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Oriental Stories Summer 1932

The Black Adder

By DOROTHY QUICK

A tale of India-Talfa, the dancing girl, tries to thwart the burning passion of the Rajah

TALFA opened the casement window, and leaning out into the night, tried to see the garden below. It was a quiet, moonless night and she could distinguish nothing. Even the stars were veiled and a heavy impenetrable blue- blackness covered everything. But a soft wind carried the scent of the jasmines to her nostrils.

She knew the garden so well that she could visualize it mentally, although its beauties were hidden from her eyes. There was the crystal pool and beyond it the marble summer house, always cool and inviting. Inside, on the couch of crimson silk, Boud Ali waited. At the thought of him lying there, his slim, muscular body relaxed on the cushions while the black curls of his hair lay loose about his handsome face, Talfa's heart beat faster and her breasts throbbed against the casement sill.

Boud Ali waited for her and her every nerve cried out for him, longed for the relief that only resting in his arms could give. So near he was, such a few short steps and she could feel his lips on hers. Heaven! And yet tonight it could not be!

Talfa shook her head and the two long braids of blue-black hair slipped over the window-ledge, stretching downward into the night. Talfa, like the Fairy Princess of old, had hair that waved softly about her piquant face and then fell rippling downward until it reached her knees. It was very thick and soft and she wore it in braids to keep it out of her way. Her deep brown eyes peered out into the night as though they were striving to see the lover who waited for her, and her red lips trembled a little with the sorrow that enveloped her because she could not go to him.

JUST two short weeks they had known each other. Only fourteen days ago she had danced before the Rajah and his guests. Among them had been Boud Ali. As she made the obscene movements that were meant to drive men mad, she had seen him and read desire in his black eyes— desire which had lit a flame in her own heart.

When the dance was over and she and the other dancing-girls lay exhausted on the mosaics of the floor, she had heard the Rajah's voice.

"Choose whom you will among the dancing- girls to be your companion for the night—save those who are virgin: they are for me alone."

Talfa had raised her head and through the clouds of smoke and incense she had seen Boud Ali start toward her. Willingly would she have stayed and given to him all he asked, she who had never known the touch of man. But it was not to be so; for before he ever reached her side, the chief eunuch had caught her by the wrist and led her and two other girls back to the harem.

There slaves had bathed them with scented waters, dried their hair, and they had sought their couches. Only Talfa could not sleep. The black eyes of Boud Ali had haunted her and the heat of the night had been oppressive.

She remembered so well that...

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