Triangles of Life and Other Stories

A Long Way to Cork

Henry Lawson

THEY were spelling in the shade of a bush fence, or pile of cut scrub, or something, and Pat O’Brien had a place that ought’ve bin covered by his pants, or a patch; and it was in the sun with Pat’s outlying regions. And Dave Regan had a burning glass. Whispered Dave to his mate lazily—

“I’ll pop the glass onter Pat, Joe, an’ when he jumps you jump too, an’ yell ‘Snake!’”

“Uh-um,” murmured Joe, and he reached carelessly for a new axe handle, which he fingered abstractedly.

Joe rolled over very lazily on to his elbow, and applied the glass like a magnifying glass to a common print.

In a little while Pat got up like a nervous horse that had thought it was miles away from man, and alone, till suddenly yelled at. And his language was bad about bull-dog ants. But at the same time, almost, Joe jumped up, yelled “Snake!” and started to slash the bushes with the axe handle.

“Beggod, boys,” said Pat, “I’m bit!”

They were all up now.

“I’m bit, boys; an’ where ye can’t tie it!”

Joe and Dave took him, one on each side, and started to run him on the track to Government House; but they hadn’t gone far when at the hurried suggestion of one of the others, and clamorous approval of the rest (there were four others), they threw Pat on his flat, and knelt and sat on him while Dave cut the place with his pocket-knife, and squeezed out as much blood as he could.

Then they ran him on again, only stopping once to take more of his blood, till they got to the huts.

The storekeeper was absent after his horse, so they walked Pat up and down while the super opened the store with the wood axe, and handed out two bottles of brandy.

They gave Pat a long pull, gave two fresh men a nip, who relieved the pacers, and walked Pat up and down with a spurt, while the rest had a nip to brace their nerves.

“It’s a long way to Cork, boys,” said Pat. “It’s a long way to Cork.”

They gave him another pull, and walked him up and down.

“I can feel it goin’ through me like fire, boys,” he said. “I can feel it going through me like fire. Can’t ye tie up me roomp somehow? Take a twist on a bit of fincin’ wire or something.”

One of them picked up a piece of fencing wire, but dropped it hopelessly.

They gave him another pull, and walked him up and down. And every time they walked him up and down the others had nips to keep up their spirits.

“I’m drowsin’ down, boys,” he said, wearily. “I’m drowsin’ down. Ah! boys, it’s a pity to lose such a man.”

They roused him up, and walked him up and down before giving him another pull, but they had nips themselves to keep up to it.

“Ah! boys!” he said. “It’s a long way to Cork.”

“So it seems,” said the super; but he got out a couple more bottles to be ready. He had some himself. They gave Pat another pull, and walked him up and down. The relief had pulls before they went in, and the relieved had pulls when they fell out.

And they walked him up and down.

They started one off on horseback to “Stiffners,” on the main road, to see if there was a doctor or snakebite expert there, and to bring back more spirits, in case they ran short. The super gave him two quid, but he never came back.

And they walked Pat up and down and did exactly as before, till they couldn’t wake him, nor the super—nor themselves till next day.

Pat woke first, and thought, and remembered; then he roused Dave, and, staggering, walked him up and down.

“Dave,” he said (in conclusion). “Dave, me friend. Ye saved me life wid ye’re pocket-knife, and soocked me blood. Here’s a couple of quid for ye’re sweetheart, me boy. An’ there’s wan of the same again whinever and any time ye ask for it.”

“Don’t mention, Pat,” said Dave. “It was nothing. I’d do the same to yer any day.”

“I know ye would, me boy,” said Pat, and, the super being still unconscious, they lay down again, well within the home gums’ shade, and slept like brothers.

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