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being also below the level of the street, with
a brick here and there to step upon, for those
who could see them, or knew where they were
planted, till they came to a yard. This
yard was a slough, having been torn up by
the wheels of heavily laden drays and the
hoofs of bullocks. They crossed by means
of several broken planks, half embedded in
the mud, close under the horns of a team of
bullocks standing there till the driver got
sober enough to attend to them, and then
getting behind a muddy wheel, the ladies
found their hostess had paused at the foot of
a ladder. This they all by a very slow
and difficult process ascended; but one
of the spokes having been broken out,
it was thought that poor Mrs. Pounderby
would never accomplish the task; nor would
she, but that the drunken bullock driver
seemed to be coming to her assistance, which
induced a succession of struggles that were
at last successful. Of course, being so fat as
she is, it was a dangerous moment for the
ladder.

The hostess now led the way along some
cracking boards till they arrived at the
entrance of a loft or lumber attic. This loft,
however, was only fragmentary, being quite
unfloored, the only apology for which
consisted of some eight or nine long planks laid
across from side to side and resting on ledges
on the top of the walls, just where the
upward slant of the roof commenced. " Oh
gracious heavens alive!" cried Mrs.
Pounderby; but her ecstacies were cut short by
the woman of the house who said, "Better
than the streets, I'm thinking;" with which
curt remark she set down the candle on a
plank, and departed before they could at all
make out where they were.

Surveying their apartment, as well as the
squalid gloom would permit, they saw that
about the centre of the planks lay a horribly
dirty old bag made of packing canvass, and
stuffed with straw and some lumps and rolls
like cast-off clothes and rags made up into
bundles. Upon this a couple of distempered
looking blankets were placed, while the
bolster was a sack filled with straw and brick-
rubbish, which knocked upon the floor when
moved.* Between the edges of this bed and
the outside planks was a space of about two
feet at most on each side, and beyond that
was an unknown abyss. To the verge of
this. Miss Dashwood cautiously approached,
held fast behind, by the skirts of her dress,
by Mrs. Watson, who was held in turn by
Mrs. Pounderby in the same way. Peering
over the brink. Miss Dashwood thought she
could distinguish through the dark haze a
large tank or reservoir, below, covered with
strange shapes sleeping in little boats; gradually,
however, she was enabled to see that
it was a room carpeted with water, and
containing a bevy of occupied stretchers
enlivened by the gleam of one candle and
its reflection. They were just over our
heads.

The three poor ladies now sat down upon
the bag-bed, and all had a good cry.  Talked
of having had every comfort at home, and
lamented they had ever set foot in Australia.
After this, feeling rather better, Mrs Watson
produced some biscuits and potted beef from
a little basket she had, and reserving half for
the morrow, shared the remainder, while Mrs.
Pounderby found she had got a little flask of
spirits in her bag, which was good against the
spasms. They now began to feel their minds
somewhat relieved. At least there was no
danger here, except of falling over; but of
this they all agreed to be very careful.
Covering themselves over with the blankets, with
many expressions of disgust at their dirt and
stains, and strong odour of stale tobacco-
smoke and cheese, our three fair friends crept
and nestled close to each other, holding very
fast round each others' waists. Miss
Dashwood believes that they all fell asleep almost
immediately.

But the fates had not willed that there
should be any sleep for them during their
first night in Melbourne. Squeaks and
scrimmages soon aroused them, quickly
followed by rattlings, and rushings, and sharp
impatient irate little cries, and then a pattering
over the planks. Three or four rats came,
as avant couriers, to reconnoitre, and in no
time there were a dozen describing circles
round them. The ladies screamed, and the
rats made a precipitate retreat; but presently
returned in full force, apparently in open
column, and again made a circuit of the bed,
till several of the chivalrous took to making
a dash across the bed. At this the ladies
renewed their screams for help so loudly
that it awoke some of the men below, who
answered by brutal shouts and imprecations.
Meantime the numbers of the rat-army
augmented, and a whole squadron being detached,
made a sharp wheel to the left, and gallopped
clean over the shrinking, writhing, plunging,
and vibrating bodies of our three luckless
ladies. Mrs. Watson fainted away, and Mrs.
Pounderby was in hysterics. The candle had
been knocked out and eaten; they dared not
rise in the darkness to attempt an escape for
fear of tumbling over into the place below;
and they dared not again cry for help lest
some of the savages below should come up to
them. As for me, I slept through it all, and
never heard anything.

These tortures they endured beneath the
close drawn blankets, with buried heads, till
daybreak. All the remaining biscuits and
potted beef had been carried off from Mrs.
Watson's basket; and the night-bag of Mrs.
Pounderby had been torn to atoms, as it
had a savoury smell of medical comforts
which had been secreted there during the
voyage.

* It may be necessary to state (as Melbourne seems
destined to have a place in history) that all this
apparently extravagant description is a record of fact.

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