george saul haim joseph marshall
George the Malay with all the troubles in the world, lying dead in the Mosman scrub for fifteen days, being torn around by rogue possums and wild rats, some semblance of a soft copy Rubiayat lying around him somewhere. A couple of pencilled asterisks by a particular verse. His favourite.
Ah, make the most of what we may yet spend,
Before we too, into the dust descend:
Dust under dust, and under dust to lie,
Sans wine, sans song, sans singer and sans end.
Omar Khayyam was selling well in those days. Blame the war. A book of romantic Persian verse to be sent home to the little woman, or read by the lonely bride. Some soldiers took a copy to war.
George also had his poison, his cup and flask – a lemonade bottle. Only distant mountain spires were missing George: how you quested.
George was the marriage of fervour to shifting hopes. There was his book of poetry, ‘ Just You and I. ‘ Published and ignored. The doctors in Western Australia thought him insane and had him taken to the Heathcote Asylum after George had expressed his desire for the sea to take him.
George was talkative and philosophical over dinner. His conversation enthralled all who knew him well and there were many he entertained. He was kind, George, and generous to Gwen the hairdresser. Gwenneth Graham.
Gwenneth knew his heart. I’ve heard it said before that some hairdressers do that, know your heart.
Gwenneth bled herself to death in her warm bath not long after she was made to appear at the inquest into George Marshall’s suicide.
What isn’t clear anywhere are the questions they asked of this woman. A Courtroom of White Men.
When Gwen was on hard times George offered her money one day and she laughed. George!
Three days later there were two hundred pounds in her bank account.
This fellow comes by twice a day, depending on the sun’s position in the large glass pane that protects the home from summer’s north-easters.
He flies up to the glass about thirty or forty times, twice a day, flutters up and knocks it softly with his beak. Then he retires back to a branch of the Durobby that grows close by.
Sometimes he manages to fly over the top of the glass and into the atrium itself, this is where we sit watching him. And of course the bafflement continues. Now he’s fluttering up to the inside of the glass and tapping it with his beak. Same problem.
It doesn’t matter which side of the glass he’s on, the problem remains the same.
There’s only himself on the other side.
The Bookmaker from Rabaul.