[Go back to Tale of Ali Bin Bakkar and of Shams Al-Nahar]
That there was in times of yore and in ages long gone before a King called Shahriman, who was lord of many troops and guards, and officers, and who reigned over certain islands, known as the Khalidan Islands, on the borders of the land of the Persians. But he was stricken in years and his bones were wasted, without having been blessed with a son, albeit he had four wives, daughters of Kings, and threescore concubines, with each of whom he was wont to lie one night in turn. This preyed upon his mind and disquieted him, so that he complained thereof to one of his Wazirs, saying, "Verily I fear lest my kingdom be lost when I die, for that I have no son to succeed me." The Minister answered, "O King, peradventure Allah shall yet bring something to pass; so rely upon the Almighty and be instant in prayer. It is also my counsel that thou spread a banquet and invite to it the poor and needy, and let them eat of thy food; and supplicate the Lord to vouchsafe thee a son; for perchance there may be among thy guests a righteous soul whose prayers find acceptance; and thereby thou shalt win thy wish." So the King rose, made the lesser ablution, and prayed a two-bow prayer, then he cried upon Allah with pure intention; after which he called his chief wife to bed and lay with her forthright. By grace of God she conceived and, when her months were accomplished, she bore a male child, like the moon on the night of fulness. The King named him Kamar al-Zaman, and rejoiced in him with extreme joy and bade the city be dressed out in his honour; so they decorated the streets seven days, whilst the drums beat and the messengers bore the glad tidings abroad. Then wet and dry nurses were provided for the boy and he was reared in splendour and delight, until he reached the age of fifteen. He grew up of surpassing beauty and seemlihead and symmetry, and his father loved him so dear that he could not brook to be parted from him day or night. One day he complained to a certain of his Ministers anent the excess of his love for his only child, saying, "O thou the Wazir, of a truth I fear for my son, Kamar al-Zaman, the shifts and accidents which befal man and fain would I marry him in my life-time." Answered the Wazir, "O King, know thou that marriage is one of the most honourable of moral actions, and thou wouldst indeed do well and right to marry thy son in thy lifetime, ere thou make him Sultan." On this quoth the King, "Hither with my son Kamar al-Zaman;" so he came and bowed his head to the ground in modesty before his sire. "O Kamar al Zaman," said King Shahriman, "of a truth I desire to marry thee and rejoice in thee during my lifetime." Replied he, "O my father, know that I have no lust to marry nor cloth my soul incline to women; for that concerning their craft and perfidy I have read many books and heard much talk, even as saith the poet,
'Now, an of women ask ye, I reply:--* In their affairs I'm versed a doctor rare!
When man's head grizzles and his money dwindles, * In their affections he hath naught for share.'
And another said:--
'Rebel against women and so shalt thou serve Allah the more; * The youth who gives women the rein must forfeit all hope to soar.
They'll baulk him when seeking the strange device, Excelsior, * Tho' waste he a thousand of years in the study of science and lore.' "
And when he had ended his verses he continued, "O my father, wedlock is a thing whereto I will never consent; no, not though I drink the cup of death." When Sultan Shahriman heard these words from his son, light became darkness in his sight and he grieved thereat with great grief.--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the One Hundred and Seventy-first Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when King Shahriman heard these words from his son, the light became darkness in his sight and he grieved over his son's lack of obedience to his directions in the matter of marriage; yet, for the great love he bore him, he was unwilling to repeat his wishes and was not wroth with him, but caressed him and spake him fair and showed him all manner of kindness such as tendeth to induce affection. All this, and Kamar al-Zaman increased daily in beauty and loveliness and amorous grace; and the King bore with him for a whole year till he became perfect in eloquence and elegant wit. All men were ravished with his charms; and every breeze that blew bore the tidings of his gracious favour; his fair sight was a seduction to the loving and a garden of delight to the longing, for he was honey-sweet of speech and the sheen of his face shamed the full moon; he was a model of symmetry and blandishment and engaging ways; his shape was as the willow-wand or the rattan- cane and his cheeks might take the place of rose or red anemone. He was, in fine the pink of perfection, even as the poet hath said of him,
"He came and cried they, 'Now be Allah blest! * Praise Him that clad that soul in so fair vest!'
He's King of Beauty where the beauteous be; * All are his Ryots, all obey his hest:
His lip-dew's sweeter than the virgin honey; * His teeth are pearls in double row close press:
All charms are congregate in him alone, * And deals his loveliness to man unrest.
Beauty wrote on those cheeks for worlds to see * 'I testify there is none good but He.'"
When the year came to an end, the King called his son to him and said, "O my son, wilt thou not hearken to me?" Whereupon Kamar al-Zaman fell down for respect and shame before his sire and replied, "O my father, how should I not hearken to thee, seeing that Allah commandeth me to obey thee and not gain-say thee?" Rejoined King Shahriman, "O my son, know that I desire to marry thee and rejoice in thee whilst yet I live, and make thee King over my realm, before my death." When the Prince heard his sire pronounce these words he bowed his head awhile, then raised it and said, "O my father, this is a thing which I will never do; no, not though I drink the cup of death! I know of a surety that the Almighty hath made obedience to thee a duty in religion; but, Allah upon thee! press me not in this matter of marriage, nor fancy that I will ever marry my life long; for that I have read the books both of the ancients and the moderns, and have come to know all the mischiefs and miseries which have befallen them through women and their endless artifices. And how excellent is the saying of the poet,
'He whom the randy motts entrap * Shall never see deliverance!
Though build he forts a thousand-fold, * Whose mighty strength lead-plates enhance,
Their force shall be of no avail; * These fortresses have not a chance!
Women aye deal in treachery * To far and near o'er earth's expanse
With fingers dipt in Henna-blood * And locks in braids that mad the glance;
And eyelids painted o'er with Kohl * They gar us drink of dire mischance.'
And how excellently saith another,
'Women, for all the chastity they claim, * Are offal cast by kites where'er they list:
This night their talk and secret charms are shine, * That night another joyeth calf and wrist:
Like inn, whence after night thou far'st at dawn, * And lodges other wight thou hast not wist.'"
Now when King Shahriman heard these his son's words and learnt the import of his verses and poetical quotations, he made no answer, of his excessive love for him, but redoubled in graciousness and kindness to him. He at once broke up the audience and, as soon as the seance was over, he summoned his Minister and taking him apart, said to him, "O thou the Wazir! tell me how I shall deal with my son in the matter of marriage."- -And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted stay.
When it was the One Hundred and Seventy-second Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the King summoned his Minister; and, taking him apart, said to him, "O thou the Wazir, tell me what I shall do with my son in the matter of marriage. Of a truth I took counsel with thee thereon and thou didst counsel me to marry him, before making him King. I have spoken with him of wedlock time after time and he still gainsaid me; so do thou, O Wazir, forthright advise me what to do." Answered the Minister, "O King, wait another year and, if after that thou be minded to speak to him on the matter of marriage, speak not to him privily, but address him on a day of state, when all the Emirs and Wazirs are present with the whole of the army standing before thee. And when all are in crowd then send for thy son, Kamar al-Zaman, and summon him; and, when he cometh, broach to him the matter of marriage before the Wazirs and Grandees and Officers of state and Captains; for he will surely be bashful and daunted by their presence and will not dare to oppose thy will." Now when King Shahriman heard his Wazir's words, he rejoiced with exceeding joy, seeing success in the project, and bestowed on him a splendid robe of honour. Then he took patience with his son another year, whilst, with every day that passed over him, Kamar al-Zaman increased in beauty and loveliness, and elegance and perfect grace, till he was nigh twenty years old. Indeed Allah had clad him in the cloak of comeliness and had crowned him with the crown of completion: his eye-glance was more bewitching than Harut and Marut and the play of his luring looks more misleading than Taghut; and his cheeks shone like the dawn rosy-red and his eyelashes stormed the keen-edged blade: the whiteness of his brow resembled the moon shining bright, and the blackness of his locks was as the murky night; and his waist was more slender than the gossamer and his back parts than two sand heaps bulkier, making a Babel of the heart with their softness; but his waist complained of the weight of his hips and loins; and his charms ravished all mankind, even as one of the poets saith in these couplets,
"By his eyelash tendril curled, by his slender waist I swear,
By the dart his witchery feathers, fatal hurtling through the air;
By the just roundness of his shape, by his glances bright and keen
By the swart limping of his locks, and his fair forehead shining sheen;
By his eyebrows which deny that she who looks on them should sleep,
Which now commanding, now forbidding, o'er me high dominion keep;
By the roses of his cheek, his face as fresh as myrtle wreath
His tulip lips, and those pure pearls that hold the places of his teeth;
By his noble form, which rises featly turned in even swell
To where upon his jutting chest two young pomegranates seem to dwell
By his supple moving hips, his taper waist, the silky skin,
By all he robbed Perfection of, and holds enchained his form within;
By his tongue of steadfastness, his nature true, and excellent,
By the greatness of his rank, his noble birth, and high descent,
Musk from my love her savour steals, who musk exhales from every limb
And all the airs ambergris breathes are but the Zephyr's blow o'er him.
The sun, methinks, the broad bright sun, as low before my love should quail
As would my love himself transcend the paltry paring of his nail!"
So King Shahriman, having accepted the counsel of his Wazir, waited for another year and a great festival,--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the One Hundred and Seventy-third Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Shahriman having accepted the counsel of his Wazir, waited for another year and a great festival, a day of state when the audience hall was filled with his Emirs and Wazirs and Grandees of his reign and Officers of State and Captains of might and main. Thereupon he sent for his son Kamar al-Zaman who came, and kissing the ground before him three times, stood in presence of his sire with his hands behind his back the right grasping the left. Then said the King to him, "Know O my son, that I have not sent for thee on this occasion and summoned thee to appear before this assembly and all these officers of estate here awaiting our orders save and except that I may lay a commandment on thee, wherein do thou not disobey me; and my commandment is that thou marry, for I am minded to wed thee to a King's daughter and rejoice in thee ere I die." When the Prince heard this much from his royal sire, he bowed his head groundwards awhile, then raising it towards his father and being moved thereto at that time by youthful folly and boyish ignorance, replied, "But for myself I will never marry; no, not though I drink the cup of death! As for thee, thou art great in age and small of wit: hast thou not, twice ere this day and before this occasion, questioned me of the matter of marriage and I refused my consent? Indeed thou dotest and are not fit to govern a flock of sheep!" So saying Kamar al-Zaman unclasped his hands from behind his back and tucked up his sleeves above his elbows before his father, being in a fit of fury; moreover, he added many words to his sire, knowing not what he said in the trouble of his spirits. The King was confounded and ashamed, for that this befel in the presence of his grandees and soldier-officers assembled on a high festival and a state occasion; but presently the majesty of Kingship took him, and he cried out at his son and made him tremble. Then he called to the guards standing before him and said, "Seize him!' So they came forward and laid hands on him and, binding him, brought him before his sire, who bade them pinion his elbows behind his back and in this guise make him stand before the presence. And the Prince bowed down his head for fear and apprehension, and his brow and face were beaded and spangled with sweat; and shame and confusion troubled him sorely. Thereupon his father abused him and reviled him and cried, "Woe to thee, thou son of adultery and nursling of abomination! How durst thou answer me on this wise before my captains and soldiers? But hitherto none hath chastised thee,"--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the One Hundred and Seventy-fourth Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that King Shahriman cried out to his son Kamar al-Zaman, "How durst thou answer me on this wise before my captains and soldiers? But hitherto none hath chastised thee. Knowest thou not that this deed thou hast done were a disgrace to him had it been done by the meanest of my subjects?" And the King commanded his Mamelukes to loose his elbow bonds and imprison him in one of the bastions of the citadel. So they took the Prince and thrust him into an old tower, wherein there was a dilapidated saloon and in its middle a ruined well, after having first swept it and cleansed its floor-flags and set therein a couch on which they laid a mattress, a leathern rug and a cushion; and then they brought a great lanthorn and a wax candle, for that place was dark, even by day. And lastly the Mamelukes led Kamar al-Zaman thither, and stationed an eunuch at the door. And when all this was done, the Prince threw himself on the couch, sad-spirited, and heavy- hearted; blaming himself and repenting of his injurious conduct to his father, whenas repentance availed him naught, and saying, "Allah curse marriage and marriageable and married women, the traitresses all! Would I had hearkened to my father and accepted a wife! Had I so done it had been better for me than this jail." This is how it fared with him; but as regards King Shahri man, he remained seated on his throne all through the day until sundown; then he took the Minister apart and said to him "Know thou, O Wazir, that thou and thou only west the cause of all this that hath come to pass between me and my son by the advice thou west pleased to devise; and so what dost thou counsel me to do now?" Answered he, "O King, leave thy son in limbo for the space of fifteen days: then summon him to thy presence and bid him wed; and assuredly he shall not gainsay thee again."--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the One Hundred and Seventy-fifth Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the Wazir, said to King Shahriman, "Leave thy son in limbo for the space of fifteen days; then summon him to thy presence and bid him wed; and assuredly he shall not gainsay thee again." The King accepted the Wazir's opinion and lay down to sleep that night troubled at heart concerning his son; for he loved him with dearest love because he had no other child but this; and it was his wont every night not to sleep, save after placing his arm under his son's neck. So he passed that night in trouble and unease on the Prince 's account, tossing from side to side, as he were laid on coals of Artemisia-wood: for he was overcome with doubts and fears and sleep visited him not all that livelong night; but his eyes ran over with tears and he began repeating, ;
"While slanderers slumber, longsome is my night; * Suffice thee a heart so sad in parting-plight;
I say, while night in care slow moments by, * 'What! no return for thee, fair morning light?'"
And the saying of another,
"When saw I Pleiad-stars his glance escape * And Pole star draught of sleep upon him pour;
And the Bier-daughters wend in mourning dight, * I knew that morning was for him no more!"
Such was the case with King Shahriman; but as regards Kamar al- Zaman, when the night came upon him the eunuch set the lanthorn before him and lighting the wax-candle, placed it in the candlestick; then brought him somewhat of food. The Prince ate a little and continually reproached himself for his unseemly treatment of his father, saying to himself, "O my soul, knowest thou not that a son of Adam is the hostage of his tongue, and that a man's tongue is what casteth him into deadly perils?" Then his eyes ran over with tears and he bewailed that which he had done, from anguished vitals and aching heart, repenting him with exceeding repentance of the wrong wherewith he had wronged his father and repeating,
"Fair youth shall die by stumbling of the tongue: * Stumble of foot works not man's life such wrong:
The slip of lip shall oft smite off the head, * While slip of foot shall never harm one long."
Now when he had made an end of eating, he asked for the wherewithal to wash his hands and when the Mameluke had washed them clean of the remnants of food, he arose and made the Wuzu-ablution and prayed the prayers of sundown and nightfall, conjoining them in one; after which he sat down.--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the Hundred and Seventy-sixth Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the Prince Kamar al-Zaman had prayed (conjoining them in one) the prayers of sundown and nightfall, he sat down on the well and began reciting the Koran, and he repeated "The Cow," the "House of Imran," and "Y. S.;" "The Compassionate," "Blessed be the King," "Unity" and "The two Talismans''; and he ended with blessing and supplication and with saying, "I seek refuge with Allah from Satan the stoned." Then he lay down upon his couch which was covered with a mattress of satin from al- Ma'adin town, the same on both sides and stuffed with the raw silk of Irak; and under his head was a pillow filled with ostrich-down And when ready for sleep, he doffed his outer clothes and drew off his bag-trousers and lay down in a shirt of delicate stuff smooth as wax; and he donned a head-kerchief of azure Marazi cloth; and at such time and on this guise Kamar al-Zaman was like the full-orbed moon, when it riseth on its fourteenth night. Then, drawing over his head a coverlet of silk, he fell asleep with the lanthorn burning at his feet and the wax-candle over his head, and he ceased not sleeping through the first third of the night, not knowing what lurked for him in the womb of the Future, and what the Omniscient had decreed for him. Now, as Fate and Fortune would have it, both tower and saloon were old and had been many years deserted; and there was therein a Roman well inhabited by a Jinniyah of the seed of Iblis the Accursed, by name Maymunah, daughter of Al- Dimiryat, a renowned King of the Jann.--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the One Hundred and Seventy-seventh Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the name of the Jinniyah in question was Maymunah, daughter of Al-Dimiryat; a renowned King of the Jann. And as Kamar al-Zaman continued sleeping till the first third of the night, Maymunah came up out of the Roman well and made for the firmament, thinking to listen by stealth to the converse of the angels; but when she reached the mouth of the well, she saw a light shining in the tower, contrary to custom; and having dwelt there many years without seeing the like, she said to herself, "Never have I witnessed aught like this"; and, marvelling much at the matter, determined that there must be some cause therefor. So she made for the light and found the eunuch sleeping within the door; and inside she saw a couch spread, whereon was a human form with the wax-candle burning at his head and the lanthorn at his feet, and she wondered to see the light and stole towards it little by little. Then she folded her wings and stood by the bed and, drawing back the coverlid, discovered Kamar al-Zaman's face. She was motionless for a full hour in admiration and wonderment; for the lustre of his visage outshone that of the candle; his face beamed like a pearl with light; his eyelids were languorous like those of the gazelle; the pupils of his eyes were intensely black and brilliant; his cheeks were rosy red; his eye-brows were arched like bows and his breath exhaled a scent of musk, even as saith of him the poet,
"I kissed him: darker grew those pupils, which * Seduce my soul, and cheeks flushed rosier hue;
O heart, if slanderers dare to deem there be * His like in chasms, Say 'Bring him hither, you!' "
Now when Maymunah saw him, she pronounced the formula of praise, and said, "Blessed be Allah, the best of Creators!"; for she was of the true-believing Jinn; and she stood awhile gazing on his face, exclaiming and envying the youth his beauty and loveliness. And she said in herself, "By Allah! I will do no hurt to him nor let any harm him; nay, from all of evil will I ransom him, for this fair face deserveth not but that folk should gaze upon it and for it praise the Lord. Yet how could his family find it in their hearts to leave him in such desert place where, if one of our Marids came upon him at this hour, he would assuredly slay him." Then the Ifritah Maymunah bent over him and kissed him between the eyes, and presently drew back the sheet over his face which she covered up; and after this she spread her wings and soaring into the air, flew upwards. And after rising high from the circle of the saloon she ceased not winging her way through air and ascending skywards till she drew near the heaven of this world, the lowest of the heavens. And behold, she heard the noisy flapping of wings cleaving the welkin and, directing herself by the sound, she found when she drew near it that the noise came from an Ifrit called Dahnash. So she swooped down on him like a sparrow-hawk and, when he was aware of her and knew her to be Maymunah, the daughter of the King of the Jinn, he feared her and his side-muscles quivered; and he implored her forbearance, saying, I conjure thee by the Most Great and August Name and by the most noble talisman graven upon the seal-ring of Solomon, entreat me kindly and harm me not!" When she heard these words her heart inclined to him and she said, "Verily, thou conjurest me, O accursed, with a mighty conjuration. Nevertheless, I will not let thee go, till thou tell me whence thou comest at this hour." He replied, "O Princess, Know that I come from the uttermost end of China-land and from among the Islands, and I will tell thee of a wonderful thing I have seen this night. If thou kind my words true, let me wend my way and write me a patent under thy hand and with thy sign manual that I am thy freedman, so none of the Jinn-hosts, whether of the upper who fly or of the lower who walk the earth or of those who dive beneath the waters, do me let or hindrance." Rejoined Maymunah, "And what is it thou hast seen this night, O liar, O accursed! Tell me without leasing and think not to escape from my hand with falses, for I swear to thee by the letters graven upon the bezel of the seal-ring of Solomon David son (on both of whom be peace!), except thy speech be true, I will pluck out thy feathers with mine own hand and strip off thy skin and break thy bones!" Quoth the Ifrit Dahnash son of Shamhurish the Flyer, "I accept, O my lady, these conditions."--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the One Hundred and Seventy-eighth Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Dahnash spoke thus to Maymunah, "I accept, O my lady, these conditions." Then he resumed, "Know, O my mistress, that I come to-night from the Islands of the Inland Sea in the parts of China, which are the realms of King Ghayur, lord of the Islands and the Seas and the Seven Palaces. There I saw a daughter of his, than whom Allah hath made none fairer in her time: I cannot picture her to thee, for my tongue would fail to describe her with her due of praise; but I will name to thee a somewhat of her charms by way of approach. Now her hair is like the nights of disunion and separation and her face like the days of union and delectation; and right well hath the poet said when picturing her,
'She dispread the locks from her head one night, * Showing four fold nights into one night run
And she turned her visage towards the moon, * And two moons showed at moment one.'
She hath a nose like the edge of the burnished blade and cheeks like purple wine or anemones blood-red: her lips as coral and carnelian shine and the water of her mouth is sweeter than old wine; its taste would quench Hell's fiery pain. Her tongue is moved by wit of high degree and ready repartee: her breast is a seduction to all that see it (glory be to Him who fashioned it and finished it!); and joined thereto are two upper arms smooth and rounded; even as saith of her the poet Al-Walahan,
'She hath wrists which, did her bangles not contain, * Would run from out her sleeves in silvern rain.'
She hath breasts like two globes of ivory, from whose brightness the moons borrow light, and a stomach with little waves as it were a figured cloth of the finest Egyptian linen made by the Copts, with creases like folded scrolls, ending in a waist slender past all power of imagination; based upon back parts like a hillock of blown sand, that force her to sit when she would fief stand, and awaken her, when she fain would sleep, even as saith of her and describeth her the poet,
'She hath those hips conjoined by thread of waist, * Hips that o'er me and her too tyrannise
My thoughts they daze whene'er I think of them, * And weigh her down whene'er she would uprise.'
And those back parts are upborne by thighs smooth and round and by a calf like a column of pearl, and all this reposeth upon two feet, narrow, slender and pointed like spear-blades, the handiwork of the Protector and Requiter, I wonder how, of their littleness, they can sustain what is above them. But I cut short my praises of her charms fearing lest I be tedious."--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the One Hundred and Seventy-ninth Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the Ifrit Dahnash bin Shamhurish said to the Ifritah Maymunah, "Of a truth I cut short my praises fearing lest I be tedious." Now when Maymunah heard the description of that Princess and her beauty and loveliness, she stood silent in astonishment; whereupon Dahnash resumed, "The father of this fair maiden is a mighty King, a fierce knight, immersed night and day in fray and fight; for whom death hath no fright and the escape of his foe no dread, for that he is a tyrant masterful and a conqueror irresistible, lord of troops and armies and continents and islands, and cities and villages, and his name is King Ghayur, Lord of the Islands and of the Seas and of the Seven Palaces. Now he loveth his daughter, the young maiden whom I have described to thee, with dearest love and, for affection of her, he hath heaped together the treasures of all the kings and built her therewith seven palaces, each of a different fashion; the first of crystal, the second of marble, the third of China steel, the fourth of precious stones and gems of price, the fifth of porcelain and many-hued onyxes and ring bezels, the sixth of silver and the seventh of gold. And he hath filled the seven palaces with all sorts of sumptuous furniture, rich silken carpets and hangings and vessels of gold and silver and all manner of gear that kings require; and hath bidden his daughter to abide in each by turns for a certain season of the year; and her name is the Princess Budur. Now when her beauty became known and her name and fame were bruited abroad in the neighbouring countries, all the kings sent to her father to demand her of him in marriage, and he consulted her on the matter, but she disliked the very word wedlock with a manner of abhorrence and said, O my father, I have no mind to marry; no, not at all; for I am a sovereign Lady and a Queen suzerain ruling over men, and I have no desire for a man who shall rule over me. And the more suits she refused, the more her suitors' eagerness increased and all the Royalties of the Inner Islands of China sent presents and rarities to her father with letters asking her in marriage. So he pressed her again and again with advice on the matter of espousals; but she ever opposed to him refusals, till at last she turned upon him angrily and cried, 'O my father, if thou name matrimony to me once more, I will go into my chamber and take a sword and, fixing its hilt in the ground, will set its point to my waist; then will I press upon it, till it come forth from my back, and so slay myself.' Now when the King heard these her words, the light became darkness in his sight and his heart burned for her as with a flame of fire, because he feared lest she should kill herself; and he was filled with perplexity concerning her affair and the kings her suitors. So he said to her 'If thou be determined not to marry and there be no help for it abstain from going and coming in and out.' Then he placed her in a house and shut her up in a chamber, appointing ten old women as duennas to guard her, and forbade her to go forth to the Seven Palaces; moreover, he made it appear that he was incensed against her, and sent letters to all the kings, giving them to know that she had been stricken with madness by the Jinns; and it is now a year since she hath thus been secluded." Then continued the Ifrit Dahnash, addressing the Ifritah Maymunah, "And I, O my lady go to her every night and take my fill of feeding my sight on her face and I kiss her between the eyes: yet, of my love to her, I do her no hurt neither mount her, for that her youth is fair and her grace surpassing: every one who seeth her jealouseth himself for her. I conjure thee, therefore, O my lady, to go back with me and look on her beauty and loveliness and stature and perfection of proportion; and after, if thou wilt, chastise me or enslave me; and win to thy will, for it is shine to bid and to forbid." So saying, the Ifrit Dahnash bowed his head towards the earth and drooped his wings downward; but Maymunah laughed at his words and spat in his face and answered, "What is this girl of whom thou pratest but a potsherd wherewith to wipe after making water? Faugh! Faugh! By Allah, O accursed, I thought thou hadst some wondrous tale to tell me or some marvellous news to give me. How would it be if thou were to sight my beloved? Verily, this night I have seen a young man, whom if thou saw though but in a dream, thou wouldst be palsied with admiration and spittle would flow from thy mouth." Asked the Ifrit, "And who and what is this youth?"; and she answered, "Know, O Dahnash, that there hath befallen the young man the like of what thou tellest me befel thy mistress; for his father pressed him again and again to marry, but he refused, till at length his sire waxed wroth at being opposed and imprisoned him in the tower where I dwell: and I came up to-night and saw him." Said Dahnash, "O my lady, shew me this youth, that I may see if he be indeed handsomer than my mistress, the Princess Budur, or not; for I cannot believe that the like of her liveth in this our age." Rejoined Maymunah, "Thou liest, O accursed, O most ill-omened of Marids and vilest of Satans! Sure am I that the like of my beloved is not in this world."--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When It was the One Hundred and Eightieth Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the Ifritah Maymunah spake thus to the Ifrit Dahnash, "Sure am I that the like of my beloved is not in this world! Art thou mad to fellow thy beloved with my beloved?" He said, "Allah upon thee, O my lady, go back with me and look upon my mistress, and after I will with thee and look upon thy beloved." She answered, "It must needs be so, O accursed, for thou art a knavish devil; but I will not go with thee nor shalt thou come with me, save upon condition of a wager which is this. If the lover thou lovest and of whom thou boastest so bravely, prove handsomer than mine whom I mentioned and whom I love and of whom I boast, the bet shall be shine against me; but if my beloved prove the handsomer the bet shall be mine against thee." Quoth Dahnash the Ifrit, "O my lady, I accept this thy wager and am satisfied thereat; so come with me to the Islands." Quoth Maymunah; "No! for the abode of my beloved is nearer than the abode of shine: here it is under us; so come down with me to see my beloved and after we will go look upon thy mistress." "I hear and I obey," said Dahnash. So they descended to earth and alighted in the saloon which the tower contained; then Maymunah stationed Dahnash beside the bed and, putting out her hand, drew back the silken coverlet from Kamar al-Zaman's face, when it glittered and glistened and shimmered and shone like the rising sun. She gazed at him for a moment, then turning sharply round upon Dahnash said, "Look, O accursed, and be not the basest of madmen; I am a maid, yet my heart he hath waylaid." So Dahnash looked at the Prince and long continued gazing steadfastly on him then, shaking his head, said to Maymunah, "By Allah, O my lady, thou art excusable; but there is yet another thing to be considered, and this is, that the estate female differeth from the male. By Allah's might, this thy beloved is the likest of all created things to my mistress in beauty and loveliness and grace and perfection; and it is as though they were both cast alike in the mould of seemlihead." Now when Maymunah heard these words, the light became darkness in her sight and she dealt him with her wing so fierce a buffet on the head as well-nigh made an end of him. Then quoth she to him, "I conjure thee, by the light of his glorious countenance, go at once, O accursed, and bring hither thy mistress whom thou lovest so fondly and foolishly, and return in haste that we may lay the twain together and look on them both as they lie asleep side by side; so shall it appear to us which be the goodlier and more beautiful of the two. Except thou obey me this very moment, O accursed, I will dart my sparks at thee with my fire and consume thee; yea, in pieces I will rend thee and into the deserts cast thee, that to stay at home and wayfarer an example thou be!" Quoth Dahnash, "O my lady, I will do thy behests, for I know forsure that my mistress is the fairer and the sweeter." So saying the If rit flew away and Maymunah flew with him to guard him. They were absent awhile and presently returned, bearing the young lady, who was clad in a shift of fine Venetian silk, with a double edging of gold and purfled with the most exquisite of embroidery having these couplets worked upon the ends of the sleeves,
"Three matters hinder her from visiting us, in fear * Of hate-full, slandering envier and his hired spies:
The shining light of brow, the trinkets' tinkling voice, * And scent of essences that tell whene'er she tries:
Gi'en that she hide her brow with edge of sleeve, and leave * At home her trinketry, how shall her scent disguise?''
And Dahnash and Maymunah stinted not bearing that young lady till they had carried her into the saloon and had laid her beside the youth Kamar al-Zaman.--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the One Hundred and Eighty-first Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the Ifrit Dahnash and the Ifritah Maymunah stinted not bearing Princess Budur till they descended and laid her on the couch beside Kamar al- Zaman. Then they uncovered both their faces, and they were the likest of all folk, each to other, as they were twins or an only brother and sister; and indeed they were a seduction to the pious, even as saith of them the poet Al-Mubin,
"O heart! be not thy love confined to one, * Lest thou by doting or disdain be undone:
Love all the fair, and thou shalt find with them * If this be lost, to thee that shall be won."
And quoth another,
"Mine eyes beheld two lying on the ground; * Both had I loved if on these eyne they lay!"
So Dahnash and Maymunah gazed on them awhile, and he said, "By Allah, O my lady, it is good! My mistress is assuredly the fairer." She replied, "Not so, my beloved is the fairer; woe to thee, O Dahnash! Art blind of eye and heart that lean from fat thou canst not depart? Wilt thou hide the truth? Dost thou not see his beauty and loveliness and fine stature and symmetry? Out on thee, hear what I purpose to say in praise of my beloved and, if thou be a lover true to her thou dost love, do thou the like for her thou Lovest." Then she kissed Kamar al-Zaman again and again between the eyes and improvised this ode,
"How is this? Why should the blamer abuse thee in his pride? What shall console my heart for thee, that art but slender bough?
A Nature Kohl'd eye thou hast that witcheth far and wide; From pure platonic love of it deliverance none I trow!
Those glances, fell as plundering Turk, to heart such havoc deal As never havocked scymitar made keenest at the curve.
On me thou layest load of love the heaviest while I feel So feeble grown that under weight of chemisette I swerve.
My love for thee as wottest well is habit, and my lowe Is nature; to all others false is all the love I tender:
Now were my heart but like to shine I never would say No; Only my wasted form is like thy waist so gracious slender:
Out on him who in Beauty's robe for moon like charms hath fame, And who is claimed by mouth of men as marvel of his tribe!
'Of man what manner may he be' (ask they who flyte and blame) 'For whom thy heart is so distressed?' I only cry 'Describe!'
Oh stone-entempered heart of him! learn of his yielding grace And bending form to show me grace and yielding to consent.
Oh my Prince Beautiful, thou hast an Overseer in place Who irketh me, and eke a Groom whose wrong cloth ne'er relent.
Indeed he lieth who hath said that all of loveliness Was pent in Joseph: in thy charms there's many and many a Joe!
The Genii dread me when I stand and face to face address; But meeting thee my fluttering heart its shame and terror show.
I take aversion semblance and I turn from thee in fright, But more aversion I assume, more love from me dost claim;
That hair of jetty black! That brow e'er raying radiant light! Those eyne wherein white jostles black! That dearling
When Dahnash heard the poesy which Maymunah spake in praise of her beloved, he joyed with exceeding joy and marvelled with excessive wonderment.--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say
When it was the One Hundred and Eighty-second Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the Ifrit Dahnash heard the poesy which Maymunah spake in praise of her beloved, he shook for exceeding joy and said, "Thou hast celebrated thy beloved in song and thou hast indeed done well in praise of him whom thou lovest! And there is no help for it but that I also in my turn do my best to enfame my mistress, and recite somewhat in her honour." Then the Ifrit went up to the Lady Budur; and' kissing her between the eyes, looked at Maymunah and at his beloved Princess and recited the following verses, albeit he had no skill in poesy,
"Love for my fair they chide in angry way; * Unjust for ignorance, yea unjustest they!
Ah lavish favours on the love mad, whom * Taste of thy wrath and parting woe shall slay:
In sooth for love I'm wet with railing tears, * That rail mine eyelids blood thou mightest say:
No marvel what I bear for love, 'tis marvel * That any know my "me" while thou'rt away:
Unlawful were our union did I doubt * Thy love, or heart incline to other May."
And eke these words:--
"I feed eyes on their stead by the valley's side, * And I'm slain and my slaver aside hath tried:
Grief-wine have I drunken, and down my cheeks * Dance tears to the song of the camel-guide:
For union-blessing I strive though sure, * In Budur and Su'ad all my bliss shall bide:
Wot I not which of three gave me most to 'plain, * So hear them numbered ere thou decide:
Those Sworders her eyne, that Lancer her fig- * -ure, or ring-mail'd Locks which her forehead hide.
Quoth she (and I ask of her what so wights * Or abide in towns or in desert ride )
To me, 'In thy heart I dwell, look there!' * Quoth I, 'Where's my heart ah where? ah where?'"
When Maymunah heard these lines from the Ifrit, she said, "Thou hast done well, O Dahnash! But say thou which of the two is the handsomer?" And he answered, "My mistress Budur is handsomer than thy beloved!" Cried Maymunah, "Thou liest, O accursed. Nay, my beloved is more beautiful than shine!" But Dahnash persisted, "Mine is the fairer." And they ceased not to wrangle and challenge each other's words till Maymunah cried out at Dahnash and would have laid violent hands on him, but he humbled himself to her and, softening his speech, said, "Let not the truth be a grief to thee, and cease we this talk, for all we say is to testify in favour of our lovers; rather let each of us withdraw the claim and seek we one who shall judge fairly between us which of the two be fairer; and by his sentence we will abide." "I agree to this," answered she and smote the earth with her foot, whereupon there came out of it an Ifrit blind of an eye, humpbacked and scurvy-skinned, with eye-orbits slit up and down his face. On his head were seven horns and four locks of hair fell to his heels; his hands were pitchfork-like and his legs mast-like and he had nails as the claws of a lion, and feet as the hoofs of the wild ass. When that If rit rose out of the earth and sighted Maymunah, he kissed the ground before her and, standing with his hands clasped behind him, said, "What is thy will, O my mistress, O daughter of my King?" She replied, "O Kashkash, I would have thee judge between me and this accursed Dahnash." And she made known to him the matter, from first to last, whereupon the Ifrit Kashkash looked at the face of the youth and then at the face of the girl; and saw them lying asleep, embraced, each with an arm under the other's neck, alike in beauty and loveliness and equal in grace and goodliness. The Marid gazed long upon them, marvelling at their seemlihead; and, after carefully observing the twain, he turned to Maymunah and Dahnash, and reseated these couplets.
"Go, visit her thou lovest, and regard not The words detractors utter, envious churls Can never favour love. Oh! sure the Merciful Ne'er made a thing more fair to look upon, Than two fond lovers in each others' arms, Speaking their passion in a mute embrace. When heart has turned to heart, the fools would part them Strike idly on cold steel. So when thou'st found One purely, wholly shine, accept her true heart, And live for her alone. Oh! thou that blamest The love-struck for their love, give o'er thy talk, How canst thou minister to a mind diseased?"
Then he turned again to Maymunah and Dahnash and said to them, "By Allah, if you will have the truth, I tell you fairly the twain be equal in beauty, and loveliness and perfect grace and goodliness, nor can I make any difference between them on account of their being man and woman. But I have another thought which is that we wake each of them in turn, without the knowledge of the other, and whichever is the more enamoured shall be held inferior in seemlihead and comeliness." Quoth Maymunah, "Right is this recking," and quoth Dahnash, "I consent to this." Then Dahnash changed himself to the form of a flea and bit Kamar al-Zaman, whereupon he started from sleep in a fright.--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the One Hundred and Eighty-third Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Dahnash changed himself to the form of a flea and bit Kamar al-Zaman who started from sleep in a fright and rubbed the bitten part, his neck, and scratched it hard because of the smart. Then turning sideways, he found lying by him something whose breath was sweeter than musk and whose skin was softer than cream. Hereat marvelled he with great marvel and he sat up and looked at what lay beside him; when he saw it to be a young lady like an union pearl, or a shining sun, or a dome seen from afar on a well built wall; for she was five feet tall, with a shape like the letter Alif, bosomed high and rosy checked; even as saith of her the poet,
"Four things which ne'er conjoin, unless it be * To storm my vitals and to shed my blood:
Brow white as day and tresses black as night * Cheeks rosy red and lips which smiles o'erflood."
And also quoth another,
"A Moon she rises, Willow wand she waves, * Breathes Ambergris, and gazes, a Gazelle:
Meseems that sorrow woes my heart and wins * And, when she wendeth hastes therein to dwell!"
And when Kamar al-Zaman saw the Lady Budur, daughter of King Ghayur, and her beauty and comeliness, she was sleeping clad in a shift of Venetian silk, without her petticoat-trousers, and wore on her head a kerchief embroidered with gold and set with stones of price: her ears were hung with twin earrings which shone like constellations and round her neck was a collar of union pearls, of size unique, past the competence of any King. When he saw this, his reason was confounded and natural heat began to stir in him; Allah awoke in him the desire of coition and he said to himself, "Whatso Allah willeth, that shall be, and what He willeth not shall never be!" So saying, he put out his hand and, turning her over, loosed the collar of her chemise; then arose before his sight her bosom, with its breasts like double globes of ivory; whereat his inclination for her redoubled and he desired her with exceeding hot desire, He would have awakened her but she would not awake, for Dahnash had made her sleep heavy; so he shook her and moved her, saying, "O my beloved, awake and look on me; I am Kamar al-Zaman." But she awoke not, neither moved her head; where-upon he considered her case for a long hour and said to himself, "If I guess aright, this is the damsel to whom my father would have married me and these three years past I have refused her; but Inshallah!--God willing--as soon as it is dawn, I will say to him, 'Marry me to her, that I may enjoy her.'"--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the One Hundred and Eighty-fourth Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Kamar al- Zaman said to himself, "By Allah, when I see dawn I will say to my sire, 'Marry me to her that I may enjoy her'; nor will I let half the day pass ere I possess her and take my fill of her beauty and loveliness." Then he bent over Budur to buss her, whereat the Jinniyah Maymunah trembled and was abashed and Dahnash, the Ifrit, was like to fly for joy. But, as Kamar al- Zaman was about to kiss her upon the mouth, he was ashamed before Allah and turned away his head and averted his face, saying to his heart, "Have patience." Then he took thought awhile and said, "I will be patient; haply my father when he was wroth with me and sent me to this jail, may have brought my young lady and made her lie by my side to try me with her, and may have charged her not to be readily awakened when I would arouse her, and may have said to her, 'Whatever thing Kamar al-Zaman do to thee, make me ware thereof'; or belike my sire standeth hidden in some stead whence (being himself unseen) he can see all I do with this young lady; and to morrow he will scold me and cry, 'How cometh it that thou sayest, I have no mind to marry; and yet thou didst kiss and embrace yonder damsel?' So I will withhold myself lest I be ashamed before my sire; and the right and proper thing to do is not to touch her at this present, nor even to look upon her, except to take from her somewhat which shall serve as a token to me and a memorial of her; that some sign endure between me and her." Then Kamar al-Zaman raised the young lady's hand and took from her little finger a seal-ring worth an immense amount of money, for that its bezel was a precious jewel and around it were graven these couplets,
"Count not that I your promises forgot, * Despite the length of your delinquencies
Be generous, O my lord, to me inclining; * Haply your mouth and cheeks these lips may kiss:
By Allah, ne'er will I relinquish you * Albe you will transgress love's boundaries."
Then Kamar al-Zaman took the seal-ring from the little finger of Queen Budur and set it on his own; then, turning his back to her, went to sleep. When Maymunah the Jinniyah saw this, she was glad and said to Dahnash and Kashkash, "Saw ye how my beloved Kamar al-Zaman bore himself chastely towards this young lady? Verily, this was of the perfection of his good gifts; for observe you twain how he looked on her and noted her beauty and loveliness, and yet embraced her not neither kissed her nor put his hand to her, but turned his back and slept." Answered they, "Even so!" Thereupon Maymunah changed herself into a flea and entering into the raiment of Budur, the loved of Dahnash, crept up her calf and came upon her thigh and, reaching a place some four carats below her navel, there bit her. Thereupon she opened her eyes and sitting up in bed, saw a youth lying beside her and breathing heavily in his sleep, the loveliest of Almighty Allah's creatures, with eyes that put to shame the fairest Houris of Heaven; and a mouth like Solomon's seal, whose water was sweeter to the taste and more efficacious than a theriack, and lips the colour of coral-stone, and cheeks like the blood red anemone, even as saith one, describing him in these couplets,
"My mind's withdrawn from Zaynab and Nawar * By rosy cheeks that growth of myrtle bear;
I love a fawn, a tunic-vested boy, * And leave the love of bracelet-wearing Fair:
My mate in hall and closet is unlike * Her that I play with, as at home we pair.
Oh thou, who blam'st my flight from Hind and Zaynab, * The cause is clear as dawn uplighting air!
Would'st have me fare a slave, the thrall of thrall, * Cribbed, pent, confined behind the bar and wall?"
Now when Princess Budur saw him, she was seized by a transport of passion and yearning and love-longing,--And Shahrazad per ceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the One Hundred and Eighty-fifth Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when Princess Budur saw Kamar al-Zaman she was forthwith seized with a transport of passion and yearning and love longing, and she said to herself, "Alas, my shame! This is a strange youth and I know him not. How cometh he to be lying by my side on one bed?" Then she looked at him a second time and, noting his beauty and loveliness, said, "By Allah, he is indeed a comely youth and my heart is well-nigh torn in sunder with longing for him! But alas, how am I shamed by him! By the Almighty, had I known it was this youth who sought me in marriage of my father, I had not rejected him, but had wived with him and enjoyed his loveliness!" Then she gazed in his face and said, "O my lord and light of mine eyes, awake from sleep and take thy pleasure in my beauty and grace." And she moved him with her hand; but Maymunah the Jinniyah let down sleep upon him as it were a curtain, and pressed heavily on his head with her wings so that Kamar al-Zaman awoke not. Then Princess Budur shook him with her hands and said, "My life on thee, hearken to me; awake and up from thy sleep and look on the narcissus and the tender down thereon, and enjoy the sight of naked waist and navel; and touzle me and tumble me from this moment till break of day! Allah upon thee, O my lord, sit up and prop thee against the pillow and slumber not!" Still Kamar al-Zaman made her no reply but breathed hard in his sleep. Continued she, "Alas! Alas! thou art insolent in thy beauty and comeliness and grace and loving looks! But if thou art handsome, so am I handsome; what then is this thou dost? Have they taught thee to flout me or hath my father, the wretched old fellow, made thee swear not to speak to me to-night?" But Kamar al-Zaman opened not his mouth neither awoke, whereat her passion for him redoubled and Allah inflamed her heart with love of him. She stole one glance of eyes that cost her a thousand sighs: her heart fluttered, and her vitals throbbed and her hands and feet quivered; and she said to Kamar al-Zaman "Talk to me, O my lord! Speak to me, O my friend! Answer me, O my beloved, and tell me thy name, for indeed thou hast ravished my wit!" And during all this time he abode drowned in sleep and answered her not a word, and Princess Budur sighed and said, "Alas! Alas! why art thou so proud and self satisfied?" Then she shook him and turning his hand over, saw her seal-ring on his little finger, whereat she cried a loud cry, and followed it with a sigh of passion and said, "Alack! Alack! By Allah, thou art my beloved and thou lovest me! Yet thou seemest to turn thee away from me out of coquetry, for all, O my darling, thou camest to me, whilst I was asleep and knew not what thou didst with me, and tookest my seal-ring; and yet I will not pull it off thy finger." So saying, she opened the bosom of his shirt and bent over him and kissed him and put forth her hand to him, seeking somewhat that she might take as a token, but found nothing. Then she thrust her hand into his breast and, because of the smoothness of his body, it slipped down to his waist and thence to his navel and thence to his yard, whereupon her heart ached and her vitals quivered and lust was sore upon her, for that the desire of women is fiercer than the desire of men, and she was ashamed of her own shamelessness. Then she plucked his seal-ring from his finger, and put it on her own instead of the ring he had taken, and bussed his inner lips and hands, nor did she leave any part of him unkissed; after which she took him to her breast and embraced him and, laying one of her hands under his neck and the other under his arm-pit, nestled close to him and fell asleep by his side.--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the One hundred and Eighty-sixth Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when Princess Budur fell asleep by the side of Kamar al-Zaman, after doing that which she did, quoth Maymunah to Dahnash, Night thou, O accursed, how proudly and coquettishly my beloved bore himself, and how hotly and passionately thy mistress showed herself to my dearling? There can be no doubt that my beloved is handsomer than shine; nevertheless I pardon thee." Then she wrote him a document of manumission and turned to Kashkash and said, "Go, help Dahnash to take up his mistress and aid him to carry her back to her own place, for the night waneth apace and there is but little left of it." "I hear and I obey;" answered Kashkash. So the two Ifrits went forward to Princess Budur and upraising her flew away with her; then, bearing her back to her own place, they laid her on her bed, whilst Maymunah abode alone with Kamar al-Zaman, gazing upon him as he slept, till the night was all but spent, when she went her way. As soon as morning morrowed, the Prince awoke from sleep and turned right and left, but found not the maiden by him and said in his mind, "What is this business? It is as if my father would incline me to marriage with the damsel who was with me and have now taken her away by stealth, to the intent that my desire for wedlock may redouble." Then he called out to the eunuch who slept at the door, saying, "Woe to thee, O damned one, arise at once!" So the eunuch rose, bemused with sleep, and brought him basin and ewer, whereupon Kamar al-Zaman entered the water closet and did his need; then, coming out made the Wuzu-ablution and prayed the dawn-prayer, after which he sat telling on his beads the ninety-and-nine names of Almighty Allah. Then he looked up and, seeing the eunuch standing in service upon him, said, "Out on thee, O Sawab! Who was it came hither and took away the young lady from my side and I still sleeping?" Asked the eunuch, 'O my lord, what manner of young lady?" "The young lady who lay with me last night," replied Kamar al-Zaman. The eunuch was startled at his words and said to him, "By Allah, there hath been with thee neither young lady nor other! How should young lady have come in to thee, when I was sleeping in the doorway and the door was locked? By Allah, O my lord, neither male nor female hath come in to thee!" Exclaimed the Prince, "Thou liest, O pestilent slave!: is it of thy competence also to hoodwink me and refuse to tell me what is become of the young lady who lay with me last night and decline to inform me who took her away?" Replied the eunuch (and he was affrighted at him), "By Allah, O my lord, I have seen neither young lady nor young lord!" His words only angered Kamar al-Zaman the more and he said to him, "O accursed one, my father hath indeed taught thee deceit! Come hither." So the eunuch came up to him, and the Prince took him by the collar and dashed him to the ground; whereupon he let fly a loud fart and Kamar al-Zaman, kneeling upon him, kicked him and throttled him till he fainted away. Then he dragged him forth and tied him to the well-rope, and let him down like a bucket into the well and plunged him into the water, then drew him up and lowered him down again. Now it was hard winter weather, and Kamar al-Zaman ceased not to plunge the eunuch into the water and pull him up again and douse him and haul him whilst he screamed and called for help; and the Prince kept on saying "By Allah, O damned one, I will not draw thee up out of this well till thou tell me and fully acquaint me with the story of the young lady and who it was took her away, whilst I slept."--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the One and Eighty-seventh Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Kamar al- Zaman said to the eunuch, "By Allah! I will not draw thee up out of this well until thou tell me the story of the young lady and who it was took her away whilst I slept." Answered the eunuch, after he had seen death staring him in the face; "O my lord, let me go and I will relate to thee the truth and the whole tale." So Kamar al-Zaman pulled him up out of the well, all but dead for suffering, what with cold and the pain of dipping and dousing, drubbing and dread of drowning. He shook like cane in hurricane, his teeth were clenched as by cramp and his clothes were drenched and his body befouled and torn by the rough sides of the well: briefly he was in a sad pickle. Now when Kamar al-Zaman saw him in this sorry plight, he was concerned for him; but, as soon as the eunuch found himself on the floor, he said to him, "O my lord, let me go and doff my clothes and wring them out and spread them in the sun to dry, and don others; after which I will return to thee forthwith and tell thee the truth of the matter." Answered the Prince, "O rascal slave! hadst thou not seen death face to face, never hadst thou confessed to fact nor told me a word; but go now and do thy will, and then come back to me at once and tell me the truth." Thereupon the eunuch went out, hardly crediting his escape, and ceased not running, stumbling and rising in his haste, till he came in to King Shahriman, whom he found sitting at talk with his Wazir of Kamar al-Zaman's case. The King was saying to the Minister, "I slept not last night, for anxiety concerning my son, Kamar al-Zaman and indeed I fear lest some harm befal him in that old tower. What good was there in imprisoning him?" Answered the Wazir, "Have no care for him. By Allah, no harm will befal him! None at all! Leave him in prison for a month till his temper yield and his spirit be broken and he return to his senses." As the two spoke behold, up rushed the eunuch, in the aforesaid plight, making to the King who was troubled at sight of him; and he cried "O our lord the Sultan! Verily, thy son's wits are fled and he hath gone mad, he hath dealt with me thus and thus, so that I am become as thou seest me, and he kept saying, 'A young lady lay with me this night and stole away secretly whilst I slept. Where is she?' And he insisteth on my letting him know where she is and on my telling him who took her away. But I have seen neither girl nor boy: the door was locked all through the night, for I slept before it with the key under my head, and I opened to him in the morning with my own hand. When King Shahriman heard this, he cried out, saying, "Alas, my son!;" and he was enraged with sore rage against the Wazir, who had been the cause of all this case and said to him, "Go up, bring me news of my son and see what hath befallen his mind." So the Wazir rose and, stumbling over his long skirts, in his fear of the King's wrath, hastened with the slave to the tower. Now the sun had risen and when the Minister came in to Kamar al-Zaman, he found him sitting on the couch reciting the Koran; so he saluted him and seated himself by his side, and said to him, "O my lord, this wretched eunuch brought us tidings which troubled and alarmed us and which incensed the King." Asked Kamar al-Zaman, "And what hath he told you of me to trouble my father? In good sooth he hath troubled none but me." Answered the Wazir, "He came to us in fulsome state and told us of thee a thing which Heaven forfend; and the slave added a lie which it befitteth not to repeat, Allah preserve thy youth and sound sense and tongue of eloquence, and forbid to come from thee aught of offense!" Quoth the Prince, "O Wazir, and what thing did this pestilent slave say of me?" The Minister replied, "He told us that thy wits had taken leave of thee and thou wouldst have it that a young lady lay with thee last night, and thou west instant with him to tell thee whither she went and thou diddest torture him to that end." But when Kamar al-Zaman heard these words, he was enraged with sore rage and he said to the Wazir, "'Tis manifest to me in very deed that you people taught the eunuch to do as he did."--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her per misted say.
When it was the One Hundred and Eighty-eighth Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when Kamar al-Zaman heard the words of the Wazir he was enraged with sore rage and said to him, "'Tis manifest to me in very deed that you people taught the eunuch to do as he did and forbade him to tell me what became of the young lady who lay with me last night. But thou, O Wazir, art cleverer than the eunuch, so do thou tell me without stay or delay, whither went the young lady who slept on my bosom last night; for it was you who sent her and bade her steep in my embrace and we lay together till dawn; but, when I awoke, I found her not. So where is she now?" Said the Wazir, "O my lord Kamar al-Zaman, Allah's name encompass thee about! By the Almighty, we sent none to thee last night, but thou layest alone, with the door locked on thee and the eunuch sleeping behind it, nor did there come to thee young lady or any other. Regain thy reason, O my lord, and stablish thy senses and occupy not thy mind with vanities." Rejoined Kamar al-Zaman who was incensed at his words, "O Wazir, the young lady in question is my beloved, the fair one with the black eyes and rosy cheeks, whom I held in my arms all last night." So the Minister wondered at his words and asked him, "Didst thou see this damsel last night with shine own eyes on wake or in sleep?" Answered Kamar al-Zaman, "O ill- omened old man, dost thou fancy I saw her with my ears? Indeed, I saw her with my very eyes and awake, and I touched her with my hand, and I watched by her full half the night, feeding my vision on her beauty and loveliness and grace and tempting looks. But you had schooled her and charged her to speak no word to me; so she feigned sleep and I lay by her side till dawn, when I awoke and found her gone." Rejoined the Wazir, "O my lord Kamar al- Zaman, haply thou sawest this in thy sleep; it must have been a delusion of dreams or a deception caused by eating various kinds of food, or a suggestion of the accursed devils." Cried the Prince, "O pestilent old man! wilt thou too make a mock of me and tell me this was haply a delusion of dreams, when that eunuch confessed to the young lady, saying, 'At once I will return to thee and tell thee all about her?'" With these words, he sprang up and rushed at the Wazir and gripped hold of his beard (which was long) and, after gripping it, he twisted his hand in it and haling him off the couch, threw him on the floor. It seemed to the Minister as though his soul departed his body for the violent plucking at his beard; and Kamar al-Zaman ceased not kicking the Wazir and basting his breast and ribs and cuffing him with open hand on the nape of his neck till he had well-nigh beaten him to death. Then said the old man in his mind, "Just as the eunuch-slave saved his life from this lunatic youth by telling him a lie, thus it is even fitter that I do likewise; else he will destroy me. So now for my lie to save myself, he being mad beyond a doubt." Then he turned to Kamar al-Zaman and said, "O my lord, pardon me; for indeed thy father charged me to conceal from thee this affair of the young lady; but now I am weak and weary and wounded with funding; for I am an old man and lack strength and bottom to endure blows. Have, therefore, a little patience with me and I will tell thee all and acquaint thee with the story of the young woman." When the Prince heard this, he left off drubbing him and said, "Wherefore couldst thou not tell me the tale until after shame and blows? Rise now, unlucky old man that thou art, and tell me her story." Quoth the Wazir, "Say, dost thou ask of the young lady with the fair face and perfect form?" Quoth Kamar al-Zaman, "Even so! Tell me, O Wazir, who it was that led her to me and laid her by my side, and who was it that took her away from me by night; and let me know forthright whither she is gone, that I myself may go to her at once. If my father did this deed to me that he might try me by means of that beautiful girl, with a view to our marriage, I consent to wed her and free myself of this trouble; for he did all these dealings with me only because I refused wedlock. But now I consent and I say again, I consent to matrimony: so tell this to my father, O Wazir, and advise him to marry me to that young lady; for I will have none other and my heart loveth none save her alone. Now rise up at once and haste thee to my father and counsel him to hurry on our wedding and bring me his answer within this very hour." Rejoined the Wazir, "'Tis well!" and went forth from him, hardly believing himself out of his hands. Then he set off from the tower, walking and tripping up as he went, for excess of fright and agitation, and he ceased not hurrying till he came in to King Shahriman.--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the One Hundred and Eighty-nineth Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the Wazir, fared forth from the tower, and ceased not running till he came in to King Shahriman, who said to him as he sighted him, "O thou Wazir, what man hath brought thee to grief and whose mischief hath treated thee in way unlief; how happeneth it that I see thee dumb foundered and coming to me thus astounded?" Replied the Wazir, "O King! I bring thee good news." "And what is it?" quoth Shahriman, and quoth the Wazir, "Know that thy son Kamar al- Zaman's wits are clean gone and that he hath become stark mad." Now when the King heard these words of the Minister, light became darkness in his sight and he said, "O Wazir, make clear to me the nature of his madness." Answered the Wazir, "O my lord, I hear and I obey." Then he told him that such and such had passed and acquainted him with all that his son had done; whereupon the King said to him, "Hear, O Wazir, the good tidings which I give thee in return for this thy fair news of my son's insanity; and it shall be the cutting off of thy head and the forfeiture of my favour, O most ill-omened of Wazirs and foulest of Emirs! for I feel that thou hast caused my son's disorder by the wicked advice and the sinister counsel thou hast given me first and last. By Allah, if aught of mischief or madness have befallen my son I will most assuredly nail thee upon the palace dome and make thee drain the bitterest draught of death!'' Then he sprang up and, taking the Wazir, with him, fared straight for the tower and entered it. And when Kamar al-Zaman saw the two, he rose to his father in haste from the couch whereon he sat and kissing his hands drew back and hung down his head and stood before him with his arms behind him, and thus remained for a full hour. Then he raised his head towards his sire; the tears gushed from his eyes and streamed down his cheeks and he began repeating,
"Forgive the sin 'neath which my limbs are trembling, For the slave seeks for mercy from his master; I've done a fault, which calls for free confession, Where shall it call for mercy, and forgiveness?''
When the King heard this, he arose and embraced his son, and kissing him between the eyes, made him sit by his side on the couch; then he turned to the Wazir, and, looking on him with eyes of wrath, said, "O dog of Wazirs, how didst thou say of my son such and such things and make my heart quake for him?" Then he turned to the Prince and said, "O my son, what is to-day called?" He answered, "O my father, this day is the Sabbath, and to morrow is First day: then come Second day, Third, Fourth, Fifth day and lastly Friday." Exclaimed the King, "O my son, O Kamar al-Zaman, praised be Allah for the preservation of thy reason! What is the present month called in our Arabic?" "Zu'l Ka'adah," answered Kamar al-Zaman, "and it is followed by Zu'l hijjah; then cometh Muharram, then Safar, then Rabi'a the First and Rabi'a the Second, the two Jamadas, Rajab, Sha'aban, Ramazan and Shawwal." At this the King rejoiced exceedingly and spat in the Wazir's face, saying, "O wicked old man, how canst thou say that my son is mad? And now none is mad but thou." Hereupon the Minister shook his head and would have spoken, but bethought himself to wait awhile and see what might next befal. Then the King said to his child, "O my son, what words be these thou saddest to the eunuch and the Wazir, declaring, 'I was sleeping with a fair damsel this night?' What damsel is this of whom thou speakest?" Then Kamar al-Zaman laughed at his father's words and replied, "O my father, know that I can bear no more jesting; so add me not another mock or even a single word on the matter, for my temper hath waxed short by that you have done with me. And know, O my father, with assured knowledge, that I consent to marry, but on condition that thou give me to wife her who lay by my side this night; for I am certain it was thou sentest her to me and madest me in love with her and then despatchedst a message to her before the dawn and tookest her away from beside me." Rejoined the King, "The name of Allah encompass thee about, O my son, and be thy wit preserved from witlessness!"--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the One Hundred and Ninetieth Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that quoth King Shahriman to his son Kamar al-Zaman, "The name of Allah encompass thee about, O my son, and be thy wit preserved from witlessness! What thing be this young lady whom thou fanciest I sent to thee last night and then again that I sent to withdraw her from thee before dawn? By the Lord, O my son, I know nothing of this affair, and Allah upon thee, tell me if it be a delusion of dreaming or a deception caused by indisposition. For verily thou layest down to sleep last night with thy mind occupied anent marriage and troubled with the talk of it (Allah damn marriage and the hour when I spake of it and curse him who counselled it!); and without doubt or diffidence I can say that being moved in mind by the mention of wedlock thou dreamedst that a handsome young lady embraced thee and didst fancy thou sawest her when awake. But all this, O my son, is but an imbroglio of dreams." Replied Kamar al-Zaman, "Leave this talk and swear to me by Allah, the All creator, the Omniscient; the Humbler of the tyrant Caesars and the Destroyer of the Chosroes, that thou knowest naught of the young lady nor of her woning-place." Quoth the King, "By the Might of Allah Almighty, the God of Moses and Abraham, I know naught of all this and never even heard of it; it is assuredly a delusion of dreams thou hast seen in sleep.' Then the Prince replied to his sire, "I will give thee a self evident proof that it happened to me when on wake."--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the One Hundred and Ninety-first Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Kamar al Zamar said to his sire, "I will give thee a self-evident proof that this happened to me when on wake. Now let me ask thee, did it ever befal any man to dream that he was battling a sore battle and after to awake from sleep and find in his hand a sword-blade besmeared with blood? Answered the King, "No, by Allah, O my son, this hath never been." Rejoined Kamar al-Zaman, "I will tell thee what happened to me and it was this. Meseemed I awoke from sleep in the middle of the past night and found a girl lying by my side, whose form was like mine and whose favour was as mine. I embraced her and turned her about with my hand and took her seal- ring, which I put on my finger, and she pulled off my ring and put it on hers. Then I went to sleep by her side, but refrained from her for shame of thee, deeming that thou hadst sent her to me, intending to tempt me with her and incline me to marriage, and suspecting thee to be hidden somewhere whence thou couldst see what I did with her. And I was ashamed even to kiss her on the mouth for thy account, thinking over this temptation to wedlock; and, when I awoke at point of day, I found no trace of her, nor could I come at any news of her, and there befel me what thou knowest of with the eunuch and with the Wazir. How then can this case have been a dream and a delusion, when the ring is a reality? Save for her ring on my finger I should indeed have deemed it a dream; but here is the ring on my little finger: look at it, O King, and see what is its worth." So saying he handed the ring to his father, who examined it and turned it over, then looked to his son and said, "Verily, there is in this ring some mighty mystery and some strange secret. What befel thee last night with the girl is indeed a hard nut to crack, and I know not how intruded upon us this intruder. None is the cause of all this posher save the Wazir; but, Allah upon thee, O my son, take patience, so haply the Lord may turn to gladness this thy grief and to thy sadness bring complete relief: as quoth one of the poets,
'Haply shall Fortune draw her rein, and bring * Fair chance, for she is changeful, jealous, vain:
Still I may woo my want and wishes win, * And see on heels of care unfair, the fain.'
And now, O my son, I am certified at this hour that thou art not mad; but thy case is a strange one which none can clear up for thee save the Almighty." Cried the Prince, "By Allah, O my father, deal kindly with me and seek out this young lady and hasten her coming to me; else I shall die of woe and of my death shall no one know." Then he betrayed the ardour of his passion; and turned towards his father and repeated these two couplets,
"If your promise of personal call prove untrue, * Deign in vision to grant me an interview:
Quoth they, 'How can phantom appear to the sight * Of a youth, whose sight is fordone, perdue?'"
Then, after ending his poetry, Kamar al-Zaman again turned to his father, with submission and despondency, and shedding tears in flood, began repeating these lines.--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the One Hundred and Ninety-second Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when Kamar al-Zaman had repeated to his father these verses, he wept and complained and groaned from a wounded heart; and added these lines,
"Beware that eye glance which hath magic might; * Wherever turn those orbs it bars our flight:
Nor be deceived by low sweet voice, that breeds * A fever festering in the heart and sprite:
So soft that silky skin, were rose to touch it * She'd cry and tear-drops rain for pain and fright:
Did Zephyr e'en in sleep pass o'er her land, * Scented he'd choose to dwell in scented site:
Her necklets vie with tinkling of her belt; * Her wrists strike either wristlet dumb with spite:
When would her bangles buss those rings in ear, * Upon the lover's eyne high mysteries 'light:
I'm blamed for love of her, nor pardon claim; * Eyes are not profiting which lack foresight:
Heaven strip thee, blamer mine! unjust art thou; * Before this fawn must every eye low bow."
After which he said, "By Allah, O my father, I cannot endure to be parted from her even for an hour." The King smote hand upon hand and exclaimed, "There is no Majesty and there is no Might save in Allah, the Glorious, the Great! No cunning contrivance can profit us in this affair." Then he took his son by the hand and carried him to the palace, where Kamar al-Zaman lay down on the bed of languor and the King sat at his head, weeping and mourning over him and leaving him not, night or day, till at last the Wazir came in to him and said, "O King of the age and the time, how long wilt thou remain shut up with thy son and hide thyself from thy troops. Haply, the order of thy realm may be deranged, by reason of shine absence from thy Grandees and Officers of State. It behoveth the man of understanding, if he have various wounds in his body, to apply him first to medicine the most dangerous; so it is my counsel to thee that thou remove thy son from this place to the pavilion which is in the palace overlooking the sea; and shut thyself up with him there, setting apart in every week two days, Thursday and Monday, for state receptions and progresses and reviews. On these days let shine Emirs and Wazirs and Chamberlains and Viceroys and high Officials and Grandees of the realm and the rest of the levies and the lieges have access to thee and submit their affairs to thee; and do thou their needs and judge among them and give and take with them and bid and forbid. And the rest of the week thou shalt pass with thy son, Kamar al-Zaman, and cease not thus doing till Allah shall vouchsafe relief to you twain. Think not, O King, that thou art safe from the shifts of Time and the strokes of Change which come like a traveller in the night; for the wise man is ever on his guard and how well saith the poet,
'Thou deemedst well of Time when days went well, * And fearedst not what ills might bring thee Fate:
The Nights so fair and restful cozened thee, * For peaceful Nights bring woes of heavy weight.
Oh children of mankind whom Time befriends, * Beware of Time's deceits or soon or late!'''
When the Sultan heard his Wazir's words he saw that they were right and deemed his counsel wise, and it had effect upon him for he feared lest the order of the state be deranged; so he rose at once and bade transport his son from his sick room to the pavilion in the palace overlooking the sea. Now this palace was girt round by the waters and was approached by a causeway twenty cubits wide. It had windows on all sides commanding an ocean- view; its floor was paved with parti-coloured marbles and its ceiling was painted in the richest pigments and figured with gold and lapis-lazuli. They furnished it for Kamar al-Zaman with splendid upholstery, embroidered rugs and carpets of the richest silk; and they clothed the walls with choice brocades and hung curtains bespangled with gems of price. In the midst they set him a couch of juniper-wood inlaid with pearls and jewels, and Kamar al-Zaman sat down thereon, but the excess of his concern and passion for the young lady had wasted his charms and emaciated his body; he could neither eat nor drink nor sleep; and he was like a man who had been sick twenty years of sore sickness. His father seated himself at his head, grieving for him with the deepest grief, and every Monday and Thursday he gave his Wazirs and Emirs and Chamberlains and Viceroys and Lords of the realm and levies and the rest of his lieges leave to come up to him in that pavilion. So they entered and did their several service and duties and abode with him till the end of the day, when they went their ways and the King returned to his son in the pavilion whom he left not night nor day; and he ceased not doing on this wise for many days and nights. Such was the case with Kamar al-Zaman, son of King Shahriman; but as regards Princess Budur, daughter of King Ghayur, Lord of the Isles and the Seven Palaces, when the two Jinns bore her up and laid her on her bed, she slept till daybreak, when she awoke and sitting upright looked right and left, but saw not the youth who had lain in her bosom. At this her vitals fluttered, her reason fled and she shrieked a loud shriek which awoke all her slave girls and nurses and duennas. They flocked in to her; and the chief of them came forward and asked, "What aileth thee, O my lady?" Answered the Princess, "O wretched old woman, where is my beloved, the handsome youth who lay last night in my bosom? Tell me whither he is gone." Now when the duenna heard this, the light starkened in her sight and she feared from her mischief with sore affright, and said to her, "O my Lady Budur, what unseemly words are these?" Cried the Princess, "Woe to thee pestilent crone that thou art! I ask thee again where is my beloved, the goodly youth with the shining face and the slender form, the jetty eyes and the joined eyebrows, who lay with me last night from supper-tide until near daybreak?" She rejoined "By Allah, O my lady, I have seen no young man nor any other. I conjure thee, carry not this unseemly jest too far lest we all lose our lives; for perhaps the joke may come to thy father's ears and who shall then deliver us from his hand?"--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the One Hundred and Ninety-third Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the duenna bespake the Lady Budur in these words, "Allah upon thee, O my lady! carry not this unseemly jest too far; for perhaps it may come to thy father's ears, and who shall then deliver us from his hand?" The Princess rejoined, "In very sooth a youth lay with me last night, one of the fairest-faced of men." Exclaimed the duenna, "Heaven preserve thy reason! indeed no one lay with thee last night." Thereupon the Princess looked at her hand and, finding Kamar al-Zaman's seal-ring on her finger in stead of her own, said to her, "Woe to thee, thou accursed! thou traitress! wilt thou lie to me and tell me that none lay with me last night and swear to me a falsehood in the name of the Lord?" Replied the duenna, "By Allah, I do not lie to thee nor have I sworn falsely." Then the Princess was incensed by her words and, drawing a sword she had by her, she smote the old woman with it and slew her; whereupon the eunuch and the waiting-women and the concubines cried out at her, and ran to her father and, without stay or delay, acquainted him with her case. So the King went to her, and asked her, "O my daughter, what aileth thee?"; and she answered, "O my father, where is the youth who lay with me last night?" Then her reason fled from her head and she cast her eyes right and left and rent her raiment even to the skirt. When her sire saw this, he bade the women lay hands on her; so they seized her and manacled her, then putting a chain of iron about her neck, made her fast to one of the palace-windows and there left her. Thus far concerning Princess Budur; but as regards her father, King Ghayur, the world was straitened upon him when he saw what had befallen his daughter, for that he loved her and her case was not a little grievous to him. So he summoned on it the doctors and astrologers and men skilled in talisman- writing and said to them, "Whoso healeth my daughter of what ill she hath, I will marry him to her and give him half of my kingdom; but whoso cometh to her and cureth her not, I will strike off his head and hang it over her palace-gate." Accordingly, all who went in to her, but failed to heal her, he beheaded and hung their heads over the palace-gates, till he had beheaded on her account forty doctors and crucified forty astrologers; wherefor the general held aloof from her, all the physicians having failed to medicine her malady; and her case was a puzzle to the men of science and the adepts in cabalistic characters. And as her longing and passion redoubled and love and distraction were sore upon her, she poured forth tears and repeated these couplets,
"My fondness, O my moon, for thee my foeman is, * And to thy comradeship the nights my thought compel:
In gloom I bide with fire that flames below my ribs, * Whose lowe I make comparison with heat of Hell:
I'm plagued with sorest stress of pine and ecstasy; * Nor clearest noon tide can that horrid pain dispel."
Then she sighed and repeated these also,
"Salams fro' me to friends in every stead; * Indeed to all dear friends do I incline:
Salams, but not salams that bid adieu; * Salams that growth of good for you design:
I love you dear, indeed, nor less your land, * But bide I far from every need of mine!"
And when the Lady Budur ceased repeating her poetry, she wept till her eyes waxed sore and her cheeks changed form and hue, and in this condition she continued three years. Now she had a foster-brother, by name Marzawan, who was travelling in far lands and absent from her the whole of this time. He loved her with an exceeding love, passing the love of brothers; so when he came back he went in to his mother and asked for his sister, the Princess Budur. She answered him, "O my son, thy sister hath been smitten with madness and hath passed these three years with a chain of iron about her neck; and all the physicians and men of science have failed of healing her." When Marzawan heard these words he said, "I must needs go in to her; peradventure I may discover what she hath, and be able to medicine her;" and his mother replied, "Needs must thou visit her, but wait till to morrow, that I may contrive some thing to suit thy case." Then she went a-foot to the palace of the Lady Budur and, accosting the eunuch in charge of the gates, made him a present and said to him, "I have a daughter, who was brought up with thy mistress and since then I married her; and, when that befel the Princess which befel her, she became troubled and sore concerned, and I desire of thy favour that my daughter may go in to her for an hour and look on her; and then return whence she came, so shall none know of it." Quoth the eunuch, "This may not be except by night, after the King hath visited his child and gone away; then come thou and thy daughter." So she kissed the eunuch's hand and, returning home, waited till the morrow at nightfall; and when it was time she arose and sought her son Marzawan and attired him in woman's apparel; then, taking his hand in hers, led him towards the palace, and ceased not walking with him till she came upon the eunuch after the Sultan had ended his visit to the Princess. Now when the eunuch saw her, he rose to her, and said, "Enter, but do not prolong thy stay!" So they went in and when Marzawan beheld the Lady Budur in the aforesaid plight, he saluted her, after his mother had doffed his woman's garb: then he took out of their satchel books he had brought with him; and, lighting a wax- candle, he began to recite certain conjurations Thereupon the Princess looked at him and recognising him, said, "O my brother, thou hast been absent on thy travels' and thy news have been cut off from us." He replied, "True! but Allah hath brought me back safe and sound, I am now minded to set out again nor hath aught delayed me but the news I hear of thee; wherefore my heart burned for thee and I came to thee, so haply I may free thee of thy malady." She rejoined, O my brother, thinkest thou it is madness aileth me?" "Yes." answered he, and she said, "Not so, by Allah! 'tis even as saith the poet,
'Quoth they 'Thou rav'st on him thou lov'st': quoth I, * 'The sweets of love are only for th' insane!'
Love never maketh Time his friend befriend; * Only the Jinn-struck wight such boon can gain:
Well! yes, I'm mad: bring him who madded me * And, if he cure m: madness, blame restrain!'"
Then she let Marzawan know that she was love-daft and he said "Tell me concerning thy tale and what befel thee: haply there may be in my hand something which shall be a means of deliverance for thee."--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of da, and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the One Hundred and Ninety-fourth Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Marzawar thus addressed Princess Budur, "Tell me concerning thy tale and what befel thee: haply Allah may inspire me with a means of deliverance for thee." Quoth she, "O my brother, hear my story which is this. One night I awoke from sleep, in the last third of the night and, sitting up, saw by my side the handsomest of youths that be, and tongue faileth to describe him, for he was as a willow-wand or an Indian rattan-cane. So methought it was my father who had done on this wise in order thereby to try me, for that he had consulted me concerning wedlock, when the Kings sought me of him to wife, and I had refused. It was this though withheld me from arousing him, for I feared that, if I did aught of embraced him, he would peradventure inform my father of m, doings. But in the morning, I found on my finger his seal-ring, in place of my own which he had taken. And, O my brother, m, heart was seized with love of him at first sight; and, for the violence of my passion and longing, I have never savoured the taste of sleep and have no occupation save weeping alway and repeating verses night and day. And this, O my brother, is my story and the cause of my madness." Then she poured forth tears and repeated these couplets,
"Now Love hast banished all that bred delight; * With that heart-nibbling fawn my joys took flight:
Lightest of trifles lover's blood to him * Who wastes the vitals of the hapless wight!
For him I'm jealous of my sight and thought; * My heart acts spy upon my thought and sight:
Those long-lashed eyelids rain on me their shafts * Guileful, destroying hearts where'er they light:
Now, while my portion in the world endures, * Shall I behold him ere I quit world-site?
What bear I for his sake I'd hide, but tears * Betray my feelings to the spy's despight.
When near, our union seemeth ever far; * When far, my thoughts to him aye nearest are."
And presently she continued, "See then, O my brother, how thou mayest aid me in mine affliction." So Marzawan bowed his head ground-wards awhile, wondering and not knowing what to do, then he raised it and said to her, "All thou hast spoken to me I hold to be true, though the case of the young man pass my understanding: but I will go round about all lands and will seek for what may heal thee; haply Allah shall appoint thy healing to be at my hand. Meanwhile, take patience and be not disquieted." Thereupon Marzawan farewelled her, praying that she might be constant and left her repeating these couplets,
"Thine image ever companies my sprite, * For all thou'rt distant from the pilgrim's sight:
But my heart-wishes e'er attract thee near: * What is the lightning's speed to Thought's swift flight?
Then go not thou, my very light of eyes * Which, when thou'rt gone, lack all the Kohl of light."
Then Marzawan returned to his mother's house, where he passed the night. And when the morrow dawned, having equipped himself for his journey, he fared forth and ceased not faring from city to city and from island to island for a whole month, till he came to a town named Al-Tayrab. Here he went about scenting news of the townsfolk, so haply he might light on a cure for the Princess's malady, for in every capital he entered or passed by, it was reported that Queen Budur, daughter of King Ghayur, had lost her wits. But arriving at Al-Tayrab city, he heard that Kamar al-Zaman, son of King Shahriman, was fallen sick and afflicted with melancholy madness. So Marzawan asked the name of the Prince's capital and they said to him, "It is on the Islands of Khalidan and it lieth distant from our city a whole month's journey by sea, but by land it is six months' march." So he went down to the sea in a ship which was bound for the Khalidan Isles, and she sailed with a favouring breeze for a whole month, till they came in sight of the capital; and there remained for them but to make the land when, behold, there came out on them a tempestuous wind which carried away the masts and rent the canvas, so that the sails fell into the sea and the ship capsized, with all on board,--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the One Hundred and Ninety-fifth Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the ship capsized with all on board, each sought his own safety; and as for Marzawan the set of the sea carried him under the King's palace, wherein was Kamar al-Zaman. And by the decree of destiny it so happened that this was the day on which King Shahriman gave audience to his Grandees and high officers, and he was sitting, with his son's head on his lap, whilst an eunuch fanned away the flies; and the Prince had not spoken neither had he eaten nor drunk for two days, and he was grown thinner than a spindle. Now the Wazir was standing respectfully a-foot near the latticed window giving on the sea and, raising his eyes, saw Marzawan being beaten by the billows and at his last gasp; whereupon his heart was moved to pity for him, so he drew near to the King and moving his head towards him said, "I crave thy leave, O King, to go down to the court of the pavilion and open the water-gate that I may rescue a man who is at the point of drowning in the sea and bring him forth of danger into deliverance; peradventure, on this account Allah may free thy son from what he hath!" The King replied, "O thou Wazir, enough is that which hath befallen my son through thee and on shine account. Haply, if thou rescue this drowning man, he will come to know our affairs, and look on my son who is in this state and exult over me; but I swear by Allah, that if this half-drowned wretch come hither and learn our condition and look upon my son and then fare forth and speak of our secrets to any, I will assuredly strike off thy head before his; for thou, O my Minister art the cause of all that hath betided us, first and last. Now do as thou wilt." Thereupon the Wazir sprang up and, opening the private pastern which gave upon the sea, descended to the causeway; then walked on twenty steps and came to the water where he saw Marzawan nigh unto death. So he put out his hand to him and, catching him by his hair, drew him ashore in a state of insensibility, with belly full of water and eyes half out of his head. The Wazir waited till he came to himself, when he pulled off his wet clothes and clad him in a fresh suit, covering his head with one of his servants' turbands; after which he said to him, Know that I have been the means of saving thee from drowning: do not thou requite me by causing my death and shine own."And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the One Hundred and Ninety-sixth Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the Wazir did to Marzawan what he did, he thus addressed him Know that I have been the cause of saving thee from drowning so requite me not by causing my death and shine own." Asked Marzawan, And how so?"; and the Wazir answered, "Thou art at this hour about to go up and pass among Emirs and Wazirs all of them silent and none speaking, because of Kamar al-Zaman the son of the Sultan." Now when Marzawan heard the name of Kamar al-Zaman, he knew that this was he whom he had heard spoken of in sundry cities and of whom he came in search, but he feigned ignorance and asked the Wazir, "And who is Kamar al-Zaman? Answered the Minister, "He is the son of Sultan Shahriman and he is sore sick and lieth strown on his couch restless alway, eating not nor drinking neither sleeping night or day; indeed he is nigh upon death and we have lost hope of his living and are certain that he is dying. Beware lest thou look too long on him, or thou look on any other than that where thou settest thy feet: else thou art a lost man, and I also." He replied, "Allah upon thee, O Wazir, I implore thee, of thy favour, acquaint me touching this youth thou describest, what is the cause of the condition in which he is." The Wazir replied, "I know none, save that, three years ago, his father required him to wed, but he refused; whereat the King was wroth and imprisoned him. And when he awoke on the morrow, he fancied that during the night he had been roused from sleep and had seen by his side a young lady of passing loveliness, whose charms tongue can never express; and he assured us that he had plucked off her seal-ring from her finger and had put it on his own and that she had done likewise; but we know not the secret of all this business. So by Allah, O my son, when thou comest up with me into the palace, look not on the Prince, but go thy way; for the Sultan's heart is full of wrath against me." So said Marzawan to himself, "By Allah; this is the one I sought!" Then he followed the Wazir up to the palace, where the Minister seated himself at the Prince's feet; but Marzawan found forsooth nothing to do but go up to Kamar al-Zaman and stand before him at gaze. Upon this the Wazir, died of affright in his skin, and kept looking at Marzawan and signalling him to wend his way; but he feigned not to see him and gave not over gazing upon Kamar al- Zaman, till he was well assured that it was indeed he whom he was seeking,--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the One Hundred and Ninety-seventh Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when Marzawan looked upon Kamar al-Zaman and knew that it was indeed he whom he was seeking, he cried, "Exalted be Allah, Who hath made his shape even as her shape and his complexion as her complexion and his cheek as her cheek!'' Upon this Kamar al-Zaman opened his eyes and gave earnest ear to his speech; and, when Marzawan saw him inclining to hear, he repeated these couplets,
"I see thee full of song and plaint and love's own ecstasy; Delighting in describing all the charms of loveliness:
Art smit by stroke of Love or hath shaft-shot wounded thee? None save the wounded ever show such signals of distress!
Ho thou! crown the wine cup and sing me singular Praises to Sulayma, Al-Rabab, Tan'oum addrest;
Go round the grape-vine sun which for mansion hath a jar; Whose East the cup boy is, and here my mouth that opes for West.
I'm jealous of the very clothes that dare her sides enroll When she veils her dainty body of the delicatest grace:
I envy every goblet of her lips that taketh toll When she sets the kissing cup on that sweetest kissing-place.
But deem not by the keen-edged scymitar I'm slain-- The hurts and harms I dree are from arrows of her eyes.
I found her finger tips, as I met her once again, Deep-reddened with the juice of the wood that ruddy dyes;
And cried, 'Thy palms thou stainedst when far away was I And this is how thou payest one distracted by his pine!'
Quoth she (enkindling in my heart a flame that burned high Speaking as one who cannot hide of longing love the sign),
'By thy life, this is no dye used for dyeing; so forbear Thy blame, nor in charging me with falsing Love persist!
But when upon our parting-day I saw thee haste to fare, The while were bared my hand and my elbow and my wrist;
'I shed a flood of blood-red tears and with fingers brushed away; Hence blood-reddened were the tips and still blood-red they
Had I wept before she wept, to my longing-love a prey, Before repentance came, I had quit my soul of pain;
But she wept before I wept and I wept to see her care And I said, 'All the merit to precedent;'
Blame me not for loving her, now on self of Love I swear For her sake, for her only, these pains my soul torment.
She hath all the lere of Lukman and Yusuf's beauty lief; Sweet singer David's voice and Maryam's chastity:
While I've all Jacob's mourning and Jonah's prison-grief, And the sufferings of Job and old Adam's history:
Yet kill her not, albeit of my love for her I die; But ask her why my blood to her was lawful. ask her why?"
When Marzawan recited this ode, the words fell upon Kamar al- Zaman's heart as freshness after fever and returning health; and he sighed and, turning his tongue in his mouth, said to his sire, "O my father, let this youth come and sit by my side."--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the One Hundred and Ninety-eighth Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Kamar al- Zaman said to his sire, "O my father, allow this youth to come and sit by my side." Now when the King heard these words from his son, he rejoiced with exceeding joy, though at the first his heart had been set against Marzawan and he had determined that the stranger's head needs must be stricken off: but when he heard Kamar al-Zaman speak, his anger left him and he arose and drawing Marzawan to him, seated him by his son and turning to him said, "Praised be Allah for thy safety!" He replied, "Allah preserve thee! and preserve thy son to thee!" and called down blessings on the King. Then the King asked, "From what country art thou?"; and he answered, "From the Islands of the Inland Sea, the kingdom of King Ghayur, Lord of the Isles and the Seas and the Seven Palaces." Quoth King Shahriman, "Maybe thy coming shall be blessed to my son and Allah vouchsafe to heal what is in him." Quoth Marzawan, "Inshallah, naught shall be save what shall be well!" Then turning to Kamar al-Zaman, he said to him in his ear unheard of the King and his court, 'O my lord! be of good cheer, and hearten thy heart and let shine eyes be cool and clear and, with respect to her for whose sake thou art thus, ask not of her case on shine account. But thou keptest thy secret and fellest sick, while she told her secret and they said she had gone mad; so she is now in prison, with an iron chain about her neck, in most piteous plight; but, Allah willing, the healing of both of you shall come from my hand." Now when Kamar al-Zaman heard these words, his life returned to him and he took heart and felt a thrill of joy and signed to his father to help him sit up; and the King was like to fly for gladness and rose hastily and lifted him up. Presently, of his fear for his son, he shook the kerchief of dismissal; and all the Emirs and Wazirs withdrew; then he set two pillows for his son to lean upon, after which he bade them perfume the palace with saffron and decorate the city, saying to Marzawan, "By Allah, O my son, of a truth shine aspect be a lucky and a blessed!" And he made as much of him as he might and called for food, and when they brought it, Marzawan came up to the Prince and said, "Rise, eat with me." So he obeyed him and ate with him, and all the while the King invoked blessings on Marzawan and said, "How auspicious is thy coming, O my son!" And when the father saw his boy eat, his joy and gladness redoubled, and he went out and told the Prince's mother and all the household. Then he spread throughout the palace the good news of the Prince's recovery and the King commanded the decoration of the city and it was a day of high festival. Marzawan passed that night with Kamar al-Zaman, and the King also slept with them in joy and delight for his son's recovery.--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the One Hundred and Ninety-ninth Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that King Shahriman also passed that night with them in the excess of his joy for his son's recovery. And when the next morning dawned, and the King had gone away and the two young men were left alone, Kamar al-Zaman told his story from beginning to end to Marzawan who said, "In very sooth I know her with whom thou didst foregather; her name is the Princess Budur and she is daughter to King Ghayur." Then he related to him all that had passed with the Princess from first to last and acquainted him with the excessive love she bore him, saying, "All that befel thee with thy father hath befallen her with hers, and thou art without doubt her beloved, even as she is shine; so brace up thy resolution and take heart, for I will bring thee to her and unite you both anon and deal with you even as saith the poet,
"Albe to lover adverse be his love, * And show aversion howso may he care;
Yet will I manage that their persons meet, * E'en as the pivot of a scissor pair."
And he ceased not to comfort and solace and encourage Kamar al- Zaman and urged him to eat and drink till he ate food and drank wine, and life returned to him and he was saved from his ill case; and Marzawan cheered him and diverted him with talk and songs and stories, and in good time he became free of his disorder and stood up and sought to go to the Hammam. So Marzawan took him by the hand and both went to the bath, where they washed their bodies and made them clean.--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the Two Hundredth Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when Kamar al-Zaman, son of King Shahriman, went to the Hammam, his father in his joy at this event freed the prisoners, and presented splendid dresses to his grandees and bestowed large alm-gifts upon the poor and bade decorate the city seven days. Then quoth Marzawan to Kamar al-Zaman, "Know, O my lord, that I came not from the Lady Budur save for this purpose, and the object of my journey was to deliver her from her present case; and it remaineth for us only to devise how we may get to her, since thy father cannot brook the thought of parting from thee. So it is my counsel that to-morrow thou ask his leave to go abroad hunting. Then do thou take with thee a pair of saddle-bags full of money and mount a swift steed, and lead a spare horse, and I will do the like, and say to thy sire, 'I have a mind to divert myself with hunting the desert and to see the open country and there to pass one night.' Suffer not any servant to follow us, for as soon as we reach the open country, we will go our ways." Kamar al- Zaman rejoiced in this plan with great joy and cried, "It is good." Then he stiffened his back and, going in to his father, sought his leave and spoke as he had been taught, and the King consented to his going forth a-hunting and said, "O my son, blessed be the day that restoreth thee to health! I will not gainsay thee in this; but pass not more than one night in the desert and return to me on the morrow; for thou knowest that life is not good to me without thee, and indeed I can hardly believe thee to be wholly recovered from what thou hadst, because thou art to me as he of whom quoth the poet,
'Albe by me I had through day and night * Solomon's carpet and the Chosroes' might,
Both were in value less than wing of gnat, * Unless these eyne could hold thee aye in sight.'"
Then the King equipped his son Kamar al-Zaman and Marzawan for the excursion, bidding make ready for them four horses, together with a dromedary to carry the money and a camel to bear the water and belly timber; and Kamar al-Zaman forbade any of his attendants to follow him. His father farewelled him and pressed him to his breast and kissed him, saying, "I ask thee in the name of Allah, be not absent from me more than one night, wherein sleep will be unlawful to me, for I am even as saith the poet,
'Thou present, in the Heaven of heavens I dwell; * Bearing shine absence is of hells my Hell:
Pledged be for thee my soul! If love for thee * Be crime, my crime is of the fellest fell.
Does love-lowe burn thy heart as burns it mine, * Doomed night and day Gehenna-fire to smell?'"
Answered Kamar al-Zaman, "O my father, Inshallah, I will lie abroad but one night!" Then he took leave of him, and he and Marzawan mounted and leading the spare horses, the dromedary with the money and the camel with the water and victual, turned their faces towards the open country;--And Shahrazad perceived the dawning day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the Two Hundred and First Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Kamar al- Zaman and Marzawan fared forth and turned their faces towards the open country; and they travelled from the first of the day till nightfall, when they halted and ate and drank and fed their beasts and rested awhile; after which they again took horse and ceased not journeying for three days, and on the fourth they came to a spacious tract wherein was a thicket. They alighted in it and Marzawan, taking the camel and one of the horses, slaughtered them and cut off their flesh and stripped their bones. Then he doffed from Kamar al-Zaman his shirt and trousers which he smeared with the horse's blood and he took the Prince's coat which he tore to shreds and befouled with gore; and he cast them down in the fork of the road. Then they ate and drank and mounting set forward again; and, when Kamar al- Zaman asked why this was done, and said, "What is this O my brother, and how shall it profit us?"; Marzawan replied, "Know that thy father, when we have outstayed the second night after the night for which we had his leave, and yet we return not, will mount and follow in our track till he come hither; and, when he happeneth upon this blood which I have spilt and he seeth thy shirt and trousers rent and gore-fouled, he will fancy that some accident befel thee from bandits or wild-beasts, so he will give up hope of thee and return to his city, and by this device we shall win our wishes." Quoth Kamar al-Zaman, "By Allah, this be indeed a rare device! Thou hast done right well.'' Then the two fared on days and nights and all that while Kamar al-Zaman did naught but complain when he found himself alone, and he ceased not weeping till they drew near their journeys end, when he rejoiced and repeated these verses,
"Wilt tyrant play with truest friend who thinks of thee each hour, * And after showing love-desire betray indifference?
May I forfeit every favour if in love I falsed thee, * If thee I left, abandon me by way of recompense:
But I've been guilty of no crime such harshness to deserve, * And if I aught offended thee I bring my penitence;
Of Fortune's wonders one it is thou hast abandoned me, * But Fortune never wearieth of showing wonderments."
When he had made an end of his verses, Marzawan said to him, "Look! these be King Ghayur's Islands;" whereat Kamar al-Zaman joyed with exceeding joy and thanked him for what he had done, and kissed him between the eyes and strained him--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the Two Hundred and Second Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when Marzawan said "Look! these be the Islands of King Ghayur;" Kamar al-Zaman joyed with exceeding joy and thanked him for what he had done and kissed him between the eyes and strained him to his bosom. And after reaching the Islands and entering the city they took up their lodging in a khan, where they rested three days from the fatigues of their wayfare; after which Marzawan carried Kamar al-Zaman to the bath and, clothing him in merchant's gear, provided him with a geomantic tablet of gold, with a set of astrological instruments and with an astrolabe of silver, plated with gold. Then he said to him, "Arise, O my lord, and take thy stand under the walls of the King's palace and cry out, 'I am the ready Reckoner; I am the Scrivener; I am he who weeteth the Sought and the Seeker; I am the finished man of Science; I am the Astrologer accomplished in experience! Where then is he that seeketh?' As soon as the King heareth this, he will send after thee and carry thee in to his daughter the Princess Budur, thy lover; but when about going in to her do thou say to him, 'Grant me three days' delay, and if she recover, give her to me to wife; and if not, deal with me as thou dealest with those who forewent me.' He will assuredly agree to this, so as soon as thou art alone with her, discover thyself to her; and when she seeth thee, she will recover strength and her madness will cease from her and she will be made whole in one night. Then do thou give her to eat and drink. and her father, rejoicing in her recovery, will marry thee to her and share his kingdom with thee; for he hath imposed on himself this condition and so peace be upon thee." Now when Kamar al-Zaman heard these words he exclaimed, "May I never lack thy benefits!", and, taking the set of instruments aforesaid, sallied forth from the caravanserai in the dress of his order. He walked on till he stood under the walls of King Ghayur's palace, where he began to cry out, saying, "I am the Scribe, I am the ready Reckoner, I am he who knoweth the Sought and the Seeker; I am he who openeth the Volume and summeth up the Sums; who Dreams can expound whereby the sought is found! Where then is the seeker?" Now when the city people heard this, they flocked to him, for it was long since they had seen Scribe or Astrologer, and they stood round him and, looking upon him, they saw one in the prime of beauty and grace and perfect elegance, and they marvelled at his loveliness, and his fine stature and symmetry. Presently one of them accosted him and said, "Allah upon thee, O thou fair and young, with the eloquent tongue! incur not this affray; nor throw thy life away in thine ambition to marry the Princess Budur. Only cast shine eyes upon yonder heads hung up; all their owners have lost their lives in this same venture." Yet Kamar al-Zaman paid no heed to them, but cried out at the top of his voice, saying, "I am the Doctor, the Scrivener! I am the Astrologer, the Calculator!" And all the townsfolk forbade him from this, but he regarded them not at all, saying in his mind, "None knoweth desire save whoso suffereth it." Then he began again to cry his loudest, shouting, "I am the Scrivener, I am the Astrologer!"--And Shahrazad per ceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the Two Hundred and Third Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Kamar al- Zaman in no wise heeded the words of the citizens, but continued to cry out, "I am the Calculator! I am the Astrologer!" Thereupon all the townsfolk were wroth with him and said to him, "Thou art nothing but an imbecile, silly, self-willed lad! Have pity on shine own youth and tender years and beauty and loveliness." But he cried all the more, "I am the Astrologer, I am the Calculator! Is there any one that seeketh?" As he was thus crying and the people forbidding him, behold, King Ghayur heard his voice and the clamour of the lieges and said to his Wazir, "Go down and bring me yon Astrologer." So the Wazir, went down in haste, and taking Kamar al-Zaman from the midst of the crowd led him up to the King; and when in the presence he kissed the ground and began versifying,
"Eight glories meet, all, all conjoined in thee, * Whereby may Fortune aye thy servant be:
Lere, lordliness, grace, generosity; * Plain words, deep meaning, honour, victory!"
When the King looked upon him, he seated him by his side and said to him, "By Allah, O my son, an thou be not an astrologer, venture not thy life nor comply with my condition; for I have bound myself that whoso goeth in to my daughter and healeth her not of that which hath befallen her I will strike off his head; but whoso healeth her him I will marry to her. So let not thy beauty and loveliness delude thee: for, by Allah! and again, by Allah! If thou cure her not, I will assuredly cut off thy head." And Kamar al-Zaman replied, "This is thy right; and I consent, for I wot of this ere came I hither." Then King Ghayur took the Kazis to witness against him and delivered him to the eunuch, saying, "Carry this one to the Lady Budur." So the eunuch took him by the hand and led him along the passage; but Kamar al-Zaman outstripped him and pushed on before, whilst the eunuch ran after him, saying, "Woe to thee! Hasten not to shine own ruin: never yet saw I astrologer so eager for his proper destruction; but thou weetest not what calamities are before thee." Thereupon Kamar al-Zaman turned away his face from the eunuch,--And Shah razed perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the Two Hundred and Fourth Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the eunuch thus addressed Kamar al-Zaman, "Patience, and no indecent hurry!"; the Prince turned away his face and began repeating these couplets,
"A Sage, I feel a fool before thy charms; * Distraught, I wot not what the words I say:
If say I 'Sun,' away thou dost not pass * From eyes of me, while suns go down with day:
Thou hast completed Beauty, in whose praise * Speech-makers fail, and talkers lose their way."
Then the eunuch stationed Kamar al-Zaman behind the curtain of the Princess's door and the Prince said to him, "Which of the two ways will please thee more, treat and cure thy lady from here or go in and heal her within the curtain?" The eunuch marvelled at his words and answered, "An thou heal her from here it were better proof of thy skill." Upon this Kamar al-Zaman sat down behind the curtain and, taking out ink case, pen and paper, wrote the following: "This is the writ of one whom passion swayeth,* and whom longing waylayeth * and wakeful misery slayeth * one who despaireth of living * and looketh for naught but dying * with whose mourning heart * nor comforter nor helper taketh part * One whose sleepless eyes * none succoureth from anxieties * whose day is passed in fire * and his night in torturing desire * whose body is wasted for much emaciation * and no messenger from his beloved bringeth him consolation." And after this he indited the following couplets,
"I write with heart devoted to thy thought, * And eyelids chafed by tears of blood they bled;
And body clad, by loving pine and pain, * In shirt of leanness, and worn down to thread,
To thee complain I of Love's tormentry, * Which ousted hapless Patience from her stead:
A toi! show favour and some mercy deign, * For Passion's cruel hands my vitals shred."
And beneath his lines he wrote these cadenced sentences, "The heart's pain is removed * by union with the beloved * and whomso his lover paineth * only Allah assaineth! * If we or you have wrought deceit * may the deceiver win defeat! * There is naught goodlier than a lover who keeps faith * with the beloved who works him scathe." Then, by way of subscription, he wrote, "From the distracted and despairing man * whom love and longing trepan * from the lover under passion's ban * the prisoner of transport and distraction * from this Kamar al-Zaman * son of Shahriman * to the peerless one * of the fair Houris the pearl-union * to the Lady Budur * daughter of King Al Ghayur * Know thou that by night I am sleepless * and by day in distress * consumed with increasing wasting and pain * and longing and love unfain * abounding in sighs * with tear flooded eyes * by passion captive ta'en * of Desire the slain * with heart seared by the parting of us twain * the debtor of longing bane, of sickness cup-companion * I am the sleepless one, who never closeth eye * the slave of love, whose tears run never dry * for the fire of my heart is still burning * and never hidden is the flame of my yearning." Then on the margin Kamar al-Zaman wrote this admired verse,
"Salem from graces hoarded by my Lord * To her, who holds my heart and soul in hoard!"
And also these,
"Pray'ee grant me some words from your lips, belike * Such mercy may comfort and cool these eyne:
From the stress of my love and my pine for you, * I make light of what makes me despised, indign:
Allah guard a folk whose abode was far, * And whose secret I kept in the holiest shrine:
Now Fortune in kindness hath favoured me * Thrown on threshold dust of this love o' mine:
By me bedded I looked on Budur, whose sun * The moon of my fortunes hath made to shine."
Then, having affixed his seal-ring to the missive, he wrote these couplets in the place of address,
"Ask of my writ what wrote my pen in dole, * And hear my tale of misery from this scroll;
My hand is writing while my tears down flow, * And to the paper 'plains my longing soul:
My tears cease not to roll upon this sheet, * And if they stopped I'd cause blood-gouts to roll."
And at the end he added this other verse,
"I've sent the ring from off thy finger bore * I when we met, now deign my ring restore!"
Then Kamar al-Zaman set the Lady Budur's ring inside the letter and sealed it and gave it to the eunuch, who took it and went in with it to his mistress.--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the Two Hundred and Fifth Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Kamar al- Zaman, after setting the seal-ring inside the epistle, gave it to the eunuch who took it and went in with it to his mistress; and, when the Lady Budur opened it, she found therein her own very ring. Then she read the paper and when she understood its purport and knew that it was from her beloved, and that he in person stood behind the curtain, her reason began to fly and her breast swelled for joy and rose high; and she repeated these couplets,
"Long, long have I bewailed the sev'rance of our loves, * With tears that from my lids streamed down like burning rain;
And vowed that, if the days deign reunite us two, * My lips should never speak of severance again:
Joy hath o'erwhelmed me so that, for the very stress * Of that which gladdens me to weeping I am fain.
Tears are become to you a habit, O my eyes, * So that ye weep as well for gladness as for pain.''
And having finished her verse, the Lady Budur stood up forthwith and, firmly setting her feet to the wall, strained with all her might upon the collar of iron, till she brake it from her neck and snapped the chains. Then going forth from behind the curtain she threw herself on Kamar al-Zaman and kissed him on the mouth, like a pigeon feeding its young. And she embraced him with all the stress of her love and longing and said to him, "O my lord do I wake or sleep and hath the Almighty indeed vouchsafe] us reunion after disunion? Laud be to Allah who hath our loves repaired, even after we despaired!" Now when the eunuch saw her in this case, he went off running to King Ghayur and, kissing the ground before him, said, "O my lord, know that this Astrologer is indeed the Shaykh of all astrologers, who are fools to him, all of them; for verily he hath cured thy daughter while standing behind the curtain and without going in to her." Quoth the King, "Look well to it, is this news true?" Answered the eunuch, "O my lord, rise and come and see for thyself how she hath found strength to break the iron chains and is come forth to the Astrologer, kissing and embracing him." Thereupon the King arose and went in to his daughter who, when she saw him, stood up in haste and covered her head, and recited these two couplets,
"The toothstick love I not; for when I say, * 'Siwak,' I miss thee, for it sounds 'Siwa-ka'.
The caper-tree I love; for when I say, * 'Arak' it sounds I look on thee, 'Ara-ka.'"
Thereupon the King was so transported for joy at her recovery that he felt like to fly and kissed her between the eyes, for he loved her with dearest love; then, turning to Kamar al-Zaman, he asked him who he was, and said, "What countryman art thou?" So the Prince told him his name and rank, and informed him that he was the son of King Shahriman, and presently related to him the whole story from beginning to end; and acquainted him with what happened between himself and the Lady Budur; and how he had taken her seal-ring from her finger and had placed it on his own; whereat Ghayur marvelled and said, "Verily your story deserveth in books to be chronicled, and when you are dead and gone age after age be read." Then he summoned Kazis and witnesses forthright and married the Lady Budur to Prince Kamar al-Zaman; after which he bade decorate the city seven days long. So they spread the tables with all manner of meats, whilst the drums beat and the criers anounced the glad tidings, and all the troops donned their richest clothes; and they illuminated the city and held high festival. Then Kamar al-Zaman went in to the Lady Budur and the King rejoiced in her recovery and in her marriage; and praised Allah for that He had made her to fall in love with a goodly youth of the sons of Kings. So they unveiled her and displayed the bride before the bridegroom; and both were the living likeness of each other in beauty and comeliness and grace and love-allurement. Then Kamar al-Zaman lay with her that night and took his will of her, whilst she in like manner fulfilled her desire of him and enjoyed his charms and grace; and they slept in each other's arms till the morning. On the morrow, the King made a wedding-feast to which he gathered all comers from the Islands of the Inner and Outer Seas, and he spread the tables with choicest viands nor ceased the banquetting for a whole month. Now when Kamar al-Zaman had thus fulfilled his will and attained his inmost desire, and whenas he had tarried awhile with the Princess Budur, he bethought him of his father, King Shahriman, and saw him in a dream, saying, "O my son, is it thus thou dealest with me?" and recited in the vision these two couplets,
"Indeed to watch the darkness-moon he blighted me, * And to star-gaze through longsome night he plighted me:
Easy, my heart! for haply he'll unite with thee; * And patience, Sprite! with whatso ills he dight to thee."
Now after seeing his father in the dream and hearing his re preaches, Kamar al-Zaman awoke in the morning, afflicted and troubled, whereupon the Lady Budur questioned him and he told her what he had seen.--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the Two Hundred and Sixth Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when Kamar al-Zaman acquainted the Lady Budur with what he had seen in his dream, she and he went in to her sire and, telling him what had passed, besought his leave to travel. He gave the Prince the permission he sought; but the Princess said, "O my father, I cannot bear to be parted from him." Quoth Ghayur, her sire, "Then go thou with him," and gave her leave to be absent a whole twelvemonth and afterwards to visit him in every year once; so she kissed his hand and Kamar al-Zaman did the like. Thereupon King Ghayur proceeded to equip his daughter and her bridegroom for the journey, and furnished them with outfit and appointments for the march; and brought out of his stables horses marked with his own brand, blood-dromedaries which can journey ten days without water, and prepared a litter for his daughter, besides loading mules and camels with victual; moreover, he gave them slaves and eunuchs to serve them and all manner of travellinggear; and on the day of departure, when King Ghayur took leave of Kamar al-Zaman, he bestowed on him ten splendid suits of cloth of gold embroidered with stones of price, together with ten riding horses and ten she-camels, and a treasury of money; and he charged him to love and cherish his daughter the Lady Budur. Then the King accompanied them to the farthest limits of his Islands where, going in to his daughter Budur in the litter, he kissed her and strained her to his bosom, weeping and repeating,
"O thou who wooest Severance, easy fare! * For love-embrace belongs to lover-friend:
Fare softly! Fortune's nature falsehood is, * And parting shall love's every meeting end."
Then leaving his daughter, he went to her husband and bade him farewell and kissed him; after which he parted from them and, giving the order for the march he returned to his capital with his troops. The Prince and Princess and their suite fared on without stopping through the first day and the second and the third and the fourth, nor did they cease faring for a whole month till they came to a spacious champaign, abounding in pasturage, where they pitched their tents; and they ate and drank and rested, and the Princess Budur lay down to sleep. Presently, Kamar al-Zaman went in to her and found her lying asleep clad in a shift of apricot-coloured silk that showed all and everything; and on her head was a coif of gold-cloth embroidered with pearls and jewels. The breeze raised her shift which laid bare her navel and showed her breasts and displayed a stomach whiter than snow, each one of whose dimples would contain an ounce of benzoin- ointment. At this sight, his love and longing redoubled, and he began reating,
"An were it asked me when by hell-fire burnt, * When flames of heart my vitals hold and hem,
'Which wouldst thou chose, say wouldst thou rather them, * Or drink sweet cooling draught?' I'd answer, 'Them!' "
Then he put his hand to the band of her petticoat-trousers and drew it and loosed it, for his soul lusted after her, when he saw a jewel, red as dye-wood, made fast to the band. He untied it and examined it and, seeing two lines of writing graven thereon, in a character not to be read, marvelled and said in his mind, "Were not this bezel something to her very dear she had not bound it to her trousers-band nor hidden it in the most privy and precious place about her person, that she might not be parted from it. Would I knew what she cloth with this and what is the secret that is in it." So saying, he took it and went outside the tent to look at it in the light,--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day, and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the Two Hundred and Seventh Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when he took the bezel to look at it in the light, the while he was holding it behold, a bird swooped down on him and, snatching the same from his hand, flew off with it and then lighted on the ground. There-upon Kamar al-Zaman fearing to lose the jewel, ran after the bird; but it flew on before him, keeping just out of his reach, and ceased not to draw him on from dale to dale and from hill to hill, till the night starkened and the firmament darkened, when it roosted on a high tree. So Kamar al-Zaman stopped under the tree confounded in thought and faint for famine and fatigue, and giving himself up for lost, would have turned back, but knew not the way whereby he came, for that darkness had overtaken him. Then he exclaimed, "There is no Majesty and there is no Might save in Allah, the Glorious the Great!"; and laying him down under the tree (whereon was the bird) slept till the morning, when he awoke and saw the bird also wake up and fly away. He arose and walked after it, and it flew on little by little before him, after the measure of his faring; at which he smiled and said, "By Allah, a strange thing! Yesterday, this bird flew before me as fast as I could run, and to-day, knowing that I have awoke tired and cannot run, he flieth after the measure of my faring. By Allah, this is wonderful! But I must needs follow this bird whether it lead me to death or to life; and I will go wherever it goeth, for at all events it will not abide save in some inhabited land. So he continued to follow the bird which roosted every night upon a tree; and he ceased not pursuing it for a space of ten days, feeding on the fruits of the earth and drinking of its waters. At the end of this time, he came in sight of an inhabited city, whereupon the bird darted off like the glance of the eye and, entering the town, disappeared from Kamar al-Zaman, who knew not what it meant or whither it was gone; so he marvelled at this and exclaimed, "Praise be to Allah who hath brought me in safety to this city!" Then he sat down by a stream and washed his hands and feet and face and rested awhile; and, recalling his late easy and pleasant life of union with his beloved and contrasting it with his present plight of trouble and fatigue and distress and strangerhood and famine and severance, the tears streamed from his eyes and he began repeating these cinquains,
"Pain had I hid thy handwork, but it showed, * Changed sleep for wake, and wake with me abode:
When thou didst spurn my heart I cried aloud * Pate, hold thy hand and cease to gird and goad:
In dole and danger aye my sprite I spy!
An but the Lord of Love were just to me, * Sleep fro' my eyelids ne'er were forced to flee.
Pity, my lady, one for love o' thee * Prom his tribes darling brought to low degree:
Love came and doomed Wealth beggar-death to die.
The railers chide at thee: I ne'er gainsay, * But stop my ears and dumbly sign them Nay:
'Thou lov'st a slender may,' say they; I say, * 'I've picked her out and cast the rest away:'
Enough; when Fate descends she blinds man's eye!"
And as soon as he had finished his poetry and had taken his rest, he rose and walked on little by little, till he entered the city.--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the Two Hundred and Eighth Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that as soon as Kamar al-Zaman had finished his poetry and had taken his rest, he arose and entered the city-gate not knowing whither he should wend. He crossed the city from end to end, entering by the land-gate, and ceased not faring on till he came out at the sea- gate, for the city stood on the sea-shore. Yet he met not a single one of its citizens. And after issuing from the land-gate he fared forwards and ceased not faring till he found himself among the orchards and gardens of the place; and, passing among the trees presently came to a garden and stopped before its door; where-upon the keeper came out to him and saluted him. The Prince returned his greeting and the gardener bade him welcome, saying, "Praised be Allah that thou hast come off safe from the dwellers of this city! Quick, come into the garth, ere any of the townfolk see thee." Thereupon Kamar al-Zaman entered that garden, wondering in mind, and asked the keeper, "What may be the history of the people of this city and who may they be?" The other answered, "Know that the people of this city are all Magians: but Allah upon thee, tell me how thou camest to this city and what caused thy coming to our capital." Accordingly Kamar al-Zaman told the gardener all that had befallen him from beginning to end, whereat he marvelled with great marvel and said, "Know, O my son, that the cities of Al-Islam lie far from us; and between us and them is a four months' voyage by sea and a whole twelve months' journey by land. We have a ship which saileth every year with merchandise to the nearest Moslem country and which entereth the seas of the Ebony Islands and thence maketh the Khalidan Islands, the dominions of King Shahriman." Thereupon Kamar al- Zaman considered awhile and concluded that he could not do better than abide in the garden with the gardener and become his assistant, receiving for pay one fourth of the produce. So he said to him, "Wilt thou take me into thy service, to help thee in this garden?" Answered the gardener, "To hear is to consent;" and began teaching him to lead the water to the roots of the trees. So Kamar al-Zaman abode with him, watering the trees and hoeing up the weeds and wearing a short blue frock which reached to his knees. And he wept floods of tears; for he had no rest day or night, by reason of his strangerhood and he ceased not to repeat verses upon his beloved, amongst others the following couplets,
"Ye promised us and will ye not keep plight? * Ye said a say and shall not deed be dight?
We wake for passion while ye slumber and sleep; * Watchers and wakers claim not equal right:
We vowed to keep our loves in secrecy, * But spake the meddler and you spoke forthright:
O friend in pain and pleasure, joy and grief, * In all case you, you only, claim my sprite!
Mid folk is one who holds my prisoned heart; * Would he but show some ruth for me to sight.
Not every eye like mine is wounded sore, * Not every heart like mine love-pipings blight:
Ye wronged me saying, Love is wrongous aye * Yea! ye were right, events have proved that quite.
Forget they one love-thralled, whose faith the world * Robs not, though burn the fires in heart alight:
If an my foeman shall become my judge, * Whom shall I sue to remedy his despight?
Had not I need of love nor love had sought, * My heart forsure were not thus love-distraught."
Such was the case with Kamar al-Zaman; but as regards his wife, the Lady Budur, when she awoke she sought her husband and found him not: then she saw her petticoat-trousers undone, for the band had been loosed and the bezel lost, whereupon she said to herself, "By Allah, this is strange! Where is my husband? It would seem as if he had taken the talisman and gone away, knowing not the secret which is in it. Would to Heaven I knew whither can he have wended! But it must needs have been some extraordinary matter that drew him away, for he cannot brook to leave me a moment. Allah curse the stone and damn its hour!" Then she considered awhile and said in her mind, "If I go out and tell the varlets and let them learn that my husband is lost they will lust after me: there is no help for it but that I use stratagem. So she rose and donned some of her husband's clothes and riding- boots, and a turband like his, drawing one corner of it across her face for a mouth-veil. Then, setting a slave-girl in her litter, she went forth from the tent and called to the pages who brought her Kamar al-Zaman's steed; and she mounted and bade them load the beasts and resume the march. So they bound on the burdens and departed; and she concealed her trick, none doubting but she was Kamar al-Zaman, for she favoured him in face and form; nor did she cease journeying, she and her suite, days and nights, till they came in sight of a city overlooking the Salt Sea, where they pitched their tents without the walls and halted to rest. The Princess asked the name of the town and was told, "It is called the City of Ebony; its King is named Armanus, and he hath a daughter Hayat al-Nufus hight,"--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the Two Hundred and Ninth Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the Lady Budur halted within sight of the Ebony City to take her rest, King Armanus sent a messenger, to learn what King it was who had encamped without his capital; so the messenger, coming to the tents, made inquiry anent their King, and was told that she was a King's son who had lost the way being bound for the Khalidan Islands; whereupon he returned to King Armanus with the tidings; and, when the King heard them, he straightway rode out with the lords of his land to greet the stranger on arrival. As he drew near the tents the Lady Budur came to meet him on foot, whereupon the King alighted and they saluted each other. Then he took her to the city and, bringing her up to the palace, bade them spread the tables and trays of food and commanded them to transport her company and baggage to the guess house. So they abode there three days; at the end of which time the King came in to the Lady Budur. Now she had that day gone to the Hammam and her face shone as the moon at its full, a seduction to the world and a rending of the veil of shame to mankind; and Armanus found her clad in a -suit of silk, embroidered with gold and jewels; so he said to her, 'O my son, know that I am a very old man, decrepit withal, and Allah hath blessed me with no child save one daughter, who resembleth thee in beauty and grace; and I am now waxed unfit for the conduct of the state. She is shine, O my son; and, if this my land please thee and thou be willing to abide and make thy home here, I will marry thee to her and give thee my kingdom and so be at rest." When Princess Budur heard this, she bowed her head and her forehead sweated for shame, and she said to herself. "How shall I do, and I a woman? If I refuse and depart from him, I cannot be safe but that haply send after me troops to slay me; and if I consent, belike I shall be put to shame. I have lost my beloved Kamar al-Zaman and know not what is become of him; nor can I escape from this scrape save by holding my peace and consenting and abiding here, till Allah bring about what is to be." So she raised her head and made submission to King Armanus, saying, "Hearkening and obedience!"; whereat he rejoiced and bade the herald make proclamation throughout the Ebony Islands to hold high festival and decorate the houses. Then he assembled his Chamberlains and Nabobs, and Emirs and Wazirs and his officers of state and the Kazis of the city; and, formally abdicating his Sultanate, endowed Budur therewith and invested her in all the vestments of royalty. The Emirs and Grandees went in to her and did her homage, nothing doubting but that she was a young man, and all who looked on her bepissed their bag-trousers, for the excess of her beauty and loveliness. Then, after the Lady Budur had been made Sultan and the drums had been beaten in announcement of the glad event, and she had been ceremoniously enthroned, King Armanus proceeded to equip his daughter Hayat al-Nufus for marriage, and in a few days, they brought the Lady Budur in to her, when they seemed as it were two moons risen at one time or two suns in conjunction. So they entered the bridal-chamber and the doors were shut and the curtains let down upon them, after the attendants had lighted the wax-candles and spread for them the carpet-bed. When Budur found herself alone with the Princess Hayat al-Nufus, she called to mind her beloved Kamar al-Zaman and grief was sore upon her. So she wept for his absence, and estrangement and she began repeating,
"O ye who fled and left my heart in pain low li'en, * No breath of life if found within this frame of mine:
I have an eye which e'er complains of wake, but lo! * Tears occupy it would that wake content these eyne!
After ye marched forth the lover 'bode behind; * Question of him what pains your absence could design!
But for the foods of tears mine eyelids rail and rain, * My fires would flame on high and every land calcine.
To Allah make I moan of loved ones lost for aye, * Who for my pine and pain no more shall pain and pine:
I never wronged them save that over love I nurst: * But Love departs us lovers into blest and curst."
And when she had finished her repeating, the Lady Budur sat down beside the Princess Hayat al-Nufus and kissed her on the mouth; after which rising abruptly, she made the minor ablution and betook herself to her devotions; nor did she leave praying till Hayat al-Nufus fell asleep, when she slips into bed and lay with her back to her till morning. And when day had broke the King and Queen came in to their daughter and asked her how she did. whereupon she told them what she had seen, and repeated to them the verses she had heard. Thus far concerning Hayat al-Nufus and her father; but as regards Queen Budur she went forth and seated herself upon the royal throne and all the Emirs and Captains and Officers of state came up to her and wished her joy of the kingship, kissing the earth before her and calling down blessings upon her. And she accosted them with smiling face and clad them in robes of honour, augmenting the fiefs of the high officials and giving largesse to the levies; wherefore all the people loved her and offered up prayers for the long endurance of her reign, doubting not but that she was a man. And she ceased not sitting all day in the hall of audience, bidding and forbidding; dispensing justice, releasing prisoners and remitting the customs-dues, till nightfall, when she withdrew to the apartment prepared for her. Here she found Hayat al-Nufus seated, so she sat down by her side and, clapping her on the back, coaxed and caressed her and kissed her between the eyes, and fell to versifying in these couplets,
"What secret kept I these my tears have told, * And my waste body must my love unfold:
Though hid my pine, my plight on parting day * To every envious eye my secret sold:
O ye who broke up camp, you've left behind * My spirit wearied and my heart a-cold:
In my hearts core ye dwell, and now these eyne * Roll blood-drops with the tears they whilome rolled:
The absent will I ransom with my soul; * All can my yearning for their sight behold:
I have an eye whose babe, for love of thee, * Rejected sleep nor hath its tears controlled.
The foeman bids me patient bear his loss, * Ne'er may mine ears accept the ruth he doled!
I tricks their deme of me, and won my wish * Of Kamar al-Zaman's joys manifold:
He joins all perfect gifts like none before, * Boasted such might and main no King of old:
Seeing his gifts, Bin Za'idah's largesse * Forget we, and Mu'awiyah mildest-soul'd:
Were verse not feeble and o'er short the time * I had in laud of him used all of rhyme."
Then Queen Budur stood up and wiped away her tears and, making the lesser ablution, applied her to pray: nor did she give over praying till drowsiness overcame the Lady Hayat al- Nufus and she slept, whereupon the Lady Budur came and lay by her till the morning. At daybreak, she arose and prayed the dawn- prayer; and presently seated herself on the royal throne and passed the day in ordering and counter ordering and giving laws and administering justice. This is how it fared with her; but as regards King Armanus he went in to his daughter and asked her how she did; so she told him all that had befallen her and repeated to him the verses which Queen Budur had recited, adding, "O my father, never saw I one more abounding in sound sense and modesty than my husband, save that he cloth nothing but weep and sigh." He answered, "O my daughter, have patience with him yet this third night, and if he go not in unto thee and do away thy maidenhead, we shall know how to proceed with him and oust him from the throne and banish him the country." And on this wise he agreed with his daughter what course he would take.--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the Two Hundred and Tenth Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when King Armanus had agreed with his daughter on this wise and had determined what course he would take and night came on, Queen Budur arose from the throne of her kingdom and betaking herself to the palace, entered the apartment prepared for her. There she found the wax-candles lighted and the Princess Hayat al-Nufus seated and awaiting her; whereupon she bethought her of her husband and what had betided them both of sorrow and severance in so short a space; she wept and sighed and groaned groan upon groan, and began improvising these couplets,
"News of my love fill all the land, I swear, * As suns on Ghaza-wold rain heat and glare:
Speaketh his geste but hard its sense to say; * Thus never cease to grow my cark and care:
I hate fair Patience since I loved thee; * E'er sawest lover hate for love to bear?
A glance that dealt love-sickness dealt me death, * Glances are deadliest things with torments rare:
He shook his love locks down and bared his chin, * Whereby I spied his beauties dark and fair:
My care, my cure are in his hands; and he * Who caused their dolour can their dole repair:
His belt went daft for softness of his waist; * His hips, for envy, to uprise forbear:
His brow curl-diademed is murky night; * Unveil 't and lo! bright Morn shows brightest light."
When she had finished her versifying, she would have risen to pray, but, lo and behold! Hayat al-Nufus caught her by the skirt and clung to her saying, "O my lord, art thou not ashamed before my father, after all his favour, to neglect me at such a time as this?" When Queen Budur heard her words, she sat down in the same place and said, "O my beloved, what is this thou sayest?" She replied, "What I say is that I never saw any so proud of himself as thou. Is every fair one so disdainful? I say not this to incline thee to me; I say it only of my fear for thee from King Armanus; because he purposeth, unless thou go in unto me this very night, and do away my maidenhead, to strip thee of the kingship on the morrow and banish thee his kingdom; and peradventure his excessive anger may lead him to slay thee. But I, O my lord, have ruth on thee and give thee fair warning; and it is thy right to reck." Now when Queen Budur heard her speak these words, she bowed her head ground-wards awhile in sore perplexity and said in herself, "If I refuse I'm lost; and if I obey I'm shamed. But I am now Queen of all the Ebony Islands and they are under my rule, nor shall I ever again meet my Kamar al- Zaman save in this place; for there is no way for him to his native land but through the Ebony Islands. Verily, I know not what to do in my present case, but I commit my care to Allah who directeth all for the best, for I am no man that I should arise and open this virgin girl." Then quoth Queen Budur to Hayat al- Nufus, "O my beloved, that I have neglected thee and abstained from thee is in my own despite." And she told her her whole story from beginning to end and showed her person to her, saying, "I conjure thee by Allah to keep my counsel, for I have concealed my case only that Allah may reunite me with my beloved Kamar al- Zaman and then come what may."--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the Two Hundred and Eleventh Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the Lady Budur acquainted Hayat al-Nufus with her history and bade her keep it secret, the Princess heard her with extreme wonderment and was moved to pity and prayed Allah to reunite her with her beloved, saying, "Fear nothing, O my sister; but have patience till Allah bring to pass that which must come to pass:" and she began repeating,
"None but the men of worth a secret keep; With worthy men a secret's hidden deep; As in a room, so secrets lie with me, Whose door is sealed, lock shot and lost the key."
And when Hayat al-Nufus had ended her verses, she said, "O my sister, verily the breasts of the noble and brave are of secrets the grave; and I will not discover shine." Then they toyed and embraced and kissed and slept till near the Mu'ezzin's call to dawn prayer, when Hayat al-Nufus arose and took a pigeon-poult, and cut its throat over her smock and besmeared herself with its blood. Then she pulled off her petticoat-trousers and cried aloud, where-upon her people hastened to her and raised the usual lullilooing and outcries of joy and gladness. Presently her mother came in to her and asked her how she did and busied herself about her and abode with her till evening; whilst the Lady Budur arose with the dawn, and repaired to the bath and, after washing herself pure, proceeded to the hall of audience, where she sat down on her throne and dispensed justice among the folk. Now when King Armanus heard the loud cries of joy, he asked what was the matter and was informed of the consummation of his daughter's marriage; whereat he rejoiced and his breast swelled with gladness and he made a great marriage-feast whereof the merry-making lasted a long time. Such was their case: but as regards King Shahriman it was on this wise. After his son had fared forth to the chase accompanied by Marzawan, as before related, he tarried patiently awaiting their return at nightfall; but when his son did not appear he passed a sleepless night and the dark hours were longsome upon him; his restlessness was excessive, his excitement grew upon him and he thought the morning would never dawn. Anc when day broke he sat expecting his son and waited till noon, but he came not; whereat his heart forebode separation and was fired with fears for Kamar al-Zaman; and he cried, "Alas! my son!" and he wept till his clothes were drenched with tears, and repeated with a beating heart,
"Love's votaries I ceased not to oppose, * Till doomed to taste Love's bitter and Love's sweet:
I drained his rigour-cup to very dregs, * Self humbled at its slaves' and freemen's feet:
Fortune had sworn to part the loves of us; * She kept her word how truly, well I weet!"
And when he ended his verse, he wiped away his tears and bade his troops make ready for a march and prepare for a long expedition. So they all mounted and set forth, headed by the Sultan, whose heart burnt with grief and was fired with anxiety for his son Kamar al-Zaman; and they advanced by forced marches. Now the King divided his host into six divisions, a right wing and a left wing, a vanguard and a rear guard; and bade them rendezvous for the morrow at the cross-roads. Accordingly they separated and scoured the country all the rest of that day till night, and they marched through the night and at noon of the ensuing day they joined company at the place where four roads met. But they knew not which the Prince followed, till they saw the sign of torn clothes and sighted shreds of flesh and beheld blood still sprinkled by the way and they noted every piece of the clothes and fragment of mangled flesh scattered on all sides. Now when King Shahriman saw this, he cried from his heart-core a loud cry, saying, "Alas, my son!"; and buffeted his face and plucks his beard and rent his raiment, doubting not but his son was dead. Then he gave himself up to excessive weeping and wailing, and the troops also wept for his weeping, all being assured that Prince Kamar al-Zaman had perished. They threw dust on their heads, and the night surprised them shedding tears and lamenting till they were like to die. Then the King with a heart on fire and with burning sighs spake these couplets,
"Chide not the mourner for bemourning woe; * Enough is yearning every Ill to show:
He weeps for stress of sorrow and of pain, * And these to thee best evidence his lowe:
Happy! of whom Love sickness swore that ne'er * Should cease his eye lids loving tears to flow:
He mourns the loss of fairest, fullest Moon, * Shining o'er all his peers in glorious glow:
But death made drink a brimming cup, what day * He fared from natal country fain to go:
His home left he and went from us to grief; * Nor to his brethren could he say adieu:
Yea, his loss wounded me with parting pangs, * And separation cost me many a throe:
He fared farewelling, as he fared, our eyes; * Whenas his Lord vouch-safed him Paradise."
And when King Shahriman had ended his verses, he returned with the troops to his capital,--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the Two Hundred and Twelfth Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when King Shahriman had ended his verses, he returned with the troops to his capital, giving up his son for lost, and deeming that wild beasts or banditti had set upon him and torn him to pieces; and made proclamation that all in the Khalidan Islands should don black in mourning for him. Moreover, he built, in his memory, a pavilion, naming it House of Lamentations; and on Mondays and Thursdays he devoted himself to the business of the state and ordering the affairs of his levies and lieges; and the rest of the week he was wont to spend in the House of Lamentations, mourning for his son and bewailing him with elegiac verses, of which the following are some:--
"My day of bliss is that when thou appearest; * My day of bale is that whereon thou farest:
Though through the night I quake in dread of death; * Union wi' thee is of all bliss the dearest."
And again he said,
"My soul be sacrifice for one, whose going * Afflicted hearts with sufferings sore and dread:
Let joy her widowed term fulfil, for I * Divorced joy with the divorce thrice-said."
Such was the case with King Shahriman; but as regards Queen Budur daughter of King Ghayur, she abode as ruler in the Ebony Islands, whilst the folk would point to her with their fingers, and say, "Yonder is the son-in-law of King Armanus." And every night she lay with Hayat al-Nufus, to whom she lamented her desolate state and longing for her husband Kamar al-Zaman; weeping and describing to her his beauty and loveliness, and yearning to enjoy him though but in a dream: And at times she would repeat,
"Well Allah wots that since my severance from thee, * I wept till forced to borrow tears at usury:
'Patience!' my blamer cried, 'Heartsease right soon shalt see!' * Quoth I, 'Say, blamer, where may home of Patience be?'"
This is how it fared with Queen Budur; but as regards Kamar al- Zaman, he abode with the gardener in the garden for no short time, weeping night and day and repeating verses bewailing the past time of enjoyment and delight; whilst the gardener kept comforting him and assuring him that the ship would set sail for the land of the Moslems at the end of the year. And in this condition he continued till one day he saw the folk crowding together and wondered at this; but the gardener came in to him and said, "O my son, give over work for this day nor lead water to the trees; for it is a festival day, whereon folk visit one another. So take thy rest and only keep shine eye on the garden, whilst I go look after the ship for thee; for yet but a little while and I send thee to the land of the Moslems." Upon this, he went forth from the garden leaving to himself Kamar al-Zaman, who fell to musing upon his case till his heart was like to break and the tears streamed from his eyes. So he wept with excessive weeping till he swooned away and, when he recovered, he rose and walked about the garden, pondering what Time had done with him and bewailing the long endurance of his estrangement and separation from those he loved. As he was thus absorbed in melancholy thought, his foot stumbled and he fell on his face, his forehead striking against the projecting root of a tree; and the blow cut it open and his blood ran down and mingled with his tears Then he rose and, wiping away the blood, dried his tears and bound his brow with a piece of rag; then continued his walk about the garden engrossed by sad reverie. Presently, he looked up at a tree and saw two birds quarrelling thereon, and one of them rose up and smote the other with its beak on the neck and severed from its body its head, wherewith it flew away, whilst the slain bird fell to the ground before Kamar al-Zaman. As it lay, behold, two great birds swooped down upon it alighting, one at the head and the other at the tail, and both drooped their wings and bowed their bills over it and, extending their necks towards it, wept. Kamar al-Zaman also wept when seeing the birds thus bewail their mate, and called to mind his wife and father, And Shahrazed perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the Two Hundred and Thirteenth Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Kamar al- Zaman wept and lamented his separation from spouse and sire, when he beheld those two birds weeping over their mate. Then he looked at the twain and saw them dig a grave and therein bury the slain bird; after which they flew away far into the firmament and disappeared for a while; but presently they returned with the murtherer-bird and, alighting on the grave of the murthered, stamped on the slayer till they had done him to death. Then they rent his belly and tearing out his entrails, poured the blood on the grave of the slain: moreover, they stripped off his skin and tare his flesh in pieces and, pulling out the rest of the bowels, scattered them hither and thither. All this while Kamar al-Zaman was watching them wonderingly; but presently, chancing to look at the place where the two birds had slain the third, he saw therein something gleaming. So he drew near to it and noted that it was the crop of the dead bird. Whereupon he took it and opened it and found the talisman which had been the cause of his separation from his wife. But when he saw it and knew it, he fell to the ground a-fainting for joy; and, when he revived, he said, "Praised be Allah! This is a foretaste of good and a presage of reunion with my beloved." Then he examined the jewel and passed it over his eyes; after which he bound it to his forearm, rejoicing in coming weal, and walked about till nightfall awaiting the gardener's return; and when he came not, he lay down and slept in his wonted place. At daybreak he rose to his work and, girding his middle with a cord of palm- fibre, took hatchet and basket and walked down the length of the garden, till he came to a carob-tree and struck the axe into its roots. The blow rang and resounded; so he cleared away the soil from the place and discovered a trap-door and raised it.--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When It was the Two Hundred and Fourteenth Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when Kamar al-Zaman raised the trap-door, he found a winding stair, which he descended and came to an ancient vault of the time of Ad and Thamud, hewn out of the rock. Round the vault stood many brazen vessels of the bigness of a great oil-jar which he found full of gleaming red gold: whereupon he said to himself, "Verily sorrow is gone and solace is come!" Then he mounted from the souterrain to the garden and, replacing the trap-door as it was before, busied himself in conducting water to the trees till the last of the day, when the gardener came back and said to him, "O my son, rejoice at the good tidings of a speedy return to thy native land: the merchants are ready equipped for the voyage and the ship in three days' time will set sail for the City of Ebony, which is the first of the cities of the Moslems, and after making it, thou must travel by land a six months' march till thou come to the Islands of Khalidan, the dominions of King Shahriman." At this Kamar al-Zaman rejoiced and began repeating,
"Part not from one whose wont is not to part from you; * Nor with your cruel taunts an innocent mortify:
Another so long parted had ta'en heart from you, * And had his whole condition changed,--but not so I."
Then he kissed the gardener's hand and said, "O my father, even as thou hast brought me glad tidings, so I also have great good news for thee,' and told him anent his discovery of the vault; whereat the gardener rejoiced and said, "O my son, fourscore years have I dwelt in this garden and have never hit on aught whilst thou, who hast not sojourned with me a year, hast discovered this thing; wherefore it is Heaven's gift to thee, which shall end thy crosses and aid thee to rejoin thy folk and foregather with her thou lovest." Quoth Kamar al-Zaman, "There is no help but it must be shared between me and thee." Then he carried him to the underground-chamber and showed him the gold, which was in twenty jars: he took ten and the gardener ten, and the old man said to him, "O my son, fill thyself leather bottles with the sparrow-olives which grow in this garden, for they are not found except in our land; and the merchants carry them to all parts. Lay the gold in the bottles and strew it over with olives: then stop them and cover them and take them with thee in the ship." So Kamar al-Zaman arose without stay or delay and took fifty leather bottles and stored in each somewhat of the gold, and closed each one after placing a layer of olives over the gold; and at the bottom of one of the bottles he laid the talisman. Then sat he down to talk with the gardener, confident of speedy reunion with his own people and saying to himself, "When I come to the Ebony Islands I will journey thence to my father's country and enquire for my beloved Budur. Would to Heaven I knew whether she returned to her own land or journeyed on to my father's country or whether there befel her any accident by the way." And he began versifying,
"Love in my breast they lit and fared away, * And far the land wherein my love is pent:
Far lies the camp and those who camp therein; * Par is her tent-shrine, where I ne'er shall tent.
Patience far deaf me when from me they fled; * Sleep failed mine eyes, endurance was forspent:
They left and with them left my every joy, * Wending with them, nor find I peace that went:
They made these eyes roll down love tears in flood, * And lacking them these eyne with tears are drent.
When my taste spins once again would see them, * When pine and expectation but augment,
In my heart's core their counterfeits I trace, * With love and yearning to behold their grace."
Then, while he awaited the end of the term of days, he told the gardener the tale of the birds and what had passed between them; whereat the hearer wondered; and they both lay down and slept till the morning. The gardener awoke sick and abode thus two days; but on the third day, his sickness increased on him, till they despaired of his life and Kamar al-Zaman grieved with sore grief for him. Meanwhile behold, the Master and his crew came and enquired for the gardener; and, when Kamar al-Zaman told them that he was sick, they asked, "Where be the youth who is minded to go with us to the Ebony Islands?" "He is your servent and he standeth before you!" answered the Prince and bade them carry the bottles of olives to the ship; so they transported them, saying, "Make haste, thou, for the wind is fair;" and he replied, "I hear and obey." Then he carried his provaunt on board and, returning to bid the gardener farewell, found him in the agonies of death; so he sat down at his head and closed his eyes, and his soul departed his body; whereupon he laid him out and committed him to the earth unto the mercy of Allah Almighty. Then he made for the ship but found that she had already weighed anchor and set sail; nor did she cease to cleave the seas till she disappeared from his sight. So he went back to whence he came heavy-hearted with whirling head; and neither would he address a soul nor return a reply; and reaching the garden and sitting down in cark and care he threw dust on his head and buffeted his cheeks.--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the Two Hundred and Fifteenth Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the ship sped on her course, Kamar al-Zaman returned to the garden in cark and care; but- anon he rented the place of its owner and hired a man to help him in irrigating the trees. Moreover, he repaired the trap-door and he went to the underground chamber and bringing the rest of the gold to grass, stowed it in other fifty bottles which he filled up with a layer of olives. Then he enquired of the ship and they told him that it sailed but once a year, at which his trouble of mind redoubled and he cried sore for that which had betided him, above all for the loss of the Princess Budur's talisman, and spent his nights and days weeping and repealing verses. Such was his case; but as regards the ship she sailed with a favouring wind till she reached the Ebony Islands. Now by decree of destiny, Queen Budur was sitting at a lattice-window overlooking the sea and saw the galley cast anchor upon the strand. At this sight, her heart throbbed and she took horse with the Chamberlains and Nabobs and, riding down to the shore, halted by the ship, whilst the sailors broke bulk and bore the bales to the storehouses; after which she called the captain to her presence and asked what he had with him. He answered "O King, I have with me in this ship aromatic drugs and cosmetics and healing powders and ointments and plasters and precious metals and rich stuffs and rugs of Yemen leather, not to be borne of mule or camel, and all manner of otters and spices and perfumes, civet and ambergris and camphor and Sumatra aloes-wood, and tamerinds and sparrow-olives to boot, such as are rare to find in this country." When she heard talk of sparrow- olives her heart longed for them and she said to the ship-master, "How much of olives hast thou?" He replied, "Fifty bottles full, but their owner is not with us, so the King shall take what he will of them." Quoth she, "Bring them ashore, that I may see them.'' Thereupon he called to the sailors, who brought her the fifty bottles; and she opened one and, looking at the olives, said to the captain, "I will take the whole fifty and pay you their value, whatso it be." He answered, "By Allah, O my lord, they have no value in our country; moreover their shipper tarried behind us, and he is a poor man." Asked she, "And what are they worth here?" and he answered "A thousand dirhams." "I will take them at a thousand," she said and bade them carry the fifty bottles to the palace. When it was night, she called for a bottle of olives and opened it, there being none in the room but herself and the Princess Hayat al-Nufus. Then, placing a dish before her she turned into it the contents of the jar, when there fell out into the dish with the olives a heap of red gold; and she said to the Lady Hayat al-Nufus, "This is naught but gold!" So she sent for the rest of the bottles and found them all full of precious metal and scarce enough olives to fill a single jar. Moreover, she sought among the gold and found therein the talisman, which she took and examined and behold, it was that which Kamar al- Zaman had taken from off the band of her petticoat trousers. Thereupon she cried out for joy and slipped down in a swoon;--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the Two Hundred and Sixteenth Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when King Budur saw the talisman she cried out for joy and slipped down in a swoon; and when she recovered she said to herself, "Verily, this talisman was the cause of my separation from my beloved Kamar al-Zaman; but now it is an omen of good." Then she showed it to Hayat al-Nufus and said to her, "This was the cause of disunion and now, please Allah, it shall be the cause of reunion." As soon as day dawned she seated herself on the royal throne and sent for the ship-master, who came into the presence and kissed the ground before her. Quoth she, "Where didst thou leave the owner of these olives?" Quoth he, "O King of the age, we left him in the land of the Magians and he is a gardener there." She rejoined, "Except thou bring him to me, thou knowest not the harm which awaiteth thee and thy ship." Then she bade them seal up the magazines of the merchants and said to them, "Verily the owner of these olives hath borrowed of me and I have a claim upon him for debt and, unless ye bring him to me, I will without fail do you all die and seize your goods." So they went to the captain and promised him the hire of the ship, if he would go and return a second time, saying, "Deliver us from this masterful tyrant." Accordingly the skipper embarked and set sail and Allah decreed him a prosperous voyage, till he came to the Island of the Magians and, landing by night, went up to the garden. Now the night was long upon Kamar al-Zaman, and he sat, bethinking him of his beloved, and bewailing what had befallen him and versifying,
"A night whose stars refused to run their course, * A night of those which never seem outworn:
Like Resurrection-day, of longsome length * To him that watched and waited for the morn."
Now at this moment, the captain knocked at the garden-gate, and Kamar al-Zaman opened and went out to him, whereupon the crew seized him and went down with him on board the ship and set sail forthright; and they ceased not voyaging days and nights, whilst Kamar al-Zaman knew not why they dealt thus with him; but when he questioned them they replied, "Thou hast offended against the Lord of the Ebony Islands, the son-in-law of King Armanus, and thou hast stolen his monies, miserable that thou art!" Said he, "By Allah! I never entered that country nor do I know where it is!" However, they fared on with him, till they made the Ebony Islands and landing, carried him up to the Lady Budur, who knew him at sight and said, "Leave him with the eunuchs, that they may take him to the bath." Then she relieved the merchants of the embargo and gave the captain a robe of honour worth ten thousand pieces of gold; and, after returning to the palace, she went in that night to the Princess Hayat al-Nufus and told her what had passed, saying, "Keep thou my counsel, till I accomplish my purpose, and do a deed which shall be recorded and shall be read by Kings and commoners after we be dead and gone." And when she gave orders that they bear Kamar al-Zaman to the bath, they did so and clad him in a royal habit so that, when he came forth, he resembled a willow-bough or a star which shamed the greater and lesser light and its glow, and his life and soul returned to his frame. Then he repaired to the palace and went in to the Princess Budur; and when she saw him she schooled her heart to patience, till she should have accomplished her purpose; and she bestowed on him Mamelukes and eunuchs, camels and mules. Moreover, she gave him a treasury of money and she ceased not advancing him from dignity to dignity, till she made him Lord High Treasurer and committed to his charge all the treasures of the state; and she admitted him to familiar favour and acquainted the Emirs with his rank and dignity. And all loved him, for Queen Budur did not cease day by day to increase his allowances. As for Kamar al-Zaman, he was at a loss anent the reason of her thus honouring him; and he gave gifts and largesse out of the abundance of the wealth; and he devoted himself to the service of King Armanus; so that the King and all the Emirs and people, great and small, adored him and were wont to swear by his life. Nevertheless, he ever marvelled at the honour and favour shown him by Queen Budur and said to himself, "By Allah, there needs must be a reason for this affection! Peradventure, this King favoureth me not with these immoderate favours save for some ill purpose and, therefore, there is no help but that I crave leave of him to depart his realm." So he went in to Queen Budur and said to her, "O King, thou hast overwhelmed me with favours, but it will fulfil the measure of thy bounties if thou take from me all thou hast been pleased to bestow upon me, and permit me to depart." She smiled and asked, "What maketh thee seek to depart and plunge into new perils, whenas thou art in the enjoyment of the highest favour and greatest prosperity?" Answered Kamar al- Zaman, "O King, verily this favour, if there be no reason for it, is indeed a wonder of wonders, more by token that thou hast advanced me to dignities such as befit men of age and experience, albeit I am as it were a young child." And Queen Budur rejoined, "The reason is that I love thee for shine exceeding loveliness and thy surpassing beauty; and if thou wilt but grant me my desire of thy body, I will advance thee yet farther in honour and favour and largesse; and I will make thee Wazir, for all thy tender age even as the folk made me Sultan over them and I no older than thou; so that nowadays there is nothing strange when children take the head and by Allah, he was a gifted man who said,
'It seems as though of Lot's tribe were our days, * And crave with love to advance the young in years.'"
When Kamar al-Zaman heard these words, he was abashed and his cheeks flushed till they seemed a-flame; and he said, "I need not these favours which lead to the commission of sin; I will live poor in wealth but wealthy in virtue and honour." Quoth she, "I am not to be duped by thy scruples, arising from prudery and coquettish ways; and Allah bless him who saith,
'To him I spake of coupling, but he said to me, * How long this noyous long persistency?'
But when gold piece I showed him, he cried, * 'Who from the Almighty Sovereign e'er shall flee?'"
Now when Kamar al-Zaman, heard these words and understood her verses and their import, he said, "O King, I have not the habit of these doings, nor have I strength to bear these heavy burthens for which elder than I have proved unable; then how will it be with my tender age?" But she smiled at his speech and retorted, "Indeed, it is a matter right marvellous how error springeth from the disorder of man's intendiment!! Since thou art a boy, why standest thou in fear of sin or the doing of things forbidden, seeing that thou art not yet come to years of canonical responsibility; and the offences of a child incur neither punishment nor reproof? Verily, thou hast committed thyself to a quibble for the sake of contention, and it is thy duty to bow before a proposal of fruition, so henceforward cease from denial and coyness, for the commandment of Allah is a decree foreordained: indeed, I have more reason than thou to fear falling and by sin to be misled; and well inspired was he who said,
'My prickle is big and the little one said, * 'Thrust boldly in vitals with lion-like stroke! Then I, '
'Tis a sin!; and he, 'No sin to me! * So I had him at once with a counterfeit poke."
When Kamar al-Zaman heard these words, the light became darkness in his sight and he said, "O King, thou hast in thy household fair women and female slaves, who have not their like in this age: shall not these suffice thee without me? Do thy will with them and let me go!" She replied, "Thou sayest sooth, but it is not with them that one who loveth thee can heal himself of torment and can abate his fever; for, when tastes and inclinations are corrupted by vice, they hear and obey other than good advice. So leave arguing and listen to what the poet saith,
'Seest not the bazar with its fruit in rows? * These men are for figs and for sycamore those!'
And what another saith,
'Many whose anklet rings are dumb have tinkling belts, * And this hath all content while that for want must wail:
Thou bidd'st me be a fool and quit thee for her charms; * Allah forfend I leave The Faith, turn Infidel!
Nay, by thy rights of side-beard mocking all her curls, * Nor mott nor maid from thee my heart shall spell.'
And yet another,
'O beauty's Union! love for thee's my creed, * Free choice of Faith and eke my best desire:
Women I have forsworn for thee; so may * Deem me all men this day a shaveling friar.'
And yet another,
'Even not beardless one with girl, nor heed * The spy who saith to thee ''Tis an amiss!'
Far different is the girl whose feet one kisses * And that gazelle whose feet the earth must kiss.'
And yet another,
'A boy of twice ten is fit for a King!'
And yet another,
'The penis smooth and round was made with anus best to match it, * Had it been made for cunnus' sake it had been formed like hatchet!'
And yet another said,
'My soul thy sacrifice! I chose thee out * Who art not menstruous nor oviparous:
Did I with woman mell, I should beget * Brats till the wide wide world grew strait for us.'
And yet another,
'She saith (sore hurt in sense the most acute * For she had proffered what did not besuit),
'Unless thou stroke as man should swive his wife * Blame not when horns thy brow shall incornute!
Thy wand seems waxen, to a limpo grown, * And more I palm it, softer grows the brute!'
And yet another,
'Quoth she (for I to lie with her forbore), * 'O folly-following fool, O fool to core:
If thou my coynte for Kiblah to thy coigne * Reject, we'll shall please thee more.'
And yet another,
'She proffered me a tender coynte * Quoth I 'I will not roger thee!'
She drew back, saying, 'From the Faith * He turns, who's turned by Heaven's decree!
And front wise fluttering, in one day, * Is obsolete persistency!'
Then swung she round and shining rump * Like silvern lump she showed me!
I cried: 'Well done, O mistress mine! * No more am I in pain for thee;
O thou of all that Allah oped * Showest me fairest victory!'
And yet another,
'Men craving pardon will uplift their hands; * Women pray pardon with their legs on high:
Out on it for a pious, prayerful work! * The Lord shall raise it in the depths to lie.'"
When Kamar al-Zaman heard her quote this poetry, and was certified that there was no escaping compliance with what willed she, he said, "O King of the age, if thou must needs have it so, make covenant with me that thou wilt do this thing with me but once, though it avail not to correct thy depraved appetite, and that thou wilt never again require this thing of me to the end of time; so perchance shall Allah purge me of the sin." She replied "I promise thee this thing, hoping that Allah of His favour will relent towards us and blot out our mortal offence; for the girdle of heaven's forgiveness is not indeed so strait, but it may compass us around and absolve us of the excess of our heinous sins and bring us to the light of salvation out of the darkness of error; and indeed excellently well saith the poet,
'Of evil thing the folk suspect us twain; * And to this thought their hearts and souls are bent:
Come, dear! let's justify and free their souls * That wrong us; one good bout and then--repent!'''
Thereupon she made him an agreement and a covenant and swore a solemn oath by Him who is Self-existent, that this thing should befal betwixt them but once and never again for all time, and that the desire of him was driving her to death and perdition. So he rose up with her, on this condition, and went with her to her own boudoir, that she might quench the lowe of her lust, saying, "There is no Majesty, and there is no Might save in Allah, the Glorious, the Great! This is the fated decree of the All- powerful, the All-wise!"; and he doffed his bag-trousers, shamefull and abashed, with the tears running from his eyes for stress of affright. Thereat she smiled and making him mount upon a couch with her, said to him, "After this night, thou shalt see naught that will offend thee." Then she turned to him bussing and bosoming him and bending calf over calf, and said to him, "Put thy hand between my thighs to the accustomed place; so haply it may stand up to prayer after prostration." He wept and cried, "I am not good at aught of this," but she said, "By my life, an thou do as I bid thee, it shall profit thee!" So he put out his hand, with vitals a-fire for confusion, and found her thighs cooler than cream and softer than silk. The touching of them pleasured him and he moved his hand hither and thither, till it came to a dome abounding in good gifts and movements and shifts, and said in himself, "Perhaps this King is a hermaphrodite, neither man nor woman quite;" so he said to her, "O King, I cannot find that thou hast a tool like the tools of men; what then moved thee to do this deed?" Then loudly laughed Queen Budur till she fell on her back, and said, "O my dearling, how quickly thou hast forgotten the nights we have lain together!" Then she made herself known to him, and he knew her for his wife, the Lady Budur, daughter of King al-Ghayur, Lord of the Isles and the Seas. So he embraced her and she embraced him, and he kissed her and she kissed him; then they lay down on the bed of pleasure voluptuous, repeating the words of the poet,
"When his softly bending shape bid him close to my embrace * Which clips him all about like the tendrils of the vine
And shed a flood of softness on the hardness of his heart, * He yielded though at first he was minded to decline;
And dreading lest the railer's eye should light upon his form, * Came armoured with caution to baffle his design:
His waist makes moan of hinder cheeks that weigh upon his feet * Like heavy load of merchandise upon young camel li'en;
Girt with his glances scymitar which seemed athirst for blood, * And clad in mail of dusky curls that show the sheeniest shine,
His fragrance wafted happy news of footstep coming nigh, * And to him like a bird uncaged I flew in straightest line:
I spread my cheek upon his path, beneath his sandal-shoon, * And lo! the stibium of their dust healed all my hurt of eyne.
With one embrace again I bound the banner of our loves * And loosed the knot of my delight that bound in bonds malign:
Then bade I make high festival, and straight came flocking in * Pure joys that know not grizzled age nor aught of pain and pine:
The full moon dotted with the stars the lips and pearly teeth * That dance right joyously upon the bubbling face of wine:
So in the prayer-niche of their joys yielded me to what * Would make the humblest penitent of sinner most indign.
I swear by all the signs of those glories in his face * I'll ne'er forget the Chapter entituled Al-Ikhlas."
Then Queen Budur told Kamar al-Zaman all that had befallen her from beginning to end and he did likewise; after which he began to upbraid her, saying, "What moved thee to deal with me as thou hast done this night?" She replied, "Pardon me! for I did this by way of jest, and that pleasure and gladness might be increased." And when dawned the morn and day arose with its sheen and shone, she sent to King Armanus, sire of the Lady Hayat al-Nufus, and acquainted him with the truth of the case and that she was wife to Kamar al-Zaman. Moreover, she told him their tale and the cause of their separation, and how his daughter was a virgin, pure as when she was born. He marvelled at their story with exceeding marvel and bade them chronicle it in letters of gold. Then he turned to Kamar al-Zaman and said, "O King's son, art thou minded to become my son-in-law by marrying my daughter?" Replied he, "I must consult the Queen Budur, as she hath a claim upon me for benefits without stint." And when he took counsel with her, she said, "Right is thy recking; marry her and I will be her handmaid; for I am her debtor for kindness and favour and good offices, and obligations manifold, especially as we are here in her place and as the King her father hath whelmed us with benefits." Now when he saw that she inclined to this and was not jealous of Hayat al-Nufus, he agreed with her upon this matter.--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the Two Hundred and Seventeenth Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Kamar al- Zaman agreed with his wife, Queen Budur, upon this matter and told King Armanus what she had said; whereat he rejoiced with great joy. Then he went out and, seating himself upon his chair of estate, assembled all the Wazirs, Emirs, Chamberlains and Grandees, to whom he related the whole story of Kamar al-Zaman and his wife, Queen Budur, from first to last; and acquainted them with his desire to marry his daughter Hayat al-Nufus to the Prince and make him King in the stead of Queen Budur. Whereupon said they all, "Since he is the husband of Queen Budur, who hath been our King till now, whilst we deemed her son-in-law to King Armanus, we are all content to have him to Sultan over us; and we will be his servants, nor will we swerve from his allegiance." So Armanus rejoiced hereat and, summoning Kazis and witnesses and the chief officers of state, bade draw up the contract of marriage between Kamar al-Zaman and his daughter, the Princess Hayat al-Nufus. Then he held high festival, giving sumptuous marriage-feasts and bestowing costly dresses of honour upon all the Emirs and Captains of the host; moreover he distributed alms to the poor and needy and set free all the prisoners. The whole world rejoiced in the coming of Kamar al-Zaman to the throne, blessing him and wishing him endurance of glory and prosperity, renown and felicity; and, as soon as he became King, he remitted the customs-dues and released all men who remained in gaol. Thus he abode a long while, ordering himself worthily towards his lieges; and he lived with his two wives in peace, happiness, constancy and content, lying the night with each of them in turn. He ceased not after this fashion during many years, for indeed all his troubles and afflictions were blotted out from him and he forgot his father King Shahriman and his former estate of honour and favour with him. After a while Almighty Allah blessed him with two boy children, as they were two shining moons, through his two wives; the elder whose name was Prince Amjad, by Queen Budur, and the younger whose name was Prince As'ad by Queen Hayat al-Nufus; and this one was comelier than his brother. They were reared in splendour and tender affection, in respectful bearing and in the perfection of training; and they were instructed in penmanship and science and the arts of government and horsemanship, till they attained the extreme accomplishments and the utmost limit of beauty and loveliness; both men and women being ravished by their charms. They grew up side by side till they reached the age of seventeen, eating and drinking together and sleeping in one bed, nor ever parting at any time or tide; wherefore all the people envied them. Now when they came to man's estate and were endowed with every perfection, their father was wont, as often as he went on a journey, to make them sit in his stead by turns in the hall of judgement; and each did justice among the folk one day at a time. But it came to pass, by confirmed fate and determined lot, that love for As'ad (son of Queen Hayat al-Nufus) rose in the heart of Queen Budur, and that affection for Amjad (son of Queen Budur) rose in the heart of Queen Hayat al-Nufus. Hence it was that each of the women used to sport and play with the son of her sister-wife, kissing him and straining him to her bosom, whilst each mother thought that the other's behaviour arose but from maternal affection. On this wise passion got the mastery of the two women's hearts and they became madly in love with the two youths, so that when the other's son came in to either of them, she would press him to her breast and long for him never to be parted from her; till, at last, when waiting grew longsome to them and they found no path to enjoyment, they refused meat and drink and banished the solace of sleep. Presently, the King fared forth to course and chase, bidding his two sons sit to do justice in his stead, each one day in turn as was their wont.--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the Two Hundred and Eighteenth Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the King fared forth to sport and hunt, bidding his two sons sit to do justice in his stead, each one day by turn, as was their wont. Now Prince Amjad sat in judgement the first day, bidding and forbidding, appointing and deposing, giving and refusing; and Queen Hayat al-Nufus, mother of As'ad, wrote to him a letter suing for his favour and discovering to him her passion and devotion; altogether put tiny off the mask and giving him to know that she desired to enjoy him. So she took a scroll and thereon indited these cadences, "From the love deranged * the sorrowful and estranged * whose torment is prolonged for the longing of thee! * Were I to recount to thee the extent of my care * and what of sadness I bear * the passion which my heart cloth tear * and all that I endure for weeping and unrest * and the rending of my sorrowful breast * my unremitting grief * and my woe without relief * and all my suffering for severance of thee * and sadness and love's ardency * no letter could contain it; nor calculation could compass it * Indeed earth and heaven upon me are strait; and I have no hope and no trust but what from thee I await * Upon death I am come nigh * and the horrors of dissolution I aby * Burning upon me is sore * with parting pangs and estrangement galore * Were I to set forth the yearnings that possess me more and more * no scrolls would suffice to hold such store * and of the excess of my pain and pine, I have made the following lines:- -
Were I to dwell on heart-consuming heat, * Unease and transports in my spins meet,
Nothing were left of ink and reeden pen * Nor aught of paper; no, not e'en a sheet.
Then Queen Hayat al-Nufus wrapped up her letter in a niece of costly silk scented with musk and ambergris; and folded it up with her silken hair-strings whose cost swallowed down treasures laid it in a handkerchief and gave it to a eunuch bidding him bear it to Prince Amjad.--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the Two Hundred and Nineteenth Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that she gave her missive to the eunuch in waiting and bade him bear it to Prince Amjad. And that eunuch went forth ignoring what the future hid for him (for the Omniscient ordereth events even as He willeth); and, going in to the Prince, kissed the ground between his hands and handed to him the letter. On receiving the kerchief he opened it and, reading the epistle and recognizing its gist he was ware that his father's wife was essentially an adulteress and a traitress at heart to her husband, King Kamar al-Zaman. So he waxed wroth with exceeding wrath and railed at women and their works, saying, "Allah curse women, the traitresses, the imperfect in reason and religion!" Then he drew his sword and said to the eunuch, "Out on thee, thou wicked slave! Dost thou carry messages of disloyalty for thy lord's wife? By Allah, there is no good in thee, O black of hue and heart, O foul of face and Nature's forming!" So he smote him on the neck and severed his head from his body; then, folding the kerchief over its contents he thrust it into his breast pocket and went in to his own mother and told her what had passed, reviling and reproaching her, and saying, "Each one of you is viler than the other; and, by Allah the Great and Glorious, did I not fear ill-manneredly to transgress against the rights of my father, Kamar al-Zaman, and my brother, Prince As'ad, I would assuredly go in to her and cut off her head, even as I cut off that of her eunuch!" Then he went forth from his mother in a mighty rage; and when the news reached Queen Hayat al-Nufus of what he had done with her eunuch, she abused him and cursed him and plotted perfidy against him. He passed the night, sick with rage, wrath and concern; nor found he pleasure in meat, drink or sleep. And when the next morning dawned Prince As'ad fared forth in his turn to rule the folk in his father's stead, whilst his mother, Hayat al-Nufus, awoke in feeble plight because of what she had heard from Prince Amjad concerning the slaughter of her eunuch. So Prince As'ad sat in the audience-chamber that day, judging and administering justice, appointing and deposing, bidding and forbidding, giving and bestowing. And he ceased not thus till near the time of afternoon-prayer, when Queen Budur sent for a crafty old woman and, discovering to her what was in her heart, wrote a letter to Prince As'ad, complaining of the excess of her affection and desire for him in these cadenced lines, "From her who perisheth for passion and love-forlorn * to him who in nature and culture is goodliest born * to him who is conceited of his own loveliness * and glories in his amorous grace * who from those that seek to enjoy him averteth his face * and refuseth to show favour unto the self abasing and base * him who is cruel and of disdainful mood * from the lover despairing of good * to Prince As'ad * with passing beauty endowed * and of excelling grace proud * of the face moon bright * and the brow flower-white * and dazzling splendid light * This is my letter to him whose love melteth my body * and rendeth my skin and bones! * Know that my patience faileth me quite * and I am perplexed in my plight * longing and restlessness weary me * and sleep and patience deny themselves to me * but mourning and watching stick fast to me * and desire and passion torment me * and the extremes of languor and sickness have sheet me * Yet may my life be a ransom for thee * albeit thy pleasure be to slay her who loveth thee * and Allah prolong the life of thee * and preserve thee from all infirmity!" And after these cadences she wrote these couplets,
"Fate hath commanded I become thy fere, * O shining like full moon when clearest clear!
All beauty dost embrace, all eloquence; * Brighter than aught within our worldly sphere:
Content am I my torturer thou be: * Haply shalt alms me with one lovely leer!
Happy her death who dieth for thy love! * No good in her who holdeth thee unclear!"
And also the following couplets,
"Unto thee, As'ad! I of passion-pangs complain; * Have ruth on slave of love so burnt with flaming pain:
How long, I ask, shall hands of Love disport with me, * With longings, dolour, sleepliness and bale and bane?
Anon I 'plain of sea in heart, anon of fire * In vitals, O strange case, dear wish, my fairest fain!
O blamer, cease thy blame, and seek thyself to fly * From love, which makes these eyne a rill of tears to rain.
How oft I cry for absence and desire, Ah grief! * But all my crying naught of gain for me shall gain:
Thy rigours dealt me sickness passing power to bear, * Thou art my only leach, assain me an thou deign!
O chider, chide me not in caution, for I doubt * That plaguey Love to thee shall also deal a bout."
Then Queen Budur perfumed the letter-paper with a profusion of odoriferous musk and, winding it in her hairstrings which were of Iraki silk, with pendants of oblong emeralds, set with pearls and stones of price, delivered it to the old woman, bidding her carry it to Prince As'ad. She did so in order to pleasure her, and going in to the Prince, straightway and without stay, found him in his own rooms and delivered to him the letter in privacy; after which she stood waiting an hour or so for the answer. When As'ad had read the paper and knew its purport, he wrapped it up again in the ribbons and put it in his bosom-pocket: then (for he was wrath beyond all measure of wrath) he cursed false women and sprang up and drawing his sword, smote the old trot on the neck and cut off her pate. Thereupon he went in to his mother, Queen Hayat al-Nufus, whom he found lying on her bed in feeble case, for that which had betided her with Prince Amjad, and railed at her and cursed her; after which he left her and fore-gathered with his brother, to whom he related all that had befallen him with Queen Budur, adding, "By Allah, O my brother, but that I was ashamed before thee, I had gone in to her forthright and had smitten her head off her shoulders!" Replied Prince Amjad, "By Allah, O my brother, yesterday when I was sitting upon the seat of judgement, the like of what hath befallen thee this day befel me also with thy mother who sent me a letter of similar purport." And he told him all that had passed, adding, "By Allah, O my brother, naught but respect for thee withheld me from going in to her and dealing with her even as I dealt with the eunuch!" They passed the rest of the night conversing and cursing womankind, and agreed to keep the matter secret, lest their father should hear of it and kill the two women. Yet they ceased not to suffer trouble and foresee affliction. And when the morrow dawned, the King returned with his suite from hunting and sat awhile in his chair of estate; after which he sent the Emirs about their business and went up to his palace, where he found his two wives lying a-bed and both exceeding sick and weak. Now they had made a plot against their two sons and concerted to do away their lives, for that they had exposed themselves before them and feared to be at their mercy and dependent upon their forbearance. When Kamar al-Zaman saw them on this wise, he said to them, "What aileth you?" Whereupon they rose to him and kissing his hands answered, perverting the case and saying "Know, O King, that thy two sons, who have been reared in thy bounty, have played thee false and have dishonoured thee in the persons of thy wives." Now when he heard this, the light became darkness in his sight, and he raged with such wrath that his reason fled: then said he to them, "Explain me this matter." Replied Queen Budur, "O King of the age, know that these many days past thy son As'ad hath been in the persistent habit of sending me letters and messages to solicit me to lewdness and adultery while I still forbade him from this, but he would not be forbidden; and, when thou wentest forth to hunt, he rushed in on me, drunk and with a drawn sword in his hand, and smiting my eunuch, slew him. Then he mounted on my breast, still holding the sword, and I feared lest he should slay me, if I gainsaid him, even as he had slain my eunuch; so he took his wicked will of me by force. And now if thou do me not justice on him, O King, I will slay myself with my own hand, for I have no need of life in the world after this foul deed." And Queen Hayat al-Nufus, choking with tears, told him respecting Prince Amjad a story like that of her sister-wife.--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the Two Hundred and Twentieth Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Queen Hayat al-Nufus told her husband, King Kamar al-Zaman, a story like that of her sister in wedlock, Budur, and, quoth she, "The same thing befel me with thy son Amjad;" after which she took to weeping and wailing and said, "Except thou do me justice on him I will tell my father, King Armanus." Then both women wept with sore weeping before King Kamar al-Zaman who, when he saw their tears and heard their words, concluded that their story was true and, waxing wroth beyond measure of wrath, went forth thinking to fall upon his two sons and put them to death. On his way he met his father- in-law, King Armanus who, hearing of his return from the chase, had come to salute him at that very hour and, seeing him with naked brand in hand and blood dripping from his nostrils, for excess of rage, asked what ailed him. So Kamar al-Zaman told him all that his sons Amjad and As'ad had done and added, "And here I am now going in to them to slay them in the foulest way and make of them the most shameful of examples." Quoth King Armanus (and indeed he too was wroth with them), "Thou dost well, O my son, and may Allah not bless them nor any sons that do such deed against their father's honour. But, O my son, the sayer of the old saw saith, 'Whoso looketh not to the end hath not Fortune to friend.' In any case, they are thy sons, and it befitteth not that thou kill them with shine own hand, lest thou drink of their death-agony, and anon repent of having slain them whenas repentance availeth thee naught. Rather do thou send them with one of thy Mamelukes into the desert and let him kill them there out of thy sight, for, as saith the adage, 'Out of sight of my friend is better and pleasanter.' And when Kamar al-Zaman heard his father-in-law's words, he knew them to be just; so he sheathed his sword and turning back, sat down upon the throne of his realm. There he summoned his treasurer, a very old man, versed in affairs and in fortune's vicissitudes, to whom he said, "Go in to my sons, Amjad and As'ad; bind their hands behind them with strong bonds, lay them in two chests and load them upon a mule. Then take horse thou and carry them into mid desert, where do thou kill them both and fill two vials with their blood and bring the same to me in haste." Replied the treasurer, "I hear and I obey," and he rose up hurriedly and went out forthright to seek the Princes; and, on his road, he met them coming out of the palace-vestibule, for they had donned their best clothes and their richest; and they were on their way to salute their sire and give him joy of his safe return from his going forth to hunt. Now when he saw them, he laid hands on them, saying, "Omy sons, know ye that I am but a slave commanded, and that your father hath laid a commandment on me; will ye obey his commandment?" They said, "Yes"; whereupon he went up to them and, after pinioning their arms, laid them in the chests which he loaded on the back of a mule he had taken from the city. And he ceased not carrying them into the open country till near noon, when he halted in a waste and desolate place and, dismounting from his mare, let down the two chests from the mule's back. Then he opened them and took out Amjad and As'ad; and when he looked upon them he wept sore for their beauty and loveliness; then drawing his sword he said to them, "By Allah, O my lords, indeed it is hard for me to deal so evilly by you; but I am to be excused in this matter, being but a slave commanded, for that your father King Kamar al-Zaman hath bidden me strike off your heads." They replied, "O Emir, do the King's bidding, for we bear with patience that which Allah (to Whom be Honour, Might and Glory!) hath decreed to us; and thou art quit of our blood." Then they embraced and bade each other farewell, and As'ad said to the treasurer, "Allah upon thee, O uncle, spare me the sight of my brother's death-agony and make me not drink of his anguish, but kill me first, for that were the easier for me." And Amjad said the like and entreated the treasurer to kill him before As'ad, saying, "My brother is younger than I; so make me not taste of his anguish. And they both wept bitter tears whilst the treasurer wept for their weeping;--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the Two Hundred and Twenty-first Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the treasurer wept for their weeping; then the two brothers embraced and bade farewell and one said to the other, "All this cometh of the malice of those traitresses, my mother and thy mother; and this is the reward of my forbearance towards thy mother and of thy for bearance towards my mother! But there is no Might and there is no Majesty save in Allah, the Glorious, the Great! Verily, we are Allah's and unto Him we are returning." And As'ad em braced his brother, sobbing and repeating these couplets,
"O Thou to whom sad trembling wights in fear complain! * O ever ready whatso cometh to sustain!
The sole resource for me is at Thy door to knock, * At whose door knock an Thou to open wilt not deign?
O Thou whose grace is treasured in the one word, Be! * Favour me, I beseech, in Thee all weals contain."
Now when Amjad heard his brother's weeping he wept also and pressing him to his bosom repeated these two couplets,
"O Thou whose boons to me are more than one! * Whose gifts and favours have nor count nor bound!
No stroke of all Fate's strokes e'er fell on me, * But Thee to take me by the hand I found."
Then said Amjad to the treasurer, "I conjure thee by the One, Omnipotent, the Lord of Mercy, the Beneficent! slay me before my brother As'ad, so haply shall the fire be quencht in my heart's core and in this life burn no more." But As'ad wept and exclaimed, "Not so: I will die first;" whereupon quoth Amjad, "It were best that I embrace thee and thou embrace me, so the sword may fall upon us and slay us both at a single stroke." Thereupon they embraced, face to face and clung to each other straitly, whilst the treasurer tied up the twain and bound them fast with cords, weeping the while. Then he drew his blade and said to them, "By Allah, O my lords, it is indeed hard to me to slay you! But have ye no last wishes that I may fulfil or charges which I may carry out, or message which I may deliver?" Replied Amjad, "We have no wish; and my only charge to thee is that thou set my brother below and me above him, that the blow may fall on me first, and when thou hast killed us and returnest to the King and he asketh thee, 'What heardest thou from them before their death?'; do thou answer, 'Verily thy sons salute thee and say to thee, Thou knewest not if we were innocent or guilty, yet hast thou put us to death and hast not certified thyself of our sin nor looked into our case.' Then do thou repeat to him these two couplets,
'Women are Satans made for woe o' men; * I fly to Allah from their devilish scathe:
Source of whatever bale befel our kind, * In wordly matters and in things of Faith.'"
Continued Amjad, "We desire of thee naught but that thou repeat to our sire these two couplets."--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was ad the Two Hundred and Twenty-second Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Amjad added, speaking to the treasurer, "We desire of thee naught but that thou repeat to our sire these two couplets which thou hast just now heard; and I conjure thee by Allah to have patience with us, whilst I cite to my brother this other pair of couplets." Then he wept with sore weeping and began,
"The Kings who fared before us showed * Of instances full many a show:
Of great and small and high and low * How many this one road have trod!"
Now when the treasurer heard these words from Amjad, he wept till his beard was wet, whilst As'ad's eyes brimmed with tears and he in turn repeated these couplets,
"Fate frights us when the thing is past and gone; * Weeping is not for form or face alone:
What ails the Nights? Allah blot out our sin, * And be the Nights by other hand undone!
Ere this Zubayr-son felt their spiteful hate, * Who fled for refuge to the House and Stone:
Would that when Kharijah was for Amru slain * They had ransomed Ali with all men they own."
Then, with cheeks stained by tears down railing he recited also these verses,
"In sooth the Nights and Days are charactered * By traitor falsehood and as knaves they lie;
The Desert-reek recalls their teeth that shine; * All horrid blackness is their K of eye:
My sin anent the world which I abhor * Is sin of sword when sworders fighting hie."
Then his sobs waxed louder and he said,
"O thou who woo'st a World unworthy, learn * 'Tis house of evils, 'tis Perdition's net:
A house where whoso laughs this day shall weep * The next: then perish house of fume and fret!
Endless its frays and forays, and its thralls * Are ne'er redeemed, while endless risks beset.
How many gloried in its pomps and pride, * Till proud and pompous did all bounds forget,
Then showing back of shield she made them swill * Full draught, and claimed all her vengeance debt.
For know her strokes fall swift and sure, altho' * Long bide she and forslow the course of Fate:
So look thou to thy days lest life go by * Idly, and meet thou more than thou hast met;
And cut all chains of world-love and desire * And save thy soul and rise to secrets higher."
Now when As'ad made an end of these verses, he strained his brother Amjad in his arms, till they twain were one body, and the treasurer, drawing his sword, was about to strike them, when behold, his steed took fright at the wind of his upraised hand, and breaking its tether, fled into the desert. Now the horse had cost a thousand gold pieces and on its back was a splendid saddle worth much money; so the treasurer threw down his sword, and ran after his beast.--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the Two Hundred and Twenty-third Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when his horse ran away, the treasurer ran after it in huge concern, and ceased not running to catch the runaway till it entered a thicket. He followed it whilst it dashed through the wood, smiting the earth with its hoofs till it raised a dust-cloud which towered high in air; and snorting and puffing and neighing and waxing fierce and furious. Now there happened to be in this thicket a lion of terrible might; hideous to sight, with eyes sparkling light: his look was grim and his aspect struck fright into man's sprite. Presentry the treasurer turned and saw the lion making towards him; but found no way of escape nor had he his sword with him. So he said in himself, "There is no Majesty and there is no Might save in Allah, the Glorious, the Great! This strait is come upon me for no other cause but because of Amjad and As'ad; and indeed this journey was unblest from the first!" Meanwhile the two Princes were grievously oppressed by the heat and grew sore athirst, so that their tongues hung out and they cried for succour, but none came to their relief and they said, "Would to Heaven we had been slain and were at peace from this pain! But we know not whither the horse hath fled, that the treasurer is gone and hath left us thus pinioned. If he would but come back and do us die, it were easier to us than this torture to aby." Said As'ad, "O my brother, be patient, and the relief of Allah (extolled and exalted be He!) shall assuredly come to us; for the horse started not away save of His favour towards us, and naught irketh us but this thirst." Upon this he stretched and shook himself and strained right and left, till he burst his pinion-bonds; then he rose and unbound his brother and catching up the Emir's sword, said, "By Allah, we will not go hence, till we look after him and learn what is become of him." Then they took to following on the trail till it led them to the thicket and they said to each other, "Of a surety, the horse and the treasurer have not passed out of this wood." Quoth As'ad, "Stay thou here, whilst I enter the thicket and search it;" and Amjad replied, "I will not let thee go in alone: nor will we enter it but together; so if we escape, we shall escape together and if we perish, we shall perish together." Accordingly both entered and found that the lion had sprang upon the treasurer, who lay like a sparrow in his grip, calling upon Allah for aid and signing with his hands to Heaven. Now when Amjad saw this, he took the sword and, rushing upon the lion, smote him between the eyes and laid him dead on the ground. The Emir sprang up, marvelling at this escape and seeing Amjad and As'ad, his master's sons, standing there, cast himself at their feet and exclaimed, "By Allah, O my lords, it were intolerable wrong in me to do you to death. May the man never be who would kill you! Indeed, with my very life, I will ransom you."--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the Two Hundred and Twenty-fourth Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that quoth the treasurer to Amjad and As'ad, "With my life will I ransom you both!" Then he hastily rose and, at once embracing them, enquired how they had loosed their bonds and come thither; whereupon they told him how the bonds of one of them had fallen loose and he had unbound the other, whereto they were helped by the purity of their intentions, and how they had tracked his trail till they came upon him. So he thanked them for their deed and went with them forth of the thicket; and, when they were in the open country, they said to him, "O uncle, do our father's bidding." He replied, "Allah forbid that I should draw near to you with hurt! But know ye that I mean to take your clothes and clothe you with mine; then will I fill two vials with the lion's blood and go back to the King and tell him I have out vou to death. But as for you two, fare ye forth into the lands, for Allah's earth is wide; and know, O my lords, that it paineth me to part from you." At this, they all fell a-weeping; then the two youths put off their clothes and the treasurer habited them with his own. Moreover he made two parcels of their dress and, filling two vials with the lion's blood, set the parcels before him on his horse's back. Presently he took leave of them and, making his way to the city, ceased not faring till he went in to King Kamar al-Zaman and kissed the ground between his hands. The King saw him changed in face and troubled (which arose from his adventure with the lion) and, deeming this came of the slaughter of his two sons, rejoiced and said to him, "Hast thou done the work?" "Yes, O our lord," replied the treasurer and gave him the two parcels of clothes and the two vials full of blood. Asked the King, "What didst thou observe in them; and did they give thee any charge?" Answered the treasurer, "I found them patient and resigned to what came down upon them and they said to me, 'Verily, our father is excusable; bear him our salutation and say to him, 'Thou art quit of our killing. But we charge thee repeat to him these couplets,
'Verily women are devils created for us. We seek refuge with God from the artifice of the devils. They are the source of all the misfortunes that have appeared among mankind in the affairs of the world and of religion.'''
When the King heard these words of the treasurer, he bowed his head earthwards, a long while and knew his sons' words to mean that they had been wrongfully put to death. Then he bethought himself of the perfidy of women and the calamities brought about by them; and he took the two parcels and opened them and fell to turning over his sons' clothes and weeping,--And Shahrazed perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the Two Hundred and Twenty-fifth Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when King Kamar la-Zaman opened the two bundles and fell to turning over his sons' clothes and weeping, it so came to pass that he found, in the pocket of his son As'ad's raiment, a letter in the hand of his wife enclosing her hair strings; so he opened and read it and understanding the contents knew that the Prince had been falsely accused and wrongously. Then he searched Amjad's parcel of dress and found in his pocket a letter in the handwriting of Queen Hayat al-Nufus enclosing also her hair-strings; so he opened and read it and knew that Amjad too had been wronged; whereupon he beat hand upon hand and exclaimed, "There is no Majesty and there is no Might save in Allah, the Glorious, the Great! I have slain my sons unjustly." And he buffeted his face, crying out, "Alas, my sons! Alas, my long grief!" Then he bade them build two tombs in one house, which he styled "House of Lamentations," and had graved thereon his sons' names; and he threw himself on Amjad's tomb, weeping and groaning and lamenting, and improvised these couplets,
"O moon for ever set this earth below, * Whose loss bewail the stars which stud the sky!
O wand, which broken, ne'er with bend and wave * Shall fascinate the ravisht gazer's eye;
These eyne for jealousy I 'reft of thee, * Nor shall they till next life thy sight descry:
I'm drowned in sea of tears for insomny * Wherefore, indeed in Sahirah-stead I lie."
Then he threw himself on As'ad's tomb, groaning and weeping and lamenting and versifying with these couplets,
"Indeed I longed to share unweal with thee, * But Allah than my will willed otherwise:
My grief all blackens 'twixt mine eyes and space, * Yet whitens all the blackness from mine eyes:
Of tears they weep these eyne run never dry, * And ulcerous flow in vitals never dries:
Right sore it irks me seeing thee in stead * Where slave with sovran for once levelled lies."
And his weeping and wailing redoubled; and, after he had ended his lamentations and his verse, he forsook his friends and intimates, and denying himself to his women and his family, cut himself off from the world in the House of Lamentations, where he passed his time in weeping for his sons. Such was his case; but as regards Amjad and As'ad they fared on into the desert eating of the fruits of the earth and drinking of the remnants of the rain for a full month, till their travel brought them to a mountain of black flint whose further end was unknown; and here the road forked, one line lying along the midway height and the other leading to its head. They took the way trending to the top and gave not over following it five days, but saw no end to it and were overcome with weariness, being unused to walking upon the mountains or elsewhere. At last, despairing of coming to the last of the road, they retraced their steps and, taking the other, that led over the midway heights,--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the Two Hundred and Twenty-sixth Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Princes Amjad and As'ad returned from the path leading to the Mountain- head and took that which ran along the midway heights, and walked through all that day till nightfall, when As'ad, weary with much travel, said to Amjad, "O my brother, I can walk no farther, for I am exceeding weak." Replied Amjad, "O my brother, take courage! May be Allah will send us relief." So they walked on part of the night, till the darkness closed in upon them, when As'ad became weary beyond measure of weariness and cried out, "O my brother, I am worn out and spent with walking," and threw himself upon the ground and wept. Amjad took him in his arms and walked on with him, bytimes sitting down to rest till break of day, when they came to the mountain-top and found there a stream of running water and by it a pomegranate-tree and a prayer-niche. They could hardly believe their eyes when they saw it; but, sitting down by that spring, drank of its water and ate of the fruit of that granado-tree; after which they lay on the ground and slept till sunrise, when they washed and bathed in the spring and, eating of the pomegranates, slept again till the time of mid-afternoon prayer. Then they thought to continue their journey, but As'ad could not walk, for both his feet were swollen. So they abode there three days till they were rested, after which they set out again and fared on over the mountain days and nights, tortured by and like to die of thirst, till they sighted a city gleaming afar off, at which they rejoiced and made towards it. When they drew near it, they thanked Allah (be His Name exalted!) and Amjad said to As'ad, "O my brother, sit here, whilst I go to yonder city and see what it is and whose it is and where we are in Allah's wide world, that we may know through what lands we have passed in crossing this mountain, whose skirts had we followed, we had not reached this city in a whole year. So praised be Allah for safety!" Replied As'ad, "By Allah, O my brother, none shall go down into that city save myself, and may I be thy ransom! If thou leave me alone, be it only for an hour, I shall imagine a thousand things and be drowned in a torrent of anxiety on shine account, for I cannot brook shine absence from me." Amjad rejoined, "Go then and tarry not. So As'ad took some gold pieces, and leaving his brother to await him, descended the mountain and ceased not faring on till he entered the city. As he threaded the streets he was met by an old man age-decrepit, whose beard flowed down upon his breast and forked in twain; he bore a walking-staff in his hand and was richly clad, with a great red turband on his head. When As'ad saw him, he wondered at his dress and his mien; nevertheless, he went up to him and saluting him said, "Where be the way to the market, O my master?" Hearing these words the Shaykh smiled in his face and replied, "O my son, meseemeth thou art a stranger?" As'ad rejoined, "Yes, I am a stranger."--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the Two Hundred and Twenty-seventh Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the Shaykh who met As'ad smiled in his face and said to him, "O my son, meseemeth thou art a stranger?" and As'ad replied, "Yes, I am a stranger." Then rejoined the old man, "Verily, thou gladdenest our country with thy presence, O my son, and thou desolatest shine own land by reason of shine absence. What wantest thou of the market?" Quoth As'ad, "O uncle, I have a brother, with whom I have come from a far land and with whom I have journeyed these three months; and, when we sighted this city, I left him, who is my elder brother, upon the mountain and came hither, purposing to buy victual and what else, and return therewith to him, that we might feed thereon." Said the old man, "Rejoice in all good, O my son, and know thou that to-day I give a marriage-feast, to which I have bidden many guests, and I have made ready plenty of meats, the best and most delicious that heart can desire. So if thou wilt come with me to my place, I will give thee freely all thou lackest without asking thee a price or aught else. Moreover I will teach thee the ways of this city; and, praised be Allah, O my son, that I, and none other have happened upon thee." "As thou wilt," answered As'ad, "do as thou art disposed, but make haste, for indeed my brother awaiteth me and his whole heart is with me." The old man took As'ad by the hand and carried him to a narrow lane, smiling in his face and saying, "Glory be to Him who hath delivered thee from the people of this city!" And he ceased not walking till he entered a spacious house, wherein was a saloon and behold, in the middle of it were forty old men, well stricken in years, collected together and forming a single ring as they sat round about a lighted fire, to which they were doing worship and prostrating themselves. When As'ad saw this, he was confounded and the hair of his body stood on end though he knew not what they were; and the Shaykh said to them, "O Elders of the Fire, how blessed is this day!" Then he called aloud, saying, "Hello, Ghazban!" Whereupon there came out to him a tall black slave of frightful aspect, grim-visaged and flat nosed as an ape who, when the old man made a sign to him, bent As'ad's arms behind his back and pinioned them; after which the Shaykh said to him, "Let him down into the vault under the earth and there leave him and say to my slave girl Such-an-one, 'Torture him night and day and give him a cake of bread to eat morning and evening against the time come of the voyage to the Blue Sea and the Mountain of Fire, whereon we will slaughter him as a sacrifice.'" So the black carried him out at another door and, raising a flag in the floor, discovered a flight of twenty steps leading to a chamber under the earth, into which he descended with him and, laying his feet in irons, gave him over to the slave girl and went away. Meanwhile, the old men said to one another, "When the day of the Festival of the Fire cometh, we will sacrifice him on the mountain, as a propitiatory offering whereby we shall pleasure the Fire." Presently the damsel went down to him and beat him a grievous beating, till streams of blood flowed from his sides and he fainted; after which she set at his head a scone of bread and a cruse of brackish water and went away and left him. In the middle of the night, he revived and found himself bound and beaten and sore with beating: so he wept bitter tears; and recalling his former condition of honour and prosperity, lordship and dominion, and his separation from his sire and his exile from his native land.--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say,
When it was the Two Hundred and Twenty-eighth Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when As'ad found himself bound and beaten and sore with beating he recalled his whilome condition of honour and prosperity and dominion and lordship, and he wept and groaned aloud and recited these couplets,
"Stand by the ruined stead and ask of us; * Nor deem we dwell there as was state of us:
The World, that parter, hath departed us; * Yet soothes not hate-full hearts the fate of us:
With whips a cursed slave girl scourges us, * And teems her breast with rancorous hate of us:
Allah shall haply deign to unpart our lives, * Chastise our foes, and end this strait of us."
And when As'ad had spoken his poetry, he put out his hand towards his head and finding there the crust and the cruse full of brackish water he ate a bittock, just enough to keep life in him, and drank a little water, but could get no sleep till morning for the swarms of bugs and lice. As soon as it was day, the slave girl came down to him and changed his clothes, which were drenched with blood and stuck to him, so that his skin came off with the shirt; wherefor he shrieked aloud and cried, "Alas!" and said, "O my God, if this be Thy pleasure, increase it upon me! O Lord, verily Thou art not unmindful of him that oppresseth me; do Thou then avenge me upon him!" And he groaned and repeated the following verses,
"Patient, O Allah! to Thy destiny * I bow, suffice me what Thou deign decree:
Patient to bear Thy will, O Lord of me, * Patient to burn on coals of Ghaza-tree:
They wrong me, visit me with hurt and harm; * Haply Thy grace from them shall set me free:
Far be's, O Lord, from thee to spare the wronger * O Lord of Destiny my hope's in Thee!"
And what another saith,
"Bethink thee not of worldly state, * Leave everything to course of Fate;
For oft a thing that irketh thee * Shall in content eventuate;
And oft what strait is shall expand, * And what expanded is wax strait.
Allah will do what wills His will * So be not thou importunate!
But 'joy the view of coming weal * Shall make forget past bale and bate."
And when he had ended his verse, the slave-girl came down upon him with blows till he fainted again; and, throwing him a flap of bread and a gugglet of saltish water, went away and left him sad and lonely, bound in chains of iron, with the blood streaming from his sides and far from those he loved. So he wept and called to mind his brother and the honours he erst enjoyed.--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the Two Hundred and Twenty-ninth Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that As'ad called to mind his brother and the honours he erst enjoyed; so he wept and groaned and complained and poured forth tears in floods and improvised these couplets,
"Easy, O Fate! how long this wrong, this injury, * Robbing each morn and eve my brotherhood fro' me?
Is't not time now thou deem this length sufficiency * Of woes and, O thou Heart of Rock, show clemency?
My friends thou wrongedst when thou madst each enemy * Mock and exult me for thy wrongs, thy tyranny:
My foeman's heart is solaced by the things he saw * In me, of strangerhood and lonely misery:
Suffice thee not what came upon my head of dole, * Friends lost for evermore, eyes wan and pale of blee?
But must in prison cast so narrow there is naught * Save hand to bite, with bitten hand for company;
And tears that tempest down like goodly gift of cloud, * And longing thirst whose fires weet no satiety.
Regretful yearnings, singulfs and unceasing sighs, * Repine, remembrance and pain's very ecstacy:
Desire I suffer sore and melancholy deep, * And I must bide a prey to endless phrenesy:
I find me ne'er a friend who looks with piteous eye, * And seeks my presence to allay my misery:
Say, liveth any intimate with trusty love * Who for mine ills will groan, my sleepless malady?
To whom moan I can make and, peradventure, he * Shall pity eyes that sight of sleep can never see?
The flea and bug suck up my blood, as wight that drinks * Wine from the proffering hand of fair virginity:
Amid the lice my body aye remindeth me * Of orphan's good in Kazi's claw of villainy:
My home's a sepulchre that measures cubits three, * Where pass I morn and eve in chained agony:
My wines are tears, my clank of chains takes music's stead, * Cares my dessert of fruit and sorrows are my bed."
And when he had versed his verse and had prosed his prose, he again groaned and complained and remembered he had been and how he had been parted from his brother. Thus far concerning him; but as regards his brother Amjad, he awaited As'ad till mid-day yet he returned not to him: whereupon Amjad's vitals fluttered, the pangs of parting were sore upon him and he poured forth abundant tears,--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the Two Hundred and Thirtieth Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when Amjad awaited his brother As'ad till mid-day and he returned not to him, Amjad's vitals fluttered; the pangs of parting were sore upon him and he poured forth abundant tears, exclaiming, "Alas, my brother! Alas, my friend! Alas my grief! How I feared me we should be separated!" Then he descended from the mountain-top with the tears running down his cheeks; and, entering the city, ceased not walking till he made the market. He asked the folk the name of the place and concerning its people and they said, "This is called the City of the Magians, and its citizens are mostly given to Fire-worshipping in lieu of the Omnipotent King." Then he enquired of the City of Ebony and they answered, "Of a truth it is a year's journey thither by land and six months by sea: it was governed erst by a King called Armanus; but he took to son- in-law and made King in his stead a Prince called Kamar al-Zaman distinguished for justice and munificence, equity and benevolence." When Amjad heard tell of his father, he groaned and wept and lamented and knew not whither to go. However, he bought a something of food and carried it to a retired spot where he sat down thinking to eat; but, recalling his brother, he fell a- weeping and swallowed but a morsel to keep breath and body together, and that against his will. Then he rose and walked about the city, seeking news of his brother, till he saw a Moslem tailor sitting in his shop so he sat down by him and told him his story; whereupon quoth the tailor, "If he have fallen into the hands of the Magians, thou shalt hardly see him again: yet it may be Allah will reunite you twain. But thou, O my brother," he continued wilt thou lodge with me?" Amjad answered, "Yes"; and the tailor rejoiced at this. So he abode with him many days, what while the tailor comforted him and exhorted him to patience and taught him tailoring, till he became expert in the craft. Now one day he went forth to the sea-shore and washed his clothes; after which he entered the bath and put on clean raiment; then he walked about the city, to divert himself with its sights and presently there met him on the way a woman of passing beauty and loveliness, without peer for grace and comeliness. When she saw him she raised her face-veil and signed to him by moving her eyebrows and her eyes with luring glances, and versified these couplets,
"I drooped my glance when seen thee on the way * As though, O slim-waist! felled by Sol's hot ray:
Thou art the fairest fair that e'er appeared, * Fairer to-day than fair of yesterday:
Were Beauty parted, a fifth part of it * With Joseph or a part of fifth would stay;
The rest would fly to thee, shine ownest own; * Be every soul thy sacrifice, I pray!"
When Amjad heard these her words, they gladdened his heart which inclined to her and his bowels yearned towards her and the hands of love sported with him; so he sighed to her in reply and spoke these couplets,
"Above the rose of cheek is thorn of lance; * Who dareth pluck it, rashest chevisance?
Stretch not thy hand towards it, for night long * Those lances marred because we snatched a glance!
Say her, who tyrant is and tempter too * (Though justice might her tempting power enhance):--
Thy face would add to errors were it veiled; * Unveiled I see its guard hath best of chance!
Eye cannot look upon Sol's naked face; * But can, when mist-cloud dims his countenance:
The honey-hive is held by honey-bee; * Ask the tribe-guards what wants their vigilance?
An they would slay me, let them end their ire * Rancorous, and grant us freely to advance:
They're not more murderous, an charge the whole * Than charging glance of her who wears the mole."
And hearing these lines from Amjad she sighed with the deepest sighs and, signing to him again, repeated these couplets,
"'Tis thou hast trodden coyness path not I: * Grant me thy favours for the time draws nigh:
O thou who makest morn with light of brow, * And with loosed brow-locks night in lift to stye!
Thine idol-aspect made of me thy slave, * Tempting as temptedst me in days gone by:
'Tis just my liver fry with hottest love: * Who worship fire for God must fire aby:
Thou sellest like of me for worthless price; * If thou must sell, ask high of those who buy."
When Amjad heard these her words he said to her, "Wilt thou come to my lodging or shall I go with thee to shine?" So she hung her head in shame to the ground and repeated the words of Him whose Name be exalted, "Men shall have the pre-eminence above women, because of those advantages wherein Allah hath caused the one of them to excel the other." Upon this, Amjad took the hint.--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the Two Hundred and Thirty-first Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Amjad took the woman's hint and understood that she wished to go with him whither he was going; he felt himself bounder to find a place wherein to receive her, but was ashamed to carry her to the house of his host, the tailor. So he walked on and she walked after him, and the two ceased not walking from street to street and place to place, till she was tired and said to him, "O my lord, where is thy house?" Answered he, "Before us a little way." Then he turned aside into a handsome by-street, followed by the young woman, and walked on till he came to the end, when he found it was no thoroughfare and exclaimed, "There is no Majesty and there is no Might save in Allah, the Glorious, the Great!" Then raising his eyes, he saw, at the upper end of the lane a great doer with two stone benches; but it was locked. So Amjad sat down on one of the benches and she on the other; and she said to him, "O my lord, wherefore waitest thou?" He bowed his head awhile to the ground then raised it and answered, "I am awaiting my Mameluke who hath the key; for I bade him make me ready meat and drink and flowers, to deck the wine-service against my return from the bath." But he said to himself, "Haply the time will be tedious to her and she will go about her business, leaving me here, when I will wend my own way." However, as soon as she was weary of long waiting, she said, "O my lord, thy Mameluke delayeth; and here are we sitting in the street;" and she arose and took a stone and went up to the lock. Said Amjad, "Be not in haste, but have patience till the servant come." However, she hearkened not to him, but smote the wooden bolt with the stone and broke it in half, whereupon the door opened. Quoth he, "What possessed thee to do this deed?" Quoth she, "Pooh, pooh, my lord! what matter it? Is not the house thy house and thy place?" He said, "There was no need to break the bolt." Then the damsel entered, to the confusion of Amjad, who knew not what to do for fear of the people of the house; but she said to him, "Why dost thou not enter, O light of mine eyes and core of my heart?" Replied he, "I hear and obey; but my servant tarrieth long and I know not if he have done aught of what I bade him and specially enjoined upon him, or not." Hereupon he entered, sore in fear of the people of the house, and found himself in a handsome saloon with four dais'd recesses, each facing other, and containing closets and raised seats, all bespread with stuffs of silk and brocade; and in the midst was a jetting fountain of costly fashion, on whose margin rested a covered tray of meats, with a leather tablecloth hanging up and gem-encrusted dishes, full of fruits and sweet- scented flowers. Hard by stood drinking vessels and a candlestick with a single wax-candle therein; and the place was full of precious stuffs and was ranged with chests and stools, and on each seat lay a parcel of clothes upon which was a purse full of monies, gold and silver. The floor was paved with marble and the house bore witness in every part to its owner's fortune. When Amjad saw all this, he was confounded at his case and said to himself, "I am a lost man! Verily we are Allah's and to Allah we are returning!" As for the damsel, when she sighted the place she rejoiced indeed with a joy nothing could exceed, and said to him, "By Allah, O my lord, thy servant hath not failed of his duty; for see, he hath swept the place and cooked the meat and set on the fruit; and indeed I come at the best of times." But he paid no heed to her, his heart being taken up with fear of the house- folk; and she said, "Fie, O my lord, O my heart! What aileth thee to stand thus?" Then she sighed and, giving him a buss which sounded like the cracking of a walnut, said, "O my lord, an thou have made an appointment with other than with me, I will gird my middle and serve her and thee. Amjad laughed from a heart full of rage and wrath and came forwards and sat down, panting and saying to himself, "Alack, mine ill death and doom when the owner of the place shall return!" Then she seated herself by him and fell to toying and laughing, whilst Amjad sat careful and frowning, thinking a thousand thoughts and communing with himself, "Assuredly the master of the house cannot but come, and then what shall I say to him? he needs must kill me and my life will be lost thus foolishly." Presently she rose and, tucking up her sleeves, took a tray of food on which she laid the cloth and then set it before Amjad and began to eat, saying, "Eat, O my lord." So he came forward and ate; but the food was not pleasant to him; on the contrary he ceased not to look towards the door, till the damsel had eaten her fill, when she took away the tray of the meats and, setting on the dessert, fell to eating of the dried fruits. Then she brought the wine service and opening the jar, filled a cup and handed it to Amjad, who took it from her hand saying to him self, ' Ah, ah! and well away, when the master of the house cometh and seeth me!"; and he kept his eyes fixed on the threshold, even with cup in hand. While he was in this case, lo! in came the master of the house, who was a white slave, one of the chief men of the city, being Master of the Horse to the King. He had fitted up this saloon for his pleasures, that he might make merry therein and be private with whom he would, and he had that day bidden a youth whom he loved and had made this entertainment for him. Now the name of this slave was Bahadur, and he was open of hand, generous, munificent and fain of alms-giving and charitable works.--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the Two Hundred and Thirty-second Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when Bahadur, the Master of the Horse and the owner of the house, came to the door of the saloon and found it open, he entered slowly and softly and looking in, with head advanced and out stretched neck, saw Amjad and the girl sitting before the dish of fruit and the wine-jar in front of them. Now Amjad at that moment had the cup in his hand and his face turned to the door; and when his glance met Bahadur's eyes his hue turned pale yellow and his side-muscles quivered, so seeing his trouble Bahadur signed to him with his finger on his lips, as much as to say, "Be silent and come hither to me." Whereupon he set down the cup and rose and the damsel cried, "Whither away?" He shook his head and, signing to her that he wished to make water, went out into the passage barefoot. Now when he saw Bahadur he knew him for the master of the house; so he hastened to him and, kissing his hands, said to him, "Allah upon thee, O my lord, ere thou do me a hurt, hear what I have to say." Then he told him who he was from first to last and acquainted him with what caused him to quit his native land and royal state, and how he had not entered his house of his free will, but that it was the girl who had broken the lock-bolt and done all this. When Bahadur heard his story and knew that he was a King's son, he felt for him and, taking compassion on him, said, "Hearken to me, O Amjad, and do what I bid thee and I will guarantee thy safety from that thou fearest; but, if thou cross me, I will kill thee." Amjad replied, "Command me as thou wilt: I will not gainsay thee in aught; no, never, for I am the freedman of thy bounty." Rejoined Bahadur, "Then go back forthwith into the saloon, sit down in thy place and be at peace and at shine ease; I will presently come in to thee, and when thou seest me (remember my name is Bahadur) do thou revile me and rail at me, saying, 'What made thee tarry till so late?' And accept no excuse from me; nay, so far from it, rise and beat me; and, if thou spare me, I will do away thy life. Enter now and make merry and whatsoever thou seekest of me at this time I will bring thee forthwith; and do thou spend this night as thou wilt and on the morrow wend thy way. This I do in honour of thy strangerhood, for I love the stranger and hold myself bounder to do him devoir." So Amjad kissed his hand, and, returning to the saloon with his face clad in its natural white and red, at once said to the damsel, "O my mistress, thy presence hath gladdened this shine own place and ours is indeed a blessed night." Quoth the girl, "Verily I see a wonderful change in thee, that thou now welcomest me so cordially!" So Amjad answered, "By Allah, O my lady, methought my servant Bahadur had robbed me of some necklaces of jewels, worth ten thousand diners each; however, when I went out but now in concern for this, I sought for them and found them in their place. I know not why the slave tarrieth so long and needs must I punish him for it." She was satisfied with his answer, and they sported and drank and made merry and ceased not to be so till near sundown, when Bahadur came in to them, having changed his clothes and girt his middle and put on shoes, such as are worn of Mamelukes. He saluted and kissed the ground; then held his hands behind him and stood, with his head hanging down, as one who confesseth to a fault. So Amjad looked at him with angry eyes and asked, "Why hast thou tarried till now, O most pestilent of slaves?" Answered Bahadur, "O my lord, I was busy washing my clothes and knew not of thy being here; for our appointed time was nightfall and not day-tide." But Amjad cried out at him, saying, "Thou liest, O vilest of slaves! By Allah, I must needs beat thee." So he rose and, throwing Bahadur prone on the ground, took a stick and beat him gently; but the damsel sprang up and, snatching the stick from his hand, came down upon Bahadur so lustily, that in extreme pain the tears ran from his eyes and he ground his teeth together and called out for succour; whilst Amjad cried out to the girl "Don't"; and she cried out, "Let me satisfy my anger upon him!" till at last he pulled the stick out of her hand and pushed her away. So Bahadur rose and, wiping away his tears from his cheeks, waited upon them the while, after which he swept the hall and lighted the lamps; but as often as he went in and out, the lady abused him and cursed him till Amjad was wroth with her and said, "For Almighty Allah's sake leave my Mameluke; he is not used to this." Then they sat and ceased not eating and drinking (and Bahadur waiting upon them) till midnight when, being weary with service and beating, he fell asleep in the midst of the hall and snored and snorted; whereupon the damsel, who was drunken with wine, said to Amjad, "Arise, take the sword hanging yonder and cut me off this slave's head; and, if thou do it not, I will be the death of thee!" "What possesseth thee to slay my slave?" asked Amjad; and she answered, "Our joyaunce will not be complete but by his death. If thou wilt not kill him, I will do it myself." Quoth Amjad, "By Allah's rights to thee, do not this thing!" Quoth she, "It must perforce be;" and, taking down the sword, drew it and made at Bahadur to kill him; but Amjad said in his mind, "This man hath entreated us courteously and sheltered us and done us kindness and made himself my slave: shall we requite him by slaughtering him? This shall never be!" Then he said to the woman, "If my Mameluke must be killed, better I should kill him than thou." So saying, he took the sword from her and, raising his hand, smote her on the neck and made her head fly from her body. It fell upon Bahadur who awoke and sat up and opened his eyes, when he saw Amjad standing by him and in his hand the sword dyed with blood, and the damsel lying dead. He enquired what had passed, and Amjad told him all she had said, adding, "Nothing would satisfy her but she must slay thee; and this is her reward." Then Bahadur rose and, kissing the Prince's hand, said to him, "Would to Heaven thou hadst spared her! but now there is nothing for it but to rid us of her without stay or delay, before the day-break." Then he girded his loins and took the body, wrapped it in an Aba-cloak and, laying it in a large basket of palm-leaves, he shouldered it saying, "Thou art a stranger here and knowest no one: so sit thou in this place and await my return till day-break. If I come back to thee, I will assuredly do thee great good service and use my endeavours to have news of thy brother; but if by sunrise I return not, know that all is over with me; and peace be on thee, and the house and all it containeth of stuffs and money are shine." Then he fared forth from the saloon bearing the basket; and, threading the streets, he made for the salt sea, thinking to throw it therein: but as he drew near the shore, he turned and saw that the Chief of Police and his officers had ranged themselves around him; and, on recognising him, they wondered and opened the basket, wherein they found the slain woman. So they seized him and laid him in bilboes all that night till the morning, when they carried him and the basket, as it was, to the King and reported the case. The King was sore enraged when he looked upon the slain and said to Bahadur, "Woe to thee! Thou art always so doing; thou killest folk and castest them into the sea and takest their goods. How many murders hast thou done ere this?" Thereupon Bahadur hung his head.--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the Two Hundred and Thirty-third Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Bahadur hung down his head groundwards before the King, who cried out at him, saying, "Woe to thee! Who killed this girl?" He replied, "O my lord! I killed her, and there is no Majesty and there is no Might save in Allah, the Glorious, the Great!" So the King in his anger, commanded to hang him; and the hangman went down with him by the King's commandment, and the Chief of Police accompanied him with a crier who called upon all the folk to witness the execution of Bahadur, the King's Master of the Horse; and on this wise they paraded him through the main streets and the market-streets. This is how it fared with Bahadur; but as regards Amjad, he awaited his host's return till the day broke and the sun rose, and when he saw that he came not, he exclaimed, "There is no Majesty and there is no Might save in Allah, the Glorious, the Great! Would I knew what is become of him?" And, as he sat musing behold, he heard the crier proclaiming Bahadur's sentence and bidding the people to see the spectacle of his hanging at midday; whereat he wept and exclaimed, "Verily, we are Allah's and to Him we are returning! He meaneth to sacrifice himself unjustly for my sake, when I it was who slew her. By Allah, this shall never be!" Then he went from the saloon and, shutting the door after him, hurriedly threaded the streets till he overtook Bahadur, when he stood before the Chief of Police and said to him, "O my lord, put not Bahadur to death, for he is innocent. By Allah, none killed her but I." Now when the Captain of Police heard these words, he took them both and, carrying them before the King, acquainted him with what Amjad had said; whereupon he looked at the Prince and asked him, "Didst thou kill the damsel?" He answered, "Yes" and the King said, "Tell me why thou killedst her, and speak the truth." Replied Amjad, "O King, it is indeed a marvellous event and a wondrous matter that hath befallen me: were it graven with needles on the eye-corners, it would serve as a warner to whoso would be warned!" Then he told him his whole story and informed him of all that had befallen him and his brother, first and last; whereat the King was much startled and surprised and said to him, "Know that now I find thee to be excusable; but list, O youth! Wilt thou be my Wazir?" "Hearkening and obedience," answered Amjad whereupon the King bestowed magnificent dresses of honour on him and Bahadur and gave him a handsome house, with eunuchs and officers and all things needful, appointing him stipends and allowances and bidding him make search for his brother As'ad. So Amjad sat down in the seat of the Wazirate and governed and did justice and invested and deposed and took and gave. Moreover, he sent out a crier to cry his brother throughout the city, and for many days made proclamation in the main streets and market-streets, but heard no news of As'ad nor happened on any trace of him. Such was his case; but as regards his brother, the Magi ceased not to torture As'ad night and day and eve and morn for a whole year's space, till their festival drew near, when the old man Bahram made ready for the voyage and fitted out a ship for himself.--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the Two Hundred and Thirty-fourth Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Bahram, the Magian, having fitted out a ship for the voyage, took As'ad and put him in a chest which he locked and had it transported on board. Now it so came to pass that, at the very time of shipping it, Amjad was standing to divert himself by looking upon the sea; and when he saw the men carrying the gear and shipping it, his heart throbbed and he called to his pages to bring him his beast. Then, mounting with a company of his officers, he rode down to the sea-side and halted before the Magian's ship, which he commended his men to board and search. They did his bidding, and boarded the vessel and rummaged in every part, but found nothing; so they returned and told Amjad, who mounted again and rode back. But he felt troubled in mind; and when he reached his place and entered his palace, he cast his eyes on the wall and saw written thereon two lines which were these couplets,
"My friends! if ye are banisht from mine eyes, * From heart and mind ye ne'er go wandering:
But ye have left me in my woe, and rob * Rest from my eyelids while ye are slumbering."
And seeing them Amjad thought of his brother and wept. Such was his case; but as for Bahram, the Magian, he embarked and shouted and bawled to his crew to make sail in all haste. So they shook out the sails and departed and ceased not to fare on many days and nights; and, every other day, Bahram took out As'ad and gave him a bit of bread and made him drink a sup of water, till they drew near the Mountain of Fire. Then there came out on them a storm-wind and the sea rose against them, so that the ship was driven out of her course till she took a wrong line and fell into strange waters; and, at last they came in sight of a city builded upon the shore, with a castle whose windows overlooked the main. Now the ruler of this city was a Queen called Marjanah, and the captain said to Bahram, "O my lord, we have strayed from our course and come to the island of Queen Marjanah, who is a devout Moslemah; and, if she know that we are Magians, she will take our ship and slay us to the last man. Yet needs must we put in here to rest and refit." Quoth Bahram, "Right is thy recking, and whatso thou seest fit that will I do!" Said the ship master, "If the Queen summon us and question us, how shall we answer her?"; and Bahram replied, "Let us clothe this Moslem we have with us in a Mameluke's habit and carry him ashore with us, so that when the Queen sees him, she will suppose and say, 'This is a slave.' As for me I will tell her that I am a slave-dealer who buys and sells white slaves, and that I had with me many but have sold all save this one, whom I retained to keep my accounts, for he can read and write." And the captain said "This device should serve." Presently they reached the city and slackened sail and cast the anchors; and the ship lay still, when behold, Queen Marjanah came down to them, attended by her guards and, halting before the vessel, called out to the captain, who landed and kissed the ground before her. Quoth she, "What is the lading of this thy ship and whom hast thou with thee?"" Quoth he, "O Queen of the Age, I have with me a merchant who dealeth in slaves." And she said, "Hither with him to me"; whereupon Bahram came ashore to her, with As'ad walking behind him in a slave's habit, and kissed the earth before her. She asked, "What is thy condition?"; and he answered, "I am a dealer in chattels." Then she looked at As'ad and, taking him for a Mameluke, asked him, "What is thy name, O youth?" He answered, "Dost thou ask my present or my former name?" "Hast thou then two names?" enquired she, and he replied (and indeed his voice was choked with tears), "Yes; my name aforetime was Al-As'ad, the most happy, but now it is Al- Mu'tarr--Miserrimus." Her heart inclined to him and she said, "Canst thou write?" "Yes,'' answered he, and she gave him ink- case and reed-pen and paper and said to him, "Write somewhat that I may see it." So he wrote these two couplets,
"What can the slave do when pursued by Fate, * O justest Judge! whatever be his state?
Whom God throws hand bound in the depths and says, * Beware lest water should thy body wet?"
Now when she read these lines, she had ruth upon him and said to Bahram, "Sell me this slave." He replied, "O my lady, I cannot sell him, for I have parted with all the rest and none is left with me but he." Quoth the Queen, "I must need have him of thee, either by sale or way of gift." But quoth Bahram, "I will neither sell him nor give him." Whereat she was wroth and, taking As'ad by the hand, carried him up to the castle and sent to Bahram, saying, "Except thou set sail and depart our city this very night, I will seize all thy goods and break up thy ship." Now when the message reached the Magian, he grieved with sore grief and cried, "Verily this voyage is on no wise to be commended." Then he arose and made ready and took all he needed and awaited the coming of the night to resume his voyage, saying to the sailors, "Provide yourselves with your things and fill your water-skins, that we may set sail at the last of the night." So the sailors did their business and awaited the coming of darkness. Such was their case; but as regards Queen Marjanah, when she had brought As'ad into the castle, she opened the casements overlooking the sea and bade her handmaids bring food. They set food before As'ad and herself and both ate, after which the Queen called for wine.--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the Two Hundred and Thirty-fifth Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when Queen Marjanah bade her handmaids bring wine and they set it before her, she fell to drinking with As'ad. Now, Allah (be He extolled and exalted!) filled her heart with love for the Prince and she kept filling his cup and handing it to him till his reason fled; and presently he rose and left the hall to satisfy a call of nature. As he passed out of the saloon he saw an open door through which he went and walked on till his walk brought him to a vast garden full of all manner fruits and flowers; and, sitting down under a tree, he did his occasion. Then he rose and went up to a jetting fountain in the garden and made the lesser ablution and washed his hands and face, after which he would have risen to go away; but the air smote him and he fell back, with his clothes undone and slept, and night overcame him thus. So far concerning him; but as concerns Bahram, the night being come, he cried out to his crew, saying, "Set sail and let us away!"; and the' answered, "We hear and obey, but wait till we fill our water- skins and then we will set sail." So they landed with their water skins and went round about the castle, and found nothing but garden-walls: whereupon they climbed over into the garden and followed the track of feet, which led them to the fountain; and there they found As'ad lying on his back. They knew him and were glad to find him; and, after filling their water-skins, they bore him off and climbed the wall again with him and carried him back in haste to Bahram to whom they said, "Hear the good tidings of thy winning thy wish; and gladden thy heart and beat thy drums and sound thy pipes; for thy prisoner, whom Queen Marjanah took from thee by force, we have found and brought back to thee"; and they threw As'ad down before him. When Bahram saw him, his heart leapt for joy and his breast swelled with gladness. Then he bestowed largesse on the sailors and bade them set sail in haste. So they sailed forthright, intending to make the Mountain of Fire and stayed not their course till the morning. This is how it fared with them; but as regards Queen Marjanah, she abode awhile, after As'ad went down from her, awaiting his return in vain for he came not; thereupon she rose and sought him, yet found no trace of him. Then she bade her women light flambeaux and look for him, whilst she went forth in person and, seeing the garden- door open, knew that he had gone thither. So she went out into the garden and finding his sandals lying by the fountain, searched the place in every part, but came upon no sign of him; and yet she gave not over the search till morning. Then she enquired for the ship and they told her, "The vessel set sail in the first watch of the night"; wherefor she knew that they had taken As'ad with them, and this was grievous to her and she was sore an-angered. She bade equip ten great ships forthwith and, making ready for fight, embarked in one of the ten with her Mamelukes and slave-women and men-at-arms, all splendidly accoutred and weaponed for war. They spread the sails and she said to the captains, "If you overtake the Magian's ship, ye shall have of me dresses of honour and largesse of money; but if you fail so to do, I will slay you to the last man." Whereat fear and great hope animated the crews and they sailed all that day and the night and the second day and the third day till, on the fourth they sighted the ship of Bahram, the Magian, and before evening fell the Queen's squadron had surrounded it on all sides, just as Bahram had taken As'ad forth of the chest and was beating and torturing him, whilst the Prince cried out for help and deliverance, but found neither helper nor deliverer: and the grievous bastinado sorely tormented him. Now while so occupied, Bahram chanced to look up and, seeing himself encompassed by the Queen's ships, as the white of the eye encompasseth the black, he gave himself up for lost and groaned and said, "Woe to thee, O As'ad! This is all out of thy head." Then taking him by the hand he bade his men throw him overboard and cried, "By Allah I will slay thee before I die myself!" So they carried him along by the hands and feet and cast him into the sea and he sank; but Allah (be He extolled and exalted!) willed that his life be saved and that his doom be deferred; so He caused him to sink and rise again and he struck out with his hands and feet, till the Almighty gave him relief, and sent him deliverance; and the waves bore him far from the Magian's ship and threw him ashore. He landed, scarce crediting his escape, and once more on land he doffed his clothes and wrung them and spread them out to dry; whilst he sat naked and weeping over his condition, and bewailing his calamities and mortal dangers, and captivity and stranger hood. And presently he repeated these two couplets,
"Allah, my patience fails: I have no ward; * My breast is straitened and clean cut my cord;
To whom shall wretched slave of case complain * Save to his Lord? O thou of lords the Lord!"
Then, having ended his verse, he rose and donned his clothes but he knew not whither to go or whence to come; so he fed on the herbs of the earth and the fruits of the trees and he drank of the streams, and fared on night and day till he came in sight of a city; whereupon he rejoiced and hastened his pace; but when he reached it,--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it Was the Two Hundred and Thirty-sixth Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when he reached the city the shades of evening closed around him and the gates were shut. Now by the decrees of Pate and man's lot this was the very city wherein he had been a prisoner and to whose King his brother Amjad was Minister. When As'ad saw the gate was locked, he turned back and made for the burial-ground, where finding a tomb without a door, he entered therein and lay down and fell asleep, with his face covered by his long sleeve. Meanwhile, Queen Marjanah, coming up with Bahram's ship, questioned him of As'ad. Now the Magian, when Queen Marjanah overtook him with her ships, baffled her by his artifice and gramarye; swearing to her that he was not with him and that he knew nothing of him. She searched the ship, but found no trace of her friend, so she took Bahram and, carrying him back to her castle, would have put him to death, but he ransomed himself from her with all his good and his ship; and she released him and his men. They went forth from her hardly believing in their deliverance, and fared on ten days' journey till they came to their own city and found the gate shut, it being eventide. So they made for the burial-ground, thinking to lie the night there and, going round about the tombs, as Fate and Fortune would have it, saw the building wherein As'ad lay wide open; whereat Bahram marvelled and said, "I must look into this sepulchre." Then he entered and found As'ad lying in a corner fast asleep, with his head covered by his sleeve; so he raised his head, and looking in his face, knew him for the man on whose account he had lost his good and his ship, and cried, "What! art thou yet alive?" Then he bound him and gagged him without further parley, and carried him to his house, where he clapped heavy shackles on his feet and lowered him into the underground dungeon aforesaid prepared for the tormenting of Moslems, and he bade his daughter by name Bostan, torture him night and day, till the next year, when they would again visit the Mountain of Fire and there offer him up as a sacrifice. Then he beat him grievously and locking the dungeon door upon him, gave the keys to his daughter. By and by, Bostan opened the door and went down to beat him, but finding him a comely youth and a sweet-faced with arched brows and eyes black with nature's Kohl, she fell in love with him and asked him, "What is thy name?" "My name is As'ad," answered he; whereat she cried, "Mayst thou indeed be happy as thy name, and happy be thy days! Thou deservest not torture and blows, and I see thou hast been injuriously entreated." And she comforted him with kind words and loosed his bonds. Then she questioned him of the religion of Al-Islam and he told her that it was the true and right Faith and that our lord Mohammed had approved himself by surpassing miracles and signs manifest, and that fire-worship is harmful and not profitable; and he went on to expound to her the tenets of Al-Islam till she was persuaded and the love of the True Faith entered her heart. Then, as Almighty Allah had mixed up with her being a fond affection for As'ad, she pronounced the Two Testimonies of the Faith and became of the people of felicity. After this, she brought him meat and drink and talked with him and they prayed together: moreover, she made him chicken stews and fed him therewith, till he regained strength and his sickness left him and he was restored to his former health. Such things befel him with the daughter of Bahram, the Magian; and so it happened that one day she left him and stood at the house-door when behold, she heard the crier crying aloud and saying, "Whoso hath with him a handsome young man, whose favour is thus and thus, and bringeth him forth, shall have all he seeketh of money; but if any have him and deny it, he shall be hanged over his own door and his property shall be plundered and his blood go for naught." Now As'ad had acquainted Bostan bint Bahram with his whole history: so, when she heard the crier, she knew that it was he who was sought for and, going down to him, told him the news. Then he fared forth and made for the mansion of the Wazir, whom, when As'ad saw, exclaimed, "By Allah, this Minister is my brother Amjad!" Then he went up (and the damsel walking behind him) to the Palace, where he again saw his brother, and threw himself upon him; whereupon Amjad also knew him and fell upon his neck and they embraced each other, whilst the Wazir's Mamelukes dismounted and stood round them. They lay awhile insensible and, when they came to themselves, Amjad took his brother and carried him to the Sultan, to whom he related the whole story, and the Sultan charged him to plunder Bahram's house.--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the Two Hundred and Thirty-seventh Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the Sultan ordered Amjad to plunder Bahram's house and to hang its owner. So Amjad despatched thither for that purpose a company of men, who sacked the house and took Bahram and brought his daughter to the Wazir by whom she was received with all honour, for As'ad had told his brother the torments he had suffered and the kindness she had done him. Thereupon Amjad related in his turn to As'ad all that had passed between himself and the damsel; and how he had escaped hanging and had become Wazir; and they made moan, each to other, of the anguish they had suffered for separation. Then the Sultan summoned Bahram and bade strike off his head; but he said, "O most mighty King, art thou indeed resolved to put me to death?" Replied the King, "Yes, except thou save thyself by becoming a Moslem." Quoth Bahram, "O King, bear with me a little while!" Then he bowed his head groundwards and presently raising it again, made pro fession of The Faith and islamised at the hands of the Sultan. They all rejoiced at his conversion and Amjad and As'ad told him all that had befallen them, whereat he wondered and said, "O my lords, make ready for the journey and I will depart with you and carry you back to your father's court in a ship." At this they rejoiced and wept with sore weeping but he said, "O my lords, weep not for your departure, for it shall reunite you with those you love, even as were Ni'amah and Naomi." "And what befel Ni'amah and Naomi?" asked they. "They tell," replied Bahram, "(but Allah alone is All knowing) the following tale of...
[Go to Ni'amar Bin Al-Rabi'a and Naomi His Slave-girl]
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