[Go back to Ali Shar and Zumurrud]
It is related that the Commander of the Faithful, Harun al-Rashid was uneasy one night and could not sleep; so that he ceased not to toss from side to side for very restlessness, till, growing weary of this, he called Masrur and said to him, "Ho, Masrur, find me some one who may solace me in this my wakefulness." He answered, "O Prince of True Believers, wilt thou walk in the palace-garden and divert thyself with the sight of its blooms and gaze upon the stars and constellations and note the beauty of their ordinance and the moon among them rising in sheen over the water?" Quoth the Caliph, "O Masrur, my heart inclineth not to aught of this." Quoth he, "O my lord, there are in thy palace three hundred concubines, each of whom hath her separate chamber. Do thou bid all and every retire into her own apartment and then do thou go thy rounds and amuse thyself with gazing on them without their knowledge." The Caliph replied, "O Masrur, the palace is my palace and the girls are my property: furthermore my soul inclineth not to aught of this." Then Masrur rejoined, "O my lord, summon the doctors of law and religion and the sages of science and poets, and bid them contend before thee in argument and disputation and recite to thee songs and verses and tell thee tales and anecdotes." Replied the Caliph, "My soul inclineth not to aught of this;" and Masrur rejoined, "O my lord, bid pretty boys and the wits and the cup-companions attend thee and solace thee with witty sallies." "O Masrur," ejaculated the Caliph, "indeed my soul inclineth not to aught of this." "Then, O my lord," cried Masrur, "strike off my head;"--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the Three Hundred and Twenty-eighth Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Masrur cried out to the Caliph, "O my lord, strike off my head; haply that will dispel thine unease and do away the restlessness that is upon thee." So Al-Rashid laughed at his saying and said, "See which of the boon-companions is at the door." Thereupon he went out and returning, said, "O my lord, he who sits without is Ali bin Mansur of Damascus, the Wag." "Bring him to me," quoth Harun: and Masrur went out and returned with Ibn Mansur, who said, on entering, "Peace be with thee, O Commander of the Faithful!" The Caliph returned his salutation and said to him, "O Ibn Mansur, tell us some of thy stories." Said the other, "O Commander of the Faithful, shall I tell thee what I have seen with my eyes or what I have only heard tell?" Replied the Caliph, "If thou have seen aught worth telling, let us hear it; for hearing is not like seeing." Said Ibn Mansur, "O Commander of the Faithful, lend me thine ear and thy heart;" and he answered, "O Ibn Mansur, behold, I am listening to thee with mine ears and looking at thee with mine eyes and attending to thee with my heart." So Ibn Mansur began: "Know then, O Commander of the Faithful, that I receive a yearly allowance from Mohammed bin Sulaymán al-Háshimi, Sultan of Bassorah; so I went to him once upon a time, as usual, and found him ready to ride out hunting and birding. I saluted him and he returned my salute, and said, 'O son of Mansur, mount and come with us to the chase:' but I said, 'O my lord, I can no longer ride; so do thou station me in the guest-house and give thy chamberlains and lieutenants charge over me.' And he did so and departed for his sport. His people entreated me with the utmost honour and entertained me with the greatest hospitality; but said I to myself, 'By Allah, it is a strange thing that for so long I have been in the habit of coming from Baghdad to Bassorah, yet know no more of this town than from palace to garden and from garden to palace. When shall I find an occasion like this to view the different parts and quarters of Bassorah? I will rise forthwith and walk forth alone and divert myself and digest what I have eaten.' Accordingly I donned my richest dress and went out a walking about Bassorah. Now it is known to thee, O Commander of the Faithful, that it hath seventy streets, each seventy leagues long, the measure of Irak; and I lost myself in its by-streets and thirst overcame me. Presently, as I went along, O Prince of True Believers, behold, I came to a great door, whereon were two rings of brass, with curtains of red brocade drawn before it. And on either side of the door was a stone bench and over it was a trellis, covered with a creeping vine that hung down and shaded the door way. I stood still to gaze upon the place, and presently heard a sorrowful voice, proceeding from a heart which did not rejoice, singing melodiously and chanting these cinquains,
'My body bides the sad abode of grief and malady, * Caused by a fawn whose land and home are in a far countrie:
O ye two Zephyrs of the wold which caused such pain in me * By Allah, Lord of you! to him my heart's desire, go ye
And chide him so perchance ye soften him I pray.
And tell us all his words if he to hear your speech shall deign, * And unto him the tidings bear of lovers 'twixt you twain:
And both vouchsafe to render me a service free and fain, * And lay my case before him showing how I e'er complain:
And say, 'What ails thy bounder thrall this wise to drive away,
Without a fault committed and without a sin to show; * Or heart that leans to other wight or would thy love forego:
Or treason to our plighted troth or causing thee a throe?' * And if he smile then say ye twain in accents soft and slow,
'An thou to him a meeting grant 'twould be the kindest way!
For he is gone distraught for thee, as well indeed, he might * His eyes are wakeful and he weeps and wails the livelong night :'
If seem he satisfied by this why then 'tis well and right, * But if he show an angry face and treat ye with despite,
Trick him and 'Naught we know of him!' I beg you both to say.'
Quoth I to myself, 'Verily, if the owner of this voice be fair, she conjoineth beauty of person and eloquence and sweetness of voice.' Then I drew near the door, and began raising the curtain little by little, when lo! I beheld a damsel, white as a full moon when it mooneth on its fourteenth night, with joined eyebrows twain and languorous lids of eyne, breasts like pomegranates twin and dainty, lips like double carnelian, a mouth as it were the seal-of Solomon, and teeth ranged in a line that played with the reason of proser and rhymer, even as saith the poet,
'O pearly mouth of friend, who set those pretty pearls in line, * And filled thee full of whitest chamomile and reddest wine?
Who lent the morning-glory in thy smile to shimmer and shine * Who with that ruby-padlock dared thy lips to seal-and sign!
Who looks on thee at early morn with stress of joy and bliss * Goes mad for aye, what then of him who wins a kiss of thine?'
And as saith another,
'O pearl-set mouth of friend * Pity poor Ruby's cheek
Boast not o'er one who owns * Thee, union and unique.'
In brief she comprised all varieties of loveliness and was a seduction to men and women, nor could the gazer satisfy himself with the sight of her charms; for she was as the poet hath said of her,
'When comes she, slays she; and when back he turns, * She makes all men regard with loving eyes:
A very sun! a very moon! but still * Prom hurt and harmful ills her nature flies.
Opes Eden's garden when she shows herself, * And full moon see we o'er her necklace rise.'
How as I was looking at her through an opening of the curtain, behold, she turned; and, seeing me standing at the door, said to her handmaid, 'See who is at the door.' So the slave-girl came up to me and said, 'O Shaykh, hast thou no shame, or do impudent airs suit hoary hairs?' Quoth I, 'O my mistress, I confess to the hoary hairs, but as for impudent airs, I think not to be guilty of unmannerliness.' Then the mistress broke in, 'And what can be more unmannerly than to intrude thyself upon a house other than thy house and gaze on a Harim other than thy Harim?' I pleaded, 'O my lady, I have an excuse;' and when she asked, 'And what is thine excuse?' I answered, 'I am a stranger and so thirsty that I am well nigh dead of thirst.' She rejoined, 'We accept thine excuse,' --And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When It was the Three Hundred and Twenty-ninth Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the young lady rejoined, 'We accept thine excuse,' and calling one of her slave maids, said to her, 'O Lutf, give him to drink in the golden tankard.' So she brought me a tankard of red gold, set with pearls and gems of price, full of water mingled with virgin musk and covered with a napkin of green silk, and I addressed myself to drink and was long about my drinking, for I stole glances at her the while, till I could prolong my stay no longer. Then I returned the tankard to the girl, but did not offer to go; and she said to me, 'O Shaykh, wend thy way.' But I said, 'O my lady, I am troubled in mind.' She asked me 'for what?' and I answered, 'For the turns of Time and the change of things.' Replied she, 'Well mayst thou be troubled thereat for Time breedeth wonders. But what hast thou seen of such surprises that thou shouldst muse upon them?' Quoth I, 'I was thinking of the whilom owner of this house, for he was my intimate in his lifetime.' Asked she, 'What was his name?'; and I answered, 'Mohammed bin Ali the Jeweller and he was a man of great wealth. Tell me did he leave any children?' Said she, 'Yes, he left a daughter, Budur by name, who inherited all his wealth?' Quoth I, 'Meseemeth thou art his daughter?' 'Yes,' answered she, laughing; then added, 'O Shaykh, thou best talked long enough; now wend thy ways.' Replied I, 'Needst must I go, but I see thy charms are changed by being out of health; so tell me thy case; it may be Allah will give thee comfort at my hands.' Rejoined she, 'O Shayth, if thou be a man of discretion, I will discover to thee my secret; but first tell me who thou art, that I may know whether thou art worthy of confidence or not; for the poet saith,
'None keepeth a secret but a faithful person: with the best of mankind remaineth concealed.
I have kept my secret in a house with a lock, whose key is lost and whose door is sealed.'
Thereto I replied, 'O my lady, an thou wouldest know who I am, I am Ali bin Mansúr of Damascus, the Wag, cup-companion to the Commander of the Faithful, Harun al-Rashid.' Now when she heard my name, she came down from her seat and saluting me, said, 'Welcome, O Ibn Mansur! Now will I tell thee my case and entrust thee with my secret. I am a lover separated from her beloved.' I answered, 'O my lady, thou art fair and shouldest be on love terms with none but the fair. Whom then dost thou love?' Quoth she, 'I love Jubayr bin Umayr al-Shaybáni, Emir of the Banú Shaybán;' and she described to me a young man than whom there was no prettier fellow in Bassorah. I asked, 'O my lady, have interviews or letters passed between you?' and she answered 'Yes, but our love was tongue-love souls, not heart and souls- love; for he kept not his trust nor was he faithful to his troth.' Said I, 'O my lady, and what was the cause of your separation?', and she replied, 'I was sitting one day whilst my handmaid here combed my hair. When she had made an end of combing it, she plaited my tresses, and my beauty and loveliness charmed her; so she bent over me and kissed my cheek. At that moment he came in unawares, and, seeing the girl kiss my cheek, straightways turned away in anger, vowing eternal-separation and repeating these two couplets,
'If another share in the thing I love, * I abandon my love and live lorn of love.
My beloved is worthless if aught she will, * Save that which her lover doth most approve.
And from the time he left me to this present hour, O Ibn Mansur, he hath neither written to me nor answered my letters.' Quoth I, 'And what purposes" thou to do?' Quoth she, 'I have a mind to send him a letter by thee. If thou bring me back an answer, thou shalt have of me five hundred gold pieces; and if not, then an hundred for thy trouble in going and coming.' I answered, 'Do what seemeth good to thee; I hear and I obey thee.' Whereupon she called to one of her slave-girls, 'Bring me ink case and paper,' and she wrote thereon these couplets,
'Beloved, why this strangeness, why this hate? * When shall thy pardon reunite us two?
Why dost thou turn from me in severance? * Thy face is not the face I am wont to know.
Yes, slanderers falsed my words, and thou to them * Inclining, madest spite and envy grow.
An hast believed their tale, the Heavens forbid * Now thou believe it when dost better bow!
By thy life tell what hath reached thine ear, * Thou know'st what said they and so justice show.
An it be true I spoke the words, my words * Admit interpreting and change allow:
Given that the words of Allah were revealed, * Folk changed the Torah and still changing go:
What slanders told they of mankind before! * Jacob heard Joseph blamed by tongue of foe.
Yea, for myself and slanderer and thee * An awful day of reckoning there shall be.'
Then she sealed the letter and gave it to me; and I took it and carried it to the house of Jubayr bin Umayr, whom I found absent a hunting. So I sat down to wait for him; and behold, he returned from the chase; and when I saw him, O Prince of True Believers, come riding up, my wit was confounded by his beauty and grace. As soon as he sighted me sitting at the house-door, he dismounted and coming up to me embraced me and saluted me; and meseemed I embraced the world and all therein. Then he carried me into his house and, seating me on his own couch, called for food. They brought a table of Khalanj-wood of Khorasan with feet of gold, whereon were all manners of meats, fried and roasted and the like. So I seated myself at the table and examining it with care found these couplets engraved upon it:"--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say,
When it was the Three Hundred and Thirtieth Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Ali son of Mansur continued: "So I seated myself at the table of Jubayr bin Umayr al-Shaybani and, examining it with care, found these couplets engraved upon it,
'On these which once were-chicks,
Your mourning glances fix,
Late dwellers in the mansion of the cup,
Now nearly eaten up!
Let tears bedew
The memory of that stew,
Those partridges, once roast,
The daughters of the grouse in plaintive strain
Bemourn, and still bemourn, and mourn again!
The children of the fry,
We lately saw
Half smothered in pilau
With buttery mutton fritters smoking by!
Alas! my heart, the fish!
Who filled his dish,
With flaky form in varying colours spread
On the round pastry cake of household bread!
Heaven sent us that kabob!
For no one could
(Save heaven he should rob)
Produce a thing so excellently good,
Or give us roasted meat
With basting oil so savourily replete!
But, oh! mine appetite, alas! for thee!
Who on that furmeaty So sharpset west a little while ago--
That furmeaty, which mashed by hands of snow,
A light reflection bore,
Of the bright bracelets that those fair hands wore;
Again remembrance glads my sense
With visions of its excellence!
Again I see the cloth unrolled
Rich worked in many a varied fold!
Be patient, oh! my soul, they say
Fortune rules all that's new and strange,
And though she pinches us to day,
To-morrow brings full rations, and a change!'
Then said Jubayr, 'Put forth thy hand to our food and ease our heart by eating of our victual.' Answered I, 'By Allah, I will not eat a mouthful, till thou grant me my desire.' He asked, 'What is thy desire?'; so I brought out the letter and gave it to him; but, when he had read it and mastered its contents, he tore it in pieces and throwing it on the floor, said to me, 'O Ibn Mansur, I will grant thee whatever thou askest save thy desire which concerneth the writer of this letter, for I have no answer to her.' At this I rose in anger; but he caught hold of my skirts, saying, 'O Ibn Mansur, I will tell thee what she said to thee, albeit I was not present with you.' I asked, 'And what did she say to me?'; and he answered, 'Did not the writer of this letter say to thee, If thou bring me back an answer, thou shalt have of me five hundred ducats; and if not, an hundred for thy pains?' 'Yes,' replied I; and he rejoined, 'Abide with me this day and eat and drink and enjoy thyself and make merry, and thou shalt have thy five hundred ducats.' So I sat with him and ate and drank and made merry and enjoyed myself and entertained him with talk deep in to the night; after which I said to him, 'O my master, is there no music in thy house.' He answered, 'Verily for many a day we have drunk without music.' Then he called out, saying, 'Ho, Shajarat al-Durr?' Whereupon a slave- girl answered him from her chamber and came in to us, with a lute of Hindu make, wrapped in a silken bag. And she sat down and, laying the lute in her lap, preluded in one and twenty modes; then, returning to the first, she sang to a lively measure these couplets,
'We have ne'er tasted of Love's sweets and bitter draught, * No difference kens 'twixt presence-bliss and absence-stress;
And so, who hath declined from Love's true road, * No diference kens 'twixt smooth and ruggedness:
I ceased not to oppose the votaries of love, * Till I had tried its sweets and bitters not the less:
How many a night my pretty friend conversed with me * And sipped I from his lips honey of love liesse:
Now have I drunk its cup of bitterness, until * To bondman and to freedman I have proved me base.
How short-aged was the night together we enjoyed, * When seemed it daybreak came on nightfall's heel to press!
But Fate had vowed to disunite us lovers twain, * And she too well hath kept her vow, that votaress.
Fate so decreed it! None her sentence can withstand: * Where is the wight who dares oppose his Lord's command?'
Hardly had she finished her verses, when her lord cried out with a great cry and fell down in a fit; whereupon exclaimed the damsel, 'May Allah not punish thee, O old man! This long time have we drunk without music, for fear the like of this falling sickness befal our lord. But now go thou to yonder chamber and there sleep.' So I went to the chamber which she showed me and slept till the morning, when behold, a page brought me a purse of five hundred dinars and said to me, 'This is what my master promised thee; but return thou not to the damsel who sent thee, god let it be as though neither thou nor we had ever heard of this matter.' 'Hearkening and obedience,' answered I and taking the purse, went my way. Still I said to myself, 'The lady must have expected me since yesterday; and by Allah there is no help but I return to her and tell her what passed between me and him: otherwise she will revile me and revile all who come from my country.' So I went to her and found her standing behind the door; and when she saw me she said, 'O Ibn Mansur, thou hast done nothing for me?' I asked, 'Who told thee of this?'; and she answered, 'O Ibn Mansur, yet another thing hath been revealed to me; and it is that, when thou handedst him the letter, he tore it in pieces. and throwing it on the floor, said to thee: 'O Ibn Mansur, I will grant thee whatever thou askest save thy desire which concerneth the writer of this letter; for I have no answer to her missive.' Then didst thou rise from beside him in anger; but he laid hold of thy skirts, saying: 'O son of Mansur, abide with me to day, for thou art my guest, and eat and drink and make merry; and thou shalt have thy five hundred ducats.' So thou didst sit with him, eating and drinking and making merry, and entertainedst him with talk deep into the night and a slave- girl sang such an air and such verses, whereupon he fell down in a fit.' So, O Commander of the Faithful, I asked her 'West thou then with us?'; and she answered, 'O Ibn Mansur, hast thou not heard the saying of the poet,
'The hearts of lovers have eyes I ken, * Which see the unseen by vulgar men.'
However, O Ibn Mansur, the night and day shift not upon anything but they bring to it change.'--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the Three Hundred and Thirty-first Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the lady exclaimed, 'O Ibn Mansur, the night and the day shift not upon anything but they bring to it change!' Then she raised her glance to heaven and said, 'O my God and my Leader and my Lord, like as Thou hast afflicted me with love of Jubayr bin Umayr, even so do Thou afflict him with love of me, and transfer the passion from my heart to his heart!' Then she gave me an hundred sequins for my trouble in going and coming and I took it and returned to the palace, where I found the Sultan come home from the chase; so I got my pension of him and fared back to Baghdad. And when next year came, I repaired to Bassorah, as usual, to seek my pension, and the Sultan paid it to me; but, as I was about to return to Baghdad, I bethought me of the Lady Budur and said to myself, 'By Allah, I must needs go to her and see what hath befallen between her and her lover!' So I went to her house and finding the street before her door swept and sprinkled and eunuchs and servants and pages standing before the entrance, said to myself, 'Most like grief hath broken the lady's heart and she is dead, and some Emir or other hath taken up his abode in her house.' So I left it and went on to the house of Jubayr, son of Umayr the Shaybani, where I found the benches of the porch broken down and ne'er a page at the door, as of wont and said to myself, 'Haply he too is dead.' Then I stood still before the door of his house and with my eyes running over with tears, bemoaned it in these couplets,
'O Lords of me, who fared but whom my heart e'er followeth, * Return and so my festal-days with you shall be renewed!
I stand before the home of you, bewailing your abode; * Quiver mine eyelids and my eyes with tears are ever dewed:
I ask the house and its remains that seem to weep and wail, * 'Where is the man who whilom wont to lavish goods and good?''
It saith, 'Go, wend thy way; those friends like travellers have fared * From Springtide-camp, and buried lie of earth and worms the food!'
Allah ne'er desolate us so we lose their virtues' light * In length and breadth, but ever be the light in spirit viewed!'
As I, O Prince of True Believers, was thus keening over the folk of the house, behold, out came a black slave therefrom and said to me, 'Hold thy peace, O Shaykh! May thy mother be reft of thee! Why do I see thee bemoaning the house in this wise?' Quoth I, 'I frequented it of yore, when it belonged to a good friend of mine.' Asked the slave, 'What was his name?'; and I answered, 'Jubayr bin Umayr the Shaybani.' Rejoined he, And what hath befallen him? Praised be Allah, he is yet here with us in the enjoyment of property and rank and prosperity, except that Allah hath stricken him with love of a damsel called the Lady Budur;, and he is so whelmed by his love of her and his longing for her, that he is like a great rock cumbering the ground. If he hunger, he saith not, 'Give me meat;' nor, if he thirst, doth he say, 'Give me drink.' Quoth I, 'Ask leave for me to go in to him.' Said the slave, 'O my lord, wilt thou go in to one who understandeth or to one who understandeth not?'; and I said 'There is no help for it but I see him whatever be the case.' Accordingly he went in to ask and presently returned with permission for me to enter, whereupon I went in to Jubayr and found him like a rock that cumbereth the ground, understanding neither sign nor speech; and when I spoke to him he answered me not. Then said one of his servants, 'O my lord, if thou remember aught of verse, repeat it and raise thy voice; and he will be aroused by this and speak with thee.' So I versified in these two couplets,
'Hast quit the love of Moons or dost persist? * Dost wake o' nights or close in sleep thine eyes?
If aye thy tears in torrents flow, then learn * Eternal-thou shalt dwell in Paradise.'
When he heard these verses he opened his eyes and said; 'Welcome, O son of Mansur! Verily, the jest is become earnest.' Quoth I, 'O my lord, is there aught thou wouldst have me do for thee?' Answered he, 'Yes, I would fain write her a letter and send it to her by thee. If thou bring me back her answer, thou shalt have of me a thousand dinars; and if not, two hundred for thy pains.' So I said, 'Do what seemeth good to thee;'--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the Three Hundred and Thirty-second Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Ibn Mansur continued: "So I said, 'Do what seemeth good to thee;' whereupon he called to one of his slave-girls, 'Bring me ink case and paper;' and wrote these couplets,
'I pray in Allah's name, O Princess mine, be light * On me, for Love hath robbed me of my reason's sight'
'Slaved me this longing and enthralled me love of you; * And clad in sickness garb, a poor and abject wight.
I wont ere this to think small things of Love and hold, * O Princess mine, 'twas silly thing and over-slight.
But when it showed me swelling surges of its sea, * To Allah's hest I bowed and pitied lover's plight.
An will you, pity show and deign a meeting grant, * An will you kill me still forget not good requite.'
Then he sealed the letter and gave it to me. So I took it and, repairing to Budur's house, raised the door-curtain little by little, as before, and looking in behold, I saw ten damsels, high-bosomed virgins, like moons, and the Lady Budur as she were the full moon among the stars, sitting in their midst, or the sun, when it is clear of clouds and mist; nor was there on her any trace of pain or care. And as I looked and marvelled at her case, she turned her glance upon me and, seeing me standing at the door, said to me, 'Well come, and welcome and all hail to thee, O Ibn Mansur! Come in.' So I entered and saluting her gave her the letter; and she read it and when she understood it, she said laughingly to me, 'O Ibn Mansur, the poet lied not when he sang,
'Indeed I'll bear my love for thee with firmest soul, * Until from thee to me shall come a messenger.
'Look'ye, O Ibn Mansur, I will write thee an answer, that he may give thee what he promised thee.' And I answered, 'Allah requite thee with good!' So she called out to a handmaid, 'Bring inkcase and paper,' and wrote these couplets,
'How comes it I fulfilled my vow the while that vow broke you? * And, seen me lean to equity, iniquity wrought you?
'Twas you initiated wrongous dealing and despite: * You were the treachetour and treason came from only you!
I never ceased to cherish mid the sons of men my troth, * And keep your honour brightest bright and swear by name of you
Until I saw with eyes of me what evil you had done; * Until I heard with ears of me what foul report spread you.
Shall I bring low my proper worth while raising yours so high? * By Allah had you me eke I had honoured you!
But now uprooting severance I will fain console my heart, * And wring my fingers clean of you for evermore to part!'
Quoth I, 'By Allah, O my lady, between him and death there is but the reading of this letter!' So I tore it in pieces and said to her, 'Write him other than these lines.' 'I hear and obey answered she and wrote the following couplets,
'Indeed I am consolèd now and sleep without a tear, * And all that happened slandering tongues have whispered in mine ear:
My heart obeyed my hest and soon forgot thy memory, * And learnt mine eyelids 'twas the best to live in severance sheer:
He lied who said that severance is a bitterer thing than gall: * It never disappointed me, like wine I find it cheer:
I learnt to hate all news of thee, e'en mention of thy name, * And turn away and look thereon with loathing pure and mere:
Lookye! I cast thee out of heart and far from vitals mine; * Then let the slanderer wot this truth and see I am sincere.'
Quoth I, 'By Allah, O my lady, when he shall read these verses, his soul will depart his body!' Quoth she, 'O Ibn Mansur, is passion indeed come to such a pass with him that thou sayest this saying?' Quoth I, 'Had I said more than this verily it were but the truth: but mercy is of the nature of the noble.' Now when she heard this her eyes brimmed over with tears and she wrote him a note, I swear by Allah, O Commander of the Faithful, there is none in thy Chancery could write the like of it; and therein were these couplets,
'How long shall I thy coyness and thy great aversion see? * Thou hast satisfied my censurers and pleased their enmity:
I did amiss and wot it not; so deign to tell me now * Whatso they told thee, haply 'twas the merest calumny.
I wish to welcome thee, dear love, even as welcome I * Sleep to these eyes and eyelids in the place of sleep to be.
And since 'tis thou hast made me drain th' unmixèd cup of love, * If me thou see with wine bemused heap not thy blame on me!'
And when she had written the missive,--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the Three Hundred and Thirty-third Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when Budur had written the missive, she sealed it and gave it to me; and I said, 'O my lady, in good sooth this thy letter will make the sick man whole and ease the thirsting soul.' Then I took it and went from her, when she called me back and said to me, 'O son of Mansur, say to him: 'She will be thy guest this night.' At this I joyed with exceeding great joy and carried the letter to Jubayr, whom I found with his eyes fixed intently on the door, expecting the reply and as soon as I gave him the letter and he opened and read it and understood it, he uttered a great cry and fell down in a fainting fit. When he came to himself, he said to me, 'O Ibn Mansur, did she indeed write this note with her hand and feel it with her fingers?' Answered I, 'O my lord, do folk write with their feet?' And by Allah, O Commander of the Faithful, I had not done speaking these words, when we heard the tinkle-tinkle of her anklets in the vestibule and she entered. And seeing her he sprang to his feet as though nothing pained or ailed him and embraced her like the letter L embraceth the letter A; and the infirmity, that erst would not depart at once left him. Then he sat down, but she abode standing and I said to her, 'O my lady, why dost thou not sit?' Said she, 'O Ibn Mansur, save on a condition that is between us, I will not sit.' I asked, 'And what is that?'; and she answered, 'None may know lovers' secrets,' and putting her mouth to Jubayr's ear whispered to him; where upon he replied, 'I hear and I obey.' Then he rose and said somewhat in a whisper to one of his slaves, who went out and returned in a little while with a Kazi and two witnesses. Thereupon Jubayr stood up and taking a bag containing an hundred thousand dinars, said, O Kazi, marry me to this young lady and write this sum to her marriage-settlement.' Quoth the Kazi to her, 'Say thou, I consent to this.' 'I consent to this,' quoth she, whereupon he drew up the contract of marriage and she opened the bag; and, taking out a handful of gold, gave it to the Kazi and the witnesses and handed the rest to Jubayr. Thereupon the Kazi and the witnesses withdrew, and I sat with them, in mirth and merriment, till the most part of the night was past, when I said in my mind, 'These are lovers and they have been this long while separated. I will now arise and go sleep in some place afar from them and leave them to their privacy, one with other.' So I rose, but she caught hold of my skirts, saying, 'What thinkest thou to do?' 'Nothing but so and so,' answered I; upon which she rejoined, 'Sit thee down; and when we would be rid of thee, we will send thee away.' So I sat down with them till near daybreak, when she said to me, 'O Ibn Mansur, go to yonder chamber; for we have furnished it for thee and it is thy sleeping-place.' Thereupon I arose and went thither and slept till morning, when a page brought me basin and ewer, and I made the ablution and prayed the dawn-prayer. Then I sat down and presently, behold, Jubayr and his beloved came out of the bath in the house, and I saw them both wringing their locks. So I wished them good morning and gave them joy of their safety and reunion, saying to Jubayr, 'That which began with constraint and conditions hath ended in cordial-contentment.' He answered, 'Thou sayest well, and indeed thou deservest thy honorarium;' and he called his treasurer, and said, 'Bring hither three thousand dinars.' So he brought a purse containing the gold pieces and Jubayr gave it to me, saying, 'Favour us by accepting this.' But I replied, 'I will not accept it till thou tell me the manner of the transfer of love from her to thee, after so huge an aversion.' Quoth he, 'Hearkening and obedience! Know that we have a festival-called New Year's day, when all the people fare forth and take boat and go a-pleasuring on the river. So I went out with my comrades, and saw a skiff, wherein were ten damsels like moons and amongst them, the Lady Budur lute in hand. She preluded in eleven modes, then, returning to the first, sang these two couplets,
'Fire is cooler than fires in my breast, * Rock is softer than heart of my lord
Marvel I that he's formèd to hold * In water soft frame heart rock-hard!'
Said I to her, 'Repeat the couplets and the air!' But she would not:'"--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the Three Hundred and Thirty-fourth Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that "Jubayr continued, 'So cried I to her, Repeat the couplets and the air!' But she would not; whereupon I bade the boatmen pelt her with oranges, and they pelted her till we feared her boat would founder Then she went her way, and this is how the love was transferred from her heart to mine.' So I wished them joy of their union and, taking the purse with its contents, I returned to Baghdad." Now when the Caliph heard Ibn Mansur's story his heart was lightened and the restlessness and oppression from which he suffered forsook him. And they also tell the tale of...
[Go to The Man of Al-Yaman and His Six Slave-Girls]
Burton, Richard (1821-1890). The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night. London. 1885-1888. Gutenberg Vol. I. Gutenberg Vol. II. Gutenberg Vol. III. Gutenberg Vol. IV. Gutenberg Vol. V. Gutenberg Vol. V. Gutenberg Vol. VII. Gutenberg Vol. VIII. Gutenberg Vol. IX. Gutenberg Vol. X. Please consult the Gutenberg edition for footnotes; the footnotes have not been included in this web version.
1001 Nights Hypertext. Laura Gibbs, Ph.D. This website is licensed under a Creative Commons License. The texts presented here are in the public domain. Thanks to Gene Perry for his excellent help in preparing the texts for the web. Page last updated: January 1, 2005 10:46 PM