Tales eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 328 pages of information about Tales.
Athirst and wearied with the noontide heat,
Fate to the garden led his luckless feet;
With eager eyes and open mouth he stood,
Smelt the sweet breath, and touch’d the fragrant food;
The tempting beauty sparkling in the sun
Charm’d his young sense—­he ate, and was undone;
When the fond glutton paused, his eyes around
He turn’d, and eyes upon him turning found;
Pleased he beheld the spy, a brother-page. 
A friend allied in office and in age;
Who promised much that secret he would be,
But high the price he fix’d in secrecy: 
“‘Were you suspected, my unhappy friend,’
Began the boy, ’where would your sorrows end? 
In all the palace there is not a page
The Caliph would not torture in his rage: 
I think I see thee now impaled alive,
Writhing in pangs—­but come, my friend! revive;
Had some beheld you, all your purse contains
Could not have saved you from terrific pains;
I scorn such meanness; and, if not in debt,
Would not an asper on your folly set.’ 
   “The hint was strong; young Osmyn search’d his store
For bribes, and found he soon could bribe no more;
That time arrived, for Osmyn’s stock was small,
And the young tyrant now possess’d it all;
The cruel youth, with his companions near,
Gave the broad hint that raised the sudden fear;
Th’ ungenerous insult now was daily shown,
And Osmyn’s peace and honest pride were flown;
Then came augmenting woes, and fancy strong
Drew forms of suffering, a tormenting throng;
He felt degraded, and the struggling mind
Dared not be free, and could not be resign’d;
And all his pains and fervent prayers obtain’d
Was truce from insult, while the fears remain’d. 
   “One day it chanced that this degraded Boy
And tyrant-friend were fixed at their employ;
Who now had thrown restraint and form aside,
And for his bribe in plainer speech applied: 
’Long have I waited, and the last supply
Was but a pittance, yet how patient I! 
But give me now what thy first terrors gave,
My speech shall praise thee, and my silence save.’ 
   “Osmyn had found, in many a dreadful day,
The tyrant fiercer when he seem’d in play: 
He begg’d forbearance:  ’I have not to give;
Spare me awhile, although ’tis pain to live: 
Oh! had that stolen fruit the power possess’d
To war with life, I now had been at rest.’ 
   “‘So fond of death,’ replied the Boy, ’’tis plain
Thou hast no certain notion of the pain;
But to the Caliph were a secret shown,
Death has no pain that would be then unknown.’ 
   “Now,” says the story, “in a closet near,
The monarch seated, chanced the boys to hear;
There oft he came, when wearied on his throne,
To read, sleep, listen, pray, or be alone. 
   “The tale proceeds, when first the Caliph found
That he was robb’d, although alone, he frown’d;
And swore in wrath that he would send the boy
Far from his notice, favour, or employ;
Project Gutenberg
Tales from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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