Newsletter March 2020

Excerpt from “Shadows on the Goldfield Track” written by Elizabeth Rimmington

The shade of the two fig trees spread over them like a friendly welcome, cooling their sticky bodies. They followed a well-maintained path winding its way towards the house.

From the shadows, a harridan, with stringy grey hair brushing bony shoulders, screeched at them.

“Get out, get out and take that blackfella with you. If you come an inch closer, I’ll shoot you myself.” Gaps in her gums were given an airing as she yelled her abuse. Those narrow shoulders failed to adequately hold up a flimsy undergarment of some sort. Thick uncut toenails of her bare feet stuck out from under the long hem of the slip.

“But … but … Thomas is Egyptian; he is not a blackfella.” George was unsure whether to be afraid or to laugh.

He did have to make a decision because right then a tall man with a thick white rim of hair around the base of his otherwise bald head, came shuffling around the corner.

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“Shadows on the Goldfield Track” will be available for purchase on the 11th March 2020.

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Last Instalment:                      BAIL UP         Written by Elizabeth Rimmington

Dark had fallen and the full moon was on the rise when they made their way down into a running stream. An owl hooted in complaint at the disturbance. Small animals scurried through the underbrush. The horses drank thirstily as did the two young men before they once more swung up into their saddles. They plodded through the waters making steady progress until the moon rode high in the sky. Jack dismounted. His muscles bulged as he removed his saddle, bridle, guns and the heavy sack from the horse’s back. He directed his brother to follow suit. They slapped the animals’ rumps sending the two animals cantering off across the valley floor.

“Shame to let those horses go.” Max wiped the sweat from his forehead as he spoke.

His brother stared after their mounts. “They’re stolen animals, Max. That coach driver will soon recognise them, if he’s worth his salt. We don’t want to be anywhere near them again. Our own horses have never been near that area.”

With the weight dragging at their shoulders, they proceeded further upstream keeping within the water. At one point, Jack’s hand reached out to steady his brother when Max stumbled. They paused again to catch their breath.

“Do you think they’ll track us all this way?”

“They’d need to be pretty good. Dad always planned different escape routes. He believed in good planning and to never go directly back to the hideout.”

When the stony creek bed turned to rocks and boulders they stepped out onto the hard surface. The sound of falling water nearby echoed through the gloom. Walking with care across the rocks, the boys moved away from the stream. From his position on a high boulder, Jack put his two fingers in his mouth and let forth a piercing whistle. Max lay his saddle and gear down then eased his weary body to rest against it. Jack did likewise. Silence hung heavy between them until Max spoke.

“You shot a man, Jack. He’s dead. What’re we going to do now?”

Jack remained quiet for some time. He sighed.

“Max, remember what Dad always said. ‘If you carry a gun, you have to expect that one day you’re going to need to use it.’ I guess today was that day for me.”

“But what’re we going to do? They’ll hang us if they catch us. What’ll Sis do then? She’s got no one else to look after her. We promised Mum, on her dying bed, that we’d look out for her.”

“We’ll have to make sure they don’t catch us then, won’t we?” Jack sat silent for some time before speaking again. “I guess we’ll have to hang up our guns and move on. Maybe shift further up north. We’ve got enough in these sacks to keep us going for a long while. We could set up a legitimate horse-breaking business or maybe a blacksmith forge; like Dad first had.”

“Shame we’ll have to leave the cave. I was just getting used to it.”

“In that case, it’s time to move on. Can’t stay too long at one place, in this game. We’ll load up the cart in a couple of days; when all the fuss has died down.”

Jack jumped up at the sound of hooves coming from the east. He reached out his hand and pulled his brother to his feet.

“Come on then Max, we’d best go and give Sis the bad news.”

They rode in silence, over a circuitous route, until hints of the piccaninny dawn crept over the horizon. As they made their way through the timber bordering the Chinese vegetable gardens at Pie Creek, Jack sighed.

“You awake, Max? Not far from the cave now.”