Euphemia Quade by C.J. Dennis

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The story is here as it came to my ear
   From the lips of old Danny McGee,
Who'd the strength and the will for his bullocking still
   When his years numbered seventy-three.
There's full many a man of the bullocky clan
   On whose word one might never rely;
But old Danny McGee was a hero to me,
   And I'd hate to believe he could lie.

Now, I knows all me facts, an' I torks of the acts
   As I've seen with me own pair of eyes;
An' I teats 'em with scorn - all of them fellers forlorn
   Who will fill up a stranger with lies.
In a sense, I allows that the punchin' of cows
   Ain't conducive to general truth;
But I allus live next to the copy-book text
   I was taught in me innercent youth.

Well, I'm tellin' you this - and I'd take it amiss
   if you thought I was pullin' your leg -
I've some yarns that would fair singe the roots of your hair,
   An' just leave you as bald as an egg:
But this plain little tale is designed for the frail,
   'Twouldn't ruffle the tenderest curl;
An' it's all about Bill, of McGorrorey's Hill;
   An' it's likewise concernin' his girl.

Now, this Bill's other name was Devine, and the same
   Didn't fit with his style or his trade,
Which was punchin' a team, and his language would seem
   To arrive at his lips ready-made.
He'd a fine vocal gift which was reckoned to lift
   Seven ton by its own strength alone;
He was good at his game, an' his name an' his fame
   From the Gap to the Gorge was well known.

You would say at first glance that the thing called Romance
   An' a bullock don't seem to agree.
Funny mixture it seems - cows an' lovers' fond dreams -
   But you listen a minute to me.
There is strange things, ses you, that young fellers will do
   When they're under the spell of a maid,
So it happened to Bill, of McGorrorey's Hill;
   An' her name was Euphemia Quade.

Euphemia Quade she was certainly made
   In a mould that they don't often use.
She was pretty an' coy, an' a dream an' a joy,
   Sich as any young feller might choose.
But the treasure's old man, with the front name of Dan,
   Was a tough proposition to hit.
For, ses he, "This here girl she's a match for an earl,
   An' for plain workin' coves she ain't fit."

But young Bill had a way with the women, they say.
   He was honest, an' clean, an' a man.
He was straight as an ash; an' without bein' flash,
   He made love as a lusty youth can.
As for Phemie, why she had her two eyes to see
   That young Bill was fit mate for a queen;
So they met on the sly, when the moon from the sky
   Turned to silver the forests' trees green.

But the dear little maid she was fearful afraid
   With the risks that she took for his sake,
And the terrible ire of her obstinate sire
   Was a thing that she dreaded to wake.
"O, dear Billy!" ses she, "but I never can be
   E'er your own darlin' wife, as you hope."
"There is one way," ses Bill.  If you're game!  If you will!
   Brave it out, Phemie, dear!  We'll elope!"

On M'Gorrorey's Hill Dan'el Quade's timber mill
   Stands alone in a wide forest land.
And the hills are that steep, and the gullies so deep
   There's scarce foothold for bullocks to stand.
As a matter of course, hair or hide of a horse
   Never comes within miles of the mill;
"But," ses Bill, "Phemie, dear, there's a way, never fear;
   An' I'll find it; for I have the will."

Twice every week across Milligan's Creek
   Came down Billy Devine from the mill;
And again up the track did he punch the beasts back,
   As they clung to the side of the hill.
When at night they unyoked, and the boys sat and smoked,
   Bill got foolin' around with a pair.
"Why, he's breakin' 'em in to the saddle!"  ses Jim;
   "'Tis a treat for to hark at him swear!"

Ses the boys, "What the dooce is the blitherin' use
   Of a bullock in saddle to Bill?"
"Leave him at it," ses Jim.   "It's a mad, harmless whim;
   An' they're scarce on M'Gorrorey's Hill."
So, far into the night, be it dark, be it light,
   Bill he battled and cursed at each beast.
And his language was sure, what the fellers call "pure,"
   And its "purity" daily increased.

Now, from Dan'el Quade's mill, on M'Gorrorey's Hill,
   To the township is thirty mile, good;
An' a parson lives there who's made many a pair
   Man an' missus, as clergymen should.
But the road in between is the worst ever seen;
   'Tis a cross twixt a cliff an' a bog;
An' there's Milligan's Creek for to cross, not to speak
   Of full many a pot-hole an' log.

But along that lone track, each a load on his back,
   When the moon shone out full in the sky,
There came down at a trot Bill's old Baldy and Spot -
   As I tell you without word of a lie,
An' on Spot sat the maid, as he wobbled and swayed
   'Neath the weight of the soon-to-be-bride;
An', with many looks back for pursuit up the track,
   Bill Devine rode on Baldy beside.

Then they came to the creek.  ('Tis with caution I speak,
   For I'd whisper no slander of Bill -
An' 'twas there the beasts baulked; tho' he coaxed an' he talked,
   On the bank they stoof stubborn and still.
Tho' the boy was fair wild, still his language was mild,
   An', in consequence, strange to the steers.
They expects him to swear, an' he cries in despair,
   "Phemie, dear, put your hands to your ears!"

Now, when old Dan'el Quade missed the run of his maid
   Why, he drops to their game in a tick;
An' his brow it was black as he makes down the track
   With the object of trumpin' their trick.
For he swore a loud oath he'd come up with them both,
   An' he'd deal with the man and the maid;
An', my word, you can take, 'twas no trifle to wake
   The hot anger of old Dan'el Quade.

He was wet, he was hot, an' perspirin' a lot
   When he drew near to Milligan's Creek,
An' his temper was raw when the lovers he saw,
   An' he opens his mouth for to speak.
Him young Bill never seen for the bushes between,
   An' that moment he starts to perform.
Like a log on the spot stands Dan Quade like he's shot;
   An' he bows his old head to the storm.

An' young Bill!  Did he curse?  As for chapter and verse
   I refer you to better than me.
It would parch me mouth dry if I ventured to try,
   So I leaves you to guess, fancy free.
But I know it was grand, for no man in the land
   Equalled Bill in addresses to steers.
Like a stone stood old Quade, stony still sat the maid,
   With her pretty hands to her ears.

Then, when Bill paused for breath in a silence like death,
   To the lovers strode old Dan'el Quade.
"We are lost!" mutters Bill.  Ses the boss of the mill,
   "Bill Devine, are you wantin' my maid?
If you do, she is yours, for while punchin' endures
   You're a credit to your native land!
Man alive, you can swear!  Bill Devine, put it there!"
   An' the old father holds out his hand.

With her hands to her ears, an' her mind full of fear,
   Sweet Euphemia sat on her steer;
But the smile on Dad's face spelled forebodin's of grace;
   An', ses Bill, "Take your hands down my dear.
Did you hear what I said?"  An' the maiden grows red;
   But there's fun in her eye, saucy wench,
As she ses, "I heard, here an' there, a strange word,
   Was you speakin' in German or French?"

So then, here is the tale.  Should credulity fail -
   Should your mind be invaded by doubt -
Well, you have it from me just as Daddy McGee
   From his truthful heart gave it out.
The next day, so he said, those true lovers were wed;
   And they owned old Quade's mill when he died.
So says Daddy McGee, aged seventy-three;
   And I'd hate to believe that he lied.

First published in The Weekly Times Annual, 7 November 1914

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on November 7, 2013 7:12 AM.

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