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Littell's Living Age/Volume 162/Issue 2098/The Ameer's Message

< Littell's Living Age‎ | Volume 162
<poem>
                        I.

Abdurrahman, the Duráni Khán, to the Ghilzaie chief wrote he: "God has made me Ameer of the Affgháns, but thou on thy hills art free. I rule by the sword and signet; I care not to flatter or bribe; I take nor fee nor service of the noble Ghilzaie tribe; Nor pledge nor promise I ask of thee; I pardon, if all men know That thy heart has been hard against me, and thy friend has been my foe. For the sons of Sher Ali are exiles, their best men broken or fled; And those who escaped are homeless, and all who remained are dead. Such is the work of the Merciful, whose will is to smite or to save; It is he gives wealth and vengeance, or tears o'er a bloodstained grave. Now, while the swords are a moment still, 'ere ever fresh blood shall run, I look for a wise man's counsel, and I would that Affgháns were one. From Merv, last home of the free-lance, the clansmen are scattering far, And the Turkmán horses are harnessed to the guns of the Russian czar. So choose thou of all my liegemen, or choose thou of all my host, One true man, loyal-hearted, whomever thou trustest most, Whom thy tribe has known and honored, to bring thee in safety and peace; Thou shalt ride unscathed to Kabul, and the feud of our lives shall cease."

                        II.

The Ghilzaie chief wrote answer: "Our paths are narrow and steep, The sun burns fierce in the valleys, and the snow-fed streams run deep; The fords of the Kabul river are watched by the Afridee; We harried his folk last springtide, and he keeps good memory. High stands thy Kabul citadel, where many have room and rest; The Ameers give welcome entry, but they speed not a parting guest; So a stranger needs safe escort, and the oath of a valiant friend. Whom shall I choose of those I know? whom ask the Ameer to send? Wilt thou send the Vazir, Noor Ahmed, the man whom the Ghilzaies trust? He has long lain lost in a dungeon, his true, bold heart is dust. Wilt thou send the Jamsheedee Aga, who was called from the western plain? He left the black tents of his horsemen, and he led them never again. Shall I ask for the Moollah, in Ghuzni, to whom all Affgháns rise? He was bid last year to thy banqueting — his soul is in Paradise. Where is the chief Faizullah, to pledge me the word of his clan? He is far from his pine-clad highlands, and the vineyards of Kohistán; He is gone with the rest — all vanished; he passed through thy citadel gate. Will they come now, these I have chosen? I watch for their faces, and wait; For the night-shade falls over Kabul, and dark is the downward track, And the guardian hills ring an echo of voices that warn me back; Let the Ghilzaie bide on his mountain, and depart, as thy message has said, When but one sure friend the Ameer shall send, — when the tombs give up their dead."