The story opens with the unnamed narrator and his party, boating on the Darling River, coming across a young man on horseback driving some horses along the bank. The young man asks if the water is too deep to cross, to which a joker in the party replies that it is deep enough to drown him. The young man continues up the river.
The following day, a funeral gathers at a corner pub, the deceased being the young horsemen encountered the previous day. The anonymous man is a union member, however, little more is known about him. Though the "defunct" is of a different religion to the majority of the town, they, nonetheless, organise a respectful burial as "unionism is stronger than creed."
"Drink, however, is stronger than unionism," and, by the time the hearse passes by the pub, "more than two-thirds of the funeral were unable to follow."
The narrator and his party respectfully follow the dwindling funeral procession, observing the conflict between the Bushfolks' respect for the dead, and their own personal comfort. The burial itself is sombre, yet emotionless. Nobody actually knew the deceased, and so it is impossible to feel sad for him. It is heard that the young man's name is James Tyson, though this is "simply the name he went by." The narrator does eventually hear the man's real name, but he has already forgotten it.