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by [?]

“The mon is verra harrd up, an’ it’s a sair thi
ng that Queensland fever,” was the only remark M’Gregor made. But we knew now that there was a soft spot in his heart somewhere.

Next morning the drover got a crisp-looking cheque. He said no word while the cheque was being written, but, as he was going away, the horse happened to be in the yard, and he went over to the old comrade that had carried him so many miles, and laid a hand on his neck.

“He ain’t much to look at,” said the drover, speaking slowly and awkwardly, “but he’s white when he’s wanted. ”And just before the coach rattled off, the man of few words leant down from the box and nodded impressively, and repeated, “Yes, he’s white when he’s wanted. ”

We didn’t trouble to give the new horse a name. Station horses are generally called after the man from whom they are bought. “Tom Devine”, “The Regan mare”, “Black M’Carthy” and “Bay M’Carthy” were among the appellations of our horses at that time. As we didn’t know the drover’s name, we simply called the animal “The new horse” until a still newer horse was one day acquired. Then, one of the hands being told to take the new horse, said, “D’yer mean the newnew horse or the oldnew horse?”

“Naw,” said the boss, “not the new horrse—that bay horrse we bought frae the drover. The ane he said was white when he’s wanted. ”

And so, by degrees, the animal came to be referred to as the horse that’s white when he’s wanted, and at last settled down to the definite name of “White-when-he’s-wanted”.

White-when-he’s-wanted didn’t seem much of an acquisition. He was sent out to do slavery for Greenhide Billy, a boundary-rider who plumed himself on having once been a cattle-man. After a week’s experience of “White”, Billy came in to the homestead disgusted. The pony was so lazy that he had to build a fire under him to get him to move, and so rough that it made a man’s nose bleed to ride him more than a mile. “The boss must have been off his head to give fifteen notes for such a cow. ”

M’Gregor heard this complaint. “Verra weel, Mr. Billy,” said he, hotly, “ye can juist tak’ ane of the young horrses in yon paddock, an’ if he bucks wi’ ye an’ kills ye, it’s yer ain fault. Ye’re a cattleman—so ye say—dommed if ah believe it. Ah believe ye’re a dairy-farmin’ body frae Illawarra. Ye ken neither horrse nor cattle. Mony’s the time ye never rode buckjumpers, Mr. Billy”—and with this parting-shot the old man turned into the house, and White-when-he’s-wanted came back to the head station.

For a while he was a sort of pariah. He used to yard the horses, fetch up the cows, and hunt travelling sheep through the run. He really was lazy and rough, and we all decided that Billy’s opinion of him was correct, until the day came to make one of our periodical raids on the wild horses in the hills at the back of the run.

Every now and again we formed parties to run in some of these animals, and, after nearly galloping to death half-a-dozen good horses, we would capture three or four brumbies, and bring them in triumph to the homestead to be broken in. By the time they had thrown half the crack riders on the station, broken all the bridles, rolled on all the saddles, and kicked all the dogs, they would be marketable (and no great bargains) at about thirty shillings a head.