THE PRINCESS 179
her neck and hid her feet, but its long open sleeves left her arms bare.
In the room was a table of ivory, bearing cakes and fruit, an ivory jug of milk, a crystal jug of wine of a pale rose-colour, and a white loaf.
' Here we do not kill to eat,' she said; ' but I think you will like what I can give you.'
I told her I could desire nothing better than what I saw. She seated herself on a couch by the table, and made me a sign to sit by her.
She poured me out a bowlful of milk, and, handing me the loaf, begged me to break from it such a piece as I liked. Then she filled from the wine-jug two silver goblets of grotesquely graceful workmanship.
' You have never drunk wine like this ! ' she said.
I drank, and wondered : every flower of Hybla and Hymettus must have sent its ghost to swell the soul of that wine !
' And now that you will be able to listen,' she went on, I must do what I can to make myself intelligible to you. Our natures, however, are so different, that this may not be easy. Men and women live but to die ; we, that is such as Iówe are but a fewólive to live on. Old age is to you a horror; to me it is a dear desire : the older we grow, the nearer we are to our perfection. Your perfection is a poor thing, comes soon, and lasts but a little while ; ours is a ceaseless ripening. I am not yet ripe, and have lived thousands of your yearsó how many, I never cared to note. The everlasting will not be measured.
' Many lovers have sought me; I have loved none of them : they sought but to enslave me; they sought me but as the men of my city seek gems of price.óWhen