Against the Grain, or What Malcolm did to save The Great Southern Land

When Malcolm Malcolm was elected ruler over the Great Southern Land, he did just as he had always done. It was not Malcolm’s way to sit down and rest, and enjoy himself and make his fellow party members wait on him. He was a man of vision and conviction and he found his leadership work at once, and began to do it faithfully and thoroughly. It was a great time to be alive he said.  And he went out over all the Great Southern Land and saw how rich and abundant was the wide brown land with its primary industry, which was producing far more than the country’s needs. He told the primary producers not to waste any of it, but to save some for the coming time of need.

And he called upon the primary producers working in the Great Southern Land to give for storage a bushel of grain and a kilo of meat. The primary producers brought their grain and meat after taking for themselves as much as they needed, before sending the rest to feed the country and arranging for the leftovers to be exported; and Malcolm had it all stored up in great ware-houses in the cities and major country towns across the land; so much so that the public service could not keep a correct account of it all.

Malcolm Malcolm the leader of the Great Southern Land was a bachelor and so the leader of the Land of the Long White Cloud which lay across the Big Ditch, disapproving of Malcolm’s celibacy, gave him a wife selected from the connected young women of his kingdom. Her name was Julia and together they had a son and a daughter. The oldest was a son was named Elderly in order that Malcolm might forget all his troubles and his toils as the great worker for the people of the Great Southern Land.  The daughter they named Pregnant because the Great Southern Land was fruitful and through his hard work and diligence Malcolm was also fruitful.

Five years of plenty had passed by without drought. This land was ecologically a wide and brown land which the original custodians of the land had always respected. So there was every chance that the lucky land would cease to be lucky. And as predicted the hard years of need then came. Everywhere the people became desperate as their food supply was diminishing, and the rains didn’t come. And then the people began to use up all the grain and meat which was no longer exported until eventually everybody cried out to Malcolm for help.

The people, through their local members, got Malcolm to open the ware-houses, and for a modest price sold to the people all the grain and meat that they wished to buy. And not only did the people of the Great Southern Land come to buy but also the people of The Apple Isle, The Lilliputians and the people of the Land of the Long White Cloud. For times were tough in these places as well.

And the need was great in the Apple isle, where a fellow by the name of Eric the Bet lived. Eric was rich in hops and cattle and gold and money; but his fields gave no grain, and there was danger that his family of sons would starve. And Eric heard that there was food going around in the Great Southern Land, known as the Big Island to the Apple Islanders, and he said to his sons:

“Why do you goons look around at each other, stupidly asking what to do to find the family food? I have been told by a favourable mate that there is plentiful grain in the Big Island. Go over to that land, and take money with you, and buy grain, so that we may have bread, and may live.”

Five brothers went over to the Big Island. They rowed over on Huon pine dinghies with an extra three for the food towed behind and they brought bags of money with them. But Eric would not let Ouse, the youngest brother, go with them, for he was all the more dear to his father, now that the others were no longer with him, and Eric feared that harm might come to him.

After arriving safely at shore where they moored the boats in a secret hideaway the brothers hired a truck and proceeded north to the town where Malcolm and Julia, and their children Elderly and Pregnant were watching over the distribution of food. They came before him, and shook his hand, but with their faces looking up to the sky, for they felt strangely uncomfortable around him. Suddenly Malcolm remembered an incident that had happened when he was a boy, of bogan males like these who shifted their gaze and shuffled their feet. In the incident these males formed a circle and walked around him pointing at him in silence, before throwing him into the back yard sandpit. Soon after and with swag in hand Malcolm left his family for the Big Island. Malcolm spoke to them but because he did not understand their version of strine, Malcolm had their words explained to him.

“Who are you? And from what place do you come?” asked Malcolm in a hard voice.

They answered him, faux meekly, “We have come from the Apple Isle below to buy food.”

“No,” said Malcolm, “I know what you have come for. You have come as spies, to see how helpless I am, so that you can bring a new political party against me and make election war on me.”

“No, no,” said the five brothers, “we are not spies, we are the sons of one man, who lives where we live and we have come for food, because we have none at home.”

“You say you are the sons of one man, who is your father? Have you any more brothers? Tell me all about yourselves.”

And they said, “Our father is an old man whose name is Eric the Bet. We did have a younger brother, but he left our homeland and came to the Big Island and we have never heard from him since. And we have one brother still, who is the youngest of all, but dad could not spare him to come with us.”

“No,” said Malcolm, “you are not good, honest men. You are spies. I am going to put you all in migrant detention because you have come here illegally, except for one of you; and he shall go and bring me this youngest brother of yours; and when I see him, then I will believe that you are telling me the truth.”

So Malcolm sent the five to a detention center, and kept them under guard for a week and then he sent for them again. They did not know that by this time he could understand their language, and they said to each other within earshot of Malcolm:

“Perhaps this has come upon us because of the wrong that we did to our brother, that little turd, more than thirty years ago. Because there is nothing else that we have done wrong. We heard him cry, and plead with us, when we threw him into the sand pit, and we would not have mercy on him.”

And the brother Stanley, who had tried to save their younger brother, said, “Did I not tell you not to harm him? And you would not listen to me.”

When Malcolm heard this, his heart pounded, for he saw that these men, his brothers, were never going to be fair dinkum Big Islanders. He turned away from them, so that they could not see his angry face. Then he turned again to them, and spoke roughly as before, and said:

“This I will do, I will send you back to the Apple Isle, except for one of you. One of you I will keep here in the detention center; but the rest of will go, and there will be no food for you until you bring back your youngest brother, and then I shall know then that you have spoken the truth.”

Then Malcolm gave orders, and his public servants seized one of the brothers, whose name was Orford, and bound him in their sight, and took him away to the detention center. And he ordered his public servants to fill the men’s sacks with rocks, and to keep all the money the brothers had and put it into the Budget. Then the men loaded their truck with the sacks of rock, and went home, leaving their brother Orford behind as a detainee.

When they stopped on the way to feed themselves, one of the brothers opened his money sack, and there was no money but rocks there. He called out to his brothers, “See, the bastard took all our money!” And they were angry but frightened and they did not dare to go back to where Malcolm was to get their money back. They got back to where their boats were and rowed toward home, hungry, exhausted and depressed, knowing that their brother Orford was in a detention center. They finally got home, and told their old father all that had happened to them; and how their brother Orford was in a detention center, and he must stay there until they return, bringing Ouse with them.

They opened their sacks of rock to show their father, who flew into a rage, and the brothers were filled with fear. Then they spoke of going again to the Big Island, and taking Ouse with them, but Eric the Bet screamed:

“Malcolm you have taken one of my sons, your brother, away from me, and now you would take Ouse. All these things are against me! All because these nongs here threw you into the sandpit. “

The brothers were astonished. Their father knew all along that Malcolm Malcolm, the ruler of the Great Southern Land, was their brother and he never told them. Then Ross said, “Here is our father who has betrayed us. Come brothers let us leave him and go back to the Big Island and apologize to Malcolm for what we did to him when we were young.”
Then Eric said, “My youngest son shall not go with you. There is no-one to look after me. All of my mates have left me and so has my wife your mother. Please don’t take Ouse with you. It will bring me total baldness and constant sorrow until I end up in the grave”.

But the brothers ignored him, took Ouse with them, and proceeded to return to the Big Island.



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