The Shooting of Dan McGrew

Author: Robert Service  | Date: 1907

THE SHOOTING OF DAN MCGREW

A bunch of the boys were whooping it up in the Malamute saloon;

The kid that handles the music-box was hitting a jag-time tune;

Back of the bar, in a solo game, sat Dangerous Dan McGrew,

And watching his luck was his light-o’-love, the lady that’s known

as Lou.

When out of the night, which was fifty below, and into the din and

the glare,

There stumbled a miner fresh from the creeks, dog-dirty, and loaded

for bear.

He looked like a man with a foot in the grave and scarcely the

strength of a louse,

Yet he tilted a poke of dust on the bar, and he called for drinks

for the house.

There was none could place the stranger’s face, though we searched

ourselves for a clue;

But we drank his health, and the last to drink was Dangerous Dan

McGrew.

There’s men that somehow just grip your eyes, and hold them hard

like a spell;

And such was he, and he looked to me like a man who lived in hell;

With a face most hair, and the dreary stare of a dog whose day is

done,

As he watered the green stuff in his glass, and the drops fell one

by one.

Then I got to figgering who he was, and wondering what he’d do,

And I turned my head- and there watching him was the lady that’s

known as Lou.

His eyes went rubbering round the room, and he seemed in a kind of

daze,

Till at last that old piano fell in the way of his wandering gaze.

The rag-time kid was having a drink; there was no one else on the

stool,

So the stranger stumbles across the room, and flops down there like

a fool.

In a buckskin shirt that was glazed with dirt he sat, and I saw him

sway;

Then he clutched the keys with his talon hands- my God! but that

man could play.

Were you ever out in the Great Alone, when the moon was awful

clear,

And the icy mountains hemmed you in with a silence you most could

hear;

With only the howl of a timber wolf, and you camped there in the

cold,

A half-dead thing in a stark, dead world, clean mad for the muck

called gold;

While high overhead, green, yellow and red, the North Lights swept

in bars?-

Then you’ve a hunch what the music meant... hunger and night and

the stars.

And hunger not of the belly kind, that’s banished with bacon and

beans,

But the gnawing hunger of lonely men for a home and all that it

means;

For a fireside far from the cares that are, four walls and a roof

above;

But oh! so cramful of cosy joy, and crowned with a woman’s love-

A woman dearer than all the world, and true as Heaven is true-

(God! how ghastly she looks through her rouge,- the lady that’s

known as Lou.)

Then on a sudden the music changed, so soft that you scarce could

hear;

But you felt that your life had been looted clean of all that it

once held dear;

That someone had stolen the woman you loved; that her love was a

devil’s lie;

That your guts were gone, and the best for you was to crawl away

and die.

’Twas the crowning cry of a heart’s despair, and it thrilled you

through and through-

"I guess I’ll make it a spread misere," said Dangerous Dan McGrew.

The music almost died away... then it burst like a pent-up flood;

And it seemed to say, "Repay, repay," and my eyes were blind with

blood.

The thought came back of an ancient wrong, and it stung like a

frozen lash,

And the lust awoke to kill, to kill... then the music stopped with

a crash,

And the stranger turned, and his eyes they burned in a most

peculiar way;

In a buckskin shirt that was glazed with dirt he sat, and I saw him

sway;

Then his lips went in in a kind of grin, and he spoke, and his

voice was calm,

And "Boys," says he, "you don’t know me, and none of you care a

damn;

But I want to state, and my words are straight, and I’ll bet my

poke they’re true,

That one of you is a hound of hell... and that one is Dan McGrew."

Then I ducked my head, and the lights went up, and two guns blazed

in the dark,

And a woman screamed, and the lights went up, and two men lay stiff

and stark.

Pitched on his head, and pumped full of lead, was Dangerous Dan

McGrew,

While the man from the creeks lay clutched to the breast of the

lady that’s known as Lou.

These are the simple facts of the case, and I guess I ought to

know.

They say that the stranger was crazed with "hooch," and I’m not

denying it’s so.

I’m not so wise as the lawyer guys, but strictly between us two-

The woman that kissed him and- pinched his poke- was the lady

that’s known as Lou.

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Chicago: Robert Service, The Shooting of Dan McGrew Original Sources, accessed July 23, 2024, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=HF3MUD7IKC4EB2R.

MLA: Service, Robert. The Shooting of Dan McGrew, Original Sources. 23 Jul. 2024. http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=HF3MUD7IKC4EB2R.

Harvard: Service, R, The Shooting of Dan McGrew. Original Sources, retrieved 23 July 2024, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=HF3MUD7IKC4EB2R.