Darwin looked interested. "Mac hasn't wasted much time in making
inquiries," it said.
"Or in apologies or explanations," the Maluka added shortly, and sent in
reply: "Wife can ride, secure suitable mount."
But the Sanguine Scot's fighting blood was up, and almost immediately the
wire rapped out: "No side-saddle obtainable. Stock horses all flash"; and
the onlookers stared in astonishment.
"Mac's in deadly earnest this time," they said, and the Maluka, with a
quiet "So am I," went back to the telegraph.
Now, in the Territory everybody knows everybody else, but particularly
the telegraph people; and it often happens that when telegrams of general
interest are passing through, they are accompanied by confidential
asides - little scraps of harmless gossip not intended for the
departmental books; therefore it was whispered in the tail of the last
message that the Katherine was watching the fight with interest was
inclined to "reckon the missus a goer," and that public sympathy was with
the stockman - the Katherine had its women-folk and was thankful; but the
Katherine knew that although a woman in a settlement only rules her
husband's home, the wife of a station-manager holds the peace and comfort
of the stockmen in the hollow of her hand.
"Stock horses all flash," the Sanguine Scot said, and then went out and
apologised to an old bay horse.