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PAGE 3

A Visit Of Condolence
by [?]

“I thought yer was. Well, men are sick fools. I’m thinking about
gittin’ a billet up-country, myself, soon. Where’s he goin’ ter be
buried?”

“At Rookwood, to-morrow.”

“I carn’t come. I’ve got ter work. Is the Guvmint goin’ to bury
him?”

“Yes.”

Bill looked at the body with increased respect. “Kin I do anythin’
for you? Now, don’t be frightened to arsk!”

“No. Thank you very much, all the same.”

“Well, I must be goin’; thank yer fur yer trouble, mum.”

“No trouble, my boy–mind the step.”

“It is gone. I’ll bring a piece of board round some night and mend it
for you, if you like; I’m learnin’ the carpenterin’; I kin nearly
make a door. Tell yer what, I’ll send the old woman round to-night to
fix up Arvie and lend yer a hand.”

“No, thank you. I suppose your mother’s got work and trouble enough;
I’ll manage.”

“I’ll send her round, anyway; she’s a bit rough, but she’s got a soft
gizzard; an’ there’s nothin’ she enjoys better than fixin’ up a body.
Good-bye, mum.”

“Good-bye, my child.”

He paused at the door, and said:

“I’m sorry, mum. Swelp me God! I’m sorry. S’long, an’ thank yer.”

An awe-stricken child stood on the step, staring at Bill with great
brimming eyes. He patted it on the head and said “Keep yer pecker up,
young ‘un!”

[THE END]

Notes on Australianisms

Based on my own speech over the years, with some checking in the dictionaries. Not all of these are peculiar to Australian slang, but are important in Lawson’s stories, and carry overtones.

bagman: commercial traveller

Bananaland: Queensland

billabong. Based on an aboriginal word. Sometimes used for an anabranch (a bend in a river cut off by a new channel, but more often used for one that, in dry season or droughts especially, is cut off at either or both ends from the main stream. It is often just a muddy pool, and may indeed dry up completely.

billy: quintessentially Australian. It is like (or may even be made out of) a medium-sized can, with wire handles and a lid. Used to boil water. If for tea, the leaves are added into the billy itself; the billy may be swung (‘to make the leaves settle’) or a eucalyptus twig place across the top, more ritual than pragmatic. These stories are supposedly told while the billy is suspended over the fire at night, at the end of a tramp. (Also used in want of other things, for cooking)

blackfellow (also, blackman): condescending for Australian Aboriginal

blackleg: someone who is employed to cross a union picket line to break a workers’ strike. As Molly Ivins said, she was brought up on the three great commandments: do not lie; do not steal; never cross a picket line. Also scab.

blanky or — : Fill in your own favourite word. Usually however used for “bloody”

blucher: a kind of half-boot (named after Austrian general)

blued: of a wages cheque: all spent extravagantly–and rapidly.

bluey: swag. Supposedly because blankets were mostly blue (so Lawson)

boggabri: never heard of it. It is a town in NSW: the dictionaries seem to suggest that it is a plant, which fits context. What then is a ‘tater-marrer’ (potato-marrow?). Any help?

bowyangs: ties (cord, rope, cloth) put around trouser legs below knee

bullocky: Bullock driver. A man who drove teams of bullocks yoked to wagons carrying e.g. wool bales or provisions. Proverbially rough and foul mouthed.

bush: originally referred to the low tangled scrubs of the semi-desert regions (‘mulga’ and ‘mallee’), and hence equivalent to “outback”. Now used generally for remote rural areas (“the bush”) and scrubby forest.

bushfire: wild fires: whether forest fires or grass fires. bushman/bushwoman: someone who lives an isolated existence, far from cities, “in the bush”. (today: a “bushy”)

bushranger: an Australian “highwayman”, who lived in the ‘bush’– scrub–and attacked especially gold carrying coaches and banks. Romanticised as anti-authoritarian Robin Hood figures–cf. Ned Kelly–but usually very violent.

cheque: wages for a full season of sheep-shearing; meant to last until the next year, including a family, but often “blued’ in a ‘spree’