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A Hindu Legend (Poem)

Along the bank of Ganges slowly paced
A tall, dark man, in robes of purest white.
With earnest, thoughtful look he stood and gazed
Upon the stream, while every moment seemed
To leave a sterner trace upon his brow.
The men who passed him laughed, and, or jesting, said:
"Lo, there is Gohur, waiting for the fish
To come and cook themselves that he may eat!"
But had they read the thought in Gohur's mind,
Mayhap not quite so loudly had they laughed—
For Gohur's thought was how to kill a man,
And that man was the Emperor—Baber named.

Now Baber was no Hindu, and, though just
And merciful, yet many hated him—
The foreign conqueror from beyond the hills—
And Gohur dreamed it would be grand to free
His country from detested alien yoke,
Though his own life should pay the penalty.

It was not hard to find the man he sought;
For Baber loved to wander through the town,
Clad in the coarse garb of a laborer,
That he might learn how fared his humbler folk—
How they were treated, and himself obeyed.
So Gohur hid a sword beneath his robe,
And came into the city. There he found
Huge uproar and confusion; flying crowds
His steps impeded, shrill screams rent the air.
A mighty elephant had broken loose.
Right down the middle of the street he charged,
Foaming with rage; his tusks like sword-blades gleamed,
And with his twirling trunk he battered down
The huts on either side.

A little child,
Belonging to the hated pariah class—
A little, half-starved outcast—slipped and fell
Full in the mad beast's path. One instant more,
And his small form had lain a mangled mass!
But from the crowd stepped forth a laborer,
Who snatched the child from fast-approaching death,
His own life periling. 'Twas just in time!
On charged the elephant, with fury blind,
Toward the river rushing. As the man
Leapt back, the turban shadowing his face
Fell off, and to the onlookers revealed
Their Emperor, Baber! Then a sudden hush
Came o'er the crowd. Another man stepped forth,
And, sword in hand, before the Emperor kneeled.
"Thine enemy was I, O Prince!" said he;
"This day I meant to slay thee, but my hands
Are powerless 'gainst him whom God protects.
For greater is the savior of a life
Than its destroyer. Wherefore, take my sword,
And slay the wretch who would have murdered thee!"
The Emperor smiled, and, stretching out his hand,
Raised Gohur gently, saying: "Surely, friend,
Thy reasoning is faulty; for if he
Who saves is greater far than he who slays,
Why should I wish to take the life of one
Who hath confessed his fault and doth repent?
Thy sword retain and in my service use;
I make thee now one of my palace-guards,
If from my hand thou wilt accept the boon."

Gohur the Hindu bowed his head and wept.
Thenceforth no stauncher servant Baber had
Than he who once had been his bitter foe.

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James Allen

James Allen was a little-known philosophical writer and poet. He is best recognized for his book, As a Man Thinketh. Allen wrote about complex subjects such as faith, destiny, love, patience, and religion but had the unique ability of explaining these subjects clearly and in a way that is easy to understand. He often wrote about cause and effect, sowing and reaping, as well as overcoming sadness, sorrow, and grief. For more information on the life of James Allen, click here.

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