Sticking to Bill

Henry Lawson, 1909

      There's a thing that sends a lump to my throat,
      And cuts my heart like a knife:
      'Tis the woman that waits at the prison gate,
      And the woman is not his wife.
      You may preach and pray till the dawn of day,
      Denounce or damn as you will,
      But the soul of that woman shall cleave for aye
      To the sin-stained soul of Bill.

      She hath no need for our sympathy,
      And her face is as hard as a stone —
      A rag of a woman at war with the world
      And fiercely fighting alone.
      At the kindly touch of the janitor's hand
      The eyes of a wife would fill,
      But Sal replies with a "Blast yer eyes!" —
      She is only stickin' to Bill.

      But, in spite of herself there is help that comes —
      And it comes from a source well hid —
      To buy the tucker and pay the rent
      Of a roost for herself and kid.
      For the "talent" has sent round its thievish hat
      By one with a fist and a will,
      For a quid or two just to see Sal through —
      For Sal is stickin' to Bill.

      A furtive figure from Nowhere comes
      To Red Rock Lane by night,
      And it softly raps at a dingy door
      While it scowls to left and right:
      It jerks its arm in a half salute,
      By habit — against its will,
      'Tis a fellow felon of Bill's, discharged,
      And it brings her a message from Bill.

      There's a woman that comes to the gate alone
      (Bill's Gaol Delivery's near),
      With a face a little less like a stone
      And a sign of a savage tear.
      With a suit of clobber done up and darned —
      For William is leaving "The Hill".
      And the tear is the first she ever has shed
      Since she's been stickin' to Bill.

      There's tucker at home, and a job to come
      And no one to wish him ill,
      There's a bottle of beer and a minded kid
      In a brand-new suit of drill.
      There's an old-time mate who will steer him straight,
      And the sticks of furniture still —
      He can take a spell for a month if he likes,
      And — she's done her best for Bill.