For Life and Other Stories

Villiam Brandt Relates his Queenslandic Experience

Steele Rudd

IT vas in der year eighdeen hundhert und sigty four dot I landed in dis golony. Dere vas altergedder about tirty of us young Sherman poys. Fine powerful shaps ve all, too, vas at dat dime. Ve vas brought all from Shermany under engagement to vork in de golony for dree years at tventy pounds a year, and by shingo ve dought it vas a fine vage, too.

Vell ve vas taken along to a sugar plantation on de river bank shust bedween Brisbane and Ipswich, and dere ve vas stardet. Mine vord, dat plantation vas sholly hard vork; sveat ran down us like vater. It vas yacker like der teufel all day; and at night ve all vas lodged on a hulk dat vas anchored in der river vere ve stay till it vas mornin’ again. Not von vas allowed to leave der ship; but dot overseer he vent avay efery night. Alvays he vent ashore by a voodden landing, vitch he pull after him to de bank, and dere ve vas all left like lions in dat cage.

Ve vas all sholly coves, full of fun and mischief, and de noise ve make on dat poat dem nights vas most deriffic. Ve cooee and yell on de vater like a quandidy of vild animals.

Von bright moonlight night, vile de overseer vas avay, I see a small poat tied to de pank shust aboud forty yards avay. It vould hold aboud six. “Mine vord,” I tells myself, “here’s a shoke. Who’s on for a pull?” I says, and off goes aboud half a dozen shaps.

Ve must have vent a vast number of miles down dat river in no time. De tide vas vid us, yer know, and, by shimny, how ve did pull!

At last ve come to a gread pig island, and oud ve shumps. I don’t know vat de place vas call, but it vas full of derrible long dry grass and drees. Ve stayed a vile to spell; den ve set it all on fire and cleared back. Lort, how dat fire go up! Ven ve look pack and see dem flames rise high and higher, it tought me of Napoleon ven he vas runnin’ avay from Moscow. But pulling dot poat back vos most frightful. Der tide vas against us this time, und it vas shust all ve could do to get along. Ve tugged and tugged at dem oars, till ve tought dey must break, an’ de sveat dot rub oud of us nearly fill her oop. Ve didn’t know how glad ve vas to get back.

De overseer soon find oud our leetle game, tho’; und a veek afder dot ve vas removed about tirty miles through de bush on to de Logan, vere dere vas a contract to clear drees. Dis vas our first time in der bush, and by Shove it vas a vilderness. Here ve vas put in gangs of seven und eight und set to vork. De humpy vere ve sleep und had meals vas a comeecal place. It vas made of two valls of large logs vide at der bottom and rolled up togedder till they meet at the top, und vas a very long place. Dere vas nodding only drees und scrub to be seen for miles. It vas a hell of coundry altergedder.

Der third night ve vas at de Logan I vas shust goin’ out of that humpy ven I heard a shtrange noise dat I never heerd pef ore. “Quark! quark!” it vent, und shust then I see someding run like de vind up a dree dat vas shtanding by.

“I must see vat kind of a vild animal dot is,” I says. For a long time then I look up dat dree till my neck was tired, but I couldn’t see him yet. Dere vas a couple of axes layin’ dere, and two of us shtarted at dat dree. It Avas a regular yiant of a one, too. Ve couldn’t put our arms roun’ him. Veil, ve vired in and belted avay for a long vile. He vas an ironbark, and my vord a tough feller. Shop! shop! vent dem axes on each side of him so quick as ever ve could make dem go. At last he give a crack—den anudder—and down he vent wid one derrific grash righd across the end of dat humpy.

Mine golly, dere vas drouble den! Dem fellows leave that humpy in a most vonderful state. They didn’t know vat had happened yet. They couldn’t make it all oud for a vile.

“Look oud, shaps!” I says; “dere is a vild animal up this dree; I vant ter get him.” Dey saw then vat vas the matter, and for some leetle considerable time vent demselves into vild beasts, and svear at me in Sherman till I could see that vild animal no more. Dot vas all right.

Afder vorkin’ dem gangs for some veeks I vas gettin’ on pretty smart. De boss of our gang he vas English, und ven he showed me anyding I vas like a parrot. Yer know, I vas angshus to learn everyding. Von day he said to me:

“Vell, you musd be a fool vorkin’ here for twenty pound a year ven yer could make a pound a veek and tucker.”

“Look here,” I shys, “I have been tinkin’ like dot myself, and I am goin’ to clear. Some night I will go righd avay, and von’t be seen here some more.”

“Don’t you,” he says,

I dells him I am determined, and nodding vill shtop me.

Ven he sees I mean vot I says, he tells me dot if I go not to take any more wid me.

A couple of more days go py, and I says to my mate, “Phil, I is goin’ to run away. ’Tis all tam nonsense vorkin for twenty pound a year ven ve could make a pound a veek and tucker.”

“Veil, den,” says Phil, “I’m off, too”; and anoder shap called Yack Lynch said he vould go, too, likewise.

“Dot vill be enough, den,” I says; “no more then dree, or the game vill get upsit.”

Everyding vas soon ready, and von night at twelve o’clock, mid our svags ’pon our packs, ve all go avay.

By Yorge! more drouble shtarted dat ve had not yet thought about. Werry soon ve was in de tick of a big scrub. It vas a derrible time altergedder. I had von box air of matches dot I dake from the camp, and ve shtrike dem eferyone, but ve could make not some progress.

“Oh, veil, poys,” I says, “dere is nodding for it; ve vill have to go pack and camp outside the fence.” Pack we goes agen and camped at the edge of dot scrub, shust not so far avay from de humpy. In de mornin’ ve vas off shust pefore ve could see. Dere vas enough tucker in de plankets to last for von day. Ve got py the scrub, and efery minet ve keep lookin’ back to see if dat overseer vas afder us. The tree of us vas yolly pig shtrong shaps, and ve made up our minds tergedder dat if he vould come afder us ve vould give him a yolly good hammering. So ve vould, too, mine vord!

All dat day ve valked like horses through dat bush, and hadn’t found a road yet. At last it vas gettin’ dark, and ve vas comin’ to a creek. A most enormous gum dree vas growin’ py the bank, so I dells my mates ve vill camp under him for dot night.

Ve vas off agen by sun break, and py Shorge, ve valk agen dat day mit them svags. Gracious! I taught me dere vas gold in mine, he vas getting so heavy.

All day ve followed dot creet; I dink ve must have crossed it a hundhred dimes. I vas sure ve had tramped sigsty miles. Shust ven it vas gettin’ sundown, and ve vas all of us dead beat, I looks ahead a bit. “Goot Lort, shaps!” I says, “dere is dot same werry dree ve sleep under last night. Vere have ve been?”

My mates dey all shtare mit dere mouths at that dree, and couldn’t make him oud. It vas him all righd, tho’. So ve drows our svags down and shleep under him von more nights.

The tucker bag vas run short now, and ve vas begin to see some more drouble. There vas blenty of flour, tho’, yet, and I dink I vould make a yonny cake. It vas an awful job, and the oberation vas derrible. De odder two shaps hold a handkerchief by the corners vile I mix up the flour in him. To get that dough off my fingers vas de teufel. It shtick like glue to eferyding, and vouldn’t come off that handkerchief, so I put de lot in the billy and boils dem all. Mine vord, it went high!

The next day ve shogs along, and ven nearly two o’clock ve sees a house. By Shove, vasn’t ve glad that dime! It done our eyes goot to see dot house.

“Come on,” I says; “ve vill go over and ask for a feed.”

Over ve goes and drows down our svags on the grass. A voman comes to the door, and I dells her as vell as I could that ve vant tucker. She soon understand, and give us a yolly good blow oud. Ve vas werry sorry to leave that place, but ve must get along. Yust then ve loose Yack Lynch. He vas a cute bloke, uud didn’t like valkin’ them roads, so he stay pehind, and hired mit de farmer. Ve never see him since. Ven ve leave there vas a loosern paddock, and ve vas goin’ to make a short cut. Ve vas yirst getting trew, ven a man mid a gun come runnin’ like a deemun.

“Py doonder!” he says, “if you don’t got oud of mine loosern paddick I vill plow your prains oud for you.”

Ve sholly soon got back ven ve see dot gun.

Dot day ve come to Ipswich. At first ve didn’t know vedder to vent in de town, cause ve tought, as ve run avay, all de peleecemen vould be afder us.

“Anyhow, poys,” I says, “ve must shance it,” and in ve goes. It vas alrighd; no one vas dere, und nopody take any nodice of us at all. Ve vas dinkin’ to ask for some vork in Ipswich, but shange our minds. I dink ve shange our minds dem times more ofen than ve shange our socks.

Two or dree days more and ve reach Fassifern—dat vas Misther Veinholt’s station. Ve soon make our minds up, and ask for a yob. Veinholt, he vas in his office yust then, and he could speak Sherman veil. He ask us in Sherman, “Vot you vant?”

I ask him if there is any shance of a yob. He scratch his head for a long vile, and says:

“Veil, there is a lot of shaps lookin’ for vork now. Vot can you do? Can you garden?

“Yes; oh, yes!”



My mate Phil vas a gardener, but neider of us vas a shepperd; but you know ve vasn’t going to lose a yob because ve don’ could do it.

“Oh, vell,” Veinholt says, “I might take you on.”

“How much vill you give?” I ask him.

Agen he scratch his head for a long biece. “Vell, you know,” he says, “vages is very low shust now. I vill give you £28 a year.”

‘’Golly! dat vas not enouf,” I says to Phil.” Better ve had not run avay at all.”

“No,” I dells him; “dot is too leetle; ve von’t take it.”

Afder anodder vile he say he vill give tirty.

Ve vas nearly takin’ tirty, but ve tought ve vould have one more dry.

“Veil, I vill tell you vat I will do mid you,” he says. “I vill give you £38 for twelve munce, and not von penny more.”

“All righd,” ve dells him, “ve vill take dot.”

“Vitch of you is the gardener?” he ask,

Phil say he is.

“All righd.”

“And you” (dat vas me, Villiam Brandt) “is de shepperd?”

“Yah,” I say.

Next mornin’ I find mineself aboud twelve mile from that station mid two tousand sheep. It vas derrible vork. Dem days went by like years. I never see a vite man for munce. Efery day I let them sheep go from the yard, den lay mineself down under a dree and shleep all the time. How I never lose dem all eferyone I don’t could never know. I dells mineself, if I stick to dis yob long I vill soon go mad.

Von day the overseer he come oud.

“Veil, Villiam,” he says, “how are yer gettin’ on?”

“Don’t like dis yob at all,” I dells him. “Can’t you give me someding else—shopping down drees or anyding. Vy, I’m oud here in de bush shust like a sapige—dere is no von to talk mid. Already I forget me vot leetle English I know, and soon I von’t talk some Sherman.”

He only laugh,

Efery day vent by shust the same. I alvays had nodding but salt yunk and damper ter ead. Von day I thought me I vould have some fresh mead; so I vent me in de yard ven the sheep was all dere and caught a fine pig fat vedder—de best feller in dot flock. I soon had him dead and hangin’ in the hut like it vas a butcher’s shop. Dot night I had me a gerreat feed. Ven the overseer come oud agen, he count them sheep twice.

“All right, Villiam,” he say; “but dere is von missing.”

“Oh, I ead dat feller,” I dells him.

“Vot?” he says.

“I ead him.”

“By Shove!” he tells me, “don’t ead any more.”

Afder dat he says:

“Dere is anodder shap comin’ to shepperd, Villiam; ve vant you at the station.”

Mine geracious, I vas glad to hear dat news!

Next mornin’ I had me up pefore it vas day, and vas sittin’ on mine svag outside de hut vaitin’ for dat shap ter come. Ven I see him a long vay off, I picks up mine planket und vas gone.

Dere vas no more shepperdin’ for Villiam Brandt.

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