The Freak

A poem by Edward Dyson

Just beyond All Alone, going back,
Is the humpy of Hatter Magee.
We had travelled all day on the track,
And he offered us mutton and tea.
Mack is rather reserved, but will speak
On one theme, and with eloquence too,
That’s his angular chestnut, The Freak.
Here’s a tale that he told through the week,
And I try to believe it is true:

‘True, he ain’t no account ez a nag,
An’ I’m not goin’ to boast of his blood;
If I liked I could pitch you a mag
’Bout his sire, once a prince of the stud;
Give performances coloured and plain,
An’ a pedigree long ez my arm,
Which is style, but I’m straight in the main,
So he ain’t of the Wangdoodle strain,
Nor his dam wasn’t Kate nor The Charm.

‘Fiddle-headed an’ spavined! Well, p’raps.
Yes, his legs is all over the shop,
An’ his pacin’s described by the chaps
Ez a sort of a wallaby hop.
He ain’t good over sticks, an’ a mile
In four-thirty’s his best up to date;
An’ he’s jest pure Gehenna fer guile,
But I wouldn’t sell out fer a pile,
’Cause I’m not goin dog on a mate.

‘See, I’m here, and he’s yonder, of course,
But I might ’a’ been crow-bait by now,
Once my life seemed to hang on that horse,
An’ I didn’t get left. That is how!
They’ve bin tellin’ you, Billy an’ Spence?
Ah, they’re mighty smart men down the creek,
An’ they won’t allow horses has sense,
But jest guy it ez chance or pretence
When I tell what was done by The Freak.

‘But I’m here, an’ he’s there-that’s enough!
We were out ’mong the Misery Hills.
’Course you don’t know the country. It’s rough;
An’ the man that it corners it kills.
I can’t figure what happened us quite,
But we came in a heap, me an’ him.
When I knew who I was it was night,
An’ my head an’ my chest wasn’t right,
An’ the bone poked right outer this limb.

‘Fer a spell I felt horribly sick
While I held there a meetin’ of me;
Proposed, ‘It is U P with Dick,’
Put, an’ carried unanermously.
Broken-legged, fifteen mile from the Creek,
I weighed chances, an’ gave up the case,
But I didn’t deal fair by The Freak,
Till he limped to me, staggered an’ weak,
An’ he flopped his ole lip in my face.

‘Do? I fondled his nose like a fool,
An’ I called him love names without end;
Though I ain’t a soft man as a rule,
There is times when I sorter unbend.
’Taint no use now to talk of the pain,
I endoored ez I struggled to climb
To his back from a log, or explain
How I fell back again an’ again;
But I gave up exhausted in time,

‘An’ I flung myself down on the ground,
An’ I cursed an’, yes, maybe I cried,
But The Freak he came nosin’ around,
An’ he rolled over right by my side.
Don’t you try to explain, I’m content
That he knew jest ez well ez could be,
’Cos I looked in his eyes ez he bent,
By the Lord, an’ I saw what he meant,
An’ that’s good enough talkin’ fer me.

‘Well, I crawled on his back ez he lay,
An’ he heaved himself up again, so,
An’ then struck out fer home, an’ till day
I hung on to him, how I don’t know.
Not a thing do I mind after that
’Fore I came round all right at the whim,
Spread out on the bunk of Big Mat,
With a doc. on the job from The Flat,
An’ my leg fairly timbered and trim.

‘Yes, I’ve heard all the mag of the men,
That he wanted to roll or to die,
An’ it’s true that he’s kicked me since then,
An’ he’s likewise uncommonly sly;
But I’m here. If they talk fer a week
That one fact isn’t goin’ to change,
An’ I owe it this day to The Freak
That a crow isn’t clippin’ his beak
On my rib-bones out back by the range.’

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