A Day's Ride - Poem by Anonymous Oceania
Bold are the mounted robbers who on stolen horses ride
And bold the mounted troopers who patrol the Sydney side;
But few of them, though flash they be, can ride, and few can fight
As Walker did, for life and death, with Ward the other night.
It seems the troopers heard that Ward, well known as Thunderbolt,
An outlawed thief, was down near Blanche to try a fresh-roped colt.
(Not far from Armidale, that spot for brilliants so renowned -
Although the talked-of diamonds now are seldom found.)
Said Alick Walker as he clapped his saddle on his steed,
'If I catch sight of Ward today I'll try his horse's speed;
Up hill or down, 'tis all the same, I know my nag can stay'
They got his arms, and galloped off, all ready for the fray.
Soon as he got near Thunderbolt, the first salute he got
From that retreating party was a random pistol-shot ;
The robber fled, the trooper went in chase, his spirits rose -
When Ward advised him to keep off, he answered, 'Bosh, here goes!'
As through the scrubby brush they fled, and timber-tangled brake,
Both held their horses well in hand, nor made the least mistake;
Easing his horse with judgement then, the lightweight trooper raced-
Good jockey as the robber was, he found himself outpaced.
Mile after mile, rough ground and smooth, up hill and down the vale,
Steep rocky tracks they galloped o'er - Wards horse began to fail.
Scant time he had for firing, for whenever he looked back
Onward his adversary pressed, fast nearing on his track.
On to a creek pursuer and pursued still headed straight:
One hastening to avenge the law, his foe to meet his fate.
Ward, almost hopeless of escape, devised a desperate scheme -
Dismounting from his horse he swam the wide and rapid stream.
Cried Walker, 'May my mother's son for ever be accursed
If now I fail to take him, but I'll stop his gallop first.'
His pistol flashed, the stockhorse fell; cut off from all retreat
At bay the reckless outlaw stood, defiant in defeat.
'I'll not surrender,' was his cry, 'before I do, I'll die!'
'All right,' his brave opponent said, 'now for it, you or I!'
A moment's pause - a parley now - the trooper made a push
To grapple at close quarters with the ranger of the bush.
A shot - a blow - a struggle wild - the outlaw with a shriek
Relaxed his hold, and sank beneath the waters of the creek.
'Twas thus the dreaded robber's evil spirit passed away,
Vanquished by brave young Walker, now the hero of the day.
Henceforth those loafing swagmen who around the stations coil,
Exchanging lies at night until they see the billies boil,
At lambing-down or shearing-time will tell with bated breath
Of Walker's fight with Thunderbolt, that ride for life and death.
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