Page:Last of the tasmanians.djvu/190

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163
MR. WALPOLE CATCHES A BLACK.

to this regulation. He then requested them to camp in parties of three at night, with a fire between the separate gatherings, and that the sentries should walk from the fire to and fro, but so as not to meet each other. In some of the best-regulated parties, after proceeding through the Bush for half an hour, they would halt, for all to come up, and cry 1, 2, 3, 4, &c., to ascertain if any were adrift. So little faith had Mr. Brodribb in the security of the Line that he offered, as he assured me, to convey a letter for Colonel Arthur through any part of the Line without meeting an individual; and, not a little to the Governor's vexation, he accomplished the feat.

The Natives gave some proofs of their audacity. One came boldly in front of a party, threw his spear of defiance, and was off before a shot could reach him. Mr. Lloyd, in his "Thirty Years'" experience, has some good stories of the Line, or "Black String." One of his men fired at a cow for a Native. But an unexpected spear found its way into the pea-jacket of "Michael O'Brien, number tin." A tribe confronted the men of Mr. Peter Scott's, near the Western Tier, and then suddenly disappeared. One leader told me that, upon his first night's camp, which was in Michael Howe's Marsh, near Oatlands, the Black fellows crept noiselessly up, and stole all their pannikins: Mr. Batman came upon about thirty. Mr. William Emmett, the brother of Mr. Emmett of Sandhurst, came nearly in time for an aboriginal supper, but succeeded in seizing a quantity of spears left in the flurry of flight. A settler chased one fellow by moonlight, but missed him all at once near some fallen, dead timber. Despairing of seeing him again, he carelessly turned to go away, when one of the supposed charred branches was slowly lowered before his astonished eyes, and a black carcass rapidly rolled off into the thicket.

The best story of the Line is in connexion with Mr. Walpole, who has the merit of making the only capture, but at the cost of ruining the whole affair. The Hobart Town Courier has this account:—"Mr. Walpole had charge of a roving party, of ten men, and had been sent inside of the Line to scour the country along the sea-coast, to the southward of Prosser's Bay. On the evening of Monday the 25th instant he discovered the Natives hunting, and watched them making their fires and forming their encampment for the night, in a deep scrubby ravine, to the south