Abbildungen der Seite

But when they turned their faces,

And on the farther shore
Saw brave Horatius stand alone,

They would have crossed once more;

[blocks in formation]

Alone stood brave Horatius,

But constant still in mindThrice thirty thousand foes before,

And the broad flood behind. “ Down with him!” cried false Sextus,

With a smile on his pale face; “Now yield thee,” cried Lars Porsena,

“ Now yield thee to our grace!”


Round turned he, as not deigning

Those craven ranks to see; Nought spake he to Lars Porsena,

To Sextus nought spake he;

But he saw on Palatinus

The white porch of his home; And he spake to the noble river

That rolls by the towers of Rome :


"O Tiber ! father Tiber !

To whom the Romans pray,
A Roman’s life, a Roman's arms,

Take thou in charge this day!”
So he spake, and, speaking, sheathed

The good sword by his side, And, with his harness on his back,

Plunged headlong in the tide.


No sound of joy or sorrow

Was heard from either bank, But friends and foes in dumb surprise,

With parted lips and straining eyes,
Stood gazing where he sank;
And when above the surges

They saw his crest appear,
All Rome sent forth a rapturous cry,

And even the banks of Tuscany
Could scarce forbear to cheer

But fiercely ran the current,

Swollen high by months of rain,
And fast his blood was flowing ;

And he was sore in pain, And heavy with his armor,

And spent with changing blows; And oft they thought him sinking,

And still again he rose.


Never, I ween, did swimmer,

In such an evil case,

Struggle through such a raging flood Safe to the landing-place;

But his limbs were borne up bravely

By the brave heart within, And our good father Tiber

Bare bravely up his chin.


“Curse on him!” quoth false Sextus,

"Will not the villain drown? But for this stay, ere close of day

We should have sacked the town!" Heaven help him !” quoth Lars Porsena,

And bring him safe to shore; For such a gallant feat of arms

Was never seen before."

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]

And underneath is written,

In letters all of gold,
How valiantly he kept the bridge

In the brave days of old.


And still his name sounds stirring

Unto the men of Rome, As the trumpet-blast that cries to them

To charge the Volscian home; And wives still pray to Juno

For boys with hearts as bold As his who kept the bridge so well

In the brave days of old.


And in the nights of winter,

When the cold north winds blow, And the long howling of the wolves

Is heard amidst the snow, When round the lonely cottage

Roars loud the tempest's din, And the good logs of Algidus

Roar louder yet within;


When the oldest cask is opened,

And the largest lamp is lit; When the chestnuts glow in the embers

And the kid turns on the spit; When young and old in circle

Around the firebrands close ; When the girls are weaving baskets,

And the lads are shaping bows;


When the goodman mends his armor,

And trims his helmet’s plume; When the goodwife's shuttle merrily

Goes flashing through the loom;

With weeping and with laughter

Still is the story told,
How well Horatius kept the bridge
In the brave days of old.




Just as the flame on the forestick, which Ralph had watched so intensely, flickered and burned low, and just as Ralph, with a heavy but not quite hopeless heart, rose to leave, the latch lifted, and Bud re-entered.

“I want to say something," he stammered; “but you know it's hard to say it. I ha'n't no book-larnin' to speak of; and some things is hard to say when a man ha'n't got book-words to say 'em with. And they's some things a man can't hardly ever say anyhow to anybody."

Here Bud stopped. But Ralph spoke in such a matter-ofcourse way in reply, that he felt encouraged to go on. You gin up Hanner kase you thought she belonged to

That's more’n I'd a done by a long shot. Now, arter I left here just now, I says to myself, 'A man what can gin up his gal on account of such a feeling for the rights of a FlatCricker like me, why, dog on it,' says I, “such a man is the man as can help me do better. I don't know whether you're a Hardshell or a Saftshell, or a Methodist, or a Campbellite, or a New Light, or a United Brother, or a Millerite, or what not. But I says, “The man what can do the clean thing by a ugly feller like me, and stick to it, when I was just ready to eat him


is a kind of a man to tie to. Here Bud stopped in fright at his own volubility; for he had run his words off like a piece learned by heart, as though afraid that if he stopped he would not have courage to

Ralph said that he did not yet belong to any church, and he was afraid he couldn't do Bud much good. But his tone was full of sympathy, and what is better than sympathy, a yearning for sympathy.

“You see,” said Bud, “ I wanted to git out of this lowlived, Flat-Crick way of livin'. We're a hard set down here, Mr. Hartsook; and I'm gettin' to be one of the hardest of


go on.

« ZurückWeiter »