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Arlo Bates

On the Road to Chorrera

Three horsemen galloped the dusty way
While sun and moon were both in the sky;
An old crone crouched in the cactus' shade,
And craved an alms as they rode by.
A friendless hag she seemed to be,
But the queen of a bandit crew was she.

One horseman tossed her a scanty dole,
A scoffing couplet the second trolled;
But the third, from his blue eyes frank and free,
No glance vouchsafed the beldam old;
As toward the sunset and the sea,
No evil fearing, rode the three.

A curse she gave for the pittance small,
A gibe for the couplet 's ribald word;
But that which once had been her heart
At sight of the silent horseman stirred:
And safe through the ambushed band they speed
For the sake of the rider who would not heed!

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