"Yes, you were my mistress until this hour; but now you drive me from you!" cried he in anguish.
"No; wherever you may be you are mine, and must obey me. You are a free man, and yet I hold you in bonds. In virtue of these bonds I command you not to seek death, but to seek renown. You are to return, a Mameluke bey. Thus must he return; thus must Sitta Nefysseh see him appear on her threshold, and then--And now," she quickly interrupted herself, "have you heard your mistress's command? You will not seek death? You swear to me that you will fight like a true soldier for fatherland and glory, and that you will not seek death? The brave do not fear death, neither do they seek it. The despairing seek death, and thereby invoke upon themselves the curse of Allah for all time. Swear to me that you will fight like a hero, and yet hold your life sacred. I, Sitta Nefysseh, your mistress, command you to do so!"
"And I will obey my mistress's command! I swear that I will struggle against my despair. I swear that I will live, to do your bidding now, and to return to hear from your lips, perhaps, a kindly word of approval. You shall be pleased with me. I will fight as beseems your servant. O Sitta Nefysseh, you are not cruel in sending me away; you are only wise and thoughtful, not cold and hard of heart, are you? You view the world with composure and wisdom. You find that Kachef Youssouf should no longer remain here in ease and inactivity, and you send him from you for his own sake. This is kind and noble on your part, and I should thank you for sending me away to perform deeds of valor, and return a Mameluke bey. This is magnanimous of you, and it was only my miserable weakness that prevented me from recognizing it, and sent foolish tears to my eyes."
He covered his face with his hands, and his head fell upon his breast. Sitta Nefysseh gazed at him intently; he did not see the expression of anguish that rested on her features. When he removed his hands from his face, she had averted her gaze, and her countenance was composed.
"Forgive me, mistress," said he, "I was a fool once more; I thought of the past, and wept over it. But I am now reconciled, and ready to go. I will do as you say; I will not seek death, but I will thank Allah if he allows it to find me. Farewell, mistress!" He fell on his knees and kissed the hem of her dress. He then stood up and rushed out of the room without looking at her again.
Sitta Nefysseh looked after him with outstretched arms, and the flood of tears which she had so long restrained burst from her eyes.
"I love him, O Allah! Thou knowest that I love him! Let him return a hero covered with glory, and then, O Allah, graciously grant that I may be able to reward him for all his love, and for all the pain I have caused him! Let Kachef Youssouf return as Youssouf the Mameluke bey, and I shall be blessed; as the master of my life will I accept him, for I love him."
A horse's hoofs ring out against the pavement of the court-yard without. A cry resounds from her lips, and she sinks down. "O Allah, watch over him! Let him return! I love him--I love him so dearly!"
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