“What was Harry doing all this time?” asked auntie. “What did he say?”
Harold had been present all the while, yet I could not call to mind one thing he had said. I cannot remember him ever holding forth on a subject or cause, as most people do at one time or another.
Idylls of Youth
In pursuance of his duty a government mail-contractor passed Caddagat every Monday, dropping the Bossier mail as he went. On Thursday we also got the post, but had to depend partly on our own exertions.
A selector at Dogtrap, on the Wyambeet run, at a point of the compass ten miles down the road from Caddagat, kept a hooded van. Every Thursday he ran this to and from Gool-Gool for the purpose of taking to market vegetables and other farm produce. He also took parcels and passengers, both ways, if called upon to do so. Caddagat and Five-Bob gave him a great deal of carrying, and he brought the mail for these and two or three other places. It was one of my duties, or rather privileges, to ride thither on Thursday afternoon for the post, a leather bag slung round my shoulders for the purpose. I always had a splendid mount, and the weather being beautifully hot, it was a jaunt which I never failed to enjoy. Frank Hawden went with me once or twice—not because grannie or I thought his escort necessary. The idea was his own; but I gave him such a time that he was forced to relinquish accompanying me as a bad job.
Harold Beecham kept a snivelling little Queensland black boy as a sort of black-your-boots, odd-jobs slavey or factotum, and he came to Dogtrap for the mail, but after I started to ride for it Harold came regularly for his mail himself. Our homeward way lay together for two miles, but he always came with me till nearly in sight of home. Some days we raced till our horses were white with lather; and once or twice mine was in such a state that we dismounted, and Harold unsaddled him and wiped the sweat off with his towel saddle-cloth, to remove the evidence of hard riding, so that I would not get into a scrape with uncle Jay-Jay. Other times we dawdled, so that when we parted the last rays of sunset would be laughing at us between the white trunks of the tall gum-trees, the kookaburras would be making the echoes ring with their mocking good-night, and scores of wild duck would be flying quickly roostward. As I passed through the angle formed by the creek and the river, about half a mile from home, there came to my cars the cheery clink-clink of hobble-chains, the jangle of horse-bells, and the gleam of a dozen camp-fires. The shearing was done out in Riverina now, and the men were all going home. Day after day dozens of them passed along the long white road, bound for Monaro and the cool country beyond the blue peaks to the southeast, where the shearing was about to begin. When I had come to Caddagat the last of