Page:The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night - Volume 1.djvu/451

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412 Alf Lay lair wa Laylah. of her, and the two grappled and gripped and interlocked hands and anus. Presently he shifted his hands to her slender waist, when his finger tips sank into the soft folds of her middle, breeding languishment, and he fell a-trembling like the Persian reed in the roaring gale. So she lifted him up and throwing him to the ground, sat upon his breast with hips and hinder cheeks like mounds of sand, for his soul had lost mastery over his senses. Then she asked him, " O Moslem ! the slaying of Nazarenes is lawful to you folk ; what then hast thou to say about being slain thyself?" and he answered, "O my lady, thy speech as regards slaying me is not other than unlawful ; for our prophet Mohammed (whom Allah bless and preserve !) prohibited the slaying of women and children, old men and monks ! " " As it was thus revealed to your Prophet," she replied, " it behoveth us to render the equivalent of his mercy : so rise, I give thee thy life, for generosity is never lost upon the generous." Then she got off his breast and he rose and stood shaking the dust from his head against the owners of the crooked rib, even women ; and she said to him, " Be not ashamed ; but verily one who entereth the land of Roum in quest of booty, and cometh to assist Kings against Kings, how happeneth it that he hath not strength enough to defend himself from one made out of the crooked rib ? " " Twas not for lack of strength in me," he answered, " nor didst thou throw^me by thy force ; it was thy loveliness overthrew' me. So if thou wilt grant me another bout it will be of thy courtesy." She laughed and said, "I grant thee thy request; but these handmaids have long been pinioned, and their arms and sides are weary, and it were only right I should loose them, for haply this next wrestling bout will be long." Then she went to the slave-girls, and unbinding them, said to them in the tongue of Greece, "Get ye to some safe place till I foil this Moslem's lust and longing for you." So they went aw r ay, whilst Sharrkan kept gazing at them, and they kept turning to look at the two. Then each approached the adversary, and he set his breast against hers ; but when he felt waist touch waist his strength failed him, and she, waxing ware of this, lifted him with her hands swiftlier than the blinding leven-flash, and threw him to the ground. He fell on his back, 1 and then she said to him, "Rise ! I give thee thy life a second time. I spared thee in the first count because of thy Prophet, for that he made unlawful the slaying of women; and I do so on the second count because of thy weakliness and

In Eastern wrestling this counts as a fair fall. So Ajax fell on his back with 

Ulysses on his breast (Iliad, xxxii. 700, etc.).