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Having decided upon the Poet's chastisement in this manner, he thought it but humanity to spare him the minor tortures of criticism. Accordingly, when they assembled next evening in the pavilion, and LALLA ROOKн expected to see all the beauties of her bard melt away, one by one, in the acidity of criticism, like pearls in the cup of the Egyptian Queen,-he agreeably disappointed her by merely saying, with an ironical smile, that the merits of such a poem deserved to be tried at a much higher tribunal; and then suddenly passing off into a panegyric upon all Mussulman sovereigns, more particularly his august and imperial master, Aurungzebe,-the wisest and best of the descendants of Timur,-who, among other great things he had done for mankind, had given to him, FADLADEEN, the very profitable posts of Betel-carrier and Taster of Sherbets to the Emperor, Chief Holder of the Girdle of Beautiful Forms,* and Grand Nazir, or Chamberlain of the Haram.

They were now not far from that Forbidden River, † beyond which no pure Hindoo can pass; and were reposing for a time in the rich valley of Hussun Abdaul, which had always been a favourite resting-place of the Emperors in their annual migrations to Cashmere. Here often had the Light of the Faith, Jehan-Guire, wandered with his beloved and beautiful Nourmahal; and here would LALLA ROOKH have been happy to remain for ever, giving up the throne of Bucharia and the world, for FERAMORZ and love in this sweet lonely valley. The time was now fast approaching when she must see him no

*Kempfer mentions such an officer among the attendants of the King of Persia, and calls him "formæ corporis estimator." His business was, at stated periods, to measure the ladies of the haram by a sort of regulation-girdle, whose limits it was not thought graceful to exceed. If any of them outgrew this standard of shape, they were reduced by abstinence till they came within its bounds.

†The Attock.

longer, or see him with eyes whose every look belonged to another; and there was a melancholy preciousness in these last moments, which made her heart cling to them as it would to life. During the latter part of the journey, indeed, she had


sunk into a deep sadness, from which nothing but the presence

of the young minstrel could awake her. Like those lamps in tombs, which only light up when the air is admitted, it was only at his approach that her eyes became smiling and animated

But here, in this dear valley, every moment was an age of pleasure; she saw him all day, and was, therefore, all day happy,— resembling, she often thought, that people of Zinge, who attribute the unfading cheerfulness they enjoy to one genial star that rises nightly over their heads.*

The whole party, indeed, seemed in their liveliest mood during the few days they passed in this delightful solitude. The young attendants of the Princess, who were here allowed a freer range than they could safely be indulged with in a less sequestered place, ran wild among the gardens and bounded through the meadows, lightly as young roes over the aromatic plains of Tibet. While FADLADEEN, beside the spiritual comfort he derived from a pilgrimage to the tomb of the saint from whom the valley is named, had opportunities, of gratifying, in a small way, his taste for victims, by putting to death some hundreds of those unfortunate little lizards, which all pious Mussulmans make it a point to kill;-taking for granted, that the manner in which the creature hangs its head is meant as a mimicry of the attitude in which the faithful say their prayers!

About two miles from Hussun Abdaul were those Royal Gardens, which had grown beautiful under the care of so many lovely eyes, and were beautiful still, though those eyes could see them no longer. This place, with its flowers and its holy silence, interrupted only by the dipping of the wings of birds in its marble basins filled with the pure water of those hills, was to LALLA ROOKн all that her heart could fancy of fragrance, coolness, and almost heavenly tranquillity. As the Prophet said of Damascus, "it was too delicious;"—and here, in listening to the sweet voice of FERAMORZ, or reading in his eyes what yet he

*The star Soheil, or Canopus.

never dared to tell her, the most exquisite moments of her whole life were passed. One evening, when they had been talking of the Sultana Nourmahal,-the Light of the Haram,* who had so often wandered among these flowers, and fed with her own hands, in those marble basins, the small shining fishes of which she was so fond, †-the youth, in order to delay the moment of separation, proposed to recite a short story, or rather rhapsody, of which this adored Sultana was the heroine.

It related, he

said, to the reconcilement of a sort of lovers' quarrel, which took place between her and the Emperor during a Feast of Roses at Cashmere; and would remind the Princess of that difference between Haroun-al-Raschid and his fair mistress Marida, which was so happily made up by the soft strains of the musician, Moussali. As the story was chiefly to be told in song, and FERAMORZ had unluckily forgotten his own lute in the valley, he borrowed the vina of LALLA ROOKH's little Persian slave, and thus began:

* Nourmahal signifies Light of the Haram. She was afterwards called Nourjehan, or the Light of the World.

+ Vide note, p. 183.

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WHO has not heard of the Vale of Cashmere,
With its roses the brightest that earth ever gave,

Its temples, and grottos, and fountains as clear
As the love-lighted eyes that hang over their wave?

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