Meantime Gulbeyaz, when her king was gone,
Retired into her boudoir, a sweet place
For love or breakfast; private, pleasing, lone,
And rich with all contrivances which grace
Those gay recesses: — many a precious stone
Sparkled along its roof, and many a vase
Of porcelain held in the fetter'd flowers,
Those captive soothers of a captive's hours.
Mother of pearl, and porphyry, and marble,
Vied with each other on this costly spot;
And singing birds without were heard to warble;
And the stain'd glass which lighted this fair grot
Varied each ray; — but all descriptions garble
The true effect, and so we had better not
Be too minute; an outline is the best, —
A lively reader's fancy does the rest.
And here she summon'd Baba, and required
Don Juan at his hands, and information
Of what had pass'd since all the slaves retired,
And whether he had occupied their station;
If matters had been managed as desired,
And his disguise with due consideration
Kept up; and above all, the where and how
He had pass'd the night, was what she wish'd to know.
Baba, with some embarrassment, replied
To this long catechism of questions, ask'd
More easily than answer'd, — that he had tried
His best to obey in what he had been task'd;
But there seem'd something that he wish'd to hide,
Which hesitation more betray'd than mask'd;
He scratch'd his ear, the infallible resource
To which embarrass'd people have recourse.
Gulbeyaz was no model of true patience,
Nor much disposed to wait in word or deed;
She liked quick answers in all conversations;
And when she saw him stumbling like a steed
In his replies, she puzzled him for fresh ones;
And as his speech grew still more broken-kneed,
Her cheek began to flush, her eyes to sparkle,
And her proud brow's blue veins to swell and darkle.
When Baba saw these symptoms, which he knew
To bode him no great good, he deprecated
Her anger, and beseech'd she 'd hear him through —
He could not help the thing which he related:
Then out it came at length, that to Dudu
Juan was given in charge, as hath been stated;
But not by Baba's fault, he said, and swore on
The holy camel's hump, besides the Koran.
The chief dame of the Oda, upon whom
The discipline of the whole haram bore,
As soon as they re-enter'd their own room,
For Baba's function stopt short at the door,
Had settled all; nor could he then presume
(The aforesaid Baba) just then to do more,
Without exciting such suspicion as
Might make the matter still worse than it was.
He hoped, indeed he thought, he could be sure
Juan had not betray'd himself; in fact
'Twas certain that his conduct had been pure,
Because a foolish or imprudent act
Would not alone have made him insecure,
But ended in his being found out and sack'd,
And thrown into the sea. — Thus Baba spoke
Of all save Dudu's dream, which was no joke.
This he discreetly kept in the background,
And talk'd away — and might have talk'd till now,
For any further answer that he found,
So deep an anguish wrung Gulbeyaz' brow:
Her cheek turn'd ashes, ears rung, brain whirl'd round,
As if she had received a sudden blow,
And the heart's dew of pain sprang fast and chilly
O'er her fair front, like Morning's on a lily.
Although she was not of the fainting sort,
Baba thought she would faint, but there he err'd —
It was but a convulsion, which though short
Can never be described; we all have heard,
And some of us have felt thus 'all amort,'
When things beyond the common have occurr'd; —
Gulbeyaz proved in that brief agony
What she could ne'er express — then how should I?
She stood a moment as a Pythones
Stands on her tripod, agonised, and full
Of inspiration gather'd from distress,
When all the heart-strings like wild horses pull
The heart asunder; — then, as more or lees
Their speed abated or their strength grew dull,
She sunk down on her seat by slow degrees,
And bow'd her throbbing head o'er trembling knees.