Some settlers keep large flocks of sheep, and gain money by selling the wool and the fat, to make cloth and tallow. A shepherd in Australia leads a very lonely life among the hills, and he is obliged to keep ever upon the watch against the wild dogs. These voracious animals prowl about in troops, and cruelly bite numbers of the sheep, and then devour as many as they can. Happily there are no large wild beasts, such as wolves, and bears, lions, and tigers; for these would devour the shepherd as well as the sheep.
But there are men, called “bush-rangers,” as fierce as wild beasts. These are convicts who have escaped from punishment. They often come to the settlers’ houses, and murder the inhabitants.
The natives are not nearly as dangerous as these wicked white men; indeed they are generally very harmless, unless provoked by ill-treatment. They are willing to make themselves useful, by reaping corn, and washing sheep; and a little reward satisfies them, such as a blanket, or an old coat. When some of the flock have strayed, the blacks will take great pains to look for them, and seem as much pleased when they have found them, as if they were their own sheep. The black women can help in the wash-house, and in the farm-yard; but they are too much besmeared with grease to be fit for the kitchen. It is wise never to give a good dinner to a black, till his work is done; because he always eats so much, that he can work no more that day.
Some of these poor blacks are very faithful and affectionate. There was one who lived near a settler’s hut, and he used to come there every morning before the master was up; he would enter very gently for fear of waking him,—light the fire by rubbing two pieces of wood together, and set the kettle on to boil; then he would approach the bed, and putting his hand affectionately on the hand of the sleeper would whisper in his ear, till he saw him open his eyes, when he would greet him with a kind and smiling look. These attentions were the mark of his attachment to the white man.
This black was as faithful, as he was affectionate. Once he was sent by a farmer on a message. It was this, “Take this letter to my brother, and he will give you sixpence, and then spend the sixpence in pipes for me.” The black man took the letter, and went towards the place where the brother lived. He met him on horseback. The brother after reading the letter, rode away without giving the sixpence to the bearer. What was the poor black man to do? “Shall I go back,” thought he, “without the pipes? No. I will try to get some money.” He went to a house that he knew of, and offered to chop some wood for sixpence, and with that sixpence he bought the pipes. Was not this being a good servant? This was not eye-service; it was the service of the heart. But there are not many natives like this man. They are generally soon tired of working. For instance, a boy called Jackey, left a good master who would have provided for him, to live again wild in the woods, and went away with the blanket off his bed.