THE THREE UNFORTUNATE LOVERS

(Quoth El Utbi (149)), I was sitting one day with a company of men of culture, telling stories of the folk, when the talk turned upon anecdotes of lovers and each of us said his say thereon. Now there was in our company an old man, who remained silent, till we had all spoken and had no more to say, when he said, "Shall I tell you a thing, the like of which you never heard?" "Yes," answered we; and he said, "Know, then, that I had a daughter, who loved a youth, but we knew it not. The youth in question loved a singing-girl. who, in her turn, was enamoured of my daughter. One day, I was present at an assembly, where were also the young man and the girl; when the latter sang the following verses:

      Tears are the token by which, for love, Abjection in lovers still is shown,
      And more by token in one who finds No friend, to whom he may make his moan.

'By Allah, thou hast said well, O my lady!' exclaimed the youth. 'Doss thou bid me die?' 'Yes,' answered the girl from behind the curtain, 'if thou be in love.' So he laid his head on a cushion and closed his eyes; and when the cup came round to him, we shook him and found that he was dead. Therewith we all flocked to him, and our joy was troubled and we grieved and broke up forthright. When I came home, my people taxed me with returning before the appointed time, and I told them what had befallen the youth, thinking to surprise them. My daughter heard my words and rising, went into another chamber, whither I followed her and found her lying, with her head on a cushion, as I had told of the young man. I shook her and behold, she was dead. So we laid her out and set forth next morning with her funeral, whilst the friends of the young man carried him out, likewise, to bury him. As we were on the way to the burial-place, we met a third funeral and enquiring whose it was, were told that it was that of the singing-girl, who, hearing of my daughter's death, had done even as she and was dead. So we buried them all three on one day, and this is the rarest story that ever was heard of lovers."




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