Battered Bob

A poem by Edward Dyson

He was working on a station in the Western when I knew him,
And he came from Conongamo, up the old surveyors’ track,
And the fellows all admitted that no man in Vic. could ‘do him,’
Since he’d smothered Stonewall Menzie, also Anderson, the black.
Bob was modelled for a fighter, but he’d run to beef a trifle;
For his science every rouseabout was satisfied to vouch,
And Red Fogarty advised us he delivered like a rifle,
And his stopping,well, beside him Harry Sallars was a slouch.

Not a man of us had met him till he settled on the station,
This was early in the Sixties, what we call the good old days,
And it’s cheerfully admitted Robert owed his reputation
To a crippled jaw, a broken nose, and eyes that looked both ways.
We were certain on the face of it our guess was not an error,
Every feature of his phiz was marked, his chin was pulled askew,
And The Critic passed the office: ‘Bet your buttons he’s a terror!
That’s the man who hammered Kelly on The Creek in Fifty-two!’

Bob was not a shrinking blossom, and he held the first impressions
By his subsequent admissions to the ringers and the mugs,
And he let himself be tickled into casual confessions
Of his battles with the bruisers and the scientific pugs.
How he’d mangled Matty Hardy was his earliest narration;
He’d completely flummoxed Kitchen, and had made the climate hot
For Maloney, Fee, and Curran. It was quite a consolation
When he graciously informed us that he hadn’t licked the lot.

The arrival of the Wonder gave a spurt to local science,
And we had an exhibition every evening in the week,
For the lightest joke was answered in the lingo of defiance,
And our blood was cast like water on the grasses by the creek.
Every fellow but the stranger had his scrap or rough-and-tumble;
No one thought of looking ugly at the slugger, Battered Bob;
And whene’er the boys addressed him ’twas in language choice and humble,,
Though they ached to see him beaten, none was anxious for the job.

How we honoured Bob, and yielded to his later information;
Let him lead in all the arguments, and gently run the ranche!
And a very small potato was the owner of the station
By the man who slaughtered Melody and fought a draw with Blanche.
Battered Bob became our champion, our boss, and by degrees he
Sent his fame down to the Wannon, and right up to Spooner’s Gap,
And he scooped the honours smiling, and he held them just as easy,
For we’d never seen him shape yet, and he hadn’t fought a tap.

We’d a cook whose name was Han Cat,he was short, and fat, and yellow,
Just a common, ugly Chinky, with a never ending smile.
Bob was careful to avoid the corns of any other fellow,
But he filled Han Cat with sorrow, and he whaled him all the while.
Han Cat groaned and bore it meekly, and we didn’t care to figure
In the antics of the Champion or his little private rows.
Robert said, ‘I like a native, and I’ll liquor with a nigger,
But I hate the skin and colour of these sanguinary Chows!’

On a certain Sunday morning Robert slyly cut a section
Off the pig-tail of the pagan,’twas Han’s glory and his pride,
But the trouble that came after is his saddest recollection,
And the boys were so disgusted that they very nearly died.
Han Cat wept a while, and then he turned and scowled as black as thunder,
And he cursed the grinning spoiler till he had to stop for breath:
When he shaped up like a Christian, and he waltzed into the Wonder,
We arranged a ring, and waited for the heathen’s sudden death.

Oh! the sorrow of that Sunday! Oh! the shame and degradation!
The chaps were simply paralyzed, and everyone was dumb,
For the heathen pushed the battle in the fashion of our nation,
And he countered in a way that made the Wonder fairly hum.
‘Bob is fooling Han,’ we murmured, ‘he’ll surprise him in a minute,
Soon he’ll rise to this occasion, and display his proper form!’
But, alas! we’d nursed a viper, for our pug was never in it,
And he couldn’t battle well enough to keep the Pagan warm.

Han Cat beat our battered champion, beat the conqueror of Menzie,
And he towed him round the paddock like a dummy stuffed with hair,
And we never stirred to interfere and stop the Chinky’s frenzy
When he jumped upon the Wonder in a manner most unfair.
You must fancy all our sorrow, and our shame and indignation,
For pen can never, never tell how horrified we felt.
In the morning Little Finney, for the credit of the station,
Hammered Han in stylish fashion with one fist tucked in his belt.

As for Robert, we discussed him in a serious convention,
And resolved that we were victims of a duffer’s awful skite,
And we put it up to tar him; but he dropped to our intention,
And he skipped, without a character, for Hamilton that night.
There’s a moral, boys: Don’t think a mangled boko is a token
That a fellow is a fighter, as a simple thing of course;
Like Battered Bob, he may have had his features bent and broken
Through his carelessness when drunk in being walked on by a horse.

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