Page:The Eureka Stockade.djvu/18

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I was really delighted to see the old spot once more; Easter, 1854. I do not mean any offence to my fellow-diggers elsewhere; it struck me very forcibly, however, that our Ballaarat men look by far more decent, and our storekeepers, or grog-sellers if you like, undoubtedly more respectable.

Of a constitution not necessarily savage, I did not fail to observe that the fair ones had ventured now on a larger scale to trust their virtue among us vagabonds, and on a hot-wind day, I patronized of course some refreshment room.

I met my old mate, and we determined to try the old game; but this time on the old principle of labor omnia vincit— I pitched my tent right in the bush, and prophesied, that from my door I would see the golden hole in the gully below.

I spoke the truth, and such is the case this very day. Feast of the Assumption, 1855:—What sad events, however, were destined to pass exactly before the very door of my tent!—Who could have told me on that Easter Sunday, that the unknown hill which I had chosen for my rest would soon be called the Massacre Hill! That next Christmas, my mate would lie in the grave, somewhere forgotten; and I in the gaol! the rope round my neck!!

Let us keep in good spirits, good reader, we shall soon have to weep together enough.

Gravel Pits, famous for its strong muster of golden holes, and blasting shicers, was too deep for me. The old Eureka was itself again. The jewellers' shops, which threatened to exhaust themselves in Canadian Gully, were again the talk of the day: and the Eureka gold dust was finer, purer, brighter, immensely darling. The unfaithful truants who had rushed to Bryant's Ranges, to knock their heads against blocks of granite, now hastened for the third time to the old spot, Ballaarat, determined to stick to it for life or death. English, German, and Scotch diggers, worked generally on the Gravel Pits; the Irish had their stronghold on the Eureka. The Americans fraternised with all the wide-awake, ubi caro, ibi vultures.

Here begins as a profession the precious game of "shepherding," or keeping claims in reserve; that is the digger turning squatter. And, as this happened under the reign of a gracious gold commissioner, so I am brought to speak of the gold licence again. First I will place the man before my reader, though.