an old bark hut on a mountainside
a spot that was lone and drear
woman whose heart was aching sat
from year to year.
small boy, Jim, her only child,
her to watch and wait
the time never came when they could go free,
from the bond of hate.
McConnel was out on the mountainside
without a hope
seeing nothing before him now
death by a hangman’s rope.
and chased by his fellow men,
take him alive or dead,
outlaw banned by the world was he
five hundred pounds on his head.
message had come that evening which said
Jim, you mustn’t wait,
you want to save your father, or
heaven, you’ll be too late.
out at Mackinnon’s Crossing, they say,
track is rough, old man,
if any here can do it—why
you and old Darky can.”
Jim knew well what the message meant,
he brought his horse to the door!
away through the gathering darkness came
sound of the river’s roar.
the brave little heart never faltered as
stooped to kiss her good-bye
said, “God bless you, Mother dear,
save Dad tonight or I’ll die.”
old horse answered the touch of his hand
galloped away from the door;
seemed to know ‘twas a journey for life—
he’d done such journey’s before.
from the firelight, and through the rails,
through the ghastly trees,
all the time the warning roar
the river came back on the breeze;
down the mountainside
rode, for his course was plain,
his heart was heavy, though not with fear,
because of that brand of Cain.
boy thinks over his mother’s last words:
love him as long as I live!
must have time for repentance on earth
surely God will forgive.”
he glanced back over his shoulder there
stood by the light of the door
to pierce the darkness in vain,
she’d see him no more.
as he looked she bowed her head
slowly turned away,
the boy knew that the noble wife
knelt by the bed to pray.
after mile, hour after hour,
then just ahead, shining and white,
the foam of Mackinnon’s Crossing—
a jump for old Darky tonight!
then Jim thinks of the long, lone years
the hopes that are crushed and dead;
a woman whose heart is as true as steel,
true as the day she was wed.
As she loved him then in the years gone by
the future held promise in store,
she loved him today when the future held
but death by his country’s law.
pressed his knees to the saddle flap
tightened his hold on the rein;
had jumped the river last summertime,
he hoped they would do it again!
a voice rang out through the darkness there,
now hold, stand still!
know you, lad, it’s too late to run;
up or we’ll shoot to kill!”
he knew that the police were around him,
the darkness they moved to and fro;
an instant he pulled on the bridle-rein,
he’d promised his mother he’d go.
he thought of the poor, sad woman alone,
in prayer by the bed;
he loosened the reins on old Darky’s neck
rushed at the river ahead.
a volley rang out through the forest dark—
fall in the roaring flood;
the darkness hid from all human eyes
form that was stained with blood.
horse struggled hard, the waters rushed on;
sank to rise no more.
the boy fought the flood in silence, inch
inch to the other shore.
and sadly, but bravely on,
away the tears;
was leaving behind in the river’s flood
friend and companion for years.
all the time the blood trickled down,
God! what a hot burning pain!
he knew he was doing is duty clean
would never come back again.
on o’er the tough dark track,
horrible pain with each breath;
he came to the hut in the ranges
his father lay, and the faint firelight
through the ghostly gloom.
Staggering in through the yielding door
the cold dark room
Where his father lay, and the faint firelight
through the ghostly gloom.
bushranger sprang to his feet in alarm
levelled the gun at his head
his loud voice demanded, “Who are you?
quick, or you are dead.”
then a weak little voice made answer,
me; Mother sends you her love;
police are back at the crossing now,
clear out and meet Mother above.”
McConnel placed his gun by the wall
knelt on the cold hard floor;
somehow the tears came rushing down
they never had before.
arms went around the brave little lad,
nursed his head on his breast;
seemed to know that the end was nigh
Jim would soon be at rest.
And the boy was speaking feebly at last,
shot me back at the creek,
old Darky is dead and gone, Dad,
oh, I’m so tired and weak.”
his voice fell away in a whisper soft,
faint it could scarce be heard,
Dad,, clear out, they are coming fast;
Mother, I kept my word.”
in silence the police gathered around,
had captured the beast in his lair;
outlaw sat with his boy in his arms,
semed not to heed nor to care.
was thinking now of the seed he had sown,
was tasting its bitter fruit,
the sergeant stepped to the door and said,
bail up or I’ll shoot.”
the sergeant placed a lamp by the door,
rifles gleamed out in the light;
the outlaw said, “Sergeant O’Drady,
have no more shooting tonight.
can take me now to the judgement seat
God has taken this lad;
die to take my life, you men—
died to save his dad.
want you to help me dig his grave,
perhaps you will say a prayer;
you can take me and hang me dead—
my wife, or I wouldn’t care.
now. . . Oh thank you, men,
him as best you can;
policeman is shown by his coat, of course;
the tears—well, they show the man.”
the party went back to the old bark hut
the sun was mounting the hill;
smoke arose from the chimney cold
all was silent and still.
sergeant opened the creaky door,
lifted his cap with a start,
McConnel had broken the country’s laws
broken a woman’s heart.