Wrap me up in my stockwhip and blanket,
And bury me deep down below,
Where the dingoes and crows won't molest me,
In the land where the coolibars grow.
I had fingers and toe to the dust to start up, but she held me as a vice, and I felt a great heaviness and a weight on my shoulders, as if Sampson's hands were there, and I went down again. Heaviness and weight vanished. But I had laughed my last, as far as she was concerned. I had had my laugh through, and was done with—had no further use for it for the time being. The last time I had heard those lines sung it was by a young woman, a girl of eighteen, in a fourth rate pub in Sydney, and she was recklessly drunk—and she had been a schoolmate of mine. It brought as much of the tale of the dead, dead past back to me as I wanted just then, and I let the old gipsy know that without speaking.
" Ah! " she said. " You have brown eyes, and your people may have been of our people once. But you fear the black eyes! You fear the black eyes! "
That was a fact anyway.
Then she, she was sitting on a black box of some kind, folded her skeleton hands on her lap, and turned a little to face the full moon that was just looking over the hedge, and which can look with more expression over an English hedge than over any sea, mountain, plain, bush or scrub in Australia.
Then, taking my hand again, and holding it on her bony knee, she began to sing—and in another voice, but low and sweet, as of an old woman who could sing