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The Price of Victory

by Horatio Alger, Jr.

“A victory! –a victory!”
  Is flashed across the wires;
Speed, speed the news from State to State,
  Light up the signal fires!
Let all the bells from all the towers
  A joyous peal ring out;
We’ve gained a glorious victory,
  And put the foe to rout!

A mother heard the chiming bells;
  Her joy was mixed with pain.
“Pray God,” she said, “my gallant boy
  Be not among the slain!”
Alas for her! that very hour
  Outstretched in death he lay,
The color from his fair, young face
  Had scarcely passed away.

His nerveless hand still grasped the sword.
  He never more might wield,
His eyes were sealed in dreamless sleep
  Upon that bloody field.
The chestnut curls his mother oft
  Had stroked in fondest pride,
Neglected hung ia clotted locks,
  With deepest crimson dyed.

Ah! many a mother’s heart shall ache,
  And bleed with anguish sore,
When tidings come of him who marched
  So blithely forth to war.
Oh! sad for them, the stricken down
  In manhood’s early dawn,
And sadder yet for loving hearts.
  God comfort them that mourn!

Yes, victory has a fearful price
  Our hearts may shrink to pay,
And tears will mingle with the joy
  That greets a glorious day.
But he who dies in freedom’s cause,
  We cannot count him lost;
A battle won for truth and right
  Is worth the blood it cost!

O mothers! count it something gained
  That they, for whom you mourn,
Bequeath fair Freedom’s heritage
  To millions yet unborn;–
And better than a thousand years
  Of base, ignoble breath,
A patriot’s fragrant memory,
  A hero’s early death!

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