[Editor: This poem by Thomas E. Spencer was published in The Bulletin Reciter, 1901.]
O’Toole and M’Sharry.
(A Lachlan Idyll.)
In the valley of the Lachlan, where the perfume from the pines
Fills the glowing summer air like incense spreading;
Where the silent flowing river like a bar of silver shines
When the winter moon its pallid beams is shedding;
In a hut on a selection, near a still and silent pool,
Lived two mates, who used to shear and fence and carry;
The one was known, both near and far, as Dandy Dan O’Toole,
And the other as Cornelius M’Sharry.
And they ’d share each other’s blankets, and each other’s horses ride.
And go off together shearing in the summer;
They would canter on from sunrise to the gloaming, side by side.
While M’Sharry rode the Barb and Dan the Drummer.
And the boys along the Lachlan recognised it as a rule
From Eugowra to the plains of Wanandarry,
That if ever love was stronger than M’Sharry’s for O’Toole
T was the love O’Toole extended to M’Sharry.
And their love might have continued and been constant to the end,
And they might have still been affable and jolly,
But they halted at a shanty where the river takes a bend,
And were waited on by Doolan’s daughter, Polly.
Now, this pretty Polly Doolan was so natty, neat and cool,
And so pleasant, that they both agreed to tarry.
For she winked her dexter eye-lid at susceptible O’Toole,
While she slyly winked the other — at M’Sharry.
So they drank her health in bumpers till the rising of the moon,
And she had them both in bondage so completely
That each time they talked of going she said, “Must you go so soon?”
And they could n’t go. She smiled at them so sweetly.
Dan O’Toole grew sentimental and M’Sharry played the fool,
Though they each had sworn an oath they ’d never marry,
Yet the self-same dart from Cupid’s bow that vanquished Dan O’Toole
Had gone through the heart of honest Con M’Sharry.
Then M’Sharry thought if Dandy Dan got drunk and went to bed,
He (M’Sharry) could indulge his little folly,
And Dan thought if M’Sharry once in drunken sleep lay spread,
He could have a little flirt with pretty Polly;
So they kept the bottle going till they both were pretty full,
And yet each rival seemed inclined to tarry;
The precise amount of pain-killer it took to fill O’Toole
Was required to close the optics of M’Sharry.
So the rivals lost their tempers, and they called each other names,
And disturbed the Doolan children from their pillows,
And then Doolan came and told them that he would n’t have such games,
They must go and fight it out beneath the willows.
So they went beneath the willows, near a deep and shady pool,
With as much inside as each of them could carry,
And M’Sharry started thumping the proboscis of O’Toole,
And O’Toole retaliated on M’Sharry.
And they fought till they were winded, and yet neither had the best.
Though from each of them the blood was freely flowing;
And they paused at last to breathe awhile and take a moment’s rest,
But O’Toole’s two eyes with rage were fairly glowing;
Then without a moment’s warning he charged forward like a bull,
And before poor Con had time to run or parry,
With a terrible momentum the big head of Dan O’Toole
Went bump! into the stomach of M’Sharry.
And the force of the concussion laid M’Sharry out quite still,
With his feet above his head among the bushes,
While O’Toole, with the momentum, cannoned madly down the hill,
And fell plump in the lagoon among the rushes.
Like a weedy river-god he climbed the far side of the pool,
And he did not for one single moment tarry,
For the curse of Cain was in the brain of Dandy Dan O’Toole,
Who felt certain he had settled poor M’Sharry.
Now, while Dan O’Toole was stealing through the still and silent night.
And his aching brain with pain-killer was throbbing,
M’Sharry lay and listened, till his heart stood still with fright,
And he eased his guilty soul with silent sobbing.
For he heard his boon companion falling headlong in the pool,
And he thought he was as dead as poor old Harry,
And M’Sharry mourned the drowning of poor Dandy Dan O’Toole,
While O’Toole was sadly weeping for M’Sharry.
And the valley of the Lachlan never more will know the men,
That were once so loving, frolicsome, and frisky,
For O’Toole cleared out to Queensland and was never seen again,
While M’Sharry started south and took to whisky.
And M’Sharry, in his nightmare, often sees that fatal pool,
And the pricks of guilty conscience tries to parry;
While away among the backblocks wanders Dandy Dan O’Toole,
Always flying from the ghost of Con. M’Sharry.
Thomas E. Spencer.
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 209-213