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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesChinkie's Flat - Chapter 14. "Miss Caroline" Is "All Right" (Vide Dick Scott)
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Chinkie's Flat - Chapter 14. 'Miss Caroline' Is 'All Right' (Vide Dick Scott) Post by :gravesl22 Category :Long Stories Author :Louis Becke Date :May 2012 Read :1998

Click below to download : Chinkie's Flat - Chapter 14. "Miss Caroline" Is "All Right" (Vide Dick Scott) (Format : PDF)

Chinkie's Flat - Chapter 14. "Miss Caroline" Is "All Right" (Vide Dick Scott)

CHAPTER XIV. "MISS CAROLINE" IS "ALL RIGHT" (VIDE DICK SCOTT)

The tracks of the abductors of Sheila were easily discernible to the practised eyes of Jacky--than whom a better tracker was not to be found in North Queensland. They led in an almost direct line towards the grim mountain range for about seventeen miles, and then were lost at a rapidly-flowing, rocky-bottomed stream--a tributary of that on which Grainger's camp had been made.

Never for one instant did Grainger think of questioning the judgment of his tried and trusted blackboy, when, as they came to the stream, he jumped off his horse and motioned to his master to do the same.

"Them fellow myall have gone into water, boss, and walk along up," he said placidly, as he took out his pipe, filled and lit it. Then he added that they had better take the saddles off the horses, short-hobble them, and let them feed.

"You don't think, Jacky, that they" (he meant the blacks) "might get on too far ahead of us?" he asked, as he dismounted.

"No, boss, they are camped now, 'bout a mile or two mile farther up creek. We can't take horses there--country too rough, and myall blackfellow can smell horse long way off--all same horse or bullock can smell myall blackfellow long way off."

Grainger knew that this was perfectly true--cattle and horses can always scent wild blacks at a great distance, and at once show their alarm. And that the country was too rough for Jacky and him to go any further with the horses was quite evident. However, he knew that as soon as his companion had taken a few pulls at his pipe he would learn from him what his plans were.

The weapon that the black boy usually carried was a Snider carbine, but he had left that at the camp, and taken the spare Winchester--the one Sheila had dropped in the tent: and he was now carefully throwing back the lever, and ejecting the cartridges, and seeing that it was in good order ere he re-loaded it.

"Your rifle all right, boss?" he asked.

"All right, Jacky; and my revolver too."

Jacky grunted--somewhat contemptuously--at the mention of the revolver. "You won't get chance with rewolber, boss. Rifle best for you an' me this time, I think it. Rewolber right enough when you ride after myall in flat country."

"Very well, Jacky," said Grainger, "I'll leave the revolver behind. What are we going to do?"

"First, short-hobble horses, and let 'em feed--plenty grass 'bout here. Then you follow me. I think it that them fellow myall camp" (rest) "'bout two mile up creek."

"How many are there, Jacky?"

"'Bout twenty, boss--perhaps thirty. And I think it that some feller runaway policeman with them--Sandy or Daylight, I beleeb."

"What makes you think that?" said Grainger, instantly remembering that Lamington had said that he meant to try and head off Sandy and his myalls down into the spinifex country.

"Come here, boss."

Grainger followed him to the margin of the creek, which although at dawn had been running half bank high, owing to the tremendous downpour of rain, was now at its normal level.

"Look at that, boss."

He pointed to a triangular indentation, which, with footmarks, was imprinted in the soft yellow sand at the foot of a small boulder; and taking the butt of his Winchester rifle, fitted it into the impression.

"Some feller with Winchester rifle been sit down here, boss, and light his pipe. See, he been scrape out pipe," and he indicated some partially consumed shreds of tobacco and some ashes which were lying on the sand.

"Ah, I see, Jacky," and a cold chill of horror went through him as he thought of Sheila being in the power of such a fiend as Sandy. The myalls would in all likelihood want to kill and eat her, but Sandy or Daylight would probably wish to keep her a captive. And that Jacky was correct in his surmise there could be but little doubt--both the outlawed ex-policemen had Winchesters, taken from the Chinese packers whom they had murdered.

"Go on, Jacky, my boy, for God's sake!" he said hoarsely, placing his hand on the blackboy's shoulder. "Missie may be killed if we do not hurry."

"No fear, boss!" replied Jacky with cheerful confidence, as he proceeded to strip. "You 'member what I told you 'bout that white woman myall blacks take away with them long time ago when ship was break up near Cape Melville, and they find her lying on beach? They didn't kill her--these myall nigger like White Mary {*} too much. I don't think these fellow will kill Missie. I think it Daylight or Sandy will want her for _lubra_. {**} Take off boots, boss."

Grainger pulled off his knee boots, and threw them up on the bank, and then he and Jacky short-hobbled the horses, and let them feed. The blackboy had stripped himself of every article of clothing, except the remnants of his shirt, which he had tied round his loins; over it was strapped his leather belt with its cartridge pouch.

"Come on, boss," and then instead of crossing the creek as Grainger had imagined he would, he led the way along the same side, explaining that the myalls, expecting--but not fearing--pursuit, would do all that they could to make the pursuers believe that they had walked up through the creek for a certain distance, and then crossed over to the opposite side. The gins{***} and picaninnies, he said, were not with the party that had seized Sheila, neither were there any dogs with them.

* "White Mary"--A white woman.

** Wife.

*** Gins. Synonymous with _lubra_--i.e., a wife.

"And you will see, boss," he said, as, after they had come a mile and a half, he pointed to a sandbank on the side of the creek, deeply imprinted with footmarks, "we will find them eating fish in their camp. Look there."

Grainger saw that on the sandbank were a number of dead fish which had been swept down the creek from pools higher up. That many more had been left stranded, and then taken away, was very evident by the disturbed state of the sand and the numerous footmarks.

Suddenly a harsh sound of many voices fell upon their ears, and Jacky came to a dead stop.

Motioning to Grainger to lie down and await his return, he slipped quietly away, his lithe, black body gliding like a snake through the dense jungle which clothed the banks of the creek.

A quarter of an hour later he came back, his black eyes rolling with subdued excitement.

"Come on, boss; it is all right. They are camped in an old _boora {*} ground, and Sandy and Daylight are going to fight for Missie. I saw Missie."


* A place which the Australian aborigines use for
their corroborees and certein religious rites.


"Where was she?" said Grainger, whose heart was thumping fiercely as, rifle in hand, he sprang to his feet.

"In the middle of the _boora ground. She sit up, but all the same as if she sleep---eyes shut."

"Oh, God, to think that I left her!--to look after horses," Grainger said bitterly to himself as he followed Jacky, who little knew how dear Sheila was to the heart of his "boss."

Swiftly but cautiously Jacky led the way through the scrub until they came to the margin of the _boora ground, and then Grainger saw twenty or thirty blacks seated on the ground in a circle, spears and waddies in hand. In the centre was Sheila, crouched on her knees, with her hands covering her eyes. On each side of her was a Winchester rifle, and a belt with an ammunition pouch--her dowry. And standing near by her, attended by their nude seconds, were Daylight and Sandy, who were also armed with spears and waddies. They were both stripped and painted, and ready to slaughter each other.

"Boss," whispered Jacky, "which feller you want to take?"

"I'll take the big man with the beard," said Grainger, as he drew up his Winchester.

"All right, boss! I take the other man--that's Daylight. But don't shoot until they walk across _boora ground, and turn and face each other. Shoot him through _bingie_,{*} boss--don't try for head, you might miss him."

* Stomach.

"All right, Jacky," and Grainger lay flat on the ground and brought his rifle to his shoulder, "but don't miss your man."

"No fear of that, boss. I'm going to give it to Daylight between the eyes. But let me drop him first."

"Right."

Daylight and Sandy were taken by their seconds to opposite sides of the ring, and then, drawing their heads back and poising their spears, they awaited each other's attack.

Then Jacky's Winchester cracked, and Daylight span round and fell dead, and Sandy's spear flew high in air as a bullet took him fair in the chest. And then the savage instinct to slay came upon and overwhelmed Grainger, as well as his black boy, and shot after shot rang out and laid low half a dozen of the sitting and expectant savages ere they could recover from their surprise and flee.

Grainger rushed forward to Sheila and lifted her up.

A hysterical sob burst from her as she put her trembling hands out towards him.

"Oh, I knew you would come! I knew you would come!" and then her eyes closed, and she lay quiet in his arms.

* * * * *

That night, as Sheila, with tear-swollen eyes of gratitude to God for her preservation, lay sleeping in the little tent, Grainger and the ever-faithful Jacky sat smoking their pipes beside the recumbent figure of burly Dick Scott, who, broken-legged as he was, had insisted upon being taken outside and camping with them.

"Boss," he said, as he handed his pipe to Jacky to be filled, "this will be suthin' for Mr. Mallard to put in the _Champion_, eh?"

"Yes, Dick, old son," and Grainger put his hand on the big man's shoulder, with a kindly light shining in his quiet, grey eyes. "I'll write and tell him all about it. And I'll tell him what a real, downright, out-and-out 'white man' you are."

"Git out, boss," and the rough, bearded digger laughed childishly with pleasure; "if I sees anythin' in the Champion about me, blow me but I'm goin' back to Townsville, and I mean to spark that gal at 'Magnet Villa'--she that was a-cryin' when Miss Caroline came away."

"Right you are, Dick. You have promised Jacky fifty pounds if he brought Miss Carolan back--and you will give it to him. But you are one of the 'Ever Victorious' crowd, and don't want money, so I won't say any more except that I'll give Mrs. Dick Scott five hundred sovereigns for a wedding present. What is her present surname, Dick?"

"Don't know, boss. Didn't ask her. But if she isn't snapped up by one of them flash banker fellows, or some other paper-collared swell, I think I'll get her. Mr. Mallard and Miss Myra said they would put in a good word for me, seein' as I hadn't no time to do any courtin' myself."

"Dick, old son, she's yours! If you have got my sister and Mr. Mallard to speak for you, it's all right--that's a dead certainty. How is your leg?"

"Bully, boss--just bully. Say, boss!"

"Yes, Dick."

"D'ye think we'll get them missin' horses?"

"Horses be hanged! Do you think I'm troubling about them just now?"

"Why, certingly you ought to be troublin' about 'em. Isn't the roan colt and the bay filly worth troublin' about? The best blood in the whole bloomin' country is in that bay filly o' Miss Caroline's. And Jimmy Ah San offered you ninety pound for the roan, didn't he?"

Grainger put out his hand, and grasping Scott's long beard, pretended to shake it.

"Just you go to sleep, Dick Scott, and don't waggle your chin and talk about horses or anything else. You are a blessed nuisance, and if you wake Miss Carolan up I'll pound you when you get better!"

Scott grinned, and then he put out his hand.

"Boss, have you fixed it up with her? I thought as how that there was nothin' in the world so sweet in the way of wimmen as Miss Myra; but Miss Caroline runs her a close second."

"I have not asked her yet, Dick."

"You ask her to-morrow, boss. You take my tip, or before you knows where you are some other fellow will be jumpin' your claim and gettin' her."

"I'll think of it, Dick."

"Don't think too long over it, boss. If it wos me, I'd see it through the first thing to-morrow momin'."

"You mind your own business, Mister Richard Scott," said Grainger, with a laugh.

"All right, boss; but what about them horses? That bay filly------"

"Go to sleep, you silly old ass."

* * * * *

At dawn Lamington and his Danites came splashing through the creek, and Grainger was aroused by a loud "Hallo!" as the swarthy-faced Inspector cantered up to the tent and dismounted.

"Well, here you are, Grainger. I know all that has happened. I rounded up the myalls outside the _boora ground, only half an hour after you had left, and one of the bucks--whom I dropped with a bullet through his thigh--told me what had occurred, when Sandy and Daylight were just about to fight. How is Miss Carolan?"

"Well. She is sleeping. Take a peg," and he handed Lamington his brandy flask.

The officer poured out a stiff nip, drank it off, and then pointed to one of his troopers, who had just dismounted, and was holding in his hand a heavy bundle, wrapped up in an ensanguined saddle-cloth.

"That's my L500, Grainger. I'll have to send those heads to Townsville for identification before I can claim the reward. Awfully smart of you to pot both of them."

"Lamington, you're a _beast_. Tell that nigger of yours to take that infernal bundle away and keep it out of sight, or, by heavens, you and I will quarrel."

Lamington, gentleman at heart, apologised: "I _am a beast, Grainger. I didn't think of Miss Carolan."

* * * * *

When Sheila awakened she had to bid Dick Scott goodbye, for Lamington was taking him back to Chinkie's Flat.

"Goodbye, Miss Caroline. You an' the boss will pull along all right to Minerva Downs. And when I sees you again, I hope that------"

"Dry up, Dick," said Grainger, with assumed severity.

"Oh, I know it's all right, boss; isn't it, Miss Caroline?"

"Yes, Mr. Scott," said Sheila with a smile, as she put her little hand into his. "I don't think I shall stay very long at Minerva Downs, and I do think you will soon see me again."

"At Chinkie's Flat?"

"Yes, at Chinkie's Flat," said Grainger, as he put his arm round Sheila, and drew her to him. "Mr. Lamington is sending up a parson from the Bay to Minerva Downs."

"Boss," cried Scott, exultantly, "there's goin' to be a red, rosy, high old time by and by at Chinkie's Flat."


(THE END)
Louis Becke's fiction book: Chinkie's Flat

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