Hopeful Hawkins [poem by C. J. Dennis]

[Editor: This poem by C. J. Dennis was published in Backblock Ballads and Other Verses (1913) and Backblock Ballads and Later Verses (1918).]

Hopeful Hawkins

Hawkins wasn’t in the swim at all in Dingo Flat,
And to bait him was our chiefest form of bliss;
But, in justice, be it said that he had a business head.
(That’s why I’m standing here and telling this.)

He was trav’ling for a company, insuring people’s lives;
And stayed about a month in Dingo Flat;
But his biz was rather dull, and we took him for a gull,
An amazing simple-minded one at that.

He was mad, he was, on mining and around about the town
Prospected every reef. But worse than that —
He’d talk for half a day, in a most annoying way,
On “The mineral resources of the Flat.”

He swore that somewhere nigh us was a rich gold-bearing reef,
If a fellow only had the luck to strike it;
And he only used to laugh when the boys began to chaff,
And seemed, in fact, to rather sort of like it.

Well, we stood him for a month until he wellnigh drove us mad.
And as jeering couldn’t penetrate his hide
We fixed a little scheme for to dissipate his dream,
And sicken him of mining till he died.

We got a likely-looking bit of quartz and faked it up
With dabs of golden paint; then called him in.
Oh, he went clean off his head; it was gold for sure, he said,
And if we’d sell our claim he’d raise the tin.

But we weren’t taking any — not at least till later on;
For we reckoned that we’d string him on a while.
When he wanted information of the reef’s exact location
We would meet him with a knowing sort of smile.

At last we dropped a hint that set him pegging out a claim,
And we saw that we were coming in for sport;
For the next account we heard was when Hawkins passed the word
He was fetching up an expert to report.

When we heard that expert’s verdict we were blown clean out of time,
And absorbed the fact that we had fallen in.
The gold, he said, would run ’bout four ounces to the ton;
With traces, too, of copper, zinc and tin.

Old Hawkins he was jubilant, and up at Peter’s store
A lovely lot of specimens was showing;
And we gazed at them and groaned, for the truth had to be owned:
We had put him on a pile without our knowing.

We couldn’t let the thing slip through our fingers, so to speak.
There were thousands in the mine without a doubt.
So me and Baker Brothers, and half a dozen others,
We formed a syndicate to buy him out.

Well, he said he’d not the money to develop such a claim,
And he’d sell it if we made a decent bid.
So we made pretence at dealing, and it almost seemed like stealing
When he parted, for five hundred lovely quid.

* * * * * * * *

We haven’t seen the vendor in the Flat for nigh a week,
And we’re wishing, on the whole, he’d never come.
The confounded mine’s a duffer; for that simple-minded buffer
He had salted it. The “expert” was a chum.

Hawkins wasn’t reckoned much at all in Dingo Flat.
We’d a notion that his headpiece was amiss.
But we wish to have it stated, he was rather underrated.
(That’s why I’m standing here and telling this.)



Source:
C. J. Dennis, Backblock Ballads and Later Verses, Sydney: Angus & Robertson, 1918, pages 71-74

Previously published in:
C. J. Dennis, Backblock Ballads and Other Verses, Melbourne: E. W. Cole, [1913], pages 28-30

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