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Now, her beauty had been broken in the anguish like a rose in storm; but it returned to her, doubtless that the Padishah might take comfort in its memory; and she looked like a houri of Paradise who, kneeling beside the Zemzem Well, beholds the Waters of Peace. Not Fatmeh herself, the daughter of the Prophet of God, shone more sweetly. She repeated the word, "Beloved"; and after a pause she whispered on with lips that scarcely stirred, "King of the Age, this is the end."
But still he was like a dead man, nor lifted his face.
"Surely all things pass. And though I go, in your heart I abide, and nothing can sever us. Take comfort."
But there was no answer.
"Nothing but Love's own hand can slay Love. Therefore, remember me, and I shall live."
And he answered from the darkness of her bosom, "The whole world shall remember. But when shall I be united to thee? 0 Allah, how long wilt thou leave me to waste in this separation?"
And she: "Beloved, what is time? We sleep and the night is gone. Now put your arms about me, for I sink into rest. What words are needed between us? Love is enough."
So, making not the Profession of Faith, - and what need, since all her life was worship, - the Lady Arjemand turned into his arms like a child. And the night deepened.
Morning, with its arrows of golden light that struck the river to splendour! Morning, with its pure breath, its sunshine of joy, and the koels fluting in the Palace gardens! Morning, divine and new from the hand of the Maker! And in the innermost chamber of marble a white silence; and the Lady, the Mirror of Goodness, lying in the Compassion of Allah, and a broken man stretched on the ground beside her. For all flesh, from the camel-driver to the Shah-in- Shah, is as one in the Day of the Smiting.
For weeks the Emperor lay before the door of death; and had it opened to him, he had been blessed. So the months went by, and very slowly the strength returned to him; but his eyes were withered and the bones stood out in his cheeks. But he resumed his throne, and sat upon it kingly, black-bearded, eagle-eyed, terribly apart in his grief and his royalty; and so seated among his Usbegs, he declared his will.
"For this Lady (upon whom be peace), departed to the mercy of the Giver and Taker, shall a tomb-palace be made, the Like of which is not found in the four corners of the world. Send forth therefore for craftsmen like the builders of the Temple of Solomon the Wise; for I will build."
So, taking counsel, they sent in haste into Agra for Ustad Isa, the Master-Builder, a man of Shiraz; and he, being presented before the Padishah, received his instructions in these words:-
"I will that all the world shall remember the Flower of the World, that all hearts shall give thanks for her beauty, which was indeed the perfect Mirror of the Creator. And since it is abhorrent of Islam that any image be made in the likeness of anything that has life, make for me a palace-tomb, gracious as she was gracious, lovely as she was lovely. Not such as the tombs of the Kings and the Conquerors, but of a divine sweetness. Make me a garden on the banks of Jumna, and build it there, where, sitting in my Pavilion of Marble, I may see it rise."
And Ustad Isa, having heard, said, "Upon my head and eyes!" and went out from the Presence.
So, musing upon the words of the Padishah, he went to his house in Agra, and there pondered the matter long and deeply; and for a whole day and night he refused all food and secluded himself from the society of all men; for he said:-
"This is a weighty thing, for this Lady (upon whom be peace) must visibly dwell in her tomb- palace on the shore of the river; and how shall I, who have never seen her, imagine the grace that was in her, and restore it to the world? Oh, had I but the memory of her face! Could I but see it as the Shah-in-Shah sees it, remembering the past! Prophet of God, intercede for me, that I may look through his eyes, if but for a moment!"
That night he slept, wearied and weakened with fasting; and whether it were that the body guarded no longer the gates of the soul, I cannot say; for, when the body ails, the soul soars free above its weakness. But a strange marvel happened.
For, as it seemed to him, he awoke at the mid-noon of the night, and he was sitting, not in his own house, but upon the roof of the royal palace, looking down on the gliding Jumna, where the low moon slept in silver, and the light was alone upon the water; and there were no boats, but sleep and dream, hovering hand-in-hand, moved upon the air, and his heart was dilated in the great silence.
Yet he knew well that he waked in some supernatural sphere: for his eyes could see across the river as if the opposite shore lay at his feet; and he could distinguish every leaf on every tree, and the flowers moon-blanched and ghost-like. And there, in the blackest shade of the pippala boughs, he beheld a faint light like a pearl; and looking with unspeakable anxiety, he saw within the light, slowly growing, the figure of a lady exceedingly glorious in majesty and crowned with a rayed crown of mighty jewels of white and golden splendour. Her gold robe fell to her feet, and - very strange to tell - her feet touched not the ground, but hung a span's length above it, so that she floated in the air.
But the marvel of marvels was her face - not, indeed, for its beauty, though that transcended all, but for its singular and compassionate sweetness, wherewith she looked toward the Palace beyond the river as if it held the heart of her heart, while death and its river lay between.
And Ustad Isa said:- "0 dream, if this sweetness be but a dream, let me never wake! Let me see forever this exquisite work of Allah the Maker, before whom all the craftsmen are as children! For my knowledge is as nothing, and I am ashamed in its presence."
And as he spoke, she turned those brimming eyes on him, and he saw her slowly absorbed into the glory of the moonlight; but as she faded into dream, he beheld, slowly rising, where her feet had hung in the blessed air, a palace of whiteness, warm as ivory, cold as chastity, domes and cupolas, slender minars, arches of marble fretted into sea-foam, screen within screen of purest marble, to hide the sleeping beauty of a great Queen - silence in the heart of it, and in every line a harmony beyond all music. Grace was about it - the grace of a Queen who prays and does not command; who, seated in her royalty yet inclines all hearts to love. Arid he saw that its grace was her grace, and its soul her soul, and that she gave it for the consolation of the Emperor.
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The Ninth Vibration and Other Stories -by- L. Adams Beck