In the Stable
What! you don't like him; well, maybe -- we all have our fancies, of course:
Brumby to look at, you reckon? Well, no; he's a thoroughbred horse;
Sired by a son of old Panic -- look at his ears and his head --
Lop-eared and Roman-nosed, ain't he? -- well, that's how the Panics are bred.
Gluttonous, ugly and lazy, rough as a tipcart to ride,
Yet if you offered a sovereign apiece for the hairs on his hide
That wouldn't buy him, nor twice that; while I've a pound to the good,
This here old stager stays by me and lives like a thoroughbred should;
Hunt him away from his bedding, and sit yourself down by the wall,
Till you hear how the old fellow saved me from Gilbert, O'Meally and Hall.
* * * * * * *
Gilbert and Hall and O'Meally, back in the bushranging days,
Made themselves kings of the district -- ruled it in old-fashioned ways --
Robbing the coach and the escort, stealing our horses at night,
Calling sometimes at the homesteads and giving the women a fright:
Came to the station one morning (and why they did this no one knows)
Took a brood mare from the paddock--wanting some fun, I suppose --
Fastened a bucket beneath her, hung by a strap around her flank,
Then turned her loose in the timber back of the seven-mile tank.
Go? She went mad! She went tearing and screaming with fear through the trees,
While the curst bucket beneath her was banging her flanks and her knees.
Bucking and racing and screaming she ran to the back of the run,
Killed herself there in a gully; by God, but they paid for their fun!
Paid for it dear, for the black-boys found tracks, and the bucket, and all,
And I swore that I'd live to get even with Gilbert, O'Meally and Hall.
Day after day then I chased them -- 'course they had friends on the sly,
Friends who were willing to sell them to those who were willing to buy.
Early one morning we found them in camp at the Cockatoo Farm;
One of us shot at O'Meally and wounded him under the arm:
Ran them for miles in the ranges, till Hall, with his horse fairly beat,
Took to the rocks and we lost him -- the others made good their retreat.
It was war to the knife then, I tell you, and once, on the door of my shed,
They nailed up a notice that offered a hundred reward for my head!
Then we heard they were gone from the district; they stuck up a coach in the West,
And I rode by myself in the paddocks, just taking a bit of a rest,
Riding this colt as a youngster -- awkward, half-broken and shy,
He wheeled round one day on a sudden; I looked, but I couldn't see why --
But I soon found out why, for before me the hillside rose up like a wall,
And there on the top with their rifles were Gilbert, O'Meally and Hall!
'Twas a good three-mile run to the homestead -- bad going, with plenty of trees --
So I gathered the youngster together, and gripped at his ribs with my knees.
'Twas a mighty poor chance to escape them! It puts a man's nerve to the test
On a half-broken colt to be hunted by the best mounted men in the West.
But the half-broken colt was a racehorse! He lay down to work with a will.
Flashed through the scrub like a clean-skin-by heavens, we flew down the hill!
Over a twenty-foot gully he swept with the spring of a deer,
And they fired as we jumped, but they missed me -- a bullet sang close to my ear --
And the jump gained us ground, for they shirked it: but I saw as we raced through the gap
That the rails at the homestead were fastened -- I was caught like a rat in a trap.
Fenced with barbed wire was the paddock -- barbed wire that would cut like a knife --
How was a youngster to clear it that never had jumped in his life?
Bang went a rifle behind me -- the colt gave a spring, he was hit;
Straight at the sliprails I rode him -- I felt him take hold of the bit;
Never a foot to the right or the left did he swerve in his stride,
Awkward and frightened, but honest, the sort it's a pleasure to ride!
Straight at the rails, where they'd fastened barbed wire on the top of the post,
Rose like a stag and went over, with hardly a scratch at the most;
Into the homestead I darted, and snatched down my gun from the wall,
And I tell you I made them step lively, Gilbert, O'Meally and Hail.
Yes! There's the mark of the bullet -- he's got it inside of him yet,
Mixed up somehow with his victuals; but, bless you, he don't seem to fret!
Gluttonous, ugly, and lazy -- eats anything he can bite;
Now, let us shut up the stable, and bid the old fellow good night.
Ah! we can't breed 'em, the son that were bred when we old uns were young....
Yes, as I said, these bushrangers, none of 'em lived to be hung.
Gilbert was shot by the troopers, Hall was betrayed by his friend,
Campbell disposed of O'Meally, bringing the lot to an end.
But you can talk about riding -- I've ridden a lot in the past --
Wait till there's rifles behind you, you'll know what it means to go fast!
I've steeplechased, raced, and "run horses", but I think the most dashing of all
Was the ride when that old fellow saved me from Gilbert, O'Meally and Hall!
|This work is is in the public domain because it was created in Australia and the term of copyright has expired.|