Excerpt from “A Fortunate Life” by A. B. Facey ~~Grog~~

Albert Facey, at eight years of age, left his family to work and live with another family, primarily tending the livestock. The following event occurred after his second Christmas there, by then he was ten years old.

picture-FortunateLife-FaceyWhen I got back with the cows it was nearly sundown. Bill came to meet me and said that there was a big row on at the house. The grog had run out and Bob was blaming everyone for getting away with it, or stealing it, even the old lady. This made Bill and me very scared. Bill had heard Bob say that last Christmas he had found some bottles planted in the stable and he would search it this time from end to end. Bill suggested that we take the grog that we had planted and put it somewhere else.
We got the bottles off the stable roof (it was getting dark), and put them into two bags. We put these on top of the pig shed roof. A little while later Bob and three others commenced looking for the missing bottles. They were still pretty drunk, so we felt sure they wouldn’t find them.
About half an hour later Bill’s brother George came and told us that Bob wanted Bill up at the house. Bill went up to Bob and I stayed in the stable. Later I heard Bill yelling and I knew then that he was copping a belting. They were trying to make him tell them where the grog was. This made me frightened so I thought I would shift the bottles from the roof of the pig house in case Bill gave in and told.
It was very dark by then so I went to the pig house and brought the bottles down to the ground. I intended to put them in a bag and hide them. The pigs were all asleep, so I knocked the heads off the bottles and emptied them into the trough with the pig feed. This would save me two trips to get rid of the grog, as I couldn’t have carried all the full bottles but the empties were easy to manage in a bag. I put the bag, full of broken bottles, over the fence and took it down into the gully close to the soak.
When I was clear I heard loud voices going towards the pig house. I couldn’t see who it was, but one of the voices was Bob’s and I could also hear Alec. I was safe as it was very dark, and as long as I didn’t make a noise I would be all right. All at once it came to me to let the bag and broken bottles down into the water. There was always about eight feet of water in the soak and the weight of the bottles would hold the bag down, and no one would be able to find it. Having done this I sneaked back to the pig house and could hear that Bill was copping it again. They were belting him and calling him a liar, then Bob’s voice came above the others and said, ‘Find Berty. Then we will get to the bottom of this.’
They all started looking for me. I had no boots on so I quietly got away into the bush and stayed hidden. They never came near where I was. Then a terrible din came from the pig shed. Two or three pigs started to squeal, then a few more, then finally all the pigs were squealing. Oh, what a noise. This brought all the half-drunk men and the women to the pig house. I sneaked up as close as I dared, wondering what was wrong. Then I heard. Bob yelled out, ‘The young sod has poured the grog into the pig trough and they’re all drunk. Wait until I get hold of him, he’ll be sorry for this. I’ll skin him alive.’
This made me go back into hiding in the bush. About two hours later things became quieter. The pigs were not so noisy and everyone seemed to be settled down for the night.
It was in the early hours of the morning when I ventured into the stables to get my blanket. Bill was not there. Everything was quiet. My idea was to wait until daylight came, and clear out and try to get to Uncle’s place. I was very tired and fell asleep and when I woke it wasn’t only daylight but the sun was well up, and standing over me was Bob with a stock-whip in his hand. I had not undressed for bed. I still had on my pants and a shirt, and an old rag hat. These, along with my red blanket, were all my belongings.
Bob said, ‘Well, how much grog did you and Bill put into that trough last night? Now there’s no use denying it, we thrashed it out of Bill last night and you’ve still got yours coming. Come on get up, where’s the rest of the grog?’ I didn’t speak, just stood looking up at him. He gave me a cut around the legs, then he lashed me three or four times around the shoulders and body. I jumped up and tried to run out of the stable. As I got out of the doors he caught me around the legs again and I fell to the ground. He continued to whip me. The whip was one he used to tame horses with and he was an expert. He knew how to use that whip. I don’t know how many times he cut me because I must have fainted.
The next thing I knew I was up at the house on a sofa in the living-room. The old lady and some other women were washing my back, legs, arms and shoulders, and applying some kind of ointment to my cuts. Some of the cuts were an inch wide, and up to twelve inches long, and went into my flesh half an inch in places. I was so ill, I kept fainting. They seemed to be terrible worried about me and one woman said, ‘I think he will die, this is shocking. What were the other men doing to let Bob flog the boy like this?’ Old Albert said that Alec had stopped Bob and knocked him down. They had fought and Alec and Alf had given Bob a hiding. After that Bob had got on his horse and cleared out.

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1 Comment

Filed under Literature, Non-Fiction

One response to “Excerpt from “A Fortunate Life” by A. B. Facey ~~Grog~~

  1. Albert Facey was born in Maidstone, Victoria on 31 August 1894, and died on 11 February 1982, aged 87 years. ‘A Fortunate Life’ was published in 1981.

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