Australia, early 1800s: for more than 165 years, the disappearance of the explorer Ludwig Leichardt, has remained unsolved. In April of 1848 - on his second grand exploration across Australia’s inland - in the company of five white men, two Aboriginal guides, seven horses, 20 mules and 50 bullocks, he left the Darling Downs in southern Queensland, bound for Western Australia. Shortly after, the entire party vanished without trace. From out of those terrifying and harsh times for our own people: the Australian Aboriginal - the Heart-rock people - the following Fethafoot chronicle bares the tale of that same journey, from both sides of history. It tells of the man known as Ludwig Leichardt - and of the only ‘Ghost’ to ever walk the Silver Dreaming path: and dance with Heart-rock’s arcane Rainbow Serpent.
For more than 165 years, the disappearance of the world explorer Ludwig Leichardt, has remained unsolved. In April of 1848 - on his second grand exploration across Australia’s inland - in the company of five white men, two Aboriginal guides, seven horses, 20 mules and 50 bullocks, he left the Darling Downs in southern Queensland, bound for Western Australia. Shortly after, the entire party vanished without trace. From out of those terrifying and harsh times for our own people: the Australian Aboriginal - the Heart-rock people - the following Fethafoot chronicle bares the tale of that same journey, from both sides of history. It tells of the man known as Ludwig Leichardt - and of the only ‘Ghost’ to ever walk the Silver Dreaming path: and dance with Heart-rock’s arcane Rainbow Serpent.
...An unhappy patient:
He moved on to the speared man, and demonstrating an experience gained from his travels and not from the European hospices where he’d trained in his youth, Ludwig deftly snapped the spear shafts and pushed the barbed heads through the man’s flesh and out of his body before the surprised victim even knew what was happening, though the man fainted dead away from the pain and shock. Frightened, vulnerable faces looked up at him as he finished off his work on the two with bullet wounds. The men were weak from the wounds and blood loss and unable to move as every tiny movement was agonizing now that the shock had worn off. After treating the injuries to the best of his abilities, Ludwig offered water to each man, as they lay stupefied, grateful for the timely arrival of this capable quiet stranger. The men were especially amazed that after his attentions, they might now live, when moments before all three had accepted their deaths as inevitable.
Ludwig knelt beside the men and spoke quietly and sincerely to each of them. He explained the nature of each man’s wounds as best he could and explained how they could look after themselves most ably, if they wanted to heal quickly and live. Two of the wounded picked up on his advice through the signing hand language that he used continuously, almost unconsciously, and from his eyes and tone of voice as he spoke, and they two acknowledged his efforts weakly in a like manner.
The other patient, known as an uncouth, unwilling and unhappy illiterate in his society, had been drafted into the local militia in lieu of prison for his various criminal acts and, to help rid the land of the local blacks. He was livid and not so humble, nor grateful. Having regained enough strength to speak, now that the bearded stranger had stopped his blood flowing into the earth, he began to curse and swear at Ludwig.
“Ere then! Wot the fuck yas' mean boi tendin’ tae these ere fuckin boongs then, Guv eh?” he rasped, breathing shallowly through his pain, though still angry enough to spit bloodied phlegm toward the other prostrate men as he flicked his head toward them. Ludwig didn’t have time or energy to respond to his arrogant idiocy. And, even as the ungrateful whining voice faded out, he noticed a slight movement close to where he’d dumped his own gear…
A strange visitor
As he watched, an old wrinkle-faced, white-haired native man stepped out from the tree line. Smiling serenely at Ludwig as if they knew each other, he began to walk toward the group, shutting down further argument and holding every eye there with the sheer force of his unexpected and commanding presence. It was crystal clear to every man in the clearing - that although he was aged, as seen by his worn, wrinkled skinny frame and pure white hair – each man could immediately sense that this was clearly not a man to trifle with: to any slightly aware spirit, this dignified old fellow carried power like others wore clothes. As he crossed the clearing and walked up to Ludwig, his steady smooth gait seemed to generate small vibrations that shivered up through the earth and created a tiny answering quiver from each body that touched the ground.
From out of the corner of his eye, Ludwig noticed that as the dignified elder moved past them, the gunshot natives he’d tended became abruptly statuesque, staring at the wizened old gentleman as if they were entranced, though the old man himself took no notice of them at all. The elder smiled warmly at Ludwig as he stopped in front of him. He spoke in a deep resonant voice that gave off that same thrilling vibration that Ludwig had felt through his feet as the old man moved across the clearing. “You have heeded no difference, nor given favor here, man of medicine,” he said. There was a touch of grateful curiosity evident in his own eyes as his gaze flicked over the bloodied implements and clothes that Ludwig had not yet cleaned up. The elder continued as if the others were not there with them.
“I have come to take my children to their camp to recover,” he said, chin-lip pointing to the dark-skinned men, still lying on the ground where Ludwig had treated them. “And,” the soothing voice continued, “to allow them to follow the directions for healing you so kindly gave, as well of course.” The old man smiled at Ludwig, crinkling his old eyes and revealing a warmth and depth of understanding that Ludwig had never imagined, much less perceived in any human acquaintance previously. “Our paths will cross again, Ludwig Leichardt,” he said, thrilling Ludwig with the mastery of timbre and quality in his voice as he turned and walked gracefully and without haste toward the men – his children – that he had come to help...