One fine morning (Epiphany week), I was hard at work (excuse old chum,
if I said hard: though my hand had been scores of times compelled in London
to drop the quill through sheer fatigue, yet I never before handled a pick
and shovel), I hear a rattling noise among the brush. My faithful dog,
Bonaparte, would not keep under my control. "What's up?" "Your licence,
mate." was the peremptory question from a six-foot fellow in blue shirt,
thick boots, the face of a ruffian armed with a carbine and fixed bayonet.
The old "all right" being exchanged, I lost sight of that specimen of colonial
brutedom and his similars, called, as I then learned, "traps" and "troopers."
I left off work, and was unable to do a stroke more that day.
"I came, then, 16,000 miles in vain to get away from the law of the sword!"
was my sad reflection. My sorrow was not mitigated by my mates and neighbours
informing me, that Australia was a penal settlement. Inveterate murderers,
audacious burglars, bloodthirsty bushrangers, were the ruling triumvirate,
the scour of old Europe, called Vandemonians, in this bullock-drivers' land.
Of course I felt tamed, and felt less angry, at the following search
for licence. At the latter end of the month, one hundred and seventy
seven pounds troy, in two superb masses of gold, were discovered at the depth
of sixty feet, on the hill opposite where I was working. The talk was soon
Vulcanish through the land.
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