“A fine colt!” said Allen, as they were on their way to the stable.
“It is, sor,” said the tinker, “a most excellent breed o’ horses.”
“The grandsire from the desert of Arabia, where Allah created the horse out o’ the south wind. See the slender flanks of the Barbary? See her eye?”
He seemed to talk in that odd strain for the mere joy of it, and there was in his voice the God-given vanity of bird or poet.
He had caught the filly by her little plume and stood patting her forehead.
“A wonderful thing, sor, is the horse’s eye,” he continued. “A glance! an’ they know if ye be kind or cruel. Sweet Phyllis! Her eyelids are as bows; her lashes like the beard o’ the corn. Have ye ever heard the three prayers o’ the horse?”
“No,” said Allen.
“Well, three times a day, sor, he prays, so they say, in the desert. In the morning he thinks a prayer like this, ’O Allah! make me beloved o’ me master.’ At noon, ’Do well by me master that he may do well by me.’ At even, ’O Allah! grant, at last, I may bear me master into Paradise.’
“An’ the Arab, sor, he looks for a hard ride an’ many jumps in the last journey, an’ is kind to him all the days of his life, sor, so he may be able to make it.”
For a moment he led her up and down at a quick trot, her dainty feet touching the earth lightly as a fawn’s.
“Thou’rt made for the hot leagues o’ the great sand sea,” said he, patting her head. “Ah! thy neck shall be as the bowsprit; thy dust as the flying spray.”
“In one thing you are like Isaiah,” said Allen, as he whittled. “The Lord God hath given thee the tongue of the learned.”
“An’ if he grant me the power to speak a word in season to him that is weary, I shall be content,” said the tinker.
Dinner over, they came out of doors. The stranger stood filling his pipe. Something in his talk and manner had gone deep into the soul of the boy, who now whispered a moment with his father.
“Would you sell the filly?” said Allen. “My boy would like to own her.”
“What, ho, the boy! the beautiful boy! An’ would ye love her, boy?” the tinker asked.
“Yes, sir,” the boy answered quickly,
“An’ put a ribbon in her forelock, an’ a coat o’ silk on her back, an’, mind ye, a man o’ kindness in the saddle?”
“Then take thy horse, an’ Allah grant thou be successful on her as many times as there be hairs in her skin.”
“And the price?” said Allen.
“Name it, an’ I’ll call thee just.”
The business over, the tinker called to Trove, who had led the filly to her stall,—
“You, there, strike the tents. Bring me the mare. This very day she may bear me to forgiveness.”
Trove brought the mare.
“Remember,” said the old man, turning as he rode away, “in the day o’ the last judgment God ‘ll mind the look o’ thy horse.”