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castanets. My dog Tiger put his tail between his legs, crouched between mine, and shaking like o jelly,
Tub grateful coolness and darkness of night had descended on the little township of Bulla Bulla, which all daylong had been broiling and blazing in the Hours ago fierce sunlight of an Australian summer. taken their evening, the bronzewing pigeons bad draught from the coffee-coloured watér-hole beyond the butcher's paddock, and then flown back into the " bush to roost on honeysuckle" and in heather. The, locusts were and then might be heard suent, but now " more pork," chasing the huge the greedy cry of the night-moths through the dim dewy air. The 'possums more quietly plundering and the flying-foxes were out-lying gardens. Heavy clouds had palled the horizon just before sundown, and low rumblings of For a short time distant thunder had been heard. after sun-down beautiful sheet-lightning hod played the Magellan clouds around the heavens, but now the only clouds in the clearly dark sky, from were of Orion flashed as if just which the golden armour Here and there the dusky houses were burnished. spotted with patches of bilious-looking yellow light, A good many telling of tired townsfolk turning in. of the burghers of Bulla Bulla, however, were seated their verandahs, quietly talking or tranquilly on smoking and drinking. I, for one, was enjoying my pipe of negrohead and glajsof cold brandy-and-water. To begin I had had an unusually hard day's work. a mammoth of a on with, a young monkey mounted stock-horse had galloped up to my place before daybreak with a demand for my immediate attendance at wanted a station about a dozen miles off, where I was into the to aid in bringing a still smaller bushman world. To end with, there had been a row amongst cedar-cutting on the banks the wild sawyers who were sitting down to of the Macnomoro, ond just as I was a late dinner I had been summoned to ride half a score rowdies' heads. of miles to dress the quarrelsome When at lost I kicked off my tight, dusty boots, and seated myself on the verandah, in cool slippers and a as low rocking-chair-safe, I thought, from interruption for the night-the conscious dolee far niente in the dew-freshened open air seemed so for preferable to unconscious slumber in o hot bedroom, thot I almost resolved to remain up all night. The ragged flags of my tall bananas just rustled, as now and then the night air gave a sleepy sigh ; the stiff blades of the aloes in my little front garden, of dimly discernible, looked like the stacked arms spectres;^English flowers sent forth a rich, moist steam of perfume. In spito of my resolve to hove o conscious enjoyment of my rest, I fell osleep with my pipe in my mouth. I awoke with a start. My but comely-coloured with treasured cutty-block, the essential oil of nine months' smoking-tumbled teeth and smashed on fro» my the verandah bricks. I hod no time then to mourn loss-so awful, so my unearthly was the sound I heard. In a few seconds it had awoke tile whole township. Almost every giving on the little uneven, window gross-grown, was street stump-dotted blotched with fell faces jaundiced on gleams, as which white as the night-dresses of the suddenly roused " sleepers. The silent kef" and the slumberous yarns of the sitters on the verandahs were brought to an abrupt close. The little place, which a minute before had been so profoundly tranquil, was agitated like an invaded ant-hill. The Chinaman who made my bed, swept my rooms, mended my stockings, sewed on my buttons, cooked my meals, groomed my horse, ond pounded away with the. pestle in my primitive surgery, crept to my side with teeth clattering like his tail between castanets. his
and tremulously bayed ot the mysterious It lasted off and on for about on hour, and off and on was heard at the some time of night for about It is vain to attempt to describe the three weeks. indescribable. A. melancholy boom thundering away into the bush for miles,, and a high-pitched howl gradually sinking into a long-drown despairing wail, were the most verbally reproducible items of the noise'; but the words I have used give no adequate idea of the eerines» of the boom and howl and wail. No words could give an adequate idea ; and with the boom and howl and wail, sounds that I can only vaguely characterise as the infernal took their turn. It moy readily be supposed that during the thre?e | weeks I speak* of Bulla Bulla vv as in a ferment. By day we talked of the mysterious noise, and by night, from 12 till 1, we heard it. No adult in Bulla Bullo went to bed until the last wail of our fearsome dis | turber had died i away in the dark distance, and the children 6at up in their night-clothes, shiveringly ex pecting the outburst of the first boom. The fame of "the r,ulla Bulla ghost spread for and wide. People who ! liv ed in gas-lit-streets laughed at us as a set of superstitious yokels, and hinted that the rum-bottle was the raiser of the spirit that haunted us. all It was (very well to talk that way in Sydney, but I will be j bound to say that the sneering cits would have been the first to funk if they had heard the noise. Some of our bush neighbours joined at first in the ridicule to ¡which we were exposed, but we invited them to come ¡and hear for themselves, and those who came to mock remained to quake. Of course, all kinds of hypotheses for the strange sounds. ¡were started to "account" Our only padre was an unsophisticated Methodist ¡minister, who hod spent the greater part of his life in ¡the bush ; and he, honest maintained both in man, 'and out of the pulpit, that the devil was going about |Bulla Bulla like a roaring lion, seeking whom he might devour. The storekeeper, who had been a .schoolmaster at home, strenuously asserted that a " hippocentaur troubled us, and sundry persons who 'had not the slightest notion of what a hippocentaur ^might be, impressed by the hardness of the word, swore that the storekeeper was right. The landlord 'of the Australian Arms was of opinion that the spirits of deceased blackfellows were nightly holding "cor ioborree" in our neighbourhood. A fourth authority, a bush carpenter, declared that we might thank a vagrant crocodile for our troubled rest. The sup position, however, which found greatest favour wos thot suggested, or rather loid down as on indisputable dogma, by the overseer of an adjoining station, who ,vcry frequently found his way to the hostelry over vvhichthe emblazoned emu and kangaroo stood sentry, and there imbibing brandy, beer, or any beverage to which he could get treated, bragged greatly of his knowledge of the bush. Beyond a doubt, in " Lusby belief, a Bunyip Luke's" hod taken temporary lodgings outside the town. This bete noire of the Australian bush Luke asserted he had often in seen bj-gone times. He described it as being bigger than on elephant, in shape like a " poley " bullock, with like liv e coals, and with eves tusks like a walrus's. ¡When my opinion was asked, of course, as o professional I scouted with impartial scorn man, the tdiabolical, the hippocentaur, the corrobboree, the crocodile and the bunj-ip theory. The boom I attributed to a bittern, the howl to dingoes in chose of kangaroo, the wail to curlews, and the altogether'indescribable noises to a Dutch concert of the startled denizens of the bush. I was, however, comparatively " speaking, a new chum," and therefore my explananoise.
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speaking, a " new chum," and therefore my explanation of the Sooth to mystery met with scant respect. say, it did not satisfy myself. I tried to moke it do so when was the sun high, but as the sunbeams westered over the spot from which we thought the noises must proceed, I quite gave up the attempt. ThiB place was a fenced in with tea-tree swamp, scrub, which would have been impenetrable had it not been for one or two narrow, winding cattle-paths. The swamp was in thehollow of a flat, sprinkled with low bushes which breathed forth a rich aroma beneath the hot summer sunlight. Over them in flitted butterflies of velvet-black Rummer and gold, and the mosquitos rose and fell, and curved and crossed in dizzying maze. Around the bushes and through them the blacksnake wriggled, and the land leech crawled. Black duck and teal and other water» fowl found a mug home in the and in winter swamp, when they could do so without asking the ducke to
renal' làsst made the clump of a chorus *df cat them, The flat was scrub and rush and reed hoarsely vocal. about a couple of miles from the town, and fringed stunted trees, whose bark »with ¡glóomy-folifigea in dirty white shreds like dangled .about, them beggars' rags. In spite of the butterflies, the flat vras Jnot a 'cheerful on the brightest summer spot eten it day, and when the night-winds moaned over by starlight, or the waning moon faintly silvered the mist Sie the flat waa not a which brooded o^er Bwamp, place in which a superstitious have person would hked to find himself alone. Neither by night nor by day did the inhabitants of Bulla Bulla care to visit it after the commencement of the mysterious noises, but at last a party was organised to beard the bunyip, if bunyip it should prove, incita damp den. Lushy Luke Boniface* the storekeeper,* two sawthe captain. was who believed in the yers, the rough carpenter crocodile, the butcher, the barber, and myself, were relish I did not very much the men. my rank of full private, of insulted but tried to quiet my sense professional dignity by making believe to myself that The barber, I attended the expedition professionally. who as well as myself considered it infra dig. to serve under Lusby Luke, on a par with rowdy sawyers, also tried to persuade himself that he attended in » professional capacity-that of .« special reporter." He a mulatto from the States, who indemnified himwas self for the slights to which his colour subjected him in America, by a not merely " I'm as good at you," but an " I'm a deal better thanyou," bearing towards all, white men in Australia. He pretended to take * great interest in sporting events, of which he under, stood nothing, and passed himself «If as a Bulla Bulla correspondent of BttP» Life in Sydney, oa the streng for the of a long letter which he posted every week editor, but which somehow never «band its way into
to discover the cause
alarm, and, if
one, percomrades informed me. occupy, my toa large class of "Cheeking a swell" is "nuts" j persons in Australia and although, Heaven knows, a bush doctor's status is nothing very grand, and, judged by a city standard, I should nave been proanything but swellish, I was the nearest nounced " approach to a " gentleman the people of Bulla Bulla had it in their power accordingly to tease, and both by the few who volunteered to beard the bunyip, and by the many who prayed to have themselves excused, I was tola _at, if I chose to go, I must obey the mitted
possible, to put an end to it ; but, as I have .said, I was not very proud of my position in the exploring party. It wns the only however, that I could be
cused, I was tola _at, if I chose to go, I must obey the commands Of course, I could go by of Lushy Luke. I didn't like. Of course, I myself, if I liked-but could stay away, if I pleased-but after having frequently propounded my bittcm-dingo-and-curkw theory, it would do to give captious critics a not chance of asserting that I had shown the white feather! The Australian Arms was place of rendezvous ; our our time for starting half-past 11 p.m. When I reached the inn, I found that my brother heroes bad been drinking for three or four hours, and were accordingly in various stages of drunkenness. Almost the whole of the non-adventurous population of Bulla Bulla had assembled within and without to see us night, and when a start. It was bright moonlight rank and file, headed our by our leader, who had fully justified his sobriquet, staggered outside, I was strongly tempted to swear that I would not march, through Coventry with so disreputable a set. Lusby Luke endeavoured to sober himself by dipping his head in the hollowed tree-trunk which serves for the water-trough of au up country Australian inn. He forgot, however, to take off his " cabbage-tree" before he ducked, and angry at having made a fool of himself, he gave fierce orders, in a thick voice, for Mb men to fall in, shoulder arms, and mark time. All except myself tried to obey, and for five minutes, with their guns idiots right-letted, at all kinds of angles, the reeling each man marking Ins own very irregular time. At length the command, "Mar-r-ch," was given, and with tipsy gravity, narrowly avoiding tipsy tumbles, tramped out of the township through a my comradeB lane of townsfolk. I followed as I pleased. The captain vi as too far gone to be extreme to mark my breach of discipline. a About mile outside the town a four-rail fence skirted the rough track we It enclosed a followed. lucerne paddock. Over the grey rails, as we ap Eroached, came of kangaroos,' bounding a mob eaded by a gigantic perfectly white "old man," which glimmered ghostly in the moonlight. The sporting barber dropped his gun, fell upon his knees, clasped his hands, and began,to vociferate at railway, speed, " Our Fa'r 'ch art 'a 'evn-Our Fa'r 'cn. art 'n 'ev'n-Our Fa'r 'ch art 'n 'ev'n." His abbreviated paternoster having been with difficulty silenced, we on. moved We approached the swamp. Something black blundered out. Half-a-doien guns-the triggers pulled by tremulous fingers-fired at it simultaneously, and, more through good luck than good aim, a thick-set bearded musk-drake tumbled to She ground. We entered one of the cattle-tracks, my brethren in arms stead} ing themselves by grasping the sum tea -tree " poles. Presently our leader hush "\ gave a whispered and " halt," and pointed to something in the dense, dark scrub. I looked over his shoulder, and must' confess that I felt queer when I saw two great golden, eyes glaring at me. They only belonged to a grey owl, how e^ er. The experienced bushman, Luke, was nicely roasted afterwards for having mistaken an owl for a hobgoblin. None of us, however, hadanyreason. to boast of the We were trying^ courage wedisplayed. to force our way through the scrub, when, without any raised which warning, a roar was seemed to make thei earth tremble for acres round. Li an instant it waa satire qui peut. Xukc for a time, as, perhaps, became a j leader, headed the flight, but was soon distanced by the cucumber-shinned barber, who ran until he dropped-into the arms of a Bulla Bulla Desdemona, hie dusky skin. who doted on She loved him allí ,the more, of course, for the dangers he had passed) -dangers which no amount of contradiction could prevent him from asserting he had most magnanimously bra'» ed. The butcher, "being a heavy ni i, waa bsgged in a in widen he a
I ! '
t_unçmire, in widen he passed a night of awful apprehension, which he declared had turned his hair prematurely grey. But as he was almost bald, that did not much matter. He was not got out until after breakfast-time next morning. With that dread» ful roar in our ears, those whe could run never dreamt of stopping in obedience to his cries. After that night the mysterious noises were no more ¡heard of. All the theorists except myself remained ;of the same opinion still. The Methodist minister ,still maintained that the swamp had been "possessed; " the storekeeper declareathat he had seen the jhippocontaur whisk his tail j the landlord swore to the apparition of a huge blackfeuowflour_b_g aphantasmai "waddy;" the rough carpenter chalked on a' plank, from memory, the profile of the saw-jawed crocodile he had seen snapping at him ; Luke continued true to his faith in the bunyip ; and, ceasing evento sham to believe in the bittern, dingoes, and curlew, I felt inclined to side with him. What the bum ip is, I cannot pretend to say, but I think it is highly probable that the stories told by both old bushmen and blackfellows, of some bush beast bigger and fiercer than in any commonly known Australia, are founded on fact. Fear and the love of the marvellous may have introduced a considerable element of exaggeration into these stories, but I cannot help that the
R. R. Fhee and Easy Selector.-The Ararat Advertiser a says that, on recent occasion, the revolutions of the lottery-box at the Land office cast to the surface the name of a gentleman called Alexander Keith, his who made signature by means of that stenographic symbol which is popularly supposed to represent all alike.
wes at first loudly, next vehemently, and then threateningly. The waiting selectors bandied the name about, and curiously examined the movements of the expectant crowd, to leam who the favourite of fortune was who was invited to take possession of now 640 acres, and become a yeoman and a stay to his adopted country. " No " was on the lips of tha impatient officer, appearance when a gentleman, who seemed to have just awoke" to'find himself famous, staggered through the crowd, and declared himself the veritable proprietor of the cognomen. Mr. Keith wore a blue serge shirt and billycock hat, moleskin trousers, and laccless laceups; the collar of the shirt was unbuttoned, displayed and to the best advantage a throat, muscular face, which, his gave1 with evidence of having been browned under Tasmanian as well as suns, by ours of Victoria. Having rolled into the office with a disdainful glance at tho constable, he " said he w anted an " but being told that an aroa was arey ; rather too much of a ínonopoljv the ambitions selector became wishful to know if the land was on thejGeelong side, pathetically and confidentially remarking that he wanted " a slice of old --'s run, Mr. Keith was told you know." that the arcas not on the Geelong open for selectio. were side, and one of the obliging officials placed a plan before ; him, showing the lands on which he was free to choose a future home. The selector looked vacantly at the map, bat at length became attracted by a bright allotment green which at once won his capricious fancy, indicating as it did luxurious herbage; but, much to his disgust, such he found that " the green lot," had already becn'selectcd. At length he fixed on a yellow section, and declared his intention of satisfied resting with the choice. The description and area di land chosen called out, and Mr. Keith was requested were " further over and to move " pay his money. Pay ? queried the fuddled but startled bona fide, " (hie), I got no money ] old un, thought it was free selection, you know. Mr. Keith was immediately shown thedoor, towards which Mr. I Îcith very leisurely retired ; and through which he caltedjta- ; if the "coves" would' just tow keep bim that 'ere lot1 till he returned.
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