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Robbery Under Arms by Rolf Boldrewood

Part 11 out of 11

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Anyhow, as I said before, the Minister -- he'd been into the gaol
and had a look once or twice -- made up his mind to back me right out;
and he put it so before the Governor that he gave an order for my pardon
to be made out, or for me to be discharged the day my twelve years was up,
and to let off the other three, along of my good behaviour in the gaol,
and all the rest of it.

This leaked out somehow, and there was the deuce's own barney over it.
When some of the Parliament men and them sort of coves in the country
that never forgives anybody heard of it they began to buck, and no mistake.
You'd have thought every bush-ranger that ever had been shopped
in New South Wales had been hanged or kept in gaol till he died;
nothing but petitions and letters to the papers; no end of bobbery.
The only paper that had a word to say on the side of a poor devil like me
was the `Turon Star'. He said that `Dick Marston and his brother Jim,
not to mention Starlight (who paid his debts at any rate,
unlike some people he could name who had signed their names to this petition),
had worked manly and true at the Turon diggings for over a year.
They were respected by all who knew them, and had they not
been betrayed by a revengeful woman might have lived thenceforth
a life of industry and honourable dealing. He, for one,
upheld the decision of the Chief Secretary. Thousands of the Turon miners,
men of worth and intelligence, would do the same.'

The Governor hadn't been very long in the colony, and they tried it
on all roads to get him to go back on his promise to me. They began bullying,
and flattering, and preaching at him if such a notorious criminal
as Richard Marston was to be allowed to go forth with a free pardon
after a comparatively short -- short, think of that, short! -- imprisonment,
what a bad example it will be to the rising generation, and so on.

They managed to put the thing back for a week or two till I was nearly
drove mad with fretting, and being doubtful which way it would go.

Lucky for me it was, and for some other people as well, the Governor
was one of those men that takes a bit of trouble and considers over a thing
before he says yes or no. When he says a thing he sticks to it.
When he goes forward a step he puts his foot down, and all the blowing,
and cackle, and yelping in the world won't shift him.

Whether the Chief Secretary would have taken my side if he'd known
what a dust the thing would have raised, and how near his Ministers
-- or whatever they call 'em -- was to going out along with poor Dick Marston,
I can't tell. Some people say he wouldn't. Anyhow, he stuck to his word;
and the Governor just said he'd given his decision about the matter,
and he hadn't the least intention of altering it -- which showed he knew
something of the world, as well as intended to be true to his own opinions.
The whole thing blew over after a bit, and the people of the country
soon found out that there wasn't such another Governor (barrin' one)
as the Queen had the sending out of.

The day it was all settled the head gaoler comes to me, and says he,
`Richard Marston, the Governor and Council has been graciously pleased
to order that you be discharged from her Majesty's gaol
upon the completion of twelve years of imprisonment;
the term of three years' further imprisonment being remitted
on account of your uniform good conduct while in the said gaol.
You are now free!'

I heard it all as if it had been the parson reading out of a book
about some other man. The words went into my ears and out again.
I hardly heard them, only the last word, free -- free -- free!
What a blessed word it is! I couldn't say anything,
or make a try to walk out. I sat down on my blankets on the floor,
and wondered if I was going mad. The head gaoler walked over to me,
and put his hand on my shoulder. He was a kind enough man,
but, from being `took in' so often, he was cautious. `Come, Dick,' he says,
`pull yourself together. It's a shake for you, I daresay,
but you'll be all right in a day or so. I believe you'll be another man
when you get out, and give the lie to these fellows that say
you'll be up to your old tricks in a month. I'll back you to go straight;
if you don't, you're not the man I take you for.'

I got up and steadied myself. `I thank you with all my heart, Mr. ----,'
I said. `I'm not much of a talker, but you'll see, you'll see;
that's the best proof. The fools, do they think I want to come back here?
I wish some of them had a year of it.'

As soon as there was a chance of my going out, I had been allowed to `grow',
as they call it in there. That is, to leave off having
my face scraped every morning by the prison barber with his razor,
that was sometimes sharp and more times rough enough to rasp the skin off you,
particularly if it was a cold morning. My hair was let alone, too.
My clothes -- the suit I was taken in twelve years ago --
had been washed and cleaned and folded up, and put away and numbered in a room
with a lot of others. I remember I'd got 'em new just before I started away
from the Hollow. They was brought to me, and very well they looked, too.
I never had a suit that lasted that long before.

That minds me of a yarn I heard at Jonathan Barnes's one day.
There was a young chap that they used to call `Liverpool Jack' about then.
He was a free kind of fellow, and good-looking, and they all took to him.
He went away rather sudden, and they heard nothing of him
for about three years. Then he came back, and as it was the busy season
old Jonathan put him on, and gave him work. It was low water with him,
and he seemed glad to get a job.

When the old man came in he says, `Who do you think came up the road to-day?
-- Liverpool Jack. He looked rather down on his luck,
so I gave him a job to mend up the barn. He's a handy fellow.
I wonder he doesn't save more money. He's a careful chap, too.'

`Careful,' says Maddie. `How do ye make that out?'

`Why,' says Jonathan, `I'm dashed if he ain't got the same suit of clothes on
he had when he was here three years ago.'

The old man didn't tumble, but both the girls burst out laughing.
He'd been in the jug all the time!

I dressed myself in my own clothes -- how strange it seemed --
even to the boots, and then I looked in the glass. I hadn't done that lately.
I regularly started back; I didn't know myself; I came into prison
a big, stout, brown-haired chap, full of life, and able to jump over
a dray and bullocks almost. I did once jump clean over a pair of polers
for a lark.

And how was I going out? A man with a set kind of face,
neither one thing nor the other, as if he couldn't be glad or sorry,
with a fixed staring look about the eyes, a half-yellowish skin,
with a lot of wrinkles in it, particularly about the eyes, and gray hair.
Big streaks of gray in the hair of the head, and as for my beard
it was white -- white. I looked like an old man, and walked like one.
What was the use of my going out at all?

When I went outside the walls by a small gate the head gaoler
shook hands with me. `You're a free man now, Dick,' he says,
`and remember this -- no man can touch you. No man has the right
to pull you up or lay a finger on you. You're as independent
as the best gentleman in the land so long as you keep straight.
Remember that. I see there's a friend waiting for you.'

Sure enough there was a man that I knew, and that lived near Rocky Flat.
He was a quiet, steady-going sort of farmer, and never would have
no truck with us in our flash times. He was driving a springcart,
with a good sort of horse in it.

`Come along with me, Dick,' says he. `I'm going your way,
and I promised George Storefield I'd call and give you a lift home.
I'm glad to see you out again, and there's a few more round Rocky Flat
that's the same.'

We had a long drive -- many a mile to go before we were near home.
I couldn't talk; I didn't know what to say, for one thing.
I could only feel as if I was being driven along the road to heaven
after coming from the other place. I couldn't help wondering
whether it was possible that I was a free man going back
to life and friends and happiness. Was it possible? Could I ever
be happy again? Surely it must be a dream that would all melt away,
and I'd wake up as I'd done hundreds of times and find myself
on the floor of the cell, with the bare walls all round me.

When we got nearer the old place I began to feel that queer and strange
that I didn't know which way to look. It was coming on for spring,
and there'd been a middling drop of rain, seemingly, that had made
the grass green and everything look grand. What a time had passed over
since I thought whether it was spring, or summer, or winter!
It didn't make much odds to me in there, only to drive me wild now and again
with thinkin' of what was goin' on outside, and how I was caged up
and like to be for months and years.

Things began little by little to look the way they used to do
long and long ago. Now it was an old overhanging limb
that had arched over the road since we were boys; then there was a rock
with a big kurrajong tree growing near it. When we came to the turn off
where we could see Nulla Mountain everything came back to me.
I seemed to have had two lives; the old one -- then a time when I was dead,
or next door to it -- now this new life. I felt as if I was just born.

`We'll get down here now,' I said, when we came near the dividing fence;
`it ain't far to walk. That's your road.'

`I'll run you up to the door,' says he, `it isn't far; you ain't used
to walking much.'

He let out his horse and we trotted through the paddock up to the old hut.

`The garden don't look bad,' says he. `Them peaches always used to bear well
in the old man's time, and the apples and quinces too.
Some one's had it took care on and tidied up a bit.
There, you've got a friend or two left, old man. And I'm one, too,' says he,
putting out his hand and giving mine a shake. `There ain't any one
in these parts as 'll cast it up to you as long as you keep straight.
You can look 'em all in the face now, and bygones 'll be bygones.'

Then he touched up his horse and rattled off before I could
so much as say `Thank ye.'

I walked through the garden and sat down in the verandah
on one of the old benches. There was the old place,
mighty little altered considering. The hut had been mended up
from time to time -- now a slab and then a sheet of bark --
else it would have been down long enough ago. The garden had been dug up,
and the trees trimmed year by year. A hinge had been put on the old gate,
and a couple of slip-rails at the paddock. The potato patch
at the bottom of the garden was sown, and there were vegetables coming on
in the old beds. Some one had looked after the place; of course,
I knew who it was.

It began to get coldish, and I pulled the latch -- it was there
just the same -- and went into the old room. I almost expected
to see mother in her chair, and father on the stool near the fireplace,
where he used to sit and smoke his pipe. Aileen's was a little low chair
near mother's. Jim and I used to be mostly in the verandah,
unless it was very cold, and then we used to lie down in front of the fire --
that is, if dad was away, as he mostly was.

The room felt cold and dark as I looked in. So dreadful lonely, too.
I almost wished I was back in the gaol.

When I looked round again I could see things had been left ready for me,
so as I wasn't to find myself bad off the first night.
The fire was all made up ready to light, and matches on the table ready.
The kettle was filled, and a basket close handy with a leg of mutton,
and bread, butter, eggs, and a lot of things -- enough to last me a week.
The bedroom had been settled up too, and there was a good, comfortable bed
ready for any tired man to turn into. Better than all, there was a letter,
signed `Your own Gracey,' that made me think I might have some life left
worth living yet.

I lit the fire, and after a bit made shift to boil some tea;
and after I'd finished what little I could eat I felt better,
and sat down before the fire to consider over things. It was late enough
-- midnight -- before I turned in. I couldn't sleep then; but at last
I must have dropped off, because the sun was shining into the room,
through the old window with the broken shutter, when I awoke.

At first I didn't think of getting up. Then I knew, all of a sudden,
that I could open the door and go out. I was in the garden in three seconds,
listening to the birds and watching the clouds rising over Nulla Mountain.

. . . . .

That morning, after breakfast, I saw two people, a man and a woman,
come riding up to the garden gate. I knew who it was
as far as I could see 'em -- George Storefield and Gracey.
He lifted her down, and they walked up through the garden.
I went a step or two to meet them. She ran forward and threw herself
into my arms. George turned away for a bit. Then I put her by,
and told her to sit down on the verandah while I had a talk with George.
He shook hands with me, and said he was glad to see me a free man again.
`I've worked a bit, and got others to work too,' says he; `mostly for her,
and partly for your own sake, Dick. I can't forget old times.
Now you're your own man again, and I won't insult you by saying
I hope you'll keep so; I know it, as sure as we stand here.'

`Look here, George,' I said, `as there's a God in heaven,
no man shall ever be able to say a word against me again.
I think more of what you've done for me almost than of poor Gracey's
holding fast. It came natural to her. Once a woman takes to a man,
it don't matter to her what he is. But if you'd thrown me off
I'd have not blamed you. What's left of Dick Marston's life
belongs to her and you.'

. . . . .

That day week Gracey and I were married, very quiet and private.
We thought we'd have no one at the little church at Bargo
but George and his wife, the old woman, and the chap as drove me home.
Just as we were going into the church who should come rattling up on horseback
but Maddie Barnes and her husband -- Mrs. Moreton, as she was now,
with a bright-looking boy of ten or eleven on a pony.
She jumps off and gives the bridle to him. She looked just the same as ever,
a trifle stouter, but the same saucy look about the eyes.
`Well, Dick Marston,' says she, `how are you? Glad to see you, old man.
You've got him safe at last, Gracey, and I wish you joy.
You came to Bella's wedding, Dick, and so I thought I'd come to yours,
though you kept it so awful quiet. How d'ye think the old horse looks?'

`Why, it's never Rainbow?' says I. `It's twelve years and over
since I saw him last.'

`I didn't care if it was twenty,' said she. `Here he is,
and goes as sound as a bell. His poor old teeth are getting done,
but he ain't the only one that way, is he, Joe? He'll never die
if I can keep him alive. I have to give him corn-meal, though,
so as he can grind it easy.'

`I believe she thinks more of that old moke than me and the children
all put together,' says Joe Moreton.

`And why shouldn't I?' says Maddie, facing round at him just the old way.
`Isn't he the finest horse that ever stood on legs, and didn't he belong
to the finest gentleman that you or any one else looked at?
Don't say a word against him, for I can't stand it. I believe if you was
to lay a whip across that old horse in anger I'd go away and leave you,
Joe Moreton, just as if you was a regular black stranger. Poor Rainbow!
Isn't he a darling?' Here she stroked the old horse's neck.
He was rolling fat, and had a coat like satin. His legs were
just as clean as ever, and he stood there as if he heard everything,
moving his old head up and down the way he always did -- never still a moment.
It brought back old times, and I felt soft enough, I tell you.
Maddie's lips were trembling again, too, and her eyes like two coals of fire.
As for Joe, he said nothing more, and the best thing too. The boy led Rainbow
over to the fence, and old George walked us all into the church,
and that settled things.

After the words were said we all went back to George's together,
and Maddie and her husband drank a glass of wine to our health,
and wished us luck. They rode as far as the turn off to Rocky Flat with us,
and then took the Turon road.

`Good-bye, Dick,' says Maddie, bending down over the old horse's neck.
`You've got a stunning good wife now, if ever any man had in the whole world.
Mind you're an A1 husband, or we'll all round on you, and your life
won't be worth having; and I've got the best horse in the country, haven't I?
See where the bullet went through his poor neck. There's no lady in the land
got one that's a patch on him. Steady, now, Rainbow, we'll be off
in a minute. You shall see my little Jim there take him over a hurdle yard.
He can ride a bit, as young as he is. Pity poor old Jim ain't here to-day,
isn't it, Dick? Think of him being cold in his grave now, and we here.
Well, it's no use crying, is it?'

And off went Maddie at a pace that gave Joe and the boy all they knew
to catch her.

. . . . .

We're to live here for a month or two till I get used to outdoor work
and the regular old bush life again. There's no life like it, to my fancy.
Then we start, bag and baggage, for one of George's Queensland stations,
right away up on the Barcoo, that I'm to manage and have a share in.

It freshens me up to think of making a start in a new country.
It's a long way from where we were born and brought up; but all the better
for that. Of course they'll know about me; but in any part of Australia,
once a chap shows that he's given up cross doings and means to go straight
for the future, the people of the country will always lend him a helping hand,
particularly if he's married to such a wife as Gracey.
I'm not afraid of any of my troubles in the old days being cast up to me;
and men are so scarce and hard to get west of the Barcoo
that no one that once had Dick Marston's help at a muster
is likely to remind him of such an old story as that of `Robbery Under Arms'.



Notes on the text:


The original serial of this story had roughly 29,000 more words
than the version given here, but it should be noted that this version
is the standard text that has been widely available since then.

The combination of this story being a serial, with cuts from the original
which may not have been perfectly executed, has led to a few discrepancies.
Thus, in Chapter 2 it is mentioned that Patsey Daly was hanged,
but in Chapter 44 the same character is shot to death. In Chapter 42,
Starlight (as Mr. Lascelles) dances with Maddie Barnes one night,
and the next day (in the same disguise) she does not recognise him.
And then there are some gaps: In Chapter 24, the story line suddenly jumps
from a scene where the characters are riding to the Hollow, to a discussion
about selling horses. In Chapter 31, Dick Marston says "I did live
to do her [Maddie Barnes] a good turn back . . ." but there seems to be
nothing later in the story worth mentioning in this line.
In Chapter 35, a reference is made to "old Mr. Devereux's box",
which was apparently discovered in Chapter 22 or 23, but cut out
from this edition.

The story is still quite readable and enjoyable despite these things,
but they are mentioned so that the interested reader may look further
(if they desire) into obtaining an edition which includes the complete text
in the original Newspaper serial; and to give a general idea
what sort of things might have been cut.

"Captain Starlight" was the name used by a real bushranger,
Frank Pearson (1837-99), but Boldrewood claimed that his "Starlight"
was a composite based in part on "Captain Midnight" and Harry Redford
(ca. 1842 to 1901), the latter of which stole a herd of cattle
in a similar manner to that described in the book. The factual events
that contributed to the story took place in the late 1860's and other periods;
but Boldrewood set his story in the 1850's. The name "Starlight" is also used
in Adam Lindsay Gordon's famous poem, "The Sick Stockrider".

"Warrigal", the name of the half-caste character, is also an Australian term
for the Dingo, or native dog.

A couple other famous highwaymen are alluded to in the story.

Dick Turpin, who is mentioned twice, was an English highwayman, 1706-39.
There is apparently a legendary ride from London to York that is popularly
attributed to him, the idea being that he established an alibi
by covering the distance so swiftly after a robbery.

Claude Duval was famous for being gallant to women. Born in France,
he came to England with the Duke of Richmond about 1660 (the Restoration),
and turned out shortly afterwards.


There are a number of Australian terms in the text, which may not be listed
in non-Australian dictionaries -- even unabridged ones. Here are a few:

bail up:
To stick up. According to Boldrewood, from the term used with cows,
where "bail up" means to secure a cow's head in a bail, a type of frame,
before milking.

(pronounced bun-yup) A large mythological creature, said by the Aborigines
to inhabit watery places. There may be some relation to an actual creature
that is now extinct.

Now means honest or genuine, but used by Boldrewood in its obsolete sense,
work, or an amount of work. (In fact, one major Australian dictionary
quotes this very book for an example of this obsolete sense.)

The eastern gray kangaroo.

An Aboriginal woman -- from an aboriginal word for "woman" or "wife".
(Considered derogatory in current usage.)

Afraid. From an aboriginal language. Now obsolete.

mallee scrubber:
"Mallee", a variety of Eucalyptus, or a remote, wild area (like "bush");
"Scrubber", a farm animal that has gone wild; hence, "mallee scrubber",
a wild farm animal in this environment.

To buy drinks for a group, or the act of buying drinks.

store cattle:
Cattle that are not ready for market, but need to be fattened first.
Hence, they are "in store" for future use, or for use as stock.

A lean-to or outbuilding.

Probably Eupodotis (Otis) australis, the Australian Bustard.
(Also "native turkey", "wild turkey".)


The following errors were corrected from the original text:

Chapter 8:

"I flung down my note, and Jim did his, and told them that we owed to to take"
changed to
"owed to take".

Chapter 19:

"and the look of a free man gone out of his face for over --"
changed to
"out of his face for ever --".

Chapter 28: (1st paragraph)

"But that's neither here not there."
changed to
"But that's neither here nor there."

Chapter 52:

"`right away', as old Arizona Bill would have said when I was first taken."
changed to
"`right away', as old Arizona Bill would have said, when I was first taken."


Chapter headings have been changed from Roman to Arabic numerals,
for ease of use.

Due to the limitations of ASCII, the British "Pounds" symbol, a crossed L,
where it comes before a figure, has been replaced by "Pound(s)"
after the figure(s). When this substitution has been made,
the word "Pound" is always capitalised.
Examples: "L1" is "1 Pound"; "L6 or L8" is "6 or 8 Pounds".

This text was transcribed from the Second Edition, which was first printed
in June of 1889.

A few foreign words had accents in the original edition. The most common
was "depo^t", which has since become standardized in English as "depot".
The others are "ame damnee" for "ame damne\e"; "cause celebre"
for "cause ce/le\bre"; and "vis-a-vis" for "vis-a\-vis".
In the advertisements listed below, "Athenaeum" was originally "Athen(ae)um".

From the original advertisements:


THE MINER'S RIGHT. A Tale of the Australian Gold-Fields.

Athenaeum -- "The picture is unquestionably interesting,
thanks to the very detail and fidelity which tend to qualify
its attractiveness for those who like excitement and incident
before anything else."

World -- "Full of good passages, passages abounding in vivacity,
in the colour and play of life. . . . The pith of the book lies in
its singularly fresh and vivid pictures of the humours of the gold-fields, --
tragic humours enough they are, too, here and again. . . ."

Manchester Examiner -- "The characters are sketched
with real life and picturesqueness. Mr. Boldrewood accomplishes
the very difficult feat of enabling his readers not only to understand
the bewildering complexities of mining law, but to be interested in
the situations which arise out of their operation, while his fund of incident
seems to be large enough to meet all the demands made upon it.
Indeed, the book is lively and readable from first to last."


Saturday Review -- "It is not often that stories of colonial life
are so interesting as Mr. Boldrewood's `Squatter's Dream'.
There is enough story in the book to give connected interest
to the various incidents, and these are all told with considerable spirit
and at times picturesqueness."

Field -- "The details are filled in by a hand evidently well conversant
with his subject, and everything is `ben trovato', if not actually true.
A perusal of these cheerfully-written pages will probably give
a better idea of realities of Australian life than could be obtained
from many more pretentious works."


Glasgow Herald -- "The interest never flags, and altogether
`A Sydney-Side Saxon' is a really refreshing book."

Anti-Jacobin -- "Thoroughly well worth reading. . . . A clever book,
admirably written. . . . Brisk in incident, truthful and lifelike
in character. . . . Beyond and above all it has that stimulating
hygienic quality, that cheerful, unconscious healthfulness,
which makes a story like `Robinson Crusoe', or `The Vicar of Wakefield',
so unspeakably refreshing after a course of even good contemporary fiction."


Athenaeum -- "A series of natural and entertaining pictures
of Australian life, which are, above all things, readable."

Glasgow Herald -- "One of the most interesting books about Australia
we have ever read."

Saturday Review -- "Mr. Boldrewood can tell what he knows
with great point and vigour, and there is no better reading
than the adventurous parts of his books."

End this Etext of Robbery Under Arms, by Rolf Boldrewood (Thomas A. Browne)

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