[Editor: This poem by W. Long was published in The Bulletin Reciter, 1901.]
A Legend of the Dargo.
It was on the Upper Dargo, in the spring of eighty-four,
That Cargoola township boasted a Salvation Army corps ;
Which was needed very badly, for the Upper Dargo then
Contained a population of most irreligious men ;
And the daddy of the sinners, owning neither God nor boss,
Was a grey old drunken Scotchman of the name of Sandy Ross.
Now Sandy, as a sinful man, was very hard to beat.
His oaths were fresh and fierce and strong — they scorched you with their heat.
He was drunk at early sunrise, he was drunk at sunset too ;
And when drunkest told his biggest lie — he sang “We are na fou’ !”
He would steal, or beg, or borrow ; he was always on the cross ;
And the parsons — classing sinners — gave the cake to Sandy Ross.
But the Army girls got at him, for their hearts were in their work,
And the Hallelujah lasses have been never known to shirk
A hopeless case, an uphill fight — salute them as they pass !
For a worker of the workers is a Hallelujah lass.
So they tackled Alexander with the Story of the Cross,
And a change became apparent in the life of Sandy Ross.
Now, about this time, it happened that a direful deed was done ;
For the parson’s ducks they vanished — yes, they vanished one by one ;
And the solitary trooper, for the honour of the force,
Spent watchful days, and sleepless nights, and sorely tried his horse ;
Till at length a whisper went abroad — a calumny most gross,
And the finger of suspicion seemed to point to Sandy Ross.
But the Army wouldn’t hear it, and they gave that yarn the lie,
When they entered Sandy boldly for the “Coming By-and-By.”
Then each night upon the platform, in a broken voice and low,
He informed his fellow sinners he was “whiter than the snow.”
And the parson’s pretty daughter — the enthusiastic Floss,
Told her friends, in gladsome accents, “There’s a change in Mister Ross !”
Then the teacher of the State-school, who possessed a merry eye,
And had doubts of Sandy’s fitness for a mansion in the sky,
Wagered gloves that, at next meeting, the converted man would scare
And demoralise the godly with a most prodigious swear.
But the girls they booked the wagers, and enthusiastic Floss
Said she felt just like a sister to the convert Mister Ross.
The night arrived, the hall was full ; men spoke, and by-and-by
Came announcement from the chairman : “Brother Ross will testify !”
And Sandy rose and told once more how he excelled the snow
In whiteness — but no further in his tale could Sandy go,
For, heard by all, and seemingly proceeding from the back,
To the horror of the Army came a duck’s protesting quack.
The speaker paused, and glared around, then had another try.
“I thank the” — Quack ! — “I thank” — Quack, quack ! — “I thank the Lord that I
Am whiter” — Qu-a-a-ck — “See here, young chap!” then out the torrent burst,
And Sandy ripped, and tore, and swore — ’t was fearsome how he cursed !
He cursed the teacher — cursed the ducks — he cursed till all was blue ;
The solitary trooper came, he cursed the trooper, too ;
He took his coat and waistcoat off — he would have taken more.
But the solitary trooper led him cursing to the door.
Thus, back upon society, came old-time Sandy Ross,
Fearing neither man nor devil, owning neither God nor boss.
A.G. Stephens (editor). The Bulletin Reciter: A Collection of Verses for Recitation from “The Bulletin” [1880-1901], The Bulletin Newspaper Company, Sydney, 1902 [first published 1901], pages 39-42
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