EL ABBAS AND THE KING'S DAUGHTER OF BAGHDAD. (46)
There was once, of old days and in bygone ages and times, in the city of Baghdad, the Abode of Peace, a king mighty of estate, lord of understanding and beneficence and liberality and generosity, and he was strong of sultanate and endowed with might and majesty and magnificence. His name was Ins ben Cais ben Rebiya es Sheibani, (47) and when he took horse, there rode unto him [warriors] from the farthest parts of the two Iraks. (48) God the Most High decreed that he should take to wife a woman hight Afifeh, daughter of Ased es Sundusi, who was endowed with beauty and grace and brightness and perfection and justness of shape and symmetry; her face was like unto the new moon and she had eyes as they were gazelle's eyes and an aquiline nose like the crescent moon. She had learned horsemanship and the use of arms and had thoroughly studied the sciences of the Arabs; moreover, she had gotten by heart all the dragomanish (49) tongues and indeed she was a ravishment to mankind.
She abode with Ins ben Cais twelve years, during which time he was blessed with no children by her; wherefore his breast was straitened, by reason of the failure of lineage, and he besought his Lord to vouchsafe him a child. Accordingly the queen conceived, by permission of God the Most High; and when the days of her pregnancy were accomplished, she gave birth to a maid-child, than whom never saw eyes a goodlier, for that her face was as it were a pure pearl or a shining lamp or a golden (50) candle or a full moon breaking forth of a cloud, extolled be the perfection of Him who created her from vile water (51) and made her a delight to the beholders! When her father saw her on this wise of loveliness, his reason fled for joy, and when she grew up, he taught her the art of writing and polite letters (52) and philosophy and all manner of tongues. So she excelled the folk of her time and overpassed her peers; (53) and the sons of the kings heard of her and all of them desired to look upon her.
The first who sought her in marriage was King Nebhan of Mosul, who came to her with a great company, bringing with him an hundred she-camels laden with musk and aloes-wood and ambergris and as many laden with camphor and jewels and other hundred laden with silver money and yet other hundred laden with raiment of silken and other stuffs and brocade, besides an hundred slave-girls and an hundred magnificent horses of swift and generous breeds, completely housed and accoutred, as they were brides; and all this he laid before her father, demanding her of him in marriage. Now King Ins ben Cais had bound himself by an oath that he would not marry his daughter but to him whom she should choose; so, when King Nebhan sought her in marriage, her father went in to her and consulted her concerning his affair. She consented not and he repeated to Nebhan that which she said, whereupon he departed from him. After this came King Behram, lord of the White Island, with riches more than the first; but she accepted not of him and he returned, disappointed; nor did the kings give over coming to her father, on her account, one after other, from the farthest of the lands and the climes, each glorying in more (54) than those who forewent him; but she paid no heed unto any of one them.
Presently, El Abbas, son of King El Aziz, lord of the land of Yemen and Zebidoun (55) and Mecca (which God increase in honour and brightness and beauty!), heard of her; and he was of the great ones of Mecca and the Hejaz (56) and was a youth without hair on his cheeks. So he presented himself one day in his father's sitting-chamber, (57) whereupon the folk made way for him and the king seated him on a chair of red gold, set with pearls and jewels. The prince sat, with his head bowed to the ground, and spoke not to any; whereby his father knew that his breast was straitened and bade the boon-companions and men of wit relate marvellous histories, such as beseem the assemblies of kings; nor was there one of them but spoke forth the goodliest of that which was with him; but El Abbas still abode with his head bowed down. Then the king bade his session-mates withdraw, and when the chamber was void, he looked at his son and said to him, "By Allah, thou rejoicest me with thy coming in to me and chagrinest me for that thou payest no heed to any of the session-mates nor of the boon-companions. What is the cause of this?"
"O father mine," answered the prince, "I have heard tell that in the land of Irak is a woman of the daughters of the kings, and her father is called King Ins ben Cais, lord of Baghdad; she is renowned for beauty and grace and brightness and perfection, and indeed many folk have sought her in marriage of the kings; but her soul consented not unto any one of them. Wherefore I am minded to travel to her, for that my heart cleaveth unto her, and I beseech thee suffer me to go to her." "O my son," answered his father, "thou knowest that I have none other than thyself of children and thou art the solace of mine eyes and the fruit of mine entrails; nay, I cannot brook to be parted from thee an instant and I purpose to set thee on the throne of the kingship and marry thee to one of the daughters of the kings, who shall be fairer than she." El Abbas gave ear to his father's word and dared not gainsay him; so he abode with him awhile, whilst the fire raged in his entrails.
Then the king took counsel with himself to build his son a bath and adorn it with various paintings, so he might show it to him and divert him with the sight thereof, to the intent that his body might be solaced thereby and that the obsession of travel might cease from him and he be turned from [his purpose of] removal from his parents. So he addressed himself to the building of the bath and assembling architects and builders and artisans from all the towns and citadels and islands [of his dominions], assigned them a site and marked out its boundaries. Then the workmen occupied themselves with the making of the bath and the setting out and adornment of its cabinets and roofs. They used paints and precious stones of all kinds, according to the variousness of their hues, red and green and blue and yellow and what not else of all manner colours; and each artisan wrought at his handicraft and each painter at his art, whilst the rest of the folk busied themselves with transporting thither varicoloured stones.
One day, as the [chief] painter wrought at his work, there came in to him a poor man, who looked long upon him and observed his handicraft; whereupon quoth the painter to him, "Knowest thou aught of painting?" "Yes," answered the stranger; so he gave him tools and paints and said to him, "Make us a rare piece of work." So the stranger entered one of the chambers of the bath and drew [on the walls thereof] a double border, which he adorned on both sides, after a fashion than which never saw eyes a fairer. Moreover, [amiddleward the chamber] he drew a picture to which there lacked but the breath, and it was the portraiture of Mariyeh, the king's daughter of Baghdad. Then, when he had made an end of the portrait, he went his way [and told none of what he had done], nor knew any the chambers and doors of the bath and the adornment and ordinance thereof.
Presently, the chief workman came to the palace and sought an audience of the king, who bade admit him. So he entered and kissing the earth, saluted him with a salutation beseeming kings and said, "O king of the time and lord of the age and the day, may felicity endure unto thee and acceptance and be thy rank exalted over all the kings both morning and evening! (58) The work of the bath is accomplished, by the king's fair fortune and the eminence of his magnanimity, (59) and indeed we have done all that behoved us and there remaineth but that which behoveth the king." El Aziz ordered him a sumptuous dress of honour and expended monies galore, giving unto each who had wroughten, after the measure of his work. Then he assembled in the bath all the grandees of his state, amirs and viziers and chamberlains and lieutenants, and the chief officers of his realm and household, and sending for his son El Abbas, said to him,"O my son, I have builded thee a bath, wherein thou mayst take thy pleasance; so enter thou therein, that thou mayst see it and divert thyself by gazing upon it and viewing the goodliness of its ordinance and decoration." "With all my heart," replied the prince and entered the bath, he and the king and the folk about them, so they might divert themselves with viewing that which the workmen's hands had wroughten.
El Abbas went in and passed from place to place and chamber to chamber, till he came to the chamber aforesaid and espied the portrait of Mariyeh, whereupon he fell down in a swoon and the workmen went to his father and said to him, "Thy son El Abbas hath swooned away." So the king came and finding the prince cast down, seated himself at his head and bathed his face with rose-water. After awhile he revived and the king said to him, "God keep thee, (60) O my son! What hath befallen thee?" "O my father," answered the prince, "I did but look on yonder picture and it bequeathed me a thousand regrets and there befell me that which thou seest." Therewithal the king bade fetch the [chief] painter, and when he stood before him, he said to him, "Tell me of yonder portrait and what girl is this of the daughters of the kings; else will I take thy head." "By Allah, O king," answered the painter, "I limned it not, neither know I who she is; but there came to me a poor man and looked at me. So I said to him, 'Knowest thou the art of painting?' And he replied, 'Yes.' Whereupon I gave him the gear and said to him, 'Make us a rare piece of work.' So he wrought yonder portrait and went away and I know him not neither have I ever set eyes on him save that day."
Therewithal the king bade all his officers go round about in the thoroughfares and colleges [of the town] and bring before him all strangers whom they found there. So they went forth and brought him much people, amongst whom was the man who had painted the portrait. When they came into the presence, the Sultan bade the crier make proclamation that whoso wrought the portrait should discover himself and have whatsoever he desired. So the poor man came forward and kissing the earth before the king, said to him, "O king of the age, I am he who painted yonder portrait." Quoth El Aziz, "And knowest thou who she is?" "Yes," answered the other; "this is the portrait of Mariyeh, daughter of the king of Baghdad." The king ordered him a dress of honour and a slave-girl [and he went his way]. Then said El Abbas, "O father mine, give me leave to go to her, so I may look upon her; else shall I depart the world, without fail." The king his father wept and answered, saying, "O my son, I builded thee a bath, that it might divert thee from leaving me, and behold it hath been the cause of thy going forth; but the commandment of God is a foreordained (61) decree." (62)
Then he wept again and El Abbas said to him, "Fear not for me, for thou knowest my prowess and my puissance in returning answers in the assemblies of the land and my good breeding (63) and skill in rhetoric; and indeed he whose father thou art and whom thou hast reared and bred and in whom thou hast united praiseworthy qualities, the repute whereof hath traversed the East and the West, thou needest not fear for him, more by token that I purpose but to seek diversion (64) and return to thee, if it be the will of God the Most High." Quoth the king, "Whom wilt thou take with thee of attendants and [what] of good?" "O father mine," replied El Abbas, "I have no need of horses or camels or arms, for I purpose not battle, and I will have none go forth with me save my servant Aamir and no more."
As he and his father were thus engaged in talk, in came his mother and caught hold of him; and he said to her, "God on thee, let me go my gait and strive not to turn me from my purpose, for that needs must I go." "O my son," answered she, "if it must be so and there is no help for it, swear to me that them wilt not be absent from me more than a year." And he swore to her. Then he entered his father's treasuries and took therefrom what he would of jewels and jacinths and everything heavy of worth and light of carriage. Moreover, he bade his servant Aamir saddle him two horses and the like for himself, and whenas the night darkened behind him, (65) he rose from his couch and mounting his horse, set out for Baghdad, he and Aamir, whilst the latter knew not whither he intended.
He gave not over going and the journey was pleasant to him, till they came to a goodly land, abounding in birds and wild beasts, whereupon El Abbas started a gazelle and shot it with an arrow. Then he dismounted and cutting its throat, said to his servant, "Alight thou and skin it and carry it to the water." Aamir answered him [with "Hearkening and obedience"] and going down to the water, kindled a fire and roasted the gazelle's flesh. Then they ate their fill and drank of the water, after which they mounted again and fared on diligently, and Aamir still unknowing whither El Abbas was minded to go. So he said to him, "O my lord, I conjure thee by God the Great, wilt thou not tell me whither thou intendest?" El Abbas looked at him and made answer with the following verses:
When Aamir heard his lord's verses, he knew that he was a slave of love [and that she of whom he was enamoured abode] in Baghdad. Then they fared on night and day, traversing plains and stony wastes, till they came in sight of Baghdad and lighted down in its suburbs (66) and lay the night there. When they arose in the morning, they removed to the bank of the Tigris and there they encamped and sojourned three days.
As they abode thus on the fourth day, behold, a company of folk giving their beasts the rein and crying aloud and saying, "Quick! Quick! Haste to our rescue, O King!" Therewithal the king's chamberlains and officers accosted them and said to them, "What is behind you and what hath befallen you?" Quoth they, "Bring us before the king." [So they carried them to Ins ben Cais;] and when they saw him, they said to him, "O king, except thou succour us, we are dead men; for that we are a folk of the Benou Sheiban, (67) who have taken up our abode in the parts of Bassora, and Hudheifeh the Arab (68) hath come down on us with his horses and his men and hath slain our horsemen and carried off our women and children; nor was one saved of the tribe but he who fled; wherefore we crave help [first] by God the Most High, then by thy life."
When the king heard their speech, he bade the crier make proclamation in the thoroughfares of the city that the troops should prepare [for the march] and that the horsemen should mount and the footmen come forth; nor was it but the twinkling of the eye ere the drums beat and the trumpets sounded; and scarce was the forenoon of the day passed when the city was blocked with horse and foot. So the king passed them in review and behold, they were four-and-twenty thousand in number, horsemen and footmen. He bade them go forth to the enemy and gave the commandment over them to Said ibn el Wakidi, a doughty cavalier and a valiant man of war. So the horsemen set out and fared on along the bank of the Tigris.
El Abbas looked at them and saw the ensigns displayed and the standards loosed and heard the drums beating; so he bade his servant saddle him a charger and look to the girths and bring him his harness of war. Quoth Aamir, "And indeed I saw El Abbas his eyes flash and the hair of his hands stood on end, for that indeed horsemanship (69) abode [rooted in his heart]."So he mounted his charger, whilst Aamir also bestrode a war-horse, and they went forth with the troops and fared on two days. On the third day, after the hour of the mid-afternoon prayer, they came in sight of the enemy and the two armies met and the ranks joined battle. The strife raged amain and sore was the smiting, whilst the dust rose in clouds and hung vaulted [over them], so that all eyes were blinded; and they ceased not from the battle till the night overtook them, when the two hosts drew off from the mellay and passed the night, perplexed concerning themselves [and the issue of their affair].
When God caused the morning morrow, the two armies drew out in battle array and the troops stood looking at one another. Then came forth El Harith ibn Saad between the two lines and played with his lance and cried out and recited the following verses:
By Allah, come ye forth to me, for lo, I'm come to you I May he who's wronged the victory get and God defend the right! (70)
Thereupon there sallied forth to him Zuheir ben Hebib, and they wheeled about and feinted awhile, then came to dose quarters and exchanged strokes. El Harith forewent his adversary in smiting and stretched him weltering in his gore; whereupon Hudheifeh cried out to him, saying, "Gifted of God art thou, O Harith! Call another of them." So he cried out, saying, "Is there a comer-forth [to battle?]" But they of Baghdad held back froni him; and when it appeared to El Harith that confusion was amongst them, he fell upon them and overthrew the first of them upon their last and slew of them twelve men. Then the evening overtook him and the Baghdadis addressed themselves to flight.
When the morning morrowed, they found themselves reduced to a fourth part of their number and there was not one of them had dismounted from his horse. So they made sure of destruction and Hudheifeh came out between the ranks (now he was reckoned for a thousand cavaliers) and cried out, saying, "Harkye, my masters of Baghdad! Let none come forth to me but your Amir, so I may talk with him and he with me; and he shall meet me in single combat and I will meet him, and may he who is void of offence come off safe!" Then he repeated his speech and said, "Why do I not hear your Amir return me an answer?" But Saad, the amir of the army of Baghdad, [replied not to him], and indeed his teeth chattered in his head, whenas he heard him summon him to single combat.
When El Abbas heard Hudheifeh's challenge and saw Saad in this case, he came up to the latter and said to him, "Wilt thou give me leave to reply to him and I will stand thee in stead in the answering of him and the going forth to battle with him and will make myself thy sacrifice?" Saad looked at him and seeing valour shining from between his eyes, said to him, "O youth, by the virtue of the Chosen [Prophet,] (whom God bless and keep,) tell me [who thou art and] whence thou comest to our succour." "This is no place for questioning," answered the prince; and Saad said to him, "O champion, up and at Hudheifeh! Yet, if his devil prove too strong for thee, afflict not thyself in thy youth." (71) Quoth El Abbas, "It is of Allah that help is to be sought," (72) and taking his arms, fortified his resolution and went down [into the field], as he were a castle of the castles or a piece of a mountain.
[When] Hudheifeh [saw him], he cried out to him, saying, "Haste thee not, O youth! Who art thou of the folk?" And he answered, "I am Saad [ibn] el Wakidi, commander of the host of King Ins, and but that thou vauntedst thyself in challenging me, I had not come forth to thee; for that thou art not of my peers neither art counted equal to me in prowess and canst not avail against my onslaught. Wherefore prepare thee for departure, (73) seeing that there abideth but a little of thy life." When Hudheifeh heard this his speech, he threw himself backward, (74) as if in mockery of him, whereat El Abbas was wroth and called out to him, saying, "O Hudheifeh, guard thyself against me." Then he rushed upon him, as he were a swooper of the Jinn, (75) and Hudheifeh met him and they wheeled about a long while.
Presently, El Abbas cried out at Hudheifeh a cry that astonied him and dealt him a blow, saying, "Take this from the hand of a champion who feareth not the like of thee." Hudheifeh met the stroke with his shield, thinking to ward it off from him; but the sword shore the target in sunder and descending upon his shoulder, came forth gleaming from the tendons of his throat and severed his arm at the armpit; whereupon he fell down, wallowing in his blood, and El Abbas turned upon his host; nor had the sun departed the pavilion of the heavens ere Hudheifeh's army was in full flight before El Abbas and the saddles were empty of men. Quoth Saad, "By the virtue of the Chosen [Prophet], whom God bless and keep, I saw El Abbas with the blood upon his saddle pads, [in gouts] like camels' livers, smiting with the sword right and left, till he scattered them abroad in every mountain-pass and desert; and when he turned [back to the camp], the men of Baghdad were fearful of him."
When the Baghdadis saw this succour that had betided them against their enemies [and the victory that El Abbas had gotten them], they turned back and gathering together the spoils [of the defeated host], arms and treasures and horses, returned to Baghdad, victorious, and all by the valour of El Abbas. As for Saad, he foregathered with the prince, and they fared on in company till they came to the place where El Abbas had taken horse, whereupon the latter dismounted from his charger and Saad said to him, "O youth, wherefore alightest thou in other than thy place? Indeed, thy due is incumbent upon us and upon our Sultan; so go thou with us to the dwellings, that we may ransom thee with our souls." "O Amir Saad," replied El Abbas, "from this place I took horse with thee and herein is my lodging. So, God on thee, name me not to the king, but make as if thou hadst never seen me, for that I am a stranger in the land."
So saying, he turned away from him and Saad fared on to the palace, where he found all the suite in attendance on the king and recounting to him that which had betided them with El Abbas. Quoth the king, "Where is he?" And they answered, "He is with the Amir Saad." [So, when the latter entered], the king [looked, but] found none with him; and Saad, seeing that he hankered after the youth, cried out to him, saying, "God prolong the king's days! Indeed, he refuseth to present himself before thee, without leave or commandment." "O Saad," asked the king, "whence cometh this man?" And the Amir answered, "O my lord, I know not; but he is a youth fair of favour, lovesome of aspect, accomplished in discourse, goodly of repartee, and valour shineth from between his eyes."
Quoth the king, "O Saad, fetch him to me, for indeed thou describest to me a masterful man." (76) And he answered, saying, "By Allah, O my lord, hadst thou but seen our case with Hudheifeh, what while he challenged me to the field of war and the stead of thrusting and smiting and I held back from doing battle with him! Then, whenas I thought to go forth to him, behold, a cavalier gave loose to his bridle-rein and called out to me, saying, 'O Saad, wilt thou suffer me to fill thy room in waging war with him and I will ransom thee with myself?' And I said, 'By Allah, O youth, whence cometh thou?' Quoth he, 'This is no time for thy questions.'" Then he recounted to the king all that had passed between himself and El Abbas from first to last; whereupon quoth Ins ben Cais, "Bring him to me in haste, so we may learn his tidings and question him of his case." "It is well," answered Saad, and going forth of the king's presence, repaired to his own house, where he put off his harness of war and took rest for himself.
To return to El Abbas, when he alighted from his charger, he put off his harness of war and rested awhile; after which he brought out a shirt of Venetian silk and a gown of green damask and donning them, covered himself with a turban of Damietta stuff and girt his middle with a handkerchief. Then he went out a-walking in the thoroughfares of Baghdad and fared on till he came to the bazaar of the merchants. There he found a merchant, with chess before him; so he stood watching him and presently the other looked up at him and said to him, "O youth, what wilt thou stake upon the game?" And he answered, "Be it thine to decide." "Then be it a hundred dinars," said the merchant, and El Abbas consented to him, whereupon quoth he, "O youth, produce the money, so the game may be fairly stablished." So El Abbas brought out a satin purse, wherein were a thousand dinars, and laid down an hundred dinars therefrom on the edge of the carpet, whilst the merchant did the like, and indeed his reason fled for joy, whenas he saw the gold in El Abbas his possession.
The folk flocked about them, to divert themselves with watching the play, and they called the bystanders to witness of the wager and fell a-playing. El Abbas forbore the merchant, so he might lead him on, and procrastinated with him awhile; and the merchant won and took of him the hundred dinars. Then said the prince, "Wilt thou play another game?" And the other answered, "O youth, I will not play again, except it be for a thousand dinars." Quoth the prince, "Whatsoever thou stakest, I will match thy stake with the like thereof." So the merchant brought out a thousand dinars and the prince covered them with other thousand. Then they fell a-playing, but El Abbas was not long with him ere he beat him in the square of the elephant, (77) nor did he leave to do thus till he had beaten him four times and won of him four thousand dinars.
This was all the merchant's good; so he said, "O youth, I will play thee another game for the shop." Now the value of the shop was four thousand dinars; so they played and El Abbas beat him and won his shop, with that which was therein; whereupon the other arose, shaking his clothes, and said to him, "Up, O youth, and take thy shop." So El Abbas arose and repairing to the shop, took possession thereof, after which he returned to [the place where he had left] his servant [Aamir] and found there the Amir Saad, who was come to bid him to the presence of the king. El Abbas consented to this and accompanied him till they came before King Ins ben Cais, whereupon he kissed the earth and saluted him and exceeded (78) in the salutation. Quoth the king to him, "Whence comest thou, O youth?" and he answered, "I come from Yemen."
Then said the king, "Hast thou a need we may accomplish unto thee? For indeed we are exceeding beholden to thee for that which thou didst in the matter of Hudheifeh and his folk." And he let cast over him a mantle of Egyptian satin, worth an hundred dinars. Moreover, he bade his treasurer give him a thousand dinars and said to him, "O youth, take this in part of that which thou deserves! of us; and if thou prolong thy sojourn with us, we will give thee slaves and servants." El Abbas kissed the earth and said, "O king, may grant thee abiding prosperity, I deserve not all this." Then he put his hand to his poke and pulling out two caskets of gold, in each of which were rubies, whose value none could tell, gave them to the king, saying, "O king, God cause thy prosperity to endure, I conjure thee by that which God hath vouchsafed thee, heal my heart by accepting these two caskets, even as I have accepted thy present." So the king accepted the two caskets and El Abbas took his leave and went away to the bazaar.
When the merchants saw him, they accosted him and said, "O youth, wilt thou not open thy shop?" As they were bespeaking him, up came a woman, having with her a boy, bareheaded, and [stood] looking at El Abbas, till he turned to her, when she said to him, "O youth, I conjure thee by Allah, look at this boy and have pity on him, for that his father hath forgotten his cap in the shop [he lost to thee]; so if thou will well to give it to him, thy reward be with God! For indeed the child maketh our hearts ache with his much weeping, and God be witness for us that, were there left us aught wherewithal to buy him a cap in its stead, we had not sought it of thee." "O adornment of womankind," replied El Abbas, "indeed, thou bespeakest me with thy fair speech and supplicatest me with thy goodly words ...But bring me thy husband." So she went and fetched the merchant, whilst the folk assembled to see what El Abbas would do. When the man came, he returned him the gold he had won of him, all and part, and delivered him the keys of the shop, saying, "Requite us with thy pious prayers."Therewithal the woman came up to him and kissed his feet, and on like wise did the merchant her husband; and all who were present blessed him, and there was no talk but of El Abbas.
As for the merchant, he bought him a sheep and slaughtering it, roasted it and dressed birds and [other] meats of various kinds and colours and bought dessert and sweetmeats and fresh fruits. Then he repaired to El Abbas and conjured him to accept of his hospitality and enter his house and eat of his victual. The prince consented to his wishes and went with him till they came to his house, when the merchant bade him enter. So El Abbas entered and saw a goodly house, wherein was a handsome saloon, with a vaulted estrade. When he entered the saloon, he found that the merchant had made ready food and dessert and perfumes, such as overpass description; and indeed he had adorned the table with sweet-scented flowers and sprinkled musk and rose-water upon the food. Moreover, he had smeared the walls of the saloon with ambergris and set [the smoke of burning] aloes-wood abroach therein.
Presently, El Abbas looked out of the window of the saloon and saw thereby a house of goodly ordinance, lofty of building and abounding in chambers, with two upper stories; but therein was no sign of inhabitants. So he said to the merchant, "Indeed, thou exceedest in doing us honour; but, by Allah, I will not eat of thy victual till thou tell me what is the reason of the emptiness of yonder house." "O my lord," answered the other, "that was El Ghitrif's house and he was admitted to the mercy of God (79) and left none other heir than myself; so it became mine, and by Allah, if thou hast a mind to sojourn in Baghdad, do thou take up thine abode in this house, so thou mayst be in my neighbourhood; for that indeed my heart inclineth unto thee with love and I would have thee never absent from my sight, so I may still have my fill of thee and hearken to thy speech." El Abbas thanked him and said to him, "Indeed, thou art friendly in thy speech and exceedest [in courtesy] in thy discourse, and needs must I sojourn in Baghdad. As for the house, if it like thee, I will abide therein; so take of me its price."
So saying, he put his hand to his poke and bringing out therefrom three hundred dinars, gave them to the merchant, who said in himself, "Except I take the money, he will not abide in the house." So he pouched the money and sold him the house, taking the folk to witness against himself of the sale. Then he arose and set food before El Abbas and they ate of the good things which he had provided; after which he brought him dessert and sweetmeats. They ate thereof till they had enough, when the tables were removed and they washed their hands with rose-water and willow-flower-water. Then the merchant brought El Abbas a napkin perfumed with the fragrant smoke of aloes-wood, on which he wiped his hand, (80) and said to him, "O my lord, the house is become thy house; so bid thy servant transport thither the horses and arms and stuffs." El Abbas did this and the merchant rejoiced in his neighbourhood and left him not night nor day, so that the prince said to him, "By Allah, I distract thee from thy livelihood." "God on thee, O my lord," replied the merchant, "name not to me aught of this, or thou wilt break my heart, for the best of traffic is thy company and thou art the best of livelihood." So there befell strait friendship between them and ceremony was laid aside from between them.
Meanwhile the king said to his vizier, "How shall we do in the matter of yonder youth, the Yemani, on whom we thought to confer largesse, but he hath largessed us with tenfold [our gift] and more, and we know not if he be a sojourner with us or no?" Then he went into the harem and gave the rubies to his wife Afifeh, who said to him, "What is the worth of these with thee and with [other] the kings?" And he answered, "They are not to be found save with the greatest of kings and none may avail to price them with money." Quoth she, "Whence gottest thou them?" So he recounted to her the story of El Abbas from first to last, and she said, "By Allah, the claims of honour are imperative on us and the king hath fallen short of his due; for that we have not seen him bid him to his assembly, nor hath he seated him on his left hand."
[When the king heard his wife's words], it was as if he had been asleep and awoke; so he went forth of the harem and bade slaughter fowls and dress meats of all kinds and colours. Moreover, he assembled all his retainers and let bring sweetmeats and dessert and all that beseemeth unto kings' tables. Then he adorned his palace and despatched after El Abbas a man of the chief officers of his household, who found him coming forth of the bath, clad in a doublet of fine goats' hair and over it a Baghdadi scarf; his waist was girt with a Rustec (81) kerchief and on his head he wore a light turban of Damietta make.
The messenger wished him joy of the bath and exceeded in doing him worship. Then he said to him, "The king biddeth thee in weal." (82) "Hearkening and obedience," answered El Abbas and accompanied the messenger to the king's palace.
Now Afifeh and her daughter Mariyeh were behind the curtain, looking at him; and when he came before the king, he saluted him and greeted him with the greeting of kings, whilst all who were present stared at him and at his beauty and grace and perfection. The king seated him at the head of the table; and when Afifeh saw him and straitly considered him, she said, "By the virtue of Mohammed, prince of the Apostles, this youth is of the sons of the kings and cometh not to these parts but for some high purpose!" Then she looked at Mariyeh and saw that her face was changed, and indeed her eyes were dead in her face and she turned not her gaze from El Abbas a glance of the eyes, for that the love of him had gotten hold upon her heart. When the queen saw what had befallen her daughter, she feared for her from reproach concerning El Abbas; so she shut the wicket of the lattice and suffered her not to look upon him more. Now there was a pavilion set apart for Mariyeh, and therein were privy chambers and balconies and lattices, and she had with her a nurse, who served her, after the fashion of kings' daughters.
When the banquet was ended and the folk had dispersed, the king said to El Abbas, "I would fain have thee [abide] with me and I will buy thee a house, so haply we may requite thee the high services for which we are beholden to thee; for indeed thy due is imperative [upon us] and thy worth is magnified in our eyes; and indeed we have fallen short of thy due in the matter of distance." (83) When the prince heard the king's speech, he rose and sat down (84) and kissing the earth, returned thanks for his bounty and said, "I am the king's servant, wheresoever I may be, and under his eye." Then he recounted to him the story of the merchant and the manner of the buying of the house, and the king said, "Indeed, I would fain have had thee with me and in my neighbourhood."
Then El Abbas took leave of the king and went away to his own house. Now it befell that he passed under the palace of Mariyeh the king's daughter, and she was sitting at a window. He chanced to look round and his eyes met those of the princess, whereupon his wit departed and he was like to swoon away, whilst his colour changed and he said, "Verily, we are God's and to Him we return!" But he feared for himself lest estrangement betide him; so he concealed his secret and discovered not his case to any of the creatures of God the Most High. When he reached his house, his servant Aamir said to him, "O my lord, I seek refuge for thee with God from change of colour! Hath there betided thee a pain from God the Most High or hath aught of vexation befallen thee? Verily, sickness hath an end and patience doth away vexation." But the prince returned him no answer. Then he brought out inkhorn [and pen] and paper and wrote the following verses:
Now the merchant's wife aforesaid, who was the nurse of the king's daughter, was watching him from a window, unknown of him, and [when she heard his verses], she knew that there hung some rare story by him; so she went in to him and said, "Peace be on thee, O afflicted one, who acquaintest not physician with thy case! Verily, thou exposest thyself unto grievous peril! I conjure thee by the virtue of Him who hath afflicted thee and stricken thee with the constraint of love-liking, that thou acquaint me with thine affair and discover to me the truth of thy secret; for that indeed I have heard from thee verses that trouble the wit and dissolve the body." So he acquainted her with his case and enjoined her to secrecy, whereof she consented unto him, saying, "What shall be the recompense of whoso goeth with thy letter and bringeth thee an answer thereto?" He bowed his head for shamefastness before her [and was silent]; and she said to him, "Raise thy head and give me thy letter." So he gave her the letter and she took it and carrying it to the princess, said to her, "Read this letter and give me the answer thereto."
Now the liefest of all things to Mariyeh was the recitation of poems and verses and linked rhymes and the twanging [of the strings of the lute], and she was versed in all tongues; so she took the letter and opening it, read that which was therein and apprehended its purport. Then she cast it on the ground and said, "O nurse, I have no answer to make to this letter." Quoth the nurse, "Indeed, this is weakness in thee and a reproach unto thee, for that the people of the world have heard of thee and still praise thee for keenness of wit and apprehension; so do thou return him an answer, such as shall delude his heart and weary his soul." "O nurse," rejoined the princess, "who is this that presumeth upon me with this letter? Belike he is the stranger youth who gave my father the rubies." "It is himself," answered the woman, and Mariyeh said, "I will answer his letter on such a wise that thou shalt not bring me other than it [from him]." Quoth the nurse, "So be it." So the princess called for inkhorn and paper and wrote the following verses:
When she had made an end of her verses, she folded the letter and delivered it to the nurse, who took it and went with it to El Abbas. When she gave it to him, he took it and breaking it open, read it and apprehended its purport; and when he came to the end of it, he swooned away. After awhile, he came to himself and said, "Praised be God who hath caused her return an answer to my letter! Canst thou carry her another letter, and with God the Most High be thy requital?" Quoth she, "And what shall letters profit thee, seeing she answereth on this wise?" But he said, "Belike, she may yet be softened." Then he took inkhorn and paper and wrote the following verses:
When he had made an end of his verses, he folded the letter and delivering it to the nurse, charged her keep the secret. So she took it and carrying it to Mariyeh, gave it to her. The princess broke it open and read it and apprehended its purport. Then said she, "By Allah, O nurse, my heart is burdened with an exceeding chagrin, never knew I a dourer, because of this correspondence and of these verses." And the muse made answer to her, saying, "O my lady, thou art in thy dwelling and thy place and thy heart is void of care; so return him an answer and reck thou not" Accordingly, the princess called for inkhorn and paper and wrote the following verses:
When she had made an end of her verses, she folded the letter and delivered it to the nurse, who took it and carried it to El Abbas. He broke it open and read it and apprehended its purport; then took inkhorn and paper and wrote the following verses:
Then he folded the letter and committed it to the nurse and gave her five hundred dinars, saying, "Accept this from me, for that indeed thou hast wearied thyself between us." "By Allah, O my lord," answered she, "my desire is to bring about union between you, though I lose that which my right hand possesseth." And he said, "May God the Most High requite thee with good!" Then she carried the letter to Mariyeh and said to her, "Take this letter; belike it may be the end of the correspondence." So she took it and breaking it open, read it, and when she had made an end of it, she turned to the nurse and said to her, "This fellow putteth off lies upon me and avoucheth unto me that he hath cities and horsemen and footmen at his command and submitting to his allegiance; and he seeketh of me that which he shall not obtain; for thou knowest, O nurse, that kings' sons have sought me in marriage, with presents and rarities; but I have paid no heed unto aught of this; so how shall I accept of this fellow, who is the fool (90) of his time and possesseth nought but two caskets of rubies, which he gave to my father, and indeed he hath taken up his abode in the house of El Ghitrif and abideth without silver or gold? Wherefore, I conjure thee by Allah, O nurse, return to him and cut off his hope of me."
Accordingly the nurse returned to El Abbas, without letter or answer; and when she came in to him, he saw that she was troubled and noted the marks of chagrin on her face; so he said to her, "What is this plight?" Quoth she, "I cannot set out to thee that which Mariyeh said; for indeed she charged me return to thee without letter or answer." "O nurse of kings," rejoined El Abbas, "I would have thee carry her this letter and return not to her without it." Then he took inkhorn and paper and wrote the following verses:
When he had made an end of his verses, he folded the letter and gave it to the nurse, who took it and carried it to Mariyeh. When she came into the princess's presence, she saluted her; but Mariyeh returned not her salutation and she said, "O my lady, how hard is thy heart that thou grudgest to return the salutation! Take this letter, for that it is the last of that which shall come to thee from him." Quoth Mariyeh, "Take my warning and never again enter my palace, or it will be the cause of thy destruction; for I am certified that thou purposest my dishonour. So get thee gone from me." And she commanded to beat the nurse; whereupon the latter went forth fleeing from her presence, changed of colour and absent of wits, and gave not over going till she came to the house of El Abbas.
When the prince saw her in this plight, he was as a sleeper awakened and said to her, "What hath befallen thee? Set out to me thy case." "God on thee," answered she, "nevermore send me to Mariyeh, and do thou protect me, so may God protect thee from the fires of hell!" Then she related to him that which had bedded her with Mariyeh; which when he heard, there took him the shamefastness of the generous and this was grievous unto him. The love of Mariyeh fled forth of his heart and he said to the nurse, "How much hadst thou of Mariyeh every month?" "Ten dinars," answered she, and he said, "Be not concerned." Then he put his hand to his poke and bringing out two hundred dinars, gave them to her and said, "Take this for a whole year's wage and turn not again to serve any one. When the year is out, I will give thee two years' wage, for that thou hast wearied thyself with us and on account of the cutting off of thy dependence upon Mariyeh."
Moreover, he gave her a complete suit of clothes and raising his head to her, said, "When thou toldest me that which Mariyeh had done with thee, God rooted out the love of her from my heart, and never again will she occur to my mind; so extolled be the perfection of Him who turneth hearts and eyes! It was she who was the cause of my coming out from Yemen, and now the time is past for which I engaged with my people and I fear lest my father levy his troops and come forth in quest of me, for that he hath no child other than myself and cannot brook to be parted from me; and on like wise is it with my mother." When the nurse heard his words, she said to him, "O my lord, and which of the kings is thy father?" "My father is El Aziz, lord of Yemen and Nubia and the Islands (91) of the Benou Kehtan and the Two Noble Sanctuaries (92) (God the Most High have them in His keeping!)," answered El Abbas; "and whenas he taketh horse, there mount with him an hundred and twenty and four thousand horsemen, all smiters with the sword, let alone attendants and servants and followers, all of whom give ear unto my word and obey my commandment." "Why, then, O my lord," asked the nurse, "didst thou conceal the secret of thy rank and lineage and passedst thyself off for a wayfarer? Alas for our disgrace before thee by reason of our shortcoming in rendering thee thy due! What shall be our excuse with thee, and thou of the sons of the kings?" But he rejoined, "By Allah, thou hast not fallen short! Nay, it is incumbent on me to requite thee, what while I live, though I be far distant from thee."
Then he called his servant Aamir and said to him, "Saddle the horses." When the nurse heard his words and indeed [she saw that] Aamir brought him the horses and they were resolved upon departure, the tears ran down upon her cheeks and she said to him, "By Allah, thy separation is grievous to me, O solace of the eye!" Then said she, "Where is the goal of thine intent, so we may know thy news and solace ourselves with thy report?" Quoth he, "I go hence to visit Akil, the son of my father's brother, for that he hath his sojourn in the camp of Kundeh ben Hisham, and these twenty years have I not seen him nor he me; wherefore I purpose to repair to him and discover his news and return hither. Then will I go hence to Yemen, if it be the will of God the Most High."
So saying, he took leave of the woman and her husband and set out, intending for Akil, his father's brother's son. Now there was between Baghdad and Akil's abiding-place forty days' journey; so El Abbas settled himself on the back of his courser and his servant Aamir mounted also and they fared forth on their way. Presently, El Abbas turned right and left and recited the following verses:
Then they fell to journeying night and day, and as they went, behold, they sighted a camp of the camps of the Arabs. So El Abbas enquired thereof and was told that it was the camp of the Benou Zuhreh. Now there were around them sheep and cattle, such as filled the earth, and they were enemies to El Akil, the cousin of El Abbas, upon whom they still made raids and took his cattle; wherefore he used to pay them tribute every year, for that he availed not to cope with them. When El Abbas came near the camp, he dismounted from his courser and his servant Aamir also dismounted; and they set down the victual and ate their sufficiency and rested awhile of the day. Then said the prince to Aamir, "Fetch water and give the horses to drink and draw water for us in thy water-bag, by way of provision for the road."
So Aamir took the water-skin and made for the water; but, when he came to the well, behold, two young men with gazelles, and when they saw him, they said to him, "Whither wilt thou, O youth, and of which of the Arabs art thou?" "Harkye, lads," answered he, "fill me my water-skin, for that I am a stranger man and a wayfarer and I have a comrade who awaiteth me." Quoth they, "Thou art no wayfarer, but a spy from El Akil's camp." Then they took him and carried him to [their king] Zuheir ben Shebib; and when he came before him, he said to him, "Of which of the Arabs art thou?" Quoth Aamir, "I am a wayfarer." And Zuheir said, "Whence comest thou and whither wilt thou?" "I am on my way to Akil," answered Aamir. When he named Akil, those who were present were agitated; but Zuheir signed to them with his eyes and said to him, "What is thine errand with Akil?" Quoth he, "We would fain see him, my friend and I."
When Zuheir heard his words, he bade smite off his head; but his Vizier said to him, "Slay him not, till his friend be present." So he commanded the two slaves to fetch his friend; whereupon they repaired to El Abbas and called to him, saying, "O youth, answer the summons of King Zuheir." "What would the king with me?" asked he, and they answered, "We know not." Quoth he, "Who gave the king news of me?" "We went to draw water," answered they, "and found a man by the water. So we questioned him of his case, but he would not acquaint us therewith; wherefore we carried him perforce to King Zuheir, who questioned him of his case and he told him that he was going to Akil. Now Akil is the king's enemy and he purposeth to betake himself to his camp and make prize of his offspring and cut off his traces." "And what," asked El Abbas, "hath Akil done with King Zuheir?" And they replied, "He engaged for himself that he would bring the king every year a thousand dinars and a thousand she-camels, besides a thousand head of thoroughbred horses and two hundred black slaves and fifty slave-girls; but it hath reached the king that Akil purposeth to give nought of this; wherefore he is minded to go to him. So hasten thou with us, ere the king be wroth with thee and with us."
Then said El Abbas to them, "O youths, sit by my arms and my horse till I return." But they answered, saying, "By Allah, thou prolongest discourse with that which beseemeth not of words! Make haste, or we will go with thy head, for indeed the king purposeth to slay thee and to slay thy comrade and take that which is with you." When the prince heard this, his skin quaked and he cried out at them with a cry that made them tremble. Then he sprang upon his horse and settling himself in the saddle, galloped till he came to the king's assembly, when he cried out at the top of his voice, saying ["To horse,] cavaliers!" And levelled his spear at the pavilion wherein was Zuheir. Now there were about him a thousand smiters with the sword; but El Abbas fell in upon them and dispersed them from around him, and there abode none in the tent save Zuheir and his vizier.
Then came up El Abbas to the door of the tent, and therein were four-and-twenty golden doves; so he took them, after he had beaten them down with the end of his lance. Then he called out, saying, "Harkye, Zuheir! Doth it not suffice thee that thou hast quelled El Akil's repute, but thou art minded to quell that of those who sojourn round about him? Knowest thou not that he is of the lieutenants of Kundeh ben [Hisham of the Benou] Sheiban, a man renowned for prowess? Indeed, covetise of him hath entered into thee and jealousy of him hath gotten possession of thee. Doth it not suffice thee that thou hast orphaned his children (94) and slain his men? By the virtue of the Chosen Prophet, I will make thee drink the cup of death!" So saying, he drew his sword and smiting Zuheir on his shoulder, caused the steel issue, gleaming, from the tendons of his throat. Then he smote the vizier and clove his head in sunder.
As he was thus, behold, Aamir called out to him and said, "O my lord, come to my help, or I am a dead man!" So El Abbas went up to him and found him cast down on his back and chained with four chains to four pickets of iron. He loosed his bonds and said to him, "Go before me, O Aamir." So he fared on before him a little, and presently they looked, and behold, horsemen making to Zuheir's succour, to wit, twelve thousand cavaliers, with Sehl ben Kaab in their van, mounted upon a jet-black steed. He charged upon Aamir, who fled from him, then upon El Abbas, who said, "O Aamir, cleave fast to my horse and guard my back." Aamir did as he bade him, whereupon El Abbas cried out at the folk and falling upon them, overthrew their braves and slew of them nigh two thousand cavaliers, whilst not one of them knew what was to do nor with whom he fought. Then said one of them to other, "Verily, the king is slain; so with whom do we wage war? Indeed ye flee from him; so do ye enter under his banners, or not one of you will be saved."
Thereupon they all dismounted and putting off that which was upon them of harness of war, came before El Abbas and tendered him allegiance and sued for his protection. So he held his hand from them and bade them gather together the spoils. Then he took the riches and the slaves and the camels, and they all became his liege-men and his retainers, to the number (according to that which is said) of fifty thousand horse. Moreover, the folk heard of him and flocked to him from all sides; whereupon he divided [the spoil amongst them] and gave gifts and abode thus three days, and there came presents to him. Then he bade set out for Akil's abiding-place; so they fared on six days and on the seventh day they came in sight of the camp. El Abbas bade his man Aamir forego him and give Akil the glad news of his cousin's coming. So he rode on to the camp and going in to Akil, gave him the glad news of Zuheir's slaughter and the conquest of his tribe.
Akil rejoiced in the coming of El Abbas and the slaughter of his enemy and all in his camp rejoiced also and cast dresses of honour upon Aamir. Moreover, Akil bade go forth to meet El Abbas, and commanded that none, great or small, freeman or slave, should tarry behind. So they did his bidding and going forth all, met El Abbas at three parasangs' distance from the camp. When they met him, they all dismounted from their horses and Akil and he embraced and clapped hands. (95) Then they returned, rejoicing in the coming of El Abbas and the slaughter of their enemy, to the camp, where tents were pitched for the new-comers and carpets spread and game killed and beasts slaughtered and royal guest-meals spread; and on this wise they abode twenty days, in the enjoyment of all delight and solace of life.
To return to King El Aziz. When his son El Abbas left him, he was desolated for him with an exceeding desolation, he and his mother; and when tidings of him tarried long and the appointed time passed [and the prince returned not], the king caused public proclamation to be made, commanding all his troops to make ready to mount and go forth in quest of his son El Abbas at the end of three days, after which time no cause of hindrance nor excuse should be admitted unto any. So on the fourth day, the king bade number the troops, and behold, they were four-and-twenty thousand horse, besides servants and followers. Accordingly, they reared the standards and the drums beat to departure and the king set out [with his army], intending for Baghdad; nor did he cease to fare on with all diligence, till he came within half a day's journey of the city and bade his troops encamp in [a place there called] the Green Meadow. So they pitched the tents there, till the country was straitened with them, and set up for the king a pavilion of green brocade, broidered with pearls and jewels.
When El Aziz had sat awhile, he summoned the mamelukes of his son El Abbas, and they were five-and-twenty in number, besides half a score slave-girls, as they were moons, five of whom the king had brought with him and other five he had left with the prince's mother. When the mamelukes came before him, he cast over each of them a mantle of green brocade and bade them mount like horses of one and the same fashion and enter Baghdad and enquire concerning their lord El Abbas. So they entered the city and passed through the [streets and] markets, and there abode in Baghdad nor old man nor boy but came forth to gaze on them and divert himself with the sight of their beauty and grace and the goodliness of their aspect and of their clothes and horses, for that they were even as moons. They gave not over going till they came to the royal palace, where they halted, and the king looked at them and seeing their beauty and the goodliness of their apparel and the brightness of their faces, said, "Would I knew of which of the tribes these are!" And he bade the eunuch bring him news of them.
So he went out to them and questioned them of their case, whereupon, "Return to thy lord," answered they, "and question him of Prince El Abbas, if he have come unto him, for that he left his father King El Aziz a full-told year agone, and indeed longing for him troubleth the king and he hath levied a part of his army and his guards and is come forth in quest of his son, so haply he may light upon tidings of him." Quoth the eunuch, "Is there amongst you a brother of his or a son?" "Nay, by Allah!" answered they. "But we are all his mamelukes and the boughten of his money, and his father El Aziz hath despatched us to make enquiry of him. So go thou to thy lord and question him of the prince and return to us with that which he shall answer you." "And where is King El Aziz?" asked the eunuch; and they replied, "He is encamped in the Green Meadow." (96)
The eunuch returned and told the king, who said, "Indeed, we have been neglectful with regard to El Abbas. What shall be our excuse with the king? By Allah, my soul misdoubted me that the youth was of the sons of the kings!" The Lady Afifeh, his wife, saw him lamenting for [his usage of] El Abbas and said to him, "O king, what is it thou regrettest with this exceeding regret?" Quoth he, "Thou knowest the stranger youth, who gave us the rubies?" "Assuredly," answered she; and he said, "Yonder youths, who have halted in the palace court, are his mamelukes, and his father King El Aziz, lord of Yemen, hath pitched his camp in the Green Meadow; for he is come with his army to seek him, and the number of his troops is [four-and-] twenty thousand men." [Then he went out from her], and when she heard his words, she wept sore for him and had compassion on his case and sent after him, counselling him to send for the mamelukes and lodge them [in the palace] and entertain them.
The king gave ear to her counsel and despatching the eunuch for the mamelukes, assigned them a lodging and said to them, "Have patience, till the king give you tidings of your lord El Abbas." When they heard his words, their eyes ran over with plenteous tears, of their much longing for the sight of their lord. Then the king bade the queen enter the privy chamber (97) and let down the curtain (98) [before the door thereof]. So she did this and he summoned them to his presence. When they stood before him, they kissed the earth, to do him worship, and showed forth their breeding (99) and magnified his dignity. He bade them sit, but they refused, till he conjured them by their lord El Abbas. So they sat down and he caused set before them food of various kinds and fruits and sweetmeats. Now within the Lady Afifeh's palace was an underground way communicating with the palace of the princess Mariyeh. So the queen sent after her and she came to her, whereupon she made her stand behind the curtain and gave her to know that El Abbas was the king's son of Yemen and that these were his mamelukes. Moreover, she told her that the prince's father had levied his troops and was come with his army in quest of him and that he had pitched his camp in the Green Meadow and despatched these mamelukes to make enquiry of their lord. So Mariyeh abode looking upon them and upon their beauty and grace and the goodliness of their apparel, till they had eaten their fill of food and the tables were removed; whereupon the king recounted to them the story of El Abbas and they took leave of him and went away.
As for the princess Mariyeh, when she returned to her palace, she bethought herself concerning the affair of El Abbas, repenting her of that which she had done, and the love of him took root in her heart. So, when the night darkened upon her, she dismissed all her women and bringing out the letters, to wit, those which El Abbas had written, fell to reading them and weeping. She gave not over weeping her night long, and when she arose in the morning, she called a damsel of her slave-girls, Shefikeh by name, and said to her, "O damsel, I purpose to discover to thee mine affair, and I charge thee keep my secret; to wit, I would have thee betake thyself to the house of the nurse, who used to serve me, and fetch her to me, for that I have grave occasion for her."
Accordingly, Shefikeh went out and repairing to the nurse's house, found her clad in apparel other (100) than that which she had been wont to wear aforetime. So she saluted her and said to her, "Whence hadst thou this dress, than which there is no goodlier?" "O Shefikeh," answered the nurse, "thou deemest that I have gotten (101) no good save of thy mistress; but, by Allah, had I endeavoured for her destruction, I had done [that which was my right], for that she did with me what thou knowest (102) and bade the eunuch beat me, without offence of me committed; wherefore do thou tell her that he, on whose behalf I bestirred myself with her, hath made me quit of her and her humours, for that he hath clad me in this habit and given me two hundred and fifty dinars and promised me the like thereof every year and charged me serve none of the folk."
Quoth Shefikeh, "My mistress hath occasion for thee; so come thou with me and I will engage to restore thee to thy dwelling in weal and safety." But the nurse answered, saying, "Indeed, her palace is become forbidden (103) to me and never again will I enter therein, for that God (extolled be His perfection and exalted be He!) of His favour and bounty hath rendered me independent of her." So Shefikeh returned to her mistress and acquainted her with the nurse's words and that wherein she was of affluence; whereupon Mariyeh confessed the unseemliness of her dealing with her and repented, whenas repentance profited her not; and she abode in that her case days and nights, whilst the fire of longing flamed in her heart.
Meanwhile, El Abbas abode with his cousin Akil twenty days, after which he made ready for the journey to Baghdad and letting bring the booty he had gotten of King Zuheir, divided it between himself and his cousin. Then he set out for Baghdad, and when he came within two days' journey of the city, he called his servant Aamir and bade him mount his charger and forego him with the baggage-train and the cattle. So Aamir [took horse and] fared on till he came to Baghdad, and the season of his entering was the first of the day; nor was there little child or hoary old man in the city but came forth to divert himself with gazing on those flocks and herds and upon the goodliness of those slave-girls, and their wits were amazed at what they saw. Presently the news reached the king that the young man El Abbas, who had gone forth from him, was come back with herds and rarities and slaves and a mighty host and had taken up his sojourn without the city, whilst his servant Aamir was presently come to Baghdad, so he might make ready dwelling- places for his lord, wherein he should take up his abode.
When the king heard these tidings of Aamir, he sent for him and let bring him before him; and when he entered his presence, he kissed the earth and saluted and showed forth his breeding and greeted him with the goodliest of compliments. The king bade him raise his head and questioned him of his lord El Abbas; whereupon he acquainted him with his tidings and told him that which had betided him with King Zuheir and of the army that was become at his commandment and of the spoil that he had gotten. Moreover, he gave him to know that El Abbas was coming on the morrow, and with him more than fifty thousand cavaliers, obedient to his commandment. When the king heard his speech, he bade decorate Baghdad and commanded [the inhabitants] to equip themselves with the richest of their apparel, in honour of the coming of El Abbas. Moreover, he sent to give King El Aziz the glad tidings of his son's return and acquainted him with that which he had heard from the prince's servant.
When the news reached El Aziz, he rejoiced with an exceeding joy in the coming of his son and straightway took horse, he and all his army, what while the trumpets sounded and the musicians played, that the earth quaked and Baghdad also trembled, and it was a notable day. When Mariyeh beheld all this, she repented with the uttermost of repentance of that which she had wroughten against El Abbas his due and the fires still raged in her vitals. Meanwhile, the troops (104) sallied forth of Baghdad and went out to meet those of El Abbas, who had halted in a meadow called the Green Island. When he espied the approaching host, he knew not what they were; so he strained his sight and seeing horsemen coming and troops and footmen, said to those about him, "Among yonder troops are ensigns and banners of various kinds; but, as for the great green standard that ye see, it is the standard of my father, the which is reserved [unto him and never displayed save] over his head, and [by this] I know that he himself is come out in quest of me." And he was certified of this, he and his troops.
[So he fared on towards them] and when he drew near unto them, he knew them and they knew him; whereupon they lighted down from their horses and saluting him, gave him joy of his safety and the folk flocked to him. When he came to his father, they embraced and greeted each other a long time, whilst neither of them availed unto speech, for the greatness of that which betided them of joy in reunion. Then El Abbas bade the folk mount; so they mounted and his mamelukes surrounded him and they entered Baghdad on the most magnificent wise and in the highest worship and glory.
The wife of the shopkeeper, to wit, the nurse, came out, with the rest of those who came out, to divert herself with gazing upon the show, and when she saw El Abbas and beheld his beauty and the goodliness of his army and that which he had brought back with him of herds and slaves and slave-girls and mamelukes, she improvised and recited the following verses:
When the troops entered Baghdad, each of them alighted in his pavilion, whilst El Abbas encamped apart in a place near the Tigris and commanded to slaughter for the troops, each day, that which should suffice them of oxen and sheep and bake them bread and spread the tables. So the folk ceased not to come to him and eat of his banquet. Moreover, all the people of the country came to him with presents and rarities and he requited them many times the like of their gifts, so that the lands were filled with his tidings and the report of him was bruited abroad among the folk of the deserts and the cities.
Then, when he rode to his house that he had bought, the shopkeeper and his wife came to him and gave him joy of his safety; whereupon he ordered them three swift thoroughbred horses and ten dromedaries and an hundred head of sheep and clad them both in sumptuous dresses of honour. Then he chose out ten slave-girls and ten black slaves and fifty horses and the like number of she- camels and three hundred head of sheep, together with twenty ounces of musk and as many of camphor, and sent all this to the King of Baghdad. When this came to Ins ben Cais, his wit fled for joy and he was perplexed wherewithal to requite him. Moreover, El Abbas gave gifts and largesse and bestowed dresses of honour upon great and small, each after the measure of his station, save only Mariyeh; for unto her he sent nothing.
This was grievous to the princess and it irked her sore that he should not remember her; so she called her slave- girl Shefikeh and said to her, "Go to El Abbas and salute him and say to him, 'What hindereth thee from sending my lady Mariyeh her part of thy booty?'" So Shefikeh betook herself to him and when she came to his door, the chamberlains refused her admission, until they should have gotten her leave and permission. When she entered, El Abbas knew her and knew that she had somewhat of speech [with him]; so he dismissed his mamelukes and said to her, "What is thine errand, O handmaid of good?" "O my lord," answered she, "I am a slave-girl of the Princess Mariyeh, who kisseth thy hands and commendeth her salutation to thee. Indeed, she rejoiceth in thy safety and reproacheth thee for that thou breakest her heart, alone of all the folk, for that thy largesse embraceth great and small, yet hast thou not remembered her with aught of thy booty. Indeed, it is as if thou hadst hardened thy heart against her." Quoth he, "Extolled be the perfection of him who turneth hearts! By Allah, my vitals were consumed with the love of her [aforetime] and of my longing after her, I came forth to her from my native land and left my people and my home and my wealth, and it was with her that began the hardheartedness and the cruelty. Nevertheless, for all this, I bear her no malice and needs must I send her somewhat whereby she may remember me; for that I abide in her land but a few days, after which I set out for the land of Yemen."
Then he called for a chest and bringing out thence a necklace of Greek handiwork, worth a thousand dinars, wrapped it in a mantle of green silk, set with pearls and jewels and inwrought with red gold, and joined thereto two caskets of musk and ambergris. Moreover, he put off upon the girl a mantle of Greek silk, striped with gold, wherein were divers figures and semblants depictured, never saw eyes its like. Therewithal the girl's wit fled for joy and she went forth from his presence and returned to her mistress. When she came in to her, she acquainted her with that which she had seen of El Abbas and that which was with him of servants and attendants and [set out to her] the loftiness of his station and gave her that which was with her.
Mariyeh opened the mantle, and when she saw that necklace, and indeed the place was illumined with the lustre thereof, she looked at her slave-girl and said to her, "By Allah, O Shefikeh, one look at him were liefer to me than all that my hand possesseth! Would I knew what I shall do, whenas Baghdad is empty of him and I hear no tidings of him!" Then she wept and calling for inkhorn* and paper and pen of brass, wrote the following verses:
Then she folded the letter and giving it to her slave-girl, bade her carry it to El Abbas and bring back his answer thereto. Accordingly, Shefikeh took the letter and carried it to the prince, after the doorkeeper had sought leave of him to admit her. When she came in to him, she found with him five damsels, as they were moons, clad in [rich] apparel and ornaments; and when he saw her, he said to her, "What is thine occasion, O handmaid of good?" So she put out her hand to him with the letter, after she had kissed it, and he bade one of his slave-girls receive it from her. Then he took it from the girl and breaking it open, read it and apprehended its purport; whereupon "We are God's and to Him we return!" exclaimed he and calling for ink- horn and paper, wrote the following verses:
Then he folded the letter and sealing it, delivered it to the damsel, who took it and carried it to her mistress. When the princess read the letter and apprehended its contents, she said, "Meseemeth he recalleth to me that which I did aforetime." Then she called for inkhorn and paper and wrote the following verses:
Mariyeh folded the letter and gave it to Shefikeh, bidding her carry it to El Abbas. So she took it and going with it to his door, would have entered; but the chamberlains and serving-men forbade her, till they had gotten her leave from the prince. When she went in to him, she found him sitting in the midst of the five damsels aforesaid, whom his father had brought him. So she gave him the letter and he took it and read it. Then he bade one of the damsels, whose name was Khefifeh and who came from the land of China, tune her lute and sing upon the subject of separation. So she came forward and tuning the lute, played thereon in four-and-twenty modes; after which she returned to the first mode and sang the following verses:
When the damsel had made an end of her song, El Abbas swooned away and they sprinkled on him rose-water, mingled with musk, till he came to himself, when he called another damsel (now there was on her of linen and clothes and ornaments that which beggareth description, and she was endowed with brightness and loveliness and symmetry and perfection, such as shamed the crescent moon, and she was a Turkish girl from the land of the Greeks and her name was Hafizeh) and said to her, "O Hafizeh, close thine eyes and tune thy lute and sing to us upon the days of separation." She answered him with "Hearkening and obedience" and taking the lute, tuned its strings and cried out from her head, (107) in a plaintive voice, and sang the following verses:
When Hafizeh had made an end of her song, El Abbas said to her, "Well done! Indeed, thou quickenest hearts from sorrows." Then he called another damsel of the daughters of the Medes, by name Merjaneh, and said to her, "O Merjaneh, sing to me upon the days of separation." "Hearkening and obedience," answered she and improvising, sang the following verses:
When Merjaneh had made an end of her song, the prince said to her, "Well done, O damsel! Indeed, thou sayest a thing that had occurred to my mind and my tongue was like to speak it." Then he signed to the fourth damsel, who was a Cairene, by name Sitt el Husn, and bade her tune her lute and sing to him upon the [same] subject. So she tuned her lute and sang the following verses:
When El Abbas heard her verses, they pleased him and he said to her, "Well done, O Sitt el Husn! Indeed, thou hast done away trouble from my heart and [banished] the things that had occurred to my mind." Then he heaved a sigh and signing to the fifth damsel, who was from the land of the Persians and whose name was Merziyeh (now she was the fairest of them all and the sweetest of speech and she was like unto a splendid star, endowed with beauty and loveliness and brightness and perfection and justness of shape and symmetry and had a face like the new moon and eyes as they were gazelle's eyes) and said to her, "O Merziyeh, come forward and tune thy lute and sing to us on the [same] subject, for indeed we are resolved upon departure to the land of Yemen." Now this damsel had met many kings and had consorted with the great; so she tuned her lute and sang the following verses:
When she had made an end of her song, all who were in the assembly wept for the daintiness of her speech and the sweetness of her voice and El Abbas said to her, "Well done, O Merziyeh I Indeed, thou confoundest the wits with the goodliness of thy verses and the elegance of thy speech." All this while Shefikeh abode gazing upon her, and when she beheld El Abbas his slave-girls and considered the goodliness of their apparel and the nimbleness of their wits and the elegance of their speech, her reason was confounded. Then she sought leave of El Abbas and returning to her mistress Mariyeh, without letter or answer, acquainted her with his case and that wherein he was of puissance and delight and majesty and venerance and loftiness of rank. Moreover, she told her what she had seen of the slave-girls and their circumstance and that which they had said and how they had made El Abbas desireful of returning to his own country by the recitation of verses to the sound of the strings.
When the princess heard this her slave-girl's report, she wept and lamented and was like to depart the world. Then she clave to her pillow and said, "O Shefikeh, I will instruct thee of somewhat that is not hidden from God the Most High, and it is that thou watch over me till God the Most High decree the accomplishment of His commandment, and when my days are ended, take thou the necklace and the mantle that El Abbas gave me and return them to him. Indeed, I deem not he will live after me, and if God the Most High decree against him and his days come to an end, do thou give one charge to shroud us and bury us both in one grave."
Then her case changed and her colour paled; and when Shefikeh saw her mistress in this plight, she repaired to her mother and told her that the lady Mariyeh refused meat and drink. "Since when hath this befallen her?" asked the queen, and Shefikeh answered, "Since yesterday;" whereat the queen was confounded and betaking herself to her daughter, that she might enquire into her case, found her as one dead. So she sat down at her head and Mariyeh opened her eyes and seeing her mother sitting by her, sat up for shamefastness before her. The queen questioned her of her case and she said, "I entered the bath and it stupefied me and weakened me and left an exceeding pain in my head; but I trust in God the Most High that it will cease."
When her mother went out from her, Mariyeh fell to chiding the damsel for that which she had done and said to her, "Verily, death were leifer to me than this; so look thou discover not my affair to any and I charge thee return not to the like of this fashion." Then she swooned away and lay awhile without life, and when she came to herself, she saw Shefikeh weeping over her; whereupon she took the necklace from her neck and the mantle from her body and said to the damsel, "Lay them in a napkin of damask and carry them to El Abbas and acquaint him with that wherein I am for the persistence of estrangement and the effects of forbiddance." So Shefikeh took them and carried them to El Abbas, whom she found in act to depart, for that he was about to take horse for Yemen. She went in to him and gave him the napkin and that which was therein, and when he opened it and saw what it contained, to wit, the mantle and the necklace, his vexation was excessive and his eyes were distorted, [so that the whites thereof appeared] and his rage was manifest in them.
When Shefikeh saw that which betided him, she came forward and said to him, "O bountiful lord, indeed my mistress returneth not the mantle and the necklace despitefully; but she is about to depart the world and thou hast the best right to them." "And what is the cause of this?" asked he. Quoth Shefikeh, "Thou knowest. By Allah, never among the Arabs nor the barbarians nor among the sons of the kings saw I a harder of heart than thou! Is it a light matter to thee that thou troublest Mariyeh's life and causest her mourn for herself and depart the world on account of (110) thy youth? Indeed, thou wast the cause of her acquaintance with thee and now she departeth the world on thine account, she whose like God the Most High hath not created among the daughters of the kings."
When El Abbas heard these words from the damsel, his heart irked him for Mariyeh and her case was grievous to him; so he said to Shefikeh, "Canst thou avail to bring me in company with her, so haply I may discover her affair and allay that which aileth her?" "Yes," answered the damsel, "I can do that, and thine will be the bounty and the favour." So he arose and followed her, and she forewent him, till they came to the palace. Then she [opened and] locked behind them four-and-twenty doors and made them fast with bolts; and when he came to Mariyeh, he found her as she were the setting sun, cast down upon a rug of Taifi leather, (111) among cushions stuffed with ostrich down, and not a limb of her quivered. When her maid saw her in this plight, she offered to cry out; but El Abbas said to her, "Do it not, but have patience till we discover her affair; and if God the Most High have decreed the ending of her days, wait till thou have opened the doors to me and I have gone forth. Then do what seemeth good to thee."
So saying, he went up to the princess and laying his hand upon her heart, found it fluttering like a doveling and the life yet clinging to (112) her bosom. So he laid his hand upon her cheek, whereupon she opened her eyes and beckoning to her maid, signed to her, as who should say, "Who is this that treadeth my carpet and transgresseth against me?" (113) "O my lady," answered Shefikeh, "this is Prince El Abbas, for whose sake thou departest the world." When Mariyeh heard speak of El Abbas, she raised her hand from under the coverlet and laying it upon his neck, inhaled his odour awhile. Then she sat up and her colour returned to her and they sat talking till a third part of the night was past.
Presently, the princess turned to her maid and bade her fetch them somewhat of food and sweetmeats and dessert and fruits. So Shefikeh brought what she desired and they ate and drank [and abode on this wise] without lewdness, till the night departed and the day came. Then said El Abbas, "Indeed, the day is come. Shall I go to my father and bid him go to thy father and seek thee of him in marriage for me, in accordance with the Book of God the Most High and the Institutes of His Apostle (whom may He bless and keep!) so we may not enter into transgression?" And Mariyeh answered, saying, "By Allah, it is well counselled of thee!" So he went away to his lodging and nought befell between them; and when the day lightened, she improvised and recited the following verses:
Meanwhile, El Abbas betook himself to his father's camp, which was pitched in the Green Meadow, by the side of the Tigris, and none might make his way between the tents, for the much interlacement of the tent-ropes. When the prince reached the first of the tents, the guards and servants came out to meet him from all sides and escorted him till he drew near the sitting-place of his father, who knew of his coming. So he issued forth of his pavilion and coming to meet his son, kissed him and made much of him. Then they returned together to the royal pavilion and when they had seated themselves and the guards had taken up their station in attendance on them, the king said to El Abbas, "O my son, make ready thine affair, so we may go to our own land, for that the folk in our absence are become as they were sheep without a shepherd." El Abbas looked at his father and wept till he swooned away, and when he recovered from his swoon, he improvised and recited the following verses:
When El Abbas had made an end of his verses, his father said to him, "I seek refuge for thee with God, O my son! Hast thou any want unto which thou availest not, so I may endeavour for thee therein and lavish my treasures in quest thereof?" "O father mine," answered El Abbas, "I have, indeed, an urgent want, on account whereof I came forth of my native land and left my people and my home and exposed myself to perils and stresses and became an exile from my country, and I trust in God that it may be accomplished by thine august endeavour." "And what is thy want?" asked the king. Quoth El Abbas, "I would have thee go and demand me in marriage Mariyeh, daughter of the King of Baghdad, for that my heart is distraught with love of her." And he recounted to his father his story from first to last.
When the king heard this from his son, he rose to his feet and calling for his charger of state, took horse with four-and-twenty amirs of the chief officers of his empire. Then he betook himself to the palace of the King of Baghdad, who, when he saw him coming, bade his chamberlains open the doors to him and going down himself to meet him, received him with all worship and hospitality and entreated him with the utmost honour. Moreover, he carried him [and his suite] into the palace and causing make ready for them carpets and cushions, sat down upon a chair of gold, with traverses of juniper- wood, set with pearls and jewels. Then he bade bring sweetmeats and confections and odoriferous flowers and commanded to slaughter four-and-twenty head of sheep and the like of oxen and make ready geese and fowls, stuffed and roasted, and pigeons and spread the tables; nor was it long before the meats were set on in dishes of gold and silver. So they ate till they had enough and when they had eaten their fill, the tables were removed and the wine-service set on and the cups and flagons ranged in order, whilst the mamelukes and the fair slave- girls sat down, with girdles of gold about their middles, inlaid with all manner pearls and diamonds and emeralds and rubies and other jewels. Moreover, the king bade fetch the musicians; so there presented themselves before him a score of damsels, with lutes and psalteries and rebecks, and smote upon instruments of music, on such wise that they moved the assembly to delight.
Then said El Aziz to the King of Baghdad, "I would fain speak a word to thee; but do thou not exclude from us those who are present. If thou consent unto my wish, that which is ours shall be thine and that which is incumbent on thee shall be incumbent on us, (121) and we will be to thee a mighty aid against all enemies and opposites." Quoth Ins ben Cais, "Say what thou wilt, O King, for indeed thou excellest in speech and attainest [the mark] in that which them sayest" So El Aziz said to him," I desire that thou give thy daughter Mariyeh in marriage to my son El Abbas, for thou knowest that wherewithal he is gifted of beauty and loveliness and brightness and perfection and how he beareth himself in the frequentation of the valiant and his constancy in the stead of smiting and thrusting." "By Allah, O king," answered Ins ben Cais, "of my love for Mariyeh, I have appointed her disposal to be in her own hand; wherefore, whomsoever she chooseth of the folk, I will marry her to him."
Then he arose and going in to his daughter, found her mother with her; so he set out to them the case and Mariyeh said, "O father mine, my wish is subject unto (122) thy commandment and my will ensueth thy will; so whatsoever thou choosest, I am still obedient unto thee and under thy dominion." Therewithal the King knew that Mariyeh inclined unto El Abbas; so he returned forthright to King El Aziz and said to him, "May God amend the King! Verily, the occasion is accomplished and there is no opposition unto that which thou commandest" Quoth El Aziz, "By God's leave are occasions accomplished. How deemest thou, O King, of fetching El Abbas and drawing up the contract of marriage between Mariyeh and him?" And Ins ben Cais answered, saying, "Thine be it to decide."
So El Aziz sent after his son and acquainted him with that which had passed; whereupon El Abbas called for four-and-twenty males and half a score horses [and as many camels] and loaded the mules with pieces of silk and rags of leather and boxes of camphor and musk and the camels [and horses] with chests of gold and silver. Moreover, he took the richest of the stuffs and wrapping them in pieces of gold-striped silk, laid them on the heads of porters, and they fared on with the treasures till they reached the King of Baghdad's palace, whereupon all who were present dismounted in honour of El Abbas and escorting him to the presence of King Ins ben Cais, displayed unto the latter all that they had with them of things of price. The king bade carry all this into the harem and sent for the Cadis and the witnesses, who drew up the contract and married Mariyeh to Prince El Abbas, whereupon the latter commanded to [slaughter] a thousand head of sheep and five hundred buffaloes. So they made the bride-feast and bade thereto all the tribes of the Arabs, Bedouins and townsfolk, and the tables abode spread for the space of ten days.
Then El Abbas went in to Mariyeh in a happy and praiseworthy hour (123) and found her an unpierced pearl and a goodly filly that had never been mounted; wherefore he rejoiced and was glad and made merry, and care and sorrow ceased from him and his life was pleasant and trouble departed and he abode with her in the gladsomest of case and in the most easeful of life, till seven days were past, when King El Aziz determined to set out and return to his kingdom and bade his son seek leave of his father-in-law to depart with his wife to his own country. [So El Abbas bespoke King Ins of this] and he granted him the leave he sought; whereupon he chose out a red camel, taller (124) than the [other] camels, and mounting Mariyeh in a litter thereon, loaded it with apparel and ornaments.
Then they spread the ensigns and the standards, whilst the drums beat and the trumpets sounded, and set out upon the homeward journey. The King of Baghdad rode forth with them and brought them three days' journey on their way, after which he took leave of them and returned with his troops to Baghdad. As for King El Aziz and his son, they fared on night and day and gave not over going till there abode but three days' journey between them and Yemen, when they despatched three men of the couriers to the prince's mother [to acquaint her with their return], safe and laden with spoil, bringing with them Mariyeh, the king's daughter of Baghdad. When the queen-mother heard this, her wit fled for joy and she adorned El Abbas his slave-girls after the goodliest fashion. Now he had ten slave-girls, as they were moons, whereof his father had carried five with him to Baghdad, as hath aforetime been set out, and other five abode with his mother. When the dromedary-posts (125) came, they were certified of the approach of El Abbas, and when the sun rose and their standards appeared, the prince's mother came out to meet her son; nor was there great or small, old man or infant, but went forth that day to meet the king.
The drums of glad tidings beat and they entered in the utmost of worship and magnificence. Moreover, the tribes heard of them and the people of the towns and brought them the richest of presents and the costliest of rarities and the prince's mother rejoiced with an exceeding joy. Then they slaughtered beasts and made mighty bride-feasts to the people and kindled fires, that it might be visible afar to townsman [and Bedouin] that this was the house of the guest-meal and the wedding, festival, to the intent that, if any passed them by, [without partaking of their hospitality], it should be of his own fault (126) So the folk came to them from all parts and quarters and on this wise they abode days and months.
Then the prince's mother bade fetch the five slave-girls to that assembly; whereupon they came and the ten damsels foregathered. The queen seated five of them on her son's right hand and other five on his left and the folk assembled about them. Then she bade the five who had remained with her speak forth somewhat of verse, so they might entertain therewith the assembly and that El Abbas might rejoice therein. Now she had clad them in the richest of raiment and adorned them with trinkets and ornaments and wroughten work of gold and silver and collars of gold, set with pearls and jewels. So they came forward, with harps and lutes and psalteries and recorders and other instruments of music before them, and one of them, a damsel who came from the land of China and whose name was Baoutheh, advanced and tightened the strings of her lute. Then she cried out from the top of her head (127) and improvising, sang the following verses:
When she had made an end of her song, all who were present were moved to delight and El Abbas rejoiced in this. Then he bade the second damsel sing somewhat on the like subject. So she came forward and tuning the strings of her harp, which was of balass ruby, (128) warbled a plaintive air and improvising, sang the following verses;
When she had made an end of her verses, El Abbas bade the third damsel, who came from Samarcand of the Persians and whose name was Rummaneh, sing, and she answered with "Hearkening and obedience." Then she took the psaltery and crying out from the midst of her bead (130) improvised and sang the following verses:
Therewithal El Abbas smiled and her verses pleased him. Then he bade the fourth damsel come forward and sing. Now she was from the land of Morocco and her name was Belekhsha. So she came forward and taking the lute and the psaltery, tightened the strings thereof and smote thereon in many modes; then returned to the first mode and improvising, sang the following verses:
When Belekhsha had made an end of her verses, all present were moved to delight and El Abbas said to her, "Well done, O damsel!" Then he bade the fifth damsel come forward and sing. Now she was from the land of Syria and her name was Rihaneh; she was surpassing of voice and when she appeared in an assembly, all eyes were fixed upon her. So she came forward and taking the rebeck (for that she was used to play upon [all manner] instruments) improvised and sang the following verses:
When King El Aziz heard the damsel's song, her speech and her verses pleased him and he said to El Abbas, "O my son, verily, these damsels are weary with long versifying, and indeed they make us yearn after the dwellings and the homesteads with the goodliness of their songs. Indeed, these five have adorned our assembly with the excellence of their melodies and have done well in that which they have said before those who are present; wherefore we counsel thee to enfranchise them for the love of God the Most High." Quoth El Abbas, "There is no commandment but thy commandment;" and he enfranchised the ten damsels in the assembly; whereupon they kissed the hands of the king and his son and prostrated themselves in thanksgiving to God the Most High. Then they put off that which was upon them of ornaments and laying aside the lutes [and other] instruments of music, clave to their houses, veiled, and went not forth. (144)
As for King El Aziz, he lived after this seven years and was admitted to the mercy of God the Most High; whereupon his son El Abbas carried him forth to burial on such wise as beseemeth unto kings and let make recitations and readings of the Koran, in whole or in part, over his tomb. He kept up the mourning for his father a full-told month, at the end of which time he sat down on the throne of the kingship and judged and did justice and distributed silver and gold. Moreover, he loosed all who were in the prisons and abolished grievances and customs dues and did the oppressed justice of the oppressor; wherefore the people prayed for him and loved him and invoked on him endurance of glory and kingship and length of continuance [on life] and eternity of prosperity and happiness. Moreover, the troops submitted to him and the hosts from all parts of the kingdom, and there came to him presents from all the lands. The kings obeyed him and many were his troops and his grandees, and his subjects lived with him the most easeful and prosperous of lives.
Meanwhile, he ceased not, he and his beloved, Queen Mariyeh, in the most delightsome of life and the pleasantest thereof, and he was vouchsafed by her children; and indeed there befell friendship and love between them and the longer their companionship was prolonged, the more their love waxed, so that they became unable to endure from each other a single hour, save the time of his going forth to the Divan, when he would return to her in the utterest that might be of longing. Aud on this wise they abode in all solace and delight of life, till there came to them the Destroyer of Delights and the Sunderer of Companies. So extolled be the perfection of Him whose kingdom endureth for ever, who is never heedless neither dieth nor sleepeth! This is all that hath come down to us of their story, and so peace [be on you!]
SHEHRZAD AND SHEHRIYAR. (145)
King Shehriyar marvelled [at this story (146)] and said "By Allah, verily, injustice slayeth its folk!" (147) And he was edified by that wherewith Shehrzad bespoke him and sought help of God the Most High. Then said he to her, "Tell me another of thy stories, O Shehrzad; let it be a pleasant one and this shall be the completion of the story-telling." "With all my heart," answered Shehrzad. "It hath reached me, O august King, that a man once said to his fellows, 'I will set forth to you a means (148) of security (149) against vexation. (150) A friend of mine once related to me and said, "We attained [whiles] to security (151) against vexation, (152)and the origin of it was other than this; to wit, it was as follows. (153)