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When Taj el Mulouk heard the young merchant's account of the princess Dunya and her beauty, fires raged in his bosom and his heart and thought were occupied with love for her; passion and longing were sore upon him and he knew not what to do. Then he mounted his horse and taking Aziz with him, returned to his father's capital, where he assigned the merchant a house and supplied him with all that he needed in the way of meat and drink and clothing. Then he left him and returned to his palace, with the tears running down his cheeks, for report [whiles] stands in stead of sight and very knowledge. He abode thus till his father came in to him and finding him pale-faced, lean of body and tearful eyed, knew that some chagrin had betided him and said to him, 'O my son, acquaint me with thy case and tell me what hath befallen thee, that thy colour is changed and thy body wasted.' So he told him all that had passed and how he had heard from Aziz of the princess Dunya and had fallen in love with her on hearsay, without having set eyes on her. 'O my son,' said the King, 'she is the daughter of a king whose country is far distant from ours: so put away this thought from thee and go into thy mother's palace. There are five hundred damsels like moons, and whichsoever of them pleaseth thee, take her; or else we will seek thee in marriage some one of the kings' daughters, fairer than the lady Dunya.' 'O my father,' answered Taj el Mulouk, 'I desire none other, for she it is who wrought the gazelles that I saw, and I must have her; else I will flee into the deserts and waste places and slay myself for her sake.' Then said his father, 'O my son, have patience with me, till I send to her father and demand her hand in marriage, as I did with thy mother. It may be that God will bring thee to thy desire; and if her father will not consent, I will shake his kingdom under him with an army, whose van shall be upon him, whilst the rear is yet with me.' Then he sent for Aziz and said to him, 'O my son, dost thou know the way to the Camphor Islands?' 'Yes,' answered he; and the King said, 'It is my wish that thou accompany my Vizier thither.' 'I hear and obey, O King of the age,' replied Aziz; whereupon the King summoned his Vizier and said to him, 'Devise me some plan, whereby my son's affair may be rightly managed, and go to the King of the Camphor Islands and demand his daughter in marriage for Tej el Mulouk.' 'I hear and obey,' answered the Vizier. Then Taj el Mulouk returned to his dwelling place and his longing redoubled and impatience and unease were sore upon him; and when the night darkened upon him, he wept and sighed and complained and repeated the following verses:
The shadows darken and my tears flow aye without avail, Whilst in my heart the fires of love rage on and never fail. Question the nights of me, and they will testify to thee That I in all their endless hours do nought but weep and wait. Wakeful for love-longing and grief, I lie and watch the stars All night, what while upon my cheeks the tears fall down like hail. Lowly and helpless I abide, for such as lovers be Have, as it were, nor kith nor kin to help them in their bale.
Then he swooned away and did not recover his senses till the morning, when there came to him one of his father's servants and standing at his head, summoned him to the King's presence. So he went with him, and his father seeing that his pallor had increased, exhorted him to patience and promised him union with her he loved. Then he equipped Aziz and the Vizier for the journey and gave them presents for the princess's father; and they set out and fared on night and day, till they drew near the Camphor Islands, when the Vizier called a halt on the banks of a stream and despatched a messenger to acquaint the King of his arrival. The messenger had not long been gone, when they saw, advancing towards them, the King's chamberlains and amirs, who met them at a parasang's distance from the city and escorted them to the royal presence. They laid before the King the gifts with which they were charged and enjoyed his hospitality three days. On the fourth day the Vizier rose and going in to the King, stood before him and acquainted him with the object of his visit; whereat he was perplexed and knew not what answer to make him, for that his daughter was averse from men and did not desire to marry. So he bowed his head awhile, then raised it and calling one of his eunuchs, said to him, 'Go to thy mistress, the princess Dunya, and repeat to her what thou hast heard and tell her this Vizier's errand.' So the eunuch went out and returning after a while, said to the King, 'O King of the age, when I went to the lady Dunya and told her what I had heard, she was exceeding wroth and made at me with a staff, meaning to break my head; whereupon I fled from her, and she said to me, 'If my father force me to marry, him whom I wed I will kill.' Then said the King to the Vizier and Aziz, 'Salute the King your master and tell him what ye have heard and that my daughter is averse from men and hath no mind to marry.' So they returned, without having accomplished the object of their journey, and fared on till they rejoined the King and told him what had passed; whereupon he commanded the chief to summon the troops for war. But the Vizier said to him, 'O King, do not this, for the King is not at fault, seeing that, when his daughter learnt our business, she sent to say that, if her father forced her to marry, she would kill her husband and herself after him: so the refusal comes from her.' When the King heard this, he feared for Taj el Mulouk and said, 'If I make war on the King of the Camphor Islands and carry off his daughter, she will kill herself and it will profit me nothing.' So he told his son how the case stood, and he said, 'O my father, I cannot live without her; so I will go to her and cast about to get me access to her, though I die in the attempt.' 'How wilt thou go to her?' asked his father; and he answered, 'In the disguise of a merchant.' Then said the King, 'If thou must go and there is no help for it, take with thee Aziz and the Vizier.' He agreed to this, and the King took money from his treasuries and made ready for him merchandise, to the value of a hundred thousand dinars; and when the night came Taj el Mulouk went to Aziz's lodging and passed the night there, heart-smitten and taking no delight in food nor sleep; for melancholy was heavy upon him and he was agitated with longing for his beloved. So he besought the Creator to unite him with her and wept and groaned and complained, repeating the following verses:
Shall union after estrangement betide us, perchance, some day? Shall I ever make moan of my passion to thee, I wonder, and say, 'How oft have I called thee to mind, whilst the night in its trances slept! Thou hast made me waken, whilst all but I in oblivion lay.
Then he wept sore and Aziz wept with him, for that he remembered his cousin; and they both ceased not to do thus till the morning, when Taj el Mulouk rose and went in to his mother in his travelling dress. She asked him of his case, and he told her what was to do; so she gave him fifty thousand dinars and bade him farewell, offering up prayers for his safety and for his union with his beloved. Then he left her and betaking himself to his father, asked his leave to depart. The King granted him leave and presenting him with other fifty thousand dinars, let pitch a tent for him without the city, in which they abode two days, then set out on their journey. And Taj el Mulouk delighted in Aziz's company and said to him, 'O my brother, I can never bear to be parted from thee.' 'Nor I from thee,' replied Aziz; 'and fain would I die at thy feet: but, O my brother, my heart is concerned for my mother.' 'When we have attained our wish,' said the prince, 'all will be well.' As for the Vizier, he exhorted Taj el Mulouk to patience, whilst Aziz entertained him with talk and recited verses to him and diverted him with stories and anecdotes; and so they fared on day and night for two whole months, till the way became tedious to the prince and the fires of passion redoubled on him. So he repeated the following verses:
Long is the road and restlessness and grief redouble aye, Whilst in my breast the fires of love rage ever night and day O thou, the goal of all my hopes, sole object of my wish, I swear by Him, the Most High God, who moulded man from clay, For love of thee I bear a load of longing and desire, Such as the mountains of Es Shumm might ne'er withal away! Indeed, O lady of my world, love slayeth me outright; No breath of life in me is left, my fainting spright to stay But for the hope of union with thee, that lures me on, My weary body had no strength to furnish forth the way.
When he had finished, he wept and Aziz wept with him, from a lacerated heart, till the Vizier was moved to pity by their weeping and said to the prince, 'O my lord, take courage and be of good cheer; all will yet be well.' 'O Vizier,' said Taj el Mulouk, 'indeed I am weary of the length of the way. Tell me how far we are distant yet from the city.' 'But a little way,' replied Aziz. Then they continued their journey, traversing valleys and plains and hills and stony wastes, till one night, as Taj el Mulouk was asleep, he dreamt that his beloved was with him and that he embraced her and pressed her to his bosom; and he awoke, trembling and delirious with emotion, and repeated the following verses:
My heart is maddened for love and my tears for ever flow, And longing is ever upon me and unrelenting woe. My plaint is, for tears, as the mourning of women bereft of young, And I moan, when the darkness gathers, as the turtles, sad and low. Yet, if the breezes flutter from the land where thou dost dwell, Their wafts o'er the earth, sun-weaned, a grateful coolness throw. Peace be on thee, my beloved, as long as the cushat flies, As long as the turtles warble, as long as the zephyrs blow!
When he had finished, the Vizier came to him and said, 'Rejoice; this is a good sign: so comfort thyself and be of good cheer, for thou shalt surely compass thy desire.' And Aziz also came to him and exhorted him to patience and applied himself to divert him, talking with him and telling him stories. So they pressed on, night and day, other two months, till, one day, at sunrise, there appeared to them some white thing in the distance and Taj el Mulouk said to Aziz, 'What is yonder whiteness?' 'O my lord,' answered he, 'that is the Fortress of Crystal and the city that thou seekest.' At this the prince rejoiced, and they fared forward till they drew near the city, to the exceeding joy of Taj el Mulouk, whose grief and anxiety ceased from him. They entered, in the guise of merchants, the King's son being habited as a merchant of importance, and repaired to a great khan, known as the Merchants' Lodging. Quoth Taj el Mulouk to Aziz, 'Is this the resort of the merchants?' 'Yes,' replied he; 'it is the khan in which I lodged when I was here before.' So they alighted there and making their beasts kneel down, unloaded them and laid up their goods in the warehouses. They abode four days, resting; at the end of which time, the Vizier proposed that they should hire a large house. To this they assented and hired a spacious house, fitted up for festivities, where they took up their abode, and the Vizier and Aziz studied to devise some plan of conduct for Taj el Mulouk, whilst the latter remained in a state of perplexity, knowing not what to do. The Vizier could think of nothing but that he should set up as a merchant in the stuff-market; so he turned to the prince and Aziz and said to them, 'If we tarry thus, we shall not compass our desire nor attain our aim; but I have bethought me of somewhat, in which, if it please God, we shall find our advantage.' 'Do what seemeth good to thee,' replied Taj el Mulouk; 'indeed there is a blessing on the aged, more by token that thou art versed in the conduct of affairs: so tell me what is in thy mind.' 'It is my counsel,' rejoined the Vizier, 'that we hire thee a shop in the stuff- bazaar, where thou mayst sit to sell and buy. Every one, great and small, hath need of silken and other stuffs; so if thou be patient and abide in thy shop, thine affairs will prosper, if it please God, especially as thou art comely of aspect. Moreover, I would have thee make Aziz thy factor and set him within the shop, to hand thee the pieces of stuffs and silks.' When Taj el Mulouk heard this, he said, 'This is a good counsel.' So he took out a handsome suit of merchant's clothes, and putting it on, set out for the bazaar, followed by his servants, to one of whom he had given a thousand dinars, wherewith to fit up the shop. When they came to the stuff-market and the merchants saw Taj el Mulouk's beauty and grace, they were confounded and some said, 'Sure Rizwan hath opened the gates of Paradise and left them unguarded, so that this passing lovely youth hath come out.' And others, 'Belike this is one of the angels.' They asked for the shop of the overseer of the market, and the merchants directed them to it. So they repaired thither and saluted him, and he and those who were with him rose to them and seated them and made much of them because of the Vizier, whom they saw to be a man of age and reverend aspect; and seeing Aziz and Taj el Mulouk in his company, they said to one another, 'Doubtless this old man is the father of these two youths.' Then said the Vizier, 'Which of you is the overseer of the market?' 'This is he,' answered they; whereupon he came forward and the Vizier, observing him, saw him to be an old man of grave and dignified carriage, with slaves and servants, white and black. He greeted them in the friendliest manner and was lavish in his attentions to them: then he made them sit by his side and said to them, 'Have you any business which we may have the pleasure of transacting?' 'Yes,' answered the Vizier. 'I am an old man, stricken in years, and have with me these two youths, with whom I have travelled through many towns and countries, tarrying a whole year in every city (of importance) on our way, that they might take their pleasure in viewing it and come to know its people. Now I have chosen to make a stay in this your town; so I would fain have thee allot me a handsome shop in the best situation, wherein I may establish them, that they may traffic and learn to buy and sell and give and take, whilst they divert themselves with the sight of the place and acquire the uses of its people.' 'Good,' said the overseer, and looking at the two youths, rejoiced in them and conceived a great affection for them. Now he was a great lover of bewitching glances, preferring the commerce of boys to that of girls and inclining to their love. So he said in himself, 'These be fine purchase; glory to Him who created and fashioned them out of vile water!' and rising, stood before them like a servant, to do them honour. Then he went out and made ready for them a shop in the midst of the market, than which there was no larger nor better in the bazaar, for it was spacious and handsomely decorated and fitted with shelves of ebony and ivory; after which he delivered the keys to the Vizier, who was dressed as an old merchant, saying, 'Take them, O my lord, and may God make it a blessed abiding-place to thy sons!' The Vizier took the keys, and they returned to the khan and caused their servants to transport to the shop all their goods and stuffs and valuables, of which they had great plenty, worth treasures of money. Next morning, the Vizier carried the two young men to the bath, where they washed and put on rich clothes and perfumed themselves to the utmost therein. Now each of them was passing fair to look upon, and the bath enhanced their charms to the utmost, even as says the poet:
Good luck to him who in the bath doth serve him as his squire, Handling a body 'gotten sure 'twixt water and the fire! With skilful hands he showeth forth the marvels of his craft, In that he gathers very musk from what is like camphire.
When the overseer heard that they had gone to the bath, he sat down to await them, and presently they came up to him, like two gazelles, with red cheeks and black eyes and shining faces, as they were two lustrous moons or two fruit-laden saplings. When he saw them, he rose and said to them, 'May your bath profit you ever!' Whereupon Taj el Mulouk replied, with the sweetest of speech, 'May God be bountiful to thee, O my father! Why didst thou not come with us and bathe in our company?' Then they both bent over his hands and kissing them, walked before him to the shop, to do him honour and show their respect for him, for that he was chief of the merchants and the market, as well as their sense of his kindness in giving them the shop. When he saw their hips quivering, emotion and longing redoubled on him and he could not contain himself, but puffed and snorted and devoured them with his eyes, repeating the following verses:
The heart in them studies the chapter of worship unshared sheer No proofs of more gods to worship than one it readeth here. No wonder it is they tremble by reason of their weight; How much is there not of motion in that revolving sphere!
And also these:
Two fair ones walking on the earth mine eyes did late espy; Two that I needs must love although they walked upon mine eye.
When they heard this, they begged him to enter the bath with them a second time. He could hardly believe his ears and hastening thither, went in with them. The Vizier had not yet left the bath; so when he heard of the overseer's coming, he came out and meeting him in the outer room of the bath, invited him to enter. He refused, but Taj el Mulouk took him by one hand and Aziz by the other and carried him into a cabinet, the impure old man submitting to them, whilst his emotion increased on him. Then Taj el Mulouk swore that none but he should wash him and Aziz that none but he should pour water on him. He would have refused, albeit this was what he desired; but the Vizier said to him, 'They are thy sons; let them wash thee and bathe thee.' 'God preserve them to thee!' exclaimed the overseer. 'By Allah, thy coming and theirs hath brought blessing and fortune upon our city!' and he repeated the following verses:
Thou cam'st, and the mountains about us grew green And glittered, with flowers for the bridegroom beseen; Whilst earth and her creatures cried, 'Welcome to thee, Thrice welcome, that comest in glory and sheen!'
They thanked him for this, and Taj el Mulouk proceeded to wash him, whilst Aziz poured water over him and he thought himself in Paradise. When they had made an end of his service, he called down blessings on them and sat talking with the Vizier, gazing the while on the youths. Presently, the servants brought them towels, and they dried themselves and donned their clothes. Then they went out, and the Vizier said to the overseer, 'O my lord, verily the bath is the Paradise of this world.' 'May God vouchsafe it to thee,' replied the overseer, 'and health to thy sons and guard them from the evil eye! Do you remember aught that the poets have said in praise of the bath?' 'Yes,' said Taj el Mulouk and repeated the following verses:
The life of the bath is the pleasantest part of life, Except that the time of our sojourn there is slight. A heaven, wherein 'tis irksome to us to bide: A hell, into which we enter with delight.
'And I also,' said Aziz, 'remember some verses in praise of the bath.' Quoth the overseer, 'Let us hear them.' So he repeated the following:
I know a house, wherein flowers from the sheer stone blow; Most goodly, when the flames about it rage and glow. Thou deem'st it hell, and yet, in truth, 'tis Paradise And most that be therein are sun and moons, I trow.
His verses pleased the overseer and he wondered at their grace and eloquence and said, 'By Allah, ye possess both beauty and eloquence! But now listen to me.' And he chanted the following verses:
O pleasaunce of hell-fire and paradise of pain! Bodies and souls therein indeed are born again. I marvel at a house, whose pleasantness for aye Doth flourish, though the flames beneath it rage amain. A sojourn of delight to those who visit it It is; the pools on them their tears in torrents rain.
Then he fed his eyes on the gardens of their beauty and repeated the following verses:
I went to the bath-keeper's house and entered his dwelling-place And found no door-keeper there but met me with smiling face. I sojourned awhile in his heaven and visited eke his hell And thanked both Malik and Rizwan for solace and kindly grace.
They were charmed with these verses, and the overseer invited them to his house; but they declined and resumed to their own lodging, to rest from the great heat of the bath. They took their ease there and ate and drank and passed the night in the greatest comfort and delight, till morning, when they arose from sleep and making their ablutions, prayed the morning-prayer and drank the morning-draught. As soon as the sun had risen and the markets and shops were open, they went out to the bazaar and opened their shop, which their servants had already furnished, after the handsomest fashion, with prayer-rugs and silken carpets and a pair of divans, each worth a hundred dinars. On each divan they had spread a rug, garded with gold and fit for a king, and in the midst of the shop stood a third seat of still greater elegance, even as the case required. Taj el Mulouk sat down on one couch and Aziz on another, whilst the Vizier seated himself on that in the centre, and the servants stood before them. The people of the city heard of them and crowded to them, so that they sold some of their goods and the report of Taj el Mulouk's beauty and grace spread throughout the place. Some days passed thus, and every day the people flocked to them more and more, till the Vizier, after exhorting the prince to keep his secret, commended him to Aziz's care and went home, that he might be alone and cast about for some device that might profit them.
Meanwhile, the two young men sat talking and the prince said to Aziz, 'It may be some one will come from the Princess Dunya.' So he abode in expectation of this days and nights, whilst his heart was troubled and he knew neither sleep nor rest: for desire had gotten the mastery of him and passion and longing were sore upon him, so that he forewent the solace of sleep and abstained from meat and drink; yet ceased he not to be like the full moon. One day, as he sat in the shop, there came up an old woman, followed by two slave-girls. She stopped before Taj el Mulouk and observing his grace and elegance and symmetry, marvelled at his beauty and sweated in her clothes, exclaiming, 'Glory to Him who created thee out of vile water and made thee a ravishment to all who look upon thee!' And she fixed her eyes on him and said, 'This is sure no mortal, but a noble angel.' Then she drew near and saluted him, whereupon he returned her salute and (being prompted thereto by Aziz) rose to his feet to receive her and smiled in her face after which he made her sit down by his side and fanned her, till she was rested and refreshed, when she turned to him and said, 'O my son, O thou that art perfect in graces and charms, art thou of this country?' 'By Allah, O my lady,' answered he in the sweetest and pleasantest of voices, 'I was never in this country in my life till now, nor do I sojourn here save for my diversion.' 'May all honour and prosperity attend thee!' rejoined she. 'What stuffs has thou brought with thee? Show me something handsome; for the fair should bring nothing but what is fair.' When he heard her words, his heart fluttered and he knew not what she meant; but Aziz made a sign to him, and he replied, 'I have everything thou canst desire, and amongst the rest goods that befit none but kings and kings' daughters; so tell me for whom thou seekest the stuff, that I may show thee what will befit her.' This he said, that he might learn the meaning of her words; and she rejoined, 'I want a stuff fit for the Princess Dunya, daughter of King Shehriman.' When the prince heard the name of his beloved, he rejoiced greatly and said to Aziz, 'Give me such a bale.' So Aziz brought it and opened it before Taj el Mulouk, who said to the old woman, 'Choose what will suit her; for these are goods only to be found with me.' So she chose goods worth a thousand dinars and said, 'How much is this?' And ceased not the while to talk with him and rub the inside of her thighs with the palm of her hand. 'Shall I haggle with the like of thee about this paltry price?' answered he. 'Praised be God who hath brought me acquainted with thee!' 'The name of God be upon thee!' exclaimed she. 'I commend thy fair face to the protection of the Lord of the Daybreak! Fair face and pleasant speech! Happy the woman who lies in thy bosom and clasps thy waist in her arms and enjoys thy youth, especially if she be fair and graceful like unto thee!' At this, Taj el Mulouk laughed till he fell backward and said (in himself), 'O Thou who fulfillest desires by means of dissolute old women! They are indeed the accomplishers of desires!' Then said she, 'O my son, what is thy name?' And he answered, 'My name is Taj el Mulouk.' 'This is a name of kings and kings' sons,' rejoined she; 'and thou art clad in a merchant's habit.' Quoth Aziz, 'For the love his parents and family bore him and the value they set on him, they named him thus.' 'Thou sayst sooth,' replied the old woman. 'May God guard you both from the evil eye and the malice of the enemy and the envious, though hearts be broken by your charms!' Then she took the stuff and went away, amazed at the prince's beauty and grace and symmetry, and going in to the Princess Dunya, said to her, 'O my lady, I have brought thee some handsome stuff.' 'Show it me,' said the princess. 'Here it is,' answered the old woman; 'turn it over, O my treasure, and examine it.' So the princess looked at the stuff and was amazed at its beauty and said, 'O my nurse, this is indeed handsome stuff! I have never seen its like in our city.' 'O my lady,' replied the nurse, 'he who sold it me is handsomer still. It would seem as if Rizwan had left the gates of Paradise open and this youth had come out. I would he might sleep this night with thee and lie between thy breasts! He hath come hither with these stuffs for amusement's sake, and he is a ravishment to all who set eyes on him.' The princess laughed at her words and said, 'Allah afflict thee, O pernicious old woman! Thou dotest and there is no sense left in thee. Give me the stuff, that I may look at it anew.' So she gave it her, and she examined it again and seeing that though small, it was of great value, was moved to admiration, for she had never in her life seen its like, and exclaimed, 'By Allah, this is a handsome stuff.' 'O my lady,' said the old woman, 'if thou sawest him who sold it to me, thou wouldst know him for the handsomest of all that be upon the face of the earth.' Quoth the princess, 'Didst thou ask him if he had any need, that we might satisfy it?' The nurse shook her head and answered, 'God keep thy sagacity! Assuredly he has a want, may thy skill not fail thee. What man is free from wants?' 'Go back to him,' rejoined the princess; 'salute him for me, and say to him, "Our land and town are honoured by thy visit, and if thou hast any need, we will fulfil it to thee, on our head and eyes."' So the old woman returned to Taj el Mulouk, and when he saw her, his heart leapt for joy and he rose to his feet and taking her hand, seated her by his side. As soon as she was rested she told him what the princess had said, whereat he rejoiced exceedingly; his breast dilated and gladness entered his heart, and he said in himself, 'Verily, I have gotten my desire.' Then said he to the old woman, 'Belike thou wilt take her a message from me and bring me her answer.' 'I hear and obey,' replied she. So he said to Aziz, 'Bring me inkhorn and paper and a pen of brass.' Aziz brought him what he sought, and he took the pen and wrote the following verses: I send thee, O my hope, a letter, to complain Of all my soul endures for parting and its pain.
Six lines it hath; the first, 'A fire is in my heart;' The next line setteth forth my passion all in vain; The third, 'My patience fails and eke my life doth waste;' The fourth, 'All love with me for ever shall remain.' The fifth, 'When shall mine eyes behold thee? And the sixth, 'When shall the day betide of meeting for us twain?
And by way of subscription he wrote these words, 'This letter is from the captive of desire, prisoned in the hold of longing, from which there is no deliverance but in union and intercourse with her whom he loveth, after absence and separation: for he suffereth grievous torment by reason of his severance from his beloved.' Then his tears rushed out and he wrote the following verses:
I write to thee, my love, and the tears run down as I write; For the tears of my eyes, alack I cease never day or night. Yet do I not despair; mayhap, of God His grace, The day shall dawn for us of union and delight.
Then he folded the letter and sealed it and gave it to the old woman, saying, 'Carry it to the lady Dunya.' 'I hear and obey,' answered she; whereupon he gave her a thousand dinars and said to her, 'O my mother, accept this, as a token of my affection.' She took the letter and the money, calling down blessings on him, and returned to the princess. When the latter saw her, she said to her, 'O my nurse, what is it he asks, that we may fulfil his wish to him?' 'O my lady,' replied the old woman, 'he sends thee this letter by me, and I know not what is in it.' The princess took the letter and reading it, exclaimed, 'Who and what is this merchant that he should dare to write to me thus?' And she buffeted her face, saying, 'What have we done that we should come in converse with shopkeepers? Alas! Alas! By Allah, but that I fear God the Most High, I would put him to death and crucify him before his shop!' 'What is in the letter,' asked the old woman, 'to trouble thy heart and move thine anger thus? Doth it contain a complaint of oppression or demand for the price of the stuff?' 'Out on thee!' answered the princess. 'There is none of this in it, nought but words of love and gallantry. This is all through thee: else how should this devil know me?' 'O my lady,' rejoined the old woman, 'thou sittest in thy high palace and none may win to thee, no, not even the birds of the air. God keep thee and keep thy youth from blame and reproach! Thou art a princess, the daughter of a king, and needest not reck of the barking of dogs. Blame me not that I brought thee this letter, knowing not what was in it; but it is my counsel that thou send him an answer, threatening him with death and forbidding him from this idle talk. Surely he will abstain and return not to the like of this.' 'I fear,' said the princess, 'that, if I write to him, he will conceive hopes of me.' Quoth the old woman, 'When he reads thy threats and menace of punishment, he will desist.' So the princess called for inkhorn and paper and pen of brass and wrote the following verses:
O thou who feignest thee the prey of love and wakefulness And plainst of that thou dost endure for passion and distress Thinkst thou, deluded one, to win thy wishes of the moon? Did ever any of a moon get union and liesse? I rede thee put away the thought of this thou seekst from thee, For that therein but peril is for thee and weariness. If thou to this thy speech return, a grievous punishment Shall surely fall on thee from me and ruin past redress. By Him, the Almighty God, I swear, who moulded man from clay, Him who gave fire unto the sun and lit the moon no less If thou offend anew, for sure, upon a cross of tree I'll have thee crucified for all thy wealth and goodliness!
Then she folded the letter and giving it to the old woman, said, 'Carry this to him and bid him desist from this talk.' 'I hear and obey,' replied she, and taking the letter, returned, rejoicing, to her own house, where she passed the night and in the morning betook herself to the shop of Taj el Mulouk, whom she found expecting her. At sight of her, he well-nigh lost his reason for delight, and when she came up to him, he rose to his feet and seated her by his side. Then she brought out the letter and gave it to him, saying, 'Read this. When the princess read thy letter, she was angry; but I coaxed her and jested with her till I made her laugh, and she had pity on thee and has returned thee an answer.' He thanked her and bade Aziz give her a thousand dinars: then he read her letter and fell to weeping sore, so that the old woman's heart was moved to pity for him and his tears and complaints grieved her. So she said to him, 'O my son, what is there in this scroll, that makes thee weep?' 'She threatens me with death and crucifixion,' replied he, 'and forbids me to write to her: but if I write not, my death were better than my life. So take thou my answer to her letter and let her do what she will.' 'By the life of thy youth,' rejoined the old woman, 'needs must I venture my life for thee, that I may bring thee to thy desire and help thee to win that thou hast at heart!' And he said, 'Whatever thou dost, I will requite thee therefor, and do thou determine of it; for thou art versed in affairs and skilled in all fashions of intrigue: difficult matters are easy to thee: and God can do all things.' Then he took a scroll and wrote therein the following verses:
My love with slaughter threatens me, woe's me for my distress! But death is foreordained; to me, indeed, 'twere happiness; Better death end a lover's woes than that a weary life He live, rejected and forlorn, forbidden from liesse. Visit a lover, for God's sake, whose every helper fails, And with thy sight thy captive slave and bondman deign to bless! Have ruth upon me, lady mine, for loving thee; for all, Who love the noble, stand excused for very passion's stress.
Then he sighed heavily and wept, till the old woman wept also and taking the letter, said to him, 'Take heart and be of good cheer, for it shall go hard but I bring thee to thy desire.' Then she rose and leaving him on coals of fire, returned to the princess, whom she found still pale with rage at Taj el Mulouk's first letter. The nurse gave her his second letter, whereupon her anger redoubled and she said, 'Did I not say he would conceive hopes of us?' 'What is this dog,' replied the old woman, 'that he should conceive hopes of thee?' Quoth the princess, 'Go back to him and tell him that, if he write to me again, I will have his head cut off.' 'Write this in a letter,' answered the nurse, 'and I will take it to him, that his fear may be the greater.' So she took a scroll and wrote thereon the following verses:
Harkye thou that letst the lessons of the past unheeded lie, Thou that lookst aloft, yet lackest power to win thy goal on high, Thinkest thou to reach Es Suha, O deluded one, although Even the moon's too far to come at, shining in the middle sky? How then dar'st thou hope my favours and aspire to twinned delight And my spear-straight shape and slender in thine arms to girdle sigh? Leave this purpose, lest mine anger fall on thee some day of wrath, Such as e'en the parting-places shall with white for terror dye.
Then she folded the letter and gave it to the old woman, who took it and returned to Taj el Mulouk. When he saw her, he rose to his feet and exclaimed, 'May God not bereave me of the blessing of thy coming!' Quoth she, 'Take the answer to thy letter.' He took it and reading it, wept sore and said, 'Would some one would slay me now, for indeed death were easier to me than this my state!' Then he took pen and inkhorn and paper and wrote the following verses:
O my hope, have done with rigour; lay disdain and anger by, Visit one who, drowned in passion, doth for love and longing sigh. Think not, under thine estrangement, that my life I will endure. Lo, my soul, for very severance from thy sight, is like to die.
Then he folded the letter and gave it to the old woman, saying, 'Grudge it not to me, though I have wearied thee to no purpose.' And he bade Aziz give her other thousand dinars, saying, 'O my mother, needs must this letter result in perfect union or complete separation.' 'O my son,' replied she, 'by Allah, I desire nought but thy weal; and it is my wish that she be thine, for indeed thou art the resplendent moon and she the rising sun. If I do not bring you together, there is no profit in my life: these ninety years have I lived in the practice of wile and intrigue; so how should I fail to unite two lovers, though in defiance of law?' Then she took leave of him, after comforting his heart, and returned to the palace. Now she had hidden the letter in her hair: so she sat down by the princess and rubbing her head, said, 'O my lady, maybe thou wilt comb out my hair: for it is long since I went to the bath.' The princess bared her arms to the elbow and letting down the old woman's hair, began to comb it, when out dropped the letter and Dunya seeing it, asked what it was. Quoth the nurse, 'This paper must have stuck to me, as I sat in the merchant's shop: give it me, that I may return it to him; belike it contains some reckoning of which he hath need.' But the princess opened it, and reading it, cried out, 'This is one of thy tricks, and hadst thou not reared me, I would lay violent hands on thee forthright! Verily God hath afflicted me with this merchant: but all that hath befallen me with him is of thy contrivance. I know not whence this fellow can have come: none but he would venture to affront me thus, and I fear lest this my case get wind, the more that it concerns one who is neither of my rank nor of my peers.' 'None would dare speak of this,' rejoined the old woman, 'for fear of thine anger and awe of thy father; so there can be no harm in sending him an answer.' 'O my nurse,' said the princess, 'verily this fellow is a devil. How can he dare to use such language to me and not dread the Sultan's wrath? Indeed, I am perplexed about his case: if I order him to be put to death, it were unjust; and if I leave him, his presumption will increase.' 'Write him a letter,' rejoined the old woman; 'it may be he will desist.' So she called for pen and ink and paper and wrote the following verses:
Again and again I chide thee, yet folly ever again Lures thee: how long, with my writing, in verse shall I bid thee refrain, Whilst thou but growest in boldness for all forbidding? But I No grace save to keep thy secret, unto thy prayers may deign. Conceal thy passion nor ever reveal it; for, an thou speak, I will surely show thee no mercy nor yet my wrath contain. If to thy foolish daring thou turn thee anew, for sure, The raven of evil omen shall croak for thee death and bane; And slaughter shall come upon thee ere long, and under the earth To seek for a place of abiding, God wot, thou shalt be fain. Thy people, O self-deluder, thou'lt leave in mourning for thee; Ay, all their lives they shall sorrow for thee, fordone and slain.
Then she folded the letter and committed it to the old woman, who took it and returning to Taj el Mulouk, gave it to him. When he read it, he knew that the princess was hard-hearted and that he should not win to her; so he complained to the Vizier and besought his advice. Quoth he, 'Nothing will profit thee save that thou write to her and invoke the wrath of God upon her.' And he said to Aziz, 'O my brother, do thou write to her in my name, according to thy knowledge.' So Aziz took a scroll and wrote the following verses:
O Lord, by the Five Elders, deliver me, I pray, And her, for whom I suffer, in like affliction lay! Thou knowest that I weary in raging flames of love; Whilst she I love is cruel and saith me ever nay. How long shall I be tender to her, despite my pain? How long shall she ride roughshod o'er my weakness night and day? In agonies I wander of never-ceasing death And find nor friend nor helper, O Lord, to be my stay. Full fain would I forget her; but how can I forget, When for desire my patience is wasted all away? Thou that forbidst my passion the sweets of happy love, Art thou then safe from fortune, that shifts and changes aye? Art thou not glad and easeful and blest with happy life, Whilst I, for thee, an exile from folk and country stray?
Then he folded the letter and gave it to Taj el Mulouk, who read the verses and was pleased with them. So he handed the letter to the old woman, who took it and carried it to the princess. When she read it, she was greatly enraged and said, 'All that has befallen me comes from this pernicious old woman!' Then she cried out to the damsels and eunuchs, saying, 'Seize this accursed old trickstress and beat her with your slippers!' So they beat her till she swooned away; and when she revived, the princess said to her, 'By Allah, O wicked old woman, did I not fear God the Most High, I would kill thee!' Then she bade them beat her again, and they did so, till she fainted a second time, whereupon the princess ordered them to drag her forth and throw her without the palace. So they dragged her along on her face and threw her down before the gate. When she came to herself, she rose and made the best of her way home, walking and resting by turns. She passed the night in her own house and in the morning, she went to Taj el Mulouk and told him what had passed, at which he was distressed and said, 'O my mother, this that has befallen thee is grievous to us; but all things are according to fate and destiny.' 'Take comfort and be of good cheer,' replied she; 'for I will not give over striving, till I have brought thee and her together and made thee to enjoy the vile baggage who hath tortured me with beating.' Quoth the prince, 'Tell me the reason of her aversion to men.' 'It arose from what she saw in a dream,' answered the old woman. 'And what was this dream?' asked the prince. 'One night,' replied she, 'as she lay asleep, she saw a fowler spread his net upon the ground and scatter grain round it. Then he sat down hard by, and all the birds in the neighbourhood flocked to the net. Amongst the rest she saw a pair of pigeons, male and female; and whilst she was watching the net, the male bird's foot caught in it and he began to struggle, whereupon all the other birds took fright and flew away. But presently his mate came back and hovered over him, then alighted on the net, unobserved by the fowler, and fell to picking and pulling at the mesh in which the male bird's foot was entangled with her beak, till she released him and they flew away together. Then the fowler came up and mended his net and seated himself afar off. After awhile, the birds came back and the female pigeon was caught in the net, whereupon all the other birds took fright and flew away; and the male pigeon flew away with the rest and did not return to his mate. Then came the fowler and took the female pigeon and killed her. So the princess awoke, troubled by her dream, and said, "All males are worthless, like this pigeon: and men in general are wanting in goodness to women."' When the old woman had made an end of her story, the prince said to her, 'O my mother, I desire to have one look at her, though it be my death; so do thou contrive me some means of seeing her.' 'Know then,' answered she, 'that she hath under her palace windows a pleasure-garden, to which she resorts once in every month by the private door. In ten days, the time of her thus going forth will arrive; so when she is about to visit the garden, I will come and tell thee, that thou mayst go thither and meet her. And look thou quit not the garden, for haply, if she sees thy beauty and grace, her heart will be taken with love of thee, and love is the most potent means of union.' 'I hear and obey,' replied Taj el Mulouk. Then he and Aziz left the shop, and taking the old woman with them, showed her where they lodged. Then said the prince to Aziz, 'I have no further need of the shop, having fulfilled my purpose of it; so I give it to thee with all that is in it; for that thou hast come abroad with me and hast left thy country for my sake.' Aziz accepted his gift and they sat conversing awhile, the prince questioning the young merchant of the strange passages of his life and the latter acquainting him with the particulars thereof. Presently, they went to the Vizier and acquainting him with Taj el Mulouk's purpose, asked him what they should do. 'Let us go to the garden,' answered he. So they donned their richest clothes and went forth, followed by three white slaves, to the garden, which they found thick with trees and abounding in rills. At the gate, they saw the keeper sitting; so they saluted him and he returned their salute. Then the Vizier gave him a hundred dinars, saying, 'Prithee, take this spending-money and fetch us something to eat; for we are strangers and I have with me these two lads, whom I wish to divert.' The gardener took the money and said to them, 'Enter and take your pleasure in the garden, for it is all yours; and sit down till I bring you what you require.' So he went to the market, and the Vizier and his companions entered the garden. In a little while, the gardener returned with a roasted lamb and bread as white as cotton, which he placed before them, and they ate and drank; after which he set on sweetmeats, and they ate of them, then washed their hands and sat talking. Presently the Vizier said to the gardener, 'Tell me about this garden: is it thine or dost thou rent it?' 'It does not belong to me,' replied he, 'but to the Princess Dunya, the King's daughter.' 'What is thy wage?' asked the Vizier, and the gardener answered, 'One dinar every month and no more.' Then the Vizier looked round about the garden and seeing in its midst a pavilion, lofty but old and dilapidated, said to the keeper, 'O elder, I am minded to do here a good work, by which thou shalt remember me.' 'O my lord,' rejoined the other, 'what is that?' 'Take these three hundred dinars,' answered the Vizier. When the keeper heard speak of the dinars, he said, 'O my lord, do what thou wilt.' So the Vizier gave him the money, saying, 'God willing, we will work a good work in this place.' Then they left the garden and returned to their lodging, where they passed the night. Next day, the Vizier sent for a plasterer and a painter and a skilful goldsmith, and furnishing them with all the tools and materials that they required, carried them to the garden, where he bade them plaster the walls of the pavilion and decorate it with various kinds of paintings. Then he sent for gold and ultramarine and said to the painter, 'Paint me on the wall, at the upper end of the saloon, a fowler, with his nets spread and birds lighted round them and a female pigeon fallen into the net and entangled therein by the bill. Let this fill one compartment of the wall, and on the other paint the fowler seizing the pigeon and setting the knife to her throat, whilst the third compartment of the picture must show a great hawk seizing the male pigeon, her mate, and digging his talons into him.' The painter did as the Vizier bade him, and when he and the other workmen had finished, they took their hire and went away. Then the Vizier and his companions took leave of the gardener and returned to their lodging, where they sat down to converse. And Taj el Mulouk said to Aziz, 'O my brother, recite me some verses: haply it may dilate my breast and dispel my sad thoughts and assuage the fire of my heart.' So Aziz chanted the following verses:
All that they fable lovers feel of anguish and despite, I in myself comprise, and so my strength is crushed outright; And if thou seekst a watering-place, see, from my streaming eyes, Rivers of tears for those who thirst run ever day and night. Or, if thou fain wouldst look upon the ruin passion's hands Can wreak on lovers, let thy gaze upon my body light.
And his eyes ran over with tears and he repeated these verses also:
Who loves not the necks and the eyes of the fair and pretends, forsooth, To know the delight of the world, God wot, he speaks not the truth For in love is a secret meaning that none may win to know Save he who has loved indeed and known its wrath and ruth. May God not lighten my heart of passion for her I love Nor ease my eyelids, for love, of wakefulness in my youth!
Then he sang the following:
Avicenna pretends, in his writings renowned, That the lover's best medicine is song and sweet sound And dalliance with one of his sex like his love And drinking, with waters and fruits all around. I took me another, to heal me for thee, And fate was propitious and grace did abound Yet I knew love a mortal disease, against which Avicenna his remedy idle I found.
Taj el Mulouk was pleased with his verses and wondered at his eloquence and the excellence of his recitation, saying, 'Indeed thou hast done away from me somewhat of my concern.' Then said the Vizier, 'Of a truth there occurred to those of times past what astounds those who hear it.' 'If thou canst recall any fine verse of this kind,' quoth the prince, 'I prithee let us hear it and keep the talk in vogue.' So the Vizier chanted the following verses:
Methought thy favours might be bought and thou to give consent To union won by gifts of gold and grace and blandishment: And eke, for ignorance, I deemed thy love an easy thing, Thy love in which the noblest souls for languor are forspent; Until I saw thee choose one out and gratify that one With sweet and subtle favours. Then, to me 'twas evident Thy graces never might be won by any artifice; So underneath my wing my head I hid incontinent And in the nest of passion made my heart's abiding-place, Wherein my morning and my night for evermore are pent.
Meanwhile the old woman remained shut up in her house till it befell that the princess was taken with a desire to divert herself in the garden. Now this she had been wont to do only in company with her nurse; so she sent for her and spoke her fair and made her peace with her, saying, 'I wish to go forth to the garden, that I may divert myself with the sight of its trees and fruits and gladden my heart with its flowers.' 'I hear and obey,' replied the old woman; 'but let me first go to my house and change my dress, and I will be with thee anon.' 'Go,' said the princess; 'but be not long absent from me.' So the old woman left her and repairing to Taj el Mulouk, said to him, 'Don thy richest clothes and go to the gardener and salute him and make shift to hide thyself in the garden.' 'I hear and obey,' answered he; and she agreed with him upon a signal to be made by her to him and returned to the princess. As soon as she was gone, the Vizier and Aziz rose and dressed Taj el Mulouk in a right costly suit of kings' raiment, worth five thousand dinars, and girt his middle with a girdle of gold set with jewels. Then he repaired to the garden and found the keeper seated at the gate. As soon as the latter saw him, he sprang to his feet and received him with all respect and consideration and opening the gate, said, 'Enter and take thy pleasure in the garden.' Now the gardener knew not that the princess was to visit the garden that day: but Taj el Mulouk had been there but a little while, when he heard a noise and ere he could think, out came the eunuchs and damsels by the private door. When the gardener saw this, he came up to the prince and said to him, 'O my lord, what is to be done? The Princess Dunya, the King's daughter, is here.' 'Fear not,' replied the prince; 'no harm shall befall thee: for I will conceal myself somewhere about the garden.' So the gardener exhorted him to the utmost prudence and went away. Presently, the princess entered the garden, attended by her damsels and the old woman, who said to herself, 'If these eunuchs abide with us, we shall not attain our object.' So she said to the princess, 'O my lady, I have somewhat to say to thee that will be for thy heart's ease.' 'Say on,' replied the princess. 'O my lady,' said the old woman, 'thou hast no present need of these eunuchs; send them away, for thou wilt not be able to divert thyself at thine ease, whilst they are with us.' 'Thou art right,' rejoined the princess. So she dismissed the eunuchs and began to walk about, whilst Taj el Mulouk fed his eyes on her beauty and grace, without her knowledge, and fainted every time he looked at her, by reason of her surpassing loveliness. The old woman held her in converse and drew her on till they reached the pavilion, which the Vizier had caused to be decorated afresh, when the princess entered and looking round, perceived the picture of the fowler and the birds; whereupon she exclaimed, 'Glory be to God! This is the very presentment of what I saw in my dream.' She continued to gaze at the painting, full of admiration, and presently she said, 'O my nurse, I have been wont to blame and dislike men, by reason of my having seen in my dream the female pigeon abandoned by her mate; but now see how the male pigeon was minded to return and set her free; but the hawk met him and tore him in pieces.' The old woman, however, feigned ignorance and ceased not to hold her in converse, till they drew near the place where the prince lay hidden, whereupon she signed to him to come out and walk under the windows of the pavilion. He did so: and presently the princess, chancing to look out, saw him and noting his beauty and symmetry, said to the old woman, 'O my nurse, whence comes yonder handsome youth?' 'I know nothing of him,' replied the old woman, 'except that I think he must be some great king's son, for he attains the utmost extreme of beauty and grace.' The princess fell passionately in love with him; the spells that bound her were dissolved and her reason was overcome by his beauty and elegance. So she said to the old woman, 'O my nurse this is indeed a handsome youth.' 'Thou art in the right O my lady!' replied the nurse and signed to Taj el Mulouk to go home. So he went away, not daring to cross her though desire flamed in him and he was distraught for love and longing, and taking leave of the gardener, returned to his lodging, where he told the Vizier and Aziz all that had passed. They exhorted him to patience, saying, 'Did not the old woman know that there was an object to be gained by thy departure, she had not signed to thee to return home.'
Meanwhile, desire and passion redoubled upon the princess, and she was overcome with love-longing and said to the old woman, 'I know not how I shall foregather with this youth, but through thee.' 'God be my refuge from Satan the Accursed!' exclaimed the old woman. 'Thou that art averse from men! How comes it that thou art thus afflicted with love of this young man? Though, by Allah, none is worthy of thy youth but he!' 'O my nurse,' said the princess, 'help me to foregather with him, and thou shalt have of me a thousand dinars and a dress worth as much more: but if thou aid me not to come at him, I shall assuredly die.' 'Go to thy palace,' replied the nurse, 'and leave me to devise means for bringing you together. I will risk my life to content you both.' So the princess returned to her palace, and the old woman betook herself to Taj el Mulouk, who rose to receive her and entreated her with respect and honour, making her sit by his side. Then said she, 'The device hath succeeded,' and told him all that had passed between the princess and herself. 'When is our meeting to be?' asked he. 'To-morrow,' replied the old woman. So he gave her a thousand dinars and a dress of equal value, and she took them and returned to the princess, who said to her, as soon as she saw her, 'O my nurse, what news of my beloved?' 'I have discovered where he lives,' replied she, 'and will bring him to thee to-morrow.' At this the princess was glad and gave her a thousand dinars and a dress worth as much more, with which she returned to her own house, where she passed the night. Next morning, she went to Taj el Mulouk and dressing him in women's clothes, said to him, 'Follow me and sway from side to side, as thou goest, and do not hasten in thy walk nor take heed of any that speaks to thee.' Then she went out and walked on, followed by the prince, whom she continued to lesson and hearten by the way, that he might not be afraid, till they came to the palace gate. She entered and the prince after her, and she led him through doors and vestibules, till they had passed six doors. As they approached the seventh door, she said to him, 'Take courage and when I call out to thee and say, "Pass, O damsel!" do not hesitate, but hasten on. When thou art in the vestibule, thou wilt see on thy left a gallery, with doors along it: count five doors and enter the sixth, for therein is thy desire.' 'And whither wilt thou go?' asked the prince. 'Nowhere,' answered she; 'except that I may drop behind thee and the chief eunuch may detain me, whilst I talk with him.' Then they went up to the door, where the chief eunuch was stationed, and he, seeing Taj el Mulouk with her, dressed as a slave-girl, said to the old woman, 'What girl is this with thee?' Quoth she, 'This is a slave-girl of whom the Princess Dunya has heard that she is skilled in different arts, and she hath a mind to buy her.' 'I know no slave-girl,' rejoined the eunuch, 'nor any one else; and none shall enter here without being searched by me, according to the King's orders.' At this the old woman feigned to be angry and said, 'I thought thee a man of sense and good breeding: but, if thou be changed, I will let the princess know of it and how thou hinderest her slave-girl.' Then she cried out to Taj el Mulouk, saying, 'Pass on, O damsel!' So he passed on into the vestibule, whilst the eunuch was silent and said nothing. Then the prince counted five doors and entered the sixth, where he found the Princess Dunya standing awaiting him. As soon as she saw him, she knew him and pressed him to her bosom, and he returned her embrace. Then the old woman came in to them, having made a pretext to dismiss the princess's attendants for fear of discovery, and the princess said to her, 'Do thou keep the door.' So she and Taj el Mulouk abode alone together and passed the night in kissing and embracing and twining leg with leg. When the day drew near, she left him and shutting the door upon him, passed in to another apartment, where she sat down according to her wont, whilst her women came in to her, and she attended to their affairs and conversed with them awhile. Then she said to them, 'Leave me now, for I wish to be alone.' So they withdrew and she betook herself to Taj el Mulouk, and the old woman brought them food, of which they ate and after fell again to amorous dalliance, till the dawn. Then the princess left him, and locked the door as before; and they ceased not to do thus for a whole month.
Meanwhile, the Vizier and Aziz, when they found that the prince did not return from the princess's palace all this while, gave him up for lost and Aziz said to the Vizier, 'O my father, what shall we do?' 'O my son,' answered he, 'this is a difficult matter, and except we return to his father and tell him, he will blame us.' So they made ready at once and setting out, journeyed night and day along the valleys, in the direction of the Green Country, till they reached King Suleiman's capital and presenting themselves before him, acquainted him with what had befallen his son and how they had heard no news of him, since he entered the princess's palace. At this the King was greatly troubled and regret was sore upon him, and he let call a holy war throughout his realm. Then he encamped without the town with his troops and took up his abode in his pavilion, whilst the levies came from all parts of the kingdom; for his subjects loved him by reason of his much justice and beneficence. As soon as his forces were assembled, he took horse, with an army covering the country as far as the eye could reach, and departed in quest of his son Taj el Mulouk. Meanwhile, the latter sojourned with the princess half a year's time, whilst every day they redoubled in mutual affection and distraction and passion and love-longing and desire so pressed upon Taj el Mulouk, that at last he opened his mind to the princess and said to her, 'Know, O beloved of my heart and entrails, that the longer I abide with thee, the more longing and passion and desire increase on me, for that I have not yet fulfilled the whole of my desire.' 'What then wouldst thou have, O light of my eyes and fruit of my entrails?' asked she. 'If thou desire aught beside kissing and embracing and entwining of legs, do what pleases thee; for, by Allah, none hath any part in us.' 'It is not that I desire,' rejoined he; 'but I would fain acquaint thee with my true history. I am no merchant, but a King, the son of a King, and my father is the supreme King Suleiman Shah, who sent his Vizier ambassador to thy father, to demand thy hand for me in marriage, but thou wouldst not consent.' Then he told her his story from first to last, nor is there any profit in repeating it, and added, 'And now I wish to return to my father, that he may send an ambassador to thy father, to demand thy hand for me, so we may be at ease.' When she heard this, she rejoiced greatly, because it fell in with her own wishes, and they passed the night on this understanding. But by the decree of Fate, it befell that sleep overcame them that night above all nights and they slept till the sun had risen. Now at this hour, King Shehriman was sitting on his chair of estate, with his amirs and grandees before him, when the chief of the goldsmiths presented himself before him carrying a large box, which he opened and brought out therefrom a small casket worth a hundred thousand dinars, for that which was therein of rubies and emeralds and other jewels, beyond the competence of any King. When the King saw this, he marveled at its beauty and turning to the chief eunuch (him with whom the old woman had had to do, as before related), said to him, 'O Kafour, take this casket to the Princess Dunya.' The eunuch took the casket and repairing to the princess's apartment, found the door shut and the old woman lying asleep on the threshold; whereupon said he, 'Asleep at this hour?' His voice aroused the old woman, who was terrified and said to him, 'Wait till I fetch the key.' Then she went out and fled for her life; but the eunuch, having his suspicions of her, lifted the door off its hinges and entering, found the princess and Taj el Mulouk lying asleep in each other's arms. At this sight he was confounded and was about to return to the King, when the princess awoke, and seeing him, was terrified and changed colour and said to him, 'O Kafour, veil thou what God hath veiled.' But he replied, 'I cannot conceal aught from the King;' and locking the door on them, returned to Shehriman, who said to him, 'Hast thou given the casket to the princess?' 'Here is the casket,' answered the eunuch. 'Take it, for I cannot conceal aught from thee. Know that I found a handsome young man in the princess's arms, and they asleep in one bed.' The King commanded them to be fetched and said to them, 'What manner of thing is this!' and being violently enraged, seized a dagger and was about to strike Taj el Mulouk with it, when the princess threw herself upon him and said to her father, 'Slay me before him.' The King reviled her and commanded her to be taken back to her chamber: then he turned to Taj el Mulouk and said to him, 'Woe to thee! Whence art thou? Who is thy father and what hath emboldened thee to debauch my daughter?' 'Know, O King,' replied the prince, 'that if thou put me to death, thou wilt repent it, for it will be thy ruin and that of all in thy dominions.' 'How so?' asked the King. 'Know,' answered Taj el Mulouk, 'that I am the son of King Suleiman Shah, and before thou knowest it, he will be upon thee with his horse and foot.' When King Shehriman heard this, he would have forborne to kill Taj el Mulouk and put him in prison, till he should know the truth of his words; but his Vizier said to him, 'O King of the age, it is my counsel that thou make haste to slay this gallows-bird, that dares debauch kings' daughters.' So the King said to the headsman, 'Strike off his head; for he is a traitor.' Accordingly, the headsman took him and binding him fast, raised his hand to the amirs, as if to consult them, a first and a second time, thinking to gain time; but the King said to him, 'How long wilt thou consult the amirs? If thou do so again, I will strike off thine own head.' So the headsman raised his hand, till the hair of his armpit appeared, and was about to smite off Taj el Mulouk's head, when suddenly loud cries arose and the people closed their strops; whereupon the King said to him, 'Wait awhile,' and despatched one to learn the news. Presently, the messenger returned and said, 'I see an army like the stormy sea with its clashing billows; the earth trembles with the tramp of their horses, and I know not the reason of their coming.' When the King heard this, he was confounded and feared lest his realm should be torn from him; so he turned to his Vizier and said, 'Have not any of our troops gone forth to meet this army?' But before he had done speaking, his chamberlains entered with messengers from the approaching host, and amongst them the Vizier who had accompanied Taj el Mulouk. They saluted the King, who rose to receive them and bidding them draw near, enquired the reason of their coming; whereupon the Vizier came forward and said, 'Know that he who hath invaded thy realm is no king like unto the Kings and Sultans of time past.' 'Who is he?' asked Shehriman, and the Vizier replied, 'He is the lord of justice and loyalty, the report of whose magnanimity the caravans have blazed abroad, the Sultan Suleiman Shah, lord of the Green Country and the Two Columns and the mountains of Ispahan, he who loves justice and equity and abhors iniquity and oppression. He saith to thee that his son, the darling of his heart and the fruit of his loins, is with thee and in this thy city; and if he find him in safety, his aim is won and thou shalt have praise and thanks; but if he have disappeared from thy dominions or if aught have befallen him, look thou for ruin and the laying waste of thy realm; for this thy city shall become a desert, in which the raven shall croak. Thus have I done my errand to thee and peace be on thee!' When King Shehriman heard these words, his heart was troubled and he feared for his kingdom: so he cried out for his grandees and viziers and chamberlains and officers; and when they appeared, he said to them, 'Out on you! Go down and search for the young man!' Now the prince was still under the headsman's hands, but he was changed by the fright he had undergone. Presently, the Vizier, chancing to look aside, saw the prince on the carpet of blood and knew him; so he threw himself upon him, as did the other envoys. Then they loosed his bonds and kissed his hands and feet, whereupon he opened his eyes and recognizing his father's Vizier and his friend Aziz, fell down in a swoon, for excess of delight in them. When King Shehriman saw that the coming of the army was indeed on this youth's account, he was confounded and feared greatly; so he went up to Taj el Mulouk and kissing his head, said to him, with streaming eyes, 'O my son, bear me not malice neither blame the sinner for his evil-doing: but have compassion on my gray hairs and do not lay waste my kingdom.' But Taj el Mulouk drew near unto him and kissing his hand, replied, 'Fear not: no harm shall come to thee, for indeed thou art to me as my father; but look that nought befall my beloved, the lady Dunya.' 'O my lord,' replied the King, 'fear not for her; nought but joy shall betide her.' And he went on to excuse himself to him and made his peace with King Suleiman's Vizier, to whom he promised much money, if he would conceal from the King what he had seen. Then he bade his officers carry the prince to the bath and clothe him in one of the best of his own suits and bring him back speedily. So they carried him to the bath and brought him back to the presence-chamber, after having clad him in the suit that the King had set apart for him. When he entered, the King rose to receive him and made all his grandees stand in attendance on him. Then he sat down to converse with Aziz and the Vizier and acquainted them with what had befallen him; after which they told him how they had returned to his father and given him to know of his son's perilous plight and added, 'And indeed our coming hath brought thee relief and us gladness.' Quoth he, 'Good fortune hath attended your every action, first and last.'
Meanwhile, King Shehriman went in to his daughter, the Princess Dunya, and found her weeping and lamenting for Taj el Mulouk. Moreover, she had taken a sword and fixed the hilt in the earth, with the point to her heart between her breasts; and she bent over it, saying, 'Needs must I kill myself and not live after my beloved.' When her father entered and saw her in this case, he cried out, 'O princess of kings' daughters, hold thy hand and have compassion on thy father and the people of thy realm!' Then he came up to her and said, 'God forbid that an ill thing should befall thy father for thy sake!' And he told her that her lover was the son of King Suleiman Shah and sought her to wife and that the marriage waited only for her consent; whereat she smiled and said, 'Did I not tell thee that he was a king's son? By Allah, I must let him crucify thee on a piece of wood worth two dirhems!' 'O my daughter,' answered the King, 'have mercy on me, so may God have mercy on thee!' 'Harkye,' rejoined she, 'make haste and bring him to me without delay.' The King replied, 'On my head and eyes be it,' and returning in haste to Taj el Mulouk, repeated her words in his ear. So he arose and accompanied the King to the princess, who caught hold of him and embraced him in her father's presence and kissed him, saying, 'Thou hast made me a weary woman!' Then she turned to her father and said to him, 'Sawst thou ever any do hurt to the like of this fair creature, more by token that he is a king, the son of a king, and of the free-bon, guarded against abominations?' Therewith Shehriman went out and shutting the door on them with his own hand, returned to the Vizier and the other envoys and bade them report to their King that his son was in health and gladness and enjoying all delight of life with his beloved. So they returned to King Suleiman and acquainted him with this, whereat he rejoiced and exclaimed, 'Praised be God who hath brought my son to his desire!'
Meanwhile, King Shehriman despatched largesse of money and victual to King Suleiman's troops, and choosing out a hundred coursers and a hundred dromedaries and a hundred white slaves and a hundred concubines and a hundred black slaves and a hundred female slaves, sent them all to the King as a present. Then he took horse, with his grandees and chief officers, and rode out of the city in the direction of King Suleiman's camp. As soon as the latter knew of his approach, he rose and advancing some paces to meet him, took him in his arms and made him sit down beside himself on the royal couch, where they conversed awhile frankly and cheerfully. Then food was set before them, followed by sweetmeats and fruits, and they ate till they were satisfied. Presently, they were joined by Taj el Mulouk, richly dressed and adorned, and when his father saw him, he rose and embraced him and kissed him. Then the two kings seated him between them, whilst all who were present rose to do him honour; and they sat conversing awhile, after which quoth King Suleiman to King Shehriman, 'I wish to have the contract between my son and thy daughter drawn up in the presence of witnesses, that the marriage may be made public, as of wont.' 'I hear and obey,' answered King Shehriman and summoned the Cadi and the witnesses, who came and drew up the marriage contract between the prince and princess. Then they gave largesse of money and sweetmeats and burnt perfumes and sprinkled essences. And indeed it was a day of joy and festivity, and the grandees and soldiers rejoiced therein. Then King Shehriman proceeded to equip his daughter; and Taj el Mulouk said to his father, 'Of a truth, this young man Aziz is a man of great worth and generosity and hath done me right noble service, having wearied for me and travelled with me till he brought me to my desire. Indeed, he ceased never to have patience with me and exhort me to patience, till I accomplished my intent; and he has now companied with us two whole years, cut off from his native land. So now I purpose to equip him with merchandise, that he may depart with a light heart; for his country is near at hand.' 'It is well seen,' replied his father: so they made ready a hundred loads of the richest and most costly stuffs, which Taj el Mulouk presented to Aziz, saying, 'O my brother and my true friend, take these loads and accept them from me, as a gift and token of affection, and go in peace to thine own country.' Aziz accepted the presents and kissing the earth before the prince and his father, bade them farewell. Moreover, Taj el Mulouk mounted and brought him three miles on his homeward way, after which Aziz conjured him to turn back, saying, 'By Allah, O my lord, were it not for my mother, I would never part from thee! But leave me not without news of thee.' 'So be it,' replied Taj el Mulouk. Then the prince returned to the city, and Aziz journeyed on, till he came to his native town and repairing to his mother's house, found that she had built him a monument in the midst of the courtyard and used to visit it continually. When he entered, he found her, with her hair dishevelled and spread over the tomb, weeping and repeating the following verses:
Indeed, I'm very patient 'gainst all that can betide; Yet do I lack of patience thine absence to abide. Who is there can have patience after his friend and who Bows not the head to parting, that comes with rapid stride?
Then sobs burst up out of her breast, and she repeated these verses also:
What ails me? I pass by the graveyard, saluting the tomb of my son, And yet no greeting he gives me and answer comes there none. "How shall I give thee an answer, who lie in the grip of the grave, The hostage of earth and corruption," replies the beloved one. "The dust hath eaten my beauties and I have forgotten thee, Shut in from kindred and lovers and stars and moon and sun."
Then Aziz came in to her, and when she saw him, she fell down in a swoon for joy. He sprinkled water on her, till she revived and rising, took him in her arms and strained him to her bosom, whilst he in like manner embraced her. Then they exchanged greetings, and she asked the reason of his long absence, whereupon he told her all that had befallen him from first to last and how Taj el Mulouk had given him a hundred loads of wealth and stuffs. At this she rejoiced, and Aziz abode with his mother in his native town, weeping for what had befallen him with the daughter of Delileh the Crafty, even her who had gelded him.
Meanwhile, Taj el Mulouk went in to his beloved, the Princess Dunya, and did away her maidenhead. Then King Shehriman proceeded to equip his daughter for her journey with her husband and father-in-law and let bring them victual and gifts and rarities. So they loaded their beasts and set forth, whilst Shehriman brought them three days' journey on their way, till King Suleiman begged him to return. So he took leave of them and turned back, and Taj el Mulouk and his wife and father journeyed on, night and day, with their troops, till they drew near the capital of the Green Country. As soon as the news of their coming became known, the folk decorated the city; so in they entered, and the King sitting down on his chair of estate, with his son by his side, gave alms and largesse and loosed those who were in bonds. Then he held a second bridal for his son, and the sound of the singing-women and players upon instruments of music ceased not for a whole month, during which time the tire-women stinted not to adorn the bride and display her in various dresses; and she tired not of the unveiling nor did they weary of gazing on her. Then Taj el Mulouk, after having companied awhile with his father and mother, took up his sojourn with his wife, and they abode in all delight of life and fair fortune, till there came to them the Destroyer of Delights."
[Resume The History of King Omar Ben Ennuman and His Sons Sherkan and Zoulmekan]
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