The family were at dinner when Mary Ann came in, and, although shestood on an open part of the floor, no one noticed her for a while. Shecouldn't ask for help, for her mouth was too full of snake. By-and-byeone of the girls glanced round, and then went over the table, with ashriek, and out of the back door. The room was cleared very quickly. Theeldest boy got a long-handled shovel, and in another second would havekilled more cat than snake; but his father interfered. The father wasa shearer, and Mary Ann was a favourite cat with him. He got a pair ofshears from the shelf and deftly shore off the snake's head, and oneside of Mary Ann's whiskers. She didn't think it safe to let go yet. Shekept her teeth in the neck until the selector snipped the rest of thesnake off her. The bits were carried out on a shovel to die at sundown.Mary Ann had a good drink of milk, and then got her tongue out andlicked herself back into the proper shape for a cat; after which shewent out to look for that snake's mate. She found it, too, and draggedit home the same evening.。， "Yes--I'm sure."
I got down and got out my pipe, and we sat on a log and yarned awhile onbush subjects; and then, after a pause, he shifted uneasily, it seemedto me, and asked rather abruptly, and in an altered tone, if I wasmarried. A queer question to ask a traveller; more especially in mycase, as I was little more than a boy then.。，
"I didn't want to bring her up the first year. It was no place for awoman. I wanted her to stay with her people and wait till I'd got theplace a little more ship-shape. The Phippses took a selection down thecreek. I wanted her to wait and come up with them so's she'd have somecompany--a woman to talk to. They came afterwards, but they didn't stop.It was no place for a woman.。，
"You wait here till I come back," I said. "I'm going for the doctor."。， "The wife was going on a visit down the creek this afternoon," he saidrapidly and without looking at me, but stooping as if to have anotherlook through the door at those distant peaks. "I suppose she got tiredo' waitin', and went and took the daughter with her. But, never mind,the grub is ready." There was a camp-oven with a leg of mutton andpotatoes sizzling in it on the hearth, and billies hanging over thefire. I noticed the billies had been scraped, and the lids polished.
"On the Track" and "Over the Sliprails" were both published at Sydneyin 1900, the prefaces being dated March and June respectively--and so,though printed separately, a combined edition was printed the sameyear (the two separate, complete works were simply put together in onebinding); hence they are sometimes referred to as "On the Track and Overthe Sliprails".。， "It was like running up against a thrashing machine, and it wouldn'thave been well for me if the boss of the shop next door hadn'tinterfered. He told my boss, and my boss gave me the sack at once.
。， But he put on his clothes and wore them like--like a gentleman. He hadtwo white shirts, and they were both dirty. He'd lay them out onthe bed, turn them over, regard them thoughtfully, choose that whichappeared to his calm understanding to be the cleaner, and put it on, andwear it until it was unmistakably dirtier than the other; then he'dwear the other till it was dirtier than the first. He managed his threecollars the same way. His handkerchiefs were washed in the bathroom, anddried, without the slightest disguise, in the bedroom. He never hurriedin anything. The way he cleaned his teeth, shaved, and made his toiletalmost transformed the place, in my imagination, into a gentleman'sdressing-room.
A selector started a vegetable garden about the time when rabbits werebeginning to get troublesome up country. The hare had not shown itselfyet. The farmer kept quite a regiment of cats to protect his garden--andthey protected it. He would shut the cats up all day with nothing toeat, and let them out about sundown; then they would mooch off to theturnip patch like farm-labourers going to work. They would drag therabbits home to the back door, and sit there and watch them until thefarmer opened the door and served out the ration of milk. Then the catswould turn in. He nearly always found a semi-circle of dead rabbits andwatchful cats round the door in the morning. They sold the product oftheir labour direct to the farmer for milk. It didn't matter if one cathad been unlucky--had not got a rabbit--each had an equal share in thegeneral result. They were true socialists, those cats.。， On each side of the hut runs a rough framework, like the partitions in astable; each compartment battened off to about the size of a manger, andcontaining four bunks, one above the other, on each side--their ends,of course, to the table. Scarcely breathing space anywhere between.Fireplace, the full width of the hut in one end, where all the cookingand baking for forty or fifty men is done, and where flour, sugar, etc.,are kept in open bags. Fire, like a very furnace. Buckets of tea andcoffee on roasting beds of coals and ashes on the hearth. Pile of"brownie" on the bare black boards at the end of the table. Unspeakablearoma of forty or fifty men who have little inclination and lessopportunity to wash their skins, and who soak some of the grease outof their clothes--in buckets of hot water--on Saturday afternoons orSundays. And clinging to all, and over all, the smell of the dried,stale yolk of wool--the stink of rams!
He took his meals at the little greasy table in the dark cornerdownstairs, just as if he were dining at the Exchange. He had achop--rather well-done--and a sheet of the 'Herald' for breakfast. Hecarried two handkerchiefs; he used one for a handkerchief and the otherfor a table-napkin, and sometimes folded it absently and laid it on thetable. He rose slowly, putting his chair back, took down his batteredold green hat, and regarded it thoughtfully--as though it had justoccurred to him in a calm, casual way that he'd drop into his hatter's,if he had time, on his way down town, and get it blocked, or else sendthe messenger round with it during business hours. He'd draw his stickout from behind the next chair, plant it, and, if you hadn't quitefinished your side of the conversation, stand politely waiting until youwere done. Then he'd look for a suitable reply into his hat, put iton, give it a twitch to settle it on his head--as gentlemen do a"chimney-pot"--step out into the gangway, turn his face to the door, andwalk slowly out on to the middle of the pavement--looking more placidlywell-to-do than ever. The saying is that clothes make a man, but HEmade his almost respectable just by wearing them. Then he'd consult hiswatch--(he stuck to the watch all through, and it seemed a good one--Ioften wondered why he didn't pawn it); then he'd turn slowly, rightturn, and look down the street. Then slowly back, left-about turn, andtake a cool survey in that direction, as if calmly undecided whether totake a cab and drive to the Exchange, or (as it was a very fine morning,and he had half an hour to spare) walk there and drop in at his clubon the way. He'd conclude to walk. I never saw him go anywhere inparticular, but he walked and stood as if he could.。， I didn't feel in a responsive humour, but I lit up and settled backcomfortably against the tree, and Jack folded his arms on his knees andpresently continued, reflectively: