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understand nothing further. The Major was inclined to regard her as a fugitive from her tribe, or perhaps a prisoner who had escaped, for he could not otherwise account for her being alone, and for the expression of alarm which she had displayed in her demeanour before they had secured her.
His men took the liberty to represent to him, that the natives were a savage and treacherous race, and that it was very likely that this young girl had been sent out as a decoy, in order to throw them off their guard; and they related many instances, which they had heard in camp, of the cunning of the blacks, and of their insuperable animosity to the white people.
This view of the case, however, the Major repudiated, for the girl's countenance, black as it was, had something in it of that softness which is never entirely absent from the youthful of her sex; and her manner indicated besides, as it struck him, that she was in want of protection, and was inclined to accept it even from the white people rather than again encounter the dangers from which she had recently escaped. He pursued his inquiries, therefore, and made another attempt to communicate with the native by the universal language of signs, although the coming darkness scarcely allowed him sufficient light for his operations.
He directed one of the men to scoop out a hollow basin in the course of the rill, which soon filled the excavation with water. He then took a piece of the bark of a tree, and stuck a couple of sticks in it to represent miniature masts, clothing them with pieces of paper, to represent sails. He then, by signs and gestures, contrived to make the black girl understand that he wanted to go to a great thing like that. The girl looked at it attentively for some time, gazing alternately at the mimic ship and at the Major, as if striving to comprehend his meaning. Suddenly she broke out into a wild laugh, and clapped her hands, and pointed with her finger in a direction over a high tier of hills.
The Major made signs to her to go forward in the direction in which she pointed, but she showed much reluctance to move, for the dark was setting in, and the natives have a great dread of travelling in the night, fearing to fall into the power of an evil spirit. The Major was not aware of the cause of her fear, but it was clear that she was afraid of something, and he showed to her the guns of himself and the soldiers to re-assure her; but it was evident, from her manner, that she did not comprehend the use of such weapons.
He then directed his men to unsheath their bayonets. She retreated at the sight of these strange instruments, but the Major, taking one of them in his hand, offered it to her. She took hold of it, but let it drop immediately, alarmed at its coldness, and at the unusual feel of metal. But as, in falling on its point, it stuck in the ground, the circumstance seemed to strike her with much admiration; and when the Major picked it up and offered it to her again she took it, and continued to hold it in her hand, though a little frightened. As it did not move, however, and as she felt no harm, she touched the point gently with her finger, and was surprised at its sharpness.
The Major then made signs to her to hold the weapon in her hand
and move forward; and the native, after a little hesitation, and seeing that the white strangers showed no signs of fear in the dark, and supposing perhaps that the curious cold spear which they had given to her was a protection against the evil spirit, set out at a tolerably rapid pace in the direction to which she had pointed as the place where the great moving thing that resembled the little bark ship lay in the wide water. Her new friends followed, keeping a sharp eye on her to guard against an escape; but of this it afterwards proved the poor girl was not thinking; and after a brisk walk of about three miles, after passing over some high hills, the Major suddenly found himself on the margin of the bay; and, as he presently perceived, not far from the cave which he desired to reach.
He now became aware that he had been wandering nearly the whole of the day in a part of the country abounding in high and low hills, and at a comparatively small distance from the place of his destination, confused as he had been by the intricacies of the bush. Determining to profit by this lesson, he led the way at a rapid pace to his old encampment, having previously relieved the girl from her bayonet for fear of accidents, and having invited her by signs to accompany him.
The native now, in her turn, followed her conductor with great willingness; a circumstance which rather surprised the Major, as it betokened a confidence, which he had been given to understand was altogether contrary to the disposition and the habits of the aborigines; but the reason was afterwards explained when she had been taught sufficient words in the English language to enable her to express her meaning. The Major now thought that he might do an acceptable service to the colony and to the government by taming the wild creature which had thus been placed in his power, and who seemed well contented to abide with him and to receive his commands. He determined therefore to make the attempt, not a little pleased to have the opportunity of studying closely a specimen of the singular people who inhabited a country unlike any other part of the known world. With this view, he made up his mind at once to send her on board the brig, and to place her under the care of his daughter Louisa, to whom she might be taught perhaps to perform the part of a female attendant.
He immediately made the signal to the brig which had been agreed on, by lighting three fires on the beach at particular distances, and the distant sound of oars on the water soon proclaimed that his signal had been understood and attended to. The mate was not in the boat, and the Major immediately despatched it back for clothes of some sort for their visitor; not liking, although it was night, that his new acquaintance should make her appearance in her present unsophisticated condition before his daughter. The boat returned promptly; and the Major with much delicacy showed the young lady how to put on a pair of sailor's trousers, which he tied on with a bit
of rope yarn round her middle. Over this was placed a petticoat to give her a proper feminine appearance, and a faded light blue spencer, which hooked on behind, "put her bows in decent trim," as a sailor expressed it. Her head was left bare, and shoes and stockings were
dispensed with, and thus elegantly dressed, the young lady was politely assisted into the boat by the sailors, where she squatted down on her hams, preserving an extraordinarily grave countenance all the time, the poor creature being in truth utterly lost in astonishment as to what had been done and what was to happen next. Thus freighted, with the addition of the Major and the two soldiers, the boat was rapidly rowed to the vessel.
The affectionate Louisa was overjoyed to see her father again; a delight, however, which was presently damped by the thought of his ill success in his search after her sister Helen, and by his informing her that it was his intention to recommence his journey at the dawn of day. With respect to the novel sort of lady's maid which her father had brought for her, she felt a little repugnance at first to allow the black girl to remain in close proximity to her person. But that feeling soon wore off, and she soon ceased to regard the colour of her skin; while the gentle aspect of the kind-hearted Louisa and the soft and silvery tones of her voice so won on the simple heart of the native, who was not long in learning that the beautiful creature, who she at first supposed had come from the skies, was of the same sex as herself, that she threw herself on the floor of the cabin, uttering sounds which were unintelligible, and then raising her head, laughed, and addressed to Louisa some words which, although spoken in an unknown and barbarous tongue, were evidently meant for the expression of her gratitude, and obedience, and devotion.
The personal appearance of the native was so grotesque, that Louisa could not forbear some little laughter at the incongruous nature of her habiliments. Her laughter seemed to please the girl. She coiled herself up at Louisa's feet, and although her wild bright eyes glanced rapidly at every motion or sound that occurred, she seemed quite resigned, and pleased with her new position.
Louisa made attempts to talk with her, but that was impossible. She tried to find out the name of her new acquaintance, but it was some time before the native could be brought to comprehend what she wanted. At last, by frequently repeating her own name and pointing to herself, she made the girl understand her meaning. The native repeated the name of "Louisa" with a readiness and correctness which was quite startling and then pointing to herself, said, "Oionoo."
"Oionoo," repeated Louisa.
The young native girl, at the sound of her own name thus pronounced, showed the most extravagant signs of joy. She again threw herself on the ground before Louisa, and kissed her feet, while great tears ran from her bright fierce eyes down her black face, and she seemed convulsed with the most violent emotion.
The Major regarded this scene with extreme surprise, and his daughter was much affected by it. They could not conjecture the reason of the violent emotion of the black girl; and they were not aware that she was in fact the last of her tribe, and had escaped, when she was encountered by the Major, from those who were about to put her to a cruel death. How amply the kindness which was bestowed by the fair and gentle Louisa on the forlorn native girl was afterwards
repaid by services the most important, will be seen in the sequel of this narration.
A FIGHT WITH THE NATIVES.
It is impossible to describe in words the intensity of the terror of Helen, as she sat on the ground a helpless spectator of the deadly preparations made by the Bushranger for the destruction of those whom she doubted not were her lover and her father. And if Trevor was foremost in her thoughts in that time of mortal agony, it was from no lack of filial affection towards her parent, but it was in accordance with that powerful principle of our nature which prompts a woman's heart - in its absorbing love for that one being whom it has selected from all other men in whom to confide her virgin trust – to consider him as all in all to her and of all things on earth the most precious and the dearest!
It was in vain that she racked her brain to find some expedient either to divert the Bushranger from his object, or to frustrate his design. She thought that she would scream out, in the hope that her voice might be heard in the stillness of the bush, so that Trevor might be warned of his danger. But then she considered, that, if she made use of such means of giving him notice prematurely, it would only cause her own instant death without benefiting him. It occurred to her also that she should have the means of ascertaining her lover's and her father's near approach from the looks and gestures of the Bushranger, and that it would be best for her to reserve her caution until they were near enough to profit by it; then- what might be her own fate he being safe-signified nothing!
Neither was poor Jeremiah Silliman insensible to the peril which hung over the friends advancing to their rescue; but the fatigue of his long march, encumbered as he was with a heavy load, and the frequent rebuffs and threats which he had experienced from Mark Brandon, and the blows which he had suffered from the brutal Grough, without his being able to defend himself or to retaliate, had so broken down his spirit, that he had become almost like an impassive piece of mechanism at the will of his captors. He could not, however, survey unmoved the cool and impenetrable Mark Brandon with his fowling-piece directed in the line leading from the side of the stream to the thicket; and his good feeling predominating over his fears, he ventured to begin a remonstrance with Brandon on the cruelty of his proceeding:
"Mr. Mark Brandon," he began, "I have a thousand dollars...." But before he could proceed further he felt the butt-end of Grough's musket on his head, which stretched him prostrate on the ground. Grough was about to repeat the hint to be quiet by a second blow, which would have silenced for ever poor Jerry's tongue, when he was stopped by a sign from Brandon, who, making a significant gesture,
and pointing towards the line on which their pursuers were expected, said in a low firm voice:
Grough immediately brought his musket to his shoulder, covering obliquely the point at which Brandon's weapon was directed.
The Bushranger cocked his fowling-piece; -Grough did the same. The sound of those two "clicks," in the awful silence of the bush, rang in Helen's ears like the tolling bell of her lover's doom! - She felt that the decisive moment was come!
The Bushranger ran his eye down the hollow between the barrels of his piece for it was his habit to fire with his left barrel first— and edged the sight a little to the right of his victim; - it was a deadly aim.
Helen now tried to scream out:- - but excess of terror paralysed her. She opened her mouth;—but her voice stuck in her throat! She could utter no sound! The moments were fleeting away! In another her lover would be slain! . . . .
"Fire!" said Brandon.
But at the instant when he pronounced the word, a shower of spears from behind, came whistling through the bushes. One of them struck Brandon's right shoulder, and another stuck in Grough's huge back, which caused the discharge of both to be ineffectual. — Helen and Jeremiah being on the ground, the spears passed harmlessly over them; but the report of the guns, and the sudden appearance of the native spears acting as a sudden shock on Helen, she gave vent to her pent-up shrieks, which apprised Trevor-who, not heeding the shots, that missed him, was advancing with the corporal at the charge-that his mistress was nigh, and in danger! At the same time a yell arose from the body of natives, who had, as they thought, surprised the white people at a disadvantage, which, responding to Helen's shrieks, made the bushes and woods resound with discordant cries.
Nor did the natives delay in following up their first discharge of spears by a bodily attack on those whom they considered as the spoliators of their country. They knew but little of the nature of firearms, but some of them had learnt that after the first noise of the thunder, an interval must elapse before it could be made again. The white men, Brandon and Grough, therefore, having made their thunder, the natives in a mob made a rush, with frightful yells, on their enemies, and Helen and Jerry found themselves in the midst of the blacks, who fell on the two bushrangers with inconceivable fury. Brandon, being unable to resist the impetuosity of this first onset, called out to Grough to come to his side, and retreated on the right hand side of the thicket, while Trevor and the corporal charged to the left, where they were encountered by the natives, who had driven away the other two, and who, flushed with success, immediately attacked the new-comers with their waddies.
Trevor fired, and shot one and wounded another of the natives with his double-barrel, but as they did not cease from their attack, the corporal was obliged to fire before Trevor had time to load again. He killed one of the savages on the spot, but the natives, heated with