Remember Burdekin Heartbeats
Reminder: Free short story – see below ‘A Pearl for Your Enjoyment.’
Beta Reader’s reports are back along with positive comments, loads of bleeding red biro and great suggestions.
Current Weather and Tides
Lorraine at our local bookshop (TWIGA) has begun holding Local Author presentations the last Friday of each month.
I had the pleasure of listening to Tom Stodulka’s talk last week.
The book cover design for my sixth novel is almost in the bag. Of course, the Australian Light Horse will feature prominently.
Keep safe, Keep smiling, Keep reading, Keep writing.
A Pearl for Your Enjoyment
When asked to write of a place I know well I chose an excerpt from my third novel “Burdekin Heartbeats”. The inspiration for this scene developed from a story my mother told that happened on the farm when she was a child.
Remember Burdekin Heartbeats
A little sunlight shone through the grass and entered the small opening leading into the tiny dark space. The long shiny body lay curled up in a small ball that belied the length of the snake as it flicked its forked tongue in and out sensing the vibrations of the earth. The activity outside had disturbed the reptile’s sleep. The wheels of the dray rumbled along the rough track with Paddymac, Shamus, Mark, Harry and his sons Gabbi and Haddi on board. With increased irritability, the snake sensed the voices of the men and the rattle of the mattocks, shovels and hoes being unloaded.
The men were here to clear some of the brush around the stumps left in the paddock by the timber cutters. Uncle Michael planned to let Paddymac use the gelignite to blow the stumps on his own. This would be the second paddock at Paddymac’s farm to be planted with sugar cane. Considerable work was needed if they were to have this area ready for planting by April. The forest rang with the fall of the axes used on the smaller roots. Mattocks and shovels scraped at the soil to make a hole to lay the explosive. The snake slithered out of its once peaceful resting place and began its silent journey through the grass around the base of a large tree stump.
Gabby’s eye caught the glint of the shiny body just as his axe started to fall. He was able to interrupt his action to some degree but not enough to escape the strike of the brown snake. The serpent latched its fangs with great determination onto the little finger of his left hand.
Without thinking, Gabby laid the hand on the stump. With his right hand, he brought the axe down in a swift blow. He chopped the top off the finger which included the attached snake. Gabby then belted the snake on the head with the back of the axe. It was over in a matter of seconds.
It took some moments before the pain hit. “Yeow!”
Haddi rushed to his brother’s side immediately.
Back at the house, the discussion was interrupted. Michael jumped up and moved to the door. Two black crows cawed their protest as they scrambled into the air from where they had been scavenging under the mango tree. The rumble of the dray wheels and the sound of galloping horses heralded trouble. Dust billowed up around the dray as Paddymac pulled the team to a halt. Something serious was amiss. Paddymac would never drive the horses so hard otherwise.
Looking out of the window, Mary observed Shamus and Haddi helping Gabby down from the seat. Gabby was holding one hand covered with a dirty rag in the palm of his other hand. Paddymac started the horses again and headed towards the Wong’s gardens.
Mary took a big breath. She knew it was bad and she knew she had to be steady. The men led Gabby into the kitchen and sat him at the table. Mary immediately bought a basin of water and soap to clean up whatever was hidden under the bloody cloth. She instructed Shamus to collect her medical kit and her sewing box. When she saw the amount of blood that had soaked the rag and was now running down the arm to Gabby’s elbow, she knew there was every chance this may require both. Mary gasped when she removed the rag. She took a hold of the table edge.
Steady girl, steady, she told herself as she caught sight of what was left of the finger. This fellow needs your help not a fit of the vapours. Willing her hands to remain steady, Mary gently cleaned up the finger and instructed Gabby to put pressure on a point nearer the web space to reduce some of the blood spurting out of the wound.
“Paddymac has gone to fetch Old Mr. Wong,” commented Haddi. At this point, Gabby’s head dropped to the table. Consciousness deserted him.
Mary felt relieved to know Gabby would not be aware of what she was about to do.
“Haddi, I want you to hold the pressure on the finger while I remove that little bit of bone above the middle joint.” With a short, sharp and pointed butcher knife, she carefully trimmed the joint attachments and shaped the skin as best she could to fit over the new end of the finger. Mary then took her sewing needle and strong thread and sewed the two skin edges together. At this point, Old Mr. Wong, his son, Curley, and Paddymac returned. Old Mr. Wong gave her a poultice to place on the suture line. Gabby groaned. His eyes fluttered. Haddi held his brother as he struggled to rise. Mary laid a clean piece of linen over the wound and padded it well. With further strips of the linen, she was able to bind it firmly.