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Two Soldiers

[also known as "The Last Fierce Charge"]

    It was just before the last fierce charge,
    Two soldiers drew their rein,
    With a parting word and a touch of the hand,
    They never might meet again.

    One had light blue eyes and curly hair,
    Nineteen but a month ago, —
    There was red on his cheek and down on his chin
    He's only a boy you know.

    The other was tall, dark, stern, and proud,
    His fate in this world seem'd dim;
    But he only trusted the more to those
    Who were all in this world to him.

    They had been together in many a fight,
    And rode for many a mile;
    But never till now they had met the foe
    With a calm and hopeful smile.

    But now they gazed in each other's eyes
    With an awful ghastly loom;
    The tall dark one was the first to speak
    Saying "Charlie, mine hour is come.

    We'll both ride up yon hill together,
    But you must ride back alone.
    O promise a little trouble to take
    For me when I'm gone.

    I have a fair face on my breast,
    I'll wear it throughout the fight;
    With light blue eyes, and curly hair
    That shines like the morning light.

    Like the morning light she is to me,
    With her calm and her hopeful smile;
    Oh, little care I for the frowns of fate,
    For she promised to be my wife.

    I mind the day she said 'Good-bye',
    With a smile on her fair face;
    Oh, tell her tenderly where I fell,
    And where is my resting place."

    Tears dimm'd the blue eyes of the boy
    His voice was low with pain.
    "I'll do your bidding, comrade mine,
    Should I ride back again.

    But if you ride back and I am slain,
    You'll do as much for me;
    I have a mother beloved by all,
    Write to her tenderly.

    She was a mother beloved by all,
    Who had buried both husband and son;
    And I the last for her country's cause
    She cheer'd and sent me on.

    And now she prays like a waiting saint,
    Her fair face wet with woe;
    Oh, when she hears that I am slain,
    Her heart will break I know."

    But now the trumpet sounds the charge,
    In an instant hand join'd hand,
    With a parting word and away they go, —
    A brave devoted band.

    There was none to tell that fair-hair'd girl
    The words her true-love said,
    And none to tell that waiting mother
    The news that her boy was dead.

    For among the number of the slain
    Was the boy with the curly hair;
    The tall dark man who rode by his side
    Lay dead beside him there.