Ballad of Minnie Ramsay [song, 1902]

[Editor: This was written in the vernacular style of the day, including a particular style of emphasis in the spelling of some words, including: aout, araound, daoubt, daown, faound, hage, haint, haow, ighteen, naow, owful, olways, raound, taown, and thet.]

Ballad of Minnie Ramsay.

She s a lidy, is that Minnie; yer ort ter see ’er ride !
A gipping ’orse is naught t’er, she makes th’ filly stride.
She’s th’ belle o’ all th’ salt-bush an’ there’s not a kangaroo
In all th’ scrub o’ Queensland could outrun ’er fair an’ true.

She’s an owful tender-’arted girl, — you fancy what I mean,
She’s olways helpin some poor bloke as if she wuz the queen.
She’s only ighteen years o’ hage, but yet, my life, I know
There s mighty few that’s older, as got ’er grit ter show!

There s not a girl in Sydney taown, as owns a ’eart thet’s bigger !
Why fancy, she’s th’ kind, you know, thet even ’elps a nigger !
Naow let me tell yer what she done. My word, yer ort ter ’ear !
You’d say thet Minnie Ramsay is a lidy then — no fear !

Th’ blacks wuz stealing ’orses an’ cattle from th’ run, —
Yer know we squatters ’ave our rights thet we ’ave ’ardly won,
So off we sent a rider ter fetch th’ black police
Ter fight th’ niggers black fer black an’ give us squatters peace.

Them niggers know th’ bush-land, they know th’ way ter track,
No fear, they follow game as well as any four-foot pack !
Their sargeant wuz a white man ; he wouldn’t let ’em loose
Till ’e wired daown ter Brisban’ jest ter get a good excuse.

They answered with a telegram ? no fear, they know th’ game !
They jest sent back a cartridge box, so’s not ter be ter blame.
Th’ sargeant knew th’ answer boss ; like dingoes on th’ scent
Th’ bloomin pack o’ niggers thro’ th’ gum-bush tangles went.

They camped along th’ trail boss, they kept a-sneakin’ nigher,
Till by an’ by they peered ahead an’ saw th’ glint o’ fire.
They glided thro’ th’ gum-bush, up close where they could see ;
Th’ tribe o’ them wuz dancin’ there a wild corroboree.

Their bodies were all streaked with white ter celebrate their revels, —
You fancy haow they looked aout there, like skeletons or devils!
They hopped an’ jumped an’ frisked araound, they screamed like cockatoos ;
My word, ’twas like a pack o’ fiends a-goin’ on a booze !

Naow Minnie wuz a-ridin’ aout, an’ didn’t see ’em go —
Those black police o’ dingoes, as they sneaked off still an’ slow ;
But she cantered ter th’ station ’ouse, an then, my life, ’ow wild
She grew ter ’ear thet they wuz off — that tender-’arted child !

She vowed she’d stop their bloody game; she’d never let ’em shoot !
She swore she’d ride ’em daown ’erself an tell th’ blacks ter scoot.
’Ow’s thet fer pluck ? She rode away an’ every man wuz scared ;
They wanted ter ride after ’er, but not a johnnie dared.

Well boss, she rode an’ rode all day, an’ never stopped ter rest,
She scared th’ bower-birds at play beside their ’idden nest;
She brushed beneath th’ wattle-trees, she crashed thro’ shreds o’ bark,
Th’ raven croaked above ’er, as the brush grew still an’ dark.

Then out o’ all thet blackness, she ’eared th’ rifles crack,
My life, but she wuz paralyzed! They re on th’ niggers’ track !
She ’eard th’ far-off yells o’ fear, she ’eard th’ cries o pain,
An’ then th’ panka-panka-panka of rifles cracked again.

She floundered thro’ th’ darkness, she lashed ’er ’orse ahead,
She came upon th’ niggers’ camp, but every soul wuz dead.
The black police ’ad killed ’em all, an’ right an’ left they lay
A-welterin’ in pools o’ gore, all smeared with blood an’ clay.

It served th’ devils right, no daoubt, fer stealin’ cattle so,
But it did seem pretty tough ter kill the gins an kids, yer know,
Exterminatin’ all th’ tribe, like rabbits, rats or mice, —
It’s a way ter deal with niggers but it haint exactly nice.

Well, Minnie looked araound th’ camp until she ’eard a cry,
A tiny squealin’ baby cheepin’ kind o’ low an’ shy.
There she faound a gin a lyin’ with th’ kiddie at ’er breast,
An’ a bullet thro’ ’er body, boss, but yer can guess th’ rest.

’E’s a ’ealthy little youngster naow, th’ last o’ all ’is clan,
An’ Minnie vows she’ll stick ter ’im until ’e’s grown a man ;
I wouldn’t like a nigger raound ter call me dad an’ squall,
But if Minnie d give me ’alf a show, I’d take ’er, kid an’ all !

Charles Keeler. A Wanderer’s Songs of the Sea, A.M. Robertson, San Francisco, 1902, pages 39-45

Speak Your Mind