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branchtakes its rise in the Australian
Alps, and is supplied by springs and snow
from these. Some of the highest mountains
of this range retain perpetual snow on their
summits, but on the lesser ones it melts about
the beginning of spring, causing great floods
in the Murray and Edward, and our runs,
being particularly low, are flooded from one
to three miles on either side of the river. It
is necessary to state this, to enable you to
understand the " secrets I am about to
unfold." We had built one hut on the south
side (ycleped Barratta), but before we could
get one up on the south side (Wirrai), the
floods came, and I was obliged to substitute a
bark one instead. I divided the cattle into
two herds, and put a steady stock-keeper,
along with a hut-keeper, in charge of one
herd on the Wirrai station, while I, with a
hut-keeper and another man (we were only
five altogether) looked after the other on this
side. We were badly supplied with arms and
ammunition, and by no means prepared to fight
a strong battle should the Blacks be inclined
for mischief. The natives did not show up at
the huts for two or three weeks after our
arrival, but kept reconnoitring at a distance,
and we could sometimes see them gliding
stealthily among the trees not far off us. By
degrees, two or three of them came up and
made friends, and then more and more, until
we had seen from forty to fifty of them, but
it was remarkable that only old men, boys,
and women showed themselves, and none of
the warriors. Although I had heard that
kindness was of no avail, I never could be
brought to believe it, and determined, therefore,
to do all in my power to propitiate them
by trifling gifts, kind treatment, and avoiding
everything that could hurt their feelings. It
was of no use; no kindnessnothing, in fact
will teach them the law of meum and tuum
but the white man's gun and his superior
courage. We had been down about three
months, the waters were at their highest, and
our huts on both sides of the river were surrounded
by water, through which we had to
wade every morning to look after the cattle.
I was obliged to put the huts within hearing
of gunshot, on account of mutual protection,
for what, after all, are two or three men
alone, without a chance of assistance, against
a body of two or three hundred black warriors,
painted and armed, as I have seen them,
in all the panoply of savage warfare.

We had not seen a single Black for nearly
six weeks, for, as I afterwards learned, they
had all gone over to a station on the Murray,
about fifty miles from us, where they succeeded
in driving the whites out after killing
one man, and from three to four hundred head
of cattle, without the slightest check or resistance;
and having brought their work to a
conclusion there, and emboldened by the success
of their expedition, they now turned their
eyes towards us, and gathering both numbers
and courage, came pouring down on our devoted
station. We had heard nothing of these
depredations then, and were therefore quite
unprepared for them. One day about twenty
Blacks come up to the huts for the purpose,
I suppose, of reconnoitring the nakedness of
the land, and we killed for them a bullock,
thinking thereby to propitiate them. In this,
however, I was most woefully mistaken, for
before they had half finished it, they went
among the cattle on both sides of the river,
and by next morning there was not a single
head left within forty miles, with the exception
of a few they had killed at either station.
The Wirrai stock-keeper went on the tracks
of his herd, and I followed those of mine, and
by a week's time we had recovered the greatest
part of both, but there were spears sticking
in the sides of many of them, which wanton
piece of cruelty occasioned several deaths in a
short time. Not being strong enough to
punish the Blacks, and unwilling to begin a
quarrel which might cause loss of life perhaps
on both sides, and still hoping that they would
cease their depredations, I contented myself
with giving them to understand that, if they
attempted in future to touch either man or
beast among us, they should be severely
punished; they said it was not them but
some Wild Blacks, an excuse they always
make when they steal. In a fortnight afterwards,
however, they acted the same play
over again; and again we had the same trouble
in recovering the cattle. They did not show
after this except at a respectable distance,
when it would be with a flourish of spears, or
a wave of their tomahawks, accompanied with
gesticulations of anything but a friendly character.
Still I did not believe that they would
attempt our lives, until I very nearly paid
with mine the forfeit of my incredulity. I
should mention that the communication with
the Wirrai station was, at this time, carried
on by means of bark canoes, which we paddled
with long poles; the distance by water was
about three miles, and by land straight across,
a mile and a half.

One day I had gone over to Wirrai in a
canoe, to see how the stockman was getting
on, and on my return was humming a tune
and thinking of you, dear William (for I
was humming your old favorite "Flow on,
thou shining River"), when I fancied I
heard a slight noise: I stopped and listened,
but could hear nothing; I went a little
further and heard it again; I stopped again
and peered about the bank, when suddenly
about twenty Blacks sprung up from behind
trees, and reeds, and long grass, only one of
whom I had ever seen before; I was about
fifty yards from the nearest of them, and just
at the entrance of a creek about ten yards
wide, lined on both sides with thick reeds.
When they first appeared they did not show
any weapons, and spoke in a friendly strain;
"Budgery Master always gibit bullock along
im Black fellow," asked if I wanted any fish?
As I had a good double-barrel gun on

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