Set against the backdrop of Australia in the 1860s-a vast and beautiful land that protects more secrets than it gives up-the displaced peoples of two nations were thrown together in a fierce struggle to exist in an isolated, inhospitable landscape. Caught between the harsh climate, nature, and the darkest sides of man, life in the wild remoteness of south eastern, West Australia was not for the weak of heart.
Inspired by historical events from Australia's wild history in the long ago, Even the Land Cries! takes readers inside the rugged land and the strong, resilient people who sought to tame it. Jared Ryan, a bold and spirited young man of twenty, sets out to find and claim his far-flung property with his younger brother Liam at his side. Together, the brothers must call upon their raw courage to survive amidst innumerable dangers to open up farming land. Their plans are complicated by the many characters who also called this beautiful but wild land their home; heroes, heroines, and scoundrels. They're all brought together, against a diabolical backdrop of lust, treachery, and anarchy that would change each of their lives forever.
Bigotry, lies, disgrace, outrage, treason, betrayal, and forbidden love will either motivate these young souls into forces for good or for evil, which in turn will impact the land. If they can survive the many challenges this harsh new life demands of them, they just may come to love the land as their own.
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|Publisher:||Balboa Press AU|
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.33(d)|
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Even the Land Cries!
By Lainey May
Balboa PressCopyright © 2014 Lainey May
All rights reserved.
This story begins in the port colony of Orleans on the southern coast of Western Australia, in 1866. Jared Ryan, third son to Riley Ryan, harbor master at Orleans harbor, once again stands before his father, attempting with his words to lay hold of a future of which he has long dreamed. The dream is of a land parcel, a broad and fertile portion of his own land on which to pasture sheep and crop wheat.
"Da, 'tis good sheep country, could be ore bearing too, so Liam says," Jared recounted.
"Aye, an' what would Liam know at the grand ol' age o' sixteen, boyo?" Riley Ryan asked, exasperated.
"Ah, come on, Da!" retorted Jared. "All that time with th' assayer out in t' backblocks? Liam knows what he be on about, I'm thinking!" retorted Jared.
He dropped his gaze as if realising the sharpness of his tone toward his father. Riley sensed Jared's frustration, and his mind raced as he considered this boy of his standing there, a full six feet tall. Maybe more, he reckoned, as he stretched his own neck to take in the fullness of his son's stature.
Gracie was right, Riley mused. This was no longer a boy. This was surely a man, be it a very young man, standing across from him at the hearth. Riley realized for the first time that he must acknowledge this young man, who was desperate to take hold of his freedom, his birthright, in this new world that he and Gracie had found for him. Riley and Grace's home, the Wharfer's Cottage, had been provided with the harbor-master position that Riley had been lucky to have settled on, before he and Grace had set sail from the old country. Riley's years spent on the dories in the cold Irish Sea, barely eking out a living, had at last proved a boon.
Nautical knowledge was the means by which Riley had obtained some security for Gracie and himself in this far-off harbor town. He thought back to when he and Gracie had arrived at Orleans harbor, thirty years back and newlywed into the bargain. They had left no one and nothing behind them in Ireland, but famine, horror, and death. There was little but themselves to bring, yet they had each other and a hope that would not diminish. With courageous hearts, they were determined to endure this isolated outstation on the wild southern shores. And Grace and Riley Ryan had endured!
Grim isolation and adverse weather conditions, these the Ryans had withstood in the early years. There in Orleans, they raised four first-generation Australian sons. Their lads were fine and strong, brought up in the now well-established colony to plenty and freedom. From early boyhood, each lad had taken in the ceaseless yarning of the menfolk thereabouts, when they'd gone into Orleans town for their supplies. These pioneer farmers, after their trade was accomplished and provisions gathered, would settle in the early hours of the evening into one of the many local public establishments to share tales of their land packets, which were strewn across the vast region.
There was talk about the richness of the soils; of pastures easily cleared and ready for livestock; of the abundance of water in the rivers; of good, reliable rainfall to keep the land productive. Every Orleans lad who had a yen for landholding understood his prospects from an early age. This younger set came in to the hotels at night, from where this talk emanated as the liquor flowed. Mixing in with over-landers and farmers, they witnessed many a fight, mainly amongst the more inebriated adult population. Gracie would have been appalled at her sons' witnessing the goings-on of the older men brawling. But boys, too, must live and learn.
Riley had always held that "a young'un's gotta learn to throw a punch or two." Now, it was his young'un in the fray. Riley had crouched behind a large crate on that day, well hidden away, and watched Jared and Patrick Dillon come to blows over, he guessed, some principle that Jared held to, that was in his eyes, "t' die for!" My, 't was some brawl. The two boys circled, watching each other for the slightest movement that might warn either of the next blow. There was a graze above Patrick's eye and Jared spat blood as his split lip swelled, and a few rowdy bystanders wore red-brown spittle blobs.
The other boys' bellowing and swarming, naturally, added to the ruckus of the brawl. They gravitated around whichever was their warring hero; which was, of course, dependent on which boy was their mate. In all, the mates' circling made any escape from further blows impossible, should either brawler wish to take withdrawal as the way out. The fight was waged a full seven minutes; and in the hail of blows, the brawlers bashed at each other very successfully, both bleeding rather well. Obvious to any onlookers, both boys were unintentionally being aided in their attempts to remain upright by the tight-circled milling of their eager mates.
"I'll bash ya bloody teeth out, yer rotten scab of a mick," bellowed Patrick Dillon. "Ya keep away from me sister, ya hear me, ya buggar!"
In the middle of this tirade, Patrick swung a left upper, which caught Jared under his jaw and snapped his head back.
At this, a tall auburn-haired girl threw herself at the milling boys and managed to break through, as Jared doubled over and fell. Some of the rabble broke into loud cheers and grabbed Patrick's arm to proclaim him the winner. Well, at least he was still on his feet.
"You disgusting little brat, Patrick Dillon," said the auburn-haired girl. "What have you done?"
Mary Dillon lifted Jared's bleeding, dusty head from the dirt of the road. She laid it on her lap to sob over and comfort the defeated one; to mingle her tears with his grime and wounds.
"Righto!" a man shouted. "Ya bunch of ratbags, make way and get yerselves out o' 'ere, afore I gets Constable Corby onta ya!"
Dinny Steven's voice had the effect of a scattergun as he waded through the dispersing mob, to find Mary Dillon mollycoddling the wounded Jared Ryan.
"Begorrah, lad. Ya got ya a beauty, eh?" Dinny knelt alongside Mary and carefully checked the boy's face and head. "Any broke bones?"
Dinny helped Jared to stand, with Mary giving much attention on the other side.
"'T was only a lucky jab, Din," Jared said. "I almost had the bugger!"
Jared was careful not to open his mouth too wide as he spoke, favoring his sore jaw.
"Now, that's enough o' that language in front of the lady, Jared boy," Dinny said.
Jared seemed to come to his senses, as he took in Mary's dusty self, and apologized for his bad language.
"So what was this lot about?" Dinny demanded.
Jared lowered his eyes to evade Dinny's questioning glare.
"'T was me, Mr. Dinny," Mary said, blushing prettily and turning toward Dinny. "Jared and—Well we're t'gether, ya see. Me brother hates Catholics, so he says that me an' Jared aren't to be friends no more cos, well ... I canna be marrying Jared Ryan, cos he's a mick."
"Well, young lass. That sure be a shame for them reasons, eh? We're all bein' God's chillen an' all. 'T is no matter what 'brand' we claims t' be, eh? D' ya think this brawlin' has fixed ya brother's problem, Mary lass?"
"'T is me'll be fixin' the little brat's problem, I can tell ya that much, Mr Dinny," Mary said assuredly, as she and Dinny ushered Jared toward the back street.
"C'mon, lad," Dinny said, "to my place to clean ya up before ya be needin' to front up to yer ma 'n' da."
Strange, Riley mused now, but ever since Jared and the Dillon boy had been caught up in that brawl, they'd been firm mates. No matter what troubles or triumphs, those two young fellows were as thick as thieves. What's more, young Mary was still seen with Jared around the town social gatherings.CHAPTER 2
Riley came out of his reverie with a start and faced his present situation. "Look here, Jared? Are ya missin' Patrick not bein' around, an' this land venture be something to ease the time on yer hands?"
"No, Da. Patch is doin' jus' fine in Perth. We allus knew he was goin' t' get the police training. He'll be back when his trainings finished an' we'll catch up, me on my property, an' him on his rounds. Da, ya must have heard me and me brothers talkin' 'bout getting farmin' land, since as long as I can remember. Darby has his, and Sean's jus' out from here. You an' me, we just never got t' talkin' together about it before, but it's been me hope forever, Da."
"Well, I surely missed that un, didn't I?" Riley said pensively. He considered his son's request—good grazing land, a remote pastoral lease. And God knew how many miles east from their home, in this now well-established centre.
"Why so far distant, lad? Why not a holding closer to your ma and your brothers? So far away, lad. So far away!"
But now, it was done---an eight-hundred acre parcel, claimed, paid for, and now owned by Jared Jarvis Ryan and his partner, Riley James Ryan, signed this twenty-second day of January, in the year of our Lord, 1866. Riley was there with his tearful Gracie; Sean, their eldest son, aged twenty-eight; and Darby, their second lad, a twenty-two-year-old.
The folks all stood at the gate to the family cottage, watching the dust swirls trailing behind the wagons, driven by Jared, just twenty years old, and the youngest Ryan, eighteen-year-old Liam. Jared and Liam drove their laden bullock wagons through the busy main street of Orleans town. Many well-wishers called out to the boys. Folk were well aware of the younger Ryan brothers' venture. The two wagons headed north and out onto heavily wooded slopes. They followed a little-used track to a land holding on the outskirts of the town, where Daniel Kirby, a close mate of the Ryan brothers, waited.
Daniel had expected the lads and the wagons to arrive when they did, as he knew Jared to be a stickler for being on time. Dan was twenty years old and had no family in the colony. His parents had both been killed when a karri tree, hit by lightning, exploded and crashed to the earth. They just happened to be passing in their wagon when the gigantic tree dropped onto them. Daniel was a babe at the time and was being watched over by a friend, while his parents went to town that day. After the tragedy, friends of Daniel's parents thought that Dan would be returned to England, to family there.
But family in England finally sent a letter to the government officer who had to deal with family issues in the port of Orleans, saying that they were too old to be encumbered with their son's child. Thankfully, an Irish family in the colony opted to adopt the boy. The Kirbys proved to be wonderful parents to young Daniel, and he was brought up with their two younger boys and three older girls. Daniel was a great drover and handled horses expertly, rounding up and keeping large flocks of sheep or cattle together on cattle drives. Along with his two kelpie sheep dogs, Mia and Spud, the three formed a formidable droving team.
Jared had always intended to have Daniel accompany him and take care of the animals and stock on his property. The three young men had bought forty ewes and two rams. Daniel was to have charge of these animals, droving them along with the bullock wagons. Their hope was to fully stock the property Jared and his da owned. The threesome moved slowly north-north-east, widening the track as they went. There were very few established roads in the region, as all Orleans' needs were brought in by ship. Jared, having well studied what maps of the area he could lay his hands on, had noted surrounding landmarks.
There was a run of small hills here; a creek there; marshy swampland further on; and many stands of tall timbers, which gave shade as the trekkers paused to rest the animals at the height of the heat each day. Two weeks into their trek, Jared made note of the ocean breeze that had rarely failed to surge through Orleans town each day at around four o'clock. This cooling breeze somehow still blew strongly and caught up with the waning travelers every afternoon, even as they moved further inland, no matter the distance they travelled from the coast and the inconsistent daytime temperatures.
Each afternoon the wind suddenly shifted direction. There was no longer the hot northern wind blowing from the interior desert regions. The whole atmosphere stilled, and then a swift southerly breeze came through from the Southern ocean, cooling and even chilling the air and the travelers.
"Ah, 't is a breath of life to me heated heart," murmured Jared as he relished the coolness mixed with tangs of wild bush flora that assaulted his nostrils.
"Liam," Daniel said, "have ya not noticed that this roarin' wind gives back our sanity every evenin'?"
"I'm all for namin' it," Jared said. "I'm thinkin' it shall forever be called the Orleans Doctor by all who travel this dry, heated land." chuckled Jared. Liam responded–--
"A toast then an' raise yer tea leaves, lads, to the Orleans Doctor."
The young men all rose with mock dignity and stood to attention, raised their pannikins high, and repeated together, "To the Orleans Doctor. To the Doctor!"
Frivolity took over as Liam mouth-organed a rendition of an Irish jig, and they all pranced around the campfire. Then they collapsed into their makeshift cots on the first wagon, exhausted from their shenanigans, but well refreshed as they lazed in the amazing coolness.
The next morning, around the fire, Jared said, "I'll be notin' th' Doctor's visits in our diary, an' thank the good Saint Christopher hisself for watchin' over us and bringin' it our way."
"Ya betta be askin' the good Saint Christopher to be chasin' these bloody flies away, while you're at it," Daniel said as he attacked himself repeatedly whacking at his face with a supple branch from a eucalypt tree. There seemed little to be done to be rid of the pesky flies.
The lads had been on the track for two days longer, when in the late afternoon they caught sight, in the distant south-east, high hills seeming to erupt from surrounding flat plains. The peaks were few and seemed just a chain of high, craggy mountains that sprawled further to the east.
"Well 't is plenty a landmark, wouldn't ya say?" Liam asked.
"Now that is a most magnificent sight, for sure," replied Jared.
"An' what would they be callin' it on th' map, Jarro?" Jared pored over the map spread on the wooden crate that served as their camp table.
"Surveyor says it be Dongarup. Says there's good water there for the takin'. 'T is no man's claim accordin' t' this."
Jared fingered the map, showing Daniel and Liam the peaks and then their projected trek.
"Ah well," he continued. "We'll keep on our way north-north-east, then we move along here east, till six days travel, I'm reckonin', we'll pass th' rivers' heads. Two of them, so th' map is sayin'. We can then trek down south. Those Dongarup peaks, kept to the west of us, should keep us headin' east-south-east. If we plot well, we'll only need to cross the Drake River with the tree bridge crossing here." He pointed on the map.
"From there we stay on the west side of the Baladup River, which runs through the property and looks the best place t' be buildin' a camp. Down amongst the river gums."
They bedded down for the night, talking together about the trek; and their talk, beyond their mundane day-to-day trekking, had Jared excited again about finally reaching his property. Early the next morning, Liam's shooting excursion bagged four small, scrappy rabbits, which he had cooked with much anticipation. He baked them up in the fire and then wakened the others to billy tea and a rabbit feast.
"Come on, ole fellas. Have some fresh rabbit."
Liam left one piteously small baked rabbit in each of their pewter bowls on the wagon back and returned to the fire to clean up the campsite. Daniel and Jared removed the blackened outer portions of their food and then picked at the tasty, moist morsels of fresh meat. A change of diet was not to be passed over!CHAPTER 3
Dust swirled as warriors' feet thumped into the soft red earth. Their low, guttural mutterings became louder and swifter as their black, naked bodies circled the fire. They carried spears, some nulla nullas, and boomerangs. To any onlooker, these weapons, plus their heavily painted bodies, suggested warlike activities. There were no onlookers. No young warriors, no women, no children. Just one young girl, seated in the dust in the midst of the dancers' fire. She girl was naked and hung her head. Suddenly, all movement ceased, as did their chanting.
An old warrior, Yininbundu, shuffled toward the girl. He was stooped and wizened with age, and painted in yellow ochre. He had a full head of curly greying hair; his eyes were watery, rheumy, a dull grey color. Edging closer to the girl, he grabbed her by her thick, black curly hair and forced her body and head into the dirt. Then he carefully piled handfuls of dust over the girl's hair and over her body as he alone chanted. The girl made no effort to stop him. She had raised her hands to her face merely to ward off the overwhelming dust clouds.
Excerpted from Even the Land Cries! by Lainey May. Copyright © 2014 Lainey May. Excerpted by permission of Balboa Press.
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