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LAST year, just before grouse-shooting set
in, I had occasion to call one evening on John
Rowleigh, the jolliest of our English engineers.
I found him surrounded by a troop of friends
and clients, gossiping after dinner over cold
drinks and tobacco on the large lawn of his
little bachelor house. Rowleigh's dinners are
as well liked as his railway works, and for
the same good qualitiesa judicious plan, the
best available materials, perfect execution, and
no frivolous extravagance. As for the people
to be met at his round table, some are old
friends: like his wine; and some are fresh,
like his dessert. Some of his associates are
fruity and full-bodied, like his port: others,
light and cool, like his claret. While
exchanging salutations with all the friends I
found on John Rowleigh's lawn, my attention
was directed to a stranger who approached us
from the greenhouse with slow steps, and eyes
intently studying the grass. He was a wiry
young fellow, with a compact head, short
curly light hair, well cut features, thoroughly
well bronzed; and enough eyebrow and
whisker for the tyrant in a pantomime (afterwards
clown). By his loose throat, wide white
trousers, and excessive garniture with studs
and chains over the chest, I should have taken
this young man to be a sea-captain with a
flush of prize-money, or the successful master
of an opium clipper; but, if he had been a
sailor he would have had his nose turned
upward to the wind, and not downward to the

The good people on the grass had been
amusing themselvesand gratifying their
taste for the horriblewith stories of attornies,
and their ingenious devices for rendering
difficult and devious the straightest railway
routes; tales of desperate struggles in
Parliamentary Committee-rooms; romantic (but
true) anecdotes of prodigious fees to
barristers; and narratives of ingenious jockeyship,
by which rival lines were crushed, and
utterly rased from the railway map.

From railway attornies the talk glided to
robbers in general, and, as engineers visit all
corners of the world, we had tales of the
robbers of all nations. When the Bronzed
Man contributed his share, it turned out that
he had been spending eleven years in
Australia. The tale he told I will endeavour
to repeat.

"In another ten years," said he, " if
things continue on their present footing, tales
of blacks and bushrangers will exist only
as nursery stories in Australia, but when I
first went out to the colony, the case was very
diiferent indeed. Black tribes, flourishing by
hundreds, were like bands of angry wolves
where they now limp like lame foxes by ones
and twos. As for the bush-rangers, they were
generally convict servants too lazy to work, or,
driven out by the cruelty of unjust masters, had
fled into the bush to avoid repeated flogging,
and lived by plundering the stations or by
lifting cattle. When heifers used to be worth
five pounds to ten pounds it was worth while
to be gully-rakerthat is, cattle-stealer; but
when they fell to forty shillings, the profit on
a robbing speculation was not worth the

"At that time, some of them made little
parties to go out and stop the drays on
any unfrequented road, or rob passengers
near towns; while others, who desired to
have exclusive privilege of pocketing the
booty and were desperate enough for the
adventure, went alone. But, a good horse
formed an essential part of the bush-ranger's
equipment, whether he were a thief in his
own right, or a member of a troop of sable

"Desire to save my property from reckless
plunder caused me to pay a sort of black mail
to these fellows. When my drays were about
to travel nearly two hundred miles over a very
bad road, I used to remind the bullock drivers
that if they should meet with any one upon
the road in very urgent want of tea or flour,
they had better be good-natured, and supply
them with a little. In this way my stores
travelled safely when those of my neighbours
were rifled, and when even their drays were
often wantonly backed over the edge of some
precipice. This, no doubt, was chiefly due to
the black-mail I paid; but I had managed to
get the good will of these fellows, by earning
a character for humanity.

"During the assignment time I never was a
flogging master. If a man was saucy to me I
might perhaps knock him down, but that was
a proceeding taken in good part; the convict
looked upon it as a very different thing to