SHEHRZAD AND SHEHRIYAR.

King Shehriyar marvelled at these things and Shehrzad said to him, "Thou marvelledst at that which befell thee on the part of women; yet hath there befallen the kings of the Chosroes before thee what was more grievous than that which befell thee, and indeed I have set forth unto thee that which betided khalifs and kings and others than they with their women, but the exposition is long and hearkening groweth tedious, and in this [that I have already told thee] is sufficiency for the man of understanding and admonishment for the wise."

Then she was silent, and when the king heard her speech and profited by that which she said, he summoned up his reasoning faculties and cleansed his heart and caused his understanding revert [to the right way] and turned [with repentance] to God the Most High and said in himself, "Since there befell the kings of the Chosroes more than that which hath befallen me, never, whilst I abide [on life], shall I cease to blame myself [for that which I did in the slaughter of the daughters of the folk]. As for this Shehrzad, her like is not found in the lands; so extolled be the perfection of Him who appointed her a means for the deliverance of His creatures from slaughter and oppression!" Then he arose from his session and kissed her head, whereat she rejoiced with an exceeding joy, she and her sister Dinarzad.

When the morning morrowed, the king went forth and sitting down on the throne of the kingship, summoned the grandees of his empire; whereupon the chamberlains and deputies and captains of the host went in to him and kissed the earth before him. He distinguished the vizier with his especial favour and bestowed on him a dress of honour and entreated him with the utmost kindness, after which he set forth briefly to his chief officers that which had betided him with Shehrzad and how he had turned from that his former usance and repented him of what he had done aforetime and purposed to take the vizier's daughter Shehrzad to wife and let draw up the contract of marriage with her.

When those who were present heard this, they kissed the earth before him and offered up prayers for him and for the damsel Shehrzad, and the vizier thanked her. Then Shehriyar made an end of the session in all weal, whereupon the folk dispersed to their dwelling-places and the news was bruited abroad that the king purposed to marry the vizier's daughter Shehrzad. Then he proceeded to make ready the wedding gear, and [when he had made an end of his preparations], he sent after his brother King Shahzeman, who came, and King Shehriyar went forth to meet him with the troops. Moreover, they decorated the city after the goodliest fashion and diffused perfumes [from the censing-vessels] and [burnt] aloes-wood and other perfumes in all the markets and thoroughfares and rubbed themselves with saffron, what while the drums beat and the flutes and hautboys sounded and it was a notable day.

When they came to the palace, King Shehriyar commanded to spread the tables with beasts roasted [whole] and sweetmeats and all manner viands and bade the crier make proclamation to the folk that they should come up to the Divan and eat and drink and that this should be a means of reconciliation between him and them. So great and small came up unto him and they abode on that wise, eating and drinking, seven days with their nights. Then the king shut himself up with his brother and acquainted him with that which had betided him with the vizier's daughter [Shehrzad] in those three years [which were past] and told him what he had heard from her of saws and parables and chronicles and pleasant traits and jests and stories and anecdotes and dialogues and histories and odes and verses; whereat King Shahzeman marvelled with the utterest of marvel and said, "Fain would I take her younger sister to wife, so we may be two own brothers to two own sisters, and they on likewise be sisters unto us; for that the calamity which befell me was the means of the discovering of that which befell thee and all this time of three years past I have taken no delight in woman, save that I lie each night with a damsel of my kingdom, and when I arise in the morning, I put her to death; but now I desire to marry thy wife's sister Dinarzad."

When King Shehriyar heard his brother's words he rejoiced with an exceeding joy and arising forthright, went in to his wife Shehrzad and gave her to know of that which his brother purposed, to wit, that he sought her sister Dinarzad in marriage; whereupon, "O king of the age," answered she, "we seek of him one condition, to wit, that he take up his abode with us, for that I cannot brook to be parted from my sister an hour, because we were brought up together and may not brook severance from each other. If he accept this condition, she is his handmaid." King Shehriyar returned to his brother and acquainted him with that which Shehrzad had said; and he answered, saying, "Indeed, this is what was in my mind, for that I desire nevermore to be parted from thee. As for the kingdom, God the Most High shall send unto it whom He chooseth, for that there abideth to me no desire for the kingship."

When King Shehriyar heard his brother's words, he rejoiced with an exceeding joy and said, "Verily, this is what I had wished, O my brother. So praised be God who hath brought about union between us!" Then he sent after the Cadis and learned men and captains and notables, and they married the two brothers to the two sisters. The contracts were drawn up and the two kings bestowed dresses of honour of silk and satin on those who were present, whilst the city was decorated and the festivities were renewed. The king commanded each amir and vizier and chamberlain and deputy to decorate his palace and the folk of the city rejoiced in the presage of happiness and content. Moreover, King Shehriyar bade slaughter sheep and get up kitchens and made bride-feasts and fed all comers, high and low.

Then the eunuchs went forth, that they might perfume the bath [for the use of the brides]; so they essenced it with rose-water and willow-flower-water and bladders of musk and fumigated it with Cakili (191) aloes-wood and ambergris. Then Shehrzad entered, she and her sister Dinarzad, and they cleansed their heads and clipped their hair. When they came forth of the bath, they donned raiment and ornaments, [such as were] prepared for the kings of the Chosroes; and among Shehrzad's apparel was a dress charactered with red gold and wroughten with semblants of birds and beasts. Moreover, they both encircled their necks with necklaces of jewels of price, in the like whereof Iskender (192) rejoiced not, for therein were great jewels such as amazed the wit and the eye, and the thought was bewildered at their charms, for indeed, each of them was brighter than the sun and the moon. Before them they kindled lighted flambeaux in torch-holders of gold, but their faces outshone the flambeaux, for that they had eyes sharper than drawn swords and the lashes of their eyelids ensorcelled all hearts. Their cheeks were rosy and their necks and shapes swayed gracefully and their eyes wantoned. And the slave-girls came to meet them with instruments of music.

Then the two kings entered the bath, and when they came forth, they sat down on a couch, inlaid with pearls and jewels, whereupon the two sisters came up to them and stood before them, as they were moons, swaying gracefully from side to side in their beauty and grace. Presently they brought forward Shehrzad and displayed her, for the first dress, in a red suit; whereupon King Shehriyar rose to look upon her and the wits of all present, men and women, were confounded, for that she was even as saith of her one of her describers:


          Like a sun at the end of a cane in a hill of sand, She shines in a dress of the hue of pomegranate flower.
          She gives me to drink of her cheeks and her honeyed lips And quenches the worst of the fires that my heart devour.

Then they attired Dinarzad in a dress of blue brocade and she became as she were the full moon, whenas it shineth forth. So they displayed her in this, for the first dress, before King Shahzeman, who rejoiced in her and well-nigh took leave of his wits for longing and amorous desire; yea, he was distraught with love for her, whenas he saw her, for, indeed, she was as saith of her one of her describers in the following verses:


          She comes in a robe the colour of ultramarine, Blue as the stainless sky, unflecked with white;
          I view her with yearning eyes and she seems to me A moon of the summer, set in a winter's night.

Then they returned to Shehrzad and displayed her in the second dress. They clad her in a dress of surpassing goodliness, and veiled her face to the eyes with her hair. Moreover, they let down her side locks and she was even as saith of her one of her describers in the following verses:


          Bravo for her whose loosened locks her cheeks do overcloud! She slays me with her cruelty, so fair she is and proud.
          Quoth I, "Thou overcurtainest the morning with the night;" And she, "Not so; it is the moon that with the dark I shroud."

Then they displayed Dinarzad in a second and a third and a fourth dress and she came forward, as she were the rising sun, and swayed coquettishly to and fro; and indeed she was even as saith the poet of her in the following verses:


          A sun of beauty she appears to all who look on her, Glorious in arch and amorous grace, with coyness beautified;
          And when the sun of morning sees her visage and her smile, O'ercome. he hasteneth his face behind the clouds to hide.

Then they displayed Shehrzad in the third dress and the fourth and the fifth, and she became as she were a willow-wand or a thirsting gazelle, goodly of grace and perfect of attributes, even as saith of her one in the following verses:


          Like the full moon she shows upon a night of fortune fair, Slender of shape and charming all with her seductive air.
          She hath an eye, whose glances pierce the hearts of all mankind, Nor can cornelian with her cheeks for ruddiness compare.
          The sable torrent of her locks falls down unto her hips; Beware the serpents of her curls, I counsel thee, beware!
          Indeed her glance, her sides are soft; but none the less, alas! Her heart is harder than the rock; there is no mercy there.
          The starry arrows of her looks she darts above her veil; They hit and never miss the mark, though from afar they fare.

Then they returned to Dinarzad and displayed her in the fifth dress and in the sixth, which was green. Indeed, she overpassed with her loveliness the fair of the four quarters of the world and outshone, with the brightness of her countenance, the full moon at its rising; for she was even as saith of her the poet in the following verses:


          A damsel made for love and decked with subtle grace; Thou'dst deem the very sun had borrowed from her face.
          She came in robes of green, the likeness of the leaf That the pomegranate's flower doth in the bud encase.
          "How call'st thou this thy dress?" quoth we, and she replied A word wherein the wise a lesson well might trace;
          "Breaker of hearts," quoth she, "I call it, for therewith I've broken many a heart among the amorous race."

Then they displayed Shehrzad in the sixth and seventh dresses and clad her in youths' apparel, whereupon she came forward, swaying coquettishly from side to side; and indeed she ravished wits and hearts and ensorcelled with her glances [all who looked on her]. She shook her sides and wagged her hips, then put her hair on the hilt of her sword and went up to King Shehriyar, who embraced her, as the hospitable man embraces the guest, and threatened her in her ear with the taking of the sword; and indeed she was even as saith of her the poet in these verses:


          Were not the darkness (193) still in gender masculine, As ofttimes is the case with she-things passing fine,
          Tirewomen to the bride, who whiskers, ay, and beard Upon her face produce, they never would assign. (194)

On this wise they did with her sister Dinarzad, and when they had made an end of displaying the two brides, the king bestowed dresses of honour on all who were present and dismissed them to their own places. Then Shehrzad went in to King Shehriyar and Dinarzad to King Shahzeman and each of them solaced himself with the company of his beloved and the hearts of the folk were comforted. When the morning morrowed, the vizier came in to the two kings and kissed the ground before them; wherefore they thanked him and were bountiful to him. Then they went forth and sat down upon couches of estate, whilst all the viziers and amirs and grandees and the chief officers of the realm and the household presented themselves before them and kissed the earth. King Shehriyar ordered them dresses of honour and largesse and they offered up prayers for the abiding continuance [on life] of the king and his brother.

Then the two kings appointed their father-in-law the vizier to be viceroy in Samarcand and assigned him five of the chief amirs to accompany him, charging them attend him and do him service. The vizier kissed the earth and prayed that they might be vouchsafed length of life. Then he went in to his daughters, whilst the eunuchs and ushers walked before him, and saluted them and bade them farewell. They kissed his hands and gave him joy of the kingship and bestowed on him treasures galore. Then he took leave of them and setting out, journeyed days and nights till he came within three days' journey of Samarcand, where the townspeople met him and rejoiced in him with an exceeding joy. So he entered Samarcand and they decorated the city, and it was a notable day. He sat down on the throne of his kingship and the viziers did him homage and the grandees and amirs of Samarcand and prayed that he might be vouchsafed justice and victory and length of continuance [on life]. So he bestowed on them dresses of honour and entreated them with worship and they made him Sultan over them.

As soon as his father-in-law had departed for Samarcand, King Shehriyar summoned the grandees of his realm and made them a magnificent banquet of all manner rich meats and exquisite sweetmeats. Moreover, he bestowed on them dresses of honour and guerdoned them and divided the kingdoms between himself and his brother in their presence, whereat the folk rejoiced. Then the two kings abode, ruling each a day in turn and they accorded with each other, what while their wives continued in the love of God the Most High and in thanksgiving to Him; and the subjects and the provinces were at peace and the preachers prayed for them from the pulpits, and their report was bruited abroad and the travellers bore tidings of them [to all countries].

Moreover, King Shehriyar summoned chroniclers and copyists and bade them write all that had betided him with his wife, first and last; so they wrote this and named it "The Stories of the Thousand Nights and One Night." The book came to (195) thirty volumes and these the king laid up in his treasury. Then the two kings abode with their wives in all delight and solace of life, for that indeed God the Most High had changed their mourning into joyance; and on this wise they continued till there took them the Destroyer of Delights and Sunderer of Companies, he who maketh void the dwelling-places and peopleth the tombs, and they were translated to the mercy of God the Most High; their houses were laid waste and their palaces ruined and the kings inherited their riches.

Then there reigned after them an understanding king, who was just, keen-witted and accomplished and loved stories, especially those which chronicle the doings of kings and sultans, and he found [in the treasuries of the kings who had foregone him] these marvellous and rare and delightful stories, [written] in the thirty volumes aforesaid. So he read in them a first book and a second and a third and [so on] to the last of them, and each book pleased him more than that which forewent it, till he came to the end of them. Then he marvelled at that which he had read [therein] of stories and discourse and witty traits and anecdotes and moral instances and reminiscences and bade the folk copy them and publish them in all lands and climes; wherefore their report was bruited abroad and the people named them "The marvels and rarities of the Thousand Nights and One Night." This is all that hath come down to us of [the history of] this book, and God is All-Knowing. (196)




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