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The Lost Child   By: (1830-1876)

Book cover

First Page:

THE LOST CHILD.

BY

HENRY KINGSLEY.

[Illustration: " And there he stood, naked and free, on the forbidden ground. "]

ILLUSTRATED BY L. FRÖLICH.

London and New York: MACMILLAN AND CO. 1871.

[Illustration: " Looking eagerly across the water. " FRONT.]

PREFACE.

It is only natural that an author should say a few words about a republication of this kind. The story in its separate form has the advantage of being illustrated by an eminent artist, whose special qualifications are widely known and acknowledged; and it seemed to all concerned best that it should be left entirely untouched. The first two paragraphs and the last short one are simply added: no other liberty has been taken with it.

To avoid the trouble of those great plagues of literature, foot notes, the author asks the reader to submit to a few very trifling explanations:

"Quantongs" are a bush fruit, of about the same quality as green gooseberries, but, like the last named fruit, very much sought after by the native youth.

The Bunyip is the native river devil, or kelpie, evidently the crocodile of the Northern Australian rivers, whose recognition by the Southern natives in their legends shows, if nothing else did, that the centre of dispersion in Australia was from the North, as Doctor Laing told us years ago.

With regard to the habit which lost children have of aimless climbing, the author knew a child who, being lost by his father while out shooting on one of the flats bordering on the Eastern Pyrenees in Port Phillip on Sunday afternoon, was found the next Wednesday dead, at an elevation above the Avoca township of between two and three thousand feet.

LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.

PAGE

SOMETIMES LOOKING EAGERLY ACROSS THE WATER AT THE WAVING FOREST BOUGHS Front.

AND THERE HE STOOD, NAKED AND FREE, ON THE FORBIDDEN GROUND Vignette.

"MOTHER, WHAT COUNTRY IS THAT ACROSS THE RIVER?" 15

A KANGAROO! A SNAKE! AN EAGLE! 21

HE WAS LOST IN THE BUSH 25

HE CAME ON THE BALD, THUNDER SMITTEN SUMMIT RIDGE 29

"WE HAVE COME TO HELP YOU, MISTRESS" 33

THERE HE LAY, DEAD AND STIFF 39

THE LOST CHILD.

Remember? Yes, I remember well that time when the disagreement arose between Sam Buckley and Cecil, and how it was mended. You are wrong about one thing, General; no words ever passed between those two young men: death was between them before they had time to speak.

I will tell you the real story, old as I am, as well as either of them could tell it for themselves; and as I tell it I hear the familiar roar of the old snowy river in my ears, and if I shut my eyes I can see the great mountain, Lanyngerin, bending down his head like a thorough bred horse with a curb in his mouth; I can see the long grey plains, broken with the outlines of the solitary volcanoes Widderin and Monmot. Ah, General Halbert! I will go back there next year, for I am tired of England, and I will leave my bones there; I am getting old, and I want peace, as I had it in Australia. As for the story you speak of, it is simply this:

Four or five miles up the river from Garoopna stood a solitary hut, sheltered by a lofty bare knoll, round which the great river chafed among the boulders. Across the stream was the forest sloping down in pleasant glades from the mountain; and behind the hut rose the plain four or five hundred feet overhead, seeming to be held aloft by the blue stone columns which rose from the river side.

In this cottage resided a shepherd, his wife, and one little boy, their son, about eight years old, a strange, wild little bush child, able to speak articulately, but utterly without knowledge or experience of human creatures, save of his father and mother; unable to read a line; without religion of any sort or kind; as entire a little savage, in fact, as you could find in the worst den in your city, morally speaking, and yet beautiful to look on; as active as a roe, and, with regard to natural objects, as fearless as a lion... Continue reading book >>




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