I went with Down Under, more than with either the song or the kangaroos. And as I spent the last week tending farm animals and a horse with colic, my thoughts went to a Man From Snowy River sort of time. So Australia, here we come with new characters and a new story-line.
|Abandoned Stable Light In Ramona California, courtesy SKD|
I offer the following in response: The Billy's Boiling
Poppy left her father’s sickbed hurt, embarrassed that she allowed him get under her skin like the flystrike that took his sheep. “Miserable fool,” she muttered, as much a jab at herself as it was towards her father.
“Miss Buchanan,” Clyde sidestepped her in the hallway as she pushed towards the backdoor, “McPherson will want an answer soon.”
Poppy crossed the porch, the January sun coaxing sweat to her brow. She despised Jackbite Station and its purpose, knowing her hatred stemmed from the bitter old man wasting away in his bed. Under any other circumstances, she wouldn’t care they were in dire straits. But McPherson wasn’t going to be her savior, not by a long shot. “I might be a Sheila but I’m not about to let that sanctimonious FIGJAM bail us up over this patch of dirt.”
Clyde smirked. “I see Londontown didn’t ruin you. You still got Top End in your blood.”
She let the comment go. She never thought to return to the Territories. It was winter in London; snow in Yorkshire was a certainty. Poppy raised her hand to shield her eyes from the sun. The day lasts too long here, she thought. She’d been gone long enough for her blood to find a winterless January strange. “What’s the report today, Mr. Bingley?”
Clyde rubbed his chin. “Your father ever tell a tale about a soulless brumby stirring up the herd?”
She frowned. “No.”
He pointed to the west, out beyond the station. “Well, Ben’s hunting jumbuck-duffers when a boomer suckers his bitzer within cooee of the billabong. He’s nursing his dog when he catches sight of a whole herd of them, and that midnight brumby smug in the middle, leading the pack.”
Poppy sighed. She had also been gone long enough to lose her ability to understand Clyde Bingley.
He raised an eyebrow at her. “Wild horses, Miss Buchanan. Enough that if maybe we round them up, we’ll have a decent payday.”
“Enough to cover the sheep loss?”
“And the lien against the station.”
That, she understood. And they wouldn’t need McPherson’s buyout. “Do we stand a chance of catching up and tracking the herd?”
Riders approached from the station entrance. Poppy recognized McPherson from his horse more than his looks. His beard had turned snow-white in her absence. She turned to Clyde. “Tell Mr. Possum to muster what he needs. Go get those ponies.”
“Yes ma’am.” Clyde jogged towards the tack-rooms.
McPherson dismounted, his goons with him. He was close enough for her to smell the brekker stuck in his teeth. “Miss Buchanan, I did not expect to find you here.”
“And why not? This is my home.” She folded her arms.
“Not for much longer, my apologies. Your father and I have an understanding, as it were.”
“That so? Well, you don’t have one with me, bushranger. Get. Off. My. Land.”
Clyde returned with a shotgun. “You heard the Sheila. Rack off, mate.”