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Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908). A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895. 1895.

George Murray

A Lesson of Mercy

BENEATH a palm-tree by a clear cool spring

God’s Prophet, Mahomet, lay slumbering,

Till, roused by chance, he saw before him stand

A foeman, Durther, scimitar in hand.

The chieftain bade the startled sleeper rise;

And with a flame of triumph in his eyes,

“Who now can save thee, Mahomet?” he cried.

“God,” said the Prophet, “God, my friend and guide.”

Awe-struck the Arab dropped his naked sword,

Which, grasped by Mahomet, defied its lord:

And, “Who can save thee now thy blade is won?”

Exclaimed the Prophet. Durther answered, “None!”

Then spake the victor: “Though thy hands are red

With guiltless blood unmercifully shed,

I spare thy life, I give thee back thy steel:

Henceforth, compassion for the helpless feel.”

And thus the twain, unyielding foes of yore,

Clasped hands in token that their feud was o’er.