Steelman praises Smith, telling him he is nearly as good to talk to as an intelligent sheepdog, then reveals much of his life story in the form of counsel about life.
Joe is unhappy when Jack Mitchell brings an unlikeable shearer known as 'the Lachlan' to their camp. The Lachlan stays with them for the day, then moves on. That night Mitchell tells Joe the tragic tale of Jack Drew, a journalist and sometime gold prospector, and Ruth Wilson, a girl with whom Mitchell was also in love.
'Ratty Howlett' has lived alone on his selection for fifteen years. His only company is the occasional traveller he waylays on the road past his property and persuades to stop for a yarn. When the narrator is invited back to Ratty's hut for a meal he is surprised to find it clean and tidy. Ratty tells him his wife has gone out for the day and it is not until five years later that the narrator learns the truth.