Part II: On The Run
[A few months of wandering about, working in various places]
[Being arrested over a stolen watch, but as it was apparently planted “I and my companion were therefore acquitted”.]
[Punching out the traps and getting compensated for it.]
[Then things turn a bit more serious…]
“One evening after work, and while in conversation with Mr Kane [former employer], I was accosted by a man named Miller, who requested that I would let him stop at my place for a night or two as he was out of employment but expected work on the following day. My knowledge of this man was very limited, Mr Kane having some few days previously employed him in clearing away the rubbish from the new building at which I had been at work. I took him home that night and permitted him to remain the night following. The next day I went into the township with a view of paying my landlord (Mr Hamilton), the rent, leaving Miller in charge of the house until I returned. I had scarcely concluded my business before I was arrested by a party of constables who, it appears, had searched the house in my absence and found the articles which Miller had stolen, the later have decamped on seeing the constables approaching the house, leaving me, as the occupier of the house, to answer for his delinquencies. I was fully committed and arraigned at Launceston, Mr Mulgrave being then Chairman, where I was sentenced to seven years’ transportation, and forwarded to a station known as Malcolm’s Huts, distant some two miles from Richmond.”
[From which he escapes.]
“My readers may be able to guess the direction I intended to take, and if they cannot I must inform them that Campbell Town was my destination, in order to join my companion, whom I had left under such adverse circumstances, being quite aware that she expected me. She gave me five dollars on coming through Campbell Town on my way to Malcolm’s Huts, three out of which still remained in my possession.”
“On passing the Eastern Marshes I selected a secluded spot in order to make some tea, and, having first kindled a fire, I brought some water from a creek which ran at a little distance. While busy with my preparations, however, I was peremptorily called onto surrender, and on turning round perceived two constables having their pieces levelled at me. … I was then conducted to the gaol at Oatlands, and in a day or two after was brought before Mr Whitefoord, the Police Magistrate, who sentenced me to nine months’ hard labour in a chain gang, at the expiration of which I was to have nine months to a road party.
[From which he escapes.]
“Remaining concealed at a respectable distance from [Campbell Town] until it was dark, I repaired to the house I formerly occupied in the hope of finding my companion. But not finding her at home, I proceeded to a lodging house where I knew she sometimes visited, being on terms of intimacy with the missis, and on approaching the house I met her returning home. Touching her on the shoulder she demanded to know who I was that treated her with such impertinent familiarity. On hearing my voice, however, she was soon aware of my identity, and after giving her a hearty embrace we both continued to walk down the street until we came to a very extensive boarding school under the supervision of one Mr Swift. … We halted at the fence, and here we arranged our plans for the future, namely that my companion was to dispose of her chattels and accompany me to some remote part of the colony where I might procure employment and ultimately save what would be sufficient to pay our passage to Melbourne. She then instructed me to wait for her at a certain place lower down and in rear of Mr Swift’s, and, telling me that she would join me soon, we separated.”
[Skip skirmish when he arrives at the meeting place, and has problems with Swift and police.]
“The excitement having in some measure subsided and the search being practically given up, I eagerly looked out for my companion, although being now apprehensive that she would be under police surveillance in consequence of the disclosures made by Swift; every person in the township would hear that I was the person fired at, and of course she would also be cognisant of the fact. Watching her opportunity, however, she stole out unperceived by the police, and, following up the direction which she heard I had taken, soon came to the place where I lay concealed. She enquired if I was wounded. I answered that I was, but slightly, and telling me to meet me at a certain place the next morning, and also to bring a pen-knife with her, we separated. The next morning she brought me some refreshment and with the pen-knife she extracted nearly the whole of the shot, which I found to be BB duck-shot.
“She wished to remain with me all that day, but to this I would not consent, reminding her of the necessity of selling her things as quickly as possible and leaving a locality which had hitherto brought noting but misfortune to me; and having agreed to meet at a certain place that night, she left and returned in the evening, accompanied by a friend of mine. We sat down for a few minutes and in the course of conversation my friend remarked that he was sorry that I had not a mate, when my companion replied that he had, and a good one; when making this remark he had not the slightest idea that my companion intended to share my fortunes, although seeing her carry two large bundles, which he imagined were for my special use. But on parting, to his surprise, he beheld her lay hold of one of the bundles while I took the other, and for the first time the truth flashed upon him; but he was still slow to believe that any woman could be induced to accompany a man place in such desperate circumstances. He bid us God-speed and we turned our backs up on Campbell Town and crossing the Macquarie River that night we encamped on the other side, and having a tolerable supply of tea, sugar and other necessaries we travelled by easy stages through the infrequented part of the country until arriving at the foot of the Western Tiers.
“It being about twelve o’clock at noon, I made a fire, and while my companion was making some tea a shepherd in the employ of Mr Clark of Ellenthorpe Hall, came up to the spot. He had a gun in his hand, and after eyeing us for a moment addressed me by name, remarking that both of us would have to go with him to his master’s residence, adding that he was well acquainted with my history. … Keeping his piece levelled at me, [he] ordered us to take up our bundles and walk before him.
“I obeyed with seeming alacrity, telling my companion to pick up her bundle, and carelessly remarking that the man would shortly find his mistake. We travelled on in the direction of Ellenthorpe Hall, although not having the slightest intention of keeping his company the whole of the way, being full determined to stand the chance of being shot before doing so. I was merely waiting for a chance to rid myself of my troublesome acquaintance.”
[Skip ridding of troublesome acquaintance.]
“I provided myself with a good sapling and ordered him to pick up the two bundles, when all three [of us] returned to the spot where he found us, giving our friend the post of honour on this occasion. My companion resumed her duties while I secured my friend by tying him to a tree in our immediate vicinity, assuring him that as he was not to be trusted I was determined to keep my eye upon him for the remaining part of the day; in short, I made him carry our bundles for the next four hours and secured him again for the night, observing that, being the author of his own misfortunes, he had no person to blame but himself.
“The next morning after breakfast, and when we were about to start, I released him. … He then took himself off, leaving us to continue our route, devising a great many plans before arriving at any conclusion. A length we agreed to go to the Huon, it being the most likely place for me to elude the vigilance of the police, and also to get employment; and being under the impression that our friend whom I had strapped to the willow might set the beagles on our track, we turned our backs on the Tiers and, crossing the main road, arrived at Jericho late in the evening, and, not thinking it prudent to expose ourselves to the public gaze, we remained under cover until night set in.
“Our provisions at this time having run short, it was necessary that we should get a fresh supply, and, recollecting the old adages, ‘As well be hung for a sheep as a lamb,’ I resolved to travel free of expense.”
[Skip excursion to a nearby farmhouse to obtain free provisions and encounter with an occupant.]
“I was bleeding profusely from the wound I had received on the head, and as the parties running to [opponent’s] assistance were at this time quite close I flung the piece into the ditch and ran for about a quarter of a mile, when, not hearing any person in pursuit, I slackened my pace, feeling rather exhausted from loss of blood. My companion, on seeing my face and shirt-collar besmeared with blood, was very much alarmed, but on assuring her that it was merely a scratch and of no consequence she appeared to be satisfied, and early next morning she dressed the wound, which she described to be about three inches in length on the crown of my head.
“We were both of the opinion, from what had occurred, that it more necessary than ever for us to avoid observation, so we crossed the Den Hill, and on getting onto the road that leads from Bothwell to Hobart Town we met two men with a cart laden with kangaroo skins proceeding in the direction of the former, one of whom seemed to regard us very attentively. On proceeding a short distance we diverged from the road and halted to rest at a place called the “Saddle” and as my companion was much in want of boots, I told her to go into Bothwell and purchase a pair together with any other little necessaries she might require, and that I should remain where I was until she returned, at the same time enjoining her to use all possible despatch.
“The place where I remained was a thick scrub, but on turning the bend of the road about one hundred yards distant I could distinctly see the township. Two hours having elapsed and my companion not appearing, I began to get rather uneasy, being of the opinion that nothing short of personal restraint could have detained her. Resolving at any risk to know the worst, I left my hiding place and travelled in the direction of the township. I had not gone far, however, when I [saw] my companion in company with two men, they all three standing by a fire burning at the end of a log on the side of road; and judging at once that the men in her company were constables, I returned to my place of concealment, being quite at a loss to know the cause of her detention. Never having known her to be guilty of an act of dishonesty, I firmly believe that she was under restraint or she would not remain in their company, having ever regarded the cloth with the greatest abhorrence. Under the circumstances, I could not remain passive and getting on the road a second time I found that they still occupied the same position, when, for the first time, it occurred to me that it was not her they wanted. I therefore concealed myself where I could observer their movements, and in a few minutes the party was joined by two others, making four constables altogether. I could also see that an occasional messenger arrived from and returned to Bothwell, bearing, as I supposed, with instructions from headquarters.
“Being completely at fault as to how she could be recognized, I watched the course of events until it was five o’clock as near as I could guess, at which she moved away from the constables in the direction of the ‘Saddle’, and on getting within about one hundred yards of the place where our bundles were secreted, she again sat down by the roadside, where she was joined by the constables in a few minutes after. I was now of opinion that they would soon begin the search, and therefore removed our baggage to a place of greater security, leaving her still in company with four constables, but on my return I could see but two, with another in the distance on his way to join the party. They now appeared to have some altercation with my companion, as one of them laid hold of her. She instantly extricated herself, and she picking up a stone threw it at the constable, who, it appeared to me, was trying to bring her back to Bothwell. In this manner they kept going and returning until nine o’clock at night, without ever attempting to search for me.
“My temper, on seeing the constables lay hands on my companion, was very near getting the better of me; but I resolved to bide my time, and in the darkness of the night I contrived to get close enough to hear what was going on, and on listening all I could gather was that they wished her to return with them to the township, where, they observed, she would be much more comfortable then sleeping in the bush, never during the time making the slightest reference to me. I was quite aware that her motive in acting as she had done was simply to let me see my danger, well knowing that I would be watching the whole proceedings. It being now after nine o’clock and the night intensely cold, and as it appeared to be their intention to remain where they were for the present, I left with a view of getting my opossum skin rug. I returned as quickly as possible, and on seeing but one constable in her company I imagined that the others were planted in the vicinity, under the impression that I would be making my appearance.
“At this time I was within ten yards of the sport where my companion was standing, and could judge by the constable’s speech and manner that he had been drinking–having heard him remark that his name was Ashton and that he did not care for any man. He then tried to take liberties with my companion, who struck him a blow on the mouth, which seemed to put him out of temper as he told her to call her fancy man from the hills. The word scarcely passed his lips, when, jumping on the road I answered, ‘He is here,’ and rushed towards him. He turned and ran through the thicket, leaving me perfectly astonished at the quickness of his movements, having anticipated a determined struggle with this man, whose language a few minutes previous had implied so much bravery.
“Being much rejoiced at the fortunate turn of affairs, which had through the day assumed so gloomy an aspect, we both put up for the night at the place to which I had previously removed our bedding. My companion informed me that she was dying for a drink of water the greater part of the day, and producing a bottle of rum I took a hearty drink, after which I proceeded to the township and soon returned with water. In explaining the transaction, she told me that on completing her purchases, and when returning through the township, she was accosted by a constable named Howlan, who knew both us, having been stationed at Campbell Town. He enquired if I was on the township and if we still resided at Campbell Town, appearing to be quite ignorant of our recent misfortune. She replied that she did not know where I was, and observing that she was in a hurry, bid him good day. By-and-by, however, she was overtaken by two strange constables, who had their cue from Howlan; they had not been long in her company before they met the men who accompanied the cart laden with kangaroo skins, which we had seen that morning on the road to Bothwell, and from them they learned that he seen a man, at the same time giving a description of my person, in her company at Den Hill on that morning, and as the reader is already aware of what followed, it will be unnecessary for me to recapitulate it.
“At daybreak the following morning, we left our camp and travelled on in the direction of the Hunting Ground, where, on getting among the hills, we put up for the night about a couple of miles in rear of Mr. Pitt’s house on the Jordan River. A little before nightfall we lit a fire, and having taken some refreshments, prepared to retire for the night, when, to our surprise and consternation, we were surrounded by three well-armed men, who took us into custody; and, having no choice in the matter, I made a virtue of necessity and accompanied my captors to the residence of Mr. Pitt, who, it appears, was one of the party. Our apprehension on the present occasion was caused by lighting a fire, the smoke from which had been seen by a shepherd who immediately reported the circumstance to his master; and the latter being of the opinion that it was made by some unfortunate absconder who would be likely to make free with his mutton, repaired at once to the spot; and the reader is aware of the result. We remained at Mr. Pitt’s that night, and the following morning we were brought before a magistrate, and as no charge was preferred against us, we were both acquitted, a piece of good fortune which neither of us had cause to expect, and consequently, were not slow to take advantage of.
“Leaving the neighbourhood as speedily as possible, we at length arrived at Hobart Town where we rented a cottage near the Angel Inn, in Argyle Street. Our next door neighbour being a shoemaker named William M—-t, who I believe, still resides in that locality.”
“Being obliged to remain in Hobart Town for six weeks in consequence of bad weather, at the end of that time we packed up our things and started for the Huon. … [Soon after arriving] I had the satisfaction of coming to terms with Mr. Moore, who engaged with me at one dollar per diem to cut spars for the purpose of launching his vessel, and also to cut firewood for the Hobart Town market, and I hastened back to impart the agreeable news to my companion.
“I was now at my daily labour, and, saving the consideration that I might at any moment be separated from my faithful companion and placed to bondage, I experienced a certain amount of happiness to which for a long time, I had been a stranger. Months glided by imperceptibly and I was beginning to lose the feeling of apprehension which since my recent misfortune had possession of me.
“My engagement with Mr. Moore having nearly expired, I would gladly have continued in his service if that gentleman had not, through principles of economy, secured the services of another at one half the wages he was giving me. We found, however, that the money he owed us would be sufficient to defray our expenses to Melbourne, and consequently decided upon going there immediately; and taking a passage in one of the river crafts we arrived at Hobart Town the next evening, where we rented a small tenement at the top of Harrington Street, and finding that Mr. Moore occupied a cottage in Veteran’s Row, nearly opposite the watchhouse, I called on him early the following morning for my wages, amounting to nineteen pounds. He regretted his inability to pay me the full amount at the present, and presenting me with a five pound note, promised to pay me the remainder in a day or two. I had to appear satisfied at this, though feeling anything but satisfied inwardly, knowing that I held my liberties on a very uncertain tenure while I remained in Hobart Town.”
“[The next morning, on entering a baker’s shop] I perceived a woman standing at the counter who was apparently waiting to be served. She turned round on my entrance and disclosed a set of features not at all unfamiliar to me. We regarded each other for a moment in silence, but I soon made my exit leaving her behind me in the shop. On reaching home I informed my companion that Mrs Flynn, alias Ellen Morgan, my next door neighbour at Campbell Town, had seen me at the baker’s shop, and also that the recognition was mutual, though not exchanging a word. She replied, after a moment’s hesitation, that she (meaning Mrs Flynn) was all right, implying by the observation that the woman would not mention the circumstance to any person who might injure me. However, after breakfast I resolved to change my quarters, not thinking it prudent to rely too much upon the secrecy of my old neighbour, and, taking my companion with me, went in search of a room in another and more remote part of the city, and having accomplished our object we returned with a view of removing our little effects to our new lodging, but on entering the passage leading to the house I was seized by six constables who were placed in ambush awaiting my approach, one of whom I knew in Campbell Town by the name of David Gray. Whether Mrs. Flynn had anything to do with my capture or not I shall leave to the consideration of the reader. However, four of the officials constituted my body guard, the other two taking care of my companion, and, placing us in safe custody, they returned and brought all our movables in a hand cart to the prison.
“Three weeks having now elapsed, I was again brought up to trial upon the charge of absconding. Mr. John Price again presided, and, staring at me intently with his glass fixed to his eye, addressed me as follows: “Well, Martin, it appears that you have behaved remarkably clever on this occasion, acting on the square, as we must suppose; but, Martin, you will not best me, as I intend to place you where you will be safe for some time to come, and thereby save you the expense and trouble of peregrinating through the country. I therefore sentence you to two years in addition to your original sentence, and also to four years imprisonment to hard labour at Port Arthur, and if this will not effect a reformation in your character I shall see what else can be done for you.”
[From which he escapes. Twice. The second attempt, with two companions in tow, is successful, and so they decide to take up arms.]