All is well-in a prison-to-night, and the warders are crying -All-s Well!-
I must speak, for the sake of my heart-if it-s but to the walls of my cell.
For what does it matter to me if to-morrow I go where I will?
I-m as free as I ever shall be-there is naught in my life to fulfil.
I am free! I am haunted no more by the question that tortured my brain:
-Are you sane of a people gone mad? or mad in a world that is sane?-
I have had time to rest-and to pray-and my reason no longer is vext
By the spirit that hangs you one day, and would hail you as martyr the next.

Are the fields of my fancy less fair through a window that-s narrowed and barred?
Are the morning stars dimmed by the glare of the gas-light that flares in the yard?
No! And what does it matter to me if to-morrow I sail from the land?
I am free, as I never was free! I exult in my loneliness grand!

Be a saint and a saviour of men-be a Christ, and they-ll slander and rail!
Only Crime-s understood in the world, and a man is respected-in gaol.
But I find in my raving a balm-in the worst that has come to the worst-
Let me think of it all-I grow calm-let me think it all out from the first.

Beyond the horizon of Self do the walls of my prison retreat,
And I stand in a gap of the hills with the scene of my life at my feet;
The range to the west, and the Peak, and the marsh where the dark ridges end,
And the spurs running down to the Creek, and the she-oaks that sigh in the bend.
The hints of the river below; and, away on the azure and green,
The old goldfield of Specimen Flat, and the township-a blotch on the scene;
The store, the hotels, and the bank-and the gaol and the people who come
With the weatherboard box and the tank-the Australian idea of home:

The scribe-spirit-broken; the -wreck,- in his might-have-been or shame;
The townsman -respected- or worthy; the workman respectful and tame;
The boss of the pub with his fine sense of honour, grown moral and stout,
Like the spielers who came with the -line,- on the cheques that were made farther out.

The clever young churchman, despised by the swaggering, popular man;
The doctor with hands clasped behind, and bowed head, as if under a ban;
The one man with the brains-with the power to lead, unsuspected and dumb,
Whom Fate sets apart for the Hour-the man for the hour that might come.

The old local liar whose story was ancient when Egypt was young,
And the gossip who hangs on the fence and poisons God-s world with her tongue;
The haggard bush mother who-d nag, though a husband or child be divine,
And who takes a fierce joy in a rag of the clothes on the newcomer-s line.

And a lad with a cloud on his heart who was lost in a world vague and dim-
No one dreamed as he drifted apart that -twas genius the matter with him;
Who was doomed, in that ignorant hole, to its spiritless level to sink,
Till the iron had entered his soul, and his brain found a refuge in drink.

Perhaps I was bitter because of the tongues of disgrace in the town-
Of a boy-nature misunderstood and its nobler ambitions sneered
Of the sense of injustice that stings till it ends in the creed of the push-
I was born in that shadow that clings to the old gully homes in the bush.
And I was ambitious. Perhaps as a boy I could see things too plain-
How I wished I could write of the truths-of the visions-that haunted my brain!
Of the bush-buried toiler denied e-en the last loving comforts of all-
Of my father who slaved till he died in the scrub by his wedges and maul.

Twenty years, and from daylight till dark-twenty years it was split, fence, and grub,
And the end was a tumble-down hut and a bare, dusty patch in the scrub.
-Twas the first time he-d rested, they said, but the knit in his forehead was deep,
And to me the scarred hands of the dead seemed to work as I-d seen them in sleep.

And the mother who toiled by his side, through hardship and trouble and drought,
And who fought for the home when he died till her heart-not her spirit-wore out:
I am shamed for Australia and haunted by the face of the haggard bush wife-
She who fights her grim battle undaunted because she knows nothing of life.

By the barren track travelled by few men-poor victims of commerce, unknown-
E-en the troubles that woman tells woman she suffers, unpitied, alone;
Heart-dumbed and mind-dulled and benighted, Eve-s beauty in girlhood destroyed!
Till the wrongs never felt shall be righted-and the peace never missed be enjoyed.

There was no one to understand me. I was lonely and shy as a lad,
Or I lived in a world that was wider than ours; so of course I was -mad.-
Who is not understood is a -crank--so I suffered the tortures of men
Doomed to think in the bush, till I drank and went wrong-I grew popular then.

There was Doctor Lebenski, my friend-and the friend, too, of all who were down-
Clever, gloomy, and generous drunkard-the pride and disgrace of the town.
He had been through the glory and shame of a wild life by city and sea,
And the tales of the land whence he came had a strong fascination for me.

And often in yarning or fancy, when she-oaks grew misty and dim,
From the forest and straight for the camp of the Cossack I-ve ridden with him:
Ridden out in the dusk with a score, ridden back ere the dawning with ten-
Have struck at three kingdoms and Fate for the fair land of Poland again!

He-d a sorrow that drink couldn-t drown-that his great heart was powerless to fight-
And I gathered the threads -twixt the long, pregnant puffs of his last pipe at night;
For he-d say to me, sadly: -Jack Drew--then he-d pause, as to watch the smoke curl-
-If a good girl should love you, be true-though you die for it-true to the girl!

-A man may be false to his country-a man may be false to his friend:
-Be a vagabond, drunkard, a spieler-yet his soul may come right in the end;
-But there is no prayer, no atonement, no drink that can banish the shade
-From your side, if you-ve one spark of manhood, of a dead girl that you have betrayed.-

-One chance for a fortune,- we-re told, in the lives of the poorest of men-
There-s a chance for a heaven on earth that comes over and over again!
-Twas for Ruth, the bank manager-s niece, that the wretched old goldfield grew fair,
And she came like an angel of peace in an hour of revengeful despair.
A girl as God made her, and wise in a faith that was never estranged-
From childhood neglected and wronged, she had grown with her nature unchanged;
And she came as an angel of Hope as I crouched on Eternity-s brink,
And the loaded revolver and rope were parts of the horrors of drink.

I was not to be trusted, they said, within sight of a cheque or a horse,
And the worst that was said of my name all the gossips were glad to endorse.
But she loved me-she loved me! And why? Ask the she-oaks that sighed in the bends-
We had suffered alike, she and I, from the blindness of kinsfolk and friends.

A girlhood of hardship and care, for she gave the great heart of a child
To a brother whose idol was Self, and a brother good-natured but -wild;--
And a father who left her behind when he-d suffered too much from the moan
Of a mother grown selfish and blind in her trouble--twas always her own.

She was brave, and she never complained, for the hardships of youth that had driven
My soul to the brink of perdition, but strengthened the girl-s faith in Heaven.
In the home that her relatives gave she was tortured each hour of her life.
By her cruel dependence-the slave of her aunt, the bank-manager-s wife.

Does the world know how easy to lead and how hard to be driven are men?
She was leading me back with her love, to the faith of my childhood again!
To my boyhood-s neglected ideal-to the hopes that were strangled at birth,
To the good and the truth of the real-to