All of us went back to our camp. Our work was over, but we had to settle up among ourselves and divide shares. I could hardly believe my eyes when I saw the cattle all sold and gone, and nothing left at the camp but the horses and the swags.

When we got there that night it was late enough. After tea father and I and Jim had a long yarn, settling over what we should do and wondering whether we were going to get clean away with our share of the money after all.

'By George!' says Jim, 'it's a big touch, and no mistake. To think of our getting over all right, and selling out so easy, just as if they was our own cattle. Won't there be a jolly row when it's all out, and the Momberah people miss their cattle?' (more than half 'em was theirs). 'And when they muster they can't be off seein' they're some hundreds short.'

'That's what's botherin' me,' says father. 'I wish Starlight hadn't been so thundering flash with it all. It'll draw more notice on us, and every one 'll be gassin' about this big sale, and all that, till people's set on to ask where the cattle come from, and what not.'

'I don't see as it makes any difference,' I said. 'Somebody was bound to buy 'em, and we'd have had to give the brands and receipts just the same. Only if we'd sold to any one that thought there was a cross look about it, we'd have had to take half money, that's all. They've fetched a rattling price, through Starlight's working the oracle with those swells, and no mistake.'

'Yes, but that ain't all of it,' says the old man, filling his pipe. 'We've got to look at what comes after. I never liked that imported bull being took. They'll rake all the colonies to get hold of him again, partic'ler as he sold for near three hundred pound.'

'We must take our share of the risk along with the money,' said Jim. 'We shall have our whack of that according to what they fetched to-day. It'll be a short life and a merry one, though, dad, if we go on big licks like this. What'll we tackle next -- a bank or Government House?'

'Nothing at all for a good spell, if you've any sense,' growled father. 'It'll give us all we know to keep dark when this thing gets into the papers, and the police in three colonies are all in full cry like a pack of beagles. The thing is, what'll be our best dart now?'

'I'll go back overland,' says he. 'Starlight's going to take Warrigal with him, and they'll be off to the islands for a turn. If he knows what's best for him, he'll never come back. These other chaps say they'll separate and sell their horses when they get over to the Murray low down, and work their way up by degrees. Which way are you boys going?'

'Jim and I to Melbourne by next steamer,' I said. 'May as well see a bit of life now we're in it. We'll come back overland when we're tired of strange faces.'

'All right,' says father, 'they won't know where I'm lyin' by for a bit, I'll go bail, and the sooner you clear out of Adelaide the better. News like ours don't take long to travel, and you might be nabbed very simple. One of ye write a line to your mother and tell her where you're off to, or she'll be frettin' herself and the gal too -- frettin' over what can't be helped. But I suppose it's the natur' o' some women.'

We done our settling-up next day. All the sale money was paid over to Starlight. He cashed the cheques and drew the lot in notes and gold -- such a bundle of 'em there was. He brought them out to us at the camp, and then we 'whacked' the lot. There were eight of us that had to share and share alike. How much do you think we had to divide? Why, not a penny under four thousand pounds. It had to be divided among the eight of us. That came to five hundred a man. A lot of money to carry about, that was the worst of it.

Next day there was a regular split and squander. We didn't wait long after daylight, you bet. Father was off and well on his way before the stars were out of the sky. He took Warrigal's horse, Bilbah, back with him; he and Starlight was going off to the islands together, and couldn't take horses with them. But he was real sorry to part with the cross-grained varmint; I thought he was going to blubber when he saw father leading him off. Bilbah wouldn't go neither at first; pulled back, and snorted and went on as if he'd never seen only one man afore in his life. Father got vexed at last and makes a sign to old Crib; he fetches him such a 'heeler' as gave him something else to think of for a few miles. He didn't hang back much after that.

The three other chaps went their own road. They kept very dark all through. I know their names well enough, but there's no use in bringing them up now.

Jim and I cuts off into the town, thinking we was due for a little fun. We'd never been in a big town before, and it was something new to us. Adelaide ain't as grand quite as Melbourne or Sydney, but there's something quiet and homelike about it to my thinking -- great wide streets, planted with trees; lots of steady-going German farmers, with their vineyards and orchards and droll little waggons. The women work as hard as the men, harder perhaps, and get brown and scorched up in no time -- not that they've got much good looks to lose; leastways none we ever saw.

We could always tell the German farmers' places along the road from one of our people by looking outside the door. If it was an Englishman or an Australian, you'd see where they'd throwed out the teapot leavings; if it was a German, you wouldn't see nothing. They drink their own sour wine, if their vines are old enough to make any, or else hop beer; but they won't lay out their money in the tea chest or sugar bag; no fear, or the grog either, and not far wrong. Then the sea! I can see poor old Jim's face now the day we went down to the port and he seen it for the first time.

'So we've got to the big waterhole at last,' he said. 'Don't it make a man feel queer and small to think of its going away right from here where we stand to the other side of the world? It's a long way across.'

'Jim,' says I, 'and to think we've lived all our lives up to this time and never set eyes on it before. Don't it seem as if one was shut up in the bush, or tied to a gum tree, so as one can never have a chance to see anything? I wonder we stayed in it so long.'

'It's not a bad place, though it is rather slow and wired in sometimes,' says Jim. 'We might be sorry we ever left it yet. When does the steamer go to Melbourne?'

'The day after tomorrow.'

'I'll be glad to be clear off; won't you?'

We went to the theatre that night, and amused ourselves pretty well next day and till the time came for our boat to start for Melbourne. We had altered ourselves a bit, had our hair cut and our beards trimmed by the hairdresser. We bought fresh clothes, and what with this, and the feeling of being in a new place and having more money in our pockets than we'd ever dreamed about before, we looked so transmogrified when we saw ourselves in the glass that we hardly knew ourselves. We had to change our names, too, for the first time in our lives; and it went harder against the grain than you'd think, for all we were a couple of cattle-duffers, with a warrant apiece sure to be after us before the year was out.

'It sounds ugly,' says Jim, after we had given our names as John Simmons and Henry Smith at the hotel where we put up at till the steamer was ready to start. 'I never thought that Jim Marston was to come to this -- to be afraid to tell a fat, greasy-looking fellow like that innkeeper what his real name was. Seems such a pitiful mean lie, don't it, Dick?'

'It isn't so bad as being called No. 14, No. 221, as they sing out for the fellows in Berrima Gaol. How would you like that, Jim?'

'I'd blow my brains out first,' cried out Jim, 'or let some other fellow do it for me. It wouldn't matter which.'

It was very pleasant, those two or three days in Adelaide, if they'd only lasted. We used to stroll about the lighted streets till all hours, watching the people and the shops and everything that makes a large city different from the country. The different sorts of people, the carts and carriages, buggies and drays, pony-carriages and spring-carts, all jumbled up together; even the fruit and flowers and oysters and fish under the gas-lights seemed strange and wonderful to us. We felt as if we would have given all the world to have got mother and Aileen down to see it all. Then Jim gave a groan.

'Only to think,' says he, 'that we might have had all this fun some day, and bought and paid for it honest. Now it isn't paid for. It's out of some other man's pocket. There's a curse on it; it will have to be paid in blood or prison time before all's done. I could shoot myself for being such a cursed fool.'

'Too late to think of that,' I said; 'we'll have some fun in Melbourne for a bit, anyhow. For what comes after we must "chance it", as we've done before, more than once or twice, either.'


Next day our steamer was to sail. We got Starlight to come down with us and show us how to take our passage. We'd never done it before, and felt awkward at it. He'd made up his mind to go to New Zealand, and after that to Honolulu, perhaps to America.

'I'm not sure that I'll ever come back, boys,' he said, 'and if I were you I don't think I would either. If you get over to San Francisco you'd find the Pacific Slope a very pleasant country to live in. The people and the place would suit you all to pieces. At any rate I'd stay away for a few years and wait till all this blows over.'

I wasn't sorry when the steamer cleared the port, and got out of sight of land. There we were -- where we'd never been before -- in blue water. There was a stiff breeze, and in half-an-hour we shouldn't have turned our heads if we'd seen Hood and the rest of 'em come riding after us on seahorses, with warrants as big as the mainsail. Jim made sure he was going to die straight off, and the pair of us wished we'd never seen Outer Back Momberah, nor Hood's cattle, nor Starlight, nor Warrigal. We almost made up our minds to keep straight and square to the last day of our lives. However, the wind died down a bit next day, and we both felt a lot better -- better in body and worse in mind -- as often happens. Before we got to Melbourne we could eat and drink, smoke and gamble, and were quite ourselves again. We'd laid it out to have a reg'lar good month of it in town, takin' it easy, and stopping nice and quiet at a good hotel, havin' some reasonable pleasure. Why shouldn't we see a little life? We'd got the cash, and we'd earned that pretty hard. It's the hardest earned money of all, that's got on the cross, if fellows only knew, but they never do till it's too late.

When we got tired of doing nothing, and being in a strange place, we'd get across the border, above Albury somewhere, and work on the mountain runs till shearing came round again; and we could earn a fairish bit of money. Then we'd go home for Christmas after it was all over, and see mother and Aileen again. How glad and frightened they'd be to see us. It wouldn't be safe altogether, but go we would.