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A renegade officer with Australia's Defence Intelligence Organisation (DIO), embarks on a ruthless quest for extreme personal wealth. His private crusade.
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Sign in. Become an FT subscriber to read: Boomerang staff: is returning to an old workplace a good idea? Explore the new agenda We live in a time of disruption but where others see difficulty, we see opportunity - not just to survive but to thrive.
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Choose your subscription. For 4 weeks receive unlimited Premium digital access to the FT's trusted, award-winning business news. Premium Digital. Team or Enterprise. The remains were off about twenty yards eating bunch grass. In the gloom and uncertainty of night, I had shot six shots into an old windlass near a deserted shaft. Boomerang and I get along first-rate together. When I am lonesome I shoot at him, and when he is lonesome he comes up and lays his head across my shoulder, and looks at me with great soulful eyes and sings to me.
On our way in from the mines we saw one of those beautiful sights so common in this high altitude and clear atmosphere. It was a mirage. In the party were a lawyer, a United States official, a banker and myself. The other three members of the quartet, aside from myself are very modest men and do not wish to have their names mentioned.
MY MULE BOOMERANG,
They were very particular about it and I have respected their wishes. Whatever Messrs. Blake, Snow or Ivinson ask me to do I will always do cheerfully. But we were speaking about the mirage. Across to the northeast our attention was at first attracted by a rank of gray towers growing taller and taller till their heads were lifted into the sky above, while at their feet there soon appeared a glassy lake in which was reflected the outlines of the massive gray walls above.
It was a beautiful sight. The picture was as still and lovely to look upon as a school ma'am. We all went into raptures. It looked like some beautiful scene in Palestine. At least Snow said so, and he has read a book about Palestine, and ought to know. There was a silence in the air which seemed to indicate the deserted sepulchre of other days, and the grim ruins towering above the depths of clear waters on whose surface was mirrored the visage of the rocks and towers on their banks, all spoke of repose and decay and the silent, stately tread of relentless years.
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By and by, from out the grey background of the picture, there stole the wild, tremulous, heart-broken wail of a mule. It seemed to jar upon the surroundings and clash harshly against our sensitive natures. Some one of the party swore a little. Then another one came to the front, and took the job off his hands. We all joined, in a gentlemanly kind of way, in condemning the mule for his lack of tact, to say the least.
All at once the line of magnificent ruins shortened and became reduced in height. They changed their positions and moved off to the left, and our dream had melted into the matter of fact scene of twenty-two immigrant wagons drawn by rat-tail mules and driven by long-haired Mormons, with the dirt and bacon rinds of prehistoric times adhering to them everywhere. We are only marching toward the tomb, after all. We should learn a valuable lesson from this and never tell a lie.
T he romantic story of Damon and Pythias, which has been celebrated in verse and song, for over two thousand years, is supposed to have originated during the reign of Dionysius I. He must have been called "The Elder," more for a joke than anything else, as he was by inclination a Unitarian, although he was never a member of any church whatever, and was in fact the wickedest man in all Syracuse.
Dionysius arose to the throne from the ranks, and used to call himself a self-made man. He was tyrannical, severe and selfish, as all self-made men are. Self-made men are very prone to usurp the prerogative of the Almighty and overwork themselves. They are not satisfied with the position of division superintendent of creation, but they want to be most worthy high grand muck-a-muck of the entire ranch, or their lives are gloomy fizzles.
Never Sharpen a Boomerang
Dionysius was indeed so odious and so overbearing toward his subjects that he lived in constant fear of assassination at their hands. This fear robbed him of his rest and rendered life a dreary waste to the tyrannical king.
He lived in constant dread that each previous moment would be followed by the succeeding one. He would eat a hearty supper and retire to rest, but the night would be cursed with horrid dreams of the Scythians and White River Utes peeling off his epidermis and throwing him into a boiling cauldron with red pepper and other counter-irritants, while they danced the Highland fling around this royal barbecue.
Even his own wife and children were forbidden to enter his presence for fear that they would put "barn arsenic" in the blanc-mange, or "Cosgrove arsenic" in the pancakes, or Paris green in the pie. During his reign he had constructed an immense subteroranean cavernous arrangement called the Ear of Dionysius, because it resembled in shape and general telephonic power, the human ear.
It was the largest ear on record.
One day a workman expressed the desire to erect a similar ear of tin or galvanized iron on old Di. Some one "blowed on him," and the next morning his head was thumping about in the waste paper basket at the General Office. When one of the king's subjects, who thought he was solid with the administration, would say: "Beyond the possibility of a doubt, your Most Serene Highness is the kind and loving guardian of his people, and the idol of his subjects," His Royal Tallness would say, "What ye givin' us?
You cannot fill up the King of Syracuse with taffy. In this way the sausage grinder was kept running night and day, and the chief engineer who run the machine made double time every month. I will now bring in Damon and Pythias. Damon and Pythias were named after a popular secret organization because they were so solid on each other. They thought more of one another than anybody. They borrowed chewing tobacco, and were always sociable and pleasant. They slept together, and unitedly "stood off" the landlady from month to month in the most cheerful and harmonious manner.
If Pythias snored in the night like the blast of a fog horn, Damon did not get mad and kick him in the stomach as some would. He gently but firmly took him by the nose and lifted him up and down to the merry rythm of "The Babies in Our Block. They loved one another in season and out of season. Their affection was like the soft bloom on the nose of a Wyoming legislator. It never grew pale or wilted. It was always there. If Damon were at the bat, Pythias was on deck. If Damon went to a church fair and invited starvation, Pythias would go, too, and vote on the handsomest baby till the First National Bank of Syracuse would refuse to honor his checks.
But one day Damon got too much budge and told the venerable and colossal old royal bummer of Syracuse what he thought of him. Then Dionysius told the chief engineer of the sausage grinder to turn on steam and prepare for business. But Damon thought of Pythias, and how Pythias hadn't so much to live for as he had, and he made a compromise by offering to put Pythias in soak while the only genuine Damon went to see his girl, who lived at Albany.
Three days were given him to get around and redeem Pythias, and if he failed his friend would go to protest. W e will now suppose three days to have elapsed since the preceding chapter. A large party of enthusiastic citizens of Syracuse are gathered around the grand stand, and Pythias is on the platform cheerfully taking off his coat.
Near by stands a man with a broadax. The Syracuse silver cornet band has just played "It's funny when you feel that way," and the chaplain has made a long prayer, Pythias sliding a trade dollar into his hand and whispering to him to give him his money's worth. The Declaration of Independence has been read, and the man on the left is running his thumb playfully over the edge of his meat ax.
Pythias takes off his collar and tie, swearing softly to himself at his miserable luck. I t is now the proper time to throw in the solitary horseman. The horizontal bars of golden light from the setting sun gleam and glitter from the dome of the court house and bathe the green plains of Syracuse with mellow splendor. The billowy piles of fleecy bronze in the eastern sky look soft and yielding, like a Sarah Bernhardt.
The lowing herd winds slowly o'er the lea, and all nature seems oppressed with the solemn hush and stillness of the surrounding and engulfing horror. The solitary horseman is seen coming along the Albany and Syracuse toll road.
He jabs the Mexican spurs into the foamy flank of his noble cayuse plug, and the lash of the quirt as it moves through the air is singing a merry song. Damon has been delayed by road agents and washouts, and he is a little behind time. Besides, he fooled a little too long and dallied in Albany with his fair gazelle. But he is making up time now and he sails into the jail yard just in time to take his part. He and Pythias fall into each other's arms, borrow a chew of fine-cut from each other and weep to slow music.
Dionysius comes before the curtain, bows and says the exercises will be postponed. He orders the band to play something soothing, gives Damon the appointment of Superintendent of Public Instruction and Pythias the Syracuse post-office, and everything is lovely. Orchestra plays something touchful. Curtain comes down. In hoc usufruct Nux Vomica est.
I t is with the deepest regret that I write in advance the obituary of the year , and pay a last tribute to another landmark in our history before it be consigned to the boundless realms of the past. I do not write this as an item of local interest, because the year will fold its icy limbs and die at about the same time to the people of the East as to us. The limit of totality will strike us about the same.