The Moving Finger

Mary Gaunt
The Moving Finger, by Mary

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Title: The Moving Finger A Trotting Christmas Eve at Warwingie Lost!
The Loss of the "Vanity" Dick Stanesby's Hutkeeper The Yanyilla
Steeplechase A Digger's Christmas
Author: Mary Gaunt
Release Date: May 5, 2007 [EBook #21335]
Language: English
Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1

Produced by David Widger


"The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ, Moves on; nor all your
piety and wit Shall lore it back to cancel half a line, Nor all your tears
wash out a word of it."


A Trotting Christmas Eve at Warwingie Lost! The Loss of the "Vanity"
Dick Stanesby's Hutkeeper The Yanyilla Steeplechase A Digger's

"Hi--hey--hold up there, mare, will you? What did you say, mister? A
light? Yes. That 's Trotting Cob, that is. The missus 'll give us a cup of
tea, but that's about all. Devil fly away with the mare. What is it?
Something white in the road? Water by ----. Thank the Lord, they Ve
had plenty of rain this year. But they do say there's a ghost
hereabouts--a Trotting Cob, with a man in white on him? Lord, no,
that's an old woman's tale. But the girl--she walks--she walks they say,
and mighty good reason--too--if all tales be true. Hosses always shy
here if they Ve at all skittish. Got that letter, Jack, and the tobacco?
That's right! Rum, isn't it, to get all your news of the world at dead of
night? Reg'ler as clockwork we pass--a little after one, and the coach
from Deniliquin she passes an hour or so earlier.
"Anybody else? Well, no, not as a rule. It's the stock route? you see,
between Hay and Deniliquin, so there's bound to be stock on the way;
but sheep, bless you! they travel six miles a day, and cattle they ain't so
much faster, so we brings 'em all the news. The Company has stables
here, and feed, and we change horses. The old man and old woman

keep it, with a boy or two. Mighty dull for the old woman, I should
think, with on'y the ghost to keep her company. She was her cousin or
her aunt or somethin', the ghost was, and, Lord, women is fools an' no
mistake." It was July, and the winter rains had just fallen, so that the
plains, contrary to custom, were a regular sea of mud.
The wheels sank axle deep in it. The horses floundered through it in the
darkness, and every now and then the lamps were reflected in a big
pool of shallow water. The wind blew keen and cold, but the coach was
full inside and out, and so, though it was pitch dark, I kept my seat by
the driver.
A light gleamed up out of the darkness.
"Trotting Cob!" said he, and discoursed upon it till he pulled up his
horses on their haunches exactly opposite a wide-open door, where the
lamplight displayed a rudely-laid table and a bright fire, which seemed
hospitably to beckon us in. The whole place was as wide awake as if it
were noon instead of midnight.
Ten minutes' stay, and we were off again into the darkness, and then I
prevailed upon the driver to tell me the tale of Trotting Cob. He told it
in his own way. He interlarded his speech with strange oaths. He
stopped often to swear at the road, to correct the horses, and he was
emphatic in his opinions on the foolishness of women, so I must e'en do
as he did, and tell the tale of Trotting Cob in my own way.
A flat world--possibly to English eyes an uninteresting, desolate, dreary
world; but to those who knew and loved them, they had a weird charm,
all their own, those dull, gray plains that stretched away mile after mile
till it seemed the horizon, unbroken by hill or tree, must be the end of
the world. Trotting Cob was Murwidgee then, Murwidgee Waterhole,
where all the stock stopped and watered; but from the slab hut, which
was the only dwelling for miles, no waterhole was visible; the creek
was simply a huge crack in the earth, and at the bottom, twenty feet
below the level of the plain, was the water-hole. One waterhole in
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