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My father was a king called Teigmous, who reigned over the land of Kabul and the Benou Shehlan, the thousand warlike chieftains, ruling each over a hundred walled cities and a hundred citadels; and he was suzerain also over seven vassal princes, and tribute came to him from the East and from the West. He was just and equitable in his rule and God the Most High had given him all this and had bestowed on him this mighty empire, yet had He not vouchsafed him a son, to inherit the kingdom after him, though this was his dearest wish. So one day he summoned the astrologers and men of learning and art and mathematicians and bade them draw his horoscope and look if he should be vouchsafed a son to succeed him. Accordingly, they consulted their books and calculated his nativity and made an observation of the stars on his account; after which they informed him that he would be blessed with a son, but by none other than the daughter of the King of Khorassan. At this news he rejoiced greatly and bestowing the astrologers treasure beyond count or reckoning, dismissed them. Then he summoned his chief Vizier, a renowned warrior, by name Ain Zar, who was held equal to a thousand cavaliers in battle, and repeating to him what the astrologers had said, bade him make ready to set out for Khorassan and demand the hand of King Behrwan's daughter for him.
The Vizier at once proceeded to equip himself for the journey and encamped without the town with his retinue, whilst King Teigmous made ready the most costly presents for the King of Khorassan, amongst the rest fifteen hundred bales of silk and pearls and rubies and other precious stones, besides gold and silver and a prodigious quantity of all that goes to the equipment of a bride, and loading them upon camels and mules, delivered them to Ain Zar, with a letter to the following purport. 'King Teigmous to King Behrwan, greeting. Know, O King, that we have taken counsel with the astrologers and sages and mathematicians, and they tell us that we shall have a son, and that by none other than thy daughter. Wherefore I have despatched unto thee my Vizier Ain Zar, with great plenty of bridal gear, to demand her of thee in marriage, and I appoint him to stand in my stead and to enter into the marriage contract in my name. Yea, and I desire that thou wilt grant him his request without delay or equivocation, for it is my own, and all the favour thou showest him, I take for myself; but beware of crossing me in this, for God hath bestowed upon me the kingdom of Kabul and vouchsafed me a mighty empire; and if I marry thy daughter, we will be as one thing in the kingship, thou and I, and I will send thee every year as much treasure as will suffice thee. And this is my desire of thee.'
So the Vizier departed with a great company and journeyed till he drew near the capital of Khorassan. When King Behrwan heard of this approach, he despatched his principal officers to meet him, with a convoy of provisions and fodder. The two parties foregathered and alighting without the city, exchanged salutations and abode there, eating and drinking, ten days, at the end of which time they mounted and rode on into the town, where they were met by King Behrwan, who came out to receive King Teigmous's Vizier and alighting, embraced him and carried him to his palace. Then Ain Zar brought out the presents and laid them before King Behrwan, together with King Teigmous's letter, which when the King read, he rejoiced with an exceeding joy and bade the Vizier welcome, saying, 'Rejoice in the accomplishment of thine errand, for if King Teigmous sought of me my life, I would not deny it to him.' Then he went in forthright to his daughter and her mother and his kinsfolk and acquainting them with the King of Kaul's demand, sought council of them, and they said, 'Do what seemeth good to thee.' So he returned straightway to Ain Zar and notified him his concent; and the Vizier abode with him two months, at the end of which time he said to him, 'We beseech thee to bestow upon us that for which we came and that we may depart to our own country.' 'I her and I obey,' answered the Kingand assembled his Viziers and officers and the grandees of his realm and the monks and priests. The latter performed the ceremony of marriage between his daughter and the King Teigmous [by proxy] and King Behrwan bade decorate the city after the goodliest fashion and spread the streets with carpets [in honour of the occasion]. Then he equipped his daughter for the journey and gave her all manner of presents and rarities and precious metals, and Ain Zar departed with the princess to his own country.
When the news of their approach reached King Teigmous, he bade celebrate the wedding festivities and decorate the city; after which he went in to the princess and did away her maidenhead; nor was it long before she conceived by him and accomplishing her months, bore a male child like the moon at its full. When King Teigmous knew that his wife had given birth to a goodly son, he rejoiced with an exceeding joy and calling the sages and astrologers and mathematicians, bade them draw the horoscope of the new-born child and tell him what would befall him in his lifetime. So they made their calculations and found that he would, in his fifteenth year, be exposed to great perils and hardships, which if he survived, he would be happy and fortunate during the rest of his life and become a greater and more powerful king than his father. The king rejoiced greatly in this prediction and named the boy Janshah. Then he delivered him to the nurses, who reared him on goodly wise, till he reached his fifth year, when his father taught him to read the Evangel and instructed him in horsemanship and the use of arms, so that, to King Teigmous's exceeding delight, he became, in less than seven years, a doughty cavalier, proficient in all martial exercises, and was wont to ride a-hunting.
It chanced one day that King Teigmous and his son rode out, a-hunting, into the plains and deserts and hunted till mid-afternoon of the third day, when the prince started a gazelle of a rare colour, which fled before him. So he gave chase to it, followed by seven of King Teigmous's men, all mounted on swift horses, and rode after the gazelle, which fled before them till she brought them to sea-shore. They all run at her, to take her; but she escaped from them and plunging into the waves, swam out to a fishing bark, that was moored near the shore, and leapt on board. Janshah and his followers dismounted and boarding the boat, made prize of the gazelle and were about to return to shore with her, when the prince espied a great island in the offing and said to his men, 'I have a mind to visit yonder island.' 'We hear and obey,' answered they and launching out, sailed till they came to the island, where they landed and explored the place. Then they again embarked and set out to return homeward, but the night overtook them and they lost their way on the sea. Moreover, a contrary wind arose and drove the boat into the mid-ocean, so that, when they awoke in the morning, they found themselves out of sight of land.
Meanwhile, King Teigmous missed his son and commanded his troops to make search for him. So they dispersed on all sides and a company of them, coming to sea-shore, found there one of the prince's attendants, whom he had left in charge of the horses. They asked him what was come of his master and the other six servants, and he told them what had passed; whereupon they returned with him to the King and told him what they had learnt. When Teigmous heard their report, he wept sore and cast the crown from his head, biting his hands for vexation. Then he rose forthright and wrote letters and despatched them to all the islands of the sea. Moreover, he fitted out a hundred ships and filling them with troops, sent them in quest of Janshah. They cruised about for ten days, but finding no trace of the prince, returned and told the King, who withdrew with his troops to his capital city, where he abode in sore concern. As for Janshah's mother, when she heard of his loss, she buffeted her face and fell a-mourning for her son [as if he were dead].
Meanwhile Janshah and his companions drove before the wind till they came to a second island, where they landed and walked about. Presently they came upon a spring of running water in the midst of the island and saw a man sitting thereby. So they went up to him and saluted him, and he returned their greeting in a voice like the pipe of birds. Whilst they were marvelling at the man's speech, he suddenly split himself in twain, and each half went a different way. Then there came down from the hills a multitude of men of all kinds, who no sooner reached the spring, than they divided into two halves and rushed on Janshah and his companions, to eat them. When the latter saw this, they turned and fled seaward; but the cannibals pursued them and caught and ate three of the huntsmen. Janshah and the other three reached the boat in safety and putting out to sea, sailed days and nights, without knowing whither they went. Being pressed by hunger, they killed the gazelle and lived on her flesh, till the winds drove them to a third island, as it were Paradise, full of trees and waters and orchards laden with all manner fruits and streams running under the trees.
The place pleased the prince and he sent his three companions ashore to explore it, whilst he himself remained by the boat. So they landed and searched the island, East and West, but found none; then they fared on inland, till they came to a castle of pure crystal, compassed about with ramparts of white marble, within which was a garden, full of all manner sweet-scented flowers and fruits beyond description, both hard and soft of skin, and trees and birds singing upon the branches. Midmost the garden was a vast basin of water, and beside it a great estrade, on which stood a throne of red gold, set with all kinds of jewels and surrounded by a number of stools. They entered and explored the place in all directions, but found none there, so returned to Janshah and told him what they had seen. When he heard their report, he landed and accompanied them to the palace, which he entered and explored in every part, marvelling at the goodliness of the place. They walked about the gardens and ate of the fruits, till it grew dark, when they returned to the estrade and sat down, Janshah on the throne and the three others on the stools around him. Then the prince called to mind his separation from his father's throne and country and friends and kinsfolk and fell a-weeping and lamenting over their loss, whilst his men wept round him.
Presently, they heard a mighty clamour, that came from seaward, and looking in the direction of the sound, were ware of a multitude of apes, as they were a swarm of locusts. Now the palace and island belonged to these apes, who, finding the boat moored to the strand, had scuttled it and after repaired to the palace, where they found Janshah and his servants. The latter were sore affrighted at the sudden appearance of the apes, but a company of them came up to the throne and kissing the earth before the prince, stood before him, with their paws upon their breasts [in token of homage]. Then they brought gazelles, which they slaughtered and skinned; then, roasting pieces of the flesh, they laid them on platters of gold and silver and spreading the table, made signs to Janshah and his men to eat. So the prince and his followers came down and ate, and the apes with them, till they were satisfied, when he apes took away the meat and set on fruits , of which they ate and praised God the Most High. Then Janshah questioned the apes by signs what they were and to whom the place belonged, and they signed to him in reply, as who should say, 'This island belonged aforetime to our lord Solomon son of David (on whom be peace) and he used to come hither once a year for his pleasance. And know, O King, that thou art become our Sultan and we are thy servants; so eat and drink, and whatsoever thou biddest us, that will we do.' So saying, they kissed the earth before Janshah and went their ways.
The prince lay the night on the throne and his men on the stools about him, and on the morrow, at daybreak, the four Viziers [or chiefs of the apes] presented themselves before him, attended by their followers, who ranged themselves about him, rank upon rank, until the place was full. Then the Viziers exhorted him by signs to do justice amongst them and rule them with equity; after which the apes cried out to each other and went away, all but a few who remained to serve him. After awhile, there came up a company of apes with huge dogs, bridled and saddled like horses, and signed to Janshah and his followers to mount and go with them. So they mounted, marvelling at the greatness of the dogs, and rode forth, attended by the four Viziers and a swarm of apes like locusts, some on foot and others riding [on dogs,] till they came to the sea-shore. Janshah looked for the boat and finding it not, turned to the Viziers and enquired what was come of it, to which they answered, 'Know, O King, that, when thou camest to our island, we knew that thou wouldst be Sultan over us and we feared lest thou shouldst embark in the boat and flee from us, in our absence; so we sank it.'
When Janshah heard this, he turned to his men and said to them, 'There is nothing for it but to submit patiently to what God the Most High hath ordained; for we have no means of escaping from these apes.' Then they fared on inland, till they came to the banks of a river, on the other side of which was a high mountain, whereon Janshah saw a multitude of ghouls, riding on horses, and marvelled at the vastness of their bulk and the strangeness of their favour; for some of them had heads like oxen and others like camels. So he turned to the apes and said to them, 'What are these ghouls?' And they answered, saying, 'Know, O King, that these ghouls are our mortal enemies and we come hither to do battle with them.' As soon as the ghouls espied the army of the apes, they rushed down to the river-bank and standing there, fell to pelting them with stones as big as maces, and there befell a sore battle between them. Presently, Janshah, seeing that the ghouls were getting the better of the apes, cried out to his men, saying, 'Take your bows and arrows and shoot at them and keep them off from us.' So they shot at the ghouls and slew of them much people, whereupon there befell them sore dismay and defeat and they turned to flee, which when the apes saw, they forded the river and chased the ghouls, killing many of them in the pursuit, to the top of the hill, where they disappeared.
Here Janshah found a tablet of alabaster, whereon were written these words, 'O thou that enterest this land, know that thou wilt become Sultan over these apes and that, so long as thou abidest with them, they will be victorious over the ghouls; nor is there any escape for thee from them, except by the passes that run east and west through the mountains. If thou take the eastern pass, it will lead thee through a country swarming with ghouls and wild beasts and Marids and Afrits, and thou wilt come, after three months' journeying, to the ocean that encompasses the earth; but, if thou follow the western pass, it will bring thee, after four months' journeying, to the Valley of Ants. When thou comest thither, beware of the ants and fare on, till thou come to a high mountain that burns like fire. After thou hast followed the road, that leads through this mountain, ten days, thou wilt come to a great river, whose current is so swift that it dazzles the eyes. Now this river dries up every Saturday, and on the [opposite] bank is a city inhabited by Jews, who reject the faith of Mohammed; there is not a Muslim amongst them nor is there other than this city in the country. And know also that he who wrote this tablet was the lord Solomon, son of David, on whom be peace!' When Janshah read these words, he wept sore, and repeated them to his men. Then they mounted again and returned with the apes, in triumph, to the castle, where Janshah abode, Sultan over them, for a year and a half.
At the end of this time, he one day commanded the apes to mount and go forth a-hunting with him, and they rode out into the wastes and wilds and fared on from place to place, till they drew near the Valley of Ants, which Janshah knew by the description of it in the tablet of Solomon. Here he called a halt and they all abode there, eating and drinking, ten days, after which Janshah took his men apart by night and said to them, 'I purpose to flee through the Valley of Ants and make for the town of the Jews; it may be God will deliver us from these apes and we will go our ways.' And they replied, 'We hear and obey.' So they waited till some little of the night was spent, then, donning their armour and girding themselves with swords and daggers and so forth, they set out and fared on westward till morning.
When the apes awoke and missed Janshah and his men, they knew that they had fled. So they mounted and pursued them, some taking the eastern road and others that which led to the Valley of Ants, nor was it long before the latter came in sight of the fugitives, as they were about to enter the valley, and hastened after them. When Janshah and his men saw them, they fled into the Valley of Ants; but their pursuers soon overtook them and would have slain them, when, behold, a multitude of ants, like swarming locusts, as big as dogs, rose out of the earth and rushed upon the apes. They devoured many apes and the latter killed many of the ants; but help came to the latter and there ensued a sore battle between them till the evening. Now an ant would go up to an ape and smite him and cut him in twain, whilst it was all that half a score apes could do to master one ant and tear him in sunder.
As soon as it became dark, Janshah and his men took to flight and fled along the heart of the valley till the morning. With the break of day, the apes were upon them, which when the prince saw, he cried out to his men, saying, 'Smite with your swords.' So they drew their swords and laid about them right and left, till there ran at one of them an ape, with tusks like an elephant, and smote him and cut him in sunder. Then the apes redoubled upon Janshah and he fled with his followers into the lower part of the valley, where he saw a vast river and by its side, a great host of ants. When the latter espied Janshah, they surrounded him, and one of the huntsmen fell to smiting them with his sword and cutting them in twain; whereupon they all set upon him and killed him. At this pass, up came the apes from over the mountain and fell upon Janshah; but he tore off his clothes and plunging into the river, with his remaining servant, struck out for the middle of the stream. Presently, he caught sight of a tree on the other bank of the river; so he swam up to it and laying hold of one of its branches, swung himself ashore, where he fell to wringing his clothes and spreading them in the sun to dry. As for the huntsman, the current carried him away and dashed him in pieces against the rocks, what while there befell a sore battle between the ants and the apes, until the latter gave up the pursuit and returned to their own land.
Janshah abode alone on the river-bank, weeping, till nightfall, when he took refuge in a cavern and passed the night there, in great fear and grief for the loss of his companions. At daybreak, he set out again and fared on days and nights, eating of the herbs of the earth, till he came to the mountain that burnt like fire, and thence to the river that dried up every Saturday. Now it was a mighty river and on the opposite bank stood a great city, which was the city of the Jews mentioned in the tablet of Solomon. Here he abode till the next Saturday, when the river dried up and he walked over to the other side [dry-shod] and entered the city, but saw none in the streets. However, after awhile, he came to the door of a house, so he opened it and entering, saw within the people of the house [sitting] in silence and speaking not. Quoth he, 'I am a stranger and hungry;' and they signed to him, as who should say, 'Eat and drink, but speak not.' So he ate and drank and slept till the morning, when the master of the house bade him welcome and asked him whence he came and whither he was bound. Janshah wept sore and told him all that had befallen him and how his father was King of Kabul; whereat the Jew marvelled and said, 'Never heard we of that city, but we have heard from the merchants of the caravans that in that direction lies a country called Yemen.' 'How far is that country from this place?' asked Janshah, and the Jew said, 'The merchants pretend that it is seven-and-twenty months' journey from their land hither.' 'And when does the caravan come?' asked Janshah. 'Next year it will come,' replied his host; whereat the prince wept and fell a-sorrowing for himself and his followers and lamenting his separation from his father and mother and all that had befallen him in his wanderings. Then said the Jew, 'O young man, do not weep, but abide with us till the caravan comes, when we will send thee with it to thine own country.' So he abode with the Jew two whole months and every day he went out a-walking in the streets of the city for his diversion.
One day, as he walked about the streets, as of wont, he heard a man crying aloud and saying, 'Who will earn a thousand dinars and a slave-girl of surpassing beauty and grace, at the price of half a day's labour?' But none answered him and Janshah said in himself, 'Were not the work perilous and difficult, he would not offer such a price for half a day's labour.' Then he accosted the crier and said to him, 'I will do the work.' So the man took him by the hand and carried him to a lofty and splendid house, where they found a Jew merchant seated on a chair of ebony, to whom said the crier, 'O merchant, I have cried [for thee] every day these three months, and none hath answered, save this young man.' The Jew bade Janshah welcome and taking him by the hand, carried him into a magnificent saloon and called for food. So the servants spread the table and set on all manner meats, of which the merchant and Janshah ate and washed their hands. Then wine was set on and they drank; after which the Jew rose and bringing Janshah a purse of a thousand dinars and a slave-girl of ravishing beauty, said to him, 'Take the girl and money to thy hire. The work thou shalt do to-morrow.' So saying, he withdrew and Janshah lay with the damsel that night.
On the morrow, the merchant bade his slaves carry him to the bath and clothe him in a costly suit of silk, whenas he came out. So they did as he bade them and brought him back to the house, whereupon the merchant called for wine and harp and lute, and they drank and played and made merry till the half of the night was past, when the Jew retired to his harem and Janshah lay with the fair slave till the morning. Then he went to the bath and on his return, the merchant came to him and said, 'Now must thou do the work for me.' 'I hear and obey,' replied Janshah. So the merchant let bring two mules and setting Janshah on one, mounted the other himself. Then they [rode forth the city and] fared on from morn till noon, when they came to a lofty mountain, to whose height there was no limit. Here the Jew halted and alighting, bade Janshah do the same. The latter obeyed and the merchant gave him a knife and a cord, saying, 'I desire that thou slaughter this [thy] mule.' So Janshah tucked up his sleeves and skirts and going up to the mule, bound her legs with the cord, then threw her down and cut her throat; after which he skinned her and lopped off her head and legs and she became a [shapeless] heap of flesh. Then said the Jew, 'Slit open the mule's belly and enter it and I will sew it up on thee. There must thou abide awhile and whatsoever thou seest in her belly, acquaint me therewith.' So Janshah slit the mule's belly and crept into it, whereupon the merchant sewed it up on him and withdrawing to a distance, hid himself in the skirts of the mountain.
Presently a huge bird swooped down on the dead mule and snatching it up, flew up with it to the top of the mountain, where it set it down and would have eaten it; but Janshah, being ware of this, slit the mule's belly and came forth. When the bird saw him, it took fright at him and flew away; whereupon he stood up and looking right and left, saw nothing but the carcases of dead men, dried in the sun, and exclaimed, 'There is no power and no virtue save in God the Most High, the Supreme!' Then he looked down and saw the merchant standing at the mountain-foot, looking for him. As soon as the Jew caught sight of him, he called out to him, saying, 'Throw me down of the stones that are about thee, that I may direct thee to a way by which thou mayst descend.' So Janshah threw him down nigh upon two hundred of the stones, with which the summit was strewn and which were all rubies and chrysolites and other precious stones; after which he called out to him, saying, 'Show me the way down and I will throw thee some more.' The Jew made him no answer, but gathered up the stones and binding them on the back of his mule, went his way, leaving Janshah alone on the mountain-top.
When the latter found himself deserted, he began to weep and implore help, and thus he abode three days, after which he rose and fared on over the mountain two months' space, feeding upon herbs, till he came to its skirts and espied afar off a valley, full of trees and streams and birds singing the praises of God, the One, the Victorious. At this sight he rejoiced greatly and stayed not his steps till he came to a cleft in the rocks, through which [in the season of the rains] a torrent fell down into the valley. He made his way down [the dry bed of the water-course] into the valley and walked on therein, gazing right and left, until he came in sight of a great castle, rising high into the air. As he drew near, he saw an old man of comely aspect and face shining with light standing at the gate, with a staff of cornelian in his hand, and going up to him, saluted him. The old man returned his greeting and bade him welcome, saying, 'Sit down, O my son.' So he sat down at the door of the castle and the other said to him, 'How camest thou to this land, that no son of Adam hath trodden before thee, and whither art thou bound?' When Janshah heard his words, he wept sore at the memory of all he had suffered and his tears choked his speech. 'O my son,' said the old man, 'leave weeping; for indeed thou makest my heart ache.' So saying, he rose and set food before him and bade him eat. He ate and praised God the Most High, after which the old man besought him to tell him his history.
So Janshah related to him all that had befallen him, from first to last, at which he marvelled exceedingly. Then said the prince, 'I prithee, tell me who is the lord of this valley and to whom doth this great castle belong?' 'O my son,' answered the old man, 'this valley and castle and all that is therein belong to the lord Solomon, son of David, on whom be peace! As for me, my name is Sheikh Nesr, king of the birds; for thou must know that the lord Solomon committed this castle to my charge and taught me the language of birds and made me king over all the birds that be in the world; wherefore they all come hither once in every year, and I pass them in review. Then they depart; and this is why I dwell here.' When Janshah heard this, he wept sore and said to the Sheikh, 'O my father, how shall I do to win to my native land?' 'Know, o my son,' replied Sheikh Nesr, 'that thou art near the Mountain Caf; and there is no departing for thee from this place; but tarry with me here and eat and drink and divert thyself with viewing the apartments of this castle, till the birds come, when I will give thee in charge to one of them, and he will bring thee to thy native country.'
So Janshah abode with Sheikh Nesr in all delight of life, taking his pleasance in the valley and eating of its fruits and laughing and making merry with the old man, till the day appointed for the coming of the birds, when the Sheikh gave him the keys of the castle, bidding him amuse himself with exploring all its apartments and viewing what was therein, but charging him straitly not to open such a door, else he would never again know fair fortune. Then he went forth to meet the birds, which came up, kind by kind, and kissed his hands; and he said to them, 'With me is a youth, whom destiny hath brought hither from a far land, and I desire of you that you take him up and carry him to his own country.' And they answered, 'We hear and obey.'
Meanwhile, Janshah went round about the castle, opening the various doors and viewing the apartments into which they led, till he came to the door which Sheikh Nesr had warned him not to enter. Its fashion pleased him, for it had on it a lock of gold, and he said in himself, 'This door is goodlier than all the others; I wonder what is behind it, that Sheikh Nesr should forbid me to open it. Come what may, needs must I enter and see what is in this apartment; for that which is decreed unto the creature, he must perforce fulfil.' So he unlocked the door and entering, found himself in a vast garden, full of streams and trees, laden with fruits, both hard and soft of skin, whose branches swayed gracefully, whenas the zephyr blew upon them. Midmost the garden was a great lake, the gravel of whose bed was gems and jewels and precious stones; and hard by the lake stood a little pavilion, builded all of gold and silver and crystal, with lattice-windows of jacinth. The floor of this pavilion was paved with green beryl and balass rubies and emeralds and other jewels, set mosaic-fashion, and in its midst was a golden basin, full of water and compassed about with figures of birds and beasts, wroughten of gold and silver and casting water from their mouths. When the zephyr blew on them, it entered their ears [and passed through pipes hidden in their bodies,] and therewith the figures sang out, each in its own tongue. Beside the fountain was a great estrade, and thereon stood a vast throne of cornelian, inlaid with pearls and jewels, over which was a tent of green silk set up, fifty cubits in compass and embroidered with jewels and precious metals. Within this tent was a closet containing the [magical] carpet of the lord Solomon (on whom be peace), and the pavilion was compassed about with beds of roses and basil and eglantine and all manner sweet-smelling herbs and flowers.
Janshah explored the marvels of the place, till he was weary of wonder, when he returned to the pavilion and mounting the throne, fell asleep under the tent set up thereon. He slept there awhile and presently awaking, went forth and sat down on a stool before the door. As he sat, marvelling at the goodliness of the place, there flew up three birds like doves [but as big as vultures] and lighted on the brink of the lake, where they sported awhile. Then they put off their feathers and became three maidens, as they were moons, that had not their like in the world. They plunged into the lake and swam about and toyed and laughed, while Janshah marvelled at their beauty and grace and the justness of their shapes.
Presently, they came up out of the water and fell to walking about and taking their pleasure in the garden; whereat Janshah's reason was like to depart from him and he rose and followed them. When he overtook them, he saluted them and they returned his salute; after which quoth he, 'Who are ye, O illustrious ladies, and whence come ye?' 'We are from the invisible world of God the Most High,' replied the youngest damsel, 'and come hither to divert ourselves. And he marvelled at their beauty and said to the youngest, 'Have compassion on me and incline unto me and take pity on my case and on all that has befallen me in my life.' 'Leave this talk,' rejoined she, 'and go thy ways;' whereat the tears streamed from his eyes, and he sighed heavily and repeated the following verses.She shone out in the garden in garments all of green, With open vest and collars and flowing hair beseen.
When the maidens heard his verses, they laughed and played and sang and made merry. Then he brought them somewhat of fruit, and they ate and drank and lay with him till the morning, when they donned their feather-vests and becoming doves once more, flew away and disappeared from his sight. His reason well-nigh fled with them, and he gave a great cry and fell down in a swoon, in which he lay all that day.
Meanwhile, Sheikh Nesr returned from the assembly of the birds and sought for Janshah, that he might send him with the latter to his native land, but found him not and knew that he had entered the forbidden door. So he went thither and seeing it open, entered and found the prince lying aswoon under a tree. He fetched scented waters and sprinkled them on his face, whereupon he revived and turned right and left, but seeing none by him, save the old man, sighed heavily and repeated the following verses:Like the full moon she shines, upon a night of fortune fair, Slender of shape and charming all with her seductive air.
When the Sheikh heard this, he said, 'O my son, did I not warn thee not to open the door? But now tell me what hath befallen thee.' So Janshah told him all that had passed between him and the three maidens, and Sheikh Nesr said, 'Know, O my son, that these three maidens are of the daughters of the Jinn and come hither every year [for a day], to divert themselves and make merry until mid-afternoon, when they return to their own country.' 'And where is their country?' asked Janshah. 'By Allah, O my son,' answered the old man, 'I know not: but now take heart and put away this love from thee and come with me, that I may send thee to thine own land with the birds.' When Janshah heard this, he gave a great cry and fell down in a swoon; and presently, coming to himself, said, 'O my father, I care not to return to my native land. I conjure thee by Allah, let me abide with thee, that I may again foregather with the maidens and look upon the face of her I love, though it be but once a year. And know, O my father, that I will never again name my people, though I die before thee.' And he sighed and repeated the following verses:Would that the phantom never came to mock the lover's pain Anights, and would this love were not created for men's bane!
So saying, he fell at Sheikh Nesr's feet and kissed them and wept sore. 'Have compassion on me,' exclaimed he, 'so God take pity on thee!' 'By Allah, O my son,' replied the old man, 'I know nothing of the maidens nor of their country; but, if thy heart be indeed set on one of them, abide with me till this time next year, and when the day of their coming arrives, hide thyself under a tree in the garden. As soon as they have alighted and laid aside their feather-garments and plunged into the lake and are swimming about at a distance from their clothes, run up and seize the vest of her to whom thou hast a mind. When they see thee, they will come ashore and she, whose vest thou hast taken, will accost thee and say to thee with the sweetest of speech and the most bewitching smiles, "Give me my clothes, O my brother, that I may don them and cover my nakedness withal." But be not thou persuaded; for, if thou yield to her wishes and give her back the vest, she will don it and fly away and thou wilt never see her again; but, when thou hast gotten the vest, put it under thine armpit and hold it fast, till I return from the assembly of the birds, when I will make accord between you and send thee back to thy native land, and the maiden with thee. And this, O my son, is all I can do for thee.' When Janshah heard this, his heart was solaced and he abode with Sheikh Nesr yet another year, counting the hours until the day of the coming of the birds.
At last the appointed time arrived and the old man said to him, 'Do as I enjoined thee with the maidens, for I go to meet the birds.' So saying, he departed, whilst Janshah repaired to the garden and hid himself under a tree, where none could see him. Here he abode a first day and a second and a third, but the maidens came not; whereat he was sore troubled and wept and groaned without ceasing, till he swooned away. When he came to himself, he sat, looking now at the lake and now at the sky, and anon at the earth and anon at the open country, whilst his heart fluttered for stress of love and longing. As he was in this case, behold, the three doves appeared in the distance and flew till they reached the garden and lighted down beside the lake. They turned right and left, but saw no one; so they put off their feathers and became three naked maidens, as they were ingots of virgin silver. Then they plunged into the lake and swam about, laughing and frolicking. Quoth the eldest, 'O my sister, I fear lest there be some one lying in wait for us in the pavilion.' 'O sister, answered the second, 'since the days of King Solomon, none hath entered the pavilion, be he man or genie. 'By Allah, O my sisters,' added the youngest, laughing, 'if there be any hidden there, he will assuredly take none but me.'
Then they swam out to the middle of the lake, and when Janshah, who was watching them, with a heart fluttering for stress of passion, saw them at a distance from their clothes, he sprang to his feet and running like the darting lightning [to the brink of the lake,] snatched up the feather-vest of the youngest damsel, her on whom his heart was set and whose name was Snemseh. At this, the girls turned and seeing him, were affrighted and veiled themselves from him with the water. Then they swam towards the shore and looking on him, saw that he was bright of face as the moon at her full and said to him, 'Who art thou and how comest thou hither and why hast thou taken the clothes of the lady Shemseh?' 'Come hither to me,' replied he, 'and I will tell you my story.' Quoth Shemseh, 'Why hast thou taken my clothes, rather than those of my sisters?' 'O light of mine eyes,' answered he. 'come forth of the water, and I will tell thee my case and why I chose thee out.' 'O my lord and solace of my eyes and fruit of my heart,' rejoined she, 'give me my clothes, that I may put them on and cover my nakedness withal; then will I come forth to thee.' But he replied, saying, 'O princess of fair ones, how can I give thee back thy clothes and slay myself for love-longing? Verily, I will not give them to thee, till Sheikh Nesr, the king of the birds, returns.' 'If thou wilt not give me my clothes,' quoth she, 'withdraw a little apart from us, that my sisters may come forth and dress themselves and give me somewhat wherewith to cover myself.' 'I hear and obey,' answered he and retired into the pavilion, whereupon the two eldest princesses came out and donning their clothes, gave Shemseh somewhat thereof, not enough to fly withal, and she put it on and came forth of the water, as she were the moon at her full or a browsing gazelle.
Then they entered the pavilion, where they found Janshah sitting on the throne; so Shemseh saluted him and sitting down near him, said to him, 'O fair of face, thou hast undone thyself and me; but tell us thy history, that we may know how it is with thee.' At these words, he wept till he wet his clothes with his tears; and when she saw that he was distracted for love of her, she rose and taking him by the hand, made him sit by her side and wiped away his tears with her sleeve. Then said she to him, 'O fair of face, leave this weeping and tell us thy story.' So he related to her all that had befallen him, whereupon she sighed and said, 'O my lord, since thou lovest me so dear, give me my clothes, that I may fly to my people and tell them what has passed between thee and me, and after I will come back to thee and carry thee to thine own country.' When he heard this, he wept and replied, 'Is it lawful to thee before God to slay me wrongfully?' 'O my lord,' said she, 'and how shall I do that?' 'If I give thee thy clothes,' rejoined he, 'thou wilt fly away from me, and I shall die forthright.'
At this she and her sisters laughed and she said to him, 'Take comfort and be of good cheer, for I must needs marry thee.' So saying, she bent down to him and embraced him and kissed him between the eyes and on his cheeks. They clipped each other awhile, after which they drew apart and sat down on the throne. Then the eldest princess went out into the garden and gathering fruits and flowers, brought them into the pavilion, and they ate and drank and sported and made merry. Now Janshah was accomplished in beauty and grace and slender and elegant of shape, and the princess Shemseh said to him, 'By Allah, O my beloved, I love thee with an exceeding love and will never leave thee!' When he heard her words, his heart dilated and he laughed for joy; and they abode thus awhile in mirth and gladness.
Whilst they were laughing and taking their pleasure in the pavilion, Sheikh Nesr returned from the assembly of the birds and came in to them; whereupon they all rose to him and saluted him and kissed his hands. He gave them welcome and bade them be seated. So they sat down and he said to Shemseh, 'Verily, this youth loves thee with an exceeding love; so, God on thee, deal kindly with him, for he is of the great ones of mankind and of the sons of the kings, and his father rules over the land of Kabul and is possessed of a mighty empire.' 'I hear and obey,' answered she and kissing the Sheikh's hands, stood before him [in token of respect and obedience]. 'If thou speak truly,' said he, 'swear to me by Allah that thou wilt never betray him, what while thou abidest in the chains of life.' So she swore a great oath that she would never betray Janshah, but would assuredly marry him, and added, 'I will never forsake him.' The Sheikh believed in her oath and said to Janshah, 'Thanks be to God, who hath made you at one!' At this the prince rejoiced with an exceeding great joy, and he and Shemseh abode three months with Sheikh Nesr, feasting and making merry.
At the end of that time, the princess said to Janshah, 'I wish to go with thee to thy native land, that we may marry and abide there.' 'I hear and obey,' answered he and took counsel with Sheikh Nesr, who bade him go and commended the princess to his care. Then said she, 'O Sheikh Nesr, bid him give me my feather-vest.' So the Sheikh bade Janshah give it to her, and he did so; where upon she donned it and said to the prince, 'Mount my back and keep fast hold of my feathers, lest thou fall off; and do thou shut thine eyes and stop thine ears, so thou mayst not hear the roar of the revolving sphere, as we pass through the air.' He did as she bade him and Sheikih Nesr described to her the land of Kabul, that she might not miss her way, and bade them farewell, commending the prince to her care. She took leave of her sisters and bade them return to her people and tell them what had befallen her with Janshah; then, rising into the air, she flew off, like the wafts of the wind or the dazzling lightning, and stayed not her course from the forenoon till the hour of afternoon prayer, when she espied afar off a valley abounding in trees and streams and alighted there to rest. Janshah dismounted and kissing her between the eyes, sat with her awhile on the bank of a river there; then they rose and explored the valley, taking their pleasure therein and eating of the fruits of the trees, till nightfall, when they lay down under a tree and slept till the morning.
As soon as it was day, the princess arose and taking Janshah on her back, flew on with him till mid-day, when she perceived, by the appearance of the landmarks that Sheikh Nesr had described to her, that they were nearing the city of Kabul and alighted in a wide and blooming champaign, wherein were gazelles feeding and springs welling and rivers flowing and trees laden with ripe fruits. So Janshah dismounted and kissed her between the eyes; and she said to him, 'O my beloved and solace of mine eyes, knowst thou how many days' journey we have come [since yesterday]?' 'No,' answered he, and she said. 'We have come thirty months' journey.' Quoth he, 'Praised be God for safety!' Then they sat down side by side and ate and drank and toyed and laughed.
Presently, there came up to them two of the King's servants, of those who had been of the prince's company in the chase, and one of them was he whom he had left by the horses, when he embarked in the fishing-boat. As soon as they saw Janshah, they knew him and saluted him; then said they, 'With thy leave, we will go to thy father and bear him the glad tidings of thy coming.' 'Go,' replied the prince, 'and fetch us tents, for we will abide here seven days to rest ourselves, till he make ready and come forth to meet us, that we may enter in due state.' So the officers hastened back to King Teigmous and said to him, 'Good news, O King of the age!' 'What is it?' asked he. 'Is my son Janshah come back?' 'Yes,' answered they; 'he has returned from his absence and is now near at hand in the Kerani meadow.'
When the King heard this, he rejoiced greatly and fell down in a swoon for excess of joy; then, coming to himself, he bade his Vizier give each of the men a splendid dress of honour and a sum of money and said to them, 'Take this, in reward for your good tidings, whether ye lie or speak sooth.' 'Indeed, we lie not,' replied the slaves, 'for but now we sat with him and saluted him and kissed his hands, and he bade us go and fetch him tents for that he would abide in the meadow seven days, till such time as the Viziers and Amirs and grandees should come out to meet him.' Quoth the King, 'How is it with my son?' And they answered, 'He hath with him a houri, as he had brought her out of Paradise.' At this, the King bade beat the drums and sound the trumpets for gladness and despatched messengers to announce the good news to Janshah's mother and to the wives of the Amirs and notables. So the criers spread themselves about the city and acquainted the people with the glad tidings of the prince's coming.
Then the King made ready and setting out, with his officers and troops, for the meadow, came upon Janshah and Shemseh sitting there. When the prince saw them, he rose and went to meet them; and the troops knew him and dismounted, to salute him and kiss his hands; after which they escorted him to his father, who, at sight of his son, threw himself from his horse's back and clipped him in his arms and wept sore. Then they took horse again and rode till they came to the banks of a river, when the troops alighted and pitched the tents and pavilions and standards, to the sound of trumpets and cymbals and drums and flutes. Moreover, the King caused set up a pavilion of red silk for the princess Shemseh, who put off her feather raiment and entering the pavilion, sat down there.
Presently, the King and his son came in to her, and when she saw Teigmous, she rose and kissed the earth before him. The King sat down and seating Janshah on his right hand and Shemseh on his left, bade her welcome and said to his son, 'Tell me all that hath befallen thee in thine absence.' So Janshah related to him all his adventures, whereat he marvelled greatly and turning to the princess, said, 'Praised be God for that He hath put it into thy heart to reunite me with my son! Verily this is of [His] exceeding bounty! And now I would have thee ask of me what thou wilt, that I may do it in thine honour.' Quoth she, 'I ask of thee that thou build me a palace in the midst of a garden, with water running under it.' And the King answered, 'I hear and obey.'
As they sat talking, up came Janshah's mother, attended by all the wives of the Viziers and Amirs and notables of the city. When the prince caught sight of her, he rose and leaving the tent, went to meet her and they embraced a long while, whilst the queen wept for excess of joy and repeated the following verses:Joy hath o'ercome me so, that, for the very stress Of that which gladdens me, to weeping I am fain.
Then the King departed to his pavilion and Janshah carried his mother to his own tent, where they sat talking and complaining, one to the other, of all they had suffered for separation, till there came up some of Shemseh's attendants, to announce the coming of the princess. When the queen heard this, she rose and going to meet Shemseh, saluted her and seated her by her side. They sat awhile and presently the queen and her attendants returned with Shemseh to the latter's tent and sat there.
Meanwhile King Teigmous gave great largesse to his troops and subjects and rejoiced in his son with an exceeding joy, and they abode there ten days, feasting and making merry. At the end of this time, the King commanded to depart, and they all mounted and returned in state to the city, which was decorated after the goodliest fashion, for the folk had adorned the houses with precious stuffs and jewellery and spread costly brocades under the horses' feet. The drums beat for glad tidings and the notables of the kingdom rejoiced and brought rich gifts, and the lookers on were filled with amazement. Moreover, they fed the poor and needy and held high festival for the space of ten days; and the lady Shemseh rejoiced with an exceeding joy, whenas she saw this.
Then King Teigmous summoned architects and builders and men of art and bade them build a magnificent palace in such a garden. So they straightway proceeded to do his bidding, and when Janshah knew of this, he bade the workmen fetch a block of white marble and hollow it out in the likeness of a chest; which being done, he took the feather-vest of the princess Shemseh and laid it therein; then, closing the opening with melted lead, he commanded them to bury the marble chest in the foundations and build over it the arches on which the palace was to rest. They did as he bade them, nor was it long before the palace was finished on the goodliest wise. Then they furnished it and it was a magnificent palace, standing in the midst of the garden, with streams running from under it. As soon as it was ready, the King caused Janshah's wedding to be celebrated with the greatest magnificence and they brought the bride to the castle in state and went their ways.
When Shemseh entered, she smelt the scent of the feather-vest and knew where it was and had a mind to take it. However, she waited till midnight, when Janshah was drowned in sleep; then rose and going straight to the place where the marble coffer was buried, dug till she came upon it and took it up. She did away the leaden stopper and taking out the feather-vest, put it on. Then she flew up into the air and perching on the summit of the palace, cried out to those who were therein, saying, 'Fetch me Janshah, that I may bid him farewell.' So they told him and he came out and seeing her on the roof of the palace, clad in her feather raiment, said to her, 'Why hast thou done this thing?' 'O my beloved and solace of mine eyes and fruit of my heart,' replied she, 'by Allah, I love thee passing dear and I rejoice with an exceeding joy in that I have brought thee to thy friends and country and seen thy father and mother. And now, if thou love me as I love thee, come to me at the Castle of Jewels.'
So saying, she flew away and Janshah fell down in a swoon, being well-nigh dead for despair. His people carried the news to King Teigmous, who mounted at once and riding to the palace, found his son lying on the ground, senseless, whereat he wept and sprinkled rose-water on his face. When the prince came to himself and found his father at his head, he wept passing sore, and the King asked what had befallen him. So he told him what had happened, and the King said, 'O my son, be not concerned, for I will assemble all the merchants and pilgrims in the land and enquire at them of the Castle of Jewels. If we can find out where it is, we will journey thither and demand the Princess Shemseh of her people, and I hope in God the Most High, that He will give her back to thee.'
Then he went out and calling his four Viziers, bade them assemble all the merchants and travellers in the town and question them of the Castle of Jewels, adding, 'Whoso knows it and can direct us thither, I will give him fifty thousand dinars.' The Viziers accordingly went forth and did as the King bade them, but none could give them news of the Castle of Jewels; so they returned and told the King, who bade bring beautiful slave-girls and concubines and singers and players upon instruments of music, whose like are not found but with kings, and lent them to Janshah, so haply they might divert him from the love of the lady Shemseh. Moreover, he despatched couriers and spies to all the [neighbouring] lands and islands and climes, to enquire for the Castle of Jewels, and they made quest for it two months long, but none could give them news of it. So they returned and told the King, whereupon he wept sore and going in to his son, found him sitting in the midst of the concubines and singers and players on harp and psaltery and so forth, none of whom could avail to console him for the lady Shemseh. 'O my son,' said Teigmous, 'I can find none who knows the Castle of Jewels; but I will bring thee a fairer than she.' When Janshah heard this, his eyes ran over with tears and he recited the following verses;Patience bath fled, but passion abideth and desire, And all my body's wasted with love and longing dire.
Now there was a King of Hind, by name Kefid, who reigned over a thousand cities, in each of which were as many citadels; he had four Viziers and under him were kings and princes and Amirs. Moreover, he had great plenty of troops and warriors and champions and under his hand were a thousand chieftains, each ruling over a thousand tribes, that could muster each four thousand cavaliers; and indeed he was a king of great might and prowess and his armies filled the whole earth. Between him and King Teigmous there was a fierce feud, for that the latter had made war upon him and ravaged his kingdom and slain his men and carried off his treasures. So, when it came to King Kefid's knowledge that King Teigmous was occupied with the love of his son and with concern and care for his sake, so that he neglected the affairs of the state and his troops were grown few and weak, he summoned his viziers and officers and said to them, 'Ye all know that King Teigmous invaded our dominions and plundered our goods and slew my father and brothers, nor indeed is there one of you, but he hath ravaged his lands and carried off his goods and made prize of his women and slain some kinsman of his. Now to-day I have heard that he is taken up with the love of his son Janshah and that his troops are grown few and weak; and this is the time to take our wreak on him. So don ye your harness of battle forthright and make ready for war without delay, and we will go to him and fall upon him and slay him and his son and possess ourselves of his kingdom.' They all answered with one voice, saying, 'We hear and obey,' and proceeded at once to equip themselves and levy troops.
The preparations occupied three months, at the end of which time the King set out at the head of his army, with drums beating and trumpets sounding and banners flying, and fared on till they reached the frontiers of the land of Kabul and entered the dominions of King Teigmous, where they began to ravage the country and do havoc among the folk, slaying the old and taking the young prisoners.
When the news reached King Teigmous, he was exceeding wroth and assembling his grandees and officers of state, said to them, 'Know that Kefid hath come to our country with troops and champions and warriors, whose number none knoweth save God the Most High, and is minded to do battle against us; what deem ye?' 'O King of the age,' replied they, 'let us go out to him and give him battle and drive him forth of our country.' So he commanded them to prepare for battle and brought forth to them hauberks and cuirasses and helmets and swords and all manner warlike gear, such as slay warriors and do to death the champions of mankind. So the troops and warriors and champions flocked to the standards and King Teigmous marched out at the head of his army, with drums and cymbals beating and flutes and clarions sounding and banners flying, to meet the army of Hind.
When he drew near the foe, he called a halt and encamping with his host in the Valley of Zehran, hard by the frontier, despatched to King Kefid the following letter:'Know that what thou hast done is of the fashion of the lewd rabble and wert thou indeed a king, the son of a king, thou hadst not thus invaded my kingdom and slain my subjects and done unright upon them. Knowest thou not that all this is the fashion of a tyrant? Verily, had I known that thou wouldst dare to invade my dominions, I had come to thee and prevented thee therefrom this long while since. Yet, even now, if thou wilt retire and leave mischief between us and thee, well and good; but if not, come out to me in the listed field and measure thyself with me in fair fight.' This letter he committed to an officer of his army and sent with him spies to spy him out news.
When the messenger drew near the enemy's camp, he saw a multitude of tents of silk and satin, with pennons of blue silk, and amongst them a great pavilion of red satin, surrounded by guards. He made for this tent and found that it was that of King Kefid and saw therein the latter seated on a chair set with jewels, in the midst of his Viziers and captains and grandees. So he displayed the letter and straightway there came up to him a company of guards, who took it from him and carried it to the King. Kefid read it and wrote the following reply; 'King Kefid to King Teigmous. Know that I mean to take my wreak of thee and wash out the stain on my honour by laying waste thy lands and dishonouring thy women and slaying the old and carrying the young into slavery; and tomorrow, come thou out to combat in the open field, and I will show thee war and battle.' Then he sealed the letter and delivered it to the messenger, who carried it to King Teigmous and informed the latter that he had seen in the enemy's camp warriors and horsemen and footmen beyond count, there was no bound to them. When Teigmous read the answer, he was beyond measure enraged and bade his Vizier Ain Zar take a thousand horse and fall upon the army of Kefid in the middle watch of the night.
Meanwhile, King Kefid commanded one of his Viziers, Ghetrefan by name, to take five thousand horse and attack King Teigmous's camp in like manner. So the two parties set out and meeting halfway, man cried out against man and there befell a sore battle between them till daybreak, when Ghetrefan's men were routed and fled back to their camp in confusion. When Khefid saw this, he was exceeding wroth and said to the fugitives, 'What hath befallen you, that ye have lost your captains?' 'O King of the age,' answered they, 'there met us halfway the Vizier Ain Zar, with champions and cavaliers, so that, before we were ware, we found ourselves in the enemy's midst, face to face with them, and fought a sore battle with them from midnight till morning. Then the Vizier and his men fell to smiting the elephants on the face and shouting out at them, till they took fright and turning tail to flee, trampled down the horsemen, whilst none could see other for the clouds of dust. The blood ran like a torrent and much folk were slain, and indeed, had we not fled, we had all been cut off to the last man.' When Kefid heard this, he exclaimed, 'May the sun not bless you and may his wrath be sore upon you!'
Meanwhile, Ain Zar returned to King Teigmous and told him what had happened. The King gave him joy of his safety and rejoiced greatly and bade beat the drums and sound the trumpets, in honour of the victory; after which he called the roll of his troops and found that two hundred of his stoutest champions had fallen. Then King Kefid marched his army into the field and drew them out in order of battle in fifteen lines of ten thousand horse each, under the commandment of three hundred captains and princes, mounted on elephants and chosen from amongst the doughtiest of his warriors. So he set up his standards and banners and blew the trumpets and beat the drums, whilst the champions sallied forth, offering battle. As for King Teigmous, he drew out his troops in ten lines of ten thousand horse each, and with him were a hundred champions, riding on his right hand and on his left. Then rode forward to the fight each renowned cavalier, with drums. and cymbals beating and pipes and hautboys sounding and trumpets blaring, and the two hosts clashed together, whilst the earth for all its wideness was straitened for the multitude of the cavaliers and ears were deafened for the tramp of the horses and the shouting of the men. The dust volleyed up in clouds and hung vaulted over them, and they fought a sore battle from the first of the day till the coming of the darkness, when they separated and each army drew off to its own camp. Then the two kings mustered their troops and found that they had lost, Kefid five thousand men and Teigmous three thousand of the flower of his braves, whereat they were sore concerned. On the morrow, the two hosts again drew out in battle array, and Kefid cried out to his men, saying, 'Which of you will sally forth into the field and open us the chapter of war and battle?' Thereupon came out from the ranks a warrior named Berkaik, a mighty man of war, riding on an elephant. When he reached the King, he alighted and kissing the earth before him, sought of him leave to challenge the foe to single combat. Then he mounted his elephant and pricking into the middle of the field, cried out, 'Who is for jousting, who is for foining, who is for fighting?' When King Teigmous heard this, he said to his troops, 'Which of you will do battle with this champion?' Whereupon a cavalier came out from the ranks, mounted on a charger, mighty of make, and dismounting, kissed the earth before the King and craved his permission to engage Berkaik. Then he mounted again and drove at Berkaik, who said to him, 'Who art thou, that thou makest mock of me by coming out against me, alone?' 'My name is Ghezenfer ben Kemkhil,' replied the Kabul champion; and the other, 'I have heard tell of thee in my own country; so up and do battle between the ranks of the champions.'
Then Ghezenfer drew a mace of iron from under his thigh and Berkaik took his sword in his hand, and they fought a sore battle, till Berkaik smote Ghezenfer on the head with his sword, but the helmet turned the blow and no hurt betided him therefrom; whereupon Ghezenfer, in his turn, dealt Berkaik so terrible a buffet on the head with his mace, that he beat him down on to his elephant's back [and killed him]. With this out sallied another horseman and saying to Ghezenfer, 'Who art thou that thou shouldst slay my brother?' hurled a javelin at him with such force that it pierced his thigh and nailed his greaves to his flesh. The Kabul champion, feeling himself wounded, took his sword in his hand and smote at Berkaik's brother and cut him in sunder, and he fell to the earth, wallowing in his blood, whilst Ghezenfer rode back to King Teigmous.
When Kefid saw the death of his champions, he cried out to his troops to set on, as also did the King of Kabul; and the two armies drove at each other. Horse neighed against horse and man cried out upon man and the swords flashed from the scabbards, whilst the drums beat and the trumpets sounded. Then horseman charged upon horseman and every renowned champion pricked forward, whilst the faintheart fled from the push of pike and men heard nought but the clang of arms and the roar of the battle. Slain were the warriors that were slain and they stinted not from the fight till the going down of the sun in the pavilion of the heavens, when the two hosts drew asunder and returned each to its own camp. Then King Teigmous numbered his men and found that he had lost five thousand men and four standards, whereat he was sore concerned; whilst King Kefid in like manner counted his troops and found that he had lost six hundred of the flower of his horsemen and nine standards.
The two armies rested on their arms three days' space, after which Kefid wrote a letter to a king called Facoun el Kelb (to whom he claimed kinship by his mother) and the latter forthwith assembled his troops and marched to the succour of the King of Hind. So, as King Teigmous was sitting at his pleasance, there came one in to him and said, 'I see a cloud of dust rising into the air in the distance.'So he despatched a company, to learn the meaning of this, who presently returned and said to him, 'O King, when we drew near the cloud of dust, the wind smote it and it lifted and discovered seven standards and under each standard three thousand horse, making for King Kefid's camp.' Then King Facoun joined himself to the King of Hind and saluting him, enquired how it was with him and what was this war in which he was engaged. 'Knowest thou not,' answered Kefid, 'that King Teigmous is my enemy and the murderer of my father and brothers? Wherefore I am come forth to do battle with him and take my wreak on him.' Quoth Facoun, 'The blessing of the sun be upon thee!' And the King of Hind carried King Facoun to his tent and rejoiced in him with an exceeding great joy.
To return to Janshah. He abode shut up in his palace, without seeing his father or allowing one of the damsels or singing-women in his service to come in to him, for two months' space, at the end of which time he grew troubled and restless at not seeing the King and said to his attendants, 'What ails my father that he cometh not to visit me?' They told him that he had gone forth to do battle with the King of Hind, whereupon quoth Janshah, 'Bring me my horse, that I may go to my father.' But he said in himself, 'I am taken up with the thought of my beloved, and I deem well to journey to the city of the Jews, where haply God shall grant me to meet the merchant, and maybe he will hire me once more and deal with me as before, for none knoweth wherein is good.' So he took with him a thousand horse and set out, the folk. deeming that he purposed to join his father in the field, and they fared on till dusk, when they halted for the night in a vast meadow. As soon as he knew that all his men were asleep, the prince rose and girding his middle, mounted his horse and rode out, intending for Baghdad, for that he had heard from the Jews that a caravan came thence their city once in every two years and thought to journey thither therewith.
When his men awoke and missed the prince and his horse, they mounted and sought him right and left, but finding no trace of him, rejoined his father and told him what his son had done; whereat he was beyond measure concerned and cast the crown from his head, whilst the sparks were like to fly from his mouth, and he said, 'There is no power and no virtue but in God! I have lost my son, and the enemy is before me.' But his Viziers and vassals said to him, 'Patience, O King of the age! Nought but good ensueth patience.' Then he collected his forces and abandoning his camp, retired to his capital, where he armed the inhabitants and fortified the place, setting up mangonels and other engines upon the walls. King Kefid followed him and sat down before the town, offering battle seven nights and eight days, after which he withdrew to his tents, to tend his wounded. On this wise he did every month, and they ceased not to beleaguer the place thus seven years.
Meanwhile, Janshah arrived at Baghdad, where he heard from a merchant that the city of the Jews was situate in the extreme Orient and that a caravan would start that very month for the city of Mizrecan in Hind, 'whither do thou accompany us,' said the merchant, 'and we will fare on to Khorassan and thence to the city of Shimaoun and Khouarezm, from which latter place the city of the Jews is distant a year and three months' journey.' So Janshah waited till the time of the departure of the caravan, when he joined himself thereto and journeyed, till he reached the city of Mizrecan, whence he again set out and after enduring great hardships and perils and the extreme of hunger and thirst, arrived at the town of Shimaoun. Nor did he fail in every city to which he came to enquire after the Castle of Jewels, but none could give him news of it and all said, 'Never heard we this name.' At Shimaoun he made enquiry for the city of the Jews, and they directed him the road thither. So he set out and journeyed nights and days till he came to the place, where he had given the apes the slip, and continued his journey thence to the river, on the opposite bank of which stood the city of the Jews. He sat down on the shore and waited till Saturday came round and the river dried up, when he crossed over to the opposite bank and entering the city, betook himself to the house of his former host. The Jew and his family rejoiced in his return and set meat and drink before him, saying, 'Where hast thou been during thine absence?' 'In the kingdom of God the Most High,' answered he and lay with them that night.
On the morrow he went out to walk about the city and presently heard a crier crying aloud and saying, 'O folk, who will earn a thousand dinars and a handsome slave-girl and do half a day's work for us?' So Janshah went up to him and said, 'I am your man.' Quoth the crier, 'Follow me,' and carrying him to the house of the Jew merchant, where he had been aforetime, said to the latter, 'This young man will do thy work.' The merchant gave him welcome [not recognizing him] and carried him into the harem, where he set meat and drink before him, and he ate and drank. Then he brought him the dinars and the fair slave, with whom he lay that night.
On the morrow, he took the money and the damsel and committing them to his host, returned to the merchant, who mounted and rode out with him, till they came to the foot of the mountain, where they halted and the merchant, bringing out a knife and cords, bade Janshah throw down the mare on which he rode and bind her legs with the cords. So he threw her down and bound her and slaughtered her and cut off her legs and slit her belly, as the Jew ordered him; whereupon quoth the latter, 'Enter her belly, till I sew it up on thee; and whatsoever thou seest therein, tell me of it, for this is the work the hire whereof thou hast taken.' So Janshah entered the mare's belly and the merchant sewed it up on him, then, withdrawing to a distance, hid himself.
Presently, a great bird swooped down on the carcase and flying up with it to the mountain-top, would have eaten it, which when Janshah felt, he took out his knife and slitting the mare's belly, came forth. The bird was scared at his sight and flew away, and Janshah went up to the edge of the crest and looking down, espied the merchant standing at the foot of the mountain, as he were a sparrow. So he cried out to him, 'What is thy will, O merchant?' 'Throw me down of the stones that lie about thee,' replied the Jew, 'that I may direct thee in the way down.' Quoth Janshah, 'I am he with whom thou didst thus and thus five years agone, and through thee I suffered hunger and thirst and sore toil and much hardship; and now thou hast brought me hither once more and thinkest to destroy me. By Allah, I will not throw thee aught!' So saying, he turned his back on him and set out for the castle of the lord Solomon.
He fared on many days and nights, tearful-eyed and heavy at heart, eating, when he hungered, of the fruits of the earth and drinking, when he thirsted, of its streams, till he came in sight of the castle and saw Sheikh Nesr sitting at the gate. So he hastened up to him and kissed his hands; and the Sheikh bade him welcome and said to him, 'O my son, what ails thee that thou returnest to this place, after I sent thee home with the Princess Shemseh, comforted and glad at heart?' Janshah wept and told him all that had befallen him and how she had flown away from him, saying, 'An thou love me, come to me at the Castle of Jewels;' at which the old man marvelled and said, 'By Allah, O my son, I know not the Castle of Jewels, nor, by the virtue of our lord Solomon, have I ever in my life heard its name!' 'What shall I do?' said Janshah. 'I am dying of love and longing.' Quoth Sheikh Nesr, 'Take patience until the coming of the birds, when I will enquire at them of the Castle of Jewels.'
So Janshah's heart was comforted and he abode with Sheikh Nesr, until the appointed day arrived, when the Sheikh said to him, 'O my son, learn these names and come with me to meet the birds.' Presently, the birds came flying up and saluted Sheikh Nesr, kind after kind, and he asked them of the Castle of Jewels, but they all made answer that they had never heard of such a place. When Janshah heard this, he wept and lamented, till he swooned away, whereupon Sheikh Nesr called a huge bird and said to him, 'Carry this youth to the land of Kabul,' and described to him the land and the way thither. Then he set Janshah on the bird's back, bidding him sit straight and beware of inclining to either side, or he would fall and be torn to pieces in the air, and to stop his ears from the wind, lest he be dazed by the noise of the revolving sphere and the roaring of the seas.
So the bird took flight and flew with him a day and a night, till he set him down by the King of the Beasts, whose name was Shah Bedra, and said to him, 'We have gone astray.' And he would have taken him up again and flown on with him; but Janshah said, 'Go thy ways and leave me here, till I die or find the Castle of Jewels. I will not return to my country.' So the bird left him with Shah Bedra and flew away. The King bade him welcome and said to him, O my son, who art thou and whence comest thou with yonder great bird?' So Janshah told him his story, whereat Shah Bedra marvelled and said, 'By the virtue of the lord Solomon, I know not of this castle; but [when the beasts come to pay their respects to me, we will ask them thereof, and] if any know it, we will reward him bountifully and send thee thither by him.'
So Janshah took patience and abode with Shah Bedra, [who gave him certain tablets, inscribed with magical formulas,] saying 'O my son, commit to memory that which is in these tablets; [so wilt thou be gifted to understand the language of beasts;] and when the beasts come, question them of the Castle of Jewels.' He did as the King bade him, and before long, up came the beasts, kind after kind, and saluted Shah Bedra, who questioned them of the Castle of Jewels; but they all replied, 'We know not this castle, nor ever heard we of it.' At this Janshah wept sore and lamented for that he had not gone with the bird that brought him from Sheikh Nesr's castle; but Shah Bedra said to him, 'Grieve not, O my son, for I have a brother who is older than I; his name is King Shimakh and he rules over all the Jinn in the country. He was once a prisoner to King Solomon, for that he rebelled against him; nor is there among the Jinn an elder than he and Sheikh Nesr. Belike he knows of this castle.' So saying, he set Janshah on the back of a beast and gave him a letter to his brother, commending him to his care.
So the beast set off with the prince and fared on days and nights, till it came to King Shimakh's abiding-place and stood still afar off; whereupon Janshah alighted and walked on, till he found himself in the presence of the King, to whom he presented his brother's letter, after having kissed his hands. The King read the letter and welcomed the prince, saying, 'By Allah, O my son, in all my life I never saw nor heard of this castle! But tell me thy story and who and whence thou art and whither thou art bound.' So Janshah related to him his history from beginning to end, at which the King marvelled and said, 'O my son, I do not believe that our lord Solomon even ever saw or heard of this castle; but I know a hermit in the mountains, who is exceeding old and whom all birds and beasts and Jinn obey; for he ceased not to conjure against the kings of the Jinn, till they submitted themselves to him in their own despite, by reason of the might of his spells and his enchantments. I myself once rebelled against King Solomon and he sent this hermit against me, who overcame me with his craft and his enchantments and imprisoned me, and since then I have been his vassal. His name is Yegmous and he dwells in a retreat in the mountains called the Hermitage of Diamonds. He is a cunning artificer in all manner strange works and a crafty warlock and necromancer, full of guile and versed in every kind of magic and sorcery and enchantment, and all birds and beasts and mountains obey him and come at his beck, for the stress of his conjurations. Moreover, he hath made him a staff in three pieces, and this he plants in the earth and conjures over it; whereupon flesh and blood issue from the first piece, sweet milk from the second and wheat and barley from the third. He hath travelled in all countries and quarters and knoweth all ways and regions and places and castles and cities, nor do I think there is any place hidden from his ken. So needs must I send thee to him; haply he may direct thee to the Castle of Jewels; and if he cannot do this, none can, for all things obey him, by reason of his skill in magic.'
So saying, Shimakh called a great bird, that had feet like those of an elephant and four wings, each thirty cubits long, and set Janshah on its back, bidding it carry him to the hermit. Now this bird flew but twice a year, and there was with King Shimakh an officer, by name Timshoun, who used every day to carry off two Bactrian camels from the land of Irak and cut them up for it, that it might eat them. So it rose into the air and flew on days and nights, till it came to the mountain of the Citadels and the hermitage of Diamonds where Janshah alithted and going up to the hermitage, found Yegmous at his devotions. So he entered the chapel and kissing the earth before the hermit, stood [in an attitude of respect]. When Yegmous saw him, he said to him, 'Welcome, O my son, O pilgrim from a far country and stranger in the lands! Tell me the cause of thy coming hither.' So Janshah wept and acquainted him with all that had befallen him and that he was in quest of the Castle of Jewels. Yegmous marvelled greatly at his story and said, 'By Allah, O my son, never in my life heard I of this Castle, nor saw I ever one who had heard of or seen it, for all I was alive in the days of Noah, prophet of God (on whom be peace), and have ruled the birds and beasts and Jinn ever since his time; nor do I believe that Solomon himself knew of it. But wait till the birds and beasts and chiefs of the Jinn come to do their homage to me and I will question them of it; peradventure, some one of them may be able to give us news of it and God the Most High shall make it easy to thee [to win thither].'
So Janshah abode with the hermit, until the day of the assembly, when Yegmous questioned all the birds and beasts and Jinn of the Castle of Jewels, but they all replied, 'We never saw or heard of such a place.' At this, Janshah fell a-weeping and lamenting and prostrated himself in supplication to God the Most High, but, as he was thus engaged, there flew down from the heights of the air a great black bird, which had tarried behind the rest, and kissed the hermit's hands. The latter asked it of the Castle of Jewels, and it replied, saying, 'O hermit, when I and my brothers were fledglings, we dwelt behind the mountain Caf on a hill of crystal, in the midst of a great desert, and our father and mother used to go and come with our food every day. They went out one day, [in quest of food,] and were absent from us seven days and hunger was sore upon us; but on the eighth day they returned, weeping, and we asked them the reason of their absence. Quoth they, "A Marid swooped down on us and carried us off to the Castle of Jewels and brought us before King Shehlan, who would have slain us; but we told him that we had left a young brood behind us; so he spared our lives [and let us go]." And were my parents yet in the bonds of life,' added the bird, 'they would give thee news of the castle.'
When Janshah heard this, he wept and besought the hermit to bid the bird carry him to the nest he spoke of on the crystal hill, behind the mountain Caf. So the hermit said to the bird, 'I desire thee to obey this youth in whatsoever he may command thee.' 'I hear and obey,' answered the bird and taking Janshah on its back, flew with him days and nights, till it set him down on the hill of crystal and said, 'This is where our nest was.' Janshah begged it to carry him farther on to where the old birds used to forage for food. So it took him up again and flew on with him seven nights and eight days, till it set him down on the top of a high hill, named Kermous, and left him there, saying, 'I know of no land behind this hill.' Then it flew away and Janshah sat down on the hill-top and fell asleep. When he awoke, he saw somewhat gleaming afar off [as it were lightning] and filling the air with its radiance, and wondered what this could be. So he descended the mountain and made towards the light.
Now this light came from the Castle of Jewels, which was distant two months' journey from Mount Kermous, and its walls were fashioned of red rubies and the buildings within them of yellow gold. Moreover, it had a thousand turrets builded of precious stones and metals, brought from the Sea of Darknesses, and on this account it was named the Castle of Jewels. It was a vast great castle and the name of its king was King Shehlan, the father of Shemseh and her sisters. Now, when the princess Shemseh left Janshah, she returned to the Castle of Jewels and told her father and mother all that had passed between the prince and herself. Quoth they, 'Thou hast not dealt righteously with him:' and she, 'Be sure that he will follow me hither, for he loves me passionately.' So King Shehlan repeated the story to his guards and officers of the Marids of the Jinn and bade them bring him every mortal they should see.
Now, as chance would have it, Shemseh had that very day despatched a Marid on an occasion in the direction of Mount Kermous, and on his way thither he caught sight of Janshah; so he hastened up to him and saluted him. The prince was terrified at his sight, but returned his greeting, and the Marid said to him, 'What is thy name?' 'My name is Janshah,' answered he, and bursting into tears, related to the genie his adventures and how he was come thither in quest of the princess Shemseh and the Castle of Jewels. The Marid was moved to pity by his story and said to him, 'Weep not, for thou art come to thy desire. Know that [yonder stands the Castle of Jewels, where dwells she whom thou seekest]. She loves thee dear and has told her parents of thy love for her, and all in the castle love thee for her sake; so take comfort and be of good cheer.' Then he took him on his shoulders and made off with him to the Castle of Jewels.
When the news of Janshah's coming reached Shemseh and her father and mother, they all rejoiced with an exceeding joy, and King Shehlan took horse and rode out, with all his guards and Aftits and Marids, to meet the prince. As soon as he came up with him, he dismounted and embraced him, and Janshah kissed his hand. Then Shehlan put on him a robe of honour of vari-coloured silk, laced with gold and set with jewels, and a coronet such as never saw mortal king, and mounting him on a splendid mare of the horses of the kings of the Jinn, brought him in great state to the castle. Janshah was dazzled by the splendour of this castle, with its walls of rubies and other jewels and its pavement of crystal and chrysolite and emerald, and fell a-weeping for very wonderment; but the King wiped away his tears and said, 'Leave weeping and be of good cheer, for thou hast come to thy desire.' Then he carried him into the inner court of the castle, where he was received by a multitude of beautiful damsels and pages and slaves, who seated him in the place of honour and stood to do him service, whilst he was lost in amazement at the goodliness of the place and its walls, that were all builded of precious metals and jewels.
Meanwhile, King Shehlan repaired to his hall of audience, where he sat down on his throne and bidding his attendants bring in the prince, rose to receive him and seated him by his own side on the throne. Then he called for food and they ate and drank and washed their hands; after which in came the Queen, Shemseh's mother, and saluting Janshah, bade him welcome. 'Thou hast come to thy desire after weariness,' quoth she, 'and thine eyes sleep alter watching; so praised be God for thy safety!' So saying, she went away and forthwith returned with the princess Shemseh, who saluted Janshah and kissed his hands, hanging her head in confusion; after which her sisters came up to him and greeted him in like manner.
Then said the Queen to him, 'O my son, our daughter Shemseh hath indeed sinned against thee, but do thou pardon her for our sakes.' When Janshah heard this, he cried out and fell down in a swoon, and they sprinkled on his face rose-water mingled with musk and civet, till he came to himself and looking at Shemseh, said, 'Praised be God who hath brought me to my desire and quenched the fire of my heart!' 'May He preserve thee from the Fire!' replied she. 'But now tell me what hath befallen thee since our parting and how thou madest thy way to this place; seeing that few even of the Jinn ever heard of the Castle of Jewels and we are beyond the dominion of any king nor knoweth any the road hither.'
So he related to her all the adventures and perils and hardships he had suffered for her sake and how he had left his father at war with the King of Hind. Quoth the Queen, 'Now hast thou thy heart's desire, for the princess Shemseh is thy handmaid, we give her to thee; and next month, if it be the will of God the Most High, we will celebrate the marriage festival and send you both back to thy native land, with an escort of a thousand Marids, the least of whom, if thou shouldst bid him slay King Kefid and his people, would destroy them to the last man in the twinkling of an eye.'
Then King Shehlan sat down on his throne and summoning his grandees and officers of state, bade them make ready for the marriage festivities and decorate the city seven days and nights. 'We hear and obey,' answered they and busied themselves two months in the preparations, after which they celebrated the marriage of the prince and princess and held a mighty festival, never was seen its like. Then they brought Janshah in to his bride and he abode with her in all delight and solace of life two years, at the end of which time, he said to her, 'Thy father promised to send us to my native land, that we might pass one year there and the next here.' 'I hear and obey,' answered she and going in to King Shehlan at nightfall, told him what the prince had said. Quoth he, 'Have patience with me till the first of the month, that I may make ready for your departure.'
Accordingly, they waited till the appointed time, when the King brought out to them a great litter of red gold, set with pearls and jewels and covered with a canopy of green silk, painted in the liveliest colours and embroidered with precious stones, dazzling the eyes with its goodliness. Moreover, he gave his daughter three hundred beautiful damsels to wait upon her and bestowed on Janshah the like number of white slaves of the sons of the Jinn. Then he mounted the litter, with Janshah and Shemseh and their suite, after the prince and princess had taken leave of the latter's mother and family, and chose out four of his officers to carry the litter.
So the four Marids took it up, each by one corner, and rising with it into the air, flew onward till mid-day, when the King bade them set down the litter and they all alighted. Then they took leave of one another and King Shehlan commended Shemsheh to the prince's care, and giving them in charge to the Marids, returned to the Castle of Jewels, whilst the prince and princess remounted the litter, and the Marids, taking it up, flew on for ten whole days, in each of which they accomplished thirty months' journey, till they came in sight of King Teigmous's capital. Now one of them knew the land of Kabul; so, when he saw the city, he bade the others set down the litter there.
Meanwhile, King Teigmous had been routed and fled into the city, where King Kefid laid close siege to him and he was in sore straits. He sought to make peace with the King of Hind, but the latter would give him no quarter; so, seeing himself without resource or hope of relief, he determined to strangle himself and be at rest from this trouble and misery. Accordingly, he bade his Viziers and officers farewell and entered his house, to take leave of his harem; and the whole place was full of weeping and wailing and lamentation. In the midst of the general desolation, the Marids came down with the litter upon the palace, that was in the citadel, and Janshah bade them set it down in the midst of the Divan. They did his bidding and he descended with his company and seeing all the folk of the city in grief and desolation and sore distress, said to the princess, 'O beloved of my heart and solace of mine eyes, see in what a piteous plight is my father!' Thereupon she bade the Marids fall upon the besieging host and slay them all, even to the last man; and Janshah commanded one of them, by name Keratesh, who was exceeding strong and valiant, to bring King Kefid to him in chains. So they waited till midnight, when they repaired to the enemy's camp, and Keratesh made straight for Kefid's tent, where he found him lying on a couch. So he took him up, shrieking for fear, and flew with him to Janshah, who bade the four Marids bind him on the litter and suspend him in the air over his camp, that he might witness the slaughter of his men. They did as the prince bade them and leaving Kefid, who had swooned for fear, hanging in the air, fell upon the enemy's camp.
As for King Teigmous, when he saw his son, he well-nigh died for excess of joy and giving a loud cry, fell down in a swoon. They sprinkled rose-water on his face, till he came to himself, when he and his son embraced and wept sore. Then the princess Shemseh accosted the King and kissing his hand, invited him to go up with her to the roof of the palace and witness the slaughter of his enemies by her father's Marids. So he went up to the roof and sitting down there with his son and daughter-in-law, watched the Marids do havoc among the besiegers and marvelled at their manner of waging war. For one of them smote upon the elephants and their riders with maces of iron and pounded men and beast into one shapeless heap of flesh, whilst another blew in the faces of those who fled, so that they fell down dead, and the third caught up a score of horsemen, beasts and all, and flying up with them into the air, cast them down from on high, so that they were torn in pieces or crushed to atoms in the fall.
When King Kefld came to himself, he found himself hanging between heaven and earth and marvelled at this. Then he saw the slaughter of his troops and wept sore and buffeted his face; nor did the carnage cease among the army of Hind for two whole days, till they were cut off even to the last man, when Janshah commanded a Marid, by name Shimwal, to clap King Kefid in irons and lay him in prison in a place called the Black Tower. Then King Teigmous bade beat the drums and despatched messengers to announce the glad news to Janshah's mother, who mounted forthright and rode to the palace, where she no sooner espied her son than she clasped him in her arms and swooned away for stress of joy. They sprinkled rose-water on her face, till she came to herself, when she embraced him again and wept for excess of gladness. When the lady Shemseh knew of her coming, she came to her and saluted her, and they embraced each other and sat down to converse.
Meanwhile, King Teigmous threw open the gates of the town and despatched couriers to all parts of the kingdom, to announce his happy deliverance, whereupon all his vassals and officers and the notables of the realm flocked to give him joy of his victory and of the safe return of his son and brought him great plenty of rich gifts and presents. Then he made a second bride-feast for the princess Shemseh, and they decorated the city and held high festival; after which they unveiled the bride before Janshah with the utmost magnificence, and the latter presented her with a hundred beautiful slave-girls to wait upon her.
Some days after this, the princess went in to the King and interceded with him for Kefid, saying, 'Let him return to his own land, and if henceforward he be minded to do thee any hurt, I will bid one of the Marids snatch him up and bring him to thee.' 'I hear and obey,' replied Teigmous and bade Shimwal bring him the prisoner, who came and kissed the earth before him. Then he commanded to strike off his chains and mounting him on a lame mare, said to him, 'The princess Shemseh hath interceded for thee so begone to thy kingdom, but if thou fall again to thine old tricks, she will send one of the Marids to seize thee and bring thee hither.'
So Kefid set off homeward, in the sorriest of plights, whilst Janshah and his wife abode in all delight and solace of life, passing every second year with Shemseh's father and mother at the Castle of Jewels, whither they betook not themselves but in the litter aforesaid, borne by the Marids and flying between heaven and earth; and the length of their journey thither from the land of Kabul was ten days, in each of which they accomplished thirty months' travel.
They abode on this wise a long while, till, one year, they set out for the Castle of Jewels, as of their wont, and on their way thither alighted in this island to rest and take their pleasure therein. They sat down on the river-bank and ate and drank; after which the princess, having a mind to bathe, put off her clothes and plunged into the water. Her women followed her example and they swam about awhile, whilst Janshah walked on along the bank of the stream. Presently, as they were swimming about and playing with one another, a huge shark seized the princess by the leg, and she cried out and died forthright, whilst the damsels fled out of the river to the pavilion, to escape from the shark; but, after awhile, they returned and taking her up, carried her to the litter.
When Janshah saw his wife dead, he fell down in a swoon and they sprinkled water on his face, till he recovered and wept over her. Then he despatched the Marids, to bear the sad news to her parents and family, who presently came thither and washed her and shrouded her; after which they buried her by the river-side and made mourning for her. They would have carried Janshah with them to the Castle of Jewels; but he said to King Shehlan, 'I beseech thee to dig me a grave beside her tomb, that, when I die, I may be buried by her side.' Accordingly, the King commanded one of his Marids to do as Janshah wished, after which they departed and left me here to weep and mourn for her till I die; for I," said the young man, "am Janshah and this is my story and the reason of my sojourn between these two tombs." And he repeated the following verses:Home is no longer home to me, now ye are gone away, Nor is the pleasant neighbour now a neighbour, sooth to say.
When Beloukiya heard Janshah's story, he marvelled and exclaimed, "By Allah, O my brother, methought I had indeed wandered over the world and compassed it about; but thy story maketh me to forget all I have seen. And now," added he, "I beg thee, of thy favour and courtesy, to direct me in the way of safety." So Janshah directed him into the right road, and Beloukiya took leave of him and fared on nights and days, till he came to a great sea; so he anointed his feet with the juice of the magical herb and setting out over the water, sped onward till he came to an island abounding in trees and springs and fruits, as it were Paradise. He landed and walked about, till he saw an immense tree, with leaves as big as the sails of a ship. So he went up to the tree and found under it a table spread with all manner rich meats, whilst on the branches sat a great bird, whose body was of pearls and emeralds, its feet of silver, its beak of red cornelian and its feathers of precious metals, and it was engaged in singing the praises of God the Most High and blessing Mohammed, on whom be benediction and peace!
When Beloukiya saw the bird, he said, "What manner of creature art thou and what dost thou here?" Quoth the bird, "I am one of the birds of Eden [and followed Adam,] when God the Most High cast him out thence. Now Adam took with him four leaves of the trees of the garden, to cover his nakedness withal, and they fell to the ground after awhile. One of them was eaten by a worm, and of it came silk: the gazelles ate the second and thence came musk; the third was eaten by bees and gave rise to honey, whilst the fourth fell in the land of Hind and from it sprang all manner spices. As for me, I wandered over the earth, till God gave me this island for a dwelling-place, and I took up my abode here. This table thou seest is spread by God the Most High for the entertainment of all the saints and holy men of the world, who come hither every Friday and visit the place and eat of this food; and after they have eaten, the table is taken up again to heaven; nor doth the food ever waste or corrupt." So Beloukiya ate his fill of the meats and praised God the Most High.
Presently, there came up El Khizr (on whom be peace), at sight of whom Beloukiya rose and saluting him, was about to withdraw, when the bird said to him, "Sit, O Beloukiya, in the presence of El Khizr, on whom be peace!" So he sat down again, and El Khizr asked him who he was and how he came there. Beloukiya related to him all his adventures and enquired how far it was thence to Cairo. "Five-and-ninety years' journey," replied the prophet; whereupon Beloukiya burst into tears, then, falling at El Khizr's feet, kissed them and said to him, "O my lord, I beseech thee to deliver me from this strangerhood; for that I am nigh upon death and know not what to do, and thy reward be with God." Quoth El Khizr, "Pray to God the Most High to allow me to carry thee to Cairo, ere thou perish."
So Beloukiya wept and offered up supplication to God, who granted his prayer and bade El Khizr carry him to his people. Then said the prophet, "Lift thy head, for God hath heard thy prayer; so take fast hold of me with both thy hands and shut thine eyes." The prince did as he was bidden and El Khizr took a step forward, then said to him, "Open thine eyes." So Beloukiya opened his eyes and found himself at the door of his palace at Cairo. He turned, to take leave of El Khizr, but found no trace of him and entered the palace. When his mother saw him, she gave a loud cry and swooned away for excess of joy, and they sprinkled water upon her face. After a while she came to herself and embraced her son and wept sore, whilst Beloukiya wept and laughed by turns. Then all his friends and kindred came and gave him joy of his safe return, and the good news was noised abroad in the land and there came to him presents from all parts. Moreover, they beat the drums and blew the flutes and rejoiced mightily. Then Beloukiya related to them his adventures, at which they marvelled exceedingly and wept, till all were weary of weeping.
[Resume The Queen of the Serpents]
Payne, John (1842-1916). The Book of the Thousand Nights and One Night. London. 1901. Gutenberg Vol. I. Gutenberg Vol. II. Gutenberg Vol. III. Gutenberg Vol. IV. Please consult the Gutenberg edition for footnotes; the footnotes have not been included in this web version. Wollamshram Vol. V. Wollamshram Vol. VI. Wollamshram Vol. VII. Wollamshram Vol. VIII. Wollamshram Vol. IX. Please consult the Wollamshram 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