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Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908). A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895. 1895.

Sarah Welch

The Digger’s Grave

HE sought Australia’s far-famed isle,

Hoping that Fortune on his lot would smile,

In search for gold. When one short year had flown,

He wrote the welcome tidings to his own

Betrothéd; told how months of toiling vain

Made ten-fold sweeter to him sudden gain;

With sanguine words, traced with love’s eager hand,

He bade her join him in this bright south land.

Oft as he sat, his long day’s labor o’er,

In his bush hut, he dreamed of home once more;

His thoughts to the old country home in Kent

Returned. ’T was Christmas-day, and they two went

O’er frost and snow; the Christmas anthem rang

Through the old church, which echoed as they sang.

That day had Philip courage gained to tell

His tale of love to pretty Christabel;

And she, on her part, with ingenuous grace,

Endorsed the tell-tale of her blushing face.

Dream on, true lover! never, never thou

Shalt press the kiss of welcome on her brow.

E’en now a comrade, eager for thy gold,

Above thy fond true heart the knife doth hold—

One stroke, the weapon ’s plunged into his breast;

So sure the aim that, like a child at rest,

The murdered digger lies,—a happy smile

Parts the full manly bearded lips the while.

Next day they found him. In his deathcold hand,

He held his last home letter, lately scanned

With love-lit eyes; and next his heart they found

A woman’s kerchief which, when they un-wound,

Disclosed a lock of silken auburn hair

And portrait of a girl’s face, fresh and fair,

Dyed with the life-blood of his faithful heart.

To more than one eye, tears unbidden start;

With reverent hands, and rough, unconscious grace,

They laid him in his lonely resting-place.

The bright-hued birds true nature’s requiem gave,

And wattle-bloom bestrews the digger’s grave.