You want me to tell you a story; a rhyme of the firing line
Of our thin red khaki heroes out there where the bullets whine
Out there where the bombs are bursting and the cannon like hell-doors slam.
Order another drink, boys, and I'll tell you of Soulful Sam
Now Sam was never hilarious; though I've had some mates that was worse.
He hadn't C.B. on his program. He never was known to curse.
For a card, or a skirt, or a beer mug he hadn't the friendly word.
But when it came to the scriptures, boys, say wasn't he just the bird!
For he always had tracts in his pocket; the likes he would haste to present;
Though some of the fellows would use them in ways they never was meant.
I used to read them religiously. And often I'd be impressed
By some of them bundles of holy dope that he carried around in his vest.
For I (and oh how I shudder at the horror the word conveys)
Have been (let me whisper it hoarsely) a gambler for half of my days.
A gambler, you hear, a gambler! Oh it makes me wishful to weep,
But oh, it is true my brethren, I would rather gamble than sleep.
And I've gambled this wide world over, from Monte Carlo to Maine
From Dawson City to Dover, from San Francisco to Spain.
Cards! They've been my ruin! They've taken my pride and my pelf.
And when I had no one to play with, why I'd go and I'd play by myself.
And Sam would sit and watch me as I shuffled a greasy deck.
He'd say, "You're bound for perdition!" And I'd tell him, "Get off of my neck!"
And that's how we come to be friendly though built on a different plan;
Me what's a desperate gambler and him such a pious young man.
But on to my tale: Imagine; darkness. the battle front.
The furious Huns attacking, and us ones a-bearing the brunt.
Me crouching behind a sand bag, trying hard to stay calm
When I heard someone singing a hymn-tune. O Lord! It's Soulful Sam.
Yes, right in the midst of the battle; in the fury, the flash, and the flame;
He was shooting and singing serenely; as if he enjoyed the same.
And there, in the midst of that battle, as the hordes of demons attacked,
He dipped down into his tunic and he handed me out a tract.
Then a star shell flared and I read it, "O Flee From the Wrath to Come!"
A nice, cheerful subject, I tell you, when you're hearing the bullets hum!
But before I had time to thank him, just one of them bits of lead
Come hustling along in a hurry, and strikes my partner dead!
Oh no siree, not by a long shot; for it hammered him hard o'er the breast
Just where he had tracts for an army corps stashed away in his vest
On its mission of death that bullet came a-hustling along; and it caved
A hole in them tracts to his hide, boys, but the life of my pal was saved.
And as he showed me in triumph, and horror was choking my breath,
Along come another bullet on its miserable mission of death.
On through the night it cavorted; a-seeking a haven of rest
And it zipped through a crack in the sand bags, and walloped me, bang o'er the breast!
"Was I killed?" do you ask? Oh no, boys, how could I be singing here,
And gazing with mournful vision at a mug long empty of beer
With a throat as dry as... Oh, thankee, I don't mind much if I do!
You know, beer with a dash of Hollands, now that's my particular brew.
Yes that was a terrible moment for it hammered me hard o'er the heart
It bowled me down like a nine-pin, and I looked for the gore to start.
And I saw, in the flash of that moment, in that instant of fury and strife,
My wretched past like a picture, all the sins of a gambler's life.
For I had no tracts to save me; to cheat that mad missile's doom.
I had no holy leaflets to help me cheat the tomb
I had no pious pamphlets to baffle a bullet's aim.
I had only this deck of cards, boys. But it seemed to work just the same.