Belânu and Iltani - Part 14

Iltani, the almost destroyed one, to Sikku in whom is her hope: Woe has overtaken me, Sikku. Black woe has cast me down like a cup of alabaster. I am broken in pieces. My joy is spilt upon the hungry earth. Like a greedy dog the earth has lapped up my joy. I am dry and empty like a broken reed from which the pith has been drawn. My hand shakes for lack of sleep, for fulness of anguish. All this night that is past the night spirits tortured me. Lilu and Lilitu his handmaiden tore my breast, dug into my heart with sharp talons, rent my heart to ribbons. Labasu, the overthrower, cast me down from the seven-staged tower of my joy. I am crushed upon the pavement of despair. Rabisu, the lyer-in-wait, seized upon me, springing from behind the curtain of delight. All the evil demons have hunted me down. Utukku, Shedu, Etimmu. Help, Sikku, or I perish.
Thus it befell: Yesterday at the seventh hour of the second half, Belânu having departed, came to my mother's house lord Sin-idinnam, Chief Steward of the King's chief concubine, the lady Ilat-akheshu. In a litter of cedar overlaid with silver did he come, robed in scarlet of the King's household, terrible to behold as a pillar of fire. Accompanied by the chief eunuch of the lady Ilat-akhe-shu, also wearing a mantle of scarlet but of smaller size, did he come. Accompanied also by my Uncle Nabuzer-ibini, with fat face fatter for much smiling, did he come. Never, O Sikku, in an evil dream brought by the eating of unripe fruit, shall so terrible a face be seen as the face of Sin-idinnam. A face of devouring. Eyes of devouring. A beard like iron-wires, like the mane of wild horses. Interwoven like a dark forest wherein dwell evil beasts and demons. With a nose great as the Stele of the greatest King. A nose causing sinking of the liver to behold; laced with veins of purple and vermilion, like the hideous orchids of Sheb-Ur which are sold by venders on the Spring Festival, because of difficulty in finding. With small warts upon it as upon the orchids of Sheb-Ur. With small hairs upon it as upon those orchids. Sikku, this dread man wishes to take me in marriage.
To my uncle Nabu-zer-ibini he has offered double the marriage gift of Bel├ónu and in gold, to be returned to Bel├ónu as forfeit money. May Bêl have mercy upon me and deal harshly with my uncle, for my uncle has accepted this money. He wishes me to cast off my lord, and marry with this terrible man. He tells me for reason, that he is ten times as rich as Bel├ónu, and that I will be a lady of high station in the palace of the King. My mother also coaxes me, saying that I will bear the right-hand fan of the lady Ilat-akhe-shu, and be almost as a lady of the queen. What is this man's riches to me? What is the fan of the lady Ilat-akhe-shu to me? What is Ilat-akhe-shu herself to me, or the Queen even, or the King himself? Though I had never seen my dear lord Bel├ónu, I would wish to drink flame and die before wedding with Sin-idinnam and his terrible nose, and his devouring eyes. His eyes upon me were the eyes of a butcher regarding a lamb. Of a hungry butcher regarding a lamb. Oh, for the eyes of Bel├ónu to wash away the evil of that look from off my face! The eyes of Bel├ónu which are like springs of love welling from a clean heart. I will light a flame on the little shrine I have made for the words of Bel├ónu and drink it, before I will marry with this terrible man. My uncle and my mother are banded against me. I have none but you to help me, O Sikku. O Sikku, daughter of my mother's kind sister Kudashu, whom I ever loved more than my mother, but who is now in Arala — help me. Send help. Come yourself with Etiatim to help me. If you cannot help me, O Sikku, I shall destroy myself utterly. By the life of all the gods I swear it.
I forgot to say that I do not know whether my lord has been told. I have had no word from my lord. But what can he do if my uncle returns him double the marriage gift? Even the King makes obeisance to the law. Send a quick runner with help if you cannot come yourself, or by the heart of Ishtar! I will drink flame and go down to Arala where Sin-idinam cannot find me, no! Not even through the power of the King!
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