The Drover’s Wife

the drover's wifeIn this story by Henry Lawson a woman remembers the many hardships and few good times in her life as she sits up all night with only a dog to help protect her and her children from a deadly snake. This is the second story we have presented which deals with the difficult and often lonely life faced by women in mid-nineteenth century Australia. In our earlier story, The Chosen Vessel, the dangers that the woman must face are of the two-legged kind.

English Learner Vocabulary Help

The words and expressions in our Intermediate level Simplified English story which are not in our 1800 word list are: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , and .

General Comments on the Story

The Drover’s Wife is one of the few Lawson stories in which the central character is a woman. Interestingly, we do not learn her name. Rather, she is referred to in terms of her relationship with her husband. Most commentators agree that this is to portray her as being representative of all “bush women”. I would go further; it also invites a comparison between the strengths and attributes of the husband and wife.

For each member of the couple to survive in the situations they find themselves in requires some shared qualities: physical and emotional strength, courage, practicality and resourcefulness. We learn from the woman that the Drover is “careless, but a good enough husband”. The word enough here suggests some shortcomings. She tells us that one of these is that from time to time he comforts himself in the arms of other women. We also learn that although she expects him to give most of what he earns to her, when he has had money in the past he has spent some of it on unnecessary luxuries. She is also somewhat anxious because he hasn’t taken the trouble to send word in over 6 months.

Despite the loneliness and difficulties the woman faces every day, she appears content with her lot in life. The Drover, on the other hand, is ready to give up life on the land to move the family into the nearest town. I am not sure that Lawson would have intended this, but I think that in this comparison the woman comes out as the stronger of the two.


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outback(n: outback, noncount) The country areas in Australia a long way away from the coast and cities. 13000

aborigine(n: aborigine pl aborigines) 1. A member of the original people to live in an area. 2. A member of any of the native peoples of Australia.
(adj: aboriginal) Of or relating to aborigines or the things that have been in a region from the earliest time. 9000

(n: bark pl barks) 1. The outer covering of a tree. 2. The loud sound made by a dog when it is angry or excited.
(v: bark, barks, barked, barking) 1. To make a loud sound like that made by a dog when it is angry or excited. The dog barked at the stranger. 2. To shout or say (something) in a loud and angry way. The captain barked orders to his men. 5000

tree bark barking dog

buggy(n: buggy pl buggies) A small light carriage, usually pulled by one horse. 5000

bullet(n: bullet pl bullets) A small piece of metal or another material that is shot out of a gun. 4000

bullock(n: bullock pl bullocks) The word used in Australia, New Zealand and India for an Ox; a bull that has had part of its sex organs removed so that it cannot breed, once widely used on farms to pull carts, ploughs etc. 9000

candle(n: candle pl candles) Wax that has been formed into a stick or another shape and has a string in the middle that can be burned to give light. 3000

cattle(n: cattle, plural) A group of cows, bulls, or steers that are kept on a farm for meat or milk. 4000
(n: cattle-dog pl cattle-dogs) A special breed of dog developed in Australia for driving cattle over long distances across rough country.

(n: crack pl cracks) 1. A split or break in something that creates lines in its surface but does not separate it into pieces. (รอยแตก) 2. A sudden loud, sharp sound, such as when ice breaks or lightning strikes. (เสียงแตกเปรี้ยง)
(v: crack, cracks, cracked, cracking) 1. To make or cause a crack in something. The mirror cracked when she dropped it. (แตกร้าว) 2. To hit or press (something) so hard that it breaks apart or opens suddenly. He cracked open the eggs. (กะเทาะออก) 3. [of a voice] To change sharply in tone or pitch, especially because of strong emotion. Her voice cracked as she told them about the accident. 2000

cracked cup cracking eggs

creek(n: creek pl creeks) A small stream. 10000

crow(n: crow pl crows) 1. A kind of large (usually black) bird. 2. The cry of a rooster. 5000

crush(v: crush, crushes, crushed, crushing) To press or squeeze (something) so hard that it breaks or loses its shape. 3000

dam(n: dam pl dams) A structure made of earth, concrete etc that is built across a river or stream to stop water from flowing. The government has plans to build a dam and flood the valley. 4000

drought(n: drought pl droughts) A long period of time during which there is very little or no rain. The drought was so bad that the river dried up. 5000

drover(n: drover pl drovers; chiefly British) A person who moves groups of animals such as cattle or sheep from one place to another.
In Australia, there are special areas set aside for drovers to travel through called 'stock routes'. Animals can be driven along these for thousands of kilometers and drovers can sometimes spend months on the road.

flea(n: flea pl fleas) A very small blood-sucking insect that lives on animals and that has strong legs used for jumping. The dog has fleas. 6000

flood(n: flood pl floods) A large amount of water covering an area of usually dry land. The river will flood with all this rain.
(v: flood, floods, flooded, flooding) 1. To [cause something to] overflow with water. 2. To [cause something to] go or come in large numbers or as a large amount. 3000

journal(n: journal pl journals) 1. A magazine about things of interest to a particular group of people. The British Medical Journal. 2. A book in which you write down your personal experiences and thoughts; diary. 5000

kangaroo(n: kangaroo pl kangaroos) An Australian animal that moves by hopping on its rear legs, the female of which carries her young in a pouch on the front of her body. 7000
(n: kangaroo dog pl kangaroo dogs) A fierce hunting dog developed in Australia for their ability to run down animals such as kangaroos across rough country.

lightning(n: lightning, noncount) The flashes of light that you can see in the sky during a storm, usually followed by thunder (a deep rumbling sound). 6000

mongrel(n: mongrel pl mongrels) Something that is a cross between different breeds, groups, or varieties, especially a mixture that looks strange or unusual. Commonly used to talk about a dog with parents of different and possibly unknown kinds. 9000

poke(v: poke, pokes, poked, poking) To push your finger or something thin or pointed into or at someone or something. He poked a stick into the hole. 3000

possum(n: possum pl possums) An informal name for opossum; a somewhat small white or gray animal that is usually active at night and that lives in North and South America and in Australia. 14000

pram(n: pram pl prams) A vehicle in which a baby lies while someone pushes it from place to place. Also called baby carriage (Britain) and baby buggy (U.S.) 5000

rubbing(v: rub, rubs, rubbed, rubbing) To move something [such as your hand or an object] back and forth along the surface of something else while pressing. 2000

sew(v: sew, sewed, sewn, sewing) To make or repair something [such as a piece of clothing] by using a needle and thread.
(n: sewing, noncount) 1. The act or process of sewing. I learned sewing at school. 2. Things that are used for sewing or that are being sewn. She took her sewing into the kitchen. 3000

shotgun(n: shotgun pl shotguns) A gun with one or two long barrels that shoots many small metal balls (shot) over short distances. They are mainly used for hunting. Very small balls [bird shot] are used for small animals; larger balls [buck shot] are used for larger animals. 5000

snap(v: snap, snaps, snapped, snapping) 1. To break quickly with a short, sharp sound. He snapped the stick in half. (ทำให้แตกและเกิดเสียงดังแหลม) 2. To (cause to) make a short sharp noise while moving into a position. The lid snapped shut. (ทำเสียงดังแหลม) 3000

stockyard(n: stockyard pl stockyards) An enclosed area where farm animals (such as cattle) are temporarily kept. (คอก ปศุสัตว์ ชั่วคราว)

swagman(n: swagman pl swagmen) In Australia, a usually poor or homeless man who travels around looking for work carrying his personal possessions in a 'swag'.
(n: swag pl swags) A bundle containing a person's food and belongings, often wrapped up in a blanket to make it easy to carry. 12000

testimonyswearing(v: swear, swears, swore, sworn, swearing) 1. To state (something) very strongly and sincerely. The boy swore that he was telling the truth. (สาบาน) 2. To use bad words or offensive language; curse. Don't swear in front of the children! (สาบแช่ง) 2000

sweat(n: sweat, noncount) The clear liquid given out through the skin when hot, scared or nervous. (เหงื่อ)
(v: sweats, sweated, sweating) To give out sweat through the skin. (ทำให้เหงื่อออก) 3000

thunder(n: thunder, noncount) The loud, deep rumbling sound that follows a flash of lightning during a storm. (ฟ้าร้อง)
(v: thunder, thunders, thundered, thundering) To make a very loud, deep noise. (ส่งเสียงดังคล้ายเสียงฟ้าร้อง) 3000

animal tracksbush track(n: track pl tracks) 1. A mark left on the ground by a moving animal, person, or vehicle. (ร่องรอย) 2. A path or narrow, rough road that is made by animals, people or vehicles traveling through a field, forest, etc. (ถนน) 3. A pair of metal bars that a train, tram, or subway car rides along. (รางรถไฟ) 4. An often circular path or road that is used for racing. A race/running track. (ลู่)
(v: track, tracks, tracked, tracking) 1. To follow and try to find (someone or something) by looking for its tracks and other signs that show where it has gone. He tracked the deer for a mile. 2. To follow or watch the path of (something). The ship can track incoming missiles with radar. (ตามรอย) 2000

tribe(n: tribe pl tribes) A group of people that includes many families and relatives who have the same language, customs, and beliefs. (เผ่า เผ่าพันธุ์) 6000

veranda(n: veranda or verandah pl verandas or verandahs) A long, open structure on the outside of a building that has a roof. Called a 'porch' in the U.S.A. (ระเบียง) 7000

worn-out(adj: worn-out) 1. Too old or damaged from use to be used any longer. My jeans were worn-out and I needed a new pair. (ซึ่งใช้จนเก่า) 2. Very tired; exhausted. I'm worn-out after working so hard today. (เหน็ดเหนื่อย)

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