This section is from the book "Robbery Under Arms; A Story Of Life And Adventure In The Bush And In The Australian Goldfields", by Rolf Boldrewood. Also available from Amazon: Robbery under Arms; a story of life and adventure in the bush and in the Australian goldfields.
'As sure as we've had anything to do with her, bad luck's followed up,' says Jim; 'I'd rather have faced a trooper than seen her face again.'
'He's there now,' says Jim. 'He was at Kate's last night.'
'How do you know that?'
'I heard her mutter something about it just when she went into that fit, or whatever it was. Devilment, I think. I never saw such a woman; and to think she's my Jeanie's sister!'
'Never mind that, Jim. These things can't be helped. But what did she say?'
'Something like this: "He thought I didn't know him, passing himself off as a gentleman. Warrigal, too. Kate Morrison's eyes are too sharp for that, as he'll find out."'
'Think she'll give us away again, Jim?'
'God only knows. She mightn't this time, unless she wants to smother you altogether, and don't mind who she hurts along with you.'
'There's one good thing in it,' says I; 'there's no police nearer than Trielgerat, and it's a long day's ride to them. We made it all right before we left the Turon. All the police in the country is looking for us on the wrong road, and will be for a week or two yet.'
Then I told him about Aileen putting Sir Ferdinand on the wrong lay, and he said what a clever girl she was, and had as much pluck and sense as two or three men. 'A deal more than we've ever showed, Dick,' says he, 'and that's not saying much either.'
He laughed in his quiet way when he heard about Starlight's advertisement in the 'Turon Star', and said it was just like him.
'He's a wonderful clever fellow, the Captain. I've often thought when I've been by myself in Melbourne, sitting quiet, smoking at night, and turning all these things over, that it's a wonder he don't shoot himself when he thinks of what he is and the man he ought to be.'
'He's head enough to take us safe out of this dashed old Sydney side,' says I, 'and land us in another country, where we'll be free and happy in spite of all that's come and gone. If he does that, we've no call to throw anything up to him.'
'Let him do that,' says Jim, 'and I'll be his servant to the day of my death. But I'm afeard it isn't to be any more than going to heaven right off. It's too good, somehow, to come true; and yet what a thing it is to be leading a working honest life and be afraid of no man! I was very near like that in Melbourne, Dick,' he says; 'you've no notion what a grand thing it was -- when I'd done my week's work, and used to walk about with Jeanie and her boy on Sundays, and pass the time of day with decent square coves that I knew, and never dreamed I was different; then the going home peaceful and contented to our own little cottage; I tell you, Dick, it was heaven on earth. No wonder it regular broke my heart to leave it.'
'We're close up to the township now,' says I. 'This wire fence and the painted gate ain't more than a couple of miles off, that chap said at the inn. I wish there was a fire-stick in it, and I'd never gone inside a door of it. However, that says nothing. We've got to meet Starlight somehow, and there's no use in riding in together. You go in first, and I'll take a wheel outside the house and meet you in the road a mile or two ahead. Where's your pistol? I must have a look at mine. I had to roll it up in my swag, and it wants loading.'
'Mine's a good tool,' says Jim, bringing out a splendid-looking revolver -- one of these new Dean and Adams's. 'I can make prime shooting at fifty yards; but I hope to God I shan't want to use it.'
'There's no fear yet a bit,' says I; 'but it's as well to be ready. I'll load before we go any farther.'
I loaded and put her back in the belt. We were just going to push on when we heard the sound of galloping, and round a patch of scrub comes a horseman at full speed. When he sees us he cuts off the road and comes towards us.
There was only one horse that carried himself like that, even when he was pulling double. We spotted him the same second. Rainbow and Starlight on him! What in thunder makes him ride like that?
When he came closer we saw by his face that something was up. His eyes had the gloomy, dull fire in them that put me in mind of the first time I saw him when he came back wounded and half dead to the Hollow.
'Don't stop to talk, boys,' he sings out, without stopping, 'but ride like the devil. Head to the left. That infernal Warrigal has laid the police on your track, Dick. They were seen at Willaroon; may be up at any minute.'
'Where's Warrigal now?' I said, as we all took our horses by the head and made for a patch of dark timber we could see far out on the plain.
'He dropped when I fired at him,' says Starlight; 'but whether the poor beggar's dead or not I can't say. It isn't my fault if he betrays any one again.'
'How did it come out?'
'I was tired of waiting at that confounded hotel -- not a soul to speak to. I rode back as far as Kate's, just to see if you had passed. She didn't know me a bit.'
'The deuce she didn't! Why, she broke out on me and Jim. Said something about you and Warrigal too.'
'Wonderful creatures, women,' says he, thoughtful-like; 'and yet I used to think I understood them. No time to do anything, though.'
'No; the nearest police station's a day off. I'd give a trifle to know who's after us. How did you find out Warrigal's doubling on me? not that it matters now; d--n him!'
'When I talked about going back he was in a terrible fright, and raised so many objections that I saw he had some reason for it; so I made him confess.'
'How did he do it?'
'After we'd passed Dandaloo, and well inside the West Bogan scrubs, he picked up a blackfellow that had once been a tracker; gave him a pound to let them know at the police camp that you were making out by Willaroon.'