on material published in Satires & Verses 1903
Doctors had run out of whisky, and our stock of liquor was spent,
Save one poor half dozen of lager that belonged to the Rechabite tent;
the sky was as brass above us, and the land was fevered with drought,
And we wandered with blistered gullets, and tongues that were
And ever the
But no, we were men of Mildura – we
hadn’t come down to that.
But daily the torture lasted, and daily the horror grew
Of the thought that we dare not utter – the thing that all of
Someone must try the water, must yield to the fatal law,
So we shared in that devil’s gamble-and
mine was the shortest straw.
One moment of human weakness-then I stepped to the river’s
It was flowing before me-water-and I was condemned to drink.
And then, oh was it an angel, or that daft lass, Jessie Brown,
Cried “Dinna ye sniff the reek o’t-the pipes of Echuca
And louder and ever louder, and near and nearer the while,
We heard the beat of her paddles, the rescuing steamboat
With her bar-doors breathing a blessing, on her mission of mercy
And the sunlight blazed on the bottles in a halo of living flame.
And “Courage,” the skipper shouted, as he moored to the
“There’s forty tons of liquor aboard, consigned to the
Then madly rushed through our being the warm red current of life;
We didn’t wait for a corkscrew-we hanked
off the heads with a knife.
And the brass bank burst into music, and the temperance banners
And we saw three stars in the evening sky, and we knew that Mildura was saved.