Page:The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night - Volume 3.djvu/46

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And Death shall come and beat thee down ere long, * Put out of sight and bury 'neath an earthen lid: Thy folk, fond fool! thou'lt leave for thee to mourn, * And through their lives to sorrow all forlorn."

Then she folded the letter and committed it to the old woman, who took it and returning to Taj al-Muluk, gave it to him. When he read it, he knew that the Princess was hard hearted and that he should not win access to her; so he complained of his case to the Wazir and besought his counsel. Quoth the Minister, "Know thou that naught will profit thee save that thou write to her and invoke the retribution of Heaven upon her." And quoth the Prince, "O my brother, O Aziz, do thou write to her as if my tongue spake, according to thy knowledge." So Aziz took a paper and wrote these couplets,

"By the Five Shaykhs, [1] O Lord, I pray deliver me; * Let her for whom I suffer bear like misery: Thou knowest how I fry in flaming lowe of love, * While she I love hath naught of ruth or clemency: How long shall I, despite my pain, her feelings spare? * How long shall she wreak tyranny o'er weakling me? In pains of never ceasing death I ever grieve: * O Lord, deign aid; none other helping hand I see. How fain would I forget her and forget her love! * But how forget when Love garred Patience death to dree? O thou who hinderest Love to 'joy fair meeting tide * Say! art thou safe from Time and Fortune's jealousy? Art thou not glad and blest with happy life, while I * From folk and country for thy love am doomed flee?"

Then Aziz folded the letter and gave it to Taj al-Muluk, who read it and was pleased with it. So he handed it to the old woman, who took it and went in with it to Princess Dunya. But when she read it and mastered the meaning thereof, she was enraged with great rage and said, "All that hath befallen me cometh by means of this ill omened old woman!" Then she cried out to the damsels and eunuchs, saying, "Seize this old hag, this accursed trickstress and beat her with your slippers!" So they came down upon her till she swooned away; and, when she came to herself, the Princess said to her, "By the Lord! O wicked old woman, did I not fear Almighty Allah, I would slay thee." Then quoth she to them, "

  1. The "five Shaykhs" must allude to that number of Saints whose names are doubtful; it would be vain to offer conjectures. Lane and his "Sheykh" (i. 617) have tried and failed.