[Go back to The History of Gharib and His Brother Ajib]
I went one year on the pilgrimage to the Holy House of Allah, and when I had accomplished my pilgrimage, I turned back for visitation of the tomb of the Prophet, whom Allah bless and keep! One night, as I sat in the garden, between the tomb and the pulpit, I heard a low moaning in a soft voice; so I listened to it and it said,
"Have the doves that moan in the lotus-tree * Woke grief in thy heart and bred misery?
Or doth memory of maiden in beauty deckt * Cause this doubt in thee, this despondency?
O night, thou art longsome for love-sick sprite * Complaining of Love and its ecstacy:
Thou makest him wakeful, who burns with fire * Of a love, like the live coal's ardency.
The moon is witness my heart is held * By a moonlight brow of the brightest blee:
I reckt not to see me by Love ensnared * Till ensnared before I could reck or see."
Then the voice ceased and not knowing whence it came to me I abode perplexed; but lo! it again took up its lament and recited,
"Came Rayya's phantom to grieve thy sight * In the thickest gloom of the black-haired Night!
And hath love of slumber deprived those eyes * And the phantom-vision vexed thy sprite?
I cried to the Night, whose glooms were like * Seas that surge and billow with might, with might:
'O Night, thou art longsome to lover who * Hath no aid nor help save the morning light!'
She replied, 'Complain not that I am long: * 'Tis love is the cause of thy longsome plight!'"
Now, at the first of the couplets, I sprang up and made for the quarter whence the sound came, nor had the voice ended repeating them, ere I was with the speaker and saw a youth of the utmost beauty, the hair of whose side face had not sprouted and in whose cheeks tears had worn twin trenches.--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the Six Hundred and Eighty-first Night,
She continued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Abdullah bin Ma'amar al-Kaysi thus continued:--So I sprang up and made for the quarter whence the sound came, nor had the voice ended repeating the verses, ere I was with the speaker and saw a youth on whose side face the hair had not sprouted and in whose cheeks tears had worn twin trenches. Quoth I to him, "Fair befal thee for a youth!"; and quoth he, "And thee also! Who art thou?" I replied, "Abdullah bin Ma'amar al-Kaysi;" and he said, "Dost thou want aught?" I rejoined, "I was sitting in the garden and naught hath troubled me this night but thy voice. With my life would I ransom thee! What aileth thee?" He said, "Sit thee down." So I sat down and he continued, "I am Otbah bin al-Hubab bin al-Mundhir bin al-Jamuh the Ansari. I went out in the morning to the Mosque Al-Ahzab and occupied myself there awhile with prayer-bows and prostrations, after which I withdrew apart, to worship privily. But lo! up came women, as they were moons, walking with a swaying gait, and surrounding a damsel of passing loveliness, perfect in beauty and grace, who stopped before me and said, 'O Otbah, what sayst thou of union with one who seeketh union with thee?' Then she left me and went away; and since that time I have had no tidings of her nor come upon any trace of her; and behold, I am distracted and do naught but remove from place to place." Then he cried out and fell to the ground fainting. When he came to himself, it was as if the damask of his cheeks were dyed with safflower, and he recited these couplets,
"I see you with my heart from far countrie * Would Heaven you also me from far could see
My heart and eyes for you are sorrowing; * My soul with you abides and you with me.
I take no joy in life when you're unseen * Or Heaven or Garden of Eternity."
Said I, "O Otbah, O son of my uncle, repent to thy Lord and crave pardon for thy sin; for before thee is the terror of standing up to Judgment." He replied, "Far be it from me so to do. I shall never leave to love till the two mimosa-gatherers return." I abode with him till daybreak, when I said to him, "Come let us go to the Mosque Al-Ahzab." So we went thither and sat there, till we had prayed the midday prayers, when lo! up came the women; but the damsel was not among them. Quoth they to him, "O Otbah, what thinkest thou of her who seeketh union with thee?" He said, "And what of her?"; and they replied, "Her father hath taken her and departed to Al-Samawah." I asked them the name of the damsel and they said, "She is called Rayya, daughter of Al-Ghitrif al-Sulami." Whereupon Otbah raised his head and recited these verses,
"My friends, Rayya hath mounted soon as morning shone, * And to Samawah's wilds her caravan is gone.
My friends, I've wept till I can weep no more, Oh, say, * Hath any one a tear that I can take on loan."
Then said I to him, "O Otbah, I have brought with me great wealth, wherewith I desire to succour generous men; and by Allah, I will lavish it before thee, so thou mayst attain thy desire and more than thy desire! Come with me to the assembly of the Ansaris." So we rose and went, till we entered their assembly, when I salam'd to them and they returned my greeting civilly. Then quoth I, "O assembly, what say ye of Otbah and his father?": and they replied, "They are of the princes of the Arabs." I continued, "Know that he is smitten with the calamity of love and I desire your furtherance to Al-Samawah." And they said, "To hear is to obey." So they mounted with us, the whole party, and we rode till we drew near the place of the Banu Sulaym. Now when Ghitrif heard of our being near, he hastened forth to meet us, saying, "Long life to you, O nobles!"; whereto we replied, "And to thee also! Behold we are thy guests." Quoth he, "Ye have lighted down at a most hospitable abode and ample;" and alighting he cried out, "Ho, all ye slaves, come down!" So they came down and spread skin-rugs and cushions and slaughtered sheep and cattle; but we said, "We will not taste of thy food, till thou have accomplished our need." He asked, "And what is your need?"; and we answered, "We demand thy noble daughter in marriage for Otbah bin Hubab bin Mundhir the illustrious and well born." "O my brethren," said he, "she whom you demand is owner of herself, and I will go in to her and tell her." So he rose in wrath and went in to Rayya, who said to him, "O my papa, why do I see thee show anger?" And he replied, saying, "Certain of the Ansaris have come upon me to demand thy hand of me in marriage." Quoth she, "They are noble chiefs; the Prophet, on whom be the choicest blessings and peace, intercedeth for them with Allah. For whom among them do they ask me?" Quoth he, "For a youth known as Otbah bin al-Hubab;" and she said, "I have heard of Otbah that he performeth what he promised and findeth what he seeketh." Ghitrif cried, "I swear that I will never marry thee to him; no, never, for there hath been reported to me somewhat of thy converse with him." Said she, "What was that? But in any case, I swear that the Ansaris shall not be uncivilly rejected; wherefore do thou offer them a fair excuse." "How so?" "Make the dowry heavy to them and they will desist." "Thou sayst well," said he, and going out in haste, told the Ansaris, "The damsel of the tribe consenteth; but she requireth a dowry worthy herself. Who engageth for this?" "I," answered I. Then said he, "I require for her a thousand bracelets of red gold and five thousand dirhams of the coinage of Hajar and a hundred pieces of woollen cloth and striped stuffs of Al-Yaman and five bladders of ambergris." Said I, "Thou shalt have that much; dost thou consent?"; and he said, "I do consent." So I despatched to Al-Medinah the Illumined a party of the Ansaris, who brought all for which I had become surety; whereupon they slaughtered sheep and cattle and the folk assembled to eat of the food. We abode thus forty days when Ghitrif said to us, "Take your bride." So we sat her in a dromedary-litter and her father equipped her with thirty camel-loads of things of price; after which we farewelled him and journeyed till we came within a day's journey of Al-Medinah the Illumined, when there fell upon us horsemen, with intent to plunder, and methinks they were of the Banu Sulaym, Otbah drove at them and slew of them much people, but fell back, wounded by a lance-thrust, and presently dropped to the earth. Then there came to us succour of the country people, who drove away the highwaymen; but Otbah's days were ended. So we said, "Alas for Otbah, oh!;" and the damsel hearing it cast herself down from the camel and throwing herself upon him, cried out grievously and repeated these couplets,
"Patient I seemed, yet Patience shown by me * Was but self-guiling till thy sight I see:
Had my soul done as due my life had gone, * Had fled before mankind forestalling thee:
Then, after me and thee none shall to friend * Be just, nor any soul with soul agree."
Then she sobbed a single sob and gave up the ghost. We dug one grave for them and laid them in the earth, and I returned to the dwellings of my people, where I abode seven years. Then I betook me again to Al-Hijaz and entering Al-Medinah the Illumined for pious visitation said in my mind, "By Allah, I will go again to Otbah's tomb!" So I repaired thither, and, behold, over the grave was a tall tree, on which hung fillets of red and green and yellow stuffs. So I asked the people of the place, "How be this tree called?"; and they answered, "The tree of the Bride and the Bridegroom." I abode by the tomb a day and a night, then went my way; and this is all I know of Otbah. Almighty Allah have mercy upon him! And they also tell this tale of...
[Go to Hind, Daughter of Al-Nu'man, and Al-Hajjaj]
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