Page:Melbourne and Mars.djvu/11

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9
AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL.

the booth, having recorded his vote, when a waggon, load of Tory voters, noisily drunk, and carrying blue ribbons and rosettes, drove up to the door. There were some score of men who had been shepherded at a jerry shop—a low alehouse—all day, and who were now coming to give their votes or sell them for about ten shillings each. A lot of Darron Punsers came with them to clear the way into the booth. As they jumped and tumbled out of the waggon into the crowd they were seized on all hands by the wearers of pink and green, and a free fight commenced. The police and special constables were not equal to the occasion, and before help arrived several men were severely injured, one killed outright, and another so much hurt that he died a day or two after.

Father was in the midst of the crowd and received a number of blows, and doubtless gave as good as he got. One eye was blackened, a cut on the forehead covered his face with blood, and he received several bruises from the clog toes of a Darron Punser, kicker with the feet. Before he could get clear of his entanglement a squad of infantry charged down Penny-street and father suffered further maltreatment, and as he got up, after being rolled over and trampled upon, a constable slipped a pair of handcuffs on him and took him to the watchhouse.

Here early next morning mother found him, but she could not obtain his release, for he was one who had been seen struggling within a yard of where a man had fallen dead. For three weeks several men who had been arrested in that fatal crowd wore examined and remanded, and at last sent for trial to the Assize Court. Father's friends rallied round him. They testified to his general good character and conduct, and would doubtless have obtained his acquittance but for a persistent special constable, who swore that he saw father knock the man down who had been carried dead off the street.

The jury brought in a verdict of guilty of manslaughter, and five men were sentenced to fourteen years' transportation.

Our tears and prayers were all of no avail. Our father, whom we had always known as a kind man, and little likely to injure anyone, was taken from us, and all we could get to know was his ultimate destination—Botany Bay.

The first thing mother did was to determine to go out to him and to take us with her. Aunt and uncle were opposed to this step, but eventually they agreed, and helped with the preparations and found means. Nearly a year after father went out in a Government ship. We set sail in a barque, the Mary Jane, for Port Jackson. There were several families in the steerage with us. Two wives were going to join convicted husbands. One of the husbands had killed a hare and fought a keeper, and the other, driven by poverty and hunger, had stolen half a sheep. This was the justice of the time.

A voyage of one hundred and fifty-two days brought us to Port Jackson.