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3-242 (Original)

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addressee,female author,female,Henning, Rachel*,39
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Private Written
Private Correspondence
Kramer, 1985
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3-242.txt — 6 KB

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The shearers, nine in number, have a cook of their own and buy their own extra rations, everything except flour, beef, tea and sugar. They pay a man about £2 a week to cook for them while they are shearing. Christmas Eve, yesterday, was signalized by a chase and capture on the station. One of the shepherds came in the night before and said that his hut, which is near the road, had been robbed, while he was out with his sheep, and his blankets, clothes and rations stolen. Biddulph gave him some more blankets. Yesterday afternoon Julian came in in a state of great excitement to say that the man who had stolen the things had just passed the station, and that the shepherd had recognized the blankets he was carrying.
Biddulph mounted Julian's horse and went off through the bush at a gallop. Pat, Mr Palmer's man, followed, also on horse-back, and everybody else on the station ran.
Biddulph presently came back with the culprit mounted on Pat's horse. He conducted him up to the stockyard, and the whole of the property was found in his possession. Moreover, he had borrowed Pat's horse the day before, promising to leave it at Exmoor, where he said his own horse was left, and then had ridden it on past the station evidently with the intention of stealing it.
Biddulph said he could not have the trouble and expense of sending him to Port Denison in custody, 110 miles, and afterwards appearing against him at Rockhampton, 370 miles off. So he had him then and there tied up to a tree and soundly flogged, Pat, who is a stout Irishman, being the executioner; and he bestowed two dozen with hearty goodwill, stimulated by the remembrance of his wrongs about the horse.
Justice being administered in this summary manner, Biddulph gave the man some rations that he might not be obliged to rob any more shepherds at stations and sent him off, at the same time warning the shepherds all down the road to look after their huts.
About a month ago a Mr Digby started on foot from Port Denison - he was coming up this way by the high road, but he unfortunately took a "short cut", lost himself and was out for fourteen days with nothing to eat but the gum which oozes out of the trees. I cannot think how he lived so long. He was found by some bushmen and brought to Mr Paterson's, a station about thirty miles from here. [57] He has been there more than a fortnight, and every care has been taken of him, but they say he cannot recover, as he has been so weakened by want of food that he cannot keep down anything but liquids.
One of the shepherds who went out to the Flinders with Biddulph's sheep returned here a short time ago, and he told us that, having one day lost himself in the bush with his flock, he came upon the body of a man lying under a tree. The blacks had evidently found it, but instead of disturbing and robbing it they had laid a piece of bark over the head and another over the feet and left. He took the news on to the next station, Mr Henry's, and was told that a week or two before, a riderless horse with all the usual accoutrements of saddle, blankets, etc., had found its way in to the station; and by the books and clothes rolled up in the blankets it was evidently a gentleman's "swag".
The shepherd did not know whether they found out his name or not. It seems always to me a terrible end to be "lost in the bush". I had rather hear of anyone being killed by the blacks at once.
Since I last wrote to you the station has been enlivened by an elopement. During the absence of Alick (the black boy who fought so valiantly on the Flinders), Billy, the other station black boy, ran away with Biddy, the wife of the aforesaid Alick. Alick came back the next day, and his rage was great when he found out his loss, especially as they had taken all his property with them, and particularly 35s. which comprised his worldly wealth and which he kept tied up in an old sock.
He picked out a formidable "waddy" and set out in pursuit, vowing vengeance. In the meantime Billy and Biddy, finding running away not quite so pleasant as they had expected, came back the third day in a very penitent state of mind. The nights were very cold just then. They had had "nothing to eat but cold water", and Biddy said "I believe mine cry good deal, cry all day." Billy fled to the Two Mile station to be out of the way of Alick's wrath. Biddy was obliged to abide it, but he was persuaded not to give her the beating he promised, and which she certainly deserved, and in a few days they became good friends, especially as he recovered the precious 35s.
Since that Alick has been ill and Biddy has made her peace by carefully attending him. He caught cold and had a sort of chest attack, and used to lie in his hut and groan and cough and yell alternately. Biddy came down one morning. "I believe that fellow dead," she said. We went up to see after him and found him all right enough, only coughing. Annie called into the gunyah "Are you better, Alick?" "No," he shouted very loud. "I'm dead."
However, he did not die, and next day Mr Hedgeland prescribed a mustard plaster for his cough. [58] So one was made, and then Mr Hedgeland took it up to Biddy and told her how to put it on, and to wash the place with a little warm water when it came off. About twenty minutes after, he went up to see after his patient, and he found Alick lying outside his hut groaning and shivering without a rag on him (it was a cold day).
Alick looked the picture of hopeless resignation. "What have you been doing to Alick?" Mr Hedgeland asked. "I believe I washed that fellow all over," Biddy said with a doleful face. "And where is the mustard plaster?" "Pudding inside long of hut," she said, and there was the plaster carefully rolled up and put away in a corner, and if Mr Hedgeland had not gone up when he did I think it very probable she would have made him eat it as the second part of the prescription.
Of course, Alick caught a worse cold than ever, but he is better now, and consumes quantities of mutton broth and cornflour. I hope he will be well soon, for we are very short of horses. They have all betaken themselves to distant parts of the run, and no one can find them like a blackboy.