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IN red hot haste to get out of a Colonial
townwhere the life was too much like what
I had sailed eighteen thousand miles to avoid,
I agreed to my Mr. Gumscrew's terms without
debate. Board and lodging for self and
horse, undertaking to do the light work of
the farm for twelve months without wages.
On these conditions I took up my abode in a
wooden hut thatched with bark, on which any
well-bred short-horn would have looked with
contempt. The sun and moon shone clearly
through the chinks between the weather
boards; my bedstead was a bullock's hide
stretched over four posts driven into the
ground, a slip of green hide hanging from
wall to wall, formed at once my clothes-horse
and chest of drawers.

To the great contempt of my companion
and fellow lodger, the overseer, I did put up a
shelf for a few of my books, and drive in a
nail for a small shaving glass, although not
then able to boast a beard. The floor was of
clay, variegated with large holes where the
morning broom had swept too hard. The
fireplace, built of unhewn stone, formed a recess
half the size of our apartment. The kitchen
was detached, and although small, rather
better constructed than our chief hut, for the
cook built it himself, and being an 'old hand'
took pains with his special domain.

If I had been ordered into such a dog-kennel
in England how I should have grumbled,
and devoured my heart, in vain complainings;
but nowit was my own choice, I had hope
before me,—the glorious climate, the elastic
atmosphere made chinks and cracks in walls
of no consequence; and when inclined to
grumble, I thought of the dark den-like
lawyer's office in which I had wearied away
the last six months of my European life.

After a few days spent in cantering round
the neighbourhood, I was ready to commence
my light 'duties.'

Returning home one evening I stopped my
horse to look at our ploughman breaking up
a fine piece of alluvial flat, which had recently
been cleared and fenced in. He had ten pair
of oxen and a heavy swing plough at work.
There was a man to help him to drive, but his
voice was as good as his hands, and it was a
pleasure to see him, as he turned up a broad
furrow of virgin soil, and halted his team, and
lifted the big plough over the roots of the
stumps that dotted the paddock, as if it had
been a feather weight. Our ploughman, Jem
CardenBig Jem he was commonly called
was a specimen of English peasantry such as
we don't often see in Australia, tall, though a
round shouldered stoop took off something
from his height, large limbed but active, with
a curly fair-haired bullet head, light-blue
good-natured eyes, and hooked nose, large
mouth full of good teeth, a solid chin, a colour
which hard work and Australian sun could
not extract, and an expression of respectful
melancholy good nature that at once
prepossessed me in his favour. He was then in
the prime of life, a perfect master of every
kind of rural work, ploughing, sowing, reaping,
mowing, thatching, breaking-in, and
driving bullocks and horses, and not less an
adept in all Colonial pursuits, for he could do as
much with a saw, an auger, an axe, and an adze
as a European workman with a complete
chest of tools. He was a very good fellow,
too, always ready to help any one at a pinch;
when the stockman broke his leg he walked
twenty miles through the rain, a tropical rain
in bucketfuls, although they had fought the
day before about a dog of Jem's, the stockman
had been ill using; and yet Big Jem was a
convict, or speaking colonially, 'a prisoner.'

About a year after my arrival at the Station,
Mr. Gumscrew having purchased a large
herd of cattle a bargain from a person living
some 200 miles from us, in the Mochi
district, where all the grass was burned up,
determined on sending me for them, as there
was little doing at Springhill, and left me to
choose any one I pleased to accompany me.
I chose Carden.

We got our horses into the paddock close to
the hut overnight; the next morning, at
sunrise, buckled a blanket, a couple of shirts, a
bag of tea and sugar, a quart pot, and a pair
of hobbles to my saddle, and started in high

Now, living in the Bush, and especially while
travelling, there is not the same distance
between a master and well-behaved man,
although a prisoner, as in towns. From the first
I was interested in the ploughman, so I took
the opportunity of this expedition to learn
more about him.

We travelled all day from sunrise to
sundown, seldom going off a walk, at which our
horses could do nearly five miles an hour:
toward evening we tried to strike some
station or shepherd's hut, the whereabouts of
which Jem generally knew by the mixture
of experience and instinct that constitute a
perfect Bushman; if we could not light upon
a hut we camped down near a waterhole,
lighted a fire on some hollow fallen gum-tree,
hobbled out our horses on the pasture near,
put the quart pots to boil, the damper (flour
cake) in the ashes to bake, and smoked our pipes
until all was ready; then rolling up each in his
blanket, slept soundly on the bare ground.

I think it was on the third day that we
came upon a long stretch of open undulating
country, where the grass scarcely gave back
a sound to our horses' feet. I dropped the
reins on my little mare's neck, and began to
fill my pipe; but seeing Carden's pipe still
stuck in his straw hat, I knew he must be
bankrupt in a Bushman's greatest luxury, so
handed him my pouch, and said, 'Come, ride
along side me, and tell me how you came
here; for I cannot imagine how so honest a
fellow ever got into trouble.'