THE LOVERS OF THE BANU [FN#99] OZRAH



There was once, among the Banu Ozrah, a handsome and accomplished man, who was never a single day out of love, and it chanced that he became enamoured of a beauty of his own tribe and sent her many messages; but she ceased not to entreat him with cruelty and disdain; till, for stress of love and longing and desire and distraction, he fell sick of a sore sickness and took to his pillow and murdered sleep.  His malady redoubled on him and his torments increased and he was well nigh dead when his case became known among the folk and his passion notorious; -- And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

When it was the Three Hundred and Eighty-fourth Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the man took to his pillow and murdered sleep.  So his case became known and his passion notorious; and his infirmity grew upon him and his pains redoubled until he was well nigh dead.  His family and hers were urgent 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.  As soon as he saw her, his eyes ran over with tears and he repeated from a broken heart,

    “An, by thy life, pass thee my funeral train, *
         A bier upborne upon the necks of four,
    Wilt thou not follow it, and greet the grave *
         Where shall my corpse be graved for evermore?”

Hearing this, she wept with sore weeping and said to him, “By Allah, I suspected not that passion had come to such a pass with thee, as to cast thee into the arms of death!  Had I wist of this, I had been favourable to thy wish, and thou shouldst have had thy will.”  At this his tears streamed down even as the clouds rail rain, and he repeated this verse,

    “She drew near whenas death was departing us, *
         And deigned union grant when ‘twas useless all.”

Then he groaned one groan and died.  So she fell on him, kissing him and weeping and ceased not weeping until she swooned away; and when she came to herself, she charged her people to bury her in his grave and with streaming eyes recited these two couplets,

    “We lived on earth a life of fair content; *
         And tribe and house and home of us were proud;
    But Time in whirling flight departed us, *
         To join us now in womb of earth and shroud. [FN#100]

Then she fell again to weeping, nor gave over shedding tears and lamenting till she fainted away; and she lay three days, senseless.  Then she died and was buried in his grave.  This is one of the strange chances of love. [FN#101]  And I have heard related a tale of the




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