Mary Called Him Mister

Words: Henry Lawson

Music: John Armstrong

 

They’d parted just a year ago - she’d thought he’d ne’er come back

She stammered, blushed, held out her hand and called him “Mister Mack”.

How could he know that all the while she longed to murmur, “John”?

He called her “Miss le Brook” and asked “How  she was getting on.”

 

They’d parted just a year before; they’d loved each other well,

But he’d been down to Sydney since and come back such a swell.

They longed to meet in fond embrace, they hungered for a kiss,

But Mary called him “Mister” and the idiot called her “Miss”

 

He paused, and leaned against the door - a stupid chap was he

And, when she asked if he’d come in and have a cup of tea,

He looked to left, he looked to right, and then he glanced behind

And slowly doffed his “cabbage tree”* and said he didn’t mind

 

She made a shy apology because the meat was tough

Then asked if he was quite quite sure the tea was sweet enough

He stirred his tea and sipped it twice, and answered “plenty quite”

And cut himself a slice of beef and said that it was “right”

 

She glanced at him at times and coughed an awkward little cough

He stared at anything but her and said “I must be off”

That evening he went riding north - a sad and lonely ride

She locked herself inside her room and sat her down and cried.

 

They’d parted but a year before; they’d loved each other well,

But she was such a country girl and he’d grown such a swell.

They longed to meet in fond embrace, they hungered for a kiss,

But Mary called him “Mister” and the idiot called her “Miss”

 

*cabbage tree: A hat plaited from the leaves of the cabbage tree palm and the main headgear worn in the bush in the days before felt hats. Any bushman could whip up a cabbage tree in a matter of minutes.