Thursday 26 December 2013


The first sliver of light appearing on the horizon.  Adam lay there as he had all night looking up at the ornate ceiling of his small bungalow; the patterns changing subtly as the light started to penetrate the dark recesses of the bedroom.  He was 37 years of age, tall and lean, too tall to be a successful jockey but he had proved all of them wrong.  His wife lay there still asleep, but unlike him had slept fitfully, hardly stirring all night.  The room might have  lightened up, but the darkness still hung over his mind. 

He had tried all night to focus on the good things in his life: his wife, his poetry, the horse racing.  The poetry had a small, significant group of followers, but  he hadn’t thus far made any money from it.  Only yesterday he had been told by a good friend, his latest collection, not yet released to the public, had already received critical acclaim from one of the nation's top newspapers.   

All this didn’t seem to matter now.  Depression had seen to that.  Bouts of melancholy often settled upon him like a medieval woollen cloak placed on his slight shoulders; heavy and uncomfortable refusing to be removed.  It became worse after the last fall; no more steeple chasing.  Horses were his life. They made him feel alive and carefree, though his riding antics always attracted plenty of attention and were regarded as reckless by some.

This night was different;  constantly restless, he thought of the accumulating debt he was unable to service and the supposed inheritance that had never materialised.  He thought of his poor Annie who would never know the joys or otherwise of adulthood. 

He didn’t sleep.  All night his mind had entertained the images that made up his life.  It was far from being all bad, but in his malign state, the negatives far outweighed the positives.  

Then just before dawn, the shroud inexplicably lifted: no pain, no seeking a direction, a meaning, just a calm simple dark emptiness.  A void where nothing really mattered anymore.  He knew, the train was in the station.

He shifted his body weight to the edge of the mattress, dropped his feet to the floor and slowly stood up.  He then knelt down beside the bed, ran his hand under it until he felt the butt of his rifle.  He took one last look at his still sleeping wife, bent down, placed a gentle kiss on her cheek without waking her and quietly walked to the next room to put on his boots.

The sun now was filtering strongly through the glass inlay on the front door and as he opened it, the cool sting of the crisp June morning air hit his cold expressionless face. 

The train pulled out slowly; two lines converging into the distance towards the final end point. 
Adam was the only passenger.

He walked slowly down the still quiet street wondering for a fleeting moment if he needed to see anyone... No, it was too late for that, the time had arrived.  The early morning bird calls were still active in the mostly deserted street as he strolled towards Brighton beach.

A man returning from a night's fishing nodded a good morning, but received no acknowledgement.  Eyes fixed staring into the imaginary distant, he meandered for a quarter mile until he reached a patch of tea tree scrub close to the beach.  

Finding a small clearing, he removed his wide brim hat and put it carefully onto the ground placing the contents of one of his pockets: a small pocket knife, pipe, some tobacco and a  silver shilling into it.  His hand slid down inside the other pocket and felt for the one cartridge case he had on him.  With purpose, he sat down resting against the trunk of an old tea tree and secured the rifle between his feet with the barrel resting in his mouth.  Running his hand along the length of the barrel he found he could not reach the trigger, so he broke off a small twig to use as a lever and then re positioned himself. The twig looped around the trigger and he pushed it slowly away.
The train was now picking up speed; the end point was clearly in sight. 

Adam looked upwards into the clear crisp blue sky as a silver gull glided effortlessly past and thought ... Nothing.

The deep blue skies wax dusky, and the tall green trees grow dim,
The sward beneath me seems to heave and fall ;
And sickly, smoky shadows through the sleepy sunlight swim,
And on the very sun's face weave their pall.
Let me slumber in the hollow where the wattle blossoms wave,
With never stone or rail to fence my bed ;
Should the sturdy station children pull the bush flowers on my grave,
I may chance to hear them romping overhead.
                                   " The Sick Stock-rider"

Adam Lindsay Gordon 1833 to 1870

Adam Lindsay Gordon spent a number of years living in Dingle Dell near Port McDonald with his new bride before moving to Melbourne.

Short history of his life  

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