KEMEREZZEMAN AND BUDOUR.
There was once, of old time, a king called Shehriman, who was lord of many troops and guards and officers and reigned over certain islands, known as the Khalidan Islands, on the borders of the land of the Persians; but he was grown old and decrepit, without having been blessed with a son, albeit he had four wives, daughters of kings, and threescore concubines, with each of whom he was wont to lie one night in turn. This preyed upon his mind and disquieted him, so that he complained thereof to one of his Viziers, saying, 'I fear lest my kingdom be lost, when I die, for that I have no son to take it after me.' 'O King,' answered the Vizier, 'peradventure God shall yet provide for this; do thou put thy trust in Him and be constant in supplication to Him.' So the King rose and making his ablutions, prayed a two-bow prayer with a believing heart; after which he called one of his wives to bed and lay with her forthright. By God's grace, she conceived by him and when her months were accomplished, she bore a male child, like the moon on the night of its full. The King named him Kemerezzeman and rejoiced in him with exceeding joy and bade decorate the city in his honour. So they decorated the city seven days, whilst the drums beat and the messengers bore the glad tidings abroad. Meanwhile nurses and attendants were provided for the boy and he was reared in splendour and delight, until he reached the age of fifteen. He grew up of surpassing beauty and symmetry, and his father loved him very dear, so that he could not brook to be parted from him day or night. One day, he complained to one of his Viziers of the excess of his love for his son, saying, 'O Vizier, of a truth I fear the shifts and accidents of fortune for my son Kemerezzeman and fain would I marry him in my lifetime.' 'O King,' answered the Vizier, 'marriage is one of the most honourable of actions, and thou wouldst indeed do well to marry thy son in thy lifetime, ere thou make him king.' Quoth the King, 'Fetch me my son;' so Kemerezzeman came and bowed his head before his father, out of modesty. 'O Kemerezzeman,' said the King, 'I desire to marry thee and rejoice in thee in my lifetime.' 'O my father,' answered the prince, 'know that I have no wish to marry, nor doth my soul incline to women; for that I have read many books and heard much talk concerning their craft and perfidy, even as saith the poet:If ye would know of women and question of their case, Lo, I am versed in their fashions and skilled all else above.
And again:Gainsay women; he obeyeth Allah best who saith them nay, And he prospers not who giveth them his bridle-rein to sway;
Wherefore (continued Kemerezzeman) marriage is a thing to which I will never consent; no, not though I drink the cup of death.' When the King heard this, the light in his sight became darkness and he was excessively chagrined at his son's lack of obedience to his wishes; yet, for the great love he bore him, he forbore to press him and was not wroth with him, but caressed him and spoke him fair and showed him all manner of kindness such as tends to cultivate affection. He took patience with him a whole year, during which time Kemerezzeman increased daily in beauty and elegance and amorous grace, till he became perfect in eloquence and loveliness. All men were ravished with his beauty and every breeze that blew carried the tidings of his charms; he was a seduction to lovers and a garden of delight to longing hearts, for he was sweet of speech and his face put the full moon to shame. Accomplished in symmetry as in elegance and engaging manners, his shape was slender and graceful as the willow-wand or the flowering cane and his cheeks might pass for roses or blood-red anemones. He was, in fine, charming in all respects, even as the poet hath said of him:He comes and "Blest be God!" say all men, high and base. "Glory to Him who shaped and fashioned forth his face!"
When the year came to an end, the King called his son to him and said, 'O my son, wilt thou not hearken to me?' Whereupon Kemerezzeman fell down for respect and shame before his father and replied, 'O my father, how should I not hearken to thee, seeing that God commandeth me to obey thee and not gainsay thee?' 'O my son,' said King Shehriman, 'know that I desire to marry thee and rejoice in thee, whilst yet I live, and make thee king over my realm, before my death.' When the prince heard this, he bowed his head awhile, then raised it and said, 'O my father, this is a thing that I will never do, though I drink the cup of death. I know of a surety that God the Most High enjoins on me obedience to thee; but in His name I conjure thee, press me not in this matter of marriage, neither think that I will ever marry my life long; for that I have read the books both of the ancients and the moderns and have come to know all the troubles and calamities that have befallen them through women and the disasters that have sprung from their craft without end. How well says the poet:He, whom the baggages entrap, Deliverance shall never know,
And no less excellently saith another:Women, for all to chastity they're bidden, everywhere Are carrion tossed about of all the vultures of the air.
When King Shehriman heard these his son's words, he made him no answer, of his great love for him, but redoubled in favour and kindness to him. As soon as the audience was over, he called his Vizier and taking him apart, said to him, 'O Vizier, tell me how I shall do with my son in this matter of his marriage. I took counsel with thee thereon and thou didst counsel me to marry him, before making him king. I have spoken with him once and again of marriage, and he still gainsaid me; so do thou now counsel me what to do.' 'O King,' answered the Vizier, 'wait another year, and if after that thou be minded to speak to him on the matter of marriage, do it not privily, but on a day of state, when all the Viziers and Amirs are present and all the troops standing before thee. Then send for thy son and broach to him the matter of marriage before the Viziers and grandees and officers of state and captains; for he will surely be daunted by their presence and will not dare to oppose thy will.' The King rejoiced exceedingly in his Vizier's advice, deeming it excellent, and bestowed on him a splendid robe of honour. Then he took patience with his son another year, whilst, with every day that passed over him, Kemerezzeman increased in grace and beauty and elegance and perfection, till he was nigh twenty years old. Indeed, God had clad him in the habit of beauty and crowned him with the crown of perfection: his eyes were more ensorcelling than Harout and Marout (19) and the play of his glances more misleading than Taghout. (20) His cheeks shone with redness and his eyelashes outvied the keen-edged sword: the whiteness of his forehead resembled the shining moon and the blackness of his hair was as the murky night. His waist was more slender than the gossamer and his buttocks heavier than two hills of sand, troubling the heart with their softness; but his waist complained of their weight. In fine, his charms ravished all mankind, even as saith the poet:By his cheeks' unfading damask and his smiling teeth I swear, By the arrows that he feathers with the witchery of his air,
The King, accordingly, waited till a day of state, when the audience hall was filled with his Amirs and Viziers and grandees and officers of state and captains. As soon as they were all assembled, he sent for his son Kemerezzeman, who came and kissing the earth three times, stood before him, with his hands clasped behind his back. Then said the King to him, 'Know, O my son, that I have sent for thee and summoned thee to appear before this assembly and all these officers of state that I may lay a commandment on thee, wherein do thou not gainsay me. It is that thou marry, for I am minded to wed thee to a king's daughter and rejoice in thee ere I die.' When the prince heard these his father's words, he bowed his head awhile, then raising it, replied, being moved thereto by youthful folly and boyish ignorance, 'Never will I marry, no, not though I drink the cup of death! As for thee, thou art great in years and little of wit: hast thou not, twice before this, questioned me of the matter of marriage, and I refused thee? Indeed, thou dotest and art not fit to govern a flock of sheep!' So saying, he unclasped his hands from behind his back and rolled up his sleeves, in his rage; moreover, he added many words to his father, knowing not what he said, in the trouble of his spirit. The King was confounded and ashamed, for that this befell in the presence of his grandees and officers assembled on an occasion of state; but presently the energy of kingship took him and he cried out upon his son and made him tremble. Then he called to his guards and bade them seize him and bind his hands behind his back. So they laid hands on Kemerezzeman and binding him, brought him before his father, full of shame and confusion, with his head bowed down for fear and inquietude and his brow and face beaded with sweat. The King loaded him with reproaches, saying, 'Out on thee, thou whoreson and nursling of abomination! Dost thou dare to answer me thus before my captains and officers? But hitherto none hath corrected thee. Knowest thou not that this thou hast done were disgraceful in the meanest of my subjects?' And he commanded his guards to loose his bonds and imprison him in one of the turrets of the citadel. So they carried the prince into an old tower, wherein there was a dilapidated saloon, after having first swept it and cleansed its floor and set him a couch in its midst, on which they laid a mattress, a leathern rug and a cushion. Then they brought him a great lantern and a candle, for the place was dark, even by day, and posting an eunuch at the door, left him to himself. Kemerezzeman threw himself on the couch, broken-spirited and mournful-hearted, blaming himself and repenting of his unseemly behaviour to his father, when repentance availed him nothing, and saying, 'May God curse marriage and girls and women, the traitresses! Would I had hearkened to my father and married! It were better for me than this prison.'
Meanwhile, King Shehriman abode on his throne till sundown, when he took the Vizier apart and said to him, 'O Vizier, thine advice is the cause of all this that hath befallen between me and my son. What doth thou counsel me to do now?' 'O King,' answered he, 'leave thy son in prison for the space of fifteen days; then send for him and command him to marry, and he will not again gainsay thee.' The King accepted the Vizier's counsel and lay down to sleep, troubled at heart concerning Kemerezzeman, for he loved him very dearly, having no other child, and it was his wont not to sleep, save with his arm about his son's neck. So he passed the night in trouble and unease, tossing from side to side, as he were laid on coals of tamarisk-wood; for he was overcome with inquietude and sleep visited him not all that night; but his eyes ran over with tears and he repeated the following verses:The night, whilst the slanderers sleep, is tedious unto me; Suffice thee a heart that aches for parting's agony!
And these also:When the Pleïads I saw leave to shine in their stead And over the pole-star a lethargy shed
To return to Kemerezzeman. When the night came on, the eunuch set the lantern before him and lighting a candle, placed it in the candlestick; then brought him food. The prince ate a little and reproached himself for his ill-behaviour to his father, saying to himself, 'O my soul, knowst thou not that a son of Adam is the hostage of his tongue and that a man's tongue is what casts him into perils?' Then his eyes ran over with tears and he bewailed that which he had done, from an anguished heart and an aching bosom, repenting him with an exceeding repentance of the wrong he had done his father repeating the following verses:For the sheer stumble of his tongue the youth must death aby, Though for the stumble of his foot the grown man shall not die.
When he had made an end of eating, he called the eunuch, who washed his hands. Then he made his ablutions and prayed the prayers of sundown and nightfall, after which he sat down on the couch, to read (23) the Koran. He read the chapters called 'The Cow,' 'The family of Imran,' 'Ya-Sin,' 'The Compassionate,' 'Blessed be the King,' 'Unity' and 'The two Amulets,' and concluded with blessing and supplication, seeking refuge with God from Satan the accursed. Then he put off his trousers and the rest of his clothes and lay down, in a shirt of fine waxed cloth and a coif of blue stuff of Merv, upon a mattress of satin, embroidered on both sides with gold and quilted with Irak silk, having under his head a pillow stuffed with ostrich-down. In this guise, he was like the full moon, when it rises on its fourteenth night. Then, drawing over himself a coverlet of silk, he fell asleep with the lantern burning at his feet and the candle at his head, and woke not for a third part of the night, being ignorant of that which lurked for him in the secret purpose of God and what He who knoweth the hidden things had appointed unto him. Now, as chance and destiny would have it, the tower in question was old and had been many years deserted; and there was therein a Roman well, inhabited by an Afriteh of the lineage of Iblis the Accursed, by name Maimouneh, daughter of Ed Dimiryat, a renowned King of the Jinn. In the middle of the night, Maimouneh came up out of the well and made for heaven, thinking to listen by stealth to the discourse of the angels; but, when she reached the mouth of the well, she saw a light shining in the tower, contrary to wont; whereat she was mightily amazed, having dwelt there many years and never seen the like, and said to herself, 'Needs must there be some cause for this.' So she made for the light and found that it came from the saloon, at whose door she found the eunuch sleeping. She entered and saw a man Iying asleep upon the couch, with the lantern burning at his feet and the candle at his head; at which she wondered and going softly up to him, folded her wings and drawing back the coverlid, discovered his face. The lustre of his visage outshone that of the candle, and the Afriteh abode awhile, astounded at his beauty and grace; for his face beamed with light, his cheeks were rose-red and his eyelids languorous; his brows were arched like bows and his whole person exhaled a scent of musk, even as saith of him the poet:I kissed him and his cheeks forthwith grew red, and black and bright The pupils grew that are my soul's seduction and delight.
When Maimouneh saw him, she glorified God and said, 'Blessed be Allah, the best of Creators!' For she was of the true-believing Jinn. She stood awhile, gazing on his face, proclaiming the unity of God and envying the youth his beauty and grace. And she said in herself, 'By Allah, I will do him no hurt nor let any harm him, but will ransom him from all ill, for this fair face deserves not but that folk should look upon it and glorify God. But how could his family find it in their hearts to leave him in this desert place, where if one of our Marids came upon him at this hour, he would kill him?' Then she bent over him and kissing him between the eyes, folded back the coverlet over his face; after which she spread her wings and soaring into the air, flew upward till she drew near the lowest heaven, when she heard the noise of wings beating the air and making for the sound, found that it came from an Afrit called Dehnesh. So she swooped down on him like a sparrow-hawk; and when he was ware of her and knew her to be Maimouneh, daughter of the King of the Jinn, he feared her and his nerves trembled; and he implored her forbearance, saying, 'I conjure thee by the Most Great and August Name and by the most noble talisman graven upon the seal of Solomon, entreat me kindly and harm me not!' When she heard this, her heart inclined to him and she said, 'Verily, thou conjurest me with a mighty conjuration, O accursed one! Nevertheless, I will not let thee go, till thou tell me whence thou comest at this hour.' 'O princess,' answered he, 'know that I come from the uttermost end of the land of Cathay and from among the islands, and I will tell thee of a wonderful thing I have seen this night. If thou find my words true, let me go my way and write me a patent under thy hand that I am thy freedman, so none of the Jinn, whether of the air or the earth, divers or flyers, (24) may do me let or hindrance.' 'And what is it thou hast seen this night, O liar, O accursed one?' rejoined Maimouneh. 'Tell me without leasing and think not to escape from my hand with lies, for I swear to thee by the inscription on the beazel of the ring of Solomon son of David (on whom be peace,) except thy speech be true, I will pluck out thy feathers with mine own hand and strip off thy skin and break thy bones.' 'I accept this condition, O my lady,' answered Dehnesh, son of Shemhourish the Flyer. 'Know that I come to-night from the Islands of the Inland Sea in the parts of Cathay, which are the dominions of King Ghaïour, lord of the Islands and the Seas and the Seven Palaces. There I saw a daughter of his, than whom God hath made none fairer in her time,--I cannot picture her to thee, for my tongue would fail to describe her aright; but I will name to thee somewhat of her charms, by way of approximation. Her hair is like the nights of estrangement and separation and her face like the days of union; and the poet hath well described her when he says:She took up three locks of her hair and spread them out one night And straight four nights discovered at once unto my sight.
She hath a nose like the point of the burnished sword and cheeks like purple wine or blood-red anemones: her lips are like coral and cornelian and the water of her mouth is sweeter than old wine, its taste would allay the torments of Hell. Her tongue is moved by abounding wit and ready repartee: her breast is a temptation to all that see it, glory be to Him who created it and finished it: and joined thereto are two smooth round arms. As says of her the poet El Welhan:She hath two wrists, which, were they not by bracelets held, I trow, Would flow out of their sleeves as brooks of liquid silver flow.
She has breasts like two globes of ivory, the moons borrow from their brightness, and a belly dimpled as it were a brocaded cloth of the finest Egyptian linen, with creases like folded scrolls, leading to a waist slender past conception, over buttocks like a hill of sand, that force her to sit, when she would fain stand, and awaken her, when she would sleep, even as saith of her the poet:Her slender waist a pair of buttocks overlies, The which both over her and me do tyrannize.
They are upborne by smooth round thighs and legs like columns of pearl, and all this rests upon two slender feet, pointed like spear-blades, the handiwork of God, the Protector and Requiter, I wonder how, of their littleness, they can sustain what is above them. But I cut short my description of her charms, lest I be tedious. The father of this young lady is a powerful king, a fierce cavalier, immersed night and day in wars and battles, fearless of death and dreading not ruin, for that he is a masterful tyrant and an irresistible conqueror, lord of troops and armies, continents and islands, cities and villages, and his name is King Ghaïour, lord of the Islands and the Seas and of the Seven Palaces. He loves his daughter, the young lady whom I have described to thee, very dearly, and for love of her, he gathered together the treasures of all the kings and built her therewith seven palaces, each of a different fashion; the first of crystal, the second of marble, the third of China steel, the fourth of precious stones, the fifth of porcelain and vari-coloured onyx, the sixth of silver and the seventh of gold. He filled the seven palaces with rich silken carpets and hangings and vessels of gold and silver and all manner of gear befitting kings and commanded his daughter, whose name is the Princess Budour, to abide in each by turns for a certain season of the year. When her beauty became known and her fame was noised abroad in the neighbouring countries, all the kings sent to her father, to demand her in marriage, and he consulted her on the matter, but she misliked it and said, "O my father, I have no mind to marry; for I am a sovereign lady and a princess ruling over men, and I have no desire for a man who shall rule over me." The more she refused, the more the eagerness of her suitors increased and all the kings of the Islands of the Inland Sea sent gifts and offerings to her father, with letters asking her in marriage. So he pressed her again and again to make choice of a husband, despite her refusals, till at last she turned upon him angrily and said to him, "O my father, if thou name marriage to me again, I will go into my chamber and take a sword and fixing its hilt in the ground, set its point to my breast; then will I lean upon it, till it come forth from my back, and so kill myself." When the King heard this, the light became darkness in his sight and his heart was torn with anxiety and perplexity concerning her affair; for he feared lest she should kill herself and knew not how to deal with the kings who sought her hand. So he said to her, "If thou be irrevocably determined not to marry, abstain from going in and out." Then he shut her up in her chamber, appointing ten old body-women to guard her, and made as though he were wroth with her, forbidding her to go forth to the seven palaces; moreover, he sent letters to all the kings, giving them to know that she had been stricken with madness. It is now a year (continued Dehnesh) since she has been thus cloistered, and every night I go to her, whilst she is asleep, and take my fill of gazing on her face and kiss her between the eyes: yet, of my love to her, I do her no hurt neither swive her, for that her youth is fair and her loveliness surpassing; every one who sees is jealous for her of himself. I conjure thee, therefore, O my lady, to go back with me and look on her beauty and symmetry; and after, if thou wilt, chastise me or enslave me: for it is thine to command and to forbid.' So saying, he bowed his head towards the earth and drooped his wings; but Maimouneh laughed at his words and spitting in his face, answered, 'What is this girl of whom thou pratest but a potsherd to cleanse the privities withal? Faugh! Faugh! By Allah, O accursed one, I thought thou hadst some rare story to tell me or some marvel to make known to me! How would it be if thou sawest my beloved? Verily this night I have seen a young man whom if thou sawest though but in sleep, thou wouldst be palsied with admiration and thy mouth would water.' 'And who and what is this youth?' asked the Afrit. 'Know, O Dehnesh,' answered she, 'that there hath befallen him the like of what befell thy mistress; for his father pressed him again and again to marry, but he refused, till at length his father waxed wroth and imprisoned him in the tower where I dwell: and I came up to-night and saw him.' 'O my lady,' said Dehnesh, 'show me the youth, that I may see if he be indeed handsomer than my mistress, the Princess Budour, or not; for I cannot believe that there lives her equal.' 'Thou liest, O accursed one!' rejoined Maimouneh. 'O most ill-omened of Marids and vilest of Satans! Sure am I that there is not in this world the like of my beloved. Art thou mad to even thy beloved with mine?' 'I conjure thee by Allah, O my lady,' said Dehnesh, 'to go back with me and see my mistress, and after I will return with thee and look upon thy beloved.' 'It must needs be so, O accursed one!' answered she. 'Yet, for that thou art a knavish devil, I will not go with thee nor shalt thou come with me, save upon surety and condition of pledge. If thy beloved prove handsomer than mine, the pledge shall be thine against me; but if my beloved prove the fairer, the pledge shall be mine against thee.' 'O my lady,' said Dehnesh, 'I accept this thy condition; so come with me to the Islands.' 'Not so,' replied Maimouneh; 'for the abode of my beloved is nearer than that of thine: here it is under us; so come down with me and see my beloved, and after we will go look upon thy mistress.' 'I hear and obey,' said Dehnesh. So they descended and alighting on the tower, entered the saloon, where Maimouneh stationed Dehnesh beside the bed and putting out her hand, drew back the silken coverlet, whereupon Kemerezzeman's face shone out like the sun. She looked at him a moment, then turning to Dehnesh, said, ''Look, O accursed one, and be not the vilest of madmen; I am a maiden and am ravished with him.' So Dehnesh looked at the prince and gazed steadfastly on him awhile, then, shaking his head, said to Maimouneh, 'By Allah, O my lady, thou art excusable; but there is another thing to be considered, and that is that the female estate differs from the male. By the virtue of God, this thy beloved is the likest of all created things to my mistress in beauty and loveliness and grace and it is as though they were both cast alike in the mould of perfection!' When Maimouneh heard these words, the light in her sight became darkness and she dealt him so fierce a buffet on the head with her wing as well-nigh made an end of him. Then, 'I conjure thee,' said she, 'by the light of his glorious countenance, go at once, O accursed one, and bring hither thy mistress in haste that we may lay them together and look on them both, as they lie asleep side by side; so will it appear to us whether is the goodlier and more beautiful of the two. Except thou obey me forthright, I will dart my sparks at thee and consume thee with my fire; yea, I will rend thee in pieces and cast thee into the deserts, as an example to stay-at-home and wayfarer.' 'O my lady,' answered the Afrit, 'I will do thy bidding, for I know that my mistress is the fairer and sweeter.' So saying, he flew away and Maimouneh flew with him, to guard him. They were absent awhile and presently returned, bearing the young lady, who was clad in a shift of fineVenetian silk, laced with gold and wrought with the most exquisite broidery and having the following verses worked upon the ends of the sleeves:Three things for ever hinder her to visit us, for fear Of the intriguing spy and eke the rancorous envier;
They carried her into the saloon and laying her beside Kemerezzeman, uncovered both their faces, and behold, they were the likest of all folk, one to the other, as they were twins or an only brother and sister; and indeed they were a temptation to the pious, even as says of them the poet El Mubin:Be not thy love, O heart, to one alone confined, Lest, for that one, amaze and doting thee enwind;
And quoth another:Two fair ones lying on the earth I did of late espy; Two that I needs must love, although they lay upon mine eye.
Dehnesh and Maimouneh gazed on them awhile, and the former said, 'By Allah, O my lady, it is good! My mistress is assuredly the fairer.' 'Not so,' answered she, 'my beloved is the fairer. Out on thee, O Dehnesh! Thou art blind of eye and heart and distinguishest not between good and bad. (25) Wilt thou hide the truth? Dost thou not see his beauty and grace and symmetry? Out on thee, hear what I purpose to say in praise of my beloved, and do thou the like for her thou lovest, an thou be a true lover.' Then she kissed Kemerezzeman again and again between the eyes and repeated the following ode:Ah me, what ails the censurer that he at thee should flite? How shall I be consoled for thee, and thou a sapling slight?
When Dehnesh heard this, he shook for delight and was filled with admiration and said, 'Thou hast indeed done well in praise of him whom thou lovest! Needs must I do my endeavour, in my turn, to celebrate my mistress, to the best of my power, and recite somewhat in her honour.' Then he went up to the lady Budour and kissing her between the eyes, looked at her and at Maimouneh and recited the following verses, for all he had no skill in poetry:They chide my passion for my fair in harsh and cruel guise; But, of their ignorance, forsooth, they're neither just nor wise.
And also the following:I feed mine eyes on the places where we met long ago; Far distant now is the valley and I'm forslain for woe.
When Maimouneh heard this, she said, 'Thou hast done well, O Dehnesh! But tell me, which of the two is the handsomer?' And he answered, 'My mistress Budour is certainly handsomer than thy beloved.' 'Thou liest, O accursed one!' cried Maimouneh. 'Nay, my beloved is more beautiful than thine!' And they ceased not to gainsay each other, till Maimouneh cried out at Dehnesh and would have laid violent hands on him; but he humbled himself to her and softening his speech, said to her, 'Let us leave talking, for we do but contradict each other, and rather seek one who shall judge fairly between us, whether of the two is fairer, and let us abide by his sentence.' 'I agree to this,' answered she and smote the earth with her foot, whereupon there came up a one- eyed Afrit, hump-backed and scurvy, with eyes slit endlong in his face. On his head were seven horns and four locks of hair falling to his heels; his hands were like pitchforks, his legs like masts and he had claws like a lion and hoofs like those of the wild ass. When he saw Maimouneh, he kissed the earth before her and standing with his hands clasped behind him, said, 'What is thy will, O king's daughter?' 'O Keshkesh,' answered she, 'I would have thee judge between me and this accursed Dehnesh.' And she made known to him the whole matter, whereupon he looked at the prince and princess and saw them lying asleep, embraced, each with an arm about the other's neck, alike in beauty and grace and equal in goodliness. The Marid gazed long and fixedly upon them, marvelling at their beauty, and repeated the following verses:Cleave fast to her thou lov'st and let the envious rail amain, For calumny and envy ne'er to favour love were fain.
Then he turned to Maimouneh and Dehnesh and said to them, 'By Allah, if you will have the truth, they are equal in beauty and grace and perfection, nor is there any difference between them but that of sex. But I have another idea, and it is that we wake each of them in turn, without the other's knowledge, and whichever is more enamoured of the other shall be held the lesser in beauty and grace.' 'This is a good counsel,' answered Maimouneh, and Dehnesh said, 'I consent to this.' Then Dehnesh changed himself to a flea and bit Kemerezzeman on the neck, whereupon the prince awoke with a start and rubbed the place of the bite, because of the smart. Then turning sideways, he found lying by him something, whose breath was more fragrant than musk, and whose body was softer than cream. At this he marvelled greatly and sitting up, looked at this that lay beside him and saw it to be a young lady like the moon, as she were a splendid pearl, or a shining sun, five feet high, with a shape like the letter I, high-bosomed and rosy-checked; even as saith of her the poet:Four things there are, which ne'er unite, except it be To shed my heart's best blood and take my soul by storm.
And also quoth another:She shineth forth, a moon, and bends, a willow-wand, And breathes, pure ambergris, and gazes, a gazelle.
She was clad in a shift of Venetian silk, without drawers, and wore on her head a kerchief embroidered with gold and jewels; her ears were hung with earrings, that shone like stars, and round her neck was a collar of great pearls, past the competence of any king. When he saw this, his reason was confounded and natural heat began to stir in him; God awoke in him the desire of coition and he said, 'What God wills, shall be, and what He will not, shall not be!' So saying, he put out his hand and turning her over, loosed the collar of her shift, laying bare her bosom, with its breasts like globes of ivory; whereat his inclination for her redoubled and he desired her with an exceeding desire. Then he shook her and moved her, essaying to waken her and saying, 'O my beloved, awake and look on me; I am Kemerezzeman.' But she awoke not, neither moved her head, for Dehnesh made her sleep heavy. With this, he considered awhile and said to himself, 'If I guess aright, this is she to whom my father would have married me and I have refused these three years past; but, God willing, as soon as it is day, I will say to him, "Marry me to her that I may enjoy her," nor will I let half the day pass ere I possess her and take my fill of her beauty and grace.' Then he bent over Budour, to kiss her, whereat Maimouneh trembled and was confounded and Dehnesh was like to fly for joy. But, as Kemerezzeman was about to kiss her, he was ashamed before God and turned away his head, saying to his heart, 'Have patience.' Then he considered awhile and said, 'I will be patient, lest my father have brought this young lady and made her lie by my side, to try me with her, charging her not to be lightly awakened, whenas I would fain arouse her, and bidding her tell him all that I do to her. Belike, he is hidden somewhere whence he can see all I do with this young lady, himself unseen; and to-morrow he will flout me and say, "How comes it that thou feignest to have no mind to marry and yet didst kiss and clip yonder damsel?" So I will forbear her, lest I be shamed before my father; and it were well that I look not on her nor touch her at this present, except to take from her somewhat to serve as a sign of remembrance and a token between us.' Then he lifted her hand and took from her little finger a ring worth much money, for that its beazel was of precious jewels and around it were graven the following verses:Think not that I have forgotten thy sometime promises,Though long thou hast protracted thy cruelty, ywis.
Then he put the ring on his own little finger, and turning his back to her, went to sleep. When Maimouneh saw this, she was glad and said, 'Saw ye how my beloved Kemerezzeman forbore this young lady? Verily, this was of the perfection of his excellences; for see how he looked on her and noted her beauty and grace, yet clipped her not neither kissed her nor put his hand to her, but turned his back to her and slept.' 'It is well,' answered they; 'we saw how perfectly he bore himself.' Then Maimouneh changed herself into a flea and entering Budour's clothes, crept up her leg and bit her four finger-breadths below the navel; whereupon she opened her eyes and sitting up in bed, saw a youth lying beside her and breathing heavily in his sleep, the loveliest of God's creatures, with eyes that put to shame the fair maids of Paradise, mouth like Solomon's seal, whose water was sweeter to the taste and more efficacious than triacle, (30) lips the colour of coral and cheeks like blood-red anemones, even as saith one, describing him:From Zeyneb (31) and Newar (32) my mind is drawn away By the rose of a cheek, whereo'er a whisker's myrtles stray.
When the princess saw him, a transport of passion and longing seized her and she said to herself, 'Alas my shame! This is a strange youth and I know him not. How comes he lying in one bed with me?' Then she looked at him again and noting his beauty and grace, said, 'By Allah, he is a comely youth and my heart is well-nigh torn in sunder with longing for him. But alas, how am I shamed by him! By Allah, had I known it was he who sought my hand of my father, I had not rejected him, but had married him and enjoyed his loveliness!' Then she gazed in his face and said, 'O my lord and light of mine eyes, awake from sleep and enjoy my beauty and grace.' And she moved him with her hand; but Maimouneh let down sleep upon him (as it were a curtain) and pressed on his head with her wings, so that he awoke not. The princess went on to shake him and say, 'My life on thee, give ear unto me! Awake and look on the narcissus and the tender green and enjoy my body and my secret charms and dally with me and touzle me from now till break of day! I conjure thee by Allah, O my lord, sit up and lean against the pillow and sleep not!' Still he made her no answer, but breathed heavily in his sleep. 'Alas! Alas!' continued she. 'Thou art proud in thy beauty and grace and lovely looks! But if thou art handsome, so am I; what then is this thou dost? Have they lessoned thee to flout me or has the wretched old man, my father, made thee swear not to speak to me to-night?' But he opened not his mouth neither awoke, whereat her passion redoubled and God inflamed her heart with love of him. She stole one glance at him that cost her a thousand sighs: her heart fluttered and her entrails yearned and she exclaimed, 'Speak to me, O my lord! O my friend, my beloved, answer me and tell me thy name, for indeed thou hast ravished my wit!' Still he abode drowned in sleep and answered her not a word, and she sighed and said, 'Alas! Alas! why art thou so self-satisfied?' Then she shook him and turning his hand over, saw her ring on his little finger, whereat she cried out and said, with a sigh of passion, 'Alack! Alack! By Allah, thou art my beloved and lovest me! Yet meseems thou turnest away from me out of coquetry, for all thou camest to me whilst I was asleep and knew not what thou didst, and tookest my ring. But I will not pull it off thy finger.' So saying, she opened the bosom of his shirt and kissed him and put her hand to him, seeking somewhat that she might take as a token, but found nothing. Then she put her hand into his breast, and for the smoothness of his body, it slipped down to his navel and thence to his yard, whereupon her heart ached and her entrails quivered and desire was sore upon her, for that women's lust is fiercer than that of men, and she was confounded. Then she took his ring from his finger and put it on her own and kissed his mouth and hands, nor did she leave any part of him unkissed; after which she took him to her breast and laying one of her hands under his neck and the other under his armpit, fell asleep by his side. Then said Maimouneh to Dehnesh, 'O accursed one, sawst thou how prudishly and coquettishly my beloved bore himself and what ardour of passion thy mistress showed to him? There can be no doubt that my beloved is handsomer than thine; nevertheless I pardon thee.' Then she wrote him a patent of manumission and said to Keshkesh, 'Help Dehnesh to take up his mistress and carry her back to her own place, for the night wanes apace and there is but little left of it.' ' I hear and obey,' answered Keshkesh. So the two Afrits lifted up the Princess Budour and flying away with her, carried her back to her own place and laid her on her bed, whilst Maimouneh abode alone with Kemerezzeman, gazing upon him as he slept, till the night was all but spent, when she went her way.
At break of day, the prince awoke from sleep and turned right and left, but found not the young lady by him and said in himself, 'What is this? It would seem as if my father would fain incline me to marriage with the young lady, that was with me, and have now taken her away by stealth, to the intent that my desire for marriage may redouble.' Then he called out to the eunuch who slept at the door, saying, 'Out on thee, O accursed one, arise forthright!' So the eunuch arose, dazed with sleep, and brought him basin and ewer, whereupon Kemerezzeman entered the draught-house and did his need; then, coming out, made his ablutions and prayed the morning-prayer, after which he sat telling his beads. Then he looked up, and seeing the eunuch standing waiting upon him, said to him, 'Out on thee, O Sewab! Who was it came hither and took away the young lady from beside me, whilst I slept?' 'O my lord, what young lady?' asked the eunuch. 'She that lay with me last night,' replied Kemerezzeman. The eunuch was troubled at his words and said to him, 'By Allah, there has been with thee neither young lady nor other! How should she have come in to thee, when the door was locked and I asleep before it? By Allah, O my lord, neither man nor woman has come in to thee!' 'Thou liest, O pestilent slave!' exclaimed the prince. 'Dost thou also presume to hoodwink me and wilt thou not tell me what is come of the young lady who lay with me last night and who took her away?' The eunuch was affrighted at him and answered, 'By Allah, O my lord, I have seen neither girl nor boy!' His words only angered Kemerezzeman and he said to him, 'O accursed one, my father hath taught thee deceit! Come hither.' So the eunuch came up to him, and the prince seized him by the collar and threw him to the ground. He let fly a crack of wind, and Kemerezzeman, kneeling upon him, kicked him and throttled him, till he fainted away. Then he tied him to the well-rope, and lowering him into the well, plunged him into the water, then drew him up and plunged him in again. Now it was hard winter weather, and Kemerezzeman ceased not to lower the eunuch into the water and pull him up again, whilst he screamed and called for help. Quoth the prince, 'By Allah, O accursed one, I will not draw thee up out of the well, till thou tell me the story of the young lady and who it was took her away, whilst I slept.' 'O my lord,' answered the eunuch, seeing death staring him in the face, 'let me go and I will tell thee the truth.' So Kemerezzeman pulled him up out of the well, all but dead for cold and wet and torture and beating and fear of drowning. His teeth chattered and he shook like the reed in the hurricane and his clothes were drenched and his body befouled and torn by the rough slimy sides of the well. When Kemerezzeman saw him in this sorry plight, he relented towards him; and as soon as the eunuch found himself on dry land, he said to him, 'O my lord, let me go and put off my clothes and wring them out and spread them in the sun to dry and don others; after which I will return to thee forthwith and tell thee the truth of the matter.' 'O wretched slave,' answered the prince, 'hadst thou not seen death face to face, thou hadst never confessed; but go now and do thy will, and after return speedily and tell me the truth.' So the eunuch went out, hardly crediting his escape, and gave not over running and stumbling, in his haste, till he came in to King Shehriman, whom he found sitting talking with his Vizier of Kemerezzeman's case and saying, 'I slept not last night, for anxiety concerning my son Kemerezzeman, and indeed I fear lest some harm befall him in that old tower. What good was there in imprisoning him?' 'Have no care for him,' answered the Vizier. 'By Allah, no hurt will befall him! Leave him in prison for a month, till his humour yield and his spirit be broken and he return to his senses.' As he spoke, in came the eunuch, in the aforesaid plight, and said to the King, who was troubled at sight of him, 'O our lord the Sultan, thy son's wits are fled and he has gone mad; he has dealt with me thus and thus, so that I am become as thou seest, and says, "A young lady lay with me this night and stole away whilst I slept. Where is she?" And insists on my telling him where she is and who took her away. But I have seen neither girl nor boy; the door was locked all night, for I slept before it, with the key under my head, and opened to him in the morning with my own hand.' When the King heard this, he cried out, saying, 'Alas, my son!' And he was sore enraged against the Vizier, who had been the cause of all this, and said to him, 'Go, bring me news of my son and see what hath befallen his wit.' So the Vizier rose and hastened with the slave to the tower, tumbling over his skirts, in his fear of the King's anger. The sun had now risen and when he came in to Kemerezzeman, he found him sitting on the couch, reading the Koran; so he saluted him and sitting down by his side, said to him, 'O my lord, this wretched slave brought us news that disquieted and alarmed us and incensed the King.' 'And what,' asked Kemerezzeman, 'hath he told you of me, to trouble my father? In good sooth, he hath troubled none but me.' 'He came to us in a sorry plight,' answered the Vizier, 'and told us of thee a thing which God forfend and a lie which it befits not to repeat, may God preserve thy youth and sound wit and eloquent tongue and forbid aught of foul to come from thee!' 'O Vizier,' said the prince, 'what did this pestilent slave say of me?' 'He told us,' replied the Vizier, 'thou hadst taken leave of thy wits and would have it that a young lady lay with thee last night and wast instant with him to tell thee whither she had gone and didst torture him to that end.' When Kemerezzeman heard this, he was sore enraged and said to the Vizier, 'It is manifest to me that you taught the eunuch to do as he did and forbade him to tell me what became of the young lady. But thou, O Vizier, art more reasonable than the eunuch; so do thou tell me forthright whither went the young lady that lay in my bosom last night; for it was you who sent her and bade her sleep in my arms, and we lay together till day; but when I awoke, I found her not. So where is she now?' 'O my lord Kemerezzeman,' said the Vizier, 'the name of God encompass thee! By Allah, we sent none to thee last night, but thou layest alone, with the door locked on thee and the eunuch sleeping before it, nor did there come to thee a young lady or any other. Stablish thy reason, O my lord, and return to thy senses and occupy thy mind no longer [with vain imaginations].' 'O Vizier,' rejoined Kemerezzeman, incensed at his words, 'the young lady in question is my beloved, the fair one with the black eyes and red cheeks, whom I held in my arms all last night.' The Vizier wondered at his words and said to him, 'Didst thou see this damsel with thine eyes and on wake, or in sleep?' 'O wretched old man,' answered Kemerezzeman, 'thinkest thou I saw her with my ears? Indeed, I saw her with my very eyes and on wake and touched her with my hand and watched by her half the night, gazing my fill on her beauty and grace and elegance and lovely looks. But thou hadst schooled her and charged her to speak no word to me; so she feigned sleep and I lay by her side till morning, when I awoke and found her gone.' 'O my lord Kemerezzeman,' rejoined the Vizier, 'surely thou sawest this in thy sleep; it must have been a delusion of dreams or a hallucination caused by eating various kinds of food or a suggestion of the accursed devils.' 'O pestilent old man,' cried the prince, 'wilt thou too make a mock of me and tell me this was an illusion of dreams, when this eunuch confessed to the young lady, saying, "I will return to thee forthwith and tell thee all about her?"' So saying, he sprang up and laying hold of the Vizier's long beard, twisted his hand in it and tugging him off the couch, threw him on the floor. It seemed to the Vizier as though his soul departed his body for the violent plucking at his beard, and Kemerezzeman fell to kicking him and pummelling his breast and sides and cuffing him on the nape, till he had well-nigh made an end of him. Then said the Vizier in himself, 'I must save myself from this madman by telling him a lie, even as did the eunuch; else he will kill me, for he is mad beyond a doubt.' So he said to Kemerezzeman, 'O my lord, bear me not malice, for indeed thy father charged me to conceal from thee this affair of the young lady; but now I am weak and weary and sore with beating; for I am an old man and lack strength to endure blows. So have a little patience with me and I will tell thee all.' When the prince heard this, he left beating him and said, 'Why couldst thou not tell me without blows and humiliation? Rise now, unlucky old man that thou art, and tell me her story.' Quoth the Vizier, 'Dost thou ask of the young lady with the fair face and perfect shape?' 'Yes,' answered Kemerezzeman. 'Tell me who it was laid her by my side and took her away by night, and let me know whither she is gone, that I may go to her. If my father did this to try me, with a view to our marriage, I consent to marry her and be quit of this trouble; for he only dealt thus with me, because I refused to marry. I say again, I consent to marry: so tell this to my father, O Vizier, and advise him to marry me to her, for I will have none other and my heart loveth her alone. Go now to my father and counsel him to hasten our marriage and bring me his answer forthright.' 'It is well,' rejoined the Vizier, and went out from him, hardly crediting his escape. Then he set off running and stumbling as he went, for excess of affright and agitation, till he came in to the King, who said to him, 'O Vizier, what has befallen thee and who has maltreated thee and how comes it that I see thee thus confounded and terrified?' 'O King,' answered the Vizier, 'I bring thee news.' 'What is it?' asked Shehriman, and the Vizier said, 'Know that thy son Kemerezzeman's wits are gone and that madness hath betided him.' When the King heard this, the light in his face became darkness and he said, 'Expound to me the nature of my son's madness.' 'O my lord,' answered the Vizier, 'I hear and obey.' Then he told him all that had passed and the King said to him, 'O most ill-omened of Viziers and filthiest of Amirs, know that the reward I will give thee in return for this thy news of my son's madness shall be the cutting off of thy bead and the forfeiture of thy goods; for thou hast caused my son's disorder by the wicked and sinister counsel thou hast given me first and last. By Allah, if aught of mischief or madness have befallen him, I will nail thee upon the dome [of the palace] and make thee taste the bitterness of death!' Then rising, he betook himself with the Vizier to the tower, and when Kemerezzeman saw him, he came down to him in haste from the couch on which he sat and kissing his hands, drew back and stood before him awhile, with his eyes cast down and his hands clasped behind him. Then he raised his head and repeated the following verses, whilst the tears streamed down his cheeks:If I have borne myself blameworthily to you Or if I've made default in that which is your due,
When the King heard this, he embraced his son and kissing him between the eyes, made him sit by his side on the couch; then turned to the Vizier and looking on him with angry eyes, said to him, 'O dog of a Vizier, why didst thou tell me that my son was mad and make my heart quake for him?' Then he turned to the prince and said to him, 'O my son, what is to-day called?' 'O my father,' answered he, 'to-day is Saturday and to-morrow Sunday: then come Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.' 'O my son, O Kemerezzeman,' exclaimed the King, 'praised be God for the preservation of thy reason! What is this present month called in Arabic?'
'Dhoulcaadeh,' answered Kemerezzeman, 'and it is followed by Dhoulhejjeh; then comes Muherrem, then Sefer, then Rebia the First and Rebia the Second, the two Jumadas, Rejeb, Shaaban, Ramazan and Shewwal.' At this the King rejoiced exceedingly and spat in the Vizier's face, saying, 'O wicked old man, how canst thou pretend that my son is mad? None is mad but thou.' The Vizier shook his head and would have spoken, but bethought himself to wait awhile and see what befell. Then the King said to Kemerezzeman, 'O my son, what is this thou sayest to the eunuch and the Vizier of a fair damsel that lay with thee last night? What damsel is this of whom thou speakest?' Kemerezzeman laughed at his father's words and replied, 'O my father, I can bear no more jesting; so mock me not with another word, for my humour is soured by that you have done with me. Let it suffice thee to know that I consent to marry, but on condition that thou give me to wife her with whom I lay yesternight; for I am assured that it was thou sentest her to me and madest me in love with her, then tookest her away from beside me before the dawn.' 'O my son,' rejoined the King, 'the name of God encompass thee and preserve thy wit from madness! What young lady is this of whom thou talkest? By Allah, O my son, I know nothing of the affair, and I conjure thee, tell me if it be a delusion of sleep or a hallucination caused by food? Doubtless, thou layest down to sleep last night, with thy mind occupied with marriage and troubled with the thought of it (may God curse marriage and the hour in which it occurred to me and him who counselled it!) and dreamtest that a handsome young lady embraced thee and didst fancy thou sawst her on wake; but all this, O my son, is but an illusion of dreams.' 'Leave this talk,' replied Kemerezzeman, 'and swear to me by God, the All-wise Creator, the Humbler of the mighty and the Destroyer of the Chosroës, that thou knowest nothing of the young lady nor of her abiding-place.' 'By the virtue of the Most High God,' said the King, 'the God of Moses and Abraham, I know nothing of all this and it is assuredly but an illusion of dreams that thou hast seen in sleep.' Quoth the prince, 'I will give thee a proof that it was not a dream. Come, let me put a case to thee: did it ever happen to any to dream that he was fighting a sore battle and after to awake and find in his hand a sword besmeared with blood?' 'No, by Allah, O my son,' answered the King, 'this hath never been.' 'I will tell thee what happened to me,' rejoined Kemerezzeman. 'Meseemed I awoke from sleep in the middle of the past night and found a young lady lying by my side, whose shape and favour were as mine. I embraced her and turned her about with my hand and took her ring, which I put on my finger, and she pulled off my ring and put it on her finger. Then I went to sleep by her side, but refrained from her and was ashamed to kiss her on the mouth, deeming that thou hadst sent her to me, with intent to tempt me with her and incline me to marriage, and misdoubting thee to be hidden somewhere whence thou couldst see what I did with her. At point of day, I awoke and found no trace of her, nor could I come at any news of her, and there befell me what thou knowest of with the eunuch and the Vizier. How then can this have been a dream and a delusion, seeing that the ring is a reality? I should indeed have deemed it a dream but for her ring on my finger. Here it is: look at it, O King, and see what is its worth.' So saying, he handed the ring to his father, who examined it and turned it over, then said to his son, 'Verily, there hangs some mighty mystery by this ring and some strange secret. What befell thee last night is indeed a mysterious affair and I know not how this intruder came in upon us. None is the cause of all this trouble save the Vizier; but I conjure thee, O my son, to take patience, so haply God may do away this affliction from thee and bring thee complete relief: as quoth one of the poets:It may be Fate at last shall draw its bridle-rein And bring us happy chance; for Fortune changes still;
And now, O my son,' added he, 'I am certified that thou art not mad; but thy case is a strange one, none can unravel it for thee but God the Most High.' 'By Allah, O my father,' cried the prince, 'deal kindly with me and seek out this damsel and hasten her coming to me; else I shall die of grief.' And he repeated the following verses, in a voice that betrayed the ardour of his passion:An if thy very promise of union prove untrue, Let but in sleep thy favours the longing lover cheer.
And he sighed and wept and groaned aloud from a wounded heart, whilst the tears streamed from his eyes. Then turning to his father, with submission and despondency, he said to him, 'By Allah, O my father, I cannot endure to be parted from her even for an hour.' The King smote hand upon hand and exclaimed, 'There is no power and no virtue but in God, the Most High, the Sublime! There is no device can profit us in this affair!' Then he took his son by the hand and carried him to the palace, where Kemerezzeman lay down on the bed of languor and the King sat at his head, weeping and mourning over him and leaving him not night or day, till at last the Vizier came in to him and said, 'O King of the age and the time, how long wilt thou remain shut up with thy son and deny thyself to thy troops? Verily, the order of thy realm is like to be deranged, by reason of thine absence from thy grandees and officers of state. It behoves the man of understanding, if he have various wounds in his body, to apply him (first) to heal the most dangerous; so it is my counsel to thee that thou transport the prince to the pavilion overlooking the sea and shut thyself up with him there, setting apart Monday and Thursday in every week for state receptions and the transaction of public business. On these days let thine Amirs and Viziers and Chamberlains and deputies and captains and grandees and the rest of the troops and subjects have access to thee and submit their affairs to thee, and do thou their needs and judge between them and give and take with them and command and forbid. The rest of the week thou shalt pass with thy son Kemerezzeman, and thus do till God vouchsafe you both relief. Think not, O King, that thou art exempt from the shifts of fortune and the strokes of calamity; for the wise man is still on his guard, as well saith the poet:Thou madest fair thy thought of Fate, whenas the days were fair, And fearedst not the unknown ills that they to thee might bring.
The King was struck with the Vizier's words and deemed his counsel wise and timely, fearing lest the order of the state be deranged; so he rose at once and bade carry his son to the pavilion in question, which was built (upon a rock) midmost the water and was approached by a causeway, twenty cubits wide. It had windows on all sides, overlooking the sea; its floor was of variegated marble and its roof was painted in the richest colours and decorated with gold and lapis-lazuli. They furnished it for Kemerezzeman with embroidered rugs and carpets of the richest silk and hung the walls with choice brocades and curtains bespangled with jewels. In the midst they set him a couch of juniper-wood, inlaid with pearls and jewels, and he sat down thereon, like a man that had been sick twenty years; for the excess of his concern and passion for the young lady had wasted his charms and emaciated his body, and he could neither eat nor drink nor sleep. His father seated himself at his head, mourning sore for him, and every Monday and Thursday he gave his Viziers and Amirs and grandees and officers and the rest of his subjects leave to come in to him in the pavilion. So they entered and did their several service and abode with him till the end of the day, when they went their ways and he returned to his son, whom he left not night nor day; and on this wise did he many days and nights.
To return to the Princess Budour. When the two Afrits carried her back to her palace and laid her on her bed, she slept on till daybreak, when she awoke and sitting up, looked right and left, but saw not the youth who had lain in her bosom. At this, her heart was troubled, her reason fled and she gave a great cry, whereupon all her damsels and nurses and serving-women awoke and came in to her; and the chief of them said to her, 'What ails thee, O my lady?' 'O wretched old woman,' answered the princess, 'where is my beloved, the handsome youth that lay last night in my bosom? Tell me where he is gone.' When the old woman heard this, the light in her eyes became darkness and she was sore in fear of her mischief and said to her, 'O my lady Budour, what unseemly words are these?' 'Out on thee, pestilent crone that thou art!' cried the princess. 'Where is my beloved, the goodly youth with the shining face and the slender shape, the black eyes and the joined eyebrows, who lay with me last night from dusk until near daybreak?' 'By Allah, O my lady,' replied the old woman, 'I have seen no young man nor any other; but I conjure thee, leave this unseemly jesting, lest we be all undone. Belike, it may come to thy father's ears and who shall deliver us from his hand?' 'I tell thee,' rejoined Budour, 'there lay a youth with me last night, one of the fairest-faced of men.' 'God preserve thy reason!' exclaimed the nurse. 'Indeed, no one lay with thee last night.' The princess looked at her hand and seeing her own ring gone and Kemerezzeman's ring on her finger in its stead, said to the nurse, 'Out on thee, thou accursed traitress, wilt thou lie to me and tell me that none lay with me last night and forswear thyself to me?' 'By Allah,' replied the nurse, 'I do not lie to thee nor have I sworn falsely!' Her words incensed the princess and drawing a sword she had by her, she smote the old woman with it and slew her; whereupon the eunuch and the waiting-women cried out at her and running to her father, acquainted him with her case. So he went to her forthright and said to her, 'O my daughter, what ails thee?' 'O my father,' answered she, 'where is the young man that lay with me last night?' Then her reason left her and she cast her eyes right and left and rent her dress even to the skirt. When the King saw this, he bade the women lay hands on her; so they seized and bound her, then putting a chain of iron about her neck, made her fast to the window and there left her. As for her father, the world was straitened upon him, when he saw what had befallen her, for that he loved her and her case was not a little thing to him. So he summoned the doctors and astrologers and magicians and said to them, 'Whoso cureth my daughter of her disorder, I will marry him to her and give him half my kingdom; but whoso cometh to her and cureth her not, I will strike off his head and hang it over her palace-gate.' Accordingly, all who went in to her, but failed to cure her, he beheaded and hung their heads over her palace-gate, till he had beheaded forty physicians and crucified as many astrologers on her account; wherefore all the folk held aloof from her, for all the physicians failed to cure her malady and her case was a puzzle to the men of science and the magicians. And as her longing and passion redoubled and love and distraction were sore upon her, she poured forth tears and repeated the following verses:My longing after thee, my moon, my foeman is; The thought of thee by night doth comrade with me dwell.
Then she sighed and repeated these also:My peace on the belovéd ones, where'er they light them down! I weary for the neighbourhood of those I love, full sore.
Then she wept till her eyes grew weak and her cheeks pale and withered: and thus she abode three years. Now she had a foster-brother, by name Merzewan, who was absent from her all this time, travelling in far countries. He loved her with an exceeding love, passing that of brothers; so when he came back, he went in to his mother and asked for his foster-sister the princess Budour. 'Alas, my son,' answered she, 'thy sister has been smitten with madness and has passed these three years, with an iron chain about her neck; and all the physicians and men of science have failed of curing her.' When he heard this, he said, 'I must needs go in to her; peradventure I may discover what ails her, and be able to cure her.' 'So be it,' replied his mother; 'but wait till to-morrow, that I may make shift for thee.' Then she went to the princess's palace and accosting the eunuch in charge of the door, made him a present and said to him, 'I have a married daughter, who was brought up with thy mistress and is sore concerned for what has befallen her, and I desire of thy favour that my daughter may go in to her and look on her awhile, then return whence she came, and none shall know it.' 'This may not be, except by night,' replied the eunuch, 'after the King has visited the princess and gone away; then come thou and thy daughter.' She kissed the eunuch's hand and returning home, waited till the morrow at nightfall, when she dressed her son in woman's apparel and taking him by the hand, carried him to the palace. When the eunuch saw her, he said, 'Enter, but do not tarry long.' So they went in and when Merzewan saw the princess in the aforesaid plight, he saluted her, after his mother had taken off his woman's attire: then pulling out the books he had brought with him and lighting a candle, he began to recite certain conjurations. The princess looked at him and knowing him, said to him, 'O my brother, thou hast been absent on thy travels and we have been cut off from news of thee.' 'True,' answered he; 'but God has brought me back in safety and I am now minded to set out again; nor has aught delayed me but the sad news I hear of thee; wherefore my heart ached for thee and I came to thee, so haply I may rid thee of thy malady.' 'O my brother,' rejoined she, 'thinkest thou it is madness ails me?' 'Yes,' answered he, and she said, 'Not so, by Allah! It is even as says the poet:Quoth they, "Thou'rt surely mad for him thou lov'st;" and I replied, "Indeed the sweets of life belong unto the raving race.
Then she told him that she was in love, and he said, 'Tell me thy story and what befell thee: peradventure God may discover to me a means of deliverance for thee.' 'Know then,' said she, 'that one night I awoke from sleep, in the last watch of the night, and sitting up, saw by my side the handsomest of youths, as he were a willow-wand or an Indian cane, the tongue fails to describe him. Me-thought this was my father's doing to try me, for that he had consulted me, when the kings sought me of him in marriage, and I had refused. It was this idea that withheld me from arousing him, for I thought that if I did aught or embraced him, he would most like tell my father. When I awoke in the morning, I found his ring on my finger in place of my own, which he had taken; and, O my brother, my heart was taken with him at first sight; and for the violence of my passion and longing, I have never since known the taste of sleep and have no occupation save weeping and repeating verses night and day. This, then, O my brother, is the story of the cause of my (pretended) madness.' Then she poured forth tears and repeated the following verses:Love has banished afar my delight; they are fled With a fawn that hath hearts for a pasturing-stead.
'See then, O my brother,' added she, 'how thou mayest aid me in this my affliction.' Merzewan bowed his head awhile, marvelling and knowing not what to do, then raised it and said to her, 'I believe all thou hast said to be true, though the case of the young man passes my imagination: but I will go round about all countries and seek for what may heal thee; peradventure God shall appoint thy deliverance to be at my hand. Meanwhile, take patience and be not disquieted.' So saying, he took leave of her, after he had prayed that she might be vouchsafed constancy, and left her repeating the following verses:Thine image in my thoughts fares as a pilgrim aye, For all thy stead and mine are distant many a day.
He returned to his mother's house, where he passed the night, and on the morrow, after furnishing himself for his journey, he set out and travelled from city to city and from island to island for a whole month. Everywhere he heard talk of the princess Budour's madness, till he came to a city named Teyreb and seeking news of the townsfolk, so haply he might light on a cure for his foster-sister's malady, heard that Kemerezzeman, son of King Shehriman, was fallen sick and afflicted with melancholy madness. He enquired the name of this prince's capital and was told that it stood on the Islands of Khalidan and was distant thence a whole month's journey by sea and six by land. So he took passage in a ship that was bound thither, and they sailed with a favouring breeze for a whole month, till they came in sight of the city and there remained for them but to enter the harbour; when there came out on them a tempestuous wind which carried away the masts and rent the canvas, so that the sails fell into the sea and the ship foundered, with all on board. Each looked to himself, and as for Merzewan, the current carried him under the King's palace, wherein was Kemerezzeman. As fate would have it, it was the day on which the King gave audience to his grandees and officers, and he was sitting, with his son's head in his lap, whilst an eunuch whisked away the flies. The prince had not spoken, neither had he eaten nor drunk for two days, and he was grown thinner than a spindle. Now the Vizier was standing near the window giving on the sea and raising his eyes, saw Merzewan at the last gasp for struggling with the waves; whereupon his heart was moved to pity for him and he drew near to the King and said to him, 'O King, I crave thy leave to go down to the court of the pavilion and open the water-gate, that I may rescue a man who is at the point of drowning in the sea and bring him forth of peril into deliverance; peradventure, on this account, God may ease thy son of his affliction.' 'O Vizier,' replied Shehriman, enough is that which has befallen my son through thee and on thine account. Belike, if thou rescue this drowning man, he will look on my son and come to know our affairs and exult over me; but I swear by Allah, that, if he come hither and see my son and after go out and speak of our secrets to any, I will assuredly strike off thy head before his; for thou art the cause of all that hath befallen us, first and last. Now do as thou wilt.' The Vizier rose and opening the postern, descended to the causeway; then walked on twenty steps and came to the sea, where he saw Merzewan nigh unto death. So he put out his hand to him and catching him by the hair of his head, drew him ashore, in a state of unconsciousness, with belly full of water and eyes starting from his head. The Vizier waited till he came to himself, when he pulled off his wet clothes and clad him in a fresh suit, covering his head with one of his servants' turbans; after which he said to him, 'I have been the means of saving thee from drowning: do not thou requite me by causing my death and thine own.' 'How so?' asked Merzewan; and the Vizier answered, 'Thou art now about to go up and pass among Amirs and Viziers, all silent and speaking not, because of Kemerezzeman, the King's son.' When Merzewan heard the name of Kemerezzeman, he knew that this was he of whom he came in search, but he feigned ignorance and said to the Vizier, 'And who is Kemerezzeman?' Quoth the Vizier, 'He is the King's son and lies sick on his couch, restless, eating not nor drinking neither sleeping night nor day; indeed he is nigh upon death and we have lost hope of his recovery. Beware lest thou look too long on him or on any place other than that where thou settest thy feet: else thou art a lost man and I also.' 'O Vizier,' said Merzewan, 'I conjure thee by Allah, tell me of thy favour, the cause of this youth's malady.' 'I know none,' answered the Vizier, 'save that, three years ago, his father pressed him to marry, but he refused; whereat the King was wroth and imprisoned him. On the morrow, he would have it that he had had, for a bedfellow, the night before, a young lady of surpassing beauty, beggaring description, with whom he had exchanged rings; but we know not the meaning of all this. So by Allah, O my son, when thou comest up into the palace, look not on the prince, but go thy way; for the King's heart is full of anger against me.' 'By Allah,' said Merzewan in himself, 'this is he whom I sought!' Then he followed the Vizier up to the palace, where the latter seated himself at the prince's feet; but Merzewan must needs go up to Kemerezzeman and stand before him, gazing on him. At this, the Vizier was like to die of affright and signed to Merzewan to go his way; but he feigned not to see him and gave not over gazing upon Kemerezzeman, till he was assured that it was indeed he of whom he was in search. Then, 'Glory be to God,' cried he, 'who hath made his shape even as her shape and his complexion as her complexion and his cheek as her cheek!' At this Kemerezzeman opened his eyes and gave ear to his speech; and when Merzewan saw him listening, he repeated the following verses:I see thee full of song and plaint and ecstasy amain, And to the setting forth in words of charms I find thee fain.
When Kemerezzeman heard these verses, they brought refreshment and healing to his heart, and he sighed and turning his tongue in his mouth, said to the King, 'O my father, let this young man come and sit by my side.' The King, hearing these words from his son, rejoiced exceedingly, though at the first he had been wroth with Merzewan and thought in himself to have stricken off his head: but when he heard Kemerezzeman speak, his anger left him and he arose and drawing Merzewan to him, made him sit down by his son and said to him, 'Praised be God for thy safety!' 'May God bless thee,' answered Merzewan, 'and preserve thy son to thee!' Then said the King, 'From what country comest thou?' 'From the Islands of the Inland Sea,' replied he, 'the kingdom of King Ghaïour, lord of the Islands and the seas and the Seven Palaces.' Quoth the King, 'Maybe thy coming shall be blessed to my son and God vouchsafe to heal him of his malady.' 'God willing,' rejoined Merzewan, 'all shall yet be well.' Then turning to Kemerezzeman, he said to him in his ear, unheard of the King and his court, 'Be of good cheer, O my lord, and take heart and courage. As for her for whose sake thou art thus, ask not of her condition on thine account. Thou keptest thy secret and fellest sick, but she discovered hers and they said she was mad; and she is now in prison, with an iron chain about her neck, in most piteous case; but, God willing, the healing of both of you shall be at my hand.' When Kemerezzeman heard this, his life returned to him and he took heart and courage and signed to his father to help him sit up; at which the King was like to lose his reason for joy and lifting him up, set two pillows for him to lean upon. Then, of his fear for his son, he shook the handkerchief of dismissal and all the Amirs and Viziers withdrew; after which he bade perfume the palace with saffron and decorate the city, saying to Merzewan, 'By Allah, O my son, thou hast a lucky and a blessed aspect!' And he made much of him and called for food, which when they brought, Merzewan said to the prince, 'Come, eat with me.' So he obeyed him and ate with him, while the King called down blessings on Merzewan and said, 'How auspicious is thy coming, O my son!' When he saw Kemerezzeman eat, his joy redoubled and he went out and told the prince's mother and the people of the palace. Then he let call abroad the good news of the prince's recovery and proclaimed the decoration of the city: so the people rejoiced and decorated the city and it was a day of high festival. Merzewan passed the night with Kemerezzeman, and the King also slept with them, in the excess of his joy for his son's recovery. Next morning, when the King had gone away and the two young men were left alone, Kemerezzeman told Merzewan his story from first to last and the latter said to him, 'I know her with whom thou didst foregather; her name is the princess Budour and she is daughter to King Ghaïour.' Then he told him all that had befallen the princess and acquainted him with the excessive love she bore him, saying, 'All that befell thee with thy father hath befallen her with hers, and thou art without doubt her beloved, even as she is thine; so brace up thy resolution and take heart, for I will bring thee to her and unite you both anon and deal with you even as saith the poet:Though to the lover adverse be the fair And drive him with her rigours to despair,
And he went on to comfort and hearten Kemerezzeman and urged him to eat and drink, cheering him and diverting him with talk and song and stories, till he ate food and drank wine and life and strength returned to him. In good time he became free of his disorder and stood up and sought to go to the bath. So Merzewan took him by the hand and carried him to the bath, where they washed their bodies and made them clean. When his father heard of this, in his joy he freed the prisoners and gave alms to the poor; moreover he bestowed splendid dresses of honour upon his grandees and let decorate the city seven days. Then said Merzewan to Kemerezzeman, 'Know, O my lord, that the sole object of my journey hither was to deliver the princess Budour from her present strait; and it remains but for us to devise how we may get to her, since thy father cannot brook the thought of parting with thee. So it is my counsel that tomorrow thou ask his leave to go a-hunting, saying, "I have a mind to divert myself with hunting in the desert and to see the open country and pass the night there." Then do thou take with thee a pair of saddle-bags full of gold and mount a swift hackney and I will do the like; and we will take each a spare horse. Suffer not any servant to follow us, for as soon as we reach the open country, we will go our ways.' Kemerezzeman rejoiced mightily in this plan and said, 'It is good.' Then he took heart and going in to his father, sought his leave to go out to hunt, saying as Merzewan had taught him. The King consented and said, 'O my son, a thousandfold blessed be the day that restores thee to health! I will not gainsay thee in this; but pass not more than one night in the desert and return to me on the morrow; for thou knowest that life is not good to me without thee, and indeed I can hardly as yet credit thy recovery, because thou art to me as he of whom quoth the poet:Though Solomon his carpet were mine both day and night, Though the Choeroës' empire, yea, and the world were mine,
Then he equipped the prince and Merzewan for the excursion, bidding make them ready four horses, together with a dromedary to carry the money and a camel for the water and victuals; and Kemerezzeman forbade any of his attendants to follow him. His father bade him farewell and pressed him to his breast and kissed him, saying, 'I conjure thee by Allah, be not absent from me more than one night, wherein sleep will be denied me, for I am even as saith the poet:Thy presence with me is my heaven of delight And my hell of affliction the loss of thy sight.
'O my father,' answered Kemerezzeman, 'God willing, I will lie but one night abroad.' Then he took leave of him, and he and Merzewan mounted and taking with them the dromedary and camel, rode out into the open country. They drew not bridle from the first of the day till nightfall, when they halted and ate and drank and fed their beasts and rested awhile; after which they again took horse and fared on three days, till they came to a spacious wooded tract. Here they alighted and Merzewan, taking the camel and one of the horses, slaughtered them and cut the flesh off their bones. Then he took from Kemerezzeman his shirt and trousers and cassock and tearing them in shreds, smeared them with the horse's blood and cast them down in the fork of the road. Then they ate and drank and taking horse set forward again. 'O my brother,' said Kemerezzeman, 'what is this thou hast done and how will it profit us?' 'Know,' answered Merzewan, 'that thy father, when he finds that we have outstayed the night for which we had his leave, will mount and follow in our track till he comes hither; and when he sees the blood and thy clothes torn and bloodied, he will deem thee to have been slain of highway robbers or wild beasts; so he will give up hope of thee and return to his city, and by this devise we shall gain our end.' 'By Allah,' said Kemerezzeman, 'this is indeed a rare device! Thou hast done well.' Then they fared on days and nights and Kemerezzeman did nought but weep and complain, till they drew near their journey's end, when he rejoiced and repeated the following verses:Wilt thou be harsh to a lover, who's never unmindful of thee, And wilt thou now cast him away to whom thou wast fain heretofore?
When he had made an end of these verses, Merzewan said to him, 'See, yonder are King Ghaïour's Islands.' Whereat Kemerezzeman rejoiced with an exceeding joy and thanked him for what he had done and strained him to his bosom and kissed him between the eyes. They entered the city and took up their lodging at a khan, where they rested three days from the fatigues of the journey; after which Merzewan carried Kemerezzeman to the bath and clothing him in a merchant's habit, provided him with a geomantic tablet of gold, a set of astrological instruments and an astrolabe of silver, plated with gold. Then he said to him, 'Go, O my lord, stand before the King's palace and cry out, "I am the mathematician, I am the scribe, I am he that knows the Sought and the Seeker, I am the skilled physician, I am the accomplished astrologer. Where then is he that seeketh?" When the King hears this, he will send after thee and carry thee in to his daughter the princess Budour, thy mistress: but do thou say to him, "Grant me three days' delay, and if she recover, give her to me to wife, and if not, deal with me as with those who came before me." If he agree to this, as soon as thou art alone with her, discover thyself to her; and when she knows thee, her madness will cease from her and she will be made whole in one night. Then do thou give her to eat and drink, and her father, rejoicing in her recovery, will marry thee to her and share his kingdom with thee, according to the condition he hath imposed on himself: and so peace be on thee.' 'May I never lack thine excellence!' replied Kemerezzeman, and taking the instruments aforesaid, sallied forth of the khan and took up his station before King Ghaïour's palace, where he began to cry out, saying, 'I am the scribe, I am the mathematician, he that knows the Sought and the Seeker, I am he who makes calculations for marriage contracts, who draws horoscopes, interprets dreams and traces the magical characters by which hidden treasures are discovered! Where then is the seeker?' When the people of the city heard this, they flocked to him, for it was long since they had seen a scribe or an astrologer, and stood round him, wondering at his beauty and grace and perfect symmetry. Presently one of them accosted him and said, 'God on thee, O fair youth with the eloquent tongue, cast not thyself into perdition, in thy desire to marry the princess Budour! Do but look on yonder heads hung up; they are all those of men who have lost their lives in this same venture.' He paid no heed to them, but cried out at the top of his voice, saying, 'I am the doctor, the scribe! I am the astrologer, the mathematician!' And all the townsfolk forbade him from this, but he heeded them not, saying in himself, 'None knoweth desire save he who suffereth it.' Then he began again to cry his loudest, saying, 'I am the scribe, I am the mathematician, I am the astrologer!' till all the townsfolk were wroth with him and said to him, 'Thou art but a silly self- willed boy! Have pity on thine own youth and tender years and beauty and grace.' But he cried all the more, 'I am the astrologer, I am the mathematician! Is there any one that seeketh?' As he was thus crying and the people remonstrating with him, King Ghaïour heard his voice and the clamour of the folk and said to his Vizier, 'Go down and bring me yon astrologer.' So the Vizier went down and taking Kemerezzeman from the midst of the crowd, carried him up to the King, before whom he kissed the earth, repeating the following verses:Eight elements of high renown are all comprised in thee; By them may Fortune never cease thy bounder slave to be!
When the King saw him, he made him sit down by his side and said to him, 'By Allah, O my son, an thou be not an astrologer, venture not thy life nor submit thyself to my condition; for I have bound myself to strike off the head of whoso goeth in to my daughter and healeth her not of her disorder; but him who healeth her I will marry to her. So let not thy beauty and grace delude thee; for, by Allah, if thou cure her not, I will assuredly cut off thy head!' 'I knew of this condition before I came hither,' answered Kemerezzeman, 'and am ready to abide by it.' Then King Ghaïour took the Cadis to witness against him and delivered him to an eunuch, saying, 'Carry this fellow to the lady Budour.' So the eunuch took him by the hand and led him along the gallery; but Kemerezzeman out-went him and pushed on before, whilst the eunuch ran after him, saying, 'Out on thee! Hasten not to destroy thyself. By Allah, never yet saw I astrologer so eager for his own destruction: thou knowest not the calamities that await thee.' But Kemerezzeman turned away his face and repeated the following verses:A learnéd man, I'm ignorant before thy beauties bright; Indeed, I know not what I say, confounded at thy sight.
The eunuch stationed Kemerezzeman behind the curtain of the princess's door and the prince said to him, 'Whether of the two wilt thou liefer have me do, cure thy lady from here or go in and cure her within the curtain?' The eunuch marvelled at his words and answered, 'It were more to thine honour to cure her from here.' So Kemerezzeman sat down behind the curtain and taking out pen and inkhorn and paper, wrote the following: 'This is the letter of one whom passion torments and whom desire consumes and sorrow and misery destroy; one who despairs of life and looks for nothing but death, whose mourning heart has neither comforter nor helper, whose sleepless eyes have none to succour them against affliction, whose day is passed in fire and his night in torment, whose body is wasted for much emaciation and there comes to him no messenger from his beloved:I write with a heart devoted to thee and the thought of thee And an eyelid, wounded for weeping tears of the blood of me.
The cure of hearts is union with the beloved and whom his love maltreateth, God is his physician. If either of us have broken faith, may the false one fail of his desire! There is nought goodlier than a lover who is faithful to a cruel beloved one.' Then, for a subscription, he wrote, 'From the distracted and despairing lover, him whom love and longing disquiet, from the captive of passion and transport, Kemerezzeman, son of Shehriman, to the peerless beauty, the pearl of the fair Houris, the Lady Budour, daughter of King Ghaïour. Know that by night I am wakeful and by day distraught, consumed with ever-increasing wasting and sickness and longing and love, abounding in sighs, rich in floods of tears, the prisoner of passion, the slain of desire, the debtor of longing, the boon-companion of sickness, he whose heart absence hath seared. I am the sleepless one, whose eyes close not, the slave of love, whose tears run never dry, for the fire of my heart is still unquenched and the flaming of my longing is never hidden.' Then in the margin he wrote this admired verse:Peace from the stores of the grace of my Lord be rife On her in whose hand are my heart and soul and life!
And also these:Vouchsafe thy converse unto me some little, so, perchance, Thou mayst have ruth on me or else my heart be set at ease.
Then by way of subscription, he wrote the following verses:Ask of my letter what my pen hath written, and the scroll Will tell the passion and the pain that harbour in my soul.
And at the end he added this other verse:I send thee back herewith the ring I took whilere of thee, Whenas we companied; so send me that thou hadst of me.
Then he folded up Budour's ring inside the letter and sealing it, gave it to the eunuch, who went in with it to the princess. She took it from him and opening it, found in it her own ring. Then she read the letter and when she understood its purport and knew that her beloved stood behind the curtain, her reason fled and her breast dilated for joy; and she repeated the following verses:Long, long have I bewailed the sev'rance of our loves, With tears that from my lids streamed down like burning rain,
Then she rose and setting her feet to the wall, strained with all her might upon the iron collar, till she broke it from her neck and snapped the chains; then going forth, she threw herself on Kemerezzeman and kissed him on the mouth, like a pigeon billing. And she embraced him with all the stress of her love and longing and said to him, 'O my lord, do I wake or sleep and has God indeed vouchsafed us reunion after separation? Praised be He who hath reknit our loves, after despair!' When the eunuch saw this, he ran to King Ghaïour and kissing the earth before him, said, 'O my lord, know that this is indeed the prince and paragon of astrologers; for he hath cured thy daughter from behind the curtain, without going in to her.' 'Look to it well,' said the King; 'is this news true?' 'O my lord,' answered the eunuch, 'come and see for thyself how she hath found strength to break the iron chains and is come forth to the astrologer, kissing and embracing him.' So the King arose and went in to his daughter, who, when she saw him, rose and covered her face, reciting the following verses:I love not the toothstick; 'tis hateful to me, For I, when I name it, say, "Other than thee.'' (40)
The King was transported for joy at her recovery and kissed her between the eyes, for he loved her very dearly; then turning to Kemerezzeman, he asked him who he was and whence he came. The prince told him his name and rank and that he was the son of King Shehriman, and related to him the whole story from beginning to end; whereat Ghaïour marvelled and said, 'Verily, your story deserves to be recorded in books and read after you, generation after generation.' Then he summoned Cadis and witnesses forthright and married the two lovers; after which he bade decorate the city seven days long. So they decorated the city and held high festival, and all the troops donned their richest clothes, whilst the drums beat and the criers announced the glad tidings. Then they spread the tables with all manner meats and unveiled the princess before Kemerezzeman, and behold, each was like unto the other in beauty and elegance and amorous grace. So the King rejoiced in the issue of her affair and in her marriage and praised God for that He had made her to fall in love with a goodly youth of the sons of the kings. Then Kemerezzeman went in to her and lay with her that night and took his will of her, whilst she in like manner fufilled her desire of him and enjoyed his beauty and grace; and they clipped each other till the morning. On the morrow, the King made a banquet and spreading the tables with the richest meats, kept open house a whole month to all comers from the Islands of the Inner and the Outer Seas. Now, when Kemerezzeman had thus attained his desire and had tarried awhile with the princess Budour, he bethought him of his father and saw him in a dream, saying, 'O my son, is it thus thou dealest with me?' and reciting the following verses:The moon o' the dark by his neglect my spirit doth appal And to the watching of his stars hath made my eyelids thrall.
Kemerezzeman awoke in the morning, afflicted and troubled at what he had seen, whereupon the princess questioned him and he told her his dream. Then they both went in to King Ghaïour and telling him what had passed, besought his leave to depart. He gave the prince the leave he sought; but the princess said, 'O my father, I cannot endure to be parted from him.' Quoth Ghaïour, 'Then go thou with him,' and gave her leave to be absent a whole year, charging her to visit him once in every year thereafterward. So she kissed his hand and Kemerezzeman did the like; after which he proceeded to equip them for the journey, furnishing them with horses and dromedaries of choice and a litter for his daughter, besides mules and camels laden with victual and all manner of travelling gear. Moreover, he gave them slaves and eunuchs to serve them and bestowed on Kemerezzeman ten splendid suits of cloth of gold, embroidered with jewels, together with a treasury (42) of money and ten riding horses and as many she-camels. When the day of departure arrived, the King accompanied them to the farthest limits of his islands, where, going in to his daughter Budour in the litter, he kissed her and strained her to his bosom, weeping and repeating the following verses:O thou that seekest parting, stay thy feet, For sure embraces are a lover's right.
Then, leaving her, he kissed her husband and commended his daughter to his care; after which he bade him farewell and giving the signal for departure, returned to his capital with his troops. The prince and princess and their suite fared on without stopping a whole month, at the end of which time they came to a spacious champaign, abounding in pasturage, where they alighted and pitched their tents. They ate and drank and rested, and the princess Budour lay down to sleep. Presently, Kemerezzeman went in to her and found her lying asleep, in a shift of apricot-coloured silk, that showed all it should have covered, and a coif of cloth of gold embroidered with pearls and jewels. The breeze raised her shift and showed her breasts and navel and a belly whiter than snow, each one of whose dimples contained an ounce of benzoin ointment. (43) At this sight, his love and passion for her redoubled, and he recited the following verses:If, whilst within my entrails the fires of hell did stir And flames raged high about me, 'twere spoken in my ear,
Then he put his hand to the ribbon of her trousers and drew it and loosed it, for that his soul lusted after her, when he saw a jewel, red as dragon's blood, (44) made fast to the band. He untied and examined it and seeing two lines of writing graven thereon, in a character not to be read, marvelled and said in himself, 'Except she set great store by this, she had not tied it to the ribbon of her trousers nor hidden it in the most private place about her person, that she might not be parted from it. I wonder what she doth with it and what is the secret that is in it.' So saying, he took it and went without the tent to look at it in the light; but as he was examining it, a bird swooped down on him and snatching it from his hand, flew off with it and lighted on the ground at a little distance. Fearing to lose the talisman, he ran after the bird; but it flew on before him, keeping just out of his reach, and drew him on from place to place and from hill to hill, till the night came on and the air grew dark, when it roosted on a high tree. Kemerezzeman stopped under the tree, confounded and faint for hunger and weariness, and giving himself up for lost, would have turned back, but knew not the way, for the darkness had overtaken him. So he exclaimed, 'There is no power and no virtue but in God the Most High, the Supreme!' and lying down under the tree, slept till the morning, when he awoke and saw the bird also awake and fly away. He arose and walked after it, and it flew on little by little before him, after the measure of his going; at which he smiled and said, 'By Allah, this is a strange thing! Yesterday, the bird flew before me as fast as I could run; and to-day, knowing that I am tired and cannot run, it flieth after the measure of my walking. By Allah, this is wonderful! But, whether it lead me to my death or to my life, I must needs follow it, wherever it goeth, for it will surely not abide save in some inhabited land. So he followed the bird, eating of the fruits of the earth and drinking of its waters, for ten days' space, and every night the bird roosted on a tree. At the end of this time, he came in sight of an inhabited city, whereupon the bird darted off like the glance of the eye and entering the town, was lost to view: and Kemerezzeman marvelled at this and exclaimed, 'Praised be God, who hath brought me hither in safety!' Then he sat down by a stream and washed his hands and feet and face and rested awhile: and recalling his late easy and pleasant life of union with his beloved and contrasting it with his present plight of trouble and weariness and hunger and strangerhood and severance, the tears streamed from his eyes and he repeated the following cinquains:I strove to hide the load that love on me did lay; In vain, and sleep for me is changed to wake alway.
As soon as he was rested, he rose and walked on, little by little, till he came to the city-gate and entered, knowing not whither he should go. He traversed the city from end to end, without meeting any of the townsfolk, entering by the land-gate and faring on till he came out at the sea-gate, for the city stood on the sea-shore. Presently, he found himself among the orchards and gardens of the place and passed among the trees, till he came to a garden-gate and stopped before it, whereupon the keeper came out to him and saluted him. The prince returned his greeting and the other bade him welcome, saying, 'Praised be God that thou hast come off safe from the people of the city! Quick, come into the garden, ere any of the townsfolk see thee.' So Kemerezzeman entered the garden, amazed, and said to the keeper, 'Who and what then are the people of this city?' 'Know,' answered the other,' that the people of this city are all Magians: but, God on thee, tell me how and why thou camest hither.' Accordingly, Kemerezzeman told him all that had befallen him, at which the gardener marvelled greatly and said, 'Know, O my son, that from this place to the cities of Islam is four months' journey by sea and a whole year by land. We have a ship that sails yearly hence with merchandise to the Ebony Islands, which are the nearest Muslim country, and thence to the Khalidan Islands, the dominions of King Shehriman.' Kemerezzeman considered awhile and concluding that he could not do better than abide with the gardener and become his assistant, said to him, 'Wilt thou take me into thy service, to help thee in this garden?' 'Willingly,' answered the gardener and clothing him in a short blue gown, that reached to his knees, taught him to lead the water to the roots of the trees. So Kemerezzeman abode with him, watering the trees and hoeing up the weeds and weeping floods of tears; for he had no rest day or night, by reason of his strangerhood and separation from his beloved, and he ceased not to repeat verses upon her, amongst others the following:Ye made us a promise of yore; will ye not to your promise be true? Ye spoke us a word aforetime; as ye spoke to us, will ye not do?
To return to the princess Budour. When she awoke, she sought her husband and found him not: then she saw the ribbon of her trousers undone and the talisman missing and said to herself, 'By Allah, this is strange! Where is my husband? It would seem as if he had taken the talisman and gone away, knowing not the secret that is in it. Whither can he have gone? It must have been some extraordinary matter that drew him away, for he cannot brook to leave me an hour. May God curse the talisman and its hour!' Then she considered awhile and said in herself, 'If I go out and tell the servants that my husband is lost, they will covet me: I must use stratagem.' So she rose and donned some of her husband's clothes and boots and spurs and a turban like his, drawing the loose end across her face for a chin-band. Then setting a slave-girl in her litter, she went forth the tent and called to the servants, who brought her Kemerezzeman's horse; and she mounted and bade load the beasts and set forward. So they bound on the burdens and departed, none doubting but she was Kemerezzeman, for she resembled him in face and form; nor did they leave journeying, days and nights, till they came in sight of a city overlooking the sea, when they halted to rest and pitched their tents without the walls. The princess asked the name of the place and was told, 'It is called the City of Ebony: its king is named Armanous, and he hath a daughter called Heyat en Nufous.' Presently, the King sent to learn who it was that had encamped without his city; so the messenger, coming to the tents, enquired of Budour's servants and was told that she was a king's son, bound for the Khalidan Islands, who had strayed from his road; whereupon he returned and told the King, who straightway took horse and rode out, with his nobles, to meet the strange prince. As he drew near the tents, the princess came to meet him on foot, whereupon the King alighted and they saluted each other. Then he carried her into the city and bringing her to the palace, let spread a banquet and bade transport her company and baggage to the guest-house, where they abode three days; at the end of which time the King came in to Budour (Now she had that day gone to the bath and her face shone as the moon at its full, enchanting all beholders, and she was clad in robes of silk, embroidered with gold and jewels) and said to her, 'Know, O my son, that I am a very old man and am grown unable for the conduct of the state. Now God has blessed me with no child save one daughter, who resembles thee in beauty and grace; so, O my son, if this my country please thee and thou be willing to make thine abode here, I will marry thee to my daughter and give thee my kingdom and so be at rest.' When Budour heard this, she bowed her head and her forehead sweated for shame, and she said to herself, 'How shall I do, and I a woman? If I refuse and depart, I cannot be safe but that he may send after me troops to kill me; and if I consent, belike I shall be put to shame. I have lost my beloved Kemerezzeman and know not what is come of him; wherefore I see nothing for it but to hold my peace and consent and abide here, till God accomplish what is to be.' So she raised her head and made submission to King Armanous, saying, 'I hear and obey,' whereat he rejoiced and bade make proclamation, throughout the Ebony Islands, to hold high festival and decorate the houses. Then he assembled his chamberlains and Amirs and Viziers and other officers of state and the Cadis of the city, and putting off the kingship, invested Budour therewith and clad her in the royal robes. Moreover, the Amirs and grandees went in to her and did her homage, nothing doubting but that she was a young man, and all who looked on her berayed their hose for the excess of her beauty and grace; then, after the lady Budour had been made Sultan and the drums had been beaten, in announcement of the joyful event, Armanous proceeded to equip his daughter for marriage, and in a few days, they brought Budour in to her, when they seemed as it were two moons risen at one time or two suns foregathering. So they entered the bridal-chamber and the doors were shut and the curtains let down upon them, after the attendants had lighted the candles and spread the bed for them. When Budour found herself alone with the princess Heyat en Nufous, she called to mind her beloved Kemerezzeman and grief was sore upon her. So she wept for his loss and absence and repeated the following verses:O ye who went and left my heart to pine alone fore'er, No spark of life remains in me, since ye away did fare!
When she had finished, she sat down beside the princess Heyat en Nufous and kissed her on the mouth. Then, rising abruptly, she made the ablution and betook herself to her devotions, nor did she leave praying till Heyat en Nufous was asleep, when she slipt into bed and lay with her back to her till morning; then rose and went out. Presently, the old king and queen came in to their daughter and asked her how she did, whereupon she told them what had passed and repeated to them the verses she had heard.
Meanwhile, Budour seated herself upon the throne and all the Amirs and captains and officers of state came in to her and wished her joy of the kingship, kissing the earth before her and calling down blessings upon her. She smiled on them and clad them in robes of honour, augmenting the fiefs of the Amirs and giving largesse to the troops; wherefore all the people loved her and offered up prayers for the continuance of her reign, doubting not but that she was a man. She sat all day in the hall of audience, ordering and forbidding and dispensing justice, releasing those who were in prison and remitting the customs dues, till nightfall, when she withdrew to the apartment prepared for her. Here she found Heyat en Nufous seated; so she sat down by her and clapping her on the back, caressed her and kissed her between the eyes, repeating the following verses:The secret that I cherished my tears have public made; The wasting of my body my passion hath bewrayed.
Then she wiped away her tears and making the ablution, stood up to pray; nor did she give over praying, till drowsiness overcame Heyat en Nufous and she slept, whereupon Budour came and lay beside her till the morning. At daybreak, she arose and prayed the morning-prayer; then, going forth, seated herself on the throne and passed the day in ordering and forbidding and administering justice. Meanwhile, King Armanous went in to his daughter and asked her how she did; so she told him all that had passed and repeated to him the verses that Budour had recited, adding, 'O my father, never saw I one more abounding in sense and modesty than my husband, save that he doth nothing but weep and sigh.' 'O my daughter,' answered her father, 'have patience with him yet this third night, and if he go not in to thee and do away thy maidenhead, we will take order with him and oust him from the throne and banish him the country.' When the night came, the princess Budour rose from the throne and betaking herself to the bride-chamber, found the candles lighted and the princess Heyat en Nufous sitting awaiting her; whereupon she bethought her of her husband and recalling the early severance of their loves, wept and sighed and groaned groan upon groan, repeating the following verses:I swear the tidings of my woes fills all the country-side, Like the sun shining on the hills of Nejed far and wide.
When she had finished, she would have risen to pray, but Heyat en Nufous caught her by the skirt, saying, 'O my lord, art thou not ashamed to neglect me thus, after all the favour my father hath done thee?' When Budour heard this, she sat down again and said, 'O my beloved, what is this thou sayest?' 'What I say,' answered Heyat en Nufous, 'is that I never saw any so self-satisfied as thou. Is every fair one so disdainful? I say not this to incline thee to me, but only of my fear for thee from King Armanous; for he purposes, an thou go not in to me to-night and do away my maidenhead, to strip thee of the kingship on the morrow and banish thee the realm; and belike his much anger may lead him to kill thee. But I, O my lord, have compassion on thee and give thee fair warning; and it is thine to decide.' At this, Budour bowed her head in perplexity and said in herself, 'If I refuse, I am lost, and if I obey, I am shamed. I am now queen of all the Ebony Islands and they are under my rule and I shall never again foregather with Kemerezzeman except it be in this place; for there is no way for him to his native land but through the Ebony Islands. Verily, I know not what to do, for I am no man that I should arise and open this virgin girl; but I commit my case to God, who orders all for the best.' Then she said to Heyat en Nufous, 'O my beloved, it is in my own despite that I have neglected thee and abstained from thee.' And she discovered herself to her and told her her whole story, saying, 'I conjure thee by Allah to keep my counsel, till God reunite me with my beloved Kemerezzeman, and then let what will happen.' Her story moved Heyat en Nufous to wonder and pity, and she prayed God to reunite her with her beloved, saying, 'Fear nothing, O my sister, but have patience till God accomplish that which is to be.' And she repeated the following verses:None keepeth counsel saving those who're trusty and discreet. A secret's ever safely placed with honest folk and leal;
'O my sister,' continued she, 'the breasts of the noble are the graves of secrets, and I will not discover thine.' Then they toyed and embraced and kissed and slept till near the call to morning- prayer, when Heyat en Nufous arose and slaughtering a young pigeon, besmeared herself and besprinkled her shift with its blood. Then she put off her trousers and cried out, whereupon her waiting-women hastened to her and raised cries of joy. Presently, her mother came in to her aad asked her how she did and tended her and abode with her till evening; whilst the lady Budour repaired to the bath and after washing herself, proceeded to the hall of audience, where she sat down on her throne and dispensed justice among the folk. When King Armanous heard the cries, he asked what was the matter and was informed of the consummation of his daughter's marriage; whereat he rejoiced and his breast dilated and he made a great banquet.
To return to King Shehriman. When Kemerezzeman and Merzewan returned not at the appointed time, he passed the night without sleep, restless and consumed with anxiety. The night was long upon him and he thought the day would never dawn. He passed the forenoon of the ensuing day in expectation of his son's coming, but he came not; whereat his heart forebode separation and he was distraught with fears for Kemerezzeman. He wept till his clothes were drenched, crying out, 'Alas, my son!' and repeating the following verses from an aching heart:Unto the votaries of love I still was contrary, Till of its bitter and its sweet myself perforce must taste.
Then he wiped away his tears and bade his troops make ready for a long journey. So they all mounted and set forth, headed by the Sultan, whose heart burnt with grief and anxiety for his son. He divided the troops into six bodies, whom he despatched in as many directions, giving them rendezvous for the morrow at the cross-roads. Accordingly they scoured the country diligently all that day and night, till at noon of the ensuing day they joined company at the cross-roads. Here four roads met and they knew not which the prince had followed, till they came to the torn clothes and found shreds of flesh and blood scattered by the way on all sides. When the King saw this, he cried out from his inmost heart, saying, 'Alas, my son!' and buffeted his face and tore his beard and rent his clothes, doubting not but his son was dead. Then he gave himself up to weeping and wailing, and the troops also wept for his weeping, being assured that the prince had perished. They wept and lamented and threw dust on their heads till they were nigh upon death, and the night surprised them whilst they were thus engaged. Then the King repeated the following verses, with a heart on fire for the torment of his despair:Blame not the mourner for the grief to which he is a prey, For yearning sure sufficeth him, with all its drear dismay.
Then he returned with the troops to his capital, giving up his son for lost and deeming that wild beasts or highwaymen had set on him and torn him in pieces, and made proclamation that all in the Khalidan Islands should don black in mourning for him. Moreover, he built a pavilion in his memory, naming it House of Lamentations, and here he was wont to spend his days, (with the exception of Mondays and Thursdays, which he devoted to the business of the state), mourning for his son and bewailing him with verses, of which the following are some:My day of bliss is that whereon thou drawest near to me, And that, whereon thou turn'st away, my day of death and fear.
And again:My soul redeem the absent, whose going cast a blight On hearts and did afflict them with anguish and affright!
Meanwhile, the princess Budour abode in the Ebony Islands, whilst the folk would point to her and say, 'Yonder is King Armanous's son-in-law;' and every night she lay with Heyat en Nufous, to whom she made moan of her longing for her husband Kemerezzeman, weeping and describing to her his beauty and grace and yearning to enjoy him, though but in a dream. And bytimes she would repeat these verses:God knows that, since my severance from thee, full sore I've wept, So sore that needs my eyes must run for very tears in debt.
All this time, Kemerezzeman abode with the gardener, weeping and repeating verses night and day, bewailing the seasons of enjoyment and the nights of delight, whilst the gardener comforted him with the assurance that the ship would set sail for the land of the Muslims at the end of the year. One day, he saw the folk crowding together and wondered at this; but the gardener came in to him and said, 'O my son, give over work for to-day neither water the trees; for it is a festival day, on which the folk visit one another. So rest and only keep thine eye on the garden, whilst I go look after the ship for thee; for yet but a little while and I send thee to the land of the Muslims.' So saying, he went out, leaving Kemerezzeman alone in the garden, who fell to musing upon his condition, till his courage gave way and the tears streamed from his eyes. He wept till he swooned away, and when he recovered, he rose and walked about the garden pondering what fate had done with him and bewailing his long estrangement from those he loved. As he went thus, absorbed in melancholy thought, his foot stumbled and he fell on his face, striking his forehead against the stump of a tree. The blow cut it open and his blood ran down and blent with his tears. He rose and wiping away the blood, dried his tears and bound his forehead with a piece of rag; then continued his melancholy walk about the garden. Presently, he saw two birds quarrelling on a tree, and one of them smote the other on the neck with its beak and cut off its head, with which it flew away, whilst the slain bird's body fell to the ground before Kemerezzeman. As it lay, two great birds flew down and alighting, one at the head and the other at the tail of the dead bird, drooped their wings over it and bowing their heads towards it, wept; and when Kemerezzeman saw them thus bewail their mate, he called to mind his wife and father and wept also. Then he saw them dig a grave and bury the dead bird; after which they flew away, but presently returned with the murderer and alighting on the grave, stamped on him till they killed him. Then they rent his belly and tearing out his entrails, poured the blood on the grave. Moreover, they stripped off his skin and tearing his flesh in pieces, scattered it hither and thither. All this while Kemerezzeman was watching them and wondering; but presently, chancing to look at the dead bird's crop, he saw therein something gleaming. So he opened it and found the talisman that had been the cause of his separation from his wife. At this sight, he fell down in a swoon for joy; and when he revived, he said, 'Praised be God! This is a good omen and a presage of reunion with my beloved.' Then he examined the jewel and passed it over his eyes; after which he bound it to his arm, rejoicing in coming good, and walked about, awaiting the gardener's return, till nightfall; when, as he came not, he lay down and slept in his wonted place. At daybreak he rose and girding himself with a cord of palm-fibre, took hoe and basket and went out to his work in the garden. Presently, he came to a carob-tree and struck the hoe into its roots. The blow resounded [as if it had fallen on metal]; so he cleared away the earth and discovered a trap-door of brass. He raised the trap and found a winding stair, which he descended and came to an ancient vault of the time of Aad and Themoud, (49) hewn out of the rock. Round the vault stood many brazen vessels of the bigness of a great oil-jar, into one of which he put his hand and found it full of red and shining gold; whereupon he said to himself, 'Verily, the days of weariness are past and joy and solace are come!' Then he returned to the garden and replacing the trap-door, busied himself in tending the trees till nightfall, when the gardener came back and said to him, 'O my son, rejoice in a speedy return to thy native land, for the merchants are ready for the voyage and in three days' time the ship will set sail for the City of Ebony, which is the first of the cities of the Muslims; and thence thou must travel by land six months' journey till thou come to the Islands of Khalidan, the dominions of King Shehriman.' At this Kemerezzeman rejoiced and repeated the following verses:Forsake not a lover unused aversion from thee, Nor punish the guiltless with rigour and cruelty.
Then he kissed the gardener's hand, saying, 'O my father, even as thou hast brought me glad tidings, so I also have great good news for thee,' and told him of his discovery in the garden; whereat the gardener rejoiced and said, 'O my son, fourscore years have I dwelt in this garden and have never chanced on aught; whilst thou, who hast not sojourned with me a year, hast discovered this thing; wherefore it is God's gift to thee, for the cesser of thine ill fortune, and will aid thee to rejoin thy folk and foregather with her thou lovest.' 'Not so,' answered Kemerezzeman, 'it must be shared between us.' Then he carried him to the underground chamber and showed him the gold, which was in twenty jars. So he took ten and the gardener ten, and the latter said to him, 'O my son, fill thyself jars with the olives that grow in the garden, for they are not found but in our land and are sought after; the merchants carry them to all parts and they are called Asafiri (50) olives. Lay the gold in the jars and cover it with olives: then stop them and cover them and take them with thee in the ship.' So Kemerezzeman took fifty jars and laying in each somewhat of the gold, filled it up with olives. At the bottom of one of the jars he laid the talisman, then stopped and covered the jars and sat down to talk with the gardener, making sure of speedy reunion with his own people and saying in himself, 'When I come to the Ebony Islands, I will journey thence to my father's country and enquire for my beloved Budour. I wonder whether she turned back to her own land or journeyed on to my father's country or whether there befell her any accident by the way.' And he repeated the following verses:Love in my breast they lit and passed away forthright: Far distant is the land that holds my soul's delight.
Then he told the gardener what he had seen pass between the birds, whereat he wondered; and they both lay down and slept till the morning. The gardener awoke sick and abode thus two days; but on the third day, his sickness increased on him, till they despaired of his life and Kemerezzeman grieved sore for him. Meanwhile, the captain and sailors came and enquired for the gardener. Kemerezzeman told them that he was sick, and they said, 'Where is the young man that is minded to go with us to the Ebony Islands?' 'He is your servant,' answered the prince and bade them carry the jars of olives to the ship. So they transported them to the ship, saying, 'Make haste, for the wind is fair;' and he answered, 'I hear and obey.' Then he carried his victual on board and returning, to bid the gardener farewell, found him in the agonies of death. So he sat down at his head and closed his eyes, and his soul departed his body; whereupon he laid him out and committed him to the earth to the mercy of God the Most High. Then he went down to the port, to embark, but found that the ship had already weighed anchor and set sail; nor did she cease to cleave the waters, till she disappeared from his sight. So he returned to the garden, sorrowful and heavy-hearted, and sitting down, threw dust on his head and buffeted his face. Then he rented the garden of its owner and hired a man to help him tend the trees. Moreover, he went down to the underground chamber and bringing up the rest of the gold, stowed it in other fifty jars, which he filled up with olives. Then he enquired of the ship and was told that it sailed but once a year; at which his affliction redoubled and he mourned sore for that which had befallen him, above all for the loss of the princess Budour's talisman, and spent his nights and days weeping and repeating verses.
Meanwhile, the ship sailed with a favouring wind, till it reached the Ebony Islands. As fate would have it, the princess Budour was sitting at a window overlooking the sea and saw the ship cast anchor in the port. At this sight, her heart throbbed and she mounted and riding down to the port, with her officers, halted by the ship, whilst the sailors broke out the cargo and transported the goods to the storehouses; after which she called the captain and asked what he had with him. 'O King,' answered he, 'I have with me drugs and cosmetics and powders and ointments and plasters and rich stuffs and Yemen rugs and other costly merchandise, not to be borne of mule or camel, and all manner essences and spices and perfumes, civet and ambergris and camphor and Sumatra aloes-wood, and tamarinds and Asafiri olives to boot, such as are rare to find in this country.' When she heard talk of Asafiri olives, her heart yearned for them and she said to the captain, 'How much olives hast thou?' 'Fifty jars full,' answered he. 'Their owner is not with us, but the King shall take what he will of them.' Quoth she, 'Bring them ashore, that I may see them.' So he called to the sailors, who brought her the fifty jars; and she opened one and looking at the olives, said to the captain, 'I will take the whole fifty and pay you their value, whatever it may be.' 'By Allah, O my lord,' answered he, 'they have no value in our country and the fifty jars may be worth some hundred dirhems; but their owner tarried behind us, and he is a poor man.' 'And what are they worth here?' asked she. 'A thousand dirhems,' replied he. 'I will take them at that price,' quoth she and bade carry the fifty jars to the palace. When it was night, she called for a jar of olives and opened it, there being none present but herself and the princess Heyat en Nufous. Then, taking a dish, she turned into it the contents of the jar, when behold there fell out into the dish with the olives a heap of red gold and she said to Heyat en Nufous, 'This is nought but gold!' So she sent for the rest of the jars and found each one full of gold and scarce enough olives in the whole fifty to fill one jar. Moreover, she sought among the gold and found the talisman, which she took and examined and knew for that which Kemerezzeman had taken from off the riband of her trousers; whereupon she cried out for joy and fell down in a swoon. When she revived, she said in herself, 'Verily, this talisman was the cause of my separation from my beloved Kemerezzeman; but now it is an omen of good.' Then she showed it to Heyat en Nufous and said to her, 'This was the cause of separation and now, please God, it shall be the cause of reunion.' As soon as it was day, she seated herself on her throne and sent for the captain, who came and kissed the ground before her. Quoth she, 'Where didst thou leave the owner of these olives?' 'O King of the age,' answered he, 'we left him in the land of the Magians and he is a gardener there.' 'Except thou bring him to me,' said she, 'thou knowest not the harm that awaits thee and thy ship.' Then she bade seal up the merchants' storehouses and said to them, 'The owner of these olives is my debtor; and an ye bring him not to me, I will without fail put you all to death and confiscate your goods.' So they all went to the captain and promised him the hire of the ship, if he would go and return a second time, saying, 'Deliver us from this masterful tyrant.' Accordingly, the captain set sail and God decreed him a prosperous voyage, till he came to the city of the Magians, and landing by night, went up to the garden. Now the night was long upon Kemerezzeman, and he sat, bethinking him of his beloved and weeping over what had befallen him and repeating the following verses:Full many a night I've passed, whose stars their course did stay, A night that seemed of those that will not pass away,
At this moment, the captain knocked at the garden-gate, and Kemerezzeman opened and went out to him, whereupon the sailors seized him and carrying him on board the ship, weighed anchor forthright. They sailed on without ceasing days and nights, whilst Kemerezzeman knew not why they dealt thus with him; but when he questioned them, they replied, 'Thou hast offended against the lord of the Ebony Islands, the son-in-law of King Armanous, and hast stolen his good, unhappy wretch that thou art!' 'By Allah,' said he, 'I know not the country nor was I ever there in all my life!' However, they fared on with him, till they made the Ebony Islands and landing, carried him up to the princess Budour, who knew him at sight and said, 'Leave him with the eunuchs, that they may take him to the bath.' Then she relieved the merchant of the embargo and gave the captain a dress of honour and ten thousand dinars; after which, she went in that night to the princess Heyat en Nufous and told her what had passed, saying, 'Keep thou my counsel, till I accomplish my purpose and do a thing that shall be recorded and told to kings and commoners after us.' Meanwhile, they carried Kemerezzeman to the bath and clad him in a royal habit, so that, when he came forth, he resembled a willow-wand or a star whose aspect put to shame both sun and moon, and his life returned to him. Then he went in to the princess Budour, who, when she saw him, schooled her heart to patience, till she should have accomplished her purpose, and bestowed on him slaves and servants, black and white, and camels and mules. Moreover, she gave him a treasury of money and advanced him from dignity to dignity, till she made him treasurer and committed to his charge all the treasures of the state; nor did she leave day by day to increase his allowances and afford him fresh marks of her favour. As for Kemerezzeman, he was at a loss for the reason of all the honour and favour she showed him and gave gifts and largesse out of the abundance of the wealth he owed to her munificence, devoting himself in particular to the service of King Armanous, so that he and all the Amirs and people, great and small, loved him and were wont to swear by his life. Nevertheless, he ceased not to marvel at the favour shown him by Budour and said in himself, 'By Allah, there must be a reason for this affection! Peradventure, this king favours me thus excessively with some ill purpose and needs must I therefore crave leave of him to depart his realm.' So he went in to Budour and said to her, 'O King, thou hast overwhelmed me with favours, but it will fulfil the measure of thy bounties if thou wilt take from me all thou hast given and let me depart.' She smiled and said, 'What makes thee seek to depart and plunge into new perils, whenas thou art in the enjoyment of the greatest favour and prosperity?' 'O King,' answered Kemerezzeman, 'this favour, if there be no reason for it, is indeed a wonder of wonders, more by token that thou hast advanced me to dignities such as befit graybeards, albeit I am but a child.' 'The reason is,' answered she, 'that I love thee for thine exceeding grace and thy surpassing beauty; and so thou wilt but grant me my desire of thee, I will advance thee yet further in honour and favour and largesse and make thee Vizier, for all thy tender age, even as the folk made me Sultan and I no older than thou; so that nowadays there is nothing strange in the headship of children, and gifted of God was he who said:Our time is, meseems, of the lineage of Lot; It craves the advancement of younglings, God wot.'
When Kemerezzeman heard this, he was confounded and his cheeks flushed till they seemed on fire; and he said, 'I reck not of favours that involve the commission of sin; I will live poor in wealth but rich in virtue and honour.' Quoth she, 'I am not the dupe of thy scruples, arising from prudery and coquetry: and God bless him who says:I mentioned to him the pact of fruition, and he, "How long with vexatious discourse wilt thou set upon me?"
'O King,' replied Kemerezzeman, 'I have not the wont of these doings, nor have I strength, who am but of tender years, to bear these heavy burdens, for which elder than I have proved unable.' She smiled and rejoined, 'Indeed, it is wonderful how error springs from the disorder of the wit. Since thou art but a boy, why standest thou in fear of sin or the doing of forbidden things, seeing that thou art not yet come to years of discretion and the offences of a child incur neither punishment nor reproof? Verily, thou committest thyself to an argument advanced but for the sake of contention, and it behoves thee to bow to the ordinance of fruition, which has been given against thee. Wherefore, henceforward, give over denial and coyness, for the commandment of God is a foreordained decree: (51) indeed, I have more reason than thou to fear falling into error; and well-inspired was he who said:My pintle is big and the little one said unto me, "Tilt boldly therewith at my inwards and quit thee thy need."
When Kemerezzeman heard these words, the light in his eyes became darkness and he said, 'O King, thou hast in thy palace women and female slaves, that have not their like in this age: may not these suffice thee without me? Do thy will with them and leave me.' 'Thou speakest truth,' answered she; 'but it is not with them that one who loves thee can heal himself of torment and fever; for when tastes and inclinations are corrupted, they hearken to other than good counsel. So leave arguing and hear what the poet says:Seest not the fruits of the market, how of two kinds they be? Some are for figs, (52) but more for the fruit of the sycamore-tree. (53)
And what another says:Full many an one, whose ankle-rings are dumb, her girdle sounds; So this one is content and that a tale of need must tell.
And a third:O pearl of loveliness, to love thee is my faith; Yea, and my choice of all the faiths that have been aye.
And a fourth:Compare not a wench with a boy and to the spy, Who says to thee, "This is wrong," pay thou no heed.
And a fifth:My soul be thy ransom! Indeed, I've chosen thee out with intent, Because thou layest no eggs and dost not menstruate.
And a sixth:Quoth she to me,--and sore enraged for wounded pride was she, For she in sooth had bidden me to that which might not be,--
And a seventh:Quoth she (for I to lie with her would not consent), "O fool, that followest on thy folly to the extent,
And an eighth:She proffered me a tender kaze; But I, "I will not swive," replied.
And a ninth:Men crave forgiveness with uplifted hands; But women pray with lifted legs, I trow. (57)
When Kemerezzeman heard these verses and was certified that there was no escaping compliance with her will, he said, 'O King, if thou must needs have it so, swear to me that thou wilt use me thus but once, though it avail not to stay thy debauched appetite; and that thou wilt never again require me of this to the end of time; so it may be God will purge me of the sin.' 'I promise thee that,' replied she, 'hoping that God of His favour will relent towards us and blot out our mortal sins; for the compass of the Divine forgiveness is not indeed so strait, but it may altogether embrace us and absolve us of the excess of our transgressions and bring us to the light of righteousness out of the darkness of error. As most excellent well saith the poet:The folk imagine of us twain an evil thing, I ween, And with their hearts and souls, indeed, they do persist therein.
Then she swore to him a solemn oath, by Him whose existence is unconditioned, that this thing should befall betwixt them but once and never again for all time, and vowed to him that the desire of him was driving her to death and perdition. So he went with her, on this condition, to her privy closet, that she might quench the fire of her passion, saying, 'There is no power and no virtue save in God the Most High, the Supreme! This is the ordinance of the All-powerful, the All-wise!' And did off his trousers, in the utmost confusion, with the tears running from his eyes for stress of affright; whereat she smiled and carrying him on to a couch, said to him, 'After this night, thou shalt see nought that will displease thee.' Then she turned to him, kissing and clipping him and twining leg with leg, and said to him, 'Put thy hand, between my thighs, to that thou wottest of, so haply it may be won to stand up after prostration.' He wept and said, 'I am not good at aught of this.' But she said, 'As I live, an thou do as I bid thee, it shall profit thee!' So he put out his hand, with a heart on fire for confusion, and found her thighs fresher than cream and softer than silk. The touching of them pleasured him and he moved his hand hither and thither, till he came to a dome abounding in benedictions and movements and said in himself, 'Belike this king is a hermaphrodite, nor male nor female.' So he said to her, 'O King, I cannot find that thou hast any manly gear, even as other men; what then moved thee to do thus?' When the princess heard this, she laughed till she fell backward, and said, 'O my beloved, how quickly thou hast forgotten the nights we have lain together!' Then she made herself known to him and he knew her for his wife, the Lady Budour, daughter of King Ghaïour. So he embraced her and she embraced him and they kissed each other; then they lay down on the bed of delight, repeating the words of the poet:Whenas the softness of a shape did bid him to my arms, That, as it were a trailing vine with twinings did him ply
Then they told one another all that had befallen them since their separation, after which he began to upbraid her, saying, 'What moved thee to deal with me as thou hast done this night?' 'Do not reproach me,' replied she; 'for I did this but by way of jest and for increase of pleasure and gladness.' When it was morning and the day arose with its light and shone, she sent to King Armanous and acquainted him with the truth of the case and that she was wife to Kemerezzeman. Moreover, she told him their story and the manner of their separation and how his daughter Heyat en Nufous was yet a maid. He marvelled greatly at their story and bade record it in letters of gold. Then he turned to Kemerezzeman and said, 'O king's son, art thou minded to marry my daughter and become my son-in-law?' 'I must consult the princess Budour,' answered he; 'for I owe her favour without stint.' So he took counsel with her and she said, 'This is well seen; marry her and I will be her handmaid, for I am her debtor for kindness and favour and good offices, more by token that we are here in her place and that the king her father has loaded us with benefits.' When he saw that she inclined to this and was not jealous of Heyat en Nufous, he agreed with her thereupon and told King Armanous what she had said, whereat he rejoiced greatly. Then he went out and seating himself in his chair of estate, assembled all the Viziers and Amirs and chamberlains and grandees, to whom he related the whole story and acquainted them with his desire to marry his daughter to Kemerezzeman and make him king in the stead of the princess Budour. Whereupon said they all, 'Since he is the husband of the princess Budour, who hath been our Sultan till now, whilst we deemed her King Armanous's son-in-law, we are all content to have him to Sultan over us and will be his servants, nor will we swerve from his allegiance.' At this Armanous rejoiced and summoning Cadis and witnesses and the chief officers of state, let draw up the contract of marriage between Kemerezzeman and his daughter, the princess Heyat en Nufous. Then he held high festival, giving sumptuous banquets and bestowing costly dresses of honour upon the Amirs and captains; moreover, he gave alms to the poor and needy and freed the prisoners. All the folk rejoiced in the coming of Kemerezzeman to the throne, wishing him abiding glory and prosperity and happiness and renown, and as soon as he became king, he remitted the customs- dues and released all that remained in prison. Thus he abode a long while, ordering himself worthily towards his subjects, and lived with his wives in peace and happiness and content, lying the night with each of them in turn. And indeed all his troubles and afflictions were blotted out from him and he forgot his father King Shehriman and his former estate of honour and worship with him.
After awhile, God the Most High blessed him with two sons, as they were two shining moons, the elder, whose name was prince Amjed, by Queen Budour, and the younger, whose name was prince Asaad and who was comelier than his brother, by Queen Heyat en Nufous. They were reared in splendour and delight and were instructed in penmanship and science and the arts of government and horsemanship and other polite arts and accomplishments, till they attained the extreme of perfection and the utmost limit of beauty and grace, and both men and women were ravished by their charms. They grew up together, till they reached the age of seventeen, and loved one another so dear that they were never apart, eating and drinking together and sleeping in one bed; and all the people envied them their beauty and concord. When they came to man's estate and were endowed with every perfection, their father was wont, as often as he went on a journey, to make them sit in his stead by turns in the place of judgment, and each did justice among the folk one day at a time. Now, as unalterable fate and foreordained destiny would have it, Queen Budour fell in love with Asaad, son of Queen Heyat en Nufous, and the latter became enamoured of Amjed; and each of them used to sport and play with the other's son, kissing him and straining him to her bosom, whilst each thought that the other's behaviour arose but from motherly affection. On this wise, passion got the mastery of the two women's hearts and they became madly enamoured of the two youths, so that when the other's son came in to either of them, she would press him to her bosom and long for him never to be parted from her; till, at last, when waiting grew tedious to them and they found no way to enjoyment, they refused meat and drink and forewent the solace of sleep. Presently, the King went out to hunt, bidding his sons sit to do justice in his stead, each one day in turn, according to their wont. So prince Amjed sat on the throne the first day, ordering and forbidding, appointing and deposing, giving and denying; and Queen Heyat en Nufous took a scroll and wrote to him the following letter, suing for his favour and discovering to him her passion, in fine, altogether putting off the mask and giving him to know that she desired to enjoy him. 'From the wretched lover, the sorrowful severed one, whose youth is wasted in the love of thee and whose torment for thee is prolonged. Were I to recount to thee the extent of my affliction and what I suffer for sadness, the passion that is in my breast and all that I endure for weeping and groaning and the rending of my sorrowful heart, my unremitting cares and my ceaseless griefs and all my suffering for severance and sadness and the ardour of desire, no letter could contain it nor calculation compass it. Indeed, earth and heaven are straitened upon me, and I have no hope and no trust but in thee. I am come nigh upon death and suffer the horrors of dissolution; burning is sore upon me, and the pangs of separation and estrangement. Were I to set out the yearnings that possess me, no scrolls would suffice thereto: and of the excess of my affliction and wasting away, I have made the following verses:Were I to set down all I feel of heart-consuming dole And all the transport and unease that harbour in my soul,
Then she folded up the silken tresses of her hair, whose cost swallowed up treasures, in the letter, and wrapping it in a piece of rich silk, scented with musk and ambergris, laid it in a handkerchief; after which she gave it to an eunuch and bade him carry it to prince Amjed. The eunuch took it, knowing not what the future hid for him, (for He who knoweth the hidden things ordereth events according to His will,) and going in to the prince, kissed the earth before him and gave him the letter. He opened it and reading it, was ware that his father's wife was in intent an adulteress and a traitress to her husband; whereat he was exceeding wroth and railed at women and their works, saying, 'May God curse women, the traitresses, that lack reason and religion!' Then he drew his sword and said to the eunuch, 'Out on thee, thou wicked slave! Dost thou carry adulterous messages for thy lord's wife? By Allah, there is no good in thee, O black of hue and heart, O foul of face and nature!' So saying, he smote him on the neck and severed his head from his body; then, folding the letter in the handkerchief, he thrust it into his pocket and went in to his own mother and told her what had passed, reviling and reproaching her and saying, 'Each one of you is worse than the other; and by God the Great, did I not fear to transgress against the rights of my father and my brother Asaad, I would assuredly go in to her and cut off her head, even as I cut off that of her eunuch!' Then he went out in a great rage; and when the news reached Queen Heyat en Nufous of what he had done with her messenger, she reviled him and cursed him and plotted perfidy against him. He passed the night, sick with anger and disgust and concern, nor was meat nor drink nor sleep sweet to him. Next morning, prince Asaad went out in his turn to rule the folk in his father's stead and sat in the audience-chamber, judging and administering justice, appointing and deposing, ordering and forbidding, giving and bestowing, till near the time of afternoon-prayer, when Queen Budour sent for a crafty old woman and discovering to her what was in her heart, wrote a letter to prince Asaad, complaining of the excess of her love and longing for him, as follows: 'From her who perisheth for passion and love-longing to the goodliest of mankind in form and nature, him who is conceited of his own loveliness and glories in his amorous grace, who turneth away from those that seek to enjoy him and refuseth to show favour unto the lowly and the self-abasing, him who is cruel and disdainful; from the despairing lover to prince Asaad, lord of surpassing beauty and excelling grace, of the moon-bright face and the flower-white brow and dazzling splendour. This is my letter to him whose love consumes my body and rends my skin and my bones. Know that my patience fails me and I am at a loss what to do: longing and wakefulness weary me and sleep and patience deny themselves to me; but mourning and watching stick fast to me and desire and passion torment me, and the extremes of languor and sickness. Yet may my life be thy ransom, though it be thy pleasure to slay her who loveth thee, and may God prolong thy life and preserve thee from every ill!' After this, she wrote the following verses:Fate hath so ordered it that I must needs thy lover be, O thou whose charms shine as the moon, when at the full is she!
And these also:To thee, O Asaad, of the pangs of passion I complain; Have pity on a slave of love, that burns for longing pain.
Then she scented the letter with odoriferous musk and winding it in the tresses of her hair, which were of Irak silk, with tassels of oblong emeralds, set with pearls and jewels, delivered it to the old woman, bidding her carry it to prince Asaad. She undertook the errand, to pleasure her, and going in straightway to the prince, found him in his closet and delivered him the letter; after which she stood waiting for the answer. When Asaad had read the letter and knew its purport, he wrapped it up again in the tresses and put it in his pocket, cursing false women; then, for he was beyond measure wroth, he sprang up and drawing his sword, smote the old woman on the neck and cut off her head. Then he went in to his mother, Queen Heyat en Nufous, whom he found lying on her bed, sick for that which had betided her with prince Amjed, and railed at her and cursed her; after which he left her and betook himself to his brother, to whom he related what had befallen him with Queen Budour, adding, 'By Allah, O my brother, but that I feared to grieve thee, I had gone in to her forthright and smitten her head off her shoulders!' 'By Allah, O my brother,' replied Amjed, 'the like of what hath befallen thee befell me also yesterday with thy mother Queen Heyat en Nufous.' And he told him what had passed, adding, 'By Allah, O my brother, nought but respect for thee withheld me from going in to her and dealing with her even as I dealt with the eunuch!' They passed the rest of the night in trouble and affliction, conversing and cursing false women, and agreed to keep the matter secret, lest their father should hear of it and kill the two women.
On the morrow, the King returned with his suite from hunting and sat awhile in his chair of estate; after which he dismissed the Amirs and went up to his harem, where he found his two wives lying on the bed, exceeding sick. Now they had made a plot against the two princes and concerted to do away their lives, for that they had exposed themselves before them and feared to be at their mercy. When Kemerezzeman saw them on this wise, he said to them, 'What ails you?' Whereupon they rose and kissing his hands, answered, perverting the case and saying, 'Know, O King, that thy sons, who have been reared in thy bounty, have played thee false and outraged thee in the persons of thy wives.' When he heard this, the light in his eyes became darkness and his reason fled for the excess of his rage; then said he to them, 'Expound this thing to me.' 'O King of the age,' answered Budour, 'know that these many days past thy son Asaad has been wont to send me letters and messages to solicit me to lewdness, and I still forbade him from this, but he would not be forbidden. When thou wentest forth to hunt, he rushed in on me, drunk and with a drawn sword in his hand, and smiting my eunuch, slew him. Then he mounted on my breast, still holding the sword, and I feared lest he should slay me even as he had slain my eunuch, if I gainsaid him; so he took his will of me by force; and now an thou do me not justice on him, O King, I will slay myself with my own hand, for I reck not of life in the world after this foul deed.' Queen Heyat en Nufous, choking with tears, told him a like story respecting prince Amjed, after which she fell a- weeping and wailing and said, 'Except thou avenge me on him, I will tell my father, King Armanous.' Then they both wept sore before King Kemerezzeman, who, when he saw their tears and heard their words, concluded that their story was true and waxing beyond measure wroth, went out, thinking to fall upon his two sons and put them to death. On his way he met his father-in-law King Armanous, who hearing of his return from the chase, had come to salute him and seeing him with the naked sword in his hand and the blood dripping from his nostrils, for excess of rage, enquired what ailed him. Kemerezzeman told him what his sons Amjed and Asaad had done and added, 'I am now going in to them, to slay them on the foulest wise and make of them the most shameful of examples.' 'O my son,' said King Armanous, (and indeed he too was wroth with them,) 'thou dost well, and may God not bless them nor any sons that offend thus against their father's honour! But, O my son, the proverb says, "Whoso looks not to the issues, Fortune is no friend to him." In any case, they are thy sons, and it befits not that thou put them to death with thine own hand, lest thou drink of their agony and after repent of having slain them, whenas repentance will avail thee nothing. Rather do thou send one of thine officers with them into the desert and let him kill them there, out of thy sight, for, as says the adage, "When the eye sees not, the heart grieves not."' Kemerezzeman saw his father-in-law's words to be just, so he sheathed his sword and turning back, sat down upon his throne and called his treasurer, a very old man, versed in affairs and in the shifts of fortune, to whom he said, 'Go in to my sons Amjed and Asaad; bind fast their hands behind them and lay them in two chests and set them on a mule. Then take horse and carry them into the mid-desert, where do thou put them to death and fill two vials with their blood and bring them to me in haste.' 'I hear and obey,' answered the treasurer and went out forthright to do his bidding. On his way, he met the princes coming out of the palace-vestibule, for they had donned their richest clothes and were on their way to salute their father and give him joy of his safe return from the chase. When he saw them, he laid hands on them, saying, 'O my sons, know that I am but a slave commanded and that your father hath laid a commandment on me: will ye obey his commandment?' 'Yes,' answered they; whereupon he bound their hands and laying them in the chests, set the latter on the back of a mule, with which he left the city and rode into the open country, till near midday, when he halted in a waste and desert spot and dismounting, set down the two chests. He opened them and took out Amjed and Asaad; whom when he saw, he wept sore for their beauty and grace; then drawing his sword, he said to them, 'O my lords, indeed it irks me to deal so foully by you; but I am to be excused in this, being but a slave commanded, for that your father King Kemerezzeman hath bidden me strike off your heads.' 'O Amir,' answered they, 'do the King's bidding, for we submit with patience to that which God (to whom be ascribed might and majesty) hath decreed to us; and thou art quit of our blood.' Then they embraced and bade each other farewell, and Asaad said to the treasurer, 'God on thee, O uncle, spare me the sight of my brother's agony and make me not drink of his anguish, but kill me first, that it may be the easier for me.' Amjed said the like and entreated the treasurer to kill him before Asaad, saying, 'My brother is younger than I; so make me not taste of his anguish.' And they both wept sore, whilst the treasurer wept for their weeping, and they said to each other, 'All this comes of the malice of those traitresses, our mothers; and this is the reward of our forbearance towards them. But there is no power and no virtue but in God the Most High, the Supreme! Verily, we are His and unto Him we return.' And Asaad embraced his brother, sobbing and repeating the following verses:O Thou to whom the sad complain, to whom the fearful flee, Thou that art evermore prepared for all that is to be,
When Amjed heard his brother's weeping, he wept also and pressed him to his bosom, repeating the following verses:O Thou, whose bounties unto me are more than one, I trow, Whose favours lavished on my head are countless as the sand,
Then said he to the treasurer, 'I conjure thee by the One God the Omnipotent King and Protector, kill me before my brother Asaad and allay the fire of my heart!' But Asaad wept and exclaimed, 'Not so: I will die first;' whereupon said Amjed, 'It were best that we embrace each other, so the sword may fall upon us and kill us both at one stroke.' So they embraced, face to face, and clipped each other straitly, whilst the treasurer bound them fast with cords, weeping the while. Then he drew his sword and said to them, 'By Allah, O my lords, it is indeed hard to me to kill you! But have ye no last wishes or injunctions that I may fulfil or message that I may carry?' 'We have no wish,' replied Amjed, 'and my only injunction to thee is that thou set my brother undermost, that the blow may fall on me first; and when thou hast slain us and returnest to the King and he asks thee, "What said they before their death?" do thou answer, "Thy sons salute thee and say to thee, 'Thou knewest not if we were innocent or guilty, yet hast thou put us to death and hast not certified thyself of our guilt nor looked into our case.'" Then do thou repeat to him these verses:Women are very devils, made to work us dole and death; Refuge I seek with God Most High from all their craft and scaith.
'We desire of thee nought but this,' continued Amjed, 'except that thou have patience with us, whilst I repeat other two lines to my brother.' Then he wept sore and recited the following verses:Examples many, thou and I, We have in kings of days gone by,
At this the treasurer wept, till his beard was wet, whilst Asaad's eyes filled with tears and he in turn repeated these verses:Fate, when the thing itself is past, afflicteth with the trace, And weeping is not, of a truth, for body or form or face. (60)
Then, with cheeks stained with thick-coming tears, he recited these also:The days and nights are fashioned for treachery and despite; Yea, they are full of perfidy and knavish craft and sleight.
Then he sobbed and said:O thou that seeketh the worthless world, give ear to me and know The very net of ruin it is and quarry of dole and woe;
When he had made an end of these verses, he clipped his brother in his arms, till they seemed as it were one body, and the treasurer, raising his sword, was about to strike them, when, behold, his horse took fright at the wind of his upraised hand and breaking its tether, fled into the desert. Now the horse was worth a thousand dinars and on his back was a splendid saddle, worth much money: so the treasurer threw down his sword, in great concern, and ran after him, to catch him. The horse galloped on, snorting and neighing and pawing the earth in his fright, till he raised a cloud of dust, and presently coming to a wood, fled into the midst of it, whither the treasurer followed him. Now there was in this wood a terrible lion, foul of face, with eyes that cast forth sparks; his look was grim and his aspect struck terror into men's souls. He heard the noise made by the horse and came out to see what was to do. Presently the treasurer turned and saw the lion making towards him; but found no way of escape, nor had he his sword with him. So he said in himself, 'There is no power and no virtue but in God the Most High, the Supreme! This stress is come upon me because of Amjed and Asaad; and indeed this journey was unblest from the first!' Meanwhile Amjed and Asaad were grievously oppressed by the heat and grew sore athirst, so that their tongues hung out and they cried for succour; but none came to their relief and they said, 'Would God we were dead and at peace from this torment! But we know not whither the treasurer's horse hath fled, that he has gone and left us bound. If he would but come back and kill us, it were easier to us than to suffer this torture.' 'O my brother,' said Asaad, 'be patient and the relief of God (blessed and exalted be He) will surely come to us; for the horse ran not away save of His favour towards us, and nought irks us but this thirst.' So saying, he stretched himself and strained right and left, till he burst his bonds; then he unbound his brother and taking up the Amir's sword, said, 'By Allah, we will not go hence, till we know what is come of him!' So they followed the track, till it led them to the wood and they said to one another, 'Of a surety, the horse and the treasurer have not overgone this wood.' Quoth Asaad, 'Stay thou here, whilst I enter the wood and search it.' 'I will not let thee go in alone,' answered Amjed. 'We will both go in; so if we escape, we shall escape together, and if we perish, we shall perish together.' So they entered both and found the lion standing over the treasurer, who lay like a sparrow in his grip, calling upon God for help and lifting his hands to heaven. When Amjed saw this, he took the sword and running to the lion, smote him between the eyes and laid him dead on the ground. The Amir arose, marvelling at this, and seeing Amjed and Asaad his lord's sons, standing there, cast himself at their feet and exclaimed, 'By Allah, O my lords, it were foul wrong in me to put you to death! May the man never be who would kill you! Indeed, I will ransom you with my life.' Then he rose and embracing them, enquired how they had loosed their bonds and come thither, whereupon they told him how the bonds of one of them had fallen loose and he had unbound the other, that they might quit their intent, and how they had followed his track till they came upon him. He thanked them for their deed and went with them forth of the wood, where they said to him, 'O uncle, do our father's bidding.' 'God forbid,' answered he, 'that I should draw near to you with hurt! I mean to take your clothes and clothe you with mine; then will I fill two vials with the lion's blood and go back to the King and tell him I have put you to death. But as for you, fare ye forth into the lands, for God's earth is wide; and know, O my lords, that it irks me to part from you.' At this, they all fell a-weeping; then the two youths put off their clothes and the treasurer covered them with his own. Moreover, he filled two vials with the lion's blood and making two parcels of the princes' clothes, set them before him on his horse's back. Then he took leave of them and making his way back to the city, went in to King Kemerezzeman and kissed the earth before him. The King saw him pale and troubled and deeming this came of the slaughter of the two princes (though in truth it came of his adventure with the lion) rejoiced and said to him, 'Hast thou done the business?' 'Yes, O our lord,' answered the treasurer and gave him the two parcels of clothes and the two vials of blood. 'How bore they themselves,' asked the King, 'and did they give thee any charge?' 'I found them patient and resigned to their fate,' answered the treasurer; 'and they said to me, "Verily, our father is excusable; bear him our salutation and say to him, 'Thou art quit of our blood;' and repeat to him the following verses:Women are very devils, made to work us dole and death; Refuge I seek with God Most High from all their craft and scaith.
When the King heard this, he bowed his head a long while and knew this to mean that they had wrongfully been put to death. Then he bethought himself of the perfidy of women and the calamities brought about by them, and opening the two parcels fell to turning over his sons' clothes and weeping. Presently, he found in the pocket of his son Asaad's clothes a letter in Queen Budour's hand, enclosing the tresses of her hair, and reading it, knew that the prince had been falsely accused. Then he searched Amjed's clothes and found in his pocket a letter in the handwriting of Queen Heyat en Nufous, enclosing the tresses of her hair; so he opened and read it and knew that Amjed also had been wronged; whereupon he beat hand upon hand and exclaimed, 'There is no power and no virtue but in God! I have slain my sons unjustly.' And he buffeted his face, crying out, 'Alas, my sons! Alas, my long grief!' Then he bade build two tombs in one house, which he styled 'House of Lamentations,' and let grave thereon his sons' names; and he threw himself on Amjed's tomb, weeping and groaning and lamenting, and repeated these verses:O moon, that hast set beneath the earth for aye, For whose loss weep the shining stars of the sky,
Then he threw himself on Asaad's tomb and recited the following verses, whilst the tears poured from his eyes:Fain had I shared with thee, dear heart, in death and ill; But God, that ordereth all, willed other than my will.
Then he forsook his friends and intimates, and denying himself to his women and his family, shut himself up in the House of Lamentations, where he passed his time in weeping for his sons.
Meanwhile, Amjed and Asaad fared on into the desert a whole month's journey, eating of the fruits of the earth and drinking of the rain-pools, till their travel brought them to a mountain of black stone, where the road divided in two, one skirting the foot of the mountain and the other leading to its summit. They took the former way, for fear of thirst, and followed it five days, but saw no end to it and were overcome with weariness, being unused to walking in mountains or elsewhere. At last, despairing of coming to the end of the road, they retraced their steps and taking the other, that led over the mountain, followed it all that day, till nightfall, when Asaad, weary with much travel, said to Amjed, 'O my brother, I can go no farther, for I am exceeding weak.' 'Courage,' replied Amjed; 'may be God will send us relief.' So they walked on part of the night, till the darkness closed in upon them, when Asaad became beyond measure weary and saying, 'O my brother, I am worn out and spent with walking,' threw himself on the ground and wept. Amjed took him in his arms and fared on with him, halting bytimes to rest, till break of day, when they came to the mountain-top and found there a stream of running water and by it a pomegranate-tree and a prayer-niche. They could hardly believe their eyes, but, sitting down by the spring, drank of its water and ate of the fruit of the tree; after which they lay down and slept till sunrise, when they washed in the spring and eating of the pomegranates, slept again till the time of afternoon-prayer. Then they thought to continue their journey, but Asaad could not walk, for his feet were swollen. So they abode there three days, till they were rested, after which they set out again and fared on over the mountain days and nights, well-nigh perished for thirst, till they came in sight of a city afar off, at which they rejoiced and made towards it. When they drew near it, they thanked God the Most High and Amjed said to Asaad, 'O my brother, sit here, whilst I go to yonder city and see what and whose it is and where we are in God's wide world, that we may know through what lands we have passed in crossing this mountain, whose skirts if we had followed, we had not reached this city in a whole year: so praised be God for safety!' 'By Allah,' replied Asaad, 'none shall go but myself, and may I be thy ransom! If thou leave me, I shall imagine a thousand things and suffer tortures of anxiety on thine account, for I cannot brook thine absence from me.' 'Go then,' rejoined Amjed, 'and do not tarry.' So Asaad took money and leaving his brother awaiting him, descended the mountain and fared on, till he entered the city. As he passed through the streets, he met an old man, with a beard that flowed down upon his breast and was parted in twain; he bore a walking-staff in his hand and was richly clad, with a great red turban on his head. When Asaad saw him, he wondered at his mien and habit; nevertheless, he went up to him and saluting him, enquired the way to the market. The old man smiled in his face and said, 'O my son, meseems thou art a stranger?' 'Yes,' answered Asaad; 'I am a stranger.' 'O my son,' rejoined the other, 'verily, thou gladdenest our country with thy presence and makest thine own land desolate by reason of thine absence. What wantest thou of the market?' 'O uncle,' replied Asaad, 'I have an elder brother, with whom I have journeyed these three months, for we come from a far country. When we sighted this city, I left my brother in the mountain and came hither, purposing to buy food and what else and return therewith to him, that we might feed thereon.' 'Rejoice in all good, O my son!' said the old man. 'Know that to-day I give a marriage-feast, to which I have bidden many guests, and I have made ready great plenty of the best and most delicious meats that the heart can desire. So, if thou wilt come home with me, I will give thee freely all thou lackest, without price. Moreover, I will teach thee the ways of the city; and praised be God, O my son, that thou hast fallen in with me and none other!' 'As thou wilt,' answered Asaad; 'but make haste, for my brother awaits me and his whole heart is with me.' So the old man took Asaad by the hand, smiling in his face and saying, 'Glory be to Him who hath delivered thee from the people of this city!' Then he carried him to a narrow lane and entering a spacious house, brought him into a saloon, wherein were forty old men, seated in a circle about a lighted fire, to which they were doing worship and prostrating themselves. When Asaad saw this he was confounded and his flesh quaked, though he knew not what they were; and the old man said to them, 'O elders of the fire, how blessed is this day!' Then he cried out, saying, 'Ho, Ghezban!' Whereupon there came out to him a tall black slave of forbidding aspect, grim-visaged and flat-nosed. The old man made a sign to him, and he bound Asaad straitly; after which the old man said to him, 'Bear him to the dungeon under the earth and bid my slave-girl Kewam torture him day and night and give him a cake of bread to eat morning and evening, against the time come of the voyage to the Blue Sea and the Mountain of Fire, when we will slaughter him on the mountain as a sacrifice.' So the black carried him out at another door and raising a flag in the floor, discovered a flight of twenty steps leading to a chamber under the earth, into which he descended with him and laying his feet in irons, committed him to the slave-girl and went away. Meanwhile, the old men said to one another, 'When the day of the Festival of the Fire comes, we will sacrifice him on the mountain, as a propitiatory offering to the Fire.' Presently the damsel went down to him and beat him grievously, till the blood streamed from his sides and he fainted away; after which she set at his head a cake of bread and a cruse of brackish water and went away and left him. In the middle of the night, he revived and found himself bound and sore with beating: so he wept bitterly and recalling his former estate of ease and honour and lordship and dominion, groaned and lamented and repeated the following verses:Halt by the ruins of the house and question of our fate Nor think we sojourn in the land, as in our first estate.
Then he put out his hand and finding the bread and water at his head, ate enough to keep life in him and drank a little water, but could get no sleep for the swarms of bugs and lice. As soon as it was day, the slave-girl came down to him and changed his clothes, which were drenched with blood and stuck to him, so that his skin came off with the shirt; wherefore he shrieked aloud and cried, 'Alas!' and said, 'O my God, if this be Thy pleasure, increase it upon me! O Lord, verily Thou art not unmindful of him that oppresses me: do Thou then avenge me upon him!' And he groaned and repeated the following verses:Lord, I submit myself to that Thou dost decree, Contented to endure, if but it pleasure Thee;
And what another says:Avert thy face from thought-taking and care And trust to fate to order thine affair;
Then the slave-girl beat him till he fainted away and throwing him a cake of bread and a cruse of brackish water, went away and left him sad and lonely, bound in chains of iron, with the blood streaming from his sides and far from those he loved. So he called to mind his brother and his former high estate and repeated the following verses, shedding floods of tears the while:How long wilt thou wage war on me, O Fate, and bear away My brethren from me? Hold thy hand and spare awhile, I pray!
Meanwhile his brother abode, awaiting him, till mid-day, but he returned not: whereupon Amjed's heart fluttered and the tears welled from his eyes. The pangs of severance were sore upon him and he wept sore, exclaiming, 'Alas, my brother! Alas, my companion! Alas, my grief! I fear me we are separated!' Then he descended the mountain, with the tears running down his cheeks, and entering the city, made for the market. He asked the folk the name of the city and of its people, and they said, 'This is called the City of the Magians, and its people serve the Fire, not the Omnipotent King.' Then he enquired of the City of Ebony and they answered, 'It is a year's journey thither by land and six months' by sea: it was governed erst by a King called Armanous, but he took to son-in-law a prince called Kemerezzeman, distinguished for justice and loyalty, munificence and benevolence, and made him king in his stead.' When Amjed heard tell of his father, he groaned and wept and lamented and knew not whither to go. However, he bought food and carried it with him, till he came to a retired spot, where he sat down, thinking to eat: but, recalling his brother, he fell a-weeping and ate but a morsel to stay his stomach, and that against his will. Then he rose and walked about the city, seeking news of his brother, till he saw a Muslim, a tailor, sitting in his shop; so he sat down by him and told him his story; whereupon quoth the tailor, 'If he have fallen into the hands of any of the Magians, thou shalt hardly see him again: yet it may be God will reunite you. But thou, O my brother,' added he, 'wilt thou lodge with me?' 'Yes,' answered Amjed, and the tailor rejoiced at this. So Amjed abode with him many days, what while the tailor comforted him and exhorted him to patience and taught him his craft, till he became expert. One day, he went forth to the sea-shore and washed his clothes; after which he entered the bath and put on clean raiment. Then he walked about the streets, to divert himself, and presently fell in with a woman of surpassing beauty and symmetry, unequalled for grace and loveliness. When she saw him, she raised her face-veil and winked to him and ogled him, reciting the following verses:Afar, I saw thee coming and cast mine eyes down straight, As if, loveling slender, thou wert the very sun.
When he heard this, his heart inclined to her and the hands of love sported with him: so he winked to her in answer and repeated the following verses:Over the rose of the cheek, the thorns of the eyelashes rise; So who shall adventure himself to gather the flowery prize?
At this she sighed deeply and signing to him again, repeated the following verses:'Tis thou that hast trodden the road of aversion and coyness; not I Vouchsafe me the promised delight, for the time of fulfilment draws nigh.
When he heard this, he said to her, 'Wilt thou come to my lodging or shall I go with thee to thine?' At this, she hung her head bashfully and repeated the words of the Most High, 'Men shall have precedence over women, for that God hath preferred these over those.' (69) By this, Amjed understood that she wished to go with him and felt himself bounden to find a place wherein to receive her, but was ashamed to carry her to the house of his host, the tailor. So he walked on and she followed him from street to street, till she was tired and said to him, 'O my lord, where is thy house?' 'But a little way before us,' answered he. Then he turned aside into a handsome street, followed by the young lady, and walked on, till he came to the end, when he found it had no issue and exclaimed, 'There is no power and no virtue but in God the Most High, the Supreme!' Then, raising his eyes, he saw, at the upper end of the street, a great door, with two stone benches; but it was locked. So he sat down on one of the benches and the lady on the other; and she said to him, 'O my lord, wherefore waitest thou?' He bowed his head awhile, then raised it and answered, 'I am waiting for my servant, who has the key: for I bade him make me ready meat and drink and flowers for the wine-service against my return from the bath.' But he said in himself, 'Belike she will grow tired of waiting and go about her business, leaving me here, when I will go my own way.' However, when she was weary of waiting, she said, 'O my lord, thy servant tarries long; and here are we waiting in the street.' And she took a stone and went up to the lock. 'Be not in haste,' said Amjed; 'but have patience till the servant comes.' However, she hearkened not to him, but smote the lock with the stone and broke it in half, whereupon the door opened. Quoth he, 'What possessed thee to do this?' 'Pooh, pooh, my lord!' answered she. 'What matters it? Is not the house thine?' 'Yes,' said he; 'but there was no need to break the lock.' Then she entered, leaving Amjed confounded and knowing not what to do for fear of the people of the house; but she said to him, 'Why dost thou not enter, O light of mine eyes and darling of my heart?' 'I hear and obey,' answered he; 'but my servant tarries long upon me and I know not if he have done aught of what I bade him or not.' So saying, he entered, sore in fear of the people of the house, and found himself in a handsome saloon, full of buffets and niches and settles, furnished with stuffs of silk and brocade. It had four raised recesses, each facing other, and in the midst was a fountain of costly fashion, on whose margin stood a covered tray (of meats), with a leather table-cloth hanging up and dishes set with jewels, full of fruits and sweet-scented flowers. Hard by stood drinking vessels and a candlestick with a candle therein. The place was full of precious stuffs, and therein were chests and stools set, on each of which latter lay a parcel of clothes and a purse full of gold and silver. The floor was paved with marble and the house bore witness in every part to its owner's fortune. When Amjed saw all this, he was confounded and said in himself, 'I am a lost man! Verily, we are God's and to God we return!' As for the lady, she was transported at what she saw and said to him, 'By Allah, O my lord, thy servant has not failed of his duty; for see, he has swept the place and cooked the meat and set on the fruit; and indeed I come at the best of times.' But he paid no heed to her, his heart being taken up with fear of the people of the house; and she said, 'Fie, O my lord, O my heart! What ails thee to stand thus?' Then she sighed and giving him a kiss, that sounded like the cracking of a walnut, said, 'O my lord, and thou have bidden other than me, I will gird my middle and serve her and thee.' Amjed laughed from an angerful heart and sat down, panting and saying in himself, 'Alack, how I shall smart for it, when the owner of the house returns!' She seated herself by him and fell to jesting and laughing, whilst he sat careful and frowning, thinking a thousand thoughts and saying in himself, 'The master of the house will surely come and what shall I say to him? He will assuredly kill me without mercy.' Presently, she rose and tucking up her sleeves, took a table, on which she laid the cloth and the tray of food; then set it before Amjed and began to eat, saying, 'Eat, O my lord.' So he came forward and ate; but the food was not pleasant to him and he ceased not to look towards the door, till the lady had eaten her fill, when she took away the meats and setting on the dessert, fell to eating of the dried fruits. Then she brought the wine-service and opening the jar, filled a cup and gave it to Amjed, who took it, saying in himself, 'Alas! what will become of me, when the master of the house comes and sees me!' Presently, as he sat, with the cup in his hand and his eyes fixed on the vestibule, in came the master of the house, who was one of the chief men of the city, being Master of the Horse to the King. He had fitted up this house for his privy pleasures, that he might make merry therein and be private with whom he would, and had that day bidden one whom he loved and had made this entertainment for him. When, therefore, this man (whose name was Behadir and who was a kindly, liberal and open- handed man) came thither and found the door open and the lock broken, he entered softly and putting in his head at the door of the saloon, saw Amjed and the lady sitting, with the dish of fruit and the wine-jar before them. Amjed at that moment had the cup in his hand and his face turned to the door; and when his eyes met Behadir's, he turned pale and trembled in every nerve. Behadir, seeing his trouble, signed to him, with his finger on his lips, as who should say, 'Be silent and come hither to me.' So he set down the cup and rose, whereupon quoth the lady, 'Whither away?' He shook his head and signing to her that he wished to make water, went out into the corridor, barefoot. When he saw Behadir, he knew him for the master of the house; so he hastened to him and kissing his hands, said to him, 'God on thee, O my lord, before thou do me any hurt, hear what I have to say.' Then he told him who he was and what caused him leave his native land and royal state, and how he had not entered his house of his free will, but that it was the lady who had broken the lock and done all this. When Behadir heard his story and knew that he was a king's son, he inclined to him and taking compassion on him, said to him, 'O Amjed, hearken to me and do what I bid thee, and I will ensure thee safety from that thou fearest; but, if thou cross me, I will kill thee.' 'Command me as thou wilt,' answered Amjed. 'I will not gainsay thee in aught, for I am the freedman of thy bounty.' 'Then go back forthright into the saloon,' rejoined Behadir, 'and sit down in thy place and take thine ease. I will presently come in to thee, and when thou seest me (now my name is Behadir) do thou revile me and rail at me, saying, "Why hast thou tarried till now?" And accept no excuse from me, but rise and beat me; and if thou spare me, I will do away thy life. Enter now and make merry and whatsoever thou seekest of me, I will bring thee forthwith. So pass the night as thou wilt and on the morrow go thy way. This in honour of thy strangerhood, for I love strangers and hold myself bounden to do them honour.' So Amjed kissed his hand and returning to the saloon, with his face clad in its native white and red, said to the lady, 'O my mistress, the place is gladdened by thy presence, and this is indeed a blessed night.' 'Verily,' said she, 'this is a wonderful change in thee, that thou now welcomest me so cordially!' 'By Allah, O my lady,' answered he, 'methought my servant Behadir had robbed me of some necklaces of jewels, worth ten thousand dinars each; however, when I went out but now, in concern for this, I sought for them and found them in their place. I know not why the knave tarries thus, and needs must I punish him for it.' She was satisfied with his answer, and they drank and sported and made merry, till near upon sundown, when Behadir came in to them, having changed his clothes and girt his middle and put on shoes, such as are worn of servants. He saluted and kissed the earth, then clasped his hands behind him and stood, with his head hanging down, as one who confesses to a fault. Amjed looked at him with angry eyes and said, 'Why hast thou tarried till now, O most pestilent of slaves?' 'O my lord,' answered Behadir, 'I was busy washing my clothes and knew not of thy being here; for thou hadst appointed me for nightfall and not for the daytime.' But Amjed cried out at him, saying, 'Thou liest, O vilest of slaves! By Allah, I must beat thee!' So he rose and laying Behadir on the ground, took a stick and beat him gingerly: but the lady sprang up and snatching the stick from his hand, laid on to Behadir so lustily, that the tears ran from his eyes and he ground his teeth together and called out for succour; whilst Amjed cried out to the lady to hold her hand and she answered, 'Let me stay my anger on him;' till at last he snatched the stick from her hand and pushed her away. Behadir arose and wiping away his tears, waited upon them awhile; after which he swept the hall and lighted the lamps; but, as often as he went in and out, the lady railed at him and cursed him, till Amjed was wroth with her and said, 'For God's sake, leave my servant; he is not used to this.' Then they sat eating and drinking, whilst Behadir waited upon them, till midnight, when the latter, weary with service and beating, fell asleep in the midst of the hall and snored and snorted; whereupon the lady, who was heated with wine, said to Amjed, 'Arise, take the sword that hangs yonder and cut off this slave's head, or I will be the death of thee.' 'What possesses thee to kill my slave?' asked Amjed; and she answered, 'Our delight will not be fulfilled but by his death. If thou wilt not kill him, I will do it myself.' 'For God's sake,' cried Amjed, 'do not this thing!' 'It must be,' replied she and taking down the sword, drew it and made at Behadir to kill him; but Amjed said in himself, 'This man hath entreated us courteously and sheltered us and done us kindness and made himself my servant: and shall we requite him by killing him? This shall never be. Then he said to the lady, 'If my slave must be killed, better I should do it than thou.' So saying, he took the sword from her and raising his hand, smote her on the neck and made her head fly from her body. It fell upon Behadir, who awoke and sitting up, saw Amjed standing by him, with the bloodstained sword in his hand, and the damsel lying dead. He enquired what had passed, and Amjed told him what she had said, adding, 'Nothing would serve her but she must kill thee; and this is her reward.' Behadir rose and kissing the prince's hand, said to him, 'Would God thou hadst spared her! But now there is nothing for it but to rid us of her forthright, before the day break.' So saying, he wrapped the body in a mantle and laying it in a basket, said to Amjed, 'Thou art a stranger here and knowest no one: so sit thou here and await my return. If I come back, I will assuredly do thee great good service and use my endeavour to have news of thy brother; but if I return not by sunrise, know that all is over with me; in which case the house and all it contains are thine, and peace be on thee.' Then he shouldered the basket and going forth, made for the sea, thinking to throw it therein: but as he drew near the shore, he turned and found himself surrounded by the chief of the police and his officers. They knew him and wondered and opened the basket, in which they found the slain woman. So they seized him and laid him in irons till the morning, when they carried him and the basket to the King and acquainted the latter with the case. The King was sore enraged and said to Behadir, 'Out on thee! This is not the first time thou hast slain folk and cast them into the sea and taken their goods. How many murders hast thou done ere this?' Behadir hung his head, and the King cried out at him, saying, 'Woe to thee! Who killed this young lady?' 'O my lord,' answered Behadir, 'I killed her, and there is no power and no virtue but in God the Most High, the Supreme!' At this the King's anger redoubled and he commanded to hang him. So the hangman and the chief of the police went down with him, by the King's commandment, and paraded him through the streets and markets of the town, whilst a crier forewent them, bidding all the folk to the execution of Behadir, the King's Master of the Horse.
Meanwhile, Amjed awaited his host's return till the day broke and the sun rose, and when he saw that he came not, he exclaimed, 'There is no power and no virtue but in God the Most High, the Supreme! I wonder what is come of him?' As he sat musing, he heard the crier proclaiming aloud Behadir's sentence and bidding the people to his hanging at midday; whereat he wept and exclaimed, 'Verily, we are God's and to Him we return! He means to sacrifice himself unjustly for my sake, when it was I killed her. By Allah, this shall never be!' Then he went out and shutting the door after him, hurried through the streets, till he overtook Behadir, when he accosted the chief of the police and said to him, 'O my lord, put not Behadir to death, for he is innocent. By Allah, none killed her but I.' When the Master of the Police heard this, he took them both and carrying them before the King, told him what Amjed had said; whereupon he looked at the prince and said to him, 'Didst thou kill the young lady?' 'Yes,' answered he, and the King said, 'Tell me why thou killedst her, and speak the truth.' 'O King,' replied Amjed, 'indeed, it is a rare event and a strange matter that hath befallen me: were it graven with needles on the corners of the eye, it would serve as a lesson to whoso can profit by admonition.' Then he told him his whole story and all that had befallen him and his brother, first and last; whereat the King wondered greatly and said to him, 'O youth, I know thee now to be excusable. Wilt thou be my Vizier?' 'I hear and obey,' answered Amjed; whereupon the King bestowed magnificent dresses of honour on him and Behadir and gave him a handsome house, with servants and officers and all things needful, appointing him stipends and allowances and bidding him make search for his brother Asaad. So Amjed sat down in the seat of office and governed and did justice and invested and deposed and gave and took. Moreover, he sent out a crier to cry his brother throughout the city, and he made proclamation in the streets and markets many days, but heard no news of Asaad nor happened on any trace of him.
Meanwhile, the Magians ceased not to torture Asaad, night and day, for a whole year's space, till the day of their festival drew near, when the old man (whose name was Behram) made ready for the voyage and fitted out a ship for himself. When all was ready, he laid Asaad in a chest and locking it, transported it to the ship. As fate would have it, Amjed was at that very time standing looking upon the sea; and when he saw the men carrying the chest and other gear on board the ship, his heart throbbed and he called to his servants to bring him his horse. Then, mounting with a company of his officers, he rode down to the port and halted before the Magian's ship, which he commanded his men to search. So they boarded the vessel and searched it in every part, but found nothing and returned and told Amjed, who mounted again and rode back to his palace, with a troubled mind. As he entered, he cast his eyes on the wall and saw written thereon the following verses, which when he read, he called to mind his brother and wept:Belovéd ones, for all you're absent from my sight, Yet in my heart and thought you have your sojourn still.
Meanwhile, Behram embarked and shouted to his crew to make sail in all haste. So they loosed the sails and departing, fared on without ceasing many days and nights; and every other day, Behram took out Asaad and gave him a little bread and water, till they drew near the Mountain of Fire, when there came out on them a contrary wind and the sea rose against them, so that they were driven out of their course into strange waters and came in sight of a city builded upon the shore, with a citadel whose windows overlooked the sea. Now the ruler of this city was a queen called Merjaneh, and the captain said to Behram, 'O my lord, we have strayed from our course and come to the island of Queen Merjaneh, who is a devout Muslim; and if she know that we are Magians, she will take our ship and slay us to the last man. Yet needs must we put in here to rest [and refit].' Quoth Behram, 'Let us clothe this Muslim we have with us in a slave's habit and carry him ashore with us, so that, when the queen sees him, she will think and say, "This is a slave." As for me, I will tell her that I am a dealer in white slaves and that I had with me many, but have sold all but this one, whom I have retained to keep my accounts, for he can read and write.' And the captain said, 'This device should serve well.' Presently they reached the city and slackening sail, cast anchor; when, behold, Queen Merjaneh came down to them, attended by her guards, and halting before the ship, called out to the captain, who landed and kissed the earth before her. Quoth she, 'What is the lading of thy ship and whom hast thou with thee?' 'O queen of the age,' answered he, 'I have with me a merchant who deals in slaves.' And she said, 'Bring him to me;' whereupon Behram came ashore to her, followed by Asaad in a slave's habit, and kissed the earth before her. 'What is thy condition?' asked the queen; and Behram answered, 'I am a slave-dealer.' Then she looked at Asaad and taking him for a slave, said to him, 'What is thy name?' Quoth he, 'Dost thou ask my present or my former name?' 'Hast thou then two names?' asked she, and he answered (and indeed his voice was choked with tears), 'Yes; my name aforetime was Asaad, (70) but now it is Muterr.' (71) Her heart inclined to him and she said, 'Canst thou write?' 'Yes,' answered he; and she gave him inkhorn and pen and paper and said to him, 'Write somewhat, that I may see it.' So he wrote the following verses:Harkye, O thou that judgest, what can a mortal do, When fate, in all conditions, doth him to death ensue?
When she read this, she had compassion upon him and said to Behram, 'Sell me this slave.' 'O my lady,' answered he, 'I cannot sell him, for he is the only slave I have left.' Quoth she, 'I must have him of thee, either by purchase or as a gift.' But Behram said, 'I will neither sell him nor give him.' Whereat she was wroth and taking Asaad by the hand, carried him up to the palace and sent to Behram, saying, 'Except thou set sail and depart our city this very night, I will seize all thy goods and break up thy ship.' When the message reached the Magian, he was sore troubled and said, 'Verily, this voyage is every way unfortunate.' Then he made ready and took all he needed and awaited the coming of the night, to resume his voyage, saying to the sailors, 'Provide yourselves and fill the waterskins, that we may set sail at the last of the night.' So the sailors did their occasions and awaited the coming of the night.
To return to Queen Merjaneh. When she had brought Asaad into the palace, she opened the windows overlooking the sea and bade her handmaids bring food. Accordingly, they set food before Asaad and herself, and they ate, after which the queen called for wine and fell to drinking with him. Now God (may He be exalted and glorified!) filled her heart with love for Asaad and she plied him with wine, till his reason fled and presently he rose and left the hall, to do an occasion. Seeing a door open, he went out and walked on, till he came to a vast garden full of all manner fruits and flowers and sitting down under a tree, did his occasion. Then he went up to a fountain in the garden and made the ablution and washed his hands and face, after which he would have risen to go away; but the air smote him and he fell back, with his clothes undone, and slept, and night overcame him thus.
Meanwhile, Behram, the night being come, cried out to the sailors to spread sail and depart. 'We hear and obey,' answered they; 'but give us time to fill our water-skins.' Then they landed with their water-skins and coasting the palace, found nothing but walls: so they climbed over into the garden and followed the track of feet, that led them to the fountain, where they found Asaad lying on his back, asleep. They knew him and taking him up, climbed the wall again with him, after they had filled their skins, and carried him back in haste to Behram, to whom said they, 'Beat thy drums and sound thy pipes; for we have found thy prisoner, whom Queen Merjaneh took from thee by force, and have brought him back to thee.' And they threw Asaad down before him. When Behram saw him, his heart leapt for joy and his breast dilated with gladness. Then he bestowed largesse on the sailors and bade them weigh anchor in haste. So they set sail forthright, intending for the Mountain of Fire, and stayed not their course till the morning.
As for Queen Merjaneh, she abode awhile, awaiting Asaad's return; and when she saw that he came not, she rose and sought him, but found no trace of him. Then she bade her women light flambeaux and search for him, whilst she herself went forth and seeing the garden-door open, knew that he had gone thither. So she went out and finding his slippers lying by the fountain, searched the garden in every part, but found no sign of him. Nevertheless, she gave not over the search till morning, when she enquired for the Magian's ship and was told that it had set sail in the first watch of the night; wherefore she knew that they had taken Asaad with them and this was grievous to her and she was angry. So she bade equip ten great ships forthwith and arming herself, embarked in one of them, with her guards and women and troops, richly accoutred and armed for war. They spread the sails and she said to the captain, 'If you overtake the Magian's ship, ye shall have of me dresses of honour and largesse; but if ye let it escape, I will kill you all.' Whereat fear and great hope fell upon the seamen, and they sailed three days and nights, till, on the fourth day, they sighted Behram's ship. Ere ended day, they came up with it and surrounded it on all sides, even as Behram had taken Asaad forth of the chest and was beating and torturing him, whilst the prince cried out for succour and relief, but found neither helper nor deliverer; and indeed he was sorely tormented with much beating. Presently Behram chanced to look up and seeing himself encompassed by the queen's ships, as the white of the eye encompasses the black, gave himself up for lost and groaned and said to Asaad, 'Out on thee, O Asaad! This is all thy doing; but, by Allah, I will kill thee ere I die myself.' Then he bade the sailors throw him overboard; so they took him by the hands and feet and cast him into the sea and he sank. But God (may He be exalted and glorified!) willed that his life should be saved and that his last day should be deferred; so He caused him to rise again and he struck out with his hands and feet, till the Almighty gave him ease and relief and the waves bore him far from the Magian's ship and threw him ashore. He landed, scarce crediting his escape, and putting off his clothes, wrung them and spread them out to dry, whilst he sat, naked and weeping over his misfortunes and desolate and forlorn condition and repeating the following verses:My fortitude fails me for travail and pain; My patience is spent, my endeavour in vain;
Then, rising, he donned his clothes and set out at a venture, knowing not whither he went. He fared on day and night, eating of the herbs of the earth and the fruits of the trees and drinking of the streams, till he came in sight of a city; whereupon he rejoiced and hurried on; but before he reached it, the night overtook him and the gates were shut. Now, as chance would have it, this was the very city in which he had been a prisoner and to whose king his brother Amjed was vizier. When he saw the gate was shut, he turned back and made for the burial-ground, where finding a tomb without a door, he entered and lay down and fell asleep, with his face in his sleeve.
Meanwhile, Queen Merjaneh, coming up with Behram's ship, questioned him of Asaad; but he swore to her that he was not with him and that he knew nothing of him. She searched the ship, but found no trace of Asaad, so took Behram and carrying him back to her castle, would have put him to death; but he ransomed himself from her with all his good and his ship and she released him and his men. They went forth from her, hardly believing in their escape, and fared on ten days' journey, till they came to their own city and found the gate shut, it being eventide. So they made for the burial-ground, thinking to lie the night there, and going round about the tombs, as fate would have it, saw that, in which Asaad lay, open; whereat Behram marvelled and said,' I must look into this tomb.' Then he entered and found Asaad lying asleep, with his head on his sleeve; so he raised his head and looking in his face, knew him for him on whose account he had lost his goods and his ship, and said, 'Art thou yet alive?' Then he bound him and gagged him, without further parley, and carried him to his house, where he clapped heavy shackles on his feet and lowered him into the underground dungeon aforesaid, affected to the tormenting of Muslims, bidding a daughter of his, by name Bustan, torture him night and day, till the next year, when they would again visit the Mountain of Fire and offer him up as a sacrifice there. Then he beat him grievously and locking the dungeon door upon him, gave the keys to his daughter. By and by, she opened the door and went down to beat him, but finding him a comely sweet-faced youth, with arched brows and melting black eyes, fell in love with him and said to him, 'What is thy name?' 'My name is Assad,' (72) answered he. 'Mayst thou indeed be happy,' exclaimed she, 'and happy be thy days! Thou deservest not torture and blows, and I see thou hast been unjustly entreated.' And she comforted him with kind words and loosed his bonds. Then she questioned him of the faith of Islam, and he told her that it was the true and orthodox faith and that our lord Mohammed had approved himself by surpassing miracles and manifest signs and that the [worship of] fire was not profitable, but harmful; and he went on to expound to her the tenets of Islam, till she was persuaded and the love of the True Faith entered her heart. Then (for God the Most High had filled her with love of Asaad), she made profession of the faith and became of the people of felicity. After this, she brought him meat and drink and talked with him and they prayed together: moreover, she made him chicken-broths and fed him therewith, till he regained strength and his sickness left him and he was restored to health. One day, as she stood at the door of the house, she heard the crier proclaiming aloud and saying, 'Whoso hath with him a handsome young man, whose favour is thus and thus, and bringeth him forth, shall have all he seeketh of wealth; but if any have him and discover it not, he shall be hanged over his own door and his goods shall be confiscated and his blood go for nought.' Now Asaad had acquainted her with his whole history: so, when she heard the crier, she knew that it was he who was sought for and going down to him, told him the news. Then she went forth with him to the palace of the Vizier, whom when Asaad saw, he exclaimed, 'By Allah, this is my brother Amjed!' And threw himself upon him; whereupon Amjed also knew him and they embraced each other and lay awhile insensible, whilst the Vizier's officers stood round them. When they came to themselves, Amjed took his brother and carried him to the Sultan, to whom he related the whole story, and the Sultan charged him to plunder Behram's house and take himself. So Amjed despatched thither a company of men, who sacked the house and took Behram and brought his daughter to the Vizier, who received her with all honour, for Asaad had told his brother all the torments he had suffered and the kindness that she had done him. Moreover, Amjed, in his turn, related to Asaad all that had passed between the lady and himself and how he had escaped hanging and become Vizier; and they made moan, each to the other, of the anguish they had suffered for separation. Then the Sultan sent for Behram and bade strike off his head; but he said, 'O most mighty King, art thou indeed resolved to put me to death?' 'Yes,' replied the King, 'except thou save thyself by becoming a Muslim.' And Behram said, 'O King, have patience with me a little.' Then he bowed his head awhile and presently raising it again, made profession of the faith and avowed himself a Muslim at the hands of the Sultan. They all rejoiced at his conversion and Amjed and Asaad told him all that had befallen them, whereat he wondered and said, 'O my lords, make ready for the journey and I will depart with you and carry you back to your father's court in a ship.' At this they rejoiced and wept sore; but he said, 'O my lords, weep not for your departure, for ye shall be re-united [with those you love], even as were Nimeh and Num.' 'And what befell Nimeh and Num?' asked they. 'It is told,' replied Behram, '(but God alone is all-knowing), that
Story of Nimeh Ben Er Rebya and Num His Slave-girl
There lived once in the city of Cufa a man called Er Rebya ben Hatim, who was one of the chief men of the town, rich in goods and prosperous, and God had vouchsafed him a son, whom he named Nimet Allah. (73) One day, being in the slave-dealers' mart, he saw a female slave exposed for sale, with a little girl of wonderful beauty and grace in her hand. So he beckoned to the broker and said to him, "What is the price of this woman and her child?" "Fifty dinars," answered he. "Write the contract of sale," said Er Rebya, "and take the money and give it to her owner." Then he gave the broker the price and his brokerage and taking the woman and her child, carried them to his house. When his wife saw the slave, she said to her husband (who was the son of her father's brother), "O my cousin, what is this damsel?" Quoth he, "I bought her for the sake of the little one on her arm, for know that, when she grows up, there will not be her like for beauty, either in the land of the Arabs or elsewhere." "It was well seen of thee," answered his wife. Then said she to the woman, "What is thy name?" "O my lady," replied she, "my name is Taufic." "And what is thy daughter's name?" asked she. "Saad," (74) answered the slave. "Thou sayst sooth," rejoined her mistress. "Thou art indeed happy, and happy is he who hath bought thee." Then said she to her husband, "O my cousin, what wilt thou call her?" "What thou choosest," answered he. "Then let us call her Num," (75) quoth she, and he said, "Good." The little Num was reared with Er Rebya's son Nimeh in one cradle and each grew up handsomer than the other. They were wont to call each other brother and sister, till they came to the age of ten, when Er Rebya said to Nimeh, "O my son, Num is not thy sister, but thy slave. I bought her in thy name, whilst thou wast yet in the cradle; so call her no more 'sister' from this day forth." "If that be so," quoth Nimeh, "I will take her to wife." Then he went to his mother and told her of this, and she said to him, "O my son, she is thy handmaid." So he went in to Num and loved her and two years passed over them, whilst Num grew up, nor was there in all Cufa a fairer or sweeter or more graceful girl than she. She learnt the Koran and all manner of knowledge and excelled in music and singing and playing upon all kinds of instruments, so that she surpassed all the folk of her time. One day, as she sat with her husband in the wine-chamber, she took the lute and tuning it, sang the following verses:Since thou'rt my lord, by whose good grace I live in fair estate, A sword wherewith I smite in twain the neck of adverse fate,
Nimeh was charmed with these verses and said to her, "I conjure thee, by my life, O Num, sing to us with the tambourine and other instruments!" So she sang the following verses to a lively air:By him whose hand possesses the reins of my affair, On passion's score, I swear it, my enviers I'll dare.
And Nimeh exclaimed, "Gifted of God art thou, O Num!"
But whilst they led thus the most delightsome life, El Hejjaj, (78) [the governor of Cufa, heard of Num and] said in himself, "Needs must I make shift to take this girl Num and send her to the Commander of the Faithful Abdulmelik ben Merwan, for he hath not in his palace her like for beauty and sweet singing." Then, calling an old woman, one of his body-servants, he said to her, "Go to Er Rebya's house and foregather with the girl Num and cast about to steal her away, for her like is not to be found on the face of the earth." She promised to do his bidding; so next morning she donned clothes of wool (79) and threw round her neck a rosary of thousands of beads; then, taking in her hand a staff and water-bottle of Yemen make, went forth, exclaiming, "Glory be to God! Praised be God! There is no god but God! God is most great! There is no power and no virtue but in God the Most High, the Supreme!" Nor did she leave making devout ejaculations, whilst her heart was full of craft and fraud, till she came to Nimeh's house, at the hour of noonday-prayer, and knocked at the door. The doorkeeper opened and said to her, "What dost thou want?" Quoth she, "I am a poor pious woman, whom the time of noonday-prayer hath overtaken, and I would fain pray in this blessed place." "O old woman," answered the porter, "this is no mosque nor oratory, but the house of Nimeh ben er Rebya." "I know there is neither mosque nor oratory like the house of Nimeh ben er Rebya," rejoined she. "I am a chamberwoman of the palace of the Commander of the Faithful and am come out upon a pilgrimage of devotion." But the porter replied, "Thou canst not enter;" and many words passed between them, till at last she caught hold of him, saying, "Shall the like of me, who have free access to the houses of Amirs and grandees, be denied admission to the house of Nimeh ben er Rebya?" Presently, out came Nimeh and hearing their dispute, laughed and bade the old woman enter. So she followed him into the presence of Num, whom she saluted after the goodliest fashion; and when she looked on her, she was confounded at her exceeding beauty and said to her, "O my lady, I commend thee to the safeguard of God, who made thee and thy lord to accord in beauty and grace!" Then she stood up in the prayer-niche and betook herself to inclination and prostration and prayer, till the day departed and the night came with the darkness, when Num said to her, "O my mother, rest thy feet awhile." "O my lady," answered the old woman, "whoso seeketh the world to come must weary himself in this world, and whoso wearieth not himself in this world shall not attain the dwellings of the just in the world to come." Then Num brought her food and said to her, "O my mother, eat of my victual and pray that God may relent towards me and have mercy on me." But she replied, "O my lady, I am fasting. As for thee, thou art but a girl and it befits thee to eat and drink and make merry. May God be indulgent to thee! Quoth the Most High, '(None shall be saved) except those that repent and believe and work the works of righteousness.'" (80) Num sat awhile, conversing with the old woman, and presently said to Nimeh, "O my lord, conjure this old woman to sojourn with us awhile, for piety is imprinted on her face." Quoth he, "Set apart for her a chamber, where she may do her devotions, and let none go in to her: peradventure God (glorified and exalted be He!) shall prosper us by the blessing of her presence and part us not." The old woman passed the night in prayer and recitation, (81) till daybreak, when she went in to Nimeh and Num and giving them good morning, said to them, "I pray God to have you in His holy keeping!" "Whither away, O my mother?" said Num. "My lord hath bidden me set apart for thee a chamber, where thou mayst retire for thy devotions." "God give him long life," replied the old woman, "and continue His favour to you both! I would have you charge the doorkeeper not to stay my coming in to you, and (God willing) I will go the round of the Holy Places and pray for you at the end of my devotions every day and night." Then she went out (whilst Num wept for parting with her, knowing not the purpose of her coming) and returned to El Hejjaj, who said to her, "What news?" She answered, "I have seen the girl, and indeed never bore woman of her day a lovelier than she." And El Hejjaj said to her, "So thou do my bidding, thou shalt have of me abundant good." Quoth she, "I ask of thee a month's time." And he replied, "It is well." Then she fell to paying frequent visits to Nimeh and Num, who redoubled in honour and kindness to her, and she used to go in to them morning and evening, and all in the house welcomed her, till, one day, being alone with Num, she said to her, "By Allah, O my lady, when I go to the Holy Places, I will pray for thee; but I should love thee to go thither with me, that thou mightest look on the Elders of the Faith that resort thither, and they should pray for thee, according to thy desire." "O my mother," said Num, "I conjure thee by Allah, take me with thee!" "Ask leave of thy mother-in-law," replied the old woman, "and I will take thee." So Num said to her mother-in-law, "O my lady, ask my master to let us go, thee and me, one day, with this my old mother, to pray and worship with the fakirs in the Holy Places." Presently, Nimeh came in and sat down, whereupon the old woman went up to him and would have kissed his hand, but he forbade her; so she called down blessings on him and left the house. Next day, she came again, in the absence of Nimeh, and said to Num, "We prayed for thee yesterday; but arise now and divert thyself and return ere thy lord come home." So Num said to her mother-in-law, "I beseech thee, for God's sake, let me go with this pious woman, that I may look upon the friends of God in the Holy Places and return speedily, ere my lord come." Quoth Nimeh's mother, "I fear lest thy lord know." "By Allah," said the old woman, "I will not let her sit down; but she shall look, standing on her feet, and not tarry." So on this wise she took the damsel by guile and carrying her to El Hejjaj's palace, bestowed her in a privy chamber and told him of her coming; whereupon he went in to her and looking upon her, saw her to be the loveliest of the people of the day, never had he beheld her like. When Num saw him, she veiled her face from him; but he left her not till he had called his chamberlain, whom he commanded to take fifty horsemen and mounting the damsel on a swift dromedary, carry her to Damascus and there deliver her to the Commander of the Faithful, Abdulmelik ben Merwan. Moreover, he gave him a letter for the Khalif, saying, "Bear him this letter and bring me his answer in all haste." So the chamberlain took the damsel, all tearful for separation from her lord, and setting out with her for Syria, gave not over journeying till he reached Damascus and sought an audience of the Commander of the Faithful, to whom he delivered the damsel and the letter. The Khalif appointed her a separate apartment and going into his harem, said to his wife, "El Hejjaj has bought me a female slave of the daughters (descendants) of the (ancient) Kings of Cufa, for ten thousand dinars, and has sent her to me with this letter." "May God increase thee of his favour!" answered she. Then the Khalif's sister went into Num and when she saw her, she said, "By Allah, happy the man who hath thee in his house, were thy cost a hundred thousand dinars!" "O fair-faced one," said Num, "what King's palace is this?" "This is the city of Damascus," answered the princess, "and the palace of my brother, the Commander of the Faithful, Abdulmelik ben Merwan. Didst thou not know this?" "By Allah, O my lady," said Num, "I had no knowledge of this!" "And he who sold thee and took thy price," asked the princess, "did he not tell thee that the Khalif had bought thee?" When Num heard this, she wept and said in herself, "I have been cozened; but, if I speak, none will credit me; so I will hold my peace and take patience, knowing that the relief of God is near." Then she bent her head for shame, and indeed her cheeks were tanned with the journey and the sun. So the Khalif's sister left her that day and returned to her on the morrow with clothes and necklaces of jewels and dressed her; after which the Khalif came in to her and sat down by her side, and his sister said to him, "Look on this damsel, in whom God hath united every perfection of beauty and grace." So he said to Num, "Draw back the veil from thy face;" but she would not unveil, and he beheld not her face. However, he saw her wrists and love of her entered his heart; and he said to his sister, "I will not go in to her for three days, till she be cheered by thy converse." Then he left her, but Num ceased not to brood over her case and sigh for her separation from Nimeh, till, at eventide, she fell sick of a fever and ate not nor drank; and her face grew pale and her charms faded. They told the Khalif of this, and it grieved him; so he visited her with physicians and men of skill, but none could come at a cure for her.
As for Nimeh, when he returned home, he sat down on his bed and cried, "Ho, Num!" But she answered not; so he rose in haste and called out, but none came to him, for all the women in the house had hidden themselves, for fear of him. Then he went in to his mother, whom he found sitting with her cheek on her hand, and said to her, "O my mother, where is Num?" "O my son," answered she, "she is with one who is worthier than I to be trusted with her, namely, the devout old woman; she went forth with her to visit the fakirs and return." "Since when has this been her wont," asked Nimeh, "and at what hour went she forth?" Quoth his mother, "She went out early in the morning." "And how camest thou to give her leave for this?" said he, and she replied, "O my son, it was she persuaded me." "There is no power and no virtue but in God the Most High, the Supreme!" exclaimed Nimeh and going forth, in a state of distraction, repaired to the chief of the police, to whom said he, "Dost thou practice on me and steal my slave-girl away from me? I will assuredly complain of thee to the Commander of the Faithful." "Who has taken her?" asked the chief of the police, and Nimeh answered, "An old woman of such and such a favour, clad in woollen raiment and carrying a rosary of thousands of beads." "Find me the old woman," rejoined the other, "and I will get thee back thy slave- girl." "Who knows the old woman?" said Nimeh. "And who knows the hidden things save God, may He be glorified and exalted?" replied the official, who knew her for El Hejjaj's agent. Quoth Nimeh, "I look to thee for my slave-girl, and El Hejjaj shall judge between thee and me." And the master of police answered, "Go to whom thou wilt." Now Nimeh's father was one of the chief men of Cufa; so he went to the palace of the governor, whose chamberlain went in to him and told him what was to do. El Hejjaj bade admit him and enquired his business. Quoth Nimeh, "Such and such things have befallen me." And the governor said, "Bring me the chief of the police, and we will bid him seek for the old woman." Now he knew that the chief of the police knew her; so, when he came, he said to him, "I wish thee to make search for the slave-girl of Nimeh ben er Rebya." And he answered, "None knoweth the hidden things save God the Most High." "Thou must send out horsemen," rejoined El Hejjaj, "and look for the damsel in all the roads and towns." Then he turned to Nimeh and said to him, "An thy slave-girl return not, I will give thee ten slave-girls from my house and ten from that of the chief of the police." And he said to the latter, "Go and seek for the girl." So he went out and Nimeh returned home, full of trouble and despairing of life. He had now reached the age of fourteen and there was yet no hair on his cheeks. He shut himself up from his household and ceased not to weep and lament, he and his mother, till the morning, when his father came in to him and said, "O my son, El Hejjaj hath put a cheat on the damsel and stolen her away; but from hour to hour God giveth relief." But grief redoubled on Nimeh, so that he knew not what he said nor who came in to him, and indeed his charms were changed and he was in sorry case. In this plight he abode three months, till his father despaired of him, and the physicians visited him and said, "There is no cure for him but the damsel." One day, Er Rebya heard tell of a skilful Persian physician, whom the folk gave out for accomplished in medicine and astrology and geomancy. So he sent for him and seating him by his side, entreated him with honour and said to him, "Look into my son's case." So he said to Nimeh, "Give me thy hand." Accordingly, the young man gave him his hand and he felt his pulse and his joints and looked in his face; then he laughed and turning to Er Rebya, said, "Thy son's only ailment is in his heart." "Thou sayst sooth, O sage," answered Er Rebya; "but apply thy skill to the consideration of his state and case and acquaint me with the whole thereof and hide nought from me." Quoth the Persian, "He is enamoured of a girl, who is either in Bassora or Damascus; and there is no cure for him but reunion with her." "An thou bring them together," said Er Rebya, "thou shalt have of me what will rejoice thee and shalt live all thy life in wealth and delight." "This is an easy matter," answered the Persian, "and soon brought about;" and he turned to Nimeh and said to him, "Fear not; no hurt shall befall thee; so take heart and be of good cheer." Then said he to Er Rebya, "Give me four thousand dinars of your money." So he gave them to him, and he said, "I wish to carry thy son with me to Damascus, and God willing, we will not return thence but with the damsel." Then said he to the youth, "What is thy name?" And he answered, "Nimeh." "O Nimeh," said the Persian, "sit up and be of good heart, for God will reunite thee with the damsel. So put thy trust in Him and eat and drink and be cheerful and fortify thyself for travel, for we set out for Damascus this very day." So he sat up whilst the Persian made his preparations and took of Er Rebya, in all, the sum of ten thousand dinars, together with horses and camels and beasts of burden such as he needed for the journey. Then Nimeh took leave of his father and mother and journeyed with the physician to Aleppo. They could get no news of Num there, so fared on to Damascus, where they abode three days, after which the Persian took a shop and adorned its shelves with gilding and stuffs of price and stocked them with vessels of costly porcelain, with covers of silver. Moreover, he set before himself vases and flagons of glass full of all manner ointments and syrups, surrounded by cups of crystal, and donning a physician's habit, took his seat in the shop, with his astrolabe and geomantic tablet before him. Then he clad Nimeh in a shirt and gown of silk and girding his middle with a silken kerchief embroidered with gold, made him sit before himself, saying to him, "O Nimeh, henceforth thou art my son; so call me nought but father and I will call thee son." And he replied, "I hear and obey." The people of Damascus flocked to gaze on the youth's goodliness and the beauty of the shop and its contents, whilst the physician spoke to Nimeh in Persian and he answered him in the same tongue, for he knew the language, after the wont of the sons of the notables. The Persian soon became known among the townsfolk and they began to resort to him and acquaint him with their ailments, for which he prescribed. Moreover, they brought him the water of the sick in phials, and he would examine it and say, "He, whose water this is, is suffering from such and such a disease." And the patient would say, "Verily, this physician says sooth." So he continued to do the occasions of the folk and they to flock to him, till his fame spread throughout the city and into the houses of the great. One day, as he sat in his shop, there came up an old woman riding on an ass with housings of brocade, embroidered with jewels, and drawing bridle before his shop, beckoned to him, saying, "Take my hand." So he took her hand, and she alighted and said to him, "Art thou the Persian physician from Irak?" "Yes," answered he, and she said, "Know that I have a sick daughter." Then she brought out to him a phial and he looked at it and said to her, "Tell me thy daughter's name, that I may calculate her horoscope and learn the hour in which it will befit her to take medicine." "O brother of the Persians," answered she, "her name is Num." When he heard this, he fell to calculating and writing on his hand and presently said to her, "O my lady, I cannot prescribe for the girl, till I know what countrywoman she is, because of the difference of climate: so tell me where she was brought up and what is her age." "She is fourteen years old," replied the old woman, "and was brought up in Cufa of Irak." "And how long," asked he, "has she sojourned in this country?" "But a few months," answered she. When Nimeh heard the old woman's words and the name of his slave-girl, his heart fluttered and he was like to swoon. Then said the Persian to the old woman, "Such and such medicines will suit her case;" and she rejoined, "Then make them up and give them to me, with the blessing of God the Most High!" So saying, she threw him ten dinars, and he bade Nimeh prepare the necessary drugs; whereupon she looked at the youth and exclaimed, "God have thee in His holy keeping, O my son! Verily, she is like thee in age and favour." Then said she to the physician, "O brother of the Persians, is this thy slave or thy son?" "He is my son," answered he. So Nimeh made up the medicine and laying it in a little box, took a piece of paper and wrote thereon the following verses:So Num but vouchsafe me a glance, to gladden my heart and my mind, Let Suada unfavouring prove and Juml, an't please her, unkind. (82)
He put the paper in the box and sealing it up, wrote on the cover the following words in the Cufic character, "I am Nimeh ben er Rebya of Cufa." Then he gave it to the old woman, who bade them farewell and returning to the Khalif's palace, went in to Num, to whom she delivered the box, saying, "O my lady, know that there is lately come to our town a Persian physician, than whom I never saw a more skilful nor a better versed in matters of sickness. I showed him the phial and told him thy name, and he knew thine ailment and prescribed a remedy. Then, by his order, his son made thee up this medicine; and there is not in Damascus a comelier or more elegant youth than this son of his nor hath any the like of his shop." Num took the box and seeing the names of her lord and his father written thereon, changed colour and said to herself, "Doubtless, the owner of this shop is come in search of me." So she said to the old woman, "Describe this youth to me." "His name is Nimeh," answered the old woman; "he is richly clad and perfectly handsome and has a mole on his right eyebrow." "Give me the medicine," cried Num, "and may the blessing and help of God the Most High attend it!" So she drank off the potion and said, laughing, "Indeed, it is a blessed medicine." Then she sought in the box and finding the paper, read it and knew that this was indeed her lord, whereat her heart was solaced and she rejoiced. When the old woman saw her laughing, she exclaimed, "This is indeed a blessed day!" And Num said, "O nurse, I have a mind to eat and drink." So the old woman said to the serving-women, "Bring a tray of dainty viands for your mistress;" whereupon they set food before her and she sat down to eat. Presently, in came the Khalif and seeing her sitting eating, rejoiced; and the old woman said to him, "O Commander of the Faithful, I give thee joy of thy slave's recovery! Know that there is lately come to our city a physician, than whom I never saw a better versed in diseases and their cure. I fetched her medicine from him and she has taken of it but once and is restored to health." Quoth he, "Take a thousand dinars and provide for her treatment, till she be completely recovered." And he went away, rejoicing in the damsel's recovery, whilst the old woman betook herself to the physician, to whom she delivered the thousand dinars and a letter that Num had written, giving him to know that she was become the Khalif's slave. He gave the letter to Nimeh, who knew her hand and fell down in a swoon. When he came to himself, he opened the letter and found these words written therein: "From the slave despoiled of her delight, (83) her whose reason hath been beguiled and who is separated from the beloved of her heart. Thy letter hath reached me and hath dilated my bosom and rejoiced my heart, even as saith the poet:The letter reached me, never may the fingers fail thee aught, That traced its characters, until with sweetest scent they're fraught!
When he read these verses, his eyes ran over with tears and the old woman said to him, "What ails thee to weep, O my son? May God never make thine eye to shed tears!" "O my lady," answered the Persian, "how should my son not weep, seeing that this is his slave-girl and he her lord Nimeh ben er Rebya of Cufa? Indeed, her recovery depends on her seeing him, for nought ails her but the love of him. So, O my lady, take these thousand dinars to thyself (and thou shalt have of me yet more than this) and look on us with eyes of compassion; for we know not how to bring this affair to a happy issue but through thee." Then she said to Nimeh, "Art thou indeed her lord?" "Yes," answered he, and she, "Thou sayst truly; for she ceases not to name thee." Then he told her all that had passed from first to last, and she said, "O youth, thou shalt owe thy reunion with her to none but me." So she mounted at once and returning to Num, looked in her face and smiled, saying, "O my daughter, it is just that thou weep and fall sick for thy separation from thy master Nimeh ben er Rebya of Cufa." Quoth Num, "Verily, the veil has been withdrawn for thee and the truth revealed to thee." "Be of good cheer," rejoined the old woman, "and take heart, for I will surely bring you together, though it cost me my life." Then she returned to Nimeh and said to him, "I have seen thy slave-girl and find that she longs for thee yet more than thou for her; for the Commander of the Faithful is minded to foregather with her, but she refuses herself to him. But if thou be stout of heart and firm of courage, I will bring you together and venture myself for you and make shift to bring thee to her in the Khalif's palace; for she cannot come forth." And Nimeh answered, "God requite thee with good!" Then she went back to Num and said to her, "Thy lord is indeed dying of love for thee and would fain see thee and foregather with thee. What sayst thou?" "And I also," answered Num, "am dying for his sight." So the old woman took a parcel of women's clothes and ornaments and repairing to Nimeh, said to him, "Come apart with me into a privy place." So he brought her into the room behind the shop, where she painted him and decked his wrists and plaited his hair, after which she clad him in a slave-girl's habit and adorned him after the fairest fashion of woman's adornment, till he was as one of the houris of Paradise; and when she saw him thus, she exclaimed, "Blessed be God, the most excellent Creator! By Allah, thou art handsomer than the damsel! Now, walk with thy left shoulder forward and swing thy buttocks." So he walked before her, as she bade him; and when she saw he had caught the trick of women's gait, she said to him, "Expect me to-morrow night, when, God willing, I will come and carry thee to the palace. When thou seest the chamberlains and the eunuchs, fear not, but bow thy head and speak not with any, for I will ward thee from their speech; and with God is success." Accordingly, on the morrow she returned at the appointed hour and carrying him to the palace, entered and he after her. The chamberlain would have stayed him, but the old woman said to him, "O most ill-omened of slaves, this is the handmaid of Num, the Khalif's favourite. How darest thou stay her?" Then said she, "Enter, O damsel!" And they went on, till they drew near the door leading to the inner court of the palace, when the old woman said to him, "O Nimeh, take courage and enter and turn to the left. Count five doors and enter the sixth, for it is that of the place prepared for thee. Fear nothing, and if any speak to thee, answer not neither stop." Then she went up with him to the door, and the chamberlain on guard hailed her, saying, "What damsel is that?" Quoth the old woman, "Our lady hath a mind to buy her." And he said, "None may enter save by leave of the Commander of the Faithful; so go thou back with her. I cannot let her pass, for thus am I commanded." "O chief chamberlain," replied the old woman, "use thy reason. Thou knowest that Num, the Khalif's slave-girl, of whom he is enamoured, is but now restored to health and the Commander of the Faithful hardly yet credits her recovery. Now she is minded to buy this girl; so oppose thou not her entrance, lest it come to Num's knowledge and she be wroth with thee and suffer a relapse and this bring thy head to be cut off." Then said she to Nimeh, "Enter, O damsel; pay no heed to what he says and tell not the princess that he opposed thine entrance." So Nimeh bowed his head and entered, but mistook and turned to his right, instead of his left, and meaning to count five doors and enter the sixth, counted six and entering the seventh, found himself in a place carpeted with brocade and hung with curtains of gold- embroidered silk. Here and there stood censers of aloes-wood and ambergris and sweet-scented musk, and at the upper end was a couch covered with brocade, on which he seated himself, marvelling at the exceeding magnificence of the place and knowing not what was appointed to him in the secret purpose of God. As he sat musing on his case, the Khalif's sister entered, followed by her handmaid, and seeing him seated there took him for a slave-girl and said to him, "What art thou, O damsel, and who brought thee hither?" He made no reply and she continued, "If thou be one of my brother's favourites and he be wroth with thee, I will intercede with him for thee." But he answered her not a word; so she said to her maid, "Stand at the door and let none enter." Then she went up to Nimeh and looking at him, was amazed at his beauty and said to him, "O lady, tell me who thou art and how thou camest here; for I have never seen thee in the palace." Still he answered not, whereat she was angered and putting her hand to his bosom, found no breasts and would have unveiled him, that she might know who he was; but he said to her, "O my lady, I am thy slave and cast myself on thy protection; do thou protect me." "No harm shall come to thee," said she; "but tell me who thou art and who brought thee into this my lodging." "O princess," answered he, "I am known as Nimeh ben er Rebya of Cufa, and I have ventured my life for my slave-girl Num, whom El Hejjaj took by sleight and sent hither." "Fear not," rejoined the princess; "no harm shall befall thee." Then, calling her maid, she said to her, "Go to Num's chamber and bid her to me."
Meanwhile, the old woman went to Num's bed-chamber and said to her, "Has thy lord come to thee?" "No, by Allah!" answered Num, and the other said, "Belike he hath gone astray and entered some chamber other than thine." "There is no power and no virtue but in God the Most High, the Supreme!" exclaimed Num. "Our last hour is come and we are all lost." As they sat, pondering, in came the princess's maid and saluting Num, said to her, "My lady bids thee to her entertainment." "I hear and obey," answered the damsel, and the old woman said, "Belike thy lord is with the Khalif's sister and the veil has been done away." So Num rose and betook herself to the princess, who said to her, "Here is thy lord sitting with me; it seems he has gone astray; but, please God, neither thou nor he has any cause for fear." When Num heard this, she took heart and went up to Nimeh, who rose to meet her, and they embraced and fell down in a swoon. As soon as they came to themselves, the princess said to them, "Sit down and let us take counsel for your deliverance from this your strait." And they answered, "O our lady, we hear and obey: it is thine to command." "By Allah," quoth she, "no harm shall befall you from us!" Then she called for meat and drink, and they sat down and ate till they had enough, after which they sat drinking. The cup went round amongst them and their cares ceased from them; but Nimeh said, "Would I knew how this will end!" "O Nimeh," quoth the princess, "dost thou love thy slave Num?" "O my lady," answered he, "it is my passion for her that has brought me thus in peril of my life." Then she said to the damsel, "O Num, dost thou love thy lord Nimeh?" And she replied, "O my lady, it is the love of him that has wasted my body and brought me to evil case." "By Allah," rejoined the princess, "since ye love each other thus, may he not live who would sunder you! Take heart and be of good cheer." At this they both rejoiced, and Num, calling for a lute, tuned it and preluded enchantingly, then sang the following verses:Whenas, content with nothing less, the spies our sev'rance sought, Allbe no debt of blood they had 'gainst me or thee in aught,
Then she gave the lute to Nimeh, saying, "Sing thou to us." So he took it and playing a lively measure, sang these verses:The moon were like thee at its full, were it of freckles free, And did it never brook eclipse, the sun would favour thee.
When he had made an end of his song, Num filled the cup and gave it to him, and he drank it off; then she filled again and gave the cup to the princess, who took it and emptied it; after which she in her turn took the lute and sang as follows:Mourning and grief possess my heart and in my breast The ardour of desire abideth as a guest.
Then she filled the cup and gave it to Num, who drank it off and taking the lute, sang the following verses:O thou, upon whom I bestowed my soul and thou rack'dst it to death And I would have ta'en it again, but could not release it i' faith,
They ceased not to sing and make merry and drink to the sweet sound of the strings, full of mirth and joyance and good cheer, till, behold, in came the Commander of the Faithful. When they saw him, they rose and kissed the ground before him; and he, seeing Num with the lute in her hand, said to her, "O Num, praised be God who hath done away from thee pain and affliction!" Then he looked at Nimeh (who was still disguised as a woman) and said to the princess, "O my sister, what damsel is this by Num's side?" "O Commander of the Faithful," answered she, "she is one of thy slave-girls and the bosom friend of Num, who will neither eat nor drink without her." And she repeated the words of the poet:Two opposites, dissevered still in charms and straitly knit, And each one's beauty brightlier shows against its opposite.
"By the Great God," said the Khalif, "she is as handsome as Num, and to-morrow, I will appoint her a separate chamber beside that of Num and send her furniture and linen and all that befits her, in honour of Num." Then, the princess called for food and set it before her brother, who ate and filling a cup, signed to Num to sing. So she took the lute, after drinking two cups, and sang the following verses:Whenas my cup-companion hath poured me out of wine Three foaming cups, brimmed over with nectar from the vine,
The Khalif was delighted and filling another cup, gave it to Num and bade her sing again. So she drank off the cup, and sweeping the strings of the lute, sang as follows:O thou, the noblest man of men that live in this our day, Whose equal none may boast himself in power and mightiness,
When the Khalif heard this, he exclaimed, "By Allah, it is good! By Allah, it is excellent! Verily, God hath been good to thee, O Num! How sweet is thy voice and how clear thy speech!" They passed the time thus in mirth and good cheer, till midnight, when the Khalif's sister said to him, "O Commander of the Faithful, give ear to a tale I have read in books of a certain man of rank." "And what is this tale?" asked he. "Know," said she, "that there lived once in the city of Cufa, a youth called Nimeh ben er Rebya, and he had a slave-girl whom he loved and who loved him. They had been reared in one bed; but when they grew up and mutual love took possession of them, fate smote them with its calamities and decreed separation unto them. For designing folk enticed her by sleight forth of his house and stealing her away from him, sold her to one of the Kings for ten thousand dinars. Now the girl loved her lord even as he loved her; so he left house and home and fortune and setting out in quest of her, made shift, at the peril of his life, to gain access to her; but they had not been long in company, when in came the King, who had bought her of her ravisher, and hastily bade put them to death, without waiting to enquire into the matter, as was just. What sayest thou, O Commander of the Faithful, of this King's conduct?" "This was indeed a strange thing," answered the Khalif; "it behoved the King to use his power with clemency, and he should have considered three things in their favour; first, that they loved one another; secondly, that they were in his house and under his hand; and thirdly, that it behoves a King to be deliberate in judging between the folk, and how much more so when he himself is concerned! Wherefore the King in this did unkingly." Then said his sister, "O my brother by the Lord of heaven and earth, I conjure thee, bid Num sing and give ear to that she shall sing!" And he said, "O Num, sing to me." So she played a lively measure and sang the following verses:Fortune hath played the traitor; indeed, 'twas ever so, Transpiercing hearts and bosoms and kindling care and woe
When he heard this, he was moved to great delight, and his sister said to him, "O my brother, he who decideth in aught against himself, it behoveth him to abide by it and do according to his word; and thou hast by this judgment decided against thyself." Then said she, "O Nimeh, stand up, and do thou likewise, O Num!" So they stood up and she continued, "O Commander of the Faithful, she who stands before thee is Num, whom El Hejjaj ben Yousuf eth Thekefi stole and sent to thee, falsely pretending in his letter to thee that he had bought her for ten thousand dinars. This other is her lord, Nimeh ben er Rebya; and I beseech thee, by the honour of thy pious forefathers and by Hemzeh and Akil and Abbes, (85) to pardon them and bestow them one on the other, that thou mayst earn the recompense in the next world of thy just dealing with them; for they are under thy hand and have eaten of thy meat and drunken of thy drink; and behold, I make intercession for them and beg of thee the boon of their lives." "Thou sayst sooth," replied the Khalif, "I did indeed give judgment as thou sayst, and I use not to go back on my word." Then said he, "O Num, is this thy lord?" And she answered, "Yes, O Commander of the Faithful." "No harm shall befall you," said he; "I give you to one another." Then he said to the young man, "O Nimeh, who told thee where she was and taught thee how to get at her?" "O Commander of the Faithful," replied he, "give ear to my story; for by the virtue of thy pious forefathers, I will hide nothing from thee!" And he told him all that had passed between himself and the Persian physician and the old woman and how she had brought him into the palace and he had mistaken one door for another; whereat the Khalif wondered exceedingly and said, "Fetch me the Persian." So they fetched him and he made him one of his chief officers. Moreover, he bestowed on him robes of honour and ordered him a handsome present, saying, "Him, who has shown such good sense and skill in his ordinance, it behoves us to make one of our chief officers." He also loaded Nimeh and Num with gifts and honours and rewarded the old woman; and they abode with him in joy and content and all delight of life seven days; at the end of which time Nimeh craved leave to return to Cufa with his slave-girl. The Khalif gave leave and they departed accordingly and arrived in due course at Cufa, where Nimeh foregathered with his father and mother, and they abode in the enjoyment of all the delights and comforts of life, till there came to them the Destroyer of Delights and the Sunderer of Companies.'
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The princes wondered mightily at Behram's story and said, 'By Allah, this is indeed a rare story!' They passed the night thus, and next morning, Amjed and Asaad mounted and riding to the palace, sought an audience of the King, who received them with honour. As they sat talking, of a sudden they heard the townsfolk crying aloud and shouting to one another and calling for help, and the chamberlain came in to the King and said to him, 'Some King hath encamped before the city, he and his army, with arms displayed, and we know not who they are nor what they seek.' The King took counsel with his Vizier and Asaad, and Amjed said, 'I will go out to him and learn the cause of his coming.' So he took horse and riding forth the city, repaired to the stranger's camp, where he found the King and with him many soldiers and mounted officers. When the guards saw him, they knew him for an ambassador from the King of the city; so they took him and brought him to their King. Amjed kissed the ground before him; but lo, the King was a queen, who wore a chin-band over her face, and she said to Amjed, 'Know that I have no design on your city and am only come hither in quest of a beardless slave of mine, whom if I find with you, I will do you no hurt; but if I find him not, then shall there befall sore battle between you and me.' 'O Queen,' asked Amjed, 'what is thy slave's name and what like is he?' Said she, 'His name is Asaad and he is of such and such a favour. My name is Merjaneh, and this slave came to my town in company of Behram, a Magian, who refused to sell him to me; so I took him by force, but the Magian fell upon him by night and took him away by stealth.' When Amjed heard this he knew that it was his brother Asaad whom she sought and said to her, 'O Queen of the age, praised be God who hath brought us relief! Know that he whom thou seekest is my brother.' Then he told her their story and all that had befallen them in the land of exile, and acquainted her with the cause of their departure from the Islands of Ebony, whereat she marvelled and rejoiced to have found Asaad. So she bestowed a dress of honour upon Amjed, and he returned to the King and told him what had passed, at which they all rejoiced and the King and the two princes went forth to meet Queen Merjaneh. They were admitted to her presence and sat down to converse with her, but as they were thus engaged, behold, a cloud of dust arose and grew, till it covered the landscape. Presently, it lifted and discovered an army, in numbers like the swollen sea, armed cap-a-pie, who, making for the city with naked swords, encompassed it as the ring encompasses the little finger. When Amjed and Asaad saw this, they exclaimed, 'We are God's and to Him we return. What is this great army? Doubtless, these are enemies; and except we agree with this Queen Merjaneh to resist them, they will take the town from us and slay us. There is nothing for us but to go out to them and see who they are.' So Amjed mounted and passing through Queen Merjaneh's camp, came to the approaching army and was admitted to the presence of their King, to whom he delivered his message, after kissing the earth before him. Quoth the King, 'I am called King Ghaïour, lord of the Islands and the Seas and the Seven Castles, and am come out in quest of my daughter Budour, of whom fortune hath bereft me; for she left me and returned not to me, nor have I heard any news of her or her husband Kemerezzeman. Have ye any tidings of them?' When Amjed heard this, he knew that this King was none other than his grandfather, his mother's father, and kissing the earth before him, told him that he was the son of his daughter Budour; whereupon Ghaïour threw himself upon him and they both fell a-weeping. Then said Ghaïour, 'Praised be God, O my son, for safety, since I have foregathered with thee!' And Amjed told him that his daughter Budour and her husband Kemerezzeman were well and abode in a city called the City of Ebony. Moreover, he related to him how his father, being wroth with him and his brother, had commanded his treasurer to put them to death, but that the latter had taken pity on them and let them go with their lives. Quoth King Ghaïour, 'I will go back with thee and thy brother to your father and make your peace with him.' Amjed kissed the ground before him and the King bestowed a dress of honour upon him, after which he returned, smiling, to the King of the city of the Magians and told him what he had learnt, at which he wondered exceedingly. Then he despatched guest-gifts of sheep and horses and camels and provender and so forth to King Ghaïour and the like to Queen Merjaneh and told her what had chanced, whereupon quoth she, 'I too will accompany you with my troops and will do my endeavour to make peace [between the princes and their father.]' At this moment, there arose another cloud of dust and spread, till it covered the prospect and darkened the day; and under it, they heard shouts and cries and neighing of horses and saw the sheen of swords and the glint of lance-points. When this new host drew near the city and saw the two other armies, they beat their drums and the King of the Magians exclaimed, 'This is indeed a blessed day! Praised be God who hath made us of accord with these two armies! If it be His will, He will give us peace with yon other also.' Then said he to Amjed and Asaad, 'Go forth and bring us news of them, for they are a mighty host, never saw I a mightier.' So they opened the city gates, which the King had shut for fear of the surrounding troops, and Amjed and Asaad went forth and coming to the new host, found that it was the army of the King of the Ebony Islands, led by their father, King Kemerezzeman in person. When they came before him, they kissed the earth and wept; but, when he saw them, he threw himself upon them, weeping sore, and strained them long to his breast. Then he excused himself to them and told them how sore desolation he had suffered for their loss; and they acquainted him with King Ghaïour's arrival, whereupon he mounted with his chief officers and proceeded to the King of China's camp, he and his sons. As they drew near, one of the princes rode forward and informed King Ghaïour of Kemerezzeman's coming, whereupon he came out to meet him and they joined company, marvelling at these things and how Fortune had ordered their encounter in that place. Then the townsfolk made them banquets of all manner of meats and confections and brought them sheep and horses and camels and fodder and other guest-gifts and all that the troops needed. Presently, behold, yet another cloud of dust arose and spread till it covered the landscape, whilst the earth shook with the tramp of horse and the drums sounded like the storm-winds. After awhile, the dust lifted and discovered an army clad in black and armed cap- a-pie, and in their midst rode a very old man clad also in black, whose beard flowed down over his breast. When the King of the city saw this great host, he said to the other Kings, 'Praised be God the Most High, by whose leave ye are met here, all in one day, and proved all known one to the other! But what vast army is this that covers the country?' 'Have no fear of them,' answered they; 'we are here three Kings, each with a great army, and if they be enemies, we will join thee in doing battle with them, were three times their number added to them.' As they were talking, up came an envoy from the approaching host, making for the city. They brought him before the four Kings and he kissed the earth and said, 'The King my master comes from the land of the Persians; many years ago he lost his son and is seeking him in all countries. If he find him with you, well and good; but if he find him not, there will be war between him and you, and he will lay waste your city.' 'That shall he not,' rejoined Kemerezzeman; 'but how is thy master called in the land of the Persians?' 'He is called King Shehriman, lord of the Khalidan Islands,' answered the envoy; 'and he hath levied these troops in the lands traversed by him, whilst seeking his son.' When Kemerezzeman heard his father's name, he gave a great cry and fell down in a swoon; then, presently coming to himself, he wept sore and said to Amjed and Asaad, 'Go, O my sons, with the messenger: salute your grandfather, King Shehriman, and give him glad tidings of me, for he mourns my loss and even now wears black for my sake.' Then he told the other Kings all that had befallen him in his youth, at which they all wondered and mounting with him, repaired to his father, whom he saluted, and they embraced and fell down in a swoon, for excess of joy. When they revived, Kemerezzeman acquainted his father with all his adventures, and the other Kings saluted Shehriman. Then they married Merjaneh to Asaad and sent her back to her kingdom, charging her not to leave them without news of her. Moreover, Amjed took Bustan, Behram's daughter, to wife, and they all set out for the City of Ebony. When they arrived there, Kemerezzeman went in to his father-in-law, King Armanous, and told him all that had befallen him and how he had found his sons; whereat Armanous rejoiced and gave him joy of his safe return. Then King Ghaïour went in to his daughter, Queen Budour, and satisfied his longing for her company, and they all abode a month's space in the City of Ebony; after which the King of China and his daughter returned to their own country with their company, taking prince Amjed with them, whom, as soon as Ghaïour was settled again in his kingdom, he made king in his stead. Moreover, Kemerezzeman made Asaad king in his room over the Ebony Islands, with the consent of his grandfather, King Armanous, and set out himself, with his father, King Shehriman, for the Islands of Khalidan. The people of the capital decorated the city in their honour and they ceased not to beat the drums for glad tidings a whole month; nor did Kemerezzeman leave to govern in his father's room, till there overtook them the Destroyer of Delights and the Sunderer of Companies."
"O Shehrzad," said King Shehriyar, "this is indeed a right wonderful story!" "O King," answered she, "it is not more wonderful than that of Alaeddin Abou esh Shamat." "What is that?" asked he, and she said, "I have heard tell, O august King, that