[Editor: This poem by Edward Dyson was published in The Bulletin Reciter, 1901.]
The Silence of Mullock Creek.
He was dubbed the Lisping Infant when he came to Mullock Creek ;
Most confiding was his nature, and his manners they were meek ;
He was fair and wore an eyeglass, and a Sunday suit for days ;
He’d a soft, engaging simper, and such fascinating ways !
’T was a time of sore adversity, and sinful men and weak
Said that Fate created Clyde to be the prey of Mullock Creek ;
For he ’d booked himself at Hogan’s pub., effusively and rash,
As the travelling representative of eighty thousand, cash.
He was buying mining properties. His syndicate in town
Had the greatest faith in Mullock Creek. The terms were money down.
So if any man amongst us wished to sell a likely show,
Would he kindly state his price, “and furnish samples don’t you know.”
’Twas the softest thing on earth beneath. The Creek dissembled well —
Not a man about the field but had a score of shows to sell —
But from Cooper’s Hump to Flybite they were roaring down below
At the Johnnie buying leases “as per sample, don’t you know.”
Soon the joke was bandied freely, miners yelled it near and far.
“Where ’s yer samples ?” was the greeting on the brace and in the bar ;
And each grimy digger answered he was “trav’lin’ fer his chief,
With a lovely lot o’ samples of the latest lines o’ reef !”
But the Infant was oblivious, and when any of the throng
Tried to sell a golden lode, and took no specimens along,
He would answer very cutely : “How on earth ’s a chap to know
What he’s buying if you haven’t any samples here to show ?”
So for bits of golden stone arose a wonderful demand ;
They were prigged from stopes and hoppers, they were gathered in the land.
Treasured specimens from Bendigo and half-a-hundred fields
Served to advertise the local lodes and guarantee the yields.
Peter Hirst with lumps of barren quartz and seven weights of gold
Made the sweetest lot of “samples” (’t was a cunning trick of old),
And the stranger placed the specimens in little canvas bags,
With the vendors’ names and figures neatly stated on the tags.
Clyde was eager to submit the splendid offers he ’d received,
With the “samples,” to his people in the city, we believed ;
And in some way every owner knew his cat was in the pot,
Though the Infant rather fancied that his firm would buy the lot.
Now, its wondrous expectations worked the Creek a moral ill,
And so cold and proud the diggers grew they would n’t lift a drill ;
But they drank of Hogan’s whisky till the sinners could n’t see,
And the town and district started on a bucking jamboree.
Still from far and near the miners came with properties to sell,
Bringing “samples” down in sacks, and some on sleds and drays as well.
When the Infant took receipt they joined the dissipated throng,
Charming snakes in Hogan’s bar until their cheques should come along.
When at length the vendors sobered, they went searching everywhere
Round the township for the Infant, but the Infant was n’t there.
He had fled. A studious absence on the part of Mrs. Hirst
Was coincidental maybe, — but the husband feared the worst.
Then a letter came to Hogan, which he kindly read aloud:
“As I ’ve cleaned you out at Mullock Creek, it ’s fair to tell the crowd
How those lovely ‘samples’ yielded,” — so the Infant’s letter ran.
“I have had them milled ; they ran to sixty ounces in the pan !”
Not a syllable was spoken, stunned and silently the men
Turned and drifted off, and silently they sought their holes again.
Should you visit Mullock Creek to-day, you ’ll find they can’t forget,
And that awful silence broods upon the stricken township yet !
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 62-65