Robert William Service

(16 January 1874 - 11 September 1958 / Preston)

Black Moran


The mule-skinner was Bill Jerome, the passengers were three;
Two tinhorns from the dives of Nome, and Father Tim McGee.
And as for sunny Southland bound, through weary woods they sped,
The solitude that ringed them round was silent as the dead.

Then when the trail crooked crazily, the frost-rimed horses reared,
And from behind a fallen tree a grim galoot appeared;
He wore a parki white as snow, a mask as black as soot,
And carelesslike weaved to and fro a gun as if to shoot.

"Stick up yer mitts an' freeze 'em there!" his raucous voice outrang,
And shaving them by just a hair a blazing rod went bang.
The sleigh jerked to a sharp stand-still: "Okay," drawled Bill Jerome,
"Could be, this guy who aims to kill is Black Moran from Nome."

"You lousy crooks," the bandit cried; "You're slickly heeled I know;
Come, make it snappy, dump outside your booty in the snow."
The gambling pair went putty pale; they crimped as if with cold.
And heaved upon the icy trail two hefty pokes of gold.

Then softly stepping from the sleigh came Father Tim McGee,
And speaking in his gentle way: :Accept my Cross," said he.
"For other treasures have I none, their guilty gold to swell . . .
Please take this crucifix, my son, and may it serve you well."

The bandit whispered in his ear: "Jeez-crize, you got me wrong.
I wouldn't rob you Father dear - to your Church I belong."
Then swiftly striding to the sleigh he dumped the gold back in,
And hollered: "On your knees and pray, you lousy sons of sin!"

"Praise God," said Father Tim McGee, "he made you restitution,
And if he ever kneels to me I'll give him absolution."
"I'll have you guys to understand," said Driver Bill Jerome,
"The squarest gunman in the land is Black Moran form Nome."

Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003

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