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THE GRAVES OUT WEST, i'lf the lonely graves are scattered i» that fenceless vast God’s Acre, If no church bells chime across them, and no mourners tread between — (Yet the souls of those sound sleepers go as swiftly to their Maker,, 'And the ground is just as sacred and the graves are just as green. •Tf we chant no solemn dirges to the virtue of the living, If we sing no hymn-words o’er them —in the glory of the stars They can hear a grander music than was ever ours for giving— God’s choristers invisible —the winds in the belars.

-■“lf we set them up no mdrble, it is none the less we love them : If we carved a million columns! would it bring them better rest 7 If no gentle hands have fashioned snow-white .wreaths to lay above

'them, God has laid His own wild flowers on the lonely graves out West.” Will H. Ogilvie.

I have been reading these lines (writes “Old Oxford” in the Christian Commonwealth) under the verandah of a squatter’s home many miles from the nearest postrtown. Miles of sand and swamp and scrub and yucca and honeysuckle country were traversed before we saw, rising on a limestone ridge, the pines that betokened something of civilisation. iWe had been discussing the probability of being “bushed,” and had planned a meal of yucca roots and rabbit, and the sight of the window lights w a s comforting.

And what a home I surrounded on all sides by beautiful shrubs and trees, everyone of which was planted by the present owner, who lies near me reading “The Observer.” Here a small plantation has been fenced off for native trees only, and bottlebrush, wild cherry, sheacock, and Wattle seem thankful to be protected and grow out of the limestone rocks in rich profusion. There, in a sheltered spot, a number of lofty pines lift their heads into the vaulted blue, and below, the carpet of pine needles bids us tread softly and silently, for among- the thickest of the pines are three cairns of limestone rocks that cover the bodies of three of our fallen comrades of the bush. The sacredness of the spot reminded our chaperone of the lines quoted above. What pathetic thoughts linger around this ■sacred spot ! ‘They lie at rest ’neath the pinetrees’ s-hade, Three nameless graves on the squatter’s run ; Did loved ones weep for the unreturned, Or a mother mourn for a long-lost son ?” Under one cairn lies one who left his newly-married wife alone, telling her he would return at night ; but as the evening shadows fell a lonely messenger, the faithful dog, camt3 howling at the bushman’s door. A.ll night long’ the woman waited, and in the morning journeyed far to a neighbouring station to get help to look for the lost one. He was found

later, where lie had fallen from his horse, and here is his grave. The svcond cairn hides a nameless one, shot accidentally while travelling. Years after the burial my friend was told the story of this long forgotten one. A nameless grave, wj,th no one to remember, and yet, methinks, thou, too, hast been tenderly cared for by stranger’s hands, who have covered thee with kindly care, as — “A child of the self-same heritage, Heir of the self-same God.” No. 3, the largest cairn of all, covers the body of a lonely bushman, who was- found with his head resting oh his hand as though asleep. Under a tree by the bush track he lay quietly resting, and •‘-'God’s hand touched him, and he slept.” Only one penny in his pocket, a housolesis, homeless old man, ho had wandered far, and was found lying by his partly-burnt swag, and here he rests — “His requiem, the sighing wind ; His pall, the pine-trees’ leaves. For nature mourns her much-loved sons, Sad wreaths she always weaves.

What lonely lives there are in God’s world ! And how tender should be our sympathy for sad hearts everywhere. Not only in- the lonely bush, but in crowded cities, there are hungry souls longing for a kinuly word.

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Bibliographic details

Sketcher., Southern Cross, Volume 15, Issue 4, 27 April 1907

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Sketcher. Southern Cross, Volume 15, Issue 4, 27 April 1907

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