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The Bagman and the Mug
(For the "SUNDAY TIMES"--By W. T. GOODGE.)
There's a township known as Snagsvllle, out beyond Coonamble way,
Where the bushmen watch the trickling of the soupy Castlereagh;
Where the folks all skite of shearing, and where every man's a pug;
It was there, last Christmas twelvemonth, that the Bagman met the Mug.
Now, the Bagman was a traveller for Tangleswankey's Beer;
That which ties a person's legs in knots and makes his napper queer;
That which makes him see three moons at once, and steer a zig-zag course,
Till the road leads up and smites him with considerable force.
But for dignity of manner and sublimity of style,
All the Tangleswankey travellers could lead them by a mile,
And the Bagman I refer to, when his canvassing was done,
Was as toffy as Sir Rupert Clarke and Rothschild rolled, in one.
You should see him "breast the cedar" with his high and lordly air;
You would take him for a Russian duke or Yankee millionaire.
He had too much style for Snagsville, so the natives "chewed his lug,"
And the man who led the skirmish was our artful friend, the Mug.
Which his proper name was Johnson, but they'd christened him the Mug,
'Cause, he looked so very simple; but to take him for a tug
Was to look upon an adder as a mild and gentle pet.
He was bad, and labelled dangerous, friend Johnson was, you bet.
Well, the Bagman he was blowing, and the boys all gathered round,
And they numbered five-and-forty, as he subsequently found;
He was making heaps of money, so he boasted, but the Mug
Said with calmness: "You're a broker, Mr. Bagman, you ain't snug !"
Well, the Bagman was astounded, and the Bagman he grew wild
That a Bagman by a bushie should be calmly thus reviled.
'What d'you say, that I'm a broker ?' "Yes," said Johnson, with a shrug;
"You ain't got much more than sixpence in your pockets !" said the Mug.
Then the Bagman grew ferocious; he would wager drinks all round
That his pockets held more cash than on our Johnson could be found !
But the Mug to this objected; said he'd put up what he'd got,
And the one who had the biggest pile could take the blessed lot.
"But the winner has to shout, of course !" said Johnson, with a smile.
"Oh, of course," said Mr. Bagman, 'you're exactly to my style !
Here's a fiver, here's two singles, and some gold and silver, too !"
And a fairly decent pile of oof upon the bar he threw.
Then the Mug put up one lonely scrum, one solit'ry threepenny bit,
And the Bagman was bamboozled when he saw the sight of it.
"That's my pile," observed the Mug; 'but you will recollect, no doubt,
That the winner had to take the lot, but also had to shout ?"
Then those five-and-forty shearers sidled up to breast the bar
With the same expression they would wear in calling out for tar.
And every man who took his drink was cheerful, kind, and smug
As he nodded to the Bagman and winked friendly to the Mug.
Orange, N.S.W. --W. T. GOODGE.
From the Sydney newspaper the Sunday Times Sunday 16 December 1900 p. 3 S.
australian traditional songs . . . a selection by mark gregory