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HOME > Short Stories > Five Years in New Zealand 1859 to 1864 > CHAPTER XIII.
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    We Leave the Lindis—Attempt to Drive Fat Cattle to the Diggings and Fail—Return to Dunedin.

On the return journey we had as much company as when we came, and the road was even worse, but the dray being almost empty we experienced less difficulty in proceeding. The first day took us out of McLean\'s run, and the second saw us at nightfall on Miller and Gooche\'s side of the pass, which was still snowed over, but the traffic had worked the track up into deep slush and mud, and late in the evening we were near losing the dray and horses in a swamp we had inadvertently entered while seeking a better passage. With the assistance of some friendly diggers we succeeded in extricating them, but the unfortunate accident prevented our proceeding further that night, and we passed it on the borders of the swamp where not an atom of firewood could be obtained. The ground was in a puddle of melted snow and mud, not a dry spot to be found. We were muddy and wet from head to foot, without the means of making even a pannikin of tea, and the night was pitch dark. We just crouched down together by the dray, hungry, shivering, and fagged. Sleep, of course, was out of the question, and we had constantly to clap our arms to keep the blood in circulation. Towards midnight intense frost set in. We smoked incessantly; in that, I think, was to a great extent our safety.

We did not remove the harness from the horses, which were tied to the dray without any food for the night. The following morning at eleven o\'clock we arrived at Miller and Gooche\'s, where we had to melt the ice off our leggings and boots before we could remove them—and what a breakfast we ate! Nobody who has not experienced what it is to starve on a healthy stomach for thirty hours and spend most of that time on a mountain pass under snow and frost can understand how we appreciated our food.[Pg 70]

The next day we reached Davis\'s, when Fowler and Legge left us for Dunedin, and Smith and I arranged with Davis for the purchase of a couple of fat steers for £12 10s. each, hoping that if we succeeded in driving them to the diggings we would double our money.

In the afternoon we went with Davis to the run, and selected the animals, which we drove with a mob to the stockyard. Here we separated our pair and put them in another yard for a start in the morning. Driving a couple of wild bullocks alone from their run is, as I have already explained, by no means an easy task, and Davis warned us that these would give us trouble—indeed, I believe he considered us slightly mad to attempt to drive the beasts such a distance at all.

On first starting we had no small difficulty in preventing them returning to the run, and it cost us some hard galloping to get them away on the road to Miller and Gooche\'s, where it was our intention to yard for the night.

We had proceeded to within a mile of the station, when the brutes for the twentieth time bolted, on this occasion taking to the hills over some low spurs and rocky ground, intersected with ravines and gullies. I was riding hard to intercept them when I was suddenly sent flying on to my head, turning a somersault on to a rough bank of spear grass. Shaking myself together and somewhat recovering from the shock, I discovered the tail and stern of my steed projecting above the ground, the remainder of him being invisible. It appeared he had planted his fore feet in a deep fissure covered with long grass, and just large enough to take in head and fore parts. The shock sent me over, as I described, while he remained stuck.

It was a ridiculous position, and tired, sore from the spear-grass, and annoyed as I was, I could not refrain from a hearty laugh at our predicament before attempting to extricate my un............
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