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Friday, 12 September 2014

The last fox on the Speewah

Somebody asked me the other day about Crooked Mick using two axes at once when he was cutting fence posts.  Not possible, they alleged.  That just goes to show some people don't know very much about the way Australians look after their axes.  The standard timber-getter's demonstration involves putting spit on the forearm, and shaving all the hairs off, that's how sharp they keep their axes.

Crooked Mick did this trick once, for an admiring audience of city people who happened to be out visiting the Speewah.  (Taking them city folk out there in the first place was a mistake, but that's another story, one I'd rather not get involved in.)

Anyhow, after Mick had performed the trick for them, one woman gushes to him, "Do you always shave yourself on the face that way, Mr. Mick?"

Well, Mick looks her up and down, wondering why she called him that, because he was always just plain "Mick" when you talked to him, but she was obviously an ignorant city type, so he answered her patiently.

"No," he says.  "I use the back of the axe to shave meself."

She looks at that part of the axe, and says "But it's flat and blunt.  How could you possibly shave yourself with that?"

"Yersss," he drawls.  "Too right, it's flat, and just as well, or I'd cut meself.  I use the back so's I can drive the whiskers in and then I bite them off inside."  So saying, he performed this delicate operation.

First he drove the whiskers in, and then there was this awful grinding and crunching sound as the whiskers were mashed and mangled under Mick's molars.  Then he stepped to the edge of the verandah of the shearers' quarters, and spat at a nearby fence, just as a fox jumped over the top of the fence.

Well this surprised everybody, because this was the first fox ever seen on the Speewah, but the fox was even more surprised, as it instantly became the last fox on the Speewah.  Some of Mick's whiskers had been crushed to razor-sharp slivers, and these flew faster than the others.  Reaching the fox first, these slivers passed under the skin, and neatly separated the hide from the body.

As you might expect, the fox jumped into the air and then took off, leaving the hide standing in the air for just a moment, until the less crushed and heavier whisker fragments reached the hide.  Because these were so much heavier, the force of their impact drove the hide back into the fence, where they impaled it, perfectly stretched, against the fence.

Now I've seen the hide: it's still there, so you'll realise that when I say Mick's axes were sharp, I mean what I say.

The fox slunk away and hid in a swamp, but they say a mosquito came down in the night and swallowed it whole.  Maybe the mossies developed a taste for fox meat after that, but there never were any other foxes seen on the Speewah.

* * * * *

Note: there is a whole book of these stories, which I am currently pitching to publishers, but they will probably appear in an e-book.

There will be quite a number of these on the blog, all with the tags Speewah and Crooked Mick.

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