THE KHALIF HAROUN ER RESHID AND THE PRINCESS ZUBEIDEH IN THE BATH

The Khalif Haroun er Reshid loved the Princess Zubeideh with an exceeding love and laid out for her a pleasaunce, in which he made a great pool and led thither water from all sides. Moreover, he set thereabout a screen of trees, which so grew and interlaced over the pool, that one could go in and wash, without being seen of any, for the thickness of the leafage. It chanced, one day, that Zubeideh entered the garden and coming to the basin, gazed upon its goodliness, and the limpidity of the water and the interlacing of the trees over it pleased her. Now it was a day of exceeding heat; so she put off her clothes and entering the pool, which was not deep enough to cover her, fell to pouring the water over herself from an ewer of silver.

The Khalif heard she was in the pool; so he left his palace and came down to spy upon her, through the screen of the leaves. He stood behind the trees and saw her naked, with all her secret charms displayed. Presently, she became aware of him and turning, saw him behind the trees and was ashamed that he should see her naked. So she laid her hands on her kaze, but it escaped from between them, by reason of its much greatness and plumpness; and the Khalif turned and went away, wondering and reciting the following verse:

      I looked on her whom I adore And longing rose in me full sore.

But he knew not what to say next; so he sent for Abou Nuwas and bade him make a piece of verse commencing with the above line. 'I hear and obey,' replied the poet and in a twinkling extemporized the following lines:

      I looked on her whom I adore, And longing rose in me full sore
      For a gazelle that ravished me, By double lote-trees shaded o'er.
      The water on her dainty part With silver ewer did she pour
      And would have hidden it, seeing me, But all too small her hands therefor.
      Would I were on it, wel-a-way, An hour or liefer two or more!

The Khalif smiled and made him a handsome present, and he went away rejoicing.




Prev
Home
Next