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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesChinkie's Flat - Chapter 10. The "Champion" Issues A "Special"
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Chinkie's Flat - Chapter 10. The 'Champion' Issues A 'Special' Post by :gravesl22 Category :Long Stories Author :Louis Becke Date :May 2012 Read :2925

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Chinkie's Flat - Chapter 10. The "Champion" Issues A "Special"

CHAPTER X. THE "CHAMPION" ISSUES A "SPECIAL"

Ten minutes later Mallard was at the hall door giving instructions to the reporter.

"Hurry back as fast as you can, Winthrop, and tell Mr. Flynn to rash the special through. And as fast as any farther news come in rap out another. Get all the boys you can, and distribute the specials everywhere--anywhere. Chuck some over into the cemetery--they'll make the dead 'get up and holler.' Tell the boys that they are not to make any charge--get the foreman to head it 'Special! Gratis! (Any one newsboy who makes a charge for this special will be immediately dismissed.)' See? And tell the boys they will get five shillings each extra in the morning. I'll be down in another twenty minates or so. Go on, Winthrop, loop!"

Mr. Winthrop, who was as excited as Mallard himself, "looped," and the editor returned to the dining-room with a galley-proof slip in his hand. Every one, of coarse, saw by his face that something had occurred.

"I won't sit down again, Mrs. Trappeme, if you and the other ladies will excuse me, for I have to hurry back to the office to attend to some important business. There is great news." Then, bending down, he placed his hand on Grainger's shoulder, and whispered, "You must come with me, old man. There is glorious news from Chinkie's. I'll tell you all about it in a minute, as soon as we are outside. Make your apologies and let us go," and then going over to Mrs. Trappeme, he handed her the proof to read to her guests and hurried out with Grainger, leaving every one in the room eager to learn what had occurred.

"Oh, dear me!" began Mrs. Lee-Trappeme, adjusting her pince-nez, which always interfered with her sight.

"SPECIAL. 'TOWNSVILLE CHAMPION.'

"WRECK.

"9 P.M., May 2nd. "Authentic news has just reached the
_Champion office that the mail steamer _Flintshire was
wrecked on the Great Barrier Beef three days ago (the 5th).
All the crew and passengers--200 in number-were saved, and
are now on their way to Townsville. (Further particulars
later.)"


"DREADFUL MASSACRE BY THE NOTORIOUS BLACK OUTLAWS.

"The Clonourry mail, which has been delayed by floods,
brings news of a terrible massacre perpetrated by the ootlaw
black ex-troopers Sandy and Daylight. A party of five miners
who were camped at a lagoon near Dry Creek were surprised
and murdered in their sleep by the two outlaws and a number
of myall blacks. The bodies were found by the mail man.
Inspector Lamington and a patrol of Native Polioe leave to-
morrow to punish the murderers. Detailed particulars of the
affair will be given in to-morrow's issue--Mudoch, the mail
man, being too exhausted to stand the test of a long
interview to-night."


"WONDERFUL GOLD DISCOVERY NEAR CHINKIN'S FLAT.

"A NEW EL DORADO. "MR. GRAINGER
AND HIS PARTNERS THE LUCKY MEN.

"By the Clonourry mail, which brought intelligence of the
tragedy at Dry Creek, also comes most pleasurably exciting
news. The 'Ever Victorious Grainger,' as his many friends
often designate him, some months ago sent out a prospecting
party to try the country near the headwaters of Banshee
Greek, with the result that probably the richest alluvial
field in Australia has been discovered. Over 2,000 os. of
gold--principally in nuggets ranging from 100 oz. to 2 oz.--
have already been taken by Mr. Grainger's party. Warden
Charteris, accompanied by an escort of white and black
polioe, leaves for the place to-morrow night. The news of
this wonderfully rich field has been two weeks reaching
Townsville owing to the flooded condition of the country
between Banshee Creek and Chinkie's Flat.

"Mr. Grainger is at present in this city on a short visit.
His good fortune will benefit the country at large as well
as himself and his energetic partners."


"Dear me, how very exciting to be getting gold so easily!" said Mrs. Trappeme, as she laid the proof on the table; "your brother will be delighted, Miss Grainger."

"He will be pleased, of course," absented Myra. "He always had a belief that a rich alluvial gold-field would be discovered in the Banshee Creek country. He sent this particular prospecting party away nearly two months ago."

"What a hawwid story about the murdered diggahs!" said Mr. Assheton to Myra. "Did it occur neah where you were living, Miss Graingah?"

"About a hundred miles further westward, towards the Minerva Downs district. These two men, Sandy and Daylight, have committed quite a number of murders during the past two years. They killed five or six poor Chinese diggers on the Cloncurry Road last year. They are both well armed, and it is almost impossible to capture them, as they retreat to the ranges whenever pursued."

"They are a most ferocious and desperate pair," said Mr. Wooler, who then told their story, which was this:--

Some two or three years previously Sandy and Daylight, who belonged to one of the Native Police camps in the Gulf district,{*} had, while out on patrol, urged one of their comrades to join with them in murdering their white officer and then absconding. The other man refused, and, later on in the day, secretly told the officer that he was in great danger of being shot if he rode on ahead of the patrol as usual. As soon as the party returned to camp the two traitors were quietly disarmed, handcuffed, and then chained to a log till the morning. During the night they managed to free themselves (aided, no doubt, by the trooper who was detailed to guard them), killed the man who had refused to join them by cleaving his skull open with a blow from a tomahawk, and then decamped to the ranges with their rifles and ammunition. They found a refuge and safe retreat with the savage myalls (wild blacks) inhabiting the granite ranges, and then began a career of robbery and murder. Small parties of prospectors found it almost impossible to pursue their vocation in the "myall country," for the dreaded ex-troopers and their treacherous and cannibal allies were ever, on the watch to cut them off. In the course of a few months, by surprising and killing two unfortunate Chinese packers, the desperadoes became possessed of their repeating rifles and a lot of ammunition, and the old single-shot police carbines were discarded for the more effective weapons. Sandy, who was the leader, was a noted shot, and he and his companion now began to haunt the vicinity of isolated mining camps situated in country of the roughest description. Parties of two or three men who had perhaps located themselves in some almost inaccessible spot would go on working for a few weeks in apparent security, leaving one of their number to guard the camp and horses, and on returning from their toil would find their comrade dead or severely wounded, the camp rifled of everything it contained, and the horses speared; and the hardy and adventurous pioneers would have to retreat to one of the main mining camps, situated perhaps fifty miles away, with nothing left to them but the hard-won gold they had saved and their mining tools, but ready and eager to venture forth again.

* Gulf of Carpentaria.

One day, so the clergyman related, a man named Potter was travelling from Burketown to Port Denison, and camped beside a small water-hole to rest until the morning. After unsaddling and hobbling out the horse he had been riding, and unloading the pack-horse, he threw his packbags at the foot of a Leichhardt tree, lit a fire, and began to boil a billy of tea. He knew that he was in dangerous country, and that it was unwise of him to light a fire, but being of a reckless disposition, and having a firm belief in his luck, he took no further precaution beyond opening the flap of his revolver pouch.

He had just taken out a piece of damper and some salt meat, which, with the hot tea, were to be his supper, when he was startled to hear some one address him by name, and looking up, he saw a powerfully-built black fellow with a long black beard and smiling face standing a dozen yards or so away. He was all but nude, but round his waist was buokled a broad leather police belt with two ammunition pouches; in his right hand he carried a repeating rifle.

"Don't you know me, Mr. Potter?" he said in excellent English.

Potter recognised him at once, and the two shook hands.

"Why, you're Sandy! Have you left the police?" (He knew nothing of what had occurred.)

"Yes," was the reply, "I skipped," and carelessly putting his rifle down, he asked Potter if he had any tobacco to spare.

"Yes, I can give you a few plugs," and going to his saddle bags he produced four square plugs of tobacco, which he handed to his visitor, who took them eagerly, at once produced a silver-mounted pipe (probably taken from some murdered digger) filled it, and began to smoke and talk.

"My word, Mr. Potter," he said with easy familiarity, "it is a good thing for you that I knew you," and he showed his white, even teeth in a smile. "But I haven't forgot that when I got speared on the Albert River five years ago you drove me into Burketown in your buggy to get a doctor for me." (He had formerly been one of Potter's stockmen, and had been badly wounded in an encounter with wild blacks.)

Potter made some apparently careless reply. He knew that Sandy, though an excellent stockman, had always had a bad record, and indeed he had been compelled to dismiss him on account of his dangerous temper. He heard later on that the man had joined the Black Police, and a deserter from the Black Police is in nine cases out of ten an unmitigated villain.

Then Sandy became communicative, and frankly told his involuntary host part--but part only--of his story, and wound up by saying--

"You must not sleep here to-night. There is a big mob of myalls camped in the river-bed three miles away from here. If they see you, they'll kill you for certain between now and to-morrow night, when you are going through some of the gorges. You must saddle up again, and I'll take you along another track and leave you safe."

Tired as the horses were, Potter took Sandy's advice, and the two started at sunset, the blackfellow leading. They travelled for some hours, and then again camped--this time without a fire. Sandy remained till daylight, and during a further conversation boasted that he had enough gold in nuggets to allow him to have "a fine time in Sydney or Melbourne," where he meant to make his way some day "when things got a bit quiet and people thought he was dead." In proof of his assertion about the gold he gave Potter a two ounce nugget he picked out from several others which were carried in one of his ammunition pouches. Before they parted Potter gave him--at his particular request--one of the two blankets he carried, and then Sandy and he shook hands, and the blackfellow, rifle in hand, disappeared, and left his former master to continue his journey.

"What a hawwid chawacter!" said Mr. Assheton, when the clergyman had concluded his story. "Why don't the police exert themselves and catch or shoot the fellow?"

"It is such very difficult country," explained Myra, "and, in fact, has not yet all been explored."

The ladies rose, and Myra and Sheila, pleading fatigue, went to their rooms--or rather to Myra's--leaving Mrs. and Miss Trappeme and Mrs. Wooler to, as Sheila said, "Tear me to pieces. But I could not let that woman insult me without retaliating."

"Of course you did right. She's an odious creature."

Grainger returned alone about eleven o'clock. He tapped at Myra's door, and asked her if she was asleep.

"No. Miss Carolan is here; we've been having a lovely talk."

"Well, go to bed, and have a lovely sleep. I want to see you both, especially Miss Carolan, very early in the morning. We can all go out on the beach before breakfast."

"Very well, Ted. Has Mr. Mallard come in?"

"No. He will not be here for another half-hour or more. Good-night."

Mrs. Trappeme had heard his voice, and quietly opened the door of her own sitting-room, where she and Juliette (Mrs. Wooler had gone) had been discussing Sheila's delinquencies.

"Well!" gasped the mother to her daughter, as she softly closed the door again. "What on earth _is going on, I should like to know! Did you hear that--'I want to see you both very early, especially Miss Garolan'? What _is there going on? I must go and see Mrs. Wooler in the morning and tell her. And on the beach too! Why can't they be more open?"

Master Mordaunt, who was in the corner devouring some jelly and pastry given to him by his fond mother, looked up and said, with distended cheeks--

"Ain't the beach open enough?"

"Hold your tongue, you horrid little animal," said the irate Juliette.

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