Jack Corrigan

"It's my shout this time, boys, so come along and
  breast the bar,
And kindly mention what you're going to take;
I don't feel extra thirsty, so I'll sample that
“three-star”-
Now, lad! come, look alive, for goodness sake."
So spake he, as he raised the brimming glass towards
  the light;
So spake “Long Jack,” the boldest mountaineer
Who ever down from Nungar raced a “brumby” mob
  in flight,
Or laid a stockwhip on a stubborn steer.
From Jindabyne to Providence along the Eucumbene
The kindest-hearted fellow to be found;
And when he crossed the saddle not a horse was ever
  seen
That could make Jack quit his hold to seek the
  ground.
The women smiled with pleasure, the children laughed
  aloud,
The very dogs came barking at his feet,
While outside the “Squatter's Arms” the men came
  forward in a crowd
To welcome Jack when he rode up the street.

But though the boldest horseman who by midnight
  or by day
E'er held a mob of cattle on a camp,
There were squatters on Monaro, who had yet been
  known to say
That Jack was an unmitigated scamp.
And true it is Jack Corrigan possessed a serious fault
Which caused his gentle, blue-eyed wife much grief,
And many were the bitter tears she mingled with the
  salt
With which she cured their neighbours' tend'rest beef.
And often would she tearful take her smiling spouse
  to task,
Who'd answer, as her pretty face he kissed,
That a beast lost all identity when pickled in the
  cask,
And a bullock more or less would ne'er be missed.

But now as Jack stood all prepared to toss his
  nobbler down,
A softly-murmured whisper met his ear -
"I just saw Trooper Fraser get a warrant up the town,
He's after you, old man: you'd better clear!"
Jack never thanked the donor of this excellent advice,
As the glass fell through his fingers with a crash.
With a bound across the footpath, he was mounted
  in a trice
And speeding down the roadway like a flash,
While Trooper William Fraser wore a very gloomy face,
As he watched his prey go flying down the road.
But he settled in the saddle and prepared to give him
  chase,
As Jack struck out a line for his abode.

On the road toward the Show Ground, then, there
  hung a big swing-gate,
Jack's filly cleared its bars in glorious style,
But he held her well together, for he knew the
  trooper's weight
Would give him distance in each mile;
For Jack rode twelve stone fully, while Bill Fraser
  rode but nine,
Sweetbriar's strength must surely soon be spent,
Being grass-fed, while the trooper's chestnut horse
  could always dine
Off oats and barley to his heart's content.
And all aloud Jack cursed the day he'd ever killed a
  beast
Or branded calf he couldn't call his own,
While the hoof-strokes on the road beat out a song
  that never ceased
To echo in his ears with mocking tone.

"Three years in gaol, in gaol three years," the
  jeering echoes sang;
The granite boulders caught the wild refrain.
"A broken life, a weeping wife," 'twas thus the
  rhythm rang,
"And a baby boy you'll never see again" –

He groaned, and then, to dull the sound, spoke
  loudly to the mare,
And bade her never slacken in her speed.
"For God's sake take me home, lass, with a little
  time to spare;
Five minutes, at the most, is all I need -
Just time to catch old Dandy, where he's munching
  second growth
Of hay; just time to leap upon his back,
And then the smartest trap who ever swore a
  lying oath
Could never foot me down the River track."

Sweetbriar pricked her ears, and shook a foam flake
  from her bit,
As she heard his words, and doubtless caught their
  sense,
And the rotten granite pebbles rattled round her as
  she lit
On the homeward side the Rosedale bound'ry fence

As they scrambled round by Locker's-Hill, Jack
  Corrigan looked round,
And as he looked was filled with stern delight,
For he saw the baldfaced chest
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"Jack Corrigan" Poetry.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2019. Web. 20 Nov. 2019. <https://www.poetry.net/poem/4187/jack-corrigan>.

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