Find this Story

Print, a form you can hold

Wireless download to your Amazon Kindle

Look for a summary or analysis of this Story.

Enjoy this? Share it!

The Blindness Of One-Eyed Bogan
by [?]

They judge not and they are not judged–’tis their philosophy–
(There’s something wrong with every ship that sails upon the sea).
-The Ballad of the Rouseabout.

“And what became of One-eyed Bogan?” I asked Tom Hall when I met him and Jack Mitchell down in Sydney with their shearing cheques the Christmas before last.

“You’d better ask Mitchell, Harry,” said Tom. “He can tell you about Bogan better than I can. But first, what about the drink we’re going to have?”

We turned out of Pitt Street into Hunter Street, and across George Street, where a double line of fast electric tramway was running, into Margaret Street and had a drink at Pfahlert’s Hotel, where a counter lunch–as good as many dinners you get for a shilling–was included with a sixpenny drink. “Get a quiet corner,” said Mitchell, “I like to bear myself cackle.” So we took our beer out in the fernery and got a cool place at a little table in a quiet corner amongst the fern boxes.

“Well, One-eyed Bogan was a hard case, Mitchell,” I said. “Wasn’t he?”

“Yes,” said Mitchell, putting down his “long-beer” glass, “he was.”

“Rather a bad egg?”

“Yes, a regular bad egg,” said Mitchell, decidedly.

“I heard he got caught cheating at cards,” I said.

“Did you?” said Mitchell. “Well, I believe he did. Ah, well,” he added reflectively, after another long pull, “One-eyed Bogan won’t cheat at cards any more.”

“Why?” I said. “Is he dead then?”

“No,” said Mitchell, “he’s blind.”

“Good God!” I said, “how did that happen?”

“He lost the other eye,” said Mitchell, and he took another drink. “Ah, well, he won’t cheat at cards any more–unless there’s cards invented for the blind.”

“How did it happen?” I asked.

“Well,” said Mitchell, “you see, Harry, it was this way. Bogan went pretty free in Bourke after the shearing before last, and in the end he got mixed up in a very ugly-looking business: he was accused of doing two new-chum jackaroos out of their stuff by some sort of confidence trick.”

“Confidence trick,” I said. “I’d never have thought that One-eyed Bogan had the brains to go in for that sort of thing.”

“Well, it seems he had, or else he used somebody else’s brains; there’s plenty of broken-down English gentlemen sharpers knocking about out back, you know, and Bogan might have been taking lessons from one. I don’t know the rights of the case, it was hushed up, as you’ll see presently; but, anyway, the jackaroos swore that Bogan had done ’em out of ten quid. They were both Cockneys and I suppose they reckoned themselves smart, but bushmen have more time to think. Besides, Bogan’s one eye was in his favour. You see he always kept his one eye fixed strictly on whatever business he had in hand; if he’d had another eye to rove round and distract his attention and look at things on the outside, the chances are he would never have got into trouble.”

“Never mind that, Jack,” said Tom Hall. “Harry wants to hear the yarn.”

“Well, to make it short, one of the jackaroos went to the police and Bogan cleared out. His character was pretty bad just then, so there was a piece of blue paper out for him. Bogan didn’t seem to think the thing was so serious as it was, for he only went a few miles down the river and camped with his horses on a sort of island inside an anabranch, till the thing should blow over or the new chums leave Bourke.

“Bogan’s old enemy, Constable Campbell, got wind of Bogan’s camp, and started out after him. He rode round the outside track and came in on to the river just below where the anabranch joins it, at the lower end of the island and right opposite Bogan’s camp. You know what those billabongs are: dry gullies till the river rises from the Queensland rains and backs them up till the water runs round into the river again and makes anabranches of ’em–places that you thought were hollows you’ll find above water, and you can row over places you thought were hills. There’s no water so treacherous and deceitful as you’ll find in some of those billabongs. A man starts to ride across a place where he thinks the water is just over the grass, and blunders into a deep channel–that wasn’t there before–with a steady undercurrent with the whole weight of the Darling River funnelled into it; and if he can’t swim and his horse isn’t used to it–or sometimes if he can swim–it’s a case with him, and the Darling River cod hold an inquest on him, if they have time, before he’s buried deep in Darling River mud for ever. And somebody advertises in the missing column for Jack Somebody who was last heard of in Australia.”