The story opens with the drover’s wife and her children alone in their house in the bush. One of the children discovers a snake and calls for the mother. The bush-woman reaches for her stick and rushes to her children, but meanwhile the snake hides in a hole between the wall and floor. As the snake disappears the woman puts the children to sleep and waits up with her dog Alligator for the reptile to come out. As she waits, she starts to recall several dangerous situations she had to face throughout the years when her husband was away with the sheep. She fought bushfire, flood, dangerous men, and even illness that spread among the cattle. She is mostly content, but still feels isolated, dreaming of the fashion pictures in her ladies' magazine.
By the morning she runs out of candles and gets up to go get more wood to keep the fire burning. She seizes a stick, pulls it out and the whole woodpile collapses, injuring her, and she begins to cry. She had paid an aboriginal man to stack it for her and assumed it was actually full of wood. She takes out a handkerchief to wipe away her tears, but she pokes her eyes instead as the handkerchief is full of holes. This ridiculous situation makes her laugh.
It is near daylight, but the bush-woman and her dog are still on the watch for the snake. Suddenly, the snake comes out of a large crack in the partition slabs. The dog starts to chase the snake and eventually kills it. The woman lifts the reptile on the point of her stick and throws it into the fire. Tommy, the eldest boy, wakes up and notices the tears in the eyes of his mother. He promises never to go droving.