Henry Lawson (17 June 1867 – 2 September 1922 / Grenfell, New South Wales)
A Little Mistake
’Tis a yarn I heard of a new-chum ‘trap’
On the edge of the Never-Never,
Where the dead men lie and the black men lie,
And the bushman lies for ever.
’Twas the custom still with the local blacks
To cadge in the ‘altogether’—
They had less respect for our feelings then,
And more respect for the weather.
The trooper said to the sergeant’s wife:
‘Sure, I wouldn’t seem unpleasant;
‘But there’s women and childer about the place,
‘And—barrin’ a lady’s present—
‘There’s ould King Billy wid niver a stitch
‘For a month—may the drought cremate him!—
‘Bar the wan we put in his dirty head,
‘Where his old Queen Mary bate him.
‘God give her strength!—and a peaceful reign—
‘Though she flies in a bit av a passion
‘If ony wan hints that her shtoyle an’ luks
‘Are a trifle behind the fashion.
‘There’s two of the boys by the stable now—
‘Be the powers! I’ll teach the varmints
‘To come wid nought but a shirt apiece,
‘And wid dirt for their nayther garmints.
‘Howld on, ye blaggards! How dare ye dare
‘To come widin sight av the houses?—
‘I’ll give ye a warnin’ all for wance
‘An’ a couple of ould pair of trousers.’
They took the pants as a child a toy,
The constable’s words beguiling
A smile of something beside their joy;
And they took their departure smiling.
And that very day, when the sun was low,
Two blackfellows came to the station;
They were filled with the courage of Queensland rum
And bursting with indignation.
The constable noticed, with growing ire,
They’d apparently dressed in a hurry;
And their language that day, I am sorry to say,
Mostly consisted of ‘plurry.’
The constable heard, and he wished himself back
In the land of the bogs and the ditches—
‘You plurry big tight-britches p’liceman, what for
‘You gibbit our missuses britches?’
And this was a case, I am bound to confess,
Where civilisation went under;
Had one of the gins been less modest in dress
He’d never have made such a blunder.
And here let the moral be duly made known,
And hereafter signed and attested:
We should place more reliance on that which is shown
And less upon what is suggested.
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