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like one vast and variegated parterre;—not all these wonders and glories of the most lovely country under the sun could steal her heart for a minute from those sad thoughts, which but darkened, and grew bitterer
every step she advanced.
The gay pomps and processions that met her upon her entrance into the Valley, and the magnificence with which the roads all along were decorated, did honour to the taste and gallantry of the young King. It was night when they approached the city, and, for the last two miles, they had passed under arches, thrown from hedge to hedge, festooned with only those rarest roses from which the Attar Gul, more precious than gold, is distilled, and illuminated in rich and fanciful forms with lanterns of the triple-coloured tortoise-shell of Pegu.* Sometimes, from a dark wood by the side of the road, a display of fire-works would break out, so sudden and so
* “ Two hundred slaves there are, who have no other office than to hunt the woods and marshes for triple-coloured tortoises for the King's Vivary. Of the shells of these also lanterns are made.” — - Vincent le Blanc's Travels.
brilliant, that a Brahmin might fancy he beheld that grove, in whose purple shade the God of Battles was born, bursting into a flame at the moment of his birth;
- while, at other times, a quick and playful irradiation continued to brighten all the fields and gardens by which they passed, forming a line of dancing lights along the horizon; like the meteors of the north as they are seen by those hunters *, who pursue the white and blue foxes on the confines of the Icy Sea.
These arches and fire-works delighted the Ladies of the Princess exceedingly; and, with their usual good logic, they deduced from his taste for illuminations, that the King of Bucharia would make the most exemplary husband imaginable. Nor, indeed, could Lalla ROOKH herself help feeling the kindness and splendour with which the young bridegroom welcomed her;- but she also felt how painful is the gratitude, which kindness from those we cannot love excites; and that their best blandishments come over the heart with all that chilling
* For a description of the Aurora Borealis as it appears to these hunters, vide Encyclopedia.
and deadly sweetness, which we can fancy in the cold, odoriferous wind * that is to blow over this earth in the
The marriage was fixed for the morning after her arrival, when she was, for the first time, to be presented to the monarch in that Imperial Palace beyond the lake, called the Shalimar. Though never before had a night of more wakeful and anxious thought been passed in the Happy Valley, yet, when she rose in the morning, and her Ladies came around her, to assist in the adjustment of the bridal ornaments, they thought they had never seen her look half so beautiful. What she had lost of the bloom and radiancy of her charms was more than made up by that intellectual expression, that soul beaming forth from the eyes, which is worth all the rest of loveliness. When they had tinged her fingers with
* This wind, which is to blow from Syria Damascena, is, according to the Mahometans, one of the signs of the Last Day’s approach.
Another of the signs is, “ Great distress in the world, so that a man when he passes by another's grave shall say, Would to God I were in his place !"- Sale's Preliminary Discourse.
the Henna leaf, and placed upon her brow a small coronet of jewels, of the shape worn by the ancient Queens of Bucharia, they flung over her head the rosecoloured bridal veil, and she proceeded to the barge that was to convey her across the lake ;- first kissing, with a mournful look, the little amulet of cornelian, which her father at parting had hung about her neck.
The morning was as fresh and fair as the maid on whose nuptials it rose ; and the shining lake, all covered with boats, the minstrels playing upon the shores of the islands, and the crowded summer houses on the green hills around, with shawls and banners waving from their roofs, presented such a picture of animated rejoicing, as only she, who was the object of it all, did not feel with transport. To LALLA Rookh alone it was a melancholy pageant ; nor could she have even borne to look upon the scene, were it not for a hope that, among the crowds around, she might once more perhaps catch a glimpse of FERAMORZ. So much was her imagination haunted by this thought, that there was scarcely an islet or boat she passed on the way, at
which her heart did not flutter with the momentary
fancy that he was there. Happy, in her eyes, the humblest slave upon whom the light of his dear looks fell ! - In the barge immediately after the Princess sat FADLADEEN, with his silken curtains thrown widely apart, that all might have the benefit of his august presence, and with his head full of the speech he was to deliver to the King, “ concerning FERAMORZ, and literature, and the Chabuk, as connected therewith."
They now had entered the canal which leads from the Lake to the splendid domes and saloons of the Shalimar, and went gliding on through the gardens that ascended from each bank, full of flowering shrubs that made the air all perfume; while from the middle of the canal rose jets of water, smooth and unbroken, to such a dazzling height, that they stood like tall pillars of diamond in the sunshine. After sailing under the arches of various saloons, they at length arrived at the last and most magnificent, where the monarch awaited the coming of his bride ; and such was the agitation of her heart and frame, that it was with difficulty she could