Full Online Books
BOOK CATEGORIES
Authors Authors Short Stories Short Stories Long Stories Long Stories Funny Stories Funny Stories Love Stories Love Stories Stories For Kids Stories For Kids Poems Poems Essays Essays Nonfictions Nonfictions Plays Plays Folktales Folktales Fairy Tales Fairy Tales Fables Fables Learning Kitchen Learning Kitchen
LINKS
Valid XHTML 1.0 Transitional Free Classified Website Without Registration Free Classified Website Best Url Shortener
Twitter Twitter Add book
donate
Full Online Book HomeShort StoriesHow Steelman Told His Story
Famous Authors (View All Authors)
How Steelman Told His Story Post by :msbarbara Category :Short Stories Author :Henry Lawson Date :January 2011 Read :2492

Click below to download : How Steelman Told His Story (Format : PDF)

How Steelman Told His Story

It was Steelman's humour, in some of his moods, to take Smith into his confidence, as some old bushmen do their dogs.

"You're nearly as good as an intelligent sheep-dog to talk to, Smith--when a man gets tired of thinking to himself and wants a relief. You're a bit of a mug and a good deal of an idiot, and the chances are that you don't know what I'm driving at half the time--that's the main reason why I don't mind talking to you. You ought to consider yourself honoured; it ain't every man I take into my confidence, even that far."

Smith rubbed his head.

"I'd sooner talk to you--or a stump--any day than to one of those silent, suspicious, self-contained, worldly-wise chaps that listen to everything you say--sense and rubbish alike--as if you were trying to get them to take shares in a mine. I drop the man who listens to me all the time and doesn't seem to get bored. He isn't safe. He isn't to be trusted. He mostly wants to grind his axe against yours, and there's too little profit for me where there are two axes to grind, and no stone--though I'd manage it once, anyhow."

"How'd you do it?" asked Smith.

"There are several ways. Either you join forces, for instance, and find a grindstone--or make one of the other man's axe. But the last way is too slow, and, as I said, takes too much brain-work--besides, it doesn't pay. It might satisfy your vanity or pride, but I've got none. I had once, when I was younger, but it--well, it nearly killed me, so I dropped it.

"You can mostly trust the man who wants to talk more than you do; he'll make a safe mate--or a good grindstone."

Smith scratched the nape of his neck and sat blinking at the fire, with the puzzled expression of a woman pondering over a life-question or the trimming of a hat. Steelman took his chin in his hand and watched Smith thoughtfully.

"I--I say, Steely," exclaimed Smith, suddenly, sitting up and scratching his head and blinking harder than ever--"wha--what am I?"

"How do you mean?"

"Am I the axe or the grindstone?"

"Oh! your brain seems in extra good working order to-night, Smith. Well, you turn the grindstone and I grind." Smith settled. "If you could grind better than I, I'd turn the stone and let YOU grind, I'd never go against the interests of the firm--that's fair enough, isn't it?"

"Ye-es," admitted Smith; "I suppose so."

"So do I. Now, Smith, we've got along all right together for years, off and on, but you never know what might happen. I might stop breathing, for instance--and so might you."

Smith began to look alarmed.

"Poetical justice might overtake one or both of us--such things have happened before, though not often. Or, say, misfortune or death might mistake us for honest, hard-working mugs with big families to keep, and cut us off in the bloom of all our wisdom. You might get into trouble, and, in that case, I'd be bound to leave you there, on principle; or I might get into trouble, and you wouldn't have the brains to get me out--though I know you'd be mug enough to try. I might make a rise and cut you, or you might be misled into showing some spirit, and clear out after I'd stoushed you for it. You might get tired of me calling you a mug, and bossing you and making a tool or convenience of you, you know. You might go in for honest graft (you were always a bit weak-minded) and then I'd have to wash my hands of you (unless you agreed to keep me) for an irreclaimable mug. Or it might suit me to become a respected and worthy fellow townsman, and then, if you came within ten miles of me or hinted that you ever knew me, I'd have you up for vagrancy, or soliciting alms, or attempting to levy blackmail. I'd have to fix you--so I give you fair warning. Or we might get into some desperate fix (and it needn't be very desperate, either) when I'd be obliged to sacrifice you for my own personal safety, comfort, and convenience. Hundreds of things might happen.

"Well, as I said, we've been at large together for some years, and I've found you sober, trustworthy, and honest; so, in case we do part--as we will sooner or later--and you survive, I'll give you some advice from my own experience.

"In the first place: If you ever happen to get born again--and it wouldn't do you much harm--get born with the strength of a bullock and the hide of one as well, and a swelled head, and no brains--at least no more brains than you've got now. I was born with a skin like tissue-paper, and brains; also a heart.

"Get born without relatives, if you can: if you can't help it, clear out on your own just as soon after you're born as you possibly can. I hung on.

"If you have relations, and feel inclined to help them any time when you're flush (and there's no telling what a weak-minded man like you might take it into his head to do)--don't do it. They'll get a down on you if you do. It only causes family troubles and bitterness. There's no dislike like that of a dependant. You'll get neither gratitude nor civility in the end, and be lucky if you escape with a character. (You've got NO character, Smith; I'm only just supposing you have.) There's no hatred too bitter for, and nothing too bad to be said of, the mug who turns. The worst yarns about a man are generally started by his own tribe, and the world believes them at once on that very account. Well, the first thing to do in life is to escape from your friends.

"If you ever go to work--and miracles have happened before--no matter what your wages are, or how you are treated, you can take it for granted that you're sweated; act on that to the best of your ability, or you'll never rise in the world. If you go to see a show on the nod you'll be found a comfortable seat in a good place; but if you pay the chances are the ticket clerk will tell you a lie, and you'll have to hustle for standing room. The man that doesn't ante gets the best of this world; anything he'll stand is good enough for the man that pays. If you try to be too sharp you'll get into gaol sooner or later; if you try to be too honest the chances are that the bailiff will get into your house--if you have one--and make a holy show of you before the neighbours. The honest softy is more often mistaken for a swindler, and accused of being one, than the out-and-out scamp; and the man that tells the truth too much is set down as an irreclaimable liar. But most of the time crow low and roost high, for it's a funny world, and you never know what might happen.

"And if you get married (and there's no accounting for a woman's taste) be as bad as you like, and then moderately good, and your wife will love you. If you're bad all the time she can't stand it for ever, and if you're good all the time she'll naturally treat you with contempt. Never explain what you're going to do, and don't explain afterwards, if you can help it. If you find yourself between two stools, strike hard for your own self, Smith--strike hard, and you'll be respected more than if you fought for all the world. Generosity isn't understood nowadays, and what the people don't understand is either 'mad' or 'cronk'. Failure has no case, and you can't build one for it.... I started out in life very young--and very soft."

. . . . .

"I thought you were going to tell me your story, Steely," remarked Smith.

Steelman smiled sadly.


(THE END)

An incomplete Glossary of Australian terms and concepts which may prove helpful to understanding this book:

Anniversary Day: Alluded to in the text, is now known as Australia Day. It commemorates the establishment of the first English settlement in Australia, at Port Jackson (Sydney Harbour), on 26 January 1788.

Billy: A kettle used for camp cooking, especially to boil water for tea.

Cabbage-tree/Cabbage-tree hat: A wide-brimmed hat made with the leaves of the cabbage tree palm (Livistona australis). It was a common hat in early colonial days, and later became associated with patriotism.

Gin: An aboriginal woman; use of the term is analogous to "squaw" in N. America. May be considered derogatory in modern usage.

Graft: Work; hard work.

Humpy: (Aboriginal) A rough or temporary hut or shelter in the bush, especially one built from bark, branches, and the like. A gunyah, wurley, or mia-mia.

Jackeroo/Jackaroo: At the time Lawson wrote, a Jackeroo was a "new chum" or newcomer to Australia, who sought work on a station to gain experience. The term now applies to any young man working as a station hand. A female station hand is a Jillaroo.

Jumbuck: A sheep.

Larrikin: A hoodlum.

Lollies: Candy, sweets.

'Possum/Possum: In Australia, a class of marsupials that were originally mistaken for the American animal of the same name. They are not especially related to the possums of North and South America, other than being marsupials.

Public/Pub.: The traditional pub. in Australia was a hotel with a "public" bar--hence the name. The modern pub has often (not always) dispensed with the lodging, and concentrated on the bar.

Push: A group of people sharing something in common; Lawson uses the word in an older and more particular sense, as a gang of violent city hoodlums.

Ratty: Shabby, dilapidated; somewhat eccentric, perhaps even slightly mad.

Selector: A free selector, a farmer who selected and settled land by lease or license from the government.

Shout: To buy a round of drinks.

Sliprails/slip-rails: movable rails, forming a section of fence, which can be taken down in lieu of a gate.

Sly grog shop or shanty: An unlicensed bar or liquor-store, especially one selling cheap or poor-quality liquor.

Squatter: A person who first settled on land without government permission, and later continued by lease or license, generally to raise stock; a wealthy rural landowner.

Station: A farm or ranch, especially one devoted to cattle or sheep.

Stoush: Violence; to do violence to.

Tea: In addition to the regular meaning, Tea can also mean a light snack or a meal (i.e., where Tea is served). In particular, Morning Tea (about 10 AM) and Afternoon Tea (about 3 PM) are nothing more than a snack, but Evening Tea (about 6 PM) is a meal. When just "Tea" is used, it usually means the evening meal. Variant: Tea- time.

Tucker: Food.

Also: a hint with the seasons--remember that the seasons are reversed from those in the northern hemisphere, hence June may be hot, but December is even hotter. Australia is at a lower latitude than the United States, so the winters are not harsh by US standards, and are not even mild in the north. In fact, large parts of Australia are governed more by "dry" versus "wet" than by Spring- Summer-Fall-Winter.


(The end)
Henry Lawson's short story: How Steelman told his Story

If you like this book please share to your friends :
NEXT BOOKS

An Oversight Of Steelman's An Oversight Of Steelman's

An Oversight Of Steelman's
Steelman and Smith--professional wanderers--were making back for Wellington, down through the wide and rather dreary-looking Hutt Valley. They were broke. They carried their few remaining belongings in two skimpy, amateurish-looking swags. Steelman had fourpence left. They were very tired and very thirsty--at least Steelman was, and he answered for both. It was Smith's policy to feel and think just exactly as Steelman did. Said Steelman:"The landlord of the next pub. is not a bad sort. I won't go in--he might remember me. You'd best go in. You've been tramping round in the Wairarapa district for the last six months, looking for
PREVIOUS BOOKS

Mateship In Shakespeare's Rome Mateship In Shakespeare's Rome

Mateship In Shakespeare's Rome
How we do misquote sayings, or misunderstand them when quoted rightly! For instance, we "wait for something to turn up, like Micawber," careless or ignorant of the fact that Micawber worked harder than all the rest put together for the leading characters' sakes; he was the chief or only instrument in straightening out of the sadly mixed state of things--and he held his tongue till the time came. Moreover--and "_Put a pin in that spot, young man_," as Dr "Yark" used to say--when there came a turn in the tide of the affairs of Micawber, he took it at the flood,
NEXT 10 BOOKS | PREVIOUS 10 BOOKS | RANDOM 10 BOOKS
LEAVE A COMMENT