voices from the past

ALLdownunder.com

The Shanty-Keeper's Wife

by Henry Lawson (1867-1922)

. . . the story continues . . .

We took the hint, and had another drink. I don’t know how we “fixed it up amongst ourselves,” but we got settled down somehow. There was a lot of mysterious whispering and scuffling round by the light of a couple of dirty greasy bits of candle. Fortunately we dared not speak loud enough to have a row, though most of us were by this time in the humour to pick a quarrel with a long-lost brother.

The Joker got the best bed, as good-humoured, good-natured chaps generally do, without seeming to try for it. The growler of the party got the floor and chaff bags, as selfish men mostly do – without seeming to try for it either. I took it out of one of the “sofas”, or rather that sofa took it out of me. It was short and narrow and down by the head, with a leaning to one corner on the outside, and had more nails and bits of gin-case than original sofa in it.

I had been asleep for three seconds, it seemed, when somebody shook me by the shoulder and said:

“Take yer seats.”

When I got out, the driver was on the box, and the others were getting rum and milk inside themselves (and in bottles) before taking their seats.

It was colder and darker than before, and the South Pole seemed nearer, and pretty soon, but for the rum, we should have been in a worse fix than before.

There was a spell of grumbling. Presently someone said:

“I don’t believe them horses was lost at all. I was round behind the stable before I went to bed, and seen horses there; and if they wasn’t them same horses there, I’ll eat ’em raw!”

“Would yer?” said the driver, in a disinterested tone.

“I would,” said the passenger. Then, with a sudden ferocity, “and you too!”

The driver said nothing. It was an abstract question which didn’t interest him.

We saw that we were on delicate ground, and changed the subject for a while. Then someone else said:

“I wonder where his missus was? I didn’t see any signs of her about, or any other woman about the place, and we was pretty well all over it.”

“Must have kept her in the stable,” suggested the Joker.

“No, she wasn’t, for Scotty and that chap on the roof was there after bags.”

“She might have been in the loft,” reflected the Joker.

“There was no loft,” put in a voice from the top of the coach.

. . . the story continues . . .

<< previous page    one    two    three    four    five    last page >>

Back to Australian Writers

We're SafeSurf Rated

Know Australia   •   Voice of Australians   •   Uniquely Australian   •   Tall Poppy   •   Australian Cards   •   Flashback   •   Games   •   Home

Contact Us     ALLdownunder.com.au    Website designed & managed by Lady Luck Enterprises