DUST AND DREAMS
The old man sat, in silence
upon the dusty floor
not heeding sounds around him
he dreamt of days of yore -
For he'd once been a stockman
on a station, rather grand,
working mobs of cattle,
then became a leading hand.
They say he was the fastest
that the folks had ever seen,
fastest rider in the country,
he was handsome, tall and lean.
Many a tale they still told
of deeds that he had done
and of how his future lay before him…
till he shot the squatter's son.
It happened, one day in summer
when the land was wrapped in heat.
It was dusty, dry and barren
and the flies were quite a treat.
They'd rounded up the cattle
brought the stragglers back to camp,
and were resting by the campfire
dreaming of creekbeds, cool and damp.
There were just two days to ride now
then he would leave the trail
and ride back to the old homestead
for he had to check the mail.
Such a long time he'd been waiting
to hear from his sweetheart, once again.
He hoped he soon would see her
and his longing turned to pain.
Then they started yarning,
as they sat there by the fire…
they talked of those they left behind them
till they began to tire.
They'd been on the trail for weeks now
they'd had quite a way to go,
yet this was the first occasion
that they spoke of those they know.
One man talked of Betsy
another of Mary-Lou,
the third kept praising Sally,
that's when the tempers flew.
For they surely weren't mistaken
as each talked of their girl,
her sweet and friendly nature,
or her hair, in one long curl.
It soon became apparent
to each of these weary men,
that the girl he hoped to marry
had been unfaithful once again.
Like animals they scuffled
round the campfire, then and there
and then a single gunshot
rang through the still night air.
One man lay there, bleeding
wounded from the stockman's gun
his last words were "tell Sally…"
He died, the squatter's son.
So, many years ago, they tried him
for the deed of that sad night.
If only he'd never met her,
there would have been no terrible fight.
But as the old man sat in silence,
upon the dusty floor,
his head slowly sank, dejectedly…
his dreams would be no more.