“All day a strong sun has been drinking
The ponds in the Wattletree Glen;
And now as they’re puddles, I’m thinking
We were wise to head hitherwards, men!
The country is heavy to nor’ard,
But Lord, how you rattled along!
Jack’s chestnut’s best leg was put for’ard,
And the bay from the start galloped strong;
But for bottom, I’d stake my existence,
There’s none of the lot like the mare;
For look! she has come the whole distance
With never the ‘turn of a hair’.
“But now let us stop, for the ‘super’
Will want us to-morrow by noon;
And as he can swear like a trooper,
We can’t be a minute too soon.
Here, Dick, you can hobble the filly
And chestnut, but don’t take a week;
And, Jack, hurry off with the billy
And fill it. We’ll camp by the creek.”
So spoke the old stockman, and quickly
We made ourselves snug for the night;
The smoke-wreaths above us curled thickly,
For our pipes were the first thing a-light!
As we sat round a fire that only
A well-seasoned bushman can make,
Far forests grew silent and lonely,
Though the paw was astir in the brake,
But not till our supper was ended,
And not till old Bill was asleep,
Did wild things by wonder attended
In shot of our camping-ground creep.
Scared eyes from thick tuft and tree-hollow
Gleamed out thro’ the forest-boles stark;
And ever a hurry would follow
Of fugitive feet in the dark.
While Dick and I yarned and talked over
Old times that had gone like the sun,
The wail of the desolate plover
Came up from the swamps in the run.
And sniffing our supper, elated,
From his den the red dingo crawled out;
But skulked in the darkness, and waited,
Like a cunning but cowardly scout.
Thereafter came sleep that soon falls on
A man who has ridden all day;
And when midnight had deepened the palls on
The hills, we were snoring away.
But ere we dozed off, the wild noises
Of forest, of fen, and of stream,
Grew strange, and were one with the voices
That died with a sweet semi-dream.
And the tones of the waterfall, blended
With the song of the wind on the shore,
Became a soft psalm that ascended,
Grew far, and we heard it no more.