Achmed and His Mare

AN old Arabian tale the truth conveys,
That honor’s passion avarice outweighs.

Brave Achmed owned a mare of wondrous speed ;
He prized her much above his wife or creed.

And lest some one should steal that precious mare,
He guarded her with unremitting care.

He tied her every night before his tent ;
The fastening-cord then round his pillow went.

When all in slumber lay, the robber crept,
Unloosed the cord, and on the courser leapt.

“ Wake up ! ” he cries,—“ ’tis I, the thief, who call ;
See now if she in flight is chief of all !"

Mount Achmed and his tribe in wrath and shame,
And chase him as a tempest chases flame.

Hot Achmed nearly to the robber came,
When thus he thought:—“ My mare will lose her fame.

“ If I o’ertake her, she is then outrun;
But if I reach her not, I am undone.

“ Oh, better she were stolen before my face
Than have her vanquished in this desperate race !”

One secret sign his mare was taught to heed,
Whenever she must try her utmost speed.

He to the robber screamed, “ Quick, pinch her ear ! ”
The sign she felt with answering love and fear.

As like a level thunderbolt she flew,
All chase was vain, the vexed pursuers knew.

Before this self-betrayal blank surprise
Fills Achmed's comrades, and their wondering cries

Demand, "How shall thy foolish act be named ? ”—
“ My mare is lost, her glory is not shamed,”

He says : “ I knew, that, if her ear he nipped,
The darling prize could never be outstripped.”