THE FAIR CIRCASSIANS 249
' When we had left the coast behind us, with its walls of jet, we entered alovely country where the fields were greener, the streams clearer, and the sun brighter than anywhere else. The people crowded round to welcome their prince, whom they loved dearly, but they told him that the king was still full of rage at his son's refusal to marry his cousin the Princess Okimpare, and also at his flight. Indeed, they all begged him not to visit the capital, as his life would hardly be safe. So, much as I should have enjoyed seeing the home of my beloved prince, I implored him to listen to this wise advice and to let us all go to Thelamis's palace in the middle of a vast forest.
'Tomy sister and myself, who had been brought up in a cottage, this house of Thelamis's seemed like fairyland. It was built of pink marble, so highly polished that the flowers and streams surrounding it were reflected as in a mirror. One set of rooms was furnished especially for me in yellow silk and silver, to suit my black hair. Fresh dresses were provided for us every day, and we had slaves to wait on us. Ah, why could not this happiness have lasted for ever!
' The peace of our lives was troubled by Thelamis's jealousy of my sister, as he could not endure to see her on friendly terms with the prince, though knowing full well that his heart was mine. Every day we had scenes of tender reproaches and of explanations, but Tezila's tears never failed to bring Thelamis to his knees, with prayers for forgiveness.
' We had been living in this way for some months when one day the news came that the king had fallen dangerously ill. I begged the prince to hurry at once to the court, both to see his father and also to show himself to the senators and nobles, but as his love for me was greater than his desire of a crown, he hesitated as if foreseeing all that afterwards happened. At last Tezila spoke to him so seriously in Thelamis's presence, that he determined to go, but promised that he would return before night.