Down by the waters where I once dreamed,Beneath the silver moon there you'll find me.My heart a pilgrim, my mind a slave,Oh my eyes can't stand to see the light of day,Cos life is lost without love wouldn't you say?I wish you'd follow me to my peace,Lend me your hands I'll bring you from your knees,My love is patient, my love is true,And I know the silver moon will shine for you,Oh I know the silver moon will shine for you.
They, and the little grey furry animals that scurried high on thebranches of the trees on moonlight nights, made very good food. DonaldCameron had been told that no man need starve in the hills while he hada gun, and there were 'possums in the trees. But neither he nor Maryliked the strong flavour of 'possum flesh, tasting as it did, of thepungent eucalyptus buds and leaves the little creatures lived on. Heshot the 'possums for the sake of their skins though, spread and tackedthe grey pelts against the wall of the house, and when the sun had driedthem, Mary stitched them into a rug. She had lined Davey's cradle withthem, too.
The hut that had been Donald and Mary Cameron's first home had beenbroadened by the addition of several extra rooms. Floors had been putdown and a wide verandah spread out from them. Every room had a windowwith four small glass panes. The window-sills, verandah posts and doorshad been painted green, and the whole of the house whitewashed. Its barkroof had given place to a covering of plum-coloured slates; there waseven a coin or two of grey and golden lichen on them, and the autumn andspring rains drummed merrily on the iron roof of the verandah. Creepersclimbed around the stone chimney and the verandah; clematis showeredstarry white blossom over the roof and about the verandah post.
"That night a lot of little men, riding on grey horses, came down fromthe mountain on a path of moonlight and clattered into the farmyard ofthe farmer of Ystrad. The smallest and fattest of the men, in a red coat... they all wore red coats, and rode grey horses. Did I say that theyall rode grey horses, Davey?"
It was not long before a barn-like building of slatted shingles appearedin a clearing off the road, two or three miles below Steve's. It stoodon log foundations, as if on account of its importance, and had a doorat one end of its road-facing wall instead of in the middle, as ordinaryhouses had, and two windows with small square panes of glass stared outon the road.
The proposition of a 'possum hunt had always been irresistible. Deirdrehad loved to crouch in the bushes with him on moonlight nights and watchthe little creatures at play on the high branches of trees near the edgeof the clearing. They had flung knobby pieces of wood at them, orcatapulted them, and were rejoiced beyond measure when a shot told,there was a startled scream among the 'possums and a little grey bodytumbled from a bough in the moonlight to the dark earth.
He wrapped her up in her shawl, took her by the arm, and they went outinto the moonlight together, making their way to the Black Bull, wherethey were staying until they could find another home in the district.
"You call, Dan!" Conal rose from his seat by the fire with a gesture ofdisappointment. "It'll be full moon to-morrow night and I'm goin' tomake a dash for 'm. Teddy and I ran up a yard near the old hut in NarrowValley. That's what's been keeping me. Steve's goin' to send tucker andfire-irons down to-day."
The moonlight was waning. The silver light in which the forest had beenbathed an hour before, was dimmer, the shadows the house and sheds castblack against it. Where the light struck dead trees they stood outwraith-like from the dark wave of the forest.
A brooding bitterness possessed him. He knew that Conal had wanted himuntil this deal was fixed up, not only because he was short of a manwhen Pat and Tim Kearney cleared out, but because he was afraid how he,Davey, might use the knowledge he had told the Schoolmaster he possessedabout some other of Conal's cattle dealings. As for himself, Davey knewthat not only had his independence demanded a job, but something of thespirit of adventure, a recklessness of consequences, had appealed to himin the moonlighting of a couple of hundred scrub cattle.
He had made up his mind as to what he was going to do. During the weekConal had been mustering and branding the cows and calves drafted fromthe scrub mob. Davey had worked with him, and many of the calves he hadscarred with Maitland's double M. were the progeny of his father'scattle. Half a dozen cows bore the D.C. brand under their thick hair.Conal had wanted to pay him off. He had told Davey that there was noneed for him to burn his fingers with this business, and that he couldrun the mob to the border, or to Melbourne, across the swamp, if thesouth-eastern rivers were down; but he was short-handed, Davey knew; asense of obligation urged him to stick to Conal until the whole of themob they had moonlighted together was disposed of.
He and the Schoolmaster watched her flying out across the faintlymoonlit paddocks. The dogs were soon working round the mob in a farcorner where the fence panels were down. Deirdre drove them through theopening. The black boy was on the road waiting to keep the beasts' nosesnorthwards with an adroit flick of his whip. It was with an occasionallowing and rattling of horns, the brush and rattle of hoofs on the drytimber that they passed out into the shadows of the road.
Steve dozed in his chair afterwards. The night that closed in on theforest was of a soft, thick darkness. Deirdre stood in the doorwaylooking out into it for while. Not a star hung its silver lamp over thehills. The wind crept with slow, uncertain breaths about the shanty. Sheshut the door. 2b1af7f3a8