When first I found this forest place
More years ago than I can tell,
I met a man of alien race
And came to know and like him well;
A humble hawker, spare and tall,
Dark faced, a handsome, bearded man;
And often now bush folk recall
The kindly smile of Hakim Khan.
He plied his trade in ways remote,
Where bush-wives pawed his varied stock:
A working shirt, a winter coat,
Socks, handkerchiefs, a cheap print frock.
They chaffered with him till, at eve,
With well-fed horse and well-kept van,
Sim Jackson's block, by Jackson's leave,
Served as camp for Hakim Khan.
And many a talk and many a tale
We had together long ago.
He told me of the pleasant vale
Of Kashmir, where the roses grow:
And, while he spoke, his fine, dark eyes
Saw nought of bush or hawker's van,
But other scenes and other skies
That held the dreams of Hakim Khan.
And while the meat, that his own hand
Had slain, cooked o'er the camp fire's glow,
He spoke of this new, kindly land,
And kind, good men he'd come to know,
His white teeth flashing in a grin,
He spoke of Jackson - "that nice man,
Grass for my horse." Small gifts could win
Deep gratitude for Hakim Khan.
For, when Sim Jackson lost his all
One summer while the bush-fires roared,
There came a figure, spare and tall,
And tossed a purse upon the board
A well-filled purse. "That help you on;
Mister, you pay back when you can.
You been good friend." And he was gone. . .
Such was the heart of Hakim Khan.
He long since left our forest place,
This hawker with the soft, dark eyes
This simple man of alien race
Who looked on life so simply wise.
Back in his well-loved Kashmir vale,
Where roses grow he ends his span.
And many a bush friend hopes the tale
Of dreams come true for Hakim Khan.
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