Monday, 9 July 2018

Friday, 23rd March, 1838

Dear Lord! The last night and today have been a crazed circus!

Last night, while I was getting ready for bed, there came a knocking so frantic it threatened to bring the door down entirely. To be honest, the door is so flimsy that any but the gentlest tap presents a danger, but this was apt to tear the thing off its hinges!

I threw on a gown and opened the door to discover William Williams, Sam Smart's deputy. almost beside himself with panic 

"They shot the Sherriff!" he cried.

"But not the deputy," I replied. "So calm yourself and tell me what has happened."

He managed to get control of himself and told me that two men had broken into Smart's home and had shot him in the head!

I asked if the shot was fatal, but Williams was unsure. I immediately sent one of the duty Marines to Tom Cotter's hospital so that the doctor could get down to Sammy and see if he needed to move his bowels (Tom's certain cure for everything, including, probably, bullets to the head.)

The other Marine I sent off the Marine camp on East Terrace to rouse the rest of the troop and get onto the hunt for the culprits. Pausing only to scribble a note to Mrs. Hindmarsh to tell her where I was going, I rushed with Williams to Sam's hut. 

When I arrived I enterd the room, expecting to find Smart's lifeless corpse with the few brains he had spattered across the walls.

Instead I entered to find him sitting in a chair, complaining to any who would listen about the inconvenience of being shot. It transpired that "shot in the head", whilst technically true, may have been an exaggeration. Although the culprit did indeed aim a pistol at Smart's head and pull the trigger, his aim was so bad that all he did was hit Smart in the earlobe. An advantage, I suppose, of having ears like the two open doors of a Hansom cab.

On asking Sam what had happened he told me that he had been sitting writing reports when two men burst into the room. The men were known to him by name: Michael McGee and William Morgan.

McGee sneered and said, "You know too much, see, Sherriff! You're turning into a threat to our business!"

Smart was not shaken. Rather, he spoke to the men fiercely, saying, "People lose teeth talking like that. If you want to hang around, you'll be polite."

McGee patted his waistcoat pocket. "Be careful what you say. I have a pistol and I will use it if I need to."

Smart decided to bluff and let an icy smile play about his lips. "The house is under surveillance by the Marines. The Governor has promised me his protection and declared that you will be taken prisoner."

McGee sneered once more. "I call that bold talk for a one-eyed fat man!"

Morgan, who had been silent up to that point, suddenly yelled, "Finish him Mick and stop his talk!" and McGee reached inside his waistcoat, with a cry of: "Fill your hands, you son of a bitch!" 

Smart dived for the desk drawer where he kept his pistol just as McGee fired his own, striking Smart in the ear. 

Smart, despite his wound, turned and grabbed the pistol from McGee, burning his hand on the hot barrel, and then grappled with the man. Morgan pushed Sam away and then the pair, deciding that their work was done, fled from the scene.

Williams, who was in the police hut next door, heard the shot and rushed out in time to see the two men running from the crime. He went in to see Smart lying on the floor bleeding and rushed to tell me what had happened, getting it wrong in the process

The Marines captured McGee surprisingly quickly, but then he was at his own hut, where he had returned to collect his belongings before fleeing, so they hardly needed to look too hard. Even so they caught him on their third attempt, havig bailed up both Philip Lee and Mrs Stevenson, both of whom they mistook for the swarthy Irishman. Morgan has disappeared into the bush. Dr Tom bandaged up Smart's ear and gave him a purgative to ensure his recovery.

I fell into bed at about four in the morning and was awoken by Henry Jickling, who came to Government House at about nine in order to discuss the details of McGee's trial. 

What with those solemnities to deal with and the Marines rushing hither and yon chasing their own tails on fruitless reports of Morgan being sighted by every man woman and child in the town and Tom Cotter arriving to give me reports three times during the day on Sam's progress ("I believe his bowels have sounded, your Excellency") I have barely had time to scratch myself.

There will be more of this to come. And Fisher has not involved himself in it yet. When he does, no doubt he will make it even more frantic!

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