Page:The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night - Volume 3.djvu/25

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strolled and ceased not strolling till we reached a pleasant spot in which he bade me sit down and await his going and his returning. Then he brought me somewhat of fruit and, leaving me, disappeared for an hour; but after a while he returned to me bringing a roasted lamb, of which we ate till we had eaten enough, my heart yearning the while for a sight of the lady. Presently, as we sat, the postern opened and the keeper said to me, 'Rise and hide thee.' I did so; and behold, a black eunuch put his head out through the garden wicket and asked, 'O Shaykh, there any one with thee?' 'No,' answered he; and the eunuch said, 'Shut the garden gate.' So the keeper shut the gate, and lo! the Lady Dunya came in by the private door. When I saw her, methought the moon had risen above the horizon and was shining; I looked at her a full hour and longed for her as one athirst longeth for water. After a while she withdrew and shut the door; whereupon I left the garden and sought my lodging, knowing that I could not get at her and that I was no man for her, more especially as I was become like a woman, having no manly tool: moreover she was a King's daughter and I but a merchant man; so; how could I have access to the like of her or--to any other woman? Accordingly, when these my companions made ready for the road, I also made preparation and set out with them, and we journeyed towards this city till we arrived at the place ere we met with thee. Thou askedst me and I have answered; and these are my adventures and peace be with thee!" Now when Taj al-Muluk heard that account, fires raged in his bosom and his heart and thought were occupied love for the Lady Dunya; and passion and longing were sore upon him. Then he arose and mounted horse and, taking Aziz with him, returned to his father's capital, where he settled him in a separate house and supplied him with all he needed in the way of meat and drink and dress. Then he left him and returned to his palace, with the tears trickling down his cheeks, for hearing oftentimes standeth instead of seeing and knowing. [1] And he ceased not to be in this state till his father came in to him and finding him wan faced, lean of limb and tearful eyed, knew that something had occurred to chagrin him and said, "O my son, acquaint me with thy case and tell me what hath befallen thee, that thy colour is changed and thy body is

  1. The popular form is, "often the ear loveth before the eye."