― 122 ―

The Legend of "Dead Man's Gully"

note As Sol sank smiling in the west,
The shadows lengthened on the plain,
Each blushing hill and mountain crest
His rays reflected back again.

The waving wattles softly sighed,
From scented shrubs the perfume rose,
The tiny streamlet's murmuring tide
Whispered of peace and calm repose.

The magpie's vesper song was o'er -
Her farewell to the setting sun,
The curlew in its lonely bower
Its plaintive cry had not begun.

  ― 123 ―
And as the shadows longer grew,
And twilight took the place of day,
A wayworn traveller came in view,
And wearily pursued his way.

A broken, battered wreck was he,
Whose active cruising days were o'er;
A flotsam on Life's troubled sea,
A derelict on Fate's lee shore.

His bloodshot eye and haggard face,
His hungry look and unkempt hair,
His tottering limbs and faltering pace,
All spoke of want and dull despair.

But suddenly erect he stood -
A lonely hut had met his view,
And thoughts of succour and of food
Had given him life and strength anew.

He reached the door, for food he craved.
Its tenant was a lonely dame,
Who deemed him mad; she thought he raved,
And bade him go - to whence he came.

  ― 124 ―
The haggard look returned once more,
His chin drooped heavy on his breast;
He staggered, fainting, from the door
To seek some lonely spot to rest.

He reached a gully, drear and lone -
His weary pilgrimage was o'er -
And, with a last despairing groan,
He sank and fell to rise no more.

And when the moon's pale silvery light
Came shimmering through the dreary place,
The bright and beauteous orb of night
Was shining on a dead man's face.

He had obeyed the timid dame -
His head lay resting on a clod;
The earth had gone to whence it came,
The spirit had returned to God.

They dug a rude and humble grave,
They crossed his hands upon his breast;
And there, where golden wattles wave,
They left his weary bones to rest.

  ― 125 ―
And shivering clowns, with pallid face,
With bated breath and straining eyes,
Still to the stranger show the place
In Dead Man's Gully where he lies.

They tell of many a fearsome sight,
And many a weird uncanny sound,
And say that in the gloom of night
The dead man's spirit hovers round.

They say that 'midst the lightning flash
Is seen a blue and spectral gleam,
And how amid the thunder's crash
Is heard a wild unearthly scream.

The boldest rider past the spot,
Who fears no foe of mortal kind,
Will spur his steed and tarry not
Till Dead Man's Gully's far behind.