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Birds looked from twigs, and the eyes of animals were drawn to what was happening. The man made a lean-to with bags and a few saplings. He sighed at last, because the lighting of his smdl fire had kmdled in him the first warmth of content. That particular part of the bush had been made his by the entwining fire. By this time also die red dog had come and sat at the fire, near, though not beside the man, who was not intimate with his animals. It was enough for them to be there, at a decent distance. His face had grown sharp with attention, and with a longing for food, for the tucker box that had not yet been lifted from the cart. Hunger had caused him to place his paws delicately. In the drowsy bosom of the fire that he had made the young man remembered his parents and his mother’s (jod, who was a pale-blue gentleness.His yellow eyes consumed the man in the interval before meat. He had tried to see her God, in actual feature, but he had not.These were the dominant trees in that part of the bush, rising above the in- volved scrub with the simplicity of true grandeur. Then the man took an axe and struck at the side of a hairy tree, more to hear the sound than for any other reason. I'he man struck the tree, and struck, till several wliitc chips had fn lien. More quickly then, as if deliberately breaking with a dream, he took the harness from the horse, leaving a black pattern of sweat. In that light of late evening, tinder the wliite sky, the black limbs of trees, the black and brooding scrub, were being folded into one. And inside the circle of its light the man’s face was unconcerned as he rubbed tobacco in the palms of his hard hands, a square of tinkling paper stuck to his lower lip. In the light of the fire the bristles of his muzzle glistened. She con- tinued because, apart from the story, literature brought with it a kind of gentility for which slie craved. So Miss Noakes had become Mrs Parker, became idso, in a way, more frightened than before.
Then, more than at any time, the nostalgia of permanence and the fiend of motion fought inside the boy, right there at the moment when his life was ending and beginning.
Now, Lord, lie had said, lying with his eyes open in the dark. He was the black- smith, and had looked into the fire. All fiery m his own strength, deaf with the music of metal, and superior to the stench of burned hoof, there was no question.
Sometimes he would hear his father, swearing and belching, the other side of the door. Once, from tlic bottom of a ditch, on his way home, after rum, he had even spoken to God, and caught at the wing of a protesting angel, before passing out.
She read, and she practised neat- ness, as if she might tidy things up that way; only time and moth destroyed her efforts, and the souls of human beings, which will burst out of any box they are put in side.
There was the young man her son, for instance, who now lay with his head on a horse’s collar, beside his bit of a fire, the son had thrown off the lid.