“It was my own doing, for I wanted to die.”
Halil shook his head gravely.
“So young, and yet to desire death! And do you still want to die, eh?”
“Your own eyes can tell you that I do not.”
Halil had taken a great fancy to the girl. He had never before known what it was to love any human being; but now as he sat there face to face with the girl, whose dark eyelashes cast shadows upon her pale cheeks, and regarded her melancholy, irresponsive features, he fancied he saw a peri before him, and felt a new man awakening within him beneath this strange charm.
Halil could never remember the time when his heart had actually throbbed for joy, but now that he was sitting down by the side of this beautiful maid it really began to beat furiously. Ah! how truly sang the poet when he said: “Two worlds there are, one beneath the sun and the other in the heart of a maid.”
For a long time he gazed rapturously on the beauteous slave, admiring in turn her fair countenance, her voluptuous bosom, and her houri-like figure. How lovely, how divinely lovely it all was! And then he bethought him that all this loveliness was his own; that he was the master, the possessor of this girl, at whose command she would fall upon his bosom, envelop him with the pavilion, dark as night, of her flowing tresses, and embrace him with arms of soft velvet. Ah! and those lips were not only red but sweet; and that breast was not only snow-white but throbbing and ardent—and at the thought his brain began to swim for joy and rapture.
And yet he did not even know what to call her! He had never had a slave-girl before, and hardly knew how to address her. His own tongue was not wont to employ tender, caressing words; he knew not what to say to a woman to make her love him.
“Guel-Bejaze!” he murmured hoarsely.
“I await your commands, my master!”
“My name is Halil—call me so!”
“Halil, I await your commands!”
“Say nothing about commanding. Sit down beside me here! Come, sit closer, I say!”
The girl sat down beside him. She was quite close to him now.
But the worst of it was that, even now, Halil had not the remotest idea what to say to her.
The maid was sad and apathetic, she did not weep as slave-girls are wont to do. Halil would so much have liked the girl to talk and tell him her history, and the cause of her melancholy, then perhaps it would have been easier for him to talk too. He would then have been able to have consoled her, and after consolation would have come love.
“Tell me, Guel-Bejaze!” said he, “how was it that the Sultan had you offered for sale in the bazaar.”
The girl looked at Halil with those large black eyes of hers. When she raised her long black lashes it was as though he gazed into a night lit up by two black suns, and thus she continued gazing at him for a long time fixedly and sadly.