ABU SUWAYD AND THE PRETTY OLD WOMAN.



Quoth Abu Suwayd, "I and a company of my friends, entered a garden one day to buy somewhat of fruit; and we saw in a corner an old woman, who was bright of face, but her head-hair was white, and she was combing it with an ivory comb. We stopped before her, yet she paid no heed to us neither veiled her face: so I said to her, 'O old woman, [FN#251] wert thou to dye thy hair black, thou wouldst be handsomer than a girl: what hindereth thee from this?' She raised her head towards me"--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

When it was the Four Hundred and Twenty-fourth Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Abu Suwayd continued: "When I spake these words to the ancient dame she raised her head towards me and, opening wide her eyes, recited these two couplets,

    'I dyed what years have dyed, but this my staining *
         Lasts not, while that of days is aye remaining:
    Days when beclad in gear of youth I fared, *
         Raked fore and aft by men with joy unfeigning.'

I cried, 'By Allah, favoured art thou for an old woman! How sincere art thou in thine after-pine for forbidden pleasures and how false is thy pretence of repentance from frowardness!'" And another tale is that of



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