When the sands of the lonely desert covered the plains of strife
Where the English fought for the rescue and the Arab stood for his life,
When the crash of the battle is over and healed are our wounds and scars,
There will live in our island story a Tale of the Tenth Hussars.
They had charged in the grand old fashion with furious shout and swoop,
With a “Follow me, lads!” from the Colonel and an answering roar from the troop;
From the Staff, as the troopers past it, in glory of pride and pluck,
They heard, and they never forgot it, one following shout “Good Luck!”
Wounded and worn he sat there, in silence of pride and pain,
The man who had led them often, but was never to lead again.
Think of the secret anguish! Think of the dull remorse!
To see the Hussars sweep past him, unled by the old White Horse.
An Alien, not a stranger; with the heart of a comrade still,
He had borne his sorrow bravely, as a soldier must and will;
And when the battle was over, in deepening gloom and shade,
He followed the staff in silence, and rode to the Grand Parade;
For the Tenth had another hero, all ripe for the General’s praise,
Who was called to the front that evening, by the name of Trooper Hayes;
He had slashed his way to fortune, when scattered, unhorsed, alone,
And in saving the life of a comrade, had managed to guard his own.
The General spoke out bravely, as ever a soldier can,
“The Army’s proud of your valour; the Regiment’s proud of its man!”
Then across that lonely desert, at the close of the General’s praise,
Came a cheer, then a quick short tremble, on the lips of Trooper Hayes.
“Speak out!” said the kindly General, “if you’ve anything Lad to say,
Your Queen and your dear old country shall hear what you’ve done today!”
“Speak out, old chap” said his comrades.
With an effort at last he said
“I came to the front with my pals here, the boys and the brave old tars,
I’ve fought for my Queen and Country and rode with the Tenth Hussars;
“I’m proud of the fine old Regiment” then the Colonel shook his hand,
“So I’ll ask one single favour from my Queen and my native land!
There sits by your side on your staff Sir,
A man we are proud to own!
He was struck down first in the battle, but never was heard to groan;
“If I’ve done ought to deserve it” then the Colonel smiled “Of course”
“Give back to the Tenth their Colonel, the man on the Old White Horse!
“If ever a man bore up Sir, as a soldier should with pluck,
And fought with a savage sorrow the demon of cursed ill-luck—
That man, he sits before you! Give us back with his wounds and scars,
The man who has sorely suffered, and is loved by the Tenth Hussars!”
Then a cheer went up from his comrades, and echoed across the sand,
And was borne of the wings of mercy to the heart of his native land,
Where the Queen on her throne will hear it, and the Colonel Prince will praise
The words of a simple soldier just uttered by Trooper Hayes.
Let the moralist stoop to mercy, that balm of all soles that live;
For better than all forgetting, is the wonderful word “Forgive!”
The above verses by Mr. Clement Scott, appeared in Punch of March 15th, 1884, and was widely re-printed throughout almost every paper in the country due to their very opportune reference to General Valentine Baker, whose sad dismissal case for assault had been widely followed by the public in 1875.