Works in the Herald 1935
Sitting on a beer barrel, singing Christian hymns,
   That's how I remember him, Sammy Lee-Foo,
Cook at Connor's sheep-run, one of Satan's limbs
   When he battled with the brandy for a session or two.
The life of each rough party, joy of township soaks,
With a Western sense of rhythm, a Circasian fund of jokes,
   And a Christian taste for liquoring and splashing up the tin,
   And, on that saffron face of his, a fat, eternal grin.

When the cheques were paid at Connor's and the shearing shed cut out,
   The boys came in to Flynn's place to have a round or two;
Boundary-rider, picker-up, shearer, rouseabout,
   And the mob's unfailing humorist in Sammy Lee-Foo.
"Be still, yeh yella haythen!" Flynn would shout across the bar.
"Me miselable sinnah, Missa Flynn, same like you are."
   "A man had right to thrun yez out!  An', faith, I'll do it too!"
   "Oh!  Lescue, alla pellishin'," sang Sammy Lee-Foo.

For six days, eight days, the revelry went on,
   Till cheques were mostly busted and the boozing had to stop.
But Sammy, long before the end, had magically gone --
   'Twas said, "to hit the opium" at his "cousin's" Chinese shop.
Then he'd turn up, bland and cheerful, to the joy of the township boys,
His grin as broad as ever, and his pockets full of toys:
   Quaint China toys and lichee nuts, crackers and kumquats, too;
   And a child among the children then was Sammy Lee-Foo.

Then back to Connor's station he would wander bye and bye,
   And Connor, red and furious, came to meet him down the track,
To sack him for the twentieth time and curse him loud and high.
   But Connor knew his station hands -- and Connor'd take him back. . . . 
I know not what became of him -- strange jester from Cathay,
Who found his fun and friendships in the old Australian way;
   The queerest "Chink" I ever knew, his memory never dims --
   Sitting on a beer barrel, singing Christian hymns.

Herald, 22 April 1935, p6

Copyright © Perry Middlemiss 2003