Page:The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night - Volume 3.djvu/17

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Now When it was the One Hundred and Twenty-Fifth Night

Shahrazad continued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Aziz pursued to Taj al-Muluk: Then I entered the flower garden and made for the pavilion, where I found the daughter of Dalilah the Wily One, sitting with head on knee and hand to cheek. Her colour was changed and her eyes were sunken; but, when she saw me, she exclaimed, "Praised be Allah for thy safety!" And she was minded to rise but fell down for joy. I was abashed before her and hung my head; presently, however, I went up to her and kissed her and asked, "How knewest thou that I should come to thee this very night?" She answered, "I knew it not! By Allah, this whole year past I have not tasted the taste of sleep, but have watched through every night, expecting thee; and such hath been my case since the day thou wentest out from me and I gave thee the new suit of clothes, and thou promisedst me to go to the Hammam and to come back! So I sat awaiting thee that night and a second night and a third night; but thou camest not till after so great delay, and I ever expecting thy coming; for this is lovers' way. And now I would have thee tell me what hath been the cause of thine absence from me the past year long?" So I told her. And when she knew that I was married, her colour waxed yellow, and I added, "I have come to thee this night but I must leave thee before day." Quoth she, "Doth it not suffice her that she tricked thee into marrying her and kept thee prisoner with her a whole year, but she must also make thee swear by the oath of divorce, that thou wilt return to her on the same night before morning, and not allow thee to divert thyself with thy mother or me, nor suffer thee to pass one night with either of us, away from her? How then must it be with one from whom thou hast been absent a full year, and I knew thee before she did? But Allah have mercy on thy cousin Azizah, for there befel her what never befel any and she bore what none other ever bore and she died by thy ill usage; yet 'twas she who protected thee against me. Indeed, I thought thou didst love me, so I let thee take thine own way; else had I not suffered thee to go safe in a sound skin, when I had it in my power to clap thee in jail and even to slay thee." Then she wept with sore weeping and waxed wroth and shuddered in my