Off The Track.

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OH where the deuce is the track, the track?
Round an' round, an' forrard, an' back!
"Keep the sun on yer right," they said —
But, hang it, he's gone an' got over my head!
"Make for a belt of apple trees;" —
Jist so. But where's yer belt, if ye please?
By gum, it's hot! This child 'ill melt,
An' there ain't no apples, nor ain't no belt.
"Keep clear o' the timber-getters' tracks,"
But wich is wich, I'd beg to ax?
They forks and jines, the devil knows how —
I wish I'd a sight o' either now!
"Leave the track," sez they, "when you sees
Some yards to the right two big grass trees."
Two! It's dozens on dozens I pass —
Most on 'em big, an' all on 'em grass.
Oh where the deuce is the track, the track?
I'm fairly taken aback, aback.
"Keep tow'rd the river. You can't go wrong."
Whew? Can't I, though! That was rayther strong.
"Follow the lay o' the land," sez they;
But, Lord, this flat ain't got no lay!
Whew! Ain't it hot on the pint o' the nose?
An' the more I mops the hotter I grows.
"An' when you comes to the foot o' the range" —
WHEN! That's the p'int. But ain't it strange,
That the further I goes, to left or right,
The more there ain't no range in sight.
Gum trees, gum trees, slim an' high,
Timber green an' timber dry,
Blackened stumps an' fallen logs —
Lively work as on we jogs!
Oh the devil an' all take the flat, the flat!
I'm one myself for the matter o' that.
I'm mazed, an' so is the brute I rides,
An' the sun's getting over the left besides.
Dash it, I'll follow my nose, my nose!
Step out, straight forrard, here goes, here goes!
Let the sun be left, or the sun be right,
Summat or other must come in sight.
* * * * *
Well, well! If this ain't too bad by half!
Lor', how the beggars 'll laugh an' chaff!
Back, to my startin' point? Yes; 'tis so.
I put up them slip-rails six hours ago.

© James Brunton Stephens