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It was just before the last great charge,
Two soldiers they drew their rein;
With a parting word and a touch of hands,
That they may not meet again.
One had blue eyes and curly hair,
Nineteen but a month ago;
And the bloom of youth was on his face,
He was only a boy you know.
The other was tall, dark, stern, and proud,
His faith in this world grew dim;
He only trusted the world to those,
Who were all the world to him.
They had ridden together for many's an hour,
As many's a dreary mile;
And always before they had met their foe,
With a calm and a cheerful smile.
They looked in each other's eyes,
In the face of an awful doom;
And the tall, dark man was the first to speak,
Saying, "Charlie, my time has come.
We'll ride together into the fight,
But you'll ride back alone;
Then promise a little more trouble to take,
When I am dead and gone.
"I have a face upon my breast,
I'll wear it into the fight;
With deep blue eyes and goiden hair,
A face like morning light.
Like morning light, 'twas love to me,
To brighten my lonely life;
And little I've cared for the flowers of this world,
Since she promised to be my wife.
"Write to her, Charlie, when I'm gone,
Send back this fair young face;
Write and tell her how I died,
And where is my resting place.
Tell her I will meet her on the border line,
Of earth and heaven between;
I know she'll meet me over there,
And it won't be long, I ween."
There were tears in the eyes of the blue-eyed boy,
His voice was filled with pain;
"I'll do my comrade's parting wish,
If I ride home again.
But if you ride back and I am left,
Will you do as much for me?
For I have a mother to hear the news,
Write to her tenderly.
"But one and the other of those she loved,
Had lost both husband and son;
And I myself got my country's call,
She kissed me and bid me on.
She's praying at home like a weary saint,
And her pale face white with woe;
And her heart will be broken when I am gone,
I'll see her soon I know."
It was then the order came to charge,
And innocent hand touched hand;
With shoulder arms and off they went,
Rode a calm and a thoughtless band.
But as soon as they reached the cliff of the hill,
Where the rebels shot and shelled;
Four rows of dead into the ranks,
They jeered them as they fell.
They arose with a horrible dying yell,
The heights they could not gain;
And all that death had kindly spared,
Rode slowly back again.
Among the dead that was dying there,
Lay the boy with the curly hair;
And the tall, dark man that rode by his side,
Lay dead beside him there.
There is no one to write to the mother,
At home to tell her her boy is dead;
There's more to write to the bride girl,
The last word her true lover said.
There's no one to hear his last fond cries,
Or ease his aching pains;
Until she crosses the river of death,
And stands by her side again.
Sung by Ned Rice [1916-2002] of Cape Broyle, NL, and published in MacEdward Leach And The Songs Of Atlantic Canada © 2004 Memorial University of Newfoundland Folklore and Language Archive (MUNFLA).
A variant was also sung by Jack Knight [b.ca.1874] of Shoe Cove, NL, and published as The Last Great Charge in MacEdward Leach And The Songs Of Atlantic Canada © 2004 Memorial University of Newfoundland Folklore and Language Archive (MUNFLA).
A variant was also collected in 1952 from Mike Kent of Cape Broyle, NL, by Kenneth Peacock and published in Songs Of The Newfoundland Outports, Volume 3, pp.1004-1006, by the National Museum of Canada (1965) Crown Copyrights Reserved.