The Bandit

Upon his way to rob a Bank
He paused to watch a fire;
Though crowds were pressing rank on rank
He pushed a passage nigher;
Then sudden heard, piercing and wild,
The screaming of a child.

A Public Enemy was he,
A hater of the law;
He looked around for bravery
But only fear he saw;
Then to the craven crowds amaze
He plunged into the blaze.

How anguished was the waiting spell
Of horror and of pain!
Then--then from out that fiery hell
He staggered forth again:
The babe was safe, in blankets wrapt,
The man flame lapt.

His record was an evil one,
Of violence and sin.
No good on earth he'd ever done,
Yet--may he Heaven win!
A gangster he . . . Is it not odd?
--With guts of God.

by Robert William Service

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