Page:The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night - Volume 4.djvu/35

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she took it and tuned it and played a lively measure which enchanted the hearers, and after the prelude sang these couplets,

"When the slanderers cared but to part us twain, * We owed no
     blood-debt could raise their ire
And they poured in our ears all the din of war, * And aid failed
     and friends, when my want was dire:
I fought them hard with mine eyes and tears; * With breath and
     sword, with the stream and fire!"

Then Naomi gave the lute to her master, Ni'amah, saying, "Sing thou to us some verse." So he took it and playing a lively measure, intoned these couplets,

"Full Moon if unfreckled would favour thee, * And Sun uneclipsed
     would reflect thy blee:
I wonder (but love is of wonders full * And ardour and passion
     and ecstasy)
How short the way to my love I fare, * Which, from her faring, so
     long I see."

Now when he had made an end of his song, Naomi filled the cup and gave it to him, and he took it and drank it off; then she filled again and gave the cup to the Caliph's sister who also emptied it; after which the Princess in her turn took the lute and tightened the strings and tuned it and sang these two couplets,

"Grief, cark and care in my heart reside, * And the fires of love
     in my breast
My wasted form to all eyes shows clear; * For Desire my body hath
     mortified."

Then she filled the cup and gave it to Naomi, who drank it off and taking the lute, sang these two couplets,

"O to whom I gave soul which thou tortures", * And in vain I'd
     recover from fair Unfaith
Do grant thy favours my care to cure * Ere I die, for this be my
     latest breath."

And they ceased not to sing verses and drink to the sweet sound of the strings, full of mirth and merriment and joy and jollity till behold! in came the Commander of the Faithful. Now when they saw him, they rose and kissed the ground before him; and he, seeing Naomi with the lute in her hand, said to her, "O Naomi, praised be Allah who hath done away from thee sickness and suffering!"