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Two Rogues
by [?]

Dim, grim, and silent as a ghost,
The sentry occupied his post,
To all the stirrings of the night
Alert of ear and sharp of sight.
A sudden something–sight or sound,
About, above, or underground,
He knew not what, nor where–ensued,
Thrilling the sleeping solitude.
The soldier cried: “Halt! Who goes there?”
The answer came: “Death–in the air.”
“Advance, Death–give the countersign,
Or perish if you cross that line!”
To change his tone Death thought it wise–
Reminded him they ‘d been allies
Against the Russ, the Frank, the Turk,
In many a bloody bit of work.
“In short,” said he, “in every weather
We’ve soldiered, you and I, together.”
The sentry would not let him pass.
“Go back,” he growled, “you tiresome ass–
Go back and rest till the next war,
Nor kill by methods all abhor:
Miasma, famine, filth and vice,
With plagues of locusts, plagues of lice,
Foul food, foul water, and foul gases,
Rank exhalations from morasses.
If you employ such low allies
This business you will vulgarize.
Renouncing then the field of fame
To wallow in a waste of shame,
I’ll prostitute my strength and lurk
About the country doing work–
These hands to labor I’ll devote,
Nor cut, by Heaven, another throat!”