THE QUEEN OF SERPENTS
There was once, of old days and in bygone ages and times, a Grecian sage called Daniel, who had scholars and disciples, and the wise men of Greece were obedient to his commandment and relied upon his learning; but God had denied him a son. One night, as he lay musing and weeping over the lack of a son, to whom he might bequeath his learning, he bethought himself that God (blessed and exalted be He) gives ear unto the prayer of those who resort to him and that there is no doorkeeper at the gate of His bounties and that He favours whom He will without stint and sends none empty away. So he besought the Most High, the Bountiful, to vouchsafe him a son, to succeed him, and to endow him abundantly with His favours. Then he returned and lay with his wife, who conceived by him the same night.
A few days after this he took ship for a certain place, but the ship was wrecked and he saved himself on a plank, with the loss of all his books, save only five leaves thereof. When he returned home, he laid the five leaves in a chest and locking it, gave the key to his wife, who was then big with child, and said to her, 'Know that my last hour is at hand and that the time of my translation from this temporary abiding-place [of the world] to that which is eternal draws nigh. Now thou art with child and wilt haply bear a son after my death. If this be so, name him Hasib Kerimeddin and rear him well. When the boy grows up and says to thee, "What inheritance did my father leave me?" give him these five leaves, which when he has read and digested, he will be the most learned man of his time' Then he bade her farewell and heaving one sigh, departed the world and all that is therein, the mercy of the Most High God be upon him! His family and friends wept over him and washed him and bore him forth in great state and buried him.
After awhile, his widow bore a handsome boy and named him Hasib Kerimeddin, as her husband had charged her; then she summoned the astrologers, who took the altitude of the planets and drawing the boy's horoscope, said to her, 'Know that this boy will live many years; but a great peril will befall him in the early part of his life, from which if he escape, he will be given the knowledge of wisdom.' She suckled him two years, then weaned him, and when he was five years old, she sent him to school, but he would learn nothing. So she took him from school and set him to learn a trade; but he would not learn and there came no work from his hands. She wept over this and the folk said to her, 'Marry him: peradventure he will take thought for his wife and learn a trade.' So she sought out a girl and married him to her; but marriage wrought no change in him and he still remained idle as before.
One day, some neighbours of hers, who were woodcutters, came to her and said, 'Buy thy son an ass and cords and a hatchet, and let him go with us to the mountain and cut wood. The price of the wood shall be his and ours, and with his share he shall provide thee and his wife.' When she heard this, she rejoiced greatly and bought Hasib an ass and hatchet and cords; then, carrying him to the woodcutters, delivered him into their hands and commended him to their care. 'Have no concern for the boy,' answered they; 'he is the son of our Sheikh [Daniel,] and our Lord will provide him.' So they carried him to the mountain, where they cut firewood and loaded their asses therewith; then returned to the city and selling what they had cut, spent the price on their families. This they did every day for some time, till one day, as they were cutting wood on the mountain as usual, a violent storm of rain broke over them, and they took refuge in a great cave, till the storm should be past. It chanced that Hasib went apart from the rest into a corner of the cavern and sitting down, fell to smiting the earth [idly] with his axe. Presently, he noted that the ground gave out a hollow sound under the axe; so he dug there awhile and came to a round flagstone, with a ring in it. When he saw this, he was glad and called his comrades the woodcutters, who came to him and speedily clearing away the earth from the stone, pulled it up and found under it a trap door, which, being opened, discovered a cistern full of bees' honey. (26) Then said they to each other, 'We must return to the city and fetch vessels, in which to carry away the honey, and sell it and divide the price, whilst one of us stays by the cistern, to guard it from other than ourselves.' Quoth Hasib, 'I will stay and keep watch over it.' So they left him there and repairing to the city, fetched vessels, which they filled with honey and loading their asses therewith, carried them to the city and sold the contents.
Thus they did several days in succession, sleeping in the city by night, whilst Hasib abode on guard by the cistern, [till but little remained,] when they said to one another, 'It was Hasib found the honey, and to-morrow he will come down to the city and claim the price of it, saying, "It was I found it;" nor is there any means of quitting ourselves of this but that we let him down into the cistern, to get the rest of the honey, and leave him there; so will he perish miserably, and none will know of him.' They all fell in with this and returning to the cavern, said to Hasib, "Go down into the well and get us the rest of the honey.' So he went down and passed up to them the rest of the honey, after which he said to them, 'Draw me up, for there is nothing left.' They made him no answer, but, loading their asses, went away and left him alone in the cistern. When they reached the city, they repaired to Hasib's mother, weeping, and said to her, 'May thy head outlive thy son Hasib!' 'How did he die?' asked she. Quoth they, 'We were cutting wood in the mountain, when there fell on us a great storm of rain and we took shelter from it in a cavern. Presently, thy son's ass broke loose and fled into the valley, and he ran after it, to turn it back, when there came out upon them a great wolf, who tore thy son in pieces and ate the ass.' When she heard this, she buffeted her face and strewed dust on her head and fell a-mourning for her son, whilst the woodcutters sold the honey, with the proceeds of which they opened shops and became merchants and passed their lives in eating and drinking and making merry; but, every day, they brought Hasib's mother meat and drink.
Meanwhile, when Hasib found himself alone, he began to weep and call for help and say, 'There is no god but God, the Most High, the Supreme! I shall surely perish miserably!' As he was thus bemoaning himself, a great scorpion fell upon him; so he rose and killed it. Then he bethought him and said, 'The cistern was full of honey; how came this scorpion here?' Therewith he rose and examined the well right and left, till he found the crevice from which the scorpion had fallen and saw light shining through it. So he took out his knife and enlarged the opening, till it was big enough to allow him to pass, when he crept through it and found himself in a passage in the rock. Following this passage, he came to a vast gallery, which led him to a great iron door, made fast with a padlock of silver, in which was a golden key. He looked through the chink of the door and saw a great light shining within; so he took the key and opening the door [found himself in an open space and] walked on till he came to a great pond, full of something that glistened like water. Hard by he saw a high mound of green jasper and on the top of the mound a throne of gold, inlaid with all manner jewels, round which were set many stools, some of gold, some of silver and others of emerald. He climbed the mound and counting the stools, found them twelve thousand in number. Then he mounted the throne and seating himself thereon, sat marvelling at the pond and the stools, till drowsiness overcame him and he fell asleep.
Presently, he was aroused by a great snorting and hissing and rustling, and opening his eyes, saw seated on each stool a great serpent, a hundred cubits in length, with eyes that blazed like live coals. At this sight, great fear got hold on him; his spittle dried up, for the excess of his affright, and he despaired of life. Then he turned towards the pond and saw [that what he had taken for water was none other than a multitude of] small serpents, none knoweth their number save God the Most High. After awhile, there came a serpent as big as a mule, bearing on its back a charger of gold, wherein lay another serpent, that shone like crystal and whose face was as that of a woman. Thereupon, one of the serpents seated there came up and lifting her off the dish, set her on one of the stools. Then she cried out to the other serpents in their language, whereupon they all fell down from their stools and did her homage. But she signed to them to sit, and they did so.
Then she saluted Hasib in human speech and he returned her salutation; and she said to him with fluent speech, 'Have no fear of us, O youth. I am the Queen of the Serpents and their Sultaness.' When he heard this, he took heart and she bade the serpents bring him food. So they brought apples and grapes and pomegranates and pistachio-nuts and filberts and walnuts and almonds and bananas and set them before him, and the Queen said, 'Welcome, O youth! What is thy name?' 'My name is Hasib Kerimeddin,' answered he; and she rejoined, 'O Hasib, eat of these fruits, for we have no other meat, and fear nothing from us.' So he ate his fill and praised God the Most High. Then they took away the tray from before him, and the Queen said to him, 'O Hasib, tell me whence thou art and how camest thou hither.' So he told her his story from first to last, adding, 'God [only] knows what will betide me after this!' Quoth the Queen, 'Nothing but good shall betide thee: but, O Hasib, I would have thee abide with me awhile, that I may tell thee my history and acquaint thee with the rare adventures that have come to my knowledge.' 'I hear and obey,' answered he; and she said, 'Know then, O Hasib, that
The Adventures of Beloukiya
There was once in the city of Cairo a wise and pious king of the children of Israel, who was devoted to the study of books of learning, and he had a son named Beloukiya. When he grew old and weak and was nigh upon death, his grandees and officers of state came in to him, to salute him, and he said to them, "O folk, know that the hour is at hand of my departure from this world to the next, and I have no charge to lay on you, save to commend my son to your care." Then said he, "I testify that there is no god save God," and heaving one sigh, departed the world, the mercy of God be on him! They laid him out and washed him and buried him in great state. Then they made his son Beloukiya king in his stead; and he ruled the kingdom justly and the people had peace in his time.
It befell one day that he entered his father's treasures, to look about him, and coming upon a hidden door, opened it and found himself in a little closet, wherein stood a column of white marble. On the top of the column was a coffer of ebony, which he opened and saw therein a casket of gold, containing a book. He read the book and found therein a description of our lord Mohammed (whom God bless and preserve) and how he should be sent in the latter days and be the lord of the first and the last: and his heart was taken with love of him. So he assembled all the notables of the scribes and diviners and priests of the children of Israel and read the book to them, adding, "O folk, needs must I bring my father out of his grave and burn him." "Why wilt thou burn him?" asked they, and he answered, "Because he hid this book from me and imparted it not to me. (Now the old king had compiled it from the Pentateuch and the Book of Abraham and had hidden it in his treasury and imparted it to none.) "O King," rejoined they, "thy father is dead; his body is in the dust and his affair is in the hands of his Lord; thou shalt not take him forth of his tomb." So he knew that they would not suffer him to do this thing and leaving them, repaired to his mother, to whom said he, "O my mother, I have found, in one of my father's treasuries, a book containing a description of Mohammed (whom God bless and keep), a prophet who shall be sent in the latter days, and my heart is taken with his love; wherefore I am resolved to wander over the earth, till I foregather with him; else I shall die of longing for the love of him." Then he doffed his clothes and donned a pilgrim's gown of striped goat's hair cloth and sandals, saying to his mother, "Forget me not in thy prayers." She wept and said, "O my son, what will become of us after thee?" But he answered, saying, "I can endure no longer, and I commit my affair and shine to God the Most High."
Then he set out in the direction of Syria, without the knowledge of any of his people, and coming to the seashore, took passage in a ship, which he found there. They sailed till they came to an island, where they cast anchor and Beloukiya landed with the crew, but, becoming separated from the rest, sat down under a tree and fell asleep. When he awoke, he found that the ship had set sail without him, and in that island he saw serpents as big as camels and palm-trees, who sang he praises of Allah and blessed Mohammed, proclaiming the unity of God and glorifying the Most High; whereat he wondered greatly. When they saw him, they flocked to him and one of them said to him, "Who and whence art thou and whither goest thou?" Quoth he, "My name is Beloukiya; I am of the children of Israel, and am come out in quest of Mohammed (whom God bless and preserve), being distracted for love of him. But who are ye, O noble creatures?" "We are of the dwellers in Hell," answered they; "and God the Most High created us for the punishment of unbelievers." "And how came ye hither?" asked he, and they answered, "Know that Hell, of the greatness of its boiling, breathes twice a year, exhaling in the summer and inhaling in the winter, and hence the summer heat and the winter cold. When it exhales, it casts us forth of its maw, and we are drawn in again with the inhaled breath." Quoth Beloukiya, "Are there greater serpents than you in Hell?" And they said, "We are cast out with the expired breath but by reason of our smallness; for in Hell every serpent is so great, that, were the biggest of us to pass over its nose, it would not be ware of us." "Ye sing the praises of God," said Beloukiya, "and invoke blessings on Mohammed, whom God bless and preserve! Whence know ye of Mohammed?" O Beloukiya," answered they, "the name of Mohammed is written on the gates of Paradise; and but for him, God had not created Paradise nor heaven nor hell nor earth for He made all things that be, solely on his account, and hath coupled his name with His own in every place: wherefore we love Mohammed, whom God bless and preserve!"
The serpent's converse did but inflame Beloukiya's love for Mohammed and yearning for his sight; so he took leave of them and making his way to the sea-shore, found there a ship lying at anchor, in which he embarked and sailed till he came to another island. Here he landed and walking about, found there serpents, great and small, none knoweth their number save God the Most High and amongst them a white serpent, more brilliant than crystal, seated in a golden charger borne on the back of another serpent as big as an elephant. Now this was none other than myself; so, when I saw Beloukiya, I saluted him and he returned my salutation, and I said to him, "Who and what art thou and whither goest thou?" I am of the children of Israel," answered he "My name is Beloukiya, and I am a wanderer for the love of Mohammed, whose description I have read in the revealed scriptures and of whom I go in quest. But what art thou and what are these serpents about thee?" Quoth I, "I am the Queen of the Serpents; and when thou foregatherest with Mohammed (whom God bless and preserve),bear him my salutation." Then he took leave of me and journeyed till he came to Jerusalem.
Now there was in that City a man by name Uffan, who was deeply versed in all sciences, more especially in geometry and astronomy and mathematics, as well as in white magic and the Cabala; and he had studied the Pentateuch and the Evangel and the Psalms and the Book of Abraham and had read in certain books that whoso should wear the ring of our lord Solomon, men and Jinn and birds and beasts and all created things would be subject to him. Moreover, he had discovered that Solomon lay buried in a cavern beyond the Seven Seas, with the ring on his finger, which none, man nor genie, could take therefrom, and that none could sail upon the Seven Seas in ships; and he had found out by study that there was a certain herb, whose juice if one expressed and anointed therewith the soles of his feet, he should walk dryshod upon the surface of any sea that God the Most High had created; but none could come at this herb, except he had with him the Queen of the Serpents.
When Beloukiya arrived at Jerusalem, he [entered the temple and] sat down to do his devotions. Presently, Uffan came up and seeing him reading the Pentateuch and worshipping God the Most High, accosted him and asked him who and whence he was and whither bound? "My name is Beloukiya," answered the prince. "I am from the city of Cairo and am come forth, wandering, in quest of Mohammed, whom God bless and preserve!" Quoth Uffan, "Come with me to my house, that I may entertain thee." "I hear and obey," cried Beloukiya. So the sage took him by the hand and carried him to his house, where he entreated him with the utmost honour and said to him, "O my brother, tell me thy history and how thou camest by the knowledge of Mohammed (whom God bless and preserve) and who directed thee in this road." So he related to him his story, from first to last, at which Uffan well-nigh lost his wits for wonder and said to him, "O my brother, bring me to the Queen of the Serpents and I will bring thee in company with Mohammed, albeit the time of his coming is yet far distant. For thou must know that I have found in my books that there is a certain herb whose juice if one express and anoint therewith the soles of his feet, he shall go dryshod upon whatsoever sea God the Most High hath made; and if one have with him the Queen of the Serpents and traverse the mountains where the herbs grow, each herb by which he passes will speak and proclaim its virtues, by the ordinance of God the Most High. So, if we can take the Queen of the Serpents, we will put her in a cage and carry her to the mountains aforesaid; and when we have found the magical herb, we will let her go her way. Then will we anoint our feet with the juice of the herb and fare over the Seven Seas, till we come to the burial-place of our lord Solomon, when we will take the ring off his finger and rule even as he ruled and come to our desire; for, with the aid of the ring, we will enter the Ocean of Darknesses (27) and drink of the Water of Life, and so God will let us tarry till the latter days and we shall foregather with Mohammed, whom God bless and preserve!"
Beloukiya consented to lead him to my abiding-place so Uffan made him a cage of iron and providing himself with two bowls, one full of milk and the other of wine, took ship with Beloukiya and sailed till they came to the island, where they landed and walked on inland. Then Uffan set up the cage, in which he laid a snare, and placing in it the two bowls, withdrew, he and Beloukiya, and concealed themselves afar off. Presently, up came the Queen of the Serpents (that is, myself) and examined the cage. When I smelt the milk, I slid off the back of my bearer and entering the cage, [drank up the milk. Then I] went to the bowl of wine and drank of it, whereupon my head became giddy and I slept. When Uffan saw this, he ran up and locking the cage upon me, set it on his head and made for the ship, he and Beloukiya. After awhile I awoke and finding myself in a cage of iron on a man's head and seeing Beloukiya walking beside the bearer, said to him, "This is the reward of those who do no hurt to men." "O Queen," answered he, "have no fear of us, for we will do thee no hurt. We would but have thee guide us to the herb whose juice, rubbed upon the soles of the feet, confers the power of walking dry-shod upon what sea soever God the Most High hath created; which when we have found, we will return thee to thy place and let thee go thy way."
Then they fared on till they came to the hills where grew the herbs, and as they went, each herb they passed began to speak and avouch its virtues by permission of God the Most High. As they were going along and the herbs speaking right and left, one of the latter spoke out and said, "I am the herb, which if one gather and press and anoint his feet with my juice, he shall fare dry-shod over what sea soever God the Most High hath created." When Uffan heard this, he set down the cage and gathering what might suffice them of the herb, bruised it and filled two vials with the juice; and with what was left they anointed their feet. Then they took up the cage and journeyed days and nights, till they reached the island, where they opened the cage and let me out. When I found myself at liberty, I asked them what use they thought to make of the juice of the herb; and they answered, saying, "We purpose to traverse the Seven Seas to the burial-place of our lord Solomon and take the ring from his finger " Quoth I, "Far is it from your power to possess yourselves of the ring!" "Wherefore?" asked they, and I replied. "Because God the Most High vouchsafed unto our lord Solomon the gift of this ring and peculiarly favoured him therewith, for that he said to Him, 'O my Lord, bestow upon me a dominion, that shall beseem none after me; for Thou art the Giver of gifts.' (28) So the ring is not for you. Had ye taken the herb, whereof whoso eateth shall not die until the first blast [of the last trumpet], it had better availed you than this ye have gotten; for ye shall nowise come at your desire of it."
When they heard this, they repented them exceedingly and went their ways, whilst I went in quest of my subjects and found them fallen in piteous plight, the weaker of them having died in my absence and the stronger grown weak. When they saw me, they rejoiced and flocking about me, enquired what had befallen me. So I told them what had passed, after which I gathered them together and repaired with them to the mountain Caf, where I use to winter, spending the summer in the place where thou now seest me, O Hasib. This, then, is my story and what befell me [with Beloukiya and Uffan].'
Hasib marvelled at her words and said to her, 'I beseech thee, of thy favour, bid one of thy subjects bring me out to the surface of the earth, that I may go to my people.' 'O Hasib,' replied she, 'thou shalt not depart from us till winter come, and needs must thou go with us to the mountain Caf and divert thyself with the sight of hills and sands and trees and birds magnifying the One God, the Victorious, besides Marids and Afrits and Jinn, whose number none knoweth save God the Most High.' When Hasib heard this, he was sore chagrined and concerned; then he said to her, 'Tell me of Uffan and Beloukiya; when they departed from thee and went their way, did they win to the burial-place of our lord Solomon or not; and if they won thither, did they avail to take the ring or not? 'Know,'answered she, 'that, when they left me, they anointed their feet with the juice of the magical herb, and walking over the water, fared on from sea to sea, beholding the wonders of the deep, till they had traversed the Seven Seas and came in sight of a mighty mountain, soaring high into the air, whereat they rejoiced and said to one another, "Verily we have attained our desire." So they landed and found that the stones of the mountain were of emerald and its dust of musk, and in it was a stream of running water. They entered the passes of the mountain and walked on, till they saw a cavern afar off, surmounted by a great dome, and light shining therefrom. So they made for the dome and entering the cavern, beheld therein a throne of gold set with all manner jewels, and about it stools innumerable, none knoweth their number save God the Most High. On the throne they saw our lord Solomon lying, clad in robes of green silk, gold inwoven and broidered with all manner jewels and precious stones: his right hand was folded upon his breast and on the middle finger was the seal-ring, whose lustre outshone that of all the other jewels in the place.
Then Uffan taught Beloukiya charms and conjurations and said to him, "Repeat these conjurations and stint not therefrom till I take the ring." Then he went up to the throne; but, as he drew near unto it, a mighty serpent issued from beneath it and cried out at him with so terrible a cry that the whole place trembled and sparks flew from its mouth, saying, "Begone, or thou art a dead man!" But Uffan paid no heed to it and busied himself with his incantations. Then the serpent blew such a fiery blast at him, that the place was like to be set on fire, and said to him, "Woe to thee! Except thou turn back, I will consume thee!" Yet was he not troubled at this, but put out his hand to the ring and touched it and strove to draw it off Solomon's finger; whereupon the serpent blew on him [once more] and he became a heap of ashes.
When Beloukiya saw this, he fell down in a swoon. and the Lord (exalted be His majesty) bade Gabriel descend [and save him], before the serpent should blow on him. So Gabriel descended to the earth and finding Uffan reduced to ashes and Beloukiya fallen of a swoon, aroused the latter and saluting him, enquired how he had come thither. Beloukiya related to him his history, telling him how he had not come thither but for the love of Mohammed, and besought him to tell him where the latter was to be found. "O Beloukiya," replied the angel, "go thy ways, for the time of Mohammed's coming is yet far distant." Then he ascended to heaven, and Beloukiya wept sore and repented of that which he had done, calling to mind my words, whenas I said to them, "Far is it from your power to possess yourselves of the ring." Then he returned to the sea-shore and passed the night there, marvelling at the mountains and seas and islands, that encompassed him, and weeping over his case.
When it was day, he anointed his feet with the magical juice and descending to the water, set out and fared on over the surface of the sea nights and days, marvelling at the terrors and wonders of the deep, till he came to an island as it were Paradise. So he landed and found himself in a great and pleasant island, spacious and goodly, abounding in good things. Its dust was saffron and its gravel cornelian and precious stones; its hedges were of jessamine, its brushwood Comorin and Sumatra aloes-wood and its reeds sugar-cane. Its vegetation was of the goodliest of trees and of the brightest and sweetest of odoriferous flowers, of all kinds and colours: round about it were roses and narcissus and amaranths and gilly-flowers and camomiles and lilies and violets, and therein gazelles frisking and wild cattle coming and going. Its trees were tall and the singing of its birds, as they warbled on the branches and solaced the afflicted lover, was sweeter than the voices of those that chant the Koran. Its streams were flowing and its springs welling with sweet water; brief, it comprised all beauty and charms.
Beloukiya marvelled at the goodliness of the place, but knew that he had wandered from the road he had come, on his way over the Seven Seas in Uffan's company. He spent the day in exploring the island and at nightfall he climbed into a tree, to sleep; but, as he sat there, pondering the beauty of the place, the sea became troubled and there rose to the surface a great beast, which gave such a terrible cry that the isle trembled to its foundations. As Beloukiya gazed upon him and marvelled at the vastness of his bulk, he came ashore, followed by a multitude of other sea-beasts, each holding in his paw a jewel that shone like a lamp, so that the whole island became as light as day for the lustre thereof. After awhile, there appeared from the inward of the island lions and panthers and lynxes and other beasts of the land, none knoweth their number save God the Most High, who flocked down to the shore and foregathering with the beasts of the sea, conversed with them till daybreak, when they separated and went each his own way.
As soon as it was day, Beloukiya, terrified by what he had seen during the night, came down from the tree and anointing his feet with the magical juice, set out once more upon the surface of the water and fared on days and nights over the second sea, till he came to a great mountain, through whose midst ran a valley without end, the stones whereof were loadstone and its beasts lions and hares and panthers. He landed and wandered from place to place till nightfall, when he sat down on a rock by the seaside, to eat of the dried fish thrown up by the sea. Presently, he turned and saw a huge panther making for him, to devour him; so he anointed his feet in haste with the juice and descending to the surface of the water, fled over the third sea, in the darkness, for it was black night and there was a high wind, nor did he stay his course till he reached another island, on which he landed and found there trees, [bearing fruits] both soft and hard of skin. (29) So he took of these fruits and ate and praised God the Most High; after which he walked about the island till nightfall, when he lay down to sleep.
He spent ten days in exploring the place, after which he again anointed his feet and setting out over the fourth sea, travelled nights and days, till he came to a third island of fine white sand, without trees or grass. He landed and balked about the island awhile, but, finding its only inhabitants sakers, that nested in the sand, he again anointed his feet and sped on over the fifth sea, till he came to a little island, whose soil and hills were of crystal. Therein were the veins wherefrom gold is wrought and marvellous trees with flowers in hue like gold, never had he seen their like in his wanderings. He landed and walked about, till it became dark, when the flowers began to shine like stars. When he saw this, he marvelled and said, "Assuredly, the flowers of this island are of those which wither from the sun and fall to the earth, where the wind smites them and they gather under the rocks and become hermetic powder which the folk collect and make gold thereof."
He lay there that night and at sunrise he again anointed his feet and descending to the shore, fared on over the sixth sea days and nights, till he came to a fifth island. Here he landed and found mountains covered with trees, whose fruits were as human heads hanging by the hair, and others whose fruits were green birds hanging by the feet; also a third kind, which burnt like fire and whose fruits were like prickly pears,--if a drop [of the juice] thereof fell on a man, he was consumed,--and others, whose fruits wept and laughed, besides many other marvels which he saw there. Then he returned to the sea-shore and finding there a great tree, sat down beneath it till dusk, when he climbed up into the branches to sleep. As he sat pondering the wonderful works of God, the sea became troubled, and there rose therefrom the daughters of the ocean, each holding in her hand a jewel that shone like the morning. They came ashore and sitting down under the tree, danced and sported and made merry, whilst Beloukiya watched them and marvelled at their gambols, till the morning, when they returned to the sea and disappeared. Then he came down and anointing his feet, set out on the surface of the seventh sea, over which he journeyed two whole months, without getting sight of land, what while he suffered exceeding hunger, so that he was fain to snatch up fish from the surface of the sea and devour them raw, for stress of want.
At the end of this time, he came to a sixth island abounding in trees and streams, where he landed, it being the forenoon. He walked about, looking right and left, till he came to an apple-tree and put out his hand to pluck of the fruit, when, behold, one cried out to him from the tree, saying, "An thou draw near to this tree, I will cut thee in twain." So he looked and saw a giant forty cubits high, after the measure of the people of that day, whereat he was sore affrighted and drew back from the tree. Then he said to the giant, "Why dost thou forbid me to eat of this tree?" "Because," replied the other, "thou art a son of Adam and thy father Adam forgot the covenant of God and disobeyed Him and ate of the tree." Quoth Beloukiya, "Who art thou and to whom doth this island, with its trees, belong?" "My name is Sherahiya," replied the giant, "and I am of the guards of King Sekher, to whom the island belongs and who hath given me charge over it. But who art thou and how comest thou hither?" Beloukiya told him his story and Sherahiya bade him be of good cheer and brought him to eat. So he ate his fill and taking leave of the giant, set out again and fared on over mountains and sandy deserts for ten days, at the end of which time he saw, in the distance, a cloud of dust hanging like a canopy in the air and making towards it, came presently to a great valley, two months' journey in length, where he heard a mighty clamour of cries and clash of arms and tramp of horse. As he drew near, he saw a multitude of horsemen engaged in sore battle and the blood running from them like a river. Their voices were like thunder and they were armed with bows and javelins and swords and spears and maces of iron and fought with the utmost fury.
At this sight, he was sore affrighted and knew not what to do; but, as he hesitated, they caught sight of him and held their hands from one another and left fighting. Then a troop of them came up to him, wondering at his make, and said to him, "What art thou and how camest thou hither?" Quoth he, "I am of the sons of Adam and am come out, distraught for the love of Mohammed, whom God bless and preserve; but I have wandered from my road." They marvelled at his speech and said, "Never saw we a son of Adam till now, nor did any ever come to this land." "But what are ye, O creatures?" asked Beloukiya. "We are of the Jinn," answered they; and he said, "What is the cause of the fighting amongst you and where is your abiding-place and what is the name of this valley and this land?" "Our abiding-place is the White Country," replied they. "This place is called the land of Sheddad, son of Aad, and every year God the Most High commandeth us to come hither and wage war upon the unbelieving Jinn." "And where is the White Country?" asked Beloukiya. "It is distant five-and-seventy years' journey behind the mountain Caf," answered they, "and we have no other business, when we are not doing battle with the unbelieving Jinn, than to magnify God and hallow Him. Moreover, we have a king called Sekher, and needs must thou go with us to him, that he may divert himself with thy sight."
Then they took him and fared on with him, till they came to their abiding-place, where he saw a multitude of tents of green silk, none knoweth their number save God the Most High, and in their midst a pavilion of red satin, a thousand cubits in compass, with cords of blue silk and pickets of gold and silver. This was the royal pavilion; so they made their way thither and carried Beloukiya into the presence of King Sekher, whom he found seated upon a throne of red gold, set with pearls and jewels, with the kings and princes of the Jinn on his right hand and on his left his councillors and Amirs and officers of state. So he went up to him and kissing the earth before him, saluted him. The King returned his salute and commending a chair to be set for him beside himself, bade him sit down and asked him who he was and how he came thither; whereupon Beloukiya related to him all that had befallen him in his wanderings and he marvelled thereat. Then he called for food and the servants spread the tables and set on fifteen hundred platters of gold and silver and brass, some containing twenty and some fifty boiled camels, and other some fifty head of sheep; at which Beloukiya marvelled exceedingly. Then they ate and he ate with them, till he was satisfied, and returned thanks to God the Most High; after which they cleared the tables and set on fruits, and they ate thereof, glorifying God and invoking blessings on His prophet Mohammed.
When Beloukiya heard them make mention of Mohammed, he wondered and said to King Sekher, "I have a mind to ask thee some questions." "Ask what thou wilt," rejoined the King, and Beloukiya said, "O King, what are ye and what is your origin and how come ye to know and love Mohammed, whom God bless and preserve?" "Know," answered the King, "that God created the fire in seven stages, one above the other, at a distance of a thousand years' journey between each two stages. The first stage he named Jehennem and appointed for the punishment of the transgressors of the true-believers, who die unrepentant, and the second he named Lezza and appointed for unbelievers. The name of the third is Jehim and is appointed for Gog and Magog. The fourth is called Saair and is appointed for the host of Iblis. The fifth is called Seker and is prepared for those who neglect prayer. The sixth is called Hutemeh and is appointed for Jews and Christians. The seventh is named Hawiyeh and is prepared for hypocrites. The most endurable of them all is Jehennem, being the topmost; yet in it are a thousand mountains of fire, in each mountain seventy thousand valleys of fire, in each valley seventy thousand cities of fire, in each city seventy thousand citadels of fire, in each citadel seventy thousand houses of fire, in each house seventy thousand couches of fire and in each couch seventy thousand kinds of torment. As for the other hells, none knoweth the number of kinds of torment that be therein save God the Most High."
When Beloukiya heard this, he fell down in a swoon and when he came to himself, he wept and said, "O King, what will our case be?" "Fear not," answered Sekher; "whoso loveth Mohammed and believeth in his religion, the fire shall not burn him, for he is made free therefrom for his sake, whom God bless and preserve! As for us, God created us of the fire; for the first that he made in Jehennem were two creatures, whom He called Melit and Khelit. Now Melit was made in the likeness of a pied wolf, with a tail after the likeness of a woman, and Khelit in that of a lion, with a tail like a tortoise, twenty years' journey in length. God commanded their tails to couple and do the deed of kind, and of them were born serpents and scorpions, whose dwelling is in the fire, that therewith God may torment those whom He casteth therein; and these increased and multiplied. Then God commanded the tails of Khelit and Melit to couple a second time, and Melit's tail conceived by that of Khelit and bore fourteen children, seven male and seven female, who grew up and intermarried, one with the other. They all were obedient to their father, except one of then, Iblis to wit, who disobeyed him and was changed into a worm. Now Iblis was one of the Cherubim, for he had served God till he was raised to the heavens and taken into the especial favour of the Merciful One, who made, him chief of the Cherubim. When God created Adam, He commanded Iblis to prostrate himself to him, but he refused; so God expelled him [from heaven] and cursed him. Of his lineage are the devils; and as for the other six males, they are the ancestors of the true-believing Jinn, and we are their descendants."
Beloukiya marvelled at the King's words and besought him to bid one of his officers carry him back to his native land. "That may we not do," answered Sekher, "save by commandment of God the Most High; but, an thou desire to return to thine own country, I will set thee on one of my mares and bid her carry thee to the farthest limit of my dominions, where thou wilt meet with the troops of another king, Berakhiya by name, who will recognize the mare and take thee off her back and send her back to me; and this is all we can do for thee." When Beloukiya heard this, he wept and said, "Do what thou wilt, O King." So Sekher caused bring the mare and setting Beloukiya on her back, said to him, "Beware lest thou alight or strike the mare or cry out in her face; else she will kill thee; but abide quiet on her back till she stop with thee; then dismount and go thy way." Then Beloukiya took leave of the King and setting out, rode on a long while between the rows of tents, till he came to the royal kitchens, where he stopped and gazed in wonderment or the great cauldrons, each holding fifty camels, hung up over the fire that blazed fiercely under them. King Sekher saw him from afar gazing on the cauldrons, and thinking him to be anhungred, commanded some of his officers to bear him two roasted camels. So they carried them to him and bound them behind him on the mare's back.
Then he took leave of them and fared on, till he came to the limit of King Sekher's dominions, where the mare stood still and Beloukiya dismounted and began to shake the dust of the journey from his clothes. As he was thus engaged, there accosted him a party of men, who recognizing the mare, carried her and Beloukiya before their King, whom he found seated in a splendid pavilion, in the midst of his troops and champions and vassal princes, in like state to that of King Sekher. So he saluted him, and the King returned his greeting and seated him beside himself; after which he called for food and they ate their fill and returned thanks to God. Then they set on fruits, and when they had eaten thereof, King Berakhiya said to his guest, "When didst thou leave King Sekher?" "Two days ago," replied Beloukiya. "Dost thou know," asked Berakhiya, "how many days' journey thou hast come in these two days?" "No," answered he, and the King rejoined, "Thou hast come threescore and ten months' journey; and when thou mountedst the mare, she was affrighted at thee, knowing thee for a son of Adam, and would have cast thee off; so they bound on her back these two camels, to steady her." When Beloukiya heard this, he marvelled and thanked God for safety. Then said the King, "Tell me thy story and what brought thee hither." So he told him his story from first to last, and the King marvelled at his words.'
Here the Queen of the Serpents broke off, and Hasib, after he had marvelled at her story, again besought her to let one of her subjects conduct him to the surface of the earth, that he might go to his family; but she answered, 'O Hasib, I know that the first thing thou wilt do, after greeting thy family, will be to go to the bath and wash thyself; and as surely as thou dost this, it will be the cause of my death.' Quoth Hasib, 'I swear that I will never again enter the bath, so long as I live, but will wash at home, when washing is incumbent on me.' 'I would not trust thee,' rejoined the Queen, 'though thou shouldst swear to me a hundred oaths; for I know thou art a son of Adam and that to thee no oath is sacred. Thy father Adam made a covenant with God the Most High, who kneaded the clay whereof He fashioned him forty days and made His angels prostrate themselves to him; yet did he perjure himself and forgot his promise and disobeyed the commandment of his Lord.' When Hasib heard this, he held his peace and burst into tears nor did he leave weeping for the space of ten days, at the end of which time he begged the Queen to acquaint him with the rest of Beloukiya's adventures. Accordingly, she began again as follows:
"Beloukiya tarried two months with King Berakhiya, then took leave of him and fared on over wastes and deserts nights and days, till he came to a high mountain, on whose summit he beheld a great angel seated, celebrating the praises of God and invoking blessings on Mohammed. Before him lay a tablet covered with black characters and white, on which his eyes were fixed, and his wings were outspread, one to the western and the other to the eastern horizon. Beloukiya ascended the hill and saluted the angel, who returned his salute and enquired who he was and what brought him thither. Accordingly, he repeated to him his history, from beginning to end, and besought him, in turn, to acquaint him with his own name and occupation and the meaning of the tablet that lay before him. "My name is Michael," replied the angel, "and I am charged with the alternation of night and day; and this is my occupation till the Day of Judgment."
The prince wondered at his words and at his aspect and the greatness of his size and taking leave of him, fared onward till he came to a vast meadow, full of trees, through which ran seven rivers. In one part of the meadow, he saw a great tree and under it four angels, the first in the likeness of a man, the second in the likeness of a wild beast, the third in the likeness of a bull and the fourth in the likeness of a bird, engaged in magnifying God the Most High and saying, "O my God and my Master and my Lord, I conjure Thee, by Thy splendour and by the glory of Thy prophet Mohammed (on whom be blessing and peace) to vouchsafe Thy mercy and forgiveness to all things created in my likeness; for Thou canst do all things!"
Beloukiya continued his journey, till he came to another mountain and ascending it, found a great angel seated on the summit, glorifying God and hallowing Him and invoking blessings on Mohammed; and he was continually opening and shutting his hands and closing and extending his fingers. The prince accosted him and saluted him; whereupon the angel returned his greeting and enquired who he was and how he came thither. So Beloukiya acquainted him with his adventures and besought him to tell him, in turn, who he was and what was his function and what mountain was that. Quoth the angel, "This is the mountain Caf, that encompasseth the world, and in my grasp are all countries that God hath made. When He is minded to afflict any country with earthquake or famine or slaughter or to bless it with plenty and prosperity, He bids me execute His commandment, and this I do without stirring from my place; for my hands lay hold upon the roots of the earth." "Hath God created other worlds than this within the mountain Caf?" asked Beloukiya. "Yes," answered the angel; "He hath made a world white as silver, whose vastness none knoweth but Himself, and hath peopled it with angels, whose meat and drink are the praise and magnification of God and the continual invocation of blessings upon His prophet Mohammed. Every Friday night they assemble on this mountain and worship God until the morning, and the recompense of their devotions they give to the sinners of the faith of Mohammed (whom God bless and keep) and to all who make the [complete] ablution of Friday; and this is their function until the Day of Resurrection." "And hath God created other mountains behind the mountain Caf?" asked Beloukiya. "Yes," replied the angel. "Behind this mountain is a range of mountains of snow and ice, five hundred years' journey in extent, and this it is that wards off the heat of Jehennem from the world, which would else be consumed thereby. Moreover, behind the mountain Caf are forty worlds, each the bigness of this world forty times told, some of gold, some of silver and other some of cornelian. Each of these worlds hath its own colour, and God hath peopled them with angels, that know not Adam nor Eve nor night nor day and have no other business than to celebrate His praises and hallow and magnify Him and make proclamation of His unity and supplicate Him on behalf of the followers of Mohammed (whom God bless and keep).
Thou must know also," continued the angel, " that God hath made the worlds in seven stages, one upon another, and hath created one of His angels, whose size and attributes none knoweth but Himself and who beareth the seven stages upon his shoulders. Under this angel God the Most High hath created a rock and under the rock, a bull, and under the bull, a great fish, and under the fish, a mighty ocean. God once told Jesus (on whom be peace) of this fish, and he said, 'O Lord, show me the fish, that I may look upon it.' So God commanded an angel to take Jesus and show him the fish. Accordingly, he carried the prophet to the sea, wherein the fish dwelt, and bade him look upon it. He looked, but [at first] saw nothing, when, suddenly, the monster darted past like lightning. At this sight, Jesus swooned away, and when he came to himself, God spoke to him, saying, 'O Jesus, hast thou seen the fish and noted its length and breadth?" 'By Thy splendour and majesty, O Lord,' replied Jesus, 'I saw no fish; but there passed me by a great bull, whose length was three days' journey, and I know not what manner of thing this is.' 'O Jesus,' rejoined the Almighty, 'this that thou sawest and which was three days in passing by thee, was [but] the head of the fish; and know that every day I create forty fish like unto this.' And Jesus marvelled at the power of God the Most High."
Quoth Beloukiya, "What hath God made beneath this nether sea?" "Under the sea," replied the angel, "God created a vast [abyss of] air, under the air the fire and under the fire a mighty serpent, by name Felec; and were it not for the fear of God the Most High, this serpent would swallow up all that is above it, without feeling it. When God created this serpent, He said to it, 'Open thy mouth and I will give thee somewhat to keep for me.' So it opened its mouth and God put Hell into its maw, saying, 'Keep it until the Day of Resurrection.' When that day comes, God will send His angels to bring Hell and chain it up until the Day of Judgment, when, at His commandment, it will open its gates and there will issue therefrom sparks bigger than mountains."
When Beloukiya heard these things, he wept sore and taking leave of the angel, fared on westward, till he came In sight of a great shut gate, before which sat two creatures. When he drew near, he saw that one of the gate-keepers had a lion's favour and the other that of a bull; So he saluted them and they returned his greeting and enquired who and whence he was and whither he was bound. Quoth he, "I am of the sons of Adam, a wanderer for the love of Mohammed, whom God bless and preserve; and I have strayed from my road." Then he asked them what they were and what was the gate before which they sat. "We are the guardians of this gate," answered they, "and we have no other business than the praise and glorification of God and the invocation of blessings on Mohammed (whom may He bless and keep)." "What is within the gate?" asked Beloukiya; and they answered, "We know not." Then said he, "I conjure you, by the virtue of your glorious Lord, open to me the gate, that I may see that which is therein." "None may open this gate, of all created beings," replied they, "save Gabriel, the Faithful One, on whom be peace." Then Beloukiya lifted up his voice in supplication to God and besought Him to send down His messenger Gabriel, to open for him the gate; and God gave ear unto his prayer and commanded the angel to descend and open to him the gate of the confluence of the Two Seas. So Gabriel descended and saluting the prince, opened the gate to him, saying, "Enter, for God commandeth me to open to thee." So he entered and Gabriel locked the gate behind him and flew back to heaven.
When Beloukiya found himself within the gate, he looked and beheld a vast ocean, whose water was half salt and half fresh, bounded on either side by ranges of mountains of red cornelian, whereon he saw angels singing the praises of God and hallowing Him. So he went up to these latter and exchanging salutations with them, questioned them of the sea and the mountains. "This place is situate under the empyreal heaven," replied they, "and all the waters of the world fall into this ocean, whence we are appointed to distribute them to the various parts of the earth, the salt to the seas and the fresh to the lakes and rivers; and this is our employ until the Day of Ressurrection. But thou, whence comest thou and whiter art thou bound?" So he told them his story and asked them of the road. They bade him traverse the ocean, that lay before him; so he anointed his feet with the juice of the magical herb and taking leave of the angels, set out upon the surface of the sea and sped on over the water nights and days, till he met a handsome youth journeying along like himself, whereupon he saluted him and he returned his greeting. After this, he espied four great angels faring over the surface of the sea, and their going was like the blinding lightning; so he stationed himself in their road, and when they came up to him, he saluted them and conjured them by the Almighty, the Glorious One, to tell him their names and whither they were bound. "My name is Gabriel," replied the first angel, "and these my companions are called Israfil and Michael and Azrael. Know that there has appeared in the East a mighty dragon, which has laid waste a thousand cities and devoured their inhabitants; wherefore God the Most High hath commanded us to go to him and seize him and cast him into Jehennem."
Beloukiya marvelled at the vastness of their stature and fared on, as before, days and nights, till he came to an island, where he landed and walked about, till he saw a comely young man of shining visage, sitting weeping and lamenting between two stately tombs. So he saluted him, and he returned his salutation, and Beloukiya said to him, "Who art thou and what are these two tombs, and why sittest thou here between them, weeping?" The stranger looked at him and wept sore, till he wet his clothes with his tears; them said, "O my brother, mine is a strange and wonderful story; but thou first tell me who thou art and what brought thee hither, and after I will, in turn, relate to thee my history." So Beloukiya sat down by him and related to him all that had befallen him from his father's death, adding, "This is my whole history, and God [alone] knoweth what will betide me after this." When the other heard his story, he sighed and said, "Alas, unhappy one! What things thou hast seen in thy life! [But my experiences are yet more surprising,] for know that I have looked upon lord Solomon, in his life, and have seen what is past count or reckoning. Indeed, may story is marvellous and my cas extraordinary, and I would have thee tarry with me, till I tell thee my history and how I come to be sitting here."'
Here Hasib interrupted the Queen of Serpents and said to her, 'I conjure thee by God, O Queen, release me and bid one of thy servants carry me forth to the surface of the earth, and I will swear an oath to thee that I will never enter the bath as long as I live.' But she said, 'This is a thing that may not be, nor will I credit thee upon thine oath.' When he heard this, he wept and all the serpents wept on his account and fell to interceding for him with their Queen and saying, 'We beseech thee, bid one of us carry him forth to the surface of the earth, and he will swear an oath to thee never to enter the bath his life long.' Thereupon the Queen (whose name was Yumeleika) turned to Hasib and made him swear to her, 'I would fain have thee tell me the history of the young man, whom Baloukiya found sitting between the two tombs.' So she said, 'Know, O Hasib, that the young man said to Beloukiya, "Know, O my brother, that
The Story of Janshah
My father was a king called Teigmous, who reigned over the land of Kabul and the Benou Shehlan, the thousand warlike chieftains, ruling each over a hundred walled cities and a hundred citadels; and he was suzerain also over seven vassal princes, and tribute came to him from the East and from the West. He was just and equitable in his rule and God the Most High had given him all this and had bestowed on him this mighty empire, yet had He not vouchsafed him a son, to inherit the kingdom after him, though this was his dearest wish. So one day he summoned the astrologers and men of learning and art and mathematicians and bade them draw his horoscope and look if he should be vouchsafed a son to succeed him. Accordingly, they consulted their books and calculated his nativity and made an observation of the stars on his account; after which they informed him that he would be blessed with a son, but by none other than the daughter of the King of Khorassan. At this news he rejoiced greatly and bestowing the astrologers treasure beyond count or reckoning, dismissed them. Then he summoned his chief Vizier, a renowned warrior, by name Ain Zar, who was held equal to a thousand cavaliers in battle, and repeating to him what the astrologers had said, bade him make ready to set out for Khorassan and demand the hand of King Behrwan's daughter for him.
The Vizier at once proceeded to equip himself for the journey and encamped without the town with his retinue, whilst King Teigmous made ready the most costly presents for the King of Khorassan, amongst the rest fifteen hundred bales of silk and pearls and rubies and other precious stones, besides gold and silver and a prodigious quantity of all that goes to the equipment of a bride, and loading them upon camels and mules, delivered them to Ain Zar, with a letter to the following purport. 'King Teigmous to King Behrwan, greeting. Know, O King, that we have taken counsel with the astrologers and sages and mathematicians, and they tell us that we shall have a son, and that by none other than thy daughter. Wherefore I have despatched unto thee my Vizier Ain Zar, with great plenty of bridal gear, to demand her of thee in marriage, and I appoint him to stand in my stead and to enter into the marriage contract in my name. Yea, and I desire that thou wilt grant him his request without delay or equivocation, for it is my own, and all the favour thou showest him, I take for myself; but beware of crossing me in this, for God hath bestowed upon me the kingdom of Kabul and vouchsafed me a mighty empire; and if I marry thy daughter, we will be as one thing in the kingship, thou and I, and I will send thee every year as much treasure as will suffice thee. And this is my desire of thee.'
So the Vizier departed with a great company and journeyed till he drew near the capital of Khorassan. When King Behrwan heard of this approach, he despatched his principal officers to meet him, with a convoy of provisions and fodder. The two parties foregathered and alighting without the city, exchanged salutations and abode there, eating and drinking, ten days, at the end of which time they mounted and rode on into the town, where they were met by King Behrwan, who came out to receive King Teigmous's Vizier and alighting, embraced him and carried him to his palace. Then Ain Zar brought out the presents and laid them before King Behrwan, together with King Teigmous's letter, which when the King read, he rejoiced with an exceeding joy and bade the Vizier welcome, saying, 'Rejoice in the accomplishment of thine errand, for if King Teigmous sought of me my life, I would not deny it to him.' Then he went in forthright to his daughter and her mother and his kinsfolk and acquainting them with the King of Kaul's demand, sought council of them, and they said, 'Do what seemeth good to thee.' So he returned straightway to Ain Zar and notified him his concent; and the Vizier abode with him two months, at the end of which time he said to him, 'We beseech thee to bestow upon us that for which we came and that we may depart to our own country.' 'I her and I obey,' answered the Kingand assembled his Viziers and officers and the grandees of his realm and the monks and priests. The latter performed the ceremony of marriage between his daughter and the King Teigmous [by proxy] and King Behrwan bade decorate the city after the goodliest fashion and spread the streets with carpets [in honour of the occasion]. Then he equipped his daughter for the journey and gave her all manner of presents and rarities and precious metals, and Ain Zar departed with the princess to his own country.
When the news of their approach reached King Teigmous, he bade celebrate the wedding festivities and decorate the city; after which he went in to the princess and did away her maidenhead; nor was it long before she conceived by him and accomplishing her months, bore a male child like the moon at its full. When King Teigmous knew that his wife had given birth to a goodly son, he rejoiced with an exceeding joy and calling the sages and astrologers and mathematicians, bade them draw the horoscope of the new-born child and tell him what would befall him in his lifetime. So they made their calculations and found that he would, in his fifteenth year, be exposed to great perils and hardships, which if he survived, he would be happy and fortunate during the rest of his life and become a greater and more powerful king than his father. The king rejoiced greatly in this prediction and named the boy Janshah. Then he delivered him to the nurses, who reared him on goodly wise, till he reached his fifth year, when his father taught him to read the Evangel and instructed him in horsemanship and the use of arms, so that, to King Teigmous's exceeding delight, he became, in less than seven years, a doughty cavalier, proficient in all martial exercises, and was wont to ride a-hunting.
It chanced one day that King Teigmous and his son rode out, a-hunting, into the plains and deserts and hunted till mid-afternoon of the third day, when the prince started a gazelle of a rare colour, which fled before him. So he gave chase to it, followed by seven of King Teigmous's men, all mounted on swift horses, and rode after the gazelle, which fled before them till she brought them to sea-shore. They all run at her, to take her; but she escaped from them and plunging into the waves, swam out to a fishing bark, that was moored near the shore, and leapt on board. Janshah and his followers dismounted and boarding the boat, made prize of the gazelle and were about to return to shore with her, when the prince espied a great island in the offing and said to his men, 'I have a mind to visit yonder island.' 'We hear and obey,' answered they and launching out, sailed till they came to the island, where they landed and explored the place. Then they again embarked and set out to return homeward, but the night overtook them and they lost their way on the sea. Moreover, a contrary wind arose and drove the boat into the mid-ocean, so that, when they awoke in the morning, they found themselves out of sight of land.
Meanwhile, King Teigmous missed his son and commanded his troops to make search for him. So they dispersed on all sides and a company of them, coming to sea-shore, found there one of the prince's attendants, whom he had left in charge of the horses. They asked him what was come of his master and the other six servants, and he told them what had passed; whereupon they returned with him to the King and told him what they had learnt. When Teigmous heard their report, he wept sore and cast the crown from his head, biting his hands for vexation. Then he rose forthright and wrote letters and despatched them to all the islands of the sea. Moreover, he fitted out a hundred ships and filling them with troops, sent them in quest of Janshah. They cruised about for ten days, but finding no trace of the prince, returned and told the King, who withdrew with his troops to his capital city, where he abode in sore concern. As for Janshah's mother, when she heard of his loss, she buffeted her face and fell a-mourning for her son [as if he were dead].
Meanwhile Janshah and his companions drove before the wind till they came to a second island, where they landed and walked about. Presently they came upon a spring of running water in the midst of the island and saw a man sitting thereby. So they went up to him and saluted him, and he returned their greeting in a voice like the pipe of birds. Whilst they were marvelling at the man's speech, he suddenly split himself in twain, and each half went a different way. Then there came down from the hills a multitude of men of all kinds, who no sooner reached the spring, than they divided into two halves and rushed on Janshah and his companions, to eat them. When the latter saw this, they turned and fled seaward; but the cannibals pursued them and caught and ate three of the huntsmen. Janshah and the other three reached the boat in safety and putting out to sea, sailed days and nights, without knowing whither they went. Being pressed by hunger, they killed the gazelle and lived on her flesh, till the winds drove them to a third island, as it were Paradise, full of trees and waters and orchards laden with all manner fruits and streams running under the trees.
The place pleased the prince and he sent his three companions ashore to explore it, whilst he himself remained by the boat. So they landed and searched the island, East and West, but found none; then they fared on inland, till they came to a castle of pure crystal, compassed about with ramparts of white marble, within which was a garden, full of all manner sweet-scented flowers and fruits beyond description, both hard and soft of skin, and trees and birds singing upon the branches. Midmost the garden was a vast basin of water, and beside it a great estrade, on which stood a throne of red gold, set with all kinds of jewels and surrounded by a number of stools. They entered and explored the place in all directions, but found none there, so returned to Janshah and told him what they had seen. When he heard their report, he landed and accompanied them to the palace, which he entered and explored in every part, marvelling at the goodliness of the place. They walked about the gardens and ate of the fruits, till it grew dark, when they returned to the estrade and sat down, Janshah on the throne and the three others on the stools around him. Then the prince called to mind his separation from his father's throne and country and friends and kinsfolk and fell a-weeping and lamenting over their loss, whilst his men wept round him.
Presently, they heard a mighty clamour, that came from seaward, and looking in the direction of the sound, were ware of a multitude of apes, as they were a swarm of locusts. Now the palace and island belonged to these apes, who, finding the boat moored to the strand, had scuttled it and after repaired to the palace, where they found Janshah and his servants. The latter were sore affrighted at the sudden appearance of the apes, but a company of them came up to the throne and kissing the earth before the prince, stood before him, with their paws upon their breasts [in token of homage]. Then they brought gazelles, which they slaughtered and skinned; then, roasting pieces of the flesh, they laid them on platters of gold and silver and spreading the table, made signs to Janshah and his men to eat. So the prince and his followers came down and ate, and the apes with them, till they were satisfied, when he apes took away the meat and set on fruits, of which they ate and praised God the Most High. Then Janshah questioned the apes by signs what they were and to whom the place belonged, and they signed to him in reply, as who should say, 'This island belonged aforetime to our lord Solomon son of David (on whom be peace) and he used to come hither once a year for his pleasance. And know, O King, that thou art become our Sultan and we are thy servants; so eat and drink, and whatsoever thou biddest us, that will we do.' So saying, they kissed the earth before Janshah and went their ways.
The prince lay the night on the throne and his men on the stools about him, and on the morrow, at daybreak, the four Viziers [or chiefs of the apes] presented themselves before him, attended by their followers, who ranged themselves about him, rank upon rank, until the place was full. Then the Viziers exhorted him by signs to do justice amongst them and rule them with equity; after which the apes cried out to each other and went away, all but a few who remained to serve him. After awhile, there came up a company of apes with huge dogs, bridled and saddled like horses, and signed to Janshah and his followers to mount and go with them. So they mounted, marvelling at the greatness of the dogs, and rode forth, attended by the four Viziers and a swarm of apes like locusts, some on foot and others riding [on dogs,] till they came to the sea-shore. Janshah looked for the boat and finding it not, turned to the Viziers and enquired what was come of it, to which they answered, 'Know, O King, that, when thou camest to our island, we knew that thou wouldst be Sultan over us and we feared lest thou shouldst embark in the boat and flee from us, in our absence; so we sank it.'
When Janshah heard this, he turned to his men and said to them, 'There is nothing for it but to submit patiently to what God the Most High hath ordained; for we have no means of escaping from these apes.' Then they fared on inland, till they came to the banks of a river, on the other side of which was a high mountain, whereon Janshah saw a multitude of ghouls, riding on horses, and marvelled at the vastness of their bulk and the strangeness of their favour; for some of them had heads like oxen and others like camels. So he turned to the apes and said to them, 'What are these ghouls?' And they answered, saying, 'Know, O King, that these ghouls are our mortal enemies and we come hither to do battle with them.' As soon as the ghouls espied the army of the apes, they rushed down to the river-bank and standing there, fell to pelting them with stones as big as maces, and there befell a sore battle between them. Presently, Janshah, seeing that the ghouls were getting the better of the apes, cried out to his men, saying, 'Take your bows and arrows and shoot at them and keep them off from us.' So they shot at the ghouls and slew of them much people, whereupon there befell them sore dismay and defeat and they turned to flee, which when the apes saw, they forded the river and chased the ghouls, killing many of them in the pursuit, to the top of the hill, where they disappeared.
Here Janshah found a tablet of alabaster, whereon were written these words, 'O thou that enterest this land, know that thou wilt become Sultan over these apes and that, so long as thou abidest with them, they will be victorious over the ghouls; nor is there any escape for thee from them, except by the passes that run east and west through the mountains. If thou take the eastern pass, it will lead thee through a country swarming with ghouls and wild beasts and Marids and Afrits, and thou wilt come, after three months' journeying, to the ocean that encompasses the earth; but, if thou follow the western pass, it will bring thee, after four months' journeying, to the Valley of Ants. When thou comest thither, beware of the ants and fare on, till thou come to a high mountain that burns like fire. After thou hast followed the road, that leads through this mountain, ten days, thou wilt come to a great river, whose current is so swift that it dazzles the eyes. Now this river dries up every Saturday, and on the [opposite] bank is a city inhabited by Jews, who reject the faith of Mohammed; there is not a Muslim amongst them nor is there other than this city in the country. And know also that he who wrote this tablet was the lord Solomon, son of David, on whom be peace!' When Janshah read these words, he wept sore, and repeated them to his men. Then they mounted again and returned with the apes, in triumph, to the castle, where Janshah abode, Sultan over them, for a year and a half.
At the end of this time, he one day commanded the apes to mount and go forth a-hunting with him, and they rode out into the wastes and wilds and fared on from place to place, till they drew near the Valley of Ants, which Janshah knew by the description of it in the tablet of Solomon. Here he called a halt and they all abode there, eating and drinking, ten days, after which Janshah took his men apart by night and said to them, 'I purpose to flee through the Valley of Ants and make for the town of the Jews; it may be God will deliver us from these apes and we will go our ways.' And they replied, 'We hear and obey.' So they waited till some little of the night was spent, then, donning their armour and girding themselves with swords and daggers and so forth, they set out and fared on westward till morning.
When the apes awoke and missed Janshah and his men, they knew that they had fled. So they mounted and pursued them, some taking the eastern road and others that which led to the Valley of Ants, nor was it long before the latter came in sight of the fugitives, as they were about to enter the valley, and hastened after them. When Janshah and his men saw them, they fled into the Valley of Ants; but their pursuers soon overtook them and would have slain them, when, behold, a multitude of ants, like swarming locusts, as big as dogs, rose out of the earth and rushed upon the apes. They devoured many apes and the latter killed many of the ants; but help came to the latter and there ensued a sore battle between them till the evening. Now an ant would go up to an ape and smite him and cut him in twain, whilst it was all that half a score apes could do to master one ant and tear him in sunder.
As soon as it became dark, Janshah and his men took to flight and fled along the heart of the valley till the morning. With the break of day, the apes were upon them, which when the prince saw, he cried out to his men, saying, 'Smite with your swords.' So they drew their swords and laid about them right and left, till there ran at one of them an ape, with tusks like an elephant, and smote him and cut him in sunder. Then the apes redoubled upon Janshah and he fled with his followers into the lower part of the valley, where he saw a vast river and by its side, a great host of ants. When the latter espied Janshah, they surrounded him, and one of the huntsmen fell to smiting them with his sword and cutting them in twain; whereupon they all set upon him and killed him. At this pass, up came the apes from over the mountain and fell upon Janshah; but he tore off his clothes and plunging into the river, with his remaining servant, struck out for the middle of the stream. Presently, he caught sight of a tree on the other bank of the river; so he swam up to it and laying hold of one of its branches, swung himself ashore, where he fell to wringing his clothes and spreading them in the sun to dry. As for the huntsman, the current carried him away and dashed him in pieces against the rocks, what while there befell a sore battle between the ants and the apes, until the latter gave up the pursuit and returned to their own land.
Janshah abode alone on the river-bank, weeping, till nightfall, when he took refuge in a cavern and passed the night there, in great fear and grief for the loss of his companions. At daybreak, he set out again and fared on days and nights, eating of the herbs of the earth, till he came to the mountain that burnt like fire, and thence to the river that dried up every Saturday. Now it was a mighty river and on the opposite bank stood a great city, which was the city of the Jews mentioned in the tablet of Solomon. Here he abode till the next Saturday, when the river dried up and he walked over to the other side [dry-shod] and entered the city, but saw none in the streets. However, after awhile, he came to the door of a house, so he opened it and entering, saw within the people of the house [sitting] in silence and speaking not. Quoth he, 'I am a stranger and hungry;' and they signed to him, as who should say, 'Eat and drink, but speak not.' So he ate and drank and slept till the morning, when the master of the house bade him welcome and asked him whence he came and whither he was bound. Janshah wept sore and told him all that had befallen him and how his father was King of Kabul; whereat the Jew marvelled and said, 'Never heard we of that city, but we have heard from the merchants of the caravans that in that direction lies a country called Yemen.' 'How far is that country from this place?' asked Janshah, and the Jew said, 'The merchants pretend that it is seven-and-twenty months' journey from their land hither.' 'And when does the caravan come?' asked Janshah. 'Next year it will come,' replied his host; whereat the prince wept and fell a-sorrowing for himself and his followers and lamenting his separation from his father and mother and all that had befallen him in his wanderings. Then said the Jew, 'O young man, do not weep, but abide with us till the caravan comes, when we will send thee with it to thine own country.' So he abode with the Jew two whole months and every day he went out a-walking in the streets of the city for his diversion.
One day, as he walked about the streets, as of wont, he heard a man crying aloud and saying, 'Who will earn a thousand dinars and a slave-girl of surpassing beauty and grace, at the price of half a day's labour?' But none answered him and Janshah said in himself, 'Were not the work perilous and difficult, he would not offer such a price for half a day's labour.' Then he accosted the crier and said to him, 'I will do the work.' So the man took him by the hand and carried him to a lofty and splendid house, where they found a Jew merchant seated on a chair of ebony, to whom said the crier, 'O merchant, I have cried [for thee] every day these three months, and none hath answered, save this young man.' The Jew bade Janshah welcome and taking him by the hand, carried him into a magnificent saloon and called for food. So the servants spread the table and set on all manner meats, of which the merchant and Janshah ate and washed their hands. Then wine was set on and they drank; after which the Jew rose and bringing Janshah a purse of a thousand dinars and a slave-girl of ravishing beauty, said to him, 'Take the girl and money to thy hire. The work thou shalt do to-morrow.' So saying, he withdrew and Janshah lay with the damsel that night.
On the morrow, the merchant bade his slaves carry him to the bath and clothe him in a costly suit of silk, whenas he came out. So they did as he bade them and brought him back to the house, whereupon the merchant called for wine and harp and lute, and they drank and played and made merry till the half of the night was past, when the Jew retired to his harem and Janshah lay with the fair slave till the morning. Then he went to the bath and on his return, the merchant came to him and said, 'Now must thou do the work for me.' 'I hear and obey,' replied Janshah. So the merchant let bring two mules and setting Janshah on one, mounted the other himself. Then they [rode forth the city and] fared on from morn till noon, when they came to a lofty mountain, to whose height there was no limit. Here the Jew halted and alighting, bade Janshah do the same. The latter obeyed and the merchant gave him a knife and a cord, saying, 'I desire that thou slaughter this [thy] mule.' So Janshah tucked up his sleeves and skirts and going up to the mule, bound her legs with the cord, then threw her down and cut her throat; after which he skinned her and lopped off her head and legs and she became a [shapeless] heap of flesh. Then said the Jew, 'Slit open the mule's belly and enter it and I will sew it up on thee. There must thou abide awhile and whatsoever thou seest in her belly, acquaint me therewith.' So Janshah slit the mule's belly and crept into it, whereupon the merchant sewed it up on him and withdrawing to a distance, hid himself in the skirts of the mountain.
Presently a huge bird swooped down on the dead mule and snatching it up, flew up with it to the top of the mountain, where it set it down and would have eaten it; but Janshah, being ware of this, slit the mule's belly and came forth. When the bird saw him, it took fright at him and flew away; whereupon he stood up and looking right and left, saw nothing but the carcases of dead men, dried in the sun, and exclaimed, 'There is no power and no virtue save in God the Most High, the Supreme!' Then he looked down and saw the merchant standing at the mountain-foot, looking for him. As soon as the Jew caught sight of him, he called out to him, saying, 'Throw me down of the stones that are about thee, that I may direct thee to a way by which thou mayst descend.' So Janshah threw him down nigh upon two hundred of the stones, with which the summit was strewn and which were all rubies and chrysolites and other precious stones; after which he called out to him, saying, 'Show me the way down and I will throw thee some more.' The Jew made him no answer, but gathered up the stones and binding them on the back of his mule, went his way, leaving Janshah alone on the mountain-top.
When the latter found himself deserted, he began to weep and implore help, and thus he abode three days, after which he rose and fared on over the mountain two months' space, feeding upon herbs, till he came to its skirts and espied afar off a valley, full of trees and streams and birds singing the praises of God, the One, the Victorious. At this sight he rejoiced greatly and stayed not his steps till he came to a cleft in the rocks, through which [in the season of the rains] a torrent fell down into the valley. He made his way down [the dry bed of the water-course] into the valley and walked on therein, gazing right and left, until he came in sight of a great castle, rising high into the air. As he drew near, he saw an old man of comely aspect and face shining with light standing at the gate, with a staff of cornelian in his hand, and going up to him, saluted him. The old man returned his greeting and bade him welcome, saying, 'Sit down, O my son.' So he sat down at the door of the castle and the other said to him, 'How camest thou to this land, that no son of Adam hath trodden before thee, and whither art thou bound?' When Janshah heard his words, he wept sore at the memory of all he had suffered and his tears choked his speech. 'O my son,' said the old man, 'leave weeping; for indeed thou makest my heart ache.' So saying, he rose and set food before him and bade him eat. He ate and praised God the Most High, after which the old man besought him to tell him his history.
So Janshah related to him all that had befallen him, from first to last, at which he marvelled exceedingly. Then said the prince, 'I prithee, tell me who is the lord of this valley and to whom doth this great castle belong?' 'O my son,' answered the old man, 'this valley and castle and all that is therein belong to the lord Solomon, son of David, on whom be peace! As for me, my name is Sheikh Nesr, king of the birds; for thou must know that the lord Solomon committed this castle to my charge and taught me the language of birds and made me king over all the birds that be in the world; wherefore they all come hither once in every year, and I pass them in review. Then they depart; and this is why I dwell here.' When Janshah heard this, he wept sore and said to the Sheikh, 'O my father, how shall I do to win to my native land?' 'Know, o my son,' replied Sheikh Nesr, 'that thou art near the Mountain Caf; and there is no departing for thee from this place; but tarry with me here and eat and drink and divert thyself with viewing the apartments of this castle, till the birds come, when I will give thee in charge to one of them, and he will bring thee to thy native country.'
So Janshah abode with Sheikh Nesr in all delight of life, taking his pleasance in the valley and eating of its fruits and laughing and making merry with the old man, till the day appointed for the coming of the birds, when the Sheikh gave him the keys of the castle, bidding him amuse himself with exploring all its apartments and viewing what was therein, but charging him straitly not to open such a door, else he would never again know fair fortune. Then he went forth to meet the birds, which came up, kind by kind, and kissed his hands; and he said to them, 'With me is a youth, whom destiny hath brought hither from a far land, and I desire of you that you take him up and carry him to his own country.' And they answered, 'We hear and obey.'
Meanwhile, Janshah went round about the castle, opening the various doors and viewing the apartments into which they led, till he came to the door which Sheikh Nesr had warned him not to enter. Its fashion pleased him, for it had on it a lock of gold, and he said in himself, 'This door is goodlier than all the others; I wonder what is behind it, that Sheikh Nesr should forbid me to open it. Come what may, needs must I enter and see what is in this apartment; for that which is decreed unto the creature, he must perforce fulfil.' So he unlocked the door and entering, found himself in a vast garden, full of streams and trees, laden with fruits, both hard and soft of skin, whose branches swayed gracefully, whenas the zephyr blew upon them. Midmost the garden was a great lake, the gravel of whose bed was gems and jewels and precious stones; and hard by the lake stood a little pavilion, builded all of gold and silver and crystal, with lattice-windows of jacinth. The floor of this pavilion was paved with green beryl and balass rubies and emeralds and other jewels, set mosaic-fashion, and in its midst was a golden basin, full of water and compassed about with figures of birds and beasts, wroughten of gold and silver and casting water from their mouths. When the zephyr blew on them, it entered their ears [and passed through pipes hidden in their bodies,] and therewith the figures sang out, each in its own tongue. Beside the fountain was a great estrade, and thereon stood a vast throne of cornelian, inlaid with pearls and jewels, over which was a tent (30) of green silk set up, fifty cubits in compass and embroidered with jewels and precious metals. Within this tent was a closet containing the [magical] carpet of the lord Solomon (on whom be peace), and the pavilion was compassed about with beds of roses and basil and eglantine and all manner sweet-smelling herbs and flowers.
Janshah explored the marvels of the place, till he was weary of wonder, when he returned to the pavilion and mounting the throne, fell asleep under the tent set up thereon. He slept there awhile and presently awaking, went forth and sat down on a stool before the door. As he sat, marvelling at the goodliness of the place, there flew up three birds like doves [but as big as vultures] and lighted on the brink of the lake, where they sported awhile. Then they put off their feathers and became three maidens, as they were moons, that had not their like in the world. They plunged into the lake and swam about and toyed and laughed, while Janshah marvelled at their beauty and grace and the justness of their shapes.
Presently, they came up out of the water and fell to walking about and taking their pleasure in the garden; whereat Janshah's reason was like to depart from him and he rose and followed them. When he overtook them, he saluted them and they returned his salute; after which quoth he, 'Who are ye, O illustrious ladies, and whence come ye?' 'We are from the invisible world of God the Most High,' replied the youngest damsel, 'and come hither to divert ourselves. And he marvelled at their beauty and said to the youngest, 'Have compassion on me and incline unto me and take pity on my case and on all that has befallen me in my life.' 'Leave this talk,' rejoined she, 'and go thy ways;' whereat the tears streamed from his eyes, and he sighed heavily and repeated the following verses.She shone out in the garden in garments all of green, With open vest and collars and flowing hair beseen.
When the maidens heard his verses, they laughed and played and sang and made merry. Then he brought them somewhat of fruit, and they ate and drank and lay with him till the morning, when they donned their feather-vests and becoming doves once more, flew away and disappeared from his sight. His reason well-nigh fled with them, and he gave a great cry and fell down in a swoon, in which he lay all that day.
Meanwhile, Sheikh Nesr returned from the assembly of the birds and sought for Janshah, that he might send him with the latter to his native land, but found him not and knew that he had entered the forbidden door. So he went thither and seeing it open, entered and found the prince lying aswoon under a tree. He fetched scented waters and sprinkled them on his face, whereupon he revived and turned right and left, but seeing none by him, save the old man, sighed heavily and repeated the following verses:Like the full moon she shines, upon a night of fortune fair, Slender of shape and charming all with her seductive air.
When the Sheikh heard this, he said, 'O my son, did I not warn thee not to open the door? But now tell me what hath befallen thee.' So Janshah told him all that had passed between him and the three maidens, and Sheikh Nesr said, 'Know, O my son, that these three maidens are of the daughters of the Jinn and come hither every year [for a day], to divert themselves and make merry until mid-afternoon, when they return to their own country.' 'And where is their country?' asked Janshah. 'By Allah, O my son,' answered the old man, 'I know not: but now take heart and put away this love from thee and come with me, that I may send thee to thine own land with the birds.' When Janshah heard this, he gave a great cry and fell down in a swoon; and presently, coming to himself, said, 'O my father, I care not to return to my native land. I conjure thee by Allah, let me abide with thee, that I may again foregather with the maidens and look upon the face of her I love, though it be but once a year. And know, O my father, that I will never again name my people, though I die before thee.' And he sighed and repeated the following verses:Would that the phantom (31) never came to mock the lover's pain Anights, and would this love were not created for men's bane!
So saying, he fell at Sheikh Nesr's feet and kissed them and wept sore. 'Have compassion on me,' exclaimed he, 'so God take pity on thee!' 'By Allah, O my son,' replied the old man, 'I know nothing of the maidens nor of their country; but, if thy heart be indeed set on one of them, abide with me till this time next year, and when the day of their coming arrives, hide thyself under a tree in the garden. As soon as they have alighted and laid aside their feather-garments and plunged into the lake and are swimming about at a distance from their clothes, run up and seize the vest of her to whom thou hast a mind. When they see thee, they will come ashore and she, whose vest thou hast taken, will accost thee and say to thee with the sweetest of speech and the most bewitching smiles, "Give me my clothes, O my brother, that I may don them and cover my nakedness withal." But be not thou persuaded; for, if thou yield to her wishes and give her back the vest, she will don it and fly away and thou wilt never see her again; but, when thou hast gotten the vest, put it under thine armpit and hold it fast, till I return from the assembly of the birds, when I will make accord between you and send thee back to thy native land, and the maiden with thee. And this, O my son, is all I can do for thee.' When Janshah heard this, his heart was solaced and he abode with Sheikh Nesr yet another year, counting the hours until the day of the coming of the birds.
At last the appointed time arrived and the old man said to him, 'Do as I enjoined thee with the maidens, for I go to meet the birds.' So saying, he departed, whilst Janshah repaired to the garden and hid himself under a tree, where none could see him. Here he abode a first day and a second and a third, but the maidens came not; whereat he was sore troubled and wept and groaned without ceasing, till he swooned away. When he came to himself, he sat, looking now at the lake and now at the sky, and anon at the earth and anon at the open country, whilst his heart fluttered for stress of love and longing. As he was in this case, behold, the three doves appeared in the distance and flew till they reached the garden and lighted down beside the lake. They turned right and left, but saw no one; so they put off their feathers and became three naked maidens, as they were ingots of virgin silver. Then they plunged into the lake and swam about, laughing and frolicking. Quoth the eldest, 'O my sister, I fear lest there be some one lying in wait for us in the pavilion.' 'O sister, answered the second, 'since the days of King Solomon, none hath entered the pavilion, be he man or genie. 'By Allah, O my sisters,' added the youngest, laughing, 'if there be any hidden there, he will assuredly take none but me.'
Then they swam out to the middle of the lake, and when Janshah, who was watching them, with a heart fluttering for stress of passion, saw them at a distance from their clothes, he sprang to his feet and running like the darting lightning [to the brink of the lake,] snatched up the feather-vest of the youngest damsel, her on whom his heart was set and whose name was Snemseh. At this, the girls turned and seeing him, were affrighted and veiled themselves from him with the water. Then they swam towards the shore and looking on him, saw that he was bright of face as the moon at her full and said to him, 'Who art thou and how comest thou hither and why hast thou taken the clothes of the lady Shemseh?' 'Come hither to me,' replied he, 'and I will tell you my story.' Quoth Shemseh, 'Why hast thou taken my clothes, rather than those of my sisters?' 'O light of mine eyes,' answered he. 'come forth of the water, and I will tell thee my case and why I chose thee out.' 'O my lord and solace of my eyes and fruit of my heart,' rejoined she, 'give me my clothes, that I may put them on and cover my nakedness withal; then will I come forth to thee.' But he replied, saying, 'O princess of fair ones, how can I give thee back thy clothes and slay myself for love-longing? Verily, I will not give them to thee, till Sheikh Nesr, the king of the birds, returns.' 'If thou wilt not give me my clothes,' quoth she, 'withdraw a little apart from us, that my sisters may come forth and dress themselves and give me somewhat wherewith to cover myself.' 'I hear and obey,' answered he and retired into the pavilion, whereupon the two eldest princesses came out and donning their clothes, gave Shemseh somewhat thereof, not enough to fly withal, and she put it on and came forth of the water, as she were the moon at her full or a browsing gazelle.
Then they entered the pavilion, where they found Janshah sitting on the throne; so Shemseh saluted him and sitting down near him, said to him, 'O fair of face, thou hast undone thyself and me; but tell us thy history, that we may know how it is with thee.' At these words, he wept till he wet his clothes with his tears; and when she saw that he was distracted for love of her, she rose and taking him by the hand, made him sit by her side and wiped away his tears with her sleeve. Then said she to him, 'O fair of face, leave this weeping and tell us thy story.' So he related to her all that had befallen him, whereupon she sighed and said, 'O my lord, since thou lovest me so dear, give me my clothes, that I may fly to my people and tell them what has passed between thee and me, and after I will come back to thee and carry thee to thine own country.' When he heard this, he wept and replied, 'Is it lawful to thee before God to slay me wrongfully?' 'O my lord,' said she, 'and how shall I do that?' 'If I give thee thy clothes,' rejoined he, 'thou wilt fly away from me, and I shall die forthright.'
At this she and her sisters laughed and she said to him, 'Take comfort and be of good cheer, for I must needs marry thee.' So saying, she bent down to him and embraced him and kissed him between the eyes and on his cheeks. They clipped each other awhile, after which they drew apart and sat down on the throne. Then the eldest princess went out into the garden and gathering fruits and flowers, brought them into the pavilion, and they ate and drank and sported and made merry. Now Janshah was accomplished in beauty and grace and slender and elegant of shape, and the princess Shemseh said to him, 'By Allah, O my beloved, I love thee with an exceeding love and will never leave thee!' When he heard her words, his heart dilated and he laughed for joy; and they abode thus awhile in mirth and gladness.
Whilst they were laughing and taking their pleasure in the pavilion, Sheikh Nesr returned from the assembly of the birds and came in to them; whereupon they all rose to him and saluted him and kissed his hands. He gave them welcome and bade them be seated. So they sat down and he said to Shemseh, 'Verily, this youth loves thee with an exceeding love; so, God on thee, deal kindly with him, for he is of the great ones of mankind and of the sons of the kings, and his father rules over the land of Kabul and is possessed of a mighty empire.' 'I hear and obey,' answered she and kissing the Sheikh's hands, stood before him [in token of respect and obedience]. 'If thou speak truly,' said he, 'swear to me by Allah that thou wilt never betray him, what while thou abidest in the chains of life.' So she swore a great oath that she would never betray Janshah, but would assuredly marry him, and added, 'I will never forsake him.' The Sheikh believed in her oath and said to Janshah, 'Thanks be to God, who hath made you at one!' At this the prince rejoiced with an exceeding great joy, and he and Shemseh abode three months with Sheikh Nesr, feasting and making merry.
At the end of that time, the princess said to Janshah, 'I wish to go with thee to thy native land, that we may marry and abide there.' 'I hear and obey,' answered he and took counsel with Sheikh Nesr, who bade him go and commended the princess to his care. Then said she, 'O Sheikh Nesr, bid him give me my feather-vest.' So the Sheikh bade Janshah give it to her, and he did so; where upon she donned it and said to the prince, 'Mount my back and keep fast hold of my feathers, lest thou fall off; and do thou shut thine eyes and stop thine ears, so thou mayst not hear the roar of the revolving sphere, as we pass through the air.' He did as she bade him and Sheikih Nesr described to her the land of Kabul, that she might not miss her way, and bade them farewell, commending the prince to her care. She took leave of her sisters and bade them return to her people and tell them what had befallen her with Janshah; then, rising into the air, she flew off, like the wafts of the wind or the dazzling lightning, and stayed not her course from the forenoon till the hour of afternoon prayer, when she espied afar off a valley abounding in trees and streams and alighted there to rest. Janshah dismounted and kissing her between the eyes, sat with her awhile on the bank of a river there; then they rose and explored the valley, taking their pleasure therein and eating of the fruits of the trees, till nightfall, when they lay down under a tree and slept till the morning.
As soon as it was day, the princess arose and taking Janshah on her back, flew on with him till mid-day, when she perceived, by the appearance of the landmarks that Sheikh Nesr had described to her, that they were nearing the city of Kabul and alighted in a wide and blooming champaign, wherein were gazelles feeding and springs welling and rivers flowing and trees laden with ripe fruits. So Janshah dismounted and kissed her between the eyes; and she said to him, 'O my beloved and solace of mine eyes, knowst thou how many days' journey we have come [since yesterday]?' 'No,' answered he, and she said. 'We have come thirty months' journey.' Quoth he, 'Praised be God for safety!' Then they sat down side by side and ate and drank and toyed and laughed.
Presently, there came up to them two of the King's servants, of those who had been of the prince's company in the chase, and one of them was he whom he had left by the horses, when he embarked in the fishing-boat. As soon as they saw Janshah, they knew him and saluted him; then said they, 'With thy leave, we will go to thy father and bear him the glad tidings of thy coming.' 'Go,' replied the prince, 'and fetch us tents, for we will abide here seven days to rest ourselves, till he make ready and come forth to meet us, that we may enter in due state.' So the officers hastened back to King Teigmous and said to him, 'Good news, O King of the age!' 'What is it?' asked he. 'Is my son Janshah come back?' 'Yes,' answered they; 'he has returned from his absence and is now near at hand in the Kerani meadow.'
When the King heard this, he rejoiced greatly and fell down in a swoon for excess of joy; then, coming to himself, he bade his Vizier give each of the men a splendid dress of honour and a sum of money and said to them, 'Take this, in reward for your good tidings, whether ye lie or speak sooth.' 'Indeed, we lie not,' replied the slaves, 'for but now we sat with him and saluted him and kissed his hands, and he bade us go and fetch him tents for that he would abide in the meadow seven days, till such time as the Viziers and Amirs and grandees should come out to meet him.' Quoth the King, 'How is it with my son?' And they answered, 'He hath with him a houri, as he had brought her out of Paradise.' At this, the King bade beat the drums and sound the trumpets for gladness and despatched messengers to announce the good news to Janshah's mother and to the wives of the Amirs and notables. So the criers spread themselves about the city and acquainted the people with the glad tidings of the prince's coming.
Then the King made ready and setting out, with his officers and troops, for the meadow, came upon Janshah and Shemseh sitting there. When the prince saw them, he rose and went to meet them; and the troops knew him and dismounted, to salute him and kiss his hands; after which they escorted him to his father, who, at sight of his son, threw himself from his horse's back and clipped him in his arms and wept sore. Then they took horse again and rode till they came to the banks of a river, when the troops alighted and pitched the tents and pavilions and standards, to the sound of trumpets and cymbals and drums and flutes. Moreover, the King caused set up a pavilion of red silk for the princess Shemseh, who put off her feather raiment and entering the pavilion, sat down there.
Presently, the King and his son came in to her, and when she saw Teigmous, she rose and kissed the earth before him. The King sat down and seating Janshah on his right hand and Shemseh on his left, bade her welcome and said to his son, 'Tell me all that hath befallen thee in thine absence.' So Janshah related to him all his adventures, whereat he marvelled greatly and turning to the princess, said, 'Praised be God for that He hath put it into thy heart to reunite me with my son! Verily this is of [His] exceeding (32) bounty! And now I would have thee ask of me what thou wilt, that I may do it in thine honour.' Quoth she, 'I ask of thee that thou build me a palace in the midst of a garden, with water running under it.' And the King answered, 'I hear and obey.'
As they sat talking, up came Janshah's mother, attended by all the wives of the Viziers and Amirs and notables of the city. When the prince caught sight of her, he rose and leaving the tent, went to meet her and they embraced a long while, whilst the queen wept for excess of joy and repeated the following verses:Joy hath o'ercome me so, that, for the very stress Of that which gladdens me, to weeping I am fain.
Then the King departed to his pavilion and Janshah carried his mother to his own tent, where they sat talking and complaining, one to the other, of all they had suffered for separation, till there came up some of Shemseh's attendants, to announce the coming of the princess. When the queen heard this, she rose and going to meet Shemseh, saluted her and seated her by her side. They sat awhile and presently the queen and her attendants returned with Shemseh to the latter's tent and sat there.
Meanwhile King Teigmous gave great largesse to his troops and subjects and rejoiced in his son with an exceeding joy, and they abode there ten days, feasting and making merry. At the end of this time, the King commanded to depart, and they all mounted and returned in state to the city, which was decorated after the goodliest fashion, for the folk had adorned the houses with precious stuffs and jewellery and spread costly brocades under the horses' feet. The drums beat for glad tidings and the notables of the kingdom rejoiced and brought rich gifts, and the lookers on were filled with amazement. Moreover, they fed the poor and needy and held high festival for the space of ten days; and the lady Shemseh rejoiced with an exceeding joy, whenas she saw this.
Then King Teigmous summoned architects and builders and men of art and bade them build a magnificent palace in such a garden. So they straightway proceeded to do his bidding, and when Janshah knew of this, he bade the workmen fetch a block of white marble and hollow it out in the likeness of a chest; which being done, he took the feather-vest of the princess Shemseh and laid it therein; then, closing the opening with melted lead, he commanded them to bury the marble chest in the foundations and build over it the arches on which the palace was to rest. They did as he bade them, nor was it long before the palace was finished on the goodliest wise. Then they furnished it and it was a magnificent palace, standing in the midst of the garden, with streams running from under it. As soon as it was ready, the King caused Janshah's wedding to be celebrated with the greatest magnificence and they brought the bride to the castle in state and went their ways.
When Shemseh entered, she smelt the scent of the feather-vest and knew where it was and had a mind to take it. However, she waited till midnight, when Janshah was drowned in sleep; then rose and going straight to the place where the marble coffer was buried, dug till she came upon it and took it up. She did away the leaden stopper and taking out the feather-vest, put it on. Then she flew up into the air and perching on the summit of the palace, cried out to those who were therein, saying, 'Fetch me Janshah, that I may bid him farewell.' So they told him and he came out and seeing her on the roof of the palace, clad in her feather raiment, said to her, 'Why hast thou done this thing?' 'O my beloved and solace of mine eyes and fruit of my heart,' replied she, 'by Allah, I love thee passing dear and I rejoice with an exceeding joy in that I have brought thee to thy friends and country and seen thy father and mother. And now, if thou love me as I love thee, come to me at the Castle of Jewels.'
So saying, she flew away and Janshah fell down in a swoon, being well-nigh dead for despair. His people carried the news to King Teigmous, who mounted at once and riding to the palace, found his son lying on the ground, senseless, whereat he wept and sprinkled rose-water on his face. When the prince came to himself and found his father at his head, he wept passing sore, and the King asked what had befallen him. So he told him what had happened, and the King said, 'O my son, be not concerned, for I will assemble all the merchants and pilgrims in the land and enquire at them of the Castle of Jewels. If we can find out where it is, we will journey thither and demand the Princess Shemseh of her people, and I hope in God the Most High, that He will give her back to thee.'
Then he went out and calling his four Viziers, bade them assemble all the merchants and travellers in the town and question them of the Castle of Jewels, adding, 'Whoso knows it and can direct us thither, I will give him fifty thousand dinars.' The Viziers accordingly went forth and did as the King bade them, but none could give them news of the Castle of Jewels; so they returned and told the King, who bade bring beautiful slave-girls and concubines and singers and players upon instruments of music, whose like are not found but with kings, and lent them to Janshah, so haply they might divert him from the love of the lady Shemseh. Moreover, he despatched couriers and spies to all the [neighbouring] lands and islands and climes, to enquire for the Castle of Jewels, and they made quest for it two months long, but none could give them news of it. So they returned and told the King, whereupon he wept sore and going in to his son, found him sitting in the midst of the concubines and singers and players on harp and psaltery and so forth, none of whom could avail to console him for the lady Shemseh. 'O my son,' said Teigmous, 'I can find none who knows the Castle of Jewels; but I will bring thee a fairer than she.' When Janshah heard this, his eyes ran over with tears and he recited the following verses;Patience bath fled, but passion abideth and desire, And all my body's wasted with love and longing dire.
Now there was a King of Hind, by name Kefid, who reigned over a thousand cities, in each of which were as many citadels; he had four Viziers and under him were kings and princes and Amirs. Moreover, he had great plenty of troops and warriors and champions and under his hand were a thousand chieftains, each ruling over a thousand tribes, that could muster each four thousand cavaliers; and indeed he was a king of great might and prowess and his armies filled the whole earth. Between him and King Teigmous there was a fierce feud, for that the latter had made war upon him and ravaged his kingdom and slain his men and carried off his treasures. So, when it came to King Kefid's knowledge that King Teigmous was occupied with the love of his son and with concern and care for his sake, so that he neglected the affairs of the state and his troops were grown few and weak, he summoned his viziers and officers and said to them, 'Ye all know that King Teigmous invaded our dominions and plundered our goods and slew my father and brothers, nor indeed is there one of you, but he hath ravaged his lands and carried off his goods and made prize of his women and slain some kinsman of his. Now to-day I have heard that he is taken up with the love of his son Janshah and that his troops are grown few and weak; and this is the time to take our wreak on him. So don ye your harness of battle forthright and make ready for war without delay, and we will go to him and fall upon him and slay him and his son and possess ourselves of his kingdom.' They all answered with one voice, saying, 'We hear and obey,' and proceeded at once to equip themselves and levy troops.
The preparations occupied three months, at the end of which time the King set out at the head of his army, with drums beating and trumpets sounding and banners flying, and fared on till they reached the frontiers of the land of Kabul and entered the dominions of King Teigmous, where they began to ravage the country and do havoc among the folk, slaying the old and taking the young prisoners.
When the news reached King Teigmous, he was exceeding wroth and assembling his grandees and officers of state, said to them, 'Know that Kefid hath come to our country with troops and champions and warriors, whose number none knoweth save God the Most High, and is minded to do battle against us; what deem ye?' 'O King of the age,' replied they, 'let us go out to him and give him battle and drive him forth of our country.' So he commanded them to prepare for battle and brought forth to them hauberks and cuirasses and helmets and swords and all manner warlike gear, such as slay warriors and do to death the champions of mankind. So the troops and warriors and champions flocked to the standards and King Teigmous marched out at the head of his army, with drums and cymbals beating and flutes and clarions sounding and banners flying, to meet the army of Hind.
When he drew near the foe, he called a halt and encamping with his host in the Valley of Zehran, hard by the frontier, despatched to King Kefid the following letter:'Know that what thou hast done is of the fashion of the lewd rabble and wert thou indeed a king, the son of a king, thou hadst not thus invaded my kingdom and slain my subjects and done unright upon them. Knowest thou not that all this is the fashion of a tyrant? Verily, had I known that thou wouldst dare to invade my dominions, I had come to thee and prevented thee therefrom this long while since. Yet, even now, if thou wilt retire and leave mischief between us and thee, well and good; but if not, come out to me in the listed field and measure thyself with me in fair fight.' This letter he committed to an officer of his army and sent with him spies to spy him out news.
When the messenger drew near the enemy's camp, he saw a multitude of tents of silk and satin, with pennons of blue silk, and amongst them a great pavilion of red satin, surrounded by guards. He made for this tent and found that it was that of King Kefid and saw therein the latter seated on a chair set with jewels, in the midst of his Viziers and captains and grandees. So he displayed the letter and straightway there came up to him a company of guards, who took it from him and carried it to the King. Kefid read it and wrote the following reply; 'King Kefid to King Teigmous. Know that I mean to take my wreak of thee and wash out the stain on my honour by laying waste thy lands and dishonouring thy women and slaying the old and carrying the young into slavery; and tomorrow, come thou out to combat in the open field, and I will show thee war and battle.' Then he sealed the letter and delivered it to the messenger, who carried it to King Teigmous and informed the latter that he had seen in the enemy's camp warriors and horsemen and footmen beyond count, there was no bound to them. When Teigmous read the answer, he was beyond measure enraged and bade his Vizier Ain Zar take a thousand horse and fall upon the army of Kefid in the middle watch of the night.
Meanwhile, King Kefid commanded one of his Viziers, Ghetrefan by name, to take five thousand horse and attack King Teigmous's camp in like manner. So the two parties set out and meeting halfway, man cried out against man and there befell a sore battle between them till daybreak, when Ghetrefan's men were routed and fled back to their camp in confusion. When Khefid saw this, he was exceeding wroth and said to the fugitives, 'What hath befallen you, that ye have lost your captains?' 'O King of the age,' answered they, 'there met us halfway the Vizier Ain Zar, with champions and cavaliers, so that, before we were ware, we found ourselves in the enemy's midst, face to face with them, and fought a sore battle with them from midnight till morning. Then the Vizier and his men fell to smiting the elephants on the face and shouting out at them, till they took fright and turning tail to flee, trampled down the horsemen, whilst none could see other for the clouds of dust. The blood ran like a torrent and much folk were slain, and indeed, had we not fled, we had all been cut off to the last man.' When Kefid heard this, he exclaimed, 'May the sun not bless you and may his wrath be sore upon you!'
Meanwhile, Ain Zar returned to King Teigmous and told him what had happened. The King gave him joy of his safety and rejoiced greatly and bade beat the drums and sound the trumpets, in honour of the victory; after which he called the roll of his troops and found that two hundred of his stoutest champions had fallen. Then King Kefid marched his army into the field and drew them out in order of battle in fifteen lines of ten thousand horse each, under the commandment of three hundred captains and princes, mounted on elephants and chosen from amongst the doughtiest of his warriors. So he set up his standards and banners and blew the trumpets and beat the drums, whilst the champions sallied forth, offering battle. As for King Teigmous, he drew out his troops in ten lines of ten thousand horse each, and with him were a hundred champions, riding on his right hand and on his left. Then rode forward to the fight each renowned cavalier, with drums. and cymbals beating and pipes and hautboys sounding and trumpets blaring, and the two hosts clashed together, whilst the earth for all its wideness was straitened for the multitude of the cavaliers and ears were deafened for the tramp of the horses and the shouting of the men. The dust volleyed up in clouds and hung vaulted over them, and they fought a sore battle from the first of the day till the coming of the darkness, when they separated and each army drew off to its own camp. Then the two kings mustered their troops and found that they had lost, Kefid five thousand men and Teigmous three thousand of the flower of his braves, whereat they were sore concerned. On the morrow, the two hosts again drew out in battle array, and Kefid cried out to his men, saying, 'Which of you will sally forth into the field and open us the chapter of war and battle?' Thereupon came out from the ranks a warrior named Berkaik, a mighty man of war, riding on an elephant. When he reached the King, he alighted and kissing the earth before him, sought of him leave to challenge the foe to single combat. Then he mounted his elephant and pricking into the middle of the field, cried out, 'Who is for jousting, who is for foining, who is for fighting?' When King Teigmous heard this, he said to his troops, 'Which of you will do battle with this champion?' Whereupon a cavalier came out from the ranks, mounted on a charger, mighty of make, and dismounting, kissed the earth before the King and craved his permission to engage Berkaik. Then he mounted again and drove at Berkaik, who said to him, 'Who art thou, that thou makest mock of me by coming out against me, alone?' 'My name is Ghezenfer ben Kemkhil,' replied the Kabul champion; and the other, 'I have heard tell of thee in my own country; so up and do battle between the ranks of the champions.'
Then Ghezenfer drew a mace of iron from under his thigh and Berkaik took his sword in his hand, and they fought a sore battle, till Berkaik smote Ghezenfer on the head with his sword, but the helmet turned the blow and no hurt betided him therefrom; whereupon Ghezenfer, in his turn, dealt Berkaik so terrible a buffet on the head with his mace, that he beat him down on to his elephant's back [and killed him]. With this out sallied another horseman and saying to Ghezenfer, 'Who art thou that thou shouldst slay my brother?' hurled a javelin at him with such force that it pierced his thigh and nailed his greaves to his flesh. The Kabul champion, feeling himself wounded, took his sword in his hand and smote at Berkaik's brother and cut him in sunder, and he fell to the earth, wallowing in his blood, whilst Ghezenfer rode back to King Teigmous.
When Kefid saw the death of his champions, he cried out to his troops to set on, as also did the King of Kabul; and the two armies drove at each other. Horse neighed against horse and man cried out upon man and the swords flashed from the scabbards, whilst the drums beat and the trumpets sounded. Then horseman charged upon horseman and every renowned champion pricked forward, whilst the faintheart fled from the push of pike and men heard nought but the clang of arms and the roar of the battle. Slain were the warriors that were slain and they stinted not from the fight till the going down of the sun in the pavilion of the heavens, when the two hosts drew asunder and returned each to its own camp. Then King Teigmous numbered his men and found that he had lost five thousand men and four standards, whereat he was sore concerned; whilst King Kefid in like manner counted his troops and found that he had lost six hundred of the flower of his horsemen and nine standards.
The two armies rested on their arms three days' space, after which Kefid wrote a letter to a king called Facoun el Kelb (to whom he claimed kinship by his mother) and the latter forthwith assembled his troops and marched to the succour of the King of Hind. So, as King Teigmous was sitting at his pleasance, there came one in to him and said, 'I see a cloud of dust rising into the air in the distance.'So he despatched a company, to learn the meaning of this, who presently returned and said to him, 'O King, when we drew near the cloud of dust, the wind smote it and it lifted and discovered seven standards and under each standard three thousand horse, making for King Kefid's camp.' Then King Facoun joined himself to the King of Hind and saluting him, enquired how it was with him and what was this war in which he was engaged. 'Knowest thou not,' answered Kefid, 'that King Teigmous is my enemy and the murderer of my father and brothers? Wherefore I am come forth to do battle with him and take my wreak on him.' Quoth Facoun, 'The blessing of the sun be upon thee!' And the King of Hind carried King Facoun to his tent and rejoiced in him with an exceeding great joy.
To return to Janshah. He abode shut up in his palace, without seeing his father or allowing one of the damsels or singing-women in his service to come in to him, for two months' space, at the end of which time he grew troubled and restless at not seeing the King and said to his attendants, 'What ails my father that he cometh not to visit me?' They told him that he had gone forth to do battle with the King of Hind, whereupon quoth Janshah, 'Bring me my horse, that I may go to my father.' But he said in himself, 'I am taken up with the thought of my beloved, and I deem well to journey to the city of the Jews, where haply God shall grant me to meet the merchant, and maybe he will hire me once more and deal with me as before, for none knoweth wherein is good.' So he took with him a thousand horse and set out, the folk. deeming that he purposed to join his father in the field, and they fared on till dusk, when they halted for the night in a vast meadow. As soon as he knew that all his men were asleep, the prince rose and girding his middle, mounted his horse and rode out, intending for Baghdad, for that he had heard from the Jews that a caravan came thence their city once in every two years and thought to journey thither therewith.
When his men awoke and missed the prince and his horse, they mounted and sought him right and left, but finding no trace of him, rejoined his father and told him what his son had done; whereat he was beyond measure concerned and cast the crown from his head, whilst the sparks were like to fly from his mouth, and he said, 'There is no power and no virtue but in God! I have lost my son, and the enemy is before me.' But his Viziers and vassals said to him, 'Patience, O King of the age! Nought but good ensueth patience.' Then he collected his forces and abandoning his camp, retired to his capital, where he armed the inhabitants and fortified the place, setting up mangonels and other engines upon the walls. King Kefid followed him and sat down before the town, offering battle seven nights and eight days, after which he withdrew to his tents, to tend his wounded. On this wise he did every month, and they ceased not to beleaguer the place thus seven years.
Meanwhile, Janshah arrived at Baghdad, where he heard from a merchant that the city of the Jews was situate in the extreme Orient and that a caravan would start that very month for the city of Mizrecan in Hind, 'whither do thou accompany us,' said the merchant, 'and we will fare on to Khorassan and thence to the city of Shimaoun and Khouarezm, from which latter place the city of the Jews is distant a year and three months' journey.' So Janshah waited till the time of the departure of the caravan, when he joined himself thereto and journeyed, till he reached the city of Mizrecan, whence he again set out and after enduring great hardships and perils and the extreme of hunger and thirst, arrived at the town of Shimaoun. Nor did he fail in every city to which he came to enquire after the Castle of Jewels, but none could give him news of it and all said, 'Never heard we this name.' At Shimaoun he made enquiry for the city of the Jews, and they directed him the road thither. So he set out and journeyed nights and days till he came to the place, where he had given the apes the slip, and continued his journey thence to the river, on the opposite bank of which stood the city of the Jews. He sat down on the shore and waited till Saturday came round and the river dried up, when he crossed over to the opposite bank and entering the city, betook himself to the house of his former host. The Jew and his family rejoiced in his return and set meat and drink before him, saying, 'Where hast thou been during thine absence?' 'In the kingdom of God the Most High,' (33) answered he and lay with them that night.
On the morrow he went out to walk about the city and presently heard a crier crying aloud and saying, 'O folk, who will earn a thousand dinars and a handsome slave-girl and do half a day's work for us?' So Janshah went up to him and said, 'I am your man.' Quoth the crier, 'Follow me,' and carrying him to the house of the Jew merchant, where he had been aforetime, said to the latter, 'This young man will do thy work.' The merchant gave him welcome [not recognizing him] and carried him into the harem, where he set meat and drink before him, and he ate and drank. Then he brought him the dinars and the fair slave, with whom he lay that night.
On the morrow, he took the money and the damsel and committing them to his host, returned to the merchant, who mounted and rode out with him, till they came to the foot of the mountain, where they halted and the merchant, bringing out a knife and cords, bade Janshah throw down the mare on which he rode and bind her legs with the cords. So he threw her down and bound her and slaughtered her and cut off her legs and slit her belly, as the Jew ordered him; whereupon quoth the latter, 'Enter her belly, till I sew it up on thee; and whatsoever thou seest therein, tell me of it, for this is the work the hire whereof thou hast taken.' So Janshah entered the mare's belly and the merchant sewed it up on him, then, withdrawing to a distance, hid himself.
Presently, a great bird swooped down on the carcase and flying up with it to the mountain-top, would have eaten it, which when Janshah felt, he took out his knife and slitting the mare's belly, came forth. The bird was scared at his sight and flew away, and Janshah went up to the edge of the crest and looking down, espied the merchant standing at the foot of the mountain, as he were a sparrow. (34) So he cried out to him, 'What is thy will, O merchant?' 'Throw me down of the stones that lie about thee,' replied the Jew, 'that I may direct thee in the way down.' Quoth Janshah, 'I am he with whom thou didst thus and thus five years agone, and through thee I suffered hunger and thirst and sore toil and much hardship; and now thou hast brought me hither once more and thinkest to destroy me. By Allah, I will not throw thee aught!' So saying, he turned his back on him and set out for the castle of the lord Solomon.
He fared on many days and nights, tearful-eyed and heavy at heart, eating, when he hungered, of the fruits of the earth and drinking, when he thirsted, of its streams, till he came in sight of the castle and saw Sheikh Nesr sitting at the gate. So he hastened up to him and kissed his hands; and the Sheikh bade him welcome and said to him, 'O my son, what ails thee that thou returnest to this place, after I sent thee home with the Princess Shemseh, comforted (35) and glad at heart?' Janshah wept and told him all that had befallen him and how she had flown away from him, saying, 'An thou love me, come to me at the Castle of Jewels;' at which the old man marvelled and said, 'By Allah, O my son, I know not the Castle of Jewels, nor, by the virtue of our lord Solomon, have I ever in my life heard its name!' 'What shall I do?' said Janshah. 'I am dying of love and longing.' Quoth Sheikh Nesr, 'Take patience until the coming of the birds, when I will enquire at them of the Castle of Jewels.'
So Janshah's heart was comforted and he abode with Sheikh Nesr, until the appointed day arrived, when the Sheikh said to him, 'O my son, learn these names (36) and come with me to meet the birds.' Presently, the birds came flying up and saluted Sheikh Nesr, kind after kind, and he asked them of the Castle of Jewels, but they all made answer that they had never heard of such a place. When Janshah heard this, he wept and lamented, till he swooned away, whereupon Sheikh Nesr called a huge bird and said to him, 'Carry this youth to the land of Kabul,' and described to him the land and the way thither. Then he set Janshah on the bird's back, bidding him sit straight and beware of inclining to either side, or he would fall and be torn to pieces in the air, and to stop his ears from the wind, lest he be dazed by the noise of the revolving sphere and the roaring of the seas.
So the bird took flight and flew with him a day and a night, till he set him down by the King of the Beasts, whose name was Shah Bedra, and said to him, 'We have gone astray.' And he would have taken him up again and flown on with him; but Janshah said, 'Go thy ways and leave me here, till I die or find the Castle of Jewels. I will not return to my country.' So the bird left him with Shah Bedra and flew away. The King bade him welcome and said to him, O my son, who art thou and whence comest thou with yonder great bird?' So Janshah told him his story, whereat Shah Bedra marvelled and said, 'By the virtue of the lord Solomon, I know not of this castle; but [when the beasts come to pay their respects to me, we will ask them thereof, and] if any know it, we will reward him bountifully and send thee thither by him.'
So Janshah took patience and abode with Shah Bedra, [who gave him certain tablets, inscribed with magical formulas,] saying 'O my son, commit to memory that which is in these tablets; [so wilt thou be gifted to understand the language of beasts;] and when the beasts come, question them of the Castle of Jewels.' He did as the King bade him, and before long, up came the beasts, kind after kind, and saluted Shah Bedra, who questioned them of the Castle of Jewels; but they all replied, 'We know not this castle, nor ever heard we of it.' At this Janshah wept sore and lamented for that he had not gone with the bird that brought him from Sheikh Nesr's castle; but Shah Bedra said to him, 'Grieve not, O my son, for I have a brother who is older than I; his name is King Shimakh and he rules over all the Jinn in the country. He was once a prisoner to King Solomon, for that he rebelled against him; nor is there among the Jinn an elder than he and Sheikh Nesr. Belike he knows of this castle.' So saying, he set Janshah on the back of a beast and gave him a letter to his brother, commending him to his care.
So the beast set off with the prince and fared on days and nights, till it came to King Shimakh's abiding-place and stood still afar off; whereupon Janshah alighted and walked on, till he found himself in the presence of the King, to whom he presented his brother's letter, after having kissed his hands. The King read the letter and welcomed the prince, saying, 'By Allah, O my son, in all my life I never saw nor heard of this castle! But tell me thy story and who and whence thou art and whither thou art bound.' So Janshah related to him his history from beginning to end, at which the King marvelled and said, 'O my son, I do not believe that our lord Solomon even ever saw or heard of this castle; but I know a hermit in the mountains, who is exceeding old and whom all birds and beasts and Jinn obey; for he ceased not to conjure against the kings of the Jinn, till they submitted themselves to him in their own despite, by reason of the might of his spells and his enchantments. I myself once rebelled against King Solomon and he sent this hermit against me, who overcame me with his craft and his enchantments and imprisoned me, and since then I have been his vassal. His name is Yegmous and he dwells in a retreat in the mountains called the Hermitage of Diamonds. He is a cunning artificer in all manner strange works and a crafty warlock and necromancer, full of guile and versed in every kind of magic and sorcery and enchantment, and all birds and beasts and mountains obey him and come at his beck, for the stress of his conjurations. Moreover, he hath made him a staff in three pieces, and this he plants in the earth and conjures over it; whereupon flesh and blood issue from the first piece, sweet milk from the second and wheat and barley from the third. He hath travelled in all countries and quarters and knoweth all ways and regions and places and castles and cities, nor do I think there is any place hidden from his ken. So needs must I send thee to him; haply he may direct thee to the Castle of Jewels; and if he cannot do this, none can, for all things obey him, by reason of his skill in magic.'
So saying, Shimakh called a great bird, that had feet like those of an elephant and four wings, each thirty cubits long, and set Janshah on its back, bidding it carry him to the hermit. Now this bird flew but twice a year, and there was with King Shimakh an officer, by name Timshoun, who used every day to carry off two Bactrian camels from the land of Irak and cut them up for it, that it might eat them. So it rose into the air and flew on days and nights, till it came to the mountain of the Citadels (37) and the hermitage of Diamonds (38) where Janshah alithted and going up to the hermitage, found Yegmous at his devotions. So he entered the chapel and kissing the earth before the hermit, stood [in an attitude of respect]. When Yegmous saw him, he said to him, 'Welcome, O my son, O pilgrim from a far country and stranger in the lands! Tell me the cause of thy coming hither.' So Janshah wept and acquainted him with all that had befallen him and that he was in quest of the Castle of Jewels. Yegmous marvelled greatly at his story and said, 'By Allah, O my son, never in my life heard I of this Castle, nor saw I ever one who had heard of or seen it, for all I was alive in the days of Noah, prophet of God (on whom be peace), and have ruled the birds and beasts and Jinn ever since his time; nor do I believe that Solomon himself knew of it. But wait till the birds and beasts and chiefs of the Jinn come to do their homage to me and I will question them of it; peradventure, some one of them may be able to give us news of it and God the Most High shall make it easy to thee [to win thither].'
So Janshah abode with the hermit, until the day of the assembly, when Yegmous questioned all the birds and beasts and Jinn of the Castle of Jewels, but they all replied, 'We never saw or heard of such a place.' At this, Janshah fell a-weeping and lamenting and prostrated himself in supplication to God the Most High, but, as he was thus engaged, there flew down from the heights of the air a great black bird, which had tarried behind the rest, and kissed the hermit's hands. The latter asked it of the Castle of Jewels, and it replied, saying, 'O hermit, when I and my brothers were fledglings, we dwelt behind the mountain Caf on a hill of crystal, in the midst of a great desert, and our father and mother used to go and come with our food every day. They went out one day, [in quest of food,] and were absent from us seven days and hunger was sore upon us; but on the eighth day they returned, weeping, and we asked them the reason of their absence. Quoth they, "A Marid swooped down on us and carried us off to the Castle of Jewels and brought us before King Shehlan, who would have slain us; but we told him that we had left a young brood behind us; so he spared our lives [and let us go]." And were my parents yet in the bonds of life,' added the bird, 'they would give thee news of the castle.'
When Janshah heard this, he wept and besought the hermit to bid the bird carry him to the nest he spoke of on the crystal hill, behind the mountain Caf. So the hermit said to the bird, 'I desire thee to obey this youth in whatsoever he may command thee.' 'I hear and obey,' answered the bird and taking Janshah on its back, flew with him days and nights, till it set him down on the hill of crystal and said, 'This is where our nest was.' Janshah begged it to carry him farther on to where the old birds used to forage for food. So it took him up again and flew on with him seven nights and eight days, till it set him down on the top of a high hill, named Kermous, and left him there, saying, 'I know of no land behind this hill.' Then it flew away and Janshah sat down on the hill-top and fell asleep. When he awoke, he saw somewhat gleaming afar off [as it were lightning] and filling the air with its radiance, and wondered what this could be. So he descended the mountain and made towards the light.
Now this light came from the Castle of Jewels, which was distant two months' journey from Mount Kermous, and its walls were fashioned of red rubies and the buildings within them of yellow gold. Moreover, it had a thousand turrets builded of precious stones and metals, brought from the Sea of Darknesses, and on this account it was named the Castle of Jewels. It was a vast great castle and the name of its king was King Shehlan, the father of Shemseh and her sisters. Now, when the princess Shemseh left Janshah, she returned to the Castle of Jewels and told her father and mother all that had passed between the prince and herself. Quoth they, 'Thou hast not dealt righteously with him:' and she, 'Be sure that he will follow me hither, for he loves me passionately.' So King Shehlan repeated the story to his guards and officers of the Marids of the Jinn and bade them bring him every mortal they should see.
Now, as chance would have it, Shemseh had that very day despatched a Marid on an occasion in the direction of Mount Kermous, and on his way thither he caught sight of Janshah; so he hastened up to him and saluted him. The prince was terrified at his sight, but returned his greeting, and the Marid said to him, 'What is thy name?' 'My name is Janshah,' answered he, and bursting into tears, related to the genie his adventures and how he was come thither in quest of the princess Shemseh and the Castle of Jewels. The Marid was moved to pity by his story and said to him, 'Weep not, for thou art come to thy desire. Know that [yonder stands the Castle of Jewels, where dwells she whom thou seekest]. She loves thee dear and has told her parents of thy love for her, and all in the castle love thee for her sake; so take comfort and be of good cheer.' Then he took him on his shoulders and made off with him to the Castle of Jewels.
When the news of Janshah's coming reached Shemseh and her father and mother, they all rejoiced with an exceeding joy, and King Shehlan took horse and rode out, with all his guards and Aftits and Marids, to meet the prince. As soon as he came up with him, he dismounted and embraced him, and Janshah kissed his hand. Then Shehlan put on him a robe of honour of vari-coloured silk, laced with gold and set with jewels, and a coronet such as never saw mortal king, and mounting him on a splendid mare of the horses of the kings of the Jinn, brought him in great state to the castle. Janshah was dazzled by the splendour of this castle, with its walls of rubies and other jewels and its pavement of crystal and chrysolite and emerald, and fell a-weeping for very wonderment; but the King wiped away his tears and said, 'Leave weeping and be of good cheer, for thou hast come to thy desire.' Then he carried him into the inner court of the castle, where he was received by a multitude of beautiful damsels and pages and slaves, who seated him in the place of honour and stood to do him service, whilst he was lost in amazement at the goodliness of the place and its walls, that were all builded of precious metals and jewels.
Meanwhile, King Shehlan repaired to his hall of audience, where he sat down on his throne and bidding his attendants bring in the prince, rose to receive him and seated him by his own side on the throne. Then he called for food and they ate and drank and washed their hands; after which in came the Queen, Shemseh's mother, and saluting Janshah, bade him welcome. 'Thou hast come to thy desire after weariness,' quoth she, 'and thine eyes sleep alter watching; so praised be God for thy safety!' So saying, she went away and forthwith returned with the princess Shemseh, who saluted Janshah and kissed his hands, hanging her head in confusion; after which her sisters came up to him and greeted him in like manner.
Then said the Queen to him, 'O my son, our daughter Shemseh hath indeed sinned against thee, but do thou pardon her for our sakes.' When Janshah heard this, he cried out and fell down in a swoon, and they sprinkled on his face rose-water mingled with musk and civet, till he came to himself and looking at Shemseh, said, 'Praised be God who hath brought me to my desire and quenched the fire of my heart!' 'May He preserve thee from the Fire!' replied she. 'But now tell me what hath befallen thee since our parting and how thou madest thy way to this place; seeing that few even of the Jinn ever heard of the Castle of Jewels and we are beyond the dominion of any king nor knoweth any the road hither.'
So he related to her all the adventures and perils and hardships he had suffered for her sake and how he had left his father at war with the King of Hind. Quoth the Queen, 'Now hast thou thy heart's desire, for the princess Shemseh is thy handmaid, we give her to thee; and next month, if it be the will of God the Most High, we will celebrate the marriage festival and send you both back to thy native land, with an escort of a thousand Marids, the least of whom, if thou shouldst bid him slay King Kefid and his people, would destroy them to the last man in the twinkling of an eye.'
Then King Shehlan sat down on his throne and summoning his grandees and officers of state, bade them make ready for the marriage festivities and decorate the city seven days and nights. 'We hear and obey,' answered they and busied themselves two months in the preparations, after which they celebrated the marriage of the prince and princess and held a mighty festival, never was seen its like. Then they brought Janshah in to his bride and he abode with her in all delight and solace of life two years, at the end of which time, he said to her, 'Thy father promised to send us to my native land, that we might pass one year there and the next here.' 'I hear and obey,' answered she and going in to King Shehlan at nightfall, told him what the prince had said. Quoth he, 'Have patience with me till the first of the month, that I may make ready for your departure.'
Accordingly, they waited till the appointed time, when the King brought out to them a great litter of red gold, set with pearls and jewels and covered with a canopy of green silk, painted in the liveliest colours and embroidered with precious stones, dazzling the eyes with its goodliness. Moreover, he gave his daughter three hundred beautiful damsels to wait upon her and bestowed on Janshah the like number of white slaves of the sons of the Jinn. Then he mounted the litter, with Janshah and Shemseh and their suite, after the prince and princess had taken leave of the latter's mother and family, and chose out four of his officers to carry the litter.
So the four Marids took it up, each by one corner, and rising with it into the air, flew onward till mid-day, when the King bade them set down the litter and they all alighted. Then they took leave of one another and King Shehlan commended Shemsheh to the prince's care, and giving them in charge to the Marids, returned to the Castle of Jewels, whilst the prince and princess remounted the litter, and the Marids, taking it up, flew on for ten whole days, in each of which they accomplished thirty months' journey, till they came in sight of King Teigmous's capital. Now one of them knew the land of Kabul; so, when he saw the city, he bade the others set down the litter there.
Meanwhile, King Teigmous had been routed and fled into the city, where King Kefid laid close siege to him and he was in sore straits. He sought to make peace with the King of Hind, but the latter would give him no quarter; so, seeing himself without resource or hope of relief, he determined to strangle himself and be at rest from this trouble and misery. Accordingly, he bade his Viziers and officers farewell and entered his house, to take leave of his harem; and the whole place was full of weeping and wailing and lamentation. In the midst of the general desolation, the Marids came down with the litter upon the palace, that was in the citadel, and Janshah bade them set it down in the midst of the Divan. They did his bidding and he descended with his company and seeing all the folk of the city in grief and desolation and sore distress, said to the princess, 'O beloved of my heart and solace of mine eyes, see in what a piteous plight is my father!' Thereupon she bade the Marids fall upon the besieging host and slay them all, even to the last man; and Janshah commanded one of them, by name Keratesh, who was exceeding strong and valiant, to bring King Kefid to him in chains. So they waited till midnight, when they repaired to the enemy's camp, and Keratesh made straight for Kefid's tent, where he found him lying on a couch. So he took him up, shrieking for fear, and flew with him to Janshah, who bade the four Marids bind him on the litter and suspend him in the air over his camp, that he might witness the slaughter of his men. They did as the prince bade them and leaving Kefid, who had swooned for fear, hanging in the air, fell upon the enemy's camp.
As for King Teigmous, when he saw his son, he well-nigh died for excess of joy and giving a loud cry, fell down in a swoon. They sprinkled rose-water on his face, till he came to himself, when he and his son embraced and wept sore. Then the princess Shemseh accosted the King and kissing his hand, invited him to go up with her to the roof of the palace and witness the slaughter of his enemies by her father's Marids. So he went up to the roof and sitting down there with his son and daughter-in-law, watched the Marids do havoc among the besiegers and marvelled at their manner of waging war. For one of them smote upon the elephants and their riders with maces of iron and pounded men and beast into one shapeless heap of flesh, whilst another blew in the faces of those who fled, so that they fell down dead, and the third caught up a score of horsemen, beasts and all, and flying up with them into the air, cast them down from on high, so that they were torn in pieces or crushed to atoms in the fall.
When King Kefld came to himself, he found himself hanging between heaven and earth and marvelled at this. Then he saw the slaughter of his troops and wept sore and buffeted his face; nor did the carnage cease among the army of Hind for two whole days, till they were cut off even to the last man, when Janshah commanded a Marid, by name Shimwal, to clap King Kefid in irons and lay him in prison in a place called the Black Tower. Then King Teigmous bade beat the drums and despatched messengers to announce the glad news to Janshah's mother, who mounted forthright and rode to the palace, where she no sooner espied her son than she clasped him in her arms and swooned away for stress of joy. They sprinkled rose-water on her face, till she came to herself, when she embraced him again and wept for excess of gladness. When the lady Shemseh knew of her coming, she came to her and saluted her, and they embraced each other and sat down to converse.
Meanwhile, King Teigmous threw open the gates of the town and despatched couriers to all parts of the kingdom, to announce his happy deliverance, whereupon all his vassals and officers and the notables of the realm flocked to give him joy of his victory and of the safe return of his son and brought him great plenty of rich gifts and presents. Then he made a second bride-feast for the princess Shemseh, and they decorated the city and held high festival; after which they unveiled the bride before Janshah with the utmost magnificence, and the latter presented her with a hundred beautiful slave-girls to wait upon her.
Some days after this, the princess went in to the King and interceded with him for Kefid, saying, 'Let him return to his own land, and if henceforward he be minded to do thee any hurt, I will bid one of the Marids snatch him up and bring him to thee.' 'I hear and obey,' replied Teigmous and bade Shimwal bring him the prisoner, who came and kissed the earth before him. Then he commanded to strike off his chains and mounting him on a lame mare, said to him, 'The princess Shemseh hath interceded for thee so begone to thy kingdom, but if thou fall again to thine old tricks, she will send one of the Marids to seize thee and bring thee hither.'
So Kefid set off homeward, in the sorriest of plights, whilst Janshah and his wife abode in all delight and solace of life, passing every second year with Shemseh's father and mother at the Castle of Jewels, whither they betook not themselves but in the litter aforesaid, borne by the Marids and flying between heaven and earth; and the length of their journey thither from the land of Kabul was ten days, in each of which they accomplished thirty months' travel.
They abode on this wise a long while, till, one year, they set out for the Castle of Jewels, as of their wont, and on their way thither alighted in this island to rest and take their pleasure therein. They sat down on the river-bank and ate and drank; after which the princess, having a mind to bathe, put off her clothes and plunged into the water. Her women followed her example and they swam about awhile, whilst Janshah walked on along the bank of the stream. Presently, as they were swimming about and playing with one another, a huge shark seized the princess by the leg, and she cried out and died forthright, whilst the damsels fled out of the river to the pavilion, to escape from the shark; but, after awhile, they returned and taking her up, carried her to the litter.
When Janshah saw his wife dead, he fell down in a swoon and they sprinkled water on his face, till he recovered and wept over her. Then he despatched the Marids, to bear the sad news to her parents and family, who presently came thither and washed her and shrouded her; after which they buried her by the river-side and made mourning for her. They would have carried Janshah with them to the Castle of Jewels; but he said to King Shehlan, 'I beseech thee to dig me a grave beside her tomb, that, when I die, I may be buried by her side.' Accordingly, the King commanded one of his Marids to do as Janshah wished, after which they departed and left me here to weep and mourn for her till I die; for I," said the young man, "am Janshah and this is my story and the reason of my sojourn between these two tombs." And he repeated the following verses:Home is no longer home to me, now ye are gone away, Nor is the pleasant neighbour now a neighbour, sooth to say.
When Beloukiya heard Janshah's story, he marvelled and exclaimed, "By Allah, O my brother, methought I had indeed wandered over the world and compassed it about; but thy story maketh me to forget all I have seen. And now," added he, "I beg thee, of thy favour and courtesy, to direct me in the way of safety." So Janshah directed him into the right road, and Beloukiya took leave of him and fared on nights and days, till he came to a great sea; so he anointed his feet with the juice of the magical herb and setting out over the water, sped onward till he came to an island abounding in trees and springs and fruits, as it were Paradise. He landed and walked about, till he saw an immense tree, with leaves as big as the sails of a ship. So he went up to the tree and found under it a table spread with all manner rich meats, whilst on the branches sat a great bird, whose body was of pearls and emeralds, its feet of silver, its beak of red cornelian and its feathers of precious metals, and it was engaged in singing the praises of God the Most High and blessing Mohammed, on whom be benediction and peace!
When Beloukiya saw the bird, he said, "What manner of creature art thou and what dost thou here?" Quoth the bird, "I am one of the birds of Eden [and followed Adam,] when God the Most High cast him out thence. Now Adam took with him four leaves of the trees of the garden, to cover his nakedness withal, and they fell to the ground after awhile. One of them was eaten by a worm, and of it came silk: the gazelles ate the second and thence came musk; the third was eaten by bees and gave rise to honey, whilst the fourth fell in the land of Hind and from it sprang all manner spices. As for me, I wandered over the earth, till God gave me this island for a dwelling-place, and I took up my abode here. This table thou seest is spread by God the Most High for the entertainment of all the saints and holy men of the world, who come hither every Friday and visit the place and eat of this food; and after they have eaten, the table is taken up again to heaven; nor doth the food ever waste or corrupt." So Beloukiya ate his fill of the meats and praised God the Most High.
Presently, there came up El Khizr (39) (on whom be peace), at sight of whom Beloukiya rose and saluting him, was about to withdraw, when the bird said to him, "Sit, O Beloukiya, in the presence of El Khizr, on whom be peace!" So he sat down again, and El Khizr asked him who he was and how he came there. Beloukiya related to him all his adventures and enquired how far it was thence to Cairo. "Five-and-ninety years' journey," replied the prophet; whereupon Beloukiya burst into tears, then, falling at El Khizr's feet, kissed them and said to him, "O my lord, I beseech thee to deliver me from this strangerhood; for that I am nigh upon death and know not what to do, and thy reward be with God." Quoth El Khizr, "Pray to God the Most High to allow me to carry thee to Cairo, ere thou perish."
So Beloukiya wept and offered up supplication to God, who granted his prayer and bade El Khizr carry him to his people. Then said the prophet, "Lift thy head, for God hath heard thy prayer; so take fast hold of me with both thy hands and shut thine eyes." The prince did as he was bidden and El Khizr took a step forward, then said to him, "Open thine eyes." So Beloukiya opened his eyes and found himself at the door of his palace at Cairo. He turned, to take leave of El Khizr, but found no trace of him and entered the palace. When his mother saw him, she gave a loud cry and swooned away for excess of joy, and they sprinkled water upon her face. After a while she came to herself and embraced her son and wept sore, whilst Beloukiya wept and laughed by turns. Then all his friends and kindred came and gave him joy of his safe return, and the good news was noised abroad in the land and there came to him presents from all parts. Moreover, they beat the drums and blew the flutes and rejoiced mightily. Then Beloukiya related to them his adventures, at which they marvelled exceedingly and wept, till all were weary of weeping.
All this the Queen of the Serpents related to Hasib Kerimeddin, and he said to her, 'But how knowest thou of these things?' 'O Hasib,' answered she, 'it was on this wise. Thou must know that I once had occasion, some five-and-twenty years ago, to send one of my serpents to Egypt and gave her a letter for Beloukiya, saluting him. So she carried the letter to him and he read it and said to the messenger, "I have a mind to go with thee to the Queen of the Serpents, for I have an occasion to her." Quoth she, "Close thine eyes." So he closed them and opening them again, found himself on the mountain where I now am. Then his guide carried him to a great serpent, and he saluted the latter and asked for me. "She hath gone to the Mountain Caf," answered the serpent, "as is her wont in the winter; but next summer she will come hither again. As often as she goeth thither, she appointeth me to reign in her room, during her absence; and if thou have any occasion to her, I will accomplish it for thee." Quoth he, "I beg thee to bring me the herb, which whoso crusheth and drinketh the juice thereof sickeneth not neither groweth grey nor dieth." "Tell me first," said the serpent, "what befell thee since thou leftest the Queen of the Serpents, to go with Uffan in quest of King Solomon's tomb." So he related to her all his travels and adventures, including the history of Janshah, and besought her to grant him his request, that he might go to his own country." "By the virtue of the lord Solomon," replied she, "I know not where the herb of which thou speakest is to be found." Then she bade the serpent, which had brought him thither, carry him back to Egypt: so the latter said to him, "Shut thine eyes." He did so and opening them again, found himself on the mountain Mukettem. (40) When I returned from the mountain Caf,' added the Queen, 'the serpent my deputy informed me of Beloukiya's visit and repeated to me his story: and this, O Hasib, is how I came to know the adventures of Beloukiya and the history of Prince Janshah of Kabul.'
Hasib marvelled at the Queen's story and wept many tears over it; then he again besought her to let him return to his family; but she said, 'I fear me that, when thou gettest back to earth, thou wilt fail of thy promise and prove traitor to thine oath and enter the bath.' But he swore to her another solemn oath that he would never again enter the bath as long as he lived; whereupon she called a serpent and bade her carry him up to the surface of the earth. So the serpent took him and led him from place to place, till she brought him out on the platform of an abandoned cistern [and there left him].
He walked to the city and coming to his house by the last of the day, at the season of the yellowing of the sun, knocked at the door. His mother opened it and seeing her son, screamed out and threw herself upon him and wept for excess of joy. His wife heard her mother-in-law weeping; so she came out to her and seeing her husband, saluted him and kissed his hands; and each rejoiced in other with an exceeding joy. Then they entered the house and sat down to converse; and presently Hasib asked his mother of the woodcutters, who had left him to perish in the cistern. Quoth she, 'They came and told me that a wolf had eaten thee in the valley. As for them, they are become merchants and own houses and shops, and the world is grown wide for them. But every day they bring me meat and drink, and thus have they done since I lost thee.' 'To-morrow,' said Hasib, 'do thou go to them and say, "My son Hasib hath returned from his travels; so come ye and salute him.'"
Accordingly, on the morrow, she repaired to the wood-cutters' houses and delivered to them her son's message, which when they heard, they changed colour and gave her each a suit of silk, embroidered with gold, saying, 'Give this to thy son and tell him that we will be with him to-morrow.' So she returned to Hasib and gave him their presents and message. Meanwhile, the woodcutters called together a number of merchants and acquainting them with all that had passed between themselves and Hasib, took counsel with them what they should do. Quoth the merchants, 'It behoves each one of you to give him half his goods and slaves;' and they agreed to do this.
So, next day, each of them took half his wealth and going in to Hasib, saluted him and kissed his hands. Then they laid before him what they had brought, saying, 'This of thy bounties, and we are in thy hands.' He accepted their peace-offering and said to them, 'What is past is past: that which befell us was decreed of God and destiny avoideth precaution.' Quoth they, 'Come, let us walk about and take our pleasure in the city and visit the bath.' 'Not so,' answered he. 'I have taken an oath never again to enter the bath, so long as I live.' 'At least,' rejoined they, 'come to our houses, that we may entertain thee.' He agreed to this, and each of them entertained him for a night and a day; nor did they cease to do thus for a whole week [for they were seven in number]
Hasib was now master of lands and houses and shops, and all the merchants of the city foregathered with him and he told them all that had befallen him. He became one of the chief of them and abode thus awhile, till, one day, as he was walking in the town, he chanced to pass the door of a bath, whose keeper was one of his friends. When the bathman saw him, he ran up to him and saluted him and embraced him, saying, 'Favour me by entering the bath and washing, that I may show thee hospitality.' Hasib refused, alleging that he had taken a solemn oath never again to enter the bath; but the bathman was instant with him, saying, 'Be my three wives triply divorced, an thou enter not and be washed!' When Hasib heard him thus conjure him by the triple oath of divorcement, he was confounded and replied, 'O my brother, hast thou a mind to ruin me and make my children orphans and lay a load of sin upon my neck?' But the man threw himself at his feet and kissed them, saying, 'I conjure thee to enter, and be the sin on my neck!' Then all the people of the bath set upon Hasib and dragging him in, pulled off his clothes.
So, seeing no help for it, he sat down against the wall and began to pour water on his head; but hardly had he done so, when a score of men accosted him, saying, 'Come with us to the Sultan, for thou art his debtor.' Then they despatched a messenger to the Sultan's Vizier, who straightway took horse and rode, attended by three-score men, to the bath, where he alighted and going in to Hasib, saluted him and said, 'Welcome to thee!' Then he gave the bathman a hundred dinars and mounting Hasib on a charger he had brought with him, returned with him to the Sultan's palace, where he set food before him and clad him in two dresses of honour, each worth five thousand dinars. When they had eaten and drunken and washed their hands, the Vizier said to Hasib, 'Know that God hath been merciful to us, for the Sultan is nigh upon death for leprosy, and the books tell us that his life is in thy hands.' Then he took him and carried him through the seven vestibules of the palace, till they came to the King's chamber.
Now the name of this King was Kerezdan, King of Persia and of the Seven Countries, and under his sway were a hundred sovereign princes, sitting on chairs of red gold, and ten thousand captains, under each one's hand a hundred deputies and as many sword-bearers and axe-men. They found the King lying on a bed, with his head wrapped in a napkin, and groaning for excess of pain. When Hasib saw this ordinance, his wit was dazed for awe of the King; so he kissed the earth before him and invoked blessings on him. Then the Grand Vizier, whose name was Shemhour, rose (whilst all present rose also to do him honour) and welcoming Hasib, seated him on a high chair at the King's right hand; after which he called for food and the tables were laid.
When they had eaten and drunken and washed their hands, Shemhour turned to Hasib and said to him, 'We are all thy servants and will give thee whatsoever thou seekest, even to the half of the kingdom, so thou wilt but cure the King.' So saying, he led him to the royal couch, and Hasib, uncovering the King's face, saw that he was at the last extremity: so he said to the Vizier, ' It is true that I am the son of the prophet Daniel, but I know nothing of his art: for they put me thirty days in the school of medicine and I learnt nothing of the craft. I would well I knew somewhat thereof and might heal the King.' When the Grand Vizier heard this, he bent over Hasib's hand and kissed it, saying, 'Do not multiply words upon us; for, though we should gather together to us physicians from the East and from the West, none could heal the King but thou.' 'How can I heal him,'rejoined Hasib, 'seeing I know neither his disease nor its remedy?' 'His cure is in thy hands,' replied Shemhour; and Hasib said, 'If I knew the remedy of his sickness, I would heal him.' Quoth the Vizier, 'Thou knowest it right well; the remedy of his sickness is the Queen of the Serpents, and thou knowest her abiding-place and hast been with her.'
When Hasib heard this, he knew that all this came of his entering the bath and repented, whenas repentance availed nothing; then said he, 'What is the Queen of the Serpents? I know her not nor ever in my life heard I of this name.' 'Deny not the knowledge of her,' rejoined the Vizier; 'for I have proof that thou knowest her and hast passed two years with her.' 'I never saw nor heard of her till this moment,' repeated Hasib ; whereupon Shemhour opened a book and after making sundry calculations, raised his head and spoke [or read] as follows; 'The Queen of the Serpents shall foregather with a man and he shall abide with her two years; then shall he return from her and come forth to the surface of the earth, and when he enters the bath, his belly will become black.' Then said he, 'Look at thy belly.' So Hasib looked at his own belly and behold, it was black: but he [still denied and] said, 'My belly was black from the day my mother bore me.' Quoth the Vizier, 'I had posted three men at the door of every bath, bidding them note all who entered and let me know when they found one whose belly was black: so, when thou enteredst, they looked at thy belly and finding it black, sent and told me, after we had all but despaired of coming across thee. All we want of thee is to show us the place whence thou earnest out and after go thy ways; for we have those with us who will take the Queen of the Serpents and fetch her to us.' Then all the other Viziers and officers and grandees flocked about Hasib and conjured him, till they were weary, to show them the abode of the Queen; but he persisted in his denial, saying, 'I never saw nor heard of such a creature.'
When the Grand Vizier saw that entreaties availed nothing, he called the hangman and bade him strip Hasib and beat him soundly. So he beat him, till he saw death face to face, for excess of pain, and the Vizier said to him, 'Why wilt thou persist in denial, whenas we have proof that thou knowest the abiding-place of the Queen of the Serpents? Show us the place whence thou camest out and go from us; we have with us one who will take her, and no harm shall befall thee.' Then he raised him and giving him a dress of honour of cloth of gold, embroidered with jewels, spoke him fair, till he yielded and consented to show them the place.
At this, the Vizier rejoiced greatly and they all took horse and rode, guided by Hasib, till they came to the cavern where he had found the cistern full of honey. He entered, sighing and weeping, and showed them the well whence he had issued; whereupon the Vizier sat down thereby and sprinkling perfumes upon a chafing-dish, began to mutter charms and conjurations, for he was a crafty magician and diviner and skilled in cabalistic arts. He repeated three several formulas of conjuration and threw fresh incense upon the brasier, crying out and saying, 'Come forth, O Queen of the Serpents!' When, behold, the water of the well sank down and disappeared and a great door opened in the side, from which came a great noise of crying like unto thunder, so terrible that they thought the well would fall in and all present fell down in a swoon; nay, some even died [for fright].
Presently, there issued from the well a serpent as big as an elephant, casting out sparks, like red hot coals, from its mouth and eyes and bearing on its back a charger of red gold, set with pearls and jewels, in the midst whereof lay a serpent with a human face, from whose body issued such a splendour that the place was illumined thereby. She turned right and left, till her eyes fell upon Hasib, to whom said she, 'Where is the covenant thou madest with me and the oath thou sworest to me, that thou wouldst never again enter the bath? But there is no recourse against destiny nor can any flee from that which is written on his forehead. God hath appointed the end of my life to be at thy hand, and it is His will that I be slain and King Kerezdan healed of his malady.' So saying, she wept sore and Hasib wept with her. As for the Vizier Shemhour, he put out his hand to lay hold of her; but she said to him, 'Hold thy hand, O accursed one, or I will blow upon thee and reduce thee to a heap of black ashes.' Then she cried out to Hasib, saying, ' Put out thine hand and take me and lay me in the brass dish that is with you: then set me on thy head, for my death was fore-ordained, from the beginning of the world, to be at thy hand, and thou hast no power to avert it.' So he took her and laid her in the dish, and the well returned to its natural state.
Then they set out on their return to the city, Hasib carrying the dish on his head, and as they went along, the Queen of the Serpents said to him privily, 'Hearken to me, and I will give thee a friendly counsel, for all thou hast broken faith with me and been false to thine oath; but this was fore-ordained from all eternity. It is this: when thou comest to the Vizier's house, he will bid thee kill me and cut me in three; but do thou refuse, saying, "I know not how to slaughter," and leave him to do it himself. When he has killed me, he will lay the three pieces in a brass pot and set it on the fire. Then there will come a messenger, to bid him to the King, and he will say to thee, "Keep up the fire under the pot, till the scum rises; then skim it off and pour it into a phial to cool. As soon as it is cool, drink it and neither ache nor pain will be left in all thy body. When the second scum rises, skim it off and pour it into a phial against my return, that I may drink it for an ailment I have in my loins." Then will he go to the King, and when he is gone, do thou wait till the first scum rises and set it aside in a phial; but beware of drinking it, or no good will befall thee. When the second scum rises, skim it off and put it in a phial, which keep for thyself. When the Vizier returns and asks for the second phial, give him the first and note what will happen to him. Then drink the contents of the second phial and thy heart will become the abode of wisdom. After this, take up the flesh and laying it in a brazen platter, carry it to the King and give him to eat thereof. When he has eaten it and it has settled in his stomach, cover his face with a handkerchief and wait by him till noonday, when he will have digested the meat. Then give him somewhat of wine to drink and by the decree of God the Most High he will be healed of his disease and be made whole as he was. This, then, is my charge to thee; give ear unto it and keep it in thy memory.'
Presently, they came to the Vizier's house, and he said to Hasib, 'Come in with me.' So he entered and set down the platter, whilst the troops dispersed and went each his own way, and the Vizier bade him kill the Queen of the Serpents; but he said, 'I am no butcher and never in my life killed I aught. An thou wilt have her slaughtered, kill her with thine own hand.' So Shemhour took the Queen from the platter and slew her, whereat Hasib wept sore and the Vizier laughed at him, saying, 'O wittol, how canst thou weep for the killing of a serpent?' Then he cut her in three and laying the pieces in a brass pot, set it on the fire and sat down to await the cooking of the flesh.
Presently, there came a messenger from the King, who said to him, 'The King calls for thee forthright;' and he answered, 'I hear and obey.' So he gave Hasib two phials and bade him drink the first scum and keep the second against his return, even as the Queen of the Serpents had foretold; after which he went away and Hasib tended the fire under the pot, till the first scum rose, when he skimmed it off and set it aside in one of the phials. After a while, the second scum rose; so he skimmed it off and putting it in the other phial, kept it for himself.
When the meat was done, he took the cauldron off the fire and sat waiting, till the Vizier came back and said to him, 'Hast thou done as I told thee?' 'Yes,' answered Hasib. Quoth the Vizier, 'What hast thou done with the first scum?' 'I drank it but now,' replied Hasib, and Shemhour said, 'Feelst thou no change in thy body?' 'Yes,' answered Hasib; 'I feel as I were on fire from head to foot.' The crafty Vizier made no reply, but said, 'Give me the second phial, that I may drink what is therein, so haply I may be made whole of this ailment in my loins.' So Hasib brought him the first phial and he drank it off, thinking it contained the second scum. Hardly had he done this, when the phial fell from his hand and he swelled out and dropped down dead; and thus was exemplified in him the saying, 'He, who diggeth a pit for his brother, falleth into it himself.'
When Hasib saw this, he wondered and feared to drink of the second phial; but he remembered the Queen's injunction and bethought him that the Vizier would not have reserved the second scum for himself, had there been aught of hurt therein. So he said, 'I put my trust in God,' and drank off the contents of the phial. No sooner had he done so than God the Most High made the fountains of wisdom to well up in his heart and opened to him the sources of knowledge, and joy and gladness overcame him. Then he laid the serpent's flesh on a platter of brass and went forth to carry it to the palace.
On his way thither, he raised his eyes and saw the seven heavens and all that therein is, even to the lote-tree, beyond which there is no passing (41) and the manner of the revolution of the spheres. Moreover, God discovered to him the ordinance of the planets and the scheme of their movements and the fixed stars, and he saw the conformation of the sea and land and understood the causes and consequences of eclipses of the sun and moon, whereby be became informed with the knowledge of the arts of geometry and cosmography, as well as those of astrology and astronomy and mathematics and all that hangs thereby. Then he looked at the earth and saw all minerals and vegetables that are therein and knew their virtues and properties, so that he became in an instant versed in medicine and chemistry and natural magic and the art of making gold and silver.
When he came to the palace, he went in to the King and kissing the earth before him, said, 'Thou hast outlived thy Vizier Shemhour.' The King was sore troubled at the news of the Grand Vizier's death and wept sore for him, whilst his grandees and officers wept also. Then said Kerezdan, 'He was with me but now, in all health, and went away to fetch me the flesh of the Queen of the Serpents, if it should be cooked; what befell him, that he is now dead, and what calamity hath betided him?' So Hasib told him how he had drunk the contents of the phial and had forthwith swelled out and died. The King mourned sore for his loss and said, 'What shall I do without him?' 'Grieve not, O King of the age,' rejoined Hasib; 'for I will cure thee in three days and leave no whit of disease in thy body.' At this the King's breast dilated and he said, 'I will well to be made whole of this affliction, though after years.'
So Hasib set the platter before the King and made him eat a piece of the flesh of the Queen of the Serpents. Then he covered him up and spreading a napkin over his face, bade him sleep. He slept from noon till sundown, when, his stomach having digested the piece of flesh, he awoke. Hasib gave him to drink and bade him sleep again. So he slept till the morning, and on the morrow, Hasib made him eat another piece of the flesh; and thus he did with him three days following, till he had eaten the whole, when his skin began to shrivel up and peel off in scales and he sweated, so that the sweat ran down from his head to his feet. Therewith he became whole and there abode in him no whit of disease, which when Hasib saw, he carried him to the bath and washed his body; and when he came forth, it was like a wand of silver and he was restored to perfect health, nay, sounder than he had ever been.
So he donned his richest robes and seating himself on his throne, made Hasib sit beside him. Then he called for food, and they ate and drank and washed their hands; after which all his Viziers and Amirs and captains and the grandees of his realm and the chiefs of the people came in to him and gave him joy of his recovery; and they beat the drums and decorated the city in token of rejoicing. Then said the King to the assembly, 'O Viziers and Amirs and grandees, this is Hasib Kerimeddin, who hath healed me of my sickness, and I make him my chief Vizier in the room of the Vizier Shemhour. He who loves him loves me and he who honours him honours me and he who obeys him obeys me.' 'We hear and obey;' answered they and flocked to kiss Hasib's hand and give him joy of the Vizierate.
Then the King bestowed on him a splendid dress of honour of cloth of gold, set with pearls and jewels, the least of which was worth five thousand dinars. Moreover, he gave him three hundred male white slaves and the like number of concubines, as they were moons, and three hundred Abyssinian slave-girls, beside five hundred mules laden with treasure and sheep and oxen and buffaloes and other cattle, beyond count, and commanded all his Viziers and Amirs and grandees and notables and the officers of his household and his subjects in general to bring him gifts.
Then Hasib took horse and rode, followed by the Viziers and Amirs and grandees and all the troops, to the house which the King had set apart for him, where he sat down on a chair and the Viziers and Amirs came up to him and kissed his hand and gave him joy of the Vizierate, vying with each other in paying court to him. When his mother and household knew what had happened, they rejoiced greatly and congratulated him on his good fortune, and the woodcutters also came and gave him joy. Then he mounted again and riding to the house of the late Vizier, laid hands on all that was therein and transported it to his own abode.
Thus did Hasib, from a know-nothing, unskilled to read writing, become, by the decree of God the Most High, proficient in all sciences and versed in all manner of knowledge, so that the fame of his learning was blazed abroad in all the land and he became renowned for profound skill in medicine and astronomy and geometry and astrology and alchemy and natural magic and the Cabala and all other arts and sciences.
One day, he said to his mother, 'My father Daniel was exceeding wise and learned; tell me what he left by way of books or what not.' So his mother brought him the chest and taking out the five leaves aforesaid, gave them to him, saying, 'These five scrolls are all thy father left thee.' So he read them and said to her, 'O my mother, these leaves are part of a book. Where is the rest?' Quoth she, 'Thy father was shipwrecked a while before thy birth and lost all his books, save these five scrolls.'Then she told him how Daniel had committed them to her care, enjoining her, if she bore a male child, to give them to him, when he grew up and asked what his father had left him. And Hasib abode in all delight and solace of life, till there came to him the Destroyer of Delights and the Sunderer of Companies.