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Title: A Sydney-Side Saxon
Author: Rolf Boldrewood
* A Project Gutenberg of Australia eBook *
eBook No.: 0607291.txt
Language: English
Date first posted: September 2006
Date most recently updated: September 2006

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A Sydney-Side Saxon
Rolf Boldrewood


'CHRISTMAS time, and old Mr. Claythorpe, of Bandra, Willendoon,
Yugildah, and a lot of other stations--for he's a well-in squatter,
that took up runs or bought them cheap before free selection, and
land-boards, and rabbits, and all the other bothers that turn a chap's
hair gray before his time. But where was I? I'm riding ahead of my
cattle. Well, the old man's having a regular countmuster of his sons
and daughters, and their children and off--side relatives, that is by
marriage--in fact, the whole boiling, for he always keeps the
Christmas week in regular slap-up style. My word! Bandra House is big
enough to hold as many again on a pinch, besides the cottage and
strangers' room, and the barracks that might be stretched to carry
most any number.

'It's pretty well known through the country that the old gentleman
rose up by degrees like--had to work for wages when he first came to
the country, like many another good man; but, instead of spending his
money as soon as he got it, saved it for the start, bought a few
cattle or sheep, and picked up a block of country here and there for a
trifle, gradually doing better and better, through dealing a bit now
and then, and using his brains as well as his four bones.

'I've heard tell that the biggest punch he ever made was by
tendering for a big block of country that laid back from the frontage
runs on the Logan, which the first men on the river were too dashed
careless or screwy to take up. When water was got on it--dams and so
on--and it was fenced, it was good to carry no end of sheep.

'Bandra Estate is where he's always lived of late years, and he
bought all the land on it after he got married, and, I stick to it,
THERE'S where he got the best bargain of all (the missis, not the
run). No man could help doing well that married a woman like Mrs.
Claythorpe; he must have had cheek enough to ask her, but women like a
man all the better for that. There's no doubt he's made her a stunning
good husband, and there isn't a finer family on the Sydney-side. Ten
of 'em, yes, ten--six sons, every man-Jack of 'em six foot high, all
married and with children of their own. They can work and ride, and
take their own part, hold their own too at cricket and football,
shearing and stock-riding, in a cattle yard, or outside of a horse,
with any chaps in the land. And the daughters--well, I won't say much
about them, it ain't my place, but we young chaps about all think a
lot. Every one says they're the pick of the country side. They're all
married, of course, but one, the youngest, and to my fancy the
handsomest of the lot. She's tall and dark, and got eyes like a flying
doe--soft like, and yet bright--but what's the use of ME pitching. I
might as well wish for one of the Princesses of Wales. Hold on,
though; didn't the old man tell me one day that he was as low down in
the world as me when he began, more so, indeed, and that if I'd save
my money, keep away from the grog, and look about for a chance now and
then, I might be as well off as him some day. And suppose I DID make a
rise, say in two or three years, at a diggings or anywhere, I wonder
what he would say if I up and asked him for Miss Cissie. When she and
I were a few years younger, and she was a slip of a girl, I broke in
her first pony for her, and a regular "nut" he was, as full of
mischief as a pet dingo, but she could ride him, and anything else for
that matter. She had first-class hands for this start and nerve--no
end. When she used to say, "Thank you, Jim, what a lot of trouble you
must have taken with him, and what lovely paces he's got," I used to
feel as if I could go and break my neck straight away off the worst
buck-jumper on the station for such another look and a sweet smile
from her. When she went away to school in Sydney, she came back
regular changed somehow--more stand-off like. I dursn't look at her
a'most, let alone talk. But one day the buggy horse made a bolt of it
when a new-chum Englishman was driving her, and if I hadn't been
pretty near, and on a horse that could go and was handy too, they'd
have been smashed into matchwood. Then she looked at me so like the
old way, and smiled a bit serious as she said, "You're always to be
depended on, Jim, whatever happens."

'"Nothing'll ever happen to you, Miss Cissie, while I am there or
thereabouts," says I, quiet and sudden like. She smiled again, and the
Englishman stared and put up his eyeglass. But she took the reins and
drove home, telling him she couldn't afford to have her neck broke
just yet.

'Well--well, I'll have a try, I may as well run my chance like
another. There's worse looking chaps than Jim Thornhill in the bush,
and I might have a streak of luck at these new diggings. I'm off after
the holidays, and who knows what may turn up.

'Why, what's all this? All the girls and young people have crowded
round the boss, and he's going to tell 'em his history, right out from
the beginning. It'll take more than one evening, or two either, still
he'll get through in time. We're all welcome to come and hear it, he
says, and my word he'll hide nothing, and give it 'em straight out
from the shoulder.

'There he sits in his easy chair in the verandah, with the missis
close by, and what a country he can look over, every acre of it his
own. Such cattle and sheep and horses; the quality of 'em and the
numbers too!

'Now he's making a start, I must close up. I'd not like to lose a
word of it.'


ABOUT the first thing I can call to mind rightly, I was living with
father and mother in a bit of a cottage in the village of Applegate,
near Westerham, in Kent, not far from the Sussex border, where the
river Darent rises. Sister Jane was there too. There had been ten of
us, but only me and she were left.

We were well scattered, sure enough. Bob, he was the eldest, had
'listed for a soldier and got killed in the Indies. Jack went to sea,
and was never heard of after. Bill was smothered in a coal mine, and
Joe was hurt that bad in a fight with the keepers--he being given to
poaching--that he never got rightly shut of it, and died within the
year. Bessie married and went to America, and Sally was in service in
Rochester. Two of 'em, a boy and a girl, died young; all the better
for 'em, the folks said. So Jenny and I were the only ones left with
the old folks, and quite enough too, considering what there was to
keep house on.

Jane was only four years older, but she was like a mother to me ever
since I could mind of anything. She used to dress me--it didn't take
much to do that, but she'd always wash my face and hands and keep me
clean, if we were ever so stinted, besides taking me out for walks in
summer, and sometimes for a great treat to Harton Wood. She teached me
my prayers and Bible stories, and texts as I grew bigger. Mother
wasn't strong then, she always seemed to me as if she was clean wore
out and tired to death--poor mother! She was forced to lie a-bed for
days and days, then she'd let Jane look after me as much as ever she
liked, and a good thing it was for me, I can tell you.

Father was one of the best farm labourers in the parish in his day,
folks said, but he was getting old now, and couldn't work like he used
to, because of the rheumatics. A man's not really old at fifty--see
what I can do, that am many a year past that; but then I haven't led
the life father had. No! thank God, or I shouldn't be here with all
you youngsters round me, and such runs as Bandra and Willendoon, and
Yugildah mine, and be your'n when I'm dead, and all the best of it
secured in freehold too. Thank God again for that; and never forget,
you lads and lasses, to bless the day in your hearts when your dad
left Old England for good and all.

As to the life a farm labourer lives in England, where he's told in
his catechism to be thankful and contented in that state of life to
which it has pleased God to call him. I was reading a book written by
Mr. Henry Kingsley--I always read anything with his name to it,
because I once saw him at the Anderson's Creek diggings, when I went
down to Melbourne with fat cattle. He was working away there at a
'long Tom' with his trousers as yellow as a guinea, and a blue serge
'jumper' on. He's a college-read man, and a brother of the great
clergyman at Eversley.

So he knows both sides. What such a man writes is worth any one's
while to read. Some people say reading's a waste of time for a man
who's got his living to get. All I can say is, that if I hadn't been
given to reading when I was a youngster I'd never been here. And now
reach me that book there about an English labourer's life. Read you
what he says.

Well, as I was saying, father got the rheumatism so bad one winter
that he couldn't work, and could hardly crawl along with a stick. He'd
worked well all his life, and been proud of his work, but he wasn't a
man to save. He liked his glass of beer and his pipe of a Saturday
night--and now and then when it wasn't Saturday, in the village inn,
the George the Fourth. And no wonder. Poor old father! it was about
the only pleasure he had in life. He never had a holiday, winter or
summer, that I can remember. And if he liked a yarn with his cronies
and the other farm drudges, and a seat by the fire in the cosy parlour
at the George the Fourth, with a clean sanded floor, No wonder, I say
again. I've never a word to say against honest work. I've worked hard
myself for many a year, though I say it. But work every day of the
year except Sundays, and the beasts to be fed and watered then--father
was a ploughman most of his time--year in, year out, with never a
change or a bit of sport, and only on wages just enough to keep body
and soul together--it's more than a man can stand or ever was intended
to. So the old men will drink and forget their hard lives, some of
them, and the young ones rebel and run away to sea, take the Queen's
shilling, or go poaching, half for the gain, and more than half for
the sport and danger of the thing.

Well, spite of all his hard work, and mother's too, she wore herself
out before him; and seeing that she gave herself no rest, morning,
noon, and night,--never spent a penny she could help, and wouldn't
have drunk a glass of beer to save her life,--father went to the wall.
I was nigh ten years old then, and a cruel hard winter it was. The
parish overseer said he must go to the poorhouse, as he couldn't work
and had no money. It wasn't likely, at eight and ten shillings a week
in his best days, with food and clothes, and fire and rent for the
cottage, and everything to find out of that. There's no hut and
rations, and wood fetched, and a cook and all that found for a
labouring man in England, I can tell you all. Of course, he couldn't
be allowed to starve quite. He'd got pretty low and weak, but he'd
have plenty of things from the farmers that used to employ him, and
the squire's lady and the clergyman's wife sent him and mother soup
and things, with a glass of port wine now and then, and coals and
blankets. They were kind, I won't deny that, but it couldn't go on for
ever. Then, one snowy day before Christmas, the overseer told father
that he and mother must be taken to the poorhouse.

I remember the day as well as yesterday. I always feel as if I could
cry my heart out over it as I did then. It did seem so hard! Father
had worked and slaved in that parish all his life, man and boy, from
the time he was able to be crow-boy, and that was young enough. He'd
never had time to go to school, so he couldn't read nor write, nor
poor mother either. He had been the best mower, the best thatcher, the
best ploughman in the parish, and now, when he was broken down with
hard work, 'screwed' as you boys would say, there was no paddock nor
pension for him. Nothing but to spend his last years in a place like a
gaol, to linger out the dregs of life within bare walls, and be parted
from the wife that he had loved and honoured all his days. It was hard
and heart-breaking, but there was no help for it. Everybody seemed to
think it was the only thing to be done, and as natural for a farm
labourer to go to the poorhouse when his labour came to an end as for
a horse to be sent to the knacker's. More than one said it was a thing
to be thankful for, and that we should be grateful to Government for
providing a home for father and mother in their old age. But it wasn't
a home. How could it be a home when they were parted from each other,
against the words of the prayer-book when they were married in the old
parish church? I told the parson so, when he was talking to me that
way afterwards, and it made him that angry that he wouldn't say
another word, and went away in a huff, like.

However, we got partly used to it after a while, but it always made
me that wild, and yet broken-hearted at the same time, when I went to
see them. Father walking about with a lot of other old men, some of
'em cross--grained and others that stupid they looked like the people
in the county madhouse, and others swearing and cursing with every
word that came out of their mouths. I thought how different it all was
when father was in good work, and used to come home and smoke his pipe
in the porch beside the cottage door, with the honeysuckle twining
over it, and we young ones playing, and mother bustling about getting
tea ready. There was not much to eat at any time; we thought a great
deal of a bit of meat on Sunday--bacon now and then. But it was
homely, and we were happy in the way all folks are when their home is
their own, and they can do as they like there, however poor and humble
it is.

That's the reason I've always said a young fellow's better off on a
forty--acre free selection in this country, though he and his wife may
have to work hard and live spare, than taking good wages on a station.
He's got his HOME, where he can have his pigs and his chickens, his
horses and his cows, and where he can sit and read his paper of
evenings and Sundays, and see his children run over the grass without
interfering with any one. Lord! what would father and mother have
given to have had such a place, with wood and water for nothing, and
timber to build a cottage, and steady work at high prices when the
cash ran short from the squatters round about! We'd have thought it
like going to heaven straight off. But like poor ignorant folk, as we
all were, we knew no more about Australia, or Canada, or New Zealand,
than the man in the moon. If we thought of them at all, it was like
the Indies or Africa--hot strange countries, where there were wild
beasts and slaves and snakes, and all kinds of varmint.

We had tight work, Jane and I, to make out a living that winter. Old
Aunt Betsy took us in, though she could barely keep herself. You
youngsters don't know what bad weather means in this happy country.
No, nor poverty, nor hunger, nor a lot of things that English
labouring men and women are brought up in, as one may say. When I
think of the long dark days, the snow and sleet, the bitter hard
frosts, lasting a month at a time, when there was no work, and as
little food, or fire, or clothes as poor little creatures like me and
Jane could keep body and soul together upon, it makes me shiver again.
When I look back over those dark years I wonder, so I do, how we ever
lived through it all.

But Jane stuck to me like a true sister, as she was, all through the
worst of the time, else I'd never have been here now. She never was
one to think of herself at all. She slaved away at any kind of work
she could get, late or early--house-work, needle-work, dairy-work in
winter, field work and harvesting in spring and summer--anything she
could earn a penny by; and she never spent nothing except in clothing
for herself and books for me--for even when things were at their
worst, she always made me stick to the bit of schooling she managed to
get for me.

'Never mind about anything else, Jesse,' she used to say to me, 'as
long as we have meat and drink, and clothes to our back. You be a good
boy and learn to read and write, and do sums. They're the keys of
power and riches, and men's favours, I can see, if they're used right.
I don't want you to be a working drudge all your life, to be shut up
and made a prisoner of when you're no more use, like poor father, and
you don't want it, Jesse, do ye, my boy?'

'No, Jane! I'd like to be something better,' I used to say, 'but how
am I to do it?'

'You go on with your book, and learn your geography and history,' she
said, holding my hand and looking up to the stars--it was always at
night we used to have these talks. 'God will show us a way. But we
must help ourselves and go away from this place.'

'Go away from England? Oh! Jane, how can you think of that,' I said.
I was like all boys and plenty of soft young fellows in country parts.
I hated the thought of leaving the place where I was born and bred.

'How could the Queen get soldiers, and sailors, if everybody was like
that? We can do as much as others; England's not the only country in
the world, Jesse!'

Well, as I said before, though it was hard living and struggling for
the first few years, things got better with us by degrees. Jane's
steady industry and the motherly care she took of me, raised her up
friends in the village. The clergyman's wife told the squire's
daughter about her--what a good girl she was; how her father and
mother were in the workhouse, and that she kept me and put me to
school out of her small earnings. They took a fancy to her. Good
principle and industry WILL make its way in the world, no matter what
people say. So they used to give her needlework and clear--starching
to do, and made her presents of clothes and what not. The young ladies
at the Hall wanted her, after a bit, to go there as under-housemaid,
which would have been looked upon as grand promotion for a girl like
her, in the village. But she wouldn't take it. Aunt Betsy had been
very good to us, as far as she'd been able. She'd always give us a
home and house-room such as it was. She had begun to get feeble and
ailing now. So Jane said she wouldn't leave her. Besides she wanted to
be in the way to look after me, in school and out of school. She was
afraid of my getting in with bad companions, too. I was always
terrible fond of hunting and snaring and shooting when I could get a
chance. She was afraid I'd get led into poaching like poor brother
Joe, that was shot. So she wouldn't quit me and Aunt Betsy, though her
living at the Hall would have been most like a lady's life compared to
what she'd been used to. The Squire's eldest daughter, that managed
the house, his lady being dead, was quite put out about it.

'Surely you are foolish in refusing so good a chance of getting on in
the world,' she said.

'I'll never leave poor old Aunt Betsy, Miss Walsingham, she can't do
for herself, nor the way she used to, and then there'd be Jesse all by

'Room might be found for him, to help in the garden, or the butler's
pantry,' said the young lady. 'He could be provided for too. You see I
am really anxious to help you.'

'I shall always be grateful, Miss,' says Jane, making a curtsey. 'But
I want to keep Jesse at school another year. Then he ought to be able
to hold his own in the world.'

'He is old enough to earn his living now,' said the young lady. 'I
hope you do not wish him to grow up one of those half-educated
troublesome lads that are the pest of a village.'

'We come of a good working stock, Miss,' says Jane, quite bold for
her (she was always so meek and mild, but you couldn't turn her once
she'd made up her mind). 'He and I have worked hard all our lives. We
shall have to work harder yet before we come to what I hope to see.
But I want him to labour to some purpose, and not to wear out his life
in the service of others who forget him in the hour of his need.'

'I hope, Jane,' says the young lady very seriously, 'that you have
not been reading any of those abominable radical books that are
written to turn simple people's brains.'

'I have read very little, Miss,' said Jane, quite respectful. 'I
haven't the time, indeed, but I want to know more than I do, and for
Jesse to do the same. I can't think there's any harm in that.'

'Well, I see you are a determined little puss though you look so
quiet and gentle,' said Miss Walsingham. 'I suppose you must take your
own way. You shall have the work as usual, and bring the boy too, he
always looks so nice and clean.'

'Oh! thank you, Miss,' said Jane, who was greatly frightened at her
own boldness (she told me about it many a time afterward). 'I know you
are always so good to me, you'll find me always thankful to do
anything for you.'

I was getting big enough then to do a pretty fair share of field-
work in the summer, and used to earn a bit of money in harvest time. I
began to think we should mend our fortunes after a bit. I had got on
well at school, and was proud of myself, though, Lord knows, I learned
little enough. But that 'little'--you boys and girls--was the making
of me, and the making of the good sheep-run we've all lived on so many
a year, and the good freehold estate that's come out of it. I've heard
a gentleman or two say 'a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.' I
don't hold with whoever wrote that at all. It mayn't be all that's
wanted, but it's a plaguy deal better than none. A man might as well
say he wouldn't eat dry bread and drink water when he was starving,
because he couldn't get roast beef. Any man or woman that can read and
write, keep simple accounts, and understand a map, has got hold of the
levers that move the world, and it is his own fault if he doesn't
prise out a corner for himself somewhere.

Talking of reading, one of you youngsters--Charley, you're a
terrible boy for books--fetch me down that first one of Sir Walter
Scott's novels. Yes, that's it. Ivanhoe--I've been all through the
forest that's wrote about there--it's standing still--some of it just
like it was in King Richard and Robin Hood's time. We haven't got
those sort of things here, but I don't know that it matters so much
either. Now listen to this--as is written about a station hand named
Gurth--a knock-about man he was turned into afterwards, though he was
tailing the pigs when he first came into the story. Here it is--

'One part of his dress only remains, but it is too remarkable to be
suppressed--it was a brass ring resembling a dog's collar, but without
any opening, and soldered fast round his neck, so loose as to form no
impediment to his breathing, yet so tight as to be incapable of being
removed except by the use of the file. On this singular gorget was
engraved, in Saxon characters, an inscription of the following
purport:--"Gurth, the son of Beowulf, is the born thrall of Cedric of

I recollect, as well as if it was yesterday, the day I read this,
with all about Gurth and Wamba, and Fangs the dog, and the place too.
Jane used to be always up and down at the Hall, and as she didn't like
to leave me in the stable-yard or the garden when it was wet--and it's
often wet in Kent, I can tell you, if the seasons haven't changed--so
she asked Miss Walsingham if she mightn't bring me into the
housekeeper's room. The young ladies used to pet me a bit, and take
notice of me, and send me errands, so at last I got pretty well at
home in the servants' hall and passage, and rambled about as I liked.
One day I found out the old Squire's justice-room, as he called it,
where he used to have up poachers and boys for stealing apples, and so
on. It was close to the housekeeper's room, and no one meddled with
me, so I used to go and look about there and wonder at all the things.
The first day I found an old-fashioned book-case all among his
fishing-rods and whips and fowling pieces. The books were mostly
shabby-looking, with brown leathern backs and ragged edges; but there
was lots of fine reading in 'em, and that I seemed to take naturally
to, like a retriever to water, or a pointer pup to partridges. I had
to wait there sometimes till the old Squire came back from a ride, or
till sister Jane had got the things ready that I was to take to some
poor woman. The young ladies made me useful that way many a time, and
very good it was of them. I'd never any turn for doing mischief and
spoiling things, and Jane always kept me very neat and clean, so I was
allowed to do as I liked pretty much. When the old Squire came upon me
with a book in my hand he used to look at me as if a stray fox-hound
puppy at walk had got into the house. But he never said nothing but

'Is that Job Claythorpe's boy?' says he. 'Your father was the best
ploughman and harvest hand on the estate. Try and grow up like him,
lad, and don't idle your time over books.'

I was a bit frightened, of course, but the Squire he never said
nothing to me no more, so I just went on like before, and used to read
anything I came across. It was all one to me. But what took most hold
upon me was this bit of a piece out of this very book, where it tells
you as this poor chap Gurth had a collar round his neck, like a dog,
that he couldn't take off neither, and that he was born a slave or
thrall to his master the Saxon Squire of Rotherwood.

That got over me above a bit. I couldn't get it out of my head for
months afterwards. Here was a white man, just like one of the hands on
the very place, born a slave, and made to work whether he liked it or
not. His master could flog him or jail him, starve him or kill him, I
shouldn't wonder, without asking anybody's leave; in Yorkshire, too?
Of course, it was a long time ago, when King Richard, the Lion-
hearted, was alive. There couldn't be anything like that now. But when
I began to study things a bit, it didn't seem as if there was such a
mighty deal changed in the present day. Wasn't father a thrall? a
slave, if you like it better, though he hadn't a collar round his
neck--leastways, none that you could see.

But there was one for all that. From the time he was born he was fast
turning into a helpless daily drudge, a slave in reality, though not
in law, like thousands of English farm labourers. What did it matter
that he wasn't called one?

He was as much tied to Applegate village, where he and his father and
grandfather were born, as if he was the Squire's property, body and
soul. He knew no better--poor simple father, that nobody'd ever taught
to read and write--than to work day after day and year after year, as
hard and regular as the horses he drove at plough. When they couldn't
work any more and got old, they were sent to the knacker's yard and
killed for the hounds. When HE got old and couldn't work, he was sent
to the workhouse. I don't see so much difference. He never knew no
better than that there's rich and poor in the world, and that the rich
had all the good things and the poor the rough side of life.

But I DID know better--mostly by being able to read and write. Then I
came to see how easy it was to get away from the place where one was
born, and how little there was to be afraid of. There was no fear of
my having a collar round MY neck--a brass one or silver either. I
intended to work and get money. There was no other way; but I wanted
the money to take me to countries that I'd learned about, through
reading and schooling, and shouldn't never have known of but for them.

Thinking of the collar did me good other ways, too. Many a time when
I was inclined to take my ease and forget that I'd made a vow to work
and save and scrape every penny together till Jane and I were able to
go away, I'd think of Gurth and his collar, and that idleness and
drinking and bad company was able to put a collar round a man's neck,
and rivet it there, too, as well as ever a smith in the land. So I
kept up a good heart. I made myself merry with thinking of the day I
might be more like Gurth's master than the poor swineherd himself.
There was no emigrant ship in his day, and no new country--only chains
and flogging for those that ran away. How everything has changed, to
be sure! Changed for the worse, I've heard gentlefolks say--from the
good old times when the rich were kind and the poor humble and
thankful. Now they were independent, ungrateful, and ready to turn
everything upside down.

I'd read about countries where they'd done that too; and I didn't
wonder at it, if all tales were true. I hadn't any feeling of that
sort myself. I'd no edge against rich people or those above me; but
what I wanted was to move to some country where I could get a chance,
and have my share of the good things that were going in the world--a
share of the land that was made for rich and poor alike--a share of
the good houses, the fine horses, the live stock, the grass meadows,
the orchards and vineyards, that lucky people owned, but that chaps
like me was only allowed to look at, like the crossing-sweeper at the
buns in a pastry-cook's window. When I wondered at fine things in
England, I always felt that I had no more chance of having any of them
for myself, as the wages of honest labour, than I had of getting a
handful of the Queen's jewels. They were not for me, or the likes of
me, and that was all about it. We might look at the trees in all their
summer leafing; we might peep over the park wall; we might strap and
clean the blood horses (and woe betide us boys if we left even a speck
of dust on 'em); we might see the sheep and cattle and fat oxen at the
big shows; we might watch the hunters jump, and the traps and drags
roll round; but what claim had WE, if we lived a hundred years, and
saved our money all the time, of having any of these things for our
own? No more show than there was of having last year's comet handed
over to us to look over and measure.

Now, and isn't it strange, I'VE GOT ALL THESE THINGS! Of course, I'm
old and shaky, and can't value 'em as I ought. You get 'em when you
don't want 'em, as Mr. Merlin says. But I've got the land and the big
trees and the flower garden and the blood horses and the short-horn
cattle and the fine-woolled sheep and silver prize cups and medals by
the dozen; and how did I get 'em all? Why, by coming to Australia.

Chapter II - Jesse Claythorpe, Crowboy

OF course, we'd go and see the old people regular, Jane and I. Father
used to keep much the same--he'd got not to bother himself much about
anything but his vittles and an ounce of tobacco now and then. He'd
left the world for good and all. There was no more to do in it for
him. He was a sort of monk now without the things that monks have to
keep themselves alive with. He used to ask us about the crops and the
weather, and who was dead and married or buried, but didn't trouble
himself much one way or the other. He had a kind of half notion that
somehow or other his fifty odd years of hard work and good character
oughtn't to have ended this way; but he couldn't account for it. His
mind was that hazy and confused like he couldn't cipher it out nohow.
He puzzled over it while he was smoking when I brought him some fresh

'Jesse, lad,' he would say, 'I cannot unravel the weft o' it. I've
made and helped make a sight of victual in my day, and now there's
nought for me but a handful of oat-meal night and morning, with a bit
of meat and soup like kennel stuff. Parson says there must be rich and
poor all our days on earth. You and me's meant to be poor, and the
Squire to be rich all along, seems like it.'

'I don't believe that,' I hollered out one day, 'and Jane says she
don't neither. Anyhow, we're a going beyond the seas one of these
days. WE'RE not going to stay here for ever.'

'Take thee care, boy,' said father; 'them places beyond seas is wild,
they tell me. I doubt Old England's safest biding yet, though I can't
say as how I've found it any too good.'

'We're going to try New England, then,' I said. 'There's too many of
us here; that's why the bread and beef won't go round. We're going to
find out a new country where the land's cheap and men and women dear.
That'll suit us better than this old one.'

'I doubt thou'st rash,' said father, shakin' his head; 'but thou was
always a stubborn whelp, and I canna blame thee for going to seek thy
fortune. Happen, thou'lt make a better outcome than I've done. If it
werena for the rheumatiz that's racking the old bones of me, I'd go
with thee. I'm tired of this dog's kennel life, and would as lief hang
myself as not if it wasna for thy mother, and to grieve thee and

You may be sure we saw poor mother regular. Jane went every Sunday of
her life, and any other time that she could spare. Besides that, we
fetched her what little things we could get--tea and the like of that.
It was the only treat as she'd ever allowed herself when she was at
home. She didn't care for anything else much now. She grudged our
buying it out of our bit of money, but when she saw how it pleased
Jane and me, she left off chiding us for it.

'The Lord left me you two good children in my old age,' she said. 'I
should have been dead if it had not been for you. A hard life I've
had, God knows, but I'm not quite forsaken. May He see fit to prosper
you both some day, when father and I am dead and gone.'

We used to try and liven her up, telling her of all the things we
saw and heard in our small way. Sometimes she would smile and look as
she used to do in old times, and then again, when she thought we'd
have to leave, and the gates be locked on her, she'd cry and bemoan
herself till it nearly broke our hearts. But she tried mostly to bear
up, and always told us to be good children and read our Bibles, and we
might be sure we should be helped and taken care of.

I don't know how she could think so, seeing that nothing of the kind
had happened to her and father; and if ever a woman deserved it SHE
did. But it comforted her to believe what she had been taught, and to
teach us the same. She thought it might come right for us, I suppose.

Still and all, we could see that she was getting weaker and weaker
day by day. She could hardly walk up and down at last, and when she
rested it seemed such a trouble getting up again--and so-and-so. (Here
the bluff, hearty, old man stopped, and turned his head away. It was a
minute or two before he could go on.) When the winter came again--how
we feared it--she had to take to her bed, and one day, a dark, bitter
winter day it was, just after Christmas, we followed poor mother to
the village churchyard. It wasn't much of a funeral, poor thing, but
it was a better one than most of the poor creatures had that died
there. Some of the village people that knew her in her good days made
shift to follow her, and did their best to comfort us and father. But
it was a sad sight for all that--the snow all over everything, as if
the earth was dead and ready to be buried too--the shabby hearse and
only the undertaker's man to drive it, who was in a hurry to get home.
When the curate came to the part, 'our beloved sister,' I thought to
myself, 'No one took much care of her in this world; I hope she'll
have better treatment in the next.' But I kept them thoughts to
myself, for Jane wouldn't hear anything of the sort, and scolded me if
I said a word. 'We must be patient and do our duty and trust in God's
providence,' she always said. 'We had no right to judge what was best
for us. God knew all things, and we must have faith in Him.' She was
right, as it turned out. She always was. But a little thing would have
started me on the wrong road then of careless ways and unbelief--a
road, boys, that always leads to ruin.

I was doing a bit of garden work--cleaning up the orchard for a
farmer towards the end of September next year--didn't get much wages
either, you be sure. Farmers never give a penny more than they can
help in England for labour. They've some reason, too, for rents are
high, or used to be in my time. I hear they're lower since, and well
they may be, for what with Australian wheat and mutton coming in, and
beef from America, not to mention cheese and butter, farm profits have
gone down so, that the squires have had to lower the rents or take the
land themselves. However, that wasn't so in my time.

Well, as I was saying, I heard the farmer say to his wife, 'Who do
you think's come down for the season's hunting?--why, Ned Buffray.'

'And who's Ned Buffray?'

Says the farmer, 'If you fetch me in a mug of cider, while I sit down
for a spell, I'll tell you it all easy and comfortable.'

She brought him the cider, and they sat down in the porch, and as I
was doing some little thing close handy, I couldn't help hearing what
they said.

'Don't you never remember to have heard tell of Mr. Buffray, of
Barndown Farm on Stone Meadows? It's nigh half a hundred years ago,
but I heard my father tell many a time of how old Stephen Buffray,
after he couldn't pay the rent on his farm no longer, packed up his
things, and took all his family with him to Australia. Cheddars got
the farm then, and they've had it ever since.'

'Oh yes, now I do seem to remember. Aunt Tilly used to tell us how
they was such a big family, twelve or thirteen, and how Mrs. Buffray
didn't want to go, but old Stephen, he was always that masterful and
impatient that no one dared cross him. He said the country where a man
that worked hard and never wasted a penny couldn't pay his rent and
had to be turned out of his farm, where his father and his grandfather
had lived all their lives, was no country for him, and it was time to
try another, as his ancestor did, as he always swore was a soldier
with Billy the Norman hundreds of years agone.'

'I see you've got it all quite pat. That old aunt of yours, I might
ha' known, would be sure to have it and all the other stories of the
neighbourhood at her fingers' ends.'

'Don't you say a word against Aunt Tilly,' says she. 'A better woman
never stepped, and listening to her kept us girls from reading those
silly books that all the young people spoil themselves over nowadays.'

'Mayhap, mayhap,' says the farmer, 'but I must get on with my story,
or I shall never get back to the Fifteen Acre in time to see what the
men's done. Well, this is a son, the youngest but one, of old

'You don't say so?' says his wife. 'And what's he like, and what's he
come here for?'

'He's come down here for the hunting; brought six horses, a groom,
and a boy. He looks to have plenty of money--a free-spoken, off-handed
chap, they tell me--favours his mother's side, being square built and
middle framed. Not long and lean, like old Steve, with his hawk face
and fierce eyes, that used to frighten all the folks when he was in a
rage, I've heard tell.'

'And how does he ride?' asked Mrs. Hedges.

'Rides like the devil; the day I saw him out cub-hunting, never saw a
man go straighter to hounds. Capital hands and seat. Looks as if he'd
been born atop of a horse.'

'And what's he a doin' of here? Going to buy a farm?'

'Wants to see the country, I reckon, like any other gentleman of
fortune; besides, he's been to the old farm, they tell me, and
Westerham churchyard, where his great grandfather, old Francis
Buffray, lies buried, and has a carved tombstone with a coat-of-arms
on it.'

'How did he make all his money? It's easy picked up in them parts, I

'Nobody asked him how he made his money that I know of. 'Taint our
business, anyhow. He looks like a chap that's been middlin' well off
all his time. Not but what he could work on a pinch if he was wanted,
I daresay.'

'Well, I never!' said Mrs. Hedges. 'Who'd a thought of old Steve
Buffray's son turning up here again like that? We all thought they
were lost or eaten by blacks or summat.'

You may depend on it I thought a deal of this bit of talk, after all
the years I had been studying where I should go to begin the world
away from Applegate. I didn't want to end it there, you may be sure;
and here was a whole bookful of knowledge. I had seen the tombstones
of ever so many of the Buffrays in the old grass-grown churchyard at
Westerham; heard, too, that the whole family had gone away to foreign
parts somewhere about fifty years since; couldn't say whether it was
'Horsetralyer,' as most of them called it, or not. All they knew was
that it was a long way off. Whether it was in Africa, America, or the
Indies, none of them cared to know.

Well, by poor Jane's help and teaching, I had been saved from this
state of ignorance. I was sharp about geography, so I looked out
Australia, and found that there were divisions or colonies with large
cities and houses, just like other places.

I made up my mind, once for all, to see this wonderful Mr. Buffray as
all the village was in a state of curiosity about.

So I managed somehow to knock up an acquaintance with the boy who
helped to look after the horses. A pennorth or two of lollies, and a
lot of gossip about the stable, and I soon heard all he had to say,
which was not much.

Mr. Buffray was a 'very nice gentleman,' as he put it. 'Pretty free
with his half-crowns, but would have his work done, very partickler
about his hosses, and knew in a minute if you'd not been usin' elber-
grease up to the mark. He believes he came from South Australia, or
them parts over the sea. Didn't see any difference in him, except in
his ridin', which he always went like as if he'd got a spare neck in
his pocket. There wasn't a man in the hunt that could get away from
him once he had a start. He'd be like to get a baddish fall some day,
he was so bold and careless like.'

This only set me more and more on the task of finding all out about
Mr. Buffray. Here was what I wanted to know. If a large family could
go to the far country after having lost all their money in England,
and in forty or fifty years be so well off that one of the sons should
come back to the old place able to hold his own with the gentlefolk
about, why, what a wonderful country it must be, and why couldn't I,
Jesse Claythorpe, go and do the same.

The next thing to do was to get Mr. Buffray to tell me something
about this wonderful place. I knew it was more that ten thousand miles
off. It couldn't be so foreign and strange like, because I had heard
one of the gentlemen at the hunt, one day, when I went to see them
throw off, say you couldn't tell Mr. Buffray from any other
Englishman, except by his being a good deal tanned with the sun, and
that might happen to any born Englishman that had been away from home.
He looked like one and spoke like one. He wasn't above five foot eight
in height, and he weighed over thirteen stone. So what was there in
going out to Australia that so many folk and all the old women made
such a bother about? This man knew most things about fox-hunting, and
rode to hounds as if he'd done it all his life. He was mighty severe
about his top-boots and leathers; depend upon it they were pretty
English in all their ways where he came from.

I went over with this to Jane. I always told her everything then,
and for many a year after. She knew all about Mr. Stephen Buffray's
story, and we went next Sunday and saw the gravestone of Francis
Buffray in Westerham churchyard. She told me of the young ladies of
the Hall, who seemed to take a deal of notice of it, and showed her a
book of the old records of the county, and there it was set down that
the old name of these Buffrays was Beaufray, or Beaufrere, which means
something about brother in French. She got some one to point him out
one day as he sat on his horse Bondi, a great, fine, Irish hunter, the
best of his string, and that could jump anything. And she said it was
a pleasant sight to see an Englishman of a good old stock come back to
the place where his ancestors had lived and died, and show himself as
good a John Bull as any of them, though he had been born and reared on
the other side of the world.

'I begin to think you're a clever girl after all, Jane,' she said.
'Steady workers like you and Jesse, with a spice of ambition, have a
better chance in a new country than we can give you, but be prudent
and careful.'

Jane said there was no likelihood of her being anything else, and
that I only wanted to have the chance of getting on in the world. She
only hoped I might get a word with Mr. Buffray some day.

Miss Walsingham said she would ask her brother, who spoke to him in
the hunting field sometimes, to mention my name.

Anyway it didn't come off. English gentlemen are not fond of talking
about anything but the business in hand out hunting, especially to
people they don't know all about. And though Mr. Walsingham knew him
well enough to pass a remark to now and then about the line the fox
was heading, or that the take-off at the brook was sound near the
pollard willow, yet he didn't feel like going into the emigration
question with him.

But I waited. The season was all before us, and till it was over Mr.
Buffray was safe. My turn would come. And one day, sure enough,
towards the end of the season it did come. The Mid-Kent hounds were
not altogether a crack out-and-out pack like those in the flying
counties, as they call them, or the shires, yet the fencing was none
so foolish. There were a many double ditches where the banks were
rotten in places. Then you couldn't always tell which side of the
hedge the ditch was. It wanted a horse that could poke and creep, and
kept a bright lookout for all the traps and drains and drops that a
free-goer might break his back over. And one day Mr. Buffray did;
that's to say he had an awful fall. He looked like a dead man when I
lifted up the head of him. 'Jesse,' says he, afterwards, 'if I'd died
then I should never ha' known what dyin' was like.'

It was a mighty long time before the breath came back to him, I can
tell you, and many a month before he could mount a horse again.

The way it happened was this. He always used to ride very fast at his
jumps and take everything just as it came. This day he had taken two
or three flights of rails, one after the other, when his hounds
crossed a field with a thorn hedge and a big ditch. He rode at a weak
place in the hedge, thinking to bore through. It was a regular
bullfinch, one of those hedges a man puts his arm in front of his eyes
and rides at as hard as he can like. Of course he'd have got through
all right, but what had the farmer done but had what they call a 'cow
hurdle' put there--you never see one in this country. A great, heavy,
awkward thing stuck in about five feet high, made of strong round oak
waste, tough enough too. Well, the old horse never looked for this,
never saw it of course, and, hitting it hard, carried it out into the
field. There he got his legs into it, and, going the pace he was,
couldn't stop himself, and came a terrible cropper, head over heels,
and rolled right over Mr. Buffray. Then they both lay as if they were
dead. I happened to be close by, as luck would have it, and ran up. I
got the horse off him, which staggered and rolled about half stunned.
Mr. Buffray lay still as if he was dead, and I had to fetch water in
my hat and dash it over him for some time before he looked up and
could speak.

'A deuce of a cropper,' he said, trying to get up, and falling back
again. 'What's your name, boy?' 'Jesse.' 'Well then, Jesse, you ride
my horse Bondi up to that farm-house and ask them to send a cart down
for me. I don't know what bones are broken or what ain't. Then you
take him over to the Barley Mow, where I put up. Now, don't ride him
fast, mind that, and leave word with the doctor that I'm badly
smashed, and am at Farmer--what's his name?'

'Hopsley, sir,' says I.

'Well, I'm at Farmer Hopsley's and he's to come and see me and mend
me up again. Now then, don't forget, don't ride him too fast, and come
back to-night, however late it is. I shan't be asleep, I'll be bound.'

I rode away as pleased as Punch on the big bay horse. I could ride
pretty well, and was handy with horses. I'd had plenty of practice at
odd times, as I hoped to get taken on as helper in one of the hunting

Anyhow, I did what I was told, and the doctor was out in quick time.
He said that Mr. Buffray had broken his collar-bone and two ribs,
besides giving himself a pretty good shaking all over. Mr. Buffray
took a fancy to me from that day, and on that day my good fortune set in.

Chapter III - Mr. Buffray, Of Bandra, N. S. Wales

IN a day or two--most as soon as Mr. Buffray could sit up in bed, he
sent for me to come and see him. He was pretty white and all bandaged
up, but his eyes, which were rather small and gray, were bright
enough. 'He was all right,' and on the mend.

'Well, Jesse,' he says, 'you did me a good turn in picking me out of
the mud and holding up my head that day. I might have been smothered
else, with the old horse atop of me. And now I'm going to see if I can
help you a bit--one good turn deserves another, they say. Would you
like to come into my stable as helper. I see you can ride, and have
better hands than most young brats of your age.'

I told him 'there was nothing I should like so well.'

'All right,' he says. 'I'll give you a note to my groom. You'll have
to toe the mark, or else ash plant's the word, and well laid on too.
You English lads get more licking than our boys do, and you're none
the worse of it. Give your master a week's notice and come to me at
the end of it. You'll have to ride the horses their walking exercise,
clean bits and stirrup irons, and do all you're told to do. As to
wages, I'm a little above the market I know; you'll have to work all
the harder.'

I went away as happy as a king, you bet. The very thing of all others
that I had been longing for had happened to me. It was a lucky chance
that the cow-hurdle was there, and as Mr. Buffray was getting better,
no harm was done. I told the farmer I was going to a new place in a
week. He said I was right to give him notice, but I could go next day
if I liked. Boys were cheap and plenty in those parts, and it was more
for the sake of giving me something to do that he hired me at all. So
I tied up my things in a handkerchief next day, and went over to tell
Jane, who kissed me over and over again, with tears in her eyes, and
said she was sure I was in the right way at last. In the afternoon I
went over to where Mr. Buffray's horses stood at livery, and took my
share of the work of bedding them down for the night. The boy that was
there was a friend of mine, and I thought I would take part of his
work and so make it easier, and the groom said I had brought in Bondi
cool and comfortable, and showed more sense than boys did mostly, that
rode full tilt for the doctor, which was all right--and then rode just
as fast back, which was all wrong. So I had a fair start.

I was determined to do my best, and not to lose a good place for want
of carefulness. So I worked and slaved, night and day, late and early.
I picked up all I could from the groom, who was a very smart one and
master of his work; learned how to ride a second horse, and set to at
a tired hunter, with many other points of stable management. Master
was soon in the saddle again, and rode as straight as ever--there was
a deal of the bulldog about him; and as he found I was doing my best,
and getting smartened up a bit, he took notice of me, and spoke to me
at odd times about all sorts of things, but chiefly about Australia,
because I generally managed to edge the talk that way.

'Yes!' he said, one day as we rode home when we had had a famous run,
for I had come up just at the nick of time with his second horse, and
he had been in the first flight all through. 'England's the best
country in the world when a man has made his money, but there's no
place like Australia for making it. It's the place for a young fellow
to go to that has all the world before him.'

'Are you ever going back there, sir? I said all of a sudden.

'Going back?' he says, quite quick and sharp. 'Of course I am. I
couldn't live here for more than a year at a time. I didn't intend to
leave just yet, but I've had letters, and I shall be off as soon as
the season's over.'

'Are you going to take any horses out with you?' says I, rather

'Well, yes! None of these, but I shall take a couple or more. What do
you say to coming out to take care of them? I suppose you wouldn't
like to leave England for anything, like all you country boys?'

'I have been thinking of it for years,' I said. 'The only thing is,
that I don't like parting with my sister Jane. If she comes, I say yes
in a moment. But I must see her first.

'What's she like--anything like you?' he said.

'She's the best girl in the world,' I said, quite hot like, 'and the
best sister that ever was. If she could only go, but I don't see how
it's to be managed. So we'd better not think of it.'

'Do they grow much corn out there, sir?' I went on, as he said
nothing, but kept studying.

'Corn? So much wheat that they send it home here to sell every year,'
says he. 'Maize--also what we call Indian corn, oats, barley, and hay,
any quantity; only we make our hay of green oats, not grass as you do
here, and wonderful good hay it is--stronger and more fattening than
this meadow grass of yours.'

'How is that, sir?'

'Why, it stands to reason,' he says. 'There's the straw and the oats
both. A horse will do hard work on it with never a mouthful of corn or
beans, and they won't do that here, will they?'

'I suppose they must use a lot of it for the winter,' says I, 'to
feed all the cattle and sheep on.'

He laughed then. 'It's a wonderful thing,' says he, 'that all you
lads grow up as ignorant of the England beyond the seas,--and it's as
much England as this county or Yorkshire,--one would think it was
Africa or the West Indies. Why, all the tens and hundreds of thousands
of sheep and cattle never get a straw to eat in winter (unless it's a
drought) but what they can pick up.'

'Then how do they live?' I says, greatly wondering.

'Live on the grass. What else? All the country's covered with grass,
and where the trees grow thin it makes very little difference. They
don't shade all the ground as they do here, and you never saw better
beef or mutton in your life.'

'I couldn't have believed it, sir.'

'No! I suppose not,' says he. 'Because you people won't go and see
for yourselves--only a man like my old father, now and then, that
never trusted anybody's opinion but his own; and so you stay cooped up
in this little island, with the rich getting richer, and the poor
poorer, every year, and won't go to a country where there's land for
nothing, and work is well paid, and every man rises in life who has
hands to work, and sense enough to keep away from the brandy bottle.'

'That's enough for me,' says I. 'I'm away as soon as I can find the
way, and Jane, she goes when I go. But how are we to find the money?
It's ten thousand miles off. I saw that in a book.'

'Every month, sometimes oftener, there's emigrant ships,' says he,
'when the passage money is very low; there's no trouble about getting
out. Where's your sister? If I saw her I might arrange to get her a
place when she got out.'

I thanked him, and said I would bring her to see him.

So I went and got Jane to come with me one day, and talk over the
notion of emigrating. Jane was dressed very neat, and since she had
been up at the Hall she had picked up a way of carrying herself, and
behaving, as she hadn't before she went. A real fresh, rosy, Kentish
face had Jane, and Mr. Buffray liked the look of her face from the
start. She talked so sensible like, too, asked what he thought it
would cost for us to go out in the ship, and whether we'd be sure to
get places directly we got out, for she didn't like the notion of
wandering about in a strange land.

'There'll be a dozen places for a girl like you, and fine wages,
12s. to 15s. a week, the first day you go into the Immigration Hiring-
room in Sydney. But for fear of any mistake, I'LL hire you and your
brother and have a friend to meet you. Mrs. Buffray is always wanting
a girl like you for housemaid, and half her time can't get one, so
you're suited, and Jesse here can have charge of one of the horses
that I'm taking out with me.' So we settled it there and then.

'But I can't leave Jane, not till she's fairly out in Australia, and
settled,' I said. 'I wouldn't let her go out by herself for any money.
You can easy get a man for what you want on the voyage.'

'Not so easy, youngster,' says he, looking a bit put out. 'But I
suppose I must let you have your own way, though my opinion is that
your sister can take care of herself anywhere.'

And so she could. But I was not going to send her out all alone,
whatever happened. So the end of it was, we saved all the money we
could out of our wages, and by the time the hunting season was over,
and Mr. Buffray was thinking of going away, we managed to get enough.
The clergyman and all the gentlefolk of the parish gave us a good
character, and made up a few presents for us, and we went away to the
ship by the South-Eastern railway, and said good-bye to Old England
for good and all.

Mr. Buffray behaved very liberally in the matter of wages. He gave me
something over and above, too, besides writing a letter which I was to
take with me and deliver to his agent in Sydney. He also wrote word to
have us met at the dept, and to be put in the way of going up the
country to where his place was. We would have no trouble after that,
he said, and he would be out himself before many months.

Chapter IV - At Sea For The First Time

ONCE we were fair on board ship it wasn't so bad. All the journey to
Liverpool passed like a dream, and the crowd of people, the sailors,
the ships, and the bustle of boats, and friends, and idlers, at
starting, was enough to put quiet people like us, that had never seen
the sea before, off our heads. But Jane said 'plenty of other people
have had to do the same. We must keep a stout heart, and trust in God.
I suppose we're made of the same flesh and blood. All we have to do is
to wait and look about us quietly; we shall soon find out more about

She was right. Generally she was, I found. After the first few rough
jumbled-up days everything went smooth enough. Then we saw what a
wonderfully made, well-managed piece of machinery a good vessel is. We
made friends with some of the officers and crew. There was nothing to
do, but Jane--she'd brought a small box of books--insisted upon my
doing the same as she did, which was to keep up our schooling, and
read, and practise a bit like, every day.

'Depend upon it, Jesse,' she said, 'it will be a long time before we
have another three months like this, with nothing to do, plenty to eat
and drink, and everything provided for us.'

I'd got a way of always doing what she told me, so I kept level with
her, and we got through a deal of reading and such like. Some of the
young 'uns asked me if we were going to keep school when we got out to

I said perhaps we might. There was no knowing what emigrants have to
take to.

We practised ourselves with geography as much as anything. I was
always fond of maps, after a fashion, and once got a prize for drawing
them neatly. So I kept the ship's course marked upon a chart every
day, and copied out the boundaries of the different colonies. After a
while I knew the ins and outs of them by heart. We read through a lot
of the little books which are written for emigrants, and found a deal
of useful knowledge in them--I mean, that came in useful afterwards.

Jane was that steady and solid in all her ways that she began to be
taken notice of as a well-conducted, good young woman on board. One
day she was asked by the doctor if she would help the matron and be
her assistant, as some of the girls and younger women gave them a good
deal of trouble. Jane agreed, more in the hope of doing good than
anything else, and was quite surprised at being told that she would
get five pounds for her services as soon as she landed. We thought it
quite a large sum, and Jane expected to do wonders with it.

We had a good passage luckily, and next to no illness or disease on
board. Everything went well, and as we had both been working pretty
hard and regular all our lives, we enjoyed the rest and the feeling of
having nothing to do when we woke in the morning--more than we could
say in poor old Apple-gate.

Of course we hadn't things all made a'purpose for us. Some of the men
were fools enough to gamble, especially the young ones, and so lose
money that they couldn't well spare.

Amongst the girls and women some were fond of gossip, and listened to
foolish stories from the sailors about Australia--things which we were
quite sure were not true. Out there they believed there was no
differences of rank--that they would be quite on a level with their
masters and mistresses, and with everybody else. That there would be
such a rush to bid for their services that good servants might ask any
wages--two or three pounds a week if they liked. Also, that all the
good-looking ones could be married to rich squatters directly they
landed. That the work was light, and often as not halfdone, with a lot
of other rubbish which made the inexperienced girls fancy they were
going out to be treated like ladies, and that household service was
done away with in the new country.

Jane and I agreed that all this seemed very unlikely. Mr. Buffray was
very simple and straightforward in his ways, and would speak to
anybody, but there was a something about him that prevented people
from being too familiar, and none of his servants or the village
people had any encouragement to put themselves on an equality with him
any more than with any other strange gentleman that came there to
hunt, though everybody knew he was old Stephen Buffray's son.

I asked him once whether people worked as hard in Australia as they
do in England.

He considered for a bit, and then said, 'I should say that they
worked HARDER, for this reason, they're paid higher wages and better
fed. Masters try to do with as few working men as possible, and expect
them to keep up good pace all the time. Here they're badly paid, badly
kept, often not up to a hard day's work at the long hours they keep,
on which account there's a good deal of what we call in the colonies
"Government stroke." The farmers and gentry here are obliged to put up
with it, as they don't send the labourers out of the parish. With us,
if a man's not up to the mark, he's "sacked." There's no parish
settlement, and nobody knows or cares where he goes.'

'And the women?'

'Well, there's no field-work. But in the house one servant does the
work of two--sometimes, indeed, more. I think the Australian girls--
when they're good, mind you--are quicker, smarter servants than yours,
and put more heart into their work.'

'And there are masters and servants, and gentlemen and ladies, and
rich people and poor people, just as there are in England?' I asked.

'Very nearly the same. The only difference is that men get more
quickly rich, and sometimes more quickly poor, than at home. But, make
no mistake, Jesse, people have to work and save in Australia, just as
they have everywhere else, if they want to get on in the world. If
they only want to live, perhaps it's easier there for the present.'

So we were not likely to believe these silly romancings, and warned
the others not to mind them. But they would not listen to us. It would
be, 'Mr. Jackson, the quarter-master says, that there was a girl came
out last voyage but one in his ship that married a merchant within a
month, and drove down in her own carriage to hire a servant the next
ship that came in.'

'It MAY be true, but is far from likely,' we told her. 'You had
better turn over in your own mind whether you would like to take a
housemaid's or a laundress's place, which will be more to the

But they couldn't help taking the brighter side, so poor silly
things they dressed themselves in their most fashionable clothes when
the ship was passed by the health officer, and went ashore with great
expectations of offers of marriage and a life of ease.

As for Jane and me, we kept out best clothes in our boxes--not that
we had many, and made ourselves so as to be ready for a journey, never
doubting but that we should not be long in town. Before we landed we
had time to look at Sydney Harbour, of which we'd heard such a lot
from the sailors and some of the passengers that had been out before,
and, my word! it was worth coming a long way to see.

I'm not much of a man for minding about scenery and all that. I've
had my work to do, and other things to think about all my life. I
daresay there's something in it, but it wasn't in my line, nor Jane's
either much, but we couldn't help wondering at what a beautiful place
it was.

We had come in a little after sunrise, and it was a bright clear day
with scarce a ripple on the sea. It was the month of May, a winter
month like November, but Lord! what a difference there was. The air
was mild; the whole way from the Heads to the wharf--where we lay
close to and could have touched, only they kept the ship out a bit,
not to let people on board--was like a lake. On the shore, and on the
heights above the dozens of little bays, nice gardens and white-walled
houses and beautiful pine trees looked like gentlemen's parks and
shrubberies in England. The sun seemed brighter, and the sky bluer,
and the very sea-water clearer than on the other side of the world.
Ships and steamers, yachts and pleasure boats, filled the harbour.

'Oh! what a lovely land!' said Jane, 'it's like a place in a story-
book; I feel sure we shall have good fortune here, if we deserve it.'

So we said good-bye to the captain and the doctor, and the officers,
who all wished us luck, and said we'd be sure to get on. We were quite
fond of the old ship that had carried us so safe; and Jane got her
five pounds, and so we went off in good spirits to the Immigration

Here we were all called by name, and had to answer to them before the
Immigration Agent, who was very kind. Then the matron, a nice motherly
woman, told all the single girls to go into one large room; the single
men and boys into another; the married people into another. The public
weren't allowed in till a certain hour, to prevent bustle and
confusion. We were asked if we had friends expecting us. Of course we
answered with the others. So Jane and I, and those that said their
friends were to meet them, were put into a smaller room near the big
outer gate.

Then a bell rang, and the friends were let in. How some of the
immigrants looked and looked, as if they would know those they hadn't
seen for years--some they'd never seen! Some found their friends at
once, and went away with them joyfully. Others waited and waited, but
no friends came. They looked very miserable, and more than one poor
girl began to cry when the hours passed and no one came.

We weren't likely to do that. I had Mr. Buffray's letter and the
address of his agent in my pocket, so I knew I could find him, and
knew how to get on; but I thought we would wait till dinner-time,

About twelve o'clock, the big clock was just striking when a busy--
looking man bustled into the Immigration Barracks where we were
waiting. He looked sharply round. 'Any one of the name of Jesse
Claythorpe here?' he said, 'also Jane Claythorpe.'

I walked forward. 'We have been waiting for you, sir,' I said. 'Mr.
Buffray told us that he would write to a friend to meet us.

He looked keenly at me, up and down, for a minute before he answered.
'Yes, yes! should have been here before, but went out of town last
night. Vessel not expected in before this evening. And this is your
sister! Had a pleasant voyage? Think you shall like the country?'

'I can't say yet, sir,' she answered. 'I've not seen anything but the
harbour, which is wonderful.'

'Right to be cautious, quite right,' said the gentleman. 'Now I'm to
send both of you to Mr. Buffray's place up the country, a long way
off. Think you'll like that, eh?'

'We're used to the country, sir,' I said. 'I know Mr. Buffray pretty
well. I was in his hunting stable at Applegate. When shall we have to

'Hunting stable, eh? Buffray's doing it grand in England, I expect.
Wool going down, too; but that's not my business. Well, say to-morrow
morning. Must have a day to look round, eh?'

'We shall be quite ready, sir,' said Jane. 'One day will do for
sight--seeing. How do we go? Is it very far?'

'Only about two hundred and fifty miles.' (Here Jane couldn't help
giving a start.)

I said, 'That's a long way, sir. I suppose it's a little wild or so.
But, anyhow, if it's good enough for Mr. Buffray and his wife and
children, it's good enough for us, isn't it, Jane?'

'Of course,' she said. 'I was very foolish to think of the distance.
But it seemed such a way off to English people. How do we travel?'

'You're a sensible girl,' he says, 'and you'll find it all right when
you get there. Well, I'll send a cab for you and your boxes at six
this evening to bring you to my house, where you'll stay to-night. To-
morrow morning at seven o'clock the train starts. It takes you most of
the way. The rest you do by coach. I'll arrange tickets, and all that.
Now, good-bye till I see you again. My name's Nicholls, Albert Street,
Redfern. Here's my card. Look at that if you're lost.'

We felt quite cheered up and confident after seeing Mr. Nicholls, I
remember. We ate our dinner in the big room with the others, and had a
talk about those that had gone and those that had stayed. There was
some fun, too, about the girls that wouldn't take good offers at
first, and wanted higher wages, or places as companions, or nursery
governesses. People laughed at them, and passed on. Most of the best
situations in the fine houses and gentlefolks' places were filled up
at once, and at last these silly girls had to take what they could
get, and be content with lower wages and less comfortable places. But
they all agreed it was a wonderful town for servants, and that what
would be high wages at home was thought nothing of here. Very few
questions were asked either as to whether they were good at this or
that work. The great thing was whether they were willing, and would
promise to do their best. This showed how scarce servants must have
been compared to England.

After dinner we took a walk round the beautiful park, the Botanical
Garden as they called it, which Jane said made her think of the Garden
of Eden in the Bible. After that we walked down the main streets,
George Street and Pitt Street, and looked at the shops and went into
the fruit market, where we were surprised to see apples and pears,
with oranges, bananas, pine-apples, and other strange fruits in piles
and cartloads.

The shops, Jane said, must be nearly as fine as those in London--the
drapers, and jewellers, and hardware very particularly. Then about
four in the afternoon the street began to fill with carriages, with
fine ladies, and coachmen, and footmen, going into the shops and
walking about on the pavements just the same as at home. Some of the
horses were grand, high--conditioned, and well turned-out. No wonder
Mr. Buffray had learned to ride in a country so full of fine horses.

'Why, Jane,' I said, 'this is England over again, isn't it? though
this is a different town from poor old Applegate or Westerham either.
But look at the cabs, the omnibuses, the carts, the trollies--
everything, talk and all, just like what we've left. Why do people
make such a fuss about coming to a country like this?'

'Because they don't know any better,' she said. 'Oh! Jesse, think of
what it might have been for father and poor mother if they'd had the
luck to come here like Stephen Buffray?'

'Or plenty of other people,' I said. 'But we can't help it, Jane. We
have got here ourselves, that's something. But I'd live on bread and
water for years to come if it would only put mother alongside of us in
this beautiful bright country.'

'I thought there were no beggars here,' said Jane, wiping the tears
out of her eyes; 'but there's one with a card round his neck, blind,
poor fellow.' So she dropped a penny into his plate among the silver
that was there.

It made a great noise, and the beggar thought it was a half-crown or
a florin, as he took it up and began, 'Lord bless and keep ye, my
pretty miss.' He could tell it was a woman's foot and voice. It's
wonderful how sharp blind people get. For the same reason he knew by
the touch of the coin that it was a penny. His face changed, and he
stopped in the middle of his blessing, and growled out something that
sounded just the opposite.

'There's an Australian beggar for you,' I said, laughing at Jane's
look of surprise and pain. 'He doesn't care for coppers. Look at the
sixpences and threepenny bits in his plate. There's a shilling, too.
No wonder he thinks your penny spoils the look of it all.'

'He's an ungrateful old wretch,' said Jane. She hated waste and
extravagance, did sister Jane. 'He deserves to want if anybody ever
does in this rich place.'

Rich! well, it looked so to us. All the people--though, of course,
there were rich and poor, as you might say--were well-dressed, happy,
and prosperous looking. The horses were all well fed and with shining
coats. You saw no people with patched clothes, and the look that
poverty and uncertainty about to-morrow's bread writes in large hand
on people's faces. No; every one seemed happy and contented. Even the
blind man had a clean shirt, a warm coat, and new boots. No wonder he
couldn't afford to be civil for a penny.

Chapter V - Mr. J. Roper, Of Yugildah

WE hadn't half the trouble we'd thought about in getting up to
Bandra, Jane and I. We went most of the way by rail and coach, and
then a 'jackaroo' met us with a fine pair of horses in a waggonette. I
expected to see a first cousin to a kangaroo when the coach-driver
told us, instead of a young gentleman learning squatting, and a manly
pleasant young fellow he was.

When we got to the station it was all plain sailing. Jane thought the
missis the nicest lady she ever met, and she was very glad to see
Jane, as they hadn't had a housemaid for a month. So they got to be
quite friendly like, and she told every one Jane was a treasure.

I had a pair of carriage horses and one or two other nags, besides
three or four vehicles, to clean and see to. The stable was nearly as
full as the Squire's, and I soon showed the overseer that I meant work
and could do it. Then they had races, and I won the big handicap at
the township with Tornado, an old favourite horse of Mr. Buffray's,
and every one said it was very easy seen I'd learned to ride in good
company. All the work came easy. Jane and I were as happy as the day
was long. And after a bit the master came out from England.

After he'd been home a bit I'd found out that keeping on being a
groom and coachman wasn't the way people made their money in this
country. I wanted to tackle something bigger, and more likely to grow
into property. I had heard lots of stories from the youngsters about
this man and that beginning with a few cattle or sheep, and now being
worth thousands.

So I made up my mind to get away to one of the far-off stations as
soon as I could, and as there was a lot of colts going to be sent to
Yugildah--a 'run' on the plains down the river--I made bold to ask Mr.
Buffray to let me take them there, and have the job of breaking them
in. He wasn't best pleased at first, but after a bit he said I was
quite right to try and better myself, and he'd give me the driving and

So I said good-bye to Jane, who couldn't help crying at the thought
of my going so far, but said I was acting right; and off I started in
a day or two, with a boy to help drive and a pack-horse, as pleased as
Punch. When I got up to the 'back station' at Yugildah, as it was
called, I was struck all of a heap with the look of the place. It
happened to be a hottish day, though it was only early summer, and I
thought it was worse than anything we'd had last year at Bandra.

There was something about the whole affair that seemed to me not only
wild and outlandish, but dismal looking. I drove up my horses, put 'em
in the stock-yard, and fastened up the slip-rails, and then we rode
down to the huts. There were three of them altogether, two of 'em by
the side of an ugly creek with steep banks, so straight down that the
cook had a kind of arrangement--a bucket that slipped along a wire
rope, and was drawn up by a windlass--to get water with.

There was no garden, no stable--nothing but a tumble-down two-railed
horse paddock. The only good improvement was a big cattle yard--strong
enough for wild elephants. Where the huts were had once been covered
with trees, but most of them had been cut down, and only their stumps
left. Plains all round and everywhere, like the sea.

I'd had my dinner, and was sitting on a bench outside the hut feeling
a bit better, when I saw two men and a black boy riding across the
plain. 'Here comes Mr. Roper,' said Jack, the cook. 'They've been at
Mildool muster.' 'Which is him?' says I. 'The one in the front riding
the big bay horse. That's Quondong--the best hack and stock-horse in
these parts. He can walk as fast as some horses can trot, cut out any
beast that ever stood on a camp, and canter round a cheese plate.'
This was a bit of a blow, but when I saw him come tearing along with
his head up--doing at square walk, and no amble, a good five miles an
hour--I found they'd some smart horses as well as men in these parts.

The overseer, when he came close, turned out to be a tall, hard-
faced, dried-up looking man, that looked as if living in that hot
country had shrivelled all the sap out of him. He was a native-born
Australian, and had come up as a boy from Penrith, where he was
reared. He'd lived for twenty years or more on this very place. He had
pretty near lost his eyesight with the sandy blight, which made him
put his head forward when he spoke, as if he took you for some one
else, or was looking for what he couldn't find. Anyway he was given in
to be one of the best bushmen in that part of the country: the men
said he could find his way over it blind-fold, or the darkest night
that ever was. Roper rode easy and light in his saddle, though he was
a tall man; but there was that sort of look about him as he sat there
that I've seen with many a man in this country, as if he'd been born
on a horse, and was ten times as much at home in a saddle as on a
chair or his own legs.

He rides up to the door of the hut and dismounts, pulls off his
saddle and bridle, and lets his horse go before he says a word. Then
he looks at me sharp, pushing his head forward and blinking his eyes,
and says, 'You're the young chap the boss sent out from the old
country. I heard you was coming up with them horses. You've got a
letter or something, I suppose, for me.' I handed him the letter.
'Yes, yes!' he says, after making believe to read it all careful.
'Your name Claythorpe--Jesse Claythorpe! I thought that was a woman's
name. Never heard of a man being called so.'

'Ever hear of any one called David, the son of Jesse, in the Old
Testament?' says I, rather hasty like.

'Can't say as I remember,' says he. 'We haven't had a Bible in this
place this years. Had to send a policeman twenty miles for one the
last inquest the coroner held here. So his father's name was Jesse,
was it! Well I'll take your word for it, young man. And now we'll go
down to the yard and count out the horses. They can stay in the
paddock till sundown. I'll yard and tail 'em after tomorrow--till they
get used to the run a bit. They'd make straight back for Bandra if we
were to let 'em go now. You're to begin breaking 'em in, the boss

'How am I to do that without a stable?' says I.

'Haven't you got a first-rate yard?' says he, 'and a paddock--what
more d'ye want? a bloomin' circus, eh? Many a good colt I've broken
without so much as a paddock. Turned 'em out every night, and tied 'em
up with a green-hide rope to a tree, when they wanted lunging. Old
Quondong was broke that way, and where's there a hack like him on the

'That's not my style,' says I. 'It's a handy way to kill a good young
'un or two as would pay for a middlin' stable. But I suppose I must do
the best I can. I didn't come all this way to grumble.'

'That's the way to look at it,' says he, growing a bit civiller.
'You'll get colonised after a bit, like all the rest of us.'

'I daresay,' says I, passing it off, though I didn't mean it all the
same. 'Is there a lad in the place I can have to help me catch the
horses and tackle them. The young chap that came with me is going
back, and it's awkward work by oneself.'

'There's a darkie, a chap that was dropped sick by the drover of the
last mob of cattle that passed through from Queensland. He's a sulky
cove, but he can ride. Talgai! come here, you black sweep. Look alive
or I'll freshen you up with my stock-whip.'

The boy walked over, not much quicker for Roper's bullying. He was
heavy made and awkward for a black fellow, but he looked us straight
in the face, and didn't seem cowed. He'd a good eye in his head, too.
I thought he was about eighteen from the hair on his face, but I
believe now he was younger.

'There,' says Roper, 'here he is, and I'll sell him to you out and
out. I gave Benson 5 for the chance of him. He's worth more, but you
can have him for the same money. I knew he couldn't be much good, or
he'd never have left him behind, though he looked more dead than
alive. I can't knock anything out of him. I'd a dashed-fine mind to
shoot him one day. Still he might suit you.'

'I'll take him. We'll get on without the gun,' says I.

'I don't know about that, but lay the whip into him well if you'll
take my tip. I never saw a black fellow yet that would work without
it. You hear--you bull-pup--Jesse, here, knock devil out of you 'spose
you no burra burri like't white fellow.'

The boy looked at me like a pointer pup that thinks the keeper's
whip's coming; but I laughed and said, 'Now you blackfellow you
belongy me, allysame hut-keeper. Come along and boilem kettle 'longa

I knew that I was to have a hut to myself. It was farther along the
creek. Not a very grand one, but there were two rooms in it, and a
pretty good chimney, with a bed and slab table. I intended to make it
snug. I liked the notion of being by myself, and not in the men's hut,
or with the overseer. There was a skillion behind, which could be
filled up with a bunk for Talgai. He could look after things when I
was out. The first colt to be broke in was Talgai himself. I could see
he hadn't been well handled. He'd been hammered and sworn at and
bullied by the men he'd been with, and as he was a game sort of pup,
with more 'bull' in him than blacks mostly have, it made him sulky,
and put vice into his head. So I set to work to fetch him round a bit.
He was fond of smoking--nearly all blacks are, and why shouldn't they?
They've a deal of time on their hands when you come to think of it,
and if it makes the hours pass pleasant, when they can't read or
haven't their own people to talk to, why not? It doesn't shorten their
lives that I've ever seen; and if it did, why--no great matter either.
So I gave him a fig of tobacco to start with. I'd learned to smoke
regular myself by this time, and when evening came set him to boil the
kettle while I fished out the beef and bread, and pannikins, and tea
and sugar that the cook had put in a kind of rough cupboard for me.
The overseer told him. After a bit the tea was made, and Talgai took
his bread and beef, and sat on a log outside. I took my meal in the
hut, but we'd both the same kind of tucker. I was just thinking the
place was awful rough, when all of a sudden it came into my heart
about how many times Jane and I had hardly a bit of bread to put in
our mouths in the old country, much less meat; and the weather that
cold and dismal it was enough to starve us to death. Then I thought of
the plentifulness of everything, and the good wages here. If there WAS
a little roughing, we were both young, and could stand it. Not that
Jane had any; she had a regular lady's life of it, as she often said.
'It would be a cowardly thing to grumble now, and ungrateful to boot,'
I said almost out loud. 'Besides I'm going to be a man or a mouse one
of these days yet.'

Just then Talgai, who had been lighting his pipe--a very black
clay--begins all of a sudden. 'What name belongin' to you? That one
Roper always yabber like't swearum.'

'My name is Jesse,' says I; 'Jesse Claythorpe.'

'Jess-ee, Jess-ee,' he says pretty slow. 'Me Minalee. That one boss
belongin' to me at Bundaberg win two fellow race alonga big mare
Jess--see. Baal whitefellow name that one!'

I saw I couldn't make him understand that there was a man's name and
a woman's with the same sound. He was puzzled, and gave it up.

'Me callum you mahmee (master) that best fella,' he said, so we
settled it at that.

I told him to bring his blankets into the skillion and settle up his
bunk, and most of next day I spent in making the hut clean and
comfortable, putting up pegs for saddles and bridles, and making
everything ship-shape. I never could abear muddling and untidy ways,
and I can't now, for the life of me. There's no groom worth his salt
that isn't neat in his ways, nor no stable fit to call one where the
boys ain't brought up to put everything in its place, and be as
regular as clockwork. The very horses like it, and thrive as well
again for knowing the hour and minute they'll get their food and
exercise, day after day.

When we'd finished, and it took us to dark, the hut looked quite
different. I'd made Talgai sweep all the front and rake up the chips,
and burn them and the rubbish, and with a bit of a clear wood fire
burning in the evening I sat down on one end of the stool, and thought
myself quite grand. I got out my pen and ink, and wrote a letter to
Jane, for I knew she'd be uneasy till she heard how I was getting on.

Talgai sat outside for more than an hour, smoking, over the fire he'd
made of the rubbish heap, when all of a sudden he says.

'Mahmee; You buy me along of that one Roper?'

'No good that one, Talgai,' I said.

'Big one whitefellow put me alonga chokee; that one Benson sell me
alonga Roper!' he went on quite seriously, 'big one sore longa cobra;
big one me sick. Mine think it go along a ground, and jump up white
fella. Me hear'um Benson, say, "I'll take five pounds." That one Roper
yabber all right, "me gibit, five note and chance it."'

'Then that one Benson laugh, and ride away after cattle. Suppose
black boy die, he no care. Long time me very bad, like't here (then he
put his hand on his chest and head), all right now. That one Roper
yabber me got pleuro, you think um pleuro?' And he looked at me quite
pitiful like.

'Not a bit of it,' says I. 'You're all right now. You got big one
cold, like that one colt got strangles; all right now, by and by you
grow up big fellow.'

His eyes fairly brightened up; the poor fellow thought he was going
to die, and that made him so dozy and stupid like. He'd seen many a
one of his countrymen die the same way. They get wet travelling with
stock, and take no care of themselves, catch a heavy cold, it settles
on the chest, and soon makes an end of them.

I could see he'd taken a fancy to me now, and I knew if so be I got
regularly master of him he'd be worth two white boys. He'd do what I
told him about the horses, and not be too conceited to learn, which is
everything with a youngster.

Next day we had breakfast early, ran the horses up out of the paddock
into the yard, and made a beginning. There were some small yards, and
a 'crush,' as they call it, for branding cattle. I drafted off four of
the colts and a couple of quiet horses. I wouldn't let Talgai rope
them, as he wanted to--he was very smart at that; but we managed with
a good deal of patience and humbugging to halter two, and get the
tackle on them. Then we let them walk about the yard and exercise
themselves, champing the bit, and all that. We caught them again at
dinner time, and stroked them over, trying to make them know we
weren't going to hurt them. My line in breaking horses is to be as
quiet and as kind as you can with them from the first, never to be
sudden or harsh with them, or to lose patience. They're only babies
after all; of course like with children you must be firm, and show
you're not frightened of 'em. And there ARE bad-tempered ones among
all lots of horses, it's bred in 'em--same as in men and women. You
must take THEM easy too, bullying makes 'em worse. They'll never be
any chop perhaps, but if kindness won't fetch 'em nothing will, take
my tip for that, and I've tried both ways. At night we turned 'em into
the paddock, and pretty stiff and sore they must have felt, poor
things. Next day we caught two more, I went steadily on by degrees
with the whole lot. Talgai was a first-class rough-rider, and could
sit anything.

He was inclined to be hard on them, like all lads, black or white--
but when he saw I wouldn't have it, he left it off, and did what I
told him.

When the mob was finished the overseer said they were the best
broken--in lot of colts he'd ever seen in that part of the country. He
praised me up in his rough way, and spoke so kind to Talgai that the
poor chap would have blushed if he'd a skin that showed it.

I'd worked pretty hard at the horses, and thought I was due for a
change. So I asked Roper if there wasn't anything about the cattle
that I could manage. I didn't want to be idle, and the horses would
stay as they were for a while.

'There's some cattle to be fetched from one of the back runs on
Murdering Creek--Boree they call it,' he said. 'About two hundred.
They went back there last winter. There's a man out there that'll help
you part of the way in. There's no road, and a point of scrub to get
through. I don't know how you'll make out the line. Oh! I forgot;
Talgai can go with you. He was there once, so of course he knows the
road again. These niggers never forget THAT.'

This was the very thing I wanted. I began to think breaking-in horses
was very well in its way, but that I'd never make my fortune out of
that line of business, besides the chance of getting my leg broke, or
neck, indeed. With young horses the best man may come on an accident,
and more than one young fellow I've known finished up that could ride
anything, and by no fault of his own either. So you young fellows
don't be too proud of your riding. You might be crippled or killed
outright any day.

So we started away next day as jolly as sandboys. Stock-whips we had
too. Talgai had managed to smuggle an old gun, which he put on the
pack horse. 'Me seeum wild duck, big fellow wild turkey, I believe,'
he said, 'longa Old Man Plain.' So I let him bring it.

We started at sunrise, and when we got outside of the station track,
Talgai made as straight as a line for the north-west, and kept to one
point of the compass, I could see, without even a twist or a turn.
I've seen a black boy do that in country where he'd never been before,
when they only told him the direction, and he stuck to it after dark
too, and brought his party straight to the station they were going to.
They're wonderful people that way--beat us whites hollow. But
sometimes they get frightened and lose their heads. Then it's all up
with them, and they're useless.

We camped about 12 o'clock by a creek, where we tethered one horse
and let the others go in hobbles. It was a pretty place though wild
and solitary; but when the tea boiled I thought the beef and damper
tasted better than anything I'd ever eaten. By and by we tackled up
again and rode on till sundown.

Then we came to an out-station of one of the neighbours, a miserable
old hut it was, with only a stockman and a hut-keeper. They were both
rough, dirty-looking fellows, and I'd far rather have camped under a
tree, but there was a paddock for the horses, and that made a
difference. However, I told Talgai we wouldn't do it coming back.

It's a curious thing how little some of the old-fashioned squatters
ever did in the way of improvements. There was a grand run, and a fine
herd of cattle. The owners--old Sydney-side people--lived in town.
They'd had it thirty or forty years, and the slab hut, a stockyard,
and paddock were all the buildings they'd ever put up, though they
must have taken thousands of pounds off it.

I heard a story about these two men, the stockman and hut-keeper that
lived there, that wasn't bad in its way. A surveyor happened to call
at the place, and both of them were out--the stockman after cattle,
and the hut--keeper over at the next station. He expected to get
something to eat, and to be shown the way. He didn't manage either, as
the place was so filthy dirty that he couldn't touch anything. He
happened to know their names, and, being a bit of a card, he wrote on
the door with a piece of chalk--

"Dick and Bob, of Yalco-green, Are the dirtiest pair that ever were

'Dirty Dick,' as he was called, came home an hour or so afterwards,
and saw by the horse tracks that a white man had been to the hut. He
also saw the writing on the door. Now at this time he was expecting
the master on one of his half-yearly visits. He couldn't read, neither
could Bob. He began to think, indeed to be fully sure, that his master
had come, and gone away again for a day or two to a neighbouring
station, and that the strange letters on the door were about his
making a muster and getting all the herd 'on camp' without loss of
time. Such an order meant sending word round to all the neighbours, as
of course a single pair, even if Bob left the hut to itself and went
with them, could not do much by themselves with two thousand head of

After thinking it over for nearly an hour, it struck him that the
only way to get at the sense of this writing was to carry it bodily to
the nearest home station, where there would be sure to be some one who
could read and write.

Dick was a strong wiry fellow, though soap and water wasn't much in
his line, so he prises the door off its hinges,--they were only wooden
(there was mighty little iron about a station in THOSE days)--bark and
green hide, slabs let into grooves above and below, did the most of
it,--claps it on to his back and starts off at a dog trot to do the
twelve miles to the next station. A hardwood slab door weighs a
goodish deal, as any one may find out that has to hump it a hundred
yards. However, Dick was pretty tough, and as fit as regular exercise
and beef and damper could make him. So he did the twelve miles in
three hours or thereabouts, and trots in with his door on his back up
to the men's hut of Mr. Lowe's home station.

When the cook saw him take the door off his back, and put it up
against the kitchen, while he wiped his forehead with a big yellow
silk handkerchief (the sort they used to work up for crackers in those
days), he thought Dick had gone out of his mind, and started to run
over to the house. But Dick muzzled him, and gave him a volley or two,
just to show he was sensible like.

'What blamed foolishness are you up to? Is the cove at home?'

'He's over at the house, but what do yer mean by roofin' over yer
back with twenty-feet of hardwood like that? Are ye afraid of
hailstorms or is it too hot for yer, or what is it? Have ye had a keg
up on the quiet?'

'You tell Mr. Lowe that Yalco-green Dick wants to see him, and don't
stand chattering and opening yer head like a laughing jackass. He'll
know when he sees me. I'm not off my chump, no more than you are, and
I haven't smelt spirits since last Christmas.'

'And then you went in a docker, eh, Dick? But here's the master
coming, and you can pitch your own yarn to him.'

'Well, Dick,' said Mr. Lowe--a good-natured gentleman he was, 'cattle
all right? Not branded any of my calves lately? I suppose you are out
of tea and sugar. I can lend you some till the drays come up.'

"Taint nothing o' that sort, Mr. Lowe,' says Dick, grinning. 'As to
the calves, I'm a few short myself, as I think that half-caste chap of
yours must have "duffed." But I want you to read this here writin', if
you'll be good enough. Ye see I'm expectin' the master, and I don't
know the day he'll be here.' As he says this he lifts the door up, and
holds it before Mr. Lowe.

'Is it anything about the master, sir, or when the cattle's to be
drafted? I'm short of horses too, now Whitefoot's gone lame.'

Mr. Lowe cast his eye over the bit of poetry, and all but burst out
laughing in Dick's anxious face. He stopped himself however.

'It isn't anything about the cattle, Dick,' he says, 'I am very sorry
you have had the long walk over for nothing.'

'Walk be dashed!' says Dick; 'a few miles is neither here nor there.
I'm just as well pleased it ain't a general muster. Who wrote it, and
wot does he say?'

It was Mr. Langley, the surveyor, and this is what he wrote, and the
whole female population (Mr. Lowe was a married man) had gathered up
to hear the fun. Then Mr. Lowe read it out--

'Dick and Bob, of Yalco-green, Are the dirtiest pair that ever were

'Well, I'm blowed!' says Dick, 'and to think of my carrying the
bloomin' thing every step of the way here for that. It's twelve mile,
sir, every inch of it. I'm jiggered if I carry it back again though,
if the blessed hut never has a door again. There'll be a dray coming
over some day.'

'And I'll see that it goes back safe,' said Mr. Lowe, after every
one had done laughing. 'It's an interesting document though. If I
could I would have a photo taken of it.'

Chapter VI - Mr. Burdock, Of Wallanbah

WE were finishing up the third day, and I was wondering whether the
plain would ever come to an end, when Talgai sings out 'Wagh!' and
pointed with his chin, like all blacks do. I looked and looked, but
deuce a thing could I see. At last I made out a whirlwind coming our
way. When it came closer it turned out to be a run-away horse in a
buggy. On he came, a fine-looking bay horse in good condition, at a
pretty smart gallop. He had a buggy behind him, with the hood all on
one side, and he making it rattle like a canister tied to a dog's
tail. The splash board was stove in, but there wasn't much chance of
its being upset, as there were no stumps, and not a tree within five
miles; still it jumped up into the air, and swung about every now and
then, as if a little would make it capsize. We rode at the horse, as
soon as he passed us, from different sides. I got him by the head, and
we managed to stop him between us. He was reg'lar set up, and pulled
hard at first, but got quiet to lead after a bit. I made Talgai go
ahead and follow the back tracks, which of course he could do easy
enough, though I couldn't see half a mark on the baked dry soil.

After going about three miles, Talgai pointed to a dark object at the
edge of the plain; what it was I could not make out. 'That one Mahmee
bin fall out alonga buggy I believe,' says he.

When we got nearer to one another, a stout-built elderly man comes
towards us, not very fast, for he was lame, but he got on as well as
he could. 'That one, Mr. Burdock, big one Mahmee--live along

When he came up, Mr. Burdock very soon explained all about himself
and the horse too.

'By--' he said, 'young man, you've done me a good turn to-day. I
don't know who you are, but I'll do you another if ever I get the
chance. Blast that infernal horse! A goanna started him, and he set to
and kicked the front of the buggy in--pretty near broke my leg and
chucked me out over a yarran stump. I'm blessed if I could have walked
home, and what I'd have done if you hadn't stopped him I don't know.
Who do you belong to, Billy?'

'Me, Talgai--longa Yugildah.'

'By George! I remember you now. You're Benson's boy that was took
sick when the cattle passed. Thought you was dead long ago. Tell ye
what, both on ye, come back to Wallanbah to-night and go on in the
morning. What's your name, young man? I suppose you're one of
Buffray's mob?'

'My name's Claythorpe; came from Bandra with horses; I'm going over
to Back Boree for some cattle that got away from Yugildah last

'I know, I know,' he says. 'There's no calves among 'em or Roper 'd
had 'em back months ago. Smart cove, he is, Master Jim Roper. Well,
you come home with me, and I'll send my stockman, Jack Hall, with you,
and he shall give you a hand part of the way back. What d'ye say?'

It wasn't far out of our way, and we was not pushed for time. His man
would be a great help, for I didn't know the country, of course. I
said yes, so we held the horse while he got in, and then we all
started at a rattling pace across the plain. His horse had got some of
the fight knocked out of him, and didn't want to kick any more. We got
on a track after a bit, and made Wallanbah, which was a big
comfortable-looking head station, before dark.

'You go alonga men's hut, Talgai, first time, yarraman yan likeit big
one paddock,' says Mr. Burdock, giving the buggy to a couple of young
fellows that ran out from the stables, 'and you come into the house,
Claythorpe, so as you and me can have a yarn comfortable.'

I followed him into the house, which was a large, rambling, shingled
cottage, built of pine let into grooved uprights, plastered and lined
inside. 'Here's a bedroom,' he says; 'put your things in there, and
come into the parlour. My wife and daughters are all away in Sydney;
and now I think a glass of brandy and water won't hurt us after all
that smash and run-away business. I want something, I know.'

I wouldn't take any. He helped himself to a 'third mate's glass,' and
took a good pull. 'You don't touch, I see. Well, this is a free
country. Every man does what he likes best in my house; and I don't
say you're wrong, mind you. If I was to tell you of all the men I've
seen go to the bad since I've been on Wallanbah--good fellows too--it
would frighten you. I take it because I like it, and I can pull up
when I've had enough. But many a man can't. That's why I don't care to
see a youngster take to it like mother's milk. It's a bad sign. Here's
the tea a-comin' in; that'll be more in your line. Take a look at them
oranges in the garden (I've got a pump as brings the water up from the
creek), and by that time we'll have something before us.'

A clean-looking old woman brought in tea. After a couple of days'
camping out I had something like an appetite for it. Hot mutton chops,
potatoes, and cabbage with lettuce and cress afterwards, and first-
rate butter. It was prime. Milk and butter were never seen at
Yugildah; no vegetables neither, not so much as a potato. They
wouldn't be bothered to milk a cow; lived like blackfellows, as the
saying is.

After tea we sat outside on the verandah, and had a smoke. It was
fine and cool, and the garden put me in mind of the pleasant times at
Bandra. Mr. Burdock took another glass of brandy and water. He talked
quite free and pleasant, and got me to tell him how I came out to
Australia. 'So that was it,' he says, after I'd done. 'You did the
right thing in coming out here, you may take your oath of that. I'm a
different man today from what I'd ha' been if I'd stopped in the
blessed Old Country, that's so chock full of chaps like you and me
that one's taking the bread out of the other's mouth, and jolly nigh
starved at that. I made the place too hot to hold me, for I was rather
rombustious as a youngster, and might have been sent out at the
Queen's expense, only I had just sense enough to run away to sea,
where I had the life and soul pretty near licked out of me before we
got into Sydney Harbour. Then I had that good judgment that I ran away
again, stowed myself away in a crib in the Rocks, and then made up
into the bush, the best day's work ever I did--THAT was.'

Here the old chap took a pull at his brandy and water, filled his
pipe again, and settled down steady like for a tough yarn.

'I asked for work at the first station I came to, and though I was
strange to it, I wired in with a will and took things as they came.
The grub was A1 after ship biscuit and junk, and a lad that had had
the third mate after him with a rope's end half his time, night and
day, wasn't likely to turn up his nose at shore work. As a west
country chap we had used to say, "I've allays been used to slaving,
and I do'ant expect now't else." Sailors are the best men at any kind
of bush work. They're able to turn their hands to anything, and
they've been broke in to obey orders, and no two ways about it. I've
had soldiers as wasn't bad, but in a general way they're no chop. I
saved my money and lived close for years. After a bit, when I had
knocked about over one shearing, I made as good a "rouse-about" as
here and there one. I earned my pound a week easy, and took to the
bush for good and all. I'd a decentish headpiece, too, though if I'd
stayed in England I shouldn't have had much of a show for using it. I
"knocked down" my money like the rest for a year or two, till I began
to cipher up a bit whether I couldn't save my wages and start a bit of
a station on my own hook.'

'That takes money,' I said.

'Not so much in them days, and it's to be done NOW without such a lot
of cash, if a man only goes about it the right way. Anyhow, I saw men
doing a stroke with cattle and sheep of their own that I knew hadn't
hardly a five pound note to start with. So I reckoned I'd have a try
myself when I could muster the cash.'

'But that's the hard part of it,' says I, listening with all my might
to see what I could pick up, for I saw it was as good a chance as I
should have to find out how to climb fortune's ladder. Old Mr. Burdock
finished his second tumbler, and began to mix a third. It didn't seem
to have no effect on him. It doesn't on some men, here and there. Then
he lit his pipe and went on again.

'Somehow it came into my head that shepherds seemed to save more
money than any other of the station hands. They had their cheques at
the end of the year, and one or two as I knew had money in the bank.
Most of 'em blued theirs in the first public-house they met. But I
wasn't going for that foolishness no longer.'

'So the first chance I got I took a flock of sheep at Buckajinga,
because I knew I should live at an out-station, with an old card they
called Sails, that I'd cottoned to somehow. He'd been a man-o'-warsman
as had voyaged all round the world, and was as good as a book to talk
to. He'd a fancy for me because I'd been at sea, so I thought we'd get
on well together.'

'How long were you shepherding, then?' says I.

'Two year,' says the old chap, 'two mortal long twelve months. One
thing I wanted to get hold of, that was the lay of the country. Old
Sails, as they called him, he'd been sail-maker in the Dido, knew
every run from here to the Queensland border, and would pitch about
them by the hour. He'd a good notion of the points of the compass and
the distance between one run and another. He was book-learned pretty
fair, and made me read the paper we took in out loud to him. It was a
weekly one, and as we were allowed to kill our own sheep once a
fortnight, we had plenty of fat to make candles. The sheep had any
amount of feed, and gave no trouble to speak of. It wasn't a bad sort
of life, I can tell you.'

'I daresay not,' I says, 'but wasn't it very lonely and dull?'

'Not so bad as you'd think. I got used to it after a month or two,
though we never saw a soul but the ration-carrier and the overseer,
perhaps once in three months. The seasons was better long ago--more
grass and water everywhere--not so many sheep either; that made a deal
of difference.'

'One day the old man says to me, "Look here, Sam," says he, "I see
by this paper that Buckajo is to be sold. The cove's outrun the
constable, and Richard Jones and Co. are a going to sell him up. Now
everything's desperate low, and cash is that scarce they're glad to
take it for anything. It's my belief that they'd sell a flock of ewes
for half-a-crown or three shillings a head, and give in this out-
station, Buckajinga. I've got betwixt two and three hundred in the
bank, and you've about seventy or eighty. What do you say to making a
dart for it?"

'And one day, to make a long story short, I bought twelve hundred
ewes for three-and-sixpence a head, cash down, and the outstation
Buckajinga given in. Of course, it was dirt cheap, but squatters, and
merchants too, was short of cash in those days, and my money was
there, without expense or commission. That's where it was. All the
pots and buckets and hut and hurdles were given in too. That saved a
few pounds.'

'Then you got a station and a flock of breeding ewes,' I said, 'and
everything that you wanted, all for two hundred and ten pounds. That
seems cheap enough.'

'It WAS cheap, no two ways about that, and it was the start of a
pretty big pile; still it was the market price. If they'd driven the
sheep to Sydney, they mightn't have fetched half-a-crown. There's no
chances like that now. But money's to be made yet, for all that.'

'I'd like to know the way,' says I. 'I've saved every penny I've
earned since I came out, except what's gone in clothes and tobacco,
but I didn't see any way of trading with it.'

'Saved your money, have you?' says the old chap, looking at me as if
he'd see through me and half way into the wall on the other side.
'Well, you're one of the right sort. Don't you never go for to drink
no grog, neither. It's a bad line for a young feller; once you start
on it, ten to one you can't pull up again; I'm turned seventy, and I
know what I can stand and what I can't, so I take my grog free and
cheerful, if I've a friend with me. But I've seen many a fine young
chap, as was strong and plucky, and well eddicated, and belonged to a
tip-top family to boot, go down to the lowest through drink; yes, so
that he'd beg a drink or a shilling from a travelling tinker. And now
it's a fair thing for bed. I'll send Jack with you tomorrow, and you
come back this way and stop a night. We'll have another yarn, and I
might lay you on to something.'

We shook hands, and Mr. Burdock walked off to bed, steady enough,
though he'd had three or four stiffish glasses of grog. But he could
stand a lot. I've seen a few men like that; but for one that holds up,
makes money, and keeps his health, there's a hundred goes down.

Chapter VII - Miss Possie Barker, Of Boree

I WAS up at daylight and roused out Talgai to bring up the horses. It
ain't often a blackfellow 'll get up without calling, even the best of
'em. Early as it was Mr. Burdock was up too, walking about in his
shirt sleeves and looking as fresh as if he'd camped out with nothing
stronger to drink than quart-pot tea.

'Nothin' beats an early start,' says he, 'breakfast 'll be ready by
the time you've saddled up and packed. Don't you forget what I said
last night. You'll lose nothing by coming this way, it's a few miles
round, but a stockyard's everything with cattle just off their beat.'

I was pretty sure not to forget to come by Wallanbah; the quarters
were too good. I said, anyhow, we were not pushed for a day or two,
and there was nothing much to do when we got back to Yugildah.

'It's a rough shop, ain't it? and Roper's a rum chap when his
monkey's up. I don't go there now; we had a barney about some calves.
He bested me then, but he'll land himself in the logs about that same
calf racket if he doesn't look out, some day.'

'Logs!' I says. 'There don't seem to be many about this part. The
trees are all too small. I should think the yard at Yugildah is strong
enough to brand all the calves on the run in a month.'

He laughed. 'You don't tumble quite,' he says. 'It don't matter,
either, it'll come by degrees. Tell your boy to saddle up and get his
breakfast in the kitchen.'

'Look here, Claythorpe,' he says, after breakfast, 'don't you get
collared on Poss Barker, she's a fine girl, but you'll do better than
her if you mind yourself.'

'Who's Poss Barker?' says I. 'I began to think there were no women in
these parts; and why shouldn't I get "collared," as you call it?'

'Well, she's George Barker's gal at Boree, and a fine upstanding
filly to look at as ever you came across. He's had her eddicated;
more's the pity. I think he'd better have let her grow up like her
mother, and then she'd ha' been contented.'

'Education never hurt anybody,' says I, rather quick. 'Why should it
be worse for her than for you and me?'

'Well, you'll see when you get there,' says the old chap, laughing to
himself like. 'Poor Possie (that's short for Possum--she got the name
when she was little, for being so soft-looking and bright about the
eyes). I seen her turned out in a regular fine habit last time I was
there mustering. She was riding old Cooramen, as won the Yanjee Town
Plate two years ago. I was reg'lar stunned, but I say take care of
her, that's all.' So we shook hands and away we started.

We got along first-rate with the Wallanbah stock-rider to show us the
way. He was a smart young fellow, full of fun and tricks; he made his
horse rear and kick, and played off a few jokes upon Talgai, which set
me laughing. He could speak the blacks' language, and though Talgai
came from a different part, he could make him understand. They had a
deal of jokes between themselves. He was native-born, and so was his
father, he told me. What he didn't know about horses and cattle wasn't
much, and you couldn't put him wrong in the bush night or day, wet or

He took the lead. Talgai and he understood one another, I could see,
so I left em to fix it between themselves. Straight through scrub and
forest, plain and creek, he went without seemingly studying anything.
It was latish in the afternoon when we came in sight of the hut and

'There's Back Boree,' says he; 'we'll be pretty comfortable to-

'Why, it's a big place,' says I. 'I thought it was only an out-

'I don't know as it's much more,' says Jack, 'but old Barker has a
good--looking daughter, and a lot of kids. Possie's a smart girl, and
keeps a better house than many a white woman.'

'Why, bless my heart! what colour is she?' says I. 'I've seen never a
woman at all in this part, and now you say she isn't white.'

'Well, she's betwixt and between. Poss is a half-caste, as the saying
is. Her mother was a good-looking gin, and while she lived she kept
old Barker pretty straight. He's a tiger to drink when the fit's on

'And this girl, Possie as you call her, she's educated?'

'You'll see for yourself,' says he, laughing. 'I aint much in that
line, but she's been to school in Bathurst, and so's the boy, young
Johnny. There's the old man himself, and he'll know to a mile where
them WG cattle runs.'

As we rode up to the biggest hut near the bank of the creek a tall
heavy man walked towards us from the stock-yard, with a hide rope in
his hand.

'Hallo! Jack,' he says to the stock-rider, 'what's up? We're not
going to muster this month yet. Are you going to send away fat cattle,
or what is it?'

'This is Mr. Claythorpe, from Yugildah,' says Jack. 'He's come over
with the black boy to fetch them WG cattle that got away over here
last year.'

'Oh, that's it,' says he. 'You're welcome Mr. Claythorpe. I thought
Roper was going to leave 'em till they got fat, and send 'em down with
our next lot. It's a pity to move 'em now, they're broke in like to
the run. Come along in and stay the night; we can do nothing before
the morning. I think the paddock's all right, but you'd better hobble
your horse, Jack.'

We took off the saddles and put them on the verandah, which was
pretty wide; then we let the horses go in the paddock. Talgai went
into the kitchen, and Jack and I followed Barker into a snug enough
sitting-room. As we opened the door, a tall girl rose up from a sofa
covered with a rug made of a soft fur, something like sealskin, and
smiled at Jack Hall.

'Possie, this is Mr. Claythorpe,' says the old man; 'he's just up
from Bandra, and he's after them WG's that came here last winter; you
remember my telling yer, don't yer?'

'Somebody did at the muster,' answered the girl in a careless way.
'Didn't Jem Atkins say there were no calves or else Roper wouldn't
leave them long. How do you do, Mr. Hall? So you haven't quite forgot
the road over here? What do you think of this part of the country, Mr.

All this time I'd been looking at the girl with both my eyes, and
wondering how she came to be what she was, and so different from any
woman I'd ever seen. To begin with she was tall--taller than most
women, slight made, but ever so handsome. She had large dark eyes and
splendid teeth. Her voice had a wonderful soft low tone in it, and
when she laughed it was pleasant to hear--like a child's. She spoke
more like a lady I thought than a country girl. I was regularly

'It's a very fine part of the country, I should say,' I stammered
out. 'I never thought it was anything like this.'

'It's a fine place for grass,' she said 'in a wet season, but that's
all that's good about it. I think it horribly dull, wet or dry; I'm
glad to see even Jack Hall, if he only knew it. Mr. Roper's is a
lovely place, I believe.'

'You're laughing at us now, Miss Barker,' says Jack rather sulky.
'You oughtn't to run down the country at any rate, or them that live
in it.'

'Because I was born here, I suppose, Mr. Jack Hall. I don't see that
at all. I'd have been born in Bathurst, or Sydney, or London if they'd
asked me, but they didn't; and now I'll get you some tea; I've no
doubt you're hungry enough, and thirsty too.'

She went out into another room--walked out like a young duchess.
There was a strong good-sized table, big enough to dine a dozen
people. A shy young girl of fourteen, dark like herself, brought in a
clean table-cloth and afterwards everything that made up a real good
tea-dinner; corned beef, boiled eggs, good bread, and capital milk and
butter, with a big tin teapot full of strong tea.

When it was all ready, she called us in and sat in the room while we
went to work at the eatables.

She talked away to Jack Hall most of the time, but found a way to
ask me some questions about Bandra and Mr. and Mrs. Buffray. She
supposed it was a grand place, and she'd always heard Mrs. Buffray was
such a nice woman.

'So she was,' I said. 'Nobody could be kinder than she was to my
sister Jane.'

'So you have a sister, then,' she said. 'Did she come out with you?'

'Yes, we had come out together.'

'And did she like this country? Didn't she hate it after England?'

'No; both of us liked this country better than England--intended to
live in it all our lives.'

'How strange!' she said; 'I used to read such lovely things about
England when I was at school. It made me cry when I thought I should
never have a chance to see them all my life. Now I think this is a
frightful country, with nothing to do but look after these tiresome
sheep and cattle in good years, and to stand by and see them die in
bad ones.'

'Still it's a good country to make money in,' I said.

'Perhaps it is. I don't care much about money. You see, people have
to wait so long before they get any. What's the use of having money
when you're old, like Mr. Burdock? Why his hair and his beard are the
colour of THAT'--and she pointed to a calico bag, where the flour had
just been emptied out, beside a door.

'People seem to be able to do without money sometimes here,' I said.
'That's where you have the best of it. But we can't get on without it
in the old country.'

'I don't know how it is in towns,' she said, 'I've only been in
Bathurst; but in the bush people only seem to think of two things--
hard work and drinking. When they're not doing one, they're always at
the other. I'd go away from the bush to-morrow if I could.'

'And have no more riding, Miss Possie?' said Jack Hall. 'No more
gallops on Cooramen! Remember the ride we had across the Wild Horse
Plain last winter, and the way you passed that new chum on the
chestnut--like a flash of lightning.'

'That was pretty good fun, I dare say,' she says, and her eyes lit
and flashed as if a fire blazed up inside of 'em, while she raised her
head like a hound listening for the cry of the leading dog of the
pack. She looked a handsome girl then, and no mistake. 'A good horse
is worth having, and a real day's mustering is something like, when
you haven't done anything or seen anybody for half a year, but it gets
tiresome in the end.'

'We all have to do a lot of things we don't like,' says I. 'I never
expected anything else before I came out here. Nobody has the right to
go his own way in England--that is, unless he's a rich man.'

'Oh! I don't pity you men at all,' says she, with a toss of her head.
'You can go away when you like; and if you save your money, and don't
spend it like fools, you're able to do pretty well anything you have a
mind to.'

'There's a many people seem to like this part middlin' well,' says
Jack Hall; 'they never go away anyhow. I've seen the same lot this
years. They don't want no change, and if they did they haven't the
money to pay for it.'

'That's where it is,' says she; 'they spend the money that might take
them to some place worth seeing in bad grog at a dirty public-house.
They haven't as much sense as my poor mother's people, that had the
country before them. They never wanted any grog; they lived where God
placed them; they hunted and fished from one side of their "tauri" to
the other; and when their time came, died without fear or pain.'

'And quite right too,' says Jack. 'Now I think Wallanbah's a first-
rate place; it's my "tauri," and I could live there for ever. Mr.
Burdock's going to put me up a real tidy slab hut with four rooms at
Little Lake, and then I'll be looking about--'

'You'd better be looking about the paddock rails if you want to find
your horses in the morning,' said Miss Possie sharply, 'and I'd advise
you to start off at once.'

We were up at daylight. I ran up the horses; and it was just as well
we'd hobbled Jack Hall's horse, for he jumped the fence, hobbles and
all, in the night, and made towards home. But Talgai ran his track and
fetched him back; he hadn't got more than two or three miles.

'Ain't you comin' to lend us a hand Miss Possie?' says Jack. 'It'll
give us all our work to keep the cattle on the camp and cut out them
outlaws by ourselves.'

'Oh! I daresay!' says she, 'You're a very harmless crowd--you
Wallanbah and Yugil boys. I wouldn't like to trust you with
"clearskins" for all that. I've heard stories, I can tell you. Perhaps
I'll come to-morrow, and bring Kitty, but our horses are all in the

Jack brightened up at this. 'Oh! I see. Well, I wouldn't ask you to
ride anything but Cooramen--unless you'd like to take a turn out of
Warbreccan here--he'd carry you like a bird. We'll take two days
anyhow, and it's a chance if that'll finish it off.'

Barker had started on ahead with his boy Johnny and Talgai; he told
Jack to come another way, and start all the cattle he saw, so that
we'd meet on the main camp, where the most of our cattle would be
likely to turn up. Miss Possie went into the house, when Jack started
off at a hand gallop, and I after him.

We rode out to one of the run-boundaries, then over to a creek,
through a wilga scrub afterwards, cracking our whips and starting big
mobs of cattle every now and then, which all headed one way, and went
off as hard as they could split. Breaking cattle in to a camp's a fine
thing. It's the good old-fashioned way of mustering, and there's
nothing like it, to my fancy. By 12 o'clock or thereabouts we made the
main camp, on a sandhill by a big water hole, and a fine jolly mob of
cattle we found there.

Two thousand head if there was a beast! all in tiptop condition;
cows, calves, bullocks, and steers, rolling fat, and fit for the
butcher, the whole boiling. We had a smoke after we'd polished off the
bit of bread and corned beef we'd brought with us, and then we rode in
among the cattle.

'Plenty feller WG here, I believe,' says Talgai. 'You bin look out
that one yaller bullock; red feller that one, blue cow--all about--,
that one fat too, my word!'

'There's the biggest lot of your mob here, Mr. Claythorpe,' says
Barker; 'I miss a few leading cattle though. They'll be out with the
Pine Cowall mob. We'll get them to-morrow, if we've luck. The best
thing we can do now is to cut out all we've got here and get them home
to the yard to-night. It'll take all our time. If you don't mind
keeping the cattle on the camp, Jack and I can cut them out; Talgai
and my Johnny 'll mind them when they're drafted.'

We started to work. It took some galloping; but the ground was open,
and the horses were in good buckle; the WG cattle had been driven all
the way from Queensland, and after a flirt or two settled down as they
were cut out with some station cattle to begin with.

We got away with them an hour before dark, letting the station
cattle draw off the camp, of course; and though it was starlight by
the time we got to Boree, we yarded 'em all right, and fastened the
gates with a hide rope to make safe. Possie had no end of a tea for
us. She'd dressed herself too, and had a bit of red ribbon and a
silver cross on, that made poor Jack ready to go down on his knees and
worship her.

Chapter VIII - Cooramen And The Wg's

WE had a real pleasant evening, the best I'd had since I left Bandra.
There was a piano in the big room that I hadn't noticed when we went
in first, and Possie played, and sang too, 'like one o'clock,' as Jack
Hall said. She could play. I'd never heard anybody like her. Of course
I wasn't likely to. Miss Walsingham at the Hall in Applegate, I knew,
played and sang, because I used to hear her through the door as I
walked up and down the passage at odd times; and sister Jane said Mrs.
Buffray had a sweet voice, and played all sorts of tunes, but I hadn't
the chance to hear her close of course.

Now, here was this girl playing better than any one I'd ever heard in
a music hall or in a theatre, and singing--by George! Jack and I
thought--like an angel. He sat with his mouth open and stared at her
as if she was a new creature of some sort. He was ready to follow her
about like a dog. Of course, like women do mostly, whatever colour
they are, she didn't care a dump for him--ordered him about, and would
hardly say a civil word to him. That's the way all the world over.

We'd had a deal of fun and nonsense that night. Possie said they'd
got in the horses, and she was going to give us a hand on Cooramen
next day. I was very glad of it. Then we went to bed.

'My word,' says Jack next morning, 'you'll see some riding as you may
call riding to-day, when the cutting out begins; Cooramen was the best
stock-horse on the Macquarie before they found out he was fast enough
to win the Wilcannia Maiden Plate; the way he can walk round a bullock
is something to look at.'

'All the credit belongs to the horse, Mr. Hall,' says she,
mischievous like. 'The girl that steers him has nothing to do with it,
I suppose?'

'You know better than that,' says poor Jack, 'but the old horse is a
ripper and no mistake. You don't want me to blow about your ridin', I
suppose. That'll tell for itself when we get to the camp. But there's
no pleasin' you. The last time I told that young fellow from Coranga
as you'd forgot more about riding than he ever learnt, you said it
looked as if you couldn't do anything else.'

'Girls are hard to please sometimes, and that's the truth, Jack,' she
says, and smiled at him in a way that nearly made him drop his knife
and fork (it was at breakfast) to look at her. 'If you knew as much
about them as you do about horses you'd be aware of the fact. But I'm
going to be very good--tempered to-day and enjoy myself, so you've to
look pleasant, and see that my saddle's well girthed and won't slip

Jack was quite pacified by this, and came up with her horse directly
after breakfast. Cooramen, as they called him, was a beauty without
paint, sure enough. I wondered how they got such a horse in the
family. However, it turned out that old George had backed him one day
for a selling race at a bush meeting, and when he was put to auction,
bid up for him like a man, and bought him over his owner's head. He
knew the horse before, and he was that fond of Possie as he'd have
done any mortal thing to please her, so he didn't grudge paying a bit
high. Besides, what he'd won on him made him come cheaper, and there
was an off chance as he'd pull off another race or two on the quiet
before his legs went. He was a dark brown horse, about fifteen hands,
but when he held up his head he looked half a hand higher. He had a
drop of Arab blood in him, Jack said. They used to get 'em down from
India in the old days. Anyhow, he was a regular plum, such as you see
every now and then in all the colonies. Fast--game--wiry--with legs
and feet like iron; up to weight, and good across country. You can't
put 'em wrong with fair play. He's a lucky man that gets one or two of
them in his lifetime, and my advice is always to stick to 'em, and
never sell 'em while you've a shirt to your back.

Well, away we went. Possie had the old horse led up to the edge of
the verandah and swung herself into the saddle as light as a bird. She
had a nice side-saddle, and a regular stunning cloth habit, made by a
tailor. It showed off her figure--one of the grandest ever a woman
had. She had wonderful small hands--like a child's they were, and feet
to match. When she walked she was that springy and graceful like she
put me in mind of the tame doe there used to be in the Squire's park
at Applegate. Her eyes were so dark and soft (when she liked) that
they made her more and more like some shy, light-stepping wild
creature, that seemed when she was startled as if she could jump over
a house or fly into a tree. Sometimes, when Possie was walking up and
down in a bit of a tantrum like, she put me more in mind of the
tigress I saw in a cage at the Zoo, in London. But that was long
after, and don't come into this part of my story.

Well, away we went, the whole boiling of us, for Back Boree that
morning. It was a clear warm day, about an hour after sunrise. First
of all old George went ahead with his boy Johnny, and his next girl
Kitty alongside of him. She was a slip of a girl about fourteen, with
big eyes and a shy look, but full of fun and mischief underneath. She
had a ragged gray tweed skirt on, an old straw hat, and she rode on a
man's saddle with one stirrup over the pommel, and sat as straight and
lissome as if she'd the best side-saddle in the world. She could ride
anything, I believe, and her father said he'd sooner have her with him
after wild cattle than any stock-rider in the country. Both girls had
stock-whips, made light, and with 'myall' handles (the native wood
that smells like violets); before the day was over I saw that they
knew how to use them.

Jack rode on one side of Possie and I on the other. Talgai came
behind all by himself, but that didn't trouble him much; he wasn't
over fond of company at the best of times. After we'd ridden seven or
eight miles we came to a plain at the edge of a wilga scrub. Then the
old man pulls up and lays out the different lines we're to take.

'You two girls come along o' me, I'm a goin' up to the Pine Cowall,
and you're both on your best at the scrub racket. It'll take some
galloping to wheel that poley brindle's mob, and if they once break
there's no headin' 'em. Jack Hall, you can follow the creek up till
you come to them sand--hills--there's one big mob run that way. You'd
as well take Mr. Claythorpe with you. Johnny, you and Talgai sweep in
all the plain cattle between here and the yellow water-hole, and don't
you be larkin' or kangarooin', else I'll lay my stock-whip into you
when we come to the camp.'

Johnny rode away rather solemn lookin', with Talgai after him; then
the old man started off with the girls on each side of him, as if they
were all entered for a three mile heat. Jack looked after 'em for a
bit, rather grave like. 'Confound that old George,' he says, 'he might
have left Possie with us; but I suppose he reckoned we might get lost.
I expect there's some calves among them scrub cattle, and the old cove
thinks it's a handy chance to get them. They'll be pretty smart cattle
that gets away from Poss on Cooramen to-day; let alone Kitty.'

We'd all brought in our mobs by about two o'clock, and sat on our
horses waiting for best part of an hour before we heard the roaring of
George's mob coming closer and closer; by and by a faint crack of a
whip now and again. There was a good-sized plain that came close up to
the forest, and through this they had to come.

We all had our horses ready, for some of us were sitting side-ways on
the saddle smoking and resting, when we saw a big brindled poley
bullock dash into the plain, with a long string of cattle behind him,
and make for the camp. They were coming pretty fast for fat cattle, as
most of them were, and the brindled bullock and the dozen or two
leading cattle had their tongues out. It was a heavy mob, five or six
hundred at least. It took some time for the 'tail,' with all the
slower quiet cattle and cows and calves to clear the forest. Last of
all out they come, every beast, with Possie on the right side of 'em,
Kitty in the middle, and George and his two dogs on the left flank.
'Little Kitty's had a buster or something,' says Jack, 'run against a
tree, perhaps. She's got her bridle in her right hand and her whip's
tied to her saddle.'

We rode up a bit nearer to the string of cattle that were making into
the main drove collected on the camp, and Jack Hall looked sharply at
them as they passed before us. I couldn't make out--having seen so
little of that kind of work--how it was that he could tell one beast
from another in such a mixed-up mob, and so quick too.

'There's a snailey Wallanbah bullock I haven't seen this two years,'
says he, 'and that sheeted red and white BL cow with the red heifer
calf. She was a heifer when she got away from Wallanbah, and now she's
a dashed fine cow, and, by George! there's that black bullock of ours,
him with the wide horns. I thought he was dead. I never seen him so
near a camp before. He always breaks when he sees the other cattle.'

'How's that? Is he like the crows and smells powder?'

'Can't say,' says Jack, 'but there's always a few cattle in every
herd that's like that. They get cunning, and bolt back when they're
near a yard or camp, for fear they'd be sent off, I expect. You'll see
that joker'll bolt soon. Isn't he a slashing fine beast?'

The bullock Jack meant was a tremendous big beast, as fat as he could
roll. On he came, with his head up, shaking his immense wide horns as
if he was looking about him, and didn't know what he'd do next. All of
a sudden he stops and wheels short to the right.

At that very moment we saw Cooramen give a plunge, and then go for
him as hard as he could lay legs to the ground. The bullock was pretty
near the lead, so that he had a fairish start. But the brown horse,
now at top speed, overhauled the heavy beast stride by stride. 'Poss
is going for him,' sings out Jack. 'Now you'll see some riding.'

It looked like it, as we both sat on our horses and watched the pair.
I'd never seen anything like it before.

The bullock kept his own line, heading back, sulky and savage,
towards that part of the cattle run where he was accustomed to feed.
Poss, leaning forward, as if she was riding a race, kept on the
outside of the line he was going, cracking her whip, like a pistol
shot, every now and then. He didn't turn his head. Presently she came
up with him, and keeping just clear of his horns, laid the whip into
him back and forward, as neat as any one I ever seen. He shook his
head, but wouldn't turn; every now and then he made a short rush at
the horse. Cooramen--she had him well in hand of course--would be out
of his road like a shot, and before the bullock was well round again
her whip would be playing on him, making the hair fly and drawing the
blood like a bushel bag of mosquitos.

Blest if she didn't get close up on his shoulder once and rush her
horse against him, so that she turned him in spite of himself towards
the cattle. Then he'd stop and shake his head and face her. She'd play
with him and get away when he rushed, and then go at him, flaking him
right and left as he turned, and edge him off towards the other
cattle. He was nearly done with running too, he was so fat, and last
of all he began to get pretty slow, and show signs of giving in. She
stuck to him back and edge till at last he turned tail and hit out for
the camp, as if he'd settled in his mind to give her best. Then she
raised a shout and followed him up, dropping the whip into him right
and left till he fairly broke into a gallop and lumbered in among the
cattle quite beat and exhausted.

I couldn't help looking at the girl as she came flying in among the
cattle after him, leaning forward in her saddle, with her lissome
figure swaying gracefully with every motion of her horse. Her hair had
come down too, and hung over her shoulders in great shining coils.

'Hurrah for Possie!' shouts Jack Hall, as we rode up to her. 'Mr.
Claythorpe didn't ever see a girl ride like that in the old country,
I'll be bound?'

'I don't think I ever did, or anywhere else,' says I. 'I couldn't do
it to save my life, though I can ride a little in my own way.'

'I'm afraid I look rather wild just now,' she said, smiling and
hoisting up her hair in a great knot behind, while Cooramen stood as
still as a trooper, with the reins on his neck. 'But I never like to
be beat, and that same bullock has got away from us times without

'Once we get him to Wallanbah we'll put him in "the round yard," '1
says Jack, 'so as he won't stray away from home no more. Mr. Burdock
ought to give you a new bridle or a bonnet, Miss Possie, after your
running him in so clever.'

'I can buy my own bonnets and bridles, thank you,' she says. 'I don't
want any of Mr. Burdock's presents.'

'Now then,' says old George, coming up, 'if you want them WG's home
to-night, the sooner we set to work cutting on 'em out the better.
Poss! you and Jack Hall's got the two slippiest nags; you'd better cut
out, and Mr. Claythorpe can help ye. Kitty and I'll keep camp, while
Johnny and Talgai mind the cut-out cattle.'

'All right, governor,' says Jack, 'my horse wants work, he's too
fresh. What's up with poor Kit. Has she hurt her arm?'

'Pony fell in a stump-hole and shook her a bit. She'll be all right
to--morrow. Now there's four of your bullocks all in one bunch; get to
work all and run out any clearskin-calves; I spotted a few.' 1 The
harness cask.

There wasn't much talking for the next two hours. Jack picked out the
four WG's, and a few cows and calves, which we put together under a
tree to make a start with. Then it was quick work, hammer and tongs.
One minute I'd see Possie edging out a wild-looking steer, till she
got him clear of the camp. He'd trot a few yards and then gallop for
his life, then stop dead and wheel.

That instant you'd see Cooramen halt as dead as if his feet had been
nailed to the ground, while Possie's whip would come swinging round,
and the small end drop on to him as if it was going to cut him in two.
He'd start on again, then try a dart to the left, and Cooramen would
be galloping neck and neck with him as if they were running a race.
And mind you, a fresh wildish beast can go like smoke for a hundred
yards. Then a prop and a wheel, but wherever he turned Cooramen and
the stinging rattling whip would be in front of him, cutting,
cracking, and whistling across eyes and nose, tail and shoulders, as
the case might be. Last of all he'd head for the cut-out cattle, and
trot in among them with bellows to mend, regularly bowled-out, out-
paced and out-generalled.

Then back to the camp full split. Beast after beast would be run out,
Jack Hall bringing another out as she went in, and the other way on. I
managed to get a few, but somehow I couldn't do it half as quick as
either of those two--couldn't pick out the bullocks in the camp either
as they did, almost without looking at them. They were all got out in
time, besides the black bullock, with a few Wallanbah cattle and about
twenty yearlings which belonged--so George said--to the Boree herd,
and had never had a brand on their hides.

That night we were home latish, and it took some time to make the
cattle safe in the yard. Then we had to unsaddle and turn out the
horses. Possie and her sister went into the house at once, taking
Johnny to help them. Half an hour, I expect it was, before Jack and I
got things fixed right (we didn't want to find the cattle gone in the
morning, you know) and made ourselves ready for tea.

They hadn't lost much time either, for Possie had changed her dress
and put a rose in her hair. The tea was all ready and waiting for us.
There was no grog, of course. Men like George Barker never keep it in
their house. They can't answer for themselves, so they don't have any
at all. If they want a drink they go away from home, and as that don't
happen above two or three times a year, it doesn't matter so much. I
shouldn't have taken any if there had been gallons of it, and though
Jack Hall liked it well, he could do without it for months at a time
when he chose. Anyhow, we made a merry meal of it--no end of fun and
chaff over the day's doings. Poor Kit's arm was found to be only
bruised after all, and we agreed that we'd got the most of the WG
cattle. There would be only twenty or thirty short, and those we could
come for at the next muster.

'So you're going away in the morning,' Possie says. She'd been
playing one or two pieces on the piano in a careless sort of way. She
wouldn't sing--said she'd made herself hoarse.

'Yes. I must go back. It wouldn't be worth while stopping another day
and giving so much trouble for a few head. I'd come to next muster,
whenever that was, if I could manage it.'

'Would I really?' That would be in October. There would be races
afterwards at Calyanbone. She'd some notion of running Cooramen for
the town plate and handicap, only there was no one she could trust him
to--that is, that could ride the weight.

I'd make a point of coming over, I told her. I'd ride the horse
willingly for her besides, if she could have him got fit.

Her face brightened up at this. She knew I was a first-class jock,
she said. Somebody had told her about Tornado and the Juanbong Plate.
It's wonderful how things travel in the bush. Anyhow, before I said
good-night I promised faithfully to come to the muster and ride
Cooramen at the Wallanbah races.

She told Jack Hall, with great triumph, but he didn't seem to be so
pleased as she expected. She thought it quite strange.

We cleared out next day for Wallanbah in real good form. I was up
early to see if the cattle were right and to make sure of Talgai
getting the horses, when I found George Barker and his boy had just
killed a fat calf. They were cutting veal chops and getting the sweet-
bread for our breakfast. Fresh meat's always reckoned a treat in the
bush. They drew up the hind quarters on the gallows where the bullocks
were hung, but to my surprise cut off the fore quarters and gave them
to the dogs.

'Isn't that wasting good meat?' I couldn't help saying.

'Not at all,' says George; 'we've often to kill a precious sight more
heifers' calves than we can eat. We'll be tired of veal by the time
we've finished the hind quarters of this one, and salt's too dear in
this part of the country to waste it on a calf.'

Whatever would they say in Applegate? I thought to myself. There's
half this fine body of veal, mud-fat, and tender as a chicken, worth a
shilling a pound there; besides, what would some of the poor hungry
families at home give for these ribs and shoulders? This is a
plentiful country and no mistake; there's enough and to spare, any
child may see. It will go hard if Jesse Claythorpe don't save
something for himself out of the land and the stock, and the money
that's going begging here.

Chapter IX - Jack Leighton, Swagman

POSSIE and the boy Johnny came with us as far as the first plain,
just to help us off the run. She kept quieter a deal this time than
the day before, and looked as if she was out of sorts a bit. She spoke
very little to either of us, but rode on ahead with the leading
cattle, and as I was behind, and Jack on the other side looking out
sharp in case any wanted to break, there wasn't much chance of a talk.
Her brother Johnny and Talgai kept at the tail, and seemed to have all
the fun of the party between 'em. I couldn't help looking at him and
then at her. He was very near as dark as Talgai, with just the same
kind of sleepy ways when he wasn't roused, while Possie and Kit were
as fair as lots of English girls I've seen. There was nothing about
'em different from any other of the white natives--except that they
were a deal better looking, and walked and held themselves better.
Possie had wonderfully good teeth, as white as milk, and her dark
eyes, that used to look so mournful sometimes, would brighten up when
she smiled, so that you couldn't help thinking what a merry happy
creature she was. She and Johnny said good-bye to us both, and went
off back as soon as the cattle were steadied. She rode quiet for a
hundred yards or so, and then set the old horse going, and was soon
out of sight. I caught myself thinking about her for the next hour or
two, and Jack Hall, I expect, was a good deal in the same line.

When we got to Wallanbah, Mr. Burdock was knocking about the yards
and saw us come in. 'My word,' he says, 'you've got a fine lot of
bullocks there, fattened on another man's grass. However, we must give
and take. A few cattle's keep's neither here nor there, as long as we
get country for ten pound a block, Crown rent.'

'How much is a block?'

'Five miles square,' he answers; 'of course there's water to be made,
and there'll be fencing by and by; but it's a fairish grazing farm for
the money, ain't it? Anyhow they'd call it one where I came from.'

'I should think it was,' says I, 'especially when it tops up cattle
like that.' And there's no doubt a lot of these WG's were shaking fat.
'Is there any more land to be got at that price?'

'Plenty more, and cheaper too if you know the right way to go about
it,' says he. 'Come inside and we'll have another yarn. I'm a-goin'
over to Bynjewong to-morrow and I shan't see you for a bit. Oh! I
forgot; what d'ye think of Possie Barker? Ain't she a stunner? There
ain't many of these eddicated gals as hold their heads so high that's
a patch on her, I think.'

'She's a clever girl,' says I, 'and good-looking too, there's no
mistake about that; and I never saw a woman that could ride like her

'You'll have Jack Hall goin' for ye if ye don't look out,' he says,
laughing. 'And now we'd better come inside; my leg ain't quite right
yet, and standing about tires me.'

After tea the old man mixed his brandy and water like he did before,
and settled down for a solid yarn, as he said.

'I've been and taken a fancy to you, Claythorpe,' he says, by and by.
'I've good reason to owe you something for doing me a good turn that
day on the plain. Still it ain't that altogether. I can see you're a
young feller that's bound to get on in this country; that's got sense
enough to keep a bit of money together, and not spend it foolish
directly it comes. I'm not one of them chaps that'll entice a man away
from his employer. Buffray's been a good friend to you, and of course
you'll stay with him as long as he's got work to do. But I don't
believe in Roper altogether, and so I tell you. Buffray gives him his
own way a deal too much for my fancy. I told him that before Roper's
face one day. He'll find him out yet. He ain't the man he takes him
for, and before long you and he won't hit it. You ain't his sort, I
can see. And when he tells you to clear--as he's most sure to do some
day--there's a home for you at Wallanbah, wet season or dry, and a
welcome too.'

We landed our cattle safe at Yugildah, and Roper seemed regular right
down pleased for once that we'd got so many of the brand, and they
looking so well.

'There's a man taking down fat cattle from Grambla,' says he, 'as
will pass this way to-morrow. I'll draft the good ones out of the mob
and send 'em down with him. Then there's no fear of them straying
again. Mr. Blake won't mind obliging the boss, and I'll send a young
chap with 'em. I'll tail the rest for a week or two, and turn 'em out
with a quiet mob. How did ye get old Burdock to send Jack Hall with
ye? Him and me ain't cousins, and I didn't expect he'd give ye a lift
like that.'

So I told him about the buggy accident, and our going with him to
Wallanbah, with a general notion of the muster at Boree.

'George Barker's a dry old stick, ain't he?' says he, 'and Possie's a
good--looking gal enough. They say he's had her eddicated, taught the
pianner, and all that. More fool he! I say. All those half-bred brats
of his are sure to give him the slip as they get older. It's wasting
money and time to teach 'em anything, in my way of thinking.'

'They seem smart enough,' I said, careless like, for I didn't mean to
tell him more than I could help; 'I don't suppose all the teaching
they'll get will hurt 'em.'

The cattle went away all right, and we settled down to the regular
everyday station work, and pretty dull it was. After being away at the
other places, Yugildah looked more dreary like and miserable than
ever. Unless we were all hard at work, there was nothing to cheer up
any one, or to take the least interest in.

It was a splendid run--large, and well watered, and out and out
healthy--but no money had been spent upon it. There were no
improvements of any sort, so at last I began to feel mopish for want
of somebody to talk to, or something to do.

First of all Talgai and I got all the colts in and rode them, so as
to keep them quiet. The most part of them were steady enough, but some
were more trouble than they were at first. That took up a month or so.
Then we had mustering, or going round the run every other day--lovely
rides some of them used to be--coming in after dark, and then to cook
your own supper when you got back. I felt ready to grumble at this,
but I'd determined not to mind trifles in a new country; and I thought
if any one had given us as much beef steak or corned beef in England
as we could eat, with bread, tea, and sugar in proportion, what a
trifle we should have thought the cooking of it was!

Talgai and I were out on the run a goodish way from home one day when
we dropped in with a mob of cattle that hadn't been yarded for a year
or more by the looks of them. They were wild and no mistake; it was
some time before we could get them to round up. There were a good many
unbranded calves among them belonging to the station, so we started to
bring them home. We hadn't gone far before we came on another mob,
camped. It was a bigger one than what we had with us. I stopped with
the cattle, and sent Talgai over to look at them.

'Name that one,' I says, when he came back.

'All about cow and calf belonging to Thoresby,' says he. 'Calf not

'You see um Yugildah calf?' I said.

'No; like it four feller bullock. That one run here long time.'

'How far longa Mr. Thoresby's station?' I said.

'Mindorah five mile, close up.'

'You yan alonga head station, Talgai, and yabber that one calf alonga
this one camp. Mine quambi alonga cattle.'

Talgai looked a bit astonished, but he always did what I told him.
I'd broke him in to that. So off he sets. The cattle stopped quiet in
the camp. It was pretty hot, so I pulled up under a tree and laid
myself out to wait for an hour or two till he came back.

I hadn't been half an hour by myself when I heard horses, and back
came Talgai with two men. Mr. Thoresby it was, and his stock-rider. It
seems they were out too, and Talgai fell across their tracks
accidental. The other cattle were within sight, and they rode up to
them before they came over to me.

He was a square-built, jolly-looking, middle-aged man. His face was
burnt a regular brick-dust red, but I was pretty sure he was an
Englishman before he began to talk.

'Your name's Claythorpe,' he says, holding out his hand. 'Mine's Mark
Thoresby, of Mindorah. You came up from Bandra to Yugildah with the
horses: not long out from home. So you sent me word about these cows
and calves here. Wonders'll never cease, will they, Ned?'

He and the stock-rider laughed as if it was a first-rate joke, and so
did Talgai after a bit. I didn't see it, and said so.

'Oh! it's only our nonsense,' says he. 'I'm obliged to you all the
same. If ever you're this near Mindorah again, mind you come over and
see us. This chap knows the road,' pointing to Talgai. 'You tell Jim
Roper you seen me, and I wanted to know if the Bishop had been at
Yugildah and converted him like. He'll understand. You come over some
day soon, or I'll think you don't want to be neighbourly.'

They went their way and we went ours. When I had put the cows and
calves into the yard, I told Roper that we'd found a large lot of
cattle with more calves, but that Talgai had said they were Mr.
Thoresby's, and I had sent word to him to fetch them.

'Sent word to him!' says he, struck all of a heap. 'Why the h--l
didn't ye bring 'em home to the yard with these others? How did ye
know they was his? Weren't they on this run?'

'I believe they were half a mile over the boundary,' says I; 'but
Talgai told me they were Mr. Thoresby's. He was quite certain.'

'Talgai be blowed!' says he; 'what's he know about brands. It's your
business to bring all cattle as you find on this here run to Yugildah
yard. When they're properly drafted they can be sent home, or they can
come for 'em. But I don't believe in people taking cattle off this run
without my seein' 'em.'

'What, not their own cattle?' says I. 'If they'd caught us driving
those cows and calves they might have thought we were stealing them.'

'What the blazes business is it of yours,' says he, 'what they
thought? What do you know about a cattle station, just off the ship?
If you think you're to act boss here because you can ride a bit and
had the luck to pull off a twenty-pound handicap, you've most
infernally mistook your lay, and so I tell you.'

'I know I've not been long out of England, Mr. Roper,' says I, 'but I
suppose the law about your own and other people's property is the same
here as there. If you think I'm going to help you or any one else to
steal cattle you've made a mistake, and a big one too.'

'I've two minds to kick you off the place,' says he, looking as mad
as a wild bullock, 'and only the boss sent you here I'd do so, dashed
quick. You come up to-morrow morning and I'll settle with ye, you can
go back to Bandra then and tell the boss I sent ye.'

'You needn't try to bully me,' says I, looking him in the eye, 'if
you'd like to get your hands on me, don't baulk your fancy. But I
don't want a row for the sake of Mr. Buffray. I shall go over to
Wallanbah from here.'

'You may go to h--, for anything I care,' says he, and he turns his
back and makes off home.

He was a bit cooler next morning, and seemed as if he'd like to make
it up; but I'd had enough of Yugildah, and being sure we'd have
another row if I stopped, thought it was best to clear when I'd got
right on my side. He made out the time I'd been up and paid me at the
rate of a pound a week. That was the regular wages on a station then.
I'd only drawn some tobacco out of the store so I had a fairish
cheque. For horse-breaking I ought to have had extra, but I didn't
bother. I thought myself pretty well paid, and it hadn't all been hard

Talgai came up with me.

'You yan away, Mahmee?' he says, 'Talgai baal sit down alonga
Yugildah; first time that one Roper bung (shoot) this one blackfellow,
I b'leeve.'

'So you're a-going too, you black santipee, are ye?' says Roper,
glaring at him; and if I hadn't been there I believe he'd a half
killed the poor feller. 'The place is well rid of the pair of ye, in
my opinion. I don't want no crawlers about Yugildah, only don't let me
catch ye on the run after to-day, or by---I'll shoot ye as soon as I
would a dingo.'

We cleared next day, mighty glad both of us to be shut of Yugildah
and Jim Roper. We had to stop on the road one night, and next day we
reckoned to get to Wallanbah. We were going along a bush track that
led into the main road to Wallanbah near the end of the day when we
pulled up a swagman. He was walking very slow; he was a bit lame too.
His swag wasn't heavy, for he had only a rag of a blue blanket, a
billy of water in his hand, and very little else.

'Hot day, mate?' says he, as we came up.

'You're right there, how far are you going?'

To Wallanbah,' says he, 'and that's a good ten miles by my reckoning.
My feet are not up to much; I'm pretty well done up, and out of
tobacco besides. Happen to have any about you?'

I pulled out half a fig of 'negrohead'; he took it as if he wanted it
badly, and cut off an inch or so which he put in his mouth at once. As
he did so I took a good look at him.

He was a slight, well-made, good-looking man, rather above the
middle size, but not tall; brown hair and beard that just showed a few
streaks of gray. His hands were burnt the same colour as his face,
which was nearly black, and they were knotted and hardened with work,
as any one might see. His shirt and trousers were worn and in holes;
his boots were broken and pretty well done for--that was what made him
lame. One of his feet had been bleeding, I could see from his 'toe-
rag,' which stuck out on one side. A regular station hand he looked,
on the 'wallaby track' as they call it, out of luck. His last shilling
spent, tramping on without food, clothes, or a penny in the world,
till he met with a fresh job of work. I'd seen dozens before like him,
but somehow I kept looking at him, and looked and looked again.

'So you're going there too?' he said, 'that's a piece of luck; I've
worked for old Sam Burdock before, and there's no better men's hut in
the district. You tell him Jack Leighton's coming along, and he'll
find me work of some sort. What are you on for?'

'I'm going to stop there for a week or two,' says I. 'I know Mr.
Burdock a little, and he asked me.'

'You're not long out from home?' he said, looking pretty straight at
me. 'English, I see. What county?'

'East Kent. I've only been here a year and a half--since I left

'By Jove!' said the swagman 'you don't say so. This is a rum place
to meet a man of Kent. Applegate--Applegate on the Stour--why, that's
where I came from. What's your name, may I ask?'

'Claythorpe,' says I, looking at him again and wondering in my own
mind how he knew about Applegate. 'And what did you say yours was?'

'So you're a son of Job Claythorpe, are you?' says he, looking hard
at me. 'I used to play with your brother Dick--the one that was hurt
in that poaching row. Poor Dick! Did you ever hear of the Leightons,
of King's Leighton? I'm one of them.'

'Good God!' I said, 'you're never Reggie Leighton? My sister Jane
used to tell me all about the day your people went to see you off when
you were coming out to Australia. I was a little chap then, of course,
and didn't know. Then you're Mr. Reginald? I thought there was
something I knew about you. However did you lose your money and get
down to this?'

'Down to this!' he says rather bitterly. 'You may well say that,
Claythorpe; a broken-down swagman, without a shilling, and hardly a
shoe to his foot! Well, bad luck, I suppose, bitter bad luck; most of
it my own fault; that's the worst of it, you know.'

'I can lend you anything you want,' says I, eager enough. 'When we
get to Mr. Burdock's he'll put you on to a job; I know I shall be
there for a bit. You may trust me; you won't want anything that I can
do for you. And now, you take my horse for a bit and we'll ride in
turn. Squire Leighton's son oughtn't to walk while Jesse Claythorpe
rides, or else the world's coming to an end.'

The tears came into my eyes; I could hardly speak, it seemed so
dreadful. I felt as if I could have stripped myself naked to clothe
him in his poverty. I had never seen him that I knew of; but Mr.
Reginald, Squire Leighton's son, from the grand old castle of a place,
with its avenues three hundred years old, and its terraces and alleys,
with the Dutch clipped yew and box trees, and the family chariot, and
the eldest son that was in the Guards, I couldn't make myself believe
that he was going to Burdock's men's hut, and glad to get there.

'It's Squire Leighton's son's own fault,' he says, frowning first and
then smiling like; 'and if he has to walk it serves him dashed well
right. You're a good fellow, Jesse, though; a man of Kent always
stands up for his county. I'll take your horse for a mile or two, for
this confounded foot of mine feels as if it were coming off.'

He took my horse; Talgai dismounted too and walked alongside of me.
'That one knock-about, big one tired,' says he, 'altogether that one
lie down and quambi dead alonga road, I believe. Baal him, yan (get)
along Wallanbah.'

There was plenty of time before us, and as long as we got to the
station by sundown it didn't matter how easy we took it. We talked
away about the old place until I felt quite a boy again.

He was the youngest son of Squire Leighton, and was a bit spoiled,
and let have his own way after his brothers went out into the world.
One was in the army, I knew, because we used to see him in his uniform
when he came back at Christmas. He didn't always wear it, of course,
but he had it on when there was a county ball, and at other times. The
second was a clergyman, and had a parish not very far off. The third
one was a lawyer in London, a book-learned man they said he was, and
stood for the county once. This one was the fourth and youngest. He
had my brother Dick with him shooting and fishing whenever he could.
They were great friends as boys, and there's no doubt that Mr.
Reginald would have taken him out to the colonies if he hadn't
happened to get hurt just when he did.

This one was always inclined to be wild, and wouldn't take to his
book. He could ride and shoot and fish with any man in the village
when he was quite a little chap. The old Squire was very fond of him,
and kept him at home long after he ought to have been at a public
school like his brothers, people said. When he did go to school and
college he did no good there, we heard in the village. Always up to
some frolics, and spending a deal of money on racing and hunting. All
manner of games he was up to, and at last he was sent home for a year,
they said, and wasn't let go back.

Then it seems he took a wonderful fancy into his head to go out to
Australia, and turn cattle and horse breeder. He'd been reading some
book which said what a fine country it was; that people did nothing
but gallop about on horseback all day long, and so on. Anyhow, he
wouldn't be said no to. So the old Squire at last gave him a couple of
thousand pounds, and told him he'd send him three or four more when he
was settled, and off he goes.

I just remember it being talked about as one of the wonders of the
village when I was quite a little chap; everybody was astonished that
the Squire could have the heart to let his son go to such a wild, far-
away place. All his friends went to see him off; it was a nine days'
wonder. After that it grew faint and forgotten, like Stephen Buffray's
doing the same thing a lifetime ago. No doubt the Squire sent him the
other thousands. No doubt there were letters at first, and crying over
them by the sisters, and promises to come back in a year or two, when
his fortune would be made. But the fortune was not made, somehow. The
letters got fewer, then stopped altogether. The Squire died, and only
the young ladies, his sisters, two of whom had never married, and
lived in the old hall still, seemed to regret the handsome young man,
full of hope and spirits, that had sailed away years ago for Botany

And here he was now, a ragged hard-up tramp, a 'knock-about,' as
Talgai called him, not as well dressed as my black boy, and beholden
to the son of one of his father's hinds for a lift on his journey, or
a few shillings to carry him along.

How in the world was it possible for such a man to come to this? to
sink so low? Clever, though not in the way of books, a gentleman born,
belonging to one of the oldest families in England, manly too, full of
work or fight when it was wanted; in a country where money was ten
times as plentiful and easy got as in England; even supposing he'd
lost all he brought with him by misfortunes or bad seasons, I couldn't
make it out; whatever was the reason of it all?

If I'd been longer in the country I should have known what the reason
was, the only one which ever knocks down a man worth calling a man in
Australia, and keeps him down. Because he may fall once, then he's
helped up always; twice--three times--perhaps even another time--if
he's true to himself, by his friends. He's sure to have some if he's
any good at all.

But I didn't know then for certain. I thought perhaps he'd been very
unfortunate, indeed, and it mightn't have been his fault altogether. I
could see he'd worked and not played for years by the look of his
hands, as were hard and horny, with the knuckles twisted, and the
bones spread out and roughened,--besides being burnt as black as
Talgai's nearly--working men's hands are all alike. There's no forging
that certificate of manual labour. When I thought of what the Miss
Leightons would have thought if they could have seen his hands at that
minute, not to speak of the rough red folds of skin at the back of his
neck, from years of exposure with nothing but a jersey or an old check
shirt between him and the terrible sun, I thought I should have cried
like a child. We were used to it, father and I, Tom and Dick, and all
our lot from generation to generation. It was what we were born to go
through--aboard ship or on land, it was all the same--we didn't expect
anything better, and didn't grumble.

But there's something about gentlefolk and old blood--people may
talk as they like--that stirs the heart of a true-born Englishman.
When you think of what they're born to, the way they're brought up in
a good county family, and you see one of them brought low in a strange
land, it melts the very heart within you, and you feel as if you
couldn't do enough for them.

These thoughts came into my head as we made our way along the dusty
road. There hadn't been any rain for three months or so, and the
weather was getting hotter and the country drier every day.

About a mile from the station we came to the Wallanbah Inn. It
belonged to Mr. Burdock, who built it so that he mightn't be overrun
with all sorts of travellers after he got married and had a family
growing up. 'I was never to say stingy about a trifle of rations like
"hungry Jackson,"' he said once, 'but having to feed perhaps from five
to twenty strangers every night of your life is a little too much of
the monkey, so I built this here hotel, which is a comfortable shop
enough, and put Bill Bottrell into it, where they can have everything
they like to call for, and pay for it if they've the money.'

We were passing the inn, when all of a sudden Leighton said,
'Claythorpe, you haven't a note about you that you can lend me? If you
have I'll borrow it to get a pair of boots from Bottrell's store;
these things are so deuced disreputable, I don't like to face old
Burdock in them.'

I pulled out a couple of pounds. I'd brought some cash with me in
case I might want it.

'Better get a shirt or two, and anything else you want while you're
about it,' says I. 'I'll leave Talgai's horse for you to ride up.
We'll go on to the station.'

'All right,' he said. 'It's devilish kind of you. I'll not be ten

He got off and hobbled into the bar, while Talgai and I went quietly
up to the station.

'Mr. Burdock was out,' the servant said; 'but would be sure to be
back for tea--say in half an hour.'

I put my horse in the paddock, and waited till nearly dark, expecting
Leighton to come up every minute.

'You go alonga public-house, Talgai, look out that one mahmee,
mundoee big one brokit.'

'I believe him wompi wompi alonga cobbra,' says Talgai, with a
curious look in his eye, 'fust time me bring 'em Yarraman.'

So away goes Talgai along the road to the inn, and I walked into the
verandah to wait till Mr. Burdock came.

Chapter X - More Of Jack Leighton

I SAT in a chair in the verandah thinking and thinking about Mr.
Leighton. I couldn't get him out of my head. I hoped he would smarten
himself up a bit, and then may be Burdock would ask him into the
house, on my account, if I told him who he was. Fancy me being able to
help a Leighton of King's Leighton, in that way. This was the other
end of the world, and wrong side up, when it comes to that and no
mistake. Perhaps we might go into partnership after a bit. I'd do the
hard delving, and if we prospered, what a chance for him to go home to
his people! and what an honour for me to bring it about! He'd soon get
some of the tan off his face. Swell clothes do a lot, especially when
a man's the real article underneath. I've seen them do a lot when he
wasn't--for the matter of that. But his hands! They'd never come
right, gloves or no gloves. They'd been knocked out of all shape and
comeliness. I was real sorry about them, I can tell you. Just then I
heard a heavy step and a loud voice, and in came old Burdock.

'Hulloo! so it's you?' he says, shaking hands as if my wrist was a
hide rope that wanted stretching. 'So you've cut Yugildah? How's that;
couldn't hit it off with Roper? I expected that--wonder you stood him
as long as you did.'

'Yes,' I told him. 'I'd fell out with Roper.' I didn't say what for.
'He'd bullied me and I wouldn't stand it. That was all.'

Quite right too. What was I going to do? Going back to Bandra, after
staying with him for a month?

'No; I was not going back. I had a great respect for Mr. Buffray; but
there was nothing for me to do there that any weekly man couldn't
manage. Of course if he wanted me, it was different. But I was going
to strike out a new line for myself, if I could, or see a bit more of
the country. Had a mind to go to Queensland.'

'That's the idea,' says he, rubbing his hands; 'there's nothing to be
got by sticking about old settled districts like where Bandra is. A
young man might as well stay in England, and so I've told a many of
'em. But tea's a--coming in. We'll have a yarn by and by.'

I told him about my sending Talgai to tell Thoresby about his calves.
Then by degrees he picked out the story about Roper being wild with me
for not bringing them home to the yard.

'Roper's two ends of a d--d scoundrel,' he bursts out; 'that's the
long and short of it. He'll get straightened yet, smart as he thinks
himself. I wonder Buffray keeps such a fellow about him, but he's had
him this years, and he serves him well. Devil take him! It don't pay
in the end though--cross work--and that he'll find. Did the black boy
come with you. I thought I saw a darkie at Bottrell's. What's he doing

'He went to see about his horse that I lent to a swagman we
overtook. He was lame and done up. He was coming here to work, he

'What's he want there then?' he says. 'What's his name?'

'Jack Leighton he called himself. He said you knew him; he comes
from my part of the country.'

'Jack Leighton,' says he; 'of course I do; he ain't a bad feller to
work, but the greatest swiper in the country. Of course you didn't
lend him money. If you did you won't see him till it's gone.'

'It wasn't much. A couple of pounds,' says I. 'He wanted boots and a
shirt or two. Does he drink hard then?'

Burdock laughed. 'You're not colonised yet. How the mischief could
an eddicated chap like him get down that low unless he drank like a
fish. Why of course he drinks. He'd sell his shirt for drink, and his
soul after his shirt if any one would buy it these days.'

Here there was a knock at the door.

'Come in,' says Burdock, and in walks Talgai.

'Mine bin fetchum yarraman, Mahmee.'

'Where that one Massa,' I says.

'That one Bottrell put him alonga dead-house,' says Talgai.

'He's not dead! surely,' I said, regular stunned.

'Big one drinkum grog, that one massa, mine thinkit. All right one
fella day. Me let go yarraman.'

'You let him go alonga paddock, Talgai,' says Burdock, 'and as it is
pretty late, you get your supper in the kitchen here, yabba that our
white Mary gib it tea. You yan men's hut by and by.'

'You'll know Jack another time,' he went on. 'You'd better have
chucked that two pound into the creek. He'll turn up here some time
to-morrow. Bottrell will give him a last nobbler and show him the door
after breakfast. He ain't a bad chap when he's regular at work.'

'His name's not Jack at all,' I said right out, 'but Mr. Reginald
Leighton, of King's Leighton, East Kent. They've been there since King
Harold's time. He stopped there before the battle of Hastings.'

'He may be Lord Reginald, for all I know or care either,' says the
old man, filling his pipe again. 'He's been a sheep washer and knock-
about man at Wallanbah these three or four shearings; been splitting
or fencing and doing odd jobs in the slack time of the year. That's
about all he's fit for now. He can earn his pound a week easy enough
when he's at it, and generally has a middling good cheque to take
after shearing; but he knocks it all down in one burst, and then has
to hunt for a job like many another. Of course any one can know that
he's been eddicated and seen better days. But once they take to the
drink, that don't make a bit of difference. The well-bred 'uns are a
turn worse than the others, it's my belief.'

'I should be so glad if you'd give him some work,' I said. 'I should
like to try and get him to alter his ways.'

'You may try till you're black in the face,' says he, filling his
glass; 'it won't do no good. Many a time I've thought I could help a
man out of that ditch, but never saw one that didn't slip back. Work?
of course I'll give him work. I've got some as wants doing, and when
he's right no man can do it better. He'll be as well in a few days as
ever he was. He'll tackle a six months' job, work like a horse, and
never drink anything stronger than tea all the time. He'll get no
grog, for he won't have any money--I'll see to that; and Bottrell
dursn't give one of my hands grog on tick. He'll have boots out of the
store, and good clothes, and borrow the newspaper regular. He'll be
that clean and respectable-looking you won't hardly know him.'

'And what then?'

'What then? Why, I'll have to settle up with him some time or other,
and he'll get his cheque--twenty pound or more. He won't spend it
here. He'll go away, telling all the people he's going to Melbourne to
take his passage for England to see his friends. That means he'll pull
up at some pub about thirty or forty miles off, where he'll spend
every shilling in a week, and then make off to another part of the
country to begin over again.'

'What a dreadful thing,' says I; 'I can hardly bear to think of it.
And you're sure there's no way of curing him of this--this--disease?'

'You may say that. It's the right name for it, Claythorpe,' the old
chap answers, wiring into his second glass of grog. 'When it gets to
that stage it's a real disease, just like scarlet fever or typhus. You
might as well say to a chap with one of them things burning his life
out, "What a fool you was to catch these 'ere; why don't you get well?
You can, if you like, you know," and all that. Of course they can--if
they're about ten men rolled into one, with ten men's strength. But
being as they're made--only one at a time--with the work, and the
climate, and the ways of the country being all agin 'em, and their own
heart, why, they never do get well--and that's all about it. And now
let's have a talk about something else. You'll see Jack to--morrow,
and we'll find a box for him somewhere.'

There was no use, as he said, saying any more about the matter.
Nothing could be done till next morning, when he would most likely
come over. I hardly reckoned on it myself, but Burdock knew him better
than I did.

'You come into this other room,' says the old man, after a long
smoke, 'and I'll show you something.'

So we went into a large half-furnished room, where there were two or
three rough-looking tables, besides shelves with books and newspapers
and Government Gazettes. I knew what these last were for; I'd seen
Roper look over them for impounding notices, lists of brands, and
things of that sort.

He lighted a lamp, and set it on one of the tables. Then he brings
over a big map, and lays it on the table before us.

'Now you see what this is. It's a map with tracings of all the runs
in this part, from the Survey Office, with their boundaries, roads,
creeks, and all the rest, besides the outside blocks. There's a lot of
them only part surveyed. There's the points of the compass. We're in
the north-west division as they call it. Here's Wallanbah, you see,
and Yugildah, and Mindorah, and Boree, and the whole lot of 'em. You
can make that out easy, can't you?'

'Oh yes; that's plain enough.'

'Well--but look here. This isn't quite so plain. Do you see that run
they call Banya, next to another called Gol Gol. That boundary looks
all right, don't it?'

'Yes, it does.'

'Well, it's all wrong. They don't join. The boundary's never been
surveyed, and there's a bit of country in between, seven miles by
five, or thereabouts, as they've no right to. Then there's those
Yantara blocks--five of 'em--beyond. They're open for tender till the
first of next month. There's a fortune starin' any man in the face,
just where you're lookin'.'

'How do you make that out?'

'It's to be done this way. You or any one else can send in a tender
for all unoccupied land between the boundaries of Banya and Gol Gol,
Lower Warroo. D'ye see that?'

'Yes; but how am I to know that I should get it, or what could I do
with it if I did?'

'You could do this as easy as falling off a log. You tender 12:10s.
a year for each block. The others 'll most likely only tender 10 or
11. If your tender's accepted by the Lands Office, you can sell one
or two of the blocks. They'll soon rise in value when it's known that
somebody's got 'em. You make a start with a flock of sheep on one of
'em, then you can borrow a tidy bit of money from the banks "to make
improvements with."'

'That seems a risk--to borrow money,' says I.

'You can't get on without some,' says he, 'unless you've got a
goodish nest-egg. I'll put you up to the way they do it. But we'll go
into it regular ship-shape to-morrow. You study over it a bit, and do
as I tell you.'

Next morning we'd finished breakfast when we saw a man come through
the outer gate. He carried a swag, and walked lame. It was Mr.
Leighton safe enough.

'There comes Jack,' says the old man. 'I knew he'd turn up. He's got
a head on him this morning, I'll be bound. But he's a plucky beggar;
you couldn't kill him with an axe. There! he's stopped at the kitchen
door. I'll go out to him. You'd better come too, and have it over.'

I didn't want to go, you may be sure. He would feel so ashamed at
having degraded himself in my eyes, remembering what he had been and
what I was. But I should meet him afterwards; perhaps it was best to
have it over, as Burdock said.

He walked over when he saw us coming, loosened his swag from his
shoulder, and put it on the ground. His face was pale and his eyes had
a glazed appearance, but he held up his head and looked us both in the
face. On his feet were the same identical broken boots--not a sign of
anything new about him in the shape of clothes.

'Well, Jack, old man!' says Burdock, in a loud cheery voice. 'The old
story, eh? Thought you was going to take to the blue ribbon this time.
So you and Mr. Claythorpe's met afore, he tells me. Have you had your

'Well, no; I had a dip in the creek, and Bottrell gave me a pick-up,
so I came straight away. Hang the place! If it hadn't been stuck right
across the track, I should have come here all right.'

'Not you; you'd have found another shop, Jack, with them two notes in
your pocket, if you'd had to swim the Murray for it. You'd better go
into the kitchen and get your breakfast, and then toddle off to the
men's hut, and lie down for a bit.'

'All right. I suppose you've got some work that you can put me on.'

'Any quantity. You can take a week's digging in the garden to begin
with. Them weeds has been growing tremendious. And see here--come up
at tea-time, and I'll give you a nobbler of "three star." It's the
only one you'll get till you're settled with, so make much of it.'

'All right, sir,' he says. I heard him say sir, and it made me groan
again. He said it as if he was used to it, too. After all, he was
right. They had changed places. Burdock was the gentleman now--the
squire, if you like--with his big house, his thousands in the bank,
his freehold estates, his sheep and cattle and horses and carriage,
fields and gardens, stables and coach-house.

All these things he had made and bought with his own shrewd brain and
strong hands. This was the position of Samuel Burdock--once a
shepherd--a ship's boy--a station hand. And Reginald Leighton, now
called 'Jack,' whose youth was surrounded by luxury, was this man's
labourer, a hewer of wood, a drawer of water, thankful to take his
weekly wages, his beef and bread, a meal in his kitchen, a glass of
brandy from his hand to ease the torments of the recovering drunkard.

'Here,' I thought to myself, 'is another Gurth; the thrall of a
tyrant vice, and no smith may strike off his fetters.'

He stopped as he was going into the kitchen, and looked up at me
with a bitter smile.

'A bad business, Claythorpe,' says he, 'but it's no use whining. You
guess how it happened, I suppose; or Burdock told you. I can't resist
the infernal grog, and that's the truth. It's been my ruin in this
country, and will be the death of me yet. Your money will be all
right. I will send you an order as soon as I've been here a month, and
I'm likely to stop six.'

'Never mind the money,' I said hastily. 'If you only knew--'

'How sorry you are? I do know. I'm infernally sorry for myself
sometimes. But the devil's too strong for me, and I have to give him
best; and now we'll drop the subject, if you please. I'm one of the
hands on this place, and you're a friend of the boss. That's our
position in the future, and we'd better keep to it. I feel as if a cup
of tea would pick me up a bit. Good morning, Jesse, and thanks very
much.' He walked into the kitchen, where breakfast was ready for him
on the deal table.

Next morning early I saw him digging away in the garden as if he'd
been brought up to it, whistling and seemingly quite well and jolly
again. He went to the men's hut for his dinner, and came back again
and dug till sundown--very quick and neat, too. It wasn't his first
job of the kind, I could see. He said good morning or afternoon to me,
as the case might be; but he didn't seem to care to talk much, so I
didn't press it on him.

I couldn't help having another try with Burdock though. 'Don't you
think if he could be got home to his friends that it might save him?'

'Not a bit of it. More likely to kill him in a year, besides
disgracing them all. He's got the drink fever once and for all, and it
won't never leave him as long as he's a living man.'

'But if he was out of the country?'

'Out of the country! That's the very thing that would be the death
of him, quick. What can a swell that drinks do in England? Get into
some disreputable hole and die there! He can't even turn billiard-
marker. He can't dig or sheep-wash or plough there. Labour's dirt
cheap, and the farmers don't want broken-down swells. But this is the
best country in the world for him, and the like of him. He get's six
months' honest well-paid work at a time, in the fresh bush air--well
fed too, he is. It gives his constitution a chance to pull up. He
ain't looked down on overmuch either, for people here understand his
complaint, and he ain't the only one by a good many. The chances are
he'll live longer, and do better "on the wallaby" here than in any
other country in the world.'

'And be a "station hand"--a "knock-about man"--to the end of his
miserable life,' says I.

'He ain't miserable, bless your heart!--far from it,' says Burdock.
'You can hear him whistling at his work now, as jolly as a sand-boy.
They get used to it in time, and to the men's hut, somehow. They ain't
comfortable nowhere else after carrying the swag for a year or two;
and after their day's work, when they've had their supper and settled
down to a good square smoke, they're as nigh happy as they know how to

Burdock and I ciphered the thing out--as he called it--about the
spare country between Banya and Gol Gol. The end of it was that I sent
in tenders to the Lands Office for it, and the five Yantara blocks. He
had printed forms and all that, and showed me how to fill them up, and
send them off by post to the Department of Lands.

I was to stay there, of course, till I got an answer, and if the
money came to more than I had in the bank, he'd advance me the rest.
If I didn't get the block, I shouldn't want the money; and if I did,
there was a 'gentle fortune' in it, as he said, which would be good
security for a loan. Besides, there was a smart land agent in Sydney,
who did all his work, that would push on matters at the Lands Office,
and prevent their forgetting the case.

After a month or two's waiting, the paper came up from the Lands
Office. My tender had been accepted for whatever unoccupied land lay
between the boundaries of Banya and Gol Gol runs. A Government
surveyor had been instructed to proceed to the locality and run the
line; and the rent would be so much, besides the expense of survey,
which I was directed to pay into the Treasury within three months.

Also--and this was a great matter--my tender for Yantara Blocks, A B
C D and E, had been accepted, as per notice in the Government Gazette

'You've made a dashed good start,' Burdock sings out when I showed
him the letter, 'with your A B C blocks. There's nothin' to prevent
your goin' in for the whole bloomin' alphabet by degrees. I knew them
fellers at Wereboldra--that's the next station--would only tender 10
each. They didn't expect anybody knew about Yantara but themselves.
They'll be ready to bite their fingers off when they see as you've got
'em. You're a made man, I consider. The next thing to see about is a
flock or two of sheep. You can pick them up after Calyanbone Races.'

Chapter XI  - Mr. Dorsett, Of Westburn

AND now the race week was close on. The second week in December. The
races were to be in the third week, so as to get them over comfortably
before Christmas Day. Everybody keeps it a regular all-round holiday
in Australia, just the same as they do in England. But what a
difference there is in the climate. No snow--no cold wind--no wintry-
looking trees. Everything warm--sunny--leaves on the trees and summer
in the air.

Well, dust and hot winds aren't the nicest things going, but I'm
blest if I don't think they're better for old people and poor people--
for everybody--than the bitter days and terrible long nights of the
old country.

Anyhow, people enjoy themselves in the Christmas week in Australia if
they never do at any other time. It's not too hot for fun and frolic,
and to see the girls and boys skylarking about together, you'd think
heat agreed with 'em, and that a hundred in the shade was quite the
proper warmth.

Mr. Burdock and I were sitting at breakfast one morning when we saw,
through the French window that opened on to the verandah, four
horsemen coming along the plain. Riding at a walk they were, and
making straight for the house.

'There's a police trooper with them. I see his boots,' says Burdock,
whose far sight was as good as ever. 'The man on the off-side has got
a horse like Roper's Quondong. You don't often see one walk like that.
The trooper's horse has to jog to keep up with him. There's a black-
boy behind, and a gentleman. He rides like one, anyhow.'

'There's something queer about Roper,' says I, 'if it is him. Yes,
it's him, safe enough, and, by George! he's handcuffed. That's what's
the matter. What in the world has he been up to?'

'We'll find out directly. I don't know the other man. He's a broad--
shouldered chap, and looks deuced resolute. They're at the gate now.
We'd as well go and meet 'em.'

They rode into the stable-yard as we got there. I could hardly
believe my eyes. There was old Roper on his famous hackney, but the
trooper had hold of the bridlerein, and his rider's wrists were
handcuffed together.

The gentleman behind rode forward, and I had a good look at him. He
was a tall, well-built, very powerful man, I thought--with a stern and
determined expression of countenance.

He spoke first: 'My name is Harrington Dorsett, and I am the manager
of Westburn Station. You are Mr. Burdock, I believe, and a magistrate
of the territory?'

'The same,' says Burdock, with a kind of a bow. 'What can I do for

'I desire to bring this prisoner before you on a charge of cattle-
stealing. I have my own evidence, and that of the trooper, that we
found him in possession of cattle belonging to the Westburn Station,
both branded and unbranded. I wish to apply for a remand warrant to
the Bench at Wardell, where he can be further dealt with.'

'If you'll come into my office,' says Burdock, very solemn, 'I'll see
what I can do. Mr. Roper, I'm dashed sorry to see you in this
position--'pon my soul, I am.'

'It's all a mistake,' says Roper; but his lips seemed dry, and his
voice sounded different from what it did generally. 'Mr. Dorsett's
just come to this side of the country, and he don't understand the way
we give and take here.'

'You'll understand me before I've done with you,' Mr. Dorsett says,
between his teeth. 'Wando, hang up yarraman--man 'em this one, two

The trooper got down first and helped Roper to alight. It ain't so
easy to get down with no bridle to hold on by. I've watched prisoners
trying to do it--active chaps, too--and they couldn't manage it well.
Then he took him by the arm and followed Burdock into the little room
in the verandah. The boss sat down with a book before him at the
table, and the case began.

First the trooper gave his evidence.

'My name is James Brent, police mounted constable, stationed at
Cobran. On the night of the 12th instant, from information received, I
proceeded to Yugildah station, which I reached before daylight. I
camped near the stock--yard in company with Mr. Dorsett, now present.
I have reason to believe that he is the manager of Westburn Station.
The aboriginal tracker, Wando, now present, had accompanied me from
the police barracks. We remained behind a brush fence; we had put our
horses into a disused hut, and fastened the door. Just before sunrise
I saw two men come from the prisoner's house to the stock-yard. There
were about a hundred head of cattle, I should say, chiefly cows and
calves, in the stock-yard. The men made a fire, and having drafted off
the calves, some of which were large, commenced to brand them. When
they had finished, we walked down to the yard.

'Mr. Dorsett said to prisoner; "What do you mean by branding my
calves, you infernal scoundrel?"

'Prisoner seemed taken aback and said: "These were some cattle that
had got mixed up with an outlying mob which belonged to the Yugildah
herd. He would give calf for calf, as had been the custom with the
station before."

'"You lie," says Mr. Dorsett. "These cows and calves have been
tracked every foot of the way from our Sandy Camp. It's not the first
haul you've had of the Westburn cattle. But I've caught you red-handed
now, and by--you shall suffer for it! Constable, inspect the brands of
these cattle, and make a note of them."

'I did so accordingly. I counted fifty-four cows in the big yard,
seven steers, and five heifers. They were all branded WWD.

'In the small yard, which was used as a branding pen, I counted
forty--eight calves, from two months to twelve. They were fresh
branded with the Yugildah station brand, BY, except ten of the best
heifer calves, which were branded JR over 2--which I believe to be
prisoner's private brand. When the calves were turned into the yard
with the grown cattle, most of them began to suck the cows with the
WWD brand.'

'Did the--did Mr. Roper say anything when you drafted 'em?' says

'No--unless "it was all a mistake." He kept on saying that.'

'What was done then?'

'Mr. Dorsett--he says: "I give this man in charge for cattle-
stealing. I am prepared to give evidence before the nearest

'I arrested prisoner, and charged him with stealing certain calves,
the property of the Messrs. Drummond, of Westburn Station, He answered
that he had no intention of stealing them. I then conveyed him before
the nearest magistrate.'

If we had waited till Mr. Burdock took all this down we should have
waited a long time. He asked me at the first if I'd mind doing it; and
as I could write a good plain hand, and had improved a bit keeping the
station's accounts, I set to work and did it.

'You read it out, Mr. Claythorpe,' says Burdock, as solemn as a
judge, and I did.

'James Roper,' says he, more solemn still, 'have you any questions to
put to this witness?'

'Yes I have,' says Roper. 'When you put them cattle together, will
you swear as the calves belonged to the cows in the big yard?

'Well; I didn't ask 'em,' says the trooper; 'but I saw three-fourths
of the calves start sucking the cows, which looked very like it.'

'Did I offer to prevent Mr. Dorsett and you from going through the

'No; and it wouldn't have been much use if you had.'

'Are them cattle in my yard now?'

'No. Two of the Westburn stock-riders came up before we left and took
them off home.'

'Did I offer to resist you in any way?'

'You made a boggle about being handcuffed, but when Mr. Dorsett put
his revolver to your head, you gave in.'

'That will do,' says Roper. 'I see it's no use me asking any more

All this was taken down. It's a curious thing people in trouble
always want to ask questions, and very seldom do themselves any good
by it.

Then Mr. Dorsett was sworn, and gave his evidence.

'My name is Harrington Dorsett, and I am the manager of the Westburn
Station. On the morning of the 12th instant I was at the Sandy Camp on
the said run, in company with the aboriginal Wando now before the
Bench. A large number of cattle were on the Camp. They appeared
excited, as if recently disturbed. There had been rain in the night,
and the ground was moist. My attention was directed by the aboriginal
to some tracks of cattle leading in the direction of Yugildah Station.
They appeared to have been going very fast or to have been driven. The
aboriginal--by name Wando--then said: "That one likit cow and calf--
all about! Yan along Yugildah, I believe."

'"You look out yarraman" (horses), I said.

'"Me seeum two feller track, Mahmee," he made answer. "This one likit
belonger to Roper Quondong--fore foot turn in likit parrot."

'As it appeared that station cattle had been driven in the direction
of Yugildah, I despatched the stock-rider to the police station for
the last witness. He was then to return and bring another man to
Yugildah. With the aid of the black-boy, I followed the tracks to
Yugildah, a distance of fifteen miles, and found that a mob of cattle
(including forty to fifty unbranded calves) had just been yarded. It
was then dusk. I concealed myself until next morning, when the last
witness arrived. I fully corroborate his statement as to the branding
of the calves by prisoner. I gave him in charge for cattle-stealing. I
now pray that the prisoner be remanded on warrant to the Court of
Petty Sessions at Wardell, when further evidence will be forthcoming.'

'All right,' says Mr. Burdock, and then appearing to recollect
himself, he frowned, and began to read and turn over the leaves of a
big book which I afterwards found was Judge Wilkinson's Australian

Then he begins: 'Prisoner at the bar, have you anything to say for
yourself. Anything you say will be taken down in writing--'

'That ain't it, your worship,' says the trooper, who was a smart
young fellow and used to act as Acting Clerk of Petty Sessions at the
small township he was stationed at. 'It's not a committal yet.'

'Oh!' says Mr. Burdock, 'here it is. You stand committed--no! I mean
remanded to the Bench of Magistrates at Wardell for this day week,
there to stand your trial--no, that's not it!--when fresh evidence
will be brought agin you, and the Lord have mercy upon--no, that's not
it! I mean, bail will not be allowed on no account. Constable, you'll
find all the forms in that pigeon-hole. If you fish out a remand
warrant and fill it up, I'll sign it. This Court stands adjourned till
next time. You and Roper had better go into the kitchen and get a
jolly good feed; you'll both want one before you get to Curbin. Mr.
Dorsett, sir, perhaps you'll come inside and take some refreshment, as
you've been a-campin' out all night, it seems.'

Chapter XII - The Fatal Leap

THEY waited an hour and fed their horses as well as themselves. They
all looked tucked up, what with hard riding and camping out with
nothing to eat. Then they went off--Mr. Dorsett and his boy one way,
Constable Brent and Roper the other. I couldn't help feeling sorry for
Roper, though he'd never showed himself a friend to me, when I saw him
led away with the bracelets on him. The trooper made him change horses
too, which, I expect, he felt worst of all. 'Quondong's too smart for
this old screw of mine,' he says. 'You might fancy to make a bolt of
it, and I couldn't see the way you went on him. You might, and you
might not. Anyhow, I'll make safe. You take Dandaloo here; he ain't
rough, and he know's he's going home.' When he saw the trooper mount
Quondong he gave one look as if he'd never realised the thing properly
before. The old horse didn't like it either, for he snorted, and
seemed half-minded to play up. I don't suppose he'd had a stranger on
his back for years. But Brent gave him a chuck with the bit and a dig
with the spurs that showed he was going to stand no nonsense, and away
they went, Roper hangin' down his head and lookin' regular broke up.

'I must have a nip after that,' says Burdock. 'I feel quite down in
the mouth, though it serves Jim Roper dashed well right. Here's a chap
that's well off, saved money and got it in the bank, ain't married,
and got neither chick nor child, and he goes and puts his head in a
noose for the value of a few calves! But it ain't the first time. Many
a clearskin he's nobbled afore now from Westburn, and many a fat beast
went down with Buffray's cattle as he never knowed about.'

'What sentence will he get,' says I, 'if he's found guilty? They
won't hang him, will they?'

'They used to do,' says Burdock, with a queer twist of his face;
'likewise for sheep-stealing, but that's past and gone. It was a
trifle too hard when you come to think of it. But he'll get three
years' imprisonment certain--perhaps five--depends upon the judge
partly. He won't see Yugildah this Christmas, or the next either.'

The first day of the great Calyanbone Race Meeting came at last. I'd
nearly got tired of waiting, but up got the sun as usual somewhere
about half-past four. Not a cloud in the sky--looking as if it
wouldn't rain for a year. It hadn't been a bad season, so we didn't
mind a spell of dry weather.

I'd been over pretty often to see Cooramen, or Possie--one of the
two--and came back with a good notion of the horse and a soft feeling
about the girl. He was in first rate trim--fit to run for a man's
life, and I was regularly 'gone,' there was no mistake about that. I
was going to ride Cooramen for the Town Plate and the Handicap.
Whether I won or lost, I was going to ask Possie to be my wife the day
after, and marry her if she said 'yes' as soon as I had a place to
take her to. I'd thought it all over--for and against--a good many
times. I knew that Jane wouldn't like it, and that things might be
said about her colour, and all the rest. But no one could say a word
against herself--that was the great thing. She was a good girl--a
clever girl, and a handsome one, too--if ever there was one. When I
thought of going away and leaving her, it seemed as if the thought
would drag my heart up by the roots. If she said 'yes,' that settled
it. It was my fate, as the gipsies say, and I wouldn't have given her
up, if every man, woman, and child in Applegate had asked me to.

Calyanbone was five-and-twenty miles from Wallanbah. Burdock and I
started with his buggy and pair of grays about eight o'clock, after an
early breakfast, and were there quiet and comfortable before eleven.
My word! the town was full. There were a lot of big squatting stations
lying to the west and nor'-west of it, where they had improvements
going on. Every man-Jack of the dam-sinkers, fencers, and station
hands had come in. All the young gentlemen that were on the 'colonial
experience' lay were there. They didn't often get such a chance. Only
a few of the squatters themselves were in; most of them were in town,
or at the seaside--and quite right, too. All the supers and under-
overseers had come. If there'd been anything to steal from the
stations except sheep, now would have been the time, for there was
hardly a soul at home to look after anything.

We drove up to the best hotel, where Burdock had engaged rooms a
month ago, or there'd have been very little chance of getting any. I
was pretty well turned out--I'd learned to dress myself like the young
fellows--and wasn't a bad-looking chap, though I say it, you boys! Not
much for height, but neat made, and wiry. I was stronger than I
looked, and as active as a cat. I hadn't a bad face--as faces go--fair
hair and blue-gray eyes, goodish teeth and a firm-set mouth. I'd
learned early to hold my tongue and say 'no'--a deuced good habit, and
I kept it up; it's proved lucky for me many a time. Everybody seemed
to know Burdock and shook hands with him, and he always introduced me
as his friend, Mr. Claythorpe.

It's a curious thing--and I've often studied over it--how one man is
made much of, and spoken of everywhere as Mr. So-and-so, while another
never gets beyond Jack or Bill--or Smith or Jones--as the case may be.
One man rises, and goes from high to higher; another gets lower day by

Newly-come people don't understand this. Generally they think that
money does everything, and that there are no ranks or differences in
colonial society.

There they're quite wrong. There are reasons and rules which help one
man to get up, and keep another down, and their families, if they have
any, with them. But newly-imported people are seldom sharp enough to
see these causes till they've got the 'run of the ropes.'

It's partly this way. If a man gets a start in any position of trust
or independence--if he has reasonable manners and self-respect--he has
a good chance of getting into the 'reserved seats.' The bachelor
squatters will take him up first; then some of the others, like
Burdock, who are not very particular, having risen themselves.
Afterwards people get accustomed to him, and he takes rank with the
rest--that is if he behaves himself. If he doesn't, he gets shown the
door and is shunted. A man who does labouring work, like Leighton,
isn't let in, though he may be known to be a gentleman. People say
there must be something wrong about him, which there is generally. He
gets coarse in his ways too, and always drinks. I never knew one that
didn't anyhow. Of course a steady young fellow might be unlucky. A
little work wouldn't count against him then--rather be in his favour.
But he must come out of it. If he doesn't, it shows that he deserves
to stop there, and he is rated according.

So I found myself ticketed as 'a friend of old Burdock's, of
Wallanbah, you know; not long from England. I had taken up those
Yantara blocks; was a first-class amateur jock, and was going to ride
for the Town Plate and Handicap.'

This was all the information that was wanted. I found myself quite
popular, and was asked to 'take something' by dozens of young fellows,
which I, of course, had to refuse.

Just before twelve o'clock I heard one of these young fellows say,
'By Jove! Charlie, what a handsome girl! Who is she?'

I looked, and there, sure enough, came Possie, riding the chestnut
mare Girh, wonderful well turned out, with her habit and hat, gloves
and silver--mounted riding whip. The mare was in splendid buckle; her
golden--coloured skin shone again, and though she reared once and
plunged a bit when a horse passed her, she only showed off Possie's
seat and hands by her tricks. Old George Barker was quite spruce, and
Kitty rode close by him on the other side, looking half afraid of the
crowd and the company.

'Johnny and Jack Hall came over with Cooramen last night,' she said,
after we had shaken hands. 'They got a box for him, and won't show
till he's saddled.'

'You'll come and lunch with us, Possie,' says Mr. Burdock, who'd come
up behind us. 'Barker, you come too. There'll be some champagne going,
I daresay.'

George 'wasn't sure. He might, and he mightn't. Possie would come,
and Kit--much obliged to Mr. Burdock.'

I borrowed a horse and rode round the course with Possie, who seemed
to be quite at home. She made me tell her everybody's name. I was
amused to see how everybody almost turned and looked at her.

'They can't find any fault with my horse or my habit, that's one
thing,' she said laughing. 'Girh's rash and hot-tempered like her
mistress, but she can behave herself when she likes. Why, there's
Nellie Thoresby, of all people. I didn't know she'd returned from

As the words came out of her mouth I noticed her face change. It lost
its happy child's look and a half frown came instead.

'Who is Nellie Thoresby, I've never seen her?' I said. Then I
recollected that Thoresby had said something about 'his girl being
away in Sydney.'

Just then a party of young men, with two or three of the country
girls, on horseback, rode towards us, when one of them, a good-looking
girl enough but no beauty (as I thought then), rode forward.

'Why, Possie dear, I haven't seen you for ages,' she said. 'Didn't
you hear I'd come home? I expected you over a fortnight ago.'

'But I didn't know you had returned,' said Possie, in rather a
stately way. 'If you told any one to tell me, they forgot all about
it, thinking of you, I suppose. But I must introduce Mr. Claythorpe--
this is Miss Thoresby, of Mindorah. I expect you have both heard of
each other, haven't you now?' And she looked from one to the other as
if she could read our hearts.

The other girl smiled. 'I certainly have heard about Mr. Claythorpe
more than once. Father seemed to think it so good of him to send us
word about those calves. He couldn't get it out of his head.'

'I don't wonder,' says Possie, 'such a thing was never done before at
Yugildah, and never will be again most likely. But I didn't come here
to talk about calves. I must go and have a last look at Cooramen.'

She gave the mare an impatient tap with her whip as she said this,
hit her harder than she thought perhaps, for Girh made one jump,
going up into the air with all four legs at once, and then gave a
straight plunge as she went away which would have shifted most people.
But Possie only swayed back in her saddle and let her go her best pace
for a hundred yards, and then pulled her up with the greatest ease.

'Poor old pet, did it get a slap,' she said, 'from its naughty
mistress. Never mind, she shall have sugar plums by and by,' and she
stroked her mare's glossy neck, leaning forward like a child stooping
for a flower. 'Now let us go and see Cooramen. When does our race

'Three o'clock--just after lunch--so we shall have plenty of time to
see everything and everybody.'

'That will be very nice,' she said.

'Somebody says something in a book about living an hour in a
moment,' she said, turning suddenly to me. 'It is quite true. Do you
know I feel so excited I can hardly sit in my saddle. It is such a
wonderful change from the terrible sameness of our everyday life. I
wonder if I shall be doomed to it for evermore.'

'Who knows?' I said. 'I am going to be your neighbour, you know. It
is only fifty miles to Yantara; I shall always stop at your place
coming in. I have got to make the station first--build huts, yards,
paddocks, everything. I wish I was at it now.'

'That's not over-polite, is it?' she said laughing, 'but I know what
you mean. You are quite right. I so often wish I was a man. But I
would not be contented to do what they do. Why don't they work hard
for years, spend nothing, and then go away to the beautiful other
countries we hear and read of, and enjoy life. This is not life.'

'Just now you said it pleased you.'

'From the change only. Think what the other must be, when this
appears a sort of heavenly vision to me. Well, I think you have a
different notion of happiness. But here is dear old Cooramen. Doesn't
he look a king?'

Jack Hall was leaning against the door of the loose box, smoking, as
we rode up. Johnny Barker was just drawing the sheets back over the
old horse's shining back and quarters.

He was standing with the muzzle on in the roomy loose box, first
lifting up one leg and then another, as if he was rather tired of
doing nothing and wished the fun to begin.

Jack looked first at one and then the other of us. Then he said to
Possie: 'I hope you're satisfied now,' and he showed his white teeth
in a smile that was more than half good-humoured, though I knew he was

'Why should I be satisfied?' she said haughtily. 'And what business
is it of yours?'

'Not much, of course,' he said, looking at her as a man looks at a
child that he hasn't the heart to scold--'only you're well off to-day.
You've got one man to look after your horse, and another to ride about
the course with you, and both on the chance of pleasing you, I
suppose. You'll want another while the race is being ridden. You could
pick up one at lunch, if you tried.'

She turned her head a little, and looked at him for a moment. A spot
of colour came on each cheek. Her eyes flashed again, and her lips
parted for a moment before she spoke.

'Say another word like that, Jack Hall,' she answered, 'and I'll
never speak to you again as long as I live. Who are you, to tell me
what I'm to do and not to do? I can saddle Cooramen myself if you're
tired of doing what you promised to do. Only say the word.'

She looked so handsome as she said this, not raising her voice, like
another woman would have done, but putting a deep low tone into every
word that had double the effect. The same feeling, I'm sure, was in
both our hearts. We could not help admiring such a pretty creature,
though she half frightened us. Like all men, though, we thought we
could quieten the temper if we owned the owner of it.

Jack looked savage for a moment. Then he laughed. 'You'll start the
old horse capering and make him lose the race, if you don't mind. You
can blow me up sky-high when it's all over, but keep cool, for
Cooramen's sake, till after the start.'

She raised her whip, half in anger, half in play, and then turned
away. It was some time before she recovered herself and said: 'How
provoking men are, and how foolish it is to lose one's temper. I
wonder if I shall ever have mine under control. What leaps are those?
They are stiff, are they not?'

'The steeple-chase jumps,' I said, 'to be run to-morrow. The stewards
have had them made strong on purpose. They are safer that way, they
think. The men won't try to gallop over them.'

'What's that one that seems higher than the others?'

'It is four feet six, good measure,' I said. 'A big jump.'

'I believe Girh could do it,' she said, riding over and reining up
the mare's head till she put her nose on the stout rail. 'I rode her
over our paddock fence last week, and she flew it like a bird. It is
quite as high, though I don't think it is as stiff.'

'Girh can jump well enough,' I said, 'but she is too hot to be safe.
She takes her fences flying too, and some day will take off too near
or too far off, and come down a smash.'

'Not she--will you, old lady?' she said, stroking the mare's neck.
'She knows my hand, and though she will race at her leaps, she picks
herself up just at the right moment. I wish there was a jumping prize
for us girls to--day, as they had at Bathurst.'

'I am very glad there is nothing of the sort,' I said. 'I'm always
afraid of an accident happening.'

'That bay horse of Nellie Thoresby's can jump a little, they say. I
should like to see her follow me and Girah over these leaps.'

'What does it matter whether her horse can jump or not?' I said. 'She
can't ride as well, though she hasn't a bad seat, I'll say that for
her. I never saw the woman yet that could hold a candle to you in that

'I like to hear you say so,' she said, looking at me as if she'd
suddenly changed into another woman. 'All the same I should like to
ride against her for once in a way.'

After the small events came off we had a first-rate lunch at Mr.
Burdock's buggy. He'd got a case of champagne, and invited all the
people he knew, the young swells and others, to take pot-luck, as he
called it. We'd brought a famous big basket in the buggy with us, and
had kept the old woman cutting sandwiches for I don't know how long
the day before. There was a cold turkey and chickens, a capital ham,
and, as I said before, plenty of champagne.

Everybody laughed and talked; Possie looked her best and came in for
plenty of attention. I was surprised to see how cool and easy she took
it, holding her own well, as if she'd been used to these kind of
people all her life.

'What a nice mare that is of yours, Miss Barker,' said one of the
back--block youngsters. 'Somebody said she would jump any fence on the

'She is hard to beat over timber,' says Possie, quite composed like.
'I think she could take anything here.'

'That bay horse, Wallaroo, of Nellie Thoresby's, can jump well,
too,' said another young fellow. 'Weston said she could win the
steeple-chase, he knew, if she entered for it.'

'Not if Girah was in it,' said Possie. 'I'd back her against the
bay for all I'm worth in the world.'

'Suppose we had a trial for a new side-saddle and bridle,' said the
first man who had spoken. 'Not a race, but a hunter's trial, after the
handicap. It would be most interesting. What do you say, Miss Barker?'

'I'm ready if Nellie will ride,' says she. 'I'm not sure that her
mother will let her, but you may try.'

'It's a splendid idea,' says the first man, whose name was
Charleston. 'I'd give all the world to see it. I back Miss Barker here
of course.'

'The jumps are high, and stiff too. It's a little dangerous,' I
said. 'Perhaps some of you gentlemen will ride over them first.'

'I don't mind putting my old horse over after his race is run,' says
Charleston. 'But we'll see about it by and by. Isn't time nearly up?'

We all went down to see Cooramen saddled. I had my jacket on
underneath a light silk coat, so there was no dressing wanted. The old
horse came out looking fit to run for the Melbourne Cup, and when I
got a leg-up and felt him move away something like spring steel and
velvet mixed, I knew he was bound to win.

'If he don't win to-day he'll never win,' says Jack Hall. 'You're
carrying all the big money from here to the Macquarie, Mr. Claythorpe,
so do your best. I'll cut the turf if you throw me over.'

'What one man can I'll do to-day, Jack,' I said. 'If there isn't a
dark horse and Cooramen stands up we must win.'

It was a good race and a better finish, though I say it. The first
favourite was a black horse, long and low set, with four white legs,
Dolo by name. I was afraid of him from the first. He was queer on the
near fore leg, but he'd run well in good company and had a name as a
stayer. A professional had come up to ride him, and he was backed by
most of the squatters round about, and the few bookmakers that had
found their way up. There was a very fast gray mare known to be a good
one, I doubted whether she could carry the weight; her name was
Modesty. There was five others altogether, all pretty fair goers, but
it was generally supposed the race lay between one of us three. Dolo
came out of the stable of a big squatter who had half-a--dozen
stations northward of Calyanbone. All the colonial experience young
gentlemen and most of the working hands from the station, who'd got
away to the race for a holiday, put all the money they could afford on

The saddling bell rang, and I walked quietly down to the stand,
opposite which we were to start. Jack Hall led him and Possie rode a
little way off inside of the ropes, looking at the old horse as he
moved along, arching his neck, and playing with his bit, every inch a
race-horse. I didn't think there were so many people on the course
before. The two or three four-in-hand drags were crowded, and all the
excitement of the crowd seemed to have been kept bottled up for this

I was fit, and the horse was fit. 'They shall have a run for their
money,' I said to myself.

We got off to a middling good start. I sailed away a bit on the
outside, and let the youngsters make the running. I never felt a horse
go better under me than Cooramen did that morning. I steadied him, and
only kept my place, knowing some of the leaders would come back to me
before long; and they did. I drew up a bit as we passed into the
straight opposite the stand, and couldn't find that he had half
extended himself as yet.

The gray mare shot into the lead here, followed by the black horse,
Dolo, the rider going pretty patient like myself, but beginning to
waken up. The mare began to stretch away from us at such a rate of
speed that we had to begin to ride not to be left behind. Just then a
bright chestnut horse with a blaze down his face came up through the
ruck on the inside, and challenged the gray mare. We let them go at
each other, keeping well up, and of course reserving our final effort
till we passed the turn.

The chestnut and the mare had a desperate rally, which ended in the
horse drawing ahead. When we were about three parts of the way round
for the second time, I set Cooramen going, and we four went at it.
Dolo was a lazy horse, and his jock gave him the whip, which made him
shoot ahead as if the others had been standing still. He passed the
gray mare, then the chestnut, and the mob began to yell 'Dolo; Dolo
wins,' and so on. I kept creeping up, doing all I knew, but not
lifting the whip. I sat quiet, and let the old horse have his own way
till the last fifty yards. Then I made the rush I had practised many a
time before. I let him have whip and spurs both. Dolo's rider made a
rattling fight for it; but Cooramen had the foot of him, and a turn
better in point of condition. He answered the whip as if he hadn't
gone a yard. I won cleverly, with a length to the good.

What a roar and storm of cheers there was all over the course! I
didn't think it was so popular a win. But everybody knew he was George
Barker's horse--a poor man's (comparatively) against a big squatter's.
Jack Hall had a good many friends; and of course Possie had her share
of well-wishers.

Possie rode up to the weighing yard with me, side by side, her eyes
sparkling, and her face full of joy and triumph. Mr. Burdock had
another case of champagne sent down to his buggy, and made everybody
come and drink my health. He fell across Thoresby and his daughter,
and would have no denial. They must come too.

'It's no use talking,' he said. 'I know every girl on the course is
in love with my young friend at the present time. A good-looking young
jock as has just won a big race, and rode it with judgment from end to
end, is a man a young woman can't help admiring. So fill up, ladies
and gentlemen, and here's Mr. Claythorpe's jolly good health, as is a
rising man in the district, and will be heard of yet, take my word for

Of course this was all very nice and pleasant, and as I stood there
with the men drinking towards me, and the girls smiling and blushing
and making believe to be angry with old Burdock, I could hardly
believe I was Jesse Claythorpe at all. Not so long ago a farmer's boy,
and in great doubt now and then where the next dinner was to come
from. Wasn't this another world--a new world in every way?--a sort of
heaven, only that we were not dead; where we had all kinds of
pleasures and feelings and surroundings that we never dreamed of

Like most people when they're young, it seemed to me as if hardly
anybody died. Poor mother was gone; but that was in England, and it
seemed so long ago--so far off. My head began to feel dizzy with these
thoughts, though of course I had never drank anything (I wasn't going
to break my rule for anybody), and for that matter, nobody tried to
make me. They never do in this country, once a man says 'no,' and
means to stick to it. People talk about temptation, but they tempt
themselves, it's my opinion.

Possie and Nellie Thoresby were standing next to Mr. Burdock, with
an Honourable Mr. Berkeley on the other side, who was talking nineteen
to the dozen to Possie, and she laughing and chaffing away with him,
as if she'd known lords and swells all her life. She looked her best
that day, and certainly took the shine out of Nellie Thoresby, who was
a quiet steady--going girl, though she had something to say for
herself too. She was not so tall as Possie, but well set in figure,
and with a nice good-humoured face, as if nothing could put her out of
temper. Everybody liked her about there, and respected her, which was
more. However, the quietest girls can be roused up a bit at times,
I've noticed, especially when there's another woman in the way. So
when, after a deal of chaff with Mr. Burdock, Mr. Berkeley said he'd
back Miss Barker for all he was worth to take the highest leap on the
course; when I heard Nellie Thoresby say she'd ride her horse Wallaroo
over the steeple-chase jumps against any other horse ridden by a lady,
the best of three trials to win, I wasn't so much astonished as I
should have been the week before the races.

'That's the very thing I wanted,' said Possie, 'you're the best girl
I know, Nellie. I was dying for a little bit of real riding, and I
know Wallaroo can jump like a flying buck.'

'I'm afraid it's a silly affair, Possie; but as I've said so, I won't
draw back.'

We went down and saw Cooramen, who was comfortable in his box, and
none the worse for his race.

'When I saw you all coming up the straight,' Possie said, 'I thought
I should have fainted with excitement. I saw the dear old horse was
well up, but I wasn't sure you could land him. Ah yes! You rode
splendidly. Everybody says so.'

'And what did you say?' I said. 'It was to please you I rode the race
at all, and now I've won it, I suppose I've kept my word.'

'I'll tell you some day how pleased I was, and what I thought, though
I didn't say it. But not just yet.'

She looked at me in a curious sorrowful sort of way, I thought.
Though I didn't take much notice of it at the time, I often thought of
it afterwards.

'I wish you were not going to ride over those jumps,' I said. 'I call
that sort of thing foolishness, and I'm always afraid of a girl
getting hurt.'

'I should have been killed long enough ago,' she said, 'if riding and
falls would do it. I have had plenty of them in my time.'

'You may have one too many, but I'll see your saddle's properly
girthed, at any rate. Jack Hall is just saddling the mare.'

It certainly was a pretty sight to see the two girls ride up the
course till they came to within about fifty yards from the first
steeple-chase leap. Girah was ready to jump out of her skin, and she
sidled and danced, and reared and plunged as if she was never going to
steady down to her work. And through it all Possie sat quiet and as
firm as a rock, with her hands down, and just yielding a little every
time the mare rose from the ground, as if it was the easiest thing in
the world. Wallaroo, a fine, solid, but active--looking horse, with a
grand shoulder and capital legs, came stepping along quietly, but to
my mind, looking more of a workman over timber than the other.

Two of the race stewards were chosen to start them and act as judges.
Possie drew the winning lot. They were easy started. As she touched
her rein the mare dashed off and raced at her first jump. She didn't
attempt to hold her, but just steadied her. She went at the jump at an
awful pace, but rose two lengths from the fence and made a splendid
fly over it, clearing it with a foot to spare. As she went over Possie
threw up her whip hand, sitting square, without the slightest waver or
tremble in her saddle. I never saw a finer piece of riding in my life,
and so thought the couple of thousand people at the races, or they
wouldn't have cheered and shouted and thrown up their hats like a mob
of schoolboys. The mare went on at full speed till she came to the
next jump, clearing that and the one after in the same splendid style.

Then came Nellie Thoresby. She rode quietly at the first leap, which
her horse cleared as easily as a cat jumping a footstool. The jump was
exactly four feet high, made perfectly stiff, with heavy split-gum
timber; so that they were no child's play. However, the bay horse
hopped over them all as comfortable as a circus pony, measuring his
distance and not touching a rail.

The next round was like the first; neither horse touched or baulked.
Possie's mare had the most showy style of jumping; but the bay horse
took his leaps in an easy well-mannered sort of way, and Nellie
appeared so much at home in the saddle that not a word could be said
against either.

The judges then called them up and told them to go over the leaps
side by side, and to ride pretty fast, like a real steeple-chase.

So they went off, but as they got close to the first fence, Girah
went away, and racing at it, went up in the air as if she was never
coming down again. I never saw a finer jump; and there was Possie as
quiet and composed, with her hands before her, as if she was riding
along a road. Wallaroo was close beside her, and being roused up a
bit, made a grand jump, every bit as good in its way.

As the girls went at the next leap together, both horses put on a
spurt, and the pace they made was a caution. All of a sudden I saw
Possie pull her mare to the off-side, and send her at the 'wing.' This
was fully six inches higher than the other part of the leap, made so
purposely, to edge the horses into the regular panels. Girh went at
it as if a foot was no matter one way or the other, and every one held
their breath, when all of a sudden a dog ran out of the crowd just in
front of her fore legs. Now the mare was an awfully timid animal. I'd
seen her shy and plunge when a bird flew up. The dog startled her, and
I saw her change her leg. At the pace she was going there was no
stopping or pulling off. Whether it was that, or half looking at the
brute as she rose--it came to the same thing. She took off too far
from the leap, and hitting the top rail an awful clout, came down on
her head, rolled over poor Possie, and making a half turn over again
from the way she had on, lay as still as a log. Her neck was broken,
and she never stirred again.

Nellie Thoresby took the leap lower down, clear and well. Why
couldn't poor rash Possie have done the same thing? Pulling her horse
up short before she came to the next leap, she slipped off, let him
go, and was round holding up poor Possie's head almost before any one
else had got up to her. She was terribly crushed, and one arm was
broken. She was not insensible, and as I lifted her up she tried to
smile, and whispered: 'Poor Girh; it's our last ride. All my own
fault, too. Mind you win the Town Plate, Jesse. If I can sit up, I'll
come to the window to see it.'

We carried her into the nearest hotel, where she was laid on a bed
and attended to. There was a doctor at the meeting, of course, so
everything was done for her that could be. He set her arm and collar
bone; but said he was afraid of internal injuries.

I can't bear to think about it, even now all these years have past.
It seems like yesterday, and I can see her pale face as we lifted her
up, and the pitiful smile she gave when she saw me and Nellie Thoresby
by her.

She died that night. Nothing could have saved her, the doctor said.
She was brought home and buried at Boree by the side of her mother.
George Barker said she couldn't rest anywhere else, he knew. She'd
always said she'd like to be buried there, down by the creek, and
under a spreading wilga tree. She always had an idea she'd die young,
too, and told me so more than once.

Mr. Burdock and I went back to Wallanbah next morning, and a lot of
the people cleared out, though I suppose the races were run somehow or
other. I found that Leighton had come back there, and a lot of men
with him that had just been paid off a big fencing contract. They were
steady fellows, and Leighton said he'd taken the pledge for five
years, and intended to keep it this time.

I found a letter there waiting for me from Mr. Buffray, offering me
the management of Yugildah. He said he could see now where the trouble
had been between me and Roper. It was partly his own fault, he said,
as he had been too careless and easy-going, though he had heard
stories from time to time. He would give me two hundred a year to
manage the place, with, of course, a house to live in, and everything
paid. If I couldn't go there myself, I was to get a good stockman and
put him on as working-overseer. I could keep an eye on him from
Yantara, and see that the accounts, etc., were right. He had too much
to do to come up himself. From what he heard, Roper was safe to be
convicted, and serve him right, too.

I had a long talk with Mr. Burdock, the end of which was that I
offered Jack Hall the place at 70 a year and his rations. Burdock
said he was getting rid of the cattle, and wouldn't want a smart man
like Hall, and he wouldn't stand in the way of his bettering himself.
So I went over with Jack and put him in charge. He knew the run like a
book, and I knew I could trust him. I agreed with Leighton and some of
the best men of the lot to go back with me to Yantara.

I was sick and tired of doing nothing, and mad to get at hard work
and hard living for a while to knock poor Possie's miserable end out
of my head--or help to, anyway. Day and night she was before me for
months and months afterwards. However, work must be done, so we
drafted the sheep, and away we went. The weather was hot, but we were
too tired and hard-worked, what with watching and one thing and
another, to think whether it was hot or cold.

After a bit I left the sheep to come on, and took Leighton and a
couple of men with me to put up huts and yards. By the time they came
up we were ready for them, and all went on well. The season was good--
plenty of grass and water, that makes everything go well--not like
some seasons we've had since. As for Leighton, there couldn't be a
better man. He was like lots of people in this country that I've met,
high and low. He had only one fault. But he kept right this time, and
he put me up to everything I didn't know about stock and station life,
and helped me in other ways, as a man brought up like him could.

When we got to Yantara we all worked double tides, in a manner of
speaking. The season helped us along. We had a grand lambing, and I
bought some more sheep on bills before shearing, and did well out of
them too.

There's not much more to tell after this. Everything I touched did
well, and I was able in a couple of years to pay off my debt to Mr.
Burdock. I got as much credit as I wanted on my own account. I kept
breeding up at Yantara, and sold one of the blocks for more money
afterwards than the whole thing cost me.

As soon as everything was fairly started I left Leighton to manage by
himself, and cameover to Yugildah to live. I made myself fairly
comfortable; had a decent cottage, a garden and plenty of vegetables.
No man need live like a blackfellow in the bush unless he wants to.

After about two years, though I hadn't got poor Possie clear out of
my head, I thought it was no use living solitary all my life, so, as I
used to go to Thoresby's a good deal, and Nellie, curious to say,
hadn't married, I asked her one day if she thought she could live at
Yugildah and help me keep house, for there had come to be a deal of
visitors and neighbours that called there now. She asked me why I
didn't make up to one of the Miss Burdocks. I said they were too grand
for me altogether.

So she said she'd consider about it. And the end of it was we were
married, and no man ever had a better wife.

If I prospered before, be sure I didn't go back when I had a sensible
prudent wife, with as good a head as she had heart, and a little more
colonial experience than I had.

I was as happy as the day was long. Yugildah paid well, and we didn't
find it necessary to take other people's calves. Roper got three
years' imprisonment when he was tried at the Quarter Sessions, and the
Judge told him he had a great mind to give him five.

Yugildah was a pleasanter place than Yantara, so we made our home
there, and I went over there every now and then to see how things got
on. Leighton kept his word and never touched a drop after he took the
pledge, which of course made a different man of him. He dressed well
and respected himself, and as the manager of Yantara, and being always
a gentleman, with first-rate manners when he liked, he was received at
the squatters' houses on equal terms.

After this Mr. Buffray took it into his head to sell Yugildah, and
offered it to me on long credit. I saw my way to make it pay for
itself in five years--and so it did.

Shortly after Nellie Thoresby and I were married, sister Jane came up
to see us. She and Nellie made great friends, and she was astonished
to see how much I'd done. 'You've been helped greatly, Jesse,' she
says, 'and you've had wonderful good friends--few men better--but they
wouldn't have been so true to you if you hadn't been true to yourself.
It was a lucky day when we sailed away from old England, wasn't it?'

While we were there, who should come over but Mr. Leighton. He
dressed well now, and except that he was tanned and weather-beaten,
couldn't have looked more like a swell in England. He and Jane had
such long talks about Applegate and the old home, until Nellie and I
began to laugh at Jane about the way he was interested in her village
histories. By George! it was no joke after all. They took a fancy to
one another, and though he was double her age, he was a dashing fellow
to look at, after all. And there's something in an old friend and a
long pedigree, especially in a woman's eyes. Jane was a fresh English-
looking young woman, with a good figure and a pleasant face. He hadn't
been in the way of seeing girls like her for many a year, so that was
the reason he was struck with her, I suppose. He told her plain enough
how low he had fallen--had given himself up for lost--and that she
must take the chance of his keeping his word. If he broke it, all
would be lost; and, of course, I tried to persuade her all I knew,
besides saying (as Burdock did) that only one hard drinker in a
thousand ever was really reclaimed when they got to that stage.

However, woman-like, she took the risk and thought it would be a
wonderful thing to save a soul, and so on. He turned out to be the one
in a thousand, luckily for her, and never went back on his pledge to
his dying day. Jane and he were married and went to live at Yantara,
where they were snug enough, though it was a deal hotter than Bandra.

Well, as time went on, I did better and better. Money's like a
snowball--it keeps getting bigger as it rolls. Mr. Buffray made up his
mind to sell Bandra and live near Sydney (where he had a beautiful
place) for the sake of the children's education.

I bought it--to make a long story short--and there my wife and I, and
all you boys and girls have been living for years. Mr. Leighton and
his wife and family are at Yugildah. He's saved money, and had some
sent out from home besides lately, with which he bought a half share
in Yantara, where there's fifty thousand sheep now. They intend to go
to England next year, to see his people and travel for a year or two.
They'll leave their two eldest sons at school, so they say.

But I'm not going home--not a yard. Bandra's quite good enough for
me, and as long as I have good health, good children, good horses,
with enough to keep me from idling, and the best wife in the world, my
home's here in Australia.


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