The Winners

Also published as L’Envoi from The Story of the Gadsbys

Rudyard Kipling

WHAT is the moral? Who rides may read.
    When the night is thick and the tracks are blind
A friend at a pinch is a friend indeed,
    But a fool to wait for the laggard behind.
Down to Gehenna or up to the Throne,
He travels the fastest who travels alone.

White hands cling to the tightened rein,
    Slipping the spur from the booted heel,
Tenderest voices cry “’Turn again,”
    Red lips tarnish the scabbarded steel,
High hopes faint on a warm hearth stone—
He travels the fastest who travels alone.

One may fall but he falls by himself—
    Falls by himself with himself to blame.
One may attain and to him is pelf—
    Loot of the city in Gold or Fame.
Plunder of earth shall be all his own
Who travels the fastest and travels alone.

Wherefore the more ye be holpen and stayed—
    Stayed by a friend in the hour of toil,
Sing the heretical song I have made—
    His be the labour and yours be the spoil.
Win by his aid and the aid disown—
He travels the fastest who travels alone!

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