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Hew down the bridge, Sir Consul,
With all the speed you may ;
Will hold the foe in play.
May well be stopped by three.
And keep the bridge with me?” Then out spake Spurius Lartius —
A Rhamnian proud was he — “Lo, I will stand on thy right hand
And keep the bridge with thee.” And out spake strong Herminius —
Of Tatian blood was he — “I will abide on thy left side
And keep the bridge with thee.” “ Horatius,” quoth the consul,
“ As thou say'st so let it be,” And straight against that great array
Forth went the dauntless three. For Romans, in Rome's quarrel,
Spared neither land nor gold, Nor son nor wife nor limb nor life,
In the brave days of old. Meanwhile the Tuscan army,
Right glorious to behold, Came flashing back the noonday light, Rank behind rank, like surges bright
Of a broad sea of gold.
Four hundred trumpets sounded
A peal of warlike glee, As that great host, with measured tread, And spears advanced and ensigns spread, Rolled slowly toward the bridge's head,
Where stood the dauntless three.
The three stood calm and silent,
And looked upon their foes, And a great shout of laughter
From all the vanguard rose. But soon Etruria's noblest
Felt their hearts sink to see On the earth the bloody corpses,
In the path the dauntless three!
Have manfully been plied,
Above the boiling tide:
Loud cried the Fathers all; “Back, Lartius! back, Herminius!
Back, ere the ruin fall!”
Back darted Spurius Lartius;
Herminius darted back; And, as they passed, beneath their feet
They felt the timbers crack. But when they turned their faces,
And on the further shore
Saw brave Horatius stand alone,
They would have crossed once more. But, with a crash like thunder,
Fell every loosened beam,
Lay right athwart the stream ;
Rose from the walls of Rome, As to the highest turret-tops
Was splashed the yellow foam.
Alone stood brave Horatius,
But constant still in mind: Thrice thirty thousand foes before,
And the broad flood behind. “Down with him!” cried false Sextus,
With a smile on his pałe face ; “ Now yield thee !” cried Lars Porsena,
“Now yield thee to our grace.”
Round turned he, as not deigning
Those craven ranks to see; Naught spake he to Lars Porsena,
To Sextus naught 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!”
The good sword by his side,
Plunged headlong in the tide.
No sound of joy or sorrow
Was heard from either bank;
Stood gazing where he sank;
They saw his crest appear,
Could scarce forbear to cheer.
“Out on him!” quoth false Sextus ;
6. 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.”
And now the ground he touches,
Now on dry earth he stands ;
To press his gory hands;
And now, with shouts and clapping,
And noise of weeping loud,
Borne by the joyous croud.
XXXII. - THE CAPTIVE MAID.
1. Now Naaman, captain of the host of the king of Syria, was a great man with his master, and honorable, because by him the Lord had given victory unto Syria : he was also a mighty man of valor, but he was a leper.
2. And the Syrians had gone out in bands, and had brought away captive out of the land of Israel a little maid; and she waited on Naaman's wife. And she said unto her mistress, Would God my Lord were with the prophet that is in Samaria! then would he recover him of his leprosy.
And one went in, and told his lord, saying, Thus and thus said the maid that is of the land of Israel.
3. And the king of Syria said, Go to, go, and I will send a letter unto the king of Israel. And he departed, and took with him ten talents of silver, and six thousand pieces of gold, and ten changes of raiment.
And he brought the letter to the king of Israel, saying, And now when this letter is come unto thee, behold, I have sent Naaman, my servant, to thee, that thou mayest recover him of his leprosy.