Chapter 122858938

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Full Date1902-03-04
Page Number4
Word Count1576
Last Corrected2019-01-13
Newspaper TitleThe Maitland Daily Mercury (NSW : 1894 - 1939)
Trove TitleA Day in the Life of a Western Squatter's Wife
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A Day in the Life of a Western Squatter's Wife.

[By K. Langloh Parker.]

She tumbled out of bed in her tin-roofed house, feeling as greasy as a sardine looks, for the night had been like a series of Turkish baths, minus the rubbing down. Now, just at the best time to rest. she had to see that the house was shut up before a brick-dust sun heralded in brick-dust clouds, to choke the air, driving even the flies inside for shelter. She slipped on the airiest wrapper, hear- ing as she did so distant growlings which she knows

to be the cook volubly swearing at the usual dis- covery, greeted as surprising every time, that the meat has ' gone bad on him.' The fowls, those dejected wood-heap bush fowls, even, are too limp to lay more than an occasional egg just to prove their henship, so the back sliding of the meat will mean something tinned for brenktaat, something tinned for luncheon, something tinned for dinner — useless to dream of killing once the sun has risen. Anyway, the ration sheep got oufryester-' day, aud none will bo in until night. Bet, black, bat comely, with her born lazy saunter, comus in with the morning tea. She is yawning with a flexibility of lip worthy of a prima donna of the corroboreo ground, nnd, as sho lurches sleepily for ward, spills half the tea into the saucer, into which' speedily swarm flies. ' The woman in the wrapper feels inclined to fling

- tue lot over ner, nut the veneer ot seit-possessiou' cducatien has given her, restrains her. Taking the - cup, still free from flies, she drinks thu milkleaatoa — . milkerB are all . dead long ago — and tinned milk shoi bars, except in puddings or salads. The tea gives her a momentary tone. . Sho suggests to sleepy, Bet that they should go to the crook for a swim. , ' Tree sheep bogged in bading hole.' : : ; ? ? 'Oh, hang it !' The educated veneer has cracked! off under strees of her one luxury gone : those boggefl sheep make the waterhole impossible for bathing' - in. She will have to content herself witlv half a bucket of water ia a bath ; tho hole to which tWe wind mill attaches is dry long .ago, 80/flhower bathi are a thing of the past. How to get clean in half a bucket of water is a .problem, when ' grease oozes from every pore, and even her hair seemed oiled, hair in wisps like a typical witch's, and coming out in haudfuls. A direful fact, considering thd present poverty of pastotaliabs, puts tbo alluring switches of tho- .lairdresser's advertisement out of the question— -tou. distinctly a luxury for a 'broken!- down squatter'a wife, '. .??.-.. Bath- over, -t ?nodicuin oE grsaso removed, bar coolest garments aro put on, even those hot' and cumbersome, making her feel like a fowl being atowed in its feathers, or how she imagined 'such an one would feel. No wonder the black

? women, adapting themselves to the climate, wore no clothes-r-how cruel wo (ire to doll them up, she thought. Even tbo animals find their skins too much this weather.. At sunrise, the dogs lio punting, switching the flies away with tails just a mat of burrs of sorts and sizes. Those burrs are the bitter to tbe sweet of a herbage season i they eeoin to cliag ? overy where. It is quite a work. to pick them out of tho bath towels. Tho laundress says they blow on to tbe clothes while drying. . Dressing over, ^tho domestic prowl bugins. First to Bid that the verandahs are swept clean of yesterday's red dust storm. A few years in tho west takes any wonderment away ro tho discovery of buried Asiatic cities: tbtir possibility merges into a probability, and the wonderment lying in tho escape of any if Asian dust devils are Hke those of this woful west, whieh seem to be Rotting worse every year, until making those, who think, wonder if indiscriminate scrub out ting and ring barking in the prosent will not be cursed ia tha future. Bet has to be called back : sho has left dust enough to sow melons in. Buck she comes, sluggish iu gait, and sulky in look'; Blowly she wiolda her broom; patience is exhausted in the woman who watches her. With the air of a termagant, not natural but bom o£ tho morning, ahe seizes tho broom herself, and gets the verandah fairly clean, but that rod dust does stick : there must be grease from the sheep camps in it. That done, she feels hot, and in need of anothoi1 Tjath, Bet, nmiling at her condition, says ' You's sweatiu'.' T?ut on sho goaa until tho bouse is Swept, dusted, and shut up. Then aho sees that the water bags are filled and bbsses ouco moro tho . ? ?? ' i :memory of the unknown man who invented them. PaBBing ono of tho spare rooms, at present occupied l-y a dried out neighbour and her two children, she hears a cry : ' Do come in. I think Charlie has the fever ngain ; he's been tossing all night, is burning hot, nnd his eyes look so queer.' Poor little kiddies ! Ono lioa asleep, bends of perspiration on his whitey brown face, tho other evidently in a fever. Poor little weakling, such a. short time since ho recovered from typhoid ; anothor bout will surely go against him in this weather. His poor mother has that hopeless, fate-driven look ?of so many bush mothers, who have so many child ren but to bury them, 'l.'he two woman give tho child whnt thoy think best, then consult as to sending for a doctor. Tho m;arost is HO milos away, nnd hu ia xarely sober. Tho question is whether to send for him or to tak'o tho child to tho township inn covered 'waggonette. To nond for fcho doctor means a huge Ijill and a groater delay — to go to him means tho hot ? '? drive for a child in a fever, all the discomforts of the township where the only luxury jh drink — you could swim in that of various kinds, yet ask in vain for many of the most ordinary uecossnrios. The poor mother thinks of tho cheque — the fact that her husband has been a hona fide gquattur ont wont, for twenty! years argues his ruin — moans ithat sho wishes ' Jack wore hero to take tho responsibility. Not that ho would crudiro tho la&t

jpenny for littlo Charlie, but ho did bo hope there would bo no more doctor's bills for a bit, tho last 'wore such staggorors.' Meantime tho child moaned piteoualy, tho merry hearted Httlo Clmrlin of but a day ago, moaning now -and gazing vnenntly into space. Thu other woman is almost as poor as tho mother, but thono woana nro too much for hor : abo swishes oil to find tho boss, .and put the caBe to hjm. ' Poor little devil,'1 ho said, ' doctor, of course : if he's drunk I'll upsot him in tho crook and sober ?him. Poor littlo kid, fever this weather! Hero, Combo, look slippy, groaso my buggy, put in Highflyer and Tovrnie. I'm going township; you moot mo dinuor time, Ynbbivh, two fresh horsoa Sultan and Kheilivo. .Now for breakfast and off. Let's gee; seven o'clock. I'll have him horo by three, if I havo to muzzle him. I'll shako the drink out of him, It'a goiug to be fcho hell of a day, but d ? it all wo cau'l lot the iid die, nnd, after all, what'aafow moro pounds to an overdraft ; yet wo Bwent our tongues out liko a lot of working bullocks to koop it down. Well, I'm off.' He Rtnrtn, and his wiiu returns to the child, and p^rsiindus tho mother to go aud havo some breakfast. In spite of packing him and trying such homo remedies nn they havo, tho fevor got9 higher, nnd both women acho with auxiety aud longing for tho doctor, drunk or Robcr. Tbo thermometer at elovuu

ia 100', not a breath of air, a red dust storm slowly creeping over bond, driven by some currents thoy can not feol. Tho othor poor washed-outlookiugchild ia in cliuod toboqueruloiiB, butyields to tho blandishments .,''?.' of jViioy pink watermolou, so dear to bush children, and ' ?'. wlion their own gardens have 'gouo bung,' bo dear to their parents — tho Cbineso gardeners, who hawk round fruit and vegetables, charging terrible prices, turning such uecussarioa into almost- prohibitive ' ' luxuries. (To he In tbo Mnlay Pouinsuln, tho troo from whiuti gutta pcrolm is obtained lins been nearly exterminated by tho natives. But it i« fuuud that tho product, bo valuable forolcclric work can bn extracted from tho loaves aud t\vig«' ' without injury (o tho tree itself, uud tho tree is boiiig l'cplimted by the Government. During 1(100, vokhoIh of the gross lonnngo of 000,000 u'ovo ti'iuiRfiMTed from tho ] n'egistor to foreign ownorH, over 1,200,000 toiw being added to tho If rif inli register. While the atlditi'.JiiH, however, consinled nltnoHt otitiroly of now veBKels eoniilructed in tlio Uuitoii Kingdom, tlio trnimfurfi wero old tdiipa