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Bill's Yarn: and Jim's.

I.—BILL'S YARN.

“YOU don't believe in 'em?” said Bill. “I did n't, either—one time. But if ever you see one—like I did—and you lose your girl through it—like I did—you'll believe in 'em right enough, I promise you!”

“Did the girl see it too, Bill?”

“My word.”

“Were you scared?”

“Was I scared! Would you be scared if you saw six foot long of ghost coming at you?”

“Tell us about it, Bill.”

“Well, mind you, this is a true yarn, and you'd better make up your minds there's nothin' funny in it. And there's nothin' to laugh at in it, either. So, if any of you fellows wants to laugh, he'd better start now, and we'll go outside an' see whether he can give me a hidin' or I can give him one. Lend's a match.” And Bill lit his pipe.

We promised Bill that we would take his yarn seriously, because we could see he would be annoyed if we didn't, and Bill scales 12st. 13lb.

“They was havin' races at Bogalong,” said Bill, “at the pub. And there was a little girl working there that I was shook on, name of Mary—Mary—darned if I don't forget her other name. Now, that's curious, too! Mary—well, no matter. Never mind her other name. But I thought a lot of that girl those days. There was a jockey, though, named Joe Chanter, and I always thought he was the white-headed boy with Mary, and I had no show. But she was only stringing him on, after all. Only Joe never found it out. He was ridin' a colt for the publican this day


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in the Maiden, and the colt bolted and ran into a fence and chucked Joe, and they picked him up with his face stove in and his neck broke. He wasn't a bad sort, Joe; a long, slim chap he was—tall as me, but thin—some of you chaps might ha' knowed him? No? Lend's a match.

“Mary didn't seem much cut-up over the accident, though she was keeping the other women company in howlin' most of the afternoon. But all the women cheered up a bit after supper, and it was decided not to put off the dance at night, because there was a great crowd there, and the publican said it didn't matter about Joe—Joe wouldn't mind. Landlord was thinking about what he'd lose, you see, if they broke up the party. So they cleared the kitchen, and the fiddles played up, and at it they went. Now, I never was much of a dancer, and Mary wasn't dancin', either; she was helpin' in the bar; so I went in and talked to her instead. By-and-by I got her to come away and sit in the best parlour with me.

“There was nobody there, and we sat down on the sofa, and got a bit confidential, and she said, when I asked her wasn't she shook on Joe, ‘No, indeed, not on Joe.’ There was somebody else—she said. I asked her who was he? She says, ‘A lot you care!’ ‘Indeed I do care a lot, Mary,’ I says. ‘I don't believe you care anything at all about me,’ she says, half crying. ‘Why,’ I says, ‘Mary, you ought to know’ (an' she did know, too, only she was foxin') ‘that there's nobody in all the world I do care about except you.’ Then she began to say something, out couldn't get it out for crying, an' I cut in. ‘Don't you know, Mary, that I love you?’ ‘I don't know,’ says she. ‘Well, I do, then,’ I says, ‘more than anything else in the whole world. Tell me, do you like me a little? (I got that out of a book I'd been readin' she says, half crying. ‘Why,’ I says, ‘Mary, you ought to know’ (an' she did know, too, only she was foxin') ‘that there's nobody in all the world I do care about except you.’ Then she began to say something, out couldn't get it out for crying, an' I cut in. ‘Don't you know, Mary, that I love you?’ ‘I don't know,’ says she. ‘Well, I do, then,’ I says, ‘more than anything else in the whole world. Tell me, do you like me a little? (I got that out of a book I'd been readin' Then she began to say something, out couldn't get it out for crying, an' I cut in. ‘Don't you know, Mary, that I love you?’ ‘I don't know,’ says she. ‘Well, I do, then,’ I says, ‘more than anything else in the whole world. Tell me, do you like me a little? (I got that out of a book I'd been readin'. Sounds silly rot, doesn't it? Lend's a match.)

“ ‘Yes, I do, Bill,’ says she, ‘and I never liked anyone else.’ Well, then, of course you know what a fellow'll do when a girl talks that way, and they're by themselves. By the Lord, boys, it was a treat to kiss that girl. She was just an armful of loveliness. Funny thing I can't think of her name. The music was going it


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out at the back all the time, and they were dancin' away no end. Presently Mary says she'd have to go; she might be wanted; and, of course, I said she'd have to give me another kiss before she went. And she was just doin' it, when, all of a sudden, she turns white an' says—

“ ‘Oh, Bill, how wicked we are!’

“ ‘Why, Mary,’ says I, ‘what's wicked about this lot?”

“ ‘Just think, Bill,’ she says, ‘here we are, talkin' love and kissing, an' poor Joe Chanter lyin' dead in the very next room!”

“ ‘Great Scott!’ says I; ‘is he?’ and then Mary began to cry and laugh both together like, but she was hardly started when I hears an almighty bump on the floor in the next room, and then we both looks up, and there was Joe! He was standing at the door, wrapped up in his windin'-sheet, and his face was covered with blood. Mary gave one yell and ran out by the other door, and me after her, like blazes! Scared? Now, wouldn't that ha' scared you? Lend's a match.”

“Well, and what was it, Bill?”

“Great Scott, ain't I tellin' you! It was Joe! Can't a man trust his own flamin' eyesight!”

“And what happened after?”

“nothin'. Joe was dead enough when the rest came in and looked, and they wouldn't believe what I told 'em. Only Mary wouldn't look at me next day—seemed frightened like—so I came away. I've never been to Bogolong since.”

We all thought Bill's yarn a very unsatisfactory one, yet we couldn't get any more out of him. But six months afterwards I heard Jim's yarn.

II.—JIM'S YARN.

“BOGALONG?” said Jim. “Yes, I've been there, and I don't want to go there any more. It was a bit funny, though, all the same. Oh, all right, I'll tell you all about it.

“I'd just delivered a mob of stores at Pilligi, and as I was comin' back, I made Bogalong about dusk. I thought I might as


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well be a swell for once, havin' a bit of stuff, so I reckoned I'd stay at the pub all night. So I put my horse up, and had a drink, and asked if I could have a bed. But the place was full up—they'd been havin' races that day—and they said there was no bed for me, so I was goin' away. But the publican called me back—I s'pose he guessed I had a cheque on me—and said he'd find room for me somewhere. ‘There's a double bed,’ says he, ‘if you don't mind sharin' it with another man. He's a very quiet fellow,’ he says; ‘I'll answer for him not disturbing you.’ So I said all right, and after I had a few more drinks I went to bed. They had a dance on, but I wasn't in the humour for dancin', for it was a hot night, and I was tired.

“The other fellow must ha' been that way, too, I thought, for he was in bed already, I saw, when I went in. I didn't take much notice of him, except that he seemed pretty well covered up, for such a hot night. But after I put the light out, an' lay down, I found that I'd have to cover up, too, or else the mosquitoes would eat me. So I pulled the sheet off the cove an' rolled it round myself, and went to sleep. But the noise of the music and the dancin' woke me up after a bit, and I lay awake, growlin' a bit to myself for a time, an' I was just goin' off again, when I heard someone talkin' in the next room. I had left the door open, an' could hear quite plain. I was goin' to sing out to them to clear out, or shut the door, or something, but when I heard what they were sayin', I thought it was too good to miss, so I listened.

“It was some fellow doin' a mash with a girl, and I couldn't help laughin' to myself to think how mad he'd be if he knew somebody was listening. He was pretty solid with the girl, I could tell, and by-and-by he started kissin' her, an' I nearly burst myself laughin' when that began, and he called her sweetheart, and darling, and all that. I was goin' to wake up my mate, and let him share the fun, but I thought they might hear me, so I lay very quiet, until presently the girl says, ‘Oh, Bill! and poor Joe lyin' dead in the very next room!’

“I shoves out my hand as quick as lightning, and feels


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for my mate's face, and—Great Lord! it was as cold as a snake!

“ ‘Holy Wars!’ I says, and I gives one bound out of bed, forgetting all about the sheet bein' wrapped round my legs. I came down an awful buster, and my nose hit the side of the bed, and started to bleed like a waterspout But I picked myself up and made for the door, and then I saw the fellow and the girl sitting together on the sofa. They had one look at me—I was still rolled up in the sheet, and the blood was running down my face—and then they cleared. By Jove they did travel! I got my clothes on—I didn't much care about going in for them, though—and went out to the stable and got my horse and took the road for it, and went on to Blind Creek, and camped there.

“But you'd ha' laughed to see how them two footed it!”

A. CHEE.

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