Neeber, a Bedouin of noble heart,
That from good men received of praise the fee,
Owned a brave horse, with which he would not part,
Because from death he once had run him free.
The man and beast were friends, and it is vice
To sell our friend or friendship for a price.
The horse was black and strong, his step was proud,
His neck was arched, his ears alert for sound,
His speed the tempest's, and his mane a cloud;
His hoofs woke thunder from the desert ground;
His eyes flashed lightning from their inmost core:
Victor of Distance was the name he bore.
Daher, a Bedouin of another tribe,
Had often wished to buy this famous beast;
And as he smoked, and heard his friends describe
Its comely parts and powers, the wish increased;
But Neeber said the horse should not be sold,
Tho' offered wealth in camels and in gold.
Then Daher put on rags, and stained his face,
And went to wait for Neeber, seeming lame.
Him soon he saw approach at daring pace
Upon the envied horse, and as he came
He cried to him: "For three days on this spot
Have I lain starving--pity me my lot."
And, seeing Neeber stop, said on, "I die--
My strength is gone!" Down Neeber sprang,
And raised him gently with a pitying sigh,
And set him on his horse: a laugh outrang,
And Daher shouted as he plunged his spurs,
"Fair price refused, one sells at last for burrs."
"Stay! stay!" cried Neeber; Daher paused to hear:
"Since God has willed that you my beast should take,
I wish you joy; but tell no man, for fear
Another who was really starved might make
Appeal in vain; for some, remembering me,
Would fail to do an act of charity."
Sharper than steel to Daher seemed remorse!
He quickly turned, and, springing to the ground,
With head bowed low brought Neeber back his horse;
Then, falling on his peaceful beast, he wound
His arms about his neck to make amends,
And ever afterward the two were friends.