THE LOVERS OF THE BENOU UDHREH
There was once, among the Benou Udhreh, a handsome and accomplished man, who was never a day out of love, and it chanced that he became enamoured of a beautiful woman of his own tribe and sent her many messages; but she ceased not to use him with cruelty and disdain, till, for stress of passion and longing and distraction, he fell exceeding sick and took to his bed and forswore sleep. His sickness grew on him and his anguish redoubled upon him, till he was all but dead; and his case became known and his passion noised abroad among the folk. His family and hers were instant with her to visit him, but she refused, till he was at the point of death, when, being told of this, she relented towards him and vouchsafed him a visit. When he saw her, his eyes ran over with tears and he repeated the following verses, from a broken heart:If, by thy life, there pass thee by my funeral train, to wit, A bier borne on the necks of four, wilt grudge to follow it?
When she heard this, she wept sore and said to him, 'By Allah, I thought not that passion had come to such a pass with thee, as to cast thee into the arms of death! Had I known this, I had been favourable to thee, and thou shouldst have enjoyed thy desire.' At this, his tears streamed down, like the cloud-showers, and he repeated the following verse:She draweth near to me, when death hath come betwixt us two And proffereth union, when it no profit can me do.
Then he gave one sigh and died, and she fell on him, kissing him and weeping, till she swooned away. When she came to herself she charged her people bury her in his grave and recited the following verses, with streaming eyes:We lived upon the earth a life of comfort and delight: Country and tribe and dwelling-place alike of us were proud;
Then she fell again to weeping and ceased not from tears and lament, till she swooned away. She lay three days, senseless; then died and was buried in his grave. This is one of the strange chances of love.