The Thief and the Travelers

Two men equipp’d were on their way;
One fearful; one without dismay,
An able fencer. As they went,
A robber came with black intent;
Demanding, upon pain of death,
Their gold and silver in a breath.
At which the man of spirit drew,
And instantly disarm’d and slew
The Thief, his honor to maintain.
Soon as the rogue was fairly slain,
The tim’rous chap began to puff,
And drew his sword, and stripp’d in buff—
“Leave me alone with him! stand back!
I’ll teach him whom he should attack.”
Then he who fought, “I wish, my friend,
But now you’d had such words to lend;
I might have been confirm’d the more,
Supposing truth to all you swore;
Then put your weapon in the sheath,
And keep your tongue within your teeth,
Though you may play an actor’s part
On them who do not know your heart.
I, who have seen this very day
How lustily you ran away,
Experience when one comes to blows
How far your resolution goes.”
This narrative to those I tell
Who stand their ground when all is well;
But in the hour of pressing need
Abash’d, most shamefully recede. [more info]

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