HAPPY is he who talks with his beloved! happy is he whose only trade is love! He has ears for none, he has eyes for none, save his beloved; and his life is for her alone. Should he speak to another, he only speaks of love; should he speak to her, he says no word of love, and has no thought for aught else.

And so with guile in his heart he thought of the game of kings, and he summoned all the children of his kin and class. And they came to Hadijeh's house and played together, like stars for beauty. And he set them round the room like courtiers; and he set Hadijeh in the midst like the full moon among the Pleiads; he made her sit on a royal throne. She was king and he was her minister. The other children were ranged, each in his place, according to rank, one as a lord, another as a captain, one as vizier, another as commander. A troop of princes and chiefs stood around the throne. They were separated a little space, as was seeming, from the king; but Valeh, as special counsellor and chief servant, stood beside the throne. Who did not gaze on such a lord and such a servant? Then came the lords and captains, and one by one presented their petitions; and Valeh was mediator, and laid their prayers before the throne. And when he spoke, if it were but a little matter, his speech was long; he was rich in word and unctuous in phrase as befitted his station and his master's, and when his master answered unkindly he was like one at the point of fainting; he cried, “Oh, king, may my life be your ransom, would I were the dust under your feet; I am fire from head to foot; and yet my fortune is cold. Look kindly on my faithful service, oh, my lord; am I not your servant, and is not the servant worthy of his wage?” So he would urge his merits as a vizier who fears neglect; or he would chide the king for forgetting his kingdom. “Great is your rank, oh king,” he would say; “and mighty your inheritance. Rich and splendid is the land you rule; why do you forget it? You are king, but you let your kingdom go to ruin; oh, careless one, look for very shame!”

In this way the play-king and the play-slave would speak together in riddles.

Then Hadijeh would try another turn of the game. For she would make as if the lords and the captains had been neglectful, and as if the king laid all the blame on his chief minister. “My slave,” she cried, “is worthy of prison and punishment; bind him in bonds.” And then they came round him and tied his hands and his feet, and they threw him at the feet of her who was his lord, and she set her foot on his neck. And then the lords made intercession for him, and the king had pity, and raised him with his hand and took him back again to favour.

So they played together; so were they happy till the moment of separation came, and Hadijeh went back to her husband's house, and Valeh sat alone in darkness, and his lip trembled and his eye was dimmed.