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The Grey Fairy Book

The Story of the Fair Circassians
'We were born in Circassia of poor people, and my sister's name is Tezila and mine Dely.
Having nothing but our beauty to help us in life, we were carefully trained in all the
accomplishments that give pleasure. We were both quick to learn, and from our
childhood could play all sorts of instruments, could sing, and above all could dance. We
were besides, lively and merry, as in spite of our misfortunes we are to this day.
'We were easily pleased and quite content with our lives at home, when one morning the
officials who had been sent to find wives for the Sultan saw us, and were struck with our
beauty. We had always expected something of the sort, and were resigned to our lot,
when we chanced to see two young men enter our house. The elder, who was about
twenty years of age, had black hair and very bright eyes. The other could not have been
more than fifteen, and was so fair that he might easily have passed for a girl.
'They knocked at the door with a timid air and begged our parents to give them shelter, as
they had lost their way. After some hesitation their request was granted, and they were
invited into the room in which we were. And if our parents' hearts were touched by their
beauty, our own were not any harder, so that our departure for the palace, which had been
arranged for the next day, suddenly became intolerable to us.
'Night came, and I awoke from my sleep to find the younger of the two strangers sitting
at my bedside and felt him take my hand.
'"Fear nothing, lovely Dely," he whispered, "from one who never knew love till he saw
you. My name," he went on, "is Prince Delicate, and I am the son of the king of the Isle
of Black Marble. My friend, who travels with me, is one of the richest nobles of my
country, and the secrets which he knows are the envy of the Sultan himself. And we left
our native country because my father wished me to marry a lady of great beauty, but with
one eye a trifle smaller than the other."
'My vanity was flattered at so speedy a conquest, and I was charmed with the way the
young man had declared his passion. I turned my eyes slowly on him, and the look I gave
him caused him almost to lose his senses. He fell fainting forward, and I was unable to
move till Tezila, who had hastily put on a dress, ran to my assistance together with
Thelamis, the young noble of whom the Prince had spoken.
'As soon as we were all ourselves again we began to bewail our fate, and the journey that
we were to take that very day to Constantinople. But we felt a little comforted when
Thelamis assured us that he and the prince would follow in our steps, and would
somehow contrive to speak to us. Then they kissed our hands, and left the house by a
side-way.
 
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