Harry Morant

The Austral 'light'

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We were standing by the fireside at the pub one wintry night
Drinking grog and 'pitching fairies' while the lengthening hours took flight,
And a stranger there was present, one who seemed quite city-bred---
There was little showed about him to denote him 'mulga-fed'.

For he wore a four-inch collar, tucked up pants, and boots of tan---
You might take him for a new-chum, or a Sydney city man---
But in spite of cuff or collar, Lord! he gave himself away
When he cut and rubbed and had filled his coloured clay.

For he never asked for matches--although in that boozing band
There was more than one man standing with a matchbox in his hand;
And I knew him for a bushman 'spite his tailor-made attire'.
As I saw him stoop and fossick for a fire-stick from the fire.

And that mode of weed-ignition to my memory brough back
Long nights when nags were hobbled on a far North-western track;
Recalled campfires in the timber, when the stars shone big and bright,
And we learned the matchless virtues of a glowing gidgee light.

And I thought of piney sand-ridges---and somehow I could swear
That this tailor-made johnny had at one time been 'out there'.
And as he blew the white ash from the tapering, glowing coal,
Faith! my heart went out towards him for a kindred country soul.

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Harry Morant