ADI BEN ZEID AND THE PRINCESS HIND

En Numan ben el Mundhir, King of the Arabs [of Irak], had a daughter named Hind, who was eleven years old and was the loveliest woman of her age and time. She went out one Easter, which is a feast-day of the Nazarenes, (138) to the White Church, to take the sacrament. Now that day came to El Hireh a young man called Adi ben Zeid, (139) with presents from Chosroës, (140) to En Numan, and he also went into the White Church, to communicate. He was tall and well-favoured, with handsome eyes and smooth cheeks, and had with him a company of his people. Now there was with Hind a slave-girl named Mariyeh, who was enamoured of Adi, but had not been able to win to him. So, when she saw him in the church, she said to Hind, 'Look at yonder youth. By Allah, he is handsomer than all thou seest!' 'And who is he?' asked Hind. 'Adi ben Zeid,' answered Mariyeh Quoth the princess, 'I fear lest he know me, if I draw near, to look on him closelier.' 'How should he know thee,' said Mariyeh, 'when he has never seen thee?' So she drew near him and found him jesting with his companions; and indeed he surpassed them all, not only in his beauty, but in the excellence of his speech and the eloquence of his tongue and the richness of his apparel. When the princess saw him, she was ravished with him, her reason was confounded and her colour changed; and Mariyeh, seeing her inclination to him, said to her, 'Speak to him.' So she spoke to him and went away.

When he saw her and heard her speech, he was captivated by her and his wit was dazed; his colour changed and his heart fluttered, so that his companions misdoubted of him, and he whispered one of them to follow her and find out who she was. The man followed her and returning to his master, informed him that she was the princess Hind, daughter of En Numan. So Adi left the church, knowing not whither he went, for stress of love, and reciting the following verses:

      Companions mine, yet one more favour I entreat: Address ye to the ways once more your travelling feet.
      Turn me towards the lands, the lands where Hinda dwells; Then go and her I love with tidings of me greet.

Then he went to his lodging and lay that night, restless nor tasting sleep. On the morrow, Mariyeh accosted him, and he received her kindly, though before he would not hearken to her, and said to her, 'What is thy will?' Quoth she, 'I have a suit to thee.' 'Name it,' answered he; 'for, by Allah, thou shalt not ask me aught, but I will give it thee!' So she told him that she was in love with him, and her suit to him was that he would grant her a lover's privacy; and he agreed to do her will, on condition that she would serve him with Hind and make shift to bring them together. Then he took her into a vintner's shop, in one of the by-streets of Hireh, and lay with her; after which she returned to Hind and said to her, 'Dost thou not long to see Adi?' 'How can this be?' replied the princess. 'Indeed my longing for him makes me restless, and no repose is left me since yesterday, on his account.' Quoth Mariyeh, 'I will appoint him to be in such a place, where thou canst look on him from the palace.' 'Do what thou wilt,' replied Hind and agreed with her upon the place.

So Adi came, and the princess looked out upon him; and when she saw him, she was like to fall down from the top of the palace and said to Mariyeh, 'Except thou bring him in to me this night, I shall die.' So saying, she fell down in a swoon, and her serving-women lifted her up and bore her into the palace; whilst Mariyeh hastened to En Numan and discovered the whole matter to him, saying, 'Verily, she is mad for love of Adi; and except thou marry her to him, she will be put to shame and die of love for him.' The King bowed his head awhile in thought and exclaimed again and again, 'Verily, we are God's and to Him we return!' Then said he, 'Out on thee! How shall the marriage be brought about, seeing it misliketh me to open the matter to him?' 'He is yet more ardently in love and yet more desireful of her than she of him,' answered Mariyeh; 'and I will so order the matter that he shall be unaware that his case is known to thee; but do not betray thyself, O King.'

Them she went to Adi and said to him, 'Make a feast and bid the King thereto; and when wine hath gotten the better of him, ask of him the hand of his daughter, for he will not refuse thee.' Quoth Adi, 'I fear lest this enrage him against me and be the cause of enmity between us.'

But she answered, 'I came not to thee, till I had settled the whole matter with him.' Then she returned to En Numan and said to him, 'Seek of Adi that he entertain thee in his house.' 'There is no harm in that,' replied the King and after three days, besought Adi to give him and his lords the morning-meal in his house. The young man consented, and the King went to him; and when the wine had taken effect on En Numan, Adi rose and sought of him his daughter in marriage. He consented and married them and brought her to him after three days; and they abode at En Numan's court, in all delight and solace of life, three years, at the end of which time the King was wroth with Adi and slew him. Hind mourned for him with an exceeding grief and built her a convent without the city, whither she retired and devoted herself to religious exercises, weeping and bemoaning her husband, till she died. And her convent is extant to this day without El Hireh.




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