By Henry Lawson
The plains lay bare on the homeward route,
And the march was heavy on man and brute,
For the spirit of drought was on all the land,
And the white heat danced on the glowing sand.
The best of our cattle dogs lagged at last,
His strength gave out ere the plains were passed,
And our hearts were sad as he crept and laid
His languid limbs in the nearest shade.
He'd saved our lives in the years gone by,
When no one dreamed of the danger nigh,
And treacherous blacks in the darkness crept,
On the silent camp where the white man slept.
"Rover is dying", a stockman said,
As he knelt and lifted the shaggy head,
"'Tis a long days march ere the run be near
And he's going fast, shall we leave him here?"
But the super cried,"there's an answer there!"
As he raised a tuft of the dog's gray hair,
And strangely vivid, each man described,
The old spear mark on the shaggy hide.
We laid a bluey and coat across
A camp pack strapped on the lightest horse,
Then raised the dog to his death bed high,
And brought him far 'neath the burning sky.
At the kindly touch of a stockman rude,
His eyes grew human with gratitude,
And though we were parched, when his eyes grew dim,
The last of our water was given to him.
The super's daughter we knew would chide,
If we left the dog in the desert wide,
So we carried him home o'er the burning sand,
For a parting stroke from her small white hand.
But long ere the station was seen ahead,
His pain was o'er,for Rover was dead.
And the folks all knew from our looks of gloom,
'Twas a comrade's corpse that we carried home.