We Of The Never-Never By Jeanie
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We Of The Never-Never

By Jeanie "Mrs. Aeneas" Gunn

Dedicated To

"The Bush Folk OF THE NEVER-NEVER"

PRELUDE

We - are just some of the bush-folk of the Never-Never.

Distinct in the foreground stand:

The Maluka, The Little Missus, The Sanguine Scot, The Head Stockman, The Dandy, The Quiet Stockman, The Fizzer, Mine Host, The Wag, Some of our Guests, A few black "boys" and lubras, A dog or two, Tam-o'-Shanter, Happy Dick, Sam Lee, and last, but by no means least, Cheon - the ever-mirthful, ever-helpful, irrepressible Cheon, who was crudely recorded on the station books as cook and gardener.

The background is filled in with an ever-moving company - a strange medley of Whites, Blacks, and Chinese; of travellers, overlanders, and billabongers, who passed in and out of our lives, leaving behind them sometimes bright memories, sometimes sad, and sometimes little memory at all.

And All of Us, and many of this company, shared each other's lives for one bright, sunny year, away Behind the Back of Beyond, in the Land of the Never-Never; in that elusive land with an elusive name - a land of dangers and hardships and privations yet loved as few lands are loved - a land that bewitches her people with strange spells and mysteries, until they call sweet bitter, and bitter sweet. Called the Never-Never, the Maluka loved to say, because they, who have lived in it and loved it Never-Never voluntarily leave it. Sadly enough, there are too many who Never-Never do leave it. Others - the unfitted - will tell you that it is so called because they who succeed in getting out of it swear they will Never-Never return to it. But we who have lived in it, and loved it, and left it, know that our hearts can Never-Never rest away from it.

WE OF THE NEVER-NEVER

CHAPTER I

To begin somewhere near the beginning, the Maluka - better known at that time as the new Boss for the Elsey - and I, his "missus," were at Darwin, in the Northern Territory, waiting for the train that was to take us just as far as it could - one hundred and fifty miles - on our way to the Never-Never. It was out of town just then, up-country somewhere, billabonging in true bush-whacker style, but was expected to return in a day or two, when it would be at our service.

Jack, the Quiet Stockman, was out at the homestead, "seeing to things" there. The Sanguine Scot, the Head Stockman, and the Dandy, were in at the Katherine, marking time, as it were, awaiting instructions by wire from the Maluka, while some of the Company "put finishing touches" to their New Year celebrations. And every one, with, of course, the exception of those in Darwin, was blissfully unconscious of even the existence of the Maluka's missus. Knowing the Maluka by repute, however, every one was agreed that the "Elsey had struck it lucky," until the telegraph wire, whispering the gossip of Darwin to the Katherine, whispered that the "new Boss for the Elsey had been and gone and married a missus just before leaving the South, and was bringing her along with him." Then the Sanguine Scot was filled with wrath, the Company with compassion, while the Dandy's consternation found relief in a dismayed "Heavens above!" (The Dandy, by the way, was only a dandy in his love of sweet, clean clothes and orderly surroundings.

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