HAVING seen their prisoners safely behind the bars, Si and Shorty breathed more freely than they had since starting out in the morning, and Si remarked, as he folded up the receipt for them and placed it in his pocket-book: "That drove's safely marketed, without the loss of a runaway or a played-out. Purty good job o' drovin', that. Pap couldn't do better'n that with his hogs.
But while we was waitin' there come along two fellers that had been drovin' up north. They yarned a while, an' then went on to Poisonous Jimmy's place, an' in about an hour one on 'em come ridin' back with a can of beer that he said Poisonous had sent for us.
He'll stay there till he gets short of money, an' then he'll go out back, shearin', stock-ridin', drovin', cookin', fencin' anything till he gets a few pounds. Then he'll settle down and build away at that bloody house. He's knocked about so much that he's a regular old bushman.
I remember, when we lived on the Cudgeegong river we lived in a brick house then the first time Spicer had to go away from home I nearly fretted my eyes out. And he was only goin' shearin' for a month. I muster bin a fool; but then we were only jist married a little while. He's been away drovin' in Queenslan' as long as eighteen months at a time since then.
'Oh, he's somewheres up country, she'd say in the 'groping' voice, or 'He's drovin' in Queenslan', or 'Shearin' on the Darlin' the last time I heerd from him. 'We ain't had a line from him since les' see since Chris'mas 'fore last. And she'd turn her haggard eyes in a helpless, hopeless sort of way towards the west towards 'up-country' and 'Out-Back'.*
The dirty-legged boy stands for a moment in his shirt, watching the fire. Presently he looks up at her, sees the tears in her eyes, and, throwing his arms round her neck exclaims: "Mother, I won't never go drovin'; blarst me if I do!" And she hugs him to her worn-out breast and kisses him; and they sit thus together while the sickly daylight breaks over the bush.