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  A Soldier's Valentine  


Just from the sentry's tramp
     (I must take it again at ten),
I have laid my musket down,
     And seized instead my pen;
For, pacing my lonely round
     In the chilly twilight gray,
The thought, dear Mary, came,
     That this is St. Valentine's Day.

And with the thought there came
     A glimpse of the happy time
When a school-boy's first attempt
     I sent you, in borrowed rhyme,
On a gilt-edged sheet, embossed
     With many a quaint design,
And signed, in school-boy hand,
     "Your loving Valentine."

The years have come and gone,--
     Have flown, I know not where, --
And the school-boy's merry face
     Is grave with manhood's care;
But the heart of the man still beats
     At the well-remembered name,
And on this St. Valentine's Day
     His choice is still the same.

There was a time-- ah, well!
     Think not that I repine
When I dreamed this happy day
     Would smile on you as mine;
But I heard my country's call;
     I knew her need was sore.
Thank God, no selfish thought
     Withheld me from the war.

But when the dear old flag
     Shall float in its ancient pride,
When the twain shall be made one,
     And feuds no more divide,--
I will lay my musket down,
     My martial garb resign,
And turn my joyous feet
     Toward home and Valentine.

       - Horatio Alger Jr.

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