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Mór Jókai
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 181 pages of information about Halil the Pedlar.

“That also you will learn to know, Halil,” she murmured.

And Halil felt his heart grow hotter and hotter the nearer he drew to this burning, kindling flame; his eyes flashed sparks at the sight of so much beauty, he seized the girl’s hand and pressed it to his lips.  How cold that hand was!  All the more reason for warming it on his lips and on his bosom; but, for all his caressing, the little hand remained cold, as cold as the hand of a corpse.

Surely that throbbing breast, those provocative lips, are not as cold?

Halil, intoxicated with passion, embraced the girl, and as he drew her to his breast, as he pressed her to him, the girl murmured to herself—­it sounded like a gentle long-drawn-out sigh: 

“Blessed Mary!”

And then the girl’s long black hair streamed over her face, and when Halil smoothed it aside from the fair countenance to see if it had not grown redder beneath his embrace—­behold! it was whiter than ever.  All trace of life had fled from it, the eyes were cast down, the lips closed and bluish.  Dead, dead—­a corpse lay before him!

But Halil would not believe it.  He fancied that the girl was only pretending.  He put his hand on her fair bosom—­but he could not hear the beating of the heart.  The girl had lost all sense of feeling.  He could have done with her what he would.  A dead body lay in his bosom.

An ice-cold feeling of horror penetrated Halil’s heart, altogether extinguishing the burning flame of passion.  All tremulously he released the girl and laid her down.  Then he whispered full of fear: 

“Awake!  I will not hurt you, I will not hurt you.”

Her light kaftan had glided down from her bosom; he restored it to its place and, awe-struck, he continued gazing at the features of the lovely corpse.

After a few moments the girl opened her lips and sighed heavily, and presently her large black eyes also opened once more, her lips resumed their former deep red hue, her eyes their enchanting radiance, her face the delicate freshness of a white rose, once more her bosom began to rise and fall.

She arose from the carpet on which Halil had laid her, and set to work removing and re-arranging the scattered dishes and platters.  Only after a few moments had elapsed did she whisper to Halil, who could not restrain his astonishment: 

“And now you know why the Padishah ordered me to be sold like a common slave in the bazaar.  The instant a man embraces me I become as dead, and remain so until he lets me go again, and his lips grow cold upon mine and his heart abhors me.  My name is not Guel-Bejaze, the White Rose, but Guel-Olue, the Dead Rose.”

CHAPTER III.

Sultan Achmed.

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