The rum was rich and rare,
There were wagers in the air,
The atmosphere was rosy, and the tongues were
wagging free;
But one was in the revel
Whose occiput was level -
Plain Josephus Riley, from the North Countree.

The conversation's flow
Was not devoid of “blow,”
And neither was it wanting in the plain, colloquial “D.”
With a most ingenuous smile -
'This here is not my style,'
Said plain Josephus Riley, from the North Countree.

'And I wouldn't be averse
To emptying my purse,
And laying some small wager with the present
companee,
To cut the matter short -
Foot racing is my forte,'
Said plain Josephus Riley, from the North Countree.

“I think it's on the cards
That I can run three hundred yards
(The match to be decided where you gentlemen
agree)
Against your fleetest horse;
The race would prove a source
Of pleasure,' said Josephus, from the North Countree.

'To equalise the task,
This little start I ask -
The rider, ere he follows, must imbibe a cup of tea;
A simple breakfast-cup
He will have to swallow up.
That's me - Josephus Riley, from the North
Countree.'

Then a “knowing 'un” looked wise,
“Begged to apologise;
But might he ask what temp'rature the liquid was
to be!
Would it come from out the pot
Milkless, steaming, boiling-hot?”
'Oh, not at all,' said Riley, from the North
Countree.

'Allow me to explain;
I do observe with pain,
This jocular reflection on my native honestee,
My bump of truth is huge,
I'd scorn a subterfuge' -
Said plain Josephus Riley, from the North Countree.

“Before the parties start
I'll take the Judge apart
To prove, by tasting, whether I have tampered with
the tea;
And I beg to state again
Your suspicions give me pain,'
Said plain Josephus Riley, from the North Countree.

Then they were all satisfied
That the match was 'boneefied,'
The bond was signed, and Riley went to 'preparate”
the tea;
But his slow, ambiguous smile
Would have seemed to token guile
In any man but Riley, from the North Countree.

He brought the fatal cup -
By its saucer covered up -
The Judge examined its contents with awful gravitee,
Then read the papers o'er,
But could not find a flaw:
'Wade in! Josephus Riley, from the North Countree.'

Then the “wagerer” just bowed,
And, passing through the crowd,
He handed up the beverage unto the “wageree;”
And off across the flat,
Springing gaily, pit-a-pat,
Went plain Josephus Riley, from the North Countree.

But behind him what a yell
Of execration fell
From lips that lent themselves to shapes of great
profanitee!
For the people of that town
Were done a lovely brown
By plain Josephus Riley, from the North Countree.

And here's the reason why:
The tea was simply DRY,
You might eat it, but to drink it was impossibilitee;
But, curious to state,
Men did not appreciate
This hum'rous innovation from the North Countree.

You'll understand, of course,
That wager was a source
Of very little profit to the hapless “wageree,”
And, dating from that day,
I much regret to say,
Men look askance at Riley, from the North Countree.

Featherstonhaugh

Brookong station lay half-asleep
Dozed in the waning western glare
('Twas before the run had stocked with sheep
And only cattle depastured there)
As the Bluccap mob reined up at the door
And loudly saluted Featherstonhaugh.

"My saintly preacher," the leader cried,
"I stand no nonsense, as you're aware,
I've a word for you if you'll step outside,
just drop that pistol and have a care;
I'll trouble you, too, for the key of the store,
For we're short of tucker, friend Featherstonhaugh."

The muscular Christian showed no fear,
Though he handed the key with but small delay.
He never answered the ruffian's jeer
Except by a look which seemed to say -
"Beware, my friend, and think twice before
You raise the devil in Featherstonhaugh."

Two hours after he reined his horse
Up in Urana, and straightway went
To the barracks - the trooper was gone, of course,
Blindly nosing a week-old scent
Away in the scrub around Mount Galore.
"Confound the fellow!" quoth Featherstonhaugh.

"Will any man of you come with me
And give this Bluecap a dressing-down?"
They all regarded him silently
As he turned his horse, with a scornful frown.
"You're curs, the lot of you, to the core -
I'll go by myself," said Featherstonhaugh.

The scrub was thick on Urangeline
As he followed the tracks that twisted through
The box and dogwood and scented pine
(One of their horses had cast a shoe).
Steeped from his youth in forest lore,
He could track like a nigger, could Featherstonhaugh.

He paused as he saw the thread of smoke
From the outlaw camp, and he marked the sound
Of a hobble-check, as it sharply broke
The silence that held the scrub-land bound.
There were their horses - two, three, four -
"It's a risk, but I'll chance it!" quoth Featherstonhaugh.

He loosened the first, and it walked away,
But his comrade's sfience could not be bought,
For he raised his head with a sudden neigh,
And plainly showed that he'd not be caught.
As a bullet sang from a rifle-bore -
"It's time to be moving," quoth Featherstonhaugh.

The brittle pine, as they broke away,
Crackled like ice in a winter's ponds,
The strokes fell fast on the cones that lay
Buried beneath the withered fronds
That softly carpet the sandy floor -
Swept two on the tracks of Featherstonhaugh.

They struck that path that the stock had made,
A dustily-red, well-beaten track,
The leader opened a fusillade
Whose target was Featherston's stooping back
But his luck was out, not a bullet tore
As much as a shred from Featherstonhaugh.

Rattle 'em, rattle 'em fast on the pad,
Where the sloping shades fell dusk and dim.
The manager's heart beat high and glad
For he knew the creek was a mighty swim.
Already he heard a smothered roar -
"They're done like a dinner!" quoth Featherstonhaugh.

It was almost dark as they neared the dam.
He struck the crossing as true as a hair;
For the space of a second the pony swam,
Then shook himself in the chill night air.
In a pine-tree shade on the further shore,
With his pistol cocked, stood Featherstonhaugh.

A splash - an oath - and a rearing horse,
A thread snapped short in the fateful loom,
The tide, unaltered, swept on its course
Though a fellow creature had met his doom:
Pale and trembling, and struck with awe,
Bluccap stood opposite Featherstonhaugh.

While the creek rolled muddily in between
The eddies played with the drowned man's hat.
The stars peeped out in the summer sheen,
A night-bird chirruped across the flat -
Quoth Bluecap, "I owe you a heavy score,
And I'll live to repay it, Featherstonhaugh."

But he never did, for he ran his race
Before he had time to fulfil his oath.
1 can't think how, but, in any case,
He was hung, or drowned, or maybe both.
But whichever it was, he came no more
To trouble the peace of Featherstonhaugh.

The Demon Snow-Shoes (A Legend Of Kiandra)

The snow lies deep on hill and dale,
In rocky gulch and grassy vale,
The tiny, trickling, tumbling falls
Are frozen 'twixt their rocky walls
That grey and brown look silent down
Upon Kiandra's shrouded town.



The Eucumbene itself lies dead,
Fast frozen in its narrow bed,
And distant sounds ring out quite near,
The crystal air is froze so clear,
While to and fro the people go
In silent swiftness o'er the snow.



And, like a mighty gallows-frame,
The derrick in the New Chum claim
Hangs over where, despite the cold,
Strong miners seek the hidden gold,
And stiff and blue, half-frozen through,
The fickle dame of Fortune woo.



Far out, along a snow capped range,
There rose a sound which echoed strange,
Where snow-emburthen'd branches hang,
And flashing icicles, there rang
A gay refrain, as towards the plain
Sped swiftly downward Carl the Dane.



His long, lithe snow-shoes sped along
In easy rhythm to his song;
Now slowly circling round the hill,
Now speeding downward with a will;
The crystals crash and blaze and flash
As o'er the frozen crust they dash.



Among the hills the first he shone
Of all who buckled snow-shoe on,
For though the mountain lads were fleet,
But one bold rival dare compete,
To veer and steer, devoid of fear,
Beside this strong-limbed mountaineer.



'Twas Davy Eccleston who dared
To cast the challenge: If Carl cared
On shoes to try their mutual pace,
Then let him enter for the race,
Which might be run by anyone -
A would-be champion. Carl said "Done."



But not alone in point of speed
They sought to gain an equal meed,
For in the narrow lists of love,
Dave Eccleston had cast the glove:
Though both had prayed, the blushing maid
As yet no preference betrayed.



But played them off, as women will,
One 'gainst the other one, until
A day when she was sorely pressed
To loving neither youth confessed,
But did exclaim - the wily dame,
"Who wins this race, I'll bear his name!"



These words were running through Carl's head
As o'er the frozen crust he sped,
But suddenly became aware
That not alone he travelled there,
He sudden spied, with swinging stride,
A stranger speeding by his side;



The breezes o'er each shoulder toss’d
His beard, bediamonded with frost,
His eyes flashed strangely, bushy browed.
His breath hung round him like a shroud.
He never spoke, nor silence broke,
But by the Dane sped stroke for stroke.



"Old man! I neither know your name,
Nor what you are, nor whence you came:
But this, if I but had your shoes
This championship I ne'er could lose.
To call them mine, those shoes divine,
I'll gladly pay should you incline.



The stranger merely bowed his head -
"The shoes are yours," he gruffly said;
"I change with you, though at a loss,
And in return I ask that cross
Which, while she sung, your mother hung
Around your neck when you were young."



Carl hesitated when he heard
The price, but not for long demurred,
And gave the cross; the shoes were laced
Upon his feet in trembling haste,
So long and light, smooth polished, bright.
His heart beat gladly at the sight.



Now, on the morning of the race,
Expectancy on every face,
They come the programme to fulfil
Upon the slope of Township Hill;
With silent feet the people meet,
While youths and maidens laughing greet.



High-piled the flashing snowdrifts lie,
And laugh to scorn the sun's dull eye.
That, glistening feebly, seems to say -
"When Summer comes you'll melt away:
You'll change your song when I grow strong,
I think so, though I may be wrong."



The pistol flashed, and off they went
Like lightning on the steep descent,
Resistlessly down-swooping, swift
O'er the smooth face of polished drift
The racers strain with might and main.
But in the lead flies Carl the Dane.



Behind him Davy did his best,
With hopeless eye and lip compressed:
Beat by a snow-shoe length at most,
They flash and pass the winning-post.
The maiden said, "I'll gladly wed
The youth who in this race has led."



But where was he? still speeding fast,
Over the frozen stream he pass’d,
They watched his flying form until
They lost it over Sawyer's Hill,
Nor saw it more, the people swore
The like they'd never seen before.



The way he scaled that steep ascent
Was quite against all precedent,
While others said he could but choose
To do it on those demon shoes;
They talked in vain, for Carl the Dane
Was never seen in flesh again.



But now the lonely diggers say
That sometimes at the close of day
They see a misty wraith flash by
With the faint echo of a cry,
It may be true; perhaps they do,
I doubt it much; but what say you?

Jack's Last Muster

The first flush of grey light, the herald of daylight,
Is dimly outlining the musterer's camp,
Where over the sleeping, the stealthily creeping
Breath of the morning lies chilly and damp,



As, blankets forsaking, 'twixt sleeping and waking,
The black-boys turn out to the manager's call;
Whose order, of course, is, "Be after the horses,
And take all sorts of care you unhobble them all."



Then, each with a bridle (provokingly idle)
They saunter away his commands to fulfil -
Where, cheerily chiming, the musical rhyming
From equine bell-ringers comes over the hill.



But now the dull dawning gives place to the morning,
The sun, springing up in a glorious flood
Of golden-shot fire, mounts higher and higher,
Till the crests of the sandhills are stained with his
blood.



Now the hobble-chains' jingling, with the thud of hoofs
mingling,
Though distant, sound near - the cool air is so still -
As, urged by their whooping, the horses come trooping
In front of the boys round the point of the hill.



What searching and rushing for bridles and brushing
Of saddle marks, tight'ning of breastplate and girth;
And what a strange jumble of laughter and grumble -
Some comrade's misfortune the subject of mirth.



I recollect well how that morning Jack Bell
Had an argument over the age of a mare,
That C O B gray one, the dam of that bay one
Which Brown the storekeeper calls the young Lady
Clare.



How Tomboy and Vanity caused much profanity,
Scamping away with their tales in the air,
Till after a chase, at a deuce of a pace,
They ran back in the mob and we collared them
there.



Then the laugh and the banter, as gaily we canter,
With a pause for the nags at a miniature lake,
Where the “yellowtop” catches the sunlight in patches,
And lies like a mirror of gold in our wake.



Oh! the rush and the rattle of fast-fleeing cattle,
Whose hoofs beat a mad rataplan on the earth;
Their hot headed flight in! Who would not delight in
The gallop that seems to hold all that life is worth.



And over the rolling plains, slowly patrolling
To the sound of the cattle's monotonous tramp,
Till we hear the sharp pealing of stockwhips,
revealing
The fact that our comrades have put on the camp.



From the spot where they're drafting the wind rises,
wafting
The dust, till it hides man and beast from our gaze,
Till, suddenly lifting and easterly drifting,
We catch a short glimpse of the scene through the
haze.



What a blending and blurring of swiftly recurring
Colour and movement, that pass on their way
An intricate weaving of sights and sounds, leaving
An eager desire to take part in the fray:



A dusty procession, in circling succession,
Of bullocks that bellow in impotent rage;
A bright panorama, a soul stirring drama,
The sky for its background, the earth for its stage.



How well I remember that twelfth of November,
When Jack and his little mare, Vanity, fell;
On the Diamantina there never was seen a
Pair who could cut out a beast half so well.



And yet in one second Death's finger had beckoned,
And horse and bold rider had answered the call
Brooking no hesitation, without preparation,
That sooner or later must come to us all.



Thrice a big curly horned Cobb bullock had scorned
To meekly acknowledge the ruling of fate;
Thrice Jack with a clout of his whip cut him out,
But each time the beast galloped back to his mate.



Once more, he came blund'ring along, with Jack
thund'ring
Beside him, his spurs in poor Vanity's flanks,
As, from some cause or other forsaking its mother,
A little white calf trotted out from the ranks.



'Twas useless, I knew it, yet I turned to pursue it;
At the same time, I gave a loud warning to Jack:
It was all unavailing, I saw him come sailing
Along as the weaner ran into his track.



Little Vanity tried to turn off on one side,
Then altered her mind and attempted to leap;
The pace was too fast, that jump was her last,
For she and her rider fell all in a heap.



I was quickly down kneeling beside him, and feeling
With tremulous hand for the throb of his heart.
"The mare - is she dead?" were the first words he
said,
As he suddenly opened his eyes with a start.



He spoke to the creature, his hand could just reach
her,
Gently caressing her lean Arab head;
She acknowledged his praising with eyes quickly
glazing,
A whinny, a struggle, and there she lay
dead.



I sat there and nursed his head, for we durst
Not remove him, we knew where he fell he would die.
As I watched his life flicker, his breath growing
thicker,
I'd have given the world to be able to cry.



Roughvoiced, sunburnt men, far away beyond ken
Of civilisation, our comrades, stood nigh,
All true hearted mourners, and sadly forlorn, as
He gave them a handshake and bade them goodbye.



In my loving embrace there he finished life's race,
And nobly and gamely that long course was run;
Though a man and a sinner he weighed out a winner,
And God, the Great Judge, will declare he has won.

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.

Kelly's Conversion

KELLY the Ranger half opened an eye
To wink at the Army passing by,
While his hot breath, thick with the taint of beer,
Came forth from his lips in a drunken jeer.
Brown and bearded and long of limb
He lay, as the Army confronted him
And, clad in grey, one and all did pray
That his deadly sins might be washed away—
But Kelly stubbornly answered ‘Nay.'
Then the captain left him in mild despair,
But before the music took up its blare
A pale-faced lassie stepped out and spoke—
A little sad girl in a sad grey cloak—
‘Rise up, Kelly! your work's to do:
Kelly, the Saviour's a-calling you!'
He strove to look wise; rubbed at his eyes;
Looked down at the ground, looked up at the skies;
And something that p'r'aps was his conscience stirred:
He seemed perplexed as again he heard
The girl with the garments of saddest hue
Say, ‘Kelly, the Saviour's a-calling you!'
He got on his knees and thence to his feet,
And stumbled away down the dusty street;
Contrived to cadge at the pub a drink,
But still in his ear the glasses chink
And jingle only the one refrain,
Clear as the lassie's voice again:
‘Kelly, Kelly, come here to me!
Kelly the Rager, I've work for thee!'
He trembled, and dropped the tumbler, and slopped
The beer on the counter: the barman stopped,
With a curious eye on his haggard face.
‘Kelly, old fellow! you're going the pace.
Don't you fancy it's time to take
A pull on yourself—put your foot on the brake?
You'll have the horrors, without a doubt,
This time next week, if you don't look out.'
But he didn't—he sobered himself that night:
‘That time next week' he was nearly right:
Yet still at the mill, though he'd stopped the grog,
As the saw bit into the green pine log,
The wood shrieked out to him in its pain
A fragment caught of the same refrain,
As the swift teeth cut and the sawdust flew—
‘Kelly, Kelly, I've work for you!'

Then the seasons fell and the floods came down
And laid the dust in the frightened town.
No more the beat of hoofs and feet
Was heard the length of the crooked street;
For, leaving counter and desk and till,
All had fled to the far sandhill;
But everywhere that a man might dare
Risk life to save it—Kelly was there!
No more the voice had a tale to tell:
He'd found his work and he did it well.
Who stripped leggings and hat and coat
To swim the lagoon to reach the boat?
Who pushed out in the dead of night
At the mute appeal of a beacon-light?
Who was blessed by the women then,
And who was cheered by the stalwart men,
As he shot the rapids above the town
With two pale Smiths and a weeping Brown,
Landing them safe from his cockle-shell,
Woefully frightened, but safe and well,
With their friends on the sandhill all secure?
Who but Kelly, you may be sure!

They reckoned the heads up, one by one,
And he sighed as he thought that the work was done;
But soon found out that 'twas not begun.
They counted away till it came to pass
They missed the little Salvation lass:
She'd been to pray with a man who lay
Sick on the river-shore, far away.
Men looked askance and the women smote
Their hands in grief, as he launched the boat.
He turned as he cast the painter loose:
‘Who'll make another? It's little use
My going alone; for I'm nearly done,
And from here to the point is a stiffish run.'
Then one stepped forward and took an oar,
And the boat shot out for the other shore.
To and fro where the gums hang low
And bar their passage, the comrades row;
Hard up stream where the waters race;
Steady, where floating branches lace;
Through many a danger and sharp escape
And catch of breath, as the timbers scrape
And thrill to the touch of some river shape;
Till at last the huts on the point draw near,
And over their shoulders the boatmen peer.

The flood was running from door to door—
Two-feet-six on the earthen floor;
Half-way up to the bed it ran,
Where two pale women and one sick man
Crouched, and looked at the water's rise
With horror set in their staring eyes;
While the children wept as the water crept.
But how the blood to their hearts high leapt
As over the threshold the rescuers stepped,
And, wrapped in blanket and shawl and coat,
Carried the saved to the crazy boat!

Then Kelly circled the little lass
With his strong right arm, and as in a glass
Saw himself in her eyes that shone
Sweet in a face that was drawn and wan:
And he felt that for her life he'd give his own.
Too short a moment her cheek was pressed
Close to the beat of his spray-wet breast;
While her hair just lay like a golden ray,
The last farewell of a passing day.
Gently he settled her down in the stern
With a tender smile, and had time to turn
To look to the others, and then he saw
That the craft was full and could hold no more.
He looked at the party—old, young, and sick—
While he had no tie, neither wife nor chick.

Then with a shove he sent out the boat
Far on the turbid stream afloat.
‘Pull!' said Kelly; ‘now pull!' said he;
‘Pull with your load and come back for me.
You may be late, but at any rate
I'm better able than you to wait.'
They pulled and, looking back, saw him stand
Shading his eyes with his big, rough hand—
Silent, patient, and smiling-faced,
With the water curling around his waist.

Return they did, but they found him not:
Nought but the chimney then marked the spot.
They found him not when the boat went back—
Never a trace of him, never a track;
Only the sigh and the dreary cry
Of the gums that had wept to see him die:
These alone had a tale to tell
Of a life that had ended passing well—
The sad refrain of a hero's fate
Tuned in a tongue we may not translate.

Facing Death with a stout, brave heart;
Choosing the nobler and better part;
Home to the land of eternal sun
Kelly had gone—for his work was done.

A sweat-dripping horse and a half-naked myall,
And a message: ‘Come out to the back of the run—
Be out at the stake-yards by rising of sun!
Ride hard and fail not! there's the devil to pay:
For the men from Monkyra have mustered the run—
Cows and calves, calves of ours, without ever a brand,
Fifty head, if there's one, on the camp there they stand.
Come out to the stake-yards, nor fail me, or by all
The saints they'll be drafted and driven away!'
Boot and saddle it was to the rolling of curses:
Snatching whip, snatching spurs, where they hung on the nail.
In his wrath old McIvor, head stockman, turned pale,
Spitting oaths with his head 'neath the flap of his saddle;
Taking up the last hole in the girth with his teeth;
Then a hand on the pommel, a quick catch of breath,
A lift of the body, a swing to the right—
And, ten half-broken nags with ten riders astraddle,
We sped, arrow-swift, for the heart of the night.
Thud of hoofs! thud of hearts! breath of man! breath of beast!
With M'Ivor in front, and the rest heel to flank,
So we rode in a bunch down the steep river bank,
Churning up the black tide in the shallows like yeast.
Through the coolabahs, out on the plain, it increased
Till we swung with the stride of the dingo-pack, swooping
On scent of weak mother with puny calf drooping.
Staring eyes, swaying forms o'er the saddle-bow stooping,
With the wind in our shirts, grip of knee, grip of rein,
Losing ground, falling back, creeping forward again.
Behind us the low line of dark coolabah;
Overhead a sky spangled by planet and star;
And to left, on our shoulder, the mighty Cross flaring,
While afoot the quick pulsing of hoof-beats disturbs
Moist silence of grasses and salty-leaved herbs.

Steering on by the stars, over hollow and crest;
Tingling eyes looking out through a curtain of tears
From the slap of the wind over forward-pricked ears,
Over forehead and nose stretching out for the west,
And into the face of the sombre night staring.
Threading in, threading out, through a maze of sand rises
That spring either side, loom a moment, then flee:
Dim hillocks of herbage and sun-blasted tree,
Till again a dark streak of far timber arises;
And anon, through the thick of a lignum swamp tearing,
Bare tendrils, back-springing, switch sharp on the knee.
Plain again! and again, with the speed of the wind,
The long miles in front join their comrades behind;
Then a sound in our ears like to far summer thunder
Or the booming of surf in a southerly gale;
And we shouted aloud each to each in our wonder,
For we knew that those beasts must have come fast and far,
That they moaned as the breaking of waves on a bar.

But behold! overhead the dark sky had grown pale,
With the azure-tinged paleness of newly-skimmed milk,
And the dawn-spiders floated on threads of floss-silk
As the guards of the sun drew aside the thick veil
And made ready to fling the dawn-portals asunder.
Still that sound swelled and rolled, thrilling deep on the air,
Calling long, calling loud in the ear of each steed,
Bringing courage and strength in the moment of need,
And light'ning the weight of the burdens they bare.

But that moment behind us upshot a red glare
As the sun swept the sky with a roseate sponge;
And McIvor's blue roan gave a rear and a plunge,
A half-sob, and so fell, like an over-ripe pear.
Not a rein did we pull, not a stride did we stay,
Speeding onward and speeding! For long we could hear
Old Mac.'s maledictions ring loud in our rear
As we rode in hot haste from the incoming day.
Then all sudden and strangely we came face to face
With the lead of the cattle, and lo! our long race
Was run out; and we drew up the horses, all panting
In stress of the chase, and yet ready for more;
And our eager ears drank in that thunderous roar,
While we watched the red squadrons come over the levels
As if view-holloa'd by a pack of night-devils—
Cow and calf chasing heifer and lumbering steer,
With their grey, dripping nostrils, and eyes wide with fear,
As if Burgess's cob followed hard on their rear.

So we blocked them, and lo! the new sun laid a slanting
Red finger on one who rode over the plain,
Steed treading full slowly, head drooping, slack rein,
Turning often aside through the dew-laden grasses
To crop a sweet mouthful. We needed no glasses
To see it was Fogarty. Once and again,
And again did we hail—yet he never looked round,
Neither made the least motion of hearing the sound.

Riding on like a man who should ride in his sleep,
Or as one in the web of some deep-woven charm,
So he came through the grass—his horse striding breast-deep—
With a woman held close in the crook of his arm;
And her hair, all unbound, rippled over his shoulder,
Dead black; and her brow, where the sweat of fierce pain
Had dried, was brown-tinged as bronze is, but colder—
Ah, many times colder! and as he pulled rein,
He unwrapped saddle-blanket in which he had rolled her,
And lo! the gay sunlight lit ominous stain,
Where a murderous bullet had torn a blue vein
And let out her life in a warm crimson rain.

Then gently he laid his sad load on the ground,
And with sorrowing glances we gathered around.
Then he turned to the west, with his eyes all aflame,
With his brawny fists raised, calling witness from Heaven—
On his shoulder and flank the dark blood of the slain—
And he hurled his curse back on the place whence he came:
A loud curse, and a threat that he yet would stand even
With those of Monkyra who wrought this foul shame—
Though, to tell the God's truth, we'd have done just the same
In their place, and have reckoned it nothing but right:
For the black girl and Fogarty quietly crept
On the Monkyra men in the dead of the night;
And it happened the watchman was weary and slept,
So the gin, who no doubt was a game little pullet,
Slipped in, and brought both their night horses away,
While Fogarty started the cattle that lay
On the camp; and the trick was so bold it succeeded;
For the Monkyra men, when their cattle stampeded,
Had nothing to send in pursuit but a bullet.
Yet that was as much as the little gin needed:
She made no great fuss, though, nor murmured nor cried;
Only rode on the right of her lord till she died.
Her life ended well—nothing scamped or by halves:
Where she went who can tell? But we branded the calves.

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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