A Little Mistake

Henry Lawson, 1897

      '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 dhirty 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.