convict's Pass -III. Walking in the Shadow -109 VIII. The Bush Fire -lV. The Meeting II2 PAGK 14 16 r8 20 22 36 39 43 45 48 66 68 69 88 91 94 96 98 100 102 104 us u8 12I 12,j


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MOON DYNE l3ook first THE GOLD MINE OF THE VASSE CHAPTER I THB LAND OF THB llD LINB WnTBllN AusraALIA is a vast and unknown country, ".!most mysterious in its solitude and unlikeness lo any other part of the earth. It is the greatest of the Australias in extent, and in many features the richest and loveliest. But the sister colonies of Victoria, New South Wales, and Queensland arc famous !or their treasure of gold. Men from all lands have flocked thither to gather riches. care not for the slow labour of the farmer or grazier. Let the weak and the old, the coward and the dreamer, prune the vine and dry the figs, and wait !or the wheat to ripen. Strong men must go to the trialmust set muscle against muscle, and brain against brain in the mine and the market. Men's lives are short; and unless they gather gold in the mass, bow shall they wipe out the primal curse of poverty before the hand loses its skill and the heart its strong desire? Western Australia is the Cinderella of the South. She has no gold like her sisters. To her was given the servile and unhappy portion. The dregs of British society were poured upon her soil. The robber and the manslayer were thither. Her territory was marked off with a Red Line. She has no markets for honest men, and no ports for honest ships. Her laws are not the laws of other countries, but the terrible rules of the menagerie. Her citizens have no rights : they toil their lives out at heavy tasks, but cam no wages, nor own a vestige of right in the soil they till. It ia a land of slaves and bondmen-the great P-1 Colony of Great Britain. 7 "There is no gold in the Western Colony," &aid the miners contemptuously ; "let the convicts keep the land-but let them obterYe our Red Line." So the convicts took the defamed country, and lived and died there, and others were transported there from England to replace those who died, and every year the seething ships gave up their addition to the terrible population. In time the Western Colony came to be regarded as a plague-spot, where no man thought of going, and no man did a:o unless sent in irons. If the miners from Victoria and New South Wales, however, had visited the penal land some years after its establishment, they would have beard whispers of strange impnrt rumours and questions of a great golden secret possessed by the Western Colony. No one could tell where the rumour began or on what it was based, except, perhaps, the certainty that gold was not uncommon among the natives of the colony, who had little or no intercourse with the of the gold-yielding countries of the South and East. The belief seemed to hover in the air ; and it settled with dazzling conviction on the crude and abnormal minds of the criminal population. At their daily toil in the quarries or on the road parties, no rock was blasted nor tree uprooted that eager eyes did not hunirily scan the upturned earth. At night, when the tired wretches gathered round the camp-6rc, outside their prison but, the dense mahupny forest closing weirdly round the white-clad group, still the undiscovered gold was the topic earnestly di1CUssed. And even the Government ofticen and tbt few free settlen


8 MOONDYNE became after a time filled with the prevailing ezpectancy and disquiet. But years passed, and not an ounce of gold was discovered in the colony. The Govern ment had offered rewards to settlers or ticket of-leave men who would find the first nugget or gold-bearing rock ; but no claimant came forward. Still, there remained the tantalizing fact for, in the course of years, fact it had g rown to be-that gold was to be found in the colony, and in abundance. The nativ e bushmen were masters of the secret, but neither bribe nor torture could wring it from them. Terrible stories were whisp e red among the convicts, of attempts that had been made to force the natives to give up the precious secret. Gold was common amongst these bu s hmen Arm lets and anklets had been see n on men and women ; and some of their chief men, it was said, wore brea s t-plates and enormous chain s of hammered gold. At last the feeling in the West grew to fever heat ; and in 184 8, the Governor of the P ena l Colony issued a proclamation, copies of which were sent by native runners to every s e ttl e r and ticket-of-leave m a n, a n d were even surreptitiously distribu t e d amon g st t h e min e rs on the other side of the R ed Line This proclamation i n t e n'iified the exc iteme nt. It seemed to bring the mine n ea r e r to e very man in the colony. It was a forma l admi ssi o n that thtre really was a mine ; it disp e lled the vague uncertainty, and left an immedi a te hun g er or greed in the minds of the popula t ion. The proclamation read as follows : ,000 REWARD! The a b ove reward will b e paid for the d is covery of the Id:ine from whi ch th e a tive s of the Vas s e obtain their Gold A Free Pardon will be granted to the dis coverer, should he be of the Bond Cla ss No Reward will be glven nor terms made with Abscondcri from the Prisons or Offieial R.,idHt:t, By Order, F. R. HAMPTON, Governor. F '"'" o8t/J '""' 1848. But nothing came of it. Not an ounce of gold was ever taken from the earth. At last men began to avoid the subject. They could not bear to be tantalized nor tortured by the splendid delusion. Some said there was no mine in the Vasse, and others that, if there were a mine, it was known only to a few of the native chiefs, who dealt out the raw gold to their people. For eight years this magnificent reward had remained unclaimed, and now its terms were only r e called at the fires of the road-making convicts, or in the lonely slab-huts of the mahogany sawyers, who were all ticket-of-leave men. CHAPTER II THE CONVI C T ROAD PARTY IT was a scorching day in midsummer-;. few d a ys be fore Christma s Had there b e en any moi s ture in the bush, it would have stea m e d in the heavy heat. During the mid day h o urs n o t a bird stirred among the mahogany and gum trees. On the flat t o ps of the l o w ban ks i a the round heads of the whit e cocka t oos c o ul d be seen in thousands, motionless as the tre e s themselves. Not a parrot had the vim to s c ream. The chirping insec t s were s il e nt. Not a snake had courage to rustle his hard skin against the hvt and d e ad hu;;h -gras s. The brighteyed iguanas were in their holes. The mahogany sawyers had left their l ogs and were sleeping in the c ool sand of the ir p i ts Even the travelling ants had halted o n their w onderful roads, and s o ught the shade of a bramble. All free things were at rest ; but the penetrating cli c k of the axe, heard far through the bush, and now and again a harsh word o f command, told that it was a land of bondmen From day li ght to d a rk, through the hot noon as steadily as in the c o ol evening, the convicts were at work on the roads-the weary work that has no wa ge s, no promotion, no excitement, no variation for good or bad, except stripes for the lagg a rd. Alo ng the verge of the K oagulup Swamp one of the greatest and dismalest of the wooded lake s of the countr y its black water deep enough to float a man-or -war-a party of convicts were making a government road. They were cutting their patient way into a


.ltfOONDYNE 9 forest only traversed before by the aborigine and the absconder. Before them in the bush, as in their lives, all was dark and unknown-tangled under brush, gloomy shadows, and noxious things. Behind them, clear and open, lay tbe straight road they had made-leading to and from the pri.on. Their camp, composed of rough slabhuts, was some two hundred miles from the main prison of the colony on the Swan River, at Fremantle, from which radiate all the roads made by the bondmen. The primitive history of the colony is w.ritten for ever in its roads. There is in this penal labour a secret of value to be utilised more fully by a wiser civilization. England sends her criminals to take the brun t of the new land's hardship and danger-to prepare the way for honest life and labour. In every community there is either dangerous or degrading work to be done ; and who so fit to do it as those who have forfeited their liberty by breaking the law? The convicts were dressed in white trousers, blue woollen shirt, and white hat-every article stamped with England's private markthe Broad Arrow. They were you11g men, healthy and strong, their faces and bare arms burnt to the colour of mahogany. Burglars, murderers, garotters, thieves-douUe-dyed law-breakers every one-but, for all that, kind-hearted and manly fellows enough were among them. "I tell you, mates," said one, resting on his spade, "this is going to be the end of Moondyne Joe. That firing in the swamp last night was his last fight." "I don't think it was Moondyne," said another; "he's at work in the chain-gang at Freemantle, and there's no chance of escape there-" "Sh-h interrupted the first speaker, a powerful, lowbrowed fellow named Dave Terrell, who acted as a sort of foreman to the gang. The warder in charge of the party was slowly walking past. When he was out of hearing Dave continued, in a low bnt deeply earnest voice: "I know it was Moondyne, mates. I saw him last night when I went to get the turtle's eggs. I met him face to face in the moonlight, beside the swamp." Every man held his hand and breath with intense interest in the story. Some looked incredulous-heads were shaken in doubt. "Did you speak to him?" asked one. "Ay," said Terrell, turning on him; "why shouldn't I ? Moondyne knew be had nothing to fear from me, and I had nothing to fear from him." What did you say to him ? asked another. "Say?-I stood an' looked at him for a minute, for his face had a white look in the moonlight, and then I walked up close to him, and I says, 'Be you Moondyne Joe, or his ghost?'" "Ay?" said the gang, with one breath. "Ay, I said that, never fearing, for .Moondyne Joe, dead or alive, would never harm a prisoner." But what did he answer?" asked the eager crowd. He never said a word ; but he laid his finger on his lips, like thi>, and waved his hand as if he warned me to go back to the camp. I turned to go ; then I looked hack once, and he was standing just as l left him, but he was looking up at the sky, as if there was some' at in the moon that pleased him." The convicts worked silemly, each thinkini on what he had heard. He mightn't ha' been afraid, though," said lowbrowed Dave; "I'd let them cut my tongue out before I'd sell the Moondyne." That's true," said several of the gang, and many kind looks were given to Terrell. A strong bond of sympathy, it was evident, existed between these men and the person of whom they spoke. A sound from the thick bush interrupted the conversation. The convicts looked up from their work, and beheld a strange pro cession approaching from the direction of the swamp. It consisted of about a dozen or fifteen persons, most of whom were savages. In front rode two officers of the Convict Service, a sergeant, and a private trooper, side by side, with drawn swords; and between their horses, manacled by the wrists to their stirrup-irons, walked a white man. "Here they come," hissed Terrell, with a bitter mal e diction, his low brow wholly dis appearing into a terrible ridge above his eyes. "They haven't killed him, after all. Oh, mates, what a pity it is to see a man like Moon

--IO MOONDY.NE lle4, bearing thrM apw.rwood litters with the bodies of wounded men. A villainous looking savage, mounted on a troop-horse, brought up the rear. Hi!i dress was like that of his pedestrian fellows, upon whom, how ever, he looked in disdain-a short boka, or cloak of kangaroo skin, and a belt of twisted fur cords round his naked body. In addition, he had a police-trooper's old cap, and a heavy "regulation" revolver stuck in his belt. This was the tracker, the human blood hound, used by the troopers to follow the trail of absconding prisoner s When the troopers neared the convict party, the sergeant, a man whose natural cxpresion, wha t ever it might have been, was wholly obliterated by a frightful scar across his (ace, asked for water. The natives halted, anci squatted sil e ntly in a group. The wounded men moaned as the litters were lowered. Dave Terrell brought the water. He handed a pannikin to the and another to the private trooper, and filled a third. Who's that for? harshly demanded the sergeant. "!<'or Moondyne," said the convict, ap proaching the chained man, whose neck was stretched toward the brimming cup. Stand back, curse you said the ser geant, bringing his sword flat on the convict's back. That scoundrel needs no water. He drinks blood There was a raunt in the tone, even beneath the brutality of the words. "Carry your pail to those litters," growled the sinister-looking sergeant, "and keep your mouth closed, if you value your bide. The re I he said, in a suppressed voi ce, flinging the few drops he had 1 ft in the face of the manacled mar., that's water enough for you till you reach Bun bury Prison to-morrow." The face of the pri s oner hardly chan g ed. He gave one straight look into the sergeant's eyes, then turned away, and seemed to look far away through the bush. He was a re markable being as he stood there. In strength and proportion of body the man was magnifi cent-a model for a gladiator. He was of middle height, young, but so stern and massively featured, and so browned and beaten by exposure, it was hard to det e rmine his age. His clothing was only a few torn and bloody rags ; but he looked as if hi s natural garb were utter nakedness or the bushman's cloak, so loo s ely and carelessly hung the shreds of cloth on his bronzed body. A large, finely-shaped head, with crisp blallk hair and beard, a broad, square foreha:ad, and an air of power and self-command-this was the prisoner, this was Moondyne Joe. Who or what was the man? An escaped convict. What had he been ? Perhaps a robber or a mutineer, or maybe he had killed a man in the white heat of passion; no one knew-no one cared to know. That question is never asked in the penal colony. No caste there. They have found bottom, where all stand equal. No envy there, no rivalry, no greed nor ambition, and no escape from companionship. They consti tute the purest democracy on eanh. The only distinction to be won-that of being trustworthy, or selfish and false. The good man is he who is kind and true the bad man is he who is capable of betraying a confe d erate. It may be the a b sence of the competitive elements of social li f e that accounts for the number of manly characters to be met among these outcasts. It is by no means in the superior strata of s ety that abound the strong, true natures, the men that may be depended upon, the primit ive rocks of hum a nity. The complexi ties of s o cial life beget cunning and artifici ality. Among penal convicts there is no gr und for en v y, ambition, or emulation ; nothing to be g a ined by falsehood in any s hape. But all this time the prisoner stands looking away into the bush, with the drops of insult trickling from his s trong face. His self. command evidently irritated the brutal officer, who, perhaps, expected to hear him whine for better treatment. The serge a nt dismounted to examine the handcuffs, and whi l e doing so, looked into the man s face with a leer of cruel exultation. He drew no expression from the steady eyes of the prisoner. There was an old score to be settled betw een thos e men, and it was plain that each kne w the metal of the other. "I'll break that look," said the sergeant, between his teeth, but loud enough for the prisoner's ear ; curse you, I'll br e ak it before we reach Fremantle." Soon after, he turned away, to look to the wounded men. While so engaged, the private trooper made a furtive sign to the convict with the pail; and he, keeping in shade of the horses, crept up and gave M.oondyne a deep drink of the precious water.


MOONDYNE ti The stern lln withdrew from the prisoner's mouth and forehead ; and as he gave the kindly trooper a glance of gratitucle, there was something strangely gentle and winning in the face. The sergeant returned and mounted. The litters were raised by the natives, and the party resumed their march, striking in on the new road that led to the pri on. "May the lightning split him," hissed black-brewed Dave, after the sergeant. "There's not an officer in the colony will strike a prisoner without cause, except that coward, and he was a convict himself." "May the Lord help M oondyne Joe this day," said another, "for he's chained to the stirrup of the only man living thai hates him." The sympathizing gang look e d after the party till they were hidden by a bend of the road ; but they were silent under the eye of their warder. CHAPTER III NUMBER 4o6 So Ml!: years before, the prfaoner, now called Moondyne Joe, had arrived in the colony. He was a youth-little\ more than a Loy in years. Fro m the first day of his impri s onment he had followed one cour s e ; he was quiet, silent, pntient, obedient. He broke no rules of the pri s on. He asked no favours. He performed all his nwn work, and often helped another whn grumb l ed at his heavy task. He was sim ply known to his f ello w-convicts as Joe; his other name was unknow n or forgotten. When the pris o n roll was called, he answerecl to No, 406. In the first few years he had made many friends in the colony-but he h a d al s o made one enemy, and a deadly one. In the gang to which he helonged was a man named Isaac Bowman, one of those nature s seemingly all evil, envious, and cruel, detested by the basest, yet self-contained, full of jibe and derbion, sati sfied with his own de p ravity, and convinced that every one was just as vile as he. From the first this fellow had disliked and sneered at Joe, and Joe having long observed the man's cur like character, had at last adopted a system Of conduct towards him that sand himself annoyance, but secretly intcnsi 6ed the malovol011ce 0 the other. He did not avoid the fellow ; but he never looked at him, saw him, spoke to him-not even answer ing him when he spoke, as if he had not heard him. This treatment was observed ancl enjoyed by the other prisoners, and sometimes even adopted by themselves toward Bowman. At last its effect on the evil nature was too powerful to be concealed. With the others he could return oath for oath or jibe for jibe, and always came off pleased with himself, but Joe's silent contumely stung him bite a scorpion. The convicts at length saw that Bowman, who was a man capable of any crime, held a deep hatred for Joe, and they warned him to beware. But he smiled, and went on just as before. One morning a poor settler rode into the camp with a cry for justice and vengeance. His hut was only a few miles distant, and in his absence last night a deed of rapine and ro h bery had been perpetrated there--and the robber was a c o nvict. A search was made In the prisoners' hut, and in one of the hammocks was found some of the stolen property. The man who owned the hammock was seizecl and ironed, protesting his innocence. Further evidence was found against him-hf' had been seen returning to the camp that morning-Isaac Bowman had seen h im. Swift and summary is the dread punishment of the penal code. As the helpless wretch was dragged away, a word of mock pity followed him from During the scene, Joe had stood in silence ; but at the brutal jibe he started as if struck by a whip. He sprang on Isaac Bowman sudde11ly dashed him to the ground, and holding him there like a worm, shook from his clothing all the stolen property, except what the caitiff had concealed in his fellow's bed to ensure his conviction. Then and there the sentence was given. The villain was haled to the triangles and flogged with embittered violence. He uttered no cry ; but as the hissing lashes swept his back, he settled a look of ghastly and mortal hatred on Joe, who stood by and counted the stripes. But was years ago ; and Bowman had long been a free man and a settler, having served out his sentence. At that time the laws of the Penal Colony were exceedingly cruel and unjust to the bond men. There was In the colony a number of


,. .MOONDYNE "free settlers" and ex-convicts who had obtained land, and these, as a class, were men who lived half by farming and half by rascality. They sold brandy to the convicts and tick-et-of-leave men, and robbed them when the drugged liquor ha

MOONDYNE wilh a sullen, mischievous puff, and the rock'S at the head of the le

14 MOONDYNE The neifhboarhood, being thickly settled with pardoned men and ticketof-le&ve men, had long been deserted by the &borigines ; but from the day of Moondyne's sentence the bush men bega.n to build their mytrs and hold their 'orro66orees near the quarries. For two years the chain-gang toiled among the stones, and the black men sat on the great unhewn rocks, and never seemed to tire of the scene. The warders took no notice of their silent presence. The natives never spoke to a prisoner, but sat there in dumb interest, every day in the year from sunrise to evening. One day they disappeared from the quarries, and an officer who passed through their village of myers found them deserted. It was quite a subject of interesting conversation among the warders. Where had they gone to? Why had they departed in the night? The day following, an answer came to these queries. When the chain-gang was formed, to return to the prison, one link was goneMoondyne was missing. Hi, irons were found, filed through, behind the rock at which he wo1ked ; and from that day the black face of a busbroaD. was never seen in Fremantle. CHAPTER V THlt KOAGULUP SWAMP Ws arrive now at the opening scene of this story. Eight days after his escape from Fremantle, Moondyne was seen hy the convict Due Terrell on the shores of the Koagulup Swamp. In those eight days he had travelled two hundred miles, suffering that which is only known to the hunted convict. When he met the prisoner in the moonlight, and made the motion to silence, Dave Terrell saw the long barrel of a pistol in his belt. He meant to sell his life this time, for there was no hope if retaken. His intention was to hide in the swamp till he found an opportunity of striking into the Vasse Mountains, a spur of which was not more than sixty miles distant. But the way of the abs conder is perilous ; and swift as had been Moondyne's flight, the shadow of the pursuer was close behind. No tardy step was that of the man who led the pursuit-a man with a terri b ly maimed face pew -C\fficlf of the penal system, but wh o s e motin In the pnnult was deadlier and dearer than the love of public duty. On the very day that Moondyne Joe reached the great swamp, the mounted pursuit tracked the fugitive to the water's edge. A few houra later, while he lay exhausted on an island in the densely-wooded morass, the long sedge was cautiously divided a few yards from his face, and the glittering eyes of a native tracker met his for an instant. Before he could spring to his feet the supple savage was upon him, sending out his bush-cry as he sprang. A short struggle, with the black hands on the white throat ; then the great white arms closed around the black body, and with a gasping sob it lost its nerve and lay still, while Moondyne half rose, to listen. From every point he heard the tracker closing on him. He sank back with a moan of despair. But the next instant the blood rushed from his heart with a new vigour for every mu s cle. It was the last breath of his freedom, and he would fig ht for it, as for his life. He sprang to his feet and met his first brutal assailant, a native dog-halt wolf, half grey hound-which sprang at his throat, but sank its fangs in his shoulder. A bullet through the animal's brain left him free again with steadied nerves. Even in the excitement of the moment a thrill of gratitudG that it was not a man that lay there passed through him. He flung his pistol into the swamp, and dashed towards the log on which he had gained the island. Beside it stood two men, armed Barehanded, the fugitive flung himself upon them, and closed in a desperate struggle. It was vain, however ; others came and struck him down and overpowered him. He was put in irons, and found himself in charge of the most brutal officer in the penal service-his old fellow-convict and employer, Isaac Bowman. CHAPTER VI THB BRIBE WHEN the party had travelled a dozen miles from the con vi ct ca:n p, the evening closed, and the sergeant called a halt. A chain was passed round a tree and locked, and to this the manacles of the prisoner were m&de fast, leaving him barely the power of lying down.


MOONDYNZ 15 With a common prisoner this would have been leCUrity enough ; but the sergeant meant to leave no loophole open. He and the private trooper would keep guard all night, and according to this order, after supper, the trooper entered on the first four hours' watch. The natives and wounded men took their and were stretched on the soft sand beside another fire, about a hundred paces from the guard and prisoner. The tired men soon slept, all but the sentry and the captive. The sergeant lay within arm's length of the prisoner ; and even from deep sleep awoke at the least movement of the chain. Towa.rd midnight the chained man turned hia face toward the sentry, and motioned him to draw near. The rough but kind-hearted fellow thought he asked for water, and softly brought him a pannikin, which he held to his lips. At the slight motion the sergeant awoke, and harshly reprimanded the trooper, posting him at a distance from the fire, with orders not to move till his watch had expire'cl. The sergeant returned to bis sleep, and again all was still. After a time the face of the prisoner was once more raised, and with lip but earnest expression he begged the sentry to come to him. But the man would not move. He grew angry at the persistence of the prisoner, who ceased not to look toward him, and who at last even ventured to speak in a low voice. At this the fearful trooper grew alarmed, and sternly ordered him to rest. The sergear.t awoke at the word, and shortly after relieved the trooper, seating himself by the fire to watch the remainder of the night. When the prisoner saw this, with a look of utter weariness, though not of resignation, he at last closed his eyes and sank to rest. Once having yielded to the fatigue which his strong will had hitherto mastered, he was uncon scious, A deep and dreamless sleep fell on him. The sand was soft round his tired limbs, and for two or three hours the bitterness of his captivity was forgotten. He awoke suddenly, and, as if he had not slept, felt the iron on his wrists, and knew that he was chained to a tree like a wild beast. The sleep had given him new strength. He raised bis head, and met the eyes of the sergeant watching him. The look between them waa Joni and steady. "Come here," said the prisoner, in a low tone a "I want to speak to you." Had the gaunt dog beside him spoken, the sergeant could not have been more amazed. Come here," repeated Moondyne. I have something important to say to you." The sergeant drew his revolver, examined the caps, and then moved towards his prisoner. I heard you say you had spent twentyfiYd years in this colony," said Moondyne, "and that you might as well have remained a convict. Would you go away to anothet country, ;r.nd live the rest of your life in wealth and power?" The sergeant stared at him as if he thought be had gone mad. The prisoner understood the look. "Listen," he said impressively; "I am not mad. You know there is a reward offered for the discovery of the Vasse Gold Mine. I can kad you to Ike spot I" There was that in his voice and look that thrilled the sergeant to the marrow. He glanced at the sleeping trooper, and drew closer to the chained man. "I know where that gold mine lies," said Moondyne, reading the greedy face, "where tons and shiploads of solid gold are waiting to be carried away. If you help me to be free, I will lead you to the mine." The sergeant looked at him in silence. He arose and walked stealthily toward the natives, who were soundly sleeping. To and fro in the firelight for nearly an hour be paced, revolving the startling proposition. At last he the chained man. "I have treated you badly, and you hate me," he said. "How can I trust you? How can you prove to me that this is true?" Moondyne met the suspicious eye steadily. "I have no proof," he said; "you must take my word. I tell you the truth. If I do not lead you straight to the mine, I will go back to Fremantl e as your prisoner." Still the sergeant pondered and paced. He was in doubt, and the consequences might be terrible. Have you ever known me to lie?" said Moondync. The sergeant looked at him, but did not answer. At length he abruptly asked : "Is it far away?" He was advancing toward a decision. "We can reach the place in two days if you give me a horse," said Moondyne. "You might escape," said the sergeant. ''I will not ; but if JOI! doubt me, keep the


MOONDYNE chain on my wrist till I show you the gold." "And then?" said the sergeant. Then we shall be equals. I will lead you to the mine. You must return and escape from the country as best you can. Do you agree?" The sergeant's face was white, as he glanced at the sleeping trooper and then at the prisoner. "I agree," he said; "lie down and pretend to sleep." The sergeant had thought out his plan. He would ensure his own safety, no matter how the affair turned. Helping a convict to escape was punished with death by the penal law ; but he would put another look on the matter. He cautiously waked the private trooper. "Take those natives," he said, "all but the mounted tracker, and go on to Bunbury before me. The wounded men must be doctored at once." Without a word, the disciplined trooper shook the drowsiness from him, saddled his horse, and mounted. In half an hour they were gone. Moondyne Joe and the sergeant listened till the last sound died away. The tracker was curled up again beside the fire. Sergeant Bowman then unlocked the chain, and the powerful prisoner rose to his feet. In a whisper the sergeant told him he must secure the native before he attempted to take the horse. Moondyne went softly to the side of the sleeping savage. There was a smile on his face he knelt down and laid one strong hand on the man's throat, and another on his pistol. In a few moments it was over. The bush man never even writhed when he saw the stern face above him, and felt that his weapon was gone. Moondyne left him tied hand and foot, and returned to the sergeant, who had the horses ready. When the convict stood beside the trooper, he raised his hand suddenly, and held some thing toward him-the tracker's pistol, loaded and capped He had played and won. His enemy stood defenceless before him-and the terror of death, as he saw the position, was in the blanched face of the sergeant. "Take this pistol," said Moondyne quietly. "You may give it to me, if you will, wjlen I have kept my word." The sergeant took the weapon with a trembling hand, and his evil face had an awed look as he mounted. "Call the dogs," said Moondyne, "we shall need them to-morrow." In answer to a low whistle, the wolf-like things bounded through the bush. The men struck off at a gallop in the direction of the convicts' camp, the sergeant a little behind, with his pistol ready in the holster. CHAPTER Vil THE IRON-STONE MOUNTAINS MOONDYNE took a straight line for the Koagulup Swamp, which they "struck after a couple of hours' ride. They dismounted near the scene of the capture, and l\loondyne pulled from some bush

MOONDYNE 17 near noontime. At la.;t, when Moondyne deemed the track thoroughly broken, he turned toward the higher bank, and struck into the bush, the land beginning to rise toward the mountains when they had travell e d a few miles. It was late in the afternoon when they baited for the day's first meal. Moondyne climbed a m a hogany tree, whi ch he h a d selected from c e rtain fresh marks on its b a rk, and from a hole in the trunk pulled out two silver-tailed 'pos s ums, as large as rabbits. The sergeant lig h ted a lire on the loose san d and piled it high with dry w o od. When the 'possums were ready for cooking, the sand beneath the lire was heated a foot deep, and making a hol e in this, the game was buried, and the lire continued above. After a time the embers were thrown off, and the meat dug out. It looked burnt and black ; but when the crust was broken, the flesh within was tender and juicy. This with clear water from the iron-stone hills, made a rare meal for hungry men, after which they continued their travel. Before nightfall they had entered the first circle of hills at the foot of the mountains. With a springing hope in his heart, Moo ndyne led the way into the tortuous passes of the hills, and in a valley as silent as the gmve, and as lonely, they made their camp for the night. They were in the saddle before sunrise, and travelling in a strange and wild c o untry, which no white man, except Moondyn e had ever before entered. The scene was amazing to the sergeant, who was used to the endless sameness of the gum forests on the of the convict settlement. Here, ma s ses of dark metallic stone were he a ped in savage con fus ion, and around the s e, like great pale serpents or cables, were twisted the white roots of tuad trees. So wild was the scene with rock and torrent, underbrush and forest, that the sergeant, old bushman as he was, began to feel that it would be dangerous for a man who had not studied the lay of the land to travel here without a guide. However, he had a deep game to play, for a great st a ke. He said nothing, but watched Moondyne closely, and obs erved everything around that might assist his memory by-and-by. In the afternoon they rode through winding passes in the hills, and toward sun set came on the border of a lake in the basin of the mountains. "Now," said Moondyne, dismounting by the lake-side, and turning loose his hone to crop the rich grass, "now we may rest. We are inside the guard of the hills." The sergeant's manner had strangely altered during the long ride. He was trembling on the verge of a great discovery; but he was, to a certain extent, in the power of Moondyne. He could n o t help feeling that the man was acting truly to his word; but his own purpose was so dark and deceitful, it was impossible for him to trust another The punishment of falsehood is to suspect all truth. The mean of soul cannot conceive nobility. The vici o us cannot believe in virtue. The artificial dignity imparted by the sergeant's office had disappeared in spite of himself, and in its place returned the caitiff aspect that had marked him when he was a c o nvict and a settler. Standing on an equality with Moondyne, their places had changed, and the pris oner was the master. On the sandy shore of the beautiful lake they found turtles' eggs, and thes e, with baked bandicoot, made supper and breakfast. On resuming their ride next morning, Moondyne said : "To-night we shall reach the gold mine." The way was no longer broken; they rode in the beds of gras s y valleys, walled by pre c i pitous mo.mtains. Palms, bearing large scarlet nuts, brilliant flowers and birds, and trees and shrubs of unnamed species-all these, with delicious streams from the moun tains, made a scene of wonderful beauty. The face of Moondyne was lighted up with appreciation, and even the sergeant, coarse, cunning, and b ruti s h, felt its purifying influence. It was a long day's ride, broken only by a brief halt at n o on, when they ate a hearty meal beside a deep river that wound its myst e rious way among the hills. Hour after hour passed, and the jaded horses lagged on the way ; but still the valleys opened before the riders, and Moondyne advanced as confidently as if the road were familiar. Toward sunset he rode slowly, and with an air of expectancy. The sun had gone down behind the mountains, and the narrow valley was deep in s hadow. Before them, standing in the centre of the valley, rose a tall white tuad tree, within fifty paces of the underwood of the mountain on e;ther side. When Moondyne, who led the way, had come within a horse'& length of the tree, a spear whirred from the dark wood on the right, across his path, and struck deep into


18 NOONDYNE the tuad tree. There was not a sound in the bush to indicate the presence of an enemy. The gloom of evening had silenced even the insect life, and the silence of the valley was profound. Yet there was startling evidence of life and hostility in the whirr of the spear that bad sunk into the tree before their eyes with s uch terrific force that it quivered like a Ii ving thing as it stood out from the tuad Moondyne sprang from his horse, and running to the tree, laid his hand on the shivered spear, and shouted a few words in the language of the aborigines. A cry from the bush answered, and the next moment a tall savage sprang from the and threw himself with joyful acclamations at the feet of Moondyne. Tall, lithe, and powerful was the young bushman. He arose and leant on his hand ful of slender spears, speaking rapidly to Moondyne. Once be glanced at the sergeant, and, smiling, pointed to the still quivering spear in the. tuad. Then he turned and led them up the valley, which soon narrowed to the dimensi ons of a ravine, like the bed of a torrent, running its perplex e d way between overjoyful hanging walls of iron-stone. The sun had gone down, and the gloom of the passage became dark as midnight. The horses advanced slowly over the rugged way. A dozen determined men could hold such a pass against an army. Above their heads the travellers saw a narrow slit of sky, sprinkled with stars. The air was damp and chill between the precipitous walls. The dismal pass was many milei in length ; but at last the glare of a fire llt up the rocks ahead. The young bu s hman went forward alone, returning in a few minutes. Then Moondyne and the sergeant, proceeding with him to the end of the pass, found themselves in the opening of a small valley or basin, over which the sky, like a splendid domed roof, was clearly rounded by the tops of the mountains. A few paces from the entrance stood a group of natives, who had started from their rest at the app1oach of the party. CHAPTltR VIII THE KING OF THE VASSB BESIDK the bright fire of mahogany wood, and slowly advancing to meet the strangers, was a venerable man-an aborigine, tall, white-haired, and of great dignity. It was Te-mana-roa (the longliTed), the King of the Vasse. Graver than the sedateness of civilisation was the dignified bearing of this powerful and famous barbarian. His erect stature was touched by his great age, which outran, it was said, all the generations then living. His fame as a ruler was known throughout the whole Western country, and among the aborigines even of the far Eastern slope, two thou s and m i les away, his existence was vaguely rumoured, as in former times the European people heard reports of a mysterious oriental potentate called P1ester John. Behind the aged king, in the full light o( the tire, stood two young girls, dark and skin-clad like their elder, but of surpassing symmetry of body and beauty of feature. They were Koro and Tapairu, the grand children of Te-mana-roa. Startl<'d, timid, wondering, they stood together in the intense light, their soft fur bokas thrown back, showing to rare effect their rounded limbs and exquisitely curved bodies. The old chief welcomed Moondyne with few words, but with many signs of pleasure and deep respect ; but he looked with severe displeasure at his companion. A long and earnest conversation followed; while the cunning eyes of the sergeant, and the inquiring ones of the young bushman and his sisters, followed every of the old chief and Moondyne. It was evident that Moondyne was telling the reason of the stranger's presence-telling the story just as it had happened-that there was no other hope for life-and he had promised to show this man the gold mine. Te-mana-roa heard the story with a troubled brow, and when it had come to an end he bowed his white head in deep thought. After some moments he raised his face, am! looked long and severely at the sergeant, who grew restless under the piercing scrutiny. Still keepini:: his eyes on the trooper's; face, he said in his own tongue, half in soliloquy, &nd half in query: This n1&n cannot be trusted?"


MOONDYNE Every eye in the group WM now centred on the sergeant' face. After a pause, l\foondyne simply repeated the words of the chief: He cannot be trusted." Had he come blindfolded from the Koagulup," continued the chief, "we might lead him through the passes in the night and set him free. He has seen the hills, and noted the sun and stars as he came : he must not leave this valley." The old chief uttered the last sentence as one giving judgment. N garu," he said, the trooper's face. arose from the fire. the pass, N garu." still gazing intently on The young bushman "He must not leave Without a word the young and powerful bushman took his spears and wammara, and disappeared in the mouth of the gloomy pass. Temana-roa then arose slowly, and lighting a re>inous torch, motioned the sergeant to follow him towards a dark entrance in the iron-stone cliff that loomed above them. The sergeant obeyed, followed by Moondyne. The men sto o ped to enter the face of the cliff, but once inside, the roof rose high, and the way grew spacious. The walls were black as coal, and dripping with dampness. Not cut by the hands of man, but worn perhaps in ages past by a stream that worked its way, as patient as Fate, through the weaker parts of the rock. The roof soon rose so high that tbe torchlight was lost in the overhang i ng gloom. The passage grew wide and wider, until it seemed as if the whole interior of the mountain were hollow. There were no visible walls ; but at intervals there came from the darkness above a ghostly white stalactite pillar of vast dimen sions, down which in utter silence streamed water that glistened in the torchlight. A terror crept through the sergeant' s heart, that was only strong with evil intent. He glanced susp iciouEly at Moondyne ; But he could not read the faces of the two men beside him. They symbo!i?:ed something unknown to such as he. On them at that moment lay the great but acceptable burden of manhood-the overmastering but sweet allegiance that a true man owes to the truth. It does not need culture and fine asso cillt ion to develop in 50me men this highest quality. Those who live by externals, though steeped la their parrot learning, are not men, but shells of men. When one turns within his own heart, and finds there the motive and the master, he approaches nobility. There ls nothing of a man but the word, that is kept or broken-sacred as life or unstable as water. By this we judge each other, in philosophy and practice ; and by this test shall be ruled the ultimate judgment. Moondyne had solemnly promised to lead to the mine a man he knew to be a villain. The native chief examined the bond of his friend, and acknowledged its force. The word of the Moondyne must be kept to-night. To-morrow the fate of the stranger would be decided. They proceeded far into the interior of the mountain, until they seemed to stand in the midst of a great plain, with open sky over head, though in truth above them rose a mountain. The hght was reflected from myrilld points of spar or crystal, that shone above like stars in the blackn e ss. The air of the phce was tremulous with a cleep, ru-hing sound, like the sweep of a river ; but the flood was invisible. At last the old chief, who led the way, stood beside a s tone trough or hasin, filled with long pieces of wood st a nding on end. To these he applied the t orch, and a Aamc of resinous brightness swept instantly over the pile, and licked at the darkness above in long fiery tongues. The gloom seemed to stru!!gle with the light like opposing spirits, and a. minute pas sed before the eye took in the surrounding objects. "Now," said Moondyne to the sergeant, rai s ing his hand and sweeping it around now you are within the GOLD MINI. OF THE VASSE." The stupendous dimen s ions of the vault or chamber in which they s t o od oppressed and terrified the sergeant. Hundreds of feel above his head spre a d the shadow of the tremend o us ro of. Hundreds of feet from wh e re he stood l o omed the awful blackness of the cyclopean walls. From these he scarce could turn his eyes. Their immensity nated and stupefi e d him. Nor was it strange that such a scene should inspire awe. The vastest work of humanity dwindled into insignificance bes ide the immeasurable dimensions of this my s terious cavern. It was long before consciousness of bis purpoe returned to the sergeant ; but at length, withdrawing his eyes from the gloomy stretch of iron-stone that roofed the mine, hi.I gla.nce fell upon the wide floor, and thore, 011


20 .MOONDYNE every side, from wall to wall, were heaps and masses of yellow metal-of dust and bars and solid rocks of gold. CHAPTER IX A DARK NIGHT AND DAY THE old chief led the way from the gold mine ; and the strangely-assorted group of five per s ons sat' by the fire while meat was cooked for the travellers. The youth who had escorted the white men from the outer valley was the grandson of the chief, and brother of the beautiful girls. Savages they were, elder and girls, in the eyes of the serg eant ; but there was a thoughtfulness in Te-mana-roa, bred by the trust of treasure and the supreme confidence of his race, that elevated him to an exalted plane of manhood ; and the y oung people had much of the same quiet and dignified bearing. The revelations of the day had been too powerful for the small brain of the cunning trooper. They came before hi s memory piecemeal. He longed for an opportunity to think them over, to get them into grasp, and to pion his course of action. The splendid secret must be his own, and he must over-reach all who would to-morrow put conditions on his escape. While medi tating this, the lovely form of one of the girls, observed by his evil eye as she bent over the fire, suggested a scheme, and before the meal was finished the sergeant had worked far on the road of success. The chief and Moondyne talked long in the native language. The sisters, wrapped in soft furs, sat and listened, their large fixed on the face of Moondyne, their keen senses enjoy ing a novel pleasure as they he ar d their familiar words strangely sounded on his lips. To their s imple minds the strongly mark ed white face must have appeared almost super human, known as it had long been to them by hearsay and the unqualified affection of their people. Their girlhood was on the verge of some thing fuller ; they felt a new and ddicious joy in listening to the deep musical t on e s of the Moondyne. They had long heard how strong and brave he was; they saw that he was gentle when he spoke to them and the old chief. 'Vhen he addresse

MOONDYNE 21 around inquiringly for Moondyne and the girls. As the sergeant explained in dumb show that they had gone up the mountain yonder, there rose a gleam of hideous satisfaction in his eyes. The danger he had dre ad e d most had com e to his hand to be destroyed. All through the night he had heard the whirr of a spear from an unseen hand, and he shujdered at the danger of riding through the pass to escape. But there was no other course open. Were he to cross the mollr.tains he knew that without a guide he nev e r could reach the penal colony. Had the sage Te-mana-r oa been present, he would at once have sent the bu s hman back to his duty. But the youth had drawn his spear from the tuad-tree at the outpost, and he proc eed ed to harden again its injured point in the embers of the fire. The sergeant, who had carelessly sauntered around the fire till he sto od behind the bush man, now took a stride tow ard him, then suddenly stopped. Had the n ativ e looked around at the moment he would have s ent his spear through the stranger's heart as swiftly as he drove it into the tuad yesterday. There was murder in the sergeant' s face as he took the silent stride and paused, his hand on his pistol. "Not with this,'' he muttered, "no noise with him. B ut this will do." He stooped for a heavy club, and with a few quick and stealthy paces stood over the bus h man. Another ins rant and the club desc e nded with crushin g viol e nce. Without a sound but the deadly blow, the quivering body fell back ward on the assassin's feet. Rapidly moved in his terrible work. He crept to the entrance of the mine, and far within saw the old man moving before the flame. Pistol in hand, he entered the cavern, from which, before many minutes had pa sse d, he came forth white-faced. As he stepped from the cave, he turned a backward glance of fearful import. He saw that he had left the light burning behind him Warily scanning the mountain side, he dragged the body of the youth inside the mouth of the cavern, then seating himself by the fire, he examined his pistols, and awaited the return of Moondyne and the girls. In the sweet peace of the valley, the livid and anxious w'etch seemed the impe1 sonation of crime. He had meditated the whole night on his purpose. All he feared was partial failure. But he had provided for eYetY. chance ; he had more than half succeeded already. Another hour, and he would be sole master of the treasure-and with the sisters in his power, there was no fear of failure. It was a terrible hour to wait ; but at last he saw them c o ming, the lithe figures of the girls winding among the trees as they crossed the valley. But they were alone : Moondyne was not with them! They came with bent as if thinking of pleasant things; but they s1arted with affright, and drew close tog et her, when they saw the stranger, alone, rise from the fire and come toward them. With l\e asked for Moondyne, and they answered that he had gone across the mountain, and would return when the sun had gone down. Tills was an ominous disapp ointment; but the sergeant knew that his life would not be worth one day's purchase with such an enemy behind him. He must wait. He r e turned to the fire, the girls keeping distrustfully distant. He feared they might enter the mine, and too soon discover the dreadful secret ; so, getting between them and the rock, he lay down at the entrance. Like startled deer, the girls looked around, instinctively feeling that danger was near. The evil e yes of the sergeant n e ver left them. He h ad not foreseen this chance, and for the m o ment knew not how to proceed. The si sters stood near the fire, alarmed, alert, the left hand of one in the right of the other. At length their quick eyes fell upon blood on the sand, and followed the track till they met again the terrible face at the mouth of the mine. And as they looked, a sight beyond the prostrate man, coming from the dark entrance, froze their hearts with terror. The face of the aged chief, his white hair discolour ed with blood, appeared above the dreadful watcher, and looked out towards the girls. The old man, who had dragged his wounded body from the cave, rose to his feet when he saw the sisters, tottered forw a rd with a cry of warning, and fell across the murderer. Paralysed with horror, the sergeant could not m ove for some moments. But so o n feeling that he was not attacked, he pushed aside the senseless body, and sprang to his feet with a terrible malediction. In that moment of his blind terror the girls had disappeared.


II .MOONDYNE He ran hitbe1 and thither searching for them, but found no trace of their hiding pl a ce or path of escape. At len g th he gave up the search, a shivering dread gr o wing upon him every instant, and hastened to catch the horses. He beg an to realise that his w e ll laid plan was a failure. There was now only one course open. He must take his chance alone, and ride for his life, ndther re ting nor >leeping. The girls would run htraight to M oondyne; and he must act speedily to get beyond his reach. In a few minute s the h orse s were rea dy, standing at the entrance of the mine. The sergeant entered, and passing the fla ming basin, loaded him s elf w i th bars and pla te s of gold. Again and ag ain he returned, till the horses were laden with tre a sure. Then, mounting, he call e d the dog s ; but they had gone with Moondyne. Once more the chill of fear struck like an icicle through his heart at his utter l o neli n ess Leading the spare horse by the bridl e he rode headlong into the ravine and di s appeared. CHAPTER X ON THE TRAIL IT was evening, and the twilight was grey in the little valley, when M o ond y ne re a che d the camp. He was surpri s ed to find the p lace deserted. He had expected a welcome-had been thinking, perhaps of the glad faces that would greet him as he appro a ched the fire. But the fire was black. the embers were cold. He looked and saw that there was no light in the gold mine. A dreadful presentiment grew upon him. A gla nce for the saddles, and another across the valley, and he knew that the h o rses were gone. Following the stran g e ac t ion of the dogs, he strode toward the cave, an d there, at the entrance, read the terrible story The sight struck this strange convict like a physical blow. His limbs failed him, a n d his body sank till he knelt on the sand at the mouth of the mine He felt no wrath, b:it only crushing self-accusatinn, God forgive me 1" was the inten s e cry of heart and bra in-" God forgive me for thi s crime I" The consequence of his fatal selfi s hne s s crushed him ; and the outstretched arms of the old chief, whose unconsc iousness-for he was not dead-was fearfully like death, aeemed to call down curses on the destroyer or bis people. The years of his life went miserably dow11 befo r e Moo ndyne, till he grovelled in the desolation of his dismal abasement. A ban had followed him, and blighted all he had touched. Years were pressed into minqtes as be crouched beside the maimed bodies of his frienrls. The living man lay as motionless as the dead. The s trong mind hrought up the whole scene for judgment. His inward eye saw the fleeing murderer; but be felt more of pity for the wre tch than of vengeance. The entire oens : b i lity of Moondyne was con cent 1 ated in the line of bis own co11science, Himse lf accused him self-and should the crirr. i nal condemn another? When at he r a ised his face, with a new thought of duty, the trace of the unntterable hour wa s graven upon him in deep lines. Where were the sisters? Had they been sacrificed too? By the moonlight he searched the valley; he entered the cave, and called through all its passages. It was past mid night when he gave up the search and stood al o ne in th'! desolate place. In the loo s e sand of the valley he scooped a grave, to which he carried the body of young bushman, and buried it. When thi9 was done he proceeded to perform a like office for Temana-roa, but toward the cave he was startled at the sight of the si s ters ; one of whom Kora, stood as if watchinr: him, while the other, aided by a11 extremely olrl woman, was tending on the alm o st dying chief, whose consciousness was slowly returning. B e numberl and silent, Moondrne approached the cave. The girl who had watched him sh r ank back to the others. Tapairu, the young e r si s ter, arose and faced the white with a thr e a l ening as p ect. She pointed her finger toward the p a s s. "Go she said sternly, in her own t o ngue. M o ond}'l\e paused and looked at her. "Begone she cried, still pointing; and once again came the word s begone, accu.-sed I" R e morse had strangled grief in Mo ondyne's brea s t, or the agony of th e girl uttered in thill terrible reproach, woulrl have almost killed him Accuned, she said, and he knew that t h e wor d was tru e Ile turned from the place, not toward the paas, but towud the mountains, and walked


.MOON.D YN.E from the valley with an aimless purpose, and a heart &lied with ashes. For hours he held steadily on, heedless of direction. He marked no places-had no thoughts-only the one gnawini;: and con suming presence of the ruin he had wrought. The dogs followed him, tired and spiritless. The moon sank, and the sun rose, and still the lonely man held his straight and a i mless road-across mountains and through ravines, until at his consciousness was recalled as he recognized the valley in which he stood as one he had travelled two days before, on the way to the gold mine. Stretching his exhau s ted body on a sheltered bank beside a stream, he fell into a deep sleep that lasted many hours. He awoke with a start, as if a voice bad called him. In an instant his brow was set and his mind determined. He glanced at the sun to settle his direction, and then walked slowly across the valley, intently observing the ground. Before he had taken a hundred paces he stopped suddenly, turned at right angles down the valley, and strode on with a purpo s e, that though rapidly, almo s t instan taneously formed, had evidently taken full possession of his will. Sometimes people of keen sensibility lie down to sleep with a trouble on the mind, and an unsettled purpose, and wake in the night to find the brain clear and the problem solved. From this process of unconscious cer e bration Movndyne awoke with a complete and settled resolution. There could be no doubt of the determina tion in his mind. He had struck the trail of the murderer. There was no more indirection or hesitation in his manner. He settled down to the pursuit with a grim and terrible earnestness. His purpose was clear before him-to stop the devil he had let loose-to prevent the esca pc of the assassin-to save the people who had tTUsted and saved him. He would not turn from this intent though the track led him to the pri s on gate of Fremantle; and even there, in the face of the guards, he would slay the wretch before he had betrayed the secret. Death is on foe trail of every man ; but we have grown usr:cl to him, and heed him not. Crime and Sin are following us-will surely find us out, and some

MOONDYNE save what he pres,,ed from tlte pith of the palms, and even the se were growing scarce. The only life on the plains was the hard and dusty scrub. Every hour brought a more hopeless and grislier desolation. How was it with Moondyne? The strong will still upheld him. He knew he had gained till Lhey took to the plains; but he also knew that here the mounted man had the advantage. Every day the was less distinct, and he suffered more and more from thirst. The palms he pas s ed had been opened by the sergeant, and he had to leave the trail to find one untouched. The sun flamed in the bare sky, and the sand was so hot that the air hung above it in a tremulous haze. In the woods the dogs had brought him food; but no living thing was to be hunted on the plains. He had lived two days on Lhe pith of the palms. On the third d a y Moondyne with difficulty found the sand trail, which had been blown over by the night breeze. He had slept on the shelterless desert, and had dreamt of sweet wells of water as the lig h t dew fell on his parched body. This day he was quite alone. The dog s suffering from thirst, had de se rted him in the night. He began the day with a firm heart but an unsteady step. There was not a palm in sight. It was hot noon before h e found a small scrub to moi s ten his throat a nd lips. But to-day, he thought, he mu s t come face to face with the villain, and would kill him like a wild beast on the desert ; and the thought upheld him. His head was bare and hi s body nearly naked. Another man would have fallen senseless under the cruel sun ; but Moondyne did not even rest-as the day passed he di d not seem to need rest. It was strange how pleasant, how like a dream, part of that day app e ared. Sometimes he seemed to be awake, and to know that he was moving over the sand, and with a dre a d purpose ; but at these times he knew that the trai l had di sappeared-that he was blindly going forward, lost on the wilderness. To wards evening the cool breeze cre eping over the sand dispelled the dreams and made himself mercilessly con s cious. The large red sun wa s standing on the horizon of 5and, and an awful shadow seemed waiting to fall upon the desert. When the sun had gone d o wn, and the wanderer looked at the stars, there came to him a new Thought, like a friend, with a grave but not unkind face-a vast and solemn Thought, that held him for a long time with praised face and hands, as if it had been whispered from the deep quiet sky. Slowly he walked with his new communion, and he saw before him in the moonlight two palms, he did not rush to cut them open, but stood beside them smiling. Opening one, at length, he took the mor s el of pith, and ate, a n d slept How sweet it was to wake up and see the wide sky stu d ded with golden stars-to feel that there we r e no bonds any more, nor hopes, n o r heart-burning s The Divine Thought that had come to him the day before wa s withhim still-grave and kindly, and now, they two were so utterly alone, it s eem e d almost to smile. He raised hi s bo d y and kne lt upon the sand, lo oking upward, and all thing s seemed closing quietly in upon him, as if coming to a great rest, and he would have lain d o wn on the sand at peace -but a cry, a human-like cry, startled him in t o w a kefulne ss-surely it was a cry It was clear and near, and full of suffering. S u r e ly he had heard-he had not dreamt of such a cry Again-God how near and how k e en it was-from the darkness-a cry of mortal agony With a t o tter i ng step Moondyne ran towards the woef u l sound. H e s aw by the moonlight a dark object on the sand. The long, weak c r y hurri e d him on, till he stood beside the poor throat whence it came, and was smote with pity at the dismal sight. On the sand lay two horses, chained at the neck-o ne dead, the other dying in an agony of thirst and impri so nment. Beside the dead h o rse, almost burierl in the sand, as he had fallen from the saddle, lay a man, seemingly de a d, but who s e glazing eyes turned with hi d eous s uffering as Moondyne app roached. The wretched being was powerless to fr.,e himself from the fallen horse ; and upon his b o dy, and all around him, were scattered heavy bars and plates of gold Moo ndyne l oose d the chain fro m th e suffer ing horse, that strue-g led to its feet, ran forward a few yards, and fell dead on the sand. The men's eyes met, and the blistered lips of the sergeant-for it was he-moved in piteous appeal. Moonclyne paused one stem moment, then turned and ran from the place -ran toward the palm near which he had slept. With hasty hand he tore it open and cut out the pith, and sped back to the suffenir.


.. MOONDYNE He knelt down, and squeezed the precious moisture into the mouth of the dying manthe man wh o m he had fnllowed into the desert to kill like a "ild beast. Till the last d r op was gone he pressed the y o ung wood. Then the guilty wret c h rai,ed bis eyes and looked at Moondyne -the glazed eyes grew bright, and brighter, till a tear rose within them, and rolled down the stained and sin-lin e d face. The bak e d lip s moved, and the weak han r ls were raised impl o r i ngl y The sergeant fell back dead. Mo n ndyne knew th a t hi s last breath was contrition, and his last d umb cry "Pardon." Then, too, the s trength faded from the limbs and the light fro m the eyes ot M oondyne -and as he sank to the earth, the great Thought that had come to him filled his heart with peace-and he lay unconscious b e s ide the dead. The sun ro s e on the desert, '?ut the sleeper did not m ov e. Before the day w as an hour old, other forms rapidly cross e d the plainnot wanderers, but fierce s kin -cla d men, in search of vengeance. They the mselves from their horses when they reached the $Cene; and one, th rowing himself upon the body o f the serge an t, sprang back with a guttural cry of wrath and disapp o intment, which was echoed by the savage party. Next moment, one of the nativ e s ; stooping If lay his on the h e art of the utte red an excited call. Thespearmen crowded around, and one poured water from a skin on the face and body of the sensele s s man. They raised him to the arms of a strong rid e r, while another took the reins, and the wild party struck off at a full gallop toward t he mountains. W h en Moondyne returned to con s ciousness, many d a ys after h i s rescu e he was fre e from pursui t h e bad cut for ever the b ond of the Penal C o lony ; above him bent the deep eyes and kind faces o f the ol d chief and the sisters, Koro and Tepairu, and a ro und him were the hills that shut in the Valley of the Vasse Gold Mine. He closed his eyes again, and seemed to sleep for a little while. Then he l o oked up and met the face of Te-mana-roa kin d ly watch g him. "I am free!" he only said. Then n ing to the siste r s : "I am not accursed ; and Koro and Tepairu answered with kind s mil e s. l3oo k Seconb THE SANDALWOOD TRADE CHAP.l'ER I THK MATE OF THE CANTON IT is midw i nter, in a little L a ncashire v ill a ge on the coast, not far from :Liver pool. One quiet main street, crossed by three or four short side stre e ts, that lead in the summ er days into the swe e t m eadows and orchards. One of these side streets has onl y three houses on one side, separ a t ed by go o dly garden s The house in th e cen t r e i s the smallest, hut it is extremely neat, and the gard e n fairly glows with c o lour. This is the home of Mrs. Walm s l e y, a widow ; and the garden is looked after by herself and her daught e r Alice, abo ut six teen years old. The house on th e right of Mrs Walmsley's belongs to Mr. Drap er, the richest man in the village, a retired shop keep er. The house on the left belongs to Captain Sheridan, a bluff old Irishman, r e t i red from t he Navy, and n o w Inspector of Coast Guards, who s e family c o nsi s ts of his son and dau ghte r Will She ridan, his son, be ing just twen t y years ol d At the ga t e of Draper s gar d en, opening on the s tre e t, s t and s a h a ndsome young man in the uni form o f the merchant marine. He is Sam Dra p e r, first officer of the Canton, arrived a few weeks before from China. "Good-morning, Alice," he says, in a cheerful but not a pleasant voice, as Alice W alm5le y p a sse s down the road. Alice s t opped and chatted lightly for a minute with h e r old schoolmate. Draper evid e ntly p a id her a com p liment, for her cheek s were flushed as she enterecl her mother's gat e, standing near which was young Sheridan, whom she slightly saluted and hurriedly passed, much to hia surprise,


MOONDYNE for their relations were, at least, of the oldest ancl closest friendship. "Alice," said Will, in a wondering tone, as the girl passed with her flushed face. "Well-did you speak?" And she paused and turned her head. Will Sheridan loved Alice, and she knew it, though no word had been spoken. He had loved her for years in a boy's way, cherishing her memory on his long voyages, for Will too, was a sailor, as were almost all the young men of the village ; but he was soon to leav'! home for a two years' service on Sam Draper's vessel, and of late his heart had been urging him to speak to Alice. He was a quiet, thoughtful, manly young fellow, with nothing particular about him, except this strong secret love for the prettiest girl in the village. "Yes, I spoke," he answered hesitatingly, as if wounded ; but perhaps you haven't time to lioten." "What is it, Will?" she said, in a kindlier tone, and smiling, though before she spoke 1he saw with a side glance that Sam Draper bad gone away from the gate. "Oh, it isn't anything particular," said Will : only there's rare skating on the mill pond, and I was going there this afternoon." And-?" queried Alice archly. "Yes-I wish you would," said Will earnestly. "Yes-I think I will," she replied laugh infly, "though you haven't told me yet what I am to do." "Why, go skating with me," said Will, highly pleased ; "Sam Draper and his sisters are going, and there will be a crowd from the village. Shall I come for you at three ? "Yes,'' she replied, "I'll be ready;" and as &he turned toward her mother's house, the ftush was in her face again. Will Sheridan walked lightly on, thinking happy thoughts. Passing Draper's gate, Sam Draper stepped from the shrubbery, whence he had observed the interview. He was a tall, handsome fellow, with fair hair and blue eyes; not the soft blue which usually denotes good-natur<', but a pale slaty blue that has a bard and shallow look. He had a free-and easy way with him that made people who met him for the first time think he was cheerful and amiable. But if yc;iu observed him closely, you would see, in the midst of a bol1terou1 laugh, that the cold blue eyes were keenly watchin& yov, without a parts.le of mirth. There was something never to be forgotten by those who discovered this double expression in Draper's face. lie had a habit of waving his arms in a boisterous way, and bendini: his body, as if to emphasize the heartiness of his lau, h or the warmth of his greeting. But while these visible expressions of jollity were in full play, if you caught the cold and cal culating look from the blue eyes that were weighing you up while off your guard, you would shudder as if you had looked suddenly into the eyes of a snake. Draper knew, too, that his face could be read by keen eyes ; and he tried to mask even the habit of concealment, until at last his duplicity had become extremely artful and hard to be discovered. But he always knew the people who had caught his eye and read his soul. He never tried his boisterous manner on them again, but treated them gravely and quietly. But these were the people he hated. Seven years before, when he and Will Sheridan were schoolboys, Sheridan not only saw through the falsehood of D r aper's manner, but exp o sed it before the whole school. Nearly every boy in the school had had some reason to dislike Draper, but his loud, good-natured way had kept them from speaking. But when Will Sheridan publicly pointed out the warm laugh and the cold eye, the friendly word and the cruel act, everyone saw it at a glance, and a public opinion against wa.; instantly made among his schoolfellows, which no af er effort of bis could quite remove. From that day he nouris :

MOONDYNE Al Draper stepped from the shrubbery and bailed Will with a che e ry word, his hand was outstretched in a most cordial way, and his lips smiled ; but bis eye was keen and smile less, and as cold as ice. He had known for years of Will's affection for Alice Walmsley; and it was commonly said in the village that Alice returned his love. Why don't you ask Alice to go skating this afternoon?" said Draper. "I have just asked her," said Will, "and she is going." "Bravo I" said Draper, in a hearty tone, so &.r as the sound went ; I thought she would like to be asked when I told her half an hour ago that we were going." Will Sheridan had some light word on his lip, but he did not speak it ; and bis smile faded, though without cause, while he looked at Draper's pleasant face. "She didn't say he bad told her," be thought, and somehow the thought troubled him. But be put it away, and forgot all about it before the afternoon. The mill-pond was covered with skaters when Will and Alice arrived. They had often skated together before, and because Alice was timid on the ice, she used to hold Will's band or take his arm ; and now and then, and as often as be could, Will s arm was around her, as he struck out strongly and rapidly. Unconsciously they had assumed settled relations toward each other-she resting on him with confidence, and he quite assured of her trust. To-day there was a disturbing element somewhere. Before they had been ten minutes on the ice, Will noticed that Alice was, for the first time in her life, listening inattentively to his words And more than once he saw her looking over his shoulder, as if seeking s o meone in the crowd o f skaters. After a while she evidently found whom she had sought, anJ her face brightened. Will, at the moment, asked her some que s ti o n, and she did not bear him at first, but made him repeat the word. With a strange sinking of the heart, he followed the direction of the girl's eyes, ancl was just in time to see Sam Draper kiss his hand to her-and Alice smiled. Will Sheridan was a sen itive and proud young fellow, and bis quick feeling s of honour were wounded by what be perhaps too hastily deemed the deceit of Alice Walmsley. A change had certainly come in her relation to him, but what right had he to ehafl9 her with deceit? He had no claim on herhad never spoken a word of love to her in his life. The eTening had closed when he left her at her mother's gate. They said "Good-night" in a new fashion-the words were as cold as the wind, and the touch of the hands was brief and formal. After that Will did not ask Alice to walk or skate with him. He called no more at her mother's house as he used to do. He went to none of the usual places of meeting with her. If he had gone, he should have been all the more lonely ; for he could not pretend to be pleasantly engaged with others while his heart was full of pain and unrest. But he could not help watching for her from his room window ; and surely it were better for his happine s s had he overcome this too. He saw that where he used to be, there every day was his rival. He heard Draper's loud and happy voice and laughter; and he noticed that Alice was happier and far more boist e rous than ever he had known her-and that her happiness and gaiety became even louder when s he knew he was observing. But at last came the time of the Canton's saili ng. On the evening before leaving, Will Sheridan went to Mrs. Walmsley's to say good-bye, and as Alice was not there, he remained talking with her mother, with whom he had always been a favourite. After a while he heard the gate swing, and saw Alice approaching the house, and Draper looking after her from the gate. When Alice entered, he was standing and bidding farewell to her mother, who was weeping quietly Alice understood all, and the fiush faded fr o m her cheek. "Good-bye, Alice," he said, holding out his hand. "You know I am g n ing away in the morning." He had walk e d towards the door as he sp o ke, keeping her hand, and now they sto o d in the porch. He saw the tears in her eyes, and his courage gave w:iy, for he harl only a boy's heart to bear a man's gri ef, and he covered his face with his hands and sobbed. In a few moments he was calm, and he bent over the weeping girl. Alice I" he whi s pered tenderly, an r she raised her tear face to his breast. Poor Will, yearn in g to take her in his arms, rememb e ring what he bad seen, only her hand in bis, and stooping, kissed her on the forehead aga.1n and


MOONDYNE again. Then he walked, tear-blinded, down the straight path to the gate. A moment alter, he fdt a man's hand on bis collar, and turning, met the hard eyes of Draper. Sheridan's face was still quivering with powerful emotion. What do you mean, Draper?' he demanded angrily, dashing the h'1.nd aside. "I mean to let you know," said Draper contemptuously, weighing the words, "that I saw all your snivelling scene, and that I have seen all your impertinent attentions to that girl." Will Sheridan controlled himself by a violent effort, b e cause the name of Alice Walmsley was in question. "That girl, as you impertinently call her," he said calmly, "is one of my oldest friends. My attentions have never been impertin ent to her." "You lie, you cur brutally answered Draper. Though few words had been spoken, here was the culmination of an enmity that was old and rankling. On both sides there had been repression of fee l ing ; but now the match had touched the powd e r, and the wrath Hamed. The word had barely passed the insulter's lips, when he reeled and tumbled headlong from Sheridan's terrible blow. As s o on as the blow was delivered, Will turned and walked towards his own home, never even looking behind. It was half a minute before Draper picked himself from the frozen earth, still dazed with the shock. He showed no desire to follow, or continue the quarrel. With teeth set like a vice, and a livid face, he lo o ked after the strong figure of Will, till he turned into his father's house. Next day, the young men left the village, and entered on their duty as offic ers of the Canton, which lay in a Liverp oo l d o ck. No one knew of their quarrel, as neither had spoken of it, and there had been no witnesses The preparations for sea k ep t t hem apart for several days. The vessel sa i l e d from Liver pool, and soon cleared the Channel. Two weeks later, when the ship p a ssed on a beauti ful night within sight of the Western I s lands, the young men came face to face on the poop. Will Sheridan had come on deck to enjoy the delightful scene, not thinking that the first mate was officer of the watch. Draper," said Will, in a friendly tone, holding out his hand when they met, I did not lmowyou were engaged to Miu Walmley. We should both be sorry for what happened that night." The eyes of Draper glittered like steel as he answered, in a sneering tone : And who told you, sir, that I engaged?" I judged so from your conduct," said Will. You arc not a good judge, then," answe r ed Draper. Then there's all the less reason for us to quarrel, man. Take back your insulting w o rds, and let me apologize for my v10lence.'' "My insulting words-let me see, what were Ah, yes,"-he spoke slowly, if he meant to wound with the repetition"I think 1 said that I had been a witness to your snivelling scene of farewell, and that I was acquainted with your un s ought and impertinent attentions to that girl. By the way, I may tell you that she herself made me acquainted with the offensive persistence of her obtuse admirer." "She told you I" said Will, staggered by the word. She said my love \ as offensive to her?" Ha! no-not love exactly,'' said the other, with the same biting sneer; "I believe you never gave her a chance to fling that in your teeth." "Take care, Draper said Sheridan. "Well, let us go on with the insulting words, as you choose to call them. I also sa i d you were a l i ar, if I remember well; and a cur-did I not?" Why do you repeat the foul words, man?" asked Sheridan indignantly. Why? Because I used them after careful choo sing-because they are true! Stay!-" he added, raising his voice, and backing to the rail, a s he saw Sheridan approaching. "I am the first officer of this ship, and if you dare to raise your hand against me, I will sho o t you like a dog. We' ll have no mutiny here." "Mutiny I" cried She ridan, more astounded and puz z led than angry. "What in heaven's name are you talking about? I want to be calm, Draper, for old time s sake. You call me vile names, and threaten my life, and yet I have given you no earthly cause. What do you mean?" "I mean, that he who pretends to be my friend, while he ruins my character, is a liar ; and that he who tells a slander in secret is a coward."


MOONDYNE "Slander your character Sheridan. I never said an ill word of you-though I have unwillingly become acquainted with some things that I wish I had never known." The latter part of the sen t ence wa s slowly added. Draper winced as if cut with a whip. "You have made a charge," continued Sheridan sternly, "and you must explain it. How have I slandered you?" Draper he s itated. He hated the man before him like a fiend ; but he h at ed still more the subject he had now to touch. "You knew about that g irl in Calcut ta," he said, now fairly livid with passion; no one in England knew it but you." "Yes," 5aid Sheridan slowly, "I learnt something about it, agai ns t my will. "Against your will!" sneered the other. "Was it against your will you told the story to-her?" Draper never repeated Alice's name, as if it were unpleasant to his tongue. "I never mentioned your shameful affairs," answered Sheridan, with scorn and ind i gna tion ; "but you are justly punished to have thought so." "You did tell her cried D r aper, terribly excited; "you told her about my marriage in Calcutta." Your marriage and Sheridan stepped back, as if recoiling from a reptile. Then, after a pause, as if speaking to a condemn e d culprit : "Your infamy is deeper than I thought. I did not know till now that your victim in Calcutta was al s o your wife." With lightning rapidity Draper saw the dreadful confession his error had led him into. He knew that Sheridan spoke the truth, and he hurriedly attempted to close the grave he had exp o sed. She is dead," he said, searching Sheridan's face ; you should have known that too." "Dead or alive, God have pity on her!" answered Sheridan, who s e face and voice were filled with revulsi o n and contempt. "For her sake, I pray that she may be dead; but I do not believe you. I shall see that those be warned in time who arc still in danger." Sheridan deliberately turned on his heel and entered the cabin, while Drap e r, confounded and dismayed at bis self-conviction, leant on the rail, looking out at sea, cursing his own stupidity that had betrayed him. "Who else could have known? he mut tered ; and who else could have told her? But she doesn't wholly believe it-and when I swore it was false that la s t I think she believed me. I'll ta.kc care, at all events, that he shall have no chance to unsay my word." For hours the brooding rascal walked the poop-deck till the watch was changed, when be went below, and tried to sleep. CHAPTER II COUNTERMINING THE MINER WILL SHERIDAN'S life on the Canton was a restless and unhappy one from the night of his altercation with Draper. He was daily as s ociated with a man who had exposed bis own villainy ; a caitiff so vile that he had sought, and probably still intended, to blight the life of a girl he had known from childhood. The discipline of the ship required a certain and respect towards the first officer. This formal recognition Will paid, but nothing more. A few days after this meeting, Draper made an advance toward i ntimacy; but this was repelled with such cold severity as showed him that he had nothing to expect in future from :->beridan's forbear a nce. "Do you dare to address me as a friend again?" Will said sternly_ "I shall write to England from the firs t port, and expose you as the scoundrel you are." Draper's d ry lip s-his lip s were always dry -moved as if he were s p e aking, but no words came. His sh a llow eyes became wells of hate. He passed by Sheridan without reply, and went to his room. There are a hundred ways in which the chief officer of a large ship can grind his jnferiors ; and Sheridan every day felt the subtle malevolence of his enemy. But these persecutions he did not heed. He knew that underneath these sympt oms lay a more dangerous rancour that, s ooner or later, would try to do him a deadly injury. What the form o f the attack might be he knew not. But he prepared himself for emtrgencies. Will Sheridan was not only a brave and straightforward young fellow, but he had a clever head on his shoulders. Why should I let this cunning scoundrel injure me?" he asked himself. His villainy is easily seen through, and I'm going to watch him closely." He did watch him, and it served him well. Every secret and dangerous move he sa.w and


30 MOONDYNE disarranged. A trumped-up plan of mutiny among the men-which would have excused bloodshed, and the shooting of an officer, perhaps, by accident-he nipped in the bud, and almost exposed the machinations of him who hatched it. Draper soon understood that he was playing with his master, and changed his method. He began to wait for an opportunity instead of making one. This will be the case almost invariably ; when honest men are fighting cowards and slanderers, the surest way to defeat them is by constant watchfulness. Evil-minded people are generally shallow, and easily countermined. Only, when .they are countermined, they should be blown up, and never spared. The Canton touched at Singapore for orders, and was detained a week. Will Sheridan resolved that on the night before she sailed he would leave the ship. Draper seemed to divine his purpose, and watched him like a tiger. But Will's constant atten tion to duty, and his equable temper, deceived the watcher. The night before the Canton was to sail, Will dropt a bundle into a dingy under the bow, swung himself aft e r it, and went ashore. A close search was made for him next day by the police, headed by Draper, the law in those ports being rigid against deserters. But he could not be found, and the Canton sailed without her second officer. The first thing Will Sheridan did when he knew he was out of danger was to write to Mrs. Walmsley, warning her of Draper's marriage in India. This done, he set about getting some sort of employment. He was in a strange place, and he knew no business except that of the sea. In a few days he shipped as mate on a bark bound for Western Australia, in the sandalwood trade. A large and lucrative trade in sandalwood is carried on between China, India, and the Penal Colony. Vast districts in West Australia are covered with this precious wood, which is cut by ticket-of-leave men, and shipped to China and India, where it is used in the burning of incense in the Joss bouses or temples, and in the delicate cabinet and marquetry work which is so plentiful in oriental countries. This was a life that suited Sheridan's vigorous temperament. He found his pation pleuant, and would have quite for. i:otten the enmity of Draper ; but he still feared that bis influence over Alice W11lmsley bad not been broken. He spent a year in the sandalwood trade, and was thinking of taking a trip to England, when be received a package through the post office at Shanghai, containing all his letten, and a brief, unfriendly message in Alice Walmsley's handwriting, informing him that she was Captain Draper's wife, and that she scorned the cowardly nature that sought to destroy an honourable man's good name by malicious falsehood. Will Sheridan was dumfounded and grieved to the heart. In all he had previously borne, in bis efforts to crush out of his heart a hope less passion almost as strong as bis life, be had, he thought, sounded the depths of his love for Alice Walmsley. But now, when be knew her utterly beyond his reach, and saw opening before her a desert life of misery and despair, the pity in bis heart almost killed htm. He would have given his life then that his enemy might be an honourable man. Her letter did not wound him, because he knew she had been deceived. At first be knew not what to do. He feared he bad been hasty-he did not actu ally know that Draper was a villain-his own accusing word was not enough, perhaps, or it might bear an explanation. Should he write to Alice and take back his cruel charges 1 Or should be remain silent, and let time unravel the trouble ? To do the first would be wrong-to do the second might be woefully unjust. The true course was to find out the truth ; to go to Calcutta and learn for himself ; and if he were wrong, to publicly make acknowledg ment. If he were right, be could remain silent if it were for the best. Two months afterward, Will Sheridan returned from Calcutta to Shanghai. He had found out the truth. He proceeded at once to Australia to join his ship, and from that time he wrote no more to England. One part of his life, the sweet and tender part, without fault of his, bad suffered woefully, and had died before his eyes. It was shrpuded in bis memory, and buried ia bil heart. Like a brave man, he would not sil and moan over the loss. He set bis face to duty, hoping and raying that time would take the gnawing pain from his heart.


MOONDYNE CHAPTER III THE SANDALWOOD AGENCY ABOUT a year after his trip to Calcutta, while his ship lay in Shanghai, Sheridan received an invitation to dinner from the chief owner, a wealthy and acute old Scotchman, whose palatial residence and beautiful grounds over looked the town. He was surprised at the courtesy, and showed the invitation to the captain, a kind old sailor, who had formed an affection for Will from the first. Go, go, my lad," said Captain Mathews. "It's a piece of luck, no doubt. l'n heard that the old man has a daughter, or a niece, though I believe she's rather tough ; but what's that, when she has a shipload of money? You're in luck, youngster; of course you'll go, and in your best rig too. I'll lend you my old claw-hammer coat." "Thank you, Captain," said Will, smiling inwardly, as his eye took in the short but portly dimensions of his old friend ; but I think I'll go as a plain sailor, without any pretence of society dress." "Well, I don't know but you're right, Sheridan," responded the captain; "a sailor's jacket is fit for any man or any place, when be who wears it loves his profession, and is worthy of it." That evening saw Will Sheridan enter Mr. MacKay's drawing-room, as handsome and gentlemanly a fellow as ever gave an order through a trumpet. "Mr. Sheridan," said the kind old merchant, coming forward to meet him, you are welcome for your own sake, and for that of a dear old friend. You are not aware, I think, that yonr father and I were midshipmen together forty years ago." Will was surprised, but gratified. He bad half expected to be patronized, and indeed was more than ball prepared to resent such treatment. Mr. MacKay presented Will to his familyMrs. MacKay, an invalid, and his step daughter, Miss Gifford, a handsome, buxom, coo

32 MOON.DYNE it is bought by speculators, who team it to Bunbury ; and from these fellows, who manage to control the wood, your agent buys it at the wharf, paying whatever price is asked." You would have him do more?" asked MacKay. "I would change the whole plan, sir, if it were my concern. First, I would lease all, or as much as I. could, of the sandalwood land direct from the Government, then I would set my hired cutters to work, and then carry the wood in my own teams to the wharf. The original cost can be decreased at least 50 per cent. And this, there are other valuo ble substances, such as gum, tan-bark, and skins. that could be carried and shipped at the same time." The merchant listened attentively to broad outline of Will's plans, which he spoke about quik (redy, as one out > ide the matter, but familiar "ith it. "Mr. Sheridan," said Mr. MacKay at length, "o ur Company has decided to c h ange our agent in Western Australia, and it gtves me great pleasure to offer you the position. I will see," he added, interrupting Will's sur prised exclamation, that you shall have sufficient power at your disposal to carry out your ideas with regard to the extension of the trade." Will ha di r heard another word for the rest of the evening. His mind scarcely took in the change, from the po or and unknown sailor, at one st ep, to a man qf large influence and positi o n, for such wouls so well as him who w a s trained at sea," and divers other sentences filled w ith wis d om lirawn from personal pride and marine philosophy. CHAPTER IV TH& TEAMSTERS' TAVERN "CURSE that fellow!" hissed Lame Scotty through his clenched teeth, I hate him." The word was empha s ized by a blow on the rickety table that made the glasses jump. The scene was a public-house in the little mahogany town of Bunbury, Western Aus tralia; the tim e six months after Will Sheridan had as s umed the sandalwood agency. The speaker was a ticketo f-leave man-a wiry, red-eyed fellow of middle-age, face had the cunning ferocity of a ferret. His auditors were a crowd of woodcutters and ex-convict team s ters, the latter group sitting with him at a long table. Don't talk so loud, Scotty," said a rough looking man of imm e nse stature, with an axe stropped on his back, who leant, smoking, against the fir place; "don't shout so, my friend, or Ag nt Sheridan will hear it, and kick you out of the team he gave you for charity." "Kick me out-I" retorted Scotty, with an oath ; "he daren't touch me. Curse his charity; he gave me a team for his own inter est." "Bah said the big woodcutter, without moving, "yo u were always a brag. He gave work and wages to you and a lot of your ugly gang th e re for d o wnright charity ; and, like the houuds you always were, you have no than ks in you." Though the gang so broadly referred to were at the table with Scotty, no one resented the wood c utter' s epithet, though dark looks were flung at him. "This agent has ruin e d the sandalwood trade," said Scottv, addr e ssing himse l f to the arous e d woodcutters. "Bef.ire he came here, a p o or man could earn a few pound<; but now we ain't any better than chain-gang men.,, A murmur o f approval from the teamsters followed the rema k, and Scotty felt that he h a d struck a popular note. Ev e n o ne or two of the woo dcutters at another table struck the. board in approval. "No, you ain't any better than chain-gang men, that's true," said the brawny bearer of the axe, still quietly smoking ; "nor you never were. There's where the whole boiling lot of you ought to be still. You talk of ruining poor men," he continued, slightly


MOONDYNE 33 position, so o.s to face gcotty, "you darned foitl I know you-and these men know you," pointing to the group of woodcutters. Before this new system came with this new age\)t, you and your rats there had the whole trade in your hands. You bought from the cutters at your own price, and you paid them in rum. You cheated the woodcutters and swindled the dealers, till the wonder was that some day you weren't found chopped to pieces for your villainy." "That's true as Gospel," said one of the woodcutters who had lately applauded Scotty. "You're an infernal set of wampires, you are!" Scotty and his ill-looking crew realized that the woodcutter "had got the drop on them, dead sure." A stamping and tramping in the outer room or store suggested new arrivals, as the place was a kind of inn. All eyes were turned on the door, where entered, one after another, about a dozen powerful fellows, in the picturesque garb of stockriders who noisiiy but good-humouredly sat them down to the large central table, and called for something to eat and drink. The interrupted discussion not resumed, but a whispered and earnest comment on the new-com ers began among Sc o tty's gang. ''Where do you fellows hail from?" asked the big woodcutter, after waiting a while, and in a friendly tone. "From Dardanup," saicl one of the stock rider s The whispering between Scotty and his friends ceased, the last word passed round being strongly emphasized : "Darda11up Irish." There was a colony of Irish settlers at Dardanup, free men, who had emigrated there forty years before, when the 'vVestern Col ony was free from the criminal taint. The families were all related to each other by inter-marriage ; and the men of the whole settlement, who had been born and reared in the bush, were famous throughout the colony for strength, horsemanship, good-fel!"owship, and hard fighting qualities. "From Dar

3'4 MOONDYNE Scotty handed him the bottle and a glass, noticing that he had not tasted. No, thank you," said the big man, with a shake of the head, "none of that for me." A few moments afterwards one of the Dardanup men held up his glass to the big man of the axe. "Dri nk with me," he said. "Ay, lad," said the wood < utter, "pass your hottle. I'll drink with you all night." Scotty pretended not to have noted nor heard ; but as soon as he could he escaped from the room with his ass o ciates. The Dardanup men ate a mighty supper, and afterwards had a wild in which the woodcutter was a Powerful and hearty fellow s full of good nature, but dangerous men to rou s e, these young Australians, and their strong blo o d was excited by the new enterprise they had undertaken. A combination had heen mode among the ticketof-leave teamsters and buyer s against the new agent of the sand:ilwood trade, who had revolutionized the old system. It had come to a serious pass with the business, and Agent Sheridan, knowing that a weak front would invite ruin, had resolved to test the opposition at once, rather than wait for its bursting. He rode to Dardanup, and called a meeting of the stockri d crs, who, though every one born in Australia, and bred to the bu' h frnm infancy, had a warm feeling for ::iheridan, perhaps because of h i s Irish name. He laid the case 1 before them without hiding the danger. The ticket-of-leave teamsters were resolved to destroy the sandalwood teams of the company, by rolling great rocks on them as they passed through the Blackwood Gor ge. The Hlackwood Gorge was the nar r ow bed of a stream that wound among the Iron-stone Hills. In the rain y seas o n it was filled with a viole nt A o od ; but for six months of the year its bed was qui t e dry, and wns u secl as a road to reach the d istricts. For more than t h irty miles the patient oxen followed 1hi' rugo.;ed hridle path; a d for the whole di,tance he way b "t"een the feet of 1r .. cipices and st ep monntains. It would be an e:1sy matter to blo ck np or destroy a slow moving train in such a gully. And that the dis : h o r g ed t i ck e t -o' l e ave tc .1mst r s h nrl on this erace revenge, th e fullest proof was in the hands ot Age11t Sheridan. He bad considered the ma.ttu well, and he was resolved on a plan of action. He told the Dardanup bu-hmen that he wanted twenty four men, twelve to act as teamsters, and twelve as a reserve. In a few minutes he had booked che names and scttle1l the co11ditions with two dozen of the strongest and boldest men in Western Australia. The meeting in the tavern was the first intimation the ticket-of-leave men had that their plan ha

11-IOONDYNE 35 CHAPTER V IN SEARCH OF HIS SORROW NINE years crowcled with successful enterprise had made Will Sheridan a strong man in worldly wisclom and wealth. His healthy influ ence bad been felt and acknowledged all over the West Australian Colony. His direct attack on all obstacles never failed, whe1her the barriers were mountains or men. He had ra ise d the sandal wood trade into cosmopolitan commerce. In nine years he had made a national industry for the country in which he lived ; had grown rich himself, without selfishly seeking it, and in pro p ortion bad made millionaires of the company that employed him. When men of large intelligence, foresight, and boldness, break into new fields, they may gold by the handful. So it wa with this en ergetic work e r. His practical mind turned everyth ing into account. H;e inquired from the natives h o w they cured the soft kangaroo skins they wore as bokas, and learned that the red gum, tons of which c o uld be g athered in a day, was the most powerful tan in the world. He at once shipped twenty tons of it to Liverpool as an experiment. The next yenr he transp,,rted two hundred thousand pounds' worth; and five years fro m that time Aus tralian red gum was an article of universal trade. He saw a felled boolah tre e in the rainy season into a transparent substance like gum arabic ; anct three year,; afterwa r ds West Austra lia supplied near l y all the white gum in the tnark e ts of civi l izati o n. One might conclude that the man who could set his mind so persistently at work in this ene r getic fabion mu> t be thoroughly engaged, and that his rapid succe < s must h ave brought with it a rare and golid satis faction. Was it so with Age nt Sheridan? Darkest of all my s teries, 0 secret he a rt of man, that even to its owner is unfathomed and occult Here worked a brave man from year to year, smiled 'o n by men and women, transmuting all things to ; vigorous, keen, worldly, and g a

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