Page:Life of John Boyle O'Reilly.djvu/701

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HIS LIFE, POEMS AND SPEECHES.

The dinner he'd give to the Brummagem lads,—
He'd be king among cracksmen and chief among pads.
And he'd sport a —
Over him stooped his mate,
A pick in his hand, and his face all hate.
Sam saw the shadow, and guessed the pick,
And closed his dream with a spring so quick
The purpose was baflied of Aaron Mace,
And the sawyer mates stood face to face.
Sam folded his arms across his chest,
Having thrust the stone in his loose shirt-breast,
While he tried to think where he dropped the spade.
But Aaron Mace wore a long, keen blade
In his belt,—he drew it,— sprang on his man:
What happened, you read when the tale began.


Then he looked—the murderer, Aaron Mace —
At the gray-blue lines in the dead man' s face;
And he turned away, for he feared its frown
More in death than life. Then he knelt him down, —
Not to pray,—but he shrank from the staring eyes,
And felt in the breast for the fatal prize.
And this was the man, and this was the way
That he took the stone on its natal day;
And for this he was cursed for evermore
By the West Australian Koh-i-nor.


In the half-dug pit the corpse was thrown,
And the murderer stood in the camp alone.
Alone? No, no! never more was he
To part from the terrible company
Of that gray-blue face and the bleeding breast
And the staring eyes in their awful rest.
The evening closed on the homicide,
And the blood of the buried sawyer cried
Through the night to God, and the shadows dark
That crossed the camp had the stiff and stark
And horrible look of a murdered man!