« Past Pleasures | Main | Naming The Kitten »

U3A Writing: Hump In The Bag

…Every bush mother's worst nightmare is to have a snake between her and her child. Now her child was stirring, and might at any instant slide off the bed onto the reptile in the bag….

Merle Parkin tells a story with a chuckle and a cluck in its tail.

It would have seemed an understatement to say that Mum's bantams bred like rabbits. The bunnies were not very plentiful that year, but bantams swarmed in the swamp. The little hens would come home at evening for a feed of wheat, and perch up in a Moonah tree behind the humpy, but there were sometimes one or two missing. Mum would mourn their loss to a fox or a snake, only to have Blackie or Speckles wander out of the lignum three weeks later with a dozen or so diminutive chicks.

Some of the young cockerels went native and stayed in the lignum permanently. When we were out of meat, we'd go in there with Poopsy, our lame Airedale, and run down three or four for the pot. Judging by the chorus of crowing from the swamp each morning, we never thinned the flock out very much.

Other times, we'd crawl round under the lignum looking for nests of eggs. That we seldom saw a snake was probably due to the noise we made cooeeing and ululating to each other through a labyrinth of tunnels under the wiry branches.
One winter afternoon, Mum caught a couple of nice yellowbellies, and knowing it would be pretty dark when we got home, she decided to seek out some eggs for the batter. Before she went, she checked the sleeping baby, who was sprawled on the bed inside.

A wheat bag had been thrown on the earth floor for a bedside mat. As Mum went to step on the bag, she imagined it moved. She backed away, reaching for a waddy she knew was outside the door. Her eyes were glued to a hump in the bag, which was quite unmistakably squirming. Every bush mother's worst nightmare is to have a snake between her and her child. Now her child was stirring, and might at any instant slide off the bed onto the reptile in the bag.

She grabbed the waddy, and raising it above her head, strode towards the squirming bag. Almost as she would deal the lethal blow, some instinct stayed her hand. An instant later, with a triumphant cackle, Blackie shot out of the open end of the sack. She exited the humpy, screaming to the world that she had laid an egg.

Mum gingerly opened the end of the bag with her cudgel, and there indeed was a small, brown egg, glowing with new-laid warmth. She put it aside for baby's tea, and went to find some not-so-fresh ones for the batter.

Categories

Creative Commons License
This website is licensed under a Creative Commons License.