Page:Bush Studies (1902).djvu/93

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81
BILLY SKYWONKIE

throat in shrill welcome to two iron tanks, hoisted twenty feet and blazing like evil eyes from a vanished face.

Beside them it squatted on its hunkers, placed a blackened thumb on its pipe, and hissed through its closed teeth like a snared wild-cat, while gulping yards of water. The green slimy odour penetrated to the cattle. The lustiest of these stamped feebly, clashing their horns and bellowing a hollow request.

A long-bearded bushman was standing on the few slabs that formed a siding, with a stockwhip coiled like a snake on his arm. The woman passenger asked him the name of the place.

"This is ther Never-Never—ther lars' place Gord made," answered one of the drovers who were crowding the windows.

"Better'n ther 'ell 'ole yous come from, any'ow," defended the bushman. "Breakin' ther 'earts, an' dyin' from suerside, cos they lef' it," he added derisively, pointing to the cattle.

In patriotic anger he passed to the guard-van without answering her question, though she looked anxiously after him. At various intervals during the many halts of the train, she had heard