ABDALLAH BEN NAFI AND THE KING'S SON OF CASHGHAR. (157)
There abode once, of old days and in bygone ages and times, in the city of Baghdad, the Abode of Peace, the Khalif Haroun er Reshid, and he had boon-companions and story-tellers, to entertain him by night Among his boon-companions was a man called Abdallah ben Nan, who was high in favour with him and dear unto him, so that he was not forgetful of him a single hour. Now it befell, by the ordinance of destiny, that it became manifest to Abdallah that he was grown of little account with the Khalif and that he paid no heed unto him; nor, if he absented himself, did he enquire concerning him, as had been his wont. This was grievous to Abdallah and he said in himself, "Verily, the heart of the Commander of the Faithful and his fashions are changed towards me and nevermore shall I get of him that cordiality wherewith he was wont to entreat me." And this was distressful to him and concern waxed upon him, so that he recited the following verses:
Then he could brook this no longer; so he went forth from the dominions of the Commander of the Faithful, under pretence of visiting certain of his kinsmen, and took with him servant nor companion, neither acquainted any with his intent, but betook himself to the road and fared on into the desert and the sandwastes, knowing not whither he went. After awhile, he fell in with travellers intending for the land of Hind [and journeyed with them]. When he came thither, he lighted down [in a city of the cities of the land and took up his abode] in one of the lodging-places; and there he abode a while of days, tasting not food neither solacing himself with the delight of sleep; nor was this for lack of dirhems or dinars, but for that his mind was occupied with musing upon [the reverses of] destiny and bemoaning himself for that the revolving sphere had turned against him and the days had decreed unto him the disfavour of our lord the Imam. (160)
On this wise he abode a space of days, after which he made himself at home in the land and took to himself comrades and got him friends galore, with whom he addressed himself to diversion and good cheer. Moreover, he went a-pleasuring with his friends and their hearts were solaced [by his company] and he entertained them with stories and civilities (161) and diverted them with pleasant verses and told them abundance of histories and anecdotes. Presently, the report of him reached King Jemhour, lord of Cashghar of Hind, and great was his desire [for his company]. So he went in quest of him and Abdallah repaired to his court and going in to him, kissed the earth before him. Jemhour welcomed him and entreated him with kindness and bade commit him to the guest-house, where he abode three days, at the end of which time the king sent [to him] a chamberlain of his chamberlains and let bring him to his presence. When he came before him, he greeted him [with the usual compliment], and the interpreter accosted him, saying, "King Jemhour hath heard of thy report, that thou art a goodly boon-companion and an eloquent story-teller, and he would have thee company with him by night and entertain him with that which thou knowest of anecdotes and pleasant stories and verses." And he made answer with "Hearkening and obedience."
(Quoth Abdallah ben Nan) So I became his boon-companion and entertained him by night [with stories and the like]; and this pleased him to the utmost and he took me into especial favour and bestowed on me dresses of honour and assigned me a separate lodging; brief, he was everywise bountiful to me and could not brook to be parted from me a single hour. So I abode with him a while of time and every night I caroused with him [and entertained him], till the most part of the night was past; and when drowsiness overcame him, he would rise [and betake himself] to his sleeping-place, saying to me, "Forsake not my service for that of another than I and hold not aloof from my presence." And I made answer with "Hearkening and obedience."
Now the king had a son, a pleasant child, called the Amir Mohammed, who was comely of youth and sweet of speech; he had read in books and studied histories and above all things in the world he loved the telling and hearing of verses and stories and anecdotes. He was dear to his father King Jemhour, for that he had none other son than he on life, and indeed he had reared him in the lap of fondness and he was gifted with the utterest of beauty and grace and brightness and perfection. Moreover, he had learnt to play upon the lute and upon all manner instruments of music and he was used to [carouse and] company with friends and brethren. Now it was of his wont that, when the king rose to go to his sleeping-chamber, he would sit in his place and seek of me that I should entertain him with stories and verses and pleasant anecdotes; and on this wise I abode with them a great while in all cheer and delight, and the prince still loved me with an exceeding great love and entreated me with the utmost kindness.
It befell one day that the king's son came to me, after his father had withdrawn, and said to me, "Harkye, Ibn Nafil" "At thy service, O my lord," answered I; and he said, "I would have thee tell me an extraordinary story and a rare matter, that thou hast never related either to me or to my father Jemhour." "O my lord," rejoined I, "what story is this that thou desirest of me and of what kind shall it be of the kinds?" Quoth he, "It matters little what it is, so it be a goodly story, whether it befell of old days or in these times." "O my lord," said I, "I know many stories of various kinds; so whether of the kinds preferrest thou, and wilt thou have a story of mankind or of the Jinn?" "It is well," answered he; "if thou have seen aught with thine eyes and heard it with thine ears, [tell it me."Then he bethought himself] and said to me, "I conjure thee by my life, tell me a story of the stories of the Jinn and that which thou hast heard and seen of them!" "O my son," replied I, "indeed thou conjurest [me] by a mighty conjuration; so [hearken and thou shalt] hear the goodliest of stories, ay, and the most extraordinary of them and the pleasantest and rarest." Quoth the prince, "Say on, for I am attentive to thy speech." And I said, "Know, then, O my son, that
STORY OF THE DAMSEL TUHFET EL CULOUB AND THE KHALIF HAROUN ER RESHID.
The Vicar of the Lord of the Worlds (162) Haroun er Reshid had a boon-companion of the number of his boon-companions, by name Ishac ben Ibrahim en Nedim el Mausili, (163) who was the most accomplished of the folk of his time in the art of smiting upon the lute; and of the Commander of the Faithful's love for him, he assigned him a palace of the choicest of his palaces, wherein he was wont to instruct slave-girls in the arts of lute-playing and singing. If any slave-girl became, by his instruction, accomplished in the craft, he carried her before the Khalif, who bade her play upon the lute; and if she pleased him, he would order her to the harem; else would he restore her to Ishac's palace.
One day, the Commander of the Faithful's breast was straitened; so he sent after his Vizier Jaafer the Barmecide and Ishac the boon-companion and Mesrour the eunuch, the swordsman of his vengeance; and when they came, he changed his raiment and disguised himself, whilst Jaafer [and Ishac] and Mesrour and El Fezll (164) and Younus (165) (who were also present) did the like. Then he went out, he and they, by the privy gate, to the Tigris and taking boat, fared on till they came to near Et Taf, (166) when they landed and walked till they came to the gate of the thoroughfare street. (167) Here there met them an old man, comely of hoariness and of a venerable and dignified bearing, pleasing (168) of aspect and apparel. He kissed the earth before Ishac el Mausili (for that be knew but him of the company, the Khalif being disguised, and deemed the others certain of his friends) and said to him, 'O my lord, there is presently with me a slave-girl, a lutanist, never saw eyes the like of her nor the like of her grace, and indeed I was on my way to pay my respects to thee and give thee to know of her; but Allah, of His favour, hath spared me the trouble. So now I desire to show her to thee, and if she be to thy liking, well and good: else I will sell her.' Quoth Ishac, 'Go before me to thy barrack, till I come to thee and see her.'
The old man kissed his hand and went away; whereupon quoth Er Reshid to him, 'O Ishac, who is yonder man and what is his occasion?' 'O my lord,' answered the other, 'this is a man called Said the Slave-dealer, and he it is who buyeth us slave-girls and mamelukes. (169) He avoucheth that with him is a fair [slave-girl, a] lutanist, whom he hath withheld from sale, for that he could not fairly sell her till he had shown her to me.' 'Let us go to him,' said the Khalif,'so we may look on her, by way of diversion, and see what is in the slave-dealer's barrack of slave-girls.' And Ishac answered, 'Commandment belongeth to God and to the Commander of the Faithful.' Then he went on before them and they followed in his track till they came to the slave-dealer's barrack and found it high of building and spacious of continence, with sleeping-cells and chambers therein, after the number of the slave-girls, and folk sitting upon the benches.
Ishac entered, he and his company, and seating themselves in the place of honour, amused themselves by looking on the slave-girls and mamelukes and watching how they were sold, till the sale came to an end, when some of the folk went away and other some sat. Then said the slave-dealer, 'Let none sit with us except him who buyeth by the thousand [dinars] and upwards.' So those who were present withdrew and there remained none but Er Reshid and his company; whereupon the slave-dealer called the damsel, after he had caused set her a chair of fawwak, (170) furnished with Greek brocade, and it was as she were the sun shining in the clear sky. When she entered, she saluted and sitting down, took the lute and smote upon it, after she had touched its strings and tuned it, so that all present were amazed. Then she sang thereto the following verses:
'Well done, O damsel!' cried Ishac. 'By Allah, this is a fair hour!' Whereupon she rose and kissed his hand, saying, 'O my lord, the hands stand still in thy presence and the tongues at thy sight, and the eloquent before thee are dumb; but thou art the looser of the veil.' (171) Then she clung to him and said, 'Stand.' So he stood and said to her, 'Who art thou and what is thy need?' She raised a corner of the veil, and he beheld a damsel as she were the rising full moon or the glancing lightning, with two side locks of hair that fell down to her anklets. She kissed his hand and said to him, 'O my lord, know that I have been in this barrack these five months, during which time I have been withheld (172) from sale till thou shouldst be present [and see me]; and yonder slave-dealer still made thy coming a pretext to me (173) and forbade me, for all I sought of him night and day that he should cause thee come hither and vouchsafe me thy presence and bring me and thee together.' Quoth Ishac, 'Say what thou wouldst have.' And she answered, 'I beseech thee, by God the Most High, that thou buy me, so I may be with thee, by way of service.' 'Is that thy desire?' asked he, and she replied, ' Yes.'
So Ishac returned to the slave-dealer and said to him, 'Harkye, Gaffer Said!*' 'At thy service, O my lord,' answered the old man; and Ishac said, 'In the corridor is a cell and therein a damsel pale of colour. What is her price in money and how much dost thou ask for her?, Quoth the slave-dealer, 'She whom thou mentionest is called Tuhfet el Hemca.' (174) 'What is the meaning of El Hemca?' asked Ishac, and the old man replied, 'Her price hath been paid down an hundred times and she still saith, "Show me him who desireth to buy me;" and when I show her to him, she saith, "This fellow is not to my liking; he hath in him such and such a default." And in every one who would fain buy her she allegeth some default or other, so that none careth now to buy her and none seeketh her, for fear lest she discover some default in him.' Quoth Ishac, 'She seeketh presently to sell herself; so go thou to her and enquire of her and see her price and send her to the palace.' 'O my lord,' answered Said, 'her price is an hundred dinars, though, were she whole of this paleness that is upon her face, she would be worth a thousand; but folly and pallor have diminished her value; and behold, I will go to her and consult her of this.' So he betook himself to her, and said to her, 'Wilt thou be sold to Ishac ben Ibrahim el Mausili?' 'Yes,' answered she, and he said, 'Leave frowardness, (175) for to whom doth it happen to be in the house of Ishac the boon-companion?' (176)
Then Ishac went forth of the barrack and overtook Er Reshid [who had foregone him]; and they walked till they came to their [landing-]place, where they embarked in the boat and fared on to Theghr el Khanekah. (177) As for the slave-dealer, he sent the damsel to the house of Ishac en Nedim, whose slave-girls took her and carried her to the bath. Then each damsel gave her somewhat of her apparel and they decked her with earrings and bracelets, so that she redoubled in beauty and became as she were the moon on the night of its full. When Ishac returned home from the Khalifs palace, Tuhfeh rose to him and kissed his hand; and he saw that which the slave-girls had done with her and thanked them therefor and said to them, 'Let her be in the house of instruction and bring her instruments of music, and if she be apt unto singing, teach her; and may God the Most High vouchsafe her health and weal!' So there passed over her three months, what while she abode with him in the house of instruction, and they brought her the instruments of music. Moreover, as time went on, she was vouchsafed health and soundness and her beauty waxed many times greater than before and her pallor was changed to white and red, so that she became a ravishment to all who looked on her.
One day, Ishac let bring all who were with him of slave-girls from the house of instruction and carried them up to Er Reshid's palace, leaving none in his house save Tuhfeh and a cookmaid; for that he bethought him not of Tuhfeh, nor did she occur to his mind, and none of the damsels remembered him of her. When she saw that the house was empty of the slave-girls, she took the lute (now she was unique in her time in smiting upon the lute, nor had she her like in the world, no, not Ishac himself, nor any other) and sang thereto the following verses:
Now Ishac had returned to his house upon an occasion that presented itself to him; and when he entered the vestibule, he heard a sound of singing, the like whereof he had never heard in the world, for that it was [soft] as the breeze and richer (178) than almond oil. (179) So the delight of it gat hold of him and joyance overcame him, and he fell down aswoon in the vestibule, Tuhfeh heard the noise of steps and laying the lute from her hand, went out to see what was to do. She found her lord Ishac lying aswoon in the vestibule; so she took him up and strained him to her bosom, saying, 'I conjure thee in God's name, O my lord, tell me, hath aught befallen thee?' When he heard her voice, he recovered from his swoon and said to her, 'Who art thou? ' Quoth she, 'I am thy slave-girl Tuhfeh.' And he said to her, 'Art thou indeed Tuhfeh?' 'Yes,' answered she; and he, 'By Allah, I had forgotten thee and remembered thee not till now!' Then he looked at her and said, 'Indeed, thy case is altered and thy pallor is grown changed to rosiness and thou hast redoubled in beauty and lovesomeness. But was it thou who was singing but now?' And she was troubled and affrighted and answered, 'Even I, O my lord.'
Then Ishac seized upon her hand and carrying her into the house, said to her, 'Take the lute and sing; for never saw I nor heard thy like in smiting upon the lute; no, not even myself!' 'O my lord,' answered she, 'thou makest mock of me. Who am I that thou shouldst say all this to me? Indeed, this is but of thy kindness.' 'Nay, by Allah,' exclaimed he, 'I said but the truth to thee and I am none of those on whom pretence imposeth. These three months hath nature not moved thee to take the lute and sing thereto, and this is nought but an extraordinary thing. But all this cometh of strength in the craft and self-restraint.' Then he bade her sing; and she said, 'Hearkening and obedience.' So she took the lute and tightening its strings, smote thereon a number of airs, so that she confounded Ishac's wit and he was like to fly for delight. Then she returned to the first mode and sang thereto the following verses:
When she had made an end of her song and laid down the lute, Ishac looked fixedly on her, then took her hand and offered to kiss it; but she snatched it from him and said to him, 'Allah, O my lord, do not that!' Quoth he, 'Be silent. By Allah, I had said that there was not in the world the like of me; but now I have found my dinar (180) in the craft but a danic, (181) "for thou art, beyond comparison or approximation or reckoning, more excellent of skill than I! This very day will I carry thee up to the Commander of the Faithful Haroun er Reshid, and whenas his glance lighteth on thee, thou wilt become a princess of womankind. So, Allah, Allah upon thee, O my lady, whenas thou becomest of the household of the Commander of the Faithful, do not thou forget me!' And she replied, saying, 'Allah, O my lord, thou art the source of my fortunes and in thee is my heart fortified.' So he took her hand and made a covenant with her of this and she swore to him that she would not forget him.
Then said he to her, 'By Allah, thou art the desire of the Commander of the Faithful! (182) So take the lute and sing a song that thou shalt sing to the Khalif, whenas thou goest in to him.' So she took the lute and tuning it, sang the following verses:
Ishac stared at her and seizing her hand, said to her, 'Know that I am bound by an oath that, when the singing of a damsel pleaseth me, she shall not make an end of her song but before the Commander of the Faithful. But now tell me, how came it that thou abodest with the slave-dealer five months and wast not sold to any, and thou of this skill, more by token that the price set on thee was no great matter?'
She laughed and answered, 'O my lord, my story is a strange one and my case extraordinary. Know that I belonged aforetime to a Mughrebi merchant, who bought me, when I was three years old, and there were in his house many slave-girls and eunuchs; but I was the dearest to him of them all. So he kept me with him and used not to call me but "daughterling," and indeed I am presently a clean maid. Now there was with him a damsel, a lutanist, and she reared me and taught me the craft, even as thou seest. Then was my master admitted to the mercy of God the Most High (184) and his sons divided his good. I fell to the lot of one of them; but it was only a little while ere he had squandered all his substance and there was left him no tittle of money. So I left the lute, fearing lest I should fall into the hand of a man who knew not my worth, for that I was assured that needs must my master sell me; and indeed it was but a few days ere he carried me forth to the barrack of the slave-merchant who buyeth slave-girls and showeth them to the Commander of the Faithful. Now I desired to learn the craft; so I refused to be sold to other than thou, till God (extolled be His perfection and exalted be He!) vouchsafed me my desire of thy presence; whereupon I came out to thee, whenas I heard of thy coming, and besought thee to buy me. Thou healedst my heart and boughtedst me; and since I entered thy house, O my lord, I have not taken up the lute till now; but to-day, whenas I was quit of the slave-girls, [I took it]; and my purpose in this was that I might see if my hand were changed (185) or no. As I was singing, I heard a step in the vestibule; so I laid the lute from my hand and going forth to see what was to do, found thee, O my lord, on this wise.'
Quoth Ishac, 'Indeed, this was of thy fair fortune. By Allah, I know not that which thou knowest in this craft!' Then he arose and going to a chest, brought out therefrom striped clothes of great price, netted with jewels and great pearls, and said to her, 'In the name of God, don these, O my lady Tuhfeh.' So she arose and donned those clothes and veiled herself and went up [with Ishac] to the palace of the Khalifate, where he made her stand without, whilst he himself went in to the Commander of the Faithful (with whom was Jaafer the Barmecide) and kissing the earth before him, said to him, 'O Commander of the Faithful, I have brought thee a damsel, never saw eyes her like for excellence in singing and touching the lute; and her name is Tuhfeh." (186) 'And where,' asked Er Reshed, 'is this Tuhfeh, who hath not her like in the world?' Quoth Ishac, 'Yonder she stands, O Commander of the Faithful;' and he acquainted the Khalif with her case from first to last. Then said Er Reshid, 'It is a marvel to hear thee praise a slave-girl after this fashion. Admit her, so we may see her, for that the morning may not be hidden.'
Accordingly, Ishac bade admit her; so she entered, and when her eyes fell upon the Commander of the Faithful, she kissed the earth before him and said, 'Peace be upon thee, O Commander of the Faithful and asylum of the people of the faith and reviver of justice among all creatures! May God make plain the treading of thy feet and vouchsafe thee enjoyment of that which He hath bestowed on thee and make Paradise thy harbourage and the fire that of thine enemies!' Quoth Er Reshid, 'And on thee be peace, O damsel! Sit.' So she sat down and he bade her sing; whereupon she took the lute and tightening its strings, played thereon in many modes, so that the Commander of the Faithful and Jaafer were confounded and like to fly for delight. Then she returned to the first mode and sang the following verses:
Er Reshid considered her beauty and the goodliness of her singing and her eloquence and what not else she comprised of qualities and rejoiced with an exceeding joyance; and for the stress of that which overcame him of delight, he descended from the couch and sitting down with her upon the ground, said to her, 'Thou hast done well, O Tuhfeh. By Allah, thou art indeed a gift' (187) Then he turned to Ishac and said to him, 'Thou dealtest not equitably, O Ishac, in the description of this damsel, (188) neither settest out all that she compriseth of goodliness and skill; for that, by Allah, she is incomparably more skilful than thou; and I know of this craft that which none knoweth other than I!' 'By Allah,' exclaimed Jaafer, 'thou sayst sooth, O my lord, O Commander of the Faithful. Indeed, this damsel hath done away my wit' Quoth Ishac, 'By Allah, O Commander of the Faithful, I had said that there was not on the face of the earth one who knew the craft of the lute like myself; but, when I heard her, my skill became nothing worth in mine eyes.'
Then said the Khalif to her, 'Repeat thy playing, O Tuhfeh.' So she repeated it and he said to her, 'Well done!' Moreover, he said to Ishac, 'Thou hast indeed brought me that which is extraordinary and worth in mine eyes the empire of the earth.' Then he turned to Mesrour the eunuch and said to him, 'Carry Tuhfeh to the lodging of honour.' (189) Accordingly, she went away with Mesrour and the Khalif looked at her clothes and seeing her clad in raiment of choice, said to Ishac, 'O Ishac, whence hath she these clothes?' 'O my lord, answered he, 'these are somewhat of thy bounties and thy largesse, and they are a gift to her from me. By Allah, O Commander of the Faithful, the world, all of it, were little in comparison with her!' Then the Khalif turned to the Vizier Jaafer and said to him, 'Give Ishac fifty thousand dirhems and a dress of honour of the apparel of choice.' 'Hearkening and obedience,' replied Jaafer and gave him that which the Khalif ordered him.
As for Er Reshid, he shut himself up with Tuhfeh that night and found her a clean maid and rejoiced in her; and she took high rank in his heart, so that he could not endure from her a single hour and committed to her the keys of the affairs of the realm, for that which he saw in her of good breeding and wit and modesty. Moreover, he gave her fifty slave-girls and two hundred thousand dinars and clothes and trinkets and jewels and precious stones, worth the kingdom of Egypt; and of the excess of his love for her, he would not entrust her to any of the slave-girls or eunuchs; but, whenas he went out from her, he locked the door upon her and took the key with him, against he should return to her, forbidding the damsels to go in to her, of his fear lest they should slay her or practise on her with knife or poison; and on this wise he abode awhile.
One day as she sang before the Commander of the Faithful, he was moved to exceeding delight, so that he took her and offered to kiss her hand; but she drew it away from him and smote upon her lute and broke it and wept Er Reshid wiped away her tears and said, 'O desire of the heart, what is it maketh thee weep? May God not cause an eye of thine to weep!' 'O my lord,' answered she, 'what am I that thou shouldst kiss my hand? Wilt thou have God punish me for this and that my term should come to an end and my felicity pass away? For this is what none ever attained unto.' Quoth he, 'Well said, O Tuhfeh. Know that thy rank in my esteem is mighty and for that which wondered me of what I saw of thee, I offered to do this, but I will not return unto the like thereof; so be of good heart and cheerful eye, for I have no desire for other than thyself and will not die but in the love of thee, and thou to me art queen and mistress, to the exclusion of all humankind.' Therewith she fell to kissing his feet; and this her fashion pleased him, so that his love for her redoubled and he became unable to brook an hour's severance from her.
One day he went forth to the chase and left Tuhfeh in her pavilion. As she sat looking upon a book, with a candlestick of gold before her, wherein was a perfumed candle, behold, a musk-apple fell down before her from the top of the saloon. (190) So she looked up and beheld the Lady Zubeideh bint el Casim, (191) who saluted her and acquainted her with herself, whereupon Tuhfeh rose to her feet and said, 'O my lady, were I not of the number of the upstarts, I had daily sought thy service; so do not thou bereave me of thine august visits.' (192) The Lady Zubeideh called down blessings upon her and answered, 'By the life of the Commander of the Faithful, I knew this of thee, and but that it is not of my wont to go forth of my place, I had come out to do my service to thee.' Then said she to her, 'Know, O Tuhfeh, that the Commander of the Faithful hath forsaken all his concubines and favourites on thine account, even to myself. Yea, me also hath he deserted on this wise, and I am not content to be as one of the concubines; yet hath he made me of them and forsaken me, and I am come to thee, so thou mayst beseech him to come to me, though it be but once a month, that I may not be the like of the handmaids and concubines nor be evened with the slave-girls; and this is my occasion with thee.' 'Hearkening and obedience,' answered Tuhfeh. 'By Allah, O my lady, I would well that he might be with thee a whole month and with me but one night, so thy heart might be comforted, for that I am one of thy handmaids and thou art my lady in every event.' The Lady Zubeideh thanked her for this and taking leave of her, returned to her palace.
When the Khalif returned from the chase, he betook himself to Tuhfeh's pavilion and bringing out the key, opened the door and went in to her. She rose to receive him and kissed his hand, and he took her to his breast and seated her on his knee. Then food was brought to them and they ate and washed their hands; after which she took the lute and sang, till Er Reshid was moved to sleep. When she was ware of this, she left singing and told him her adventure with the Lady Zubeideh, saying, 'O Commander of the Faithful, I would have thee do me a favour and heal my heart and accept my intercession and reject not my word, but go forthright to the Lady Zubeideh's lodging.' Now this talk befell after he had stripped himself naked and she also had put off her clothes; and he said, 'Thou shouldst have named this before we stripped ourselves naked.' But she answered, saying, ' O Commander of the Faithful, I did this not but in accordance with the saying of the poet in the following verses:
When the Khalif heard this, her speech pleased him and he strained her to his bosom. Then he went forth from her and locked the door upon her, as before; whereupon she took the book and sat looking in it awhile. Presently, she laid it down and taking the lute, tightened its strings. Then she smote thereon, after a wondrous fashion, such as would have moved inanimate things [to delight], and fell to singing marvellous melodies and chanting the following verses:
Then she turned and saw within the chamber an old man, comely of hoariness, venerable of aspect, who was dancing on apt and goodly wise, a dance the like whereof none might avail unto. So she sought refuge with God the Most High from Satan the Stoned (193) and said, 'I will not give over what I am about, for that which God decreeth, He carrieth into execution.' Accordingly, she went on singing till the old man came up to her and kissed the earth before her, saying, 'Well done, O Queen of the East and the West! May the world be not bereaved of thee! By Allah, indeed thou art perfect of qualities and ingredients, O Tuhfet es Sudour! (194) Dost thou know me?' 'Nay, by Allah,' answered she; 'but methinks thou art of the Jinn.' Quoth he, 'Thou sayst sooth; I am the Sheikh Aboultawaif (195) Iblis, and I come to thee every night, and with me thy sister Kemeriyeh, for that she loveth thee and sweareth not but by thy life; and her life is not pleasant to her, except she come to thee and see thee, what while thou seest her not. As for me, I come to thee upon an affair, wherein thou shall find thine advantage and whereby thou shalt rise to high rank with the kings of the Jinn and rule them, even as thou rulest mankind; [and to that end I would have thee come with me and be present at the festival of my son's circumcision; (196)] for that the Jinn are agreed upon the manifestation of thine affair.' And she answered, 'In the name of God.'
So she gave him the lute and he forewent her, till he came to the house of easance, and behold, therein was a door and a stairway. When Tuhfeh saw this, her reason fled; but Iblis cheered her with discourse. Then he descended the stair and she followed him to the bottom thereof, where she found a passage and they fared on therein, till they came to a horse standing, Teady saddled and bridled and accoutred. Quoth Iblis, '[Mount], in the name of God, O my lady Tuhfeh;' and he held the stirrup for her. So she mounted and the horse shook under her and putting forth wings, flew up with her, whilst the old man flew by her side; whereat she was affrighted and clung to the pummel of the saddle; nor was it but an hour ere they came to a fair green meadow, fresh-flowered as if the soil thereof were a goodly robe, embroidered with all manner colours.
Midmost that meadow was a palace soaring high into the air, with battlements of red gold, set with pearls and jewels, and a two-leaved gate; and in the gateway thereof were much people of the chiefs of the Jinn, clad in sumptuous apparel. When they saw the old man, they all cried out, saying, 'The Lady Tuhfeh is come!' And as soon as she reached the palace-gate, they came all and dismounting her from the horse's back, carried her into the palace and fell to kissing her hands. When she entered, she beheld a palace whereof never saw eyes the like; for therein were four estrades, one facing other, and its walls were of gold and its ceilings of silver. It was lofty of building, wide of continence, and those who beheld it would be puzzled to describe it. At the upper end of the hall stood a throne of red gold, set with pearls and jewels, unto which led up five steps of silver, and on the right thereof and on its left were many chairs of gold and silver; and over the dais was a curtain let down, gold and silver wrought and broidered with pearls and jewels.
The old man carried Tuhfeh up [to the dais and seated her] on a chair of gold beside the throne, whilst she was amazed at that which she saw in that place and magnified her Lord (extolled be His perfection and exalted be He!) and hallowed Him. Then the kings of the Jinn came up to the throne and seated themselves thereon; and they were in the semblance of mortals, excepting two of them, who were in the semblance of the Jinn, with eyes slit endlong and jutting horns and projecting tusks. After this there came up a young lady, fair of favour and pleasant of parts; the light of her face outshone that of the flambeaux, and about her were other three women, than whom there were no fairer on the face of the earth. They saluted Tuhfeh and she rose to them and kissed the earth before them; whereupon they embraced her and sat down on the chairs aforesaid.
Now the four women who thus accosted Tuhfeh were the princess Kemeriyeh, daughter of King Es Shisban, and her sisters; and Kemeriyeh loved Tuhfeh with an exceeding love. So, when she came up to her, she fell to kissing and embracing her, and Iblis said, 'Fair befall you! Take me between you.' At this Tuhfeh laughed and Kemeriyeh said, 'O my sister, I love thee and doubtless hearts have their evidences, (197) for, since I saw thee, I have loved thee.' 'By Allah,' replied Tuhfeh, 'hearts have deeps, (198) and thou, by Allah, art dear to me and I am thy handmaid.' Kemeriyeh thanked her for this and said to her, 'These are the wives of the kings of the Jinn: salute them. This is Queen Jemreh, (199) that is Queen Wekhimeh and this other is Queen Sherareh, and they come not but for thee.' So Tuhfeh rose to her feet and kissed their hands, and the three queens kissed her and welcomed her and entreated her with the utmost honour.
Then they brought trays and tables and amongst the rest a platter of red gold, inlaid with pearls and jewels; its margents were of gold and emerald, and thereon were graven the following verses:
So they ate and Tuhfeh looked at the two kings, who had not changed their favour and said to Kemeriyeh, 'O my lady, what is yonder wild beast and that other like unto him? By Allah, mine eye brooketh not the sight of them.' Kemeriyeh laughed and answered, 'O my sister, that is my father Es Shisban and the other is Meimoun the Sworder; and of the pride of their souls and their arrogance, they consented not to change their [natural] fashion. Indeed, all whom thou seest here are, by nature, like unto them in fashion; but, on thine account, they have changed their favour, for fear lest thou be disquieted and for the comforting of thy mind, so thou mightest make friends with them and be at thine ease.' 'O my lady,' quoth Tuhfeh, 'indeed I cannot look at them. How frightful is yonder Meimoun, with his [one] eye! Mine eye cannot brook the sight of him, and indeed I am fearful of him.' Kemeriyeh laughed at her speech, and Tuhfeh said, 'By Allah, O my lady, I cannot fill my eye with them!' (200) Then said her father Es Shisban to her, 'What is this laughing?' So she bespoke him in a tongue none understood but they [two] and acquainted him with that which Tuhfeh had said; whereat he laughed a prodigious laugh, as it were the pealing thunder.
Then they ate and the tables were removed and they washed their hands; after which Iblis the Accursed came up to Tuhfeh and said to her, 'O my lady Tuhfeh, thou gladdenest the place and with thy presence enlightenest and embellishest it; but now fain would these kings hear somewhat of thy singing, for the night hath spread its wings for departure and there abideth thereof but a little.' Quoth she, 'Hearkening and obedience.' So she took the lute and touching its strings on rare wise, played thereon after a wondrous fashion, so that it seemed to those who were present as if the palace stirred with them for the music. Then she fell a-singing and chanted the following verses:
The kings of the Jinn were moved to delight by that fair singing and fluent speech and praised Tuhfeh; and Queen Kemeriyeh rose to her and embraced her and kissed her between the eyes, saying, 'By Allah, it is good, O my sister and solace of mine eyes and darling of my heart!' Then said she, 'I conjure thee by Allah, give us more of this lovely singing.' And Tuhfeh answered with 'Hearkening and obedience.' So she took the lute and playing thereon after a different fashion from the former one, sang the following verses:
At this the accursed Iblis was moved to delight and put his finger to his arse, whilst Meimoun danced and said, 'O Tuhfet es Sudour, soften the mode; (201) for, as delight, entereth into my heart, it bewildereth my vital spirits.' So she took the lute and changing the mode, played a third air; then she returned to the first and sang the following verses:
Think not that I forget our trothplight after you. Nay; God to me decreed remembrance heretofore. (202)
Love to its victim clings without relent, and he Of torments and unease complaineth evermore.
The kings and all those who were present rejoiced in this with an exceeding delight and the accursed Iblis came up to Tuhfeh and kissing her hand, said to her, 'There abideth but little of the night; so do thou tarry with us till the morrow, when we will apply ourselves to the wedding (203) and the circumcision.' Then all the Jinn went away, whereupon Tuhfeh rose to her feet and Iblis said, 'Go ye up with Tuhfeh to the garden for the rest of the night.' So Kemeriyeh took her and carried her into the garden. Now this garden contained all manner birds, nightingale and mocking-bird and ringdove and curlew (204) and other than these of all the kinds, and therein were all kinds of fruits. Its channels (205) were of gold and silver and the water thereof, as it broke forth of its conduits, was like unto fleeing serpents' bellies, and indeed it was as it were the Garden of Eden. (206)
When Tuhfeh beheld this, she called to mind her lord and wept sore and said, 'I beseech God the Most High to vouchsafe me speedy deliverance, so I may return to my palace and that my high estate and queendom and glory and be reunited with my lord and master Er Reshid.' Then she walked in that garden and saw in its midst a dome of white marble, raised on columns of black teak and hung with curtains embroidered with pearls and jewels. Amiddleward this pavilion was a fountain, inlaid with all manner jacinths, and thereon a statue of gold, and [beside it] a little door. She opened the door and found herself in a long passage; so she followed it and behold, a bath lined with all kinds of precious marbles and floored with a mosaic of pearls and jewels. Therein were four cisterns of alabaster, one facing other, and the ceiling of the bath was of glass coloured with all manner colours, such as confounded the understanding of the folk of understanding and amazed the wit.
Tuhfeh entered the bath, after she had put off her clothes, and behold, the basin thereof was overlaid with gold set with pearls and red rubies and green emeralds and other jewels; so she extolled the perfection of God the Most High and hallowed Him for the magnificence of that which she saw of the attributes of that bath. Then she made her ablutions in that basin and pronouncing the Magnification of Prohibition, (207) prayed the morning prayer and what else had escaped her of prayers; (208) after which she went out and walked in that garden among jessamine and lavender and roses and camomile and gillyflowers and thyme and violets and sweet basil, till she came to the door of the pavilion aforesaid and sat down therein, pondering that which should betide Er Reshid after her, whenas he should come to her pavilion and find her not. She abode sunken in the sea of her solicitude, till presently sleep took her and she slept
Presently she felt a breath upon her face; whereupon she awoke and found Queen Kemeriyeh kissing her, and with her her three sisters, Queen Jemreh, Queen Wekhimeh and Queen Sherareh. So she arose and kissed their hands and rejoiced in them with the utmost joy and they abode, she and they, in talk and converse, what while she related to them her history, from the time of her purchase by the Mughrebi to that of her coming to the slave-dealers' barrack, where she besought Ishac en Nedim to buy her, and how she won to Er Reshid, till the moment when Iblis came to her and brought her to them. They gave not over talking till the sun declined and turned pale and the season of sundown drew near and the day departed, whereupon Tuhfeh was instant in supplication to God the Most High, on the occasion of the prayer of sundown, that He would reunite her with her lord Er Reshid.
After this, she abode with the four queens, till they arose and entered the palace, where she found the candles lit and ranged in candlesticks of gold and silver and censing-vessels of gold and silver, filled with aloes-wood and ambergris, and there were the kings of the Jinn sitting. So she saluted them, kissing the earth before them and doing them worship; and they rejoiced in her and in her sight. Then she ascended [the estrade] and sat down upon her chair, whilst King Es Shisban and King El Muzfir and Queen Louloueh and [other] the kings of the Jinn sat on chairs, and they brought tables of choice, spread with all manner meats befitting kings. They ate their fill; after which the tables were removed and they washed their hands and wiped them with napkins. Then they brought the wine-service and set on bowls and cups and flagons and hanaps of gold and silver and beakers of crystal and gold; and they poured out the wines and filled the flagons.
Then Iblis took the cup and signed to Tuhfeh to sing; and she said, 'Hearkening and obedience.' So she took the lute and tuning it, sang the following verses:
So Iblis the Accursed drank and said, 'Well done, O desire of hearts! but thou owest me yet another song.' Then he filled the cup and signed to her to sing. Quoth she, 'Hearkening and obedience,' and sang the following verses:
All who were present were delighted and the sitting-chamber shook with mirth, and Iblis said, 'Well done, O Tuhfet es Sudour!' Then they gave not over wine-bibbing and rejoicing and making merry and tambourining and piping till the night waned and the dawn drew near; and indeed exceeding delight entered into them. The most of them in mirth was the Sheikh Iblis, and for the excess of that which betided him of delight, he put off all that was upon him of coloured clothes and cast them over Tuhfeh, and among the rest a robe broidered with jewels and jacinths, worth ten thousand dinars. Then he kissed the earth and danced and put his finger to his arse and taking his beard in his hand, said to her, 'Sing about this beard and endeavour after mirth and pleasance, and no blame shall betide thee for this.' So she improvised and sang the following verses:
All those who were present laughed at her mockery of Iblis and marvelled at the goodliness of her observation (209) and her readiness in improvising verses; whilst the Sheikh himself rejoiced and said to her, 'O Tuhfet es Sudour, the night is gone; so arise and rest thyself ere the day; and to-morrow all shall be well.' Then all the kings of the Jinn departed, together with those who were present of guards, and Tuhfeh abode alone, pondering the affair of Er Reshid and bethinking her of how it was with him, after her, and of that which had betided him for her loss, till the dawn gleamed, when she arose and walked in the palace. Presently she saw a handsome door; so she opened it and found herself in a garden goodlier than the first, never saw eyes a fairer than it. When she beheld this garden, delight moved her and she called to mind her lord Er Reshid and wept sore, saying, 'I crave of the bounty of God the Most High that my return to him and to my palace and my home may be near at hand!'
Then she walked in the garden till she came to a pavilion, lofty of building and wide of continence, never saw mortal nor heard of a goodlier than it [So she entered] and found herself in a long corridor, which led to a bath goodlier than that whereof it hath been spoken, and the cisterns thereof were full of rose-water mingled with musk. Quoth Tuhfeh, 'Extolled be the perfection of God! Indeed, this (210) is none other than a mighty king.' Then she put off her clothes and washed her body and made her ablution, after the fullest fashion, (211) and prayed that which was due from her of prayer from the evening [of the previous day]. (212) When the sun rose upon the gate of the garden and she saw the wonders thereof, with that which was therein of all manner flowers and streams, and heard the voices of its birds, she marvelled at what she saw of the surpassing goodliness of its ordinance and the beauty of its disposition and sat meditating the affair of Er Reshid and pondering what was come of him after her. Her tears ran down upon her cheek and the zephyr blew on her; so she slept and knew no more till she felt a breath on her cheek, whereupon she awoke in affright and found Queen Kemeriyeh kissing her face, and with her her sisters, who said to her, 'Arise, for the sun hath set.'
So she arose and making the ablution, prayed that which behoved her of prayers (213) and accompanied the four queens to the palace, where she saw the candles lighted and the kings sitting. She saluted them and seated herself upon her couch; and behold, King Es Shisban had changed his favour, for all the pride of his soul. Then came up Iblis (whom God curse!) and Tuhfeh rose to him and kissed his hands. He in turn kissed her hand and called down blessings on her and said, 'How deemest thou? Is [not] this place pleasant, for all its loneliness and desolation?' Quoth she, 'None may be desolate in this place;' and he said, 'Know that no mortal dare tread [the soil of] this place.' But she answered, 'I have dared and trodden it, and this is of the number of thy favours.' Then they brought tables and meats and viands and fruits and sweetmeats and what not else, to the description whereof mortal man availeth not, and they ate till they had enough; after which the tables were removed and the trays and platters (214) set on, and they ranged the bottles and flagons and vessels and phials, together with all manner fruits and sweet-scented flowers.
The first to take the cup was Iblis the Accursed, who said, 'O Tuhfet es Sudour, sing over my cup.' So she took the lute and touching it, sang the following verses:
So Iblis drank off his cup, and when he had made an end of his draught, he waved his hand to Tuhfeh, and putting off that which was upon him of clothes, delivered them to her. Amongst them was a suit worth ten thousand dinars and a tray full of jewels worth a great sum of money. Then he filled again and gave the cup to his son Es Shisban, who took it from his hand and kissing it, stood up and sat down again. Now there was before him a tray of roses; so he said to her 'O Tuhfeh sing upon these roses.' Hearkening and obedience,' answered she and sang the following verses:
So Es Shisban drank off the cup in his turn and said, 'Well done, O desire of hearts!' And he bestowed on her that which was upon him, to wit, a dress of cloth-of-pearl, fringed with great pearls and rubies and broidered with precious stones, and a tray wherein were fifty thousand dinars. Then Meimoun the Sworder took the cup and fell to gazing intently upon Tuhfeh. Now there was in his hand a pomegranate-flower and he said to her, 'Sing upon this pomegranate-flower, O queen of men and Jinn; for indeed thou hast dominion over all hearts.' Quoth she, 'Hearkening and obedience;' and she improvised and sang the following verses:
Meinsoun drank off his cup and said to her, 'Well done, O perfect of attributes!' Then he signed to her and was absent awhile, after which he returned and with him a tray of jewels worth an hundred thousand dinars, [which he gave to Tuhfeh]. So Kemeriyeh arose and bade her slave-girl open the closet behind her, wherein she laid all that wealth. Then she delivered the key to Tuhfeh, saying, 'All that cometh to thee of riches, lay thou in this closet that is by thy side, and after the festival, it shall be carried to thy palace on the heads of the Jinn.' Tuhfeh kissed her hand, and another king, by name Munir, took the cup and filling it, said to her, 'O fair one, sing to me over my cup upon the jasmine.' 'Hearkening and obedience,' answered she and improvised the following verses:
Munir drank off his cup and ordered her eight hundred thousand dinars, whereat Kemeriyeh rejoiced and rising to her feet, kissed Tuhfeh on her face and said to her, 'May the world not be bereaved of thee, O thou who lordest it over the hearts of Jinn and mortals!' Then she returned to her place and the Sheikh Iblis arose and danced, till all present were confounded; after which he said to Tuhfeh, 'Indeed, thou embellishest my festival, O thou who hast commandment over men and Jinn and rejoicest their hearts with thy loveliness and the excellence of thy faithfulness to thy lord. All that thy hands possess shall be borne to thee [in thy palace and placed] at thy service; but now the dawn is near at hand; so do thou rise and rest thee, as of thy wont' Tuhfeh turned and found with her none of the Jinn; so she laid her head on the ground and slept till she had gotten her rest; after which she arose and betaking herself to the pool, made the ablution and prayed. Then she sat beside the pool awhile and pondered the affair of her lord Er Reshid and that which had betided him after her and wept sore.
Presently, she heard a blowing behind her; so she turned and behold, a head without a body and with eyes slit endlong; it was of the bigness of an elephant's head and bigger and had a mouth as it were an oven and projecting tusks, as they were grapnels, and hair that trailed upon the earth. So Tuhfeh said, 'I take refuge with God from Satan the Stoned!' and recited the Two Amulets; (217) what while the head drew near her and said to her, 'Peace be upon thee, O princess of Jinn and men and unique pearl of her age and her time! May God still continue thee on life, for all the lapsing of the days, and reunite thee with thy lord the Imam!' (218) 'And upon thee be peace,' answered she, 'O thou whose like I have not seen among the Jinn!' Quoth the head, 'We are a people who avail not to change their favours and we are called ghouls. The folk summon us to their presence, but we may not present ourselves before them [without leave]. As for me, I have gotten leave of the Sheikh Aboultawaif to present myself before thee and I desire of thy favour that thou sing me a song, so I may go to thy palace and question its haunters (219) concerning the plight of thy lord after thee and return to thee; and know, O Tuhfet es Sudour, that between thee and thy lord is a distance of fifty years' journey to the diligent traveller.' 'Indeed,' rejoined Tuhfeh, 'thou grievest me [for him] between whom and me is fifty years' journey. And the head said to her, 'Be of good heart and cheerful eye, for the kings of the Jinn will restore thee to him in less than the twinkling of an eye.' Quoth she,' I will sing thee an hundred songs, so thou wilt bring me news of my lord and that which hath befallen him after me.' And the head answered, saying, 'Do thou favour me and sing me a song, so I may go to thy lord and bring thee news of him, for that I desire, before I go, to hear thy voice, so haply my thirst (220) may be quenched.' So she took the lute and tuning it, sang the following verses:
The head wept exceeding sore and said, 'O my lady, indeed thou hast solaced my heart, and I have nought but my life; so take it.' Quoth she, 'An I but knew that thou wouldst bring me news of my lord Er Reshid, it were liefer to me than the empery of the world.' And the head answered her, saying, 'It shall be done as thou desirest.' Then it disappeared and returning to her at the last of the night, said, 'Know, O my lady, that I have been to thy palace and have questioned one of the haunters thereof of the case of the Commander of the Faithful and that which befell him after thee; and he said, "When the Commander of the Faithful came to Tuhfeh's lodging and found her not and saw no sign of her, he buffeted his face and head and rent his clothes. Now there was in thy lodging the eunuch, the chief of thy household, and he cried out at him, saying, 'Bring me Jaafer the Barmecide and his father and brother forthright.' The eunuch went out, confounded in his wit for fear of the Commander of the Faithful, and whenas he came to Jaafer, he said to him, 'Come to the Commander of the Faithful, thou and thy father and brother.' So they arose in haste and betaking themselves to the Khalif's presence, said to him, 'O Commander of the Faithful, what is to do?' Quoth he, 'There is that to do which overpasseth description. Know that I locked the door and taking the key with me, betook myself to the daughter of mine uncle, with whom I lay the night; but, when I arose in the morning and came and opened the door, I found no sign of Tuhfeh.' 'O Commander of the Faithful,' rejoined Jaafer, 'have patience, for that the damsel hath been snatched away, and needs must she return, seeing she took the lute with her, and it is her [own] lute. The Jinn have assuredly carried her off and we trust in God the Most High that she will return.' Quoth the Khalif, ' This (221) is a thing that may nowise be' And he abode in her lodging, eating not neither drinking, what while the Barmecides besought him to go forth to the folk; and he weepeth and abideth on this wise till she shall return." This, then, is that which hath betided him after thee.'
When Tuhfeh heard this, it was grievous to her and she wept sore; whereupon quoth the head to her, 'The relief of God the Most High is near at hand; but now let me hear somewhat of thy speech.' So she took the lute and sang three songs, weeping the while. 'By Allah,' said the head, 'thou hast been bountiful to me, may God be with thee!' Then it disappeared and the season of sundown came. So she arose [and betook herself] to her place [in the hall]; whereupon the candles rose up from under the earth and kindled themselves. Then the kings of the Jinn appeared and saluted her and kissed her hands and she saluted them. Presently, up came Kemeriyeh and her three sisters and saluted Tuhfeh and sat down; whereupon the tables were brought and they ate. Then the tables were removed and there came the wine-tray and the drinking-service. So Tuhfeh took the lute and one of the three queens filled the cup and signed to Tuhfeh [to sing]. Now she had in her hand a violet; so Tuhfeh sang the following verses:
The queen drank off her cup and bestowed on Tuhfeh a dress of cloth-of-pearl, fringed with red rubies, worth twenty thousand dinars, and a tray wherein were ten thousand dinars.
All this while Meimoun's eye was upon her and presently he said to her, 'Harkye, Tuhfeh! Sing to me.' But Queen Zelzeleh cried out at him and said, 'Desist, O Meimoun. Thou sufferest not Tuhfeh to pay heed unto us.' Quoth he, 'I will have her sing to me.' And words waxed between them and Queen Zelzeleh cried out at him. Then she shook and became like unto the Jinn and taking in her hand a mace of stone, said to him, 'Out on thee! What art thou that thou shouldst bespeak us thus? By Allah, but for the king's worship and my fear of troubling the session and the festival and the mind of the Sheikh Iblis, I would assuredly beat the folly out of thy head!' When Meimoun heard these her words, he rose, with the fire issuing from his eyes, and said, 'O daughter of Imlac, what art thou that thou shouldst outrage me with the like of this talk?' 'Out on thee, O dog of the Jinn,' replied she, 'knowest thou not thy place?' So saying, she ran at him and offered to strike him with the mace, but the Sheikh Iblis arose and casting his turban on the ground, said, 'Out on thee, O Meimoun! Thou still dost with us on this wise. Wheresoever thou art present, thou troubleth our life! Canst thou not hold thy peace till thou goest forth of the festival and this bride-feast (222) be accomplished? When the circumcision is at an end and ye all return to your dwelling-places, then do as thou wilt. Out on thee, O Meimoun! Knowest thou not that Imlac is of the chiefs of the Jinn? But for my worship, thou shouldst have seen what would have betided thee of humiliation and punishment; but by reason of the festival none may speak. Indeed thou exceedest: knowest thou not that her sister Wekhimeh is doughtier than any of the Jinn? Learn to know thyself: hast thou no regard for thy life?'
Meimoun was silent and Iblis turned to Tuhfeh and said to her, 'Sing to the kings of the Jinn this day and to-night until the morrow, when the boy will be circumcised and each shall return to his own place.' So she took the lute and Kemeriyeh said to her, (now she had in her hand a cedrat), 'O my sister, sing to me on this cedrat.' 'Hearkening and obedience,' replied Tuhfeh, and improvising, sang the following verses:
At this Queen Kemeriyeh was moved to exceeding delight and drank off her cup, saying, 'Well done, O queen of hearts!' Moreover, she took off a surcoat of blue brocade, fringed with red rubies, and a necklace of white jewels, worth an hundred thousand dinars, and gave them to Tuhfeh. Then she passed the cup to her sister Zelzeleh, who had in her hand sweet basil, and she said to Tuhfeh, 'Sing to me on this sweet basil.' 'Hearkening and obedience,' answered she and improvised and sang the following verses:
The crown of the flow'rets am I, in the chamber of wine, And Allah makes mention of me 'mongst the pleasures divine; Yea, ease and sweet basil and peace, the righteous are told, In Eternity's Garden of sweets shall to bless them combine. (223) Where, then, is the worth that in aught with my worth can compare And where is the rank in men's eyes can be likened to mine?
Thereat Queen Zelzeleh was moved to exceeding delight and bidding her treasuress bring a basket, wherein were fifty pairs of bracelets and the like number of earrings, all of gold, set with jewels of price, the like whereof nor men nor Jinn possessed, and an hundred robes of coloured brocade and an hundred thousand dinars, gave the whole to Tuhfeh. Then she passed the cup to her sister Sherareh, who had in her hand a stalk of narcissus; so she took it from her and turning to Tuhfeh, said to her, 'O Tuhfeh, sing to me on this.' 'Hearkening and obedience,' answered she and improvised and sang the following verses:
When she had made an end of her song, Sherareh was moved to exceeding delight and drinking off her cup, said to her, 'Well done, O gift of hearts!' Then she ordered her an hundred dresses of brocade and an hundred thousand dinars and passed the cup to Queen Wekhimeh. Now she had in her hand somewhat of blood-red anemone; so she took the cup from her sister and turning to Tuhfeh, said to her, 'O Tuhfeh, sing to me on this.' Quoth she, 'I hear and obey,' and improvised the following verses:
Therewith Wekhimeh was moved to exceeding delight and drinking off the cup, ordered her twenty dresses of Greek brocade and a tray, wherein were thirty thousand dinars. Then she gave the cup to Queen Shuaaeh, Queen of the Fourth Sea, who took it and said, 'O my lady Tuhfeh, sing to me on the gillyflower.' Quoth she 'Hearkening and obedience,' and improvised the following verses:
Queen Shuaaeh was moved to exceeding delight and emptying her cup, gave Tuhfeh an hundred thousand dinars. Then arose Iblis (may God curse him!) and said, 'Verily, the dawn gleameth.' Whereupon the folk arose and disappeared, all of them, and there abode not one of them save Tuhfeh, who went forth to the garden and entering the bath, made her ablutions and prayed that which had escaped her of prayers. Then she sat down and when the sun rose, behold, there came up to her near an hundred thousand green birds; the branches of the trees were filled with their multitudes and they warbled in various voices, whilst Tuhfeh marvelled at their fashion. Presently, up came eunuchs, bearing a throne of gold, set with pearls and jewels and jacinths white and red and having four steps of gold, together with many carpets of silk and brocade and Egyptian cloth of silk welted with gold. These latter they spread amiddleward the garden and setting up the throne thereon, perfumed the place with virgin musk and aloes and ambergris.
After that, there appeared a queen, never saw eyes a goodlier than she nor than her attributes; she was clad in rich raiment, embroidered with pearls and jewels, and on her head was a crown set with various kinds of pearls and jewels. About her were five hundred slave-girls, high-bosomed maids, as they were moons, screening her, right and left, and she among them as she were the moon on the night of its full, for that she was the most of them in majesty and dignity. She gave not over walking, till she came to Tuhfeh, whom she found gazing on her in amazement; and when the latter saw her turn to her, she rose to her, standing on her feet, and saluted her and kissed the earth before her.
The queen rejoiced in her and putting out her hand to her, drew her to herself and seated her by her side on the couch; whereupon Tuhfeh kissed her hands and the queen said to her, 'Know, O Tuhfeh, that all that thou treadest of these belong not to any of the Jinn, (224) for that I am the queen of them all and the Sheikh Aboultawaif Iblis sought my permission (225) and prayed me to be present at the circumcision of his son. So I sent to him, in my stead, a slave-girl of my slave-girls, to wit, Shuaaeh, Queen of the Fourth Sea, who is vice-queen of my kingdom. When she was present at the wedding and saw thee and heard thy singing, she sent to me, giving me to know of thee and setting forth to me thine elegance and pleasantness and the goodliness of thy breeding and thy singing. So I am come to thee, for that which I have heard of thy charms, and this shall bring thee great worship in the eyes of all the Jinn.' (226)
Tuhfeh arose and kissed the earth and the queen thanked her for this and bade her sit. So she sat down and the queen called for food; whereupon they brought a table of gold, inlaid with pearls and jacinths and jewels and spread with various kinds of birds and meats of divers hues, and the queen said, 'O Tuhfeh, in the name of God, let us eat bread and salt together, thou and I.' So Tuhfeh came forward and ate of those meats and tasted somewhat the like whereof she had never eaten, no, nor aught more delicious than it, what while the slave-girls stood compassing about the table and she sat conversing and laughing with the queen. Then said the latter, 'O my sister, a slave-girl told me of thee that thou saidst, "How loathly is yonder genie Meimoun! There is no eating [in his presence]."' (227) 'By Allah, O my lady,' answered Tuhfeh, 'I cannot brook the sight of him, (228) and indeed I am fearful of him.' When the queen heard this, she laughed, till she fell backward, and said, 'O my sister, by the virtue of the inscription upon the seal-ring of Solomon, prophet of God, I am queen over all the Jinn, and none dare so much as look on thee a glance of the eye.' And Tuhfeh kissed her hand. Then the tables were removed and they sat talking.
Presently up came the kings of the Jinn from every side and kissed the earth before the queen and stood in her service; and she thanked them for this, but stirred not for one of them. Then came the Sheikh Aboultawaif Iblis (God curse him!) and kissed the earth before her, saying, 'O my lady, may I not be bereft of these steps!' (229) O Sheikh Aboultawalf,' answered she, 'it behoveth thee to thank the bounty of the Lady Tuhfeh, who was the cause of my coming.' 'True,' answered he and kissed the earth. Then the queen fared on [towards the palace] and there [arose and] alighted upon the trees an hundred thousand birds of various colours. Quoth Tuhfeh, 'How many are these birds!' And Queen Wekhimeh said to her, 'Know, O my sister, that this queen is called Queen Es Shuhba and that she is queen over all the Jinn from East to West. These birds that thou seest are of her troops, and except they came in this shape, the earth would not contain them. Indeed, they came forth with her and are present with her presence at this circumcision. She will give thee after the measure of that which hath betided thee (230) from the first of the festival to the last thereof; and indeed she honoureth us all with her presence.'
Then the queen entered the palace and sat down on the throne of the circumcision (231) at the upper end of the hall, whereupon Tuhfeh took the lute and pressing it to her bosom, touched its strings on such wise that the wits of all present were bewildered and the Sheikh Iblis said to her, 'O my lady Tuhfeh, I conjure thee, by the life of this worshipful queen, sing for me and praise thyself, and gainsay me not.' Quoth she, 'Hearkening and obedience; yet, but for the adjuration by which thou conjurest me, I had not done this. Doth any praise himself? What manner of thing is this?' Then she improvised and sang the following verses:
Her verses pleased the kings of the Jinn and they said, 'By Allah, thou sayst sooth!' Then she rose to her feet, with the lute in her hand, and played and sang, whilst the Jinn and the Sheikh Aboultawaif danced. Then the latter came up to her and gave her a carbuncle he had taken from the hidden treasure of Japhet, son of Noah (on whom be peace), and which was worth the kingdom of the world; its light was as the light of the sun and he said to her, 'Take this and glorify thyself withal over (233) the people of the world.' She kissed his hand and rejoiced in the jewel and said, 'By Allah, this beseemeth none but the Commander of the Faithful.'
Now the dancing of Iblis pleased Queen Es Shuhba and she said to him, 'By Allah, this is a goodly dancing!' He thanked her for this and said to Tuhfeh, 'O Tuhfeh, there is not on the face of the earth a skilfuller than Ishac en Nedim; but thou art more skilful than he. Indeed, I have been present with him many a time and have shown him passages (234) on the lute, and there have betided me such and such things with him. (235) Indeed, the story of my dealings with him is a long one and this is no time to repeat it; but now I would fain show thee a passage on the lute, whereby thou shall be exalted over all the folk.' Quoth she to him, 'Do what seemeth good to thee.' So he took the lute and played thereon on wondrous wise, with rare divisions and extraordinary modulations, and showed her a passage she knew not; and this was liefer to her than all that she had gotten. Then she took the lute from him and playing thereon, [sang and] presently returned to the passage that he had shown her; and he said, 'By Allah, thou singest better than I!' As for Tuhfeh, it was made manifest to her that her former usance (236) was all of it wrong and that what she had learnt from the Sheikh Aboultawaif Iblis was the origin and foundation [of all perfection] in the art. So she rejoiced in that which she had gotten of [new skill in] touching the lute far more than in all that had fallen to her lot of wealth and raiment and kissed the Sheikh's hand.
Then said Queen Es Shuhba, 'By Allah, O Sheikh, my sister Tuhfeh is indeed unique among the folk of her time, and I hear that she singeth upon all sweet- scented flowers.' 'Yes, O my lady,' answered Iblis, 'and I am in the utterest of wonderment thereat. But there remaineth somewhat of sweet-scented flowers, that she hath not besung, such as the myrtle and the tuberose and the jessamine and the moss-rose and the like.' Then he signed to her to sing upon the rest of the flowers, that Queen Es Shuhba might hear, and she said, 'Hearkening and obedience.' So she took the lute and played thereon in many modes, then returned to the first mode and sang the following verses:
Therewithal Queen Es Shuhba was moved to exceeding delight and said, 'Well done, O queen of delight! None can avail to describe thee. Sing to us on the apple,' Quoth Tuhfeh, 'Hearkening and obedience.' Then she improvised and sang the following verses:
Queen Es Shubha rejoiced in this with an exceeding delight and said, 'Well done! By Allah, there is none surpasseth thee.' Tuhfeh kissed the earth, then returned to her place and improvised on the tuberose, saying:
At this Queen Es Shuhba was stirred to exceeding delight and said, 'Well done, O queen of delight! By Allah, I know not how I shall do to render thee thy due! May God the Most High grant us to enjoy thy long continuance [on life]!' Then she strained her to her breast and kissed her on the cheek; whereupon quoth Iblis (on whom be malison!), 'Indeed, this is an exceeding honour!' Quoth the queen, 'Know that this lady Tuhfeh is my sister and that her commandment is my commandment and her forbiddance my forbiddance. So hearken all to her word and obey her commandment.' Therewithal the kings rose all and kissed the earth before Tuhfeh, who rejoiced in this. Moreover, Queen Es Shuhba put off on her a suit adorned with pearls and jewels and jacinths, worth an hundred thousand dinars, and wrote her on a sheet of paper a patent in her own hand, appointing her her deputy. So Tuhfeh rose and kissed the earth before the queen, who said to her, 'Sing to us, of thy favour, concerning the rest of the sweet-scented flowers and herbs, so I may hear thy singing and divert myself with witnessing thy skill.' 'Hearkening and obedience, O lady mine,' answered Tuhfeh and taking the lute, improvised the following verses:
Then she changed the measure and improvised the following:
Then she changed the measure and the mode [and played] so that she amazed the wits of those who were present, and Queen Es Shuhba was moved to mirth and said, 'Well done, O queen of delight!' Then she returned to the first mode and improvised the following verses on the water-lily:
Therewithal Queen Es Shuhba was moved to delight and said, 'Well done, O Tuhfeh! Let me have more of thy singing.' So she smote the lute and changing the mode, improvised the following verses on the moss-rose:
Then she changed the measure and the mode and sang the following verses:
When she had made an end of her song, Queen Es Shuhba arose and said, 'Never heard I from any the like of this.' And she drew Tuhfeh to her and fell to kissing her. Then she took leave of her and flew away; and all the birds took flight with her, so that they walled the world; whilst the rest of the kings tarried behind.
When it was the fourth night, there came the boy whom they were minded to circumcise, adorned with jewels such as never saw eye nor heard ear of, and amongst the rest a crown of gold, set with pearls and jewels, the worth whereof was an hundred thousand dinars. He sat down upon the throne and Tuhfeh sang to him, till the surgeon came and they circumcised him, in the presence of all the kings, who showered on him great store of jewels and jacinths and gold. Queen Kemeriyeh bade the servants gather up all this and lay it in Tuhfeh's closet, and it was [as much in value as] all that had fallen to her, from the first of the festival to the last thereof. Moreover, the Sheikh Iblis (whom God curse!) bestowed upon Tuhfeh the crown worn by the boy and gave the latter another, whereat her reason fled. Then the Jinn departed, in order of rank, whilst Iblis took leave of them, band by band.
Whilst the Sheikh was thus occupied with taking leave of the kings, Meimoun sought his opportunity, whenas he saw the place empty, and taking up Tuhfeh on his shoulders, soared up with her to the confines of the sky and flew away with her. Presently, Iblis came to look for Tuhfeh and see what she purposed, but found her not and saw the slave-girls buffeting their faces; so he said to them, 'Out on ye! What is to do?' 'O our lord,' answered they, 'Meimoun hath snatched up Tuhfeh and flown away with her.' When Iblis heard this, he gave a cry, to which the earth trembled, and said, 'What is to be done? Out on ye! Shall he carry off Tuhfeh from my very palace and outrage mine honour? Doubtless, this Meimoun hath lost his wits.' Then he cried out a second time, that the earth quaked therefor, and rose up into the air.
The news came to the rest of the kings; so they [flew after him and] overtaking him, found him full of trouble and fear, with fire issuing from his nostrils, and said to him, 'O Sheikh Aboultawaif, what is to do?' Quoth he, 'Know that Meimoun hath carried off Tuhfeh from my palace and outraged mine honour.' When they heard this, they said, 'There is no power and no virtue but in God the Most High, the Supreme! By Allah, he hath ventured upon a grave matter and indeed he destroyeth himself and his people!' Then the Sheikh Iblis gave not over flying till he fell in with the tribes of the Jinn, and there gathered themselves together unto him much people, none may tell the tale of them save God the Most High. So they came to the Fortress of Copper and the Citadel of Lead, (238) and the people of the strongholds saw the tribes of the Jinn issuing from every steep mountain-pass and said, 'What is to do?' Then Iblis went in to King Es Shisban and acquainted him with that which had befallen, whereupon quoth he, 'May God destroy Meimoun and his folk! He thinketh to possess Tuhfeh, and she is become queen of the Jinn! But have patience till we contrive that which befitteth in the matter of Tuhfeh.' Quoth Iblis, 'And what befitteth it to do?' And Es Shisban said, *We will fall upon him and slay him and his people with the sword.'
Then said the Sheikh Iblis, 'We were best acquaint Queen Kemeriyeh and Queen Zelzeleh and Queen Sherareh and Queen Wekhimeh; and when they are assembled, God shall ordain [that which He deemeth] good in the matter of her release.' 'It is well seen of thee,' answered Es Shisban and despatched to Queen Kemeriyeh an Afrit called Selheb, who came to her palace and found her asleep; so he aroused her and she said, 'What is to do, O Selheb?' 'O my lady,' answered he, 'come to the succour of thy sister Tuhfeh, for that Meimoun hath carried her off and outraged thine honour and that of the Sheikh Iblis.' Quoth she, 'What sayest thou?' And she sat up and cried out with a great cry. And indeed she feared for Tuhfeh and said, 'By Allah, indeed she used to say that he looked upon her and prolonged the looking on her; but ill is that to which his soul hath prompted him.' Then she arose in haste and mounting a she-devil of her devils, said to her, 'Fly.' So she flew off and alighted with her in the palace of her sister Sherareh, whereupon she sent for her sisters Zelzeleh and Wekhimeh and acquainted them with the news, saying, 'Know that Meimoun hath snatched up Tuhfeh and flown off with her swiftlier than the blinding lightning.'
[Then they all flew off in haste and] lighting down in the place where were their father Es Shisban and their grandfather the Sheikh Aboultawaif, found the folk on the sorriest of plights. When their grandfather Iblis saw them, he rose to them and wept, and they all wept for Tuhfeh. Then said Iblis to them, 'Yonder dog hath outraged mine honour and taken Tuhfeh, and I doubt not but that she is like to perish [of concern] for herself and her lord Er Reshid and saying "All that they said and did (239) was false."' Quoth Kemeriyeh, 'O grandfather mine, there is nothing left for it but [to use] stratagem and contrivance for her deliverance, for that she is dearer to me than everything; and know that yonder accursed one, whenas he is ware of your coming upon him, will know that he hath no power to cope with you, he who is the least and meanest [of the Jinn]; but we fear that, when he is assured of defeat, he will kill Tuhfeh; wherefore nothing will serve but that we contrive for her deliverance; else will she perish.' 'And what hast thou in mind of device?' asked he; and she answered, 'Let us take him with fair means, and if he obey, [all will be well]; else will we practise stratagem against him; and look thou not to other than myself for her deliverance.' Quoth Iblis, 'The affair is thine; contrive what thou wilt, for that Tuhfeh is thy sister and thy solicitude for her is more effectual than [that of] any.'
So Kemeriyeh cried out to an Afrit of the Afrits and a calamity of the calamities, (240) by name El Ased et Teyyar, (241) and said to him, 'Go with my message to the Crescent Mountain, the abiding-place of Meimoun the Sworder, and enter in to him and salute him in my name and say to him, "How canst thou be assured for thyself, O Meimoun? (242) Couldst thou find none on whom to vent thy drunken humour and whom to maltreat save Tuhfeh, more by token that she is a queen? But thou art excused, for that thou didst this not but of thine intoxication, and the Shekh Aboultawaif pardoneth thee, for that thou wast drunken. Indeed, thou hast outraged his honour; but now restore her to her palace, for that she hath done well and favoured us and done us service, and thou knowest that she is presently our queen. Belike she may bespeak Queen Es Shuhba, whereupon the matter will be aggravated and that wherein there is no good will betide. Indeed, thou wilt get no tittle of profit [from this thine enterprise]; verily, I give thee good counsel, and so peace be on thee!"'
'Hearkening and obedience,' answered El Ased and flew till he came to the Crescent Mountain, when he sought audience of Meimoun, who bade admit him. So he entered and kissing the earth before him, gave him Queen Kemeriyeh's message, which when he heard he said to the Afrit, 'Return whence thou comest and say to thy mistress, "Be silent and thou wilt do wisely." Else will I come and seize upon her and make her serve Tuhfeh; and if the kings of the Jinn assemble together against me and I be overcome of them, I will not leave her to scent the wind of this world and she shall be neither mine nor theirs, for that she is presently my soul (243) from between my ribs; and how shall any part with his soul?' When the Afrit heard Meimoun's words, he said to him, 'By Allah, O Meimoun, thou hast lost thy wits, that thou speakest these words of my mistress, and thou one of her servants!' Whereupon Meimoun cried out and said to him, 'Out on thee, O dog of the Jinn! Wilt thou bespeak the like of me with these words?' Then, he bade those who were about him smite El Ased, but he took flight and soaring into the air, betook himself to his mistress and told her that which had passed; and she said, 'Thou hast done well, O cavalier.'
Then she turned to her father and said to him, 'Give ear unto that which I shall say to thee.' Quoth he, 'Say on;' and she said, 'Take thy troops and go to him, for that, when he heareth this, he in his turn will levy his troops and come forth to thee; wherepon do thou give him battle and prolong the fighting with him and make a show to him of weakness and giving way. Meantime, I will practise a device for winning to Tuhfeh and delivering her, what while he is occupied with you in battle; and when my messenger cometh to thee and giveth thee to know that I have gotten possession of Tuhfeh and that she is with me, do thou return upon Meimoun forthright and destroy him, him and his hosts, and take him prisoner. But, if my device succeed not with him and we avail not to deliver Tuhfeh, he will assuredly go about to slay her, without recourse, and regret for her will abide in our hearts.' Quoth Iblis, 'This is the right counsel,' and let call among the troops to departure, whereupon an hundred thousand cavaliers, doughty men of war, joined themselves to him and set out for Meimoun's country.
As for Queen Kemeriyeh, she flew off to the palace of her sister Wekhimeh and told her what Meimoun had done and how [he avouched that], whenas he saw defeat [near at hand], he would slay Tuhfeh; 'and indeed,' added she, 'he is resolved upon this; else had he not dared to commit this outrage. So do thou contrive the affair as thou deemest well, for thou hast no superior in judgment.' Then they sent for Queen Zelzeleh and Queen Sherareh and sat down to take counsel, one with another, of that which they should do in the matter. Then said Wekhimeh, 'We were best fit out a ship in this island [wherein is my palace] and embark therein, in the guise of mortals, and fare on till we come to a little island, that lieth over against Meimoun's palace. There will we [take up our abode and] sit drinking and smiting the lute and singing. Now Tuhfeh will of a surety be sitting looking upon the sea, and needs must she see us and come down to us, whereupon we will take her by force and she will be under our hands, so that none shall avail more to molest her on any wise. Or, if Meimoun be gone forth to do battle with the Jinn, we will storm his stronghold and take Tuhfeh and raze his palace and put to death all who are therein. When he hears of this, his heart will be rent in sunder and we will send to let our father know, whereupon he will return upon him with his troops and he will be destroyed and we shall be quit of him.' And they answered her, saying, 'This is a good counsel.' Then they bade fit out a ship from behind the mountain, (244) and it was fitted out in less than the twinkling of an eye. So they launched it on the sea and embarking therein, together with four thousand Afrits, set out, intending for Meimoun's palace. Moreover, they bade other five thousand Afrits betake themselves to the island under the Crescent Mountain and lie in wait for them there.
Meanwhile, the Sheikh Aboultawaif Iblis and his son Es Shisban set out, as we have said, with their troops, who were of the doughtiest of the Jinn and the most accomplished of them in valour and horsemanship, [and fared on till they drew near the Crescent Mountain], When the news of their approach reached Meimoun, he cried out with a great cry to the troops, who were twenty thousand horse, [and bade them make ready for departure]. Then he went in to Tuhfeh and kissing her, said to her, 'Know that thou art presently my life of the world, and indeed the Jinn are gathered together to wage war on me on thine account. If I am vouchsafed the victory over them and am preserved alive, I will set all the kings of the Jinn under thy feet and thou shall become queen of the world.' But she shook her head and wept; and he said, 'Weep not, for, by the virtue of the mighty inscription engraven on the seal-ring of Solomon, thou shall never again see the land of men! Can any one part with his life? So give ear unto that which I say; else will I kill thee.' And she was silent.
Then he sent for his daughter, whose name was Jemreh, and when she came, he said to her, 'Harkye, Jemreh! Know that I am going to [meet] the clans of Es Shisban and Queen Kemeriyeh and the kings of the Jinn. If I am vouchsafed the victory over them, to Allah be the praise and thou shall have of me largesse; but, if thou see or hear that I am worsted and any come to thee with news of me [to this effect], hasten to slay Tuhfeh, so she may fall neither to me nor to them.' Then he took leave of her and mounted, saying, 'When this cometh about, pass over to the Crescent Mountain and take up thine abode there, and await what shall befall me and what I shall say to thee.' And Jemreh answered with 'Hearkening and obedience.'
When Tuhfeh heard this, she fell to weeping and wailing and said, 'By Allah, nought irketh me save separation from my lord Er Reshid; but, when I am dead, let the world be ruined after me.' And she doubted not in herself but that she was lost without recourse. Then Meimoun set forth with his army and departed in quest of the hosts [of the Jinn], leaving none in the palace save his daughter Jemreh and Tuhfeh and an Afrit who was dear unto him. They fared on till they met with the army of Es Shisban; and when the two hosts came face to face, they fell upon each other and fought a passing sore battle. After awhile, Es Shisban's troops began to give back, and when Meimoun saw them do thus, he despised them and made sure of victory over them.
Meanwhile, Queen Kemeriyeh and her company sailed on, without ceasing, till they came under the palace wherein was Tuhfeh, to wit, that of Meimoun the Sworder; and by the ordinance of destiny, Tuhfeh herself was then sitting on the belvedere of the palace, pondering the affair of Haroun er Reshid and her own and that which had befallen her and weeping for that she was doomed to slaughter. She saw the ship and what was therein of those whom we have named, and they in mortal guise, and said, 'Alas, my sorrow for yonder ship and the mortals that be therein!' As for Kemeriyeh and her company, when they drew near the palace, they strained their eyes and seeing Tuhfeh sitting, said, 'Yonder sits Tuhfeh. May God not bereave [us] of her!' Then they moored their ship and making for the island, that lay over against the palace, spread carpets and sat eating and drinking; whereupon quoth Tuhfeh, 'Welcome and fair welcome to yonder faces! These are my kinswomen and I conjure thee by Allah, O Jemreh, that thou let me down to them, so I may sit with them awhile and make friends with them and return.' Quoth Jemreh, 'I may on no wise do that.' And Tuhfeh wept. Then the folk brought out wine and drank, what while Kemeriyeh took the lute and sang the following verses:
When Tuhfeh heard this, she gave a great cry, that the folk heard her and Kemeriyeh said, 'Relief is at hand.' Then she looked out to them and called to them, saying, 'O daughters of mine uncle, I am a lonely maid, an exile from folk and country. So, for the love of God the Most High, repeat that song!' So Kemeriyeh repeated it and Tuhfeh swooned away. When she came to herself, she said to Jemreh, 'By the virtue of the Apostle of God (whom may He bless and preserve!) except thou suffer me go down to them and look on them and sit with them awhile, [I swear] I will cast myself down from this palace, for that I am weary of my life and know that I am slain without recourse; wherefore I will slay myself, ere thou pass sentence upon me.' And she was instant with her in asking.
When Jemreh heard her words, she knew that, if she let her not down, she would assuredly destroy herself. So she said to her, 'O Tuhfeh, between thee and them are a thousand fathoms; but I will bring them up to thee.' 'Nay,' answered Tuhfeh, 'needs must I go down to them and take my pleasance in the island and look upon the sea anear; then will we return, thou and I; for that, if thou bring them up to us, they will be affrighted and there will betide them neither easance nor gladness. As for me, I do but wish to be with them, that they may cheer me with their company neither give over their merrymaking, so haply I may make merry with them, and indeed I swear that needs must I go down to them; else will I cast myself upon them.' And she cajoled Jemreh and kissed her hands, till she said, 'Arise and I will set thee down beside them.'
Then she took Tuhfeh under her armpit and flying up, swiftlier than the blinding lightning, set her down with Kemeriyeh and her company; whereupon she went up to them and accosted them, saying, 'Fear not, no harm shall betide you; for I am a mortal, like unto you, and I would fain look on you and talk with you and hear your singing.' So they welcomed her and abode in their place, whilst Jemreh sat down beside them and fell a-snuffing their odours and saying, 'I smell the scent of the Jinn! I wonder whence [it cometh!'] Then said Wekhimeh to her sister Kemeriyeh, 'Yonder filthy one [smelleth us] and presently she will take to flight; so what is this remissness concerning her?' (245) Thereupon Kemeriyeh put out a hand, (246) as it were a camel's neck, (247) and dealt Jemreh a buffet on the head, that made it fly from her body and cast it into the sea. Then said she, 'God is most great!' And they uncovered their faces, whereupon Tuhfeh knew them and said to them, 'Protection!'
Queen Kemeriyeh embraced her, as also did Queen Zelzeleh and Queen Wekhimeh and Queen Sherareh, and the former said to her, 'Rejoice in assured deliverance, for there abideth no harm for thee; but this is no time for talk.' Then they cried out, whereupon up came the Afrits ambushed in the island, with swords and maces in their hands, and taking up Tuhfeh, flew with her to the palace and made themselves masters thereof, whilst the Afrit aforesaid, who was dear to Meimoun and whose name was Dukhan, fled like an arrow and stayed not in his flight till he carne to Meimoun and found him engaged in sore battle with the Jinn. When his lord saw him, he cried out at him, saying, 'Out on thee! Whom hast thou left in the palace?' And Dukhan answered, saying, 'And who abideth in the palace? Thy beloved Tuhfeh they have taken and Jemreh is slain and they have gotten possession of the palace, all of it.' With this Meimoun buffeted his face and head and said, 'Out on it for a calamity!' And he cried aloud. Now Kemeriyeh had sent to her father and acquainted him with the news, whereat the raven of parting croaked for them. So, when Meimoun saw that which had betided him, (and indeed the Jinn smote upon him and the wings of death overspread his host,) he planted the butt of his spear in the earth and turning the point thereof to his heart, urged his charger upon it and pressed upon it with his breast, till the point came forth, gleaming, from his back.
Meanwhile the messenger had reached the opposite camp with the news of Tuhfeh's deliverance, whereat the Sheikh Aboultawaif rejoiced and bestowed on the bringer of good tidings a sumptuous dress of honour and made him commander over a company of the Jinn. Then they fell upon Meimoun's troops and destroyed them to the last man; and when they came to Meimoun, they found that he had slain himself and was even as we have said. Presently Kemeriyeh and her sister [Wekhimeh] came up to their grandfather and told him what they had done; whereupon he came to Tuhfeh and saluted her and gave her joy of her deliverance. Then he delivered Meimoun's palace to Selheb and took all the former's riches and gave them to Tuhfeh, whilst the troops encamped upon the Crescent Mountain. Moreover, the Sheikh Aboultawaif said to Tuhfeh, 'Blame me not,' and she kissed his hands. As they were thus engaged, there appeared to them the tribes of the Jinn, as they were clouds, and Queen Es Shuhba flying in their van, with a drawn sword in her hand.
When she came in sight of the folk, they kissed the earth before her and she said to them, 'Tell me what hath betided Queen Tuhfeh from yonder dog Meimoun and why did ye not send to me and tell me?' Quoth they, 'And who was this dog that we should send to thee, on his account? Indeed, he was the least and meanest [of the Jinn].' Then they told her what Kemeriyeh and her sisters had done and how they had practised upon Meimoun and delivered Tuhfeh from his hand, fearing lest he should slay her, whenas he found himself discomfited; and she said, 'By Allah, the accursed one was wont to prolong his looking upon her!' And Tuhfeh fell to kissing Queen Es Shuhba's hand, whilst the latter strained her to her bosom and kissed her, saying, 'Trouble is past; so rejoice in assurance of relief.'
Then they arose and went up to the palace, whereupon the trays of food were brought and they ate and drank; after which quoth Queen Es Shuhba, 'O Tuhfeh, sing to us, by way of thankoffering for thy deliverance, and favour us with that which shall solace our minds, for that indeed my mind hath been occupied with thee.' Quoth Tuhfeh 'Hearkening and obedience, O my lady.' So she improvised and sang the following verses:
Therewithal Queen Es Shuhba rejoiced and all who were present rejoiced also and admired her speech and fell to kissing her; and when she had made an end of her song, Queen Kemeriyeh said to her, 'O my sister, ere thou go to thy palace, I would fain bring thee to look upon El Anca, daughter of Behram Gour, whom El Anca, daughter of the wind, carried off, and her beauty; for that there is not her match on the face of the earth.' And Queen Es Shuhba said, 'O Kemeriyeh, I [also] have a mind to see her.' Quoth Kemeriyeh, 'I saw her three years agone; but my sister Wekhimeh seeth her at all times, for that she is near unto her, and she saith that there is not in the world a fairer than she. Indeed, this Queen El Anca is become a byword for loveliness and proverbs are made upon her beauty and grace' And Wekhimeh said, 'By the mighty inscription [on the seal-ring of Solomon], there is not her like in the world!' Then said Queen Es Shuhba, 'If it needs must be and the affair is as ye say, I will take Tuhfeh and go with her [to El Anca], so she may see her.'
So they all arose and repaired to El Anca, who abode in the Mountain Caf. (248) When she saw them, she rose to them and saluted them, saying, 'O my ladies, may I not be bereaved of you!' Quoth Wekhimeh to her, 'Who is like unto thee, O Anca? Behold, Queen Es Shuhba is come to thee.' So El Anca kissed the queen's feet and lodged them in her palace; whereupon Tuhfeh came up to her and fell to kissing her and saying, 'Never saw I a goodlier than this favour.' Then she set before them somewhat of food and they ate and washed their hands; after which Tuhfeh took the lute and played excellent well; and El Anca also played, and they fell to improvising verses in turns, whilst Tuhfeh embraced El Anca every moment. Quoth Es Shuhba, 'O my sister, each kiss is worth a thousand dinars;' and Tuhfeh answered, 'Indeed, a thousand dinars were little for it.' Whereat El Anca laughed and on the morrow they took leave of her and went away to Meimoun's palace. (249)
Here Queen Es Shuhba bade them farewell and taking her troops, returned to her palace, whilst the kings also went away to their abodes and the Sheikh Aboultawaif addressed himself to divert Tuhfeh till nightfall, when he mounted her on the back of one of the Afrits and bade other thirty gather together all that she had gotten of treasure and raiment and jewels and dresses of honour. [Then they flew off,] whilst Iblis went with her, and in less than the twinkling of an eye he set her down in her sleeping-chamber. Then he and those who were with him took leave of her and went away. When Tuhfeh found herself in her own chamber and on her couch, her reason fled for joy and it seemed to her as if she had never stirred thence. Then she took the lute and tuned it and touched it on wondrous wise and improvised verses and sang.
The eunuch heard the smiting of the lute within the chamber and said, 'By Allah, that is my lady Tuhfeh's touch!' So he arose and went, as he were a madman, falling down and rising up, till he came to the eunuch on guard at the door at the Commander of the Faithful and found him sitting. When the latter saw him, and he like a madman, falling down and rising up, he said to him, 'What aileth thee and what bringeth thee hither at this hour?' Quoth the other, 'Wilt thou not make haste and awaken the Commander of the Faithful?' And he fell to crying out at him; whereupon the Khalif awoke and heard them bandying words together and Tuhfeh's servant saying to the other, 'Out on thee! Awaken the Commander of the Faithful in haste.' So he said, 'O Sewab, what aileth thee?' And the chief eunuch answered, saying, 'O our lord, the eunuch of Tuhfeh's lodging hath taken leave of his wits and saith, "Awaken the Commander of the Faithful in haste!"' Then said Er Reshid to one of the slave-girls, 'See what is to do.'
So she hastened to admit the eunuch, who entered; and when he saw the Commander of the Faithful, he saluted not neither kissed the earth, but said, 'Quick, quick! Arise in haste! My lady Tuhfeh sitteth in her chamber, singing a goodly ditty. Come to her in haste and see all that I say to thee! Hasten! She sitteth [in her chamber].' The Khalif was amazed at his speech and said to him, 'What sayst thou?' 'Didst thou not hear the first of the speech?' replied the eunuch. 'Tuhfeh sitteth in the sleeping-chamber, singing and playing the lute. Come thy quickliest! Hasten!' So Er Reshid arose and donned his clothes; but he credited not the eunuch's words and said to him, 'Out on thee! What is this thou sayst? Hast thou not seen this in a dream?' 'By Allah,' answered the eunuch, 'I know not what thou sayest, and I was not asleep.' Quoth Er Reshid, 'If thy speech be true, it shall be for thy good luck, for I will enfranchise thee and give thee a thousand dinars; but, if it be untrue and thou have seen this in sleep, I will crucify thee.' And the eunuch said in himself, 'O Protector, (250) let me not have seen this in Sleep!' Then he left the Khalif and going to the chamber-door, heard the sound of singing and lute-playing; whereupon he returned to Er Reshid and said to him, 'Go and hearken and see who is asleep.'
When Er Reshid drew near the door of the chamber, he heard the sound of the lute and Tuhfeh's voice singing; whereat he could not restrain his reason and was like to swoon away for excess of joy. Then he pulled out the key, but could not bring his hand to open the door. However, after awhile, he took heart and applying himself, opened the door and entered, saying, 'Methinks this is none other than a dream or an illusion of sleep.' When Tuhfeh saw him, she rose and coming to meet him, strained him to her bosom; and he cried out with a cry, wherein his soul was like to depart, and fell down in a swoon. She strained him to her bosom and sprinkled on him rose-water, mingled with musk, and washed his face, till he came to himself, as he were a drunken man, for the excess of his joy in Tuhfeh's return to him, after he had despaired of her.
Then she took the lute and smote thereon, after the fashion she had learnt from the Sheikh Iblis, so that Er Reshid's wit was dazed for excess of delight and his understanding was confounded for joy; after which she improvised and sang the following verses:
When she had made an end of her verses, Er Reshid said to her, 'O Tuhfeh, thine absence was extraordinary, but thy presence (251) is yet more extraordinary.' 'By Allah, O my lord,' answered she, 'thou sayst sooth.' And she took his hand and said to him, 'See what I have brought with me.' So he looked and saw riches such as neither words could describe nor registers avail to set out, pearls and jewels and jacinths and precious stones and great pearls and magnificent dresses of honour, adorned with pearls and jewels and embroidered with red gold. Moreover, she showed him that which Queen Es Shuhba had bestowed on her of those carpets, which she had brought with her, and that her throne, the like whereof neither Chosroes nor Cassar possessed, and those tables inlaid with pearls and jewels and those vessels, that amazed all who looked on them, and the crown, that was on the head of the circumcised boy, and those dresses of honour, which Queen Es Shuhba and the Sheikh Aboultawaif had put off upon her, and the trays wherein were those riches; brief, she showed him treasures the like whereof he had never in his life set eyes on and which the tongue availeth not to describe and whereat all who looked thereon were amazed.
Er Reshid was like to lose his wits for amazement at this sight and was confounded at this that he beheld and witnessed. Then said he to Tuhfeh, 'Come, tell me thy story from first to last, [and let me know all that hath betided thee,] as if I had been present' She answered with 'Hearkening and obedience,' and fell to telling him [all that had betided her] first and last, from the time when she first saw the Sheikh Aboultawaif, how he took her and descended with her through the side of the draught-house; and she told him of the horse she had ridden, till she came to the meadow aforesaid and described it to him, together with the palace and that which was therein of furniture, and related to him how the Jinn rejoiced in her and that which she had seen of the kings of them, men and women, and of Queen Kemeriyeh and her sisters and Queen Shuaaeh, Queen of the Fourth Sea, and Queen Es Shuhba, Queen of Queens, and King Es Shisban, and that which each one of them had bestowed upon her. Moreover, she told him the story of Meimoun the Sworder and described to him his loathly favour, which he had not consented to change, and related to him that which befell her from the kings of the Jinn, men and women, and the coming of the Queen of Queens, Es Shuhba, and how she had loved her and appointed her her vice-queen and how she was thus become ruler over all the kings of the Jinn; and she showed him the patent of investiture that Queen Es Shuhba had written her and told him that which had betided her with the Ghoul-head, whenas it appeared to her in the garden, and how she had despatched it to her palace, beseeching it to bring her news of the Commander of the Faithful and that which had betided him after her. Then she described to him the gardens, wherein she had taken her pleasure, and the baths inlaid with pearls and jewels and told him that which had befallen Meimoun the Sworder, whenas he carried her off, and how he had slain himself; brief, she told him all that she had seen of wonders and rarities and that which she had beheld of all kinds and colours among the Jinn.
Then she told him the story of Anca, daughter of Behram Gour, with Anca, daughter of the wind, and described to him her dwelling-place and her island, whereupon quoth Er Reshid, 'O Tuhfet es Sedr, (252) tell me of El Anca, daughter of Behram Gour; is she of the Jinn or of mankind or of the birds? For this long time have I desired to find one who should tell me of her.' 'It is well, O Commander of the Faithful,' answered Tuhfeh. 'I asked the queen of this and she acquainted me with her case and told me who built her the palace.' Quoth Er Reshid, 'I conjure thee by Allah, tell it me.' And Tuhfeh answered, 'It is well,' and proceeded to tell him. And indeed he was amazed at that which he heard from her and what she told him and at that which she had brought back of jewels and jacinths of various colours and preciots stones of many kinds, such as amazed the beholder and confounded thought and mind. As for this, it was the means of the enrichment of the Barmecides and the Abbasicles, and they abode in their delight.
Then the Khalif went forth and bade decorate the city: [so they decorated it] and the drums of glad tidings were beaten. Moreover they made banquets to the people and the tables were spread seven days. And Tuhfeh and the Commander of the Faithful ceased not to be in the most delightsome of life and the most prosperous thereof till there came to them the Destroyer of Delights and the Sunderer of Companies; and thu is all that hath come down to as of their story."
Calcutta (1814-18) Text.
The following story occupies the last five Nights (cxcv-cc) of the unfinished Calcutta Edition of 1814-18. The only other text of it known to me is that published by Monsieur Langles (Paris, 1814), as an appendix to his Edition of the Voyages of Sindbad, and of this I have freely availed myself in making the present translation, comparing and collating with it the Calcutta (1814-18) Text and filling up and correcting omissions and errors that occur in the latter. In the Calcutta (1814-18) Text this story (Vol. II. pp. 367-378) is immediately succeeded by the Seven Voyages of Sindbad (Vol. II. pp. 378-458), which conclude the work.