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Vicissitudes of Bush Life in Australia and New Zealand

Chapter XXVIII

page 202

Chapter XXVIII.

On my final return to the station and the monotony of station life there followed a natural reaction from the excitement I had lately passed through, and though I had the shearing operations to look forward to, I began to experience a recurrence of the morbid thoughts due to the total eclipse of my lover's hopes, as well as anxiety as to the fate of her whom I loved. The utter aimlessness of my life, should it be passed year after year in the present routine and in solitude, seemed to impress itself deeply on my mind, and I began to ask myself was it to be always thus? to what purpose did I imagine I ought to live? I could almost hear a voice within me whispering, “Go forth and see the world; why waste your life amid these solitudes?”

Such was my mental state, when one day I received two letters by the mail, whose tidings at once gave a fresh impetus to my feelings, and immediately afterwards a new shape to my destiny.

One was from Mr. Rolleston, briefly announcing his intention of at once disposing of his Darling sheep run, and requesting me to have everything in readiness for handing it over on the conclusion of the shearing; the other was from Mr. M‘Elwain, with whom I had occasionally corresponded since my arrival on the Darling. His letter was dated from Melbourne, and ran as follows:—

Dear Farquharson,–I have just met Mr. Rolleston, who has informed me of his intention of immediately disposing of his station on the Darling. It seems that he has never recovered from the shock occasioned by his daughter's elopement with that villain Marsden. Marsden is now supposed to be harbouring about the upper Murray, where I believe that the police are on his track. If so, it is to be hoped that the scoundrel will soon be brought to justice. As for the girl, she is supposed to be still with him.

“But it was not of this matter that I meant to write to you. As the station, then, is to be sold, I have been thinking of something that I think should suit you better than attempting to retain your situation under a fresh master, which I doubt not you could do if you so elected. I have just arrived from New Zealand, where I own some property, and in Invercargill I was talking to a Mr. Roscoe, a merchant of that town, who has just taken up some country near —— Lake, in Southland.

“He has no inclination to manage this business himself, and he is also averse to a merely paid substitute, desiring rather to get someone as manager who would be able to go in as a part page 203 shareholder in the business. As I have heard Mr. Rolleston speak very warmly in your favour, I instantly thought of you as being very fitted for this opening.

“If you should think so, too, I should recommend you to at once avail yourself of this advantageous offer. As to the money required, I shall have no hesitation in endorsing bills to the extent of Mr. Roscoe's minimum terms for such an engagement.

“The station will carry about 15,000 sheep, but 5000 will be sufficient in the meanwhile for you both to start with.

“Yours sincerely


Daniel M‘Elwain


It would be difficult for me to adequately express the satisfaction that this letter of my truly generous kinsman inspired me with. Not only for the agreeable and advantageous prospect of change that it offered was this so, but also because this change would bring me nearer to my kind friends the Campbells. As I knew that it was at some lake in Southland that they had settled, might not this be the same lake where my future home was to be established?

The pleasant excitement consequent on this prospective change in my circumstances, together with the activity that the preparations for the most important operation on a station—the shearing—imposed upon me, again succeeded in diverting my thoughts from the melancholy channel that they had been inclined to move in lately.

Over the particulars of this work I will, however, pass. Suffice it to say, that Crawford was now in his element, and “ringer” of the board, save on such days as Lilly found time to go there, when Crawford had to content himself with playing second fiddle.

Lilly's duties did not indeed admit of his taking the part that he usually did in these operations, and, indeed, I question if but for a mischievous desire of taking the “shine out of Tom Crawford,” as he phrased it, he would have found time for being there at all, as in preparing for the coming transfer of both stations he could have been sufficiently occupied among his own stock. But as these were usually, by his excellent management, so well in hand, he was enabled to spare an occasional day from them.

The final transfer of the station into the hands of its purchaser, Mr. Jamieson, was at length accomplished, and I prepared to hand over my charge to my successor, who was likewise to be a manager as I had been. Mr. Jamieson, like Mr. Rolleston, himself residing on another station situated on page 204 the river Murray, and not very many miles from Mr. Rolleston's station on that river.

Ere leaving, I thought it but right to direct the attention of the new manager, Mr. Myers, to the claims of the black fellow Charlie; for I considered him entitled to the protection of the station in return for his signal services in preserving the life of one of the station hands. This claim Mr. Myers, who seemed to be very pleasant, readily admitted, and promised that so long as Charlie behaved himself in a reasonable manner, he should always have his protection and encouragement to remain about the home station. I also particularly impressed upon his mind the merits of both Burrel and Lampiere as shepherds, and mentioned the literary tastes of both. In this, however, I was afraid I had said very little to their advantage in Mr. Myers' eyes, who, a practical man himself, had little relish for poetry at any time, and particularly not in a shepherd, his former experience having led him to believe that sheep had been lost by shepherds with poetic and dreamy proclivities, who he said had been musing or reading when they should have been attending to their flocks.

Of Lilly I spoke frankly and warmly, and pointed out his rough independence of spirit and invincible repugnance to any intermeddling in his own domain, and whose prejudices I recommended Mr. Myers to respect, and to endeavour to avoid coming into collision with.

This advice he also civilly promised to observe, but with no very great ardour, for although of affable manners, he seemed to be a person who was more than sufficiently conscious of what he considered to be the duties and requirements of his own position. I therefore scarcely in my own mind anticipated a continuation of the same harmonious relations between Mr. Myers and Lilly as he and I had enjoyed.

Lampiere was still an invalid, though getting rapidly better, when I left, and with the new manager's consent was still staying at Lilly's hut, with the promise of employment either as shepherd or in whatever berth might be open when he was ready for work. His weekly wages, that had been allowed to run on by me, were indeed disallowed under the new management, but as he expected to be at work again in a few weeks time this did not matter so very much.

At length I bade good-bye to all the men and with a cordial invitation to each of them should they chance to come to the neighbourhood of my new home, and a particularly cordial farewell to Lilly, whose few rough and ready words on the occasion I knew came from the brave fellow's heart, I left a place so full of memories of both happiness and sorrow to me.