“You’ll sometimes get ten different sorts rolled into one,” he said finally, after a long dissertation. “But, generally speaking, there’s just three sorts of ’em. There’s Snorters—the goers, you know—the sort that go rampaging round, looking for insults, and naturally finding them; and then there’s fools; and they’re mostly screeching when they’re not smirking—the uncertain-coy-and-hard-to-please variety, you know,” he chuckled, “and then,” he added seriously, “there’s the right sort, the sort you tell things to. They’re A1 all through the piece.”
The Sanguine Scot was confident, though, that they were all alike, and none of ’em were wanted; but one of the Company suggested “If she was little, she’d do. The little ’uns are all right,” he said.
But public opinion deciding that “the sort that go messing round where they know they’re not wanted are always big and muscular and snorters,” the Sanguine Scot was encouraged in his determination to “block her somehow.”
“I’ll block her yet; see if I don’t,” he said confidently. “After all these years on their own, the boys don’t want a woman messing round the place.” And when he set out for the railway along the north track, to face the “escorting trick,” he repeated his assurances. “I’ll block her, chaps, never fear,” he said; and glowering at a “quiet” horse that had been sent by the lady at the Telegraph, added savagely, “and I’ll begin by losing that brute first turn out.”
From sun-up to sun-down on Tuesday, the train glided quietly forward on its way towards the Never-Never; and from sun-up to sun-down the Maluka and I experienced the kindly consideration that it always shows to travellers: it boiled a billy for us at its furnace; loitered through the pleasantest valleys; smiled indulgently, and slackened speed whenever we made merry with blacks, by pelting them with chunks of water-melon; and generally waited on us hand and foot, the Man-in-Charge pointing out the beauty spots and places of interest, and making tea for us at frequent intervals.
It was a delightful train—just a simple-hearted, chivalrous, weather-beaten old bush-whacker, at the service of the entire Territory. “There’s nothing the least bit officious or standoffish about it,” I was saying, when the Man-in-Charge came in with the first billy of tea.
“Of course not!” he said, unhooking cups from various crooked-up fingers. “It’s a Territorian, you see.”
“And had all the false veneer of civilisation peeled off long ago,” the Maluka said, adding, with a sly look at my discarded gloves and gossamer, “It’s wonderful how quietly the Territory does its work.”
The Man-in-Charge smiled openly as he poured out the tea, proving thereby his kinship with all other Territorians; and as the train came to a standstill, swung off and slipped some letters into a box nailed to an old tree-trunk.