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keg of rum continually on the tap. Then, for
want of better society, he made his hut the
rendezvous of a tribe of tame blacks.

We found him sitting on the floor in a pair
of trowsers and ragged shirt, unwashed,
uncombed, pale-faced and red-eyed, surrounded
by half-a-dozen black gins (his sultanas), a lot
of dogs, poultry, a tame kangaroo, and two of
his men. The floor was littered with quart
pots, lumps of fat, and damper outside the
hut; the relations of the black ladies had
made a fire, and were cooking a piece of a
fine young heifer. What with the jabbering
of the gins, the singing and swearing of the
men, and the yelping of the dogs, it was no
place for a quiet meal, so we only stayed long
enough to drink a pot of tea, so as not to
offend, and passed on to camp an hour under
the shade of a thicket near the river.

Marson having, with the assistance of his
black friends, consumed all his stock, has
returned home; and, I hear, asserts
everywhere that Australia is not a country a
gentleman can live in.

Our course next, after crossing the dividing
range, lay over a very flat country, all burned
up as far as the eye could reach,—a perfect
desert of sand. The chain of pools which
formed the river after rain, were nearly choked
up by the putrifying carcases of cattle,
smothered in fighting for water. The air was
poisonous; the horses sank fetlock-deep at
every stride; the blazing sun was reflected
back from the hot sand with an intensity that
almost blinded our half-shut eyes. After
three hours of this misery, we struck into a
better country, and soon after came up to the
camp of a squatter, who had been forced
forward by the drought. He had marked
out about twenty miles along the river for his
run,—a pretty good slice, I thought, when,
before turning back, he said, "That is all I
want." It was no business of ours, as we
had views further a-field. For three days we
pushed on, making from thirty to forty miles
a day, without seeing anything exactly to our
mind. We rode over arid plains, dotted with
scrubby brushwood, then up precipitous hills;
now leaping, now clambering down and up,
and now riding round to avoid dry gullies
and ravines; passing occasionally breaks of
green pasture, but insufficiently watered for
my purpose. Sometimes our way lay along
mountain sides, sometimes in the dry bed of
a torrent. Sometimes huge boulders
interrupted our course, sometimes the gigantic
trunks of fallen trees. More than once we
had to steer through a forest of the
monotonous, shadeless gum, with its lofty, dazzlingly
white trunks festooned with the brown, curly
bark of the previous year, and its parasol-
like but shadeless branches, where crimson,
green, and snowy parrot tribes shrieked and
whistled among the evergreen leaves. It is
impossible to conceive anything more gorgeous
than these birds as they fluttered in the sun;
but I confess that, "on serious thoughts
intent," during this journey, they were more
often associated with my ideas of supper than
anything else.

The evening of the third day, we found
ourselves obliged to camp down with a scanty
supply of brackish water, and no signs of any
living thing. The next day was worse; a
land of silence and desolation, where it seemed
as if mountains had been crumbled up and
scattered about in hills and lumps. The dry
earth cracked and yawned in all directions.
Failing to find water, we camped down,
parched, weary, silent, but not despairing.

The next morning the horses were gone.

I cannot find words to describe what we
suffered in the subsequent twelve hours. I
had walked until my feet were one mass of
blisters, and was ready to lie down and die
ten times in the day; but somehow I found
strength to walk, always chewing a bullet.
At length, at nightfall, we found our horses;
and, nearly at the same time, to crown our
delightwater. At the sight of this, we
both involuntarily sank down on our knees
to return thanks for life saved.

The next morning, after a scanty breakfast,
we set to work, and by dint of cutting away
with axe and jack-knife, at the expense of
clothes and skin, through a brigalow scrub
for half a mile, found our way into a gap
through which our track lay, and which we
had missed. It led straight to the dividing

After crossing five miles from the foot of
the range, through a barren tract, our eyes
and hearts were suddenly rejoiced by the
sight of the wished-for land.

A plain, covered with fine green barley-
grass, as high as our horses' heads, and
sprinkled over with the myal shrub, which
cattle and sheep will eat and thrive on, even
without grass. Such was the delicious
prospect before us. A flood had evidently but
lately subsided, for lagoons full of water were
scattered all about; a river running at the
rate of five miles an hour, serpentined as far
as the eye could see, from which the water-fowl
fluttered up as we passed; the eagle hawks were
sweeping along after flocks of quail, and mobs
of kangaroos hopping about like huge rabbits.
There was not a sign of horn or hoof
anywhere, but it was evident the aborigines were
numerous, for there were paths worn down
where they had been in the habit of travelling,
from one angle of the river to another; we
could trace their footmarks and of all sizes, and
thereupon we unslung our guns and looked at
the priming. Altogether I thought I had
discovered the finest place for a cattle-station
in the colony; I found out afterwards that
the first appearance of a new country before it
has been stocked is not to be depended on.

We formed a camp in an angle of the
river, so as to have protection on three sides,
ventured, in spite of the danger, to light a
fire and cook some game. Oh, how delicious
was that meal! As I lay near the river's