At Devlin's Siding
What made the porter stare so hard? what made the porter stare
And eye the tall young woman and the bundle that she bare?
What made the tall young woman flush, and strive to hide her face,
As the train slid past the platform and the guard swung in his place?
What made her look so stealthily both up and down the line,
And quickly give the infant suck to still its puny whine?
Why was the sawmill not at work? why were the men away?
They might have turned a woman from a woeful deed that day.
Why did the pine-scrub stand so thick? why was the place so lone
That nothing but the soldier-birds might hear a baby moan?
Why doth the woman tear the child? why doth the mother take
The infant from her breast, and weep as if her heart would break?
Why doth she moan, and grind her teeth, and weave an awful curse
To fall on him who made of her a harlot-ay, and worse?
Why should she fall upon her knees and, with a trembling hand,
Clear off the underbrush and scrape a cradle in the sand?
Why doth she shudder as she hears the buzz of eager flies,
And bind a handkerchief across the sleeping infant's eyes?
Why doth she turn, but come again and feverishly twine,
To shield it from the burning sun, the fragrant fronds of pine?
Why, as she strides the platform, does she try hard not to think
That somewhere in the scrub a babe is calling her for drink?
Why, through the alleys of the pine, do languid breezes sigh
A low refrain that seems to mock her with a baby's cry?
Seek not to know! but pray for her, and pity, as the train
Carries a white-faced woman back to face the world again.
The Babes In The Bush
Dozens of damp little curls;
One little short upper lip;
Two rows of teeth like diminutive pearls;
Eyes clear and grey as the creek where it swirls
Over the ledges—that's Tip!
With a skip!—
A perfectly hopeless young nip!
Smudge on the tip of his nose;
Mischievous glance of a Puck;
Heart just as big as the rents in his clothes;
Lungs like a locust and cheeks like a rose;—
Total it!—there you have Tuck!
And bad luck
To the man who would question his pluck!
School is all over at last—
School with its pothooks and strokes:
Homeward they toddle, but who could go fast?—
So many wonderful things to be passed—
Froggie, for instance, who croaks
'Neath the oaks
By the creek where the watercress soaks.
Sandpipers dance on the bars;
Swallows, white-throated and fleet,
Dip thirsty beaks in the stream as they pass;
Smooth water-beetles that twinkle like stars
Watch the gay dragon-flies greet.
Hark how sweet
Is the pipe of the tiny pee-weet!
Near, too, the earth is all torn:
Strong, willing workers have thrown
Great heaps of tailings, smooth-polished and worn,
Round the mysterious caverns that yawn—
Stacks of the snowy quartz stone,
Piles of the Earth's dry bone.
Grasshoppers chirp on the brace;
Briars drop berries blood-red
Into the mouldering void of the race;
Green mosses flourish on cutting and face;
Children speak softly, with dread,
When they tread
In this desolate place of the dead.
‘Tum on!' said Tip, ‘here's a nest!'
Looking behind as he ran.
‘No,' said his brother, expanding his chest,
‘I like to play at pro'pectin' the best'—
Thumping a rusty old pan;
To wash up a dish like a man.
‘Tum on! here's four little eggs!
Do tum!'—he whimpers his lip:
A-tremble his eyes, wet by tears as he begs,
And sharp briars are scratching his legs.
A branch strikes his face like a whip;
Then a slip—
And a shaft swallows poor little Tip!
Peering and catching his breath,
Tuck felt his little heart swell:
Nothing at all could he see underneath—
P'r'aps poor old Tippy had gone to his death—
Would it hurt him if he fell?
Who could tell
The depth of that horrible well?
‘Tippy! oh, Tip! are you dead?' . . .
Never a sound or a sigh!
Tuck held his breath, his heart heavy as lead:
Then: ‘Tuck! where are you? I've hurted my head!'
Came up the quav'ring reply;
And a cry:
‘Oh, Tuck! don't go 'way, or I'll die!
‘Tuck! it's so dark; I'm afraid!' . . .
He drew down his eyebrows and frowned
Up the creek, down the creek, somewhat dismayed.
Miles to go home; but, again, if he stayed,
How would they ever be found Underground
In that cavern that swallowed all sound?
‘Tuck, I'm all covered with blood!
Sobbed the small voice without cess.
‘Why don't you help me up out of the mud?'
Tuck foraged out a long length of pine wood;
Stripped off his little print dress,
Rigged a white flag of distress!
Truly the depth was not great—
That, though, the babe did not know;
Lowering himself till the whole of his weight
Hung on the fingers that clutched the blue slate . . .
‘Please God!' . . . he let himself go;
And I trow
That angel hands caught him below.
Never a scratch or a mark!
No, and not even a tear!
Little hands feeling their way through the dark . . .
What if that other should be stiff and stark?
‘Here I am, Tippy! quite near—
Then came the answer: ‘I'm here!'
Crouched in the mouth of a drive,
Tippy sobbed out his delight—
Not so much hurt, after all—quite alive:
Almost convinced that no harm could arrive
Now that Tuck's arms clasped him tight.
Then the light
Died slowly, and lo! it was Night.
Above—the flag blows to the air:
Sad parents seek vainly and weep:
There are lights 'mid the thistles, and cries of despair:
A rifle cracks loudly, and bonfires glare . . .
Below—where the blind creatures creep,
Two pretty babes smile in their sleep.
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.
Skeeta ( An Old Servant's Tale )
Our Skeeta was married, our Skeeta! the tomboy
and pet of the place,
No more as a maiden we'd greet her, no more
would her pert little face
Light up the chill gloom of the parlour; no more
would her deft little hands
Serve drinks to the travel-stained caller on his way
to more southerly lands;
No more would she chaff the rough drovers and
send them away with a smile,
No more would she madden her lovers, demurely,
with womanish guile -
The "prince" from the great Never-Never, with
light touch of lips and of hand
Had come, and enslaved her for ever - a potentate
bearded and tanned
From the land where the white mirage dances its
dance of death over the plains,
With the glow of the sun in his glances, the lust of
the West in his veins;
His talk of long drought-stricken stretches when the
tongue rattled dry on the lips;
Of his fights with the niggers, poor wretches, as
he sped on his perilous trips.
A supple-thewed, desert-bred rover, with naught to
commend him but this,
That he was her idol, her lover, who'd fettered her
heart with a kiss.
They were wed, and he took her to Warren, where
she with his love was content;
But town-life to him was too foreign, so back to the
droving he went:
A man away down on the border of “Vic.” bought
some cattle from “Cobb,”
And gave Harry Parker the order to go to “the
Gulf” for the mob:
And he went, for he held her love cheaper than his
wish to re-live the old life,
Or his reason might have been deeper - I called it
deserting his wife.
Then one morning his horses were mustered, the
start on the journey was made -
A clatter, an oath through the dust heard, was the
last of the long cavalcade.
As we stood by the stockyard assembled, poor child,
how she strove to be brave!
But yet I could see how she trembled at the careless
farewell that he gave.
We brought her back home on the morrow, but none
of us ever may learn
Of the fight that she fought to keep sorrow at bay
till her husband's return.
He had gone, but the way of his going, ‘twas that
which she dwelt on with pain -
Careless kiss, though there sure was no knowing,
when or where he might kiss her again.
He had ridden away and had left her a woman,
in all but in years,
Of her girlhood’s gay hopes had bereft her, and
left in their place nought but tears.
Yet still, as the months passed, a treasure was
brought her by Love, ere he fled,
And garments of infantile measure she fashioned
with needle and thread;
She fashioned with linen and laces and ribbons a
nest for her bird,
While colour returned to her face as the bud of
It blossomed and died; we arrayed it in all its soft
splendour of white,
And sorrowing took it and laid it in the earth
whence it sprung, out of sight.
She wept not at all, only whitened, as Death, in
his pitiless quest,
Leant over her pillow and tightened the throat of the
child at her breast.
She wept not, her soul was too tired, for waiting is
And then I bethought me and wired away to the
agents in Bourke;
'Twas little enough I could glean there; 'twas little
enough that they knew -
They answered he hadn't been seen there, but might
in a week, perchance two.
She wept not at all, only whitened with staring too
long at the night:
There was only one time when she brightened, that
time when red dust hove in sight,
And settled and hung on the backs of the cattle, and
altered their spots,
While the horses swept up, with their packs of blue
blankets and jingling pots.
She always was set upon meeting those boisterous
Her husband had sent her a greeting by one of them,
in from the West.
Not one of them ever owned to him, or seemed to
remember the name
(The truth was they all of them knew him, but
wouldn't tell her of his shame)
But never, though long time she waited, did her faith
in the faithless grow weak,
And each time the outer door grated, an eager flush
sprang to her cheek –
'Twasn't he, and it died with a flicker, and then
what I had long dreaded came:
I was serving two drovers with liquor when one of
them mentioned his name.
"Oh, yes!" said the other one, winking, "on the
Paroo I saw him, he'd been
In Eulo a fortnight then, drinking, and driving
about with "The Queen"
While the bullocks were going to glory, and his
billet was not worth a G --- d --- ;”
I told him to cut short the story, as I pulled-to the
door with a slam -
Too late! for the words were loud-spoken, and Skeeta
was out in the hall,
Then I knew that a girl's heart was broken, as I
heard a low cry and a fall.
And then came a day when the doctor went home,
for the truth was avowed;
And I knew that my hands, which had rocked her in
childhood, would fashion her shroud,
I knew we should tenderly carry and lay her where
many more lie,
Ah, why will the girls love and marry, when men are
not worthy, ah, why?
She lay there a-dying, our Skeeta; not e'en did she
stir at my kiss,
In the next world perchance we may greet her, but
never, ah, never, in this.
Like the last breath of air in a gully, that sighs as
the sun slowly dips,
To the knell of a heart beating dully, her soul
struggled out on her lips.
But she lifted great eyelids and pallid, while once
more beneath them there glowed
The fire of Love, as she rallied at sound of hoofs
out on the road;
They rang sharp and clear on the metal, they ceased
at the gate in the lane,
A pause, and we heard the beats settle in long,
swinging cadence again;
With a rattle, a rush, and a clatter the rider came
down by the store,
And neared us, but what did it matter? he never
pulled rein at the door,
But over the brow of the hill he sped on with a
low muffled roll,
"Twas only young Smith on his filly; he passed, and
so too did her soul.
Weeks after, I went down one morning to trim the
white rose that had grown
And clasped, with its tender adorning, the plain
little cross of white stone.
In the lane dusty drovers were wheeling dull cattle,
with turbulent sound,
But I paused as I saw a man kneeling, with his
forehead pressed low on the mound;
Already he'd heard me approaching, and slowly I
saw him up-rise
And move away, sullenly slouching his “cabbage-
tree” over his eyes,
I never said anything to him, as he mounted his horse
at the gate,
He didn't know me, but I knew him, the husband
who came back too late.
"It's my shout this time, boys, so come along and
breast the bar,
And kindly mention what you're going to take;
I don't feel extra thirsty, so I'll sample that
Now, lad! come, look alive, for goodness sake."
So spake he, as he raised the brimming glass towards
So spake “Long Jack,” the boldest mountaineer
Who ever down from Nungar raced a “brumby” mob
Or laid a stockwhip on a stubborn steer.
From Jindabyne to Providence along the Eucumbene
The kindest-hearted fellow to be found;
And when he crossed the saddle not a horse was ever
That could make Jack quit his hold to seek the
The women smiled with pleasure, the children laughed
The very dogs came barking at his feet,
While outside the “Squatter's Arms” the men came
forward in a crowd
To welcome Jack when he rode up the street.
But though the boldest horseman who by midnight
or by day
E'er held a mob of cattle on a camp,
There were squatters on Monaro, who had yet been
known to say
That Jack was an unmitigated scamp.
And true it is Jack Corrigan possessed a serious fault
Which caused his gentle, blue-eyed wife much grief,
And many were the bitter tears she mingled with the
With which she cured their neighbours' tend'rest beef.
And often would she tearful take her smiling spouse
Who'd answer, as her pretty face he kissed,
That a beast lost all identity when pickled in the
And a bullock more or less would ne'er be missed.
But now as Jack stood all prepared to toss his
A softly-murmured whisper met his ear -
"I just saw Trooper Fraser get a warrant up the town,
He's after you, old man: you'd better clear!"
Jack never thanked the donor of this excellent advice,
As the glass fell through his fingers with a crash.
With a bound across the footpath, he was mounted
in a trice
And speeding down the roadway like a flash,
While Trooper William Fraser wore a very gloomy face,
As he watched his prey go flying down the road.
But he settled in the saddle and prepared to give him
As Jack struck out a line for his abode.
On the road toward the Show Ground, then, there
hung a big swing-gate,
Jack's filly cleared its bars in glorious style,
But he held her well together, for he knew the
Would give him distance in each mile;
For Jack rode twelve stone fully, while Bill Fraser
rode but nine,
Sweetbriar's strength must surely soon be spent,
Being grass-fed, while the trooper's chestnut horse
could always dine
Off oats and barley to his heart's content.
And all aloud Jack cursed the day he'd ever killed a
Or branded calf he couldn't call his own,
While the hoof-strokes on the road beat out a song
that never ceased
To echo in his ears with mocking tone.
"Three years in gaol, in gaol three years," the
jeering echoes sang;
The granite boulders caught the wild refrain.
"A broken life, a weeping wife," 'twas thus the
"And a baby boy you'll never see again" –
He groaned, and then, to dull the sound, spoke
loudly to the mare,
And bade her never slacken in her speed.
"For God's sake take me home, lass, with a little
time to spare;
Five minutes, at the most, is all I need -
Just time to catch old Dandy, where he's munching
Of hay; just time to leap upon his back,
And then the smartest trap who ever swore a
Could never foot me down the River track."
Sweetbriar pricked her ears, and shook a foam flake
from her bit,
As she heard his words, and doubtless caught their
And the rotten granite pebbles rattled round her as
On the homeward side the Rosedale bound'ry fence –
As they scrambled round by Locker's-Hill, Jack
Corrigan looked round,
And as he looked was filled with stern delight,
For he saw the baldfaced chestnut struggling fiercely
on the ground,
Though the hill shut out the sequel from his sight;
His triumph was but short, for, as he stemmed the
Where floods had muddied waters once so clear,
And left the giant tussocks tangled tightly in a mass,
The trooper still kept drawing on his rear;
The Murrumbidgee's icy stream was widened out by
They swam it at the willow-shaded ford,
As they passed the station buildings his long spurs
were red with blood,
Sweetbriar's heaving flanks were deeply scored.
Her stride grew more uneven, though she answered
No jockey rode a better race than Jack
As he eased her up the hills and pressed her onward
down the fall,
Round the sidlings of the Billylingra track.
They left O'Rourke's behind them, where it fronts the
big bald hill,
At the Flat Rock Jack was riding all he knew -
With all the dash and judgement of the famed Monaro
Yet he couldn't keep the trooper out of view;
He spied his tiny homestead as Bill Fraser gained
And loudly warned the fugitive to yield,
Who turned half round but saw no sign of pity in his
As they swept across the cultivation field;
Their hoofs’ dull thunder brought the wife in wonder
to the gate,
She waved her hand in answer to his shout;
While Dandy from his paddock whinnied loudly to
To know what all the trouble was about.
"God help us now - the end has come!" the wretched
And leant against the gate to catch her breath;
While the tiny, blue-eyed toddler cheered his father
on his ride
Towards the ghastly winning-post of Death.
"The filly's failing fast," thought Jack; "she's
nothing but a weed,
It’s a certainty she can't keep long in front.
I'll make a splendid target, if he likes to draw a
As I try to cross the river on the punt."
He left the mare and scrambled through the ti-tree
Deep rooted in its bed of yellow clay,
But when he reached the river, stood and trembled
on the bank -
"My God!" he hoarsely said, "it's swept away!"
The punt was gone, the rope of wire still stretched from
shore to shore,
Jack paused but half a moment to decide,
And as he scrambled down the bank the wond'ring
Him struggling half across the rushing tide,
The angry waters swept him down, and every nerve
To keep his hold upon the frail support,
Though icy numbness seized him, yet his courage
The hope of freedom filled his every thought.
The rope swayed low beneath his weight and bellied
to the stream,
Around his head the flying ripples curled,
While high above the river's roar rang out the awful
Of a soul that flies in terror from the world.
A mighty log, borne swiftly on the bosom of the
Resistless swept him 'neath the eager wave,
And sucked him down to river depths, and there
beneath the foam,
Jack Corrigan sought out a nameless grave -
"Good-bye to life, good-bye to life," the mocking
The towering cliffs took up the wild refrain,
"A broken life, a weeping wife," 'twas thus the
"And a baby boy he'll never see again."