"Son and Heir" by Mary Hannay Foott

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"He is like my father," Aunt Madge declared,
   As she bent o'er the baby's face;
"He will be" --- (with the air of a prophetess) ---
   "The flower of a handsome race!"
"He is like my father," said Uncle John;
   "Yes, the youngster has just his head!
Ah, I only wish I'd a five-pound note
   For every book he's read!"
But the baby's mother sat pale and still,
And she thought to herself "He is just like Will."   
"There's a look of my mother, too," said Madge.
   "And of mine, I am sure," said John,
"She sang like a seraph!" -- "So small her shoes
   No one else could have put them on!"   
Thus, branch by branch, through the family tree,
   Went each of the kin who came,   
As they dwelt on the brave and the beautiful,
   On riches, and rank, and fame.
And they "hoped dear Baby" high place might fill,  
Yet nobody seemed to remember Will.

But Nellie delivered her soul at last:
   "I have hopes of our son," said she,   
"Although he should 'take after' never a one   
   Of all you have named to me.
From brass and vellum the tales you bring
   Of the fearless and of the fair,   
But his record who rests in the Austral wilds
   Should be set with the proudest there."
The words were bold, but there ran a thrill
Of pain through her voice-though she named not Will.

"The sun of the South had bronzed his cheek,
   And his hands were chafed with toil --
Yet the spirit of heroes was ever his,
   And his soul was free from soil.
He has given to the wilderness water-springs,
   To the forest dank the day;
And the world is the better for evermore
   For him who has passed away.
And I pray that his son may but fulfil
His duty so!" --- (Could you hear her, Will?)    

First published in The Queenslander, 28 July 1888

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Old Qld Poetry

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on July 28, 2012 11:59 AM.

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