It will all be fine, I'm sure xx Gingembre - take it easy hun. What's going on in the metrolpolis of Norfolk to make it soooooooooo stressy? Steve- dentist?! Good luck, and remember to keep your elbow handy in case he hurts you PP - bon voyage, have a vino tinto for me! Well, I got in early this morning - kind of paddled here in Chitty Chitty Micra. And what is it about a bit of rain Busy morning ahead but will keep nipping in to keep my sanity. Boooooo :- Laters luvlies CtD xxxx. Morning schmorning. We both had a fanastic time, got nice and brown, saw the sights, made some friends, hot air ballooned over the valley of the kings and managed to escape all the troubles, so all in all a great holibob.
However, Gloucester disappeared again, and this time has been missing for 10 days, and it would appear I have returned with Pharoah's Revenge. Hope you are all well, MW, a! What a fab morning Fingers crossed for Gloucester tho hun. Catch up proppa laters. Cheryl x x x. Sorry for the lateness in reply but i was in Blackpool for the weekend for our Anniversary and meeting up with some friends who we met on Holiday. My Hubby and Daughter had gone off to look at the site whilst i was in the caravan with a glass of red cooking the dinner when i heard Chris mention my name.
I think the whole caravan could hear me screaming and running up and down. Had a brill weekend the sun shone all the time. Now back to work and the rain in the Midlands. Hope everyone has a good day. Catch you all laters. Morning all - wet and windy - nice! Dragon - don't panic!!! I'm sure all will work out fine. Scoob - only talking about you yesterday wondering if you were back!
Good luck with dentist Steve - hate the places now two months overdue for check up but just can't bring myself to pick up phone and make appointment! Mich - what a picture doing a war dance up and down the caravan with excitement! Bet a few folks kept their distance for a while if they saw you!! Presume you are involved with the murder thing gingembre!
Busy time if so! It's the kids Diva - they get their cars out of the garage when its raining!!! Beesmum xxx :. Greetings bloggers and bloggettes, how are one and all? Sad sad news about Mr Newman, yet another Gent and legend passed. Its raining buckets here in Wales, I really wish I hadn't boarded that plane back home! I suppose the rain is only reflecting the economy though The office is awash with money saving tips at the moment Have a good day all. I have put my heater on in my office.
Partly due to needing to warm brain and fingers up for the invoicing mountain ahead Got cold feet too. Morning boys and girls :- Purpledragon - sounds like an exciting day! Debbie - well done on interview, and school reading will be lovely!! Well I've just taken out mortgage protection in case I get made redundant. Always thought those kinds of things were a bit of a rip off but it seems to be becoming more and more of a reality at the moment. Scary days, hope we get some better news soon. Woke up this morning with a really bad back - am wondering whether its because I wore heels for the first time in over a week yesterday?
Or is it just age?!!! Ho hum, back to work while I still can!!! T xxxx.
And yet another is safely gathered in - back from hols - Hi Katie! Tins it is most definitely the heels - wore a pair last week just a smidge higher than usual and back been giving me jip ever since! I was expecting to have a tooth out at the least.soilstones.com/wp-content/2020-01-04/2390.php
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Why do Chemists always look at you funnily. Yep heating on here, much to Mr Debbie's horror. I can't remember the last time that I wore heels. I'll dig some out for the interview. Nice area though Chelmsford, I liked the look of it. Hello MW, Scooby, Tinsel and absolutely everyone else. Thanks Bsmum - although I suspect it is a combination of heels and age ha ha! Superbp, I always bring a cardi into work with me as the temperature is always different every day.
For home I've just got some of that silver radiator insulation stuff to put down the back of the radiators - supposed to reflect the heat back into the house and reduce the bills. I had the heating for about half an hour last night and I think it worked cos it was almost too hot for the rest of the evening!! Morning all, That's me back at work after my traumatic weekend.
Friday was awful, but had to be done. That's the old boy away to the rainbow bridge. Only look at the blog when at work as we don't have broadband in deepest darkest Ayrshire where I live, maybe one day!! Hope everyone is oookkaayy and had a good weekend. LOL bp! I didn't spot any this morning and I didn't wear mine in case it shrunk in the rain. Ah thinking of you Dozymac, how horrible for you. But a kind thing to do all the same.
Hi again, Thought I'd just pop by again and say hi! Debbie - great to hear you contacted the school, i really enjoy helping in class, kids are so funny aren't they? Good luck for your interview too xx Gingembre - Sorry you are stressed, hope you and Mrs W have a lovely time at the Hoste you lucky things. When are you off to Center Parcs? We're going in November, double celebration?! I love it there but we always end up ill when we get back, lots of germs lurking in the water I suppose.
Doing something I've always wanted to do tonight between 7. Will reveal more tomorrow xx Em xx. I'm going to see beauty and the beast tonight - I saw it in london about 8 years ago when john barrowman was the beast - didn't know who he was at the time - just remember how good looking he was. Couple of highlights from our trip Hot air balloon, obviously. Seeing errol turn from ship scared to little kid shouting higher higher! Abu Simbel - despite the plane trip being cancelled, so 6 hours spent on a half empty air conned coach to arrive at the majestic mountain monument as everybody else was leaving so had the temples to ourselves.
And Cairo, the pyramids, the sphinx, the kahn el kahlillie souk, errol's first shisha and doing something unspeakable on the balcony of the 4 seasons hotel. Very norty indeed! MW, a! Hi to All, Dozy, I really felt for you this weekend but you did the best thing. Debbie - keeping fingers crossed for you and your job seeking. Steve - best you know where your money is at!!!!!!!! Or where it's going!!.
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I am off for my PET scan now - 2 hours of lying on a bed, listening to any music I want to take in with me and letting science do the work!!! Positive thoughts from all please and let the bloggers' magic work! Bagpuss - I believe you are describing Dukes. Near the station? A fine night-club, if that's your bag. And it sure ain't mine!! Last time I went to a nightclub also in Chelmsford incidentally, but it was Reds , Relight My Fire was number one in the charts and I was unaware of the beauty that awaited in the form of Mr Diva!
Rock on, Dear Prudence. CtD xx Steve - I'm still dancing!! This entry is now closed for comments. For the latest updates across BBC blogs, visit the Blogs homepage. Search term:. Read more. This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets CSS enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets CSS if you are able to do so. This page has been archived and is no longer updated. Find out more about page archiving.
On air Listen. Home Shows Schedule Downloads Playlist. Paul Newman, a true Was he the dudiest? I think he may have been. He was also responsible for the most famous line decrying the futile psyche of infidelity Share this page. Comments Post your comment Sign in or register to comment. Page 1 of 2. LOL Chris. Your secret is safe with us Happy Monday! He is a born leader, extremely charismatic.
If you fail me again, you will know a fate worse than death. But if you succeed, we will rule the world. A ploy. These are all witch holograms…. PAM cont. I may be corn, and I may be a witch hologram, but I was conjured to love Gebra. Play our song. To find the official page for the song, click here!
I think that shitty witch succeeded in her evil plan: sacrificing Dan, the hot dog, into the lava! Then all is lost. Hop into that thing and bloop back in time. And Brandon, and all those other breathtaking characters who are dead now. A first-class twin engine. GENE: Mike! A shippy beaut. The Soup Baron? The pirate captain who personally assassinated space-Pope Chili the IX and brought an end to the Space War, but also blew up a civilian transport in the process and became a space pariah, forced to the outer rim, where he continued to fight the remaining hostile factions of the Chili Empire, who refused to acknowledge the Treaty of Ver-soy?
More spacey-time, idiots. We have to go back in time so I can save my dead wife, and all your stupid friends. Then the prophecy is complete and the Gauntlet of Ultimate Power, or, G. I will grow, grow until I can eat the Sun and plunge the Earth into despair! PAM: nervously … Wow, hell yeah! Now we can finish off those french fries and that old can of soup! A flash. A sizzling crack.
It rings like a bell. Where PAM once stood, there is nothing but a bun and two eyeballs. Based on these scans, it looks like a swampy pile of junk! Perhaps the most compelling character… in existence. The beloved space ace. And not a kernel out of place, if I do say so myself. Come from a long line of Plupples. Sorta like a peach, but sexier.
And blue! My parents were very juicy, and I am, too. Hell of a dust cloud when that thing went down. Had to be, uh… oh, three clicks southeast of the Plateau? I can take you there. Tell a lie. Will they find the rest of their crew? Find out next time on the Hot Daga! A Ryan Bergara production.
Dreamed by a witch. And, I guess, Earth. Makes sense if you… actually track the story, probably. Okay, yeah. I heard about that place on the space news. Said he ate the Moon as an appetizer. Big evil guy should consider eating this planet, way things are going. Oh, yeah, some nutty old guy that made a home for himself here after the Space Wars.
Plupples love him though! Around her, a scuttling. A darkened cavern. They look dumb as hell. Hang on now. Yes, sir, we tend to leave matters of importance up to our wise master. The corn shall prove her innocence in combat with the giant beast-Plupple. My home planet is being devoured by a sinister bogeyman!
Ha, ha. Plupples: take the corn to her holding cell, where she will be held until the Doctor feels sane enough to judge her physical testimony. A giant evil guy with a gauntlet is currently eating the world. He ate Europe for lunch, burped so loud he sunk Iceland, and now he looks to be starting on North America for dinner! Suddenly, she flickers a bit, and for the first time, her holographic luminance begins to fade.
I just need…. It is glowing and small, about forty percent bigger than Jiminy Cricket. Why is PAM little? My wonderful starship, who I actually love like a wife: systems check. Systems are fine, despite those Chili Pirates roughing us up. I gotta take a nap or something, though. GENE: Mm, no corn here. And why is that winged, sexy, blue peach about to attack us from the sky? A screeching. H-here, have some Plupple bucks. Last I saw her, she fell down a pit, and you know, that stinks, but hey, I got a hunch I know where she is. Happy to take you guys there. To her side, the tiny ghost of a hot dog witch named PAM.
Or just your stupid disaster of a life? But now, thanks to you, a-hole, I do exist. I feel. I suffer. And I get pissed about stuff like, oh, being stuck on a prison on a planet full of very dumb blue things and their drooling, Humpty-Dumpty-ass King, or my crew mates!
The soup, and my spectacular Grammy-winning brother-in-law, probably being dead as hell in the jungle somewhere! PAM: Huh, that smells like magic. Yes, I love them. Anyway, the venerable Doctor Goondis is feeling much saner now, and he requests your audience in his throne room!
Perhaps a few parting words before the trial by combat. Find out next time on the Hot Daga. Father of Gina and Murry. Father of many things, in fact. Protector of the light, et-cetera. PAM: Ugh. Then I informed him of the prophecy fulfillment so he could summon his Gauntlet of Ultimate Power, or, G.
Then I choked to death. He sucks. Play shitty games, win shitty prizes, Pam. PAM: I killed my own sister… and her husband, and sort of their son in a roundabout way, all for nothing! Where I came from. The things I loved. PAM: calling Gene! Mike Soup! Anyway, I got murked and it chilled me out. Just visited Maizey in a subterranean prison cell, and it seemed like she could use your help.
PAM: Oh, what the heck? Without you, the Chili Wars might still be raging. PAM: aggressively sarcastic Oh, all right. You think I murdered an entire menu of beloved wedding guests by being honest? We better get a move on if we want to reach your friend before sundown. Ha, I let you sleep an extra ten minutes because you looked so at peace! Well, anyway, back to status quo soon. Enough racket, really. Yes, sir, a little peace and quiet, under the, heh heh, the guiding hand of the venerable Doctor Goondis, oh boy.
Then I can really focus on my brows. Mm, my luscious, strong, good brows. Because I happen to have that, right here, all yours. Is, uh… is Maizey around? By the people of Earth! Thanks, in large part, to you, actually. Coordinates should be uploaded. Most of the chaps is under the wreckage.
There's all your wool gone, sure pop! But, never mind, there's plenty more agrowing on the sheep's backs at Waajil. Don't you mind me now? An' there's no denyin' I've done you a d—— bad turn for it! All the same, I ain't agoin' to have you drowned into the bargain, if I can 'elp it. Now, jump like blazes arter me, an' then strike out and away from the ship. The steamer's boats 'ull sure to be round presently and pick us up.
Well, so long, if we doesn't met again. Of late he had begun to almost doubt his own identity; despair had taken firm hold on him and possessed his soul with a sort of sickening conviction that he was doomed to remain ever an outcast and a wanderer—a squalid and homeless servitor of other men.
And here, face to face with death, came grateful recognition. As in a flash he remembered it all now, and could almost have laughed aloud, as the huge severity of the punishment he had endured was borne home to him—three months of hideous and brutal slavery for one act of petty meanness out of thousands. Still, to his own astonishment, he had forgiven the man who had worked him such woe. More, he was beginning to wonder if people were justified in calling him "Hungry" and a "nigger driver," and his station a "workhouse," as he had often heard they did.
Hard and sharp he knew he was, and had been proud of the fact. But the experience of the past months had knocked all the pride out of him. He, too, latterly in the silent night watches had found time for some reflection and searching of heart, and he knew that he was a changed man—whether for better or worse he was not quite certain. And here he was, up to his chin in water, battling furiously with the waves that dashed at him and flung brine into his smarting eyes, and tried to get down his throat and choke him, and would quickly have made an exit of him but for the lifebelt that the other man had robbed himself of for him.
He had jumped just behind Simms, but could see no signs of him, or hear ought except the roaring of water as he struggled blindly ahead. Once he thought he heard a shriek of despair close to him, but the little moon gave so feeble a light as to be almost worse than none. Presently his arm struck a floating spar, and, dragging himself upon it, he stared around. At first, panting with exhaustion, and half blinded, he could make out nothing at all.
Then he saw the steamer's lights, quite close by; also other lights dancing about. He shouted wildly, but the wind bore his voice away from what he was now certain must be boats searching for any survivors. Of the Hoboken herself he could see nothing. Presently he heard the shrill screaming of a siren, and gradually the lights made towards the steamer. She was recalling her boats. And as he realised this, and the bitterness of death, trebly accentuated by the nearness of help, seized upon him more forcibly than ever—he alternately wept, and raved, and prayed, and cursed.
When he recovered he found himself on the steamship City of Teheran , bound to Auckland N. There were but two other survivors, so awfully sudden had been the catastrophe that sent the ill-fated Hoboken to the bottom, and both of them—an Italian and a German—were so terribly injured by falling spars as to make their recovery very doubtful. Truly his revenge had been more complete than he would have either dreamt of or wished for.
Having no mind to tell his story to the Teheran 's people, he kept his own counsel. And, inasmuch as he was the only one who could testify—none knowing better, for they were amongst his special cares—that the Hoboken on the night of the collision was showing no lights, the steamer's officers treated him particularly well; clad him decently, and offered him a wage as assistant to the man who looked after some cattle and horses they had on board.
Shortly before they arrived at Auckland the two seamen died of their injuries, thus leaving Morgan the only survivor out of all the Hoboken's company. From the New Zealand city, after giving evidence before the Marine Board in his character of rouseabout of the Hoboken , he took a steerage passage to Sydney in one of the Union steamers, landing there after such a four months' experience as had—whilst sprinkling his hair with grey, and bowing his back, and hardening his hands,—begun already to effect a radical change in the hard nature of the man. Combing, as he read a note from Morgan, asking him to call at the Metropole, "there'll be the deuce to pay about that Hoboken wool.
Under insured, too, a couple of thousand! He's bound to swear it was all my fault; and we'll lose his clip. Oh, hang it, let it go then! In any case, there's no satisfaction in working for a sour, mean cuss like that. If he starts naggin', I'll just give him a bit of my mind that'll surprise him. But, to Mr. As if this were not miracle enough; his client actually invited him to stay and dine with him—gave him a good dinner, too, with plenty of that dry, old Heidsieck that the worthy broker's heart delighted in. His client, it appeared, had been from home—away on a tour—and was only now returning to the station.
And although Mr. Combing had hazarded no remark on the subject, he privately thought that it must have been a curious sort of tour that could not only send comparative youth well on towards middle age, but apparently change the nature of a man into the bargain. But he said nothing, not even when the squatter handed him a long list of station requisites to be forwarded at once to Waajil; and he noticed that every item, especially that one of rations—heretofore a byword for rubbish—was to be of the best quality.
Only when he got outside did he relieve his feelings with a long, loud whistle, and the remark, "Well, now, I wonder where that tour took him to? If I knew the place, there's a few other folk in this city I could recommend to make it with advantage. It was breathlessly hot, and the metallic chirring of the cicadas rang through the still air till the whole bush seemed to vibrate with it, as two nomads met on the dusty track, and—as if by mutual consent—turned off and made for a shady mulga, cast their swags from their tired shoulders, took a sparing drink at their water bags, filled their pipes, and prepared to exchange the news of the wallaby track.
You never got that tucker there, I'll swear. An' got 'unted off wi' dogs afore I'd time to open my mouth, So I just took my 'ook, an' I sez, 'No more Waajil for this chicken,' and I mean it too, you bet. Kitchen and a cook; and travellers gits their suppers and breakfus' without a word; ay, an' a bit in the mornin' to carry 'em along the track. New buildin's there is too, an' a 'ut fer strangers, cumfable as ever you seen, An' wages—for them as likes work—right up to distrik rates. Take it from me, mate, there ain't a better shop in the West than Waajil, An' there ain't no 'Ungry Morgan' no more!
Don't you never miss givin' it a call when yer a passin'. The Maritana, a steel sailer, of tons, bound from Algoa Bay, in ballast, to Newcastle, New South Wales, had crept safely through Bass Strait, and, rounding Cape Howe, was now, under very short canvas, making up the coast to her destination in the teeth of a strong northerly. The captain and his officers were all strangers in Australian waters, and kept their ship much closer into the land than she had any business to be, considering the state of the weather.
At sundown on this especial day the wind all at once shifted to south-east, and blew stronger than ever in thick, blinding squalls of rain; whilst the Maritana, under three lower topsails, and flying light, jigged and reeled unsteadily through the blackness. The skipper had been able to get no observations at noon; but from the glimpses he caught of the coastline, imagined himself to be abreast of Jervis Bay. About, midnight a far-off light was sighted that the mate and he agreed must be at the entrance to Port Jackson.
Afraid of over-running Newcastle if he kept on at this rate, he, after awhile, hove his ship to under the lower main topsail, reckoning, at the time, that he must be fully thirty miles from the land. It was blowing now harder than ever; one watch had gone below, and the other was sheltering aft from the sheets of spindrift that, high as she bulked, flew thickly over the ship from the fo'c's'le-head to taffrail. The skipper was on deck attempting anxiously, but in vain, to peer through the heavy darkness in the direction he knew the land to lie. He was far from easy in his mind at being so close to a strange coast on such a night; and once or twice he started as he thought he heard the ominous noise made by waves on a rock-bound shore.
Then, satisfied that it was only the rush of the seas alongside, and the hungry moaning of the wind amongst the naked spars and gear aloft, he resumed his unsteady pacing up and down the short poop. All at once, and just as he had determined to go below and take a short rest, there came a sudden shock, that made the Maritana tremble, as she heeled over slightly, broadside on, and remained motionless whilst great seas swept across her lofty rail. The next minute, however, she bumped again and again, the whole length of her, and then seemed to slip over into deeper water.
Conceiving that he had safely cleared some hidden reef, and was in soundings, the captain ordered an anchor to be let go. But the cable snapped like thread, and the ship, forced along by the sledge-hammer blows of the big seas, soon took the ground again, finally becoming motionless, apparently in the very midst of a roaring mass of breakers, which, though invisible in the darkness, could be heard to right and left in booming thunder. The Maritana had already slewed round some what, so as to be nearly bows on to the shore; her decks were untenable, and the crew had climbed into the rigging, expecting every minute that the vessel would go to pieces; and here deafened and bewildered by the dreadful crushing chorus around them, they hung on, striving to pierce the dense gloom ahead, that to their imagination concealed a range of lofty and perpendicular cliffs, at the foot of which their vessel lay grinding her plates to bits.
But as the night wore on, the Maritana seemed to become comfortable, also more upright, and beyond a shiver when, now and again, an unusually heavy sea hit her, was almost motionless. And when morning at last broke, the castaways saw to their utter astonishment that the ship was on a small sandy beach not two hundred yards in length, but from each extremity ran out lines of grim reefs, over whose black and jagged teeth the surf still ran in masses of foaming madness.
Just across the upper margin of the beach, cuddled into a sheltered hollow, lay a little hamlet that as the hot summer sun rose reflected his rays cheerfully from its roofs of galvanised iron. To make matters, if possible, still more grotesque to those who had been so long waiting in the Valley of the Shadow, there presently rushed past, quite close at hand, a pulling locomotive, drawing a train of cars, whose windows were blocked with heads as the passengers stared in wonder at the no less surprised seamen.
Never perhaps was such a shipwreck, for, except a smashed boat and some missing odds and ends from off her decks, the Maritana was absolutely intact alow and aloft; also, to add to the completeness of the thing, her crew, at low water, got out a ladder and dropped dry-footed on to the beach, and were welcomed by the people of the township to hot breakfast at their homes, and long cool drinks at hotels in which to toast their wonderful luck in having hit Australia in one of her few soft spots, when a few yards to the right or left must have meant instant annihilation.
And all this, which is the first miracle, is matter of history. The Maritana was "abandoned to the under writers," who, however, did nothing, because of some legal impedimente to be first overcome. Thus there was presented the extraordinary spectacle of a full-rigged ship, with only her lower maintopsail set, and, but for her rusty, weather worn sides, looking to all intents and purposes as much a-taunto as when she left the docks, settling in her sandy bed and staring at the town with a comical look of surprise; nearly dry at low water; at high with the waves curling white to the beach rods in front of her bows.
From far inland stations, right away in the furthest back blocks, nomads were flocking to the Capital. The winter was approaching, and the Government had started relief works.
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Two shillings per day, the merest pretence of work, and "whips" of the best tucker was incomparably better than "humping bluey" for worse than nothing, and more often than not an empty belly into the bargain. So they came in shoals to shovel sand, and haunt the foreshores of the harbour, a, for the most part, dirty, frowsy, battered, Falstaffian army, lightly burdened by swags, empty in pocket, as in reputation; the offscourings of the great Bush. Thus it happened that one cold, damp evening, no less than six nomads, making city-ward in companies of three, foregathered on a scrubby knoll overlooking the Marltana.
Nor, amongst the six could they muster food enough for one; neither money to buy any; neither as much tobacco as would fill a pipe. They had already vainly attempted to exploit the township. The people there, however, had of late lost many things at the hands of exactly similar vagrom men; therefore would have none of them: also a trooper had sternly moved them on, and intimated that he "meant to keep an eye on the push.
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Thus they sat on their meagre swags, tired, hungry, and footsore, and each in turn cursed the township, the constable, the country, and the "Gover'ment," more particularly the "Gover'ment. Le's tackle that there ship. She'll keep us dry. An' I don't believe as there's a soul on board of 'er. I only seen one bloke, an' he come away an hour ago.
It was now raining; the tide was coming in fast; had, indeed, wetted the last man to his knees. The decks were slippery with salt slime, the gear blackened with damp and disuse, and hanginig in bights; deck-houses and deck furniture rusty and forlorn. Instinctively the nomads made for the saloon. The watchman had locked the doors before going ashore, and it took them some time to get in. But, once there, they found warmth and comfort, and food and drink. Then, lighting a fire in the cabin stove, they feasted on white biscuits and cheese and tinned things, washed down with bottled beer and rum; whilst outside the wind rose, and the sea began to slap the Maritana's steel cheeks with great resounding slaps, and the solitary sail, alternately filled as its unbraced yards caught the breeze, or collapsed aback in shocks that sounded like muffled explosions to the ears of the merry nomads around the saloon table.
But they took no heed of anything. Seldom, indeed, had their luck fallen in such pleasant quarters. And they laughed, and ate, and drank, sprawling on the comfortable settees; and they sung strange bush songs about squatters and sheep, and the "Wallaby," and they smoked long Trichinopoly cheroots, of which someone had found a bundle, and enjoyed themselves very thoroughly. An unkempt company with matted hair and beards, and clothes long lived in by night and day; grimy, sour-smelling, unshorn men, answering only to "Billy," and "Jimmie," and "Tom" and "Jack," qualified mostly by some expressive adjective.
Men who, in their own vernacular, had "no come from and no go to;" who were at home when their hats were on; by turns "sundowners," of the inland bush, and loafers around the restaurants, and wharves, and parks of the capital. Meanwhile, the wind rose to a gale, blowing steadily from the south-west; also it was, as it chanced, the time of the highest of the spring tides. And the Maritana, loosened in her soft bed by the working together of wind and wave, moved uneasily, as the water, rushing down through the sandcracks, got under her keel, and so lifted her, little by little, that, at last, her bows floated.
Then the twisting of them raised the stern, until, with one final wrench, she shook herself free altogether, and gradually coming round before wind and sea, and drifting within a yard of a sharp-toothed rock, went tossing like a cork away into the South Pacific, carrying with her, locked fast in a drunken sleep, the most curious crew that ever sailed salt water. An old man with a hooked nose and little blue eyes, cunning and pig-like; bald but for a fringe of dirty grey hairs; a long beard, white but for long streaks as of iron-rust; face leathery, tanned, full of deep wrinkles and furrows, strangers to soap from their birth almost.
Sitting up, he stared bewildered around the saloon. The swinging lamp burned with a sickly yellow glare in the dawn that entered through the broken door and the poop skylight. On the floor, rolled to and fro with each sharp, jerking motion of the vessel, lay "Billy the Mouse," and "Boko Jimmy," and "Rusty Frank," and all the rest of them.
Painfully, and with a deadly feeling off sickness, Snowy got on his feet, and staggered outside, and gazed in speechless amazement at the endless expanse of grey, foam-tipped rollers; at the leaden sky that met them; at the Maritana nosing about as she scudded before the gale, coming to and falling off with half the compass to spare on each side, and taking green seas in turn to port and starboard and over the quarter, neither able to run fast enough to escape them, nor to lie close enough to the wind to make any weather at all of it.
The sun had been up some time, but was hidden behind the bank of clouds. Snowy cast his bleared gaze towards where he thought the land should be, but nothing met it save the same grey waste of heaving furrows. He felt ill, but he crawled back into the saloon, and with volleys of oaths aroused his companions. Git up ye loafin' swine an' come an' look fer the land, an' let's try an' pull 'er 'ead round fer Hostralier agin. Towards evening, wind and sea going down somewhat, they made shift to pull themselves together, and drink rum, and hold council on their plight.
With one consent they put the whole fault on the Mouse—the ferrety-eyed, undersized, tallow-faced little man who had first proposed taking refuge on board. Stop 'er! Strike me pink, I'd sooner be on a 'ot track with a hempty water bag an' no tucker than in sich a bloomin' mess as this! Aint none of us sailors enuff to know 'ow to stop the blanky beast a-tearin' an' a-tossin' hoff with us like she's a-doin', an seems like to keep on a-doin' ov till we're all starved inter skillitons?
But the others only stared vacantly at the bewildering maze of lofty spars and gear, and shook their heads. None of them knew anything about the matter, or, indeed, about much else except the best stations on far back bush tracks at which to get "a feed," or the best bends along inland rivers in which to camp and catch fish.
They were all men over fifty, and for many years had scarcely ever, and then only under pressure of direst circumstance, done any harder work than cut a few burrs. So, at last, resigning themselves to the inevitable, they, never dreaming even of setting a watch for passing ships, returned to the cabin, and slept and ate, and drank and smoked, and played euchre with tattered, grimy packs of cards they produced from their swags, whilst the Maritana drifted, for the most part, aimlessly about; but, owing to a northerly current, making, on the whole, despite all changes of wind, an average north by east course, sometimes nearly in sight of the coast, at others well out.
And, curiously enough, neither could a couple of tugs that had been dispatched in search of the missing ship see anything of her; nor, for a long time, did any traces whatever of her turn up; therefore it was generally supposed that she had gone down on that night of storm during which she broke away.
Meanwhile, the nomads having eaten out the cabin supplies and drunk all the rum and beer, were reduced to salt pork and beef and very hard and often weevily biscuits, fare that after their first feastings, they resented. Otherwise, they had become in a measure familiarised with their situation, and had explored every nook and cranny they could gain access to. The maintopsail sheets having, somehow, been let go, the sail, one stormy night, blew to ribbons, the remnants adding not a little to the forlorn appearance of the masterless ship.
After a while, the weather became fine and hot, and the six lounged and slept about the warm decks till the pitch in the seams stuck to their decayed clothes, and abstracted fragments every time they rose. Tobacco was getting scarce and precious, and they stole it from each other during the night, and then fought and nagged savagely; and old Snowy, and the Mouse, and Boko, being the strongest, thumped the other three out of the saloon, and forced them to take shelter in the forward house, or crew's quarters; made them, also, do what cooking there was, and generally fetch and carry for them.
And all of them grew, day by day, frowsier, and hairier, and dirtier, and more greasy, and altogether so squalid and malodorous, as to perceptibly taint the Pacific breeze. At length an Island trader, heading towards the coast for a land fall, sighted the derelict, and bore down on her. Backing his foreyards close along side, the skipper of the Dancing Jane and his crew stared in amazement at the six scarecrows, who peered down at him over the Maritana's lofty rail; at the ship herself, rusty, weather stained, listed to port, her sails lumping loosely in the relaxed gaskets; shreds of her topsail waving forlornly; and from her hawse-pipe a remnant of chain cable banging with every roll against her bows.
We've got nawthin' but blarsted salt tucker an' biscuits with blanky grubs in 'em. We're about full up, we are; an' want to get back to the bush ov Hostralia agin; which, if it ain't much chop, at least knows enuff to keep itself still. If yer can find the track back agin, boss, yer'd best take us with yous. We'll jist chuck our swags together an' climb down if yer'll come closer. You've got provisions and water, haven't you? Yes, well I'll report you when I get in, and they'll send a steamer to you.
A pritty nice sort o' Crischun you are to gammon you ain't got room! Le's git on your boat, an' we'll chanst all that. But the captain of the Dancing Jane hesitated. It's my belief there's something wrong. I don't like the looks o' the crowd, either. Nor the stink o' em. A ship goin' ashore in that fashion without stranding a rope yarn; and then o' six Bushies gettin' on her, an' her gettin' off in the night, an' sailin' away with 'em. Let 'em rip, sir. I can see mischief in the beggars' faces.
They're escaped gaol-birds, that's what they are, or looks is very deceivin'. A couple of nights after this it came on to blow great guns from the eastward, with a sea to match; and before the two the Maritana drove with swept decks straight for the coast she had kept away from so long and so luckily. She hit it at midnight, stern first, and, this time, on solid rock near Port Hacking. Her stern struck on the reef, her three masts went crashing over the side, her plates cracked and broke like iron pots, deckhouses and galley went like feathers; while the nomads, all together now, crouched and shivered in a corner of thc saloon, dumb with terror at the fearful racket around them—the din of the smashing ship and the combined rushing and roaring of the wind and the great seas that swept over her.
Still the after part held together; and when morning broke, and the Six made shift to crawl up the companion, they found that, whilst all the rest of her had entirely disappeared, the poop had been hove right up on the roof, and wedged firmly there. Almost overhead, and hardly a hundred yards away, towered lofty cliffs, with a little beach beneath them; and, at low water they saw to their joy that they would be able to walk ashore, almost as dry as, weeks ago, they had walked on board.
Sure enough, at mid day, they rolled up their swags and clambered down the Maritana's side, and across the slippery rocks, until they reached the bench, where, with one accord, facing towards the poor remnant that had made their salvation, they solemnly cursed it and all ships, and the sea, and all men that used them; and then, turning their backs upon the storm-washed shore, they straggled slowly inland, with bowed shoulders—six thankless, worthless, dingy souls, all unwitting of the second miracle. Boorali was considered by everyone who had to do with it, except the shareholders, an ideal station.
For the people of the neighboring township there was practically open house kept; the employees were well fed, well paid, and not overworked; the small holders on the run were never interfered with when using the station water or eating the station grass—or even when, as was rumored, appropriating the station sheep. It was a very fine station indeed, except, as already mentioned, for those financially concerned. And these, for the most part, lived in the United Kingdom—a very long way off indeed, in the days of which we write.
Certainly, they were represented in Endeavor, the capital of the colony, by a board of directors—all most worthy and conscientious old gentlemen. But these had their own businesses to attend to; and although they met once a month with the utmost regularity, and pocketed their three guinea fees with equanimity, not one of the four seemed to care about undertaking the long journey into the interior to personally discuss why, good seasons or bad ones, the Boorali properties never paid a dividend, large or small.
Of course, even in those days, there were returns made up on the main station and forwarded at more or less regular intervals to the board in Endeavor, which, after reading, as duly forwarded them on to the one in England, which as duly printed them for the edification of the shareholders. And from these it appeared that in bad seasons, which, of course, predominated, as they always do, the stock simply vanished in tens of thousands, for want of grass and water, and that in good ones the animal, vegetable, and other pests, such as dingoes, kangaroos, wallabies: burrs both Bathurst and clover , grass-seed, prickly pear, wild indigo; fluke, footrot, and worms, made any chance of profit impossible.
Such was the unvarying tenor of the reports; although the cost of upkeep and the rate of wages never appeared to diminish. One fine hot morning in December, a fortnight or so before Christmas, a man, riding one horse and leading another, entered Coolibah, the nearest township to Boorali. Choosing the smallest hotel out of the half-dozen that with some scattered stores and houses made up the main street, he rode into the yard and saw that his horses were watered and sent to a paddock.
Then, lounging into the bar with his pack he called for a drink, and invited the landlord to also partake. You see," continued the landlord, as his guest motioned him to refill the glasses, "always to'rds Christmas there's a big cricket match atween the stations an' the township.
Ginerally lasts three days—an' sometimes they makes the bloomin' week of it. Oh, high old times we has, I can tell you. What's that you say? Mus' be a fine station? You bet, it is just that. See this 'ouse? Well, I made it at Boorali in three years. Fifty pound a mile for skelliton fences—pine posts 12 foot apart an' five wires—soon runs inter money. You bet! The traveller thanked him, and remarked, "I suppose the manager doesn't come in to play cricket?
Why, he don't know a bat from a ball. You see, Mr. Vere-Stackpoole don't take no part much in the management. Why, sometimes you'd never know 'e was on the station for weeks together.
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Then in winter there's football, an' lashin's of drink in 'ut an' 'ouse all the year round. Never was such a station as Boorali! He was a short-set man, with tanned face, a remarkably white set of teeth, grizzled hair, beard, and moustache, and a small, sharp pair of blue eyes. He might, from his dress, have been a shearer, a drover, or just what he assumed to be, a "traveller" looking for a job.
As he sat and smoked and pondered, a cloud of dust at the end of the street—it was over a mile in length—caught his eye, and presently, led by two four-in-hand drags, came a crowd of horsemen. Six or seven young men dismounted in front of where he sat, and, shouting for the groom, rushed tumultuously into the bar, and called for drinks.
From snatches of talk he gathered that in addition to cricket, there were to be races, and that the "fun" would last a week. That night Boorali let it be known to the full that it was visiting Coolibah. So much so that early next morning, long before sunrise, the stranger had caught his horses, saddled, and packed them, and was on his way to Boorali. The price of his supper and bed he left on the table in his room, quite certain that it was useless to attempt arousing anybody belonging to the house. At the end of a ten-mile ride he came to a dilapidated fence that a slatternly boundary rider's wife told him was the boundary of Boorali.
Inside the fence the grass was plentiful and green. Evidently a good season. The stranger, leaving the road, struck across a paddock to look at some sheep. The mob, he found, was composed of wethers, ewes, lambs, and a few rams. At a tank, half-silted up, he found three full-woolled ewes rolling; out of the bog he pulled four more that had evidently been there some time—perhaps for days.
His face grew very black as he remounted and noted the utter neglect everywhere apparent—the great groves of burrs, the luxuriant patches of "pear," and the fences smashed by fallen timber, and showing wide gaps of broken posts and wires. The homestead was like a small village, but a deserted one; and not until after some search could he find anybody to tell him where the men's quarters were situated. At last, however, glancing into a building, he discovered a man asleep on a couch.
On a table were scattered many books—ledgers, journals, etc. Among them stood a half-empty brandy bottle. Evidently this must be the station office. As the traveller stared around the man awoke. I've been waiting months for some fellow who understood the business to come along. I was going to Coolibah with' the others, only the returns were nearly due down below. There's always a row if they don't get 'em in time. Not that they're any the wiser for having 'em.
The chief accountant died six months ago in Coolibah Hospital, and the assistant accountant cleared out with the petty cash and anything else he could lay his hands on. So the bosses gave me the billet. I am the head storekeeper.
I told 'em I knew precious little about bookkeeping. But they said I'd be sure to pick it up in time. So, knowing they didn't want a stranger, I took the job on. But it's been a tight pull to get these returns out, I can tell you. Besides, I don't fancy, somehow or other, that the books themselves are quite right since Sinclair—the chap who died—left. By the way.
The other's jaw dropped for a minute, and he looked foolish. Then, glancing at the well-worn clothes of the visitor, and out to where the patient horses hung at the fence, he recovered himself, and said: "Come, my good man, none of your bluff here! It won't do! If you want a job, I've offered you one. Take it, or leave it; but you'll have to behave yourself. Stackpoole that I want to see him," said the other sternly, his eyes flashing like sparks of blue fire. Glancing at the contents, the "accountant" muttered, "I thought it couldn't last much longer! Robinson, "If I tell you the whole business, will you let me off?
The others roped me into it. As God's my judge, they did! Sinclair knew it, and it drove him to drink and death. Only a story of waste and extravagance; a mismanaged property; defrauded shareholders and an incompetent head—all bad enough, of course. But nothing to make you look as if you'd committed murder. Go and tell the manager I want to see him at once! The other hesitated. Then he blurted out, "He isn't here, sir. He left twelve months ago, and we've never seen him since. He had a studio and a laboratory, and an astronomical outfit, to keep him busy.
He seldom or ever saw visitors; and he left all the entertaining and that sort of thing to us. Robinson, cynically. And you expect me to believe this cock-and-bull story, eh? I tell you what, young man, the whole business looks very fishy, and one the police must have something to say on. I'm off to Coolibah now to interview the managers and assistant managers, and assistant deputy-overseers, and all the other dignitaries; also the police.
But when Mr. Robinson reached the township he found that a "bush telegram" had preceded him, and that the responsible station officials had disappeared as totally as their late manager seemed to have done. The police came out, and ransacked the homestead and grounds; but of the missing manager no trace was found, Then Mr. Robinson took things in hand, and made them "hum" to such a tune as fully justified the English directors in their choice of a man to look after their interests.
But Coolibah and the neighborhood sulked for a long time, and until they realised the fact that the station was being run on permanently economical principles, and that, so to speak, the notice was up of "No Admittance Except on Business. The unfortunate "wirtuoso" had evidently emerged one night to "take a star" by whose aid to work out some of the intricate problems he so delighted in, and, forgetting the old shaft, had fallen fifty feet and broken his neck.
As eight bells in the afternoon watch struck a hundred feet below him, a seaman who had just finished putting some tarred parcelling in the wake of the main-royal backstay where it touches the topmast-crosstree outrigger took a look around before descending from his perch. It is a habit constant and engrained in the race—this long, steady stare around the rim of the horizon at irregular intervals when aloft. There are more surprises at sea than ever came out of Africa; and no one knows what minute the terrible and mysterious element may choose for springing a specimen of them upon her sons.
Therefore they are incessantly on the look-out, and more especially when engaged high in air amongst the intricate combination of running and standing gear, spars and canvas, that crown the hull of a sailer.
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