Quoth Di'ibil al Khuzá'i [FN#181], "I was sitting one day at the gate of Al Karkh, [FN#182] when a damsel came past. Never saw I a fairer faced or better formed than she, walking with a voluptuous swaying gait and ravishing all beholders with her lithe and undulating pace. Now as my eyes fell on her, I was captivated by her and my vitals trembled and meseemed my heart flew forth of my breast; so I stood before her and I accosted her with this verse,

    'The tears of these eyes find easy release; *
         But sleep flies these eyelids without surcease.'

Whereon she turned her face and looking at me, straightway made answer with this distich,

    'A trifle this an his eyes be sore, *
         When her eyes say 'yes' to his love's caprice!'

I was astounded at the readiness of her reply and the fluency of her speech and rejoined with this verse,

    'Say, cloth heart of my fair incline to him *
         Whose tears like a swelling stream increase?'

And she answered me without hesitation, thus,

    'If thou crave our love, know that love's a loan; *
         And a debt to be paid by us twain a piece.'

Never entered my ears aught sweeter than her speech nor ever saw I brighter than her face: so I changed rhyme and rhythm to try her, in my wonder at her words, and repeated this couplet,

    'Will Fate with joy of union ever bless our sight, *
         And one desireful one with other one unite.'

She smiled at this (never saw I fairer than her mouth nor sweeter than her lips), and answered me, without stay or delay, in the following distich,

    “Pray, tell me what hath Fate to do betwixt us twain? *
         Thou'rt Elate: so bless our eyne with union and delight.'

At this, I sprang up and fell to kissing her hands and cried, 'I had not thought that Fortune would vouchsafe me such occasion. Do thou follow me, not of bidding or against thy will, but of the grace of thee and thy favour to me.' Then I went on and she after me. Now at that time I had no lodging I deemed fit for the like of her; but Muslim bin al-Walíd [FN#183] 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, ‘'Tis for time like this that friends are treasured up'; and he replied, 'With love and gladness! Come in you twain.' So we entered but found money scarce with him: however, he gave me a kerchief, saying, 'Carry it to the bazar and sell it and buy food and what else thou needest.' I took the handkerchief, and hastening to the market, sold it and bought what we required of victuals and other matters; but when I returned, I found that Muslim had retired, with her to an underground chamber. [FN#184] When he heard my step he hurried out and said to me, 'Allah requite thee the kindness thou hast done me, O Abu Ali and reward thee in time to come and reckon it of thy good deeds on the Day of Doom!' So saying, he took from me the food 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 Abu Ali, tell who it was composed this couplet?,

    'I lay in her arms all night, leaving him *
         To sleep foul-hearted but clean of staff.’

At this my rage redoubled, and I replied, 'He who wrote this other couplet',

    'One, I wish him in belt a thousand horns, *
         Exceeding in mighty height Manaf.' [FN#185]

Then I began to abuse him and reproach him with the foulness of his action and his lack of honour; and he was silent, never uttering a word. But, when I had finished, he smiled and said, 'Out on thee, O fool! Thou hast entered my house and sold my kerchief and spent my silver: so, with whom art thou wroth, O pimp?' [FN#186] Then he left me and went away to her, whilst I said, 'By Allah, thou art right to twit me as nincompoop and pander!' Then I left his door and went away in sore concern, and I feel its trace in my heart to this very day; for I never had my will of her nor, indeed, ever heard of her more." And amongst other tales is that about

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