[Go back to The Khalif el Mamoun and the Strange Doctor]
There lived once, of old days, in the land of Khorassan, a merchant called Mejdeddin, who had great wealth and many slaves and servants, black and white; but he was childless until he reached the age of threescore, when God the Most High vouchsafed him a son, whom he named Ali Shar. The boy grew up like the moon on the night of its full, and when he came to man's estate and was endowed with all kinds of perfection, his father fell sick of a mortal malady and calling his son to him, said to him, 'O my son, the hour of my death is at hand, and I desire to give thee my last injunctions.' 'And what are they, O my father?' asked Ali. 'O my son,' answered Mejdeddin, 'I charge thee, be not [too] familiar with any and eschew what leads to evil and mischief. Beware lest thou company with the wicked; for he is like the blacksmith; if his fire burn thee not, his smoke irks thee: and how excellent is the saying of the poet:
There is no man in all the world whose love thou shouldst desire, No friend who, if fate play thee false, will true and constant be. Wherefore I'd have thee live apart and lean for help on none. In this I give thee good advice; so let it profit thee.
And what another saith:
Men are a latent malady; Count not on them, I counsel thee. An if thou look into their case, They're full of guile and perfidy.
And yet a third:
The company of men will profit thee in nought, Except to pass away the time in idle prate; So spare thou to converse with them, except it be For gain of lore and wit or mending of estate.
And a fourth
If a quickwitted man have made proof of mankind, I have eaten of them, where but tasted hath he, And have seen their affection but practice and nought But hypocrisy found their religion to be.'
'O my father,' said Ali, 'I hear and obey: what more shall I do?' 'Do good when thou art able thereto,' answered his father; 'be ever courteous and succourable to men and profit by all occasions of doing a kindness; for a design is not always easy of accomplishment; and how well saith the poet:
'Tis not at every time and season that to do Kind offices, indeed, is easy unto you; So, when the occasion serves, make haste to profit by't, Lest by and by the power should fail thee thereunto.'
'I hear and obey,' answered Ali; 'what more?' 'Be mindful of God,' continued Mejdeddin, 'and He will be mindful of thee. Husband thy wealth and squander it not; for, if thou do, thou wilt come to have need of the least of mankind. Know that the measure of a man's worth is according to what his right hand possesses: and how well saith the poet:
If wealth should fail, there is no friend will bear me company, But whilst my substance yet abounds, all men are friends to me. How many a foe for money's sake hath companied with me! How many a friend for loss thereof hath turned mine enemy!'
'What more?' asked Ali. 'O my son,' said Mejdeddin, 'take counsel of those who are older than thou and hasten not to do thy heart's desire. Have compassion on those that are below thee, so shall those that are above thee have compassion on thee; and oppress none, lest God set over thee one who shall oppress thee. How well saith the poet:
Add others' wit to thine and counsel still ensue; For that the course of right is not concealed from two. One mirror shows a man his face, but, if thereto Another one he add, his nape thus can he view.
And as saith another:
Be slow to move and hasten not to match thy heart's desire: Be merciful to all, as thou on mercy reckonest; For no hand is there but the hand of God is over it, And no oppressor but shall be with worse than he opprest.
And yet another:
Do no oppression, whilst the power thereto is in thine hand; For still in peril of revenge the sad oppressor goes. Thine eyes will sleep anon, what while the opprest, on wake, call down Curses upon thee, and God's eye shuts never in repose.
Beware of drinking wine, for it is the root of all evil: it does away the reason and brings him who uses it into contempt; and how well saith the poet:
By Allah, wine shall never invade me, whilst my soul Endureth in my body and my thoughts my words control! Not a day long will I turn me to the zephyr-freshened bowl, And for friend I'll choose him only who of wine-bibbing is whole.
This, then,' added Mejdeddin, 'is my charge to thee; keep it before thine eyes, and may God stand to thee in my stead.' Then he swooned away and kept silence awhile. When he came to himself, he besought pardon of God and making the profession of the Faith, was admitted to the mercy of the Most High. His son wept and lamented for him and made due preparation for his burial. Great and small attended him to the grave and the readers recited the Koran about his bier; nor did Ali Shar omit aught of what was due to the dead. Then they prayed over him and committed him to the earth, graving these words upon his tomb:
Created of the dust thou wast and cam'st to life And eloquence didst learn and spokest many a word; Then to the dust again returnedst and wast dead, As 'twere from out the dust, indeed, thou'dst never stirred.
His son Ali Shar grieved for him and mourned him after the wont of men of condition; nor did he cease therefrom till his mother died also, not long afterward, when he did with her as he had done with his father. Then he sat in the shop, selling and buying and consorting with none of God's creatures, in accordance with his father's injunction.
On this wise he abode for a year, at the end of which time there came in to him certain whoreson fellows by craft and companied with him, till he turned with them to lewdness and swerved from the right way, drinking wine in goblets and frequenting the fair night and day; for he said in himself, 'My father amassed this wealth for me, and if I spend it not, to whom shall I leave it? By Allah, I will not do save as saith the poet:
If all the days of thy life thou get And heap up treasure, to swell thy hoard, When wilt thou use it and so enjoy That thou hast gathered and gained and stored?'
Then he ceased not to squander his wealth all tides of the day and watches of the night, till he had made away with it all and abode in evil case and troubled at heart. So he sold his shop and lands and so forth, and after this he sold the clothes off his body, leaving himself but one suit. Then drunkenness left him and thought came to him, and he fell into melancholy.
One day, when he had sat from day-break to mid-afternoon without breaking his fast, he said in himself, 'I will go round to those on whom I spent my wealth: it may be one of them will feed me this day.' So he went the round of them all; but, as often as he knocked at any one's door, the man denied himself and hid from him, till he was consumed with hunger. Then he betook himself to the bazaar, where he found a crowd of people, assembled in a ring round somewhat, and said in himself, 'I wonder what ails the folk to crowd together thus? By Allah, I will not remove hence, till I see what is within yonder ring!' So he made his way into the ring and found that the crowd was caused by a damsel exposed for sale. She was five feet high, slender of shape, rosy-cheeked and high- bosomed and surpassed all the people of her time in beauty and grace and elegance and perfection; even as saith one, describing her:
As she wished, she was created, after such a wise that lo! She in beauty's mould was fashioned, perfect, neither less no mo'. Loveliness itself enamoured of her lovely aspect is; Coyness decks her and upon her, pride and pudour sweetly show. In her face the full moon glitters and the branch is as her shape; Musk her breath is, nor midst mortals is her equal, high or low. 'Tis as if she had been moulded out of water of pure pearls; In each member of her beauty is a very moon, I trow.
And her name was Zumurrud.
When Ali Shar saw her, he marvelled at her beauty and grace and said, 'By Allah, I will not stir hence till I see what price this girl fetches and know who buys her!' So he stood with the rest of the merchants, and they thought he had a mind to buy her, knowing the wealth he had inherited from his parents. Then the broker stood at the damsel's head and said, 'Ho, merchants! Ho, men of wealth! Who will open the biddings for this damsel, the mistress of moons, the splendid pearl, Zumurrud the Curtain-maker, the aim of the seeker and the delight of the desirous? Open the biddings, and on the opener be nor blame nor reproach.'
So one merchant said, 'I bid five hundred dinars for her.' 'And ten,' said another. 'Six hundred,' cried an old man named Reshideddin, blue-eyed and foul of face. 'And ten,' quoth another. 'I bid a thousand,' rejoined Reshideddin; whereupon the other merchants were silent and the broker took counsel with the girl's owner, who said, 'I have sworn not to sell her save to whom she shall choose; consult her.' So the broker went up to Zumurrud and said to her, 'O mistress of moons, yonder merchant hath a mind to buy thee.' She looked as Reshideddin and finding him as we have said, replied, 'I will not be sold to a grey- beard, whom decrepitude hath brought to evil plight.' 'Bravo,' quoth I, 'for one who saith:
I asked her for a kiss one day, but she my hoary head Saw, though of wealth and worldly good I had great plentihead; So, with a proud and flouting air, her back she turned on me And, "No, by Him who fashioned men from nothingness!" she said. "Now, by God's truth, I never had a mind to hoary hairs, And shall my mouth be stuffed, forsooth, with cotton, ere I'm dead?"
'By Allah,' quoth the broker, 'thou art excusable, and thy value is ten thousand dinars!' So he told her owner that she would not accept of Reshideddin, and he said, 'Ask her of another.' Thereupon another man came forward and said, 'I will take her at the same price.' She looked at him and seeing that his beard was dyed, said, 'What is this lewd and shameful fashion and blackening of the face of hoariness?' And she made a great show of amazement and repeated the following verses:
A sight, and what a sight, did such a one present To me! A neck, to beat with shoes, by Allah, meant! And eke a beard for lie a coursing-ground that was And brows for binding on of ropes all crook'd and bent. Thou that my cheeks and shape have ravished, with a lie Thou dost disguise thyself and reck'st not, impudent; Dyeing thy hoary hairs disgracefully with black And hiding what appears, with fraudulent intent; As of the puppet-men thou wert, with one beard go'st And with another com'st again, incontinent.
And how well saith another:
Quoth she to me, "I see thou dy'st thy hoariness;" and I, "I do but hide it from thy sight, O thou my ear and eye!" She laughed out mockingly and said, "A wonder 'tis indeed! Thou so aboundest in deceit that even thy hair's a lie."
'By Allah,' quoth the broker, 'thou hast spoken truly!' The merchant asked what she said: so the broker repeated the verses to him, and he knew that she was in the right and desisted from buying her. Then another came forward and would have bought her at the same price; but she looked at him and seeing that he had but one eye, said, 'This man is one-eyed; and it is of such as he that the poet saith:
Consort not with him that is one-eyed a day, And be on thy guard 'gainst his mischief and lies: For God, if in him aught of good had been found, Had not curst him with blindness in one of his eyes.'
Then the broker brought her another bidder and said to her, 'Wilt thou be sold to this man?' She looked at him and seeing that he was short of stature and had a beard that reached to his navel, said, 'This is he of whom the poet speaks, when he says:
I have a friend, who has a beard, that God Caused flourish without profit, till, behold. 'Tis, as it were, to look upon, a night Of middle winter, long and dark and cold.'
'O my lady,' said the broker, 'look who pleases thee of these that are present, and point him out, that I may sell thee to him.' So she looked round the ring of merchants, examining them one by one, till her eyes rested on Ali Shar. His sight cost her a thousand sighs and her heart was taken with him: for that he was passing fair of favour and more pleasant than the northern zephyr; and she said, 'O broker, I will be sold to none but my lord there, he of the handsome face and slender shape, whom the poet describes in the following verses:
They showed thy lovely face and railed At her whom ravishment assailed. Had they desired to keep me chaste, Thy face so fair they should have veiled.
None shall possess me but he,' added she; 'for his cheek is smooth and the water of his mouth sweet as Selsebil; his sight is a cure for the sick and his charms confound poet and proser, even as saith one of him:
The water of his mouth is wine, and very musk The fragrance of his breath; his teeth are camphor white. Rizwan hath put him our from paradise, for fear The black-eyed girls of heaven be tempted with the wight. Men blame him for his pride; but the full moon's excuse, How proud so'er it be, finds favour in our sight.
Him of the curling locks and rose-red cheeks and enchanting glances, of whom saith the poet:
A slender loveling promised me his favours fair and free; So my heart's restless and my eye looks still his sight to see. His eyelids warranted me the keeping of his troth; But how shall they, that bankrupt are, fulfil their warranty?
And as saith another:
"The script of whiskers on his cheek," quoth they, "is plain to see: How canst thou then enamoured be of him, and whiskered he?" Quoth I, "Have done with blame and leave your censuring, I pray. As if it be a very script, it is a forgery. Lo, in the gathering of his cheeks the meads of Eden be, And more by token that his lips are Kauther,, verily."
When the broker heard the verses she repeated on the charms of Ali Shar, he marvelled at her eloquence, no less than at the brightness of her beauty; but her owner said to him, 'Marvel not at her beauty, that shames the sun of day, nor that her mind is stored with the choicest verses of the poets; for, besides this, she can repeat the glorious Koran, according to the seven readings, and the august Traditions, after the authentic text; and she writes the seven hands and is versed in more branches of knowledge than the most learned doctor. Moreover, her hands are better than gold and silver; for she makes curtains of silk and sells them for fifty dinars each; and it takes her eight days to make a curtain.' 'Happy the man,' exclaimed the broker, 'who hath her in his house and maketh her of his privy treasures!' And her owner said, 'Sell her to whom she will.' So the broker went up to Ali Shar and kissing his hands, said to him, 'O my lord, buy thou this damsel, for she hath made choice of thee.' Then he set forth to him all her charms and accomplishments, and added: 'I give thee joy, if thou buy her, for she is a gift from Him who is no niggard of His giving.'
Ali bowed his head awhile, laughing to himself and saying inwardly, 'Up to now I have not broken my fast; yet I am ashamed to own before the merchants that I have no money wherewith to buy her.' The damsel, seeing him hang down his head, said to the broker, 'Take my hand and lead me to him, that I may show myself to him and tempt him to buy me; for I will not be sold to any but him.' So the broker took her hand and stationed her before Ali Shar, saying, 'What is thy pleasure, O my lord?' But he made him no answer, and the girl said to him, 'O my lord and darling of my heart, what ails thee that thou wilt not bid for me? Buy me for what thou wilt, and I will bring thee good fortune.' Ali raised his eyes to her and said, 'Must I buy thee perforce? Thou art dear at one thousand dinars.' 'Then buy me for nine hundred,' answered she. 'Nay,' rejoined he; and she said, 'Then for eight hundred;' and ceased not to abate the price, till she came to a hundred dinars. Quoth he, 'I have not quite a hundred dinars.' 'How much dost thou lack of a hundred?' asked she, laughing. 'By Allah,' replied he, 'I have neither a hundred dinars, nor any other sum; for I own neither white money nor red, neither dinar nor dirhem. So look out for another customer.' When she knew that he had nothing, she said to him, 'Take me by the hand and carry me aside into a passage, as if thou wouldst examine me privily.' He did so and she took from her bosom a purse containing a thousand dinars, which she gave him saying, 'Pay down nine hundred to my price and keep the rest to provide us withal.'
He did as she bade him and buying her for nine hundred dinars, paid down the price from the purse and carried her to his house, which when she entered, she found nothing but bare floors, without carpets or vessels. So she gave him other thousand dinars, saying, 'Go to the bazaar and buy three hundred dinars' worth of furniture and vessels for the house and three dinars' worth of meat and drink, also a piece of silk, the size of a curtain, and gold and silver thread and [sewing] silk of seven colours.' He did her bidding, and she furnished the house and they sat down to eat and drink; after which they went to bed and took their pleasure, one of the other. And they lay the night embraced and were even as saith the poet:
Cleave fast to her thou lov'st and let the envious rail amain; For calumny and envy ne'er to favour love were fain. Lo, whilst I slept, in dreams I saw thee lying by my side And from thy lips the sweetest, sure, of limpid springs did drain. Yea, true and certain all I saw is, as I will avouch, And 'spite the envier, thereto I surely will attain. There is no goodlier sight, indeed, for eyes to look upon, Than when one couch in its embrace enfoldeth lovers twain, Each to the other's bosom clasped, clad in their twinned delight, Whilst hand with hand and arm with arm about their necks enchain. Lo, when two hearts are straitly knit in passion and desire, But on cold iron smite the folk who chide at them in vain. Thou, that for loving censurest the votaries of love, Canst thou assain a heart diseased or heal a cankered brain? If in thy time thou find but one to love thee and be true, I rede thee cast the world away and with that one remain.
They lay together till the morning and love for the other was stablished in the heart of each of them. On the morrow, Zumurrud took the curtain and embroidered it with coloured silks and gold and silver thread, depicting thereon all manner birds and beasts; nor is there in the world a beast but she wrought on the curtain the semblant thereof. Moreover, she made thereto a band, with figures of birds, and wrought at it eight days, till she had made an end of it, when she trimmed it and ironed it and gave it to Ali, saying, 'Carry it to the bazaar and sell it to one of the merchants for fifty dinars; but beware lest thou sell it to a passer-by, for this would bring about a separation between us, because we have enemies who are not unmindful of us.' 'I hear and obey,' answered he and repairing to the bazaar, sold the curtain to a merchant, as she bade him; after which he bought stuff for another curtain and silk and gold and silver thread as before and what they needed of food, and brought all this to her, together with the rest of the money.
They abode thus a whole year, and every eight days she made a curtain, which he sold for fifty dinars. At the end of the year, he went to the bazaar, as usual, with a curtain, which he gave to the broker; and there came up to him a Christian, who bid him threescore dinars for the curtain; but he refused, and the Christian went on to bid higher and higher, till he came to a hundred dinars and bribed the broker with ten gold pieces. So the latter returned to Ali and told him of this and urged him to accept the offer, saying, 'O my lord, be not afraid of this Christian, for he can do thee no hurt.' The merchants also were instant with him to accept the offer; so he sold the curtain to the Christian, though his heart misgave him, and taking the price, set off to return home.
Presently, he found the Christian walking behind him; so he said to him, 'O Nazarene, why dost thou follow me?' 'O my lord,' answered the other, 'I have a need at the end of the street, may God never bring thee to need!' Ali went on, but, as he came to the door of his house, the Christian overtook him; so he said to him, 'O accursed one, what ails thee to follow me wherever I go?' 'O my lord,' replied the other, 'give me a draught of water, for I am athirst; and with God the Most High be thy reward!' Quoth Ali in himself, 'Verily, this man is a tributary [of the Khalifate] and seeks a draught of water of me; by Allah, I will not disappoint him!' So he entered the house and took a mug of water; but Zumurrud saw him and said to him, 'O my love, hast thou sold the curtain?' 'Yes,' answered he. 'To a merchant or a passer-by?' asked she. 'For my heart forethinketh me of separation.' 'To a merchant, of course,' replied he. But she rejoined, 'Tell me the truth of the case, that I may order my affair; and what wantest thou with the mug of water?' 'To give the broker a drink,' answered he; whereupon she exclaimed, 'There is no power and no virtue but in God the Most High, the Supreme!' And repeated the following verses:
O thou that seekest parting, stay thy feet: Let clips and kisses not delude thy spright. Softly, for fortune's nature is deceit And parting is the end of love-delight.
Then he took the mug and going out, found the Christian within the vestibule and said to him, 'O dog, how darest thou enter my house without my leave?' 'O my lord,' answered he, 'there is no difference between the door and the vestibule and I will not budge hence, save to go out; and I am beholden to thee for thy kindness.' Then he took the mug and emptying it, returned it to Ali, who took it and waited for him to go; but he did not move. So Ali said to him, 'Why dost thou not rise and go thy way?' 'O my lord,' answered the Christian, 'be not of those that do a kindness and after make a reproach of it, nor one of whom saith the poet:
Gone, gone are they who, if thou stoodst before their door of old, Had, at thy seeking, handselled thee with benefits untold! And if thou stoodest at their door who follow after them, These latter would begrudge to thee a draught of water cold.
O my lord,' continued he, 'I have drunk, and now I would have thee give me to eat of whatever is in the house, though it be but a crust of bread or a biscuit and an onion.' 'Begone, without more talk,' replied Ali; 'There is nothing in the house.' 'O my lord,' insisted the Christian, 'if there be nothing in the house, take these hundred dinars and fetch us somewhat from the market, if but a cake of bread, that bread and salt may pass between us.' With this, quoth Ali to himself, 'This Christian is surely mad; I will take the hundred dinars and bring somewhat worth a couple of dirhems and laugh at him.' 'O my lord,' added the Christian, 'I want but somewhat to stay my hunger, were it but a cake of dry bread and an onion; for the best food is that which does away hunger, not rich meats; and how well saith the poet:
A cake of dry stale bread will hunger out to flight: Why then are grief and care so heavy on my spright? Death is, indeed, most just, since, with an equal hand, Khalif and beggar-wretch, impartial, it doth smite.'
Then said Ali, 'Wait here, whilst I lock the saloon and fetch thee somewhat from the market.' 'I hear and obey,' said the Christian. So Ali shut up the saloon and locking the door with a padlock, put the key in his pocket: after which he repaired to the market and bought fried cheese and virgin honey and bananas and bread, with which he returned to the Christian. When the latter saw this, he said, 'O my lord, this is [too] much; thou hast brought enough for half a score men and I am alone; but belike thou wilt eat with me.' 'Eat by thyself,' replied Ali; 'I am full.' 'O my lord,' rejoined the Christian, 'the wise say, "He who eats not with his guest is a base-born churl."'
When Ali heard this, he sat down and ate a little with him, after which he would have held his hand: but [whilst he was not looking] the Christian took a banana and peeled it, then, splitting it in twain, put into one half concentrated henbane, mixed with opium, a drachm whereof would overthrow an elephant. This half he dipped in the honey and gave to Ali Shar, saying, 'O my lord, I swear by thy religion that thou shalt take this.' Ali was ashamed to make him forsworn; so he took the half banana and swallowed it; but hardly had it reached his stomach, when his head fell down in front of his feet and he was as though he had been a year asleep.
When the Nazarene saw this, he rose, as he had been a bald wolf or a baited cat, and taking the saloon key, made off at a run, leaving Ali Shar prostrate. Now this Christian was the brother of the decrepit old man who thought to buy Zumurrud for a thousand dinars, but she would have none of him and flouted him in verse. He was an infidel at heart, though a Muslim in outward show, and called himself Reshideddin; and when Zumurrud mocked him and would not accept of him to her lord, he complained to his brother, the aforesaid Christian, Bersoum by name, who said to him, 'Fret not thyself about this affair; for I will make shift to get her for thee, without paying a penny.'
Now he was a skilful sorcerer crafty and wicked; so he watched his time and played Ali Shar the trick aforesaid; then, taking the key, he went to his brother and told him what had passed, whereupon Reshideddin mounted his mule and repaired with his servants to Ali Shar's house, taking with him a purse of a thousand dinars, wherewith to bribe the master of police, should he meet him. He unlocked the saloon door, and the men who were with him rushed in upon Zumurrud and seized her, threatening her with death if she spoke; but they left the house as it was and took nothing therefrom. Moreover, they laid the key by Ali's side and leaving him lying in the vestibule, shut the door on him and went away. The Christian carried the girl to his own house and setting her amongst his women and concubines, said to her, 'O strumpet, I am the old man, whom thou did reject and lampoon; but now I have thee, without paying a penny.' 'God requite thee, O wicked old man,' replied she, with her eyes full of tears, 'for sundering my lord and me!' 'Wanton doxy that thou art,' rejoined he,' thou shalt see how I will punish thee! By the virtue of the Messiah and the Virgin, except thou obey me and embrace my faith, I will torture thee with all manner of torture!' 'By Allah,' answered she, 'though thou cut me in pieces, I will not forswear the faith of Islam! It may be God the Most High will bring me speedy relief, for He is all-powerful, and the wise say, "Better hurt in body than in religion."'
Thereupon the old man called out to his eunuchs and women, saying, 'Throw her down!' So they threw her down and he beat her grievously, whilst she cried in vain for help, but presently stinted and fell to saying, 'God is my sufficiency, and He is indeed sufficient!' till her breath failed her and she swooned away. When he had taken his fill of beating her, he said to the eunuchs, 'Drag her forth by the feet and cast her down in the kitchen, and give her nothing to eat.' They did his bidding, and on the morrow the accursed old man sent for her and beat her again, after which he bade return her to her place. When the pain of the blows had subsided, she said, 'There is no god but God and Mohammed is His Apostle! God is my sufficiency and excellent is He in whom I put my trust!' And she called upon our lord Mohammed (whom God bless and preserve) for succour.
Meanwhile, Ali Shar slept on till next day, when the fumes of the henbane quitted his brain and he awoke and cried out, 'O Zumurrud!' But none answered him. So he entered the saloon and found 'the air empty and the place of visitation distant;' whereby he knew that it was the Nazarene, who had played him this trick. And he wept and groaned and lamented and repeated the following verses:
O Fate, thou sparest not nor dost desist from me: Lo, for my soul is racked with dolour and despite! Have pity, O my lords, upon a slave laid low, Upon the rich made poor by love and its unright. What boots the archer's skill, if, when the foe draw near, His bowstring snap and leave him helpless in the fight? And when afflictions press and multiply on man, Ah, whither then shall he from destiny take flight? How straitly did I guard 'gainst severance of our loves! But, when as Fate descends, it blinds the keenest sight.
Then he sobbed and repeated these verses also:
Her traces on the encampment's sands a robe of grace bestow: The mourner yearneth to the place where she dwelt whiles ago. Towards her native land she turns; a camp in her doth raise Longing, whose very ruins now are scattered to and fro. She stops and questions of the place; but with the case's tongue It answers her, "There is no way to union, I trow. 'Tis as the lost a Levin were, that glittered on the camp Awhile, then vanished and to thee appeareth nevermo'."
And he repented, whenas repentance availed him not, and wept and tore his clothes. Then he took two stones and went round the city, beating his breast with the stones and crying out, 'O Zumurrud!' whilst the children flocked round him, calling out, 'A madman! A madman!' and all who knew him wept for him, saying, 'Yonder is such an one: what hath befallen him?' This he did all that day, and when night darkened on him, he lay down in one of the by-streets and slept till morning. On the morrow, he went round about the city with the stones till eventide, when he returned to his house, to pass the night. One of his neighbours, a worthy old woman, saw him and said to him, 'God keep thee, O my son! How long hast thou been mad?' And he answered her with the following verse:
Quoth they, "Thou'rt surely mad for her thou lov'st;" and I replied, "Indeed the sweets of life belong unto the raving race. My madness leave and bring me her for whom ye say I'm mad; And if she heal my madness, spare to blame me for my case."
Therewith she knew him for a lover who had lost his mistress and said, 'There is no power and no virtue but in God the Most High, the Supreme! O my son, I would have thee acquaint me with the particulars of thine affliction. Peradventure God may enable me to help thee against it, if it so please Him.' So he told her all that had happened and she said, 'O my son, indeed thou hast excuse.' And her eyes ran over with tears and she repeated the following verses:
Torment, indeed, in this our world, true lovers do aby; Hell shall not torture them, by God, whenas they come to die! Of love they died and to the past their passions chastely hid; So are they martyrs, as, indeed, traditions testify.
Then she said, 'O my son, go now and buy me a basket, such as the jewel-hawkers carry, and stock it with rings and bracelets and ear-rings and other women's gear, and spare not money. Bring all this to me and I will set it on my head and go round about, in the guise of a huckstress, and make search for her in all the houses, till I light on news of her, if it be the will of God the Most High.' Ali rejoiced in her words and kissed her hands, then, going out, speedily returned with all she required; whereupon she rose and donning a patched gown and a yellow veil, took a staff in her hand and set out, with the basket on her head.
She ceased not to go from quarter to quarter and street to street and house to house, till God the Most High led her to the house of the accursed Reshideddin the Nazarene. She heard groans within and knocked at the door, whereupon a slave-girl came down and opening the door to her, saluted her. Quoth the old woman, 'I have these trifles for sale: is there any one with you who will buy aught of them?' 'Yes,' answered the girl and carrying her indoors, made her sit down; whereupon all the women came round her and each bought something of her. She spoke to them fair and was easy with them as to price, so that they rejoiced in her, because of her pleasant speech and easiness. Meanwhile, she looked about to see who it was she had heard groaning, till her eyes fell on Zumurrud, when she knew her and saw that she was laid prostrate. So she wept and said to the girls, 'O my children, how comes yonder damsel in this plight?' And they told her what had passed, adding, 'Indeed, the thing is not of our choice; but our master commanded us to do this, and he is now absent on a journey.' 'O my children,' said the old woman, 'I have a request to make of you, and it is that you loose this unhappy woman of her bonds, till you know of your lord's return, when do ye bind her again as she was; and you shall earn a reward from the Lord of all creatures.' 'We hear and obey,' answered they and loosing Zumurrud, gave her to eat and drink.
Then said the old woman, 'Would my leg had been broken, ere I entered your house!' And she went up to Zumurrud and said to her, 'O my daughter, take heart; God will surely bring thee relief.' Then she told her [privily] that she came from her lord Ali Shar and appointed her to be on the watch that night, saying, 'Thy lord will come to the bench under the gallery and whistle to thee; and when thou hearest him, do thou whistle back to him and let thyself down to him by a rope from the window, and he will take thee and go away.' Zumurrud thanked the old woman, and the latter returned to Ali Shar and told him what she had done, saying, 'Go to-night, at midnight, to such a quarter,--for the accursed fellow's house is there and its fashion is thus and thus. Stand under the window of the upper chamber and whistle; whereupon she will let herself down to thee; then do thou take her and carry her whither thou wilt.' He thanked her for her good offices and repeated the following verses, with the tears running down his cheeks:
Let censors cease to rail and chide and leave their idle prate: My body's wasted and my heart weary and desolate; And from desertion and distress my tears, by many a chain Of true traditions handed down, do trace their lineage straight. Thou that art whole of heart and free from that which I endure Of grief and care, cut short thy strife nor question of my state. A sweet-lipped maiden, soft of sides and moulded well of shape, With her soft speech my heart hath ta'en, ay, and her graceful gait. My heart, since thou art gone, no rest knows nor my eyes do sleep, Nor can the hunger of my hopes itself with patience sate. Yea, thou hast left me sorrowful, the hostage of desire, 'Twixt enviers and haters dazed and all disconsolate. As for forgetting, 'tis a thing I know not nor will know; For none but thou into my thought shalt enter, soon or late.
Then he sighed and shed tears and repeated these also:
May God be good to him who brought me news that ye were come! For never more delightful news unto my ears was borne. If he would take a worn-out wede for boon, I'd proffer him A heart that at the parting hour was all in pieces torn.
He waited until the appointed time, then went to the street, where was the Christian's house, and recognizing it from the old woman's description, sat down on the bench under the gallery. Presently, drowsiness overcame him, for it was long since he had slept, for the violence of his passion, and he became as one drunken with sleep. Glory be to Him who sleepeth not!
Meanwhile, chance led thither a certain thief, who had come out that night to steal somewhat and prowled about the skirts of the city, till he happened on Reshideddin's house. He went round about it, but found no way of climbing up into it and presently came to the bench, where he found Ali Shar asleep and took his turban. At that moment, Zumurrud looked out and seeing the thief standing in the darkness, took him for her lord; so she whistled to him and he whistled back to her; whereupon she let herself down to him, with a pair of saddle-bags full of gold. When the robber saw this, he said to himself, 'This is a strange thing, and there must needs be some extraordinary cause to it.' Then, snatching up the saddle-bags, he took Zumurrud on his shoulders and made off with both like the blinding lightning.
Quoth she, 'The old woman told me that thou wast weak with illness on my account; and behold, thou art stronger than a horse.' He made her no reply; so she put her hand to his face and felt a beard like a bath-broom, as he were a hog that had swallowed feathers and they had come out at his gullet; whereat she took fright and said to him, 'What art thou?' 'O strumpet,' answered he, 'I am the sharper Jewan the Kurd, of the band of Ahmed ed Denef; we are forty sharpers, who will all tilt at thy tail this night, from dusk to dawn.' When she heard his words, she wept and buffeted her face, knowing that Fate had gotten the better of her and that there was nothing for it but to put her trust in God the Most High. So she took patience and submitted herself to the ordinance of God, saying, 'There is no god but God! As often as we escape from one trouble, we fall into a worse.'
Now the manner of Jewan's coming thither was thus: he had said to Ahmed ed Denef, 'O captain, I have been here before and know a cavern without the town, that will hold forty souls; so I will go before you thither and set my mother therein. Then will I enter the city and steal somewhat on your account and keep it till you come; so shall you be my guests this day.' 'Do what thou wilt,' replied Ahmed. So Jewan forewent them to the cavern and left his mother there; but, as he came out, he found a trooper lying asleep, with his horse tethered beside him; so he slew him and taking his clothes and arms, hid them with his mother in the cave, where also he tied up the horse. Then he betook himself to the city and prowled about, till he happened on the Christian's house and did with Ali Shar and Zumurrud as we have said. He ceased not to run, with Zumurrud on his back, till he came to the cavern, where he gave her in charge of his mother, saying, 'Keep watch over her till I come back to thee at point of day,' and went away.
Meanwhile Zumurrud said to herself, 'Now is the time to cast about for a means of escape. If I wait till these forty men come, they will take their turns at me, till they make me like a water- logged ship.' Then she turned to the old woman and said to her, 'O my aunt, wilt thou not come without the cave, that I may louse thee in the sun?' 'Ay, by Allah, O my daughter!' replied the old woman. 'This long time have I been out of reach of the bath; for these hogs cease not to hale me from place to place.' So they went without the cavern, and Zumurrud combed out the old woman's hair and killed the vermin in her head, till this soothed her and she fell asleep; whereupon Zumurrud arose and donning the clothes of the murdered trooper, girt herself with his sword and covered her head with his turban, so that she became as she were a man. Then she took the saddle-bags full of gold and mounted the horse, saying in herself, 'O kind Protector, I adjure thee by the glory of Mohammed, (whom God bless and preserve,) protect me! If I enter the city, belike one of the trooper's folk will see me, and no good will befall me.' So she turned her back on the city and rode forth into the desert.
She fared on ten days, eating of the fruits of the earth and drinking of its waters, she and her horse; and on the eleventh day, she came in sight of a pleasant and safe city, stablished in good; the season of winter had departed from it with its cold and the spring-tide came to it with its roses and orange-blossoms; its flowers blew bright, its streams welled forth and its birds warbled. As she drew near, she saw the troops and Amirs and notables of the place drawn up before the gate, at which she marvelled and said to herself, 'The people of the city are all collected at the gate: there must needs be a reason for this.' Then she made towards them; but, as she drew near, the troops hastened forward to meet her and dismounting, kissed the ground before her and said, 'God aid thee, O our lord the Sultan!'
Then the grandees ranked themselves before her, whilst the troops ranged the people in order, saying, 'God aid thee and make thy coming a blessing to the Muslims, O Sultan of all men! God stablish thee, O king of the age and pearl of the day and the time!' 'What ails you, O people of the city?' asked Zumurrud; and the chamberlain answered, 'Verily, He who is no niggard in giving hath been bountiful to thee and hath made thee Sultan of this city and ruler over the necks of all that are therein; for know that it is the custom of the citizens, when their king dies, leaving no son, that the troops should sally forth of the pace and abide there three days; and whoever cometh from the quarter whence thou hast come, they make him king over them. So praised be God who hath sent us a well-favoured man of the sons of the Turks; for had a lesser than thou presented himself, he had been Sultan.'
Now Zumurrud was well-advised in all she did; so she said, 'Think not that I am of the common folk of the Turks; nay, I am a man of condition; but I was wroth with my family, so I went forth and left them. See these saddle-bags full of gold I brought with me, that I might give alms thereof to the poor and needy by the way.' So they called down blessings upon her and rejoiced in her with an exceeding joy and she also rejoiced in them and said in herself, 'Now that I have attained to this estate, it may be God will reunite me with my lord in this place, for He can do what He will.' Then the troops escorted her to the city and dismounting, walked before her to the palace. Here she alighted and the Amirs and grandees, taking her under the armpits, carried her into the palace and seated her on the throne; after which they all kissed the ground before her. Then she bade open the treasuries and gave largesse to the troops, who offered up prayers for the continuance of her reign, and all the townsfolk and the people of the kingdom accepted her rule.
She abode thus awhile, ordering and forbidding, and remitted taxes and released prisoners and redressed grievances, so that all the people came to hold her in exceeding reverence and to love her, by reason of her generosity and continence; but, as often as she bethought her of her lord, she wept and besought God to reunite them; and one night, as she was thinking of him and calling to mind the days she had passed with him, her eyes ran over with tears and she repeated the following verses:
My longing, 'spite of time, for thee is ever new; My weeping wounds my lids and tears on tears ensue. Whenas I weep, I weep for anguish of desire; For grievous severance is a lover's heart unto.
Then she wiped away her tears and rising, betook herself to the harem, where she appointed to the slave-girls and concubines separate lodgings and assigned them pensions and allowances, giving out that she was minded to live apart and devote herself to works of piety. So she betook herself to fasting and praying, till the Amirs said, 'Verily, this Sultan is exceeding devout.' Nor would she suffer any attendants about her, save two little eunuchs, to serve her.
She held the throne thus a whole year, during which time she heard no news of Ali Shar, and this was exceeding grievous to her; so, when her distress became excessive, she summoned her Viziers and chamberlains and bid them fetch architects and builders and make her a tilting ground, a parasang long and the like broad, in front of the palace. They hastened to do her bidding, and when the place was competed to her liking, she went down into it and they pitched her there a great pavilion, wherein the chairs of the Amirs were set in their order. Then she bade spread in the tilting-ground tables with all manner rich meats and ordered the grandees to eat. So they ate and she said to them, 'It is my will that, on the first day of each month, ye do on this wise and proclaim in the city that none shall open his shop, but that all the people shall come and eat of the king's banquet, and that whoso disobeyeth shall be hanged over his own door.'
They did as she bade them, and when came the first day of the next month, Zumurrud went down into the tilting-ground and the crier proclaimed aloud, saying, 'Ho, all ye people, great and small, whoso openeth shop or house or magazine shall straightway be hanged over his own door; for it behoves you all to come and eat of the king's banquet.' Then they laid the tables and the people came in troops; so she bade them sit down at the tables and eat their fill of all the dishes. So they sat down and she sat on her chair of estate, watching them, whilst each thought she was looking at none but him. Then they fell to eating and the Amirs said to them, 'Eat and be not ashamed; for this is pleasing to the King.' So they ate their fill and went away, blessing the King and saying, one to the other, 'Never saw we a Sultan that loved the poor as doth this Sultan.' And they wished her length of life, whilst Zumurrud returned to the palace, rejoicing in her device and saying in herself, 'If it please God the Most High, I shall surely by this means happen on news of my lord Ali Shar.'
When the first day of the second month came round, she made the banquet as before and the folk came and sat down at the tables, company by company and one by one. As she sat on her throne, at the head of the tables, watching the people eat, her eye fell on Bersoum, the Nazarene who had bought the curtain of Ali Shar; and she knew him and said in herself, 'This is the first of my solace and of the accomplishment of my desire.' Bersoum came up to the table and sitting down with the rest to eat, espied a dish of sweet rice, sprinkled with sugar; but it was far from him. So he pushed up to it and putting out his hand to it, took it and set it before himself. His next neighbour said to him, 'Why dost thou not eat of what is before thee? Art thou not ashamed to reach over for a dish that is distant from thee?' Quoth Bersoum, 'I will eat of none but this dish.' 'Eat then,' rejoined the other, 'and small good may it do thee!' But another man, a hashish- eater, said, 'Let him eat of it, that I may eat with him.' 'O unluckiest of hashish-eaters,' replied the first speaker, 'this is no meat for thee; it is eating for Amirs. Let it be, that it may return to those for whom it is meant and they eat it.'
But Bersoum heeded him not and putting his hand to the rice, took a mouthful and put it in his mouth. He was about to take a second mouthful, when Zumurrud, who was watching him, cried out to certain of her guards, saying, 'Bring me yonder man with the dish of sweet rice before him and let him not eat the mouthful he hath ready, but throw it from his hand.' So four of the guards went up to Bersoum and throwing the mouthful of rice from his hand, haled him forthright before Zumurrud, whilst all the people left eating and said to one another, 'By Allah, he did wrong in not eating of the food meant for the like of him.' 'For me,' quoth one, 'I was content with this frumenty that is before me.' And the hashish- eater said, 'Praised be God who hindered me from eating of the dish of sweet rice, for I looked for it to stand before him and was only waiting for him to have stayed his hunger of it, to eat with him, when there befell him what we see.' And they said, one to another, 'Wait till we see what befalls him.'
Then said Zumurrud to Bersoum, 'Out on thee, O blue eyes! What is thy name and why comest thou hither?' But the accursed fellow miscalled himself, having a white turban, and answered, 'O King, my name is Ali; I am a weaver and came hither to trade.' 'Bring me a table of sand and a pen of brass,' quoth Zumurrud, and they brought her what she sought. She levelled the sand and taking the pen, drew a geomantic figure, in the likeness of an ape; then, raising her head, she considered Bersoum straitly and said to him, 'O dog, how darest thou lie to kings? Art thou not a Nazarene, Bersoum by name, and comest thou not hither in quest of somewhat? Speak the truth, or, by the splendour of the Deity, I will strike off thy head?' At this, Bersoum was confounded and the Amirs and bystanders said, 'Verily, the King understands geomancy: blessed be He who hath gifted him!' Then Zumurrud cried out upon Bersoum and said, 'Tell me the truth, or I will make an end of thee!' 'Pardon, O King of the age,' replied Bersoum; 'the table hath told thee aright; thy slave is indeed a Nazarene.' Whereupon all present wondered at the King's skill in geomancy, saying, 'Verily, the King is a diviner, whose like there is not in the world.'
Then Zumurrud bade flay the Christian and stuff his skin with straw and hang it over the gate of the tilting-ground. Moreover, she commanded to dig a pit without the city and burn his flesh and bones therein and throw over his ashes offal and rubbish. 'We hear and obey,' answered they and did with him as she bade. When the people saw what had befallen the Christian, they said, 'He hath his deserts; but what an unlucky mouthful was that for him!' And another said, 'Be my wife triply divorced if ever I eat of sweet rice as long as I live!' 'Praised be God,' quoth the hashish-eater, 'who saved me from this fellow's fate by hindering me from eating of the rice!' Then they all went out, minded thenceforth to leave sitting in the Christian's place, over against the dish of sweet rice.
When the first day of the third month came, they laid the tables as of wont, and Queen Zumurrud came down and sat on her throne, with her guards in attendance on her, fearing her danger. Then the townsfolk entered, as usual, and went round about the tables, looking for the place of the dish of sweet rice, and quoth one to another, 'Hark ye, Hajji Khelef!' 'At thy service, O Hajji Khalid,' answered the other. 'Avoid the dish of sweet rice,' said Khalid, 'and look thou eat not thereof; for if thou do, thou wilt be hanged.' Then they sat down to meat; and as they were eating, Zumurrud chanced to look at the gate of the tilting-ground and saw a man come running in. So she considered him and knew him for Jewan the Kurd.
Now the manner of his coming was on this wise. When he left his mother, he went to his comrades and said to them, 'I had fine purchase yesterday; for I slew a trooper and took his horse. Moreover there fell to me last night a pair of saddle-bags, full of gold, and a girl worth more than the money; and I have left them all with my mother in the cave.' At this they rejoiced and repaired to the cavern at nightfall, whilst they forewent them, that he might fetch them the booty. But he found the place empty and questioned his mother, who told him what had befallen; whereupon he bit his hands for despite and exclaimed, 'By Allah, I will make search for yonder harlot and take her, wherever she is, though it be in the shell of a pistachio-nut, and quench my malice on her!' So he went forth in quest of her and journeyed from place to place, till he came to Queen Zumurrud's city. He found the town deserted and enquiring of some women whom he saw looking from the windows, learnt that it was the Sultan's custom to make a banquet for all the people on the first of each month and was directed to the tilting-ground, where the feast was spread.
So he came running in and finding no place empty, save that before the dish of sweet rice, took his seat there and put out his hand to the dish; whereupon the folk cried out to him, saying, 'O brother, what wilt thou do?' Quoth he, 'I mean to eat my fill of this dish.' 'If thou eat of it,' rejoined one of the people, 'thou wilt assuredly be hanged.' But Jewan said, 'Hold thy peace and talk not thus.' Then he stretched out his hand to the dish aforesaid and drew it to him.
Now the hashish-eater, of whom we have before spoken, was sitting by him; but when he saw him do this, the fumes of the hashish left his head and he fled from his place and sat down afar off, saying, 'I will have nothing to do with yonder dish.' Then Jewan put out his hand, as it were a crow's foot, and dipping it in the dish, scooped up therewith half the dishful and drew it out, as it were a camel's hoof, and the bottom of the dish appeared. He rolled the rice in his hand, till it was like a great orange, and threw it ravenously into his mouth; and it rolled down his gullet, with a noise like thunder. 'Praised by God,' quoth his neighbour, 'who hath not made me meat before thee; for thou hast emptied the dish at one mouthful.' 'Let him eat,' said the hashish-eater; 'methinks he hath a gallows-face.' Then, turning to Jewan, 'Eat,' added he, 'and small good may it do thee!'
Jewan put out his hand again and taking another mouthful, was rolling it in his hands like the first, when Zumurrud cried out to the guards, saying, 'Bring me yonder man in haste and let him not eat the mouthful in his hand.' So they ran and seizing him, as he bent over the dish, brought him to her, whilst the people exulted over him and said, one to the other, 'He hath his deserts, for we warned him, but he would not take warning. Verily, this place is fated to be the death of whoso sits therein, and yonder rice is fatal to all who eat of it.'
Then said Zumurrud to Jewan, 'What is thy name and condition and why comest thou hither?' 'O our lord the Sultan,' answered he, 'my name is Othman; I am a gardener and am come hither in quest of somewhat I have lost.' 'Bring me a table of sand,' said Zumurrud. So they brought it, and she took the pen and drawing a geomantic figure, considered it awhile, then raising her head, exclaimed, 'Out on thee, thou sorry knave! How darest thou lie to kings? This sand tells me that thy name is Jewan the Kurd and that thou art by trade a robber, taking men's goods in the way of unright and slaying those whom God hath forbidden to slay, save for just cause.' And she cried out upon him, saying, 'O hog, tell me the truth of thy case or I will cut off thy head!'
When he heard this, he turned pale and his teeth chattered; then, deeming that he might save himself by telling the truth, he replied, 'O King, thou sayest sooth; but I repent at thy hands henceforth and turn to God the Most High!' Quoth she, 'I may not leave a pest in the way of the true-believers.' And she said to her guards, 'Take him and flay him and do with him as ye did by his like last month.' And they did her commandment. When the hashish-eater saw this, he turned his back upon the dish of rice, saying, 'It is unlawful to present my face to thee.' Then, when they had made an end of eating, they dispersed and Zumurrud returned to her palace and dismissed her attendants.
When the fourth month came round, they made the banquet, as of wont, and the folk sat awaiting leave to begin. Presently Zumurrud entered and sitting down on her throne, looked at the tables and saw that room for four people was left void before the dish of rice, at which she wondered. As she sat, looking around, she saw a man come running in at the gate, who stayed not till he reached the tables and finding no room, save before the dish of rice, took his seat there. She looked at him and knowing him for the accursed Christian, who called himself Reshideddin, said in herself, 'How blessed is this device of the food, into whose toils this infidel hath fallen!'
Now the manner of his coming was extraordinary, and it was on this wise. When he returned from his journey, the people of the house told him that Zumurrud was missing and with her a pair of saddle-bags full of gold; whereupon he rent his clothes and buffeted his face and plucked out his beard. Then he despatched his brother Bersoum in quest of her, and when he was weary of awaiting news of him, he went forth himself, to seek for him and for Zumurrud, and fate led him to the latter's city. He entered it on the first day of the month and finding the streets deserted and the shops shut, enquired of the women at the windows, who told him that the King made a banquet on the first of each month for the people, all of whom were bound to attend it, nor might any abide in his house or shop that day; and they directed him to the tilting-ground.
So he betook himself thither and sitting down before the rice, put out his hand to eat thereof, whereupon Zumurrud cried out to her guards, saying, 'Bring me him who sits before the dish of rice.' So they laid hands on him and brought him before Queen Zumurrud, who said to him, 'Out on thee! What is thy name and occupation, and what brings thee hither?' 'O King of the age,' answered he, 'my name is Rustem and I have no occupation, for I am a poor dervish.' Then said she to her attendants, 'Bring me a table of sand and pen of brass.' So they brought her what she sought, as usual; and she took the pen and drawing a geomantic figure, considered it awhile, then raising her head to Reshideddin, said, 'O dog, how darest thou lie to kings? Thy name is Reshideddin the Nazarene; thou art outwardly a Muslim, but a Christian at heart, and thine occupation is to lay snares for the slave-girls of the Muslims and take them. Speak the truth, or I will smite off thy head.' He hesitated and stammered, then replied, 'Thou sayest sooth, O King of the age!' Whereupon she commanded to throw him down and give him a hundred blows on each sole and a thousand on his body; after which she bade flay him and stuff his skin with hards of flax and dig a pit without the city, wherein they should burn his body and cast dirt and rubbish on his ashes. They did as she bade them and she gave the people leave to eat.
So they ate their fill and went their ways, whilst Zumurrud returned to her palace, thanking God for that He had solaced her heart of those who had wronged her. Then she praised the Creator of heaven and earth and repeated the following verses:
Lo, these erst had power and used it with oppression and unright! In a little, their dominion was as it ne'er had been. Had they used their power with justice, they had been repaid the like; But they wrought unright and Fortune guerdoned them with dole and teen. So they perished and the moral of the case bespeaks them thus, "This is what your crimes have earnt you: Fate is not to blame, I ween."
Then she called to mind her lord Ali Shar and wept, but presently recovered herself and said, 'Surely God, who hath given mine enemies into my hand, will vouchsafe me speedy reunion with my beloved; for He can do what He will and is generous to His servants and mindful of their case!' Then she praised God (to whom belong might and majesty) and besought forgiveness of Him, submitting herself to the course of destiny, assured that to each beginning there is an end, and repeating the saying of the poet:
Be at thine ease, for all things' destiny Is in His hands who fashioned earth and sea. Nothing of Him forbidden shall befall Nor aught of Him appointed fail to thee.
And what another saith:
Let the days pass, as they list, and fare, And enter thou not the house of despair. Full oft, when the quest of a thing is hard, The next hour brings us the end of our care.
And a third:
Be mild what time thou'rt ta'en with anger and despite And patient, if there fall misfortune on thy head. Indeed, the nights are quick and great with child by Time And of all wondrous things are hourly brought to bed.
And a fourth:
Take patience, for therein is good; an thou be learn'd in it, Thou shalt be calm of soul nor drink of anguish any whit. And know that if, with a good grace, thou do not thee submit, Yet must thou suffer, will or nill, that which the Pen hath writ.
She abode thus another whole month's space, judging the folk and commanding and forbidding by day, and by night weeping and bewailing her separation from her lord Ali Shar. On the first day of the fifth month, she bade spread the banquet as usual and sat down at the head of the tables, whilst the people awaited the signal to fall to, leaving the space before the dish of rice vacant. She sat with eyes fixed upon the gate of the tilting- ground, noting all who entered and saying, 'O Thou that restoredst Joseph to Jacob and didst away the affliction of Job, vouchsafe of Thy power and greatness to restore me my lord Ali Shar; for Thou canst all things! O Lord of all creatures, O Guide of the erring, O Hearer of those that cry, O Answerer of prayer, answer Thou my prayer, O Lord of all creatures!'
Hardly had she made an end of her prayer, when she saw entering the gate a young man, in shape like the willow wand, the comeliest and most accomplished of youths, save that his face was sallow and his form wasted. He came up to the tables and finding no seat vacant save before the dish of rice, sat down there; whereupon Zumurrud's heart fluttered and observing him narrowly, she knew him for her lord Ali Shar and was like to have cried out for joy, but restrained herself, fearing disgrace before the folk. Her bowels were troubled and her heart throbbed; but she concealed that which she suffered.
Now the manner of his coming thither was on this wise. When he awoke and found himself lying on the bench outside the Christian's house, with his head bare, he knew that some one had come upon him and robbed him of his turban, whilst he slept. So he spoke the word, which whoso saith shall never be confounded, that is to say, 'Verily, we are God's and to Him we return!' and going back to the old woman's house, knocked at the door. She came out and he wept before her, till he swooned away. When he came to himself, he told her all that had passed, and she blamed him and chid him for his heedlessness, saying, 'Thou hast but thyself to thank for thine affliction and calamity.' And she gave not over reproaching him, till the blood streamed from his nostrils and he again fainted away. When he revived, he saw her weeping over him; so he bewailed himself and repeated the following verses:
How bitter is parting to friends, and how sweet Reunion to lovers, for sev'rance that sigh! May God all unite them and watch over me, For I'm of their number and like for to die.
The old woman mourned over him and said to him, 'Sit here, whilst I go in quest of news and return to thee in haste.' 'I hear and obey,' answered he. So she left him and was absent till midday, when she returned and said to him, 'O Ali, I fear me thou must die in thy grief; thou wilt never see thy beloved again save on Es Sirat; for the people of the Christian's house, when they arose in the morning, found the window giving on the garden broken in and Zumurrud missing, and with her a pair of saddle- bags, full of the Christian's money. When I came thither, I found the Master of Police and his officers standing at the door, and there is no power and no virtue save in God the Most High, the Supreme!'
When he heard this, the light in his eyes was changed to darkness and he despaired of life and made sure of death; nor did he leave weeping, till he lost his senses. When he recovered, love and longing were sore upon him; there befell him a grievous sickness and he kept his house a whole year; during which time the old woman ceased not to bring him doctors and ply him with diet- drinks and make him broths, till his life returned to him. Then he recalled what had passed and repeated the following verses:
Union is parted; in its stead, of grief I am possessed: My tears flow still, my heart's on fire for yearning and unrest. Longing redoubles on a wight who hath no peace, so sore Of love and wakefulness and pain he's wasted and oppressed. Lord, I beseech Thee, if there be relief for me in aught, Vouchsafe it, whilst a spark of life abideth in my breast.
When the second year began, the old woman said to him, 'O my son, all this thy sadness and sorrowing will not bring thee back thy mistress. Rise, therefore, take heart and seek for her in the lands: haply thou shalt light on some news of her.' And she ceased not to exhort and encourage him, till he took heart and she carried him to the bath. Then she made him drink wine and eat fowls, and thus she did with him for a whole month, till he regained strength and setting out, journeyed without ceasing till he arrived at Zumurrud's city, when he went to the tilting-ground and sitting down before the dish of sweet rice, put out his hand to eat of it.
When the folk saw this, they were concerned for him and said to him, 'O young man, eat not of that dish, for whoso eats thereof, misfortune befalls him.' 'Leave me to eat of it,' answered he, 'and let them do with me as they list, so haply I may be at rest from this weary life.' Then he ate a first mouthful, and Zumurrud was minded to have him brought to her; but bethought her that belike he was anhungred and said in herself, 'It were well to let him eat his fill.' So he went on eating, whilst the people looked on in astonishment, waiting to see what would befall him; and when he had done, Zumurrud said to certain of her eunuchs, 'Go to yonder youth that eateth of the rice and bring him to me on courteous wise, saying, 'The King would have speech of thee on some slight matter.' 'We hear and obey,' answered they and going up to Ali Shar, said to him, 'O my lord, the King desires the favour of a word with thee, and let thy heart be easy.' 'I hear and obey,' replied he and followed the eunuchs, who carried him before Zumurrud, whilst the people said to one another, 'There is no power and no virtue save in God the Most High, the Supreme! I wonder what the King will do with him!' And others said, 'He will do him nought but good; for, were he minded to harm him, he had not suffered him to eat his fill.'
When he came before Zumurrud, he saluted and kissed the earth before her, whilst she returned his greeting and received him with honour. Then said she to him, 'What is thy name and condition and what brought thee hither?' 'O King,' answered he, 'my name is Ali Shar; I am of the sons of the merchants of Khorassan and the object of my coming hither is to seek for a slave-girl whom I have lost; for she was dearer to me than my sight and my hearing, and indeed my soul cleaves to her, since I lost her.' And he wept, till he swooned away. She caused sprinkle rose-water on his face, till he came to himself, when she said, 'Bring me the table of sand and the pen.' So they brought them and she took the pen and drew a geomantic figure, which she considered awhile; then, 'Thou hast spoken sooth,' quoth she. 'God will grant thee speedy reunion with her; so be not troubled.' Then she bade her chamberlain carry him to the bath and after clothe him in a handsome suit of royal apparel, and mount him an one of the best of the King's horses and bring him to the palace at end of day. So the chamberlain took him away, whilst the folk said to one another, 'What makes the King deal thus courteously with yonder youth?' And one said, 'Did I not tell you that he would do him no hurt? For he is fair of aspect; and this I knew, when the King suffered him to eat his fill.' And each said his say; after which they all dispersed and went their ways.
As for Zumurrud, she thought the night would never come, that she might be alone with the beloved of her heart. As soon as it was dusk, she withdrew to her sleeping-chamber and made as she were overcome with sleep; and it was her wont to suffer none to pass the night with her, save the two little eunuchs that waited upon her. After a little, she sent for Ali Shar and sat down upon the bed, with candles burning at her head and feet and the place lighted with hanging lamps of gold that shone like the sun. When the people heard of her sending for Ali Shar, they marvelled and said, 'Algates, the King is enamoured of this young man, and to- morrow he will make him commander of the troops.' And each thought his thought and said his say. When they brought him in to her, he kissed the earth before her and called down blessings on her, and she said in herself, 'Needs must I jest with him awhile, ere I make myself known to him.' Then said she to him, 'O Ali, hast thou been to the bath?' 'Yes, O my lord,' answered he. 'Come, eat of this fowl and meat and drink of this wine and sherbet of sugar,' said she; 'for thou art weary; and after come hither.' 'I hear and obey,' replied he and did as she bade him.
When he had made an end of eating and drinking, she said to him, 'Come up with me on the couch and rub my feet.' So he fell to rubbing her feet and legs and found them softer than silk. Then said she, 'Go higher with the rubbing;' and he, 'Pardon me, O my lord, I will go no higher than the knee.' Whereupon, 'Wilt thou gainsay me?' quoth she. 'It shall be an ill-omened night for thee! Nay, but it behoves thee to do my bidding and I will make thee my minion and appoint thee one of my Amirs.' 'And in what must I do thy bidding, O King of the age?' asked Ali. 'Put off thy trousers,' answered she, 'and lie down on thy face.' Quoth he, 'That is a thing I never in my life did; and if thou force me thereto, I will accuse thee thereof before God on the Day of Resurrection. Take all thou hast given me and let me go to my own city.' And he wept and lamented. But she said, 'Put off thy trousers and lie down on thy face, or I will strike off thy head.' So he did as she bade him and she mounted upon his back. And he felt what was softer than silk and fresher than cream and said in himself, 'Of a truth, this King is better than all the women!'
She abode a while on his back, then turned over on to the ground, and he said [in himself], 'Praised be God! It seems his yard is not in point.' Then said she, 'O Ali, it is of the wont of my yard that it standeth not on end, except it be rubbed with the hand; so, some, rub it with thy hand, till it be in point, else will I kill thee.' So saying, she lay down on her back and taking his hand, set it to her kaze, and he found it a kaze softer than silk, white, plump and great, resembling for heat the hot room of the bath or the heart of a lover, whom passion hath wasted. Quoth Ali in himself, 'Verily, this King hath a kaze. This is a wonder of wonders!' And desire got hold on him and his yard stood on end to the utmost; which when Zumurrud saw, she burst out laughing and said to him, 'O my lord, all this betideth and yet thou knowest me not!' 'And who art thou, O King?' asked he; and she said, 'I am thy slave-girl Zumurrud.'
When he knew this and was certified that she was indeed his very slave-girl Zumurrud, he threw himself upon her, as the lion upon the sheep, and kissed her and embraced her. Then he thrust his yard into her poke and stinted not to play the porter at her door and the Imam at her prayer-niche, whilst she with him ceased not from inclination and prostration and rising up and sitting down, accompanying her canticles of praise with motitations and other amorous gestures, till the [two little] eunuchs [aforesaid] heard [the noise]. So they came and peeping out from behind the curtains, saw the King lying [on his back] and Ali Shar upon him, thrusting and thronging amain, whilst she puffed and blew and wriggled. Quoth they, 'This is no man's wriggle; belike this King is a woman.' But they concealed their affair and discovered it to none.
On the morrow, Zumurrud summoned all the troops and the grandees of the realm and said to them, 'I am minded to journey to this man's country; so choose a deputy, who shall rule over you, till I return to you.' And they answered, 'We hear and obey.' Then she applied herself to making ready for the journey and furnished herself with victual and treasure and camels and mules and so forth; after which she set out with Ali Shar, and they fared on, till they arrived at his native place, where he entered his house and gave alms and largesse. God vouchsafed him children by her, and they both lived the happiest of lives, till there came to them the Destroyer of Delights and Sunderer of Companies. Glory be to God, the Eternal without cease, and praised be He in every case!
[Go to The Loves of Jubeir Ben Umeir and the Lady Budour]
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