The Kia ora coo-ee : the magazine for the ANZACS in the Middle East, 1918
Pal O' Mine
Pal O' Mine.
I chose you, not for symmetry of form, beauty or well-bred looks (you had none of these), but for the brand you bore, K.Y. under bar K.Y., sure in the knowledge that you would carry me well, you desert-bred son of a desert-bred data. Light you made of the endless miles of loose sand and the whale back dunes of Sinai, for there are wide areas of "sand" country in that north west corner of New South Wales whence you came. But what of the shade and perfume of golden-blossomed mulga, the silver-leafed boree and pungent-scented Gnelia? What of the tree-fringed lakes, blue as the summer sky, that came into view whea you raced to the top of some pine-capped sandhill, and stood at gaze, your mane and tail flowing in the wind? Was it in search of these that, with ears pricked, you eagerly topped those dunes of Sinai? And was it of regret, that sigh which vibrated your velvet nostrils when you saw only burning sand? I believe so.
Were the journey never so long, and the fodder and water never so short, you would still carry me "on the bib"; distance, drought and days between drinki were your heritage. On lonely patrol or nerve-trying night screen you were company, and ears and eyes to me—aye, and shield to me, too. That night, when we were feeling our way ahead, I seeing nought, you, nosing the air, tense and alert, suddenly swerved and leaped aside just as a spurt of flame stabbed the darkness, and a bullet's breath fanned my cheek.
To the sound of grimmer plaudits than were wont to greet your forefathers, your last race was run, and the goal was reached, Pal O' Mine. Your exile was worth the while for that glorious charge on Beersheba With foam-flecked lips and ears laid flat, you strained to be in the van; and just when it seemed that your patron saint, or mine, was working overtime—"plunk", and with a sob, you pitched and went" West." Mercifully swift the end, for which I commended some Turk's soul to Allah.
Your spirit is surely in that Happy Hunting Ground of Honest Horses, where drought, heat, and "regulation scale for light mobile" are unknown. When I, too, go " West", my spirit shall go on pilgrimage to the Mecca of Loyal Friends; it will cross over the hills of the Mountain-bred, and the treeless haunt of the Plain-bred to a scrub-fringed sandhill whose base rs aflame with Desert Pea blossoms, there to call to your spirit, Pal o' Mine.