DIBIL EL KHUZAÏ WITH THE LADY AND MUSLIM BEN EL WELID

(Quoth Dibil el Khuzaï (141)), I was sitting one day at the gate of El Kerkh, (142) when a lady came up to me, never saw I a handsomer or better shaped than she, walking with a swaying gait and ravishing, with her flexile grace, all who beheld her. When my eyes fell on her, I was captivated by her and my entrails trembled and meseemed my heart fled forth of my breast; so I accosted her with the following verse:

      Unsealed are the springs of tears for mine eyes, heigho! And sealed are the springs of sleep to my lids, for woe.

She turned her head and looking at me, made answer forthright with the following:

      And surely, an ailing eye to have, for him Whom her looks invite, is a little thing, I trow.

I was astounded at the readiness of her reply and the sweetness of her speech and rejoined with this verse:

      And doth then the heart of my fair indeed incline To favour him whose tears as a river flow?

She answered me, without hesitation, thus:

      If thou desire us of love, betwixt us love Is a loan to be returned, I'd have thee know.

Never entered my ears sweeter than her speech nor ever saw I brighter than her face: so I changed the rhyme and measure, to try her, in my wonder at her speech, and repeated the following verse:

      Will destiny e'er gladden us with union and delight And one desireful one at last with other one unite?

She smiled at this, (never saw I fairer than her mouth nor sweeter than her lips,) and answered me, without hesitation, as follows:

      I prithee, what hath destiny to do betwixt us twain? Thou'rt destiny: rejoice us, then, with union and delight.

At this, I sprang up and kissing her hands, said, "I had not thought that Fortune would vouchsafe me such an opportunity. Do thou follow me, not of command or against thy will, but of thy grace and favour to me." Then I went on and she after me.

Now I had not, at that time, a lodging I deemed fit for the like of her; Muslim ben El Welid (143) was my fast friend, and he had a handsome house. So I made for his abode and knocked at the door, whereupon he came out, and I saluted him, saying, "It is for a time like this that friends are treasured up." "With all my heart," answered he; "enter." So we entered, I and the lady, but found money scarce with him. However, he gave me a handkerchief, saying, "Carry it to the market and sell it and buy meat and what else thou needest." So I took the handkerchief and hastening to the market, sold it and bought meat and what else we required; but, when I returned, I found that Muslim had retired, with the lady, to an underground chamber. (144) When he heard me, he came out and said to me, "God requite thee the kindness thou hast done me, O Abou Ali, (145) and reckon it of thy good deeds on the Day of Resurrection!" So saying, he took from me the meat and wine and shut the door in my face His words enraged me and I knew not what to do; but he stood behind the door, shaking for mirth; and when he saw me thus, he said to me, "I conjure thee on my life, O Abou Ali, tell me who it was composed this verse?

      I lay in the arms of the fair one all night, Whilst my friend slept, clean-limbed, but polluted of spright."

At this, my rage redoubled, and I replied, "He who wrote this other verse:

      One, I wish him in's girdle a thousand of horns, Exceeding the idol Menaf (146) in their height!"

Then I began to revile him and reproach him with the foulness of his conduct and his lack of honour; and he was silent. But, when I had finished, he smiled and said, "Out on thee, O fool! Thou hast entered my house and sold my handkerchief and spent my money: so, with whom art thou wroth, O pimp?" Then he left me and went away to her, whilst I said, "By Allah, thou art right to call me a fool and a pimp!" Then I left his door and went away in sore concern, whereof I feel the trace in my heart to this day; and I never had my desire of her nor ever heard of her more.




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