THE FAIR CIRCASSIANS 201
ear, and peeping through the bushes he saw Tezila, who was arranging flowers in her sister's hair. The rustling of the leaves caused Dely to start; she jumped up as if to fly, but Azemi implored her to remain and begged her to tell him what happened to them after the death of their lovers, and how they had come to find the dervish.
' The punishment decreed to us by the Queen Okim-pare,' answered Dely, ' was that we were to dance and sing in the midst of our sorrow, at a great fete which was to be held that very day for all her people. This cruel command nearly turned our brains, and we swore a solemn oath to make all lovers as wretched as we were ourselves. In this design we succeeded so well that in a short time the ladies of the capital came in a body to Okimpare, and prayed her to banish us from the kingdom, before their lives were made miserable for ever. She consented, and commanded us to be placed on board a ship, with our slave Gouloucou.
' On the shore we saw an old man who was busily engaged in drowning some little black pigs, talking to them all the while, as if they could understand him.
' " Accursed race," said he, " it is you who have caused all the misfortunes of him to whom I gave the magic bracelet. Perish all of you! "
' We drew near from curiosity, and recognised in him the dervish who had sheltered us on our first escape from the caravan.
' When the old man discovered who we were he was beside himself with pleasure, and offered us a refuge in the cave where he lived. We gladly accepted his offer, and to the cave we all went, taking with us the last little pig, which he gave us ms a present.
' "The Bassa of the Sea." he added. " will pay you anything you like to ask for it."
' Without asking why it was so precious I took the pig and placed it in my work bag, where it has been ever since. Only yesterday we offered it to the Bassa, who