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Taking His Chance

 They stood by the door of the Inn on the Rise; 
May Carney looked up in the bushranger's eyes: 
`Oh! why did you come? -- it was mad of you, Jack; 
You know that the troopers are out on your track.
' A laugh and a shake of his obstinate head -- `I wanted a dance, and I'll chance it,' he said.
Some twenty-odd bushmen had come to the `ball', But Jack from his youth had been known to them all, And bushmen are soft where a woman is fair, So the love of May Carney protected him there; And all the short evening -- it seems like romance -- She danced with a bushranger taking his chance.
`Twas midnight -- the dancers stood suddenly still, For hoofs had been heard on the side of the hill! Ben Duggan, the drover, along the hillside Came riding as only a bushman can ride.
He sprang from his horse, to the shanty he sped -- `The troopers are down in the gully!' he said.
Quite close to the homestead the troopers were seen.
`Clear out and ride hard for the ranges, Jack Dean! Be quick!' said May Carney -- her hand on her heart -- `We'll bluff them awhile, and 'twill give you a start.
' He lingered a moment -- to kiss her, of course -- Then ran to the trees where he'd hobbled his horse.
She ran to the gate, and the troopers were there -- The jingle of hobbles came faint on the air -- Then loudly she screamed: it was only to drown The treacherous clatter of slip-rails let down.
But troopers are sharp, and she saw at a glance That someone was taking a desperate chance.
They chased, and they shouted, `Surrender, Jack Dean!' They called him three times in the name of the Queen.
Then came from the darkness the clicking of locks; The crack of the rifles was heard in the rocks! A shriek and a shout, and a rush of pale men -- And there lay the bushranger, chancing it then.
The sergeant dismounted and knelt on the sod -- `Your bushranging's over -- make peace, Jack, with God!' The bushranger laughed -- not a word he replied, But turned to the girl who knelt down by his side.
He gazed in her eyes as she lifted his head: `Just kiss me -- my girl -- and -- I'll -- chance it,' he said.

by Henry Lawson
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