Page:Departmental Ditties and Ballads and Barrack-Room Ballads, Kipling, 1899.djvu/213

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
29
THE KING'S JEST

"And he said to the boy: 'They shall praise thy zeal
"'So long as the red spurt follows the steel.
"'And the Russ is upon us even now?
"'Great is thy prudence—await them, thou.
"'Watch from the tree. Thou art young and strong,
"'Surely thy vigil is not for long.
"'The Russ is upon us, thy clamour ran?
"'Surely an hour shall bring their van.
"'Wait and watch. When the host is near,
"'Shout aloud that my men may hear.'


"Friend of my heart, is it meet or wise
"To warn a King of his enemies?
"A guard was set that he might not flee—
"A score of bayonets ringed the tree.
"The peach-bloom fell in showers of snow,
"When he shook at his death as he looked below.
"By the power of God, who alone is great,
"Till the seventh day he fought with his fate.
"Then madness took him, and men declare
"He mowed in the branches as ape and bear,
"And last as a sloth, ere his body failed,

"And he hung as a bat in the forks, and wailed,