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God Wills It! by William Stearns Davis

Iftikhar cut her short Dying


God! What do we?" cried the Greek. "Spare me this temptation! Nor do you commit this wickedness. Never shall we so tempt God. Though the grief be a thousand times more great, yet will I trust His mercy. I am a Christian, and Our Lord did not hang on the tree in vain to make us strong to bear. Death would be sweet. But had we God's wisdom, our present pangs would seem nothing, hid in the speeding ages of joy. Let us, each after our manner, call on God to show us pity. But never shall one of us stand before His face unsummoned, and cry, 'I am too weak to bear what Thou appointest!'"

Morgiana's face flushed livid; she staggered back.

"Then let Allah, if He may, have mercy; our need is great!"--such her cry from twitching lips. But as the words came, Mary saw the Arab's eyes set in a glassy stare; the lithe form fell heavily. Mary caught her round the waist, and laid her on the marble floor by the fountain; then dashed water in her face, and shouted for help.

Help came--the under-eunuchs, Hakem, Zeyneb; and finally Iftikhar, lordly and splendid, in a suit of perfectly plain black armor with two white hawks' wings nodding on his helmet, spurred and girded as for a foray. The eunuchs brought cordials, strong waters, and pungent perfumes. But Iftikhar first knelt by Morgiana's side, drew forth the little red vial, and laid the magic, fiery drops upon her tongue. The Arab shook herself;

her form relaxed; the eyes opened. They bore her into a room leading from the aviary, and propped her on the divan cushions. Not till then did Iftikhar speak a word. Now one gesture sent all save the two women and Zeyneb from the chamber, when the emir broke forth:--

"In the name of Allah Omnipotent, what means this, Morgiana? I demand it; speak!"

And the Arab answered with her gaze full on Iftikhar.

"Cid, I asked Mary the Greek to drink out of one of two goblets, in one of which was a sleeping potion from which the sleeper awakens never. She refused, saying it were better to endure than to tempt the Most High. That is all."

A flash of terrible rage crossed the emir's face. "Witch! sorceress! Have you sought to make the Greek take her life? As the Most High lives, you shall be impaled!"

"Peace, master," said Mary, gently. "I have refused her proffer. Be assured I will find strength to bear until I see once more my true husband, or having endured your unholy will, in God's own time I die."

But at the word the face of Iftikhar was blackened with yet deeper fury. "Your husband!" came thickly. "Yes, master," answered the Greek; "for, living or dying, Richard de St. Julien is my true husband."

Iftikhar cut her short: "Dying? What if dead?"

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