THE MILE.

By David M'Kee Wright.

Sports day at the township; the station chaps mustered
From Stewart's and "Flaxland" and Scott's of "Argyle;"
Good sport and good weather, and take things together
The event that they talked most about was the mile.
Young Wilson from Flaxland could run like a greyhound,
His times were a wonder with no stopwatch by;
From Stewart's, Jack Barry could go like "Old Harry,"
And Scott's chaps had pinned all their faith on Mackay.
The township had three in, and each looked like winning.
The cunning boys smiled when you asked what they knew;
I'd have sooner been resting than stripping and breasting
The mark for the honour of old Waitahu.
But the chaps that were with me would take no denial—
I used to run once and could do it to-day;
It was no use complaining I wasn't in training,
I was hard from the hills and could show them the way.
So they said; but the other blokes smiled at my chances,
Well they might when I hadn't run for a year;
I heard someone mutter, "He's softer than butter—
He used to win once, but he won't finish here."
That made me feel foolish, I wished I'd been training,
I felt if I had I could make someone spin,
But still I was thinking, "I'll finish like winking;
Though there isn't a ghost of a chance I can win!"
We all toed the line, but I wasn't excited,
I fancied the race was all over for Dan;
The slowest could do me—the pistol went through me,
I jumped from the scratch, and the tussle began.
I'd a yard at the start, but I lost it next moment,
My word, they went off at a terrible bat;
I saw in a minute I wouldn't be in it
If Wilson and Barry kept moving like that.
They went for a quarter, then Pearce, of the township,
Ran up to the lead like a young cannon ball;
I kept well behind them, I reckoned to find them
About the three-quarters, or else not at all.
Second round the same order, Mackay creeping closer,
And Pearce, of the township, dropped out at the bend;
They kept the pace going, but Wilson was blowing,
I didn't expect to see him at the end.
Third round, and, by George, I was closing upon them,
My long steady swing was beginning to tell;
Mackay took the running—he'd played pretty cunning—
I caught my first man at the three-quarter bell.
 
Then I let myself out and I tackled another,
Passed him quickly and got up to Wilson at last;
There was nothing left in him that once looked like winning;
He gave up the struggle the moment I passed.
Jack Barry was next, and we got going level,
I brought him along till we tackled Mackay;
The whole ground was moving, our pace was improving,
By Jove! at the finish the grass seemed to fly.
"Come on, Dan! come on! you can leave them both standing!"
"Jack Barry's the winner!" "Mackay leads the way!"—
The yelling and raving, the rushing and waving—
I'll always remember the finish that day.
We were going "eyes out," all three shoulder to shoulder,
I gathered myself for the best I could do—
I heard my name crying, I took the tape flying
For the honour and glory of old Waitahu!