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Dialogue following No. 22


Desire. So, if all goes ill, are you to marry Rose-in-Bloom instead of me?

Yussuf. Yes. Life seemed a poem; but as we read it by the light of Hope, Fate crept behind us and blew out the lantern.

Desire (sighs). Rose-in-Bloom is very beautiful.

Yussuf. What value has beauty to me when the whole world is pitch-dark?

Desire. If she were not young and beautiful — if she were middle-aged and quite plain — would you be just as pleased?

Yussuf. Just as displeased.

Desire. Are you sure? Absolutely certain?

Yussuf. Yes. It makes no difference to me.

Desire. It would to me. It's beastly of me, I know — but it would! But she is young and beautiful, and some day she will light the lantern again, and you will go on reading your poem, or another one that you think much nicer.

Yussuf. I think there is only one page of poetry in all the book of a man's life.

Desire. Only one page, perhaps. But it may have a lot of poems on it — little ones — all different. Your poetry page is likely to be immense.

Yussuf. Whatever it is, Fate is turning it over. The story is finished — the Bazaar is empty — the lights put out — and you and I must go out into the darkness.

Desire. But not hand-in-hand.


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