THE POETRY ARCHIVES @ eMule.com PRINT CLOSE

Taking His Chance
by Henry Lawson


They stood by the door of the Inn on the Rise;
May Carney looked up in the bushranger's eyes:
`Oh! why did you come? -- it was mad of you, Jack;
You know that the troopers are out on your track.'
A laugh and a shake of his obstinate head --
`I wanted a dance, and I'll chance it,' he said.

Some twenty-odd bushmen had come to the `ball',
But Jack from his youth had been known to them all,
And bushmen are soft where a woman is fair,
So the love of May Carney protected him there;
And all the short evening -- it seems like romance --
She danced with a bushranger taking his chance.

`Twas midnight -- the dancers stood suddenly still,
For hoofs had been heard on the side of the hill!
Ben Duggan, the drover, along the hillside
Came riding as only a bushman can ride.
He sprang from his horse, to the shanty he sped --
`The troopers are down in the gully!' he said.

Quite close to the homestead the troopers were seen.
`Clear out and ride hard for the ranges, Jack Dean!
Be quick!' said May Carney -- her hand on her heart --
`We'll bluff them awhile, and 'twill give you a start.'
He lingered a moment -- to kiss her, of course --
Then ran to the trees where he'd hobbled his horse.

She ran to the gate, and the troopers were there --
The jingle of hobbles came faint on the air --
Then loudly she screamed: it was only to drown
The treacherous clatter of slip-rails let down.
But troopers are sharp, and she saw at a glance
That someone was taking a desperate chance.

They chased, and they shouted, `Surrender, Jack Dean!'
They called him three times in the name of the Queen.
Then came from the darkness the clicking of locks;
The crack of the rifles was heard in the rocks!
A shriek and a shout, and a rush of pale men --
And there lay the bushranger, chancing it then.

The sergeant dismounted and knelt on the sod --
`Your bushranging's over -- make peace, Jack, with God!'
The bushranger laughed -- not a word he replied,
But turned to the girl who knelt down by his side.
He gazed in her eyes as she lifted his head:
`Just kiss me -- my girl -- and -- I'll -- chance it,' he said.