Page:The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night - Volume 4.djvu/34

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Naomi, and the other said, "Belike he hath gone astray and entered some chamber other than thine and lost himself." So Naomi cried, "There is no Majesty and there is no Might save in Allah, the Glorious, the Great! Our last hour is come and we are all lost." And while they were sitting and sadly enough pondering their case, in came the Princess's handmaid and saluting Naomi said to her, "My lady biddeth thee to her banquet." "I hear and I obey," answered the damsel and the old woman said, "Belike thy lord is with the Caliph's sister and the veil of secrecy hath been rent." So Naomi at once sprang up and betook herself to the Princess, who said to her, "Here is thy lord sitting with me; it seemeth he hath mistaken the place; but, please Allah, neither thou nor he has any cause for fear." When Naomi heard these words, she took heart of grace and went up to Ni'amah; and her lord when he saw her.—And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

When it was the Two Hundred and Forty-fifth Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when Ni'amah saw his handmaid Naomi, he rose to meet her and strained her to his bosom and both fell to the ground fainting. As soon as they came to themselves, the Caliph's sister said to them, "Sit ye down and take we counsel for your deliverance from this your strait." And they answered, "O our lady, we hear and obey: it is thine to command." Quoth she, "By Allah, no harm shall befall you from us!" Then she bade her handmaids bring meat and drink which was done, and they sat down and ate till they had enough, after which they sat drinking. Then the cup went round amongst them and their cares ceased from them; but Ni'amah said, "Would I knew how this will end." The Princess asked, "O Ni'amah, dost thou love thy slave Naomi?"; and he answered, "Of a truth it is my passion for her which hath brought me to this state of peril for my life." Then said she to the damsel, "O Naomi, dost thou love thy lord Ni'amah?"; and she replied, "O my lady, it is the love of him which hath wasted my body and brought me to evil case." Rejoined the Princess, "By Allah, since ye love each other thus, may he not be who would part you! Be of good cheer and keep your eyes cool and clear." At this they both rejoiced and Naomi called for a lute and, when they brought it,