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Bob tries to forget her by going out back and almost dies in the desert, but is rescued by an Afghan camel driver. He returns home and is blamed for another robbery, but is cleared of the charges and is united with Ruth. Beaumont Smith had previously adapted Lawson's for the stage in , and it toured Australia for that and the following year. His assistant director was Phil K. Walsh, who later directed two Australian films. Lawson himself appears in a brief prologue. Lawson had given all copyright in his work to Angus and Robertson. Gavin Robertson agreed the money for the rights to the movie should go to Lawson.

Smith says that Lawson's income from the film was the author's main source of income in the last years of his life. Commercial results were strong. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. While the Billy Boils Original poster advertising the film. The Register. Adelaide: National Library of Australia. Retrieved 20 May The Sydney Morning Herald. National Library of Australia. The Mail. Men from all the lands and one. They understood art — and poverty was dead. Those old mates had each three pasts behind them. The two they told each other when they became mates, and the one they had shared.

And when the visitor had gone by the coach we noticed that the old man would smoke a lot, and think as much, and take great interest in the fire, and be a trifle irritable perhaps. We met one to-day, and had a yarn with him, and afterwards we got thinking, and somehow began to wonder whether those ancient friends of ours were, or were not, better and kinder to their mates than we of the rising generation are to our fathers; and the doubt is painfully on the wrong side. The worst bore in Australia just now is the man who raves about getting the people on the land, and button-holes you in the street with a little scheme of his own.

He generally does not know what he is talking about. There is in Sydney a man named Tom Hopkins who settled on the land once, and sometimes you can get him to talk about it. He did very well at his trade in the city, years ago, until he began to think that he could do better up-country. Then he arranged with his sweetheart to be true to him and wait whilst he went west and made a home. She drops out of the story at this point. Does the reader know what grubbing means? Tom does. He found the biggest, ugliest, and most useless trees on his particular piece of ground; also the greatest number of adamantine stumps.

He started without experience, or with very little, but with plenty of advice from men who knew less about farming than he did. Next day he sank a shaft on the other side of the gum; and after tea, over a pipe, it struck him that it would be a good idea to burn the tree out, and so use up the logs and lighter rubbish lying round. So he widened the excavation, rolled in some logs, and set fire to them — with no better result than to scorch the roots.

Tom persevered. He waited till the hole cooled, and then he went to work with pick, shovel, and axe: and even now he gets interested in drawings of machinery, such as are published in the agricultural weeklies, for getting out stumps without graft. He thought he would be able to get some posts and rails out of that tree, but found reason to think that a cast-iron column would split sooner — and straighter.

He traced some of the surface roots to the other side of the selection, and broke most of his trace-chains trying to get them out by horse-power — for they had other roots going down from underneath. He cleared a patch in the course of time and for several seasons he broke more ploughshares than he could pay for. Meanwhile the squatter was not idle.

Then he was charged with killing some sheep and a steer on the run, and converting them to his own use, but got off mainly because there was a difference of opinion between the squatter and the other local J. Tom ploughed and sowed wheat, but nothing came up to speak of — the ground was too poor; so he carted stable manure six miles from the nearest town, manured the land, sowed another crop, and prayed for rain. It came. It raised a flood which washed the crop clean off the selection, together with several acres of manure, and a considerable portion of the original surface soil; and the water brought down enough sand to make a beach, and spread it over the field to a depth of six inches.

The flood also took half a mile of fencing from along the creek-bank, and landed it in a bend, three miles down, on a dummy selection, where it was confiscated. He cleared another piece of ground on the siding, and sowed more wheat; it had the rust in it, or the smut — and averaged three shillings per bushel. Then he sowed lucerne and oats, and bought a few cows: he had an idea of starting a dairy.

The Billy Boils Episode 2 (September 2019)

Germany stuck to him and nursed him, and saw him through. Then the milkers got bad udders, and Tom took his life in his hands whenever he milked them. He got them all right presently — and butter fell to fourpence a pound. They died peacefully and persistently, until all were gone save a certain dangerous, barren, slab-sided luny bovine with white eyes and much agility in jumping fences, who was known locally as Queen Elizabeth.

Tom shot Queen Elizabeth, and turned his attention to agriculture again. He borrowed a broken-down dray-horse in return for its keep, coupled it with his own old riding hack, and started to finish ploughing. Then Tom would blaspheme till he was refreshed, mend up things with wire and bits of clothes-line, fill his pockets with stones to throw at the team, and start again.

The brat did his best he tugged at the head of the team, prodded it behind, heaved rocks at it, cut a sapling, got up his enthusiasm, and wildly whacked the light horse whenever the other showed signs of moving — but he never succeeded in starting both horses at one and the same time. Yes, he cursed Australia. The boy cursed back, was chastised, and immediately went home and brought his father. The dummy would have gone under had his wife not arrived on the scene with the eldest son and the rest of the family. They all fell foul of Tom. The woman was the worst. The dogs chased the sheep across the selection and into the run again on the other side, where another man waited ready to pound them.

The squatter by this time had made peace with the other local Justice, and had become his father-in-law. When Tom came out there was little left for him to live for; but he took a job of fencing, got a few pounds together, and prepared to settle on the land some more. Then Tom rented an orchard up the creek, and a hailstorm destroyed all the fruit. Tom stood leaning against the door post with the hail beating on him through it all. His eyes were very bright and very dry, and every breath was a choking sob.

Jacob let him stand there, and sat inside with a dreamy expression on his hard face, thinking of childhood and fatherland, perhaps. I must go home for somedings. He poured the wine into two pint-pots, made Tom drink, drank himself, and then took his cornet, stood up at the door, and played a German march into the rain after the retreating storm.

The hail had passed over his vineyard and he was a ruined man too. But the squatter interfered at this point, entered into possession of the farm and all on it, and took action against the selector for trespass — laying the damages at L Tom was admitted to the lunatic asylum at Parramatta next year, and the squatter was sent there the following summer, having been ruined by the drought, the rabbits, the banks, and a wool-ring.

The two became very friendly, and had many a sociable argument about the feasibility — or otherwise — of blowing open the flood-gates of Heaven in a dry season with dynamite. Tom was discharged a few years since. He knocks about certain suburbs a good deal. He is seen in daylight seldom, and at night mostly in connection with a dray and a lantern. The Western train had just arrived at Redfern railway station with a lot of ordinary passengers and one swagman. He was short, and stout, and bow-legged, and freckled, and sandy.

He had red hair and small, twinkling, grey eyes, and — what often goes with such things — the expression of a born comedian. He was dressed in a ragged, well-washed print shirt, an old black waistcoat with a calico back, a pair of cloudy moleskins patched at the knees and held up by a plaited greenhide belt buckled loosely round his hips, a pair of well-worn, fuzzy blucher boots, and a soft felt hat, green with age, and with no brim worth mentioning, and no crown to speak of.

He swung a swag on to the platform, shouldered it, pulled out a billy and water-bag, and then went to a dog-box in the brake van. Five minutes later he appeared on the edge of the cab platform, with an anxious-looking cattle-dog crouching against his legs, and one end of the chain in his hand. He eased down the swag against a post, turned his face to the city, tilted his hat forward, and scratched the well-developed back of his head with a little finger.

He seemed undecided what track to take. What do I want with a cab? Do you think my old dog wants a cab? The traveller up-ended his bluey against his knee, gave it an affectionate pat, and then straightened himself up and looked fixedly at the cabman. It was a stout, dumpy swag, with a red blanket outside, patched with blue, and the edge of a blue blanket showing in the inner rings at the end. The swag might have been newer; it might have been cleaner; it might have been hooped with decent straps, instead of bits of clothes-line and greenhide — but otherwise there was nothing the matter with it, as swags go.

No one ever studied mine! He lifted the swag by the twisted towel which served for a shoulder-strap, swung it into the cab, got in himself and hauled the dog after him. We were tramping down in Canterbury, Maoriland, at the time, swagging it — me and Bill — looking for work on the new railway line. We had to have a drink, anyway, so we chanced it. We looked solvent enough, as far as swagmen go.

We were dirty and haggard and ragged and tired-looking, and that was all the more reason why we might have our cheques all right. This Stiffner was a hard customer.

While the billy boils, () by Harold Cazneaux :: The Collection :: Art Gallery NSW

He was an ugly brute to look at, and uglier to have a row with — about six-foot-six, wide in proportion, and stronger than Donald Dinnie. Bill was mostly a quiet young chap, from Sydney, except when he got drunk — which was seldom — and then he was a customer, from all round. He was cracked on the subject of spielers. He held that the population of the world was divided into two classes — one was spielers and the other was the mugs.

At first I thought he was a spieler, and afterwards I thought that he was a mug. He used to say that a man had to do it these times; that he was honest once and a fool, and was robbed and starved in consequences by his friends and relations; but now he intended to take all that he could get. He said that you either had to have or be had; that men were driven to be sharps, and there was no help for it. He shouted once or twice. By-and-by I left Bill and turned in, and in the morning when I woke up there was Bill sitting alongside of me, and looking about as lively as the fighting kangaroo in London in fog time.

He had a black eye and eighteen pence. He loves a fight even more than he hates being had. You have got a front. You keep him talking all the time. You dump the two swags together, and smoke like sheol. I went into the bar, got the swags front the missus, carried them out on to the veranda, and then went back. Anyhow, the risk would be about the same, or less, for I might have the spirit to run harder the more I had to run for — the more spirits I had to run for, in fact, as it turned out — so I says:.

It was a tight squeeze, but I got it in. Just then I noticed something, and an idea struck me — about the most up-to-date idea that ever struck me in my life. I noticed that Stiffner was limping on his right foot this morning, so I said to him:. So I said, taking my hand out of my pocket again:. It made me feel sore when I looked at it. Presently I yawned and stretched myself, and said in a careless way:.

He looked blank for a moment. He jumped the bar counter, got his boot, and came after me. He paused to slip the boot on — but he only made one step, and then gave a howl and slung the boot off and rushed back. I shifted scenery pretty quick the next five minutes. But I was soon pumped. My heart began to beat against the ceiling of my head, and my lungs all choked up in my throat. He let out; but I shied just in time. He missed fire, and the slipper went about twenty feet up in the air and fell in a waterhole.

He was done then, for the ground was stubbly and stony. Bill looked round once, and melted into the bush pretty soon after that. He took it all pretty cool; he let me have my fling, and gave me time to get breath; then he leaned languidly over on his right side, shoved his left hand down into his left trouserpocket, and brought up a boot-lace, a box of matches, and nine-and-six. Then he leaned over on his left, went down into the other pocket, and came up with a piece of tobacco and half-a-sovereign.

Then he leaned back, tired-like, against the log, and dredged his upper left-hand waistcoat-pocket, and brought up a sovereign wrapped in a pound note. He was in the parlour all the time I was playing. But we might as well have a drink! Bill turned in by-and-by, and looked like a sleeping innocent in the moonlight. I sat up late, and smoked, and thought hard, and watched Bill, and turned in, and thought till near daylight, and then went to sleep, and had a nightmare about it.

I dreamed I chased Stiffner forty miles to buy his pub, and that Bill turned out to be his nephew. He was a decent young fellow as far as chaps go, and a good mate as far as mates go; but he was too far ahead for a peaceful, easy-going chap like me. It would have worn me out in a year to keep up to him. Jack Drew sat on the edge of the shaft, with his foot in the loop and one hand on the rope, ready to descend. His elder brother, Tom, stood at one end of the windlass and the third mate at the other. Jack paused before swinging off, looked up at his brother, and impulsively held out his hand:.

They lowered him to the bottom, and Tom shouldered his pick in silence and walked off to the tent. He found the tin plate, pint-pot, and things set ready for him on the rough slab table under the bush shed. The tea was made, the cabbage and potatoes strained and placed in a billy near the fire.


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He found the fried bacon and steak between two plates in the camp-oven. He sat down to the table but he could not eat. He felt mean. The inexperience and hasty temper of his brother had caused the quarrel between them that morning; but then Jack admitted that, and apologized when he first tried to make it up. Tom found himself glancing at the sun. It was less than two hours from sunset. The line contains good, sound advice; for quick-tempered men are often the most sensitive, and when they let the sun go down on the aforesaid wrath that quality is likely to get them down and worry them during the night.

Tom started to go to the claim, but checked himself, and sat down and tried to draw comfort from his pipe. He understood his brother thoroughly, but his brother never understood him — that was where the trouble was. Presently he got thinking how Jack would worry about the quarrel and have no heart for his work. Perhaps he was fretting over it now, all alone by himself, down at the end of the damp, dark drive. Tom had a lot of the old woman about him, in spite of his unsociable ways and brooding temper.

He had almost made up his mind to go below again, on some excuse, when his mate shouted from the top of the shaft:. All the diggers within hearing were soon on the spot. They saw at a glance what had happened. It was madness to sink without timber in such treacherous ground. The sides of the shaft were closing in. Tom sprang forward and shouted through the crevice:. A few minutes later a fan was rigged over a deserted shaft close by, where fortunately the windlass had been left for bailing purposes, and men were down in the old drive. Tom knew that he and his mates had driven very close to the old workings.

He knelt in the damp clay before the face and worked like a madman; he refused to take turn about, and only dropped the pick to seize a shovel in his strong hands, and snatch back the loose clay from under his feet; he reckoned that he had six or, perhaps, eight feet to drive, and he knew that the air could not last long in the new drive — even if that had not already fallen in and crushed his brother.

Once he paused a moment to listen, and then distinctly heard a sound as of a tool or stone being struck against the end of the new drive. Jack was safe! Suddenly he struggled to his knees, and then fell forward on his hand and dragged himself close to the hole in the end of the drive.

They half carried, half dragged him from the drive, for the roof was low and they were obliged to stoop. They took him to the shaft and sent him up, lashed to the rope. A few blows of the pick, and Jack scrambled from his prison and went to the surface, and knelt on the grass by the body of his brother. The diggers gathered round and took off their hats. And the sun went down. He was a small, scraggy man, painfully fair, with a big, baby-like head, vacant watery eyes, long thin hairy hands, that felt like pieces of damp seaweed, and an apologetic cringe-and-look-up-at-you manner.

He professed to have forgotten who he was and all about himself. It was a wonder that he had not profited, even indirectly, by the last characteristic. It was natural, then, for The Oracle to take the present case under his wing. The swag had been prospected and fossicked for a clue, but yielded none. They preferred to be in the audience. I might be a rich man, with a lot of houses and money.

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I might be a lord. Better let it slide, mate; let the dead past bury its dead. Start fresh with a clean sheet. I knew a man named Jim Smith that died. So they called him Smith, and soon began to regard him as a harmless lunatic and to take no notice of his eccentricities. Great interest was taken in the case for a time, and even Mitchell put in his oar and tried all sorts of ways to assist the Mystery in his weak, helpless, and almost pitiful endeavours to recollect who he was. A similar case happened to appear in the papers at this time, and the thing caught on to such an extent that The Oracle was moved to impart some advice from his store of wisdom.

Meanwhile Smith ate, worked, and slept, and borrowed tobacco and forgot to return it — which was made a note of. One Saturday morning, about a fortnight before cut out, The Oracle came late to his stand, and apparently with something on his mind. Tom looked disheartened and disappointed. This was also characteristic of the boss-over-the-board, though in another direction. He went down to the but and inquired for Smith. The matter was discussed at the dinner-table.

There was some eating and thinking done. The chaps grew awfully interested. They fixed their eyes on Tom, and he looked with feeling from one face to another; then he pushed his plate back, and slowly extracted his long legs from between the stool and the table.

He climbed to his bunk, and carefully reviewed the ingredients of his swag. It was an expression such as a man might wear who is undergoing a terrible operation, without chloroform, but is determined not to let a whimper escape him. The Oracle took down his bridle from its peg, and started for the door amid a respectful and sympathetic silence, which was only partly broken once by the voice of Mitchell, which asked in an awed whisper:.

Five minutes passed, and then the voice of Mitchell was heard again, uninterrupted by the clatter of tinware. It said in impressive tones:. Scotty shot out of his place as if a snake had hold of his leg, starting a plank in the table and upsetting three soup plates. He reached for his bunk like a drowning man clutching at a plank, and tore out the bedding. Then followed a general overhaul, and it was found in most cases that Smith had remembered.

The pent-up reservoir of blasphemy burst forth. The Oracle came up with Smith that night at the nearest shanty, and found that he had forgotten again, and in several instances, and was forgetting some more under the influence of rum and of the flattering interest taken in his case by a drunken Bachelor of Arts who happened to be at the pub. Tom came in quietly from the rear, and crooked his finger at the shanty-keeper.

They went apart from the rest, and talked together a while very earnestly. Smith was about again in a couple of weeks. He was damaged somewhat physically, but his memory was no longer impaired. One of the hungriest cleared roads in New South Wales runs to within a couple of miles of Hungerford, and stops there; then you strike through the scrub to the town. They say that a past Ministry commenced to clear the road from Bourke, under the impression that Hungerford was an important place, and went on, with the blindness peculiar to governments, till they got to within two miles of the town.

Then they ran short of rum and rations, and sent a man on to get them, and make inquiries. The member never came back, and two more were sent to find him — or Hungerford. Three days later the two returned in an exhausted condition, and submitted a motion of want-of-confidence, which was lost. Then the whole House went on and was lost also. Strange to relate, that Government was never missed. However, we found Hungerford and camped there for a day. The town is right on the Queensland border, and an interprovincial rabbit-proof fence — with rabbits on both sides of it — runs across the main street.

This fence is a standing joke with Australian rabbits — about the only joke they have out there, except the memory of Pasteur and poison and inoculation. One old buck rabbit sat up and nearly laughed his ears off at a joke of his own about that fence. I could hardly eat him for laughing. Hungerford consists of two houses and a humpy in New South Wales, and five houses in Queensland. Characteristically enough, both the pubs are in Queensland. We got a glass of sour yeast at one and paid sixpence for it — we had asked for English ale. The post office is in New South Wales, and the police-barracks in Bananaland.

Most of the rows are across the border, where the pubs are. Another man said he was a liar, but then he might have been a liar himself — a third person said he was one. I heard that there was a fight over it, but the man who told me about the fight might not have been telling the truth.

The country looks as though a great ash-heap had been spread out there, and mulga scrub and firewood planted — and neglected. If it howled it would be a relief. There were brave men in the land in those days. It is said that the explorers gave the district its name chiefly because of the hunger they found there, which has remained there ever since. Hungerthirst would have been better. The town is supposed to be situated on the banks of a river called the Paroo, but we saw no water there, except what passed for it in a tank.

The goats and sheep and dogs and the rest of the population drink there. It is dangerous to take too much of that water in a raw state. There is a Custom-house against the fence on the northern side. A pound of tea often costs six shillings on that side, and you can get a common lead pencil for fourpence at the rival store across the street in the mother province.

Also, a small loaf of sour bread sells for a shilling at the humpy aforementioned. Only about sixty per cent of the sugar will melt. The storekeepers often do this, and put it down on the loss side of their books. I hope the recording angel listens, and puts it down on the right side of his book.

We camped on the Queensland side of the fence, and after tea had a yarn with an old man who was minding a mixed flock of goats and sheep; and we asked him whether he thought Queensland was better than New South Wales, or the other way about. He scratched the back of his head, and thought a while, and hesitated like a stranger who is going to do you a favour at some personal inconvenience.

At last, with the bored air of a man who has gone through the same performance too often before, he stepped deliberately up to the fence and spat over it into New South Wales. After which he got leisurely through and spat back on Queensland. Moreover, if you lost your own horse you would have to find another, and if that died or went astray you would have to find a third — or forfeit your pay and return on foot.

The boss drover agreed to provide flour and mutton — when such things were procurable. My mate and I sat down on our swags against the fence to talk things over. One of us was very deaf. Presently a black tracker went past and looked at us, and returned to the pub. Then a trooper in Queensland uniform came along and asked us what the trouble was about, and where we came from and were going, and where we camped.

We said we were discussing private business, and he explained that he thought it was a row, and came over to see. Then he left us, and later on we saw him sitting with the rest of the population on a bench under the hotel veranda. Next morning we rolled up our swags and left Hungerford to the north-west.

I wish someone would have you. She got as good as she gave. She looked at me and went all colours, and then she went back to her washtub. I began to feel sorry for her and mad at the old man, and I started to comfort her. She was plain, and no mistake: Mary was a Venus alongside of her. She had feet like a Lascar, and hands about ten sizes too large for her, and a face like that camel — only red; she walked like a camel, too.

Mind you, I never wanted to marry her ; I was only curious to know whether any girl would have me. Good Lord! You should have seen the old woman and the girls when I came home. I got sick of dodging that girl. In fact, I thought you was her in disguise when I set eyes on you first. She turned up at the boarding-house one Saturday morning when Bobbie was at work; and the first thing she did was to rent a double room from the landlady and buy some cups and saucers to start housekeeping with.

When Bobbie came home he just gave her one look and gave up the game. Let me finish the yarn. About bedtime he sneaked out and started along the passage to his room that he shared with two or three mates. Come back at once! What do you mean, Bobbie? Do you hear me, Bobbie? Next morning she was first at the breakfast table, in a dressing-gown and curl papers.

And when they were all sitting down Bobbie sneaked in, looking awfully sheepish, and sidled for his chair at the other end of the table. Across the river to the right, the grey slopes and flats stretched away to the distant sea from a range of tussock hills. There was no native bush there; but there were several groves of imported timber standing wide apart —— sentinel-like — seeming lonely and striking in their isolation.

You ought to see some of the country in the North Island — Wairarapa and Napier districts, round about Pahiatua. I call this damn poor country. You say this is the worst, eh? The worst dried-up and God-forsaken country I was ever in. They let him think. The coach descended the natural terraces above the river bank, and pulled up at the pub. Anyway, I was born there. I thought I had a kind of affection for old Sydney.

I had more than quite enough of it while I was there. The worst and hardest years of my life were spent in Australia. I might have starved there, and did do it half my time. No, Australia is the worst country that ever the Lord had the sense to forget. I mean to stick to the country that stuck to me, when I was starved out of my own dear native land — and that country is the United States of America. The curse of Australia is sheep, and the Australian war cry is Baa! I forget the darned thing. He tried to remember it.

The stranger ignored him and opened fire on the bagman. The darned fools; the country never belonged to them, but to the speculators, the absentees, land-boomers, swindlers, gangs of thieves — the men the patriotic fools starve and fight for — their masters. The coach had climbed the terraces on the south side of the river, and was bowling along on a level stretch of road across the elevated flat. There was not the Australian heat to twist the branches and turn the leaves. But the other did not appear to hear him; he kept staring hard at the trees they were passing.

They had been planted in rows and cross-rows, and were coming on grandly. Presently he caught sight of a few trees which had evidently been planted before the others — as an experiment, perhaps — and, somehow, one of them had grown after its own erratic native fashion — gnarled and twisted and ragged, and could not be mistaken for anything else but an Australian gum. He screwed his neck to get a last glimpse, and then sat silently smoking and gazing straight ahead, as if the past lay before him — and it was before him. The scene is a small New South Wales western selection, the holder whereof is native-English.

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His wife is native-Irish. Time, Sunday, about 8 a. A used-up looking woman comes from the slab-and-bark house, turns her face towards the hillside, and shrieks:. A boy is seen to run wildly along the siding and hurl a missile at a feeding cow; the cow runs forward a short distance through the trees, and then stops to graze again while the boy stirs up another milker. The rising Australian generation is represented by a thin, lanky youth of about fifteen. He is milking. The cow-yard is next the house, and is mostly ankle-deep in slush.

The boy drives a dusty, discouraged-looking cow into the bail, and pins her head there; then he gets tackle on to her right hind leg, hauls it back, and makes it fast to the fence. There are eleven cows, but not one of them can be milked out of the bail — chiefly because their teats are sore. The selector does not know what makes the teats sore, but he has an unquestioning faith in a certain ointment, recommended to him by a man who knows less about cows than he does himself, which he causes to be applied at irregular intervals — leaving the mode of application to the discretion of his son.

Meanwhile the teats remain sore. When he gets enough milk to dip his dirty hands in, he moistens the teats, and things go on more smoothly. Now and then he relieves the monotony of his occupation by squirting at the eye of a calf which is dozing in the adjacent pen. Other times he milks into his mouth. In the latter case the youth gets tackle on to the calf, detaches its head from the teat with the heel of his boot, and makes it fast somewhere. Anyway, the boy will lam the cow down with a jagged yard shovel, let her out, and bail up another. When he considers that he has finished milking he lets the cows out with their calves and carries the milk down to the dairy, where he has a heated argument with his mother, who — judging from the quantity of milk — has reason to believe that he has slummed some of the milkers.

This he indignantly denies, telling her she knows very well the cows are going dry. The dairy is built of rotten box bark — though there is plenty of good stringy-bark within easy distance — and the structure looks as if it wants to lie down and is only prevented by three crooked props on the leaning side; more props will soon be needed in the rear for the dairy shows signs of going in that direction. The milk is set in dishes made of kerosene-tins, cut in halves, which are placed on bark shelves fitted round against the walls.

The shelves are not level and the dishes are brought to a comparatively horizontal position by means of chips and bits of bark, inserted under the lower side. The milk is covered by soiled sheets of old newspapers supported on sticks laid across the dishes.

This protection is necessary, because the box bark in the roof has crumbled away and left fringed holes — also because the fowls roost up there. Sometimes the paper sags, and the cream may have to be scraped off an article on dairy farming. She runs a forefinger round the edges of the cream to detach it from the tin, wipes her finger in her mouth, and skims.

If the milk and cream are very thick she rolls the cream over like a pancake with her fingers, and lifts it out in sections. Tom holds up the doubtful-looking rag that serves as a strainer while his mother pours in the milk. The door of the dairy faces the dusty road and is off its hinges and has to be propped up. The prop is missing this morning, and Tommy is accused of having been seen chasing old Poley with it at an earlier hour. The pole is not forthcoming, and so an old dray is backed against the door to keep it in position. The boy takes the cows up to the paddock sliprails and lets the top rail down: the lower rail fits rather tightly and some exertion is required to free it, so he makes the animals jump that one.

He carries the skim-milk to the yard in a bucket made out of an oil-drum — sometimes a kerosene-tin — seizes a calf by the nape of the neck with his left hand, inserts the dirty forefinger of his right into its mouth, and shoves its head down into the milk. He welts that calf in the jaw, kicks it in the stomach, tries to smother it with its nose in the milk, and finally dismisses it with the assistance of the calf rope and a shovel, and gets another. His hand feels sticky and the cleaned finger makes it look as if he wore a filthy, greasy glove with the forefinger torn off.

The selector himself is standing against a fence talking to a neighbour. His arms rest on the top rail of the fence, his chin rests on his hands, his pipe rests between his fingers, and his eyes rest on a white cow that is chewing her cud on the opposite side of the fence.

They are talking about that cow. They have been talking about her for three hours. She is chewing her cud. Her nose is well up and forward, and her eyes are shut. She lets her lower jaw fall a little, moves it to one side, lifts it again, and brings it back into position with a springing kind of jerk that has almost a visible recoil. Then her jaws stay perfectly still for a moment, and you would think she had stopped chewing.

Now and again a soft, easy, smooth-going swallow passes visibly along her clean, white throat and disappears. She chews again, and by and by she loses consciousness and forgets to chew. She never opens her eyes. She is young and in good condition; she has had enough to eat, the sun is just properly warm for her, and — well, if an animal can be really happy, she ought to be. Presently the two men drag themselves away from the fence, fill their pipes, and go to have a look at some rows of forked sticks, apparently stuck in the ground for some purpose.

Man alive! Stay and have some dinner! It is a broiling hot day in summer, and the dinner consists of hot roast meat, hot baked potatoes, hot cabbage, hot pumpkin, hot peas, and burning-hot plum-pudding. The family drinks on an average four cups of tea each per meal. Drive it out! They mark the circle described by the broom, and take care to keep two or three inches beyond it. Every now and then you see a fowl on the dresser amongst the crockery, and there is great concern to get it out before it breaks something.

While dinner is in progress two steers get into the wheat through a broken rail which has been spliced with stringy-bark, and a calf or two break into the vineyard. And yet this careless Australian selector, who is too shiftless to put up a decent fence, or build a decent house and who knows little or nothing about farming, would seem by his conversation to have read up all the great social and political questions of the day. Here are some fragments of conversation caught at the dinner-table. The spaces represent interruptions by the fowls and children:. Later on the conversation is about Deeming.

That Windsor wretch!

Story: Irish

Macquarie the shearer had met with an accident. To tell the truth, he had been in a drunken row at a wayside shanty, from which he had escaped with three fractured ribs, a cracked head, and various minor abrasions. His dog, Tally, had been a sober but savage participator in the drunken row, and had escaped with a broken leg. Macquarie afterwards shouldered his swag and staggered and struggled along the track ten miles to the Union Town hospital. Lord knows how he did it. Tally limped behind all the way, on three legs. Of course they would take him in, but they objected to Tally. Dogs were not allowed on the premises.

Macquarie rose slowly to his feet, shut his agony behind his set teeth, painfully buttoned his shirt over his hairy chest, took up his waistcoat, and staggered to the corner where the swag lay. You know you are not in a fit state to go out. Let the wardsman help you to undress.

She follered me for God knows how many years. She follered me till she was blind — and for a year after. Then he drew in his breath, shut his teeth hard, shouldered his swag, stepped into the doorway, and faced round again. I— Oh, my God! He groaned and lurched forward, but they caught him, slipped off the swag, and laid him on a bed. I met him in the Full-and-Plenty Dining Rooms. I boarded and resided there. I boarded at a greasy little table in the greasy little corner under the fluffy little staircase in the hot and greasy little dining-room or restaurant downstairs.

There was not room for an ordinary-sized steward to pass up and down between the tables; but our waiter was not an ordinary-sized man — he was a living skeleton in miniature. The very hot and very greasy little kitchen was adjacent, and it contained the bathroom and other conveniences, behind screens of whitewashed boards. I resided upstairs in a room where there were five beds and one wash-stand; one candle-stick, with a very short bit of soft yellow candle in it; the back of a hair-brush, with about a dozen bristles in it; and half a comb — the big-tooth end — with nine and a half teeth at irregular distances apart.

They could dance well; sing indifferently, and mostly through their noses, the old bush songs; play the concertina horribly; and ride like — like — well, they could ride. He seemed as if he had forgotten to grow old and die out with this old colonial school to which he belonged. They had careless and forgetful ways about them. He had a portmanteau, a carpet bag, some things in a three-bushel bag, and a tin bog.

I sat beside him on his bed, and struck up an acquaintance, and he told me all about it. First he asked me would I mind shifting round to the other side, as he was rather deaf in that ear. He was as good as blind.

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I can just make out the pavement and the houses close at hand, and all the rest is a sort of white blur. The prevalent tints of the wall-paper had originally been blue and red, but it was mostly green enough now — a damp, rotten green; but I was ready to swear that the ceiling was snow and that the walls were as green as grass if it would have made him feel more comfortable.

He had already the manner of the blind — the touch of every finger, and even the gentleness in his speech. I happened to know the district he came from, and we would sit by the hour and talk about the country, and chaps by the name of this and chaps by the name of that — drovers mostly, whom we had met or had heard of. We talked about grubbing and fencing and digging and droving and shearing — all about the bush — and it all came back to me as we talked. I could see it, too — plainer than ever I did.

He had done a bit of fencing in his time, and we got talking about timber. He also objected to charring the butts. He said it only made more work — and wasted time — the butts lasted longer without being charred. He had also got them out of various other kinds of trees. We talked about soil and grass, and gold-digging, and many other things which came back to one like a revelation as we yarned. He had been to the hospital several times. He was always hopeful and cheerful. They were sort of blurred to him, but I described them and he told me who they were.

But his hearing was better, he said, and he was glad of that and still cheerful. I thought it natural that his hearing should improve as he went blind. One day he said that he did not think he would bother going to the hospital any more. I was away for a couple of days, and when I came back he had been shifted out of the room and had a bed in an angle of the landing on top of the staircase, with the people brushing against him and stumbling over his things all day on their way up and down.

But he said that he was quite comfortable. Going in next day I thought for a moment that I had dropped suddenly back into the past and into a bush dance, for there was a concertina going upstairs. He was sitting on the bed, with his legs crossed, and a new cheap concertina on his knee, and his eyes turned to the patch of ceiling as if it were a piece of music and he could read it. Jack introduced him as his brother, who had returned unexpectedly to his native district, and had followed him to Sydney.

Jack was going to stay with Joe at the Coffee Palace for a few weeks, and then go back up-country, he told me.


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He was excited and happy. He would not allow him to do anything for himself, nor try to — not even lace up his boot. We had a drink together — Joe, Jack, the cabman, and I. He swore he could see a glass yet, and Joe laughed, but looked extra troubled the next moment. He awakened him, and demanded an explanation. The little fellow explained that he worked there, and was frightened of being late; he started work at six, and was apparently greatly astonished to hear that it was only four.

The constable examined a small parcel which the frightened child had in his hand. It contained a clean apron and three slices of bread and treacle. Father was dead. It was learned, also, from another source, that the last assertion was greatly exaggerated. The touching incident was worn out in another paragraph, which left no doubt that the benevolent society lady was none other than a charming and accomplished daughter of the House of Grinder. It was late in the last day of the Easter Holidays, during which Arvie Aspinall had lain in bed with a bad cold.

It got out to such an extent for the next few minutes that he could not speak. When he recovered his breath, he said:. Gimme the clock, mother. Give me the clock , mother. He had read the verse often before, and was much taken with the swing and rhythm of it. He had repeated it to himself, over and over again, without reference to the sense or philosophy of it. He had never dreamed of doubting anything in print — and this was engraved.

But now a new light seemed to dawn upon him. He studied the sentence awhile, and then read it aloud for the second time. He turned it over in his mind again in silence. Arvie seemed to sleep, but she lay awake thinking of her troubles. I thought the alarm went off! There was something wrong with the alarm-clock, or else Mrs Aspinall had made a mistake, for the gong sounded startlingly in the dead of night.

She woke with a painful start, and lay still, expecting to hear Arvie get up; but he made no sign. He was such a light sleeper!


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Arvie never answered. She rose and stood by the sofa. Arvie lay on his back with his arms folded — a favourite sleeping position of his; but his eyes were wide open and staring upwards as though they would stare through ceiling and roof to the place where God ought to be. An oblong hut, walled with blue-grey hardwood slabs, adzed at the ends and set horizontally between the round sapling studs; high roof of the eternal galvanized iron. A big rubbish heap lies about a yard to the right of the door, which opens from the middle of one of the side walls; it might be the front or the back wall — there is nothing to fix it.

Two rows of rough bunks run round three sides of the interior; and a fire-place occupies one end — the kitchen end. Sleeping, eating, gambling and cooking accommodation for thirty men in about eighteen by forty feet. The rouseabouts and shearers use the hut in common during shearing. Down the centre of the place runs a table made of stakes driven into the ground, with cross-pieces supporting a top of half-round slabs set with the flat sides up, and affording a few level places for soup-plates; on each side are crooked, unbarked poles laid in short forks, to serve as seats.

The poles are worn smoothest opposite the level places on the table. The floor is littered with rubbish — old wool-bales, newspapers, boots, worn-out shearing pants, rough bedding, etc. To the west is a dam, holding back a broad, shallow sheet of grey water, with dead trees standing in it. Further up along this water is a brush shearing-shed, a rough framework of poles with a brush roof. This kind of shed has the advantage of being cooler than iron.

It is not rain-proof, but shearers do not work in rainy weather; shearing even slightly damp sheep is considered the surest and quickest way to get the worst kind of rheumatism. The floor is covered with rubbish from the roof, and here and there lies a rusty pair of shears. A couple of dry tar-pots hang by nails in the posts. Opposite stands the wool-shed, built entirely of galvanized iron; a blinding object to start out of the scrub on a blazing, hot day. God forgive the man who invented galvanized iron, and the greed which introduced it into Australia: you could not get worse roofing material for a hot country.

The wool-washing, soap-boiling, and wool-pressing arrangements are further up the dam. And the company belongs to a bank. And the banks belong to England, mostly. Half a dozen travellers are camping in the hut, having a spell. They need it, for there are twenty miles of dry lignum plain between here and the government bore to the east; and about eighteen miles of heavy, sandy, cleared road north-west to the next water in that direction. With one exception, the men do not seem hard up; at least, not as that condition is understood by the swagmen of these times.

They are all shearers, or at least they say they are. These men have a kind of stock hope of getting a few stragglers to shear somewhere; but their main object is to live till next shearing. In order to do this they must tramp for tucker, and trust to the regulation — and partly mythical — pint of flour, and bit of meat, or tea and sugar, and to the goodness of cooks and storekeepers and boundary-riders. You can only depend on getting tucker once at one place; then you must tramp on to the next. If you cannot get it once you must go short; but there is a lot of energy in an empty stomach.

If you get an extra supply you may camp for a day and have a spell. To live you must walk. To cease walking is to die. The Exception is an outcast amongst bush outcasts, and looks better fitted for Sydney Domain. He lies on the bottom of a galvanized-iron case, with a piece of blue blanket for a pillow.

He is dressed in a blue cotton jumper, a pair of very old and ragged tweed trousers, and one boot and one slipper. He found the slipper in the last shed, and the boot in the rubbish-heap here. When his own boots gave out he walked a hundred and fifty miles with his feet roughly sewn up in pieces of sacking from an old wool-bale. No sign of a patch, or an attempt at mending anywhere about his clothes, and that is a bad sign; when a swagman leaves off mending or patching his garments, his case is about hopeless. He has no water-bag; carries his water in a billy; and how he manages without a bag is known only to himself.

He has read every scrap of print within reach, and now lies on his side, with his face to the wall and one arm thrown up over his head; the jumper is twisted back, and leaves his skin bare from hip to arm-pit. His lower face is brutal, his eyes small and shifty, and ugly straight lines run across his low forehead. He says very little, but scowls most of the time — poor devil. He might be, or at least seem , a totally different man under more favourable conditions. He is probably a free labourer. A very sick jackaroo lies in one of the bunks. A sandy, sawney-looking Bourke native takes great interest in this wreck; watches his every movement as though he never saw a sick man before.

The men lie about in the bunks, or the shade of the hut, and rest, and read all the soiled and mutilated scraps of literature they can rake out of the rubbish, and sleep, and wake up swimming in perspiration, and growl about the heat. These cats live well during shearing, and take their chances the rest of the year — just as shed rouseabouts have to do. They seem glad to see the traveller come; he makes things more homelike. They curl and sidle affectionately round the table-legs, and the legs of the men, and purr, and carry their masts up, and regard the cooking with feline interest and approval, and look as cheerful as cats can — and as contented.

God knows how many tired, dusty, and sockless ankles they rub against in their time. Now and then a man takes his tucker-bags and goes down to the station for a bit of flour, or meat, or tea, or sugar, choosing the time when the manager is likely to be out on the run. Occasionally someone gets some water in an old kerosene-tin and washes a shirt or pair of trousers, and a pair or two of socks — or foot-rags — Prince Alfreds they call them.

That is, he soaks some of the stiffness out of these articles. Three times a day the black billies and cloudy nose-bags are placed on the table. The men eat in a casual kind of way, as though it were only a custom of theirs, a matter of form — a habit which could be left off if it were worth while.

But the Exception only eats a few mouthfuls, and his appetite is gone; his stomach has become contracted, perhaps. One of the men is a cook, and this morning he volunteered good-naturedly to bake bread for the rest. His mates amuse themselves by chyacking him. Some of the men sit at the end of the hut to get the full benefit of a breeze which comes from the west. None but the greenest jackaroo would venture that risky and foolish observation. Out here, it can look more like rain without raining, and continue to do so for a longer time, than in most other places.

The Wreck went down to the station this afternoon to get some medicine and bush medical advice. The Bourke sawney helped him to do up his swag; he did it with an awed look and manner, as though he thought it a great distinction to be allowed to touch the belongings of such a curiosity. It was afterwards generally agreed that it was a good idea for the Wreck to go to the station; he would get some physic and, a bit of tucker to take him on.

There are tally lies; and lies about getting tucker by trickery; and long-tramp-with-heavy-swag-and-no-water lies; and lies about getting the best of squatters and bosses-over-the-board; and droving, fighting, racing, gambling and drinking lies. Lies ad libitum ; and every true Australian bushman must try his best to tell a bigger out-back lie than the last bush-liar. Pat is not quite easy in his mind. He does not want to increase the weight of his swag unnecessarily by taking both pairs.

He reckons that the pants were thrown away when the shed cut out last, but then they might have been lying out exposed to the weather for a longer period. There is some growling about the water here, and one of the men makes a billy of tea. The water is better cooked.