[Go back to Tale of Aziz and Azizah]
When it was the One Hundred and Twenty-ninth Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the Wazir Dandan continued to Zau al-Makan: Now when Taj al-Muluk heard the story of the young merchant, he marvelled with great marvel and fire darted into his entrails on hearing the name of the Lady Dunya who, as he knew, had embroidered the gazelles; and his love and longing hourly grew, so he said to the youth, "By Allah, that hath befallen thee whose like never befel any save thyself, but thou hast a life term appointed, which thou must fulfil; and now I would fain ask of thee a question." Quoth Aziz, "And what is it?" Quoth he, "Wilt thou tell me how thou sawest the young lady who wrought these gazelles?" Then he, "O my lord, I got me access to her by a sleight and it was this. When I entered her city with the caravan, I went forth and wandered about the garths till I came to a flower garden abounding in trees, whose keeper was a venerable old man, a Shaykh stricken in years. I addressed him, saying, 'O ancient sir, whose may be this garden?' and he replied, 'It belongs to the King's daughter, the Lady Dunya. We are now beneath her palace and, when she is minded to amuse herself, she openeth the private wicket and walketh in the garden and smelleth the fragrance of the flowers.' So I said to him, 'Favour me by allowing me to sit in this garden till she come; haply I may enjoy a sight of her as she passeth.' The Shaykh answered, 'There can be no harm in that.' Thereupon I gave him a dirham or so and said to him, Buy us something to eat.' He took the money gladly and opened door and, entering himself, admitted me into the garden, where we strolled and ceased not strolling till we reached a pleasant spot in which he bade me sit down and await his going and his returning. Then he brought me somewhat of fruit and, leaving me, disappeared for an hour; but after a while he returned to me bringing a roasted lamb, of which we ate till we had eaten enough, my heart yearning the while for a sight of the lady. Presently, as we sat, the postern opened and the keeper said to me, 'Rise and hide thee.' I did so; and behold, a black eunuch put his head out through the garden wicket and asked, 'O Shaykh, there any one with thee?' 'No,' answered he; and the eunuch said, 'Shut the garden gate.' So the keeper shut the gate, and lo! the Lady Dunya came in by the private door. When I saw her, methought the moon had risen above the horizon and was shining; I looked at her a full hour and longed for her as one athirst longeth for water. After a while she withdrew and shut the door; whereupon I left the garden and sought my lodging, knowing that I could not get at her and that I was no man for her, more especially as I was become like a woman, having no manly tool: moreover she was a King's daughter and I but a merchant man; so; how could I have access to the like of her or-- to any other woman? Accordingly, when these my companions made ready for the road, I also made preparation and set out with them, and we journeyed towards this city till we arrived at the place ere we met with thee. Thou askedst me and I have answered; and these are my adventures and peace be with thee!" Now when Taj al-Muluk heard that account, fires raged in his bosom and his heart and thought were occupied love for the Lady Dunya; and passion and longing were sore upon him. Then he arose and mounted horse and, taking Aziz with him, returned to his father's capital, where he settled him in a separate house and supplied him with all he needed in the way of meat and drink and dress. Then he left him and returned to his palace, with the tears trickling down his cheeks, for hearing oftentimes standeth instead of seeing and knowing. And he ceased not to be in this state till his father came in to him and finding him wan faced, lean of limb and tearful eyed, knew that something had occurred to chagrin him and said, "O my son, acquaint me with thy case and tell me what hath befallen thee, that thy colour is changed and thy body is wasted. So he told him all that had passed and what tale he had heard of Aziz and the account of the Princess Dunya; and how he had fallen in love of her on hearsay, without having set eyes on her. Quoth his sire, "O my son, she is the daughter of a King whose land is far from ours: so put away this thought and go in to thy mother's palace."--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the One Hundred and Thirtieth Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the Wazir Dandan continued to Zau al-Makan: And the father of Taj al-Muluk spake to him on this wise, "O my son, her father is a King whose land is far from ours: so put away this thought and go into thy mother's palace where are five hundred maidens like moons, and whichsoever of them pleaseth thee, take her; or else we will seek for thee in marriage some one of the King's daughters, fairer than the Lady Dunya." Answered Taj al-Muluk, "O my father, I desire none other, for she it is who wrought the gazelles which I saw, and there is no help but that I have her; else I will flee into the world and the waste and I will slay myself for her sake." Then said his father, "Have patience with me, till I send to her sire and demand her in marriage, and win thee thy wish as I did for myself with thy mother. Haply Allah will bring thee to thy desire; and, if her parent will not consent, I will make his kingdom quake under him with an army, whose rear shall be with me whilst its van shall be upon him." Then he sent for the youth Aziz and asked him, "O my son, tell me dost thou know the way to the Camphor Islands?" He answered "Yes"; and the King said, "I desire of thee that thou fare with my Wazir thither." Replied Aziz, "I hear and I obey, O King of the Age!"; where upon the King summoned his Minister and said to him, "Devise me some device, whereby my son's affair may be rightly managed and fare thou forth to the Camphor Islands and demand of their King his daughter in marriage for my son, Taj al-Muluk." The Wazir replied, "Hearkening and obedience." Then Taj al-Muluk returned to his dwelling place and his love and longing redoubled and the delay seemed endless to him; and when the night darkened around him, he wept and sighed and complained and repeated this poetry,
"Dark falls the night: my tears unaided rail * And fiercest flames of love my heart assail:
Ask thou the nights of me, and they shall tell * An I find aught to do but weep and wail:
Night long awake, I watch the stars what while * Pour down my cheeks the tears like dropping hail:
And lone and lorn I'm grown with none to aid; * For kith and kin the love lost lover fail."
And when he had ended his reciting he swooned away and did not recover his senses till the morning, at which time there came to him one of his father's eunuchs and, standing at his head, summoned him to the King's presence. So he went with him and his father, seeing that his pallor had increased, exhorted him to patience and promised him union with her he loved. Then he equipped Aziz and the Wazir and supplied them with presents; and they set out and fared on day and night till they drew near the Isles of Camphor, where they halted on the banks of a stream, and the Minister despatched a messenger to acquaint the King of his arrival. The messenger hurried forwards and had not been gone more than an hour, before they saw the King's Chamberlains and Emirs advancing towards them, to meet them at a parasang's distance from the city and escort them into the royal presence. They laid their gifts before the King and became his guests for three days. And on the fourth day the Wazir rose and going in to the King, stood between his hands and acquainted him with the object which induced his visit; whereat he was perplexed for an answer inasmuch as his daughter misliked men and disliked marriage. So he bowed his head groundwards awhile, then raised it and calling one of his eunuchs, said to him, "Go to thy mistress, the Lady Dunya, and repeat to her what thou hast heard and the purport of this Wazir's coming." So the eunuch went forth and returning after a time, said to the King, "O King of the Age, when I went in to the Lady Dunya and told her what I had heard, she was wroth with exceeding wrath and rose at me with a staff designing to break my head; so I fled from her, and she said to me 'If my Father force me to wed him, whomsoever I wed I will slay.' Then said her sire to the Wazir and Aziz, "Ye have heard, and now ye know all! So let your King wot of it and give him my salutations and say that my daughter misliketh men and disliketh marriage."--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the One Hundred and Thirty-first Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that King Shahriman thus addressed the Wazir and Aziz, "Salute your King from me and inform him of what ye have heard, namely that my daughter misliketh marriage." So they turned away unsuccessful and ceased not faring on till they rejoined the King and told him what had passed; whereupon he commanded the chief officers to summon the troops and get them ready for marching and campaigning. But the Wazir said to him, "O my liege Lord, do not thus: the King is not at fault because, when his daughter learnt our business, she sent a message saying, 'If my father force me to wed, whomsoever I wed I will slay and myself after him.' So the refusal cometh from her." When the King heard his Minister's words he feared for Taj al-Muluk and said, "Verily if I make war on the King of the Camphor Islands and carry off his daughter, she will kill herself and it will avail me naught." Then he told his son how the case stood, who hearing it said, "O my father, I cannot live without her; so I will go to her and contrive to get at her, even though I die in the attempt, and this only will I do and nothing else." Asked his father, "How wilt thou go to her?" and he answered, "I will go in the guise of a merchant." Then said the King, "If thou need must go and there is no help for it, take with thee the Wazir and Aziz." Then he brought out money from his treasuries and made ready for his son merchandise to the value of an hundred thousand dinars. The two had settled upon this action; and when the dark hours came Taj al-Muluk and Aziz went to Aziz's lodgings and there passed that night, and the Prince was heart smitten, taking no pleasure in food or in sleep; for melancholy was heavy upon him and he was agitated with longing for his beloved. So he besought the Creator that he would vouch safe to unite him with her and he wept and groaned and wailed and began versifying,
"Union, this severance ended, shall I see some day? * Then shall my tears this love lorn lot of me portray.
While night all care forgets I only minded thee, * And thou didst gar me wake while all forgetful lay."
And when his improvising came to an end, he wept with sore weeping and Aziz wept with him, for that he remembered his cousin; and they both ceased not to shed tears till morning dawned, whereupon Taj al-Muluk rose and went to farewell his mother, in travelling dress. She asked him of his case and he repeated the story to her; so she gave him fifty thousand gold pieces and bade him adieu; and, as he fared forth, she put up prayers for his safety and for his union with his lover and his friends. Then he betook himself to his father and asked his leave to depart. The King granted him permission and, presenting him with other fifty thousand dinars, bade set up a tent for him without the city and they pitched a pavilion wherein the travellers abode two days. Then all set out on their journey. Now Taj al-Muluk delighted in the company of Aziz and said to him, "O my brother, henceforth I can never part from thee." Replied Aziz, "And I am of like mind and fain would I die under thy feet: but, O my brother, my heart is concerned for my mother." "When we shall have won our wish," said the Prince, "there will be naught save what is well!" Now the Wazir continued charging Taj al-Muluk to be patient, whilst Aziz entertained him every evening with talk and recited poetry to him and diverted him with histories and anecdotes. And so they fared on diligently night and day for two whole months, till the way became tedious to Taj al-Muluk and the fire of desire redoubled on him; and he broke out,
"The road is lonesome; grow my grief and need, * While on my breast love fires for ever feed:
Goal of my hopes, sole object of my wish! * By him who moulded man from drop o' seed,
I bear such loads of longing for thy love, * Dearest, as weight of al Shumm Mounts exceed:
O 'Lady of my World' Love does me die; * No breath of life is left for life to plead;
But for the union hope that lends me strength, * My weary limbs were weak this way to speed."
When he had finished his verses, he wept (and Aziz wept with him) from a wounded heart, till the Minister was moved to pity by their tears and said, "O my lord, be of good cheer and keep thine eyes clear of tears; there will be naught save what is well!" Quoth Taj al-Muluk, "O Wazir, indeed I am weary of the length of the way. Tell me how far we are yet distant from the city." Quoth Aziz, "But a little way remaineth to us." Then they continued their journey, cutting across river vales and plains, words and stony wastes, till one night, as Taj al-Muluk was sleeping, he dreamt that his beloved was with him and that he embraced her and pressed her to his bosom; and he awoke quivering, shivering with pain, delirious with emotion, and improvised these verses,
"Dear friend, my tears aye flow these cheeks adown, * With longsome pain and pine, my sorrow's crown:
I plain like keening woman child bereft, * And as night falls like widow dove I groan:
An blow the breeze from land where thou cost wone, * I find o'er sunburnt earth sweet coolness blown.
Peace be wi' thee, my love, while zephyr breathes, * And cushat flies and turtle makes her moan."
And when he had ended his versifying, the Wazir came to him and said, "Rejoice; this is a good sign: so be of good cheer and keep thine eyes cool and clear, for thou shalt surely compass thy desire." And Aziz also came to him and exhorted him to patience and applied himself to divert him, talking with him and telling him tales. So they pressed on, marching day and night, other two months, till there appeared to them one day at sunrise some white thing in the distance and Taj al-Muluk said to Aziz, "What is yonder whiteness?" He replied, "O my lord! yonder is the Castle of Crystal and that is the city thou seekest." At this the Prince rejoiced, and they ceased not faring forwards till they drew near the city and, as they approached it, Taj al-Muluk joyed with exceeding joy, and his care ceased from him. They entered in trader guise, the King's son being habited as a merchant of importance; and repaired to a great Khan, known as the Merchants' Lodging. Quoth Taj al-Muluk to Aziz, "Is this the resort of the merchants?"; and quoth he, "Yes; 'tis the Khan wherein I lodged before." So they alighted there and making their baggage camels kneel, unloaded them and stored their goods in the warehouses. They abode four days for rest; when the Wazir advised that they should hire a large house. To this they assented and they found them a spacious house, fitted up for festivities, where they took up their abode, and the Wazir and Aziz studied to devise some device for Taj al-Muluk, who remained in a state of perplexity, knowing not what to do. Now the Minister could think of nothing but that he should set up as a merchant on 'Change and in the market of fine stuffs; so he turned to the Prince and his companion and said to them, "Know ye that if we tarry here on this wise, assuredly we shall not win our wish nor attain our aim; but a something occurred to me whereby (if Allah please!) we shall find our advantage." Replied Taj al-Muluk and Aziz, "Do what seemeth good to thee, indeed there is a blessing on the grey beard; more specially on those who, like thyself, are conversant with the conduct of affairs: so tell us what occurreth to thy mind." Rejoined the Wazir "It is my counsel that we hire thee a shop in the stuff bazar, where thou mayst sit to sell and buy. Every one, great and small, hath need of silken stuffs and other cloths; so if thou patiently abide in thy shop, thine affairs will prosper, Inshallah! more by token as thou art comely of aspect. Make, however, Aziz thy factor and set him within the shop, to hand thee the pieces of cloth and stuffs." When Taj al-Muluk heard these words, he said, 'This rede is right and a right pleasant recking." So he took out a handsome suit of merchant's weed, and, putting it on, set out for the bazar, followed by his servants, to one of whom he had given a thousand dinars, wherewith to fit up the shop. They ceased not walking till they came to the stuff market, and when the merchants saw Taj al-Muluk's beauty and grace, they were confounded and went about saying, "Of a truth Rizwan hath opened the gates of Paradise and left them unguarded, so that this youth of passing comeliness hath come forth." And others, "Peradventure this is one of the angels." Now when they went in among the traders they asked for the shop of the Overseer of the market and the merchants directed them thereto. So they delayed not to repair thither and to salute him, and he and those who were with him rose to them and seated them and made much of them, because of the Wazir, whom they saw to be a man in years and of reverend aspect; and viewing the youths Aziz and Taj al-Muluk in his company, they said to one another, "Doubtless our Shaykh is the father of these two youths." Then quoth the Wazir, "Who among you is the Overseer of the market?" "This is he," replied they; and behold, he came forward and the Wazir observed him narrowly and saw him to be an old man of grave and dignified carriage, with eunuchs and servants and black slaves. The Syndic greeted them with the greeting of friends and was lavish in his attentions to them: then he seated them by his side and asked them, "Have ye any business which we may have the happiness of transacting?" The Minister answered, "Yes; I am an old man, stricken in years, and have with me these two youths, with whom I have travelled through every town and country, entering no great city without tarrying there a full year, that they might take their pleasure in viewing it and come to know its citizens. Now I have visited your town intending to sojourn here for a while; so I want of thee a handsome shop in the best situation, wherein I may establish them, that they may traffic and learn to buy and sell and give and take, whilst they divert themselves with the sight of the place, and be come familiar with the usages of its people." Quoth the Overseer, "There is no harm in that;" and, looking at the two youths, he was delighted with them and affected them with a warm affection. Now he was a great connoisseur of bewitching glances, preferring the love of boys to that of girls and inclining to the sour rather than the sweet of love. So he said to himself, "This, indeed, is fine game. Glory be to Him who created and fashioned them out of vile water!" and rising stood before them like a servant to do them honour. Then he went out and made ready for them a shop which was in the very midst of the Exchange; nor was there any larger or better in the bazar, for it was spacious and handsomely decorated and fitted with shelves of ivory and ebony wood. After this he delivered the keys to the Wazir, who was dressed as an old merchant, saying, "Take them, O my lord, and Allah make it a blessed abiding place to thy two sons!" The Minister took the keys and the three returning to the Khan where they had alighted, bade the servants transport to the shop all their goods and stuffs.--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the One Hundred and Thirty-second Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the Wazir took the shop keys, he went accompanied by Taj al-Muluk and Aziz to the Khan, and they bade the servants transport to the shop all their goods and stuffs and valuables of which they had great store worth treasures of money. And when all this was duly done, they went to the shop and ordered their stock in trade and slept there that night. As soon as morning morrowed the Wazir took the two young men to the Hammam bath where they washed them clean; and they donned rich dresses and scented themselves with essences and enjoyed themselves to the utmost. Now each of the youths was passing fair to look upon, and in the bath they were even as saith the poet,
"Luck to the Rubber, whose deft hand o'erdies * A frame begotten twixt the lymph and light:
He shows the thaumaturgy of his craft, * And gathers musk in form of camphor dight."
After bathing they left; and, when the Overseer heard that they had gone to the Hammam, he sat down to await the twain, and presently they came up to him like two gazelles; their cheeks were reddened by the bath and their eyes were darker than ever; their faces shone and they were as two lustrous moons or two branches fruit laden. Now when he saw them he rose forthright and said to them, "O my sons, may your bath profit you always!" Where upon Taj al-Muluk replied, with the sweetest of speech, "Allah be bountiful to thee, O my father; why didst thou not come with us and bathe in our company?" Then they both bent over his right hand and kissed it and walked before him to the shop, to entreat him honourably and show their respect for him, for that he was Chief of the Merchants and the market, and he had done them kindness in giving them the shop. When he saw their hips quivering as they moved, desire and longing redoubled on him; and he puffed and snorted and he devoured them with his eyes, for he could not contain himself, repeating the while these two couplets,
"Here the heart reads a chapter of devotion pure; * Nor reads dispute if Heaven in worship partner take:
No wonder 'tis he trembles walking 'neath such weight! * How much of movement that revolving sphere must make."
Furthermore he said,
"I saw two charmers treading humble earth. * Two I must love an tread they on mine eyes."
When they heard this, they conjured him to enter the bath with them a second time. He could hardly believe his ears and hastening thither, went in with them. The Wazir had not yet left the bath; so when he heard of the Overseer's coming, he came out and meeting him in the middle of the bath hall invited him to enter. He refused, whereupon Taj al-Muluk taking him by the hand walked on one side and Aziz by the other, and carried him into a cabinet; and that impure old man submitted to them, whilst his emotion increased on him. He would have refused, albeit this was what he desired; but the Minister said to him, "They are thy sons; let them wash thee and cleanse thee." "Allah preserve them to thee!" exclaimed the Overseer, "By Allah your coming and the coming of those with you bring down blessing and good luck upon our city!" And he repeated these two couplets,
"Thou camest and green grew the hills anew; * And sweetest bloom to the bridegroom threw,
While aloud cried Earth and her earth-borns too * 'Hail and welcome who comest with grace to endue.'"
They thanked him for this, and Taj al-Muluk ceased not to wash him and to pour water over him and he thought his soul in Paradise. When they had made an end of his service, he blessed them and sat by the side of the Wazir, talking but gazing the while on the youths. Presently, the servants brought them towels, and they dried themselves and donned their dress. Then they went out, and the Minister turned to the Syndic and said to him, "O my lord! verily the bath is the Paradise of this world." Replied the Overseer, "Allah vouchsafe to thee such Paradise, and health to thy sons and guard them from the evil eye! Do ye remember aught that the eloquent have said in praise of the bath.?" Quoth Taj al-Muluk, "I will repeat for thee a pair of couplets;" and he recited,
The life of the bath is the joy of man's life, * Save that time is short for us there to bide:
A Heaven where irksome it were to stay; * A Hell, delightful at entering-tide."
When he ended his recital, quoth Aziz, "And I also remember two couplets in praise of the bath." The Overseer said, "Let me hear them," so he repeated the following,
"A house where flowers from stones of granite grow, * Seen at its best when hot with living lows:
Thou deem'st it Hell but here, forsooth, is Heaven, * And some like suns and moons within it show."
And when he had ended his recital, his verses pleased the Overseer and he wondered at his words and savoured their grace and fecundity and said to them, "By Allah, ye possess both beauty and eloquence. But now listen to me, you twain!" And he began chanting, and recited in song the following verses,
"O joy of Hell and Heaven! whose tormentry * Enquickens frame and soul with lively gree:
I marvel so delightsome house to view, * And most when 'neath it kindled fires I see:
Sojourn of bliss to visitors, withal * Pools on them pour down tears unceasingly."
Then his eye-sight roamed and browsed on the gardens of their beauty and he repeated these two couplets,
"I went to the house of the keeper-man; * He was out, but others to smile began:
I entered his Heaven and then his Hell; * And I said 'Bless Malik and bless Rizwan.' "
When they heard these verses they were charmed, and the Over seer invited them to his house; but they declined and returned to their own place, to rest from the great heat of the bath. So they took their ease there and ate and drank and passed that night in perfect solace and satisfaction, till morning dawned, when they arose from sleep and making their lesser ablution, prayed the dawn- prayer and drank the morning draught. As soon as the sun had risen and the shops and markets opened, they arose and going forth from their place to the bazar opened their shop, which their servants had already furnished, after the handsomest fashion, and had spread with prayer rugs and silken carpets and had placed on the divans a pair of mattresses, each worth an hundred dinars. On every mattress they had disposed a rug of skin fit for a King and edged with a fringe of gold; and a-middlemost the shop stood a third seat still richer, even as the place required. Then Taj al-Muluk sat down on one divan, and Aziz on another, whilst the Wazir seated himself on that in the centre, and the servants stood before them. The city people soon heard of them and crowded about them, so that they sold some of their goods and not a few of their stuffs; for Taj al-Muluk's beauty and loveliness had become the talk of the town. Thus they passed a trifle of time, and every day the people flocked to them and pressed upon them more and more, till the Wazir, after exhorting Taj al-Muluk to keep his secret, commended him to the care of Aziz and went home, that he might commune with himself alone and cast about for some contrivance which might profit them. Meanwhile, the two young men sat talking and Taj al-Muluk said to Aziz, "Haply some one will come from the Lady Dunya." So he ceased not expecting this chance days and nights, but his heart was troubled and he knew neither sleep nor rest; for desire had got the mastery of him, and love and longing were sore upon him, so that he renounced the solace of sleep and abstained from meat and drink; yet ceased he not to be like the moon on the night of fullness. Now one day as he sat in the shop, behold, there came up an ancient woman.--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the One Hundred and Thirty-third Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the Wazir Dandan continued to Zau al-Makan: Now one day as Taj al-Muluk sat in his shop, behold, there appeared an ancient woman, who came up to him followed by two slave girls. She ceased not advancing till she stood before the shop of Taj al-Muluk and, observing his symmetry and beauty and loveliness, marvelled at his charms and sweated in her petticoat trousers, exclaiming, "Glory to Him who created thee out of vile water, and made thee a temptation to all beholders!" And she fixed her eyes on him and said, "This is not a mortal, he is none other than an angel deserving the highest respect." Then she drew near and saluted him, whereupon he returned her salute and rose to his feet to receive her and smiled in her face (all this by a hint from Aziz); after which he made her sit down by his side and fanned her with a fan, till she was rested and refreshed. Then she turned to Taj al-Muluk and said, "O my son! O thou who art perfect in bodily gifts and spiritual graces; say me, art thou of this country?" He replied, in voice the sweetest and in tone the pleasantest, "By Allah, O my mistress, I was never in this land during my life till this time, nor do I abide here save by way of diversion." Rejoined she, "May the Granter grant thee all honour and prosperity! And what stuffs hast thou brought with thee? Show me something passing fine; for the beauteous should bring nothing but what is beautiful." When he heard her words, his heart fluttered and he knew not their inner meaning; but Aziz made a sign to him and he replied, "I have everything thou canst desire and especially I have goods that besit none but Kings and King's daughters; so tell me what stuff thou wantest and for whom, that I may show thee what will be fitting for him." This he said, that he might learn the meaning of her words; and she rejoined, "I want a stuff fit for the Princess Dunya, daughter of King Shahriman." Now when the Prince heard the name of his beloved, he joyed with great joy and said to Aziz, "Give me such a parcel." So Aziz brought it and opened it before Taj al-Muluk who said to the old woman, "Select what will suit her; for these goods are to be found only with me." She chose stuffs worth a thousand dinars and asked, "How much is this?"; and she ceased not the while to talk with him and rub what was inside her thighs with the palm of her hand. Answered Taj al-Muluk, "Shall I haggle with the like of thee about this paltry price? Praised be Allah who hath acquainted me with thee!" The old woman rejoined, "Allah's name be upon thee! I commend thy beautiful face to the protection of the Lord of the Daybreak. Beautiful face and eloquent speech! Happy she who lieth in thy bosom and claspeth thy waist in her arms and enjoyeth thy youth, especially if she be beautiful and lovely like thyself!" At this, Taj al-Muluk laughed till he fell on his back and said to himself, "O Thou who fulfillest desires human by means of pimping old women! They are the true fulfillers of desires!" Then she asked, "O my son, what is thy name?" and he answered, "My name is Taj al-Muluk, the Crown of Kings." Quoth she, "This is indeed a name of Kings and King's sons and thou art clad in merchant's clothes." Quoth Aziz, "for the love his parents and family bore him and for the value they set on him, they named him thus." Replied the old woman, "Thou sayest sooth, Allah guard you both from the evil eye and the envious, though hearts be broken by your charms!" Then she took the stuffs and went her way; but she was amazed at his beauty and stature and symmetry, and she ceased not going till she found the Lady Dunya and said to her, "O my mistress! I have brought thee some handsome stuffs." Quoth the Princess, "Show me that same"; and the old woman, "O apple of my eye, here it is, turn it over and examine it." Now when the Princess looked at it she was amazed and said, "O my nurse, this is indeed handsome stuff: I have never seen its like in our city." "O my lady," replied the old nurse, "he who sold it me is handsomer still. It would seem as if Rizwan had left the gates of Paradise open in his carelessness, and as if the youth who sold me this stuff had come bodily out of Heaven. I would he might sleep this night with thee and might lie between thy breasts. He hath come to thy city with these precious stuffs for amusement's sake, and he is a temptation to all who set eyes on him." The Princess laughed at her words and said, "Allah afflict thee, O pernicious old hag! Thou dotest and there is no sense left in thee." Presently, she resumed, "Give me the stuff that I may look at it anew." So she gave it her and she took it again and saw that its size was small and its value great. It pleased her, for she had never in her life seen its like, and she exclaimed, "By Allah, this is a handsome stuff!" Answered the old woman, "O my lady, by Allah! if thou sawest its owner thou wouldst know him for the handsomest man on the face of the earth." Quoth the Lady Dunya, "Didst thou ask him if he had any need, that he might tell us and we might satisfy it?" But the nurse shook her head and said, "The Lord keep thy sagacity! By Allah, he hath a want, may thy skill not fail thee. What! is any man free from wants?" Rejoined the Princess, "Go back to him and salute him and say to him, 'Our land and town are honoured by thy visit and, if thou have any need, we will fulfil it to thee, on our head and eyes.' " So the old woman at once returned to Taj al-Muluk, and when he saw her his heart jumped for joy and gladness and he rose to his feet before her and, taking her hand, seated her by his side. As soon as she was rested, she told him what Princess Dunya had said; and he on hearing it joyed with exceeding joy; his breast dilated to the full; gladness entered his heart and he said to himself, "Verily, I have my need." Then he asked the old woman, "Haply thou wilt take her a message from me and bring me her answer?"; and she answered, "I hear and I obey." So he said to Aziz, "Bring me ink-case and paper and a brazen pen." And when Aziz brought him what he sought, he hent the pen in hand and wrote these lines of poetry,
"I write to thee, O fondest hope! a writ * Of grief that severance on my soul cloth lay:
Saith its first line, 'Within my heart is [owe!' * Its second, 'Love and Longing on me prey!'
Its third, 'My patience waste is, fades my life!' * Its fourth, 'Naught shall my pain and pine allay!'
Its fifth, 'When shall mine eyes enjoy thy sight?' * Its sixth, 'Say, when shall dawn our meeting-day?' "
And, lastly, by way of subscription he wrote these words. "This letter is from the captive of captivation * prisoned in the hold of longing expectation * wherefrom is no emancipation * but in anticipation and intercourse and in unification * after absence and separation. * For from the severance of friends he loveth so fain * he suffereth love pangs and pining pain. *" Then his tears rushed out, and he indited these two couplets,
"I write thee, love, the while my tears pour down; * Nor cease they ever pouring thick and fleet:
Yet I despair not of my God, whose grace * Haply some day will grant us twain to meet."
Then he folded the letter and sealed it with his signet ring and gave it to the old woman, saying, "Carry it to the Lady Dunya." Quoth she, "To hear is to obey;" whereupon he gave her a thousand dinars and said to her, "O my mother! accept this gift from me as a token of my affection." She took both from him and blessed him and went her way and never stinted walking till she went in to the Lady Dunya. Now when the Princess saw her she said to her, "O my nurse, what is it he asketh of need that we may fulfil his wish to him?" Replied the old woman, "O my lady, he sendeth thee this letter by me, and I know not what is in it;" and handed it to her. Then the Princess took the letter and read it; and when she understood it, she exclaimed, "Whence cometh and whither goeth this merchant man that he durst address such a letter to me?" And she slapt her face saying, "'Whence are we that we should come to shopkeeping? Awah! Awah! By the lord, but that I fear Almighty Allah I had slain him;" and she added, "Yea, I had crucified him over his shop door!" Asked the old woman, "What is in this letter to vex thy heart and move thy wrath on this wise? Doth it contain a complaint of oppression or demand for the price of the stuff?" Answered the Princess, "Woe to thee! There is none of this in it, naught but words of love and endearment. This is all through thee: otherwise whence should this Satan know me?" Rejoined the old woman, "o my lady, thou sittest in thy high palace and none may have access to thee; no, not even the birds of the air. Allah keep thee, and keep thy youth from blame and reproach! Thou needest not care for the barking of dogs, for thou art a Princess, the daughter of a King. Be not wroth with me that I brought thee this letter, knowing not what was in it; but I opine that thou send him an answer and threaten him with death and forbid him this foolish talk; surely he will abstain and not do the like again." Quoth the Lady Dunya, "I fear that, if I write to him, he will desire me the more." The old woman returned "When he heareth thy threats and promise of punishment, he will desist from his persistence." She cried, "Here with the ink case and paper and brazen pen;" and when they brought them she wrote these couplets,
"O thou who for thy wakeful nights wouldst claim my love to boon, * For what of pining thou must feel and tribulation!
Dost thou, fond fool and proud of sprite, seek meeting with the Moon? * Say, did man ever win his wish to take in arms the Moon?
I counsel thee, from soul cast out the wish that dwells therein, * And cut that short which threatens thee with sore risk oversoon:
An to such talk thou dare return, I bid thee to expect * Fro' me such awful penalty as suiteth froward loon:
I swear by Him who moulded man from gout of clotted blood, * Who lit the Sun to shine by day and lit for night the moon,
An thou return to mention that thou spakest in thy pride, * Upon a cross of tree for boon I'll have thee crucified!"
Then she folded the letter and handing it to the old woman said, "Give him this and say him, 'Cease from this talk!' " "Hearkening and obedience," replied she, and taking the letter with joy, returned to her own house, where she passed the night; and when morning dawned she betook herself to the shop of Taj al-Muluk whom she found expecting her. When he saw her, he was ready to fly for delight, and when she came up to him, he stood to her on his feet and seated her by his side. Then she brought out the letter and gave it to him, saying, "Read what is in this;" adding "When Princess Dunya read thy letter she was angry; but I coaxed her and jested with her till I made her laugh, and she had pity on thee and she hath returned thee an answer." He thanked her for her kindness and bade Aziz give her a thousand gold pieces: then he perused the letter and understanding it fell to weeping a weeping so sore that the old woman's heart was moved to ruth for him, and his tears and complaints were grievous to her. Presently she asked him, "O my son, what is there in this letter to make thee weep?" Answered he, "She hath threatened me with death and crucifixion and she forbiddeth me to write to her, but if I write not my death were better than my life. So take thou my answer to the letter and let her work her will." Rejoined the old woman, "By the life of thy youth, needs must I risk my existence for thee, that I may bring thee to thy desire and help thee to win what thou hast at heart!" And Taj al-Muluk said, "Whatever thou dost, I will requite thee for it and do thou weigh it in the scales of thy judgement, for thou art experienced in managing matters, and skilled in reading the chapters of the book of intrigue: all hard matters to thee are easy doings; and Allah can bring about everything." Then he took a sheet of paper and wrote thereon these improvised couplets,
"Yestre'en my love with slaughter menaced me, * But sweet were slaughter and Death's foreordained:
Yes, Death is sweet for lover doomed to bear * Long life, rejected, injured and constrained:
By Allah! deign to visit friendless friend! * Thy thrall am I and like a thrall I'm chained:
Mercy, O lady mine, for loving thee! * Who loveth noble soul should be assained."
Then he sighed heavy sighs and wept till the old woman wept also and presently taking the letter she said to him, "Be of good cheer and cool eyes and clear; for needs must I bring thee to thy wish."--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the One Hundred and Thirty-fourth Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when Taj al-Muluk wept the old woman said to him, "Be of good cheer and cool eyes and clear; for needs must I bring thee to thy wish." Then she rose and left him on coals of fire; and returned to Princess Dunya, whom she found still showing on her changed face rage at Taj al-Muluk's letter. So she gave her his second letter, whereat her wrath redoubled and she said, "Did I not say he would desire us the more?" Replied the old woman, "What thing is this dog that he should aspire to thee?" Quoth the Princess, "Go back to him and tell him that, if he write me after this, I will cut off his head." Quoth the nurse, "Write these words in a letter and I will take it to him that his fear may be the greater." So she took a sheet of paper and wrote thereon these couplets,
"Ho thou, who past and bygone risks regardest with uncare! * Thou who to win thy meeting prize dost overslowly fare!
In pride of spirit thinkest thou to win the star Soha? * Albe thou may not reach the Moon which shines through upper air?
How darest thou expect to win my favours, hope to clip * Upon a lover's burning breast my lance like shape and rare?
Leave this thy purpose lest my wrath come down on thee some day, * A day of wrath shall hoary turn the partings of thy hair!"
Then she folded the letter and gave it to the old woman, who took it and repaired to Taj al-Muluk. And when he saw her, he rose to his feet and exclaimed, "May Allah never bereave me of the blessing of thy coming!" Quoth she, "Take the answer to thy letter." He took it and reading it, wept with sore weeping and said, "I long for some one to slay me at this moment and send me to my rest, for indeed death were easier to me than this my state!" Then he took ink case and pen and paper and wrote a letter containing these two couplets,
"O hope of me! pursue me not with rigour and disdain: * Deign thou to visit lover wight in love of thee is drowned;
Deem not a life so deeply wronged I longer will endure; * My soul for severance from my friend divorced this frame unsound."
Lastly he folded the letter and handed it to the old woman, saying, "Be not angry with me, though I have wearied thee to no purpose." And he bade Aziz give her other thousand ducats, saying, "O my mother, needs must this letter result in perfect union or utter severance." Replied she, "O my son, by Allah, I desire nought but thy weal; and it is my object that she be thine, for indeed thou art the shining moon, and she the rising sun. If I do not bring you together, there is no profit in my existence; and I have lived my life till I have reached the age of ninety years in the practice of wile and intrigue; so how should I fail to unite two lovers, though in defiance of right and law?" Then she took leave of him having comforted his heart, and ceased not walking till she went in to the Lady Dunya. Now she had hidden the letter in her hair: so when she sat down by the Princess she rubbed her head and said, "O my lady, maybe thou wilt untwist my hair knot, for it is a time since I went to the Hammam." The King's daughter bared her arms to the elbows and, letting down the old woman's locks, began to loose the knot of back hair; when out dropped the letter and the Lady Dunya seeing it, asked, "What is this paper?" Quoth the nurse, "As I sat in the merchant's shop, this paper must have stuck to me: give it to me that I may return it to him; possibly it containeth some account whereof he hath need." But the Princess opened it and read it and, when she understood it, she cried out, "This is one of thy manifold tricks, and hadst thou not reared me, I would lay violent hands on thee this moment! Verily Allah hath afflicted me with this merchant: but all that hath befallen me with him is on thy head. I know not from what country this one can have come: no man but he would venture to affront me thus, and I fear lest this my case get abroad, more by token as it concerneth one who is neither of my kin nor of my peers." Rejoined the old woman "None would dare speak of this for fear of thy wrath and for awe of thy sire; so there can be no harm in sending him an answer." Quoth the Princess, "O my nurse, verily this one is a perfect Satan! How durst he use such language to me and not dread the Sultan's rage. Indeed, I am perplexed about his case: if I order him to be put to death, it were unjust; and if I leave him alive his boldness will increase." Quoth the old woman, "Come, write him a letter; it may be he will desist in dread." So she called for paper and ink case and pen and wrote these couplets,
"Thy folly drives thee on though long I chid, * Writing in verse: how long shall I forbid?
For all forbiddal thou persistest more, * And my sole grace it is to keep it hid;
Then hide thy love nor ever dare reveal, * For an thou speak, of thee I'll soon be rid
If to thy silly speech thou turn anew, * Ravens shall croak for thee the wold amid:
And Death shall come and beat thee down ere long, * Put out of sight and bury 'neath an earthen lid:
Thy folk, fond fool! thou'lt leave for thee to mourn, * And through their lives to sorrow all forlorn."
Then she folded the letter and committed it to the old woman, who took it and returning to Taj al-Muluk, gave it to him. When he read it, he knew that the Princess was hard hearted and that he should not win access to her; so he complained of his case to the Wazir and besought his counsel. Quoth the Minister, "Know thou that naught will profit thee save that thou write to her and invoke the retribution of Heaven upon her." And quoth the Prince, "O my brother, O Aziz, do thou write to her as if my tongue spake, according to thy knowledge." So Aziz took a paper and wrote these couplets,
"By the Five Shaykhs, O Lord, I pray deliver me; * Let her for whom I suffer bear like misery:
Thou knowest how I fry in flaming lowe of love, * While she I love hath naught of ruth or clemency:
How long shall I, despite my pain, her feelings spare? * How long shall she wreak tyranny o'er weakling me?
In pains of never ceasing death I ever grieve: * O Lord, deign aid; none other helping hand I see.
How fain would I forget her and forget her love! * But how forget when Love garred Patience death to dree?
O thou who hinderest Love to 'joy fair meeting tide * Say! art thou safe from Time and Fortune's jealousy?
Art thou not glad and blest with happy life, while I * From folk and country for thy love am doomed flee?"
Then Aziz folded the letter and gave it to Taj al-Muluk, who read it and was pleased with it. So he handed it to the old woman, who took it and went in with it to Princess Dunya. But when she read it and mastered the meaning thereof, she was enraged with great rage and said, "All that hath befallen me cometh by means of this ill omened old woman!" Then she cried out to the damsels and eunuchs, saying, "Seize this old hag, this accursed trickstress and beat her with your slippers!" So they came down upon her till she swooned away; and, when she came to herself, the Princess said to her, "By the Lord! O wicked old woman, did I not fear Almighty Allah, I would slay thee." Then quoth she to them, "Beat her again" and they did so till she fainted a second time, whereupon she bade them drag her forth and throw her outside the palace door. So they dragged her along on her face and threw her down before the gate; but as soon as she revived she got up from the ground and, walking and sitting by turns, made her way home. There she passed the night till morning, when she arose and went to Taj al-Muluk and told them all that had occurred. He was distressed at this grievous news and said, "O my mother, hard indeed to us is that which hath befallen thee, but all things are according to fate and man's lot." Replied she, "Be of good cheer and keep thine eyes cool and clear, for I will not give over striving till I have brought thee and her together, and made thee enjoy this wanton who hath burnt my skin with beating." Asked the Prince "Tell me what caused her to hate men;" and the old woman answered, "It arose from what she saw in a dream." "And what was this dream?" "'Twas this: one night, as she lay asleep, she saw a fowler spread his net upon the ground and scatter wheat grain round it. Then he sat down hard by, and not a bird in the neighbourhood but flocked to his toils. Amongst the rest she beheld a pair of pigeons, male and female; and, whilst she was watching the net, behold, the male bird's foot caught in the meshes and he began to struggle; whereupon all the other birds took fright and flew away. But presently his mate came back and hovered over him, then alighted on the toils unobserved by the fowler, and fell to pecking with her beak and pulling at the mesh in which the male bird's foot was tangled, till she released the toes and they flew away together. Then the fowler came up, mended his net and seated himself afar off. After an hour or so the birds flew back and the female pigeon was caught in the net; whereupon all the other birds took fright and scurried away; and the male pigeon fled with the rest and did not return to his mate, but the fowler came up and took the female pigeon and cut her throat. The Princess awoke, troubled by her dream, and said, 'All males are like this pigeon, worthless creatures: and men in general lack grace and goodness to women.'" When the old woman had ended her story, the Prince said to her, "O my mother, I desire to have one look at her, though it be my death; so do thou contrive me some contrivance for seeing her." She replied, "Know then that she hath under her palace windows a garden wherein she taketh her pleasure; and thither she resorteth once in every month by the private door. After ten days, the time of her thus going forth to divert herself will arrive; so when she is about to visit the garden, I will come and tell thee, that thou mayst go thither and meet her. And look thou leave not the garden, for haply, an she see thy beauty and Loveliness, her heart will be taken with love of thee, and love is the most potent means of union." He said, "I hear and obey;" whereupon he and Aziz arose and left the shop and, taking the old woman with them, showed her the place where they lodged. Then said Taj al- Muluk to Aziz, "O my brother, I have no need of the shop now, having fulfilled my purpose of it; so I give it to thee with all that is in it; for that thou hast come abroad with me and hast left thy native land for my sake." Aziz accepted his gift and then they sat conversing, while the Prince questioned him of the strange adventures which had befallen him, and his companion acquainted him with the particulars thereof. Presently, they went to the Wazir and, reporting to him Taj al-Muluk's purpose, asked him, "What is to be done?" "Let us go to the garden," answered he. So each and every donned richest clothes and went forth, followed by three white slaves to the garden, which they found thick with thickets and railing its rills. When they saw the keeper sitting at the gate, they saluted him with the Salam and he returned their salute. Then the Wazir gave him an hundred gold pieces, saying, "Prithee, take this small sum and fetch us somewhat to eat; for we are strangers and I have with me these two lads whom I wish to divert." The Gardener took the sequins and said to them, "Enter and amuse yourselves in the garden, for it is all yours; and sit down till I bring you what food you require." So he went to the market while the Wazir and Taj al-Muluk and Aziz entered the garden. And shortly after leaving for the bazar the Gardener returned with a roasted lamb and cotton white bread, which he placed before them, and they ate and drank; thereupon he served up sweetmeats, and they ate of them, and washed their hands and sat talking. Presently the Wazir said to the garth keeper, "Tell me about this garden: is it thine or dost thou rent it?" The Shaykh replied, "It doth not belong to me, but to our King's daughter, the Princess Dunya." "What be thy monthly wages?" asked the Wazir and he answered, "One diner and no more." Then the Minister looked round about the garden and, seeing in its midst a pavilion tall and grand but old and disused, said to the keeper, "O elder, I am minded to do here a good work, by which thou shalt remember me. Replied the other, "O my lord, what is the good work thou wouldest do?" "Take these three hundred diners," rejoined the Wazir When the Keeper heard speak of the gold, he said, "O my lord, whatso thou wilt, do!" So the Wazir gave him the monies, saying, "Inshallah, we will make a good work in this place!" Then they left him and returned to their lodging, where they passed the night; and when it was the next day, the Minister sent for a plasterer and a painter and a skilful goldsmith and, furnishing them with all the tools they wanted, carried them to the garden, where he bade them whitewash the walls of the pavilion and decorate it with various kinds of paintings. Moreover he sent for gold and lapis lazuli and said to the painter, "Figure me on the wall, at the upper end of this hall, a man fowler with his nets spread and birds falling into them and a female pigeon entangled in the meshes by her bill." And when the painter had finished his picture on one side, the Wazir said, "Figure me on the other side a similar figure and represent the she pigeon alone in the snare and the fowler seizing her and setting the knife to her neck; and draw on the third side wall, a great raptor clutching the male pigeon, her mate, and digging talons into him." The artist did his bidding, and when he and the others had finished the designs, they received their hire and went away. Then the Wazir and his companions took leave of the Gardener and returned to their place, where they sat down to converse. And Taj al-Muluk said to Aziz, "O my brother, recite me some verses: perchance it may broaden my breast and dispel my dolours and quench the fire flaming in my heart." So Aziz chanted with sweet modulation these couplets,
"Whate'er they say of grief to lovers came, * I, weakling I, can single handed claim:
An seek thou watering spot, my streaming eyes * Pour floods that thirst would quench howe'er it flame
Or wouldest view what ruin Love has wrought * With ruthless hands, then see this wasted frame."
And his eyes ran over with tears and he repeated these couplets also,
"Who loves not swan-neck and gazelle-like eyes, * Yet claims to know Life's joys, I say he lies:
In Love is mystery, none avail to learn * Save he who loveth in pure loving wise.
Allah my heart ne'er lighten of this love, * Nor rob the wakefulness these eyelids prize."
Then he changed the mode of song and sang these couplets:
"Ibn Sina in his Canon cloth opine * Lovers' best cure is found in merry song:
In meeting lover of a like degree, * Dessert in garden, wine draughts long and strong:
I chose another who of thee might cure * While Force and Fortune aided well and long
But ah! I learnt Love's mortal ill, wherein * Ibn Sina's recipe is fond and wrong."
After hearing them to the end, Taj al-Muluk was pleased with his verses and wondered at his eloquence and the excellence of his recitation, saying, "Indeed, thou hast done away with somewhat of my sorrow." Then quoth the Wazir "Of a truth, there occurred to those of old what astoundeth those who hear it told." Quoth the Prince, "If thou canst recall aught of this kind, prithee let us hear thy subtle lines and keep up the talk." So the Minister chanted in modulated song these couplets,
"Indeed I deemed thy favours might be bought * By gifts of gold and things that joy the sprite
And ignorantly thought thee light-o'-love, * When can thy love lay low the highmost might;
Until I saw thee choosing one, that one * Loved with all favour, crowned with all delight:
Then wot I thou by sleight canst ne'er be won * And under wing my head I hid from sight
And in this nest of passion made my wone, * Wherein I nestle morning, noon and night."
So far concerning them; but as regards the old woman she remained shut up from the world in her house, till it befel that the King's daughter was taken with a desire to divert herself in the garden. Now she had never been wont so to do save in company with her nurse; accordingly she sent for her and made friends with her and soothed her sorrow, saying, "I wish to go forth to the garden, that I may divert myself with the sight of its trees and Fruits, and broaden my breast with the scent of its flowers." Replied the old woman, "I hear and obey; but first I would go to my house, and soon I will be with thee." The Princess rejoined, "Go home, but be not long absent from me." So the old woman left her and, repairing to Taj al-Muluk, said to him, "Get thee ready and don thy richest dress and go to the garden and find out the Gardener and salute him and then hide thyself therein." "To hear is to obey" answered he; and she agreed with him upon a signal, after which she returned to the Lady Dunya. As soon as she was gone, the Wazir and Aziz rose and robed Taj al-Muluk in a splendid suit of royal raiment worth five thousand diners, and girt his middle with a girdle of gold set with gems and precious metals. Then they repaired to the garden and found seated at the gate the Keeper who, as soon as he saw the Prince, sprang to his feet and received him with all respect and reverence, and opening the gate, said, "Enter and take thy pleasure in looking at the garden." Now the Gardener knew not that the King's daughter was to visit the place that day; but when Taj al-Muluk had been a little while there, he heard a hubbub and ere he could think, out issued the eunuchs and damsels by the private wicket. The Gardener seeing this came up to the Prince, informed him of her approach and said to him, "O my lord, what is to be done? The Princess Dunya, the King's daughter, is here." Replied the Prince, "Fear not, no harm shall befal thee; for I will hide me somewhere about the garden." So the Keeper exhorted him to the utmost prudence and went away. Presently the Princess entered the garden with her damsels and with the old woman, who said to herself, "If these eunuchs stay with us, we shall not attain our end." So quoth she to the King's daughter, "O my lady, I have somewhat to tell thee which shall ease thy heart." Quoth the Princess, "Say what thou hast to say." "O my lady, rejoined the old woman, "thou hast no need of these eunuchs at a time like the present; nor wilt thou be able to divert thyself at thine ease, whilst they are with us; so send them away;" and the Lady Dunya replied, "Thou speakest sooth" Accordingly she dismissed them and presently began to walk about, whilst Taj al-Muluk looked upon her and fed his eyes on her beauty and loveliness (but she knew it not); and every time he gazed at her he fainted by reason of her passing charms. The old woman drew her on by converse till they reached the pavilion which the Wazir had bidden be decorated, when the Princess entered and cast a glance round and perceived the picture of the birds the fowler and the pigeon; whereupon she cried, "Exalted be Allah! This is the very counterfeit presentment of what I saw in my dream." She continued to gaze at the figures of the birds and the fowler with his net, admiring the work, and presently she said, "O my nurse, I have been wont to blame and hate men, but look now at the fowler how he hath slaughtered the she bird who set free her mate; who was minded to return to her and aid her to escape when the bird of prey met him and tore him to pieces." Now the old woman feigned ignorance to her and ceased not to occupy her in converse, till they drew near the place where Taj al-Muluk lay hidden. Thereupon she signed to him to come out and walk under the windows of the pavilion, and, as the Lady Dunya stood looking from the casement, behold, her glance fell that way and she saw him and noting his beauty of face and form, said to the old woman, "O my nurse, whence cometh yonder handsome youth?" Replied the old woman, "I know nothing of him save that I think he must be some great King's son, for he attaineth comeliness in excess and extreme loveliness." And the Lady Dunya fell in love with him to distraction; the spells which bound her were loosed and her reason was overcome by his beauty and grace; and his fine stature and proportions strongly excited her desires sexual. So she said, "O my nurse! this is indeed a handsome youth;" and the old woman replied, "Thou sayest sooth, O my lady," and signed to Taj al-Muluk to go home. And though desire and longing flamed in him and he was distraught for love, yet he went away and took leave of the Gardener and returned to his place, obeying the old woman and not daring to cross her. When he told the Wazir and Aziz that she had signed him to depart, they exhorted him to patience, saying, "Did not the ancient dame know that there was an object to be gained by thy departure, she had not signalled thee to return home." Such was the case with Taj al-Muluk, the Wazir and Aziz but as regards the King's daughter, the Lady Dunya, desire and passion redoubled upon her; she was overcome with love and longing and she said to her nurse, "I know not how I shall manage a meeting with this youth, but through thee." Exclaimed the old woman, "I take refuge with Allah from Satan the stoned! Thou who art averse from men! How cometh it then that thou art thus afflicted with hope and fear of this young man? Yet, by Allah, none is worthy of thy youth but he." Quoth the Lady Dunya, "O my nurse, further my cause and help me to foregather with him, and thou shalt have of me a thousand diners and a dress of honour worth as much more: but if thou aid me not to come at him, I am a dead woman in very sooth." Replied the ancient dame, "Go to thy palace and leave me to devise means for bringing you twain together. I will throw away my life to content you both!" So the Lady Dunya returned to her palace, and the old woman betook herself to Taj al-Muluk who, when he saw her, rose to receive her and entreated her with respect and reverence making her sit by his side. Then she said, "The trick hath succeeded," and told him all that had passed between herself and the Princess. He asked her, "When is our meeting to be?"; and she answered, "Tomorrow." So he gave her a thousand diners and a dress of like value, and she took them and stinted not walking till she returned to her mistress, who said to her, "O my nurse! what news of the be loved?" Replied she, "I have learnt where he liveth and will bring him to thee tomorrow." At this the Princess was glad and gave her a thousand diners and a dress worth as much more, and she took them and returned to her own place, where she passed the night till morning. Then she went to Taj al-Muluk and dressing him in woman's clothes, said to him, "Follow me and sway from side to side as thou steppest, and hasten not thy pace nor take heed of any who speaketh to thee." And after thus charging him she went out, and the Prince followed her in woman's attire and she continued to charge and encourage him by the way, that he might not be afraid; nor ceased they walking till they came to the Palace-gate. She entered and the Prince after her, and she led him on, passing through doors and vestibules, till they had passed seven doors. As they approached the seventh, she said to him, "Hearten thy heart and when I call out to thee and say, 'O damsel pass on!' do not slacken thy pace, but advance as if about to run. When thou art in the vestibule, look to thy left and thou wilt see a saloon with doors: count five doors and enter the sixth, for therein is thy desire." Asked Taj al-Muluk, "And whither wilt thou go?"; and she answered, "Nowhere shall I go except that perhaps I may drop behind thee, and the Chief Eunuch may detain me to chat with him." She walked on (and he behind her) till she reached the door where the Chief Eunuch was stationed and he, seeing Taj al-Muluk with her dressed as a slave girl, said to the old woman, "What business hath this girl with thee?" Replied she, "This is a slave girl of whom the Lady Dunya hath heard that she is skilled in different kinds of work and she hath a mind to buy her." Rejoined the Eunuch, "I know neither slave girls nor anyone else; and none shall enter here without my searching according to the King's commands."--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the One Hundred and Thirty-fifth Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the Chamberlain Eunuch cried to the old woman, "I know neither slave girl nor anyone else; and none shall enter here without my searching him according to the King's commands." Then quoth she, feigning to be angry, "I thought thee a man of sense and good breeding; but, if thou be changed, I will let the Princess know of it and tell her how thou hinderest her slave girl;" and she cried out to Taj al-Muluk, saying, "Pass on, O damsel!" So he passed on into the vestibule as she bade him, whilst the Eunuch was silent and said no more. The Prince counted five doors and entered the sixth where he found the Princess Dunya standing and awaiting him. As soon as she saw him, she knew him and clasped him to her breast, and he clasped her to his bosom. Presently the old woman came in to them, having made a pretext to dismiss the Princess's slave girls for fear of disgrace; and the Lady Dunya said to her, "Be thou our door keeper!" So she and Taj al- Muluk abode alone together and ceased not kissing and embracing and twining leg with leg till dawn. When day drew near, she left him and, shutting the door upon him, passed into another chamber, where she sat down as was her wont, whilst her slave women came in to her, and she attended to their affairs and conversed with them. Then she said to them, "Go forth from me now, for I wish to amuse myself in privacy." So they withdrew and she betook herself to Taj al-Muluk, and the old woman brought them food, of which they ate and returned to amorous dalliance till dawn. Then the door was locked upon him as on the day before; and they ceased not to do thus for a whole month. This is how it fared with Taj al-Muluk and the Lady Dunya; but as regards the Wazir and Aziz when they found that the Prince had gone to the Palace of the King's daughter and there delayed all the while, they concluded that he would never return from it and that he was lost for ever; and Aziz said to the Wazir, "O my father, what shall we do?" He replied, "O my son, this is a difficult matter, and except we return to his sire and tell him, he will blame us therefor." So they made ready at once and forthright set out for the Green Land and the Country of the Two Columns, and sought Sulayman Shah's capital. And they traversed the valleys night and day till they went in to the King, and acquainted him with what had befallen his son and how from the time he entered the Princess's Palace they had heard no news of him. At this the King was as though the Day of Doom had dawned for him and regret was sore upon him, and he proclaimed a Holy War throughout his realm. After which he sent forth his host without the town and pitched tents for them and took up his abode in his pavilion, whilst the levies came from all parts of the kingdom; for his subjects loved him by reason of his great justice and beneficence. Then he marched with an army walling the horizon, and departed in quest of his son. Thus far concerning them; but as regards Taj al-Muluk and the Lady Dunya the two remained as they were half a year's time, whilst every day they redoubled in mutual affection; and love and longing and passion and desire so pressed upon Taj al Muluk, that at last he opened his mind and said to her, "Know, O beloved of my heart and vitals, that the longer I abide with thee, the more love and longing and passion and desire increase on me, for that I have not yet fulfilled the whole of my wish." Asked she, "What then wouldst thou have, O light of my eyes and fruit of my vitals? If thou desire aught beside kissing and embracing and entwining of legs with legs, do what pleaseth thee; for, by Allah, no partner hath any part in us." But he answered "It is not that I wish: I would fain acquaint thee with my true story. Know, then, that I am no merchant, nay, I am a King the son of a King, and my father's name is the supreme King Sulayman Shah, who sent his Wazir ambassador to thy father, to demand thee in marriage for me, but when the news came to thee thou wouldst not consent." Then he told her his past from first to last, nor is there any avail in a twice told tale, and he added, "And now I wish to return to my father, that he may send an ambassador to thy sire, to demand thee in wedlock for me, so we may be at ease." When she heard these words, she joyed with great joy because it suited with her own wishes, and they passed the night on this understanding. But it so befel by the decree of Destiny that sleep overcame them that night above all nights and they remained till the sun had risen. Now at this hour, King Shahriman was sitting on his cushion of estate, with his Emirs and Grandees before him, when the Syndic of the goldsmiths presented himself between his hands, carrying a large box. And he advanced and opening it in presence of the King, brought out therefrom a casket of fine work worth an hundred thousand diners, for that which was therein of precious stones, rubies and emeralds beyond the competence of any sovereign on earth to procure. When the King saw this, he marvelled at its beauty; and, turning to the Chief Eunuch (him with whom the old woman had had to do), said to him, "O Kafur, take this casket and wend with it to the Princess Dunya." The Castrato took the casket and repairing to the apartment of the King's daughter found the door shut and the old woman lying asleep on the threshold; whereupon said he, "What! sleeping at this hour?" When the old woman heard the Eunuch's voice she started from sleep and was terrified and said to him, "Wait till I fetch the key." Then she went forth and fled for her life. Such was her case; but as regards the Epicene he, seeing her alarm, lifted the door off its hinge pins, and entering found the Lady Dunya with her arms round the neck of Taj al-Muluk and both fast asleep. At this sight he was confounded and was preparing to return to the King, when the Princess awoke, and seeing him, was terrified and changed colour and waxed pale, and said to him, "O Kafur, veil thou what Allah hath veiled!" But he replied, "I cannot conceal aught from the King"; and, locking the door on them, returned to Shahriman, who asked him, "Hast thou given the casket to the Princess?" Answered the Eunuch, "Take the casket, here it is for I cannot conceal aught from thee. Know that I found a handsome young man by the side of the Princess and they two asleep in one bed and in mutual embrace." The King commanded them to be brought into the presence and said to them, "What manner of thing is this?" and, being violently enraged, seized a dagger and was about to strike Taj al-Muluk with it, when the Lady Dunya threw herself upon him and said to her father, "Slay me before thou slayest him." The King reviled her and commended her to be taken back to her chamber: then he turned to Taj al-Muluk and said to him, "Woe to thee! whence art thou? Who is thy father and what hath emboldened thee to debauch my daughter?" Replied the Prince, "Know, O King, that if thou put me to death, thou art a lost man, and thou and all in thy dominions will repent the deed." Quoth the King, "How so?"; and quoth Taj al-Muluk "Know that I am the son of King Sulayman Shah, and ere thou knowest it, he will be upon thee with his horse and foot." When King Shahriman heard these words he would have deferred killing Taj al-Muluk and would rather have put him in prison, till he should look into the truth of his words; but his Wazir said to him, "O King of the Age, it is my opinion that thou make haste to slay this gallows bird who dares debauch the daughters of Kings." So the King cried to the headsman, "Strike off his head; for he is a traitor." Accordingly, the herdsman took him and bound him fast and raised his hand to the Emirs, signing to consult them, a first and a second signal, thinking thereby to gain time in this matter; but the King cried in anger to him, "How long wilt thou consult others? If thou consult them again I will strike off thine own head.;' So the headsman raised his hand till the hair of his armpit showed' and was about to smite his neck,--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the One Hundred and Thirty-sixth Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the headsman raised his hand to smite off his head when behold, loud cries arose and the folk closed their shops; whereupon the King said to the headsman, "Wait awhile," and despatched one to learn the news. The messenger fared forth and presently returned and reported, "I saw an army like the dashing sea with its clashing surge: and their horses curvetting till earth trembleth with the tramp; and I know no more of them." When the King heard this, he was confounded and feared for his realm lest it should be torn from him; so he turned to his Minister and said, "Have not any of our army gone forth to meet this army?" But ere he had done speaking, his Chamberlains entered with messengers from the King who was approaching, and amongst them the Wazir who had accompanied Taj al-Muluk. They began by saluting the King, who rose to receive them and bade them draw near, and asked the cause of their coming; whereupon the Minister came forward from amongst them and stood before him and said "Know that he who hath come down upon thy realm is no King like unto the Kings of yore and the Sultans that went before." "And who is he?" asked Shahriman, and the Wazir answered, "He is the Lord of justice and loyalty, the bruit of whose magnanimity the caravans have blazed abroad, the Sultan Sulayman Shah, Lord of the Green Land and the Two Columns and the Mountains of Ispahan; he who loveth justice and equity, and hateth oppression and iniquity. And he saith to thee that his son is with thee and in thy city; his son, his heart's very core and the fruit of his loins, and if he find him in safety, his aim is won and thou shalt have thanks and praise; but if he have been lost from thy realm or if aught of evil have befallen him, look thou for ruin and the wasting of thy reign! for this thy city shall become a wold wherein the raven shall croak. Thus have I done my errand to thee and peace be with thee!" Now when King Shahriman heard from the messenger these words, his heart was troubled and he feared for his kingdom: so he cried out for his Grandees and Ministers, Chamberlains and Lieutenants; and, when they appeared, he said to them, "Woe to you! Go down and search for the youth." Now the Prince was still under the headsman's hands, but he was changed by the fright he had undergone. Presently, the Wazir, chancing to glance around, saw the Prince on the rug of blood and recognised him; so he arose and threw himself upon him, and so did the other envoys. Then they proceeded to loose his bonds and they kissed his hands and feet, whereupon Taj al-Muluk opened his eyes and, recognising his father's Wazir and his friend Aziz, fell down a fainting for excess of delight in them. When King Shahriman made sure that the coming of this army was indeed because of this youth, he was confounded and feared with great fear; so he went up to Taj al- Muluk and, kissing his head, said to him, "O my son, be not wroth with me, neither blame the sinner for his sin; but have compassion on my grey hairs, and waste not my realm." Whereupon Taj al-Muluk drew near unto him and kissing his hand, replied, "No harm shall come to thee, for indeed thou art to me as my father; but look that nought befal my beloved, the Lady Dunya!" Rejoined the King, "O my lord! fear not for her; naught but joy shall betide her;" and he went on to excuse himself and made his peace with Sulayman Shah's Wazir to whom he promised much money, if he would conceal from the King what he had seen. Then he bade his Chief Officers take the Prince with them and repair to the Hammam and clothe him in one of the best of his own suits and bring him back speedily. So they obeyed his bidding and bore him to the bath and clad him in the clothes which King Shahriman had set apart for him; and brought him back to the presence chamber. When he entered the King rose to receive him and made all his Grandees stand in attendance on him. Then Taj al-Muluk sat down to converse with his father's Wazir and with Aziz, and he acquainted them with what had befallen him; after which they said to him, "During that delay we returned to thy father and gave him to know that thou didst enter the palace of the Princess and didst not return therefrom, and thy case seemed doubtful to us. But when thy sire heard of this he mustered his forces; then we came to this land and indeed our coming hath brought to thee relief in extreme case and to us great joy." Quoth he, "Good fortune hath attended your every action, first and last." While this was doing King Shahriman went in to his daughter Princess Dunya, and found her wailing and weeping for Taj al-Muluk. Moreover, she had taken a sword and fixed the hilt in the ground and had set the point to the middle of her heart between her breasts; and she bent over the blade saying, "Needs must I slay myself and not survive my beloved." When her father entered and saw her in this case, he cried out to her, saying, "O Princess of kings' daughters, hold thy hand and have ruth on thy sire and the folk of thy realm!" Then he came up to her and continued, "Let it not be that an ill thing befal thy father for thy sake!" And he told her the whole tale that her lover was the son of King Sulayman Shah and sought her to wife and he added, "The marriage waiteth only for thy consent." Thereat she smiled and said, "Did I not tell thee that he was the son of a Sultan? By Allah, there is no help for it but that I let him crucify thee on a bit of wood worth two pieces of silver!" Replied the King, "O my daughter, have mercy on me, so Allah have mercy on thee!" Rejoined she, "Up with you and make haste and go bring him to me without delay." Quoth the King, "On my head and eyes be it!"; and he left her and, going in hastily to Taj al-Muluk, repeated her words in his ear. So he arose and accompanied the King to the Princess, and when she caught sight of her lover, she took hold of him and embraced him in her father's presence and hung upon him and kissed him, saying, "Thou hast desolated me by thine absence!" Then she turned to her father and said, "Sawest thou ever any that could do hurt to the like of this beautiful being, who is moreover a King, the son of a King and of the free born, guarded against ignoble deeds?" There upon King Shahriman went out shutting the door on them with his own hand; and he returned to the Wazir and to the other envoys of Sulayman Shah and bade them inform their King that his son was in health and gladness and enjoying all delight of life with his beloved. So they returned to King Sulayman and acquainted him with this; whereupon King Shahriman ordered largesse of money and vivers to the troops of King Sulayman Shah; and, when they had conveyed all he had commanded, he bade be brought out an hundred coursers and an hundred dromedaries and an hundred white slaves and an hundred concubines and an hundred black slaves and an hundred female slaves; all of which he forwarded to the King as a present. Then he took horse, with his Grandees and Chief Officers, and rode out of the city in the direction of the King's camp. As soon as Sultan Sulayman Shah knew of his approach, he rose and advanced many paces to meet him. Now the Wazir and Aziz had told him all the tidings, whereat he rejoiced and cried, "Praise be to Allah who hath granted the dearest wish of my son!" Then King Sulayman took King Shahriman in his arms and seated him beside himself on the royal couch, where they conversed awhile and had pleasure in each other's conversation. Presently food was set before them, and they ate till they were satisfied; and sweetmeats and dried fruits were brought, and they enjoyed their dessert. And after a while came to them Taj al-Muluk, richly dressed and adorned, and when his father saw him, he stood up and embraced him and kissed him. Then all who were sitting rose to do him honour; and the two Kings seated him between them and they sat conversing a while, after which quoth King Sulayman Shah to King Shahriman, "I desire to have the marriage contract between my son and thy daughter drawn up in the presence of witnesses, that the wedding may be made public, even as is the custom of Kings." "I hear and I obey," quoth King Shahriman and thereon summoned the Kazi and the witnesses, who came and wrote out the marriage contract between Taj al-Muluk and the Lady Dunya. Then they gave bakhshish of money and sweetmeats; and lavished incense and essences; and indeed it was a day of joy and gladness and all the grandees and soldiers rejoiced therein. Then King Shahriman proceeded to dower and equip his daughter; and Taj al-Muluk said to his sire, "Of a truth, this young man Aziz is of the generous and hath done me a notable service, having borne weariness with me; and he hath travelled with me and hath brought me to my desire. He ceased never to show sufferance with me and exhort me to patience till I accomplished my intent; and now he hath abided with us two whole years, and he cut off from his native land. So now I purpose to equip him with merchandise, that he may depart hence with a light heart; for his country is nearhand." Replied his father, "Right is thy rede;" so they made ready an hundred loads of the richest stuffs and the most costly, and Taj al-Muluk presented them with great store of money to Aziz, and farewelled him, saying, "O my brother and my true friend! take these loads and accept them from me by way of gift and token of affection, and go in peace to thine own country." Aziz accepted the presents and kissing the ground between the hands of the Prince and his father bade them adieu. Moreover, Taj al-Muluk mounted and accompanied him three miles on his homeward way as a proof of amity, after which Aziz conjured him to turn back, saying, "By Allah, O my master, were it not for my mother, I never would part from thee! But, good my lord! leave me not without news of thee." Replied Taj al-Muluk, "So be it!" Then the Prince returned to the city and Aziz journeyed on till he came to his native town; and he entered it and ceased not faring till he went in to his mother and found that she had built him a monument in the midst of the house and used to visit it continually. When he entered, he saw her with hair dishevelled and dispread over the tomb, weeping and repeating these lines,
"Indeed I'm strong to bear whate'er befal; * But weak to bear such parting's dire mischance:
What heart estrangement of the friend can bear? * What strength withstand assault of severance?"
Then sobs burst from her breast, and she recited also these couplets,
"What's this? I pass by tombs, and fondly greet * My friends' last homes, but send they no reply:
For saith each friend, 'Reply how can I make * When pledged to clay and pawned to stones I lie?
Earth has consumed my charms and I forget * Thy love, from kith and kin poor banisht I.' "
While she was thus, behold, Aziz came in to her and when she saw him, she fell down, fainting for very joy. He sprinkled water on her face till she revived and rising, took him in her arms and strained him to her breast, whilst he in like manner embraced her. Then he greeted her and she greeted him, and she asked the reason of his long absence, whereupon he told her all that had befallen him from first to last and informed her how Taj al-Muluk had given him an hundred loads of monies and stuffs. At this she rejoiced, and Aziz abode with his mother in his native town, weeping for what mishaps had happened to him with the daughter of Dalilah the Wily One, even her who had castrated him. Such was the case with Aziz; but as regards Taj al-Muluk he went in unto his beloved, the Princess Dunya, and abated her maidenhead. Then King Shahriman proceeded to equip his daughter for her journey with her husband and father in law, and bade bring them provaunt and presents and rarities. So they loaded their beasts and set forth, whilst King Shahriman escorted them, by way of farewell, three days' journey on their way, till King Shah Sulayman conjured him to return. So he took leave of them and turned back, and Taj al-Muluk and his wife and father fared for wards night and day, with their troops, till they drew near their capital. As soon as the news of their coming spread abroad, the folk decorated for them the city,--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the One Hundred and Thirty-seventh Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when Shah Sulayman drew near his capital, the folk decorated the city for him and for his son. So they entered in state and the King, sitting on his throne with his son by his side, gave alms and largesse and loosed all who were in his jails. Then he held a second bridal for his son, and the sound of the singing women and players upon instruments was never silent for a whole month, and the tire women stinted not to adorn the Lady Dunya and display her in various dresses; and she tired not of the displaying nor did the women weary of gazing on her. Then Taj al-Muluk, after having foregathered awhile with his father and mother, took up his sojourn with his wife, and they abode in all joyance of life and in fairest fortune, till there came to them the Destroyer of all delights.
[Resume Tale of King Omar Bin Al-Nu'uman and His Sons Sharrkan and Zau Al-Makan]
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