“But there are others as bad as he left behind. I wouldn’t trust that fellow Boscobel a yard.”
“He won’t stir, Sir. He belongs to this country, and does not want to leave it. And when a thing has been tried like that and has failed, the fellows don’t try it again. They are cowed like by their own failure. I don’t think you need fear fire from the Boolabong side again this summer.”
After this the sergeant and his man discreetly allowed themselves to be put to bed in the back cottage; for in truth, when they arrived, things had come to such a pass at Gangoil that the two additional visitors were hardly welcome. But hospitality in the bush can be stayed by no such considerations as that. Let their employments or enjoyments on hand be what they may, every thing must yield to the entertainment of strangers. The two constables were in want of their Christmas dinner, and it was given to them with no grudging hand.
As to Nokes, we may say that he has never since appeared in the neighborhood of Gangoil, and that none thereabouts ever knew what was his fate. Men such as he wander away from one colony into the next, passing from one station to another, or sleeping on the ground, till they become as desolate and savage as solitary animals. And at last they die in the bush, creeping, we may suppose, into hidden nooks, as the beasts do when the hour of death comes on them.
The constables had started from Gangoil, on their way to Boolabong, a little after four, and from that time till he was made to get out of bed for his dinner Harry Heathcote was allowed to sleep. He had richly earned his rest by his work, and he lay motionless, without a sound, in the broad daylight, with his arm under his head, dreaming, no doubt, of some happy squatting land, in which there were no free-selectors, no fires, no rebellious servants, no floods, no droughts, no wild dogs to worry the lambs, no grass seeds to get into the fleeces, and in which the price of wool stood steady at two shillings and sixpence a pound. His wife from time to time came into the room, shading the light from his eyes, protecting him from the flies, and administering in her soft way to what she thought might be his comforts. His sleep was of the kind which no light, nor even flies, can interrupt. Once or twice she stooped down and kissed his brow, but he was altogether unconscious of her caress.
During this time old Mrs. Medlicot arrived; but her coming did not awake the sleeper, though it was by no means made in silence. The old woman sobbed and cried over her son, at the same time expressing her thankfulness that he should have turned up in the forest so exactly at the proper moment, evidently taking part in the conviction that her Giles had saved Gangoil and all its sheep. And then there were all the necessary arrangements to be made for the night, in accordance with which almost every body had to give up his or her bed and sleep somewhere else. But nothing disturbed Harry. For the present he was allowed to occupy his own room, and he enjoyed the privilege.