[Editor: This poem by W.T. Goodge was published in The Bulletin Reciter, 1901.]
The Tugs of Simpsonville.
He was dirty, dark and artful, and they called him “Saltbush Bill,”
But we did n’t recognise him when he came to Simpsonville ;
It’s a sort of one-horse township out beyond the Cobar track,
Where the sun’s a perfect scorcher, and the dust would choke a black !
Hot ? Great Scott !
It was Hell, with some improvements; worse than Booligal, a lot !
Saltbush Bill arrived at sundown; called for “Hennessy’s three-star,”
And he shouted for the jackeroos a-standing in the bar,
And he introduced the subject when he’d liquored up. Says he:
“I’m no English duke or nobleman a-tracking round; not me !
Shout ? No doubt !
But I ain’t a bloomin’ squatter nor a shearer just cut out !
“I’m in Simpsonville on business, and I claim to represent
The most wonderful neuralgia cure that any could invent,
And it’s known as ‘Brown’s Neuralgia Dice’; the price a bob a die,
And you rub it where the pain is, and the pain is bound to fly !
Sell ? oh well,
Just you wait till I have finished, and you’ll have a chance to tell !”
Then he brings a pickle-bottle and he puts it on the bar ;
(It was full of peas and fastened down) and says: “Now, there you are !
I’m the liberalest bagman that was ever on the rounds ;
If you guess how many peas is there you get five blanky pounds !
Fair ? and square !
And the nearest guess will get the gonce as sure as you are there !”
Well, of course we goes to rush it, but he says: “One moment there !
I am no escaped loonatic nor eccentric millionaire !
I’m no travelling convalescent, and I ain’t been very ill,
Nor come to view the scenery surrounding Simpsonville !
Yes ! you guess,
But you have to buy a bob’s worth of the cure ! Well, here’s success !
“Now I want a hundred guesses, which will make the fiver sure,
And the landlord holds the money just to see you all secure,
And I leave a hundred samples of the cure inside the bar,
Which he sells, and pays the money to the winner. There you are !
Me ? I’ll gee !
I must introduce the remedy in other towns, you see !”
In the morning came a swaggie with “Matilda” ’cross the flat,
Whom we recognised immediate as a bloke called Jack the Rat ;
And he listened to the story, then went over to the store
And he bought dry peas in bagfuls till there was n’t any more.
Rot? ’T was not !
Why you have n’t got a notion what a head that bloke had got !
Now it first struck Joe the Spieler it would be as good as gold,
For to get a pickle-bottle and see just what it would hold.
He was always on for pointing, and as artful as you please ;
But he went all round the township, and he could n’t get no peas !
See ? Not a pea !
It was just the same with Jackson, and with Dogherty and me !
And the bobs they kept on coming in ; the time was drawing nigh ;
Joe was savage, so was Dogherty and Jackson, so was I !
Spare me days, I think the lot of us was looking after peas !
When one day I meets that Jack the Rat as simple as you please.
“Me ? Got peas ?”
“Yes, I’ll sell you, at two bob a pint, as many as you please !”
It was something like six times the price, but what was I to do ?
So I bought and found out afterwards that others bought ’em too.
Jack the Rat was so delighted with his honest trade’s success
That he shouted for a dozen, and he also took a guess.
Swear ? Well, there,
It would simply freeze the marrow in a bullock-driver’s hair !
When we had the bottle opened, it was not half-full of peas,
For a corncob in the centre took the space up, if you please !
And the clever blokes who measured, they were out by half a mile ;
It was Jack the Rat who won it, and he wore a peaceful smile !
Toast ? Great Ghost !
In about a week the landlord got a letter by the post.
“We had things to do in Melbourne, so we thought we’d get away,
But desire, as we are leaving, most respectfully to say
That we’re thankful for the kindness of the tugs of Simpsonville,
And remain, yours most respectful, Jack the Rat and Saltbush Bill.”
Catch ’em ? No hope !
And the “remedy” was little squares cut out of bars of soap !
W. T. Goodge
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 193-197
Hennessy’s three-star = a commercial brand of brandy (alcoholic drink)
Matilda = a swag
shouted = to “shout” is to buy drinks for others