voices from the past


That There Dog of Mine

by Henry Lawson (1867-1922)

. . . the story ends with . . .

"That – there old dog of mine has follered me faithful and true, these twelve long hard and hungry years. He’s about – about the only thing that ever cared whether I lived or fell and rotted on the cursed track.”

He rested again; then he continued: “That – that there dog was pupped on the track,” he said, with a sad sort of a smile. “I carried him for months in a billy, and afterwards on my swag when he knocked up. . . . And the old slut – his mother – she’d foller along quite contented – and sniff the billy now and again – just to see if he was all right  . . . She follered me for God knows how many years. She follered me till she was blind – and for a year after. She follered me till she could crawl along through the dust no longer, and – and then I killed her, because I couldn’t leave her behind alive!”

He rested again.

“And this here old dog,” he continued, touching Tally’s upturned nose with his knotted fingers, “this here old dog has follered me for – for ten years; through floods and droughts, through fair times and – and hard – mostly hard; and kept me from going mad when I had no mate nor money on the lonely track; and watched over me for weeks when I was drunk – drugged and poisoned at the cursed shanties; and saved my life more ’n once, and got kicks and curses very often for thanks; and forgave me for it all; and – and fought for me. He was the only living thing that stood up for me against that crawling push of curs when they set onter me at the shanty back yonder – and he left his mark on some of ’em too; and – and so did I.”

He took another spell.

Then he drew in his breath, shut his teeth hard, shouldered his swag, stepped into the doorway, and faced round again. The dog limped out of the corner and looked up anxiously. “That there dog,” said Macquarie to the hospital staff in general, “is a better dog than I’m a man – or you too, it seems – and a better Christian. He’s been a better mate to me than I ever was to any man – or any man to me. He’s watched over me; kep’ me from getting robbed many a time; fought for me; saved my life and took drunken kicks and curses for thanks – and forgave me. He’s been a true, straight, honest, and faithful mate to me – and I ain’t going to desert him now. I ain’t going to kick him out in the road with a broken leg. I – Oh, my God! my back!”

He groaned and lurched forward, but they caught him, slipped off the swag, and laid him on a bed.

Half an hour later the shearer was comfortably fixed up. “Where’s my dog?” he asked, when he came to himself.

“Oh, the dog’s all right,” said the nurse, rather impatiently. “Don’t bother. The doctor’s setting his leg out in the yard.”

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