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fireworks would break out so sudden and so brilliant, that a Brahmin might think he saw 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 fireworks 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 and deadly sweetness which we can fancy in the cold, odoriferous wind that is to blow over this earth in the last day.
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 a night of more wakeful and anxious thought had never been passed in the Happy Valley before, yet when she rose in the morning and her ladies came round 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 in the eyes, which is worth all the rest of loveliness. When they had tinged her fingers with 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 rose-coloured 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 had hung about her neck at parting.
The morning was as fair as the maid upon 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
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, at which her heart did not flutter with a 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
was 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 had now entered the canal which leads from the Lake to the splendid domes and saloons of the Shalimar, and glided on through gardens ascending from each bank, full of Aowering 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 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 walked up the marble steps, which were covered with cloth of gold for her ascent from the barge. At the end of the hall stood two thrones, as precious as the Cerulean Throne of Koolburga, on one of which sat Aliris, the youthful King of Bucharia, and on the other was, in a few minutes, to be placed the most beautiful Princess in the world. Immediately upon the entrance of Lalla Rookh into the saloon, the monarch descended from his throne to meet her ; but scarcely had he time to take her hand in his, when she screamed with surprise and fainted at his feet. It was Feramorz himself that stood before her! Feramorz was himself the Sovereign of Bucharia, who in this disguise had accom
panied his young bride from Delhi, and, having won her love as an humble minstrel, now amply deserved to enjoy it as a king.
The consternation of Fadladeen at this discovery was, for the moment, almost pitiable.
But change of opinion is a resource too convenient in courts for this experienced courtier not to have learned to avail himself of it. His criticisms were all, of course, recanted instantly; he was seized with an admiration of the King's verses, as unbounded as, he begged him to believe, it was disinterested; and the following week saw him in possession of an additional place, swearing by all the saints of Islam that never had there existed so great a poet as the monarch, Aliris, and ready to prescribe his favourite regimen of the chabuk for every man, woman, and child that dared to think otherwise.
Of the happiness of the King and Queen of Bucharia, after such a beginning, there can be but little doubt ; and, among the lesser symptoms, it is recorded of Lalla Rookh, that to the day of her death, in memmory of their delightful journey, she never called the King by any other name than Feramorz.