"The Cottage Is Always Set Apart For Distinguished Visitors," Mine Host
Said, Bidding Us Welcome With Another Smile, But Never A Hint That He Was
Placing His Own Private Quarters At Our Disposal.
Like all bushmen, he
could be delicately reticent when conferring a favour; but a forgotten
razor-strop betrayed him later on.
In the meantime we discovered the remainder of the Settlement from the
Cottage verandahs, spying out the Police Station as it lurked in ambush
just round the first bend in a winding bush track - apparently keeping
one eye on the "Pub"; and then we caught a gleam of white roofs away
beyond further bends in the track, where the Overland Telegraph
"Department" stood on a little rise, aloof from the "Pub" and the Police,
shut away from the world, yet attending to its affairs, and,
incidentally, to those of the bush-folk: a tiny Settlement, with a tiny
permanent population of four men and two women - women who found their own
homes all-sufficient, and rarely left them, although the men-folk were
here, there, and everywhere.
All around and within the Settlement was bush: and beyond the bush,
stretching away and away on every side of it, those hundreds of thousands
of square miles that constitute the Never-Never - miles sending out and
absorbing again from day to day the floating population of the Katherine.
Before supper the Telegraph Department and the Police Station called on
the Cottage to present compliments. Then the Wag came with his welcome.
"Didn't expect you to-day," he drawled, with unmistakable double meaning
in his drawl.
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