Read The Fire at Ross’s Farm of In the Days When the World Was Wide and Other Verses , free online book, by Henry Lawson, on ReadCentral.com.

 The squatter saw his pastures wide
  Decrease, as one by one
 The farmers moving to the west
  Selected on his run;
 Selectors took the water up
  And all the black soil round;
 The best grass-land the squatter had
  Was spoilt by Ross’s Ground.

 Now many schemes to shift old Ross
  Had racked the squatter’s brains,
 But Sandy had the stubborn blood
  Of Scotland in his veins;
 He held the land and fenced it in,
  He cleared and ploughed the soil,
 And year by year a richer crop
  Repaid him for his toil.

 Between the homes for many years
  The devil left his tracks: 
 The squatter pounded Ross’s stock,
  And Sandy pounded Black’s. 
 A well upon the lower run
  Was filled with earth and logs,
 And Black laid baits about the farm
  To poison Ross’s dogs.

 It was, indeed, a deadly feud
  Of class and creed and race;
 But, yet, there was a Romeo
  And a Juliet in the case;
 And more than once across the flats,
  Beneath the Southern Cross,
 Young Robert Black was seen to ride
  With pretty Jenny Ross.

 One Christmas time, when months of drought
  Had parched the western creeks,
 The bush-fires started in the north
  And travelled south for weeks. 
 At night along the river-side
  The scene was grand and strange -
 The hill-fires looked like lighted streets
  Of cities in the range.

 The cattle-tracks between the trees
  Were like long dusky aisles,
 And on a sudden breeze the fire
  Would sweep along for miles;
 Like sounds of distant musketry
  It crackled through the brakes,
 And o’er the flat of silver grass
  It hissed like angry snakes.

 It leapt across the flowing streams
  And raced o’er pastures broad;
 It climbed the trees and lit the boughs
  And through the scrubs it roared. 
 The bees fell stifled in the smoke
  Or perished in their hives,
 And with the stock the kangaroos
  Went flying for their lives.

 The sun had set on Christmas Eve,
  When, through the scrub-lands wide,
 Young Robert Black came riding home
  As only natives ride. 
 He galloped to the homestead door
  And gave the first alarm: 
 ’The fire is past the granite spur,
  ‘And close to Ross’s farm.’

 ’Now, father, send the men at once,
  They won’t be wanted here;
 Poor Ross’s wheat is all he has
  To pull him through the year.’ 
 ‘Then let it burn,’ the squatter said;
  ’I’d like to see it done -
 I’d bless the fire if it would clear
  Selectors from the run.

 ‘Go if you will,’ the squatter said,
  ’You shall not take the men -
 Go out and join your precious friends,
  And don’t come here again.’ 
 ‘I won’t come back,’ young Robert cried,
  And, reckless in his ire,
 He sharply turned his horse’s head
  And galloped towards the fire.

 And there, for three long weary hours,
  Half-blind with smoke and heat,
 Old Ross and Robert fought the flames
  That neared the ripened wheat. 
 The farmer’s hand was nerved by fears
  Of danger and of loss;
 And Robert fought the stubborn foe
  For the love of Jenny Ross.

 But serpent-like the curves and lines
  Slipped past them, and between,
 Until they reached the bound’ry where
  The old coach-road had been. 
 ’The track is now our only hope,
  There we must stand,’ cried Ross,
 ’For nought on earth can stop the fire
  If once it gets across.’

 Then came a cruel gust of wind,
  And, with a fiendish rush,
 The flames leapt o’er the narrow path
  And lit the fence of brush. 
 ‘The crop must burn!’ the farmer cried,
  ‘We cannot save it now,’
 And down upon the blackened ground
  He dashed the ragged bough.

 But wildly, in a rush of hope,
  His heart began to beat,
 For o’er the crackling fire he heard
  The sound of horses’ feet. 
 ‘Here’s help at last,’ young Robert cried,
  And even as he spoke
 The squatter with a dozen men
  Came racing through the smoke.

 Down on the ground the stockmen jumped
  And bared each brawny arm,
 They tore green branches from the trees
  And fought for Ross’s farm;
 And when before the gallant band
  The beaten flames gave way,
 Two grimy hands in friendship joined -
  And it was Christmas Day.