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  ― 5 ―

II

My brother was a member of the literary staff of the Courier, the principal daily newspaper of Brisbane. Owing to his influence, I immediately got a position, also on the literary staff.

The editor was Kinnaird Rose, who had come a short time previously from England; a Scotchman by birth, well known in London as a journalist, and a barrister who never practised. Remarkable in many respects, his career was adventurous. A correspondent of the Edinburgh Scotsman with the Russians in the Russo-Turkish War, he was attached to the staff of General Skobeloff, whose Life he subsequently wrote. He was at the siege of Plevna, the capture of the Gravala redoubt and other engagements, and was wounded more than once. Among the stories that he told was of a narrow escape he had from assassination in Albania; also how he was imprisoned in Rome for possessing forged notes that he had received in change from a seller of antiques.

In Brisbane he was quite an important personage. He was tall, his appearance was striking, and he was inordinately fond and proud of his long, large golden beard that he stroked often and affectionately.

One night during a late sitting of the Queensland Parliament, whilst he was asleep in a room of the House, some wag with a pair of scissors cut off most of it.

The indignation of the editor was expressed in his paper.

The affair created considerable sensation. The Opposition members accused Government members


  ― 6 ―
and the Government blamed the Opposition. The perpetrator or perpetrators were never discovered, but the editor, shorn of his glory, went about like a bird that had lost its tail.

When I arrived in Australia there was much that I failed at first to appreciate. I had been reared amidst people with old-fashioned views. I was not taught to regard the possession of money as important. Australians were full of bustle, rush and energy. The wide, straight streets of Melbourne did not appeal to me then. I preferred the crooked, narrow thoroughfares of Sydney, which were like those of the ancient towns of England and Ireland. Wooden dwelling-houses, erected on piles sometimes six or eight feet above sand, looked to me hideous. Nothing was antiquated; the native grass appeared to be scanty; the gum trees seemed not to have enough leaves, and their trunks were ragged with bark half fallen off. It took me some time to recognise the delicate beauty of the Australian bush, its graceful foliage and wonderful wild flowers.

It was in Queensland that I got the first glimpse of what country life is like in Australia. I was only a few months on the staff of the Brisbane Courier when I resigned, my idea being to gain experience of other places in Australia. I accepted an invitation to spend some weeks in the country. It was late spring, and the aspect of the bush bearing the clean, fresh green look of young shoots and leaves was refreshing after the city's dust and bustle. I altered my views of Australia as I drove behind horses along quiet grass-grown bush tracks, through gum-tree forests and dense scrub, alive


  ― 7 ―
with animal life. The traffic we met was novel to me: groups of children riding to school; bullock teams resting under the shade whilst the drivers took their midday meal; hawkers with their ponderous wagons slowly making their way to dispose of wares at rural homes; well-mounted drovers with mobs of bellowing cattle; the solitary swagman trudging along whilst parrots and jackasses merrily chattered and laughed in the trees around. I did not travel more than a couple of hundred miles from Brisbane, but all I saw made me pleased that I had come to Australia. I got an insight into what the bush was like. It was my first introduction in their wild state to kangaroos and wallabies, native bears and 'possums, iguanas and snakes, cockatoos and flying foxes. It was the beginning of my acquaintance with the birds and beasts and all the fascinating and curious sights and sounds of the wonderful Australian bush.

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