Babs Malone Now the squatters and the cockies,
Shearers, trainers, and their jockeys
Had gathered them together for a meeting on the flat;
They had mustered all their forces,
Owners brought their fastest horses,
Monaro-bred—I couldn't give them greater praise than that.

'Twas a lovely day in Summer—
What the blacksmith called a hummer—
The swelling ears of wheat and oats had lost their tender green,
And breezes made them shiver,
Trending westward to the river—
The river of the golden sands, the moaning Eucumbene.

If you cared to take the trouble
You could watch the misty double,
The shadow of the flying clouds that skimmed the Boogong's brow,
Throwing light and shade incessant
On the Bull Peaks' ragged crescent,
Upon whose gloomy forehead lay a patch of winter's snow.

Idly watching for the starting
Of the race that he had part in,
Old Gaylad stood and champed his bit, his weight about nine stone;
His owner stood beside him,
Who was also going to ride him—
A shearer from Gegederick, whose name was Ned Malone.

But Gaylad felt disgusted,
For his joints were fairly rusted:
He longed to feel the pressure of the jockey on his back;
And he felt that for a pin he'd
Join his mates, who loudly whinnied
For him to go and meet them at the post upon the track.

From among the waiting cattle
Came the sound of childish prattle,
And the wife brought up their babe to kiss his father for good luck.
Said Malone: ‘When I am seated
On old Gaylad, and am treated
With fairish play, I'll bet we never finish in the ruck.'
But the babe was not contented,
Though his pinafore was scented
With oranges and sticky from his lollies, for he cried—
This gallant little laddy,
As he toddled to his daddy,
And raised his arms imploringly—‘Pease dad! div Babs a wide!'

Then the father, how he chuckled
For the pride of it! and buckled
The surcingle, and placed the babe astride the racing pad:
He did it, though he oughtn't;
And by pure good luck he shortened
The stirrups, and adjusted them to suit the tiny lad,

Who was seemingly delighted:
Not a little bit affrighted,
He sat and twined a chubby hand among the horse's mane:
His whip was in the other;
But all suddenly the mother
Shrieked, ‘Take him off!' and then the field came thund'ring down the plain!

'Twas the Handicap was coming,
And the music of their drumming
Beat dull upon the turf that in its summer coat was dressed:
The racehorse reared and started;
Then the flimsy bridle parted,
And Gaylad, bearing featherweight, was striding with the rest!

That scene cannot be painted—
How the poor young mother fainted!
How the father drove his spurs into the nearest saddle-horse!
What to do he had no notion;
For you'd easier turn the ocean
Than stop the Handicap that then was half-way round the course.

On the bookies at their yelling,
On the cheap-jacks at their selling,
On the crowd there fell a silence as the squadron passed the stand;
Gayest colours flashing brightly,
And the baby clinging tightly,
A wisp of Gaylad's mane still twisted in his little hand.

Not a thought had he of falling,
Though his little legs were galling,
And the wind blew out his curls behind him in a golden stream;
Though the motion made him dizzy, Yet his baby brain was busy:
For hadn't he at length attained the substance of his dream?

He was now a jockey really!
And he saw his duty clearly
To do his best to win and justify his father's pride;
So he clicked his tongue to Gaylad,
Whispering softly, ‘Get away, lad!' . . .
The old horse cocked an ear and put six inches on his stride.

Then the jockeys who were tailing
Saw a big bay horse come sailing
Through the midst of them with nothing but a baby on his back;
And this startling apparition
Coolly took up its position
With a view of making running on the inside of the track.

Oh, Gaylad was a beauty!
For he knew and did his duty:
Though his reins were flying loosely, strange to say, he never fell;
But held himself together,
For his weight was but a feather.
Bob Murphy, when he saw him, murmured something like ‘Oh, hell!'

But Gaylad passed the filly;
Passed Jack Costigan on Chili;
Cut down the coward Wakatip and challenged Guelder Rose . . .
Here it was he showed his cunning—
Let the mare make all the running:
They turned into the straight at stride for stride and nose for nose.

But Babs was just beginning
To have fears about his winning:
In fact, to tell the truth, my hero felt inclined to cry;
For the Rose was still in blossom;
And two lengths behind her Possum
And gallant little Sterling, slow but sure, were drawing nigh.

Yes! Babsie's heart was failing;
For he felt old Gaylad ailing:
Another fifty yards to go! . . . he felt his chance was gone.
Could he do it? much he doubted:
Then the crowd—oh, how they shouted!
For Babs had never dropped his whip, and now he laid it on!

Down the straight the leaders thundered
While the people cheered and wondered,
For ne'er before had any seen the equal of that sight;
And never will they, maybe,
See a flaxen-headed baby
Flog racehorse to the winning-post with all his tiny might.

But Gaylad's strength is waning—
Gone, in fact, beyond regaining:
Poor Babs is flogging hopelessly, as pale as any ghost:
But he looks so brave and pretty
That the Rose's jock takes pity,
And, pulling back a trifle, lets the baby pass the post.

What cheering and tin-kettling
Had they after at the settling!
And how they fought to see who'd hold the baby on his lap;
As President Montgomery,
With a brimming glass of Pommery,
Proposed the health of Babs Malone, who'd won the Handicap.

A Vision Out West

Far reaching down's a solid sea sunk everlastingly to rest,
And yet whose billows seem to be for ever heaving toward the west
The tiny fieldmice make their nests, the summer insects buzz and hum
Among the hollows and the crests of this wide ocean stricken dumb,
Whose rollers move for ever on, though sullenly, with fettered wills,
To break in voiceless wrath upon the crumbled bases of far hills,
Where rugged outposts meet the shock, stand fast, and hurl them back again,
An avalanche of earth and rock, in tumbled fragments on the plain;
But, never heeding the rebuff, to right and left they kiss the feet
Of hanging cliff and bouldered bluff till on the farther side they meet,
And once again resume their march to where the afternoon sun dips
Toward the west, and Heaven's arch salutes the Earth with ruddy lips.

Such is the scene that greets the eye: wide sweep of plain to left and right:
In front low hills that seem to lie wrapped in a veil of yellow light—
Low peaks that through the summer haze frown from their fancied altitude,
As some small potentate might gaze upon a ragged multitude.
Thus does the battlemented pile of high-built crags, all weather-scarred,
Where grass land stretches mile on mile, keep scornful solitary guard;
Where the sweet spell is not yet broke, while from her wind-swept, sun-kissed dream
Man's cruel touch has not yet woke this Land where silence reigns supreme:

Not the grim silence of a cave, some vaulted stalactited room,
Where feeble candle-shadows wave fantastically through the gloom—
But restful silence, calm repose: the spirit of these sky-bound plains
Tempers the restless blood that flows too fiery through the swelling veins;
Breathes a faint message in the ear, bringing the weary traveller peace;
Whispers, ‘Take heart and never fear, for soon the pilgrimage will cease!
Beat not thy wings against the cage! Seek not to burst the padlocked door
That leads to depths thou canst not gauge! Life is all thine: why seek for more?
Read in the slow sun's drooping disc an answer to the thoughts that vex:
Ponder it well, and never risk the substance for its dim reflex.'

Such is the silent sermon told to those who care to read this page
Where once a mighty ocean rolled in some dim, long-forgotten age.
Here, where the Mitchell grass waves green, the never-weary ebb and flow
Of glassy surges once was seen a thousand thousand years ago:
To such a sum those dead years mount that Time has grown too weary for
The keeping of an endless count, and long ago forgot their score.

But now—when, hustled by the wind, fast-flying, fleecy cloud-banks drift
Across the sky where, silver-skinned, the pale moon shines whene'er they lift,
And throws broad patches in strange shapes of light and shade, that seem to meet
In dusky coastline where sharp capes jut far into a winding-sheet
Of ghostly, glimmering, silver rays that struggle 'neath an inky ledge
Of driving cloud, and fill deep bays rent in the shadow's ragged edge—
Sprung from the gloomy depths of Time, faint shapes patrol the spectral sea,
Primeval phantom-forms that climb the lifeless billows silently,
Trailing along their slimy length in thirst for one another's blood,
Writhing in ponderous trials of strength, as once they did before the flood.

They sink, as, driven from the North by straining oar and favouring gale,
A misty barge repels the froth which hides her with a sparkling veil:
High-curled the sharpened beak doth stand, slicing the waters in the lead;
The low hull follows, thickly manned by dim, dead men of Asian breed:
Swift is her passage, short the view the wan moon's restless rays reveal
Of dusky, fierce-eyed warrior crew, of fluttering cloth and flashing steel;
Of forms that mouldered ages past, ere from recesses of the sea,
With earthquake throes this land was cast in Nature's writhing agony.

As the warm airs of Spring-time chase reluctant snows from off the range,
And plant fresh verdure in their place, so the dimvisioned shadows change;
And glimpses of what yet shall be bid the past fly beyond all ken,
While rising from futurity appear vast colonies of men
Who from the sea-coast hills have brought far-quarried spoils to build proud homes
Of high-piled palaces, all wrought in sloping roofs and arching domes,
Smooth-pillared hall, or cool arcade, and slenderest sky-piercing spire,
Where the late-sinking moon has laid her tender tints of mellow fire,
And golden paves the spacious ways where, o'er the smoothen granite flags,
The lightning-driven car conveys its freight with force that never lags.

A goodly city! where no stain of engine-smoke or factory grime
Blemishes walls that will retain their pristine pureness for all time:
Lying as one might take a gem and set it in some strange device
Of precious metal, and might hem it round with stones of lesser price—
So from encircling fields doth spring this city where, in emerald sheen,
Man hath taught Nature how to bring a mantle of perennial green—
Hewing canals whose banks are fringed by willows bending deeply down
To waters flowing yellow-tinged beneath the moon toward the town—
Filling from mighty reservoirs, sunk in the hollows of the plain,
That flood the fields without a pause though Summer should withhold her rain.
Labour is but an empty name to those who dwell within this land,
For they have boldly learnt to tame the lightning's flash with iron hand:
That Force, the dartings from whose eyes not even gods might brave and live,
The blasting essence of the skies, proud Jupiter's prerogative—
His flashing pinions closely clipt, pent in a cunning-fashioned cage,
Of all his flaming glory stript—these men direct his tempered rage:
A bondman, at their idlest breath with silent energy he speeds,
From dawn of life to hour of death, to execute their slightest needs.

Slow to her couch the moon doth creep, but, going, melts in sparkling tears
Of dew, because we may not keep this vision of the future years:
Swiftly, before the sunrise gleam, I watch it melting in the morn—
The snowy city of my dream, the home of nations yet unborn!

How Babs Malone Cut Down The Field

Now the squatters and the “cockies,”
Shearers, trainers and their jockeys
Had gathered them together for a meeting on
the flat;
They had mustered all their forces,
Owners brought their fastest horses,
Monaro-bred - I couldn't give them greater praise
than that.



"Twas a lovely day in Summer -
What the blacksmith called “a hummer,”
The swelling ears of wheat and oats had lost
their tender green,
And breezes made them shiver,
Trending westward to the river -
The river of the golden sands, the moaning
Eucumbene.



If you cared to take the trouble
You could watch the misty double,
The shadow of the flying clouds that skimmed the
Boogong's brow,
Throwing light and shade incessant
On the Bull Peak's ragged crescent,
Upon whose gloomy forehead lay a patch of
winter's snow.



Idly watching for the starting
Of the race that he had part in,
Old Gaylad stood and champed his bit, his
weight about nine stone;
His owner stood beside him,
Who was also going to ride him,
A shearer from Gegederick, whose name was
Ned Malone.



But Gaylad felt disgusted,
For his joints were fairly rusted,
He longed to feel the pressure of the jockey on his
back,
And he felt that for a pin he'd
Join his mates, who loudly whinnied
For him to go and meet them at the post upon
the track.



From among the waiting cattle
Came the sound of childish prattle,
And the wife brought up their babe to kiss his
father for good luck;
Said Malone: "When I am seated
On old Gaylad, and am treated
With fairish play, I'll bet we never finish in the
ruck."



But the babe was not contented,
Though his pinafore was scented
With oranges, and sticky from his lollies, for he
cried,
This gallant little laddie,
As he toddled to his daddy,
And raised his arms imploringly - "Please, dad,
div Babs a wide."



The father, how he chuckled
For the pride of it, and buckled
The surcingle, and placed the babe astride the
racing pad;
He did it, though he oughtn't,
And by pure good luck he shortened
The stirrups, and adjusted them to suit the
tiny lad,



Who was seemingly delighted,
Not a little bit affrighted,
He sat and twined a chubby hand among the
horse's mane:
His whip was in the other;
But all suddenly the mother
Shrieked, "Take him off!" and then “the field” came
thund'ring down the plain.



'Twas the Handicap was coming,
And the music of their drumming
Beat dull upon the turf that in its summer coat was
dressed,
The racehorse reared and started,
Then the flimsy bridle parted,
And Gaylad, bearing featherweight, was striding
with the rest.



That scene cannot be painted
How the poor young mother fainted,
How the father drove his spurs into the nearest
saddle-horse,
What to do? he had no notion,
For you'd easier turn the ocean
Than stop the Handicap that then was half-way
round the course.



On the “bookies” at their yelling,
On the cheap-jacks at their selling,
On the crowd there fell a silence as the squadron
passed the stand;
Gayest colours flashing brightly,
And the baby clinging tightly,
A wisp of Gaylad's mane still twisted in his
little hand.



Not a thought had he of falling,
Though his little legs were galling,
And the wind blew out his curls behind him in a
golden stream;
Though the motion made him dizzy,
Yet his baby brain was busy,
For hadn't he at length attained the substance
of his dream!



He was now a jockey really,
And he saw his duty clearly
To do his best to win and justify his father's
pride;
So he clicked his tongue to Gaylad,
Whispering softly, "Get away lad;"
The old horse cocked an ear, and put six inches
on his stride.


Then, the jockeys who were tailing
Saw the big bay horse come sailing
Through the midst of them with nothing but a baby
on his back,
And this startling apparition
Coolly took up its position
With a view of making running on the inside
of the track.



Oh, Gaylad was a beauty,
For he knew and did his duty;
Though his reins were flying loosely, strange to
say he never fell,
But held himself together,
For his weight was but a feather;
Bob Murphy, when he saw him, murmured
something like "Oh, hell!"



But Gaylad passed the filly;
Passed Jack Costigan on “Chilli,”
Cut down the coward “Watakip” and challenged
“Guelder Rose;”
Here it was he showed his cunning,
Let the mare make all the running,
They turned into the straight stride for
stride and nose for nose.



But Babs was just beginning
To have fears about his winning,
In fact, to tell the truth, my hero felt inclined
to cry,
For the “Rose” was still in blossom,
And two lengths behind her “Possum,”
And gallant little “Sterling,” slow but sure,
were drawing nigh.



Yes! Babsie's heart was failing,
For he felt old Gaylad ailing,
Another fifty yards to go, he felt his chance
was gone.
Could he do it? much he doubted,
Then the crowd, oh, how they shouted,
For Babs had never dropped his whip, and now he
laid it on!



Down the straight the leaders thundered
While people cheered and wondered,
For ne'er before had any seen the equal of that
sight
And never will they, maybe,
See a flaxen-haired baby
Flog racehorse to the winning post with all his
tiny might.



But Gaylad's strength is waning,
Gone in fact, beyond regaining,
Poor Babs is flogging helplessly, as pale as any
ghost,
But he looks so brave and pretty
That the “Rose's” jockey takes pity,
And, pulling back a trifle, lets the baby pass the post.




What cheering and tin-kettling
Had they after at the “settling,”
And how they fought to see who'd hold the baby on
his lap;
As President Montgom’ry,
With a brimming glass of “Pomm’ry,”
Proposed the health of Babs Malone, who'd
won the Handicap.

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