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For many days after their departure from Lahore, a considerable degree of gloom hung over the whole party. LALLA Rookh, who had intended to make illness her excuse for not admitting the young minstrel, as usual, to the pavilion, soon found that to feign indisposition was | unnecessary;
FADLADEEN felt the loss of the good road they had hitherto travelled, and was very near cursing Jehan-Guire (of blessed memory !) for not having continued his delectable alley of trees,207 at least as far as the mountains of Cashmere ; — while the Ladies, who had nothing now to do all day but to be fanned by peacocks' feathers and listen to FADLADEEN, seemed heartily weary of the life they led, and, in spite of all the Great Chamberlain's criticisms, were so tasteless as to wish for the poet again. One evening, as they were proceeding to their place of rest for the night, the Princess, who, for the freer enjoyment of the air, had mounted her favorite Arabian palfrey, in passing by a small grove, heard the notes of a lute from within its leaves, and a voice, which she but too well knew, singing the following words:
Tell me not of Houris' eyes;
Far from me their dangerous glow,
Wound like some that burn below.
Who, that midst a desert's heat
Sees the waters fade away,
Streams again as false as they ?
The tone of melancholy defiance in which these words were uttered, went to LALLA Rookh's heart; and, as she reluctantly rode on, she could not help feeling it to be a sad but still sweet certainty, that FERAMORZ was to the full as enamoured and miserable as herself.
The place where they encamped that evening was the first delightful spot they had come to since they left Lahore. On each side of them was a grove full of small Hindoo temples, and planted with the most graceful trees of the East; where the tamarind, the cassia, and the silken plantains of Ceylon were mingled in rich contrast with the high fan-like foliage of the Palmyra, that favorite tree of the luxurious bird that lights up the chambers of its nest with fire-flies. 20 In the middle of the lawn where the pavilion stood there was a tank surrounded by small mango-trees, on the clear cold waters of which floated multitudes of the beautiful red lotus; 209 while at a distance stood the ruins of a strange and awful-looking tower, which seemed old enough to have been the temple of some religion no longer known, and which spoke the voice of desolation in the midst of all that bloom and loveliness. This singular ruin excited the wonder and conjectures of all. LALLA ROOKH guessed in vain, and the all-pretending FADLADEEN, who had never till this journey been beyond the precincts of Delhi, was proceeding most learnedly to show that he knew nothing whatever about the matter, when one of the Ladies suggested that perhaps FERAMORZ could
satisfy their curiosity. They were now approaching his
That venerable tower, he told them, was the remains of an ancient Fire-temple, built by those Ghebers or Persians of the old religion, who, many hundred years since, had fled hither from their Arab conquerors, preferring liberty and their altars in a foreign land to the alternative of apostasy or persecution in their own. It was impossible, he added, not to feel interested in the many glorious but unsuccessful struggles which had been made by these original natives of Persia to cast off the Whiroy yoke of their bigoted conquerors. Like their own Fire
ク in the Burning Field at Bakou, 211 when suppressed in one place, they had but broken out with fresh flame in another; and, as a native of Cashmere, of that fair and Holy Valley which had in the same manner become the prey of strangers, 212 and seen her ancient shrines and native princes swept away before the march of her intolerant invaders, he felt a sympathy, he owned, with the sufferings of the persecuted Ghebers, which every monument like this before them but tended more powerfully to awaken.
It was the first time that FERAMORZ had ever ventured upon so much prose before FADLADEEN, and it may easily be conceived what effect such prose as this must have produced upon that most orthodox and most paganhating personage. He sat for some minutes aghast, ejaculating only at intervals, “Bigoted conquerors ! sympathy with Fire-worshippers !" 213 — while FERAMORZ, happy to take advantage of this almost speechless horror of the Chamberlain, proceeded to say that he knew a melancholy story, connected with the events of one of those struggles of the brave Fire-worshippers against their Arab masters, which, if the evening was not too far advanced, he should have much pleasure in being allowed to relate to the Princess. It was impossible for LALLA Rookh to refuse; he had never before looked half so animated; and when he spoke of the Holy Valley, his eyes had sparkled, she thought, like the talismanic characters on the scimitar of Solomon. Her consent was therefore most readily granted ; and while FADLADEEN sat in unspeakable dismay, expecting treason and abomination in every line, the poet thus began his story of the Fire-worshippers :
'Tis moonlight over OMAN'S SEA ; 214
Her banks of pearl and balmy isles
And her blue waters sleep in smiles.
The music of the bulbul's nest,
To sing him to his golden rest.
Nor leaf is stirr'd nor wave is driven;
Can hardly win a breath from heaven.
Even he, that tyrant Arab, sleeps