Recollections of a Victorian Police Officer Chapter XV page 6
Recollections of a Victorian Police Officer by Sup John Sadleir
Then before long arose another state of feeling that I have found very difficult to get my friends to understand. As these profits appeared to progress day by day, so day by day my interest in the matter seemed to decrease. I do not suppose that if I had been say a farmer, of if I had been in any other position where I should have had to do some corresponding work, my interest would have flagged to the same extent. This was the only occasion in my life when I had the feeling that I was growing beastly rich. The experience was not of long continuance, for I sold my shares when they reached just double what I paid for them, before a single ounce of gold was raised. All is not gold that glitters; neither are all mining speculations profitable, as I soon afterwards discovered.
MR. JOHN ARABIN
There was another mining centre some twenty miles east of Walhalla, known as Edward’s Reef. Here John Arabin was chief magnate and boss. Arabin was an Irish gentleman of splendid physique and as brave as a lion. He held interests in a large mine at Edward’s Reef which he worked on the co-operative system. Arabin supplied the brains, while a considerable Irish following that he ruled over did the work. All went well until it was discovered that on a renewal of the lease Arabin’s name appeared as sole lessee. This furnished some mischief-makers their opportunity; angry altercations followed, and Arabin, conscious of his integrity, became defiant.
One evening as he sat before the fire in his little hut, suddenly there broke in upon him an angry mob of his former followers ready to be avenged for the supposed injuries he had done them. Arabin, strong and brave as he was, was soon overpowered and would probably have been killed or maimed had not affairs taken an unexpected turn. The diversion was caused by his housekeeper coming on the scene brandishing a carving knife, and calling out: ‘Let me at him, boys; he has wronged me. Let me at him.’ The men made way for her, and she straightway put the knife into her master’s hand. Then followed a wild stampede of the enemy, and Arabin was free again. It was never told what execution was done by him, but more than one Irishman on the Reef carried marks afterwards that he did not care to boast of.
Some time after the troubles here described, Arabin had the misfortune to inhale mercurial fumes while dealing with amalgam from the mine. He was advised to seek rest and change, and determined on a two months trip to Tasmania . He was short of ready cash, and, before taking holiday, he got together a syndicate of friends who agreed to take shares in the Edward’s Reef Company. The preliminaries were arranged and a capable manager appointed, but Arabin was too ill to wait to see the work started. This was unfortunate, since the reef was ‘patchy,’ and, in the absence of Arabin, there was no one to advise. The manager did his best, but two months work left him without sufficient money to pay wages and expenses. Arabin’s address was not known, and before the shareholders were aware, the company was placed in liquidation. There was a large amount of uncalled capital, and, although the actual indebtedness of the company did not exceed fifty pounds, the legal adviser of the company announced that Mr Jenkins, the official assignee, was entitled to call up the whole of the capital - several thousands of pounds - levy his percentage thereon, and then, after paying debts, costs, etc., return the much diminished balance to the shareholders. For these there appeared but one way out of the difficulty—the transfer of their shares. Billy, the town bellman at Sale , rose to the occasion, and for a few shillings accepted transfer of the scrip and thus relieved the shareholders of their liabilities. The official assignee arrived on the scene, and Billy was introduced to him as the only shareholder. It was the case of diamond cut diamond; the assignee returned to his place without the comfort even of a B list - an invention, by the way, of later years.
A LAND OF FLOODS
Gippsland is a region of rivers and morasses, and many were the difficulties, not to say dangers, to travellers in time of flood. Flooding Creek, the name by which the township of Sale was known in the early days, was quite appropriate, for the place was liable to very destructive floods at various seasons of the year. Usually the heaviest floods were in the spring, following the melting of the snows on the high ranges of Northern Gippsland , where all the rivers take their rise. I have seen high floods in autumn, when Sale itself was bathed in sunshine, the rising of the waters being the result of cloudbursts on the ranges. To be caught in a spring flood was a serious matter for man or beast, for the temperature of the water was very little above that of snow itself.
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