Chapter 139709146

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Chapter NumberNone
Chapter Title
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article139709146
Full Date1895-04-27
Page Number23
Corrections0
Word Count2662
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleThe Australasian (Melbourne, Vic. : 1864 - 1946)
Trove TitleBush Boys
article text

THE STORYTELLER.

BUSH BOYS.

.' Toune Mood must have its course, lad

And every do«t his day."

BT A BUSHWOMAN.

" I'll be lavin' ye, ma'am, the day week,"

Bays old Johanna.

"For what reason?" I say, aghast (for deftest of nurses is she, and the mainstay and "major-domo" of the household. At all costs must she be kept).

"The raison is this, ma'am. Since, ye wint away that last thrip for ye're health I'm foindin' thim two bhoys beyant me intirely. Sure, I'll be sorry lavin' ye and 'himsfelf' and the little weeny gerrul, but thim two bhoys"-and Bhe wrinkles her nose and purses up her lips disapprovingly-" they're

the mischief intirely."

"Dear me," I murmur sympathetically, "are they veri/ unmanageable?"

" 'Tis this way. Since ye wint away ' him self'has been takin' thim about the station, and colloguin' wid 'em about the athock.

Sms I to him, ' Sure, what's the use o' takin* thim two babies o* six and four about wid ye? - 'Tia jackaroos I'll make o' thim soon,' sez he, 'and aren't they me own eons? And ihe little crathure wintoff to the mnsterin', ridin' by the Bide ot 'himself,' wid their bits o' red blankets strapped before them, they look in' for all the worruld like a pairo' pet monkeys, and he laffin' fit to kill himself at them. 'Tia rooned they'll Be intirely, ma'am/ she goes on, shaking her head. ' Whin I came first, they were the tinderhest-hearted crathurs alive, for iver oarryin' roe sthray cockroaches, and bastes of all sorts, and biddin' me mind thim for fear they'll be kilt.'

'"Will yet foind the mother o' thim?' Bays Masther Bob.

** * Sure,' BPE I, * and how'il I be findin' the mothers for all thim dirthy bastes, and how'd I know them if I did t

'"Oh/ says he, 'anny one of 'em nd mind 'em ; and don't call 'em bastes,' sez he, 'they're pretty teeny, weeny shiny cock roaches.' .

."* Maybe,' see I, 'but kape 'eta out of raohe o* myfeet for allthat'

"'Tis changed they are now, for iver roostin' on the rails of the cowyard, or the killin'-per.or the horee-brandin'-yard.

"fShftme'onye,'Wadye go look at (the poor hones eufferin' ?' :

" * By Jove,' i&i Masther Willie, that eldest oriV* y£ ahonld «ee *eb» ^iok when they're gettih* braoded^-'tis as good as a feed o* com to thim fcriny day,'and off they run back agin like aoonple o' woild colta.

"Sure, stidy taclun' o' their lessons and eixpennorth o' whipoord kep' handy wad be

the tnakin' o' thim two, ma'am," and she looks ruefully at me.

" Where are the boys now, Johanna ?"

" I have 'em losht now; not wan minit will they sthay wid me-aff wid 'em when they have a meal swallowed."

She is to be pitied. She takes breath and resumes, I listen. I mu9t humour the old

woman.

" Faith, what wid 'em larnin' their pupa to mind sheep by workin' me fowlB and frighten in' the poor crathurs to their deaths, 'tis hardly a chicken I'd have for ye at all, only for a few perseverin' bins that wudn't be chased from their npsto.

" I losht them bhoys wan 'day and found 'em nittin* on a log, their murderin' athock whips alongside o' thim, playin' wid a pack o' grazv cards.

" 1 What's thrumpB,' sez wan o' thim (not seem'me). 'Sthicks is thrumpa.'sez I.picken' up wan, and given thim a cut aich.

" 'Like to see a BarcooFlash?' sez Masther Willie (winkin' at Master Bob). 1 Yes,' eez I, lookin' in the sky for a sign o' lightnin*. Up went the whips in the air, and down agin, slappin' and slashin' about me heels; and

bedad," she says grimly, " I've got the mark o' that B&rcoo Flash on me yet.'

" Bring me the boys now, Johanna."

"Very well, ma'am," says she. "I'll be

lookin' for 'em."

She reappears soon, leading my sons; they are planning vigorously to get away; they look dilapidated ; they have discarded their neat blouses and linen hats, and have arrayed themselves in two of my husband's old cabbage-trees; they have further adorned their waists with saddle-straps, which have coarse buckbora pocketknives thrust under neath. The boys are fearfully muddy.

" Look at the throuaera o' thim," says poor Johanna, hall orying. " I tound thim diggin' holes ana fillin' them up wid wathor.'

"' Will ye athop tnakin' thim dirthy mud pies.' sez 1.

" ' Mud pies indade!' sez they, ' 'tis an artesian bore, we're puttin' the casin' in, and kape out o' this or ye'll knock the " derrick " down wid your petticoats.' Here they are now ma'am, for ye to dale wid 'em," and the trio glare at each other.

I am in despair about these boys. Only yesterday I discovered them preparing to treat my prise " oollie" for footrot; they had him in a corner of the laundry, barr.caded with chairs, Willie armed with a blunt table knife, Bob with 4a stockwhip.

" Now [*11 begin to foot-rot him, and if lie moves you tune him up with the whip," said

Willie.

" -Right you are, sir," acquiesced Bob.

. Thfe instapc the knife touched his foot, the oog gave a savage growl and bounded over their heads, and & mixture of barks, shrieks, sprawling boys, and wildest confusion reigned supreme, and the oollie rushed forththevictor.

The boys, thanks to the tuition of " him self," know the points of a horse, a bullock, or a sheep as well as lads twice their age, they are adepts atu oughts and crosses," good riders, and mumble-peggera" of the most

ardent description-beyond these arts they know nothing.

"' Sure himself wndn't even let me tache 'em their letthera,' said Johanna.

"'Time enough when Masther Willie is aivin,' sez he.

" 'They'll nivir learn younger,' sez I.

" Thim two bhoys is hand and glove wid the rouseabouta and the musterers, but most o' their time ia apint in Andy the groom's stable-hammock, they eatin' horae-carrota and he playin'' Annie Rooney' on the Jew's harp (or thim."

"Kindly wash and dress the boys and take them to my work-room. I shall begin

to teach them."

"Thank hivins for that same. I'll be athayin' on now me'am," and Johanna drags them off. They return shining and spotless,

but rather alarmed.

" What are we getting yarded up for,

mother?" Will savs.

" To be taught to read and write," I reply.

"Andy can't read 'cept brands, ana be knows spiffing stories about ' Red Jake' and the ' White Squaw he can't write and he says, ' My trouble's about it.' "

" Indeed, stand up straight, look at me, and repeat your letters after me I"

"AB C," I begin vigorously.

"Mother, there's a horse-?" D E F," I proceeded stolidly-" in the yard with only one car, called Ally Sloper, and--"

" Silence-G H I."

Then Will produces a handful of slimy worms from his pocket

" ' Mind them, mother, they're crawling in my pocket and tickling my leg dreffully.'

Ugh, horrible things; I say, "Take them away." With difficulty repressing a shriek.

" Johanna calls them bastes, and you know what she calls us-'boosh bhoys' and 'divils intirely.'" Mike, the hot cook, calls as * Utile gentlemen,' 'cause some times we give him father's cigars; and he's made us a beautiful cake, mother, with lolly over it, but he's put it in his bedroom, and the ants are getting on it. Can't we go up for it, mother ? Our legs are so tired, and we're drefful thirsty, and we think you've got a headache 'cause your voice sounds sick-haven't you, mother, haven't you!" in tones of joyful anticipation.

" I have no headache."

. " Oh !" (very disappointedly). I order them tostand up again. Over and over the alphabet we go; then I make them count; they stand in exhausted attitudes.

" How are the aching, tired legs V

"Much badder, oh, much badder," says Willie, the spokesman for the two.

Little Bob, who has watched hie oppor tunity,dashes from the room ; he comes oack with a pretty cluster of fragrant mignonette heads.

"Take this, mother, it's a very artistic bunch. Now your head 11 soon get well."

They have determined I must have a head ache.

"Stand up again, boys," I begin in a deter mined way. ,

Just then oomea a sound of jingling spurs and the sharp crack ot a whip, and the two little face* brighten up. " Himself " oomea in, his eyes dancing with fun ;he has come to the rescue.

" Been yarded up lone, kiddies r

"Hours, father, hours" (in doleful accents). ? ?? -

" Poor little chaps!" h« uys." Ask mother to let you loose."

"Can we go?" and tour, wistful brown eyes and a pair of laughing grey onea look at me

searchtngly.

" For to-day, yes," and off they go hand and hand with " himself."

" Ye've quietened them finely," says Johanna, looking in.

"Their father took them away."

" Oh thin, I wudn't put it past him," she says angrily. " Oh ! 'tis packin me box I'll be."

" No, Johanna, you will not; I'll get a nursery governess to teach them. I cannot do eo, I'm afraid."

" All right bo !" she says.

I get a nursery governess as soon as possible. She informs me the " Kindergarten " system ot teaching is pleasant and interesting to pupils and teacher. 1 sent to town for the first book of action songs. My children were musical, this was the very thing.

The book arrived, the governess was np betimes, she sans to me the " Grocer's Young Man," the first song in the book. It seemed a jovial way of acquiring knowledge The song described a grocer driving about tak ing ordeta. At the foot ofthe page were a list of the gestures to suit the words. " Imitate holding reins," " Flourish hand, snapping finger and thumb," " Imitate pulling restive horse up," &c. " Very easy and instructive indeed," said the governess : she was quite elated ; she practised all the actions with the greateBt " gusto." Next morning, I ordered Johanna to take the boys to my work-room. 16at;by,'with my needlework to see fair-play and watch the proceedings.

t " Now, little boys," said the governess, " I am going to teach you like the German people do their children : it is a sort of a play "-{delighted chorus of oh's and ah's) -"and school too."

" Oh I say now !" Very reproachfully. "This is a song about a grocer." " What's a grocer V Bays Will.

" A man who takes tea, and flour, and. sugar to people, and sells it to them."

"We've qot tons of flour and tonB ot sugar, and chests of tea, what's the good of a grocer bothering around ?"

" Silence, boys, pay attention," I say, keeping as straight a face as I can.

The governess fixes the boys with her eye, inflates her chest, and sings to the tune of " Little Bo-Peep" (fortissimo)

*' The grocer's young man sroes out with the van,

And, oh! you should see him driving."

(She imitates holding the reinB during this burst of melody.)

"Oh! that's not the way," says Will in derision ;" get a mortgage grip on them and he seizes the crisp ri Is bona on nay morning gown, and twists them in a " Gordian knot" round his fingers as an illustration.

"Attention," I command again, bending over my work to hide a very broad smile.

She resumes stoically

" He slashes the whip and makes the horse skip,

Although to ran well he's striving."

(Slashing furiously at an imaginary steed and flourishing her hand vigorously.)

" He was a fool of a driver to thrash hie horse like that, 'fore he warmed to the collar. I'll bet now he'll get a 'sugar-doodle' out of that van 'fore long," says Will warningly.

The boys are both in ecstaciea ot enjoy ment ; they applaud vociferously. I laash in a subdued manner, atid try to conceal it with my handkerchief.

The governess sings her lay to the finish; she imitates pulling up ; she jerks imaginary reins; she slashes furiously about her; she waves and kisses her hands (to show the grocer'B joy at getting home after work); she points all ways at once ; she gesticulates frantically in various directions. It is a horrible mixture of "Dumb Crambo" and bad theatricals, I think. The boys roar, laughing. It is infectious. I follow suit. It is rude, but I can't help it; it iB too ludicrous.

" Is that all ?" says Will. " I think Germans must be foolish pussons, but" (sagely nodding his head) " I did see a man driving like that once; he was a shearer's cook, and Andy said he'd been knocking down his cheque, and had 'em badly."

Next day the offended governess left. I can't say I was sorry. Again I despaired. What was to he done ? I would try the re fining influence ot feminine socciety--happy thought. I invited the parson's little daughter, Evangeline, to spend a tew weeks with my boys.

She and her nurse Sarah, a prim, grim person, arrived. Evangeline was a dainty, fragile, bine-eyed girlie of six summers, always garbed in spotless white. The boys christened her their " White Squaw." Evan geline at first smiled shyly at the boys* games only, then she joined in a little.

The "artesian bore" was a vastly dnaty

Eroceeding; the little white frock Buffered

y contact considerably. Sarah complained

to Johanna.

" Faith, a glash case wud be a foine thing for the two of yez, and I tell ye, me foine madam, thim two bhoys, for all their thricks, is the makins of iligant min."

Sarah sniffed in disdain.

Ky degrees Evangeline joined more heartily in all the boys' games. She played at " sundowners," and " kangaroo hunts," and being "wild pigs" (a violent pastime, con ducted on hands and knees, and accompanied by extraordinary shrieks and noises).

When " wild pigs" was being played I was steeled to any noise.

Evangeline's voice became strident, her nurse was set at defiance, her frocks were in

ribbons.

The trio's screaming powers were magnifi cent. One chilly wet morning I had a fire put in the nursery. I was reading peacefully, out of hearing, 1 thought. Suddenly wild shrieka-playing wild pigs I thought.

Then heart-rending screams from the " White Squaw," peals of laughter from my boys, a sound ot Hying feet, a "swirl" of starched skirts, and Evangeline burst into my room,the boys after her armed with fireirons.

She threw herself into my arms, ier eyes

dilated with fear.

" Oh-h, Oh-h 1" she sobbed breathlessly, "the cruel boys.they-they " (with a torrent of tears, and clinging to my neck con vulsively)

" What did they do, little one V I say, trying to calm the poor child.

" They put the tongs and poker in the fire, and-and-"

"We were only playing bringing store- . bullocks down from the Gulf, and 'course we had to brand tliem soon as we got them to

the station, and she wouldn't be branded, and ' the irons were only just warm after all, ? mother," break in the two little voioes.

1 walked to my desk, and there and then

inscribed and despatched Ahe following. legend

" Wanted immediately for station, a tutor, * must be strict disciplinarian "-and Johanna remains to this day.

? ? A UMHmn.

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