230 STORY OF THE THREE SONS OF HALI
even tried to imitate me. Then I declared I felt thirsty and begged the slave to fetch me some water, and while he was absent I advised the youth to take off his turban, so as to cool his head. He complied gladly, and in the twinkling of an eye was changed into a pot. A cry from the slave warned me that I had no time to lose if I would save my life, so I snatched up the pot and fled with it like the wind.
' You have heard, my lords, what became of the pot, so I will only say now that when I awoke it had disappeared ; but I was partly consoled for its loss by finding my two brothers fast asleep not far from me. " How did you get here? " I inquired, " and what has happened to you since we parted ? "
' " Alas ! " replied Izouf, " we were passing a wayside inn from which came sounds of songs and laughter, and fools that we were — we entered and sat down. Circassian girls of great beauty were dancing for the amusement of several men, who not only received us politely, but placed us near the two loveliest maidens. Our happiness was complete, and time flew unknown to us, when one of the Circassians leaned forward and said to her sister, ' Their brother danced, and they must dance too.' What they meant by these words I know not, but perhaps you can tell us?"
' "I understand quite well," I replied. "They were thinking of the day that I stole the son of the Bassa, and had danced before him."
'"Perhaps you are right," continued Izouf, "for the two ladies took our hands and danced with us till we were quite exhausted, and when at last we sat down a second time to table we drank more wine than was good for us. Indeed, our heads grew so confused, that when the men jumped up and threatened to kill us, we could make no resistance and suffered ourselves to be robbed of everything we had about us, including the most precious possession of all, the two talismans of the daughters of Siroco."