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In Pipi Valley
by [?]

“Divils me darlins, it’s a memory I have of a time whin luck wasn’t foldin’ her arms round me, and not so far back aither, and I on the wallaby track hot-foot for the City o’ Gold.”

Shon McGann said this in the course of a discussion on the prosperity of Pipi Valley. Pretty Pierre remarked nonchalantly in reply,–“The wallaby track–eh–what is that, Shon?”

“It’s a bit of a haythen y’ are, Pierre. The wallaby track? That’s the name in Australia for trampin’ west through the plains of the Never-Never Country lookin’ for the luck o’ the world; as, bedad, it’s meself that knows it, and no other, and not by book or tellin’ either, but with the grip of thirst at me throat and a reef in me belt every hour to quiet the gnawin’.” And Shon proceeded to light his pipe afresh.

“But the City o’ Gold-was there much wealth for you there, Shon?”

Shon laughed, and said between the puffs of smoke, “Wealth for me, is it? Oh, mother o’ Moses! wealth of work and the pride of livin’ in the heart of us, and the grip of an honest hand betunewhiles; and what more do y’ want, Pierre?”

The Frenchman’s drooping eyelids closed a little more, and he replied, meditatively: “Money? No, that is not Shon McGann. The good fellowship of thirst?–yes, a little. The grip of the honest hand, quite, and the clinch of an honest waist? Well, ‘peut-etre.’

“Of the waist which is not honest?–tsh! he is gay–and so!”

The Irishman took his pipe from his mouth, and held it poised before him. He looked inquiringly and a little frowningly at the other for a moment, as if doubtful whether to resent the sneer that accompanied the words just spoken; but at last he good-humouredly said: “Blood o’ me bones, but it’s much I fear the honest waist hasn’t always been me portion–Heaven forgive me!”

“‘Nom de pipe,’ this Irishman!” replied Pierre. “He is gay; of good heart; he smiles, and the women are at his heels; he laughs, and they are on their knees–Such a fool he is!”

Still Shon McGann laughed.

“A fool I am, Pierre, or I’d be in ould Ireland at this minute, with a roof o’ me own over me and the friends o’ me youth round me, and brats on me knee, and the fear o’ God in me heart.”

“‘Mais,’ Shon,” mockingly rejoined the Frenchman, “this is not Ireland, but there is much like that to be done here. There is a roof, and there is that woman at Ward’s Mistake, and the brats–eh, by and by?”

Shon’s face clouded. He hesitated, then replied sharply: “That woman, do y’ say, Pierre, she that nursed me when the Honourable and meself were taken out o’ Sandy Drift, more dead than livin’; she that brought me back to life as good as ever, barrin’ this scar on me forehead and a stiffness at me elbow, and the Honourable as right as the sun, more luck to him! which he doesn’t need at all, with the wind of fortune in his back and shiftin’ neither to right nor left.–That woman! faith, y’d better not cut the words so sharp betune yer teeth, Pierre.”

“But I will say more–a little–just the same. She nursed you–well, that is good; but it is good also, I think, you pay her for that, and stop the rest. Women are fools, or else they are worse. This one? She is worse. Yes; you will take my advice, Shon McGann.” The Irishman came to his feet with a spring, and his words were angry.

“It doesn’t come well from Pretty Pierre, the gambler, to be revilin’ a woman; and I throw it in y’r face, though I’ve slept under the same blanket with ye, an’ drunk out of the same cup on manny a tramp, that you lie dirty and black when ye spake ill–of my wife.”