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The Flood of Haunted Creek (1928)
(By C. R. E. Grainger)
Roar of water in the gorges, swelling rivulets and creek,
It is raining yet like blazes--it has been for many weeks.
All the flats, are inundated, and we watch the water creep,
Till in places it has risen, and is now six inches deep;
It is time to shift the cattle, to the dry or higher ground,
For we see a sheet of water, that extends for miles around.
Men and horses soon are rushing through the pelting, blinding rain,
They must rescue their possessions--ere the dawn shall break again.
Mid the, lowing of the cattle, and the rush of many feet.
You can hear their horns arattle, when the neighbours' cattle meet,
But the hardy men are watching, and are rushing here and there,
Swinging forth a heavy stockwhip, that will bite beneath the hair.
The men are drenched, tired and weary, with the hard unequal fight,
Still they battle on till morning, through the cold and cheerless night;
They have gained the hills ere sunrise, where they let the cattle roam,
They have beaten nature's forces and now start the journey home.
They will stop and have their breakfast at old Pat Mulvaney's place,
For no one passed the old-time neighbour, with the bright and kindly face;
Was not one of their companions, wild and fearless Jack McKell,
Sweet on one of old Pat's daughters, shy and timid little Nell.
So we halted at Mulvaney's, man and horse both needed rest;
For old P'at had made us welcome, and he gave us of his best,
So we set to work in earnest, for our appetites were keen,
With our conversation running on the floods that we had seen.
Then the few words of Mulvancy; he was always slow to speak.
Have you warned poor Tom Delaney, at the fork of Haunted Creek?
Just a gasp of sheer amazement, then a cry from little Nell,
And her eyes were overflowing, as they focussed Jack McKell.
Quickly he rose from the table, nodded once his curly head,
And Nell's arms were 'round him twining, I'll go with you Jack, she said,
Soon they have the horses saddled, and swiftly mounting race away;
Jack was riding raw-boned Blucher; Nell was on Sweetheart, the Grey.
They have passed a dozen bodies, with their swollen bursting hides.
Pigs and calves and full grown cattle, sweeping down upon the tide.
Jack has taken in the details, then he raised a a trembling hand,
Spare me it's the D and Circle--Nell, it's Tom Delaney's brand.
Over logs and floating debris, with our horses growing weak,
We have reached our destination, called the fork of Haunted Creek.
and we note the frightful havoc, that has been enacted there,
Where once stood Delaney's homestead are a few posts, grim and bare.
Riding slowly in the distance, a lone horseman may be seen,
It is Tom Delaney coming, just to view the wretched scene,
Tom had crossed the seething cauldron just a day or two before,
Yet he lost a lot of cattle, ere he got the rest ashore;
Now he hears a well-known coo-ee, that is ended in a yell,
For it came with extra violence, from the throat of Jack McKell.
And Tom hesitates in answer, for au twinkle lights his eyes.
So he makes a little circuit, just to take them by surprise.
Jack now hears a splash of water, And he turns his horse about.
Then he greets old Tom Delaney, with a hearty joyous shout,
Nell is turning in her saddle, when the ground begins to slide,
Precipitating horse and rider, deep beneath the boiling tide,
And to Tom Delaney's horror, not a second did it seem,
Till McKall had forced old Blucher right into the swirling stream,
In Jack's heart there's deep emotion, What has happened to the grey?
Nell has just come to the surface, and is floatings yards away.
Now he's urging on old Blucher, he must beat the swirling tide,
And the old horse answers gamely, when the rowells pierce his side;
Another yard, ah, now they're level, Then Delaney's joyous cry,
For Jack has clutched his little sweetheart, as the good old horse sweeps by,
Steering Blucher at an angle; ripping him from girth to flank,
They have reached old terra firma, Blucher struggles up the bank.
There is joy at Pat Mulvaney's, Nell's a bride within a week;
For she says Jack fairly won her, at the fork of Haunted Creek.
From the NSW Newspaper the The Cessnock Eagle and South Maitland Recorder Friday 13 July 1928 p. 10.
australian traditional songs . . . a selection by mark gregory