The Soldier's Revenge
by Theodore Tilton
A. D. 1655.
This golden legend first was told
When Swedes and Danes were foes of old.
One morn the Swedes gave way so soon
The battle ended at the noon.
Two foes lay sweltering on the sand,
Each wounded by the other's hand.
The Swede exclaimed,
O day accurst,
That sees a soldier die of thirst!
The Dane replied, with anguish wrung,
My water-flask shall cool thy tongue:
I filled it at a mountain spring;
Drink thou to Denmark and the king!
But precious loss if any drips;
So hold it steady to thy lips!
The Swede replied,
If thee I kill,
Thy flask is mine to drink my fill!
Then drawing poniard from his girth,
He struck a blow, but stabbed the earth.
The Dane exclaimed,
O wretched Swede!
How durst thou do so base a deed!
By Heaven! I take revenge, O knave!
Then snatching back the flask he gave,
Thirst thou, he cried,
while I shall quaff;
Thy throat shall swallow only half!
I meant to bid thee drink the whole:
So curse thy loss, thou dastard soul!
The King of Denmark overheard,
And smiling at the deed and word,
Proclaimed, in sight of all his train,
I dub thee knight, O noble Dane!
Uprose a noise of Danish cheers --
Heard yet through twice a hundred years.
So every hero hath reward --
Of men, of kings, or of the Lord!
Source:The Sexton's Tale, And Other Poems.
Sheldon And Company, New York.