when Naomi heard these words, she shed tears and said to herself, "Verily, I have been tricked and the trick hath succeeded," adding to herself, "If I speak, none will credit me; so I will hold my peace and take patience, for I know that the relief of Allah is near." Then she bent her head for shame, and indeed her cheeks were tanned by the journey and the sun. So the Caliph's sister left her that day and returned to her on the morrow with clothes and necklaces of jewels, and dressed her; after which the Caliph came in to her and sat down by her side, and his sister said to him, "Look on this handmaid in whom Allah hath conjoined every perfection of beauty and loveliness." So he said to Naomi, "Draw back the veil from thy face;" but she would not unveil, and he beheld not her face. However, he saw her wrists and love of her entered his heart; and he said to his sister, "I will not go in unto her for three days, till she be cheered by thy converse." Then he arose and left her, but Naomi ceased not to brood over her case and sigh for her separation from her master, Ni'amah, till she fell sick of a fever during the night and ate not nor drank; and her favour faded and her charms were changed. They told the Caliph of this and her condition grieved him; so he visited her with physicians and men of skill, but none could come at a cure for her. This is how it fared with her; but as regards Ni'amah, when he returned home he sat down on his bed and cried, "Ho, Naomi!" But she answered not; so he rose in haste and called out, yet none came to him, as all the women in the house had hidden themselves for fear of him. Then he went out to his mother, whom he found sitting with her cheek on her hand, and said to her, "O my mother, where is Naomi?" She answered, "O my son, she is with one who is worthier than I to be trusted with her, namely, the devout old woman; she went forth with her to visit devotionally the Fakirs and return." Quoth Ni'amah, "Since when hath this been her habit and at what hour went she forth?" Quoth his mother, "She went out early in the morning." He asked, "And how camest thou to give her leave for this?"; and she answered, "O my son, 'twas she persuaded me." "There is no Majesty and there is no Might save in Allah, the Glorious, the Great!" exclaimed Ni'amah and, going forth from his home in a state of distraction, he repaired to the Captain of the Watch to whom said he, "Doss thou play tricks upon me and steal-my slave-girl away from my house? I will assuredly complain of thee to the Commander of the Faithful." Said the Chief of Police, "
Page:The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night - Volume 4.djvu/24
This page needs to be proofread.