THE THREE CALENDERS 63
put down in the middle of the empty space. She next went over to the door of a closet and signed to the porter to follow her. He did so, and soon reappeared leading two black dogs by a chain, which he brought into the centre of the hall. Zobeida then got up from her seat between the Calenders and the Caliph and walked slowly across to where the porter stood with the dogs. 'We must do our duty,' she said with a deep sigh, pushing back her sleeves, and, taking a whip from Sadie, she said to the man, ' Take one of those dogs to my sister Amina and give me the other.'
The porter did as he was bid, but as he led the dog to Zobeida it uttered piercing howls, and gazed up at her with looks of entreaty. But Zobeida took no notice, and whipped the dog till she was out of breath. She then, took the chain from the porter, and, raising the dog on its hind leg3, they looked into each other's eyes sorrowfully till tears began to fall from both. Then Zobeida took her handkerchief and wiped the dog's eyes tenderly, after which she kissed it, then, putting the chain into the porter's hand she said, ' Take it back to the closet and bring me the other.'
The same ceremony was gone through with the second dog, and all the while the whole company looked on writh astonishment. The Caliph in particular could hardly contain himself, and made signs to the vizir to ask what it all meant. But the vizir pretended not to see, and turned his head away.
Zobeida remained for some time in the middle of the room, till at last Sadie went up to her and begged her to sit down, as she also had her part to play. At these words Amina fetched a lute from a case of yellow satin and gave it to Sadie, who sang several songs to its accompaniment. When she was tired she said to Amina, ' My sister, I can do no more; come, I pray you, and take my place.'
Amina struck a few chords and then broke into a