My head aches. My belly feels as if it has been turned inside out and trampled by an ox. My mouth tastes like a piskie’s armpit.
I try to stand up, but my legs are too weak.
What has happened to me? Three days ago I was in such brilliant form that I brought down a giant flesh-eating emu almost entirely by myself. And yesterday-
But no matter how I try, I cannot remember yesterday.
Something is terribly wrong, and it is not just me. All around the cold fireplace, my fellow bushrangers are groaning and cursing.
I suddenly realise the truth. The emu was poisoned. I am dying.
(The others are dying too, but they do not matter as much.)
Oh, the shame of it.
There is only one thing I can do; sing my death song. It will not be easy, but I owe it to those left behind.
I open my mouth and begin very quietly, as befits a modest feline such as myself.
‘Weep, poor world
For you are losing a hero,
Cry over the beautiful corpse
The words and the tune are so heart-rending that I know I must share them. Modesty is important, but so is comforting my fellow bushrangers. Perhaps they will join in with their own pitiful efforts.
I sing louder.
‘Weeeeeep, poor wooooorld
Weep and waaaaaiiiiiil for the hero,
You will never again know one so briiiiiilliant
‘What’s that bloody awful racket?’ groans Matty, somewhere to my right.
‘Someone shut that bloody cat up before I ring its bloody neck!’
Matty is obviously deeply moved, in his rough colonial way. I smile, even though I am dying. They will not forget me in Van Diemen’s Land.
Page Admin: We have just been informed that this is the final post in Volume 1 of Monsieur le-beau’s memoirs. M. le-beau is now resting, signing autographs, and posing for the covers of International Traveller, Vogue and Vanity Fair. He assures us that there WILL be a Volume 2, but cannot give us an exact date.