The Princess Almeena

Clark Ashton Smith

From her balcony of pearl, the princess Almeena, clad in a gown of irisated silk, with her long and sable locks unbound, gazes toward the sunset-flooded sea beyond a terrace of green marble that peacocks guard. Below, in the tinted light, fantastic trees whose boles are serpentine, trail their fine and hair-like foliage, that mingles with the moon-shaped leaves of enormous lilies, Rainbow-coloured reeds cluster about the pools and fountains of black water that are rimmed with carven malachite. But these the princess does not heed, but gazes upon the far-off seas, where the golden ichors of the sun have gathered in a vast lake that overflows the horizon. Ere long, a wind from the west, from isles where palm-trees blossom above the purple foam, brings in its breath the odour of unknown flowers, to mingle with the balms of the garden and the sweet suspiration of the princess, who dreams, listening to the wind, that her lover, the captain of the emperor's most redoubtable trireme of war, sailing the sky-blue seas beyond the horizon and the sunset, has breathed in his heart a secret sigh.

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