(April 8th to 14th)
‘He ran through the desert; he ran through the mountains; he ran through the salt-pans; he ran through the reed-beds; he ran through the blue gums; he ran through the spinifex; he ran till his front legs ached.
He had to !’
This is from ‘The Sing-song of Old Man Kangaroo’ in ‘Just So Stories’.
It tells the tale of how Old Man Kangaroo was chased through Australia by Yellow Dog Dingo, and how his hind legs grew and grew until he was different from all other animals.
…trains transferring me, at unholy hours, from one too-exclusive State gauge to another: of enormous skies and primitive refreshment rooms, where I drank hot tea and ate mutton, while now and then a hot wind, like the loo of the Punjab, boomed out of the emptiness. A hard land, it seemed to me, and made harder for themselves by the action of its inhabitants, who – it may have been the climate – always seemed a bit on edge.
This is from ‘Something of Myself’, Rudyard Kipling’s autobiography, completed shortly before his death and published posthumously.
Here – over 40 years later – he is recalling his visit to Australia as a young man, in 1891.
…’Look here ! From the time that this man Hickmot was twelve years old he’d ridden, driven – what’s the word ? – conducted sheep for his father for thousands of miles on end, months an’ months at a time, alone with these black fellers that you daren’t show the back of your neck to – else they knock your head in. That was all he’d ever done till he joined up. He – he – didn’t belong to anything in the world, you understand. And he didn’t strike other men as being a – a human being.’
This is from ‘A Friend of the Family’ in ‘Debits and Credits’. Some soldiers from the trenches are reminiscing. One of them recalls Hickmot, a Queensland sheep drover, a man with an uncanny gift of melting into the landscape. Hickmot had a close friend Bert Vigors whose father’s market garden business at home had been ruined by Margetts, a wealthy business-man, while he was away in the War. Bert is killed, and Hickmot makes his way to England and takes exemplary revenge on Margetts, by wrecking his greenhouses in what appears to be an air-raid.