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Another Captain Timber

A Kid's Tale

By: Roy E. Hare

"Twenty one, twenty two, twenty three, oh blow this I'm coming to look for you now."

Robbie was fed up with playing the silly game of hide and seek, his mind was still full, of his last adventure, the excitement of travelling to the wild west, had made all the games, that he used to play, seem rather silly now.

He pretended he was searching for Mark and Freddy, as he wandered around the house, they were having to play indoors, as it was teeming with rain. He creeping up the stairs, into his bedroom, he peeped round the door, and saw a foot disappear beneath the bed, and recognized it at once.

"Come on out Mark, I have found you, I don't like this game, can't we go downstairs, and plan another trip in the "Conker" there must be hundreds of places, we can go."

Mark slid out from under the bed, sneezed twice.

"Must be the mites I read about, they creep about all over the place."

"What are they Mark?"

"Little dusty mites that you can't see, there's millions of them, they eat all the dead skin that falls off your body."

Robbie stood with his mouth open, not knowing whether too believe Mark or not.

"Don't stand there with your mouth open, they'll get down your throat, and choke you."

Robbie snapped his mouth shut. Mark started to leave the bedroom.

"Come on then let's find Fred, and make plans, this holiday will be boring if it keeps raining and we are stuck indoors."

Finding Freddy was easy, he did not make a big effort to hide, standing behind the door, in the box room, and shouting, 'Boo' as the other two entered.

"Come on," said Mark, after he recovered from the shock, "let's go down stairs, and decide where we would like to go, on our next trip into the unknown."

Stretched out on the lounge carpet, with a map of the world spread before them, trying not to spill orange juice, or scatter biscuit crumbs to the four corners of the room, they studied each country in turn.

"How about Australia? We could go and watch the convicts come ashore, or see what it was like, when Captain Cook landed there."

"Sounds ok Robbie, write it down, when we have a list of places, we could decide on the best one." Freddy instructed.

They spent a busy afternoon, writing a list of things past, present and future, then came the hard part, selecting the one place that appealed to all three.

Robbie still thought that a visit to Australia would be nice, as he wanted to see an Aborigine throw his boomerang, as well as the convicts coming ashore in chains.

Freddy was all for setting off to America, this time he wanted to see the Wright brothers, fly in their aeroplane, 'Kittyhawk'.

Mark fancied a trip to ancient Rome, learning Latin at school, he would like to try, and converse with a Roman. He also wanted to see Gladiators fighting lions.

The three of them argued over which would be the best adventure, but no agreement was reached, finally they decided to write their names on a piece of paper, place them in an old school cap, and ask Fred's mother too make the draw. As Freddy said, the tree and the hut, were in his garden, so it was only fair, that his mother, should make the selection.

"The first name out is ----- Robbie."

Robbie almost deafened Mrs Jones, with his shout of, 'WOW'.

Freddy was chosen second, and Mark, rather disappointed, third.

"I don't know what you boys are up to but behave yourselves."

"We shall be as good as gold, Mum, we are off on a trip in the 'Conker', so you won't hear a sound."

"Just be back in time for your tea, and remember, your cousin Millicent, is coming to stay for a few days."

All three boys groaned, knowing that they would have to act as her escorts.

First a trip to Australia, if Captain Timber was agreeable.

"Hummm, Australia, yes I feel sure we can arrange that."

Captain Timber's voice sounded thoughtful.

"Can we go and watch the convicts getting off the ships ---- and --- and an abbo -aboriginny, throwing a boomerang?"

"I should think so Robbie, the only thing is, the voyage will probably be a bit rough, though it won't take as long as it used to, I remember when I was battered by wind and sea, it used to make the old timbers shiver, many's the time I thought it was Davy Jones' locker for me."

"What was Davy Jones' locker?"

"The bottom of the sea lad, the murky depths. Makes me tremble to think of it."

The tree and hut gave a sudden shake. The boys looked at each other wondering if they had made a good choice.

"It will be all right me hearties, you will be there on the dock at Sydney harbour before you can say, splice the mainbrace. What time will you be wanting to go?"

Mark as leader spoke up, a bit shakily, he was not looking forward to a bumpy trip.

"We have to get a story together, about who we are, where we are going, just in case we are asked awkward questions, and we have to look up some information, about Australia. We should be ready to embark tomorrow, about ten o clock."

"Righto me hearties, let's all have a good nights sleep and I shall be all ship shape and Bristol fashion, rarin' to go. G'nght lads."

The boy's chorused.

"Good night, Cap'n Timber"

Next morning, Mark and Robbie arrived at Freddy's house, a little early, and breathless from running, full of excitement.

"Fred --- Fred are you ready, we can't wait to get off."

Mark gasped out the words.

"I shall be ready in a couple of minutes, my mum says I have to wait to say hello to my cousin, she arrived last night after I had gone to bed."

"Oh darn'n blast, I forgot about her, do we have to wait?"

" 'fraid so, you go on ahead, I shouldn't be long."

Leaving a downcast Fred, Mark and Robbie, climbed up to the hut. Mark hesitated as he approached the door.

"Robbie, we did close this door last night, didn't we?"

"I wasn't last out, so you can't blame me."

"Nobody is blaming you, we must have had a strong wind or intruders last night."

Mark edged to the door and slowly put his head through the gap, he gasped. Robbie stepped back and almost fell off the platform.

" What's the matter?"

He asked, trying to peer around Mark's body.

"There's, -- there's somebody in there."

Summoning up his courage, Mark shouted.

"Whh, whoo are you? Come out of our hut."

The sound of a chair scuffing on the floor, a face peered round the door, a girls face, pretty, with long blonde hair falling down to her shoulders.

"Oh hello, I'm Millicent, Fred's cousin. You can call me Millie if you like."

Mark was struck dumb, he was not used to girls, and did not know what to say. Robbie did.

"We don't want girls in HMS Conker. Go away."

" Oh --- I am sorry, I thought it would be all right to have a look round. I have not broken any thing. It could do with a dust and a sweep round."

"Tell her to go Mark, go on tell her."

Mark looked at this pretty interloper, trying to unravel his tongue, the words refused to come out of his mouth.

"Millie, what are you doing up here? Mum and I have been searching the house for you."

" Sorry Fred, you know how I love investigating, I just could not resist having a look round. Not a bad bit of building, could do with a spring clean, I'll clean it up if you let me stay."

"We shall have to have a vote on it."

"Go on then, hurry up."

Freddy looked at Mark and Robbie.

"All in favour of Millie staying, raise you hand."

Freddie raised his hand, he had no other choice. Mark still bemused slowly raised his arm, Robbie looking in disgust at the other two, folded his arms.

"Well that's settled." Said Millie.

"Welcome aboard Miss."

Four bodies jumped, as Captain Timber spoke, Millie's heart missed a beat.

"What --- what ever was that, who spoke?"

Mark coming out of his dream answered her question.

"That's Captain Timber, don't be frightened of him, he will be taking us to Australia."

"C -captain Timber, ----- Aust---rali---a. How ---- when?"

"Just as soon as we get settled down, Rob, Fred are you ready?"

Two voices cried out, "YES"

"Millie hold on to Fred's hand, it might get a bit bumpy, we will tell you about Captain Timber, as we travel. Ready to go Captain."

"Aye-aye, Mark, hold tight everyone, cast off forrad, cast off aft, full speed ahead."

With a rush of wind, creaking of timber, they whooshed away.

The journey was not very bumpy, although as they landed a storm was raging, the rain sounded like it was coming down in lumps, hitting the roof in a continuous drumming.

"I thought it was sunny in Australia?" shouted Robbie, the noise of the rain, beating on the roof, almost drowning his voice.

"It is, in the summer, it's winter here at the moment."

Mark thought he would air his superior knowledge, not that he knew much of the Australian continent.

"Oh, how is it winter here and summer at home?"

Robbie was puzzled. So was Mark, though he did not wish Robbie to think he did not know.

"It's a bit complicated for you to understand, when I have lots of time, I shall try and explain it."

The drumming on the roof ceased, as the rain eased and stopped.

"The rain has stopped Mark, can we start exploring?"

Robbie was anxious to get started. Millie having got her breath back, started for the door.

"Come on Fred - Mark, let's get going. Shall I hold your hand Rob?"

"Gerrraway I can look after myself."

As they stepped outside, a wintry sun peeped from behind the dark clouds. The muddy track led to a collection of wooden shacks, on the banks of river, swollen by the rains and threatening to flood the surrounding area.

"Nothing like the brochures in the travel agents."

Mark mumbled, wishing he had not come to sunny Australia. Squelching their way along the path, they wished that they had brought their 'wellies'. This had not been possible. Where ever they traveled, their clothes changed to the fashions, of the age, and country, they were visiting.

"This does not look like the Sydney harbour I have seen pictures of. Where's the bridge and the Opera House?"

Millie was disappointed, as were the three boys.

"Looks as if the Captain got it wrong in his calculations, we are in the wrong century. Just look at our old fashioned clothes, I remember seeing pictures of people dressed like this, some time in the eighteen- hundreds, eighteen - fifties, I think."

"You could be right Millie, it seems we have landed in the wrong age. Anyone want to go back?"

Mark studied their faces, none showed disapproval.

"Let us carry on and explore then."

It was exhausting work, stumbling over the large ruts, made by the dozens of horses, carts, and people that must have traveled this road.

Passing a row of ramshackle huts, they sloshed their way, over the brow of a small hill, the scene spread out before their eyes could only be described as a jig-saw of buildings, that had never been completed. A river splashed its way through the centre of this collection of hastily built shacks. Hundreds of people milling about, some digging, others engaged in various tasks, smoky fires dotted about, forming a hazy fog in the pale yellow sunshine.

"Looks like an interesting place to explore, might even be able to get a cup of tea."

As he spoke Freddie started off down the slight incline, followed by Millie, Robbie and Mark taking up the rear. The closer they got to the shacks, the more noise they heard, shouts from the men who were digging, the thuds and clangs of shovels hitting earth or stones. Grunts and groans, curses as the workers carried out their digging.

"Wonder where we are?" said Mark, raising his voice above the din.

"I wish I knew." Answered Freddie. " They seem to be digging for something, I did read somewhere about gold, and opals being discovered in Australia. If we are in Australia, who is going too ask?"

"Well as leader of this gang, I suppose I shall have to. Let's see if we can find, a friendly looking one."

Threading a path through all the narrow spaces that had been left as a sort of no-mans land, the four of them were hardly noticed by the men, digging away at the rain soaked earth.

Mark was having trouble, trying to find a friendly looking face, among all the mud spattered, be-whiskered men.

Sitting on an up turned barrel, he saw a small, wizened old man, playing a concertina, the tune sounded like a sea shanty. After a moments study, Mark decided that if the fellow was unfriendly they stood a better chance of running away from him, than any of the other men they had seen.

"G-good morning, sir."

The man kept playing, looked at the children, one by one, and nodded his head, gave a sort of half smile.

"Could you tell us where we are sir?"

The man finished off the tune in a flurry of notes.

"Ballarat mate."

"I have never heard of that name, is it in Australia?"

The man laughed.

" O'course it's in 'stralia, where's yer think it is. Aint no-wheres in this world, what's wet an dry, an 'ot an cold as this place."

"All these men, digging, what are they digging for?"

A shocked look appeared on the little mans face, he was not sure if he had heard the question correctly.

"You mean you dunno, wher've you been, thought everyone knew there's been a gold strike."

He took a bottle from his green mouldy overcoat pocket, and took a long swig, wiped the back of his hand across his mouth, looked at the children with a long quizzical stare. They felt a bit uncomfortable.

"Where've you young 'uns been, it must be a coupla years since an old miner found the first nugget, back in fifty-one, --- yeah fifty-one."

"So this must be eighteen fifty-three,"

Mark mumbled the words.

"Wassat son?"

"Oh - nothing. Is there anywhere, we can get food, a place to sleep, we have to wait for our parents, they will be along this way soon."

"We-ll, 'bout a mile down the track, you'll find a bit of a town, was talk of them building a hotel. Can't be sure, 'aint been there for a coupla months."

"Thank you very much sir, we shall have to be on our way now. Goodbye."

"So long mates, if I see yer kin I'll tell 'em where you are."

"Thank you, goodbye." Chorused the children.

The sun got a little hotter, drying up the ground so they made fairly fast progress to what seemed a better organized collection of buildings.

A long main thoroughfare, thronged with horses, carts, people of all shapes and sizes.

"Wow, it looks like a cowboy film." Robbie stared wide eyed at all the activity. "I wonder when the shooting starts?"

"Your last adventure has gone to your head. We do not need any trouble, like last time."

Mark knew he would have to keep a sharp eye on Robbie, he never meant to get involved, but somehow things just happened when he was around.

"Oh I do hope that we do not see any shooting."

Millie was feeling a little frightened, Freddie patting her on the back, said "No need to worry, these people will be to busy, wondering how to get their hands on someone else's gold, to even notice us."

Getting through the crowds of people, all going somewhere, in a disorderly way, was a hard task, being smaller than most of the hurrying, scurrying, human ants, enabled them to arrive at a large building, without too many bumps and thumps.

"Gosh, talk about going against the tide, that has given me a thirst."

Millie expressed the feelings of the others.

"This looks like it could be the hotel, the wood is new, and that board has 'HOT' painted on it."

Pushing open the rough door, they stepped into the dark interior.

A peculiar smell of new wood, and cooking met their nostrils.

"Phew what a stink, let's get out of here."

Freddie was half way through the door, Mark grabbed him.

"Wait, at least let's see if we can get a drink first, we may get something to eat."

Freddie held his nose between finger and thumb.

"Yes, what do you kids want?"

A voice, like thunder rumbling, came from a very tall, well muscled man, who had crept from out of the shadowy interior.

"P - please sir have you anything to drink?"

Mark felt a little frightened, but tried not too show it.

"I've got plenty. None for them, what can't pay for it, so show us your money, or clear off."

Mark pulled some loose change from his pocket. Freddie and Millie also managed to find some coins.

"Will this be enough? It is all our parent's could spare, if you need any more, they should be passing this way tomorrow. They have been delayed, on some business, something to do with gold that has been found here.

Mark knew it was wrong to tell lies, but these, were for protection against any danger, that this man could put them in. Also they could say "Conker" and be whisked out of harms way. This was an easy way out of trouble. The children all knew, if they wanted adventure some risk was involved.

"Looks enough for some tea and maybe a cake or two, for the three of you."

"Three ---- there's four."

Mark, Freddie and Millie turned round, in the spot where Robbie should have been, was an empty space.

"Oh no, he's gone off on his own, that means no refreshment till we have found him."

Leaving the hotel, returning to the busy street, Mark took charge and gave instructions to Fred and Millie.

"Millie you search back the way we have come, Fred carry on up this street, I'll have a look down the side roads and alleyways.

Search for about an hour, then back here. We shall have to decide what to do then."

They set off on the search, Mark felt very apprehensive, as he ventured down some of the dingy side turnings, disturbing rats, as they nibbled at the rubbish, that littered the his path.

An hour was not long enough for a very thorough search. Meeting again at the hotel, they all had the same despairing look on their faces.

"I looked at every small person, I could see." Said Freddie.

"Me too." Sighed Millie.

"I found nothing, wherever can he be? I'm starving, I should think you two, are as well. Let us have something to eat and drink, while we decide what to do next."

After taking most of their money, the man in the hotel supplied some dried up pieces of cake, and three chipped, seen better days mugs, slopping over, with what he called, tea.

"This looks like- like washing - up water." Complained Millie.

"It's the best you'll get round here, so lump it or like it."

The man disappeared into the gloom, as he dismissed her complaint.

"Ugh." Said Freddie, "What rubbish, why did Rob have to go off like that, we could have returned to the hut and gone home."

Having tried to eat the dry cake, and sipped the tea, all three pulled a face, turned the mugs upside down, on the filthy table, threw the cake away, went through the door and into the street.

Mark rubbed his eyes, blinked and said.

"I don't believe it, It's Robbie."

Walking towards them, accompanied by an aboriginal member of the Australian continent was Robbie, all smiles, and carrying a boomerang.

"Mark, Fred, Millie, --- meet my friend, he's just shown me round his house, and how too throw a boomerang. I havn't quite got the hang of it yet, but I can take it home and practice."

Mark, Millie and Fred, all spoke at the same time.

"Where on earth have you been?"


"Jimmy's?" cried Mark. "Who is he?"

"This is Jimmy."

Robbie pointed to his dark skinned companion, who looked old enough, too be their great grandfather. A bearded, wizened, curly haired character, who had been tall in his younger years, now stooped, but still a lean hard look too his body.

"I can't say his proper name, so I call him Jimmy. He can speak proper English. Say something Jimmy."

Jimmy looked at the children, and surprised them with the sound of his immaculate voice.

"How do you do, children. You look astounded that I can speak your language. Many years ago in my youth I was taken as a servant to serve an English gentleman, he could not understand a word I spoke. So being English, he taught me his language, rather than he should learn mine. He did, part learn the Aborigine tongue, could not help himself. Sadly he died, so I had to find other work, from which, I have recently retired. Now I help my fellow men, by trying to settle disputes between them, not an easy task I can tell you."

"See I told you, he could speak English."

Mark being first to recover from his astonishment could only say,

"P -pleased to meet you Jimmy."

And offered his hand to shake, which Jimmy took and clasped firmly.

After they had carried out the formal introductions, Jimmy invited them to his house, explaining that it was not the usual or typical Aborigine house. This proved to be true, it turned out to be more like a mansion, than the collection of wooden shanties, they had seen so far, in this part of Australia.

Jimmy explained, this was part of the inheritance his former employer had left to him. He now shared the house and wealth with his fellow men, regardless of who or what they were, or where they came from.

After a tour of the house, Jimmy said he had a meeting to attend, would they like a meal, while he was at the meeting. All of them being growing persons, always ready to eat, agreed that it was a very good idea.

The meal did not take long to devour, although there seemed to be enough for an army.

"Phew" said Mark, "that was a bellyfull, what say we walk it down, perhaps we could have a look around the gardens."

"What a good idea, there might be a new plant or flower we could take back."

"Sorry Millicent, we can take nothing back from our visits, if any thing were found, we might be asked some awkward questions."

Millicent pulled a face, and allowed herself one 'Damn'.

"Come on then, let's be off,"

Robbie always the impatient was through the door as Mark spoke.

Strolling along the many paths, they saw many strange and exotic looking plants, as well as many familiar ones.

Freddie was the first to notice.

"Where are all the people, I saw plenty moving around when we arrived, not a soul to be seen now."

"You're right Fred. Jimmy said he gave a home to lots of people."

"Perhaps they've all gone to the meeting."

"You could be right Robbie. I wonder where it is.?"

"There are some large buildings, over there Mark, they look big enough to hold lots of people."

"Yes Millie, let's go and find out."

Approaching what could have been a very large barn, age blackened, timber sides and roof, with many cracks and holes, good places for observing and seeing, without being seen.

Spying through their separate holes, the children could see at least two hundred people, many aborigines, quite a number of white faces, there seemed to be people of many races.

Standing on some sort of platform was Jimmy, his voice carried to their ears.

"Then all are agreed, tomorrow morning, we strike. Strike a blow for our race and for our freedom. For too many years these parasites have stolen our land, our gold, and kept us under their rules and regulations. Our time has come, so lets us strike and strike hard. Are you with me my friends?"

The cheer and threatening noises, almost deafened the children. "WOOW" shouted Robbie, carried along with the excitement of the crowd.

"SSSHHHhhss. We must not let them know we are here."

Mark was feeling a little bit scared.

"Let's go." Millicent and Freddie said together.

Grabbing hold of Robbie, Mark started to scurry away, when he heard a voice shout from inside the building.

"What about those children, staying with you, Jimmy?"

"Do not worry your head about them, I shall keep them locked up safe and sound, till our work is done."

"He's not locking me up." cried Mark. "Let's get back to Captain Timber, before they discover we have gone."

Running as fast as they could, they arrived back at the shanty town, still busy with people dashing about. The children tried to stop some of them, to warn them, of Jimmy and his followers.

No one wanted to stop and listen, all had a mission, finding a rich seam of gold was their dream, they had no time for any thing else.

Mark decided it was time for a rest, get their breathing back to normal. They sat outside the scruffy hotel, where they had tasted the proprieters horrible tea.

"Warning these people about Jimmy is going to be a hard job, no one seems to be interested."

Mark spoke with a sad note in his voice. Millicent put her hand on his shoulder and squeezed.

"Don't worry Mark, it's not your fault, it might be better if you say nothing. This is the eighteen fifties and anything that happened will be history now, and we cannot change that."

"Your right Millie, but I feel I must tell somebody. There doesn't seem to be any sort of police force in this place."

"No I believe the army is responsible for law and order, controlled by the Governor of Australia."

"Where did you learn that?"

"Something I must have had crammed into my head at school, I suppose."

"Listen, can you hear that?"

Freddie had only been half listening to the conversation.

"What?" said Mark.

"That music, it must be that old man playing his concertina, he would listen to our story, wouldn't he?"

Following the sound of the music, they arrived at the spot where the old man sat playing his sea shanties.

Waiting until he had finished his tune, Mark wondered if the man would believe, what he was about to tell him. The old man looked up, finishing on a flurry of notes.

"Wotcha mates, did yer find them folks of yours?"

"No --- no, not - not, yet." Said Mark, "but we do have something to tell you, that is if you will listen"

"Cos I will mate, never finds out nuth'n unless yer listens."

"Well we met up with a man, -- an Aborigine, he told us how he had been educated by a rich man. He is planning to regain Australia for the Aborigines, we think he is going to come here in the morning, and take over these gold mines,"

"Well I'll be blowed. You sure about that mate?"

A grin spread over the old mans leathery face. He closed his eyes as if he was going to sleep.

"Don't you believe us?"

"Hang on a minnit, I'm thinking. There 'as been a few tall stories floating on the breeze, 'bout an 'abbo' wanting too get this land back. Where abouts did you meet up with this fellah?"

Mark told him the full story, with Fred, Millicent and Robbie, joining in, when they thought he had missed out any details.

"Strewth, doesn't sound too good for us, does it. You lot better find somewhere safe, I'll go and have a chin - wag with a few of me mates, they can decide what to do about it."

Stretching himself, as he stood up, he indicated with a wave of his arm, for them to move out of his way.

"Go on clear off and find a hidey-hole, could be a lotta scrapping going on round here soon."

"Good - good bye sir and thank you for listening, we hope every thing turns out all right."

The old man waved as he picked a way through the jumble of shanty buildings, then disappeared from their sight.

"Can we stop and see the fighting, Mark"

"No, Robbie, what if one of us got hurt, how do we explain to our parents, how we got injured."

Robbie pulled a long face.

"It's always the same, can't do anything. Wait till I get grown up I'll watch all the fights I want to."

"Maybe, but right now I think we should get back to Conker. Perhaps we could return later and find out what happens."

"A good idea." Claimed Freddie and Millicent.

On reaching the hut they decided to draw the curtains over the windows, and hide under the table. All was quiet for about half an hour, they were just beginning to feel a bit stiff and uncomfortable, wondering if they should venture outside, when they heard raised voices, lots of angry shouting, then the thuds as fights broke out.

Robbie had crept away, as the other three cowered beneath the table.

"I can't see anything." Moaned Robbie.

He had found a knot hole in the hut, as Mark would not let him peep through the windows.

"Come back here, what good is it doing you, watching all those people hitting each other?"

Mark was slightly angry, he was feeling a bit frightened, he even wanted to get them all to shout "conker," but he knew Robbie would certainly not agree and as the leader he could not show his fear.

"I - I could pick up a few tricks, if we ever got in any battles."

"We certainly will not, while I am around. So come under this table with us. --- Please."

"Rotten spoilsport."

"I would not be a spoilsport if you got hurt, you would come crying to me and, it would be me having to patch up any cuts and grazes."

Mark looked hopelessly at Freddie and Millicent, and carried on.

"Why did I have such a blood thirsty brother?"

They both shrugged their shoulders, not knowing what too reply.

"Listen." Robbie hissed.

"What!" said Freddie," I can't hear anything."

"No, because there's nothing too hear, it's gone quiet. I'm off out side to see what's going on."

Before the others could stop him he dashed to the door, and flung it open. Standing, leaning against the door frame, was Jimmy, a trickle of blood running from a cut in his forehead.

Robbie stopped dead, his heart missed a beat or two, then his brain decided it was time to breathe again, long deep gasps of air exploded from his lungs, accompanied by the strangled, "WOW, weeow, it's Jimmy."

Jimmy fell forward inside the door, collapsing to his knees, his hands stretched out and prevented him from falling flat on his face.

"Please; please, help…"

He then crumpled into a heap. For a moment the children stood unable to move, then a sound of shouting brought them back to earth. Mark was first to spring into action.

"Quick Rob, shut the door, Fred, Millie, see if we have any water or cloth, we have too clean up his wounds."

Mark then went to the crumpled figure of Jimmy, and tried to lift him into a sitting position realising that Jimmy was too heavy for him to move, he remembered the recovery position that he had seen demonstrated on the television, and rolled him onto his right side.

As he did so, Jimmy moaned. Mark started to call out Jimmy's name.

"Wake up Jimmy, wake up."

By this time Millie and Fred had returned from their search.

"I found this bottle, it's about half full of water, we couldn't find any bandage, so Fred has torn his shirt into pieces."

Millie started to soak one of the pieces of shirt with some of the water. It was her chance to play nurse, show off her first aid skills, by gently washing the wound on Jimmy's head, he winced at first but as the cool water, and a gentle hand washed away the blood, he relaxed.

Robbie asked the question.

"Did you win?"

"No, they were prepared for us, we were routed, all my followers have fled the area. It will take months, or even years, before we can organise another strike for our freedom. Maybe never."

Mark started to feel sorry for the dejected looking Jimmy, and tried to redeem himself for informing on him, hoping Jimmy would feel better if he tried to console him.

"Even if you had captured the gold mines, the Governor would have sent the soldiers to arrest you all, then you might have been sent to jail."

"You could be right Mark, so far most of my actions have been physical, noisy endeavours into the making of a better life for the Aborigine race. It could be time for a softly, softly approach."

Silence came over the group, as they buried themselves in thought, Jimmy with a plan already forming in his mind of how he would tackle the ruling classes in Melbourne. Mark, Robbie, Freddie and Millicent, thinking of what was for tea.

"It's dark outside now Mark, and not many people about, perhaps it is time for me to leave, I have a long and hard journey to travel."

"Yes, and we all wish you, good luck for the future."

Jimmy moved silently through the door, walked a few paces, turned and waved, the last the children saw of him, was an upright figure, with a white bandage, bright against the dark background, until it disappeared into the gloom.

"Is everyone ready, it's time to go."

Mark waited till Robbie got settled.

"Ready, one, two, three; 'CONKER' "

"Millicent, Millicent, Freddie, are you there?"

The children could hear Freddie's mother calling.

"Yes Mum, is it tea-time already?"

"It's long past, what are you doing up there? I have called you three or four times"

"Sorry Mum, we fell asleep."

"If you are that tired, you can go to bed early tonight."

"Can Mark and Rob stay for tea?"

"I suppose so. I can hear the phone ringing it's probably their mother, wanting to know where they are. Hurry up and don't forget too wash your hands."

"Pheew, that was close." Said Mark. "We shall have to time things better next time. What is the matter with you Rob?"

"I can't find my boomerang."

"You know we must not bring things back, so you will have stop thinking about it."

"Oh, damn and wow then."

"Come on I'm starving" cried Millicent as she climbed down the rope ladder.

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