Andrew Barton Paterson |
'Twas Mulga Bill, from Eaglehawk, that caught the cycling craze;
He turned away the good old horse that served him many days;
He dressed himself in cycling clothes, resplendent to be seen;
He hurried off to town and bought a shining new machine;
And as he wheeled it through the door, with air of lordly pride,
The grinning shop assistant said, "Excuse me, can you ride?"
"See here, young man," said Mulga Bill, "from Walgett to the sea,
From Conroy's Gap to Castlereagh, there's none can ride like me.
I'm good all round at everything, as everybody knows,
Although I'm not the one to talk - I hate a man that blows.
But riding is my special gift, my chiefest, sole delight;
Just ask a wild duck can it swim, a wildcat can it fight.
There's nothing clothed in hair or hide, or built of flesh or steel,
There's nothing walks or jumps, or runs, on axle, hoof, or wheel,
But what I'll sit, while hide will hold and girths and straps are tight:
I'll ride this here two-wheeled concern right straight away at sight.
'Twas Mulga Bill, from Eaglehawk, that sought his own abode,
That perched above the Dead Man's Creek, beside the mountain road.
He turned the cycle down the hill and mounted for the fray,
But ere he'd gone a dozen yards it bolted clean away.
It left the track, and through the trees, just like a silver streak,
It whistled down the awful slope towards the Dead Man's Creek.
It shaved a stump by half an inch, it dodged a big white-box:
The very wallaroos in fright went scrambling up the rocks,
The wombats hiding in their caves dug deeper underground,
As Mulga Bill, as white as chalk, sat tight to every bound.
It struck a stone and gave a spring that cleared a fallen tree,
It raced beside a precipice as close as close could be;
And then as Mulga Bill let out one last despairing shriek
It made a leap of twenty feet into the Dead Man's Creek.
'Twas Mulga Bill from Eaglehawk, that slowly swam ashore:
He said, "I've had some narrer shaves and lively rides before;
I've rode a wild bull round a yard to win a five-pound bet,
But this was the most awful ride that I've encountered yet.
I'll give that two-wheeled outlaw best; It's shaken all my nerve
To feel it whistle through the air and plunge and buck and swerve.
It's safe at rest in Dead Man's Creek, we'll leave it lying still;
A horse's back is good enough henceforth for Mulga Bill.
Paul Laurence Dunbar |
Ain't nobody nevah tol' you not a wo'd a-tall,
'Bout de time dat all de critters gin dey fancy ball?
Some folks tell it in a sto'y, some folks sing de rhyme,
'Peahs to me you ought to hyeahed it, case hit 's ol' ez time.
Well, de critters all was p'osp'ous, now would be de chance
Fu' to tease ol' Pa'son Hedgehog, givin' of a dance;
Case, you know, de critters' preachah was de stric'est kin',
An' he nevah made no 'lowance fu' de frisky min'.
So dey sont dey inbitations, Raccoon writ 'em all,
"Dis hyeah note is to inbite you to de Fancy Ball;
Come erlong an' bring yo' ladies, bring yo' chillun too,
Put on all yo' bibs an' tuckahs, show whut you kin do."
W'en de night come, dey all gathahed in a place dey knowed,
Fu' enough erway f'om people, nigh enough de road,
All de critters had ersponded, Hop-Toad up to Baih,
An' I 's hyeah to tell you, Pa'son Hedgehog too, was daih.
Well, dey talked an' made dey 'bejunce, des lak critters do,
An' dey walked an' p'omenaded 'roun' an' thoo an' thoo;
Jealous ol' Mis' Fox, she whispah, "See Mis' Wildcat daih,
Ain't hit scan'lous, huh a-comin' wid huh shouldahs baih?"[Pg 182]
Ol' man T'utle was n't honin' fu' no dancin' tricks,
So he stayed by ol' Mis' Tu'tle, talkin' politics;
Den de ban' hit 'mence a-playin' critters all to place,
Fou' ercross an' fou' stan' sideways, smilin' face to face.
'Fessah Frog, he play de co'net, Cricket play de fife,
Slews o' Grasshoppahs a-fiddlin' lak to save dey life;
Mistah Crow, 'he call de figgers, settin' in a tree,
Huh, uh! how dose critters sasshayed was a sight to see.
Mistah Possom swing Mis' Rabbit up an' down de flo',
Ol' man Baih, he ain't so nimble, an' it mek him blow;
Raccoon dancin' wid Mis' Squ'il squeeze huh little han',
She say, "Oh, now ain't you awful, quit it, goodness lan'!"
Pa'son Hedgehog groanin' awful at his converts' shines,
'Dough he peepin' thoo his fingahs at dem movin' lines,
'Twell he cain't set still no longah w'en de fiddles sing,
Up he jump, an' bless you, honey, cut de pigeon-wing.
Well, de critters lak to fainted jes' wid dey su'prise.
Sistah Fox, she vowed she was n't gwine to b'lieve huh eyes;
But dey could n't be no 'sputin' 'bout it any mo':
Pa'son Hedgehog was a-cape'in' all erroun' de flo.'
Den dey all jes' capahed scan'lous case dey did n't doubt,
Dat dey still could go to meetin'; who could tu'n 'em out?
So wid dancin' an' uligion, dey was in de fol',
Fu' a-dancin' wid de Pa'son couldn't hu't de soul.