by Henry Lawson (1867-1922)
Macquarie the shearer had met with an accident. To tell the truth, he had been in a drunken row at a wayside shanty, from which he had escaped with three fractured ribs, a cracked head, and various minor abrasions. His dog, Tally, had been a sober but savage participator in the drunken row, and had escaped with a broken leg. Macquarie afterwards shouldered his swag and staggered and struggled along the track ten miles to the Union Town hospital. Lord knows how he did it. He didn’t exactly know himself. Tally limped behind all the way, on three legs.
The doctors examined the man’s injuries and were surprised at his endurance. Even doctors are surprised sometimes – though they don’t always show it. Of course they would take him in, but they objected to Tally. Dogs were not allowed on the premises.
“You will have to turn that dog out,” they said to the shearer, as he sat on the edge of a bed.
Macquarie said nothing.
“We cannot allow dogs about the place, my man,” said the doctor in a louder tone, thinking the man was deaf.
“Tie him up in the yard then.”
“No. He must go out. Dogs are not permitted on the grounds.”
Macquarie rose slowly to his feet, shut his agony behind his set teeth, painfully buttoned his shirt over his hairy chest, took up his waistcoat, and staggered to the corner where the swag lay.
“What are you going to do?” they asked.
“You ain’t going to let my dog stop?”
“No. It’s against the rules. There are no dogs allowed on the premises.”
He stooped and lifted his swag, but the pain was too great, and he leaned back against the wall.
“Come, come now! man alive!” exclaimed the doctor, impatiently. “You must be mad. You know you are not in a fit state to go out. Let the wardsman help you to undress.”
“No!” said Macquarie. “No. If you won’t take my dog in you don’t take me. He’s got a broken leg and wants fixing up just – just as much as – as I do. If I’m good enough to come in, he’s good enough – and – and better.”
He paused awhile, breathing painfully, and then went on.
. . . the story continues . . .
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About the Author
See our page on Henry Kendall. Includes a linked list of all his writing available on our website.