Three Quotations

(September 10th to 16th)




1. …'He was just the same. You'd ha' thought he'd show up in England like a fresh stiff on snow - but you never noticed him. You never heard him; and if he didn't want to be seen he wasn't there. He just joined up with his background…'

This is from 'A friend of the family' in Debits and Credits. It describes Hickmot, an Australian country boy from the Queensland backcountry, who had made friends with a young Englishman in the Gallipoli battles. After his friend had been killed, and Hickmot wounded, he makes his way to England and wreaks revenge on the war profiteer who had ruined his friend's father's business, by blowing up his glasshouses in what looked like an air-raid.



2. …He drank, and the tune rose louder, and he straightened himself yet more. Then he put out his long-taloned hands to a piece of plate opposite, and fingered it lovingly…he found the spring, pressed it, and laughed weakly. He rose from his chair and inspected a picture on the wall, then moved on to another picture, the mess watching him without a word…

This is from "The Man who Was" from Life's Handicap. A ruined ragged figure of a man has been caught wandering through the barracks of a Hussar regiment in India. He proves to be an officer of the regiment from many years back, who had been taken prisoner by the Russians in the Crimea, imprisoned in Siberia, and beaten like a common criminal. After many years he has escaped, and found his way back to the officers' mess where he had sat years ago.



3. Advancing cautiously to the river front, Gunga Dass stepped from tussock to tussock until he had reached a smooth patch of sand directly in the line of the boat's fire. The occupants of the boat took no notice. Here he stopped, and with a couple of dexterous turns of the wrist, pegged the bird on its back with outstretched wings…Half a dozen wild crows flew over at once to see what was going on, and also, as it proved, to attack the pinioned bird..

This is from "The Strange Ride of Morrowbie Jukes", in Wee Willie Winkie and other stories'.
Out on a ride near the Sutlej river, Jukes has fallen into a sand trap. It is a sort of prison for the living dead, where people who are thought to have died, but have recovered when their bodies are already on the burning ghats, are incarcerated. The only way out, the sand flats by the river, are guarded by quicksands, and by soldiers armed with rifles. The people live in sand burrows and eat crows.