The Drover's Wife
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The Drover's Wife

Leah Purcell

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eBook - ePub

The Drover's Wife

Leah Purcell

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About This Book

Tarantino meets Deadwood in this full-throttle drama of our colonial past, written by the indomitable Leah Purcell.%##CHAR13##%Henry Lawson's story of the Drover's Wife pits the stoic silhouette of a woman against the unforgiving Australian landscape, staring down a serpent—it's our frontier myth captured in a few pages. In Leah's new play the old story gets a very fresh rewrite. Once again the Drover's Wife is confronted by a threat in her yard in Australia's high country, but now it's a man. He's bleeding, he's got secrets, and he's black. She knows there's a fugitive wanted for killing whites, and the district is thick with troopers, but something's holding the Drover's Wife back from turning this fella in …%##CHAR13##%A taut thriller of our pioneering past, The Drover's Wife is full of fury, power and has a black sting to the tail, reaching from our nation's infancy into our complicated present.

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The lights snap up.
Late afternoon.
DROVER’S WIFE, heavily pregnant, aims her Martini Henry, single-shot rifle, at a badly injured Aboriginal man, YADAKA, lying on the ground. There is an iron collar around his neck.
DROVER’S WIFE: Don’t you move, ya black bastard!
He doesn’t.
Oh, no ya don’t. You’re not dyin’ here! Get up and get goin’!
Get up. Get goin’.
He doesn’t move.
She lifts his torn and tattered shirt with the rifle, and there is a very infected stab wound on his lower back.
[Under her breath] Good God.
She winces with a labour pain. Takes some deep breaths, bringing the contraction under control.
Not now please.
[To her stomach] A few more days. Just to be sure.
She looks towards YADAKA.
Just not now.
She has a thought and looks around.
[In a loud whisper] Alligator?
No dog comes running.
Bloody mongrel dog.
There is a noise, she turns to see THOMAS MCNEALY, a swagman.
MCNEALY: I have been called so on many occasions. Sorry I’m not, the dog, you require.
She aims her rifle at him. He quickly looks at YADAKA.
He dead, missus?
DROVER’S WIFE: You will be if ya don’t state ya business, sundowner.
MCNEALY: Thomas McNealy, my lady.
DROVER’S WIFE: Ain’t no lady, just a drover’s wife. State ya business.
MCNEALY: Looks like ya might’ve scored ya’self a reward.
DROVER’S WIFE: What’re ya on ’bout?
MCNEALY: Felon on the run. Crimes committed. Murder, missus, murder. Murderer. Here on ya door step.
DROVER’S WIFE: Murder? Who?
MCNEALY: Where’ve ya been, lady?
DROVER’S WIFE: Mindin’ me business. Whose murder?
MCNEALY: Whole district on the lookout; be crawlin’ with troopers any second now.
DROVER’S WIFE: Who was murdered?
MCNEALY: A white woman like you. On her own with her children. Mountain country.
MCNEALY: A one Mrs Ulla Hossnaggle and her wee ones. A couple of days back now. Other side of the range.
DROVER’S WIFE is taken aback by this.
Niggers. Myall Abos. Savage bastards, just like him. Might be him. Wears the collar.
Horrific. Rape, strangulation, the boys sodomised, and the girl drowned …
Life slipping away from piercin’ sapphire blue [eyes] …
So I’m told. The lengths people go to for detail. Me, faint at the sight of blood I do.
Broad daylight, brazen bastard. Those wee children.
I think of yours, the wee girl, so cute.
She steps closer, her grip firm on her rifle.
DROVER’S WIFE: What’d ya know about my children?
MCNEALY: Now, good lady—
DROVER’S WIFE: My children? What do you know about my children!
MCNEALY: Well, ya know the swaggy’s trail, round and round we go.
But these parts, missus, hard to see whose comin’. Mountain behind ya, dense flora in front of ya, and I’d be lyin’ if I said I hadn’t passed here a few times.
Kept my distance, looked in though.
That’s all. Truth, missus.
DROVER’S WIFE: I wouldn’t trust ya as far as ...

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