The Arab Steed

From The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia

The Arab Steed is a poem written by Arthur Conan Doyle first published in the Daily News Weekly on 1 july 1899.


The Arab Steed

I gave the 'orse 'is evenin' feed,
And bedded of 'im down,
And went to 'ear the sing-song
In the bar-room of the Crown,
And one young feller spoke a piece
As told a kind of tale,
About an Arab man wot 'ad
A certain 'orse for sale.

I 'ave no grudge against the man —
I never 'eard 'is name,
But if he was my closest pal
I'd say the very same,
For wot you do in other things
Is neither 'ere nor there,
But w'en it comes to 'orses
You must keep upon the square.

Now I'm tellin' you the story
Just as it was told last night,
And if I wrong this Arab man
Then 'e can set me right;
But s'posin' all these fac's are fac's,
Then I make bold to say
That I think it was not sportsmanlike
To act in sich a way.

For, as I understand the thing,
'E went to sell this steed —
Which is a name they give a 'orse
Of some outlandish breed —,
And soon 'e found a customer,
A proper sportin' gent,
Who planked 'is money down at once
Without no argument.

Now when the deal was finished
And the money paid, you'd think
This Arab would 'ave asked the gent
At once to name 'is drink,
Or at least 'ave thanked 'im kindly,
An' wished 'im a good day,
And own as 'e'd been treated
In a very 'andsome way.

But instead o' this 'e started
A-talkin' to the steed,
And speakin' of its "braided mane"
An' of its "winged speed,"
And other sich expressions
With which I can't agree,
For a 'orse with wings an' braids an' things
Is not the 'orse for me.

The moment that 'e 'ad the cash —
Or wot 'e called the gold,
'E turned as nasty as could be:
Says 'e, "You're sold! You're sold!"
Them was 'is words; it's not for me
To settle wot he meant;
It may 'ave been the 'orse was sold,
It may 'ave been the gent.

I've not a word to say agin
His fondness for 'is 'orse,
But why should 'e insinivate
The gent would treat 'im worse?
An' why should 'e go talkin'
In that aggravatin' way,
As if the gent would gallop 'im
And wallop 'im all day?

It may 'ave been an' 'arness 'orse,
It may 'ave been an 'ack,
But a bargain is a bargain,
An' there ain't no goin' back;
For when you've picked the money up,
That finishes the deal,
And after that your mouth is shut,
Wotever you may feel.

Supposin' this 'ere Arab man
'Ad wanted to be free,
'E could 'ave done it businesslike,
The same as you or me;
A fiver might 'ave squared the gent,
An' then 'e could 'ave claimed
As 'e'd cleared 'imself quite 'andsome,
And no call to be ashamed.

But instead 'o that this Arab man
Went on from bad to worse,
An' took an' chucked the money
At the cove wot bought the 'orse;
'E'd 'ave learned 'im better manners,
If 'e'd waited there a bit,
But 'e scooted on 'is bloomin' steed
As 'ard as 'e could split.

Per'aps 'e sold 'im after,
Or per'aps 'e 'ires 'im out,
But I'd like to warm that Arab man
Wen next 'e comes about;
For wot 'e does in other things
Is neither 'ere nor there,
But w'en it comes to 'orses
We must keep 'im on the square.