THE THREE UNFORTUNATE LOVERS.
Quoth Al-'Utbí [FN#190], "I was sitting one day with a company of educated men, telling stories of the folk, when the talk turned upon legends of lovers and each of us said his say thereanent. Now there was in our company an old man, who remained silent, till all had spoken and had no more to say, when quoth he, 'Shall I tell you a thing, the like of which you never heard; no, never?' 'Yes,' quoth we; and he said, 'Know, then, that I had a daughter, who loved a youth, but we knew it not; while the youth loved a singing girl, who in her turn loved my daughter. One day, I was present at an assembly, wherein were also the youth'"--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the Four Hundred and Tenth Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the Shaykh continued: 'One day, I was present at an assembly wherein were also the youth and the singing girl and she chanted to us these couplets,
'Prove how Love bringeth low * Lover those tears that run
Lowering him still the more * When pity finds he none.'
Cried the youth, 'By Allah, thou hast said well, O my mistress.' Dost thou incite me to die?' Answered the girl from behind the curtain, 'Yes, if thou be a true lover.' So he laid his head on a cushion and closed his eyes; and when the cup came round to him, we shook him and behold, he was dead. [FN#191] Therewith we all flocked to him, and our pleasure was troubled and we grieved and broke up at once. When I came home, my people took in bad part my returning before the appointed time, and I told them what had befallen the youth, thinking that thereby I should greatly surprise them. My daughter heard my words and rising, went from the sitting chamber into another, whither I followed her and found her lying with her head on a cushion, even as I had told of the young man. So I shook her and lo! she was dead. Then we laid her out and set forth next morning to bury her, whilst the friends of the young man set forth in like guise to bury him. As we were on the way to the burial place, we met a third funeral and asking 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 did and was dead. So we buried them all three on one day, and this is the rarest tale that ever was heard of lovers." And they also tell a tale of