The Ungrateful Soldier
Fifty Famous Stories Retold
Here is another story of the bat-tle-field, and it is much like the one which I have just told you.
Not quite a hundred years after the time of Sir Philip Sidney there was a war between the Swedes and the Danes. One day a great battle was fought, and the Swedes were beaten, and driven from the field. A soldier of the Danes who had been slightly wounded was sitting on the ground. He was about to take a drink from a flask. All at once he heard some one say,—
"O sir! give me a drink, for I am dying."
It was a wounded Swede who spoke. He was lying on the ground only a little way off. The Dane went to him at once. He knelt down by the side of his fallen foe, and pressed the flask to his lips.
"Drink," said he, "for thy need is greater than mine."
Hardly had he spoken these words, when the Swede raised himself on his elbow. He pulled a pistol from his pocket, and shot at the man who would have be-friend-ed him. The bullet grazed the Dane's shoulder, but did not do him much harm.
"Ah, you rascal!" he cried. "I was going to befriend you, and you repay me by trying to kill me. Now I will punish you. I would have given you all the water, but now you shall have only half." And with that he drank the half of it, and then gave the rest to the Swede.
When the King of the Danes heard about this, he sent for the soldier and had him tell the story just as it was.
"Why did you spare the life of the Swede after he had tried to kill you?" asked the king.
"Because, sir," said the soldier, "I could never kill a wounded enemy."
"Then you deserve to be a no-ble-man," said the king. And he re-ward-ed him by making him a knight, and giving him a noble title.