It is related that whilome there was a King of the many Kings of Sind who had a son by other than his wife. Now the youth, whenever he entered the palace, would revile [FN#4] and abuse and curse and use harsh words to his step-mother, his father’s Queen, who was beautiful exceedingly; and presently her charms were changed and her face waxed wan and for the excess of what she heard from him she hated life and fell to longing for death. Withal she could not say a word concerning the Prince to his parent. One day of the days, behold an aged woman (which had been her nurse) came in to her and saw her in excessive sorrow and perplext as to her affair for that she knew not what she could do with her stepson. So the ancient dame said to her, “O my lady, no harm shall befal thee; yet is thy case changed into other case and thy colour hath turned to yellow.” Hereupon the Queen told her all that had befallen her from her step-son of harsh language and revilement and abuse, and the other rejoined, “O my lady, let not thy breast be straitened, and when the youth shall come to thee and revile thee and abuse thee, do thou say him, ‘Pull thy wits somewhat together till such time as thou shalt have brought back the Lady Fatimah, daughter of ’Amir ibn al-Nu’umán.’“ The old woman taught her these words by heart, and anon went forth from her, when the Prince entered by the door and spoke harsh words and abused and reviled her; so his father’s wife said to him, “Lower thy tone and pull thy wits somewhat together, for thou be a small matter until thou shalt bring back the daughter of the Sultan, hight Fatimah, the child of ’Amir ibn al-Nu’uman.” Now when he heard these words he cried, “By Allah, ’tis not possible but that I go and return with the said Lady Fatimah;” after which he repaired to his sire and said, “’Tis my desire to travel; so do thou prepare for me provision of all manner wherewith I may wend my way to a far land, nor will I return until I win to my wish.” Hereupon his father fell to transporting whatso he required of victuals, various and manifold, until all was provided, and he got ready for him whatso befitted of bales and camels and pages and slaves and eunuchs and negro chattels. Presently they loaded up and the youth, having farewelled his father and his friends and his familiars, set forth seeking the country of Fatimah bint Amir, and he travelled for the first day and the second day until he found himself in the middle of the wilds and the Wadys, and the mountains and the stony wastes. This lasted for two months till such time as he reached a region wherein were Ghúls and ferals, and to one and all who met him and opposed him he would give something of provaunt and gentle them and persuade them to guide him upon his way. After a time he met a Shaykh well stricken in years; so he salamed to him and the other, after returning his greeting, asked him saying, “What was it brought thee to this land and region wherein are naught but wild beasts and Ghuls?” whereto he answered, “O Shaykh, I came hither for the sake of the Lady Fatimah, daughter of ’Amir ibn al-Nu’uman.” Hereat exclaimed the greybeard, “Deceive not thyself, for assuredly thou shalt be lost together with what are with thee of men and moneys, and the maiden in question hath been the cause of destruction to many Kings and Sultans. Her father hath three tasks which he proposeth to every suitor, nor owneth any the power to accomplish a single one, and he conditioneth that if any fail to fulfil them and avail not so to do, he shall be slain. But I, O my son, will inform thee of the three which be these: First the King will bring together an ardabb of sesame grain and an ardabb of clover-seed and an ardabb of lentils; and he will mingle them one with other, and he will say:--Whoso seeketh my daughter to wife, let him set apart each sort, and whoso hath no power thereto I will smite his neck. And as all have failed in the attempt their heads were struck off next morning and were hung up over the Palace gateway. Now the second task is this: the King hath a cistern [FN#5] full of water, and he conditioneth that the suitor shall drink it up to the last drop, under pain of losing his life; and the third is as follows: he owneth a house without doors and windows, and it hath [FN#6] three hundred entrances and a thousand skylights and two thousand closets: so he covenanteth with the suitor that he make for that place whatever befitteth of doors and lattices and cabinets, and the whole in a single night. Now here is sufficient to engross thine intellect, O my son, but take thou no heed and I will do thy task for thee.” Quoth the other, “O my uncle, puissance and omnipotence are to Allah!” and quoth the Shaykh, “Go, O my son, and may the Almighty forward the works of thee.” So the Prince farewelled him and travelled for the space of two days, when suddenly the ferals and the Ghuls opposed his passage and he gave them somewhat of provaunt which they ate, and after they pointed out to him the right path. Then he entered upon a Wady wherein flights of locusts barred the passage, so he scattered for them somewhat of fine flour which they picked up till they had eaten their sufficiency. Presently he found his way into another valley of iron-bound rocks, and in it there were of the Jánn what could not be numbered or described, and they cut and crossed his way athwart that iron tract. So he came forward and salam’d to them and gave them somewhat of bread and meat and water, and they ate and drank till they were filled, after which they guided him on his journey and set him in the right direction. Then he fared forwards till he came to the middle of the mountain, where he was opposed by none, or mankind or Jinn-kind, and he ceased not marching until he drew near the city of the Sultan whose daughter he sought to wife. Here he set up a tent and sat therein seeking repose for a term of three days; then he arose and walked forwards until he entered the city, where he fell to looking about him leftwards and rightwards till he had reached the palace [FN#7] of the King. He found there over the gateway some hundred heads which were hanging up, and he cried to himself, “Veil me, O thou Veiler! All these skulls were suspended for the sake of the Lady Fatimah, but the bye-word saith, ‘Whoso dieth not by the sword dieth of his life-term,’ and manifold are the causes whereas death be singlefold.” Thereupon he went forwards to the palace gate--And Shahrazad was surprised by the dawn of day, and fell silent and ceased saying her permitted say. Then quoth her sister Dunyazad, “How sweet and tasteful is thy tale, O sister mine, and how enjoyable and delectable!” Quoth she, “And where is this compared with that I would relate to you on the coming night an the Sovran suffer me to survive?” Now when it was the next night and that was

The Four Hundred and Ninety-fifth Night,

Dunyazad said to her, “Allah upon thee, O my sister, an thou be other than sleepy, finish for us thy tale that we may cut short the watching of this our latter night!” She replied, “With love and good will!” It hath reached me, O auspicious King, the director, the right-guiding, lord of the rede which is benefiting and of deeds fair-seeming and worthy celebrating, that the Prince went forward to the Palace gate and purposed to enter, but they forbade him nor availed he to go in; so he returned to his tents and there spent the night till dawn. Then he again turned to the King’s Serai and attempted to make entry, but they stayed him and he was unable to succeed, nor could he attain to the presence of the Sovran. So he devised with one who was standing at the door a device to enter the presence, but again he failed in his object and whenever he craved admission they rejected him and drave him away saying, “O youth, tell us what may be thy need?” Said he, “I have a requirement of the Sultan and my purport is a business I may transact with him and speech containeth both private and public matters; nor is it possible that I mention my want to any save to the Sovran.” So a Chamberlain of the chamberlains went in to the presence and reported the affair to the King, who permitted them admit the stranger, and when he stood before the throne he kissed ground and deprecated evil for the ruler and prayed for his glory and permanency, and the Monarch, who marvelled at the terseness of his tongue and the sweetness of his speech, said to him, “O youth, what may be thy requirement?” Quoth the Prince, “Allah prolong the reign of our lord the Sultan! I came to thee seeking connexion with thee through thy daughter the lady concealed and the pearl unrevealed.” Quoth the Sultan, “By Allah, verily this youth would doom himself hopelessly to die and, Oh the pity of it for the loquence of his language;” presently adding, “O youth, say me, art thou satisfied with the conditions wherewith I would oblige thee?” and the Prince replied, “O my lord, Omnipotence is to Allah; and, if the Almighty empower me to fulfil thy pact, I shall fulfil it.” The King continued, “I have three tasks to impose upon thee,” and the Prince rejoined, “I am satisfied with all articles thou shalt appoint.” Hereupon the Sovran summoned the writers and witnesses, and they indited the youth’s covenant and gave testimony that he was content therewith; and when the Prince had signified his satisfaction and obligation, the King sent for an ardabb of sesame and an ardabb of clover-seed and an ardabb of lentils and let mingle all three kinds one with other till they became a single heap. Then said the King to the Prince, “Do thou separate each sort by itself during the course of the coming night, and if dawn shall arise and every seed is not set apart, I will cut off thy head.” Replied the other, “Hearing and obeying.” Then the King bade place all the mixed heap in a stead apart, and commanded the suitor retire into solitude; accordingly, he passed alone into that site and looked upon that case and condition, and he sat beside the heap deep in thought, so he set his hand upon his cheek and fell to weeping, and was certified of death. Anon he arose and going forwards attempted of himself to separate the various sorts of grain, but he failed; and had two hundred thousand thousands of men been gathered together for the work they had on nowise availed to it. Hereupon he set his right hand upon his cheek [FN#8] and he fell to weeping and suffered the first third of the dark hours to pass, when he said to himself, “There remaineth naught of thy life save the remnant of this night!” But the while he was conjecturing and taking thought, behold, an army of the locusts to whom he had thrown the flour upon his road came speeding over him like a cloud dispread and said to him with the tongue of the case, [FN#9] “Fear not neither grieve, for we have flocked hither to solace thee and ward from thee the woe wherein thou art: so take thou no further heed.” Then they proceeded to separate each kind of grain and set it by itself, and hardly an hour had passed before the whole sample was distributed grain by grain into its proper place while he sat gazing thereon. After this the locusts arose and went their ways, and when morning dawned the Sultan came forth and took seat in the Hall of Commandment and said to those who were present, “Arise ye and bring hither the youth that we may cut off his head.” They did his bidding but, when entering in to the Prince, they found all the different grains piled separately, sesame by itself and clover-seed alone and lentils distributed apart, whereat they marvelled and cried, “This thing is indeed a mighty great matter from this youth, nor could it befal any save himself of those who came before him or of those who shall follow after him.” Presently they brought him to the Sultan and said, “O King of the Age, all the grains are sorted;” whereat the Sovran wondered and exclaimed, “Bring the whole before me.” And when they brought it he looked upon it with amazement and rejoiced thereat, but soon recovered himself and cried, “O youth, there remain to thee two tasks for two nights; and if thou fulfil them, thou shalt win to thy wish, and if thou fail therein, I will smite thy neck.” Said the Prince, “O King of the Age, the All-might is to Allah, the One, the Omnipotent!” Now when night drew nigh the King opened to him a cistern and said, “Drink up all that is herein and leave not of it a drop, nor spill aught thereof upon the ground, and if thou drain the whole of it, thou shalt indeed attain to thine aim, but if thou fail to swallow it, I will smite thy neck.” The Prince answered, “There is no Majesty and there is no Might save in Allah, the Glorious, the Great!” Then he took his seat at the cistern-mouth and fell to thinking and saying in his mind, “Wherefore, O certain person, shouldst thou venture thy life and incur the cruel consequence of this King on account of thy frowardness to thy father’s wife? and by Allah, this is naught save Jinn-struck madness on thy part!” So he placed his left hand upon his cheek, and in his right was a stick wherewith he tapped and drew lines in absent fashion upon the ground, [FN#10] and he wept and wailed until the third of the first part of the dark hours had passed, when he said in himself, “There remaineth naught of thine age, ho, Such-an-one, save the remainder of this night.” And he ceased not to be drowned in thought when suddenly a host of savage beasts and wild birds came up to him and said with the tongue of the case, “Fear not neither grieve, O youth, for none is faithless to the food save the son of adultery and thou wast the first to work our weal, so we will veil and protect thee, and let there be no sorrowing with thee on account of this matter.” Hereupon they gathered together in a body, birds and beasts, and they were like unto a lowering cloud, no term to them was shown and no end was known as they followed in close file one upon other--And Shahrazad was surprised by the dawn of day, and fell silent and ceased to say her permitted say. Then quoth her sister Dunyazad, “How sweet is thy story, O sister mine, and how enjoyable and delectable!” Quoth she, “And where is this compared with that I would relate to you on the coming night an the King suffer me to survive?” Now when it was the next night and that was

The Four Hundred and Ninety-seventh Night,

Dunyazad said to her, “Allah upon thee, O my sister, an thou be other than sleepy, finish for us thy tale that we may cut short the watching of this our latter night!” She replied, “With love and good will!” It hath reached me, O auspicious King, the director, the right-guiding, lord of the rede which is benefiting and of deeds fair-seeming and worthy celebrating, that the wild beasts and the feral birds met one another beside that cistern and each took his turn thereat and drank without drinking his full [FN#11] until naught of water remained in the reservoir and they fell to licking the sides with their tongues so that anyone seeing it would say that for the last ten years not a drop of liquid had been stored therein. And after this they all went their ways. Now as soon as it was morning-tide the King arose and hied forth the Harem and taking his seat in the Hall of Commandment said to sundry of his pages and Chamberlains, “Go bring us tidings of the cistern.” Accordingly they went thither and inspected it but found no trace of water therein; so they returned straightway to the ruler and reported the matter. Hereupon the Sultan was amazed and his wits were bewildered and he was certified that none had power to win his daughter for wife save that youth. So he cried, “Bring him hither,” and they fared to fetch him and presented him in the presence where he salam’d to the Sovran and deprecated [FN#12] for him and prayed for him. The Sultan greeted him in return and said, “O Youth, there now remaineth with me but a single task which if thou accomplish shall save thee and win for thee my daughter; however if thou fail therein I will smite thy neck.” “Power is to Allah!” exclaimed the Prince whereat the Sultan marvelled and said in his mind, “Glory be to God: the words and works of this youth be wonderful. Whatever I bid him do he beginneth with naming the name of the Lord whereas those who forewent him never suffered me hear aught of the sort. However, the fortunate are Fortune’s favourites and Misfortune never befalleth them.” Now when it was night-tide the Sultan said, “O youth, in very deed this mansion which standeth beside the palace is brand-new and therein are store of wood and timbers of every kind, but it lacketh portals and lattices and the finishing of the cabinets; so I desire that thou make for it doors and windows and closets. I have provided thee with everything thou dost require of carpenter’s gear and turner’s lathes; and either thou shalt work all this during the coming night, or, if thou be wanting in aught and morning shall morrow without all the needful being finished, I will cut 0ff thy head. This is the fine of thy three labours which an thou avail to accomplish thou shalt attain thine aim and if thou fail thereof I will smite thy neck. Such be then my last word.” Accordingly the Prince arose and faring from before him entered the unfinished mansion which he found to be a palace greater and grander than that wherein the King abode. He cried, “O Veiler, withdraw not Thy veiling!” and he sat therein by himself (and he drowned in thought) and said, “By Allah, if at this hour I could find somewhat to swallow I would die thereby and rest from this toil and trouble have been my lot; [FN#13] and the morning shall not morrow ere I shall find repose nor shall any one of the town folk solace himself and say, ‘The Sultan is about to cut off the head of this youth.’ Withal the bye-word hath it, ‘Joyance which cometh from Allah is nearer than is the eyebrow to the eye,’ and if Almighty (be He extolled and exalted!) have determined aught to my destiny, there is no flight therefrom. Moreover one of the Sages hath said, ‘He released me from pillar to post and the Almighty bringeth happiness nearhand.’ From this time until dawn of day many a matter may proceed from the Lord wherein haply shall be salvation for me or destruction.” Then he fell to pondering his affair and thinking over his frowardness to the wife of his father, after which he said, “The slave meditateth and the Lord determineth, nor doth the meditation of the slave accord with the determination of the Lord.” And while thus drowned in care he heard the sound of the Darabukkah-drum [FN#14] and the turmoil of work and the shiftings of voices whilst the house was full of forms dimly seen and a voice cried out to him, “O youth, be hearty of heart and sprightly of spirits; verily we will requite thee the kindness thou wroughtest to us in providing us with thy provision; and we will come to thine aidance this very night, for they who are visiting and assisting thee are of the Jánn from the Valley of Iron.” Then they began taking up the timbers and working them and some turned the wood with lathes, and other planed the material with planes, whilst others again fell to painting and dyeing the doors and windows, these green and those red and those yellow; and presently they set them in their several steads; nor did that night go by ere the labour was perfected and there was no royal palace like unto it, either in ordinance or in emplacement. Now as morning morrowed the Sultan went forth to his divan, and when he looked abroad he saw a somewhat of magnificence in the mansion which was not to be found in his palace, so he said in his surprise, “By Allah, the works of this youth be wondrous and had the joiners and carpenters loitered over three years upon this work they never would have fulfilled such task: moreover we ken not by what manner of means this young man hath been able to accomplish the labour.” Thereupon he sent for the Prince to the presence and robed him with a sumptuous robe of honour and assigned to him a mighty matter of money, saying, “Verily thou deservest, O youth, and thou art the only one who meriteth that thou become to my daughter baron and she become to thee femme.” Presently Sultan Amir ibn al-Nu’uman bade tie the marriage tie and led to her in procession the bridegroom who found her a treasure wherefrom the talisman had been loosed; [FN#15] and the bride rejoiced with even more joyance than he did by cause of her sire, with his three tasks, having made her believe that she would never be wedded and bedded but die a maid, and she had long been in sadness for such reason. Then the married couple abode with the King their father for the space of a month, and all this time the camp of the young Prince remained pitched without the town, and every day he would send to his pages and eunuchs whatso they needed of meat and drink. But when that term ended he craved from the Sultan leave of travel to his own land and his father-in-law answered, “O youth, do whatso thou ever wishest anent returning to thy native realm;” and forthwith fell to fitting out his daughter till all her preparations were completed and she was found ready for wayfare together with her body-women and eunuchs. The Prince having farewelled his father-in-law caused his loads to be loaded and set out seeking his native country and kingdom; and he travelled by day and by night, and he pushed his way through Wadys and over mountains for a while of time until he drew near his own land, and between him and his father’s city remained only some two or three marches. Here suddenly men met him upon the road and as he asked them the tidings they replied that his sire was besieged within his capital of Sind by a neighbour King who had attacked him and determined to dethrone him and make himself Sovereign and Sultan in his stead. Now when he heard this account he pushed forward with forced marches till he reached his father’s city which he found as had been reported; and the old King with all his forces was girded around within his own walls nor could he sally out to offer battle for that the foe was more forceful than himself. Hereupon the Prince pitched his camp and prepared himself for fight and fray; and a many of his men rode with him whilst another many remained on guard at the tents.--And Shahrazad was surprised by the dawn of day and fell silent and ceased saying her permitted say. Then quoth her sister Dunyazad, “How sweet and tasteful is thy tale, O sister mine, and how enjoyable and delectable!” Quoth she, “And where is this compared with that I would relate to you on the coming night an the Sovran suffer me to survive?” Now when it was the next night and that was

The Four Hundred and Ninety-ninth Night,

Dunyazad said to her, “Allah upon thee, O my sister, an thou be other than sleepy, finish for us thy tale that we may cut short the watching of this our latter night!” She replied, “With love and good will!” It hath reached me, O auspicious King, the director, the right-guiding, lord of the rede which is benefiting and of deeds fair-seeming and worthy celebrating, that the Prince busked him for fight and fray seeking to assault the army of the King who had besieged his sire, and the two hosts fought together a strenuous fight and a stubborn. On this wise fared it with them; but as regards the bride, she took patience till such time as her bridegroom had ridden forth, when she donned her weapons of war and veiled herself with a face-veil and sallying forth in Mameluke’s habit presently came up with her mate the Prince whom she found straitened by the multitude of his foes. Now this Princess was mistress of all manner weapons, so she drew her sword from its sheath and she laid on load rightwards and leftwards until the wits of all beholders were wildered and her bridegroom inclined to her and said, “Verily this Mameluke he is not one of our party.” But she continued battling till the sun rose high in the firmament-vault when she determined to attack the ensigns and colours which were flying after right royal of fashion, and in the midst thereof was the hostile Sultan. So she smote the ancient who bore the banner and cast him to the ground and then she made for the King and charged down upon him and struck him with the side of the sword a blow so sore that of his affright he fell from his steed. But when his host saw him unhorsed and prostrate upon the plain they sought safety in flight and escape, deeming him to be dead; whereupon she alighted and pinioned his elbows behind his back and tied his forearms to his side, and lashed him on to his charger and bound him in bonds like a captive vile. Then she committed him to her bridegroom who still knew her not and she departed the field seeking her camp until she arrived there and entered her pavilion where she changed her attire and arrayed herself in women’s raiment. After this she sat down expecting the Prince who, when she had committed to him the captured King, carried him into the city where he found the gates thrown open. Hereupon his sire sallied forth and greeted him albeit he recognised him not but was saying, “Needs must I find the Knight who came to our assistance.” “O my papa,” quoth the Prince, “dost thou not know me?” and quoth the other, “O young man, I know thee not;” whereat the other rejoined, “I am thy son Such-an-one.” But hardly had the old King heard these words when behold, he fell upon him and threw his arms round his neck and was like to lose his sense and his senses for stress of joyance. After a time he recovered and looking upon the captive King asked him, “What was it drave thee to come hither and seek to seize from me my realm?” and the other answered him with humility and craved his pardon and promised not again to offend, so he released him and bade him gang his gait. After this the young Prince went forth and caused his Harim and his pages and whoso were with him enter the city and when they were seated in the women’s apartment the husband and wife fell to talking of their journey and what they had borne therein of toil and travail. At last the Princess said to him, “O my lord, what became of the King who besieged thy sire in his capital and who sought to bereave him of his realm?” and said he, “I myself took him captive and committed him to my father who admitted his excuses and suffered him depart.” Quoth she, “And was it thou who capturedst him?” and quoth he, “Yea verily, none made him prisoner save myself.” Hereupon said she, “Thee it besitteth not to become after thy sire Sovran and Sultan!” and said he, “Why and wherefore?” “For that a lie defameth and dishonoureth the speaker,” cried she, “and thou hast proved thee a liar.” “What made it manifest to thee that I lied?” asked the Prince, and the Princess answered, “Thou claimest to have captured the King when it was other than thyself took him prisoner and committed him to thy hands.” He enquired, “And who was he?” and she replied, “I know not, withal I had him in sight.” Hereupon the bridegroom repeated his query till at last she confessed it was she had done that deed of derring-do; and the Prince rejoiced much in her. [FN#16] Then the twain made an entry in triumph and the city was adorned and the general joy was increased. Now his taking to wife the Lady Fatimah daughter of the Sultan Amir bin Al-Nu’uman so reconciled him to his stepmother, the spouse of his father the Sovran of Sind, that both forgot their differences and they lived ever afterwards in harmony and happiness.

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