― 151 ―

O'Toole and McSharry

A Lachlan Idyll

In the valley of the Lachlan, where the perfume from the pines,
Fills the glowing summer air, like incense spreading,
Where the silent, flowing river, like a bar of silver, shines,
When the winter moon its pallid beams is shedding.
In a hut on a selection, near a still and silent pool,
Lived two mates, who used to shear, and fence, and carry,
The one was known, both near and far, as Dandy Dan O'Toole,
And the other, as Cornelius McSharry.

And they'd share each others blankets, and each others horses ride,
And go off together, shearing, in the summer;

  ― 152 ―
They would canter off, from sunrise to the gloaming, side by side;
While McSharry rode the “Barb" and Dan the “Drummer.”
And the boys about the Lachlan recognised it as a rule,
From Eugowra to the plains of Wanandarry,
That, if ever love was stronger than McSharry's for O'Toole,
'Twas the love O'Toole extended to McSharry.

And their love might have continued and been constant to the end,
And they might have still been affable and jolly;
But they halted at a shanty, where the river takes a bend,
And were waited on by Doolan's daughter, Polly.
Now, the pretty Polly Doolan was so natty, neat and cool,
And so pleasant, that they both agreed to tarry,
For she winked her dexter eye-lid at susceptible O'Toole
While she slyly winked the other at McSharry.

  ― 153 ―
So they drank her health in bumpers, till the rising of the moon,
And she had them both in bondage so completely,
That, each time they talked of going, she said “Must you go so soon?”
And they couldn't go: She smiled at them so sweetly.
Dan O'Toole grew sentimental, and McSharry played the fool,
Though they both had sworn on oath they'd never marry.
Yet the selfsame dart from Cupid's bow that vanquished Dan O'Toole,
Had gone through the heart of honest Con McSharry.

Then McSharry thought, if Dandy Dan got drunk and went to bed,
He (McSharry) could indulge his little folly.
And Dan thought, if McSharry once in drunken sleep lay spread,
He could have a little flirt with pretty Polly.
So they kept the bottle going, till they both were pretty full,
And yet each rival seemed inclined to tarry;
The precise amount of pain-killer it took to fill O'Toole
Was required to close the optics of McSharry.

  ― 154 ―
So the rivals lost their tempers, and they called each other names,
And disturbed the Doolan children from their pillows,
And so Doolan came and told them that he wouldn't have such games,
They must go and fight it out beneath the willows.
So they went beneath the willows, near a deep and shady pool,
With as much inside as each of them could carry,
And McSharry started thumping the proboscis of O'Toole,
While O'Toole retaliated on McSharry.

And they fought till they were winded, and yet neither had the best,
Though, from each of them the blood was freely flowing;
And they paused at last to breathe a while, and take a moment's rest,
But O'Toole's two eyes with rage were faily glowing.
Then, without a moment's warning, he charged forward like a bull,
And before poor Con had time to run or parry,

  ― 157 ―
With a terrible momentum the big head of Dan O'Toole,
Went bump! into the stomach of McSharry.

And the force of the concussion laid McSharry out quite still,
With his feet above his head among the bushes;
While O'Toole, with the momentum, cannoned madly down the hill,
And fell plump in the lagoon among the rushes.
Like a weedy river-god he climbed the far side of the pool,
And he did not for one single moment tarry,
For the curse of Cain was in the brain of Dandy Dan O'Toole,
Who felt certain that he'd settled poor McSharry.

Now, while Dan O'Toole was stealing through the still and silent night,
And his aching brain with pain-killer was throbbing,
McSharry lay and listened, till his heart grew sick with fright,
And he eased his guilty soul with silent sobbing.

  ― 158 ―
For he heard his boon companion falling headlong in the pool,
And he thought he was as dead as poor old Harry.
And McSharry mourned the drowning of poor Dandy Dan O'Toole,
While O'Toole was sadly weeping for McSharry.

And the valley of the Lachlan never more will know the men
That were once so loving, frolicsome and frisky,
For O'Toole cleared out to Queensland and was never seen again,
While McSharry started South and took to whiskey.
And McSharry, in his nightmare, often sees the fatal pool,
And the pricks of guilty conscience tries to parry;
While away among the back blocks wanders Dandy Dan O'Toole,
Always flying from the ghost of Con McSharry.