“In course I know Bos.”
“What sort of a fellow is he?” Then Harry told his German dependent exactly what had taken place between him and the other man.
“He’s in and in wid all them young Brownbies,” said Karl.
“The Brownbies are a bad lot, but I don’t think they’d do any thing of this kind,” said Harry, whose mind was still dwelling on the dangers of fire.
“They likes muttons, Mr. ’Eathcote.”
“I suppose they do take a sheep or two now and then. They wouldn’t do worse than that, would they?”
“Not’ing too ’ot for ’em; not’ing too ’eavy,” said Karl, smoking his pipe. “The vind, vat there is, comes just here, Mr. ’Eathcote.” And the man lifted up his arm, and pointed across in the direction of Brownbie’s run.
“And you don’t think much of Boscobel?”
Karl Bender shook his head.
“He was always well treated here,” said Harry, “and has had plenty of work, and earned large wages. The man will be a fool to quarrel with me.”
Karl again shook his head. With Karl Bender, Harry was quite sure of his man, but not on that account need he be quite sure of the correctness of the man’s opinion.
Thence he went on till he met his other lieutenant, O’Dowd, and so, having completed his work, he made his way home, reaching the station at sunrise.
“Did Bates tell you he’d met me?” he asked his wife.
“Yes, Harry; kiss me, Harry. I was so glad you sent a word. Promise me, Harry, not to think that I don’t agree with you in every thing.”
The Brownbies of Boolabong.
Old Brownbie, as he was usually called, was a squatter also, but a squatter of a class very different from that to which Heathcote belonged. He had begun his life in the colonies a little under a cloud, having been sent out from home after the perpetration of some peccadillo of which the law had disapproved.
In colonial phrase, he was a “lag”—having been transported; but this was many years ago, when he was quite young; and he had now been a free man for more than thirty years. It must be owned on his behalf that he had worked hard, had endeavored to rise, and had risen. But there still stuck to him the savor of his old life. Every one knew that he had been a convict; and even had he become a man of high principle—a condition which he certainly never achieved—he could hardly have escaped altogether from the thralldom of his degradation. He had been a butcher, a drover, part owner of stock, and had at last become possessed of a share of a cattle-run, and then of the entire property, such as it was. He had four or five sons, uneducated, ill-conditioned, drunken fellows, who had all their father’s faults without his energy, some of whom had been in prison, and all of whom were known as pests to the colony. Their place was called Boolabong, and was a cattle-run, as distinguished from a sheep-run; but it was a poor place, was sometimes altogether unstocked, and was supposed to be not unfrequently used as a receptable for stolen cattle.