― 107 ―

The Man from Bot'ny: Or the Quandary of a Colonial Historian

note “WELL! I tells yer,” said he, “I knowed 'em both.”
(As he lolled in my study chair.)
“There wos Bill wot squinted, and rapped out an oath,
And Bob, with his snow-white hair.”

Ho! ho! I chuckled, and brimmed up his can,
And passed him my best clay pipe:
I've found him all right, the identical man—
The last of the old Bush type!

And I murmured—“O! Bushman of aspect weird,
With your tales of the long, long ago,
I'd fall down and worship your chest-sweeping beard,
If you tell me of Wentworth and Lowe!”

  ― 108 ―
“Ah, Sonny,” said he, “they wos two good men,
And I misses their company still!
Bob was a brother— But pass me the pen,
And I'll reel off a hepic on Bill!”

(And I thought all the while, how Freeman or Froude
Would have dubbed it a wild burlesque,
Had he seen my “Authority,” slangy and crude,
With his boots on the top of my desk.)

“As to white-headed Bob—which his name were Lowe,
Why, they went and made him a Dook,
Or a Hearl, or a summut—leastways, I know
They changed him inter Sher—brooke.

“But Bill, with his squint, were a diff'rent bloke,
As this story will give you a hint.”
Then he poured forth an ancient and fish-like joke
No Editor living could print!

“Lord love yer,” said he, as he emptied his can,
“I could fill up your book with them tales.
—I'm the Downright Genu-wine, Sunburnt Man
From Bot'ny, wots now Noo South Wales.”

When he'd finished his pipe, and likewise more beer,
I turned to my notes with a sob:
For I found that this garrulous Bush pioneer
Knew nothing of “Bill” or of “Bob!”