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Title: Missing Friends - Being the Adventures of a Danish Emigrant in Queensland (1871-1880)
Author: Weitemeyer, Thorvald, 1850-
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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MISSING FRIENDS

[Illustration: A SWAGSMAN.]

_"Adventures are to the adventurous."_

                              BEACONSFIELD.

[Illustration: THE ADVENTURE SERIES.]


[Illustration]

       *       *       *       *       *

      THE ADVENTURE SERIES.

      Illustrated. Crown 8vo, 5s.


      =1.=
        Adventures of a Younger Son. By E. J. TRELAWNY. _With an
        Introduction by Edward Garnett_. Second Edition.

      =2.=
        Robert Drury's Journal in Madagascar. _Edited by Captain S. P.
        Oliver._

      =3.=
        Memoirs of the Extraordinary Military Career of John Shipp. _With
        an Introduction by H. Manners Chichester._

      =4.=
        The Adventures of Thomas Pellow, of Penryn, Mariner. _Edited by
        Dr. Robert Brown._

      =5.=
        The Buccaneers and Marooners of America. Being an Account of the
        Notorious Freebooters of the Spanish Main. _Edited by Howard
        Pyle._

      =6.=
        The Log of a Jack Tar; or, The Life of James Choyce. With
        O'Brien's Captivity in France. _Edited by V. Lovett Cameron, R.N._

      =7.=
        The Voyages and Adventures of Ferdinand Mendez Pinto. _With an
        Introduction by Arminius Vambéry._

      =8.=
        The Story of the Filibusters. By JAMES JEFFREY ROCHE. To which is
        added the Life of Colonel David Crockett.

      =9.=
        A Master Mariner. Being the Life and Adventures of Captain Robert
        William Eastwick. _Edited by Herbert Compton._

      =10.=
        Kolokotrones, Klepht and Warrior. _Edited by Mrs. Edmonds.
        Introduction by M. Gennadius._

      =11.=
        Hard Life in the Colonies. _Compiled from Private Letters by C.
        Carlyon Fenkins._

      =(_OTHERS IN THE PRESS_.)=

       *       *       *       *       *


MISSING FRIENDS

Being the Adventures of a Danish Emigrant in Queensland (1871-1880)

Illustrated



London: T. Fisher Unwin,
Paternoster Square. Mdcccxcii



INTRODUCTORY.


I was born in Copenhagen in the year 1850. My father was a builder there
in moderately good circumstances. I was the second son of a large
family, and it was my parents' great ambition that we all should receive
a good education. My eldest brother was intended for a profession, and I
was to be, like my father, a builder, and to take up his business when
old enough to do so.

My father ruled us with an iron hand. I am sure he had as much love for
us all as most fathers have for their children, but it was considered
necessary when I was twenty years old to treat me as boys of ten are
ordinarily treated. During the time I learned my trade in my father's
shop I never knew the pleasure of owning a sixpence. After I had learned
my trade, it was just the same. I worked for my father and received my
food, clothes, and lodging as before, but I never dared to absent myself
for a quarter of an hour even without asking permission, and that
permission was as often refused as granted. A rebellious feeling kept
growing up in me; but I dared not ask my father to relax a little and
give me more liberty. To assert my independence before him seemed just
as impossible, and yet my position had become to me unbearable. There
was but one thing to do, viz., to run away, and I had scarcely conceived
this idea before I carried it into execution.

I was now twenty-one years old. One evening, after saying good-night to
my parents in the usual orthodox fashion, I went to my room, and when
all was still, crept downstairs again and left the house. I had a bundle
of clothes with me and a watch, which I pawned next morning. I forget
the exact amount I received for it, but to the best of my recollection
it was the first money I ever possessed, and it seemed to me a vast sum
to do with just as I liked. I dared not to stay in Copenhagen for fear
of meeting my father, or somebody who knew me, so I bought a through
ticket for Hamburg the same day, and although the purchase of this
ticket nearly exhausted my funds, it was with a feeling of glorious
freedom that I left Copenhagen. On arriving in Hamburg I obtained work
at my trade without difficulty, and soon saved a little money, so that a
few months after I found myself on board an emigrant ship bound for
Queensland, where I have been ever since; but for fourteen years I never
wrote home. After that interval I sent a short letter to my eldest
brother, telling him that I was in Queensland, married, in good health,
my own master, but that I had not made my fortune; however I owed
nobody anything, and was satisfied, &c., and asked only for news.

By return of mail came two letters, one from my father and the other
from my brother. My brother wrote that our father was now getting to be
an old man, and that his one sorrow these many years had been what had
become of me, coupled with the fear that I did not remember him as a
loving father; that he had always acted as he thought best for us, and
that the greatest joy the earth could offer him would be if he might see
me again. My father wrote in the same strain, adding that if I could not
come home I must write, and that nothing I had done would seem trivial
or uninteresting for him to read about.

When I had read these letters my conscience smote me. Not that I had
ever felt indifferent to my parents. I had thought of them often. I do
not think ever a day went over my head during those fourteen years in
which I did not remember them. Yet I had never written. But I was now a
married man, had children of my own, and I could fully realize how it is
that the parents' love for their children is so inconceivably greater
than children's love for their parents. Would it not be a hard day for
me if ever I should have to bid good-bye to any of my sons, even if they
went out of the front door, so to speak, with my blessing? Would the
least they could do be to write to me circumstantially and often what
they thought, what they did, how they fared? And here was I who never
to that moment had been conscious of having done my parents any wrong!
Yes; I would write. I began the same evening, and kept writing on about
all my wanderings from the day I had left home up to the time of
writing, and as I wrote, many things which I thought I had forgotten
came clearly to my mind; and so I grew interested in it myself. I had my
writing copied. All this took time; but at last the manuscript was
posted to my father with a large photograph of myself enclosed. It
arrived the day after his death, but before the funeral. They buried the
manuscript and photograph with him.

These are matters far too sacred to write much about, even anonymously.
I only touch upon them to show the origin of the following narrative.
The copy I had taken has been lying in my desk now for some years, and
when I took it out the other day it occurred to me that as it gives a
faithful picture of life that thousands of people lead here in
Queensland, it might be of general interest. I doubt if ever a book was
written with more regard to truth. I have added nothing to the original
manuscript, but I have erased such private matters as, of course, would
be out of place in a publication, and I have also considerably shortened
the description of the voyage out, as a voyage across the sea is a more
than twice-told tale to most Australian people. I have also altered the
names of persons and places mentioned wherever I have thought it
necessary. It is now several years since the events recorded happened.
The incidents themselves are sometimes trifling and always harmless.
Should any one who may read this book think they recognize themselves in
any part of my descriptions, I must beg them to accept my apology. They
will most likely then also recognize the substantial truth of my
description and my endeavour not to be too personal.

Although it will be seen by the reader that I have often acted foolishly
and seldom excelled in wisdom, yet I do not wish it to be understood
that I consider my life altogether misspent. As I look back, I think of
myself as being always cheerful. It is the privilege of youth to be
happy under almost any circumstances, and I was young when these things
I here set down happened. If the tale has a moral, I think it will be
found sufficiently obvious. Queensland is full of missing friends. Some
come to the colony in the hope of making a speedy fortune, that they may
go home again and bless the old folks with their good fortune. Others
come out with the hope of making a good home, and to bring the old
people thither. The successful man is generally a dutiful son too,
insomuch, at least, that he lets everybody know of his success; but the
man who fails, either from lack of perseverance or from untoward
circumstances, too often becomes a "missing friend." It is generally
true that a man is valued according to the cut of his coat, but it is
not true between parent and son. So! write home, you lonely swagsman on
the dusty track of the far interior. Do not think yourself forgotten. If
you have parents alive you have friends too, who think of you night and
day. If you will only let them know that you yet have a thought left for
them, they will bless you.

I have nothing else to add to this introduction, except that possibly
the book might have been more interesting if it contained more thrilling
adventures, but in my opinion the only merit which it may possess lies
in the strict regard paid to truth and the avoidance of all exaggeration
from beginning to end.



CONTENTS.

                                                               PAGE

    INTRODUCTORY                                                  v

    CHAP.

       I. MY FIRST EXPERIENCES ON LEAVING HOME                    3

      II. ON THE EMIGRANT SHIP--THE JOURNEY TO QUEENSLAND        19

     III. MY ARRIVAL IN QUEENSLAND                               43

      IV. GAINING COLONIAL EXPERIENCE                            73

       V. TOWNSVILLE: MORE COLONIAL EXPERIENCES                 101

      VI. ON THE HERBERT RIVER                                  131

     VII. LEAVING THE HERBERT--RAVENSWOOD                       161

    VIII. SHANTY-KEEPING, PROSPECTING, THORKILL'S DEATH         185

      IX. GOING TO THE PALMER                                   211

       X. RETURNING FROM THE PALMER                             231

      XI. A LOVE STORY                                          259

     XII. BRISBANE--TRAVELS IN THE "NEVER NEVER" LAND           271

    XIII. THE END                                               315



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.


    (1) A SWAGSMAN                                   _Frontispiece_

    (2) LANDING OF EMIGRANTS                      _To face page_ 55

    (3) AN ALLIGATOR POOL                            "     "    145

    (4) THE BAKER'S CART                             "     "    190

    (5) BREAKFAST IN THE GOLD FIELDS                 "     "    198

    (6) ROCKHAMPTON                                  "     "    232



CHAPTER I.

MY FIRST EXPERIENCES ON LEAVING HOME.


Having left Copenhagen in the way just described and arrived in
Hamburg, my first care was to get work, which I fortunately obtained
the next day. The place I worked in was a large building or series of
buildings, four or five stories high, with cabinet-makers' shops from
the cellars to the loft. We had to be at work at six o'clock in the
morning, and to keep on till eight o'clock at night. Even on Sundays we
worked from six o'clock to dinner-time. Some would keep on till it was
dark on Sunday evening, and content themselves with knocking off early,
as they called it. And such work! Everybody would work as if the house
were on fire. It was all piecework. The man who stood next myself had
made veneered chests of drawers for thirty years, and never had made
anything else. He would turn out two veneered chests of drawers in a
week, and the work was faultless. These chests would, I am sure, sell
readily in Brisbane for from twelve to fifteen pounds each. He earned
about nine Prussian thalers per week. On the other side of me stood a
man who made German secretaires. There were nine or ten men in the shop.
The master was working too. He seemed just as poor as the men. Whenever
work was finished, some furniture dealer would come round and buy it.
The men seemed all more or less askew in their bodies with overwork. If
ever they had an ambition in their lives, it was to instil a proper
sense of respect into the two apprentices. I did pity these two boys.
They received their board and lodging from the master, but they could, I
am sure, easily have made one meal out of their four daily allowances.
They slept in a corner of the shop. They had, of course, to be at work
at six o'clock in the morning the same as the men, but while we had half
an hour for breakfast and "vesperkost," they were supposed to eat and
work at the same time. After work-hours at night they had to carry all
the shavings out of the shop to the loft above, from which they were
occasionally removed; then they had tea, and finally, if they liked,
they were allowed to work a couple of hours for themselves. They would
get odd pieces of veneer and wood and make a workbox. When it was
finished, they would one evening run round among the furnishers from
door to door to sell it. The dealer would know that the materials were
not paid for, and of course he did not pay them. A shilling or less is
the price a dealer in Hamburg pays for one of those beautiful workboxes
which are sold all over the world. I wonder how often the buyers of
these boxes think of the lean, ragged youth who has stood late in the
night and made it, most often perhaps to buy an extra morsel of bread
from the proceeds--because, as a matter of fact, that was what these two
boys used to do. The master was accustomed to beat them daily, and if he
was at any time thought too sparing with the rod, and thereby neglecting
their education, the men would themselves beat the lads. It was
winter-time, and daylight only about eight o'clock in the morning. But
in order to reach the shop at six o'clock, the men, who lived mostly in
the suburbs, had to be up at half-past four. I had rented a small room
from one of them, and he and I would generally arrive together. As we
scrambled our way up the dark staircase, he would caution me to walk
softly because, as he said, he wanted to catch these rascally boys in
bed. Poor fellows! If we were the first to arrive they would most often
lie in a heavy sleep. Then he would rush at them, tear the bed-clothes
off them, box their ears, and call them all sorts of _endearing_ names.
The master and the other men, with scarcely an exception, approved of
this. It was not breakfast-time before eight o'clock, and very often
when the apprentices had been hunted to work in this manner they would
get another correction before then for neglecting to wash themselves!
Poor fellows, they had no time. But, as is well known, the harder an
apprenticeship a boy has served, the more cruel does he in his turn
become after his time is out. The Prime Minister himself has not, I am
sure, half as serene a contempt for an apprentice, as a journeyman only
three months out of his apprenticeship.

This work in Hamburg certainly did not suit my ideas of liberty. My head
would swim of an evening when I came out of the shop. As already stated,
I had rented a small room from one of the men for a mere trifle, and I
boarded myself, and very frugal fare I had. This self-denial was because
I soon made up my mind that I would not stay in Hamburg; and so I saved
all that was possible, and it did not take long before I could commence
to count a few thalers in my pocket.

On Sunday evenings I used to go and sit in one of the public gardens,
and listen to the music and watch the faces of the people there.
Sometimes when there was a free show I would be there too, but I never
spent any money. With the din of the shop scarcely out of my ears, and
Monday morning looming only a few hours away, I almost fancied myself of
a different species from such happy, chattering crowds as would pass and
repass seemingly without a care in the world. There was not a soul to
speak to me. For one thing, I could scarcely make myself understood in
German; for another, the men in the shop, who were the only people I
knew, if I did go down the street with one of them, conversation had but
one subject for which was sure somehow to turn on the quality of the
glue we used. They all had a vast reverence for the furniture dealers,
and they were just the people I did not like. I was therefore quite
alone. I was also wonderfully homesick. Often and often did I wish that
I had never run away, but it seemed to me impossible to go home again,
and so I used to sit and speculate on what I had better do. I thought
when I had saved a little money I would go to Paris, or Vienna. They
were nice places I believed; but of one thing I was certain, and that
was that as yet I had not seen anybody I liked as well as myself, or any
place I liked so well as my own home!

One Sunday evening as I walked about the streets, I saw in a window a
large attractive placard on which was printed in red letters, "Free
Emigration to Queensland, Australia." I am certain I had never heard the
name of Queensland before, and my impression of Australia was that it
was the place to which criminals were sent; I had also read something
about gold-diggings in Australia, but it was in the form of a novel, and
I did not believe it. I called to mind what I had read in school in the
geography about Australia, and I remembered it well. It was only a short
paragraph. It ran thus: "Australia. Travellers who come from this
distant continent, bring us very conflicting statements. It seems to be
a land in which nature is reversed. The leaves are hanging downwards on
the trees instead of upwards. Rivers run from the ocean inland. The
interior seems to be one vast lake of salt water. It is the home of the
kangaroo and the black swan. Altogether but little is known about it.
Captain Cook discovered it in the year 1788. It belongs to England. The
Dutch have possessions in the North. It has been used as a penal
settlement by England, but this is now abolished. Of late years gold has
been found in considerable quantities and in several places. Wool,
tallow, and hides are exported. Towns, Sydney and Melbourne."

I can scarcely help laughing to myself now when recalling to mind this
piece of information about Australia. It was really an ignorant and
disgraceful morsel of information for one of the best schools in
Copenhagen to offer to its pupils, but it was all the knowledge I had or
could get, and it was not much assuredly to give one any idea what
Queensland was like. But somehow I determined to find out what I could
for myself. There was gold there that might be more easily got, perhaps,
than by making chests of drawers, so the next day I presented myself at
the office, and asked for information.

Yes, it was right. The ship would sail in a fortnight. "Did I want to
go? Two pounds sterling please. Only three or four tickets left."
"Well--I would like a little information." "Information, yes, we have
every information. What is it you want to know? You get, to begin with,
all your food, and splendid food I can tell you is provided for you on
the whole journey. You also get bed-clothes, and your own knife, spoon,
and fork. This will all become your own property on arrival in
Queensland. Here is the bill of fare."

I hesitated. "When you have arrived in Queensland," cried my informant,
"the Government of that country further engages to board you in a
first-class hotel for two or three weeks, free of all cost, while you
make up your mind what occupation to engage in, and--here it is in the
prospectus, look at this!--they further guarantee to find work for you
making roads, for at least two years after." "Do you yourself know
anything much about Queensland?" I ventured to ask; "I suppose you never
were there?" "I, no, I never was there--I wish I had been, I should not
have to stand here to-day. But we have every information. They have
found gold-diggings again. Here are the statistics of exports; I will
read them for you:--

            Marks.                                Marks.
    Hides, 100,000,000,000,000.           Horns, 1,000,000,000,000.
    Wool, 10,000,000,000,000.             Tallow, 10,000,000,000.
    Cattle, 1,000,000,000,000.            Horses, 100,000,000,000,000.
    Gold, 100,000,000,000.                Silver, 1,000,000,000,000.
    Copper, 1,000,000,000,000,000.        Tin, 1,000,000,000,000.

What do you think of that now?"

What I thought was that it was all Latin to me. I did not know why they
exported all this wealth, or why they did not keep it at home. No more
did the man in the office, I am sure. I asked, did he think it probable
that I should obtain work as a carpenter and joiner, and did he know
what wages were going? To that he replied that, of course, I could get
work as a carpenter and joiner, and that wages were at least one pound
per day, but that if I wanted to go he would have to enlist me as an
agricultural labourer, because a whole cargo of carpenters was already
engaged, but that undoubtedly it would pay me better to dig for gold
myself. I concluded that Queensland was a sort of vast gold-field. I
asked what was the cost of living. He said, "If you like to live in an
hotel and be waited on hand and foot, of course you can have it at all
prices; but if you like to cook your own food, it will cost you nothing.
Why man! don't I keep telling you that the cattle are running wild; if
you are wise enough to buy a gun before you go, your meat supply is
secured when you get there, and all sorts of game are in equal
abundance--kangaroos, parrots, and all sorts." I inquired how much, or
rather how little, money did he think it indispensable for me to have
when I landed. He said as for that, no doubt the less I had, the less
chance there was of my being robbed. It would, in his opinion, take some
little time for any one to get alongside the people over there, but,
once having taken their measure, there was no mistake about the
resources of the country. Then, as an afterthought, he added, "In case
on your arrival in the country you should decide to establish yourself
as a farmer the Government makes you a present of"--I think it
was--"eighty acres of land. This land is the best and richest
agricultural land in the colony, and you can pick it out yourself
wherever you like best in Queensland. I will give you the order which
entitles you to your deeds."

I felt very undecided. I did not buy any ticket, nor did I go to work
again that day. I kept roaming about the streets, thinking of Queensland
and the information I had received. Wages a pound sterling per day! if I
would only work for it--the price of food scarcely anything--cattle
running wild--large gold-fields! How was it, then, that there were
hotels where people would wait on the immigrants, "hand and foot." What
silly fellows those publicans must be; would it not pay them better to
work at a trade, or look out for gold? Truly the order of things seemed
to be reversed in that country. And eighty acres of their best land
would they give me if only I would go! Perhaps horses were running wild
as well as cattle. I might be able to catch some and break them in to
plough the land. But what about the plough? Surely nobody made ploughs
there; I should have to bring that with me. Perhaps there were saddlers.
No doubt it would be a good country for a saddler to go to, as it seemed
they had so many hides over there that they had to export them. Probably
if a saddler wanted materials, all he had to do was to flay a bullock
and carry its hide away. But were there bricklayers to build houses?
Certainly I could do the carpentry myself; on a pinch I could do the
bricklaying too. Everything seemed so satisfactory. Perhaps I should
even find gold enough while I was sinking the foundation for my house to
pay for the lot! It need not be such a large piece either. A couple of
nuggets, as large only as one brick each, would go a long way. Perhaps,
too, if I found them, it would be as well to go home again at once. Then
I began to wonder if the fellow in the office would not, if I had asked
him, have told me that houses, by careful cultivation, would grow out of
the ground themselves in that country. In a word, I gave it up. Perhaps
it was all one tissue of falsehood. Perhaps the diggers over there were
only trying to get slaves to work for them. That seemed to me more
reasonable. Why should the Government of the country make me a present
of a large estate? All bosh! But I would go, just to see the land in
which swans were black and rivers running from the ocean inland. If I
should be caught on my arrival, perhaps I might escape to the interior.
There would be no cabinet-maker's shops there, of that I felt certain.
The prospectus said that the Government would guarantee to every
intending emigrant work on the roads of the colony for two years, if he
desired it. I could not think it probable that I desired that, but
perhaps it was meant to pay our passage money. Anyhow, I promised myself
I should not fail for the want of firearms if I did go, and perhaps we
could slay any enemies we found altogether, because undoubtedly there
would be others on board ship who would fight for their liberty.
Liberty, delightful liberty! To be the captain of a gang of warriors,
half robbers, half gold-miners, roaming over the continent of Australia,
seemed a delightful prospect.

This is, I am sure, quite a faithful picture of my wild ideas of
Queensland after I had elicited all the information I could get.

The Government of Queensland spends yearly, I do not remember how large
a sum, in promoting free emigration. They prepared at great cost, and
with elaborate exactness, statistics to show the commercial position of
the country. Then they trust all this to the care of some office at
home, whose officials know little or nothing about Queensland. The
principal in such an office puts a clerk at the counter who has,
perhaps, no other qualification for the work than a facility for
talking. Fancy a home-bred peasant coming into such a place with the
care of a family on his shoulders, and a little money in the bank, and
think of the clerk talking to him about gold-fields and firearms and
statistics, all the time admitting he never was in the colony himself! I
think it is quite enough to prevent any one going out. And yet people of
that class are the only class of poor men who really can do well in
Queensland, and they are almost the only desirable sort of emigrants for
the country itself. The reason is that such a man can, after a very
short spell of colonial experience, go on to a piece of crown land, and
by residing there for five years, and making certain improvements
thereto, very soon get a living out of the soil, and while keeping his
children round him, be independent of everybody. But such people are at
a premium in Queensland. On the other hand, the towns out here are
crowded with men who seek for light work, and I have no hesitation in
asserting that for certain people, such as junior clerks without
influence, grocers' and drapers' assistants, second-class tradesmen,
&c., it is quite as difficult, if not more so, to obtain a living in
Queensland as in Copenhagen. The land order I obtained, and which
entitled me to eighty acres of land wherever I chose to take them, I did
not consider of any value--in fact I threw it away; so did all the other
emigrants on the ship: one might have bought a whole hatful for a dozen
biscuits!

But all this is digression. Still, it is a matter which excites
considerable interest in Queensland, and as I think of that time, these
thoughts come uppermost in my mind. No doubt if I, in the office, had
met a man who came from the colony, and who could have advised me and
spoken with confidence about the country itself, I should have made up
my mind to go in a far less reckless way, and probably I should never
have acquired, after my arrival in the country, that roving disposition
which I contracted, and which did not leave me for many years, if it has
even left me now. Well, I made up my mind to go. I also made up my mind
that it was unnecessary for me to work any more in Hamburg while
waiting for the ship, so I took a holiday and went about town every day,
spending my money to the last farthing. I had bought a revolver,
ammunition, and a long knife. I had bought my ticket too, and so the day
arrived when we were all mustered and put on board the ship.



CHAPTER II.

ON THE EMIGRANT SHIP--THE JOURNEY TO QUEENSLAND.


What a motley crew we were: Germans, Danes, Swedes, Norwegians, a
Russian Finn, and an Icelander. There were many nationalities, but in
the majority of cases extreme poverty was evident in their dress and
stamped upon their faces, and it was easy to see that the same spirit of
recklessness which filled me had somehow also been instilled into them.
Nearly everybody had guns, revolvers, and knives, which were promptly
taken from us as we stepped on board. Then the Germans would sing in
their language of the Fatherland they had left, and in overflowing gush,
men, women, and children would hang about one another's necks. Everybody
acted in such a mad manner as, I am quite sure, he would never have
thought of behaving in any time before. Most of the men were drunk, and
as it grew dark at night one would seek for the other, and as no one
knew the way about, a perfect pandemonium was raging--singing, fighting,
blubbering in all languages. I do believe if I had had a sixpence left,
I should have spent it in schnapps too, because my courage had never
been tried so hard before. But I had spent my all, and so I made a
virtue of necessity, and stood aloof looking round me in silent wonder
as to what the end would be.

The prospectus said that the best and most wholesome food would be
served out to us in abundance, and to look at the bill of fare one would
think it enough to satisfy any gormandizer. But we got nothing at all
the first day, and I was unspeakably hungry. The prospectus said also
that bed-clothes were supplied to us, and these were already in the
bunks--it said mattrass, pillow, sheets, and blanket. The mattrass and
pillow were right enough. The sheets it did not matter much about--they
were no good at all for their purpose. But the blanket, the only thing
we had to cover ourselves with at night on a four months' voyage, was
smaller than the size of a little dining-table when it was spread out,
about the size of a saddle-cloth and much inferior in quality to
anything worthy of the name of blanket I have ever seen before or since.
As a consequence, those who had like myself put faith in that part of
the promises made us, and who had no other bed-clothes, were compelled
when we went to bed at night, to put on all the clothes we had and sleep
in them. I slept every night for months at a stretch in my overcoat,
woollen comforter around my neck, and the blanket, the all sufficient
bed-clothes, rolled round my head!

I did not, as it may be imagined, sleep at all the first night on board
the ship. At break of day the cook came in with a large wooden bowl of
hot potatoes, which he put on the table singing out, "Breakfast!" I was
thankful because I was very hungry, and I began at once to get out of
the bunk so as to lose no time, but I was not half way to the table
before a dozen Germans had rushed the dish and stuffed all the hot
potatoes into their pockets, their shirts, anywhere. There was not a
taste left! We were twenty-six men in that compartment, and now the row
of last night began again with renewed vigour. I looked upon it as a
lesson in smartness which I should have to learn, and I thought that if
I did not learn it soon it would be a bad job. Half of the twenty-six
men were Danes--in fact we were fourteen Danes in the compartment
against twelve Germans, because I, who hailed from Hamburg, had been
classified as a German although I am not. I believe it was a
premeditated assault on the potatoes by the Germans, because they were
all in it, and not one of the Danes had got a morsel to eat. The twelve
Germans gave nothing up. They ate the potatoes intended for us all with
great composure while we others were storming at them. Didn't I feel
wild!

While the dissatisfaction was at its highest point, somebody we had not
yet seen came into the cabin. He was a person with a decided military
air about him, and he was also dressed in a gorgeous uniform. Two of the
passengers who had already been sworn in to act as police constables
during the voyage came behind him, and in one of his uplifted hands he
held a document which he was waving at us. "Halt," cried he. "Halt,
Donnerwetter, I say, halt, while I read this paper." All the Germans
without an exception had just come from the Franco-German war, and the
sight of the uniform and the determined military air about the doctor,
as we soon discovered him to be, had the effect of shutting them up in
an instant. Some of the Danes were also old soldiers; anyhow, you might
have heard a pin drop while the doctor, who also came straight from the
war, where he had been army surgeon, read a proclamation, the exact
words of which I forget, but which was to the purpose that he had
supreme command over us all, and--"Donnerwetter," cried he,
"Donnerwetter, I will have order. If you are not amenable to discipline
I will handcuff every one of you. What sort of Knechte are you?" This
last remark was addressed to a big strapping-looking German who happened
to stand close to him. The German stood as stiff as a statute, saluting
with the one hand, while with the other he made a slight movement which
threw his overcoat a little to one side and displayed a silver cross
which he wore on his vest. "Ha!" cried the doctor, greatly mollified, "I
see you have served the Kaiser to some purpose. Don't forget you are not
outside the Kaiser's law yet. I hope we shall be friends." Then he
marched off to read his proclamation in other parts of the ship. These
Germans, I found out by degrees, were not at all bad fellows, but we
did not for a long time forgive them the assault on the potatoes, and I
have often thought what a peculiar sign of German thrift it was. They
had simply taken in the situation more quickly than we; indeed it has
become nearly a proverb in Queensland to say that a German will grow fat
where other men will starve. After that time order was restored, and no
disturbance worth mention occurred on the whole voyage.

Nothing can well be more tedious than a sea voyage of four months under
our circumstances. The food was wretched and insufficient, and, as I
have already mentioned, most of us had to sleep with all our clothes on
us. We did not undress; we rather dressed to go to bed!

There was not a single individual among the passengers who understood
English. It is true I had learned English for seven years in school, but
when we came ashore it proved that I could scarcely make myself
understood in a single sentence. None of us knew anything about
Queensland, and many were the surmises and guesses at what the country
was like and what we were going to do there. I remember distinctly once
a number of us were sitting talking about the colony, and that one
ventured to say that he had heard how in Queensland, when journeymen
tradesmen were travelling about looking for work, they needed no
"wander-book," and travelled about on horseback; whereupon another got
up much offended, and said that he had heard many lies about
Queensland, but this last beat all. He did not know so much about the
"wander-book," although he had taken good care to have his own in order,
but if any one tried to make him believe that beggars went about on
horseback over there, then it was time to cry stop. "No," said he, "he
knew we should have to walk." We others concurred.

One of my companions, I remember, was a shoemaker, and a religious
maniac besides. He would lie in his bunk and pray aloud night and day.
It was quite startling sometimes in the middle of the night when all
were asleep to hear him in a sanctimonious voice chanting a hymn. If the
spirit moved him that way, then it was good-bye to sleep for us for a
long time after. He would be quite irresistible. Most of us in the cabin
were a phlegmatic set who did not mind, but one, a Swiss, was of a very
excitable temperament. He was "down" on the shoemaker. When the hymns
began in the night one might be quite sure to hear after a minute, from
the bunk in which the Swiss lay, a smothered whispered little oath like
"Gottferdam." Then ten seconds after he would exclaim in an everyday
voice, with, however, an affected resignation, "Gottferdam"; and as the
full burden of the sacred song kept rolling on, he would start screaming
out of his bunk with a real big "Gottferdam." But the others did not
allow him to hurt his enemy. They seemed to agree that even if it was
not very nice, yet it must be wicked to hurt any one for practising his
religion; but I believe that their motives were not quite so pure,
because this shoemaker had an inexhaustible fund of anecdote, and if
anything were allowed to annoy him in the night, he would tell them no
stories during the day. When all went smooth, it was the practice for
him to gather a score or two around, the numbers swelling as he
proceeded, and then tell a story, something of a sensational sort about
love and murder. His whole soul would then be in it, and he gesticulated
as if he felt and believed it all. Every Sunday he was always more or
less ready to cry out for hunger, and would at such times sit and look
right before him straight out into space. Then he would say, "I wish I
had a dish of German dumplings. With cherry-sauce, with cherry-sauce.
Not the way one gets in the steam-kitchens, but the way my mother used
to make it." Then we would get a long description of his mother's recipe
for German dumplings. There is no mistake about it, too, we _did_ fast
on that ship.

In reading over to myself some of these last pages, I am afraid I have
given my readers the impression that the people on board, taken as a
whole, were a bad lot. If I have done so, it is erroneous. It is true
that my first impression of the emigrants was not a good one, and
perhaps few among us excelled or were remarkable for anything in
particular, but taken as a whole they were honest, hard-working people,
and as I became acquainted with them one after another I found that men
of whom I had a very low opinion when we first came on board, were in
reality entitled to very much higher estimation.

We did not know anything about the country to which we were going. We
had an idea that we were to begin a new life somewhat freer than in the
old world, and, simpleminded as we were--because I was just as bad as
anybody--thought that when we came on board ship we could dispense with
such formalities as those the old world had taught us. That is, I am
sure, the true reason why so many emigrants, when they leave home as
well as when they arrive in a colony, behave so foolishly as to make one
think that they never had known the decencies of life before. It is the
same with the English emigrants, only they are more quickly absorbed
into the general population. Still the word "New Chum" has in Australia
much the same meaning as the word "fool." I never felt more bitterly
ashamed than once, several years after I came to Queensland, when I saw
a number of Danish immigrants just arrived. It was in Toowoomba, and I
had come down there from up country on some business, when one of the
first things I was told was that there were a lot of my countrymen in
the depôt waiting for engagements. Toowoomba is about a hundred miles
inland, and they had been sent up from Brisbane. Well, I felt quite
pleased, and decided at once to go and see them and to speak a kind word
to some of them, if I could not do them any other service. But I came
away a great deal less pleased than I had gone. There were some long
forms outside the building, and on those forms sat as close as they
could find room a score or so of men. Each man had wooden clogs on his
feet and a long pipe in his mouth. On his knees sat his girl with her
arm round his neck, and there they sat smoking and kissing perfectly
regardless of ladies and gentlemen who would walk about looking at them
and going on again. One I stood glaring at seemed to me the worst. He
was a big ugly fellow, dressed in a blue calico blouse, black trousers
and wooden clogs. In his hand he had a pipe five feet long, but on his
head he had a sugar-bag. These sugar-bags are of straw and about two
feet six inches in length. He had tied in the corners to fit his head.
This gentleman would rush about and look in at the doors of houses,
throwing side glances in all directions with the evident desire to
attract attention. At last he stood in the middle of the street singing
an old Danish song and jerking his body about like a maniac. I could not
contain myself, so I went up to him and asked him if he did not think he
was ugly enough already without trying to make himself still more so,
and what did he mean by sticking that sugar-bag on his head?

"Oh," cried he, quite unconcerned, "here we are right up on the top of
these blue mountains, that does not matter. It is a first-rate
straw-hat. Does it not look nice? Why! this is a free country," &c.

One very conspicuous figure on board the emigrant ship was the
Icelander, Thorkill; he was so unlike anybody else that I would like to
describe him, especially as he became my mate in Queensland and we
became close friends. His eyes were bluer and his complexion clearer
than that of any one else I ever saw. He had long yellow curly hair, and
a big yellow beard. He was himself also big and strong, and about
twenty-eight years of age--altogether I should say, as far as appearance
went, the beau ideal of a man. But as no one is perfect, so had he also
a grievous fault, viz., a certain softness, like a woman. He always
spoke as with a comma between each word, and although he had plenty of
good sense and was, like all Icelanders, well educated, yet he would, I
believe, give most people the impression that he was not fit to battle
with a wicked world. I often wondered what might have brought him on
board that ship, but he was very reticent about his own affairs.
Meanwhile I have never known anybody whose mind was so pure, whose
thoughts were so lofty as his. But he was unpractical, to a degree. He
claimed to know all his ancestors from the twelfth century, when they
had emigrated from Norway to Iceland, and he said his father still
farmed the same land. Unless as a professor in ancient folklore, I do
not know what Thorkill was good for. I had, in school, learned much
Icelandic folklore, and to see his eyes sparkle with joy when he
discovered this and knew that I was interested in it besides, did me
real good, and so we agreed that during the voyage we would refresh each
other's memory in "Sagamaal." He arranged to teach me the whole complete
"Rümi Kronike." So we bribed the fellow who lay next to me (we had
double bunks) to exchange berths with Thorkill, and he and I then lay
together, and there we were telling "Sagamaal" from morning to night and
sometimes the whole night through. He would make me tell him one of the
"Sagas" I knew, although he knew it far better himself, just to see if I
had mastered it properly. He would listen with all his might, then he
would say: "Excuse--me--for--interrupting you--but--are--you--sure--that
--you--are--correct--in--describing--Sharpedin--the--son--of--Hakon--as
--a--longbearded--man. The--Rümi Kronike--does--not--say--so--on--the
--contrary." Then we would have a long argument about that, Thorkill
insisting upon the importance of being exact.

He wrote a splendid hand, but from the pedantic ungainly way in which he
took hold of anything, I made sure he was not a good worker. He had
studied scientific farming at the agricultural college in Copenhagen,
and afterwards had been, he said, a sort of overseer on a large farm on
the island of Als. Whether he had given satisfaction at that or not, I
did not know, but what was the good of all his knowledge, supposing he
had any, when he did not understand English, had no friend nor money,
and was a bad worker? One day I said to him:

"Thorkill, do you ever try to draw a real picture to yourself of how we
shall get on when we come to Queensland? I am thinking of this, there
are, according to what we have been told, no more people in all
Queensland than there is in a good-sized street in Copenhagen, and here
are all these people on board ship who will be, the moment they land,
ravenous in their competition for something to do, and another ship has
sailed from Hamburg a week after us. How will they fare? I cannot solve
it. But it strikes me very forcibly that if the sail of this ship were
set for Copenhagen harbour instead of Queensland, the only solution to
the problem there would be for the police to have some large vans in
readiness and to give us a drive in them straight out to the workhouse."
"Oh say not so," cried Thorkill, "say not so. God will protect us. You
and I will never part." "No," cried I, in the fulness of my heart, "we
will stick together, and we will get something to do too, you will see."
And then, with a new sense of responsibility on me, I would talk to him
cheerfully about Queensland, and the opportunities there would be to do
well for both of us, which could not fail, but meanwhile I would rack my
brain with thinking about how to make a few shillings to land with. I
had not got a cent, and I knew very well that Thorkill had nothing
either. It was a bad place I was in for making money, for there was not
much of it on the ship, but I now very much regretted that I had spent
all that I had before I came on board. Here were all these empty
bottles lying about the ship which nobody seemed to claim. Why, thought
I, they must be worth a little fortune in Queensland. Good idea! We will
collect them all. I communicated with Thorkill. "Oh," said he, "you--
will--make--your--fortune--in--Queensland. They must be worth a mint of
money. But is it right to take them? What--a--business--ability--you
--have--got. Nobody seems to want them. I think we might have them."

So then we went about begging and borrowing empty bottles everywhere,
without letting anybody know for what we wanted them, and we piled them
up in our bunks so that we could scarcely get into them; then people,
when they saw what we were after, put a price on the bottles and came to
us to sell. So Thorkill bought five shillings' worth on my
recommendation, all the money he had, and still they came with bottles,
but the firm was compelled to suspend payment. Then I, who was
understood to know a little English, opened a class for teaching that
language. My pupils had no money, but I took it out in empty bottles,
and by and by we had them stacked by the hundred all round about ready
for market.

The food we got was so wretched and insufficient that it was scarcely
possible to keep body and soul together upon it. I have asked many
people since how they fared in other ships, and I have come to the
conclusion that our ship was the worst provided of any in that respect.
Indeed, the emigrant ships which leave England are well supplied with
everything, even luxuries, for their passengers. But in this ship we
were sometimes on the point of despair with hunger. We got our week's
supply of biscuits served out once a week. Those who were unable to
practise self-restraint, generally ate them in a couple of days, and for
the rest of the week subsisted on the so-called dinner which consisted
of a couple of mouthfuls of salt pork or mutton, with a little
sauer-krout to keep it company. Our ration of sugar was a small
table-spoonful per week to each man. The tea and coffee we got morning
and evening was served in the same wooden trough in which we fetched our
dinner, and as the sugar ration was, as already stated, served
separately once a week and quickly consumed, our beverage was void of
any sweetening. But as for me, I never fooled about all the week with my
spoonful of sugar; I always put it into the first pint of tea I got. We
also got some butter, and we never troubled much either about the
quantity or quality of that article. The trouble was that we had seldom
a biscuit to spread it on. The prospectus had said that cordials were
served out, and in conformity with that every sixteen men received one
bottle of lime-juice per week. These were our rations. There was on that
account an amount of dissatisfaction on board verging sometimes on open
mutiny. The water was also fearfully bad, with inches of froth on it,
but bad as it was, we would drink it as soon as we got it and then feel
like dying of thirst sometimes before the time came to serve out the
next rations. As a sort of proof of the correctness of this statement, I
might mention that one of the passengers had a canary bird which died of
thirst because some of us would steal the drop of water in its glass!

I have already written that no disturbance worth mentioning occurred on
the voyage. When I wrote that, I forgot an incident which happened when
we had been out to sea about a couple of months. The doctor, as I have
already stated, was also in command of us. He had been an army doctor in
the German army during the Franco-German war, and came straight thence.
Whether he made the mistake of thinking he was in command of a convict
ship full of criminals, or whether it was that his military training was
the cause of it, I cannot say, but in one word, he was boss of that
ship. Every now and then somebody would be handcuffed and shut up during
his pleasure, without anybody taking much notice; but one day he went a
good deal too far. One of the single girls had been accused by the woman
in charge of them of some fault, upon which I need not farther enlarge
more than to say that it was trifling, and that the culprit was a very
respectable girl, who shortly after her arrival in Queensland got
married to a good husband, and that both she and her husband are, and
always were, pre-eminently respectable people. The girl was tied with
ropes to the mast, with her hands fastened behind her in such a way that
she was exposed to the full view of all the six hundred people on board.
I was lying in my bunk when a fellow came in very excited, and said,
"Look here, chaps, is not this getting red hot? There is that poor girl,
so and so, chained to the mast and crying as if her heart would break.
What are we coming to?"

The moment I heard there was a girl chained to the mast and crying, I
jumped up and registered an oath aloud that she should not stand there
one second longer than it would take me to reach the mast. So did every
other man who was in the cabin; even meek Thorkill cried out, "It is too
bad, too bad." Then I grabbed the wooden trough in which the concoction
of roasted peas that passed for coffee was served out in the morning. So
did every other man grab at something to strike with--one would take a
wooden clog, one a long stick, another a boot, and all something, and in
less time than it takes to read this we were all on deck. But to reach
the mast was then impossible. The girl had not stood there yet for five
minutes, but there was already a surging, impenetrable crowd on the
scene of action. As I could not see, and could not content myself to
stand still, I jumped up in the rigging, and from there, right enough, I
saw the girl and four German constables (passengers who had been sworn
in as police) watching her. How shall I describe the scene. It all
seemed to me to happen in one instant. Hundreds of men were yelling from
behind at the top of their voices, "Throw them in the sea. Cut her down!
Where is the doctor? He shall not live another hour." A dozen men were
struggling round the girl, some with the constables, and some of the
more moderate among the passengers with the aggressors. One towering
fellow, a Dane, had one of the constables by the throat, and the wooden
bowl swinging over his head, and held back by another man, who implored
him to give the doctor a chance to order the girl's instant removal. The
doctor was not on deck, but he came running on now, with a revolver in
each hand. He kept on the quarter-deck, but he sang out to the
constables to cut her down and take her into the hospital. Somehow that
was done, and the doctor walked down the steps from the quarter-deck,
turned the key in the lock, put it in his pocket, and faced the crowd.

Did you ever notice two dogs when they meet, and before they begin to
fight? How unconcerned they try to look. They will look at anything,
anywhere but at one another. So looked the doctor as he stood there with
a cigar in his mouth, smoking away and looking at anything but the sea
of faces around him. Around him like a solid wall had the men closed,
armed with knives, wooden bowls, sticks, &c., and the howl, "Throw him
in the sea," kept on from the rear. No doubt the doctor realized that he
had gone too far, and he tried all he could while he stood there not to
give further offence, but I watched him particularly from my seat in the
rigging. Fear was not in that man. Not a muscle in his face shook, and
yet I am certain that his attention was strained to the uttermost, and
that the fingers which closed on the triggers of the two revolvers would
have caused them to blaze away the moment he had felt any one touch him
ever so gently. Behind him again, but up on the quarter-deck, stood the
captain and the first mate, with large overcoats on, and their hands in
their pockets. I had a suspicion that they also had revolvers--who knows
how many--within easy distance.

But it was one thing to see a young woman tied to the mast and crying,
and it was (the doctor and his revolver apart) quite another thing to
look at a closed door and know that she was there and that no further
harm would befall her. But most of the men had a few minutes ago been so
excited, that it was not in human nature for them to cool down at once.
The man who had when I came on the scene taken the most prominent part,
was still the foremost person. He stood within three feet of the doctor,
and, as I said already, like a solid wall stood the others armed with
divers things; but no one touched the doctor, and no one spoke to him,
and there was a sort of undecided silence. Then the leader cried, "Well,
what are you waiting for? You said throw him in the sea; just give the
word and he shall be overboard in a second." My heart beat violently. I
thought murder would be committed in an instant, and not a single life
either, but perhaps scores would be sacrificed. There was a dead
silence. The wind whistled through the rigging, but it was the only
sound heard. The doctor did not move; the captain did not move; the mate
did not move; and none of the men moved. None dared to give the
aggressive sign, and each seemed to feel it just as impossible to beat a
retreat. It might have lasted a couple of minutes, perhaps less. It
seemed an age to me. Then we all heard Thorkill's voice, he was
somewhere in the rigging too, and he cried, "Countrymen--listen--to--me!
hear--what--I--say! Disperse! Disperse!--quietly. Let--us--complain
--when--we--come--ashore! He--will--shoot--the--first--ten--or--twelve
--men--who--touch--him--and--those--who--escape--now--might--be--hung
--when--we--come--ashore. Let--us--complain--when--we--come--ashore
--and--we--will--get--justice." Thorkill still kept on talking, but the
outburst of relief from all sides completely drowned his voice. There
was an honourable way to get out of it. "We will complain when we come
ashore," "Disperse," "Let it be enough," and similar expressions, were
heard on all sides, and the doctor, I suppose nothing loth, had quite a
pleased appearance as he stepped up on the quarter-deck again as soon as
the road was clear, and disappeared out of sight simultaneously with the
dispersion of the men.

That day the doctor did not show up again, but on the next, I suppose
just to show that he did not consider himself beaten, all the single men
were ordered below at sundown as a punishment for insubordination, and
with that the matter ended. But now the men were pressing Thorkill to
write out a complaint which should embody all we had suffered, and all
our supposed wrongs. Thorkill, however, would do no such thing. It was
not in his line, he said. Many a talk he and I had about it, but he
could not see his way. "All these poor people," said he, "are treated
with contempt because they are poor, and I cannot help them for I am
just as poor. We do not know to whom to complain; we cannot write
English, and what we do will rebound on our own heads. Still," said he,
"it--is--a--shame--that--they--should--be--allowed--to--treat--people
--like--this." Then I wrote out a complaint in Danish addressed to the
Danish Consul, Australia. The exact contents of it I have long since
forgotten, but it was to the effect that we had been starved,
ill-treated, had had no sick accommodation, insufficient bed-clothes,
&c., and from that day I looked upon myself as an important personage on
board ship. All the single and married men, with about a dozen
exceptions, signed the statement. All the single girls wanted also to
sign it, but I feared the woman in charge might confiscate the document
(the matron in charge of the girls on our ship was only an ordinary
emigrant selected by the doctor, and in my opinion scarcely the best
that might have been selected. In English emigrant ships an educated
lady is engaged as matron.) Thus I could not bring myself to go among
them for the purpose of getting signatures, and so the females were not
represented in the complaint. (It might, however, be interesting to
English readers, as showing the standard of education on the continent
of Europe, that of all the people on board only one, an elderly man, had
to sign his name with a cross.)

One day while I was getting these signatures, and the men were coming to
where I held my levee as fast as they could, the doctor stormed the
cabin with two constables behind him and ordered me to give up the
document to him. Then the doctor and I talked, I in Danish and he in
German, and we had a wordy war. I liked the doctor in my heart, because
he was about as brave a man as one could wish to see, and very likely,
too, some of the severe discipline on board was not altogether uncalled
for; yet he was not going to have it all his own way, and to this day I
maintain that whatever else might have been right or wrong, to starve as
we starved was scandalous. I write about these things, and I do not know
whether my readers may think them of much interest, but all these little
incidents seem engraven upon my memory. On board ship there is nothing
to think about or to talk about but the same old things. One is cross,
perhaps, and everybody talks much about the same thing. "Where are we,
I wonder?" "I wonder how many knots we are running?" "I wonder how it
will go when we come to Queensland?" "I wonder if any one ever was so
hungry as I?" So it goes on, day out and day in, and one has to discuss
and answer these questions about five hundred times every day.

But now we are nearing Australia, and high time I dare say the reader
probably thinks it is; but if my readers are tired out, so were
we. Yet there is another of the passengers I must describe, as I
intend to mention him again. I will do so in a few words. He was a
quiet, gentlemanly man, about thirty years old. He told me he had
been a lieutenant in the Danish army, but had been dismissed for
insubordination. He managed, without giving offence to anybody, to keep
himself completely in the shadow in the ship, and one seemed not to know
he was there. I will call him "A." A. understood and spoke English
fluently, but nobody knew it. Indeed, when the complaint-fever was on,
he denied all knowledge of the language. A young lady was travelling
with him--that is, she went as a single girl, but they got married as
soon as we came ashore. They had quite a number of things with them to
set up house with, and lived for a short time very comfortably on their
means; when they went away again I lost sight of them.



CHAPTER III.

MY ARRIVAL IN QUEENSLAND.


Never can I forget the joy I felt, a joy universal to all on board the
ship, the first day we saw Australia. It was Sunday. The whole night
before the ship had cruised about outside Bass's Straits, and at break
of day we ran in. We did not know at all we were so near. We had not
seen land for three months when we had made out the island of Madeira.
Since then, as far as I remember, we had not even passed another ship.
In the Indian Ocean, storm, sleet, rain and cold had been the order of
the day. This day, the first time for months, the sun was shining
brightly, and a crisp, altogether different air fanned our cheeks. It
was blowing very strongly, but every sail the ship could carry was
spread, so that the ship lay over very much, and we seemed to fly past
the land at lightning speed.

This, then, was Australia, our future home--and beautiful it seemed.
Land lay on both sides. That on the Australian side was flat, seemingly,
but Tasmania showed up with a majestic chain of mountains. I had never
seen a mountain before, nor had any of the other Danes, and we wondered
whether anything could grow on them, or whether they were all solid
stone. People were so glad, that they ran about and shook one another's
hands. Three or four of the passengers had telescopes, and we were all
dying to have a long look at the coast. It is amusing to myself to think
of the amount of ignorance which really existed among us about the land
to which we were going.

"Do you make out anything over there?" one would ask of the man with the
telescope. "Yes," came the answer, "it seems all big trees." "Trees, did
you say? I am glad of that. I will lay a wager where all those trees
will grow, something else will grow." "This is not Queensland, though."
"Oh, well, only let me see plenty of big trees when we come to
Queensland, then I am satisfied." "Do you think we shall be allowed to
cut the trees down?" "I do! they must be glad to get rid of them. Why,
it is self-evident that you can take as much land here as you want; here
is so much of it and nobody to use it."

"Do you know, I do not believe there is any desert in that land at all!"
"No more do I. I am sure there is not. Why should there?" "I am glad I
went, now I have seen the land." "So am I."

In another part of the ship, as I walked about, I heard a very dogmatic
fellow laying down the law to a lot of married men who were discussing
their chances of obtaining employment.

"Why," cried he, "anyone with a spark of common sense can see at a
glance that there must be _plenty_ of work in Queensland. Look around
you here on the ship. All these people must have shelter, and food, and
clothes; I say they must. That gives work--does it not?"

The others did not seem quite convinced by the argument. They appeared
to know that there was a missing link somewhere, but, like the Italian
smuggler in Charles Dickens' "Little Dorrit," they kept saying, "Altro,
altro, altro!"

With such hopeful conversation the day wore away, but before night we
were out again in open sea, and for another fortnight we saw no more of
Australia. Then we made the coast again and sailed along in sight of
land. Once more we were out to sea again. At last one morning before
daybreak we dropped anchor, and when daylight came found that we were
quite close to land, and right in front of a large flagpole and some
neat wooden cottages which stood on the shore. This, then, was
Queensland--Moreton Bay, and Brisbane, the capital, lay some miles up
the river. A man came from one of the houses and hoisted a flag, then
another, and another. Our company thought he did it to do us honour, or
in joy for our safe arrival, and in the wildest excitement they screamed
hurrah! until they were hoarse. Of course, the man was merely making
signals to the town, and a few hours after a small steamer came out, and
some live sheep were put on board, also fruit for the children, and
potatoes--sweet potatoes they are called, different from our potatoes at
home and much larger.

Kind people!--Good Queensland!--Happy country! No starvation here or
smell of poverty. Look at these potatoes, five, six, ten times as large
as those we have at home! Who said Australia was a desert? So thought
and spoke we while we scanned, with a sort of reverent awe, some ladies
and gentlemen who were on board the little steamer, and the pilot who
had come on board our own ship. Much to our regret, we found we were not
to land here. We were now informed, for the first time on the whole
voyage, that our destination was a place called Port Denison, which lies
about half way between Brisbane and Cape Somerset, and which was at that
time the farthest northern port opened up of any importance.

So now we were off again on our interminable voyage. Only our troubles
were over. Alas! for the complaint which I carried in my pocket, we were
all as healthy and strong a set of people as any one could wish to see,
for since we arrived in Bass's Strait we had been served with plenty of
food. Just now we lived on roast meat, potatoes, and pudding every day.
I could feel my cheeks grow redder and sleeker day by day. Alas! what
should I do? As a public man I was, of course, not allowed to change my
opinions, but when I looked at all these fellows gormandizing from
morning to night, it seemed to me a sort of treason to our cause. And
what was worse, I bore no ill-will to anybody. Surely the Danish consul,
if there was one, would expect to see a lot of emaciated objects when we
had been starved so cruelly, and I myself so anxious to get something to
do. I might be hindered, and have to travel about more yet, and, if I
could not prove the truth, be cast into prison! I often wish the
complaint was as nearly forgotten as our troubles seemed to be. Yet,
after all the talk there had been, it was too late to draw back. The
ship was now for a whole week longer sailing northwards, always in sight
of land--often, indeed, so close that we could almost have thrown
biscuits ashore. The whole way along was dotted with small islands,
which became more numerous the further north we sailed. There must be
some thousands of them if they were all counted, but with the exception
of a few of the largest which lie near Brisbane, they are nearly all
uninhabited.

To look at the coast on the mainland, one would think that the man who
said he would be satisfied if he only saw plenty of trees in Queensland,
ought to feel contented. It seemed to us one vast forest. Occasionally
we saw smoke curling up from among the trees, and at night we could see
large fires. This was the dry grass burning among the trees, a very
common thing in Queensland, but to us it was a most startling and
awe-inspiring sight. We thought that it was the aboriginals who were
trying to get on to the ship, and that these were their fires. One
night the fires extended for many miles, and a most beautiful sight it
was, but no one gave a thought to its being a bush-fire. We simply said,
"What a lot of them there must be? Why, there must be more niggers here
than there were Frenchmen at Sedan. Look at their fires!" And then we
thought it strange that we did not get our weapons back again that they
had taken from us when we came on board. I do not think any one was
afraid. I myself rather liked the novelty of being so near the "enemy."
We would sit and discuss how many we thought we could keep out,
supposing, for argument's sake, that they dared to come--and altogether
we felt ourselves great heroes.

I have a suspicion that the Queensland pilot who was now in charge of
the ship, along with the other quality up on the quarter-deck, were
having a laugh at our expense. Anyhow, one evening I happened to come
near him I pointed round me and towards the sun, which was just going
down, and summoning to my aid all my stock of English I said, "Very
nice, Queensland." "Yes," cried he, "it looks beautiful. All that red
glow in the sky you see there is the reflection from the gold on the
gold-fields."

I could not understand the meaning of what he said, but I looked
deferential and thankful for the information all the same, and for fear
I had not taken it all in he called the mate and asked him to explain it
to me. Probably he thought I believed it! That same night we sailed in
between a mountainous island and the coast, and one of the guns was
loaded and fired off. The echo reverberated far and near in a most
startling fashion, and perhaps it was for the echo they fired it off,
but we were certain that it must have frightened the natives out of
their wits. We were even positive we could see them round their fires
trying to put them out. Poor harmless aboriginals of Queensland! They
little know what respect they are held in by new arrivals! It is only
familiarity which breeds contempt in their case. In a few more years the
last of them will have joined the great majority. After that event has
happened, no doubt the bard will sing their praises and descant about
their matchless beauty, their enormous strength, and their bloodthirsty
cruelty.

We had very little wind in the sails as we came along, and nothing can
be thought more beautiful than the climate we now enjoyed. I am now so
used to the Queensland climate that I take it as a matter of course, but
how can I give the reader an adequate idea of the joy I then felt in the
very fact of my existence: the beautiful sun in the day, the glorious
sunset in the evening, the full moon, and the sparkling rippling silent
water! Then all these islands we passed were so full of mysterious
interest, while the vast unknown mainland lay beyond. The reckless
spirit of which I spoke as universal when we came on board in Hamburg,
seemed now to have taken wings and fled. Indeed, the main trouble on
board just now was how we should make a good impression when we landed.
It was looked upon as a matter of honour that each should be on his very
best behaviour when we came ashore, and I know of several of whom it was
thought by the rest that their clothes were scarcely good enough, and
who were lent by the others sufficient to appear in better trim and
circumstances. The ship was now so clean that one might have eaten his
dinner off the decks anywhere. Altogether there was a decided change for
the better since the day we first saw Australia. At last, one day after
having sailed along the apparently uninhabited coast for eight or nine
days, we suddenly rounded a cliff, sailed into a little bay, and dropped
anchor. There lay Bowen in full sight of us, and this was Port Denison.
How strange it seemed that these few scattered wooden cottages we saw
lying there on the beach in appalling loneliness should be the spot that
we, through storm and trouble, had all been trying to reach. For some
time not a human being was to be seen. There was a long jetty running
out into the water for a great distance, but we did not go alongside. We
lay, I think, half a mile out, and we were given to understand that we
were not to go ashore before the morrow, and that on landing all our
wants would be attended to until we obtained employment. Now it began to
look lively on the beach. A lot of people came out on the jetty, and at
last a boat, with a dozen gentlemen in it, got under way and pulled
straight for the ship. These are Queenslanders, thought I, men who had
fought with the Blacks and been on the gold-diggings. Rich, no doubt
they were. Oh, how we screamed hurrah! for them, and how kind they
looked as they came nearer, waving their handkerchiefs and smiling in
response to our greeting. They were not at all ferocious looking; really
much the same sort of people we had seen before. Yet what adventures
must they not have gone through; what stories could they not tell if
they liked? But, of course, that would be beneath their dignity. At last
they were on board. Most of them greeted the doctor and captain in
German, being, in fact, Germans. After a short interval, one of the
Queenslanders, who proved to be the agent and interpreter employed by
the Government to attend to us when we came ashore, got up on a big box
and made a long speech in German, exhorting us to do well, and
gesticulating with much gusto and great force. He advised us to take the
first work we could get, and while we were accommodating ourselves to
the new habits of life and customs existing in this country, to try to
feel contented. "Where," cried he, "will all of you be in twenty years?
Some will be dead; others perhaps alive. Some rich and honoured; others
perhaps only servants to those among you who are more pushing or lucky.
These little children who are now running about us fighting for an
orange, may become members of Parliament in time. To-day you start with
an equal chance, but from to-morrow your fortunes will begin to alter,
and for certain not one of you will for ever forget this day; and no
doubt in after years you will look back on to-day often, and as you
recall to your mind how your time has been employed, wish you had it
over again, that you might act more wisely or become better."

All this was good advice, and very well and kindly spoken. He said much
more to the same purpose, but as good advice is everywhere cheap and
plentiful, I will not inflict the whole of his carefully prepared speech
upon my readers. He spoke for nearly an hour. At last he congratulated
us on our clean appearance, wiped his perspiring brow, and the
performance was at an end. We were not sorry, to tell the truth--at
least I was not, because this was the day on which our best dinner, grey
peas stewed with pork, was served out; and as it was past the usual
dinner hour when the sermon was over, not only did I stand right in the
tempting smell from the kitchen, but I had also noticed how, gradually,
as the speech proceeded, the "skaffers," or men whose duty it was to
fetch the food from the cook's galley, had one by one crept away, and
now they stood in a long row ready with their wooden troughs while the
cook began to dish up the peas.

After dinner, when we came on deck again, I heard some one cry out, "Are
there any carpenters on board? Carpenters--any carpenters who want
employment?"

"Yes!" I was one. Five more came forward. One of the Queenslanders said
he wished to engage one or two carpenters. Of course some one acted as
interpreter. Well, he would give thirty pounds sterling per annum to a
good man. He would also give him his board and lodging. We all thought
it a fair offer, although scarcely up to our expectations. But then,
again, what were our expectations? Half the time we were afraid we
should get nothing at all to do, and the other half we thought we were
to pick up bucketsful of gold. Anyhow, we were all anxious to engage,
and I, with a full regard to the fact that my only property was a
partnership in two hundred and odd empty bottles, was not at all sorry
to see that I seemed to find favour in his eyes. I was offered an
engagement on the above-named terms. Would I kindly step this way to
sign the agreement? A document written in English was placed before me
for signature. I could pretty well understand the meaning of it, and an
interpreter was there ready enough to explain matters, but there were
certain very important features in it which never were explained to me,
and which I myself totally overlooked, and if I had seen these I should
only have agreed to them as a last resource from starvation. As the
agreement was just like those signed by thousands every year all over
Queensland to this present day, I will give it here. It ran thus: ----
promised to serve ---- for the term of twelve calendar months and to
obey all his lawful commands. In return for which, ---- would pay the
sum of £---- sterling and rations. Then followed the signatures. I
understood that the word "rations" meant my board and lodging, and so it
proved in my case, and as it was explained to me; but most of my
unfortunate shipmates who signed similar agreements in the same good
faith as I found out in a practical manner that to them it had another
meaning. It will be noticed that the agreement says nothing whatever
about lodging. Legally, a Queensland employer who engages a man for
wages and "rations" might let his employé camp under the gum-trees
without giving him any sleeping accommodation whatever, and that is very
often done. If a man gets a shed or a corner of a stable to live in, it
is more than he is entitled to under these agreements. So far as the
food is concerned, the word "ration" as used in these agreements means a
fixed quantity of certain things, which, therefore, again is all an
employé can expect from his master. These consist of twelve pounds of
raw beef or mutton, eight pounds of flour, two pounds of sugar and a
quarter of a pound of tea. As long as these eatables are tea and sugar,
flour and beef, nothing is said as to quality, and the most inferior
goods which are in the market are called _ration-tea_ and
_ration-sugar_. But what is an unfortunate new arrival, who never made a
cup of tea in his life before, to do, when on his arrival at some
out-of-the-way place in the bush his "boss," as the employer in
Queensland is called, hands him these rations instead of giving him
three square meals a day?

[Illustration: THE LANDING OF EMIGRANTS.]

But what was happening now? The constables were running about among the
people telling them to stand here and to stand there. All the single
girls were packed together up by the wheel as close as they could stand.
Then the married men with their families were told to stand as near them
as they could, and the single men were again packed as close to them as
possible. All of us were now on the quarter-deck. Then came the
Queenslanders, the doctor, the captain, and the first mate, and took up
a position in front of us down on the deck. One of our own constables
with a very sanctimonious face was also there. What did it mean? The
Immigration Agent read out of a large protocol, "Anna Frederica
Johnston, come forward." "Anna Frederica Johnston, Anna--Anna, Anna
Frederica Johnston. They want you--you are wanted; you have to go." The
unfortunate girl was half paralyzed with terror, as she came forward.
She was a Norwegian. The immigration agent asked her, "Had she been well
and kindly treated on the voyage, and was she satisfied?" This had to be
translated from German into Norwegian before she understood it. But
scarcely did she understand what they said before she cried, "Oh yes, oh
yes, I am thankful and satisfied." "Good," she might pass forward. Then
another was called who also testified to her kind treatment, and so on
until all the girls, even the one who had been tied to the mast, had
said they were satisfied and had been well treated. While this was going
on, some of the men who stood nearest to me told me to erase their
names from the written complaint which I carried. Others advised me that
it was now too late altogether to complain; others again said, "Now is
the time." I felt myself surprised beyond measure that the Queensland
Government should take the trouble to cause such a question to be put to
each individual immigrant, and I felt certain that it could not have
been Queensland's fault if we had been badly treated. Anyhow, I saw no
reason to tell any falsehoods, and my mind was soon made up how to act.
As soon as the last girl had declared herself satisfied, the question
began with the single men. The first who happened to be called was
rather a dense sort of a fellow, and although he had signed the
complaint, still he said he was "well satisfied." So then I thought the
time had arrived for me to act. I went forward and presented my document
written in Danish and addressed to the Danish Consul, Australia; it was
translated from Danish to German and from German to English. Meanwhile I
glared at the doctor and the doctor glared at me. I felt in rare good
humour, the observed of all observers. As a Queenslander would say on
such an occasion, it was the proudest moment in my life. I was asked to
stand alongside the doctor and captain, and watch my case. The fellow
who had already declared himself satisfied was called back and asked had
he signed the complaint, and only passed forward after admitting that he
had. Then the question to the remainder became, "Have you signed the
complaint?"--to which each of them, evidently pleased, replied in the
affirmative. Those who had not signed, on saying "no" were then asked
"did they wish to sign?" Every one of them signed it then right before
the eyes of the doctor. I would as soon that they had not, because it
was easily seen that they signed it more because they were asked to do
so and did not want to cause trouble, than because they had changed
their minds since they had been requested to do the same thing on the
voyage. From that time to now I never heard any more about the
complaint. Very likely it was forwarded to the proper authorities, and
they perhaps took notice of it although unknown to us. The ship was
clean when we landed, so were the emigrants, and we had all a healthy,
well-fed appearance I am sure, and that must have been greatly in the
doctor's favour. But let me say here at once, that if there had been one
amongst us who had known the proper way to punish whoever was
responsible for our ill-treatment, I believe it would have been a simple
matter to have ruined the owners of the ship. If instead of writing our
complaint to the Danish Consul, one of us had been able to issue a writ
against the doctor upon some definite matter, he could have had as many
witnesses as he chose, ready to hand, to prove what the fare of the ship
had been. He might have produced his rag of a blanket in court too, and
then have claimed damages. I am certain that no Queensland judge or jury
would have said, after seeing it, that such a rag, two feet six inches
by three feet, was a sufficient covering on a four months' sea voyage,
or that the food we received was either sufficient or that it in any way
tallied with what we were promised. Such damages as would then have been
awarded to the first plaintiff, could indisputably have been claimed by
any other emigrant, and that would have meant more than the ship and all
that was in it was worth.

My boss told me before the Queenslanders left the ship again that I
might, as soon as we landed, come to his house for my food and lodging,
and that he would not expect me to go to work for a few days, so that I
was well provided for already. Three or four dozen other immigrants had
also been engaged by the other Queenslanders, all for thirty pounds a
year and rations, on exactly the same agreements as mine. But Thorkill
was not among them, and I felt a little ashamed and sorry that it was
so, as we had agreed not to part, and I had in this way taken my first
chance regardless of him; but he was earnest in his gratulations and
certain, he said, he would be right too, somehow. We had all these empty
bottles, and we expected nothing less than sixpence, or perhaps a
shilling, apiece for them. At least I felt greatly consoled to think of
them, and I made up my mind that he should have the whole return from
them if he needed it. The next day arrived, when we should go ashore,
and, full of excitement and expectations, we sailed up to the jetty.
Slow work that; it took us some hours to do it. Every one was hanging
over the side of the ship looking to see what the place was like, and
watching a number of people who stood there. Now we were alongside, so
close that we might have jumped ashore, but still we were forbidden to
leave the ship before the doctor, who was ashore, arrived. A man stood
on the jetty with a large basketful of bananas, which he offered for
sale at sixpence per dozen, and handed them over the side of the ship to
any one who would buy. He sold them readily, and my mouth watered to
taste them; but I had no money. Thorkill stood alongside me, so he said,
"I should like so to taste some of those bananas."

"So should I."

"He charges sixpence per dozen."

"Yes."

"I wonder if he would take a bottle for a dozen?"

"We will try."

I dived into the cabin as fast as I could for a bottle, because the man
had only a few bananas left. We had all the bottles, or most of them,
wrapped up in paper, and I took one which looked nice and clean, and
came out again just in time to secure his attention. Now I had to try to
make myself understood. "I give you bottle," said I, "if you give me
bananas."

"Are you going to shout?" cried he. "What have you got?"

I did not know what that meant, but as he had a pleased sort of
appearance, I nodded and smiled, and caressed the bottle, saying, "Very
good, very good bottle."

"All right," said he, "let us see what you have got. I give you some
bananas; here you are, hand down your bottle."

So I took the bananas with the one hand, and handed him the bottle with
the other.

He took it, smelt it, shook it, pulled off the wrapper, held it up
towards the sun, and cried, "Dead mariner, by Jove."

Then every one on the jetty laughed like fun, but I was totally ignorant
where the joke came in, and asked, "Is it not a very good bottle?"

"Oh, yes," said he, "splendid bottle," and they all kept on laughing and
talking at me, assuring me that I would do well in Queensland! I
understood that much.

Thorkill and I now retired into the cabin to eat the bananas, and while
we ate them we had some conversation.

"I wonder what they all were laughing at?"

"Who shall say? Is--it--not--a--nuisance--that--we--do--not--understand
--English--better? I--cannot--talk--to--them--at--all. You--seemed--to--
do--fine--though. My--word--you--did. I--never--would--have--believed--
it. I--will--study--that--language."

"Did you notice that he said, 'Dead mariner,' when he held the bottle up
towards the sun?"

"Yes; now I should translate that as a dead sailor. I wonder what he
meant?"

"Perhaps it is a slang name for a bottle."

"I do not think you will find that a correct explanation. It was a dark
bottle; now, I am inclined to think that that sort of bottle may be used
for some liquor peculiar to this country called 'Dead Mariner;' the same
as in Denmark you have so many different names for nearly the same
thing. In that way you might be right in saying it is a slang name; but
anyhow, we will find out the true meaning of it some day."

"Yes," I replied to Thorkill, "and the sooner we find it out the better.
Don't you see, the bottles may have a different value, and I should like
to have full value for them. We are now in Queensland, Thorkill, and I
do not intend to let any one fool me. So, before we sell to any one, I
will find out exactly what they are worth. They did not laugh at nothing
down there on the jetty. I am afraid he had too good a bargain."

"They seemed to say we would do well with the bottles," remarked
Thorkill.

"I hope we shall. But see! They are at last going ashore. Now, if you
take my advice, one of us will stay on board for another hour or two
watching the bottles, while the other goes up to the town to find out
their true value, and a customer for them."

Thorkill replied to this: "Ah, yes; you go up to the town. I will stay
and watch the bottles. I am sure you can sell them to far better
advantage than I."

Meanwhile, a number of the immigrants had gone ashore, and Thorkill and
I were getting the bottles out of their hiding-places and putting them
on the table. Some Queenslanders came in. They looked on a little. I
said, "How much money you pay me for one bottle?"

"Have you got all these bottles for sale?" inquired one.

"Of course," said I.

He did not answer, but went outside and called out "Mick."

In came the man who had sold me the bananas.

"Do you want to buy any more 'dead mariner'?" asked the first.

"Has he got all these bottles for sale?" inquired the banana man.

"Certainly," cried I. (Of course, I did not make myself quite so easily
understood as might appear from this conversation, but still I managed
both to understand and to make myself understood on this occasion.)

"No," cried he; "he did not think he wanted any more just now."

"How much money you think I receive for one bottle?" inquired I.

"Oh, plenty money," cried he, "my word ready; market, any one buys
them."

"What do they say?" asked Thorkill of me.

"They say the bottles are worth a lot of money."

"See if you can find out what 'dead mariner' is."

I took a porter bottle up, and then said, "You name that one 'dead
mariner'?"

Queenslander: "Yes, certainly; that is one 'dead mariner.'"

I took up a clear bottle and inquired, "This clear thing, you call that
empty bottle?"

Queenslander: "To be sure that is an empty bottle. But if you are
willing to sell, you take them all up to that large hotel you see there.
They give you half-a-crown apiece for them."

I then asked, "Which one is most costly, 'dead mariner' bottle or clear
bottle?"

Queenslander: "Oh, that fellow--'dead mariner'--very dear; three
shillings, I think."

"Heavens! here, we have made our fortune already, Thorkill," cried I.
"Three shillings apiece for these bottles and two-and-sixpence for
those. And it appears any one will buy. Are we not lucky?"

"Oh, but," said Thorkill, "I shall never feel justified in taking half
of all that money. It was your idea. I should never have thought of it.
I shall be very thankful to receive just a pound or two."

"Oh, no," cried I, "you shall share half with me whatever I get. But,
excuse me for saying it, you are so unpractical. Why are we not up and
stirring? Why are we sitting here yet? Remember time is money in this
country." Then I ventured to ask the Queenslanders if in the town there
was any one whom I might ask to assist us in carrying the bottles
ashore.

"Oh, yes," they all cried, as if with one mouth. "You go up in town and
get hold of a couple of black fellows, and then you take them all up
that street you see there. Any one will buy them there."

Thorkill remained on board keeping watch over the bottles, while I went
ashore to see what I should see.

Just as I came to the end of the long jetty I saw standing there an
aboriginal and three Gins. They were about as ugly a set of blacks as I
have ever since seen in Queensland, and I was quite horrified at their
appearance. The man had on a pair of white breeches, but nothing else.
The Gins were also so scantily dressed that I am afraid of going into
details of their wearing apparel. All of them had dirty old clay pipes
in their mouths, which they were sucking, but there was no tobacco in
them. The gentleman of the party saved me the trouble of accosting him,
as he came towards me and inquired my name. Then he informed me that his
name was Jack. He next introduced me to the ladies, who, it appeared,
all had the same name--Mary. Of course I fell in with the humour of this
arrangement at once. It seemed to me a delightfully free and easy way of
making acquaintance. They all spoke a lot to me, which I did not in the
least understand, and I did the same to them no doubt. They asked me
for tobacco, which I had not got; but it appeared that all was grist
that came to their mill, for they asked in succession for matches, pipe,
"sixpence," and I do not know what else, and even wanted to feel my
pockets! Of course I did not like this familiarity, so I began to
explain to them that I wanted them to work--to carry burdens from the
ship. That was soon made clear to them. Then the "gentleman" of the
party was very particular to know what I would pay him. I had thought to
get them to carry the bottles up, and, having sold them, to pay them out
of the proceeds; but as he seemed anxious to make a fixed bargain, I
said, "I give you one bottle." In case he should have refused that, I
intended to have gone on further, and to have offered a "dead mariner,"
but to my joy he accepted the offer with evident satisfaction, which
again more thoroughly convinced me of the value of my bottles. I and the
black fellow with his three Gins accordingly went back to the ship,
where Thorkill sat keeping watch over our treasure.

I loaded the four blacks with four bags, in each of which were two dozen
assorted bottles, and now we started for town in earnest. I thought it
beneath my dignity to carry any bottles myself. I had exhorted so many
of the immigrants that it was our duty to one another to try to make a
good impression when we first landed, that the least I could do I
thought would be to set a good example. Therefore I was faultlessly got
up, in my own opinion, or at least as well as the circumstances of my
wardrobe would permit. Still, my attire was not very suitable to this
country, and indeed, when I think of it now, I must have cut a strange
figure. I had on my black evening-dress suit, which so far would have
been good enough to have gone to a ball in, but my white shirt, I know,
was of a very doubtful colour, for I had been my own washer-woman, and
it was neither starched nor ironed. Then my tall black hat, of which I
was so proud when I got it, had suffered great damage on the voyage, and
brush it as I would, any one might easily have seen that it had been
used as a foot-stool. My big overcoat, I, according to the most approved
fashion in Copenhagen, carried over my arm. In one hand I had my
handkerchief, with which I had to constantly wipe the perspiration off
my face, because it was very hot. Still, I felt myself a tip-top
dignitary as I stalked along in front of the four blacks, who came,
chattering their strange lingo, behind me.

We marched up to the main street, and I saw at once a hotel, that
pointed out to me from the ship as the place in which to sell my
bottles. In the bar were two or three gentlemen, of whom I took no
notice. Behind the bar stood the barmaid, whom I profoundly saluted,
also in Copenhagen fashion. I had what to say on the tip of my tongue,
and indeed I have never forgotten it since. So I spoke to the barmaid
thus: "I have bottles I will sell to you. Will you buy? Three shillings
every one." She looked bewildered, not at me but at the gentlemen in the
bar, as if she appealed to them for assistance, and they began to talk
to me, but I did not understand them at all. I could feel myself getting
red in the face, too, but I manfully made another effort. I called in
the blacks and ordered them to deposit their load inside the door. Then
I said with great exactness, "I--do--not--ferstan--thee--thou--ferstan
--me. I--sell--this--clear--bottles--to thee--for three shillings every
one. This--dead--mariner--I--sell--three--shillings--and sixpence every
one. Will thou buy?" Meanwhile I had taken out of the bags two samples,
a clear and a dark bottle, and placed them on the counter, and I now
looked inquiringly around me.

Oh, the mortification which became my portion! The girl seemed to faint
behind the bar, and the gentlemen made not the slightest excuse for
laughing right out in my face. What they said I do not know, but it was
clear they did not want my bottles. I felt insulted, and I determined to
pay the blacks off and to leave the bottles here until I could find a
German Queenslander to whom I might explain my business, and who might
help me to sell them. So I took the clear bottle which stood on the
counter, and handed it to the black as payment for his service. He
looked viciously at me and said, "That fellow no good bottle."

I said, "Very dear bottle that." Then I decided to satisfy him at any
cost, and gave him the other one, too, and said, "Very dear bottle this,
dead mariner."

Now began a scene as good as a play. The blacks appealed to the
gentlemen, and the gentlemen howled with laughter, and I wished myself a
thousand miles away. What did they laugh at? Why did these scampish
blacks not feel satisfied after having received double payment? What did
it all mean? More people came in and seemed amused and happy, but I was
not in the swim. Something was wrong. But what was it? I began to
suspect that my bottles could not be so very valuable, as the blacks had
thrown both the bottles out into the gutter. Anyhow, for me to stand
here to be made a fool of would not do, so I went out of the bar and
down the street. But to get away was no easy matter. In fact I found it
impossible. The coloured gentleman with his three ladies were in front
of me, behind me, and on both sides, crying, howling, yelling, cursing,
and appealing to every one who passed, or to those who came to their
doors, "That fellow big rogue. That fellow no b---- good. He b---- new
chum. He say he give me bottle, he give me no good b---- bottle; dead
mariner no b---- good." This was more than human nature could stand. I
threw my overcoat and belltopper into the gutter, and went for the
black fellow straight. I got on the top of him in a minute, but the
battle was not nearly won by that, because the black ladies were
tearing at my coat-tails, which just formed two fine handles for them.
They split my coat right up to the shoulders, pulled my hair, and
belaboured me in a general way. Now came a policeman and grabbed me by
the neck. All the "ladies" ran for their lives out of sight, but I
suspect their spouse was too bruised to follow their example. Anyhow, he
stuck to his guns yet, and while the policeman tried to march us both
down the street, he kept appealing to him, declaring his innocence, and
my villainy. That I should have spent the next few days in the
watch-house I am sure enough, had not an elderly man stepped out of the
crowd of onlookers and spoken to the policeman. Then he addressed me in
German. I learned then, through much merriment on his part and
heartburning on my own, that empty bottles are in Queensland just so
much rubbish. Indeed, after the policeman let me go, he took me round to
the backyard of the hotel, and there I saw bottles lying by the
thousands, some broken and others sound, ready to cart away. But how was
I to have known that? Was it easy to guess that a bottle, which might
pass for twopence English money in Copenhagen nearly as readily as cash,
would here in Queensland have absolutely no value? It is like all other
things one knows, easily explained: here there being no distilleries or
breweries for making liquors of any kind, they are all imported, hence
empty bottles become a drug in the market.

But I was not out of trouble yet. The German who had in so timely a
manner come to my rescue, seeing the state of mind I was in, tried to
console me by offering me a glass of spirits. I accepted his offer very
readily, I admit, and coming into the bar again, which so vividly
reminded me of my former shame and all the indignities heaped upon me, I
poured out a whole tumblerful of raw brandy--which I should not have
done, considering that I came from a ship on which nothing of that sort
was served out. But I will draw a veil over the rest of this miserable
day. Not but that the worst is told. Intemperance was never my weakness,
but I will leave the reader to fill out the picture, and to think of me
as I returned to the ship, bleeding, torn, and battered, and there I had
to face poor Thorkill, who, in his mild surprise and disapproval, was to
me more terrible than if he had stormed and raged ever so much.



CHAPTER IV.

GAINING COLONIAL EXPERIENCE


Having returned to the ship after the incidents related in the last
chapter, and having somewhat soothed my agitated feelings, and changed
my apparel, Thorkill and I were under the necessity again of returning
on shore; which we did, and had no difficulty in finding the depôt or
place prepared for the reception of the immigrants. I had yet scarcely
noticed anything on land, but we saw now at a glance that the town was
very small, or perhaps it would be more correct to say that the town was
large but thinly inhabited. In Queensland we generally estimate the size
of a place by the number of public-houses which it contains, and in
Bowen there were three of these institutions. Grass was growing
luxuriantly enough in the main street, and altogether it did not, as we
came along, strike us that people here seemed remarkably busy. But when
we came down to the depôt, the scene was changed.

The depôt was a large building, or series of buildings, without
particularly good accommodation, but it had the advantage that there
was plenty of room for everybody. I felt quite glad to again see the
familiar faces of the other immigrants, although we had only been
separated a few hours. There was a large kitchen attached to the place,
and a vast quantity of bread and beef and potatoes had been left there,
more than could possibly be eaten by those present. Two or three
butchers among the immigrants, too, were quite in their element here,
cutting up the bullocks, and all the girls seemed to have formed
themselves into a committee in order to dress the meat in various
appetizing ways. But what seemed the most encouraging feature of all was
to see thirty or forty saddle-horses "hung up" outside the fence and
their owners walking about among the men offering them engagements. The
girls were also in great request. A number of English ladies stood about
the yard, or went in and out of the kitchen. They all seemed to want the
girls who were doing the cooking, and what between the English ladies
who kept trying to attract their attention, their own sweethearts--who
had now the first opportunity since they left Hamburg to speak to
them--and the preparation of food for six hundred and odd people, they
certainly had enough to do. It was comical to watch them. Among the men
the scene was but one degree less animated. They might, I am sure, all
have been engaged that first day if they had liked. A number were
engaged, and over and over again were offers made to them of further
engagements, until at last they turned their backs to the Englishmen who
seemed almost to implore some of them to sign agreements. They were all
offered the same terms--thirty pounds for twelve months, and rations.
The girls got only twenty or twenty-five pounds a year, but there seemed
to be very little difference between the agreements. The Queenslanders
would go for the biggest and most able looking of the men first, and
when they had secured them, engage the others with the same terms. I saw
my "boss" down there, and went home with him for supper. I was received
with the greatest kindness by his family, and he himself could not have
looked more friendly if I had been a long-lost relation. He proved to be
a contractor, and had also a carpenter's shop and showroom attached to
his place. He took me into the shop and showed me several things, and
asked me could I make this or that? There was nothing in the shop that a
boy who had served two years of his life in Copenhagen could not make,
but when I said "yes," he seemed greatly pleased with me, and patted me
on the back. We could not understand each other very much. After tea, I
was shown into a neat room, where stood a nice bed, a chest of drawers,
table, chair, &c. This was to be my abode.

My "boss," however, returned at once and gave me to understand that he
wished me to go with him up to town, and have a general look round. He
gave me first of all a pound sterling, which had the effect of greatly
raising my spirits. Then he took me from the one public-house to the
other, and that made me still more hilarious, especially as he would not
allow me to change my pound; and at last he took me to a store, where a
German presided behind the counter over a lot of ready-made clothes.
Through the German as interpreter, he told me that he would advise me to
buy some new clothes after the Queensland pattern, and that he would
advance sufficient of my wages to cover the cost. I bought then white
trousers, a crimean shirt, a big slouch hat, and a red belt, and put all
on at once. This is the orthodox Queensland costume in the bush, but in
my own eyes I looked a regular masquerader, as I now swaggered down
among the immigrants in my new transformation. I was quite a hero among
them at once, being able to boast of my splendid appointment, and I
believe I had to relate twenty times that evening what I had had for my
supper at my master's place. I might, perhaps, tell it to the reader,
because it seemed to me at that time most astonishing, although it
really--with very little variation--is the ordinary food everybody eats
all over the country, as soon as one comes away from the single man's
hut in the bush.

In the morning we generally had fried steak, white bread, and butter. No
beer or schnapps are ever put on the table in this country, but instead
of that one drinks tea by the quart at every meal. At dinner-time the
ordinary menu will be some sort of roast meat and vegetables, with a
pudding after. At supper one will get more meat and vegetables, and more
bread and butter and tea. It is all very good, but there is a frightful
sameness about it. I used at first to long for one of those plain yet
delicious dishes which the Danish housewives make at home. But I do not
believe English people would eat it, if it were put before them. They
seem to think that anything which is not a solid junk of roast beef must
be un-English. I have almost come to the same way of thinking myself.
But that evening in the depôt we did not criticise the bill of fare. The
immigrants all thought they were going to fare in the same sumptuous
way. Poor fellows, they did not, as a rule.

Next day, Thorkill came to me with sparkling eyes, and told me he had
been so fortunate. A gentleman from Port Mackay, a sugar planter, had
engaged him and twenty-five others, all for thirty pounds a year, and
they were to sail again for the plantation next day. He understood it
was not far away. We might be able to see one another occasionally. He
had told the planter that he had studied agriculture, and the planter
had said he was a good fellow.

"These--Englishmen--are--so--kind,--I--am sure--he--is--a--nice--man.
Perhaps he will make something of me by and by, when I can talk
English."

Poor Thorkill; I see him in a single man's hut on a plantation among
twenty-five others, or with his hoe on his shoulder coming and going to
the fields. He went away the next day, and I fully expected he would
have written to me, but he did not. I did not know his address, and I
did not hear of him again until three years after, when I met him on the
diggings.

As many of the immigrants were going away--they did not themselves know
where--in another day or two, it was suggested by some one that there
should be a theatrical display at the depôt in the evening; and the idea
was taken up with enthusiasm by some of the leading spirits among us. It
had, before I arrived that morning, been agreed that the play should be
a French pantomime. For the information of any one who might never have
seen anything of the kind, let me say that it was a one act farce, in
which the persons act by pantomime alone. Cassander is an old man; his
daughter Columbine loves Harlequin, a young man who always dances about
Columbine when Cassander does not see them. Then there was Pierrot, the
foolish but funny man-of-all-work, who is set to catch Harlequin, but is
always "bested"; and the staid old lover whom Cassander wishes Columbine
to marry. Not much rehearsal was needed to play the piece, and the
dresses were also easily made up on short notice. It had further been
decided in my absence that I was to play Harlequin, but I objected very
much. At last I was forced into it in a manner, because I was a pretty
fair dancer at that time, and they had nobody else. What consoled me
greatly was, that I was to wear a black mask, so that I knew that if my
feelings should get the better of me while on the stage, that I might
make as many faces behind the mask as I liked. The whole town was to be
invited, and we gave five shillings to the bell-crier to announce
through the streets that some renowned artists had arrived at the depôt,
and were going to give a grand performance that night at seven o'clock.

We worked away hard that day in rehearsals, fitting of dresses, stage
making, quarrelling, and in a few other things which are indispensable
on such occasions. In the evening the whole building was crammed full of
English people; there were even some ladies. Our own people had all back
seats. Everything went well. Our orchestra consisted of three
violinists. There were scores of musicians among us, but these were the
best, and were used to play together. Then the blanket which served for
a curtain went up, and we began to act our parts. Everything went well
excepting that Pierrot, whose face was chalked over, began to perspire
very much, and the chalk came off; but that was nothing. It was reserved
for me to spoil the whole proceeding. It came about this way: the fellow
who played Columbine was a big, flabby-looking chap, and he looked very
nasty indeed in women's clothes. As it was my part to dance about
Columbine and make love to him--or her--as you please, I had also to
snatch kisses from him about a dozen times during the evening, but of
course I understood he knew sufficient of acting not to inflict the
punishment of real kissing on _me_. The first time, however, when my
turn came, he turned his face full upon me, and the osculation could be
heard all over the room. This happened two or three times, and every
time people laughed and applauded; but it made me regularly wild. So as
he tried it again I tore the mask off my face before I had time to
think, and cried: "Look here, if you do that again I won't play." That
brought the house down with great applause and homeric laughter; but I
got so upset over it that it was impossible for me to go on the stage
again, and the play came to an abrupt end.

The only one of all the immigrants that remained at the depôt after a
fortnight was over, was a sickly little individual whom everybody on
board had been in the habit of pitying or jeering at, as the case may
be, and who now seemed quite unable to obtain employment. He was then
sent up to Townsville, to try there, and as I happen to know what became
of him, and as his short career affords a striking instance of what
perseverance will do for a man in Queensland, I will state how he fared.
It appears that he at last obtained employment in the ---- Hotel in
Ravenswood, to help the girls in the kitchen at cleaning knives,
plucking fowls, and the like. He had to sign an agreement whereby he
bound himself to remain for three years. The wages for the first year
were ten pounds, for the second fifteen, and for the third twenty
pounds. These are the smallest wages I have ever heard of in this
country for a white man, but our friend thought nothing of that, and
stuck to his work. He could cut hair and shave; I think he had been in a
barber's shop at home. When he brought the guest's shaving-water in the
morning, he would always offer his tonsorial services at the same time.
Of course he would be paid. When he was paid, he would generally say,
"You have not got a few old clothes you do not want?" Then most people,
as he looked so poor and insignificant, would either give him a lot of
clothes, or some money to buy with; and it was pretty well known in that
town where one might buy second-hand clothing for cash. If a guest went
away from the hotel, he would always be there hat in hand, holding the
horse. If one said to him, "Will you come and have a drink?" he would
answer, "No, thank you, sir; please, I would rather have the money." In
that way, while everybody called him "poor fellow," he was scooping in
sixpences, shillings, and even half-crowns every day. As he gave
satisfaction to his master, he was promised, as a make-up for his small
wages, that if he stayed the three years out, he should have as a
present permission to build a barber's shop alongside the hotel, and be
charged no rent. He did stay the three years out, and although I was in
his confidence as little as anybody else, I am very sure he had then his
three years' wages in his pocket and a good deal more besides. Then he
had built a small shop alongside the hotel. It was very small, but it
was in the proper place for doing business; and he began at once a
roaring trade. Sixpence for a shave, a shilling for hair-cutting, and
half a crown for shampooing! He had also ready-made clothes for sale,
hop beer, ginger beer, fruit, saddlery, and much more. People who had
anything for sale might go to him and be certain that he would offer
them a cash price for whatever it was. He opened his shop at seven
o'clock in the morning and shut it at twelve o'clock at night. On
Sundays, indeed, he was supposed to shut for three or four hours; but
one had only to knock at his door to bring him forward. Meanwhile, I do
not believe his old master, or any one else, could have obtained credit
from him for a sixpence. The usual thing in his shop was to see half a
dozen men sitting in his back room waiting to be shaved or shampooed,
and half a dozen standing by the counter in the front room, while he
would jump like a cat among them trying to serve them all at once. But
now I see I have made a mistake. I have written that "his short career
affords a striking instance of what perseverance might do for a man in
this country." That might be true if the story ended here, but it does
not. He was a great miser. His principal food, as he himself assured me,
was the rotten fruit in the shop. When a banana or an apple became
quite unsaleable, he would eat it. He had no assistant in the shop, and
could, therefore, never possibly take any outdoor exercise. At last he
fell sick, and the doctor told him he must go out on horseback every
day, and have plenty of nourishing food. He never bought a horse, and he
never altered his way of living. At last, when it was too late, he got
somebody to stand in the shop for him, for he was then too weak to stand
there himself; and he died in the back room a week after. But even the
day before he died I saw him sitting in the shop trying to direct the
assistant and keeping control over the money-box. I heard how much he
had made, but I forget. Anyhow, it was thousands, and all made in a few
years!

Now I will relate what happened to me the first Sunday I passed in
Queensland, and to do that I must recall to the reader's memory another
of my shipmates, the naval Lieutenant A. He had got married as soon as
we came ashore, to the young lady who I always understood was his
intended wife, and they had already rented a little house and made
themselves very comfortable. On the Saturday, he came to me and told me
that he had carried a letter of introduction from home to a gentleman
who was one of the first civil servants in Bowen. This gentleman he had
seen, and as an outcome of the interview, he had been invited to come
with his wife to the Englishman's place on Sunday forenoon to be
introduced to his family, and that Mr. and Mrs. ----, as well as A. and
his wife, were all then to walk to a large garden which lay a mile or so
outside the town. He promised himself great pleasure and much advantage
from the acquaintance, and as a special favour to me, he said: "Now Mr.
---- said to me that I might invite one of our shipmates to come with
us, and I shall invite you." I thanked him very much for the honour he
did me.

"You understand," said he, "that I would like very much to make a good
impression, not only for myself, but for our country too. I am not in
the least afraid to invite _you_, still excuse me for reminding you that
this man has much influence in Brisbane, and I have no doubt he could
make it worth your while too to be on your best behaviour."

When he was gone, I began to look over my wardrobe, and found that I
could yet make a brave show. Still, I had a great doubt in my mind
whether it would not be the more correct thing to dress myself in my
Queensland clothes--that is, the slouch hat and the moleskins. But as I
did not seem to know myself in them at all, I decided that it was best
to make the most of the clothes I had with me from home, although it was
not without some misgivings that I came to this conclusion. My
swallow-tail coat had been torn, and although it was mended by a tailor,
it was not good enough to wear again on such an occasion, but I had a
nice new jacket I had bought in Hamburg, also a beautifully got-up
white shirt and white waistcoat. As to the belltopper, it was done for.
No more should I go into society in that belltopper, and the Queensland
hat seemed only fit company for the crimean shirt and the moleskins. I
therefore went and borrowed a tall hat for the purpose from among the
immigrants, and as I came back with it, I bought a pair of gloves for
half a guinea in a shop.

The next forenoon, punctually at eleven o'clock, I was outside of A.'s
house in all my glory. A. and his wife were gone, however, and I then
bent my steps towards the house to which I had been directed. As soon as
I came near, I saw A. standing outside the house talking to a gentleman,
whom I at once understood to be the man who had invited us. He looked a
gentleman all over. Yet the same indescribable sort of swagger which I
had noticed in everybody else I had yet met in the country seemed also
to hover about him. I might here observe that this swagger is not
exactly native to this colony. It is only put on for the benefit of new
arrivals. As I came up A.'s friend stood with his feet wide apart, and
was in the act of lighting a meerschaum pipe. A massive gold chain hung
across his well-nourished stomach. I could see that if I had not dressed
myself to my best ability, I should have made a grave mistake. Although
I had scarcely lifted my eyes to him yet, I noticed these details as A.
introduced me to him, while I saluted him as we always salute one
another in Copenhagen. Perhaps I was just a little more than usually
polite. My hat was at my knee as A. said, "Mr. ----, Mr. ----." But the
Englishman did not seem remarkable for his politeness. On the contrary,
I felt very angry at his behaviour. He never changed his position in the
slightest degree; he seemed only to give a sort of self-satisfied grunt,
"How de do, how de do."

There is no mistake about it, I began to wish I had not come. It was not
as though I had not been polite enough; I felt certain both that I could
make a bow with anybody, and that I had saluted and been saluted by
greater dignitaries before than he. Why then should he slight me?
thought I. Was it the custom in this country to invite people on purpose
to insult them? They began to speak to me, and I understood that the
ladies who were to take part in the excursion were inside finishing
their toilet, and would be out directly. A. could see, no doubt, that I
was not pleased, and of course he could also guess the reason. He had
been in England too, and was well versed in English customs, so he said
to me, "It is foolish of you to feel offended because Mr. ---- did not
take his hat off to you. Indeed, it was you who looked ridiculous. I am
sure you never yet saw any one take off his hat to another in this
country. It is not an English custom. Indeed it is specially distasteful
to English people. So do not do it again. Of course it did not matter."

When I heard that I was in humour again. I could forgive every one so
long as they did not offer me a wilful insult. But was it not strange,
thought I? And there he stood, as easy as could be, smoking his pipe in
the street. Well, there is nothing like it, after all. What is a man
without his pipe? I had mine in my pocket, but I had never dreamed of
taking it out till now. I did not know what to make of things, but I
thought that if such training as I had received was at fault, perhaps it
would be well to imitate those whose training was correct. So I took my
pipe out of my pocket and borrowed a match from Mr. ---- to light it
with. Mine was only a clay pipe, and I could scarcely help laughing to
myself meanwhile, because it seemed to me very strange. But I was
determined now to show I knew English manners, and so I puffed away.
Just now Mr. ----'s wife came out of the glass doors on the verandah.
She had also dressed to make a good impression, because she was rustling
with silk and satin, and shining with gold brooches and chains all over.
The doors were opened for her by a servant, and Mrs. A. was also there.
As Mrs. A. told me afterwards, they had watched me through the glass
doors while I was saluting the husband, and probably the Englishwoman
was at that moment under the impression that I intended to go down on my
knees before her. But if she thought that, all I can say is that she was
mistaken. I was not going to look ridiculous this time. She made a bow
to me something of the sort, as I take it, that one of the Queen's maids
of honour have to practise before her majesty--a most profound
obeisance. But I stood brave. With my feet apart, in English fashion, I
puffed away at my pipe, and nodded at her, saying, "How de do? How de
do?"

At this juncture of affairs, I became aware that nobody seemed pleased.
The lady drew herself up and seemed surprised. Her husband appeared to
regard me with a lively interest. So did two women in a house opposite.
A., in a sort of consternation, repeated the formula of introduction. I
felt the blood surging to my face, and my courage fast forsaking me.
Then it occurred to me that as I myself had not the least idea what the
words "how de do" meant which I had employed in saluting her, that
perhaps it was not a proper expression before a lady, and that it would
have been better if I had said something of which I did understand the
meaning. So as A. repeated the form of introduction, Mr.---- and
Mrs.----, I said with great desperation, "Good day, missis."

Then I swallowed a whole mouthful of tobacco smoke (it is such strong
tobacco one smokes here, and I had not been used to more than a cigar on
rare occasions), and then--I must--expectorate. For the life of me I
could not avoid it, but where to do it, whether in front of me or behind
me, I did not know, and so I compromised and spat to the side. While all
this occurred I felt as guilty as any criminal condemned before a
judge, and still where it came in I did not know, because had not A., on
whose English experience I wholly relied, told me scarcely ten minutes
before, that "to take the hat off to one another was not an English
custom--that it was, indeed, specially distasteful to English people"?
What then could I think? You may judge of my feelings when A., now
shaking with rage and entirely forgetting himself, exclaimed to me in
Danish, "You are an unmannerly dog. Has no one ever taught you yet to
take your hat off to a lady? There he stands, smoking a stinking pipe
right in her face."

Oh, yes! oh, yes, indeed, my humiliation was at its highest point.
Quarrelling in our own language, and ready almost to fight! Mrs. ----
disappeared indoors again. Mrs. A. dared not follow her, but walked down
the street a little, not knowing where to put herself, and Mr. ----
becoming more and more boisterous with me for an explanation. It did not
last long, but long enough--quite. Then I went and sat, regardless of
all appearance, on the verandah, while A., with much humility, tried to
explain the matter to our host. Mr. ---- did not quite seem to relish
the joke. He came up to me and informed me with much gravity that A. had
explained the matter to his satisfaction. "But," said he, "you will
certainly find that in this country it is the custom to salute a lady
with a great deal more politeness than you used just now towards my
wife. It is a lesson, I assure you, sir, you cannot learn too quickly."

Half of this I understood and half I guessed. He did not know, however,
that his own mode of salutation would in Copenhagen have been thought
just about as bearish as what he was now correcting me for. I rose to
bid him good-bye, because I was determined to go home as the right
course now to pursue; but as I took off my hat to him again my
crestfallen appearance seemed to amuse him, because he began to laugh,
and when I had reached the corner of the house he came after me,
insisting that I should come back. I declined, until I could see that by
remaining stubborn I should only give still greater offence, and so we
returned and went into the drawing-room to have a glass of wine. Mrs.
---- came now into the room, and with well-bred kindness tried to put me
at my ease again. But although they now seemed to have forgiven me, and
were preparing to start for their walk, I felt that I could not go with
them, and after asking A. in my presence to offer my apology to the lady
herself, I took up my hat, and, bowing profusely to all, went away.

The reader may guess that I was not very proud of myself when I came
home and flung myself on my bed. My career in Queensland had indeed
opened in a very unpropitious manner. I had not been a week in the
country yet, and it appeared I had made myself look more foolish
wherever I had been than I had thought it possible to do. First the
bottles--what disgrace was not that, fighting with the blacks in the
street scarcely an hour after coming ashore; and poor Thorkill, who had
invested his last sixpence, on my recommendation, in buying empty
bottles! Then at the depôt the evening after, when I somehow again had
been the laughing-stock of them all--a regular "Handy Andy"; and now
to-day, when I had started out with the best intentions, and had only
succeeded in making a never-to-be-forgotten picture of myself--and that
after having borrowed a "belltopper" to look grand in! Now I had to
return that piece of furniture to the owner, and when he asked me how I
had enjoyed the company of my grand acquaintances, probably I should
have to tell a falsehood about it in order to hide my shame. One
consolation was that I had yet the gloves--they were my own to do with
as I liked. I had paid ten and sixpence for them, more than half my
fortune. Faugh! was ever any one like me? Was that all I had come to
Queensland for? But at all events this should not happen again. If I
could find an ass bigger than myself, thought I, I should be satisfied,
but never again as long as I lived would I seek the acquaintance of
people who by any stretch of imagination might think themselves my
superiors.

Then I called in from the backyard a whole troup of dirty, lazy blacks,
who were lying there basking in the sun in an almost naked condition,
and made them understand that I would give them all my home clothes if
they would perform a war dance in them for my instruction and pleasure.
One of them put on my swallow-tail coat and belltopper (he had no
breeches), another got my overcoat, one of the ladies put on my jacket
(she had nothing else), another put on my woollen comforter, not round
her neck but round her waist, where it was of more use. At last I took
my flute, and the whole troup kept screaming and dancing about in the
backyard while I played, until my "boss" came and interrupted the
proceedings. I felt a grim sort of satisfaction. Alas! there is no
saying what is to become of any of us before the end is over. Clothes
are lifeless things, yet how often had I not brushed them and thought it
important that they should look well! I really felt a kind of remorse
when I saw these filthy blacks lie wallowing in them amid a flock of
yelping curs.

And now I fell to work at my trade in earnest. The houses in Bowen are
all built of wood, and a very easy affair it is for any one to build
them. Indeed housebuilding in the small Queensland towns can scarcely be
called a trade, insomuch that any practical man who can use carpenter's
tools could easily build his own house. A hammer and a coarse saw was
about a complete set of tools on many jobs we did up there. Still, large
wooden houses filled with all the most modern comforts are also
constructed, and in such none but the best workmanship is tolerated, so
there, of course, a tradesman is indispensable. At all housebuilding,
too, a man who is constantly at it acquires a quickness which would
altogether outdistance the novice, but one may learn as he goes in that
trade, and the best men I have met in the carpenter trade out here are
men who never served their time to it.

There were no saw-mills in the town, nor was there any suitable timber
to saw in the bush, so that we depended for a supply on an occasional
schooner, or on what the steamers sometimes would bring. At times we had
no timber at all. Then we had to make furniture out of the packing-cases
in the stores, or the "boss" would buy an old humpy and pull it down,
and we had to try to make a new one out of it. My employer had engaged
another carpenter besides myself from among the immigrants. This man had
got married at the depôt to one of the girls, and they lived in a small
house. He had thirty shillings a week, of which, of course, most went to
keep house. But Bowen is one of the very few non-progressive towns on
the coast, and houses stood empty in all directions, so that he only had
to pay a nominal rent. Our "boss" seemed to have plenty of work always,
and, besides ourselves, there were two and sometimes three English
carpenters employed. We had to work like boys for them, because we could
not very well be sent anywhere by ourselves, as we could not speak to
people about the work to be done. One thing I might mention here, and
which I think very unfair, is this, that nobody took the trouble to
speak English to us, but they seemed even to go out of their way to
teach us a sort of pigeon English, which, of course, would demonstrate
our inferiority to the individual who addressed us. Although I do not
dislike either English, Scottish, or Irish people, I think it a great
delusion of theirs that they are more hospitable to foreigners, or
cosmopolitan in their way of thinking, than other nationalities, but
that they are under the impression that they are the salt of the earth
is certain. Meanwhile my mate and I did the best we could to vindicate
the honour of our country. I felt myself daily getting stronger and more
active; the change of air did wonders, and so was it with my mate. After
a while, we found we could fully hold our own. The English tradesmen
were very fond of showing how much they could do, but as we both began
to get up to their standard they would, as we worked under them, knock
us off what we were doing and put us to something else, often with the
evident intention of making the "boss," when he came, think we had not
done much, or did not understand our work. So one day I had a terrible
quarrel with the man with whom I was working on that account, and then
he began to denounce us all for cutting the wages down. I had no
intention of cutting down his wages, and I did not know in the least
what wages he got, but when he told me that he received three pounds
sterling every week I thought that the "boss" had treated me very badly.
I learned then that three pounds are the ordinary weekly wages for
carpenters in Queensland, and I told the English carpenter that I would
immediately ask the "boss" for an increase in _my_ wages to that amount,
and that if he would not give it to me I would not do more work than I
got paid for. I had been there six months at that time, and had never
taken any money of my wages beyond what I received when I started, but
when I asked for three pounds per week my employer was very
dissatisfied. I wanted him to cancel the agreement. He refused, and I
accused him of having taken an unfair advantage of me. He assured me
that as he had got me he would keep me. "Very well," said I, "do your
best to obtain your pound of flesh, but do not charge too high a day's
wages when you send me away after this; I might not suit."

From that day there was war between us, war to the knife. Still I was,
and had been, well treated there, and so far I had done my best to
deserve it. When I think of it now, I am glad that before this occurred
I had an opportunity to show my willingness. What my master's profit on
me was I do not know, but it cannot have been large. What with my
inability to speak the language, the learning how to handle the
different tools used here, and one thing and another, it was
unreasonable for me to expect the full wages at once. When I compare my
fate with that which befell some of the other immigrants, I ought to
have thought myself very fortunate. Some of these were sent out in the
bush around the town, and among those who were a few miles distant, I
heard much dissatisfaction existed. I will here relate how some, at
least, were treated. One man and his wife, and four single men, were
engaged at a station fifty miles away. Their agreements were all the
same, thirty pounds per annum and rations. The woman, however, was not
engaged. When they arrived at the place they found a small house in the
middle of the bush. When they asked where were their rooms or place to
camp in, their employer told them they might camp anywhere they liked as
long as they did not come inside _his_ house. They had then got some
bags and branches of trees put together and slept under them, but there
was no protection from rain, and the poor woman, who was not well at the
time, thought she was going to die. Instead of food, they were served,
as I have before stated, with raw beef and flour. The reader may imagine
what sort of doughboys they were making. This was strictly and correctly
the truth, although these poor people certainly never knew the true
intent of the agreement. They would not work, they said, unless they got
proper food, but their employer was abusing them every day. They had to
fell trees and split timber for fences. Of course such hard work, with
no cooked food to eat and no bed to sleep in, was an unreasonable thing
to expect from them. After six or seven weeks of this one of them went
away, empowered by the others to go to town and complain for the others.
He came into town, where he told me what I now relate; but his "boss"
was after him quickly, and instead of obtaining redress, he was put in
the lock-up fourteen days for absconding from his hired service, and
then compelled to go back again! While he was in the lock-up, my "boss"
used to send him up three good meals every day. People who may read this
at home will no doubt think that there must be great brutality somewhere
for people to be treated like this. I agree with them. Yet the same
treatment and fare comes light to an old hand. He knows what to expect,
and is prepared for it. As men travel about from place to place in
search of work, it is absolutely necessary for them to carry everything
with them and to be their own cooks too. They have their tent, blanket,
food, billy, sometimes a frying-pan, all bundled together with their
clothes and strapped on their backs, or, if they are well-to-do, they
have a horse to carry the "swag" for them, or even two horses, one being
to ride on. There is really no reason why a man should not possess a
couple of horses here, but still they as often do not. The billy serves
all purposes: in it the meat is cooked, the tea is boiled, and on extra
occasions the plumduff too.

It is only just to say that the custom of forcing men to camp out in
their own tents and to cook their own rations is growing more and more
out of use. In most places in the bush the employer now provides at
least shelter for his men: in many places they have the food cooked as
well; yet there are to this day thousands of people in Queensland who
live as I have just described, and who never see vegetables from one
year's end to another.

The reader will, therefore, see that I was comparatively fortunate in
this, that I had both shelter and food while I was learning the language
and accustoming myself to the country. But after my request for more
wages had been refused, I did as little work as possible, indeed I may
say I did scarcely anything. I played quite the _gamin_ with the old
gentleman, until one day he offered to let me go, and then free once
more I promised myself never again to sign away my liberty.



CHAPTER V.

TOWNSVILLE: MORE COLONIAL EXPERIENCES.


I had now paid out to me twelve pounds sterling as the balance of wages
due, so it will be perceived that I had not been extravagant. Yet I am
afraid that if I had been taking my wages up weekly I should not have
had so much, if, indeed, anything. Yet here were the twelve pounds now,
and that was the main thing. It made over a hundred Danish dollars,
quite a large sum to me. Then I considered where I should go next. There
were some gold mines inland within one or two hundred miles, but I did
not know the road, or else I should have gone there. Just then there had
been opened another port north of Port Denison, viz., Townsville. I
understood that if a man wanted to make money, he should go there; or
rather I understood the further north I went the more pay I should get,
on account of its being hotter there, but that down south, were the
climate was supposed to be better, carpenters where not in demand. So,
"Northwards, ho!" was my cry. The steamer left Port Denison the next day
for Townsville, and I was among the passengers. It is on leaving one of
these small ports on the Queensland coast that I have always more than
at any other time been impressed with the utter loneliness in which they
lie. One sees the few houses and appurtenances like a speck on the
coast, and north and south the long vast coastline. We steamed along all
the evening, night, and next morning, and towards noon my attention was
directed to some small white specks on the beach. That was Townsville,
the new settlement where money was to be made. The steamer I was in
could not run close, but lay out in the bay until another very small
steamer came out and took us all on board. Then in another half-hour we
ran into a small creek, past three or four galvanized iron sheds, and
here we were at the wharf in the middle of the main street of the town.

Townsville lies on the bank of a small river or creek called Ross Creek,
which when I was there was remarkable for being stocked with alligators.
One could not very well, therefore, cross the creek without some danger,
and at that time all the people and all the houses without a single
exception, lay on the south side of the creek. Ross Creek formed, I
might say, one side of the main street. Facing it lay a number of small
shanties, some made of packing cases and old tin; others again, built
with a view to permanency, of nicely dressed sawn timber, and looking
like rich relations in contrast to their poor neighbours. This was
Flinders Street, or Townsville proper. For about ten chains this row of
houses ran, and facing it, on the other side of the creek, was one vast
wilderness of swamp, long grass and trees. When one had passed the row
of houses composing the street there were turns off to the bush in all
directions, and tents, huts, or sheets of galvanized iron stood all
about the street. Up behind the street were some tremendous-looking
mountains, and here such people as the doctors, civil servants, &c.
seemed to have fixed their abode. The most splendid views could be
obtained up there right over the sea and the numerous small islands.
Then the climate, which at least at that time was supposed to be
somewhat unhealthy down below, was very much better on the highlands.

While I was in Townsville my greatest pleasure was to take my lunch with
me in a morning and then scramble up there to some place from which the
best view could be had, and sit there all day. That was a cheap and
harmless pleasure, but to do so at the present time would be trespass,
because all the land about there is now sold at so much per foot, and no
one but the owners have a right either to the soil or the air, or even
the view. It seems wrong to me that it should be so. I wonder what will
become of poor people when the day arrives when all the world is thus
cut up into freehold property! If I had at that time invested the ten
pounds I carried in my pocket in a piece of land, it would certainly
have been worth thousands of pounds to-day, and I believe I might even
have been worth tens of thousands. Then I might without further trouble
have been myself a "leading Colonist" to-day!

On looking around one would scarcely think that this place and Bowen
were in the same country. In Bowen everybody seemed to have plenty of
time. The shopkeepers there would stand in their doorways most of their
time, or go visiting one another. Then, although Bowen was so much
larger than Townsville, there seemed to be no people in it. But here
there were crowds everywhere, and seemingly not an idle man. People
appeared rather to run than to walk. I walked up the street and looked
into a half-finished building where half a dozen carpenters were at
work. I watched them well. They were all men in their prime, and if they
did not work above their strength they were good men assuredly! There
was quite a din of hammers and saws. It was terrible! I felt very much
afraid that I should not be able to match myself against any one of
them, but on the principle of not leaving until to-morrow what might be
done to-day, I asked one where the "boss" was? He pointed to a man
alongside who also was working terribly hard, and this gentleman sang
out to me from the scaffold, "What do you want, young fellow?" So I said
that I wanted work.

"All right," cried he, "I'll give you a job, but I have no time to talk
before five o'clock; you can wait." Then I stood waiting, and feeling
half afraid to tackle the work, until the "boss" sang out "five
o'clock."

What a relief every man must have felt. Each seemed to drop his tool
like a hot potato. I remember well my feelings. I knew before the
contractor spoke to me that he was a bully, from the way he spoke to the
other man. He came up to me.

"Well, what is it you can do?"

"I am a carpenter and joiner."

"Oh, you are a German."

"No, I am not."

"What sort of a new chum are you then?"

"I asked you if you wanted a carpenter."

"Where were you working before?"

"In Bowen."

"What wages did you get there?"

"Thirty pounds a year."

"Do you know that I expect my men to earn fourteen shillings a day?"

"I will do as much work as I can, and I do not expect you to pay me more
than I can earn."

"Got any tools?"

"No."

"I do not want you then!"

Did ever any one get such an unprovoked insult? I felt as if I could
never ask another man for work again. Although I had learned a little
English, it was far from sufficient to allow me to set up and work on my
own account. I knew that very well, and although I kept telling myself
that most likely here there would be plenty of other contractors to go
to, yet I was in very low spirits as I went off looking for a suitable
boarding-house. The place I came to did not impress me as being either
clean or comfortable. I went in at the door only because I saw on the
signboard the words "Diggers' home," or "Bushman's home." I forget
exactly what it was, but I understood there was "home" about it, and as
I was just then longing very much for such comforts as the word "home"
is associated with, I went in. It was just tea-time and about thirty men
were sitting on two wooden forms around the one table, eating. The
uncouth way in which they were gormandizing was terrible to witness.
English working people show, I think, greater anxiety to possess what
are popularly called "table manners" than does the same class where I
came from. The former hold their knives and forks in faultless style,
but they seem never to have learned what is the great point in table
manners. This is a point on which I was very strictly brought up, and as
one cannot very well criticise another's manner of eating while sitting
alongside him at table, I think I might without offence give valuable
advice here. It is this. Close your lips while you are eating,
gentlemen. It does not matter half so much to some people how you hold
your fork.

There were among the others at the table two of my shipmates, who, as
they told me, were working at their trade for four pounds a week. They
were dressed in the height of fashion, and would not speak Danish at all
to me. One of them informed me in a sort of language that I am sure no
Englishman could have understood, that he had almost quite forgotten
Danish. As I had a craving just then for sympathy, I told them how I had
fared when I had asked for work, but all the sympathy I received was the
remark that it was smart fellows only who were needed in Townsville.
They agreed thoroughly about that, and then whenever they could repeat
the formula "I get four pounds per week," they did it _ore rotundo_.
Evidently they had a heartfelt contempt for one like me, who had been
working for only a few shillings a week. After tea, I was, on stating
that I wanted to stay for a week, shown into a small room wherein stood
six stretchers, or beds, as close as could be. One had scarcely room to
squeeze about among them. The middle of the room seemed to be a sort of
main passage two feet wide between the beds on each side, leading to
rooms beyond, and there the rest of the thirty boarders would tramp in
and out. The landlord, on showing me one of these beds as mine, demanded
a pound sterling of me in advance as one week's payment. "Beautiful
home." "Comfortable abode." I regretted that I had left Bowen, as I
thought of my clean private room there. I did not, however, pay for a
week beforehand. I paid only for my supper and a shilling for the use of
the bed or "home" for that night. I sat there on the bed for a quarter
of an hour, listening to all the noises around me. Then I felt that I
could not suffer it any longer, so I went out. It was a beautiful
moonlight night. To get out past the houses was only the work of five
minutes, and I kept walking on along a road I came to until I was well
past all signs of civilization. I had taken my flute with me as the best
means which yet remained to soothe my troubles, and then I sat down to
play. How much better I felt out there under the gum-trees! That
foul-smelling boarding-house seemed to trouble me no longer. I would not
return to it. Better by far to sleep out there under the open sky! I
sang and played and worked myself into quite a romantic feeling. At last
I fell soundly asleep.

The next day I began more carefully to look out for a boarding-house,
but it was all one. There were enough of them indeed, but in all there
was not one which did not to my mind look more like a rabbit warren than
a "home" or a "rest," or whatever the name might be that was put over
the door. A couple of places were kept by Chinamen. They at least seemed
more honest, because they made no pretence of offering their guests what
they had not got. All the accommodation they offered was a shelf for
each man, and there seemed to be an air of "take it or leave it alone"
about them which I liked. But none of these suited me, and so I went to
the hotels, and for one pound ten shillings per week I got white man's
accommodation: a room for myself and every civility. How anybody like my
two grandly-dressed countrymen could, if they earned four pounds a
week, prefer the other place to this, I did not understand.

I might now with much satisfaction have finished my writing here by
telling the reader how I obtained work the next day for fourteen
shillings per day, and how I saved and persevered until I myself became
a contractor--if such had been the case. But the truth must be told, and
that is that I kept delaying day by day to ask any one for a job. Every
day I would walk about the town, and passed and re-passed houses under
erection, but I could not bring myself to go and speak to any one for
fear of meeting the same fate that befell me the day I arrived. When I
came home to the hotel from such an expedition, I would console myself
by recounting my money and reckoning up how many Danish dollars it was.
That seemed to reassure me. Certainly it went fast, but on the whole I
was in no way alarmed over myself, because I knew very well that when
the necessity came a little nearer I should easily get something to do.
Meanwhile I could go out every day shooting, fishing, and enjoying
myself as best I could.

One of the first days I was in Townsville, I went out in the main road
leading to the gold diggings, and when I was about a mile or two out of
town I came to a house which attracted my attention. It was very small,
the walls were built of saplings, the roof was covered with bark, tin,
and all sorts of odd materials. The door was made of a sapling frame
with bagging stretched across it. Yet the place had a cool, clean sort
of appearance, and under the verandah in a home-made squatter's chair
sat a man smoking a long pipe. Yet I should probably have passed by
without taking notice of any of these details if it had not been that in
front of the house, but close to the road, was erected a sort of frame
like a gallows, and from it dangled in a most conspicuous way an empty
bottle. Underneath was a piece of board nailed to a tree, and on it was
written with chalk the one word thrice repeated: "Bier. Bier. Bier."
That caused me to look at the man, and I perceived it was one of my
shipmates. This man was between fifty and sixty years old when he landed
nine months before with his wife and eight children. I am very certain
that he did not then own more than I did myself, but he had on the
voyage exhibited such a cheerful disposition, and had such a happy knack
of always trying to explain things in a way that would make one think
that any misfortune that might happen would have been just the very
thing wanted, that he had been a general favourite. But when we came to
Bowen nobody had engaged him and his eight children, and so he had been
sent here, and now I saw him sitting smoking his pipe under the verandah
with great gusto. He seemed as glad to see me as I was to see him, and
asked me to come and sit on a box which stood alongside him, and to have
a smoke out of his long pipe. Then he began to spin his yarn. His girls
were at service, the two of them, and had each ten shillings per week,
and they brought it all home, for they were good girls. He had got
somebody to apply for this land for him on his land order, "and here,"
he said, "right and left is all mine. Me and mother built the house
ourselves; come inside and see."

"But," said I, "what is the meaning of that empty bottle you have hung
up there?"

"Oh," cried he, "did you not see my signboard. I sell beer. I cannot
understand their blessed language, but I thought if I showed them the
bottle they would know what it meant, and Annie drew that signboard
herself last Sunday she was home; she is a splendid scholar, you
know--you should only hear her talk English. It fetches them right
enough. You will see nearly everybody who comes along the road must be
in here and have his beer."

Then we went inside, and there were the old lady and her children, as
happy as could be. Now I had to tell my history, and after much argument
my friend made me believe that the reason the contractor had not given
me a job was because I had told him the truth. "You should have said you
earned fifteen shillings a day in Bowen, that you would not work under
sixteen shillings now; that is the way. Always tell them you can do
anything."

Good old fellow! How cheerful I felt when at last I went away. I laughed
to myself, too, at his important self-confident air. If he has kept his
land and sold beer to this day, I am sure he can smoke his pipe now with
great complacency--unless, indeed, riches, a circumstance over which he
had no control, have spoiled him.

In the hotel in which I stayed were several other lodgers, among them an
elderly man with a long beard and a most fatherly air. He became daily
more friendly to me, and at the end of the first week he told me he was
himself a Dane, and that he had been in the Colonies a great many years.
He said he had watched me with growing interest; that he generally was
chary of offering his friendship to anybody, but that he now was
satisfied that I was a respectable, well-meaning youth, and that his
heart went out towards me. Of course the least I, under the
circumstances, could do was to accept his proffered friendship in the
same spirit in which it was offered, and I told him frankly all my
business, and how I was still smarting under the insult I had received
on my first arrival in Townsville to such a degree that from day to day
I could not bring myself to ask for work again, and how, I added, my bit
of money was going fast. He, on his part, gave me to understand that he
was not a rich man, although several times he had made his fortune.
"But," said he, "I never let the left hand know what the right hand is
doing. Sometimes, as for instance now, I run myself quite short; it does
not matter, I can always make enough for myself as long as God gives me
strength."

I went with him to church on the Sunday, although I did not understand a
word of what the parson said, but my ancient friend had already acquired
a sort of proprietorship over me, and as he seemed to be intensely
religious, it imparted a kind of holy feeling to me to sit near him.
After church, he lectured me on religion very severely, and all the time
I knew him he prayed devoutly both morning and evening. A few days
after, he told me he had taken a contract from one of the storekeepers
in town to cut hay. He said that a man could cut a load of hay in a day,
and that he was to get thirty shillings a load for it. He would now,
said he, have to buy a horse and dray, and would also have to look out
for a partner. I asked him if he thought I might do, and said that if I
could not work as much as he I should not expect the same pay, but that
I was confident that I would not be far behind.

"Well, I might do;" he would like to have me for a partner, but he
understood that I had very little money. It would be necessary for his
partner to have at least thirty pounds, as the horse and dray alone
would cost forty pounds, and we should have to buy tools and to keep
ourselves in rations for some time. I was very sorry that I had got only
something like eight pounds. "All right;" he would take me if I would do
the best I could. He had already an offer for a horse and dray. Then we
set about buying a tent and a lot of rations in a store, also scythes
and one thing and another necessary for the job. My partner advised me
that we should not pay for it just then, as we were to deliver hay for
the money. The same day we left with all our things packed in our swags,
and went into the bush about four miles, where there was plenty of long
grass suitable for haymaking, and there we pitched our tent.

Here I worked for a couple of months with the utmost eagerness. It was a
time of long summer days, and from daylight to dark was I at it, doing
my level best. My partner had bought a horse and a dray, and was taking
hay into town every day, but he did not work much at home. Of course, as
he said, he was getting to be old, and could not work as formerly; but
then he did all the business, and, according to his estimate, we earned
a couple of pounds every day. As for me, I worked contented and happy,
although we had not yet taken any money for the hay and I had given my
partner every sixpence I possessed to help in buying the horse and dray.
We lived very frugally, too--at least, I did; my partner had his dinner
in town, but that was only a necessity when he was bringing hay
in--because, as he said, he did not believe in all this gorging and
over-feeding which was customary in these latter days. As for smoking
tobacco, he was much against it, and declared it to be not only a wicked
but a dirty habit; so, to please him, I had given up the pipe. I made
breakfast for him in the morning, and was at work before he rose. I had
supper ready for him when he came home at night, and I never spared
myself or gave a thought to the unequal distribution of work between us.

One evening my partner did not come home. I was very anxious, picturing
to myself all sorts of dreadful calamities which might have happened to
him. In the morning I went into the town to the storekeeper, whom I
understood bought the hay, but I could get no satisfaction there. They
had not seen him for a week, they said, and only bought hay
occasionally. I thought they did not understand me, and I went to
another storekeeper, and got a similar answer. As I stood quite
bewildered in the street, I saw the horse and dray coming past, and a
stranger driving. On inquiry, I learnt that the man who was driving had
bought the whole concern the day before for thirty-five pounds. While we
were yet talking one of my countrymen came up and wanted to know about
the horse and cart too, and, to make a long story short, it appeared
that my mate had borrowed, on one pretext and another, from the Danes in
town nearly a hundred pounds in small sums. He had also bought the horse
and dray with a very small cash deposit, and sold them for cash, got
paid for all the hay we had cut, and owing for our rations in one of the
stores besides, he had cleared out. Benevolent-looking old hypocrite,
when I found it all out, I felt as if I could have----never mind--what
is the good? say no more. I had not got a copper. I went up to the hotel
where I had been staying before I had started haymaking, and began to
pour out my tale of woe to the publican, with no other object than to
get sympathy. The publican looked absent-minded, then he smiled: he
always thought old ---- had a "smart look" about him. "And so he has
done all of you new chums, eh! Say it again. How was it he did it? You
are too soft for this country."

I was on the point of leaving, when a man came in and asked me if I was
old ----'s partner. I said "yes." Would I be so good as to pay this bill
for two pounds odd shillings at once, or if I did not he would make me
into sausages. This was too much. I know myself to be good-natured, and
I told him so, but if he had any evil designs on me, why I would pull
his nose. We had a long conversation on this matter, and at last he
agreed not to annihilate me there and then, and I on my part declared
myself satisfied if he would give me his pipe and tobacco and let me
have a good long smoke as a sort of proof to me that he bore me no
ill-will. When peace was thus restored, he became very friendly, and
explained to me that he had misunderstood the matter before, and that he
was very sorry for me, but that he would yet make my partner pay us all
if I would only leave it to him and go home. "Only leave it to him"? I
had nothing else to do but to go home, because in the camp there was at
least a bit to eat. So home I went. But what a change had now come about
in my fortune! Not only the loss of the money--although that was
serious enough, but there was the shock to my faith in human nature! Who
could I put faith in after this? I began in a sort of mechanical way to
cut hay again just to get away from my thoughts. Then I threw the tools
as far as I could, and went to lie down in the tent with my mind in a
state of blank. Where would I go, and what should I do next? After a
while, the man who had wanted me to pay a bill came and posted a bill on
a tree. He inquired of me if I had a horse, and seemed very sorry for me
when I told him "no." He informed me also that I must not remove
anything, as to do so would be stealing. I understood sufficient of the
proceedings to know that he also would be very "smart" if he could, and
he was scarcely gone, before a man came with another summons, which was
pasted underneath the first. This would never do, thought I. Was I to
allow myself to be made a cricket-ball of by every one who chose to play
with me. I must be "smart" too, and as soon as I got the idea, it struck
me as an immense joke. Would it have been wicked, thought I, if I had
been able to work a double game on the old swindler who had taken me in?
They seemed to show respect for the swindler, and contempt for the dupe;
but then there was the risk of cheating honest people, and that I could
never do. No, that must not be. But talking about cheating and stealing,
as the fellows who had posted the summonses on the trees had done, now
they were trying to get paid their score out of the few things which
were left in the camp without regard to me, and had the impudence to
tell me that I must not remove anything. Bosh! Was it not paid for with
my own money? Certainly all there might not fetch ten shillings, but who
had a better right or more need of it than I? So, as the first step in
"smartness," I remembered that possession amounts to nine points of the
law, and for the rest I would in my mind keep a sort of profit and loss
account, and I began at once by writing down my present score and
leaving open the opposite page for such circumstances as the future
might have in store. Dangerous thoughts, I admit, but this is the truth,
and having found a weapon in this determination, it did not take me ten
minutes to make up my mind what to do.

There was a settler living not far away from where we had been cutting
hay. This man always seemed to me to have a friendly air about him as he
would come past occasionally, and he had always made a point of stopping
to speak to me at such times. He had several times invited me to come
and visit him, but I had never yet done so. I now thought I would go and
see him and ask him his advice, whether he thought that I had a right to
claim what there was in the camp, and if so, try to induce him to buy
what there was. I accordingly went over to his place and told him all
about my trouble. He was an Irishman. "Bad luck to the ould offinder!"
cried he, "and so he has run away. This is an awful wurld. Ah, me lad,
take my advice, never have anything to do with them Germans. Well, never
mind, you are a German too, but that one was worse than a native dog
anyhow, and so he was."

I asked him what he thought about the things in the camp, whether I
might have them: there was an axe, besides two scythes, a bucket, billy,
frying-pan, some old blankets and other articles, and then there was the
tent. "Oh, that was all right." I could bring it all over to his place,
and he would swear to any one that it was his, and he would like to see
the man who would dispute it. I might come too, he said, and live with
him until I got something to do. He would do much more than that, only
that he had no money. This seemed to suit me in every respect, and I
began at once carrying over all that was in the tent to my new friend's
place; but the tent itself I let stand for any one to fight about as
they thought fit, or for the Government to inherit--I did not care
which. The next few days I passed with the Irishman. He was not married,
and lived quite alone on this piece of land which he had taken up as a
selection. The hut had only one room, and the absence of that refining
influence which is generally supposed to pervade a place where women
live, was painfully apparent. The Irishman knew this very well, for he
had always a way of excusing the rampant disorder in the hut by saying
"that the Missis was not at home, bad luck."

Under the bunk were two bags of corn piled up in the cobs, in another
corner lay some turnips and seed-potatoes; we boiled the corned beef and
the tea in the one billy, and if the billy was full of meat or potatoes,
when we wanted to make tea, it was only the work of a second to topple
it all out into the bunk and fill the billy up with water for the tea. I
am sure I now ask my friend's pardon for repaying his hospitality by
describing these matters, but as I hope this history of my life will be
published, it may possibly be read by young ladies, and I cannot resist
the temptation to show them the faithful picture of a bachelor's den in
the Queensland bush. If it were a singular instance I should not think
it worth relating, but it is not; it would be more correct to say it is
the general rule.

Every day I went into town and looked out for something to do, but I
found great difficulty. Work was plentiful, but wherever I inquired if
they wanted a carpenter, their first question was about my tools. I had
no tools, and they would not engage me. One evening I was in town on
purpose to speak to a contractor who had told me to call at his private
residence at nine o'clock with a view to engaging me. As I was walking
about trying to kill the time, I found myself standing down on the
wharf, where I had come ashore the first day I landed in Townsville. I
was watching the little steamer that used to run between the town and
the bay, and which now seemed to be getting steam up, and in a vague
sort of way I wondered whether the steamer out in the bay was going
north or south, so I asked one of the sailors. "North," said he; "they
go to Batavia, but they call at the pearl fisheries at Cape Somerset.
Are you going?"

I had, of course, never thought of it till that moment, but as he said
"pearl fisheries" it struck me that it must be a delightful occupation
to sit fishing for pearls, and that it would be worth running a risk to
try to get to that place. Besides, it would be a splendid adventure. So
I said, "Yes, I am going." "Have you been there before?" said he;
"perhaps you are a diver?"

"Yes, I was a diver." I found out next that I should just have time to
go out to my camp in the bush, to collect my swag and be back in time
for the steamer. I ran all the way there and back, laughing to myself
all the time, because there seemed to myself such a splendid uncertainty
about how the adventure would turn out. I had got no money, but it only
troubled me so far as perhaps it might make it impracticable to get on
board. Anyhow, I meant to have a hard try for it. When I came back I
stood watching the little steamer until the moment they were about to
cast off. Then with a hue and cry I rushed on board.

As we sailed down the river the captain said to me, "Are you the diver?"
"No savey." "Are you going up to the pearl fisheries?" "No savey." "Have
you got a ticket?" "No savey." "Dang that fellow! Are you----Deutcher?"
"No savey." "Well, if you 'no savey,' all I can tell you is that you
shall not get on board the steamer without a ticket. You savey swim?"

"Oh yes, I savey swim belong de pearl all de time?" "Oh, well, I think
you had better go back with us again, because they will only give you to
the sharks up there, if you try any tricks on them."

Here the conversation was interrupted by the captain having to attend to
the ship, and I scrambled out of his way. It did not take long before we
were out alongside the large steamer, and so as it was very close I
watched my opportunity and climbed up the side and on board. There was a
large coil of rope lying on the deck, and into that I crept without a
thought for the morrow. I heard the ship getting under weigh and then I
slept, if not the sleep of the just, at least without dreams.

Next day was Sunday. I only woke up as the sun was shining in my face,
and then I got up and looked around me. We were steaming along the
coast; there seemed to be nobody about but the sailors. I had a walk
about the deck and a wash at the pump. Nobody spoke to me for some time,
until the steward came and in a most natural way told me breakfast was
ready. "Good!" He is a sensible man, thought I, and I went below and had
a good meal. As soon as I had well finished, the mate came in and asked
me for my ticket. I had formed no particular plan of campaign, but I
felt so self-confident and happy, that I was perfectly convinced within
myself that it would be impossible for any one to be out of temper with
me. It is necessary to bear this in mind to believe what follows. Mirth
is catching, and is irresistible when natural, but nothing but the
genuine article will do here. So now the mate came up to me and said,
"Ticket." I laughed and cried "No ticle." He looked rather surprised at
me, and held out his hand saying, "Ticket." "Oh," cried I, laughing,
while I grasped his hand, "Ticket--oh I savey you give me ticket?"

"Oh, this won't do," said he, although I could perceive my mirth was
working on him. "Money, money or ticket"--at the same time he took out
half a crown and showed it me. I tried to take the half-crown from him
and patted him on the shoulder, saying, "Good fellow you," and when he
would not give it me, I told him he was too much gammon for me
altogether. At last I got him to laugh properly, and then he said I was
too much gammon for him too, but that now I should have to go off with
him to the captain, because he could not give me a free passage and
could make neither head nor tail of me in the bargain.

"Come on," cried he; "to the captain you go."

My whole frame shook with laughter. I do not know why, I simply relate
the fact. It seemed to me so strange and comical that I was now here, a
regular loafer, a sort of criminal, and unemployed, a--what not, not
knowing where I was going and not caring; and what would this blessed
captain do with me, or think of me? On we came, the mate and I, up to
the quarter-deck. There was a good-looking man of thirty odd years of
age reclining at his ease in a sort of chair, more in a lying than a
sitting posture. He was playing with the hand of a lady who was sitting
alongside of him, and they looked so affectionately at one another that
I made sure at once they were not husband and wife! Besides these, the
only other person on deck was the man at the wheel. On we came, and the
mate presented me as a stowaway. I saluted the lady and the captain
airily, and he spoke to me, but I paid no attention to what he was
saying. I was looking at the lady and thinking of my adventure in Bowen,
the first time I saluted a lady in Queensland. My sides shook with
laughter until I saw the lady in the same condition; then I exploded.
The lady, the captain, the mate, and the man at the wheel all followed
suit! I beat my chest and called on all the saints to give me strength
to stop, but I could not, and we all kept laughing until, from utter
exhaustion, the lady and the captain were lying back in their chairs
with averted faces, the mate was hanging over the gunwale, and I was
lying on my elbow on the deck, regularly sick. Every time the captain or
any of them were looking at me they made me laugh again. At last the
captain, after several attempts to speak to me cried, "Go away, go away;
I speak to you by and by."

I had not been gone half an hour before I was called back again. The
lady was this time sitting with her back to me. The captain said, "What
have you got to say for yourself?"

I somehow felt sure that it was all right, and that the lady was going
to say a good word for me, or had done so already. Anyhow I altered my
tactics, and told them how it was that I had no money, and how I
somehow, perhaps recklessly, but on the spur of the moment, had got on
board. When I had finished speaking I felt very foolish, and as the lady
turned round and looked at me, I blushed up to the roots of my hair, and
felt very much ashamed. Then the captain said, "And what do you want to
do at Cape Somerset?"

I did not know. "Have you no money?" "No." "No friends there?" "No."
"You have been very foolish."

After a while he said: "There will be nothing for you to do at Cape
Somerset and as little at Batavia. The only thing I can do for you is to
put you ashore at Cardwell, here, on the coast. There is a settlement
there and some sugar plantations up the river. I will do that for you,
if you like."

I thanked him very much, and said I did not know what to do with myself.
"All right, you can hold yourself in readiness to go ashore."

A couple of hours afterwards, the steamer was very close to land, and I
saw some houses on the beach. A boat was lowered and manned by sailors,
and I was told to get in. But so benevolent did the captain prove, that
they bundled in after me a lot of flour, tea, sugar, and meat, also a
tent. I felt completely crushed: I sat in the boat and dared not look
around; only after they put me ashore I waved my handkerchief, and
there, yes, they were waving their handkerchiefs back to me. There
seemed to be a big lump in my throat. Was I in love? Perhaps I was, I do
not know, but I felt very sure that if just then I had thought that I
could have obliged either the captain or the lady on board by drowning
myself, I would have done it. They had put me ashore in a place where
the houses which formed the settlement were hidden from my view, and I
was glad of it, because I did not want to see everybody. I found a
little stream of water close by, then I pitched the tent and laid myself
down outside, looking after the smoke of the steamer as long as I could
see the slightest sign of it. An unspeakable longing for home, a craving
for sympathy, was all over me. I suppose most people have felt the same
emotion. I did not go up to town for two or three days after; I remained
lying on the beach all day looking out over the sea, and half the night
I would walk up and down thinking, or, perhaps it would be more correct
to say, _feeling_ all sorts of things.

If we would all only always remember the value of a kind word, or a
little genuine sympathy, how much better the world would be! Who shall
say what I might have been to-day, or into what channels my mind might
have been led, if the captain had acted towards me as he would have
been quite justified in doing--that is, if he had given me in charge of
the police when we came to a shore, and if I had been just a week or two
in the lock-up? I had been wronged in Townsville, and afterwards I had
received the impression that it was a case of each man for himself
without fear or favour. What this impression would have led to if it had
not been in this happy way checked in the very beginning, is hard to
say, but when at last I bent my steps towards the dozen or two of houses
which formed the township of Cardwell, it was with a resolution to do my
best, but not to sail again under false colours.



CHAPTER VI.

ON THE HERBERT RIVER.


From the glimpses I already had of the settlement, I came to the
conclusion that it was of no use looking for carpenter's work here, so I
went into the most conspicuous house I could see, viz., the hotel, and
asked for a job of any kind. There were three or four men in the bar,
dried-up looking mummies they seemed to me, but very friendly, for they
began at once to mix in the conversation, and after I had told everybody
all round where I came from, how old I was, what I could do, how long I
had been in the country, and a lot more besides, they held a
consultation among themselves, and agreed that my best plan was to go up
on the sugar plantations on the Herbert River. It appeared that the mail
for the plantation was taken up the river once a fortnight from Cardwell
in a common boat, and my new friends, after standing drinks all round,
unsolicited went to the captain about letting me go with him, and pull
an oar in lieu of passage money. They asked me into dinner, as a matter
of course; and who should I see waiting at the table but a German girl,
one of my shipmates. "Happy meeting." Then for two or three more days I
was breaking firewood for a living, and meanwhile it seemed as if I was
the admiration of the whole community, because Cardwell is, and was
then, as well as the Herbert River, a fearful place for fever, and the
whole population was in a constant state of disease. As for me,
Queensland had so far, I believe, rather improved my appearance than
otherwise. Anyhow, it was a case all the day through to answer people
how long I had been in the country; then they would say, "Hah! Europe,
the old country--that must be the best place, after all. Look at his
cheeks!" Then I would be advised to clear out again as fast as I came,
or else in three months I should look like everybody around me. It used
to surprise me very much, but I could not understand it, because the
climate seemed to me excellent; and as everybody seemed so kind, and I
was in the best of health, I only laughed at their sayings. Meanwhile I
had spoken to the man in charge of the mail-boat, and one day at noon I
embarked for the plantations. It was an ordinary rowing boat, and
besides myself it had two other occupants--the captain, who was a
Frenchman; the other an American. They both, on ordinary occasions, each
pulled an oar; but this time, as I was there, the captain took the helm
and I the oar. I pulled away as hard as I could, and did not see much of
where we were going, but by the time it grew dark we were past the mouth
of the river, and in smooth water. We dropped anchor in the middle of
the river, because, as the captain explained to me, if we were to run
ashore an alligator would be sure to try and crawl into the boat. They
had appliances in the boat for boiling water, and after tea they both
sat for a couple of hours spinning alligator yarns. I listened with
great interest and not without fear, because the river was swarming with
the reptiles. The blacks were also at that time so bad that no one dared
to go overland to the plantations, unless in a large company. Here in
the boat we had two loaded rifles and two revolvers, and before we
reached the plantations I saw enough to convince me that it was
necessary to be very careful when we had occasion to go ashore. It was
also considered always necessary for one to keep watch the whole night,
and as I was not sleepy I took the first watch, while the other two laid
themselves down and soon snored lustily. Put there staring out into the
darkness, with the loaded rifle over my knee, could it really be true,
as my two shipmates had just assured me, that I was bound to catch the
fever before three months were over? How did people here do when they
were sick? I had asked that question also, and they had answered it by
asking me if I thought anybody here was running about with a hospital on
his back. And when any one died, it appeared that they rolled the body
in a blanket and threw it in the river for the alligators to do the
rest! These alligators, too, which might at any time upset the boat and
eat us! Would it be my fate to serve as food for one of them? Horrible
thought. But I had heard that evening so much about alligators; how, if
I were at any time to be caught by one I should try to stick my finger
into its eye, and that it would then eject me again; the whole thing
being just as if it were a most natural and common occurrence here for
people to be eaten by these monsters. Then there were the blacks; they
were both savage and numerous, and I had got strict orders to listen
with all my ears for any surprise from them. I had taken great notice
that when boiling the tea my shipmates had been very careful to conceal
the fire.

Bang! crack! went the rifle. Up rushed the Frenchman and the American,
revolvers in hand. I stared at them. They stared at me.

"What is the matter?" whispered the captain.

"I don't know," whispered I; "the gun went off."

It was well for me, perhaps, that I was not familiar with the French
language, or else who knows but the Franco-German war might not have
been renewed between myself and the captain. He screamed and laughed and
swore both "Mon Dieu" and "Sacre bleu," and then he assured me that it
was only because I was a German that I was afraid!

The Yankee sat and smoked his pipe, and laughed in a peculiar way; and,
wild and ashamed of myself, I could not help feeling amused at him,
because he laughed, although the grimaces in his face were exactly those
another man would make if he were going to cry. By and by the captain
began to feel calmer, and as I was disposed only to feel angry with
myself for the fear which had caused me to press on the trigger of the
rifle until it went off, we were soon friends again. My watch was over,
and I laid down to sleep, while the two others took their turn to watch
the rest of the night. At break of day we hoisted the anchor and began
to propel the boat again. I never remember anything in nature making the
same impression on me as the scenery around us. The broad river, or
inlet, was dotted all over with beautiful small islands, then on the
mainland the hills seemed to rise to immense heights, covered with the
primeval forest. The sun rose and shone with that splendour that those
who have been in the tropics can alone imagine. Parrots and all other
birds flew about in great numbers, screaming as if with joy.

At sunrise we went ashore on a small island about half an acre in
extent, but verdant with tropical plants, quite a home of summer! Here
we had breakfast and a rest before we started again. How inconceivable
did it seem to me that this climate should be so unhealthy as they said
it was. Anyhow, it seemed to me that to have seen this place would be
justification for saying one had not lived in vain, and if the worst was
to come, death seemed to me to have no terror if one might be buried on
that island. We now started off again, pulling the boat. Shortly after,
the sky became overcast and rain began to pour down. First, we had taken
all our clothes off and covered them up with a piece of canvas. The rain
descended in sheets of water all day, and we had a rare bath all the
time; one was always baling the boat and the other pulling. I can never
forget that weary day. We could not make a fire, we had no shelter, and
scarcely five minutes' rest or interval from pulling. A sort of morose
silence seemed to settle over us all. Long after dark in the evening did
it keep on raining, and I began to wonder where we should put ourselves
that night. As the others said nothing, I did not intend to be the first
to knock under. Still, I was ready to drop as I pulled along in the
pitch darkness, and it made it much worse that I did not know but that I
might have to do it all night. At last the captain took up a horn and
blew a tune on it, and a few minutes later we heard a fearful barking as
of a score of big dogs. We had arrived at the place where the township
of Ingham stands to-day. At that time there was only one solitary house
built on high posts, with plenty of room to walk about underneath. I
understood the house was the joint property of the planters further up
the river, and the place was used as a sort of depôt. There was an old
man in charge, the only inhabitant; he lived there all alone, protected
by a score of dogs, the most ferocious-looking beasts I ever saw. It
was also part of his duty to receive and be hospitable to such
travellers as might find their way there. I was told these details while
in the boat, and cautioned not to run the boat ashore before we were
invited, as the dogs for certain would tear me to pieces. We heard the
old fellow cooeing, and shortly after he came down to us. He had a
lantern hung around his neck, and two ferocious-looking dogs were held
in chains by him, striving and tearing to get at us. Some more dogs,
which he said were quiet, but which did not look so, were barking and
straining after us at the landing-place. My shipmates had been there
before, and at last the dogs seemed to know them; but poor I had to
remain by myself in the boat until the old man had got all the dogs
chained again. At last I came ashore. Oh, the joy now of a fire, dry
clothes, a good supper, a glass of grog, and a good bed! A good bed in
the Queensland bush means two saplings stuck through a couple of
flour-bags, with two sticks nailed across at the head and the foot to
keep them apart.

The next evening, after another hard day's pulling, we came to the first
plantation. This seemed quite a large place. I cannot now after so many
years state how many people there were or what they were doing, if ever
I knew it; but let it suffice to say that we were all well received at
supper-time in the single men's hut, where a large crowd of men were
collected. The French man told me I should be sure to get a job as
carpenter from the planter, and that I must demand three pounds sterling
per week and board for my services, nothing less. I slept that night on
the dining-table, as there was no spare bunk; and I remember that night
with great distinctness, on account of what I suffered from mosquitoes.
The next morning I saw the planter, and asked him for a job as
carpenter. "Yes," said he; I was the very man he wanted. He intended to
build a house of split timber; I might give him a price. He would order
a couple of horses, and we would ride out to look for timber, and if I
liked the trees, so much the better. This was a thing I did not then
understand anything about, and I told him so. "Never mind," said he, "I
will find you something; you can make me a waggon." I told him waggons
were not in my line. "What is in your line, then?" inquired he.

I understood the carpentry needed in brick-building, or at least part of
it, and I could make joinery of sawn timber.

"Very well; when he wanted a brick building, or joinery made of sawn
timber, he would send for me."

Then he walked off in a bad humour, and I had to go back to the boat to
tell my shipmates how I had fared. That same day, at dinner-time, we
arrived at the next plantation. I was by this time in very low spirits,
because I did not know what was to become of me. Everybody seemed to
have an errand and something to do except myself, and I did not see how
and when my services would be called into requisition; but my two
shipmates kept telling me it was my own fault, and that I should take
anything I could get to do. So I would, but what was it I could do?
Anyhow, they kept telling me that here was the only likely place left,
and I there _must_ get a job. I must say I could do anything. After I
had dined, the Frenchman kept poking at me and pointing out to me the
planter, telling me I must ask for a job. So I mustered up courage and
went up and spoke to him. "What can you do?" "Anything." "Can you cook?"
"Do you mean making dinners?" "Yes." "No, I cannot do that." "Can you
split fencing stuff?" "No." "Can you make brick?" "No." "Can you chip?"
"What is that?" "Kill weeds with a hoe." "I never did it before." "I am
afraid it is difficult to find you a job. You say you can do anything:
what is it you can do?"

I was again quite crestfallen as I said, "I do not think I can do
_any_thing." "Well, then, I cannot find you anything to do." With that
he went his way, and I came back to where the Frenchman sat, and I had
to tell him once more of my hard fate. At this he began to swear in
French like one demented, and asked me had I never told the planter I
was a carpenter. "No." "Mon Dieu! oh, Mon Dieu, was any one like this
infant!" Then he ran after the planter and spoke to him, and soon they
both came back. The planter then said he had been told I was a
carpenter, and that he was prepared to find work for me at that trade,
but that he would prefer me to go into the boat to the next plantation,
as he knew his neighbour was much in want of me. If I did not get on
there he would employ me as I came back. What a relief I felt,
especially as I understood they did not expect me to build houses out of
growing trees! The next evening we passed the place where I was told I
could get work, but it was on the other side of the river. A man stood
down by the water's edge hailing the boat. He sang out to us if we
thought it possible he might get a carpenter in Cardwell. It was music
in my ears. The Frenchman cried back: "We have one on the boat." The man
on shore replied he wanted one to make boxes, tables, and the like. I
was ready to jump out of the boat with anxiety, but I had to content
myself, as my shipmates would not let me off before the return journey,
and so I had to ply the oar until, far out into the night, we arrived at
the furthest point of our journey, viz., the Native Police camp.

I may say a few words about this establishment. Round about in
Queensland, on the furthest outskirts of settlements, some official will
be stationed in charge of half a dozen aboriginals, trained in the use
of the rifle and amenable to discipline. It is the duty of this
official, with the assistance of his troopers, to fill the aborigines
with terror, and to use such means to that end as his own judgment may
dictate. White men to hunt the blacks with would be useless, as they
could never track them through the jungle, and would no doubt also be
too squeamish to fight the natives with their own weapons. But the
blacks themselves delight in being cruel to their own kind. Often while
I was on the Herbert, would I see them coming past, like regular
bloodhounds, quite naked, with their rifle in their hand and a belt
around their waist containing ammunition and the large scrub knife.
Their bodies would be smeared over with grease, so as to be slippery to
the touch. They would then be out on an expedition. It no doubt requires
all the authority their officer can command at such times to temper the
wind to the shorn lamb. As the district becomes settled the aboriginals
grow quiet, and the native police camp will then be shifted further on.
While I was on the Herbert I never saw any other blacks besides the
police, although the blacks were about then in great numbers. We often
saw their tracks, but they never showed themselves unless when they
could not help it.

We arrived at the police camp about two or three o'clock in the morning,
and were received at the landing-place by two of the troopers, who stood
there without saying a word, as if they were watching for us. They were
black as the night itself, and as I never saw them until I was out of
the boat, I fairly ran against them. One of them had a pipe in his
mouth, and the only thing that indicated his presence was a glowing bit
of coal he had stuck into it. The other one, as I already stated, I ran
against, and I was quite startled as I looked into his gleaming eyes and
as I stretched out my hands felt his greasy cold flesh! So I sang out,
"Hi! vot name? Where you sit down?" that being the usual greeting to a
blackfellow, but although none of them spoke a sentence, I was reassured
in the next moment, as I saw a gentlemanly young man, dressed in a
pyjamas, coming down to greet us. This was their officer, and as he led
us towards the house I thought that it must be a cruel life for any
white man to lead alone in such a place with nobody but a lot of howling
savages to exchange a thought with. I do not think the whole clearing
was more than half an acre in extent. In the middle of it stood a house
built on posts eight feet high. It contained two rooms. This was where
the officer lived. In the yard, or whatever you liked to call the
clearing, was a fire, and around it sat or lay all these black troopers.
Australian blacks will not sleep in a house if they can possibly avoid
it, so this was their regular camping-place. A more wild and desolate
spot than this looked to me, with all these naked savages lying in the
yard, and with weapons piled about both outside and inside the house,
cannot be conceived.

The next day, on our return journey, I parted company with my two
fellow-travellers, and went ashore at ---- plantation, where I got a
job as carpenter for two pounds ten shillings per week and my board.
This was a place which scarcely could be called a plantation yet, as it
was only just formed. The owner and his family lived there in a large
slab-house, erected on wooden piles ten or twelve feet out of the
ground. There were also a few outbuildings, but any real work was not
going on, only one man, a bullock driver, being engaged on the premises.
My "boss" told me, though, that he expected a hundred Kanakas shortly
from the South Sea Islands, and that he wanted me to fit up bunks for
them, put together tables, troughs for making bread in, furniture for
his own house, and such like. I perceived a few thousand feet of sawn
cedar lying about, and there and then I started work to astonish the
natives. I never worked with greater perseverance than then. The tools
were in a fearful condition, but I soon got them into some shape. Then I
rigged up a bench and made a sunshade out in the yard, where the young
lady could see me working, and then it began to rain tables, sofas,
chairs, and bunks, so much that I am not afraid to say that I quickly
became a favourite. I found out here that I was more capable than I
myself thought, because I even made a first-rate boat, in which I had
the pleasure of rowing about the river with Mr. ----'s daughter, and in
which she and her father afterwards travelled to Cardwell. Miss ---- had
been with her parents on the Herbert for a year, and shortly after I
arrived on the scene she went to a boarding-school in Sydney. On his
return journey from Cardwell Mr. ---- brought home a servant girl, who
proved to be the German girl I already have mentioned as having seen in
Cardwell. I relate this matter not because I took any particular
interest in this girl, but because I have by and by to write about what
happened to all of us.

My "boss" was in my eyes a regular hero, or Nimrod, if you like. I went
out shooting with him both morning and evening, and all Sunday as well,
and became after a while quite a good shot. But one thing troubled Mr.
----; it was this: that although alligators were a daily terror, he had
never yet been able to shoot one. When we went out shooting he had
always a rifle with him, loaded with ball, and we would crawl about some
fearful places and follow the tracks of alligators, but still we had no
luck. As for me, I professed to be very sorry too, that we did not run
right up against one. I had great faith in Mr. ----, and I do not think
he had any suspicion that I was really afraid; still I always drew a
sigh of relief when we came home from one of our expeditions. There is
so much boasting going on in Queensland about alligators, that it is
next to a proverb here when one is telling an untrue tale to say that it
is "an alligator yarn," and I am, therefore, almost ashamed to write
about it. Still alligators are a reality, and up there we knew it. On
the river-bank, in front of the house was a spring, from which we got
the water supply for the house but so nervous were we that no one dared
to go to it without the utmost precaution. Every morning Mr. ---- would
come and ask the bullock driver and me if we were prepared to fetch
water. Then he would get his rifle and take up a position on the
river-bank from which he could overlook the surroundings, while we went
down to carry up a supply of water.

[Illustration: AN ALLIGATOR POOL.]

And now I will relate an alligator story, although I have been much
tempted to pass it over for the reason already stated. One day after
dinner Mr. ---- came to me much excited, and told me that an alligator
had taken one of the working bullocks which had been lying down a few
hundred yards from the house, in broad daylight too. We then went down
to see about it, and there were the tracks of the bullock and the
alligator. It showed plainly that the alligator must have taken the
bullock in the hind-quarters and have dragged it along, because the
earth was regularly ploughed up where the bullock had been holding back
with its head and forelegs; it had been dragged right down to the
river's edge and then killed and partly eaten. As we ran the tracks
down, we saw the alligator by the bullock, but it dropped like a stone
into the water on our approach. Mr. ---- turned to me with sparkling
eyes. "Now is our chance," cried he; "to-night and to-morrow night it
will come again and eat of the bullock. Then we can shoot it." Was it
not fun? Anyhow I said I would make one of the shooting party, and then
he began to unfold our plan of campaign. To begin with he thought it
best to delay till the next evening as the alligator would then be sure
to be more quiet. We were to take up a concealed position to windward of
the bullock's carcass, and await the arrival of the monster. And so the
next evening came, and after tea, while it was yet light, Mr. ---- came
and asked me if I was ready. "Yes," cried I. I was ready, and in a very
ferocious spirit besides! Well, then, we would get the weapons. The two
rifles were loaded, and each of us had a six-chambered revolver as well.
As for me, I stuck a butcher's knife in my belt also, as a last
resource, but Mr. ---- laughed at me for doing it and assured me that
before I could find use for that I should be in the alligator's stomach.
Then we went, Mr. ---- first and I close behind. The river-bank nearest
the water was very steep for about thirty yards, then there was a gentle
slope for another twenty yards or so, and on that slope the carcass of
the bullock was now lying. We were very careful to have the wind against
us, as the alligator is very shy as a rule, and Mr. ---- said it would
be sure to clear off if it could smell us. Then we lay down behind some
bushes in a most overpowering smell from the bullock; but what will one
not do for glory? It was agreed between us that we should both fire at
the same moment, and that Mr. ---- should give the signal. We were lying
flat on the ground, and one of Mr. ----'s legs was touching me, and it
was further agreed that I was not on any account to fire before he with
his leg pressed mine in a certain way. Then I was to fire into the mouth
of the alligator, while he at the same moment would try to send a ball
through its eye. We were lying in this position nearly up to midnight,
when we heard some heavy body come creeping up the hill, but still out
of sight. Now and then the noise would cease for a minute or two, then
it would come on again, until at last we saw the dark mass of the
alligator come crawling up to the bullock and begin to tear at it. I was
not a bit nervous, because I could see it quite distinctly, but I was
very impatient for the signal to fire which did not come, and I dared
not move round sufficiently to look at Mr. ---- either. The alligator
was turning this way and that way. Now, I thought, is the time. Still no
signal. Then it turned right round, and at one time I thought its tail
was going to sweep us away. Just when our chance was best we heard
another alligator coming crawling up the bank. It was at that moment
quite impossible to fire according to the position in which the first
alligator was lying, but as it was moving about rapidly I thought it
best in any case to ignore as well as I could the presence of the second
alligator, which we could not yet see. At last the first one began to
snap its jaws in that peculiar way which only one who has seen a live
alligator knows. Then came the signal. Bang! went the rifles. The beast
never moved a muscle. It was quite dead, and we could hear the other
alligator tearing and rolling down into the water again. Mr. ---- got up
and wiped his face. "I was afraid of you getting excited," said he. I
admitted I was thankful the sport was over, and without giving ourselves
time to measure the reptile we decamped out of the smell as fast as we
could. It was fairly overpowering, and it took the best part of a bottle
of Scotch whiskey, which the "boss" introduced, to make me believe that
it was possible to go through such adventure and still live.

It had for a long time been the wish of Mrs. ---- and the children to
visit their nearest neighbour, who, however, lived some fourteen miles
away. One evening preparations were made for the whole family to start
at daybreak next morning on the bullock dray. It was quite a perilous
journey for a lady and children to undertake, as the track was through
the dense jungle most of the way, and through grass eight feet high at
other places, and swamps, creeks, and gullies had to be crossed. Mr.
---- told me that he could not possibly be back before the next night,
and that he entrusted everything at home to my care while he was away,
the girl included, and that I might take a holiday until they came back,
so that I on no account left the premises. He also advised me that as it
was possible I might have a surprise from the blacks I had better sleep
for the night up in the house, which, as I have already stated, stood on
high piles, and was only accessible by means of a narrow staircase. The
next morning, then, they all went away, the bullock driver and all the
dogs included. Twelve bullocks pulled the dray, into which a lot of
bed-clothes were piled. There sat the lady and the children. Mr. ----
was on horseback, armed with his rifle and revolvers. The driver cracked
his long whip and all the dogs barked and jumped about. I stood by
seeing them off and feeling quite important too, as I was the garrison
left to defend the home until the travellers should return. About
dinner-time that same day two travellers came in a boat from one of the
plantations and asked to speak to Mr. ----. This was rather remarkable,
as we scarcely ever saw any other people than the boatmen when they
brought the mail, and occasionally the black trackers from the police
camp, but I told them that Mr. ---- and the whole family had left that
morning in the bullock dray. They seemed surprised.

"All of them, did you say?"

"Yes," replied I.

"It means good-bye," said they both. "You will never see any of them
again; they have cleared off."

I was surprised and incredulous. My friends seemed quite sure.

"And what did he say to you when they left?" inquired one.

"He told me I need not work until he came back, but that I must not
leave the premises. He also said that he entrusted everything to my
care."

"My word," said they, "it is a nasty trust. Why, the blacks will be sure
to rush the place one of these days, perhaps to-night, for they are
certain to have seen the others going away."

Then they began to commiserate with me on what was to become of myself
and the girl, as we were sure to fall into the hands of the blacks, and
they offered to take us both away in the boat with them. But I could not
see it in that way. I knew that in all probability we should have no
visitors for ten or eleven days until the mailman came. But where was I
to go? I had now a good deal of money coming to me. Who was to pay me?
Besides, it might only be all nonsense. Still the responsibility seemed
great. I took the girl aside and asked her if she liked to go in the
boat and leave me. She began to cry, and said she would rather stay, and
did not like the fellows. If there is anything that could ever make me
desperate it is to see a woman cry. So I began to give the two strangers
the cold shoulder, and to show them that I had a rifle, six
fowling-pieces, a revolver, and any amount of ammunition, and that I
would, if it was necessary, defend the place against all the blacks in
the district, but neither the girl nor I would budge out of the place
before we were paid, and that, moreover, we did not believe that the
"boss" had cleared off, but that he would be back the next evening.

After these fellows were gone I held a council of war with the girl. We
turned and twisted probabilities for or against, were they coming back
or were they not? Evening came and we sat up in the blockhouse and dared
not go to bed. Wherever I moved there the girl was after me. I had all
the guns standing loaded alongside me, but we dared not light a lamp for
fear of attracting the blacks. We sat whispering and listening. Every
time the wind would rustle the leaves in the garden the girl made a grab
at me and cried, "There they are! There they are!"

At last I induced her to go to her room, and then I dozed off myself,
and did not wake up before it was broad daylight. The first thing we did
that morning on coming downstairs was to look for tracks from the
blacks, to see if they had been about. I was not a very good tracker
then, but we found what proved to our entire satisfaction that the
aboriginals had been about in great numbers. This terrified the girl
completely, and she upbraided me for having slept during the night, and
implored me not to do so again; also she wished she had gone with the
strangers the day before; and then she began praying in great excitement
that it might not be her fate to fall into the hands of savages. Of
course all this had its influence on me, and as the day went on we
completely discarded the possibility of our employers returning, and
only thought of how best to protect ourselves from the blacks. I made up
my mind, therefore, that the time had now arrived for me to show myself
great and brave, and at all events to sell my life dearly. Good
generalship, however, was likely, thought I, to do more for me than
bravery unassisted by judgment, and for that reason I began to think how
to act so as to be prepared for the worst. I knew this much, that the
greatest danger from a surprise would be about sunrise. But as I was
alone I could see that it would be impossible for me to defend the whole
property. I must therefore retire to the main house, which, standing
isolated and on high piles, would offer a good fortification. But if I
had to abandon the outhouses, they would then fall into the hands of the
enemy and he would be enriched by all there was to be found in them. I
must, therefore, while I had time, carry everything I could up to the
house, and, perhaps, it would be better to burn the outhouses down
afterwards, so that they might not serve as a hiding-place for the
blacks. I would see about that, but my first duty was to carry
everything upstairs, and at all events commenced. No sooner said than
done. The girl and I carried everything we could lay our hands on,
upstairs. I also carried up water enough to last us for a fortnight or
more, three large tubsful. All the firewood that was lying handy I also
humped up, although there was no fireplace upstairs; but I wanted to do
all I could, and in my energy I could not be still.

In this way the day passed and evening came again. As no one had
returned what hope we might have had was now dead, and as for me I felt
like a glorious Spartan, quite certain that the blacks would come and
that I should let daylight through every one of them. All my guns, of
course, were loaded, and I was showing them off to the girl, explaining
to her that it was my intention, after having defended the door as long
as I could, to retire from room to room and keep up the war all the
time. But she was nevertheless timid, and I feared much that she should,
by taking hold of me, which indeed she did all the time, prevent me from
firing, and I asked her, therefore, again to retire to her room. She
implored me to let her stay with me, and said she did not mind so that
we might die together. Then she began to hug me. What new and unexpected
horror was this? Was this a man-trap, or what? Was there not trouble
enough already? Surely, thought I, if ever a man needed a stimulant to
keep up his pluck, I am that man. Happy thought! I knew where the "boss"
kept his whiskey. I went to the cupboard and took a long, deep pull at
the bottle. "Dearest Amelia," cried I, "remember that in the time of our
glorious forefathers it was the duty of the Danish maidens to hand the
cup to the warriors, both before they went to battle and when they came
home. Do now! Let me. Oblige me to drink of this bottle. It is only
schnapps. Do! That is right. Here is luck! And death and destruction to
our enemies! And now retire to your room. Good-night. Nothing shall harm
you. Barricade the door from the inside. Let me lock it from the
outside. And now," cried I, "I make it impossible for anyone to get near
you. Here goes the key."

With that, having turned the key twice in the lock after her, I threw it
out of the window as far as I could! I felt then as bloodthirsty as any
savage. Why did these blacks not come? The only thing that puzzled me,
as I traversed the house from one shutter to another, was what I should
do if they came underneath the house. They might then fire the building.
No, they should not. I would have them yet. I would take the two-inch
augur and bore holes all over the floor, so that I might shoot through.
I was soon boring away making holes for a long time right and left, when
the girl whispered, "What are you doing?"

"I am boring holes," cried I, "in the floor to shoot through. Shall I
bore a hole in your door? Then you could kill half a dozen with a
revolver. If you have a mind, I will."

"Oh, there they are!" cried the girl.

"Ha, where? Come on!"

"Stop, you fool, it is the master and the missis. Don't you hear the
whip? Let me out."

"Master and missis? I cannot let you out. I have thrown the key away."

Then it dawned on me what a fearful ass I must presently appear. It is
impossible for me to keep on with the particulars. I could not find the
key again and let the girl out. The floor was spoiled, the house upside
down. I should have been game to have fought his Satanic Majesty
himself, but to face the contempt of the "boss" and good, kind Mrs. ----
was terrible. So I talked through the door at the girl and told her to
say, if any one made inquiries for me, that I was not at home. With that
I decamped, and did not present myself before the next midday. After a
while the matter was only referred to as a joke.

I should have liked very much to have been able to write a detailed
account of the whole twelve months I spent at this place. I am quite
sure that if truly written, much of it would prove interesting to people
who never were so far north, but I must of necessity pass quickly over
many things of which I should have liked to write more fully, or else I
shall never come to the end of my travels. Suffice it, therefore, to say
that the Kanakas arrived in great numbers; that the "boss" and I went to
Cardwell on horseback to fetch them; that a lot of white men were also
brought together on the plantation; that I was overseer, or "nigger
driver," over part of the Kanakas for some time; that I, during the
twelve months, gained a good deal of colonial experience: learned to
ride, drive bullocks, split fencing stuff, &c., also how to build
slab-houses, as they are called--that is, to go into the bush, and with
the help of a few tools, single-handed, to make a good house out of the
growing trees. All this I learned, more or less, and then when I had
been there about twelve months I caught the fever. This fever is, I
believe, peculiar to certain parts of North Queensland; it is not
deadly, but very common, indeed my impression is that there was not a
man on the Herbert River who had not got it more or less. It comes with
shivering of cold, followed by thirst and utter exhaustion, once a day
or once every second day. Most people are able to work all the time they
have it until they feel the "shakes" coming over them. Then perforce
they must lie down, but they generally get up to their work again after
the prostration which follows is over. With me it was different. A
couple of weeks of it made me so weak that when I felt myself strongest
I could only stagger about with the help of a big stick. I had built a
carpenter's shop, and my room was off that. Then I would lie down of an
evening on the bed, with bed-clothes piled on me enough to smother one,
and still the gasping and the "shakes" would gradually commence. The
very marrow in one's bones seemed frozen, while the teeth would rattle
in the head, and the breath would come and go with fearful quickness.
After a couple of hours of this, heat and prostration would follow,
coupled with terrible thirst. Of course there was no hospital, and there
was no one to hand one a drink. When I properly understood the matter, I
would always place my wash-basin in the bed, filled with water, so that
when the time came I could lean over and drink, because I was too weak
to lift a billy can or a pint pot off the floor. But when I upset this
basin, which happened once, my sufferings were intense. I remember on
two or three occasions when I had no water how I tried to get out of
bed, how I fell and lay on the floor for hours, then crept on my hands
and knees out around the shed to where a bench stood with a tub of water
on. There I would sit or lie over the water for hours and drink. Such a
matter as this excites no sympathy in a place like that. There were now
a lot of other men, and most of them had a touch of the fever as well.
If I had slept among other men I have no doubt some one would have given
me a drink, but to ask any one to sit up with me, or disturb their
night's rest on that account, would have been asking too much, I fear.
Then when I had been alone before the new hands arrived, I had shared
pot-luck with my employer and his family, but now it seemed as if one
was only lost in a crowd. I had nothing to eat but half-putrid corned
beef and bread, served on a dirty tin plate, tea of the cheapest sort,
boiled in a bucket, and sweetened with dirty black sugar, was my fare
too. How could any sick person eat or drink such stuff? As I write now
it seems to me it is enough to cause a strong man to die of slow
starvation, and yet it is the ordinary average diet put before working
men all over the Queensland bush twenty-one times a week. One day Mrs.
---- came down and asked me very sympathetically how I was getting on.
So I showed her my plate with my dinner on, covered with flies as it
was, and very unappetizing indeed, and upbraided her and her husband for
serving such rations. "Dear me, how shocking! None of the other men
complained. Was the meat bad?" Then she assured me I should have
anything I wished for, and for the last few days I was there I was
constantly invited to their own table, although I scarcely could eat
anything even there. But I thought I had been there long enough, and
when the mailman came in his boat I took a friendly leave of my employer
and his family, and was assisted down into the boat. I had with me then
my cheque for a hundred pounds sterling, and another for seven or eight
pounds.



CHAPTER VII.

LEAVING THE HERBERT--RAVENSWOOD.


I had again no particular idea as to where I would go, further than that
I wanted to regain my health. But oh, for the sweetness of liberty and
money! I needed not to say anything about money to my old travelling
companions in the boat; they knew I must have a good cheque, and their
attentions were in proportion! Perhaps I wrong them. Perhaps they would
have been just as careful to my wants if they had known me to be
penniless. At any rate, a sort of bed was made for me in the stern of
the boat, and offers to procure for me anything I wanted from the stores
on the plantations were profuse. But I wanted for nothing more than to
lie as easily as I might, because I really was very sick. There had been
a public-house built somewhere a mile from the river-bank since I had
passed that way before, and when we came to the place where a track led
from the water up to it, my two oarsmen proposed to go up to have some
refreshment, and promised to be back directly. Of course I could not go
with them. When they were gone some time a little pig which they had in
a bag in the boat began to find its way out. I thought it a pity to
allow it to escape, and yet I had not strength to get up, but without
calculating the consequences I rolled myself over until I lay on the top
of it. Never shall I forget the howling of that pig in my ears, for I
believe over an hour, until the men came back. The bag had somehow got
mixed in my clothing, and I could not either free myself or the pig,
else I would gladly have let it go. At last the men came back and got us
separated.

When I came to Cardwell I thoroughly enjoyed, although I was sick, the
luxury of lying in a clean bed with white sheets, and mosquito curtains
all around me, and to have one of the servants at the hotel coming to my
door all day long asking if she could do anything for me. There was
neither doctor nor chemist in the place, but one of the storekeepers
came and looked at me, and sold me some medicine which in a short time
drove the fearful "shakings" I had away. Meanwhile, as there was no
other communication with the outer world than "the schooner," which ran
between Cardwell and Townsville, I had inquired when the schooner would
be in as I had decided to go to Townsville again. On the same day that
the ague had for the first time left me, I was told that the schooner
would be ready to run out at eleven o'clock at night. I was then so
careless of myself, or so foolish, that I, at that hour of the night,
for the first time in a fortnight, got out of my bed and went on board
the craft. It was only a sort of fishing smack, rowed by two men, who
had a small enclosure somewhere on board where they could be dry. For
passengers there was no accommodation whatever. In the hold, which was
open, was nothing but some old sails, rusty chains, empty boxes, and the
like. Two or three more passengers came on board, who at once secured
the best places in the hold, while I, who for the first time for many
weeks felt remarkably well, sat up on the deck enjoying the strong
breeze, and even tried to smoke a pipe. But any North Queenslander will
tell you that when one has had fever he has to be extra careful of not
catching cold. I did not know that just then, but in a very short time I
did. I got a fearful toothache. My enervated system did not feel able to
hold up against this new affliction, and so I threw myself down among
the ropes and boxes in the hold. There I lay, while the pain gradually
increased. The wind was against us, and it took eight or nine days
before we reached Townsville. During that time my agony grew more acute
every day. I had neither strength nor energy enough to stand on my feet.
My head swelled up to a fearful extent. My mouth was in such a state
that I could not swallow, and I gradually lost power to open my mouth or
to speak. When we had been two days out I raised myself on my elbow to
try to drink some tea and eat some mashed bananas, which some one gave
me in a pint pot. I could not swallow, so I laid myself down again and
did not after that touch food. I heard them speak about me on deck, and
say that they ought to have found out my name, because I should scarcely
last out unless the wind changed. I heard this distinctly, and laughed
to myself, because I knew I was not going to die just yet. Still to all
their inquiries I could not reply. One day I heard a Dane speaking in my
ear; where he came from, or where he went to, I do not know, but he
asked me, "Are you a Dane?" I grunted. Then he said, "What is your
name?" I tried to stutter it out from between my teeth time after time,
but he could not understand, and kept on, "Say it again." At last he
gave it up. Then he asked me if there was anything he could do for me?
what ship I had come out in, and so on. But I was so disgusted with my
own inability to use my tongue, that otherwise so ready a friend of
mine, that I made no further attempt to speak, and my countryman
disappeared again. There was now only one thought that possessed my
mind, viz., to get to Townsville, and when there to have all my teeth
pulled out. Of course it was more a relapse from the fever that was
wrong with me than toothache, but I did not know it. I lay in a daze day
after day, every time the boat gave a lurch my head would strike against
something, and the agony I suffered cannot be described. At last the
skipper took hold of me and cried, "Well, stranger, here we are in
Townsville; where shall we take you to?"

It came on me so unexpectedly that it seemed again to send the
life-blood through me. I stared around me and saw that we were lying
close to the wharf.

Up I jumped, to the great surprise of the skipper, and leaving my swag
behind me, and holding on with both hands to my head, I staggered
ashore. It was about eight o'clock in the morning when I landed. I knew
it because I heard all the breakfast bells ringing from the hotels, and
although I did not feel hungry, yet it reminded me that I had eaten
nothing for two weeks. On I staggered like a drunken man. People seemed
to look surprised at me, and to go out of their way for me. I came to a
chemist's shop. He also looked at me in a disgusted sort of way. I took
up a pen and wrote to him that I wanted all my teeth pulled out. He felt
my pulse. "My friend," said he, "I think you had better go to a doctor."

I gave him to understand that I was tired, and did not know where the
doctor lived.

"Wait," cried he, "I will get a man to go with you."

Then he went out of the shop. As I turned round I saw a very large
mirror, in which I beheld my own image from head to foot. At first I did
not realize it was myself as I stared at it. Would my own mother have
known the picture? I hope not. Unkempt, unwashed for nearly a fortnight,
my hair hung in matted knots about my face. My whole head was swollen
to such an extent that to describe it as I saw it would seem
exaggeration. Add to this a graveyard complexion in the face, and an
emaciated form, dressed in an old crimean shirt, dirty moleskin trousers
and blucher boots, and you have the picture I beheld of myself as I
stood looking. I felt my knees giving way under me, made a grab at the
counter and fell. The next thing I remember was that I was lying on a
nice bed, in a room which proved to be in the adjoining hotel, and that
a doctor was there. With consciousness my agony returned, and I again
preferred my request in writing that he should pull all my teeth out.
"Yes, that is all very well," said he, "but we must first try to break
your mouth open. You must go to the hospital. I will give you a ticket.
What is your name? Have you no money?"

I took out all I had got, my one hundred pounds' cheque and some change,
and laid it on the table. At the same time I wrote to him on a paper and
asked him to take charge of it and give me the balance when I asked for
it. I also asked him to order anything I wanted and to spare no expense.
Then the doctor suggested to call in a colleague that they might
consult, and when the next doctor arrived they agreed to give me
chloroform, but after great preparations had been made and a sponge held
to my nose for a minute or two without having any effect on me, they
again decided that I was too weak for chloroform, but as I, half
crying, beckoned to them to do in my case what had to be done, one of
them, with his knee on my chest, put an instrument between my teeth
while the other held my head back and somebody else sat behind my chair
and held my arms. My mouth came open. I will not unnecessarily prolong
the agony, only to state that I felt relieved shortly after and that
somebody with the utmost tenderness was bathing my head. I had now
nothing to do but to allow people to wait on me. I stayed in the hotel
for two days, when the doctor's own buggy came for me and I was driven
to the hospital. So that the reader may not be under the impression that
I wear false teeth, I would like to say that not a tooth was pulled or
any other surgical operation performed. I now got better rapidly. It
seemed impossible to feel sick in that hospital. I had a large private
room and broad verandahs outside. From my bed I could lie and watch the
ocean all day and try to count the islands. My friend, the doctor, came
also every day, and any extra comfort I wanted was quickly procured. As
I grew better I would sit and bask in the sun down among the rocks by
the shore in that half-unconscious but blissful condition which I
believe is common to all convalescents, or a couple of hours before
meal-time I would lie on my bed watching the sun and its shadows on the
floor so that I might be prepared and lose no time the moment the man
came with the dinner. Oh, for the ravenous hunger with which I could
eat! Although I had double the ordinary allowance, yet after a month's
stay in the hospital, I had to leave it for very hunger's sake. I then
settled my bill with the doctor, who charged me very moderately, and
went to live in a hotel in town. When I was perfectly cured and myself
again I could easily have obtained work in town at my trade for four
pounds per week, but I had a sort of dislike to the place, which decided
me to go up to the gold-diggings and try my luck there. The nearest
diggings were at Ravenswood, some hundred and thirty miles inland. Other
diggings were scattered behind that place, but to reach them I
understood I had to go to Ravenswood first, and that it was as good a
place as any. I bought two horses, with all necessary appendages, such
as saddle, pack-saddle, bridles, &c. They cost me about thirty pounds. I
put thirty pounds more into the bank as a sort of reserve fund in case
of accident, and after paying my way so far, and buying a few necessary
clothes, I had only some nine or ten pounds left. So one morning I
packed the one horse with my swag, containing clothes and blanket, in
the large saddle-bags. I had small bags containing flour, tea, sugar,
and other necessary things for a journey through the bush, because,
although the road I had now to travel was a beaten track, yet it is a
Queensland custom on all occasions to be as independent as possible.
Besides, when one sets out for a ramble, there is no saying where one is
going to pull up, and it seems so pleasant to know that one is
all-sufficient in his own resources, without requiring any aid from
wayside inns. So at least did I think as I rode out of the town; and as
this was my first experience of what we in Queensland call going on the
"wallaby track," I enjoyed it immensely.

The way a man acts when travelling like this, is just to please himself.
When a fair day's journey is done, one begins to look out for a likely
spot for grass and water, and having found that, you get off the horses
and hobble them out--that is, having freed them of their load, their
forefeet are tied together with a pair of strong leather straps in such
a way that they can only totter slowly about. Having done that a fire is
made, the billy is slung on for tea, and when supper is over, a smoke, a
yarn--if there is a mate--and then a roll in the blanket with a saddle
for a pillow.

There is often a lot of argument about what is a fair day's journey on
horseback. Of course it is a matter which never can be decided, because
so much depends upon the horses, the road, what the horses get to eat,
&c., but I do not believe many careful travellers will take their horses
more than twenty miles a day for a long journey, and then rest them
occasionally, but to hear some people talk one would think their horses
could go a hundred miles every day. In Queensland travellers have
sometimes to ride forty or fifty miles between watering-places. Most
horses can do it, if taken care of, but not every day. When travellers
meet on a Queensland road their first question after greeting is, "How
far is it to water?" and the distance between watering-places is
practically what decides a day's journey. In times of drought these
water-holes get scarce or dry up completely; rivers stop running; then
it behoves the traveller to look out where he goes. If misfortune
happens, or he has not calculated rightly the endurance of his horse, or
the water-hole on which he depends should be dried up when he arrives
there, then he is likely to perish! As for myself, I have on more than
one occasion arrived in a parched condition at a water-hole, only to
find a lot of dead cattle bogged in the soft mud, and still have been
compelled to drink the pint or two of putrefied water that might be
left. The reader will therefore see that travelling in the Queensland
bush is not exactly a perpetual picnic.

Nothing of importance happened to me on this road, unless I were to
mention that when I was about half-way I met a swag's-man, that is, one
who carries his swag on his own back and has no horses. This fellow
asked to let him put his burden on my horse, which I let him do. I then,
by talking to him as we went along, found out that he had neither money
nor rations, and as we were only a few miles from Hugton Hotel I
promised to pay for dinner at that place for us both. Arrived at the
hotel, I ordered a first-class dinner for two; it was five shillings.
The table was laid for us with a big roast of beef and a plum-pudding.
After we both had eaten what we wanted, my fellow-traveller put nearly
all the remaining food into his bags and decamped, in spite of my
protestations. I remember well how scandalized I felt! Otherwise the
road was not lonely; every day I passed waggons hauled by sixteen or
eighteen bullocks each and filled with merchandise for the diggings.
There were also other travellers, both on foot and on horseback, but I
did not go myself in company with any, and so at last, one forenoon, I
saw the township of Ravenswood lying before me. I stopped the horses to
have a good look.

At last I was on a gold-field. What a magic spell there seemed to me in
the words. All the old fallacious ideas connected with the word crowded
into my mind. Runaway nuns dressed in men's clothes, princes working
like labourers, and labourers living like princes--"looking for gold!"
Had I not better begin at once?

As I came nearer I saw what seemed to me wells on all sides and tents
near the wells. Then as I looked at the ground again I became fearfully
excited. Big nuggets of shining gold were lying all around on the road.
Was it possible? Surely I knew gold when I saw it. I got off the horse
and picked it up. Not pure gold, though. But surely half of it was gold.
It glittered all over. I picked pieces up as I went along and fairly
howled with joy as I filled my bags. Think of those fools coming behind
with their flour-bags and of all the empty waggons I had met going
down, while I was finding a fortune before I reached the diggings! At
the place where I had now come, they could have loaded all the waggons
quickly. I could not carry more as I went further, ruminating over the
matter. Now the whole ground right and left was glittering all the way
into town. I threw the stuff all away again. It could not be gold! Then,
with a voice shaking between hope and fear, I asked a man who came by,
what that was. He told me at once it was "rubbish." "Did you think it
was gold?" asked he.

"No; but I thought there might be gold in it."

"Yes," said he, "so there was, but it did not pay to extract it."

In this way somewhat sobered, I rode further and arrived in town, where
the next day I pitched a tent I had bought somewhere handy to the other
tents, put the horses in a paddock and looked about me.

I will not attempt a long description of this the first gold-field I was
ever on. There was an ordinary street composed of hotels,
boarding-houses, and stores, on both sides of the road. Behind the
street were tents in which the diggers principally lived. Everywhere
were earth-mounds where some one was or had been busy rooting the ground
about. The reefs were each surmounted by an ordinary windlass, where a
man would stand hauling up the quartz all day long. Such was the picture
presented at a superficial glance at Ravenswood, and I think the
description answers for all other Queensland gold-diggings. Nearly all
the people boarded in two boarding-houses kept by Chinamen, one on each
side of the street. I think there must have been two or three hundred
boarders in each. They were both alike, two large bark-houses, no floor,
only two immense tables with forms on each side. On these tables were at
meal-times every conceivable delicacy in season, and up and down between
the tables an army of Chinamen would run round waiting on their guests.
During my various fortunes in Queensland, I have often paid two or three
pounds per week for board in hotels, and I have paid half-a-guinea for a
ticket to a public feast, but it has always been my impression that
nowhere was such good or luxurious food served out as in these
boarding-houses. It would simply be impossible to compete with them. The
charge was one pound per week, payment beforehand, and those of their
customers who wanted sleeping accommodation might, without extra charge,
fix themselves up as they liked in some sheds behind. There were also
many hotels in town, but, as far as I could see from the outside, their
"takings" were more across the bar than otherwise, as the Chinamen
seemed to monopolize the boarding-house trade. All over Australia, but
especially in Queensland, there is a bitter feeling against Chinamen.
People say that they ought to be forbidden to come to the country,
because they work too hard and too cheaply, and eat too little at the
same time; consequently we shall all go to the dogs. How is this? Surely
"there is something rotten in the state of Denmark." A white man is
always praised if he is hard-working and frugal. It seems a
contradiction to abuse one for what is commended in another! This is an
awful world. Some people say we are poor because we work too much, and
run ourselves out of work. Others say we do not work half enough, and
that that is the reason. Some say that Protection is a panacea for
poverty, others swear by Free Trade. In Australia they want to turn out
the Chinamen because they work too much; in China they want to turn out
the whites, I suppose for the same reason. Of all countries, I believe,
Australia certainly included the greatest majority of the people living
in different degrees of poverty, and work is getting to be as scarce
here where the population does not count one to the square mile, as it
is in Denmark where there are four hundred inhabitants to the square
mile. Of late years one more theory has sprung up, and its disciples
aver that all our poverty, despite our hard work and frugal fare, is due
to the fact that the earth on which we live is sold in large or small
parcels in the open market like tea and sugar, and that the owners of
the earth can in the shape of rent extract the greatest part of our
earnings. I ask the reader's pardon for this little digression, but it
seems to me to be an interesting question, and it would at least be
desirable if we all could agree whether it is Chinamen, Free Trade, or
Protection, or what not, whom we really want, because there _is_
"something rotten in the state of Denmark."

I took my board, like everybody else, with the Chinamen and lived in my
tent not far away. I occupied myself in prospecting, or learning how to
prospect, but what little gold-dust I could find was not worth coming
all the way for. I soon got tired of that, and one day I went and asked
for a job of carpenter's work in a large Government building I saw going
up.

Before I proceed further I must explain that a certain fixed scale of
wages existed here for most occupations, and this scale was very
jealously guarded by the people. It was three pounds per week for miners
in dry claims, three pounds ten shillings in wet claims, bricklayers
sixteen shillings per day for eight hours, carpenters fifteen shillings,
&c. I had heard this but I had not believed it. I took it that those
figures represented what men would like to get rather than what they
actually got, and while I worked for a master I always preferred to put
my pride in earning what I got, rather than, perhaps, getting what I did
not earn. I understand the importance now of keeping up wages, but at
that time I did not, and when the carpenter said he would give me twelve
shillings a day and find tools not only did I think myself well paid,
but I had no idea or care whether others got more or less.

Beside myself there was an American negro employed as carpenter. He
seemed a very morose sort of individual, but I took no notice of him and
was hopping about all day, giving as I thought as much satisfaction to
others as to myself. I often heard the "boss" grumble at the negro, and
occasionally I would be set to put him right about what he was working
at. This happened one afternoon as the "boss" went away shortly before
five o'clock, and I was consequently explaining to him out of my wisdom,
when he suddenly asked what wages I was getting. I told him with great
pride I was getting _twelve_ shillings a day.

Squash came a stick down over my head, then he flew at my throat and
kicked and belaboured me in a terrible way. At last he flung me with
awful violence out on the verandah, got hold of me again and threw me
outside. He was two or three times as big a man as I, and I could not at
all defend myself against him, nor had I any idea why he had thus
maltreated me; but as there was no one to appeal to, I, in a terrible
rage, ran home to my tent for the gun. It stood there loaded, and I took
it up and started back again along the main street. The blood was
running down my face, and I howled to myself with rage as I ran. I meant
to shoot him as dead as a herring.

"Halloa!" cried the people, "there is a fellow running amuck," and soon
there was a whole crowd behind me, intent on watching the sport.

But I must now go back in time a little. There was at that period in
Ravenswood a Danish digger, whom I had met and who had been very
friendly to me, and both because he plays an important part in the next
few pages I have to write, and because I have entitled this book
"Missing Friends," I think he deserves mention, as he indeed had been,
and is no doubt yet, "a missing friend." He had been a farmer in
Denmark, what we in Danish call a yardsman, who owned his own freehold.
When the war with Germany in 1864 broke out, he was called on to serve
in the artillery. He was married then, had two children, and was, like
all Danish farmers, in extremely good circumstances. During the war he
was taken prisoner by the Germans, but was by some mistake reported dead
by the Danish authorities. He told me that he wrote home as soon as he
could, but the letter never reached his wife. Shortly after he tried to
escape from the Germans, and, being caught, defended himself
desperately. For this offence he was condemned to three years' hard
labour on the fortifications of some place in the south of Germany. For
one reason and another he did not write from there. Partly he was not
much of a writer, partly he objected to the enemy reading his efforts,
and as he knew his wife had plenty to live on, and that his neighbours
at home would help her to run the farm, he neglected writing, and as the
time went on pictured to himself in rosy colours the happy surprise he
would give his wife and them all at home when he _did_ return. At last
the time arrived when he was set free, and started for home. Meanwhile
his wife had bemoaned him as dead, and what little hope his friends
might have had for him died when he did not return at the end of the
war. It did not take long before one suitor after the other presented
themselves, and a couple of years later the wife got married again, with
the full consent and approval of all concerned.

One day, when sitting at dinner on the farm, the wife saw her first
husband coming in at the door. With a scream of joy and excitement, she
rushed towards him. (Tableau.) Husband No. 2 was as honourable a man as
husband No. 1. There was a second family. What was to be done? They made
a sad but friendly compact. My friend took the eldest child with him,
and went to Australia, after having got back a fair amount of his own
cash. This man now came from his work, and as I rushed down the street,
we met. I did not see him, but he saw me. "Hulloa, countryman, what is
the matter? Stop! where are you going?"

I tried to escape him, but he had hold of the gun. We struggled for
possession and the stock broke. When the gun broke my hope of revenge
fled as well, and in the relaxation which followed I sat down on some
steps and actually cried. I admit that it is sometimes as hard for me to
write about my weakness as about my folly, but I will ask the reader to
remember what I already have written here. The truth must be told. There
was now a large and sympathetic crowd around us, to whom I related how
the negro had maltreated me without any provocation, and while I spoke I
could see that the chances were that I would yet have revenge, because
all sorts of remarks would fly about, such as: "The poor fellow had
pluck, by Jove;" "Would you have shot him?" or, "Such a rascally negro
should not be allowed to strike and half kill a white man;" "I think I
can flog him;" "So can I, and I will;" "No Bill! you cannot!" "Let me,
you are not heavy enough!" "No," cried the Dane, and struck a crushing
blow in the wall of the house by which we stood; "he is my countryman,
and any one who strikes him, him I will strike. Where is that negro?
Only let me see him."

I went with a sort of pious joy in front of the whole crowd up to the
negro's tent. When he saw us all coming, he thought they were going to
mob him, and only asked for fair play. He would fight them all, man for
man, and as for me, he had only struck me in open fight because I was
running down wages, working for twelve shillings a day. I was surprised
how much sympathy this statement created, but my countryman cut it short
by saying he would fight first and argue after. "All right, I'm your
man," cried the negro; "only pull off your shirt. I am dying to
commence."

They both pulled off their shirts, and some willing assistants from the
crowd got behind each combatant to watch his interest in the coming
struggle. It was easily seen now that my countryman was a very strong
man. His arms, his shoulders, and his deeply curved back were swelling
with muscles. In his face sat a determination which boded his opponent
no good. Still, my heart sank as I looked at the negro, who was prancing
about as in irresistible joy over what he deemed his easy victory. He
seemed little short of a giant. They were just beginning to spar, when a
seedy-looking individual came forward and cried, "Hold on, gentlemen,
hold on, just one minute. It seems that we are going to see a splendid
piece of sport, and I think we ought to improve the occasion a little. I
will lay two to one on our coloured friend--two to one on Mr. Jones!"
Nobody took him up, when the negro said, "I don't mind if I lay a pound
or two on myself; any one on?" I looked at my countryman. He said, "Have
you got any money on you?" "Yes," said I, "I have got over ten pounds!"
"Lay it all," said he. "Oh, but if we should lose?" "Death and
destruction, we don't lose; lay it all." "Right you are! I lay ten
pounds to twenty against the nigger--ten to twenty--ten to twenty--who
will take me up?"

At last the amount was gathered, but the question arose in my mind
whether the first promoter of the "sweepstakes" might be trusted with
the stakes. I asked my friend in Danish, before I handed the money over;
he said, "Just give it to him; it is all right. If we lose, we have
nothing more to do with the money, but if he won't give up the stakes
to us after I have flogged the nigger, I will flog him too!"

Now began the terrible fight. The negro had both strength and science,
and for a long time it seemed as if my countryman was utterly done for.
It began to get dark and still they fought, but the longer it lasted the
more equal seemed the battle. At last it began to turn; at every round
my countryman would charge the negro with a loud hurrah; in another
quarter of an hour it was simply a matter of knocking him down as fast
as he got up; at last the negro was lying on the ground with his nose
downward, and could not get up again, while the Dane, stronger than
ever, was jumping all over the ring calling on him to get up. As he did
not get up, the Dane ran up to a man who held a riding-whip in his hand,
wrenched it from him, and belaboured the negro's head and back with it
until he quite lost consciousness. I admit if I had dared I would have
tried to prevent that part of the performance, but neither I nor anybody
else stirred. Of course I was not sorry when my friend and I went home
together, our ten pounds having swelled to thirty. Another advantage I
had over this matter was that I had to promise not to work under current
wages again, and when I came to work the next morning the "boss," who
had heard of the fight, at once agreed to pay me fifteen shillings a
day. As for the negro, he did not turn up and I have never seen him
since.



CHAPTER VIII.

SHANTY-KEEPING, PROSPECTING, THORKILL'S DEATH.


Some time after this my friend and countryman came to me one evening
about nine o'clock with a very important air, and told me he had heard
of a new find of gold some thirty miles distant, and that there would be
sure to be a terrible rush as soon as it became generally known. As for
him, he would like to go if I would go with him and be his mate,
because, as he put it, he was sure I was lucky. He could not well have
made a greater mistake, but anyhow I was flattered and agreed to go.
Then I found he wanted to go at once. I had a few days' wages coming to
me, but I went to my employer's house at once and got my cheque. That we
changed in a public-house and went to our tents, saying nothing to
anybody about our intentions. Having got our swags ready, we, more like
thieves than anything else, knocked the one tent over and were off. My
friend's tent remained, and my horses were in a paddock with saddles and
belongings; there was no time to get them, and suspicion would have been
created had we tried.

We rather ran than walked, but we were scarcely a mile out of town
before we overtook some six or seven others bent on the same journey.
The first twenty miles ran on a good road; that would be as far as we
could go that night, because the next ten miles were only a blazed track
right through the bush made by the prospectors, and could only be safely
traversed in the daylight. On the whole journey we were both overtaken
ourselves, and overtook other people, until, when we arrived at the
camp, we numbered a score or more. Here we found another score of
diggers sleeping or smoking, waiting for daylight. It was a moonlight
night, and I could see that we had arrived at a place where a few
humpies stood in seeming disorder round about. There was also a
public-house, and it was in the street in front of that, that the whole
army halted. I was both hot and tired, and as my mate suggested that we
had better get an hour or two of sleep, I laid myself down and slept. I
woke up again as my mate was shaking me. It was just break of day; still
we seemed late, for everybody was up and stirring. There was no time for
a billy of tea, or for ever so slight a stretch: it was up and away. Oh,
how tired I was, and stiff, and footsore! I would not have minded if I
might have started quietly, but this seemed like a race. Although I lost
no time, yet I was the very last through the little street with the
heavy swag on my back. My mate was beckoning to me as he, also late, ran
a few hundred feet in front, and then disappeared amongst the trees. I
felt irritable, as I often do before I have had my breakfast. I came by
a baker's shop, over the door of which was written, "Cold refreshing
summer drinks sold here." The baker and his wife, and a young girl also,
were peeping out through the half-opened door, and seemed to enjoy the
spectacle of the crowd racing down the street. I said to myself, "Bother
running like a fool here, I am going for a bottle of beer."

The baker asked me if I was going to look for gold out there, or was I
looking for a job? "Because," said he, "if you think of finding gold in
that place you will be mistaken."

He then told me he had been on the spot the previous day, and that it
was a "duffer," but still there would be a rush, and he would much like
to get somebody to ride out with bread every day and sell it at the
place. I told him I could not leave my mate like that, but the baker
just invited me in to breakfast, and offered me the loan of a horse, and
said also that he himself would take bread out as soon as we could be
off. "Perhaps," said he, "if my mate did not like the place, as he was
sure he would not, I might take a job from him."

I therefore rode out with the baker after breakfast and found my mate,
who, as the baker predicted, was in no way enthusiastic about finding
anything as good as he had left, and before evening he was satisfied to
return to Ravenswood before any one could jump his claim there. As I did
not like going back, but wanted the change to ride up and down with
bread, I engaged with the baker for one pound ten shillings per week and
board. My duty now was to load a pack-horse every day with bread, and,
having another to ride, to take the bread to the "rush" and sell it. The
butcher at the "Twenty Mile" also engaged a man to ride up with beef,
and we generally rode in company. But it soon proved that it did not pay
our employers to keep us on, and after about three weeks' time we both
got notice to leave. That brought me to think that as there were many
men on the "rush," it might pay me to get my two horses up from
Ravenswood, and, buying myself both bread and meat together, sell it on
my own account. To that all parties were willing, and as one thing
brings another with it, I went to the Chinamen's shop with a view to
seeing what profit he would give me on groceries. As "Johnny" strongly
advised me to sell a little grog for him, I bethought myself that I had
while with the baker learned to make hop-beer and ginger-beer, and found
that I could make it for a penny a big glassful and charge a shilling. I
resolved, therefore, to take up that industry too. There was nobody at
all who had anything for sale at the "rush," and I determined to go out
and build a hut and start a general store and shanty. I now went out to
the "rush" again, and got two men to help me in the building. The hut I
put up was very primitive. Just one room about fourteen by twelve feet,
made of saplings, packing-cases, bark, or anything I could get at all
suitable. The roof was bark; the counter was bark also, and at night had
to serve for my bed. The door was an artistic piece of rubbish, if I
might use that term, but somehow it all hung together and could be
locked up. Outside I made a sunshade with tables and chairs under. That
was managed by four forked saplings put into the ground, and other
straight saplings resting as wall-plates in the forks. Again a row of
lighter sticks lay across them and leafy bushes on the top, and the
chairs were a lot of logs cross-cut at a height of eighteen inches. The
job was completed in three or four days; then I went up to Ravenswood
for my horses, and on my return got out a cask to make hop-beer in, some
buckets, and a few groceries. I was now my own "boss," and wonderfully
proud and happy I was in my little shanty. Besides my own two horses,
the butcher and baker each lent me a horse to carry the bread and meat
on, and I had quite enough to do--indeed my energy knew no bounds.

Just about the time I started, the Palmer diggings came to the front,
and a great rush set in to that place from the south. But as no one
seemed to know properly where the Palmer was, and as conflicting and
disparaging statements soon arrived from the Palmer, and the wet season
was coming on, the north was everywhere swarming with men who were ready
to camp and prospect anywhere, just to abide time. As soon, therefore,
as I started for myself, numbers of men would arrive every day, and I
had so much to do that I did not know sometimes how to fling myself
about quick enough. Long before daylight I was up and got my four horses
together. I had a little yard for them. Then, in a racing gallop, I had
to tear into the butcher's, baker's, and grocer's, at the "Twenty Mile."
My goods would stand ready for me when I came. I would just fling the
stuff on the horses, leave my orders for the next day, and be back again
in time to sell bread and meat for breakfast! When that was over I had
to carry water from the creek to brew a cask of hop-beer, clean up shop,
serve people with grog, and feed the horses, make breakfast for myself,
chuck out a loafer or two, and other matters, all at the same time. Thus
it went on all day. In the afternoon I had sometimes to send a man off
with the horses for more rations, and from five o'clock to ten, eleven,
twelve, and sometimes all night, there would be a lot of fellows
drinking outside the shanty.

[Illustration: THE BAKER'S CART.]

The reader may understand that I quickly gathered in money. Five pounds
a day was nothing. But what a life it was! I was never out of my
clothes, and I was very seldom dry. Sometimes for weeks together I would
be like one hauled out of the sea. That required stimulants, and they
were near and handy, nor was it practically possible to be a Good
Templar in my position. But all my better instincts were revolted. Still
another glass of grog would make me see things in a different light, and
somehow it never seemed to have any other effect on me than
sharpening my wits; indeed, although I know myself to be a temperate man
by nature, and but seldom touch spirits, I believe that if I had not
then freely indulged in the cup that cheers, I could never have stood
the strain on my constitution which this life necessitated. My troubles
were many. One was that fellows would get drunk and grow quarrelsome
every day; if they were not very big I did not much mind, but if they
were too big then I tried all devices to make them laugh and be in
good-humour, or I would sometimes even have to keep two retainers in
free grog to assist me in the "chucking out" business. I was often
knocked about myself. Another trouble or fight with my conscience, which
I successfully overcame, was the falsifying the spirits. The storekeeper
where I bought it, as well as one good friend after the other, would
show me how I could save two-thirds of the rum and still keep it
over-proof by mixing it with water and tobacco. So with brandy, all
sorts of vile poison and most disgusting stuff was offered me to mix it
with. I did not do that, although my advisers thought me very foolish. I
mixed my spirit with water of a necessity, but I saw enough to convince
me that few shanties or public-houses ever sell pure spirits. But my
greatest trouble was what to do with my fast-accumulating money. I did
not trust anybody about me. There was no bank nearer than Ravenswood.
There was no police, and nowhere to put it. At last I hit on a plan.
Under the big cask in which I made beer I formed a hole in the ground,
and at night, when all at last was still, and the cask was empty enough
to move on edge, I, having first carefully ascertained that no one was
about, would thrust in all I had, and put things around it again so as
to prevent suspicion. This mode of banking did not altogether satisfy
me; indeed, I was always very anxious about it, but I could think of
nothing better. And so the time went on. The bucket which stood under
the cask came at last to be nearly full of money, and while on the one
hand it was my great consolation, it also caused me more anxiety than
all the rest of my work.

One day somebody came and told me that a countryman of mine was in his
tent, and was apparently hard up, as he had asked for something to do
whereby to earn a bit of rations. The man was, I understood, camped
somewhere about. I asked them to show him to me, that I might give him
what he wanted and have a talk with him. What was my surprise and joy to
find that the stranger proved to be no one less than my long-lost friend
and shipmate, the Icelander Thorkill. He seemed to be as glad to meet me
as I was to see him, and we exchanged our colonial experiences as far as
they had gone. It appeared that Thorkill had not stayed long on the
sugar plantation in Mackay, where he had first been engaged. That did
not surprise me. His employer, he said, had offered no opposition to
his agreement being cancelled, and with the money he had earned he had
bought a ticket for Sydney in one of the steamers. He had thought to get
something to do in Sydney more suitable to his ability, but for a long
time he failed, and was, through want of money, driven to all sorts of
extremities, even to sleeping out at night. Then he at last got a job to
drive a milk-cart into Sydney for fifteen shillings a week. He had also
tried other things, such as pick and shovel work; had been assistant in
a slaughter-yard, and more besides.

"But I do not like it," said he, "people seem so rude."

At last he had scraped enough together to come back to Queensland; he
had walked all the way from Townsville, and here he was. "And you are
going to look for gold now?" asked I. He scarcely knew; he was so glad
and surprised to see me again that he could think of nothing else.
"Well, Thorkill," said I, "do you remember you said once that you and I
would never part? Let us now renew that agreement. Last time it was,
perhaps, my fault we parted, but this time it shall be yours; and to
show you I am in earnest I will ask you, without further formality, to
consider yourself a part proprietor of this hotel and all there is in
it."

"Oh! what do you mean?" cried he. "You must be making a great deal of
money here and I have none; nor do I understand your work."

"Never mind," said I, "we are partners if you like; you do not know how
badly I am off for some one I can trust. Think of my being all alone
here; I cannot do it much longer."

But say what I would Thorkill would never hear of it, and so I in a sort
of way engaged him to do what he could for me. He carried water and
swept the floor, but the only time he tried to drive the horses to the
"Twenty Mile" he lost them both! He had his tent not far from the
shanty, but we had seldom time to speak. His heart was not in my work,
and I often, nay always, when I saw him, felt an uneasy sort of
conscience.

One Saturday night, or perhaps more correctly Sunday morning, when a lot
of men were drinking outside my hut under the sunshade, and when I
myself had imbibed more than was good for me, I began, against all the
rules of common prudence, to boast of my money. The party appeared as if
they did not believe me, on which I got excited, and called them all
into the hut. There I asked them to look under the cask while I tilted
it over. What a sight! A bucket was buried in the ground nearly filled
with silver, gold, and notes! How much there was I did not know myself,
but there was more than I liked to say for fear of being doubted. Now
began a drinking bout such as had never been before. Everybody had to
stand drinks all round. At last they went away, but my recollections
thereof are not clear; I only know that I slept on the counter, and that
some one was shaking me and grumbling in very unparliamentary language
over my not having been away after bread and beef. I sat up and looked
around. It was about the time I ought to be back from the Twenty Mile.
The door was open, and nearly a score of men were coming along for bread
and meat. Now I remembered all about the previous night. My first
thought was my money. I went and peeped under the cask. The bucket was
gone!

I gave the cask a push that capsized it. "Thieves and robbers, who has
stolen my money? Speak!" There was lying a pair of hobbles on the
counter, and as one of the party began to laugh, I struck him with it.
This was the signal for a fearful orgie. The whole crowd flung
themselves forward and struck, kicked, and tore me until I fainted right
away. When I came to again they did not leave me alone. The whole shop
was sacked from end to end, and in their drunken frenzy they pulled it
down! In the midst of it all came Thorkill, and putting me on his back
carried me off into his tent. There I lay while he bathed my wounds and
consoled me as well as he could, assuring me it might have been all for
the best.

The next day the butcher and the baker came out and took their horses
away. They wanted me to start again, and both of them offered me money
and credit, but I was so disgusted with myself and the whole business
that I told them I would not be a shanty-keeper again for all the gold
in Queensland.

Thus was it with me. To lie in Thorkill's tent and listen to his quiet,
peaceful way of talking--how different was that from the noisy, drunken
orgies of which I had for about five months been a daily witness! I took
a violent dislike to the very place, but where to go I did not know. I
felt as if I only wanted to get away from everybody but Thorkill. I did
not care where I went. As for him, he thought he would like to go south
again. This place and these people were too much for him. He had now
learned to write pretty well in grammatical English, and he thought he
might get something to do in Brisbane. As for me I had never seen a
place yet where I could not get something to do; so far as that went I
did not care, but I thought of him that he came straight from Sydney,
where he had not been successful. He had such a mild, pedantic air about
him, which no doubt would look well in an antiquary, but which would
scarcely prove a recommendation for a grocer's clerk, or, indeed, for
any other position for which I could think him eligible. So I said to
him one day, as we were again talking about going away, "I am sick and
tired of looking at anybody but yourself. What do you say if we go
prospecting for twelve months? I have got thirty pounds in Townsville
bank, and thirty pounds in Ravenswood, besides a few pounds here. You
have got twelve pounds you earned while with me. Then we have the
horses, and you have got the tent. It is sufficient for a twelvemonth's
trip. I am now a pretty good bushman, and if we only get to where there
is gold I think we shall find it. If we don't I do not care. What do you
say?"

This proposal met at once with Thorkill's approval, and we both went
into Ravenswood, where I drew out my money. Here we loaded up the horses
with as many rations as they could carry, also pick, shovel, basin, and
other necessary things. Then we went back the same way we had come,
until we arrived at Condamine Creek, twenty-five miles out. From there
we ran up the creek, as near as I can guess about forty miles,
prospecting all the time. Then we turned northward, up another creek,
and knocked about so that it would be difficult to describe where we
went. But we did not care. I was as happy as a bird, and so was
Thorkill. We had our guns with us, and we could every day shoot as many
birds as we could eat, and kangaroos besides. Sometimes we would camp,
and Thorkill would fish while I prospected about. When it rained we
would lie in the tent and talk about Denmark and Iceland. That was a
theme on which Thorkill never could be tired, and he had such a fund of
genuine information on that subject that I was never tired of listening
to him.

[Illustration: BREAKFAST IN THE GOLD FIELDS]

We had been out prospecting in this way for about three months, and were
now in the vicinity of Cape gold-field, when we struck a place where we
thought there was payable gold. We had for several days been following
on, through a very mountainous country, a river, the name of which we
did not know, until we reached the place of which I now write, where it
ran through a valley, hemmed in on all sides by big mountains. The river
was still of considerable volume. Here we found a nugget of gold about
an ounce in weight the first time we tried, and although our good luck
did not repeat itself, yet we decided, as it was such a beautiful spot,
that we would camp for a month or two there, so at least to give the
place a fair trial. We pitched our tent, therefore, on a little knoll
not far from the creek, and made ourselves comfortable. The next
fortnight we washed for gold from morning to night, and each made about
an ounce per week. We considered this very satisfactory, and were
talking often about what name we should call this new field when we
could not conceal it any longer and a "rush" should set in; because we
knew very well that if we, as strangers, by and by rode into the Cape,
or any other place, to buy some rations, and there try to get our bit of
gold changed, that we should be tracked back to where we had got it,
unless we were far more clever than I gave myself credit for being. But
neither of us minded that. We were, on the contrary, quite proud of
having to figure as successful explorers, and it used to be one of our
recreations of an evening to sit and talk about what name to give the
place. Thorkill was of opinion that we ought to find a name which should
remind all who came here of both Denmark and Iceland, but as it did not
seem possible for us to invent such a name, at last I accepted
Thorkill's suggestion to call it Thingvallavatu, that being the name of
a large lake and river in Iceland not far from his home, and as it
seemed a well-sounding name, I thought it suitable; and although I do
not know if ever a white man has been there before or since that time,
yet as often as I think of the place I remember the name we gave the
river--Thingvallavatu.

On one evening that is for ever engraven on my memory, we were lying in
our tent--Thorkill and I. It had been raining heavily all day, and we
had not been able to be about. We felt pretty miserable, our usual stock
of conversation seemed to be exhausted, but far out in the evening it
revived again, so much indeed that Thorkill began to tell me of things
of which he had never spoken before. He told me of his parents, of his
brother and his sister, and explained to me where their farm in Iceland
was, giving me the address, describing the road leading to it, and every
detail, until I said to him that if we were lucky enough now to get a
bit of gold we would both go home to Iceland and settle down there. From
that conversation drifted to other things, and was at last almost at a
standstill, when he called me by name, and, in a bashful sort of way,
observed, "I say, were you ever in love?"

This was a theme on which we had never enlarged: partly because there
had not been much opportunity yet for either of us in Queensland to
indulge in such a luxury, and partly because I do not know, to the best
of my recollection, that it had ever been mentioned between us, so, as I
recognized that he wanted to tell me something, I said, a little
surprised, "Why do you ask?"

"I have," said he. "While I was overseer on that farm in Alo, I knew a
girl. Oh, how good she was, and how beautiful! I sometimes would go and
visit her in the evening. She was only a servant girl, and her father
was working there too. One evening I kissed her."

"I am afraid," said I, "you have not forgotten her yet."

"No; her I can never forget."

"Why did you not marry her?" said I. "I suppose as you went visiting
her, she would have had no objection?"

"How could I?" replied he. "If only I had been an ordinary working man I
would willingly have asked her; but I was not that. Her father always
spoke to me as if I owned a mansion, and yet I had scarcely sufficient
salary to pay for my own clothes. No, I never asked her."

"Does she know you are out here?" inquired I.

"No, neither she nor my parents, nor anybody; they must think I am
dead."

I had nothing to say. I was lying thinking about matters of my own. A
little after this I thought I heard him crying. Was it possible? I did
not like the idea. I listened again. Yes! there was no mistake. Thorkill
was really crying. Deep, big, stifled sobs. I asked what was the
matter. Two or three times I asked before he answered. At last he said,
"I could not help it; I cried because I know very well I shall never see
Reikjavik" (the only town in Iceland) "again."

After that I kept talking for some time to him in a sort of overbearing
way about that, saying we need not cry, surely, about that, if that was
our only trouble; that we had money enough to get home now, and if we
had not, what then? As for myself, if I set my mind on going home,
rather than cry over it I would stow away on a ship or work my passage.
But I got no answer from Thorkill. I could not sleep, and soon after the
day broke. The rain had by this time ceased, and as I saw that Thorkill
had now fallen asleep, I thought it a pity to waken him, and crept as
quietly as I could out of the tent to make a fire and get a drop of tea
for breakfast. As I sat by the fire an hour after, eating my breakfast,
I saw Thorkill coming, creeping on his hands and feet out of the tent,
with his head screwed round, looking up in the air over the tent. I
somehow thought he was looking at a bird, and wondered he had not got
the gun, so I sat still and said nothing, but kept watching him. When he
was a long way out of the tent he got up, and, still looking up in the
air, pointed fixedly at something and cried, "See! oh, look there!" I
stole behind him and looked, but could see nothing, so I asked, "What is
it?"

"Oh, don't you see? See! a large Russian emigrant ship flying through
the air."

"Are you going altogether insane?" cried I, beating him on the back. The
next moment with a deep groan he fell right into my arms. I asked him
what was the matter. Was he sick? Was he bitten by a snake? I do not
know half I asked him, but all the reply I got as I laid him in his bunk
again, was, "Go for a minister."

My mate was dying, and I knew it now. Dear reader, whoever you may be,
if you have seen your nearest friend die, then you know how bitter it
is. But if you at such time have been among others who have shared your
grief, and had a doctor to take the responsibility off your hands, then
you may only guess at what _I_ felt when I saw Thorkill lying there
perfectly unconscious. We had as it were for a long time been everything
to each other, and the disappointments and mishaps we both, so far, had
suffered in Queensland, had, it seemed at that moment, made him simply
indispensable to my existence. How could I go for a parson? I jumped out
of the tent and ran round it three or four times before I recollected
that I did not know of any human habitation within fifty miles! Then I
went in again and spoke to him. There was no answer; not a movement in
his body. He lay as if in a heavy sleep, a high colour in his face. One
of his arms was hanging out over the bunk, and would not rest where I
put it, so I took a saddle and placed that underneath it, and as it was
not yet high enough, I put a pint pot on that again. There I balanced
it, and there it remained. I had not much medicine, only some quinine.
That was no good. Then I thought he must have been taken by an
apoplectic fit. I took the scissors and cut off all his hair and beard.
Then I went outside and worked desperately at making a sunshade over the
tent, because the sun was beating down on us so fiercely; next in again,
and out. I did not know what to do. I could not for a moment remain
still. Sometimes I carried water from the creek and bathed his head with
it. Then I feared I was only tormenting him, and knocked it off again.
As I sat looking at him in the afternoon I could not avoid thinking
about how he had in his last hour of good health made such a complete
confession about matters he always before had been so reticent about.
Why? I ask the question now. Can any one answer it. It is _not_
fashionable in our age to believe more than can be rationally explained,
but I believe most people in their lives have had similar strange
experiences. If I make the remark that I am superstitious, then I know I
shall lay myself open to ridicule, and yet it is only a form of
admitting that I do not know all that passes in heaven and on earth.

In the afternoon, as Thorkill still lay in the same immovable trance, I
thought I must find out whether he was conscious of my being there or
not, so I knelt down and spoke in his ear, and called him by name.
"Thorkill," cried I, "if you _can_ hear me and know that I am here, try
to give me some sign." Then as I watched him I thought he breathed
extra deep, but I was never certain. Anyhow, although I had myself no
Bible, and never had used one before, I got his out of his swag and
began reading at the commencement and kept on until it was too dark to
read any more. During the night the rain and storm began again. I could
hear in Thorkill's altered breathing that the end was near, but I had no
other light but a match I struck occasionally, and it seemed to frighten
me when I struck one and saw his altered face. At last I knew he was
dead, and in an agony of sorrow and excitement I began praying to
Balder, our ancient god of all that was noble and good, to come and
fetch his own. I was fearfully agitated, and remember well how I walked
outside the tent singing the old "Bjarkamsal," and almost fancying I saw
all the ancient gods coming through the air. It is a common saying of a
person who has died, that he was too good to live, but if ever that
saying was true of any one, it was true of Thorkill. A pure descendant
from the ancient Vikings, yet how different was he from his forefathers.
And all Icelanders are more or less the same. Honest, frank, and kind,
he could not understand why everybody else was not also honest and good,
and I know very well he declined the contest of life; he could not match
his simple faith with the cunning and brutality of the ordinary set of
people one meets with when the pocket is empty. Better, perhaps, he
should have died then and there. Why was I sorry? Why did I not
rejoice? Who knew but that I some day might not die in great deal more
lonely and in much more friendless way than he? He had lost nothing, and
it was I who was the loser; but for his sake I would be glad. In this
strain of mind I passed the remainder of the night, but when at last
daylight came it brought with it the grim reality of death such as it
is, and life such as it is, and also a sense of what was now the only
favour I could show the remains of my friend. It was three or four
o'clock that afternoon before I had managed, as decently as I could, to
bury the body, and then all my energy was expended. Yet as I sat resting
myself for a moment, I was aware that I must be off somewhere before
evening, far from that spot. I had a splitting headache; my legs seemed
unable to carry me. Yet I must be off to get the horses. I found them,
but when I came home with them it was evening and I had to let them go
again. I could do no more, and not altogether with an uncomfortable
feeling was it that I that evening laid myself down in Thorkill's bunk,
thinking that perhaps after all we need not part. I was sick now myself,
and fancied I saw fearful visions all night. The next morning I could
scarcely raise myself to a sitting posture, but during the day I managed
with the instinct of self-preservation to carry some water up from the
creek and to bake a damper. My recollections for some time after this
are very indistinct. It may have been a week or it may have been two
weeks. All that I remember of that time are glimpses of myself sitting
by Thorkill's grave, singing, or playing the flute. The first clear
recollection of that time which I have, was one afternoon when I was
lying in the bunk watching, in a lazy sort of way, some rats nibbling at
the flour-bag, which had somehow fallen down from its place. The flour
lay scattered about the tent, and everything seemed in glorious
disorder. I lay a long time looking at the rats, and wondering where
Thorkill was--whether he was making breakfast, for I felt very hungry. I
had no remembrance whatever of his being dead. I called him; my voice
seemed curious and weak. I grabbed a poker to strike at the rats with
it--how heavy it felt! Then I got up and went outside, and stood staring
for a long time at the grave before I recollected that he was dead, and
that I myself was or had been sick. Everything outside the tent bore
evidence of having been thrown about as if by a maniac, and I felt a
thrill of horror running through me as I thought of myself, how perhaps
I had walked about here at night alone, sick and delirious. I felt quite
myself, however, although very weak. I was hungry, and felt that I must
have something to eat, get it where I could. I staggered about looking
for food. Not a vestige of tea could I find; there was no meat except a
few nasty bones which I found in the billy, and had to throw away; then
I discovered a little sugar, and I scraped together some flour. My next
trouble was that I had no fire and no dry matches. It took me all my
time to get a fire, by rubbing a hard and soft stick together, but at
last I succeeded, and then made a johnny-cake in the fire. Out of sugar
I made my supper, and sat by the fire dreaming and living it all over
again. With the help of my gun I got some birds the next day, and stewed
them in the billy with flour and figweed. I also found the horses all
right, but I was too weak to think of shifting my quarters just then,
much as I would have liked to do so, because there seemed to me to be a
sort of haunted air about the whole place. I busied myself all day, when
I was not hunting for food, with repairing my clothes, but I had a great
longing to see somebody of my own species again, and to sit there every
day talking to or thinking about a dead man had something sickly in it
that I did not like. I could not for a couple of days find either my
money or the bit of gold we had got. Whatever I had done with it was to
me a complete blank. I found it all at last in this way: that somehow my
hat did not seem to fit me, and when I looked it over, there was all the
money stuck under the lining, but I never had any recollection of
putting it there.

I read all Thorkill's letters and took them with me when I left. They
were from his parents and his sister, addressed to him while he was in
Denmark, telling him of all sorts of small home-news, and hoping soon to
see him again. These he had been carrying with him everywhere, and I
had often seen him reading them. There were also photographs of all his
family, and I made them all up into a small parcel intending some day
soon to write to his people.

I confess I never did write. I could not bring myself to do it. I
thought of what he had said--that they must think him dead. Why, then,
reopen their wound? Let him remain "a missing friend." As I had no
settled abode for a long time after this, I carried his papers with me
everywhere for many years. One photograph, of his sister, a very
handsome girl, I had until after I was married, and treasured it
greatly. I think Mrs. ---- must know what became of it at last.



CHAPTER IX.

GOING TO THE PALMER.


When I left Thorkill's grave I made a course as near as I could for the
Cape gold-field. This place I found almost deserted, as most of the
diggers had left for the Palmer. The few people who remained there had
seemingly nothing else to speak about but the fabulous richness of that
field, and they were all deploring each his untoward circumstances which
kept him from going thither. And so it came to pass that, while
gradually recovering my spirits, I made up my mind to go to the Palmer
too. But to go to the Palmer was at that time easier said than done. The
Palmer gold-fields lay somewhere in a totally unexplored country, and
none had been known to reach the Palmer from the Cape after the
commencement of the wet season. Many unsuccessful attempts had been
made, and the returned parties spoke loudly of the "impossibilities" on
the road, such as swollen rivers, swamps, marshes, mountains, blacks,
and what not besides; and what seemed to me the worst, no supplies of
any kind were to be found on the fields. One had simply to carry with
him rations sufficient to last until he returned. Add to this that a
pint pot full of flour cost half-a-crown on the Cape, with other things
at a proportionate rate, and it made me decide another way.

A new port had been opened on the coast by the shipping companies as the
most feasible spot from which to reach the Palmer. The name of this
place was Cooktown on the Endeavour River; and the spot is identical
with a place mentioned in Captain Cook's travels, where he ran his ship,
the _Endeavour_, ashore to carry out some necessary repairs to that
vessel. To get to Cooktown from the Cape I should first have to go to
Townsville and thence take ship to Cooktown. Although the distance from
the Cape to Townsville was as great as from the Cape to the Palmer, yet,
as it was possible to travel the one road and not the other, I decided
to go there, and from that port take ship to Cooktown, whence after
having obtained supplies, I would try to reach the Palmer.

I will not tire the reader by describing my journey to Townsville. My
horses were well rested and in good mettle, and I let them trot out
every day, so that I reached the coast very quickly. I found Townsville
crowded with people who wanted to go to the Palmer. The steamers could
not take them fast enough, and in trying to secure a passage for myself
and my horses I was disappointed time after time. Money, however, was
flying about all over the place. I was offered work in several
quarters--in fact I was nearly implored to take it up for fifteen
shillings a day, or there was piecework, by which I could easily have
earned double that amount, but, of course, I could not think of it. At
last I obtained a passage in a schooner which had been fitted up for the
voyage. There was accommodation below decks for forty horses, and fully
that number were hoisted on board. On the deck was accommodation for as
many passengers as could find standing room, and I think there must have
been over a hundred people altogether. Indeed, we were so crowded that,
if the skipper had a right to complain of anything, it certainly could
not be that he had not a full cargo. I paid five pounds apiece for the
passage of the horses and two pounds ten shillings for myself. We had to
find our own forage, too, for the horses, and also to provide our own
food. Water, however, the skipper had to find himself--no light matter
on so small a ship. We were supposed to make the run in forty-eight
hours, and carried water enough for double that time. I had corn and hay
to last my horses for a fortnight, but some of the others had scarcely
any fodder. At last we started, and when the little steamer which hauled
us out of the creek had cast us off, it was proved to my entire
satisfaction that my run of bad luck was not yet at an end. A strong
wind was blowing, but although the ship was tearing through the water at
a terrible rate, yet we did not make real way, as the wind was straight
against us. It may seem strange that we should start with such an
adverse wind, but once the horses were on board the skipper had to go.
The first evening we were out the captain and mate fought and nearly
knocked each other into the sea. I mention this, however, only because I
remember it; I don't think our troublesome journey was due to neglect or
bad seamanship, but the wind was against us, and kept so day after day
until at last it blew a perfect hurricane. The horses, of course,
suffered very much. At one time they would stand nearly on their heads,
at another, the other way, now on one side, then on the other, as the
ship was jerking up and down. I was working down below with my two
horses all the time, trying to ease them all I could. I tied my tent,
clothes and blankets round about the stalls to lessen the force of the
knocks a little for them. All the horses, however, did not fare so well
as that, for their masters themselves were, for the most part, lying in
a helpless condition up on deck, and the air below was so foul that it
took a good pair of lungs to endure it. The horses soon began to die
off, too; and to haul the poor dead brutes up and throw them overboard
took us all our time, seeing that very few of us were capable of such
work. Upon deck it was indeed a sight. Some were completely gone with
sea-sickness and had tied themselves to the bulwarks, others were lying
"yarning" and laughing as if nothing were the matter. Many of these men
must have known that even if the ship could weather the storm, yet with
the death of their horses all hope of a successful journey was at an end
for them. Yet one heard no complaint; and I should like here to pay this
compliment to Britishers: that, whether English, Scotch, or Irish, they
are, as a rule, brave men. Ours was not a momentary suffering either. It
was a constant drenching with the waves, day after day. The horses, our
most valuable property, hauled overboard as fast sometimes as we could
get them up, and our own lives in constant danger! Yet no one
complained. They would "yarn," laugh, or crack jokes all day long. The
only exceptions to this rule, I am sorry to say, although I hope they
were not typical, were two Danes who had come on board. One of them had
informed me as soon as we left Townsville that he intended to run away
from his wife who lived there. Now, when the storm was blowing, he
became intensely religious and declared it to be a punishment from
Heaven for his wickedness and he made me most sacred promises, one after
the other, that he would return to her bosom if only God would spare him
this time. The other declared the ship to be a regular pirate craft and
Queensland an accursed country. I had to cook for them both, hand them
their food, and cheer up their spirits all the way. One day we spied a
large steamer flying the flag of distress. She came from the south too,
and was, like ourselves, trying to reach Cooktown. As she came
labouring through the waves we saw that it was the _Lord Ashley_. The
deck was black with people and I do not know how many hundred horses.
This heavy deck-cargo caused the ship to rock so that it looked as if it
were about capsizing every time it lurched over. Two of her masts were
already overboard, and as our schooner ran past her we saw the people
engaged in throwing the horses overboard alive. Nearly all the horses
were sacrificed in this manner. To see the poor brutes try to swim after
the steamer or the schooner was heartrending. We on the schooner could
give no assistance; indeed, after all, the steamer was better off than
ourselves, insomuch that it kept on its way while the schooner had to
tear up and down and to do its best not to be blown south again. When we
at last reached Cooktown, some days after, the _Lord Ashley_ was lying
there; but it was her last journey. She was so knocked about that, to
the best of my belief, she was sold as lumber afterwards. All our water
was now used up, and we had either to try to effect a landing or go
south again. As the mate declared he knew a place on the coast just
where we were, where there was a fresh-water creek, it was decided to
call for volunteers among the passengers to man the boat and get some
water. As I had two horses on board and was not sea-sick, I declared
myself ready to make one. There were six oars to be manned. The other
five volunteers, although passengers, were yet old sailors. The mate
was to take the helm. Before the boat was lowered great care was taken
to lash the empty casks in their proper position and to have everything
in order. Then the captain took the wheel and ran the schooner in
towards the land further than customary when we tacked. As we turned the
boat was lowered. The men and I jumped down. Off flew the ship: it
seemed miles before I realized that it was gone. And we in the
boat--talk about the big swing at home in Tivoli; that was only child's
play to the rocking we now had! My hat blew off and flew towards
Townsville; my hair, and even my shirt, were trying hard to follow! One
could scarcely get the oars in the water. But, in spite of all, we
paddled as best we could, and shortly after were inside a little
harbour, where the water was comparatively smooth and where we effected
a landing. How peaceful and quiet it all seemed here under the mountain.
I felt, as I trod the firm soil under my feet, that I should never make
a good sailor, and it was a terror to me how we were ever to reach the
schooner again. We rolled the casks up to the little creek and filled
them. The mate said he had been there some years before when he was with
a New Guinea expedition. As we were roaming about, waiting for the right
moment to get out again, we found a lot of wreckage, old rotten spars, a
cabin door, &c. Then we came on the skeleton of a man, not all together,
but scattered about. There were also remains of some old clothes, and we
found a purse with silver in it, something less than a pound. The mate
declared this money to be an infallible charm, and suggested that we
should each take a piece and say nothing about it. There were only six
pieces of money, and we were seven to share it. No one would stand out
for any consideration, so we drew lots. I secured a two-shilling piece,
and, whether for good or for bad luck, I have it yet, and used to carry
it for years in the most approved fashion round my neck. We had no tools
with us, so we could not bury the bones. There they lie, perhaps even
yet, the remains of another "missing friend." We came on board the
schooner again somehow. Opinions differed much amongst us as to why we
had not been drowned, and no verdict was arrived at. The mate said it
was the charms we carried which had done it, others said that God held
His hand over us, but the one who had no charm said it was because we
were the very refuse of the devil. I express no opinion myself, only
that it was certainly surprising. As the storm gradually veered round a
little we reached Cooktown. Out of the forty horses only sixteen were
alive; one of mine was dead, and the other did not look as if it could
live long after I got it out of the ship, yet it gradually came round
and proved a very good horse afterwards.

Cooktown is now reckoned among the old-established towns of Queensland,
but when I landed there it looked wild enough. To describe it I ask the
reader to think of a fair in the Old Country, leaving out the monkeys
and merry-go-rounds. There were some thousands of people all camped out
in tents. Those who intended to start business in Cooktown had pegged
out plots of ground in the main street and run up large tents or
corrugated iron structures in which all sorts of merchandise was sold
cheap enough. But the wet season kept on, and there was no communication
with the Palmer. People left town to go there every day in the rain and
slush, but many returned saying it was no use trying, as the rivers
could not be crossed. There was at that time a very mixed lot of people
in Cooktown. All the loafers, pickpockets, and card-sharpers seemed to
have trooped in from Brisbane, Sydney, and Melbourne, looking for the
gold in other people's pockets, and the robbing of tents was an everyday
occurrence. Then, although it had been made known far and wide that any
one who wanted to go to the Palmer must either starve or carry six
months' rations with him, still many destitute and good-for-nothing
people could also be seen wherever one looked: these form a class of men
as easily distinguished from the _bona fide_ miners as if they belonged
altogether to another species. No work of any kind was going on for more
than one-tenth of the people who looked for employment, and any one who
wanted a man might easily get him for his "tucker." I believe one could
have got them to work all day for their dinner alone. Men would walk
about among the tents in droves, and wherever they saw rations there
they would beg. While this was the true state of affairs in Cooktown
just then, I remember well standing outside the newspaper office,
reading the paper, the leading article in which described in glowing
terms the bustle and activity going on in this rising city, and declared
that any man who could lift a hammer was welcome to a pound sterling a
day! Of course I did not look for any work, so I did not care. There was
also a great deal of sickness, especially dysentery, and the doctors
required cash down before they would even look at any one. If one took a
stroll up among the tents, it was a common, indeed an inevitable, sight
to see men lying helpless, writhing with pain on the ground, some of
them bellowing out for pity or mercy. Very little pity or help, as a
rule, did they get. Men would pass such a poor object with the greatest
apathy, or at most go up to him and give good advice, such as that he
ought to be ashamed of lying there and ought to try and crawl into the
tent again! Such was life in Cooktown during the first "rush" there to
any Queensland gold-fields.

I had not at that time got much money. If my second horse had lived, I
should have been, as I thought, all right; but as horses worth six or
seven pounds could not be bought under thirty or forty pounds, I could
not buy another to replace the one I had lost, and had therefore to be
content with one. So one day I loaded up my horse with rations and went
on the road. As I was going to the Palmer, where money was of no value
whatever, and as everything depended on my being able to carry a
sufficiency of provisions, I had bought the best of everything
regardless of cost. I had cocoa, extract of beef to make soup of,
preserved meat and such like in large quantity. Then I had tea, sugar,
and one hundred and fifty pounds of flour. My wardrobe, on the other
hand, was not extensive. It consisted of one shirt, over and above that
I wore. Fifty pounds of my flour with the tent, half a blanket,
billy-can, pint pot, knife, gun, &c., I carried on my own back; the
remainder, including spade and basin, I strapped on the back of the
horse. I had then only a few shillings left of all my money when I
started, but going through the town on my road out the burden on my back
began already to feel heavy. I therefore thought it wise to carry no
unnecessary loads, and seeing some fellows standing in the street who
looked as if they needed some refreshment, I called them together and
had a big "shout" in a public-house as far as the money would go. That
relieved my mind and my pocket!

The road, if it might be called one, was really a track or belt of
morass, some ten chains wide, in which one had to wade at times up to
the knees. I was prepared to endure great hardships; but to understand
the suffering to man and horse in dragging oneself along that road one
must have tried it for himself. Twice that day the horse and I got
bogged. To get clear again I had first to crawl on my hands and knees
with part of my own load up to some fallen log and deposit it there,
then back to the horse for more. When the horse was quite unloaded, I
had to take it round the neck and let it use me as a sort of purchase by
which to work itself out. Then load it again and wade along. I made
eight miles that day, and I knew that no one who left Cooktown with me
came so far. At the eighth mile there was a large camp of diggers, who
said they could get no further nor yet back to Cooktown. I should have
remained there; but as I saw next morning some prepare to get a little
further, I started with them, and soon left them behind too. That day
and the next the road was better although still very bad. I crossed a
river the third evening I was out. It was as much as I could do to get
over, and, as in the night it began to pour with rain, I concluded, what
really proved to be the case, that the creek would rise and so
effectually cut off my retreat. The next day the road was worse than
ever. The horse got bogged time after time, and I was myself on the eve
of being knocked up. The whole road so far, almost ever since I had left
Cooktown, was strewn with clothes, boots, saddles, rations, in such
quantities that there would have been enough to have opened a good store
with if one could have got it all together. I had also passed at least a
score of dead horses, sticking in the mud with the saddles, and, in
some cases, rations on them; and I met scores of men, who, having thrown
everything away, were struggling to reach Cooktown again on foot. But
with dogged obstinacy I kept on trying to accomplish the impossible. At
last the poor horse got bogged again worse than ever. I could not get
him out. He looked so pitifully at me! I am sure it knew the predicament
we were both in. I struggled and tried hard to get it out, but I could
not. As it settled deeper and deeper into the quagmire I thought I might
as well finish his sufferings and my own. So I put my gun to his ear and
shot him.

There I stood in the pouring rain alongside the dead horse, full of
anger with myself that I had not, by using more judgment, saved myself
and my poor, faithful companion from such a hard fate. I am not
poetically gifted, and do not understand the science of making much out
of a little, so I cannot say how miserable I felt. Yet it is
nevertheless true that I was ready to burst with grief. I was wet
through, and had been so all day, nor had I anything dry to put on.
Evening was coming on too. Up and down the "road" there was nothing but
a quagmire, into which I sank to the knees whenever I moved. Here also
lay my hopes of redeeming my fortunes. I know very well if I were placed
in the same position now, I should not have strength either of body or
mind to extricate myself. As it was, when I think of it now, after so
many years, I can truly aver that I mourned for the horse more than for
myself. I had met no travellers that day on account of the rain, but I
knew I was about eight miles from the Normanby River, on both sides of
which large bodies of miners were camped--those on my side being
desirous of reaching the Palmer, and the camp on the other side being
full of men who had come from the Palmer and wanted to go to Cooktown.
But both parties were prevented from getting further as the Normanby
River was in full flood and half a mile across.

I could not continue to stand looking at the dead horse. I felt a great
longing to reach the other men that I might, by talking to them, forget
a part of my own trouble in thinking of theirs, so I managed that
evening, and with even a part of my goods, to reach the camp, and the
next few days I devoted to fetching the remainder of my stores from
where the dead horse was lying.

On the banks of the Normanby River there was at that time a sight which
might well furnish food for reflection. I doubt if fiction could invent
anything more strange. Several hundred men were camped on the south side
of the river waiting for the flood to subside so that they might get
over. We had rations in any quantity, but, speaking for myself, I can
truthfully say, if the others were like me, we had no money. On the
other side of the river was an equally large camp. The men there were
the diggers who, when the first news of the Palmer broke out, had,
before the wet season set in, gathered to the "rush" from the
Etheridge, Gilbert, Charters Towers, Cape, and other outlying places,
and who, having eaten their rations and gathered their gold, were now
trying to get to Cooktown to purchase supplies. A perfect famine was
raging over there. The country around is very poorly off for game;
besides, they had no powder, and so they had been eating their horses,
their dogs, and at last their boots! It is a fact that they used to boil
their blucher boots for twenty-four hours and eat them with weeds! It
takes something to make a Queensland miner lie down to die, yet it was
the general opinion among men who had been to all the Victorian and New
Zealand "rushes," that they had never suffered such hardship before or
seen country so void of game or life of any sort.

There we were, looking across at one another--they shaking their
gold-purses at us, and we showing them the flour-bags. Two came across
to us. The way they managed was this: first they took off the rag or two
which yet served them for clothes and strapped them on to the horse,
then getting on the horse and forcing it into the water it would soon be
borne with the current down the stream; they would then slip off, and
getting hold of the tail with one hand swim with the other. They both
managed to cross, but it looked so desperate an undertaking that the
others did not venture. The two men who came over brought the first
reliable news from the Palmer for a long time, and were besieged with
questions. As I do not care to return to the matter again, I will say
here that among the tales of suffering on the Palmer by the first batch
of diggers, was that of one of my shipmates from home, who had arrived
there from the Etheridge, and who, while looking for gold in one of the
tributaries to the Palmer, had been cut off from the main camp by the
river rising so that he could not cross to get away. His dead body was
found in his tent after the wet season. He had died of hunger, yet under
his head was a bag with eighteen pounds' weight of gold in it. Poor
fellow! the last time I saw him was in Port Denison, the first year I
was in the country; he had then earned five pounds sterling, and had
come into town to get it sent home to his father and mother.

On our side of the river we passed the time as best we could. There was
a large band of German musicians, and I joined them with my flute, which
I always carried. It really seemed strange, in the heart of the
wilderness, where a few months before no white man had ever put his
foot, to hear the tones of Strauss or Offenbach. As a general thing,
though, men would sit in their tents while the rain came pouring down in
sheets of water. At night we suffered very much from mosquitoes, and in
the daytime from flies, the common little house-fly, which was a perfect
nuisance all day. Dear reader, I know you expect of me that the least I
can do for you who have followed my fortunes so far is to tell you now
how I somehow proceeded to the Palmer, and there in a month or two
accumulated at least twenty thousand ounces of gold, with which I
returned and got married to some nobleman's daughter. I should not be
sorry to write this if I only had the gold somewhere handy, but as you
no doubt would, after all, prefer the truth, whatever it is, I must
confess that I could not at all see my way to go on any further. When
the weather settled and people began to cross the river I had a good
look at the poor emaciated fellows who came across, some of them with
very little gold, and all of them more or less broken in health. Then I
began to ask myself whether the game was worth the candle. The Germans
who constituted the band offered to take me as mate in their party, and
to put my rations on their horses; and for that I was greatly obliged to
them, but I seemed all at once to have taken such a dislike to roaming
about, and was picturing to myself the comfort I could have had and the
sum of money I might have saved by constant employment at my trade, that
I refused their kind offer, and instead of going on towards the Palmer I
sold my rations for a good price and returned to Cooktown.



CHAPTER X.

RETURNING FROM THE PALMER.


I sat in my tent one day in Cooktown, while the rain was pouring down
outside, when my attention was attracted by four men who stood in a
desolate sort of way in the road. They seemed to me to have such a
pitiful, aimless, vacant way about them as they stood there while the
rain ran down their backs in bucketsful! But I do not suppose that I for
that reason alone should have given them a second thought, because
misery and want were such common sights in Cooktown. What, however,
riveted my interest in them was that I could see they were Danes by
their clothes, and also that they had only been a very short time in
Queensland. So I thought I would have a lark with them at my own expense
if, as I guessed, it should prove true that they could not speak
English. I therefore called to them in English, and invited them to come
into my tent out of the rain. They came quickly enough. My point was to
let them think me an Englishman and to prove the old proverb that he
"who hears himself spoken of seldom hears praise." So I questioned them
from what country they came, how long they had been in Cooktown, where
they were going, how long they had been in Queensland, and all such
matters. It appeared then that they had arrived in Rockhampton a few
months before, had taken a contract there to burn off a piece of scrub,
by which they had saved a few pounds, and having heard of the Palmer,
had bought tickets for Cooktown in the _Lord Ashley_, that steamer we
met in the storm. All their swags had been washed overboard, and since
they arrived in Cooktown they had not only spent their money long ago,
but had since been unsuccessful in all they undertook. They subsisted on
scraps and odd pickings among the tents--but they did not mind so much
now that they had got used to it! They liked Rockhampton and the job of
scrub-burning, "that being a lively game," but Cooktown they did not
like; anyhow, as soon as they could get a job and save enough to buy
some rations, they would go to the Palmer. What aggrieved them most was
that they had a Danish five-dollar note (worth about ten shillings), but
they could not get it changed because the Englishmen said it was a false
one. This they told me in a sort of English a great deal more broken
than my own, but yet they had not the slightest suspicion about my not
being myself a thoroughbred Britisher. Indeed, the conversation was full
of interjections in Danish from the one to the other, such as: "I
wonder if the beggar is going to give us some grub when he has done
questioning?" or, "He has got nothing himself to eat; let us get out of
this;" or, "Wait a minute, I will ask him for some flour." When I had
carried my game as far as I cared, we had some tea and a real good meal,
after which, as it began to get dark, I invited them all to stay in my
tent until I left Cooktown, because I was only waiting for a steamer. In
the night, as we all lay as close as we could in the little tent, I had
the satisfaction of lying listening half the night to their praise of
myself, as they were talking in Danish, thinking I did not understand.
They seemed to have a terrible grudge against some Dane in Cooktown whom
I did not know, but to whom it appeared they had applied in vain for
assistance; and now they compared me as an Englishman to their own
countryman, and came to the conclusion that strangers were always the
best. I did not like to undeceive them, and I never did; but it was so
very pleasant to lie and listen to one's own praise, and I really felt
quite benevolent over it, so I thought I would do what I could to
deserve their praises.

[Illustration: ROCKHAMPTON.]

I had decided that I would go back to Port Denison and ask my old
employer there for a job, which I never doubted he would give me. It
seemed to me it was the place where I had been treated best as yet in
Queensland, and although we had some differences of opinions, yet I was
quite longing to see him and his family again, and also my old shipmate
and his wife. I had no doubt, somehow, he was there still. It seemed to
me almost like going home, to see them all again, and as I was in the
tent lying listening to the Danes, I thought that I would get my nice
old room once more as soon as I came to Port Denison and have everything
provided for me, and that I could therefore spare this tent, and the
gun, the billy-can, pint pot, &c. When I left Cooktown I gave all these
articles to my countrymen there, and, as I was going in the boat, even
offered to exchange their "false" Danish five-dollar note. I had finally
only half-a-crown left.

I have written about this, not because I wish the reader to know how
benevolent I was, but to make it clear how it was that I parted with
these things. It will be perceived, as my history proceeds, how sorely I
was afterwards in need of them myself.

It was early morning when I was put ashore in Port Denison in a boat,
because I was the only passenger for that port. I had been away about
four years, and as the memory of my first landing in this place forced
itself upon me I felt that I had not made very good use of my time so
far. Yet as I went along I consoled myself with the reflection that even
if my pocket was empty, still I was more like a man than I had ever been
before, and if I was not rich, no one could say he was poor on my
account.

I walked along the jetty and up the street before I met any one; then I
saw a man I remembered as one to whom I had spoken several times
formerly. I rushed up to him, laughing and smiling, and shook him by the
hand. He seemed surprised and looked cold upon me. At last he remembered
me. "Oh, yes! How are you? Come by a steamer? Nice morning."

How many have never known the bitter disappointment of being repulsed in
this manner? I sneaked away, and began to ask myself if it was possible
that my old "boss," or, perhaps, even my shipmate and his wife, would
greet me in the same manner. I had only half-a-crown left in my pocket.
My wardrobe was also in a sad condition; yet I was clean, and had, while
on the ship, polished my boots and scented my handkerchief, so who
should say that I was not the successful digger? Still, I felt very
shaky about meeting a new disappointment, and walked about for an hour
or two, not caring to present myself at Mr. ----'s place, and not being
able to find out where my countryman lived. I was soon reassured,
however, for presently I saw the "boss" himself, out for a morning walk,
and he seemed both glad and surprised to see me. After we had given the
public debt a lift in a public-house just opened, he made a few
inquiries about how far I had succeeded in making my fortune, and
offered me there and then a job, although he said he was by no means
busy. My shipmate was with him yet, and had two pounds ten shillings
per week, and he would give me the same, he said, in the hope that work
might soon be more plentiful. When we separated I went to look for my
countryman, who also was glad to see me, and at once insisted on my
staying at his house for the present. How well off he seemed to be! It
was his own house, and he had made a nice lot of furniture himself for
the rooms. He had also a fine garden, where, as he said to me, he took
his recreation in working it up. But, best of all, he had a kind, good
wife, who also had been my shipmate, and two little boys. When he came
home of an evening the wife came with his slippers and his smoking-cap,
and there he was, while I, who had gone through more hardships these
four years than many people do in their whole life, had seemingly done
no good either to myself or to others. I had, of course, told them at
once that I intended to go to work in the old place again; and it was my
intention at the first favourable moment which offered to ask my friend
for a few pounds to renew my wardrobe a little, but so far I had said
nothing whatever to anybody about my circumstances. In the evening, as
we sat talking on the verandah, my countryman quite suddenly asked me if
I was short of money, as he was prepared to let me have some if I wanted
it. It seems a strange contradiction to my previous confession, but
nevertheless it is true, that he had scarcely spoken before I blurted
out that I was not at all short of money, and that it was a great
mistake on his part to think so, that I had quite enough to serve my
purpose at any time, and more to the same effect.

"Well, then," said my mate, "I am glad for your sake; but as that is the
case I will tell you what I otherwise would have said nothing about. The
'boss' was to-day passing one or two jokes about your being so anxious
to make your fortune quickly when you left here last, and as we have
scarcely a stroke to do, I would not, if I were you, give him the
satisfaction to begin work again, because I am sure he thinks you are
very hard up." "Does he?" cried I. "Well, he makes a mistake, and so do
you. Perhaps you think because I haven't a paper collar on that I am
ready to beg?" "Oh, no, no!" cried he; "I only meant, in a friendly way,
to offer you what you perhaps needed, so do not get angry where no
offence is meant." "Oh, I was not angry," said I; "but I certainly would
not work for Mr. ---- again, as he thought I could not do without him.
Had I not for a fact passed Townsville, where wages were higher and work
more plentiful, to come here? And now he thought he was the only man in
Queensland where I could earn my living! But I would show Mr. ----
different. I would go to Port Mackay, where there was plenty of work and
no family arrangement about it. That was what I would do." After some
more conversation of the same sort, I went out in the street for a walk,
and to get an opportunity of thinking quietly over my now desperate
circumstances. With the exception of the clothes I wore upon me,

    "All my fortune was a shirt
    That was ragged and full of dirt."

I walked about the streets for some time, trying to make a song in
honour of the occasion, which was to begin with the above words, and set
it to music, and as I succeeded better than I thought I correspondingly
got into high spirits, and took it all as an immense joke. There seemed
to me only one way out of the difficulty. I could walk to Port Mackay,
which is another and larger town, more prosperous than Port Denison. It
lies on the coast also, and the distance by road between the two places
is one hundred and thirty miles. The road, however, is very little
frequented, as what little communication there is is all by water. There
were, however, half a dozen stations on the road, and I made no doubt I
should be right somehow. The blacks in that district had, indeed, a bad
name for spearing cattle and being very wild and ferocious; but of that
I took no heed. The most important thing just then was for me to get
away from my countryman's house without exciting in him any suspicions
about the state of my exchequer. I felt some strokes of conscience
certainly over thus repaying his kindness with such insincerity, but I
could at least truthfully say that I had not meant it, and that
circumstances over which I had no control, &c. So the next morning I
put on a reserved, dignified air, and after breakfast told my host that
I intended to shift my quarters. They both kindly protested, until I had
to say that I had business somewhere in the bush, and would come back to
their house as soon as I came to Port Denison again, but that I had to
go now, and might not be back for some time. Then Mrs. ---- pressed me
to take some sandwiches with me for dinner, for which I was not sorry,
and then I started for Port Mackay. The first station on the road was
thirty miles out. That place I meant to reach before evening. The
sandwiches went down like apple-pie long before dinner-time, and a
little before evening I gained the station. I was even at that time so
much of a "new chum" that I took it for granted that a traveller would
be made welcome anywhere in the bush whenever he might call. In the
gold-fields where I had been people were ashamed of refusing
hospitality--at least, I had not seen it done. This was the furthest
south I had yet been in Queensland, and as I stood by the creek that
evening and looked over to the neat little homestead lying there so
isolated, it seemed to me quite a beautiful place, and I congratulated
myself that I had reached it just before I got tired and in good time
for supper. I had a bath in the creek and straightened myself up all I
could before I went up to the house. It was getting nearly dark as I
came up the track leading into the garden. I heard some one crack a whip
close behind me, and saw a man on horseback coming along with nearly a
dozen big dogs, who now barked in angry rage all round me. I stood there
a complete prisoner while the man on horseback looked daggers at me. I
suppose he had been out after cattle and had not found those he looked
for; anyhow, he did not appear in a good humour. "Where are you going?"
asked he.

"I thought I might have a bit of supper and a camp here to-night," said
I.

"Supper and camp!" cried he. "Why the ---- don't you camp in the bush?
Ain't you got no rations, neither?"

"No," said I. "I should be obliged to you if you would sell me something
to eat."

"Would you not be obliged to me if I would show you a public-house?"
cried he.

I was too innocent to see his jeer, only I perceived that he did not
want me, so I said, "Public-house? yes, I should be glad;" and added, "I
did not know there was any; how far is it?"

"Oh, not far," said he, and he moved on, and at last called his dogs off
me.

I was in a rage as I moved on, but just past the house the road branched
off, and I thought it necessary to find out which to take, so I sang out
to him, "Which is the Mackay road?"

"The _right_ one," cried he. And along the _right_-hand track I went
mile after mile, but no hotel was there. At last I found it was only a
cattle track, and that I had come out to a big creek, where it branched
off everywhere. The moon was just going down, and it was far out in the
night when I laid myself down to sleep. It was raining heavily by this
time, so that I could light no fire, but, tired and worn out as I was, I
slept as well as if I had lain on a feather bed.

When I woke up again it was daylight, and I felt quite stiff in all my
joints and so cold that I could scarcely move. Three or four native dogs
were circling round me, but retired to a more respectful distance when I
sat up. These native dogs are, I believe, peculiar to Australia.
Miserable, cowardly curs they are. They will often follow a man for days
when he is lost until he drops, but I do not believe it has ever been
recorded that they have actually attacked a man before death has made
him oblivious to all. Not so, however, with the crow. The crow is found
all over Australia in the most out-of-the-way places, and many a brave
man has had his eyes picked out before he has had time to die! These
birds seem to have a sort of instinct to know when any one is in
distress. If a man is lost and the "trackers" are out after him, they
know that he is not far off when they see a lot of crows hovering over a
particular spot. He may not be dead, but he is certainly dying.

Although I was wet, stiff, and cold, and without any food, yet I was
worth twenty dead men yet. I saw that the only thing I could do was to
retrace my steps to the station the same way as I had come; so along
the road I went, and that in a very bad humour, most of all because I
could see no other remedy than to beg assistance where I had been
already so badly treated. When I could get on the right track there were
thirty miles to the next station. I had only half-a-crown. What could I
do if nobody would help me? At last, at two or three o'clock in the
afternoon, I came back to the place I had started from the evening
before, when I had been shown the wrong track. As soon as I saw the
house again I felt neither hungry nor tired. I only felt as if I could
walk for ever without rest or food. I would ask for nothing. I would
take nothing. I would just go on. But still I had to find out which was
the Mackay road. Yes, I would go up to the house to ask that question.
As I came up to the place I saw a young woman standing outside the back
door washing clothes, and about a dozen blacks were squatted about the
ground in all sorts of lazy positions. I noticed especially a very tall
young gin, who stood leaning against the wall, with a long spear in her
hand. I asked the girl which was the Mackay road, and she, looking round
rather surprised at me, said, "There--that one to the left." She did not
look at all vicious, and seemed disposed to enter into conversation,
but, true to my determination, I turned on my heel to go again. I had
scarcely turned, however, before I heard her sing out in an excited
voice to the blacks, "Don't! Drop that spear! Look out!" Turning round
once more, I saw the tall gin with the spear, holding it high above her
head, ready to hurl it at me. I never spoke, because, to tell the truth,
I never realized that she intended to kill me. I looked her full in the
face, and, as I felt pretty indignant at the time, my look disarmed her.
Anyhow she quailed before my eyes and dropped the spear, and I went my
way.

The blacks were at that time very bad in that district, spearing cattle,
&c., and as I was going along the road I accounted to myself for their
presence on the station in this way--that perhaps the squatter thought
it cheaper to feed them than to allow them to rob him. That they were
not very quiet blacks I felt sure, and the more I thought of the gin and
her uplifted spear the more anxious I became. They might, thought I, set
out after me yet and finish me off. Moreover, as I had thirty miles to
walk before I could hope for any food, I made up my mind to stagger on
as long as my feet could carry me. But I did not go so fast as the day
before. Slowly and painfully did I drag along. The road was simply a
track on which a horse might come along, and a sort of coarse grass
eight or nine feet high grew on both sides. How fervently I wished I
might meet another traveller--anybody had been welcome--but no one
seemed to have been along there for ages. On I went. Every half mile or
so I would come to a running brook crossing the road. I became too
fatigued to take off my boots and socks every time, and this made my
feet sore; but still I staggered on. It was now evening, or, rather,
late at night, but just as the moon was going down I came to a creek
which seemed larger than the rest, inasmuch that I could not in the
darkness look across, and taking a couple of steps into the water I went
in nearly to the middle; still it grew deeper. I therefore concluded
that as necessity knows no law, I must camp and wait for daylight before
I attempted crossing. A large tree was growing close to the water and on
the track. Down by the roots of that tree I threw my swag, and laid
myself upon it without undressing and without a fire. My matches were
all wet, and I was too tired to walk one unnecessary step.

I was lying there looking up at the stars, feeling so unspeakably tired,
when, after a while, just as I was going to sleep, I heard a noise not
far from me for which I could not account, but it brought me to
speculate upon the probability that there were alligators in the water,
and that it was scarcely prudent to lie there as I did, with my feet
almost in the stream. So I got up and went back some twenty yards or so,
on the rising ground, where there had been an old camp years before.
There I lay myself down again with a big stick in my hand. I had just
gone off to sleep when I started up again in terror. A peculiar
indescribable noise was coming from down the creek, where I had been
before. What it might be I did not know. Never had I heard the like
before; it was a noise sufficient, as they say, to raise the dead.

The water seemed agitated as if an army of blacks were coming across,
the bushes and grass were cracking as if a stampede of cattle was taking
place, and through all these noises ran a piercing continuous yell such
as no human being or animal I knew in nature could utter. The thought
ran through me as I started to my feet: either it is the blacks who have
come to kill you, or it is an alligator on the same errand. In any case,
thought I, my only chance was to show fight. With that I grabbed my
stick, and sang out, to gammon the blacks, "Here! hie! Bill! Jack!
Jimmy! Here they are. Get the guns; we will have a shot at them!"

While I screamed at the top of my voice like this, I struck the long
grass with my stick, and, to frighten the alligator, if any were there,
ran right down to where I had been before, yelling all the while. The
noise kept on in front of me, but died away with some splashes in the
water, just as I came down. When I stopped screaming all was silent. I
stared around me, but the darkness was perfectly impenetrable.

Was there an alligator now crouching at my feet ready to swallow me in a
couple of mouthfuls? Or was I surrounded by a mob of savages, perhaps,
lurking alongside of me, and seeing my helplessness? Or was it evil
spirits? I did not know what it was, or where it had gone, and yet the
hair seemed to rise on my head. Do not talk to me about bravery or
cowardice! I believe most men are capable of screwing their courage up
to the necessary point at any time, providing they know what is before
and behind them, but if I knew where there was a man who would not have
felt fear if placed in the same position as I stood in there, then I
would fall down and bow before him. I crept back to where I had been
lying when I heard the alarm and lay down again, and so exhausted was I
that I fell asleep at once, and did not wake up before the sun was
shining in my face. My first thought, of course, was the noise in the
night, and I went down to the creek to look for tracks or signs of some
sort. There, close by the tree, on the very spot where I first had laid
myself down, was the half of a large kangaroo. It seemed bitten off
right under the forelegs, all the rest was gone. On the road and in the
soft mud by the water were the tracks of an immense alligator, and where
it had come out and gone into the creek again a deep furrow as from a
sulky plough had been made by its tail. I had never yet been so near
death! It seemed plain to me that the first noise I had heard which
induced me to get up and go further away from the water must have been
the alligator stealing upon me, and that the unfortunate kangaroo
afterwards unwittingly saved my life. But as there is scarcely anything
that cannot be turned to good account, so I also tried to turn this
accident to my advantage, because I took up my knife and cut some steaks
out of the kangaroo, which I had to eat raw, as I could make no fire,
for I could not find any of the wood with which I had learned by
rubbing two sticks together to make it. It was with fear and trembling
that I crossed the deep creek. The water went up over my armpits; but it
had to be done, and once on the other side I made a speech to the
alligator, thanked him for my breakfast, and wished him, "Good-morning."

I walked all day, but so slowly and painfully that I did not go very
far. One of my boots was chafing my foot so that I had to take it off,
but after having carried it some miles I threw it away. In the evening I
came to an empty hut and a stockyard, but as no one was living there I
concluded it was put up for the purpose of mustering cattle. It was
locked up, so I lay down outside and seemed to find some company in
looking at the house. The next day was Sunday. I felt when I got up that
I could not walk much further. Fortunately, perhaps, I got some
encouragement from thinking myself near the station, as fences and
cattle began to appear. Yet it took me from break of day to afternoon
before I came out on a large plain, and there at once I saw the house
lying in front of me, but yet about a mile distant. It seemed a large
and "fashionable" house for the bush. As I came a little nearer I could
see people under the verandah, and as I came still nearer I made out
three ladies and a gentleman sitting there. They seemed to have a
telescope, which they passed from one to the other, and whoever had it
pointed it straight at me. Ah! what a disgrace, thought I. I would not
mind so much, but I felt revolted at the idea of standing as a beggarman
before young ladies. If I could have run away I am sure I should have
done so, but I was altogether too weak. Still, I seemed to straighten
myself up somehow under their eyes, and I threw the long, ugly stick I
carried away, and went on with as sure a step as I could command up to
the verandah and saluted the company.

I remember well the following scene. The gentleman, a portly, elderly
man, had one of those bluff-looking, high-coloured faces which, even
while they try to look cross, cannot hide their evident good nature. He
was now smiling in a benevolent sort of way upon me. The elderly lady
who sat by his side also looked very kind, while two young ladies, who
also were in the verandah, regarded me with a mixture of dignity,
curiosity, and pity. When the gentleman began to speak he looked very
cross.

"Coming from the Palmer?" inquired he.

"Yes, sir."

"Hah! did I not tell you so? Did you find any gold there?"

"No, sir."

"Didn't I say so?"

These aside remarks were addressed to the elderly lady, who silently
acquiesced; and then she turned towards me and inquired, with a sort of
anxiety, "Did you happen to meet a young man up there by name Symes?
David--David Symes, that was his name."

I was very sorry that I had not met him.

"How do you think he should know him?" cried the gentleman, in a great
rage. "Ah!" he exclaimed, "that will teach you fellows not to run
gallivanting about the country again in a hurry, I'll swear. All your
bit of money clean gone?"

"No, sir." (I had my half-crown.)

"Then you want nothing from me, I suppose?"

"Indeed, sir, I do, very much."

"Ah! I thought so. I knew it jolly well, I did."

"Father," cried the lady, "why do you keep tormenting the poor man so?
You go and sit there under the sunshade, and I will tell the girl to
bring you some dinner. Poor man! walked all the way from Palmer."

I went and seated myself by a large table which stood in the yard, and
as soon as I sat down I fell asleep; then I would start up again, and
fall asleep again, and every time I opened my eyes I saw them all
sitting on the verandah watching me. The servant-girl brought a large
supply of roast beef and potatoes, also a plum-pudding, but I could eat
nothing. When I had tried a couple of mouthfuls the squatter came down
to me and said he would show me a bed where I could lie down. "And when
you have had a good sleep," said he, "then I will find you a job of some
kind, if you want it."

I slept for nearly twenty-four hours, and when I had fully recovered,
which took me three or four days, I had a job at ring-barking trees for
the squatter for ten shillings per week. That was all he offered me and
I did not care to ask for more--indeed, I was very well pleased. When I
had been there two or three weeks, and I thought we were about quits, I
asked for my wander-book again--in other words, I explained that I was a
carpenter and expected to earn better money if I could get to Mackay. I
am glad to say that he would have liked to keep me, and he offered me a
job as stockman for a pound sterling a week, but still that did not suit
me at all, so I went my way again with a few rations in my bag and
twenty shillings in my pocket. I will not ask the reader to follow me
step by step on this memorable journey. No doubt it will quite plainly
appear that I have gone through a terrible lot of hardships in my time,
but although I admit I should not care to have to do it again, yet it is
a fact that, when I think of myself at that time, I seemed in no way
crestfallen. On the contrary, I was always in the best of humours, and
never doubted for one moment that good fortune would come again. It has
always been a fact in my case that when I, as on this journey, have had
very scanty food for some time, my voice becomes much better and
clearer. So that as I came along the road, or in the night when I was
camped, I would enjoy myself by singing as well as if I had been a
performer at a concert. Alas! many matters which unfortunately would not
interest me much now, had at that time great attraction for my mind--a
bird, a wallaby scudding across the road, a strange plant, all such
things would set my imagination going. It is only as we grow older and
get more sense that such trivialities cease to amuse!

The next place on this journey where anything worth relating occurred
was at a sugar plantation about sixteen miles from Mackay. I arrived
there at eight or nine o'clock one night, but as I came past the place,
some men who were camped in a tent by the road good-naturedly offered me
a drink of tea, and when I had drank it and was just ready to start
again one of the men, who had been away for half an hour, came back and
said that I had to go up to the kitchen, where there was a countrywoman
of mine who wanted to see me. I was in no way caring for a lady's
company at the time, so I asked him to make my excuses to this
countrywoman of mine and to say that I was gone; but all the men began
chaffing me, and were nearly going into fits of laughter about her good
looks, wishing they were me, that such a girl was not to be seen every
day, &c., so at last I unwillingly went up to the kitchen. I never
thought to see anybody more than some uninteresting sort of country
girl, and I only intended to ask her, as shortly as possible, what she
wanted, and then go on again. In a word, I was in rather a bad humour.
The door was opened for me by a very lady-like girl, and I was quite
doubtful at first whether it was the lady of the house or only the
servant. All at once I seemed to remember how torn my clothes were, and
my poor appearance, and felt as if I did not like to go in; but the girl
seemed bent on patronizing me.

"Come in," cried she, in Danish; "be not afraid. If Danes meet in this
country I think it is the least they can do to speak to one another. I
know it right enough there is many a brave fellow in this country
suffering hardships such as they do not dream of at home. Come in, come
in!"

I did not know at first whether to feel angry or not over this speech,
but--she was so pretty, and she meant well, and she _was_ my
countrywoman after all, so I took her by the hand and thanked her for
her sympathy, admitting that I was rather down on my luck just then, but
that I had great hopes that things would soon take a turn for the
better. Then she offered me a cup of tea, and by and by we were chatting
away like old friends. It was now about ten o'clock, and I thought it
high time to take my leave, when we heard some one approach the kitchen
from the house. The girl seemed to get quite terrified. "Oh," she
whispered, "that is Mr. ---- himself. He has forbidden any of the men to
come to the kitchen; he is sure to be angry."

The gentleman came in, and while he was staring in a sort of haughty and
surprised way at me the girl was sitting bending over her sewing as if
she had committed a crime. I did not like the prospect of being turned
out very much, and I felt also sorry for having brought unpleasantness
upon her; but, after all, the want or possession of a little tact will
alter matters wonderfully even at such a moment as this, so, more for
the girl's sake than for my own, I saluted him in my politest manner and
begged his pardon for having come into the kitchen. I said I had been
travelling past, intending to walk to Mackay, but that the men on the
place had told me that a countrywoman of mine was here, and that I had
not been able to resist the temptation to call in the hope that it might
be some one I knew. I hoped he would excuse me.

"Oh yes," said he, "that is all right; I am sure Sophy will be glad to
see a friend of hers. Have you given your countryman some supper? Don't
let him go away hungry. Surely you are not going to walk to Mackay
to-night? There is a place over there where you might sleep: you will
show him, Sophy. Good-night."

What a relief we both seemed to find at the turn things had taken! Quite
a grand supper was now put before me, a white damask table-cloth was
spread, silver coffee-pot and cream-jug and all sorts of delicacies
appeared. When all was ready, we both sat down to the cheese, and when
at last I went to seek my bed we both candidly admitted to each other
that this had been a red-letter day and one never to be forgotten. I
slept and dreamed, and when I woke up again I could distinctly remember
what I had dreamed; and that dream I have never forgotten since. I
dreamed that I saw a snake which crept on the floor, and this snake
seemed to me of wonderful beauty, but I was not at all afraid of it--on
the contrary, I wanted to take it so that I might keep it; for that
purpose I bent towards it, but as I did so the snake seemed to rise on
end until it was nearly as tall as I, and while I stretched my arm out
to take it, it hissed, and when I touched it, then it bit me. I now
perceived it was no longer a snake, but that young woman who had
entertained me in the evening. I woke up at once, and grasped the whole
dream in my mind. Then I thought it must surely be a warning. I fancy I
see the sceptic smile who reads this. I should like my readers to
believe in the truth of my assertions; and to those who are disposed to
so believe me, I will say they may, for nothing is truer. I was lying
the remainder of the night thinking of my dream and congratulating
myself that there was no cause for me to feel uneasy, as I should be
going away in the morning, and probably should never see that girl
again. But when morning came the sun dispelled my fears, and I was soon
sitting chatting with Sophy while I had breakfast. I felt wonderfully
sorry that I should now have to go, never to see her again. It was,
however, ordained otherwise. By the time I had the swag on my shoulder
she had been into her mistress, and, without my knowing or asking
it--for indeed I only wanted to get to Mackay--had interceded for me,
asking that I should be offered work. Mr. ----, therefore, came out to
me and said he had been told that I was a carpenter, and that he had a
lot of carpenter's work he wanted done. He had no time to go into
details then, but he would be obliged to me if I would glue together for
him a case of chairs he had, and then he would speak to me again the
next day. How could I refuse? I got out the case of chairs and stood all
day gluing them together, outside the kitchen, but I could not help
thinking of my dream every now and again, and I realized that there was
great danger, and that if I engaged myself for one week it would be
impossible for me to either tear myself away or for any one else to
trust me. In the evening I sat by the fire in the kitchen, with my elbow
on my knee and my head in my hand and was in a bad humour, although the
girl was sitting chatting more sweetly than ever by my side. To talk
about a week before I tore myself away! was it not too late already? If
I had to stay here, thought I, until I could not tear myself away, then
I must be weak indeed. It must never be. I will go at once--this moment.
I got up and said I was going to Mackay as soon as I could get time to
roll my swag together.

She looked at me as if she thought I was mad. Then she asked me if she
had offended me, and insisted on telling Mr. ---- I was going, so that
he might pay me for my day's work; but I would not risk the effect of
any pressing invitation to stay, and groped my way in the darkness down
to the road and away. Never have I felt more poor and miserable and
lonely in my own eyes, as I went along, than I did that stormy, bitterly
cold night. As soon as the imaginary danger was over I pictured to
myself in rosy colours how things might have turned out if I had only
remained. And all this I had made impossible for the sake of a miserable
dream which most people would have forgotten before they were properly
awake. Oh, yes, I deserved surely as much bad luck as fate could heap
upon me! But now it was too late. "Too late!" I kept repeating, and then
I would make plans for going away to the end of the world, as soon as I
should have sufficient money to pay my way. I could not in the darkness
cross the Pioneer River, which runs twelve miles from town, and as I had
plenty of time I sat on the bank of the river all night, wishing an
alligator might take me, indulging in romantic sentiments; but the next
morning, as I was nearing Mackay, hope sat on her throne again as I
passed by the one beautiful plantation after the other and saw enough
work going forward on all sides to convince me that I should get plenty
to do for myself, and possibly some day, perhaps, myself own one of
these plantations.



CHAPTER XI.

A LOVE STORY.


I obtained work at one of the plantations for three pounds sterling per
week. For this money I was expected only to work eight hours a day and
five hours on Saturdays, that being the ordinary tradesman's hours of
work all over Australia. But as my employer was busy and I was tired of
remaining poor longer than I could help, I obtained leave to work two
hours overtime every day, for which I was paid at the rate of
eighteenpence an hour. When I arrived in Mackay I had gone into a
Chinaman's boarding-house, as being the most suitable place for my means
and condition, but although a similar place had suited me well enough in
the gold-diggings, the class of men who stayed here and the
accommodation I received did not now suit me at all. I seemed to shrink
into myself and gradually got into a morbid and unhealthy state of mind.
I was as good, at least I thought myself as good, as most of the clerks
or well-dressed young fellows I saw knocking about the town, doing very
little work; but that they were of a different opinion was evident from
the scathing contempt one or two of them managed once or twice to put
into their manner towards me the first week I was in town when I by
accident had addressed them. Do clothes make the man? thought I; was it
necessary for me to conform to their habits, and to imitate them, to
secure respect or even civility? I would not do it. What would be
gained? All was vanity. Another little incident which had not been
without its influence upon me, I mention to show that such unconsidered
trifles make the sum total of ordinary life, was this: the day I arrived
in town, but when I was yet about half a mile from it, I had met four
young ladies, who I suppose were out for a walk. They were evidently
dressed in their best clothes and looked both nice and pretty, and as
youth always recognizes a sort of relation in youth--or, if you prefer
it, young men always take an interest in young women, and _vice
versâ_--I was looking closely at them and they at me as we neared each
other on the road. They took no trouble in concealing their verdict of
me. I will not say they were so ill-bred as to make grimaces at me, but
they might just as soon have gathered their skirts about them and held
their noses. I saw that they considered me an undesirable party. I was
just then in rather high spirits, which could not be damped all in a
moment, so as I met and passed them I took my stick up and held it in
military fashion close to my shoulder as I marched by. I could hear them
giggling behind me, but I did not look round, and lovelorn as I
was--because you must remember my adventure of the day before--it had a
depressing effect upon me, which grew as time went. So, after staying
for a week in the Chinaman's boarding-house, with the first money I got
I bought a tent and pitched it right away in a lonely spot, and there I
lived by myself, like a regular hermit. I thought of Thorkill who was
dead and of his lonely grave, that dream for which I could not account,
and I thought, too, of my own home from which I had heard nothing now
for years, and I brooded over my own friendless condition. Then I
thought of the girl on the plantation I had left behind me, but it never
entered my head for a moment to go and visit her. Far from it. I would
travel to the end of the world to put it out of my power rather than do
that, or for two pins I would then have put an end to myself! It seems
to me as I write, that, this being simply true, it should not be without
a salutary warning to other young men not to allow themselves to drift
into the same state of temperament, because it is dangerous and may
spoil a life which otherwise might become useful; nor is there any merit
in such misanthropy, as the subsequent pages will show, and but one
little straw one way or the other will have its effect during the
remainder of one's life.

One thing which it is difficult to write about, as it seems to have no
logic or sense in it, but which, nevertheless, was of great importance
to me, was this: I worked like a tiger, not because I was fond of work
nor to get away from my morbid feelings, because I did not struggle
against them, nor because I was fond of money, as I had very little use
for any, as I thought, and as my wages were the same whether I worked
like an average man or did more, but I worked because in my morbid brain
I liked to fancy that the girl on the plantation was in great distress,
and that her life and liberty depended upon my doing certain work in a
certain time. When I got a piece of work to do I would think to myself
in this way: here is a week's work for any man, but unless I can do it
in four days, then--all sorts of misery will happen. Therefore I really
worked as if my life depended on it, and I would be perfectly intolerant
of any obstruction to my progress. My "boss" took in the situation very
soon, because he let me stand by myself and dared scarcely speak to me
for fear of putting me out.

This state of affairs had lasted about three months, and during that
time I can almost count on my fingers the words I had said; I do not
think I had spoken to any one one unnecessary word. It cost me only five
or six shillings a week to live. I had bought merely the most necessary
clothes, and all the rest of my money and cheques I had received were in
my possession, lying in a pickle-bottle in the tent.

One afternoon as I came from my work I saw in front of me in the street
the girl from the plantation. I ran after her. "Sophy, Sophy, is that
you?" Happy meeting! She had been in town for a month and was now a
dressmaker; but let it be enough to say that I went at once to the tent
and got out the money and bought the best clothes I could get in town,
that I went to stay at an hotel, and that, as time went on, I kept two
horses in a paddock, ordered a side-saddle, and for sixteen months after
used to boast to myself that no one among the tradesmen in Mackay had a
prettier sweetheart, was a better dancer, kept such good horses, or
earned so much money as myself!

I reckon this time as being among my most pleasant recollections. People
did not seem to me so egotistic or the world so black as it had appeared
while I lived in the tent; on the contrary, I was often invited among
very nice people to their parties and family gatherings, and I was a
constant attendant at both Oddfellows' and Caledonian balls, and, in
short, anything that was going on. I was intending some day in the near
future to marry and settle down, and for that reason had bought an
allotment for twenty-five pounds, and I meant to build a house on it. I
had only one fault to find with the lady who honoured me with her
approbation. It was this: she was fearfully jealous and excitable, and
would at such times be in a perfect rage if I had done anything which
she thought not becoming; but as I took it as a proof of the value in
which she held me, I rather liked it, and even sometimes went so far as
to excite her suspicion on purpose just to get up a "scene." This
happened again one day when I had been sixteen months in Mackay. The
occasion was that I had, as it was Sunday, been out for a ride with
another young lady--I had things so handy, the two horses, one with
side-saddle and all, and the temptation to a little extra flirtation was
always great--but when that evening, in a most dutiful mood, I went to
see my "only love," she, I remember, was very angry indeed with me. She
was sitting sewing in her room, and I was sitting also at the table in a
careless position, with my head on my hand and my elbow on the table,
smiling at her and enjoying matters very much, although, as I have
written above, she was very angry, and even crying. She rated me
terribly, too, for my wickedness, and I was defending myself mildly.
"Dear," I said, "I only took her out to-day as a mark of the respect in
which I hold her."

"I'll mark you!" she cried, and she struck me in the mouth with terrible
violence. The blow not only knocked me off the chair, but sent one of my
front teeth spinning round the room, and to this day I am marked by the
absence of that tooth. I got up; she stood gasping with excitement,
looking at me. I cannot give the reader any idea how handsome she was,
or how fond I was of her. Still, this would never do. I took the lamp
from the table and began looking for my tooth on the floor. I never
spoke, neither did she say anything. I can well remember. When I had
found the tooth I took my hat up and went away. This would never do,
thought I, I must be off somewhere by the next steamer, never to return;
because I knew very well that if I stayed in Mackay I should just go and
make love to her again. I therefore decided I would be off, never mind
where I went; and in that mood I arrived at my hotel. On the verandah
stood one of the boarders who was the captain of a labour schooner. For
the information of my readers who may not know what that means I will
state that the plantations round Mackay and elsewhere in Queensland
employ a great many South Sea Islanders, and that these men are brought
to Queensland under a certain system. It is this way: a number of
planters unite in sending a ship out among the South Sea Islands to
engage all the Kanakas the ship can hold, and who are willing to come.
The ship so engaged is under Government orders, and the Government sends
an agent with the ship, whose duty is to watch that no coercion is
employed in order to get "the boys" to engage, and that they understand
their agreements with the planter. These agreements are all uniform. The
Kanakas engage for three years' service, for which the planter gives
them their food and six pounds per year; he also defrays the cost of
bringing them to Queensland, and when their time is out he sends them at
his own cost back to the island whence they came. As I now came up on
the verandah the captain spoke to me and invited me in to have a drink
with him. He had been staying in the hotel for about a month and I knew
him very well, so we went into the bar and began to talk about his
affairs. He intended to start for the South Seas the following night, if
all went well; the only thing that upset him just then was that his cook
had deserted the ship and was not to be found. He did not care except
for this reason--that he could not afford to keep the ship waiting, and
on the other hand he did not know where to get another, as he could not
do without a good cook. "Faith, then," said I, "I am a good cook, as
cooks go in this part of the world, and, what is more to the purpose,
not only do I intend to leave Mackay to-morrow if I can, but I have a
great longing to see the South Sea Islands, and therefore I am your man,
if you like."

He could not see that at all for a long time, and thought I was having a
lark with him, but when at last I said there was a lady at the bottom of
it, he winked and thought he knew all about it. So at break of day the
next morning we went on board the schooner, and I started in the cook's
galley making breakfast for all hands. I peeled potatoes and flogged the
steak as if I had never done anything else in my life, because the
captain would not engage me before I had shown my capabilities; but
after my trial he was quite satisfied and engaged me for the trip at
eight pounds per month, and then I stipulated before signing articles
that I should have leave of absence until break of day next morning, as
it was necessary for me to put my affairs in order before I left Mackay.
After having given my word of honour to return, I went ashore again.
There was enough for me to see to. My "boss" did not owe me anything, as
I had received my last cheque on the previous Saturday; but there were
my tools to dispose of. These went for a trifle among the other men: one
took one piece, one another, and the "boss" gave me his cheque for the
lot. Then there were the horses and saddles; these also were got rid of
before dinner-time, and when evening came I had sold my allotment which
I had bought for twenty-five pounds, for one hundred and fifty pounds,
and had all the money lodged in the bank. I had not, therefore, done so
badly in Mackay the eighteen or nineteen months I had been there. Not
only, on an average, had I enjoyed myself pretty well, but the sum total
which I now had to my credit was as near two hundred and fifty pounds as
possible. After tea I had nothing to do but reflect on the wisdom or
otherwise of the step I had taken. I walked about the streets for a long
time, and as I knew very well that my sweetheart expected me as usual I
found myself circling round the house in which she lived. She did not,
of course, know that I was going away, and as she usually expected me
about seven o'clock of an evening, my feet seemed perforce to carry me
towards the house. I did not go in; at eight o'clock I saw her sitting
by the window, at nine o'clock she was there still, at ten o'clock I saw
her sitting by the window as I came past the place, at eleven o'clock
she was standing outside, and I was right up to her before I saw her.
The reader must not expect too much confidence from me; I cannot repeat
what she said, and will only say this--that I have never seen her since,
and that with a heavy heart I went on board the schooner next morning,
when we hoisted anchor and left for the South Sea Islands.

Dear reader, if I were to tell you all that happened to me on this
journey in the same detailed way as I have told you about my travels
through Queensland, it would take me too far away and also occupy too
much space, so I have thought it better to leave it all out and take up
the thread of my history at the point when I again arrived in Port
Mackay about nine months after. Should this effort of mine meet with the
approbation of the public, I shall be very glad to write another book
about my adventures in the South Seas, but at present I will content
myself by saying that although many things I saw upon this journey were
new and startling to me, yet on the whole we had a good journey, and
that I was paid off in Mackay when we came back, and at once took a
passage in a steamer for Brisbane.



CHAPTER XII.

BRISBANE--TRAVELS IN THE "NEVER NEVER" LAND.


I went on board the _Black Swan_ on taking leave of the captain and my
other friends on the schooner, and after an uneventful passage arrived
in Brisbane. Times had altered greatly in Queensland, for the worse I
thought, since I was there last. The rich people had grown richer, and
the poor poorer. It is sad at the present day to walk about the town and
look at all the semi-destitute people whom one sees on every side, and
then think of the "booms" which used to be a few years ago. My objects
in coming to Brisbane were many. I had now, as I thought, sufficient
capital to establish myself in a small way at my trade, and I intended
to look out for a suitable place near town where I might begin. I was
also on the look-out for a wife; but that was only in a general sense,
and when all is said, I believe that what I considered most important
was to enjoy myself. In any case, with over three hundred pounds in the
bank I felt pretty independent and considered myself entitled to spend
all I could earn so long as I could keep this nest-egg safe. The town
was busy, work was plentiful, but although I went about every night and
spent all I earned, yet I by no means liked Brisbane. I do not propose
to criticise the inhabitants thereof in a general way, but so far as it
concerns my narrative at this point I must say a few words. I was very
unsuccessful in finding any girl whom I thought might suit me for a
wife, and who, at the same time, herself approved of me for a husband.
The reason, as I understood it, was this: Brisbane was, and is, crammed
full of young women who are glad to stand in a shop from morning to
night for half-a-crown a week and find themselves. Whether such girls
can or cannot make a cup of tea I do not know, but my general impression
of them was that they would rather not, if they could avoid it. Then as
for servant-girls, it is a common delusion to believe that they are well
off in Brisbane; the fact is that the majority of people who keep a
servant both overwork her and use her as a coat-of-arms wherewith to set
themselves off, and one never by any chance reads a book either in
Australia or elsewhere in which a servant is spoken of as possessed of
even common sense. Of course, the better class of girls will revolt at
contemptuous treatment, and they are, therefore, scarce in Brisbane, and
have always been. In the bush of course it is different: there the
servant is not spoken of as the "slavey" and thought of as a fool, and
as a consequence they are neither the one nor the other. But a tradesman
in Brisbane has no opportunity whatever of meeting any young woman
outside these circles, because the greatest possible social distinction
exists between such people as, say a bank clerk, or even a grocer's
clerk, and a tradesman or a labourer; so is it between a music-teacher,
shop-girl, dressmaker, or a servant. I found it so, and that had a great
deal to do with my dislike to Brisbane; but, apart from that, I had been
so used to the free life of the bush, and more lately then to the
changing scenes among the South Sea Islands, that I could not endure for
long the everyday life of the shop and the boarding-house, and the
boarding-house and the shop. I therefore engaged myself as carpenter to
a squatter who had a large station on the Darling Downs, and right glad
was I when I shook the dust of Brisbane off my feet again. But before
leaving this city I should like to speak about the last piece of work I
did there, because it is in such striking contrast to the state of the
carpenter's trade at the present time. One Saturday morning when I came
to work, my employer asked me to put a few tools in my basket and go out
to his private house to perform certain work there. As I crossed Queen
Street a man came running after me and asked me if I wanted a job of
carpenter's work. I said "No." When I came a little further up, along
George Street, a publican came running out of his door, smiling all over
his face, saying I was the very man he wanted, as he could see by the
basket I carried that I was a carpenter. I told him I was not open to
engagement; but he would not take "no" for an answer. After a long
conversation in the street, in which he implored me to do just this
little job for him that he wanted, while I explained that I was on my
road to work for which I already was engaged. I was on the point of
cutting it short by going away, when he asked me in any case to come
into his hotel and have a glass of beer. When I came in he renewed the
attack in this way--he asked me just to oblige him by looking at the
work and telling him what it was worth. He then showed me a large
shutter which stood under a rough window opening in the yard, and told
me that all he wanted was for a man to fit this shutter to the opening
and put hinges on it; he had the hinges. Now, what was it worth? I saw
that he intended me to do it if he could get me, but I by no means
wanted to. I said it was worth thirty shillings at the least: "All
right," cried he, "do it, and I will give you thirty shillings."

I was caught now, so I gave in. I took my saw out and fitted the
shutter, screwed the hinges, and took my thirty shillings, all in less
than an hour. This is eleven or twelve years ago. I have not worked in
Brisbane since, but I know a friend of mine who two years ago put a
shilling advertisement in the papers for a carpenter to do a few days'
work, and in less than half an hour after the paper was out he had
thirty-two applicants! I was now working on one of the largest stations
on the Darling Downs. I had only come there in a roving sort of way,
under a six months' agreement which was made in Brisbane, and I had no
intention whatever of staying longer, but although the wages were less
than what I could earn in Brisbane, or in any other town, I thought I
should like to see a large sheep station, and I was told by the agent in
town that I should be sure to like it. The property itself covered I do
not know how many square miles, divided into paddocks, and in each or
most of these paddocks stood a house in which the boundary rider and his
family lived. The duty of this man is not fatiguing; he has to look out
that the fences are in good repair and report to the head station when
anything is out of order. Therefore his day's work is generally done
when after breakfast he has been jogging round the boundary fence. For
this work the wages are about thirty-five pounds sterling a year with
double rations, a free house, use of cow, &c. These boundary riders are
by no means the only employees on the station. There were general
labourers, carriers, blacksmiths, wheelwrights, storekeepers,
carpenters, and a host of people who came and went without my knowing
they did so, but the whole formed quite a little township at the head
station. Once a year, when the wool was clipped off the two hundred
thousand sheep there, it was an extra busy time. Then the shearers would
arrive, sixty in number, and with all their assistants they would make
nearly a hundred persons. Besides these there were the washers, who
washed the sheep by elaborate machinery. There would be so many people
that I do not know how the "boss" knew them all. Every one of them
earned good money, although in various degrees. The shearers earned
three shillings and sixpence for every score of sheep they could shear.
An average day's work is from fifty to a hundred sheep. Then the
wool-packers, who pressed the wool into bales, had also piecework, and
this was a favourite job reserved as a reward for old hands. They earned
at it a pound or more a day. This was of course for a short time only
out of the year, but when one station is done shearing another generally
begins, and the men can, therefore, keep on for at least six months at a
stretch with very little lost time. The tradesmen on the station seemed
all part and parcel of the station, old identities, who had made their
homes there years before and did not intend to shift. I heard it
whispered that the squatter meant to try and break through the monopoly
that some of the old hands had created, and that some new blood might be
infused, and I believe that I had been engaged to hang as the sword of
Damocles over the other carpenters' heads, but I refused the _rôle_. The
head carpenter was an old, worn-out man with a large family. He had been
there seventeen years. He had one hundred pounds a year and double
rations, with a free house, wood, water, and many little perquisites. I
daresay he had saved a little money, but any one may easily understand
that a man over fifty years of age, with a large family and a settled
home where he has been for seventeen years, does not like the prospect
of change and to have to make a new start in life. Such a billet as that
of tradesman on a station is much sought after, and in many respects is
incomparably better than the position occupied in town by a married man
who works for wages. But neither the one nor the other suited my
ambition. If I had been doomed to choose between the two, I think I
should, after all, have taken the lot of the man in town, for he is more
independent if he is poorer. It is all very well to work for a master
when one is young, but as one gets on for thirty years of age he likes
to be his own master. At least that was my opinion. There seemed to me
something so forbidding in the ringing of the large bell on the station.
It would ring at a quarter to six on a morning for all hands to get out
of bed and dress. Then it rang at six o'clock for starting work. It rang
for dinner, and it rang when we were to start again. It was all correct
enough; I have no fault to find with it, I cannot suggest anything
better, but all the same I did not like it.

My work on the station was otherwise both pleasant and independent
enough. A great deal of it consisted in making and hanging gates for the
various paddocks. These would be made at home in the shop and afterwards
carted out to their places. Then I would get a labourer with me and we
would drive off in a spring-cart from one gate to the other, and hang
them. It was a regular journey across the paddocks, and involved about a
fortnight's trip every time.

The man who earned the most money of all the employees on the station
was the shearers' cook. The shearers had a large house to themselves and
managed their own housekeeping, inasmuch as they engaged and paid their
own cook and bought and paid for anything they liked to eat, so that
they should not grumble over the provisions. But that object has never
yet been attained with shearers, either with the lot on this station or
any other set of shearers I have ever seen. They are the most frightful
grumblers, and who is so fit an object for their displeasure as their
servant--their own servant, the cook? One thing, they pay him well. The
wages of a shearers' cook is the shearing price of a score of sheep per
week, or three-and-sixpence a week for every shearer. You will therefore
see that in a large shearing shed like this, with sixty shearers, the
cook earned ten guineas per week besides his food. But for this money he
had to do more than an ordinary man can do, and take more insults than
an ordinary dog would tolerate. First of all, the shearers always insist
on having their table spread with good things, puddings and cake every
day. He had also to bake bread, chop wood, fetch water, keep the hut
clean, and in short everything else that was wanted. Nobody but the
very smartest men can do it. But his work is not everything. When the
bell rings for meal-time, I have seen shearers come out of the shed,
making for the hut, howling at the same time: "I wonder if that ---- of
a cook has got that ---- breakfast ready!" Everything has to stand ready
for them to "rush;" and even if it does, yet one seldom hears other
conversation than such as: "I say, cook, do you call them ---- peas
boiled? D---- you! If I had my way you should be kicked out!"

But as the majority only can dismiss their cook, he is not sent away
notwithstanding, and it is quite understood that it is part of his duty
to assume a respectful demeanour towards his employers. Yet, unless a
cook is a good fighting man, it is not a billet that I would recommend
any friend of mine to come all the way from Denmark to fill.

When I had been on the station for six months I took a trip in the train
to the surrounding towns of Dalby, Toowoomba, Warwick, and Stanthorpe,
with a view to seeing if there was an opening for permanent business in
my line. It did not seem to me that the prospect was good enough for
more than a bare living, because bad times seemed suddenly to have set
in, and competition for work and contracts requiring small capital was
very keen. I therefore went back to the station again and bought two
horses, intending to go out west. I had my three hundred pounds safe in
a Brisbane bank, and I did not mean now to work for any employer, but
to keep my eyes open as I came along and to take any opportunities for
contracts that might come in my way and for which I could obtain a
reasonable price.

I started from Roma, which is a town lying about 350 miles west of
Brisbane and 200 miles from the station on which I then was located. It
was fearfully dry weather when I started and there was not a blade of
grass anywhere for the horses. I made long stages of thirty to forty
miles a day, but how the horses endured it I do not know. When I camped
out at night I would have to tie the horses to a tree alongside of me,
as there was nothing for them in the bush to eat, and they would have
rambled away never to be found again if I had let them go. All the food
it was possible for me to provide for them was a little bread which I
bought at the inns on the road at intervals of seventy or eighty miles,
and in the mornings when I got up I would take a pillow-case I had and a
knife and walk about in places where the ground was inaccessible to
horses, such as the brinks of a gully or between large stones; there I
would manage to find some dry, withered stuff, wherewith I filled the
pillow-case and shared it between them. It was all I could do, and when
I arrived in Roma they were both very far gone for hunger, and there, in
town even, there was nothing for them either--the last bushel of corn
had been sold for two pounds sterling. I fed them on bread, but even
that seemed like a forbidden thing. People appeared to regard the
proceeding with evil eyes. Flour was scarce and getting more scarce.
There was no prospect of rain, and soon all would have to starve! In St.
George, which is another town 150 miles south of Roma, I was told a
perfect famine was raging. For fear of being misunderstood by people who
do not know much about Queensland, I would say that want of money had
nothing to do with this state of things, it was only the want of rain
which prevented teams from travelling and supplies from coming forward.

I left Roma again. There was nothing to do there, scarcely a prospect of
getting enough to eat. I rambled away with my two horses out west, and I
am now anxious, for obvious reasons, not to particularize too closely
where I went.

It had now become of more importance to me to save the lives of my
horses than to find anything to do for myself. I travelled for a month
or more at slow stages, and was now right away in the "Never Never"
country. Occasionally I would find a little for the horses to eat, but
very often it was scanty fare they had. I arrived at a station where
shearing was in full swing, and as both grass and water seemed more
plentiful there than I had seen it for hundreds of miles, I turned the
horses out for a month's spell, while I made myself comfortable in my
tent and occupied myself by reading such literature as I could borrow
from the shearers on the station.

Among the shearers was a man with whom I grew to be on very friendly
terms. He was a big, strong, good-looking young fellow, about thirty
years of age, and seemed to me at all times so polite and well-informed
that I was always seeking his company. What interested me most in him
was a peculiarly sad expression in his face, and I often wondered at the
cause of it. When the shearing was over all the shearers went in a body
to the nearest hotel, as is customary, to have a jollification. It
happened to be located the way I had come, so, though they did not
actually pass me, I saw them ride away, and thought it rather shabby of
my acquaintance not to come and say good-bye to me. I was mistaken,
however, as I shortly afterwards saw him coming up to the tent on a
really good horse and leading another.

"Well," said I, "are you off? I thought you had left with the others;
how is it you did not?"

"No," said he, "I know my weakness. If I had gone with them I should
probably have got on the spree and drunk all I possess. But I am now
already pretty well-to-do, because I have a cheque for over thirty
pounds and these two horses besides. All I want is just another shed,
and then I will make tracks for Ipswich where my people live."

"But," said I, "there is a public-house this way too."

"Ah, yes," cried he, and winked, "but they do not catch me this time. I
have worked for the publicans for seven years, but I will never enter
such a place again."

With that we parted, and two or three days after I got my horses up and
followed along the same road that he had taken. About noon I came to the
hotel. I did not intend to go in because the money I had with me was
getting scarce and I did not wish to draw on what I had in the bank. I
carried, too, all sorts of necessaries on my horses and wanted for
nothing. But when the publican saw me passing the door, he came running
out.

"Good-morning, young fellow; good-morning. By Jove, that is a splendid
horse you have there. Are you travelling far? Surely you don't mean to
take your horses along in this weather. Why it is too hot for a white
man, too hot entirely. Come in and have a bit of dinner; it is all
ready. I won't charge you; I never charged a b---- man for a feed yet. I
do not think it right, do you?"

Pressed in this way, I went inside; but my suspicions that was a
robbers' den in disguise were aroused, and if I had not felt sure of
myself I should probably have preferred to dash the spurs into the
horses and tear away; but although I thanked him for his hospitality and
agreed with him that it was very wrong to charge a man for food, yet I
made up my mind that he would have to be clever to outwit me. On the
verandah sat a forbidding-looking man on his swag, and I saw at once
that he was a poor swagsman who need have no fear of being robbed. In
the bar were three men standing drinking, but yet moderately sober. The
publican began to bustle about behind the bar. I kept one eye on him and
one on the horses. Scarcely five minutes had elapsed before a
blackfellow made his appearance outside, and began to lead my horses
away. I went outside and took them from him.

"Are you taking my horses away?" cried I; "don't do it again." I used a
little more persuasion, but it does not look well in print.

"Master said I take him Yarraman along-a-paddock," whined the
blackfellow.

Now the publican came out again.

"What is the matter?" cried he. "I told him to take and give the horses
a feed; they look as if they needed it."

"Not at all," said I; "they have had a month's spell, and I can scarcely
hold them."

"All right, you know best. Are you going to have a drink?"

"Yes," I said, "I don't mind."

"What is it going to be?"

"Rum," said I.

"Right you are. I almost thought you were a teetotaler."

I watched him closely, and saw he picked out a particular glass, and
before I let him fill it I took my handkerchief up and wiped it
carefully all around the inside. I looked at him and he at me while I
did it. I also noticed that he tapped the compound from the ordinary
cask, and I was therefore not afraid to swallow it, nor did it do me any
harm. The reason I was so careful to wipe the glass was that I knew it
to be a common trick of dishonest publicans, when they see a man coming
along the road whom they wish to catch, to take a dirty pipe and blow
some of the thick, foul-smelling stuff that it contains into an empty
glass, and then have it ready for the customer. A very little dose will
make the strongest man intoxicated for the whole day, and if it is not
nicely adjusted, but just a speck too much, it will knock a man down in
a dead swoon for many hours. I had been told this on the gold diggings
by more than one person at the time I kept shanty there myself, and I
knew that there were people who travelled about the country selling to
publicans the secrets of tricking and falsifying spirits. I, therefore,
knew pretty well where to look for danger, and where I might take the
risk; but now dinner was announced, and we all went into the
dining-room. On the floor of the room I saw a man who was lying there
smeared all over with blood and filth. Still I recognized him at once as
my friend the shearer. I went up and shook him until I got a little life
into him, and he sat up and recognized me. "Hullo," bawled he, "is that
you? Ain't I a fool? Publican, give me my horses, I want to go with this
young fellow. I am going away this afternoon. Don't go away without me."

"All right," said the publican; "I will see to get the black boy to
find your horses for you, but he says one has got out of the paddock."

Then we had dinner--that is, I had a good meal; but the drunken shearer
could not touch food, and presented a terrible picture of sickness and
misery. By this time I was not on good terms with the publican; but I
did not care. I only studied how I could get the other poor fellow away,
and I could not as yet see any way. As soon as we came from the table he
staggered into the bar and called for drinks for all hands. The publican
then called his wife, four or five children, a seamstress, the
servant-girl, myself, the man in the yard, the black boy, the bushman I
had seen, the traveller on the verandah, who had had no dinner, and
himself, and they all had their drinks! It was a shilling a glass. Then
the shearer asked him to be kind and let him have the balance of his
cheque, which, it appeared, he had given the publican to change for him
when he came; but that good Samaritan simply told him that he would not
do such a thing, as he was too drunk to take care of money. When he went
away he should have it. The shearer, who was getting more intoxicated
again after this last glass, hung over the counter, and, in a plaintive
sort of way, cried, "I am a ---- fool! Never mind, let's have another.
Here, fill 'em up again."

I could do no good, so I went away without paying for my dinner. I met
the shearer two years after, when he told me all about it. It appeared
that he had tried to pass the place in the same manner as I, and that
the publican had persuaded him to come in. He had not liked to take his
dinner for nothing, and had given the publican the cheque he had for
changing. He had been promised the money in half an hour, but was
shortly after intoxicated, and had never been able to get either the
horses or the money again. After having been in the state I saw him for
about three weeks, the publican presented him with a bill, from which it
appeared that he owed him for "refreshments" more than the amount of the
cheque added to the value of horses, saddles, and bridles. The publican
had, therefore, kept the horses, but had kindly given him a bottle of
grog to take with him on the road when he went away! This process is
called in bush parlance, "lambing down," and is going on every day, year
after year!

I had not gone far from the hotel before I saw a man coming after me. He
called me to stop, which I did, and when he came closer I perceived that
it was the man who had been sitting on his swag in the verandah at the
hotel. He said he had come after me because he had neither rations nor
money, and did not know how to get along the road unless I would be good
enough to let him travel with me. He wanted to go to ---- station, and
try to get some shearing to do. It happened that I intended to turn off
the road about half a mile further on, and that according to the place
to which he said he was going we should travel in almost opposite
directions, and I told him so. I said also that if he was pushed I would
help him with a few rations, but that I had not time to accommodate the
pace of the horses to his walk, as I had already been travelling for a
much longer time than I liked. Of course he said he would be glad of
anything, and so I got off the horse and had a fire lighted, by which we
made some tea, and he had his dinner out of my provisions. After the
meal he suddenly made up his mind that he might as well go the same road
as I, and try to get a job at a station which we should pass some forty
miles from where we then stood. I did not like this much, because he
seemed to me a man whose company I should not appreciate, but, as the
loneliness of the bush always appeared to me to engender a sort of
fellowship towards whoever is there, I did not find it easy nor did I
deem it right to say I would have nothing to do with him. On the
contrary, I said that we would push on together then for the day, and
that I would walk while he put his swag on my saddle-horse. In this way
we now went several miles, and my travelling companion had very little
to say. He seemed to know the road to perfection, and about four o'clock
in the afternoon he suggested that we should camp at a certain spot at
which we had arrived, but about a hundred yards off the road. I
objected. I said he was free himself to camp or not as he chose, but if
he wanted to travel with me he would have to walk a good deal further,
as I had by no means come as far yet as I considered a day's journey
required. After that we started again, but my new friend seemed
frightfully morose, and had not a word to say. As the horse he held was
a better leader than mine he gradually forged ahead of me, and try as I
would I could not keep up with him. I was just wishing myself well rid
of him when I saw him suddenly turn off the road, leading the horse
after him, and although I called again and again, he neither turned
round nor answered me until he came to a deep water-hole about a mile
off the road. Here he took the load off the horse, and hobbled it out. I
was not only angry, but I was also to a certain extent afraid. I had
already agreed with myself that I could not lie down to sleep alongside
of him; but what, of all things, did he mean by leading me to this
place? As soon as I came up I asked him what he meant, and how he dared
to take my horse off the road. I had taken the bridle belonging to the
saddle-horse to go and catch it again, for I intended now at all hazards
to get rid of him. At this juncture he came towards me.

"Here is grass, and here is water," cried he, "and out of this spot
shall neither I nor any ---- German or ---- Dutchman come to-night. Let
go that bridle!"

Then he grasped the bridle. You know the old proverb that "There is a
time when patience ceases to be a virtue," and in my opinion that time
had now arrived. I had not been so long in Queensland without learning
to defend myself, so I closed with him. What a fearful struggle we had!
As far as I was concerned, I felt as if it was a struggle for life, and
I fought accordingly. Now we were up, now down. Sometimes I was on the
top of him and sometimes I was under, but whatever happened I must not
give in, because I felt sure I should receive small mercy if I did. At
last I had him. My hands were round his throat, and my knees on his
chest, while I felt his hands slide powerless off me. It was not victory
yet. If I let him go he might renew the attack, so I pressed his throat
until he was nearly black in the face, and I sat on him as heavily as I
could, because I was angry, and when at last I let him go, it was not
before I thought I had taken all his fighting humour out of him. While I
loaded my horse again I called him all the names I thought it probable
would insult him most, in case he might have any honour and shame in
him, and at last I threw his swag at his head and cried, "There, you old
loafer!"

Then I got on the horse and rode away; nor did I stop that night before
I had put fully twenty miles between him and me.

I was now following down the ---- River, towards the town of ----, which
I was anxious to reach as soon as possible. The weather had so far
continued fearfully dry, and the heat was every day intense, but when I
was within ninety miles of the township it began to rain. It rained as
if it intended to make up for a two years' drought. The river I followed
was nothing but a dry sand-bed when the rain began, but in three or four
days it became a roaring torrent. I saw that we were in for a
first-class flood and became anxious, as the country on which I was
camped seemed to me very flat. Just as I had made up my mind that such
was the case I met a party of stockmen, or, more correctly, they came to
my tent. They had been out helping to shift some shepherds and their
sheep to rising ground, and they assured me that the place I was in
would be flooded. As they directed me to what they thought a safe spot,
I shifted my tent at once to that place. It was a low, narrow ridge
about a mile from the river. Here I prepared myself to weather it out.
Next morning when I got up, I saw the river much nearer than the evening
before. During the day it rose on all sides, and before evening again I
was a complete prisoner on about ten acres of land, while the water
roared and hissed on all sides of me as far as the eye could reach. This
state of affairs lasted about three weeks. Anything more appallingly
lonely than to sit there in the tent, and look out on the awe-inspiring
sight of the flood with its swiftly running, destructive water cannot be
conceived. As I had but little room for exercise in my prison I could
not sleep at night, and so I would sit and sing or play on the flute,
and think of all sorts of things. The waters did not go down at the
same time as the rain ceased, and I had it all to myself some beautiful
moonlight nights. I had heard the stockmen speak about an old shepherd
who, with his sheep, was camped on a sort of island, which was formed by
the river opposite the place I was in, and about a mile and a half
distant. He was, therefore, my nearest neighbour. I could hear him at
night sometimes felling trees for exercise, and occasionally he would
answer me when I cooeed. Little did it matter to him whether the flood
was on or not. At ordinary times he would probably never see any one for
weeks or months, as no one could have any business there excepting the
ration-carrier once a week, and the shepherd, as a rule, did not see
him, as he was away with his sheep when the carrier arrived in his hut.
I used to speculate as to who he was--an old man, with wife and family
dead, perhaps. What a sad existence! Or, worse still, an old bachelor,
crusty and tired. Surely he would have some one he longed to see, and
who longed for him! How many years, thought I, had he been there, or in
places like that? What did he do with his money when he got it once a
year? Would he go with it to the nearest hotel, and as he saw other men
wonder why they were not as glad to see him as he to see them? Would he
purchase their good-will with grog? What else could he do, or was he
likely to do? Anyhow, when it was all spent, and he would get angry when
people would have no more to do with him, would he be kicked out? Would
he then come back here for another year? What else could he do? I have,
among shepherds, seen many men who must have been what is called well
educated. They count in their ranks both lawyers and parsons, but
disappointed and embittered silence is generally the stamp of them all.
Sometimes the reverse is the case; then they will talk as if they could
never stop. I like solitude myself to a certain extent, but it must
surely be an unnatural life for any man to lead quite alone in the bush.

When at last the floods subsided I had the greatest trouble in making my
way, because there would be the most treacherous boggy holes where one
least expected them. I had also fared hard on very short rations, so as
to make what I had last until I could purchase more, and when I started
away from my camping-place I had only one more loaf of bread; all the
rest was gone. I was, therefore, very sorry to hear at the nearest
station that they would sell me nothing whatever, and when I came to the
next one again it was just as bad. I travelled for some days in this
way, and had had scarcely what would make half a meal for each day, when
at last I arrived at a place only twenty-four miles from town where I
should have to cross the river--if I could--so as to get on the main
road leading into the settlement. It was about ten o'clock in the
morning when I neared this place. It was only a small cattle station,
but I thought that whatever happened I must try to get some rations
here. I came along at a pretty brisk gallop, but when I was about twenty
chains from the houses which formed the place my horses shied violently
at a man who was lying in the middle of the road. I was, on the spur of
the moment, put out of temper, and began to rate the fellow for choosing
his camping-place there.

"Oh, let me lie!" he cried. "Accursed be the day I came to Queensland! I
have laid myself down to die here. Shall I not be allowed to lie? Leave
me alone. O God, O God!"

I looked closer at him. It seemed that he was in earnest, and the wonder
was that he was not dead already, as he was lying there in the terrible
sun without the least attempt to get into the shade. He was a short,
slightly built man and had a terribly emaciated, woe-begone face. It
took a long time and much persuasion before I could get him to tell me
what was the matter. Then he said he was dying from hunger. "Pshaw," I
said, "right here in front of the station! I am hungry too, but in half
an hour I shall be back to you with something to eat."

He laughed bitterly. "Have you got it with you?" said he. "No; but I
have money, and I will buy some up here." "You might save yourself the
trouble to ask for it," said he; "you will get nothing." "Why," cried I,
"I will tell them that a man is dying with hunger outside the door."
"They know it. The squatter hunted me yesterday when I told him that I
could not cross the river or get further without food. Oh, accursed
Queensland, and the day I saw it first! Let me lie; I only want to die."

I could not understand it, and I came to the conclusion that it must be
the man's own fault, and that the people on the station had no idea
about the despairing state he was in. I looked at the river. It was
swollen yet, and not fordable on foot, but I had no fear but that I
could get over with the horses, and I was, therefore, in a position to
promise him that he should be with me in town that same evening. On
hearing that he brightened up a little, but I was myself so hungry that
I thought I would go up to the station and get some food for both of us.
I therefore hobbled out the pack-horse after the swag was off him, and
rode up to the place, promising my despairing friend to be back to him
with all possible speed. When I came into the yard my horse made a dead
stop outside an old stable. I got off, and looking into the stable saw
another man lying on his face in one of the stalls. "Halloa," thought I,
"it appears that all the people here are off their legs!" and I sang out
to him, asking him whether he was dying of hunger too. "No; but I am
blind," said he. "Who is that?" I told him I was a traveller, and that I
just wanted to buy a few rations. "It is not you who were here
yesterday?" inquired he. "No," said I, "that poor fellow is lying out in
the road, and says he is dying for hunger. Surely it has not come to
that!" "I was awfully sorry for that man yesterday," cried he, "and
only that I cannot see at all, for I got the sand-blight a fortnight
ago, I should have given him something." Then, as with a sudden
inspiration, he said, "Are you his mate?" No, I was not his mate, I was
only sorry for him and very hungry myself. "Will you swear you will give
him the half of what I will give you?" Yes, I would swear. "All right!
Then look in that other stall there under the bags and you will find a
piece of bread, but remember he is to have the half." "Yes, yes," cried
I, while I looked under the bags and found about half a pound of stale
bread. "But are you really so very hard up here? Surely you must have
plenty of beef." "So we have," said he, "but I have been blind for two
weeks and cannot kill a beast if we run out, and the super himself is a
bad hand. We are nearly out of flour and everything else, and there is a
party of fencers cut off by the flood that we expect in now every day.
We must keep something for them; still, that super is a skunk, or he
would have given the man a piece of beef, but he won't give anything or
sell either, so there is an end to it. You might save yourself the
trouble of asking him. Are you gone?" "No," said I, "I am here yet. I am
only looking at an old grey-bearded man who is coming out of the house
and putting a saddle on a horse." "That is he." "Is he the only one at
the place besides yourself?" "Yes, unless you reckon the old woman in
the kitchen." "Could I not get round her after he is away?" "Not you;
you will get nothing out of either of them."

I then went up to the squatter and saluted him. Would he kindly sell a
few rations? "No, I will do nothing of the sort," cried he. "You do not
know how short we are here. I have got no rations." "But," said I, "you
surely do not know that there is a man lying out there on the road who
says that he is dying of hunger. Just sell me a piece of beef." "Dying
of hunger. Ha! ha! ha! that is too good. Why, he is a regular loafer. He
was here for rations a fortnight ago, and he was here yesterday. Let him
go into town. I cannot keep him."

"That is all very well," said I, "and I cannot pretend to say what the
man is. But how can you get to town, when you cannot cross the river? He
told me he has been lying about in all this rain and flood, and the
wonder to me is that he is not dead already." "Is that your horse?"
inquired he, pointing to where I left it standing. "Yes." "Well, then,
just take my advice and get into town yourself." "And won't you sell me
a piece of meat?" "No." "Not if a man were dying of hunger?" "Don't talk
to me about dying of hunger. It is too rich, it is indeed!
Good-morning." With that he rode away, and left me standing there
meditating upon what he had said and at free liberty to decide in my own
mind whether, after all, I had any right to expect people in a place
like that to provide the necessaries of life for travellers.

But one cannot argue with the stomach, and, ravenously hungry as I was,
my sympathy was with myself and with the man whom I left out on the
road, and I therefore thought I would make one more attack, this time on
the old woman in the kitchen, who, during my conversation with the
super, had twice come round the corner to empty slops, and who, I
suppose, as a mark of the respect in which she held me, had thrown them
so close to me that it had sprinkled me all over. She did not look very
hospitable, but I had at that time great faith in my power to charm the
fair sex, or, as Englishmen less gallantly call them, the weaker sex. I,
therefore, wreathed my face in smiles and put myself into the most
graceful position I could assume, while I knocked at the kitchen door.
No one answered my knock, so I went inside, still retaining my charming
appearance. On the other side of the kitchen stood a row of saucepans
with something cooking in them, which emitted an odour that did not go
far to prove the theory of want raging in the place. Here is my luck
again, thought I, I will get a good meal at last. The old lady now came
running in from one of the rooms--a most forbidding object to make love
to! "You can't get no rations here," cried she. "Clear out of the
kitchen!" Then she took up a piece of firewood and struck at me with it.
How could any one expect me to look happy under the circumstances? I
knew I was getting to look ugly. Then I pulled out my large knife and
rolled my eyes in my head. That seemed to please her. She now only
mildly protested, while I took the lid off one of the saucepans and
lifted out five or six pounds of meat, with which I made my escape. When
I came out with this to the traveller on the road his joy was a pleasure
to look at. He could not understand how I had got it. So weak was he
that he cried like a baby.

The tea, of which I had yet a supply, was made, and then the feast
began. I counselled him not to eat too much, but between the two of us
there was scarcely anything left when we were both satisfied. Then he
began to tell me his story, of which I can only give the general
outlines as I have forgotten the details; but a more terrible tale of
misery I had never heard, and any one who will fill in the picture for
himself might easily understand that he must have suffered almost enough
to justify him in lying down to die at last, when all hope seemed gone.

He said that travelling along he had been overtaken by the flood, and
had camped by himself in a similar place to the one where I had been a
prisoner, only with this difference--that he had had no tent. He had
managed to keep a log on fire all the time, and had hung his blanket
over a pole to form a fly, but of course he had been as wet all the time
as if he had been hauled out of the sea. By the time the water went down
he had eaten every scrap of provision he had, but had nevertheless
reached this station about a fortnight since. Here, as already stated,
they would neither sell nor give him anything. He could not cross the
river to get into town, so, in a terrible condition from hunger, he had
turned back in another direction, some twenty miles or more to where
there was another small station. The country was all flooded on his way,
and for five miles in one stretch he had waded through water to his
shoulders, only being able to know the direction in which he wanted to
go by following along a fence, the top of the posts of which were out of
water. I forget how long it took him to reach this place, but when he
did arrive there it was only to be told that he could get nothing. Being
apparently the sort of man who would bend his neck to any stroke of
misfortune, he had meekly turned away, he did not know himself whither,
when by good luck as the issue proved, he had fainted when close to the
house. A man had then come out and given him something to eat, besides a
little to take with him, and had told him that twenty-five miles in
another direction was a place where he could procure supplies. He had
gone thither, but as the people there had proved but one degree more
merciful than their neighbours, they had only kept him alive a couple of
days, and then started him back here to where I found him. All his money
was seven shillings. The squatter here, as already stated, would neither
sell nor give him anything, and as he saw he could not cross the river
for several days on foot, not being able to swim, he had laid himself
down to die when I arrived on the scene. While he told me all this, he
was gradually getting very sick. The sweat hung in large drops on his
pale face, and he threw himself about writhing in agony. I need scarcely
say, perhaps, that he had eaten with less moderation than he ought. I
bustled about him, trying or wishing to do him good, but I did not know
how. I was also very anxious for us both to be off, because I heard the
squatter fire a gun in the yard, and I concluded that he had come back
and that the old woman had told him what had happened perhaps, or most
likely drawn on her imagination at the same time. As the bishop said
when he saw a criminal on the road to the scaffold: "But for the grace
of God, there go I." The reader of this truthful narrative may decide
for himself who deserved hanging most--the squatter or I; but whatever
the opinion may be, I had undoubtedly committed robbery under arms, and,
in my opinion, the man who would see another die outside his door if he
had it in his power to save him, might also add such small particulars
to the tale as would make his case strong and interesting--especially as
there was a lady in the case. I had doubtless committed a crime which,
according both to the spirit and the letter of Queensland law as among
the greatest for which a criminal is punished. Just imagine how the case
might have appeared in court. There the old grey-bearded super, the
worthy pioneer, and the interesting, inoffensive old lady, who in a
fainting condition, would tell her horrible tales; here a fat, bouncing
Crown Prosecutor; and lastly the two loafers in the dock, whom nobody
knew or would have believed. As after events proved, the super was
either too much of a gentleman or too much of a coward, as he neither
came out and remonstrated with me nor prosecuted me afterwards.

Six weeks after this event happened I was an employer of over a dozen
men, and as time went on I was looked upon as a rising man in that town
toward which I was now going, and no one thought themselves too good to
know me. Among my acquaintances was this same super. He did not at all
recollect me from this adventure; but one day I reminded him, and told
him what I thought about him.

Begging the reader's pardon for this digression, I will return to where
we still sat in the road. While I, for the above-named reasons, perhaps
not clearly defined in my mind, was anxious to be off, and my travelling
companion was writhing with pain before me, an accident happened which I
at the time thought one of the greatest possible misfortunes. My best
horse--my saddle-horse--got drowned in the river. It came about in this
way: ever since the flood the air had been thick with countless millions
of sand-flies; it was so bad that one could scarcely exist unless when
sitting with the head over a fire enveloped in smoke. The horses
suffered fearfully from their attacks, and just then they both became as
it were quite maddened, and galloped straight for the river. I managed
to catch the one, but the other, as if it premeditated suicide, jumped
right in, and being hobbled could not well drown just then, but was
swept down the current and away. Next morning we had eaten all our
provisions and were as hungry as ever. The river, however, was falling
fast. I got on the one horse and tried the river in several places, but
nowhere was it so low that the horse could walk across. I could get
across myself on the horse, but it reared and bucked when the other man
tried to climb on it too; as he could not ride he began his lamentations
again, imploring me not to leave him behind. I had no idea of doing
that, but it cost me not a little trouble to think out what was best to
do. Unfortunately neither of us could swim, and as he was of very short
stature, the river would have to fall until he could walk over almost
dry-footed before he would dare to attempt it. I was a head taller than
he, and as the day went on I kept walking in the river and trying it
with a long pole to find the shallowest place. The current was very
strong, but the water was falling fast, and tired out by my companion's
lamentations and the whole misery of the situation, I told him that we
would a couple of hours before sundown try to cross the river or die. It
was a dangerous undertaking, because not only was the water still very
deep, and I had only a general idea of it being fordable, but the
current was so strong that I did not know whether I should be able to
keep on my feet when I came to the deepest part. First of all I wrote a
few words in pencil to the manager of the bank in which I had my money,
telling him what to do with my account in case I should not claim it.
After having put it into an envelope, because I always carried these
things, I gave it to my fellow-traveller, and without letting him know
what it contained, exacted from him a promise that he should post it in
case I got drowned. It was the least he could do certainly, because as a
reward I said he might have all the rest of my belongings, always
supposing, of course, that I should have no further use for them. Then I
helped him on to the horse, and told him just to sit still until he saw
me safe on the other side, and that the horse would come to me when I
called it as long as he did not pull it about. Having done all this, I
took off all my clothes and strapped them on to the pack-saddle, and
lifted the whole burden on to my head so as to give me extra weight. I
also got a pole about fifteen feet in length to stand against, and then
I faced the river. The river was not very broad--I should say about
three chains. From the side where I was it gradually sloped towards its
deepest part which was near the other side, and there was at least one
chain in width where I did not exactly know the depth more than that
the horse so far had had to swim across earlier in the day when I had
tried it. The river was still falling every hour, and I was determined
for both of us to get across then. I waded into the water, and it all
went well until I came to the middle. Somehow I thought I must have got
to shallower ground than where I had tried it before. The water rushed
round my sides, and every time I had to lift the pole and put it forward
it took me all my strength to do it. The last step forward had brought
me into still deeper water, and my strength seemed exhausted--perhaps it
would be more correct to say that to hold the pole in position and keep
myself on my feet demanded as much force as I ever had. I seemed to
stand dancing on the top of the big toe while I could feel with the
other foot that it was still deeper in front of me. I pressed on the
pole to keep me down, but I felt that I had neither strength nor pluck
enough to shift it either forwards or backwards, nor even to keep
standing where I was very long. Yet how tantalizing; in front of me,
just another step, and I might grasp the boughs of a large tree hanging
out over the water. And must I die there?

As in a panorama my whole life seemed to pass before me in review: At
home--my schoolmates, I saw them all--then Hamburg--the emigrant
ship--Thorkill--the gold-diggings--the South Seas--Brisbane--all along
this miserable journey and back where I stood. I turned my head and
looked behind me to where the Englishman sat on my horse. He laughed
loud an unpleasant ha! ha! ha! ha! It was his way to cheer me on, but it
jarred on my ear. My heart began to beat as if it would burst. Have you
travelled so far, I thought, and have you seen and suffered so many
things on purpose only to drown in this muggy stream? Never! I gathered
myself together for a supreme effort. I threw the pole from me, rushed
forward, rolled, lost the saddle, but grasped a bough, and the next
moment I climbed up the other side, when I fainted for the first and
only time in all my life. When I recovered the other man had come over
and stood alongside of me with my horse. We intended to travel all
night, so as to be in town as soon as possible, and my friend seemed
quite gay at the prospect before us. Where we stood, however, was only
on a sort of by-road, and I understood that the main road to ---- was a
couple of miles distant. I, therefore, suggested to my companion that he
should walk off as fast as he could, while I was pulling myself a little
together, and that I would overtake him on the horse before it got dark.
But--I had not got a stitch of clothes to put on! and I had to ask him
to let me have some of his. Then he began to talk while he pulled his
swag open. He had only two shirts and two pairs of breeches that he had
paid fourteen shillings for in Liverpool, but of course I should have
them. Were they worth ten shillings? Was the shirt worth five shillings?
I would not get the like under eight shillings. If I thought it was too
much, I might have the breeches he had on for five shillings.

I was completely amazed. Was this the man for whom I had risked my life,
and as nearly as possible lost it? For whom--call it what you like--I
had begged and taken by force at the station what I thought necessary to
save his life? For whom I had lost my horse which had carried me so many
hundred miles, and the saddle and all my clothes? Here I sat as naked as
the day I was born, all to save his life, and my reward was to see him
in front of me; but he had not perception enough to know that he owed me
anything. The money I had--three or four pounds--I had on purpose taken
out of the swag before I crossed the river, and given to him so that it
might not be unnecessarily lost. I had, therefore, that, but I wondered
whether he would give me any clothes without money if I had none, or
whether, if so, I would have to force them from him. I asked him, and
said, "What if I have no money?" "Oh, but you have," said he; "I saw in
your purse you have plenty of money." Then I bought the clothes and paid
him what he asked for his breeches, for which he had given fourteen
shillings in Liverpool. I bought his shirt also for five shillings, and
a dirty, nasty towel he had was thrown in as a present for me to wind
round my head instead of a hat.

Then he went away quite happy, asking me not to be long behind, as he
was to ride half-way on my horse, and I dressed myself in my new
clothes. I did look a terrible picture. The breeches were six inches too
short, the shirt would not button round my throat, I had neither socks
nor boots--and then the towel as a turban round the head! The horse
fairly snorted at me with terror. I sat where I was till it was nearly
dark. I had no wish to see the other fellow any more. But I made a vow,
never, if it was possible to avoid it, would I travel like this again.
But I was in dejected spirits--not, I believe, so much for what money
value I had lost, or for any fear that I could not put a stop to this
sort of travelling about almost whenever I liked, but for the conduct of
that man. As I rode along I kept saying to myself, "It shall be a
valuable lesson." Still, I fear that that sort of lessons are generally
more sad than valuable.

It was now all but dark, and when I had ridden so far as to make me
wonder that there was no sign of the main road yet, I got off the horse
and began to look closely at the track along which I had come. I then
found that it was only a cattle track, and that the horse must have left
the right road without my noticing it. Then I began to run the tracks of
the horse back again. But the tracks were confusing, crossing and
recrossing each other so much that I lost my cue, and by the time it was
quite dark I stood in dense brigalow scrub and had to acknowledge myself
lost. I tied the horse to a tree and sat down alongside. It was no use
to walk about further before daylight. I had a general idea where the
town was lying, but I knew there were no houses or people living between
where I was and there. I was also afraid that if I did not strike the
road I might pass the town within half a mile and not know it. As for
making back for the river and station, that would be out of the
question, because it would have made me no better off. But on the whole
I was not afraid that I should be unable to find my way somewhere, the
question was really--how long could I keep up without food? The idea
occurred to me that I could at all events eat the horse as a last
extremity, but I drove the thought away as soon as it came. To be there,
and look up at the horse--my only friend--and to think that I intended
to kill it, seemed to me both criminal and impossible. I sat the whole
night smoking my pipe and waiting for the sun to rise so that I might
take the bearings of the country, and make up my mind in which direction
I would look for the road and town.

At sunrise I started, leading the horse after me, because it was no use
now to follow the cattle tracks, and where I had to go was through the
brigalow, where I had quite work enough to do in twining in and out
among the trees and the brambles. As the day wore on I came into country
a little more open, but yet I could not ride among the trees. The sun
shone with terrible force, and the sand-flies followed us in clouds.
There was a ringing sound in my ears. I kept arranging and rearranging
the towel on my head; still, I feared that I had sunstroke, or that
something serious was the matter with me. The air seemed full of
phantoms--vicious-looking creatures. Then I saw a whole army of ladies
and gentlemen riding past, jeering me and lolling out their tongues at
me. I knew it was delusions, and I kept walking as fast and, as it
proved, as straight as possible, but still I felt myself laughing,
crying, and yelling at all these phantoms or at the unoffending horse.

"Shoeskin," cried I to the horse, "you old dog, do you know that it was
to save you from hunger's dread that I went on this journey? And now you
have enough to eat, while I must die of hunger! but to-night I will kill
you--do you know that? Oh, Peter, Peter! is it not strange, so vicious
as you have got to be? Holloa, is that a frying-pan over there on that
log? So it is; and full of fried eggs and potatoes. Good luck. Look at
him eating it all. Stop, you rascal! No, it is a woman. Do you call
yourself a lady? You are no woman at all; only a devil. It is all
devilry. Peter, take no notice." About noon I had a bath in a water-hole
I came to, and ate some snails I found in the water. After that I felt
somewhat better, and shortly after I came on to the road. I became quite
collected in my mind at once, and jumping on to the horse tore away at
full gallop for the town, which proved to be only five or six miles
distant. As I came riding up the street at a sharp trot I knew myself to
be quite sane, but I had a suspicion that I looked very much the other
way with the towel round my head and the short tartan plaid breeches.



CHAPTER XIII.

THE END.


With this John Gilpin's ride the present part of my adventures, which
are contained in the manuscript I wrote to my father, comes to an end.
So does practically what I care to publish. I have seen many ups and
downs since then, but from this point in my narrative I could no longer
lay claim to be a "missing friend." I am not a novel writer, and I could
not continue the history of my life and still preserve my _incognito_
unless I wrote fiction. As my object in publishing these papers is to
give a faithful picture of Australian life, I should feel very doubtful
of attaining the desired end. To the reader who has kindly followed me
so far, I would say that he may believe that Australia is full of young
men who, like myself at that time, travel about from place to place, and
that similar scenes to those I have described happen every day in all
parts of Queensland. If I have been able to rouse the reader's interest
and sympathy with myself in these pages, I shall feel proud, and think
that after all I did not travel and suffer so many hardships in vain.



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Transcriber's note:

    page 3: "Hamburgh" changed to "Hamburg" for consistency.

    page 24: "sactimonious" changed to "sanctimonious" (to hear him in
    a sanctimonious voice).

    page 30: "workohuse" changed to "workhouse" (straight out ot the
    workhouse).

    page 39: missing closing bracket ")" added (... engaged as a
    matron.))

    page 61: removed duplicate "not" (They did not laugh at nothing).

    page 85: word "I" added which appears to have been misprinted
    (next forenoon ... I was outside).

    page 143: "Kankas" changed to "Kanakas" (expected a hundred
    Kanakas shortly).

    page 216: "dassengers" changed to "passengers" (volunteers,
    although passengers).

    page 221: "draging" changed to "dragging" (horse in dragging
    oneself).

    page 306: "monoply" changed to "monopoly" (break through the
    monopoly).

    page 330: "ou" changed to "out" (A man had then come out).

    page 348: "Pal." changed to "Pall" (Pall Mall Gazette).





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software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



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