Page:Life of John Boyle O'Reilly.djvu/695

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649
HIS LIFE, POEMS AND SPEECHES.

Has been mad for years; but he does no harm,
And our lonely settlers feel no alarm
When they see or meet him. Poor Dave Sloane
Was a settler once, and a friend of my own.
Some eight years back, in the spring of the year,
Dave came from Scotland, and settled here.
A splendid young fellow he was just then.
And one of the bravest and truest men
That I ever met: he was kind as a woman
To all who needed a friend, and no man —
Not even a convict—met with his scorn,
For David Sloane was a gentleman born.
Ay, friend, a gentleman, though it sounds queer:
There's plenty of blue blood flowing out here,
And some younger sons of your "upper ten"
Can be met with here, first-rate bushmen.
Why, friend, I— Bah! curse that dog! you see
This talking so much has affected me.


Well, Sloane came here with an ax and a gun;
He bought four miles of a sandal-wood run.
This bush at that time was a lonesome place,
So lonesome the sight of a white man's face
Was a blessing, unless it came at night,
And peered in your hut, with the cunning fright
Of a runaway convict; and even they
Were welcome, for talk's sake, while they could stay.
Dave lived with me here for a while, and learned
The tricks of the bush,—how the snare was laid
In the wallaby track, how traps were made.
How 'possums and kangaroo rats were killed.
And when that was learned, I helped him to build
From mahogany slabs a good bush hut.
And showed him how sandal-wood logs were cut.
I lived up there with him days and days,
For I loved the lad for his honest ways.
I had only one fault to find: at first
Dave worked too hard; for a lad who was nursed,