In the Mahouna mountain, in the Haracta glen,
The summons of the Sheik is out--Come forth, ye bearded men!
In African defiles, in jungle, in ravine,
Shadow'd by cork-tree forests and by the olives green,
The torrent-brook of Ouled is bare with torrid heat--
Its gravelly bed is trampled by the lion's mighty feet.
Come forth, ye Arab tribesmen, the hunter and the scout!
The signal-fires are blazing o'er all the cliffs about;
Put off the sandals from the feet, the bournous from the limb,
For silent must your pathway be, thro' dell and desert grim.
Stand fast together, side by side, with levell'd gun and lance;
The foe lurks in the thickest shade, where never sunbeams glance.
This slope upon the mountain-side leads precipitously down--
Leads down to where the brook pours out its waves of turbid brown;
It is the lion's pathway, and here he comes to drink,
With bristling mane and tawny hide, along the grassy brink,
See! all around the trees are torn, and seam'd and scarr'd the bark;
'Tis here his angry iron claws leave their terrific mark;
Here, in the yellow sand, he wallow'd in the heat,
And here upon the pebbles, the impress of his feet,
Then let the bravest and the best, in compact order stand.
The weak may hide where forests their spreading boughs expand.
Here in these desert places no other life may be,
The wild boar and the jackal turn from the haunt and flee;
The panther in the thicket feeds on jackal and the hare;
This desert is the lion's home, the monarch's royal lair;
From hence, when stars are out, he gallops to the plain,
Beneath the herdsman's very beard the cattle spoil to gain.
Stand fast, it is the midnight; the earth is hid in gloom;
No howls of wolves, no low of ox across the silence boom;
No flash of watch-fire, and no light from distant shepherd's tent
To scare the prowling monster, in lurid gleams are sent.
Stand fast! There is a sound! Is it the rising breeze
That murmureth complainingly far thro' the bending trees?
It is the lion's trample, and see, in single file
The tawny beasts! And as they come they lash their flanks the while:
Their luminous bright eyes are of a fiery red;
They snuff the tainted air, they stride with heavy tread.
Now firm your arm and true your aim, for life is on the cast,
Nor break your ranks to flee, for that moment were your last;
Full on the shaggy head discharge the leaden hail;
Alas! it glances harmless, as from a coat of mail.
One roar, one hollow roar! as from a thunderous sky;
The raging beast is on them now--they tremble and they fly.
He snaps the bone, he tears the flesh, and many a victim dies,
Ere, pierc'd with balls, upon the earth the bleeding monarch lies!