The Gold Digger
Newcastle Paper Apr 1880
Once upon an evening dreary, a gold-digger, tired and weary,
Cogitated very sadly, brain and bone and heart were sore,
For no gold came by his toiling, unkind fate seemed ever foiling
All his toilsome, weary efforts, and the keeper of the store
Had pitilessly stopped his credit; quoth the keeper of the store,
“I can’t tucker you no more.”
Wild and gloomy thoughts were tumbling through his head and set him grumbling,
And his voice in accents mumbling ’gan the harsh fates to implore,
That they’d come to some decision, either make him some provision,
Or at once their utmost fury on his willing head outpour—
“Either make me some provision, or your deadliest vials pour” —
He kept crying o’er and o’er.
Swearing, snapping, musing, napping, presently there came a tapping,
Quite an unaccustomed tapping at this fate-tossed digger’s door,
And it roused him from his musing with expectancy confusing,
Made him listen to that tapping on the night’s Plutonian shore,
Wond’ring what could cause that tapping on the night’s Plutonian shore,
Wondering, guessing, more and more.
Softly then he seized a waddy, quietly he bore his body
To that space within his hut, immediately behind the door;
And with easiest, gentlest motion, like the wave of summer ocean,
He hove up the latch that barred all ingress to his shanty floor,
Hove it up, and grasped his waddy, scanned the night’s Plutonian shore,
Saw the light, and nothing more.
Then cried he, “What shicer is it pays me this mysterious visit?
Is’t a snake or is’t a wild dog? either sneak I do abhor,
Well! I don’t know about funking, but I’ll just lie down my bunk in,
And I’ll leave the door wide open, open to what may explore
The old hut, and while exploring, if the explorer don’t get sore,
Cooey on me, nevermore.”
From the darkness came a fluttering, and a sort of subdued muttering
That developed into stuttering, stuttering at the open door;
And a lovely Cochin China, impudent as any Dinah,
Strutted proudly o’er the threshold like as he’d been there before,
Just as though he had a right that came all other rights before,
A right that still demanded more.
But a different opinion reigned without that small dominion;
There a calm recumbent digger eyed the proud bird o’er and o’er,
And then stealthily arising, with a cunning most surprising,
Ere Chanticleer had perceived it, he had fastened to the door;
Had made the door so very fast that the chanticleer’s uproar
Might undo it, nevermore.
Then said he, “This bird celestial may I civilly request he’ll
Now disclose the cause of his nocturnal tapping at my door?
Say! hath my good angel sent thee? Flutter not, nay, nay, content thee,
Thou shalt have as warm a welcome as e’er cocky had before,
Have a regular hot old welcome, such as others had before;
I can offer nothing more.”
Ah! the bird was very wary, and of eloquence quite chary,
No clear answer did it make him as it dodged about the floor,
Never thanked him for his kindness, but with worse than colour blindness,
It refused to see the goodness of the digger o’er and o’er,
Really flew from his advances, as esteeming him a bore,
And desiring such no more.
Spare my muse a dire narration, take the simple intimation
That by fell decapitation, Cocky weltered in his gore.
His shrill clarion brought to silence by a digger’s ruthless violence,
Never more at dawn of morning, or at close of day might pour
Its clear notes upon the air; might no matin solo pour;
Silenced quite for evermore.
Quite soon a mouth-moistening aroma, such as a famous cook’s diploma
Might certify that famed cook’s skill could draw from viands in his store,
Filled the hut. The pot was bubbling, Cochin China’s toil and troubling
Were at an end, and he was yielding grateful broth from every pore,
Yielding broth fit for a warden, that should our digger’s strength restore,
And make him a good feed once more.
’Twas no ardour scientific of immense results prolific,
Nor a questioning of his fortunes by the ancient heathen lore,
Still our much depressed hero, whose luck surely was at zero,
Was examining quite closely Cocky’s crop upon the floor,
Was inspecting it minutely on his knees upon the floor,
Close and closer, more and more.
Then he rose in great elation, no swell owner of a station
Could wear a more triumphant air than now our miner wore,
For while he had been dissecting he’d been curiously prospecting,
And Cocky’s crop had yielded yellow grains of golden ore.
“No bad prospect,” quoth our miner, “a good show of golden ore,
And around there must be more.”
When the morrow’s sun had lighted up the heavens, our miner dighted
In his clay-stained looking raiment sought the ground the fowls pecked o’er,
And with them he went a picking, and by dint of closely sticking
To his feathered mates he picked up quite a lot of golden ore—
Picked up nuggets large as brickbats, glorious lumps of golden ore,
Made a pile, and nothing more.
- waddy — A club or stick.
- shicer — A worthless person, but also, in mining, an unproductive mine.
- Cochin China — A breed of chicken.
Return to the Quaint and Curious index for more pastiches and parodies of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven”.