The next day, Neal sits in the Superintendent’s Office reading the West Australian newspaper. It is April 10, 1933, and the headlines of the newspaper say “Government Routed,” and that the Labor party is in power.
Earlier in the play Jimmy predicted that the Labor Party would beat the incumbent party, and that sitting Legislator Jimmy Mitchell, a racist in his personal life and policy, would be booted from office.
Matron Neal enters and tells Mr. Neal she has some news. He assumes she’s talking about politics, but she reveals that Joe and Mary ran away last night. The Matron tells Neal Mary was “terrified at the prospect of working in the hospital.” Neal comments “they’re all scared of the dead,” but the Matron suspects Mary was “scared of the living.”
Neal calls Billy into the room and tells him to chase down the runaways. Billy takes his whip and leaves. He is especially anxious to recapture Mary, who is his fellow “countryman.” As the Matron turns to go, she tells Neal she thought it was her job to assign women to work in the hospital. Neal says he was only trying to help her, but the Matron says she suspects he was only trying to help himself.
Billy and Mary are both Oombulgarri, which is a specific Aboriginal group. Although Billy often prioritizes his allegiance to his white bosses over any obligations to fellow aboriginals, he feels a special, almost familial connection to Mary, and wants to return her to the camp.