THE LOVES OF AL-HAYFA AND YUSUF. [FN#177]
I had a familiar in the Northern region who was called 'Adb al-Jawád and he was one of the greatest of merchants there and made of money; also he loved voyage and travel, and at whatever time I visited him and we forgathered, I and he, we exchanged citations of poetry. Now one day my heart yearned to visit him, so I repaired to his place and found him there; and as we came together we both sat down in friendly converse, I and he; and he said to me "O my brother, do thou hear what happened and was accomplished for me in these times. I travelled to the land of Al-Yaman and therein met a familiar who, when we sat down to talk, I and he, said, 'O my brother, verily there befel me and betided me in the land of Al-Hind a case that was strange and an adventure that was admirable and it ran as follows. There was erewhile a King of the kings of India and one of her greatest, who was abundant in money and troops and guards and he was called Al-Mihrján. [FN#178] This same was a lord of high degree and a majestic and he had lived for a long while of his age without having issue male or female. Wherefor he was full of cark and care wanting one who after him would preserve his memory, so he said in his mind one night of the nights, 'Whenas I die cut off shall be my name, and effaced shall be my fame nor shall anyone remember me.' So saying he raised both hands to Heaven and humbled himself before Allah (be He extolled and exalted!) to vouchsafe him a child who should outlive him with the view that man might not lose the memory of him. Now one night as he was sleeping a-bed dreaming and drowned in slumber behold, he heard a Voice (without seeing any form) which said to him, 'O Mihrjan the Sage, and O King of the Age, arouse thee this moment and go to thy wife and lie with her and know her carnally, for she shall indeed conceive of thee at this very hour and bear thee a child which, an it be a boy shall become thine aider in all thine affairs but will, an it prove a girl, cause thy ruin and thy destruction and the uprooting of thy traces.' When Al-Mihrjan heard from the Speaker these words and such sayings, he left his couch without stay or delay in great joy and gladness and he went to his wife and slept with her and swived her and as soon as he arose from off her she said, 'O King of the Age, verily I feel that I have become pregnant; and (Inshallah--if Almighty Allah please!) this shall prove the case.' [FN#179] When Al-Mihrjan heard the words of his wife he was glad and rejoiced at good news and he caused that night be documented in the archives of his kingdom. Then, when it was morning he took seat upon the throne of his kingship and summoned the Astrologers and the Scribes of characts and Students of the skies and told them what had been accomplished to him in his night and what words he had heard from the Voice; whereupon the Sages one and all struck tables of sand and considered the ascendant. But each and every of them concealed his thought and hid all he had seen nor would any return a reply or aught of address would supply; and said they, 'O King of the Age, verily appearances in dreams hit the mark at times and at times fly wide; for when a man is of a melancholic humour he seeth in his sleep things which be terrible and horrible and he waxeth startled thereat: haply this vision thou hast beheld may be of the imbroglios of dreams so do thou commit the reins to Him who all overreigns and the best Worker is He of all that wisheth and willeth He.' Now when Al-Mihrjan heard these words of the Sages and the Star-gazers he gifted and largessed them and he freed the captives in prison mewed and he clothed the widows and the poor and nude. But his heart remained in sore doubt concerning what he had heard from the Voice and he was thoughtful over that matter and bewildered and he knew not what to do; and on such wise sped those days. Now, however, returneth the tale to the Queen his Consort who, when her months had gone by, proved truly to be pregnant and her condition showed itself, so she sent to inform her husband thereof. He was gladdened and rejoiced in the good news and when the months of gestation were completed the labour-pains set in and she was delivered of a girl-child (praise be to Him who had created and had perfected what He had produced in this creation!), which was winsome of face and lovesome of form and fair fashioned of limbs, with cheeks rosaceous and eyne gracious and eyebrows continuous and perfect in symmetrical proportion. Now after the midwives delivered her from the womb and cut her navel-string and kohl'd her eyes, they sent for King Al-Mihrjan and informed him that his Queen had borne a maid- babe, but when the Eunuchs gave this message, his breast was narrowed and he was bewildered in his wits, and rising without stay or delay he went to his wife. Here they brought to him the new-born when he uncovered her face and, noting her piquancy and elegancy and beauty and brilliancy and size and symmetry, his vitals fluttered and he was seized with yearning sorrow for her fate; and he named her Al-Hayfá [FN#180] for her seemlihead. Then he gifted the midwife'"--And Shahrazad was surprised by the dawn of day 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 Six Hundred and Sixty-third 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 King Al-Mihrjan largessed a robe of honour to the midwife and gifted her with a thousand gold pieces and went forth from beside his daughter. Then they committed her to wetnurses and drynurses and governesses who reared her with the fairest rearing, and after she had reached the age of four they brought to her divines who lessoned her in the art of writing and of making selections [FN#181] and presently she approved herself sharp of wits, clever, loquent of tongue, eloquent of speech, sweet spoken of phrase; and every day she increased in beauty and loveliness and stature and perfect grace. And when she reached the age of fourteen she was well read in science and she had perused the annals of the past and she had mastered astrology and geomancy and she wrote with caligraphic pen all the seven handwritings and she was mistress of metres and modes of poetry and still she grew in grace of speech. Now as her age reached her fourteenth year her sire the Sultan chose for her a palace and settled her therein and placed about her slave-girls, high-bosomed virgins numbering an hundred, and each and every famous for beauty and loveliness; and presently she selected of them a score who were all maidenhoods, illustrious for comeliness and seemliness. These she taught in verse and poetry and in the strangenesses of history and in striking instruments of mirth and merriment until they surpassed all the folk of their day; and she assiduously enjoined upon them the drinking of wine pure and new and boon-companionship with choice histories and strange tales and the rare events of the time. Such was the case with Al-Hayfa; but as regards her father, King Al-Mihrjan, as one night he was lying abed pondering what he had heard from the Voice, suddenly there addressed him a sound without a form and said, "O King of the Age," whereat he was fully aroused by sore terror and his vitals fluttered and his wits were bewildered and he was perplexed as to his affair. So he took refuge with Allah from Satan the Stoned and repeated somewhat of the Koran and fenced himself about with certain of the holy names of Allah the Munificent; then he would have returned to his couch but was unable even to place cheek on pillow. Presently sounded the Voice a second time, saying, "O King of the Age, O Mihrjan, verily shalt thou die by reason of her;" and forthwith improvised the following couplets,
"Ho thou! Hear, O Mihrjan, what to thee shall be said * Learn the drift of my words in these lines convey'd:
Thy daughter, Al-Hayfa (the girded round * With good, and with highest of grade array'd)
Shall bring with right hand to thee ruin-bowl * And reave thee of realm with the sharp-biting blade." [FN#182]
Now when Al-Mihrjan had heard what the Voice had spoken of verse and had produced for him of prose, he was wholly aroused from his sleep and became like one drunken with wine who knew not what he did and his vitals fluttered and increased his cark and care and anxious thought. So he removed from that site into another stead and was stirred up and went awandering about. Then he set his head upon the pillow but was unable to close his eyelids and the Voice drew nearer and cried upon him in frightful accents and said, "O Mihrjan, dost thou not hearken to my words and understand my verse; to wit, that thy daughter Al-Hayfa shall bequeath to thee shame and thou shalt perish by cause of her?" Then the Unseen One recited these couplets, [FN#183]
"I see thee, O Mihrjan, careless-vain * who from hearing the words of the wise dost abstain:
I see Al-Hayfa, by potent lord * Upraised in her charms and speech sweet of strain,
Who shall home thee in grave sans a doubt and she * Shall seize thy king- ship and reave thy reign."
But when Al-Mihrjan had heard the words of the Voice and what it had urged upon him of poetry and of prose-addresses, he arose from his rest in haste and anxiety until Allah caused the morn to morrow and break in its sheen and it shone, whereupon the King summoned the Mathematicians and the Interpreters of dreams and the Commentators on the Koran; and, when they came between his hands, he related to them his vision, fully and formally, and they practised their several arts, making all apparent to them; but they concealed the truth and would not reveal it, saying to him, "Indeed the consequence of thy vision is auspicious."-- 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 Six Hundred and Sixty-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 an of deeds fair-seeming and worthy celebrating, that the Astrologers said to King Al-Mihrjan, "Verily the consequence of thy vision is auspicious;" and on the second night Iblis the Accursed appeared to him under the bodily form of a handsome man and said, "Ho thou the King, I am he who terrified thee yesternight in thy dream, for the reason that thou hast ruined the Monastery of the Archers [FN#184] wherein I lay homed. However an thou wilt edify it again I will favour thee with my counsel, ho thou the King!" Al-Mihrjan replied, "Upon me be its rebuilding an thou wilt honour me with thy advice, ho thou the Voice!" Hereupon Iblis fell to lying with him and saying, "Verily I am thine aider in building thee a palace by the river Al-Kawá'ib, [FN#185] O thou will of me and desire of me!" (Now the folk heard these words spoken aloud.) Then Al-Mihrjan arose from his sleep joyful and cheerful and when morning came he summoned the Mathematicians and Architects and Masons and bade them rebuild the Monastery of the Archers; so they obeyed his bidding until they had completed it in the handsomest fashion and with the best of workmanship. After that the King ordered they construct for his daughter Al-Hayfa a palace unsurpassed by any edifice and perfectly builded and decorated, hard by the river Al-Kawa'ib; moreover that it should be situate in a wady, a hill-girt plain through which meandered the stream. So they obeyed his bidding and laid its foundations and marked with large stones the lines thereof which measured a parasang of length by a parasang of breadth. Then they showed their design to the King, who gathering together his army returned with them to the city. Presently the Architects and Master-masons fell to building it square of corners and towering in air over the height of an hundred ells and an ell; and amiddlemost thereof stood a quadrangular hall with four-fold saloons, one fronting other, whilst in each was set apart a cabinet for private converse. At the head of every saloon a latticed window projected over the garden whereof the description shall follow in its place; and they paved the ground with vari-coloured marbles and alabastrine slabs which were dubbed with bezel stones and onyx [FN#186] of Al-Yaman. The ceilings were inlaid with choice gems and lapis lazuli and precious metals: the walls were coated with white stucco painted over with ceruse [FN#187] and the frieze was covered with silver and gold and ultramarine and costly minerals. Then they set up for the latticed windows colonnettes of gold and silver and noble ores, and the doors of the sitting chamber were made of chaunders-wood alternating with ebony which they studded with jewels and arabesque'd with gold and silver. Also they placed in each sitting-room a pillar of Comorin lign-aloes and the best of sandal-wood encrusted with gems; and over the speak-room they threw cupolas supported upon arches and connecting columns and lighted in the upper part by skylights of crystal and carnelian and onyx. And at the head of each saloon was a couch of juniper-wood whose four legs were of elephants' ivories studded with rubies and over each was let down a hanging [FN#188] of golden weft and a network of gems, whilst higher than the whole was a latticed casement adorned with pearls which were threaded upon golden wire and curtains bearing scented satchels of ambergris. The furniture of the divans was of raw silk stuffed with ostrich- down and the cushions were purfled with gold. The floors of all the saloons were spread with carpets and rugs embroidered with sendal, and in the heart of the Great Hall amiddlemost the four saloons rose a marble jet-d'eau, square of shape, whose corners were cunningly wrought and whose floor and marge were set with gems of every hue. They also placed upon the edges of that fountain figures fashioned of gold and silver representing all manner birds and beasts, each modelled according to his several tint and peculiar form; their bellies too were hollow and from the fountain was conducted a conduit which led the water into their insides and caused it gush from their mouths so that they jetted one at other like two hosts about to do battle. After this the same water returned to the middle of the fountain and thence flowed into the gardens, of which a description will follow in its place. [FN#189] Also the walls of the Great Hall were variegated with wondrous pictures in gold and lapis lazuli and precious materials of every kind, and over the doors of the sitting-places they hung candelabra of crystal with chains of gold wherein were set jewels and jacinths and the costliest stones; after which they inscribed upon the entrance of the speak-rooms couplets to the following purport,
"Clear and clean is our seance from slanderous foe; * And from envious rival whose aim is blame:
None hither may come save the cup-boy, and eke * Cup-comrades who never our fame defame."
Upon the chandeliers themselves were inscribed these lines,
"I am raised in reverence high o'er head * For they see that my gift is the boon of light:
I'm a pleasure to eyesight, so up with you all, * O Seers, and joy ye the joys of my sight."
And upon the Palace-door was inscribed the following quatrain,
"This Mansion's adorned * As delight to mans eye;
O'er its door writ is 'Welcome,' * So safely draw nigh."
And when they had finished this inscription over the doorway, they went forth from the entrance which stood at the head of the Great Hall and proceeded to a square of large space abounding in trees and enjoyable for rills; and they surrounded it with a fencing-wall built of rough stone which they stuccoed over and figured with various paintings. Then they planted this garden with all manner fruit-bearing trees and fragrant herbs and flowers and firstlings of every kind and hue and they trained the branches after a wonderful fashion, leading under their shade leats and runnels of cool water; and the boughs were cunningly dispread so as to veil the ground which was planted with grains of divers sorts and greens and all of vegetation that serveth for the food of man. Also they provided it with a watering wheel whose well was revetted with alabaster [FN#190]--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 Six Hundred and Sixty-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 Architects set up in that palace-garden a water-wheel whose well was revetted with alabaster and whose wood-work and wheel were of chaunders-wood, whilst its pitchers were of fine porcelain and its cordage [FN#191] was of raw silk. And when they were free of this work they edified amongst the scented shrubs and blossoms a towering dome based upon four-square walls of variegated marbles and alabasters studded with carbuncles [FN#192] and its ceiling was supported upon columns of the finest stone with joinery of lign-aloes and sandal, and they dubbed its cupola with jewels and precious stones and arabesque'd [FN#193] it with gold and silver. Then they made therein four saloons more, each fronting other, and at the head of one and all was a latticed window impending over the bloomy shrubs and fragrant herbs; the colonnettes of those casements were silvern whilst the shutters were of sandal-wood plated and studded with precious metals; and over the lintels thereof was an ornamental frieze of gold inscribed with lines of verse which shall be described in its due place. And they inlaid that frieze with rubies and jacinths until it made the cupola resemble the domes of Paradise. Moreover they trained the flowering shrubs and the perfumed herbs to overrun with their tendrils the casements in the drum of the dome, and when they had completed the work and had embellished it with all adornments they pierced for it an entrance and ranged around it three ramparts which, built up with large stones, were in breadth seven cubits. Then they edified for the Palace an impregnable gateway of Chinese steel whereunto led flights of alabastrine steps which were continued to the highmost parts, and lastly they derived the river Al-Kawa'ib till it surrounded the edifice on every side and encircled it as signet-ring girdeth finger or wristlet wrist. Now when the Architects and Master-masons had made an end of building the Palace and its domes and had finished laying out and planting the parterres, they went in to King Al-Mihrjan and kissing ground between his hands informed him thereof; and he, receiving this report, at once took his daughter, Al-Hayfa, and mounting horse, he and the Lords of his land rode forth till they reached the river Al-Kawa'ib which ran at three days' distance from his capital. When he arrived there and looked upon the Palace and its elevation in fortalice-form he was pleased therewith and so were all of his suite and retinue; whereupon he went up to it and beholding the ordinance and the ornamentation and the cupolas and the gardens and the edification and embellishment of the whole, he sent for the Architects and Master-masons and the artificers whom he thanked for their work, and he bestowed upon them robes of honour and gifted and largessed them and assigned to them rations and pay and allowances. So they kissed ground before him and went their ways. Then King Al-Mihrjan and his host withdrew within the Palace, and he bade serve up the trays of viands and sumptuous food for a banquet, after which he and his abode three days in eating and drinking and diversion and disport; and he gave robes of honour to his Wazirs and Emirs and the Grandees of his kingdom, and in fine issued orders for their departure. When they went forth from him, he commanded to summon Al-Hayfa and her women with all their belongings; and she, having made act of presence and having ascended to the Palace and considered it with its beauty and artifice and ornamentation, was pleased and rejoiced therein. The father abode with her three days, and then farewelling her returned to his capital; and she on his departure bade her slave-girls distribute the couches about the saloons placing in each one a seat of ebony plated with glittering gold, whose legs were of elephant's ivory, and over one and all they reared canopies of silk and brocade adorned with jewels and precious metals and bespread them with mattresses and cushions and pillows, and over the floor of the palaces they laid down carpets whereupon was orfrayed this couplet,
"O Friend hereon seated be blythe and gay * Unless hereto bound and debarred of way." [FN#194]
Then they set upon them settees for seats whereupon were inscribed these couplets,
"O Seat, be thy beauty increased evermore; * Fair fall thee with happiness choice and meet;
An I fail in life through my slip and sin, * To-morrow in Heav'n I'll give thee seat."
Then [FN#195] the attendants decorated the whole Palace until it became like unto one of the Mansions of Heaven, and when the women had done her bidding, Al-Hayfa was much pleased, so she took one of the slave-girls by the hand and walked with the rest of them around the Palace considering its artifice and its embellishment, especially the paintings which covered the walls; and they rejoiced thereat, marvelling at the cunning decorations and they were grateful to the Architects who had builded and presented all these representations. And when Al-Hayfa reached the terrace- roof of the Palace she descended by its long flight of steps which led to the river-side, and bidding the door be thrown open she gazed upon the water which encircled it like ring around finger or armlet round arm, and admired its breadth and its swiftness of streaming; and she magnified the work and admired the gateway of steel for its strength and power of defence and sued for pardon of Almighty Allah. [FN#196]--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 Six Hundred and Seventieth 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 Al-Hayfa sued pardon of Allah the Great and took refuge with the Almighty from Satan the Stoned, after which said she, "There is no diverter to whatso is doomed by the Lord nor availeth aught of solicitude against that commanded by the Omnipotent, the All- puissant; and His power is upon me with His destiny and needs must it come to pass." Then she called for a pen-case of gold and she wrote for placing over the gateway of the Palace the following couplets, [FN#197]
"Behold here's a mansion like 'Home of Delight' * Whose sight heals the sick and abates all blight:
Here are roe-like maidens with breasts high raised * And with charms of the straightest stature bedight:
Their eyes prey on the lion, the Desert's lord. * And sicken the prostrate love- felled plight:
Whomso their glances shall thrust and pierce * Naught e'er availeth mediciner's might:
Here Al-Hayfa scion of noble sire * E'en craven and sinner doth fain invite;
And here for the drunken wight there abide * Five pardons [FN#198] and bittocks of bread to bite.
My desire is the maiden who joys in verse, * All such I welcome with me to alight,
And drain red wine in the garth a-morn * where beasts and birds all in pairs unite;
Where rose and lily and eglantine * And myrtle with scent morning-breeze delight,
Orange bloom, gillyflower and chamomile * With Jasmine and palm-bud, a joyful site.
Whoso drinketh not may no luck be his * Nor may folk declare him of reason right!
Wine and song are ever the will of me * But my morning wine lacks a comrade-wight
O who brightenest the Five [FN#199] do thou rise and fetch * By night for my use olden wine and bright:
O thou reading this writ, prithee comprehend: * Cross the stream I swear thee by God's All-might!
This is House of Honour may none gainsay :* Cup-comrade shall be who shall self invite;
For within these gates only women wone, * So of men-folk here thou hast naught to affright."
When Al-Hayfa had finished her writing and what she had improvised of verse and couplets, she bade close the entrance of the Palace and went up, she and her women, to the higher apartments; and the while she was drowned in thought and fell to saying, "Would Heaven I knew an this mighty guard and ward will defend Al-Mihrjan and would I wot if this fortalice will fend off Fate and what fain must be." Then she enjoined her women to high diet and the drinking of wine and listening to intimate converse and the hearing of songs and musical instruments and gladness and gaiety for a while of time; and she felt herself safe from the shifts of chance and change. Such was her case but now we will recount (Inshallah!) what further befel her. [FN#200] In the land of Sind was a King hight Sahl [FN#201] and he was of the Monarchs of might, endowed with puissance and prepotency and exalted degree, abounding in troops and guards and overruling all that fair region. Now Allah (be He extolled and exalted!) had vouchsafed him a son than whom was none in his age fairer of semblance: beautiful exceedingly was he, with a face brighter far than the full moon; and he was of tongue eloquent and of pluck puissant, valorous, formidable. Also he was mighty fond of wine mere and rare and of drinks in the morning air and of converse with the fair and he delighted in mirth and merriment and he was assiduous in his carousing which he would never forego during the watches of the night or the wards of the day. Now for the abundance of his comeliness and the brilliancy of his countenance, whenever he walked abroad in the capital he would swathe his face with the Lithám, [FN#202] lest wax madly enamoured of him the woman-kind and all creation, wherefore he was named the Veiled Yúsuf of Beauty. It chanced one night as he sat carousing with his boon companions that the wine prevailed over him and he became sprightly and frolicsome; so he went forth from the door of his cabinet in a state of drink, understanding naught and knowing nothing of that he did. He wandered about the rooms belonging to his father and there he saw a damsel of the paternal concubines standing at the door of her bower and his wine so mastered him that he went up to her and clasped her to his bosom and threw her backwards upon the floor. She cried aloud to the royal Eunuchs who stood there looking on at him; not one of them, however, dared arrest him or even draw near him to free the girl, so he had his will of her and abated her maidenhead after which he rose up from off her and left her all bleeding [FN#203] from his assault. Now this slave-girl had been gifted to his sire and Yusuf left her to recover her condition when he would have visited her again, but as soon as he had returned to his apartment (and he not knowing what he had done) the Eunuchs took the damsel (she bleeding as before) and carried her to King Sahl who seeing her in such case exclaimed, "What man hath done this to her?" Said they, "'Tis thy son Yusuf;" and he, when he heard the words of his slaves, felt that this matter was hard upon him and sent to fetch the Prince. They hastened to bring him, but amongst the Mamelukes was one lovingly inclined to the youth who told him the whole tale and how his father had bade the body-guards summon him to the presence. And when Yusuf had heard the words of the Mameluke he arose in haste and baldrick'd his blade and hending his spear in hand he went down to the stables and saddled him a steed of the noblest blood and likeliest strain; then he mounted and, taking with him a score of Mamelukes his pages, he sallied forth with them through the city gate and rode on unknowing what was concealed from him in the Secret Purpose--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 Six Hundred and Seventy-second 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 Prince Yusuf, son of King Sahl, went forth the city all unknowing whither he should wend and to what part he should turn, and he ceased not faring with his merry men for ten full-told days, cutting across the wold and wild and the valley and the stone-clad hill, and he was perplext as to his affair. But whilst he was still journeying he came upon the river Al-Kawa'ib and he drew in sight of the castle of Al-Hayfa, which stood amiddlemost that mighty stream with its height and bulk and defensive strength. Hereupon quoth Yusuf to himself, "By Allah, none founded this puissant fortalice in such power and prepotency and forcefulness save for a mighty matter and a cause of much consequence. Would Heaven I wot to whom this belongeth and who dwelleth therein!" Then he applied his mind and had recourse to the knowledge of his companions the Mamelukes and he commanded all his white slaves alight upon the marge of the river for the purpose of rest, and when they had reposed he asked them, "Who amongst you will go down to this stream and will over-swim it and will visit the lord of the Castle and bring us news of it and tidings of its ownership and discover for us the man to whom it belongeth?" But as no one would return him a reply he repeated his words without any answer and he, when he saw that, arose forthright and doffed what he had upon him of dress, all save his shirt only. Then he took his bow and quiver and placing his clothes with his weapon and arrow-case upon his head he went down to the river and swam it until he came forth it on the further side. Here he walked up to the gateway and found an impregnable entrance all of steel which none might avail to open, but when he saw the verses thereon inscribed and understood their significance he gave himself joy and was certified of entering. Then he took from his quiver a pen-case and paper whereupon he inscribed these couplets,
"At your door, O Fountains of weal, I stand * A stranger from home and a-morning bann'd.
Your grace shall haply forfend my foe * And the hateful band of unfriends disband:
I have none resort save your gates, the which * With verse like carcanet see I spann'd:
Ibn Sahl hath 'spied with you safe repair, * So for lonesome stranger approach command!"
And when Yusuf had ended his writing, he folded the paper and made it fast to a shaft; then he took his bow and arming it drew the string and aimed the arrow at the upper terrace, where it dropped within the parapet. Now, by the decree of The Decreer Al-Hayfa was walking there with her women when the shaft fell between her feet and the paper became manifest, so she caught sight of it and took it up and opened it, and having read it understood its significance. Hereat she rejoiced and congratulated herself and her cheeks flushed rosy-red, and presently she went hastily in the direction of the entrance, whilst her women still looked down from the terrace upon the doorway and saw Yusuf a-foot before it. They cried out to their lady, "Verily there standeth below a youth lovely in his youthfulness, with his face gladdening as the crescent moon of Sha'aban." [FN#204] But when Al-Hayfa heard the words of the women she was glad and gave herself joy and sensed an oppression of pleasure, whilst her vitals palpitated and she perspired in her petticoat-trowsers. [FN#205] Then she went down to the gateway which she bade be thrown open, and seeing Prince Yusuf she smiled in his face and welcomed him and greeted him. He returned her salam with sweetness of phrase and softness of words, when said she to him, "Well come and welcome and good cheer to thee, O thou who dost visit us and takest refuge in our demesne [FN#206] and in our presence, for that here thou hast immunity and impunity and civility;" presently adding, "Enter into this guarded stead and feel thou no fear from any foe, for thou hast wrought thy wish and hast attained thine aim and hast won thy will, O fair of face and o perfect of form, O thou whose countenance excelleth the new moon: here thou hast preserved thy life and art saved from foeman's strife." Thereupon she mounted the staircase and he behind her, while the slave-girls surrounded the twain, and she conversed with him and cheered him with fair words and welcomed him once more till they had entered the Castle saloon, when she took his hand and seated him at the head of the hall. But as Yusuf looked upon the fortalice and the beauty of its building and the excellence of its ordinance and the high degree of its decorations which made it like unto the Palaces of Paradise, and as he beheld that furniture and those couches, with what was over them of hangings, and the gems and jewels and precious metals which abounded there, he magnified the matter in his mind and said to himself, "This place belongeth to none save to a mighty monarch!" Then Al-Hayfa bade her women bring a bundle of clothing, and when they had set it between her hands, she opened it and drew forth a suit of Daylakian [FN#207] garments and a caftan of Coptick stuff (fine linen of Misraim purfled with gold), and bestowed them upon him, and she bound around his head an or-fringed Shash [FN#208] with either end gem-adorned. And when he donned the dress his countenance became brilliant and its light shone afar, and his cheeks waxed red as rose, and she seeing this felt her wits bewildered and was like to faint. However, she soon recovered herself and said, "This is no mortal: verily he is naught but of the Hur's of Heaven. Then she bade her women bring food--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 Six Hundred and Seventy-fourth 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 Al-Hayfa bade her women bring the food trays, and when they obeyed her bidding and placed them between the hands of Yusuf he considered them and saw that one was made of Yamání onyx and another of red carnelian and a third of rock crystal, and they bore platters of gold and silver and porcelain and jasper. Upon them were ranged dishes furnished with the daintiest food which perplexed the wits, and sweetmeats and sumptuous meats, such as gazelle's haunch and venison and fatted mutton and flesh of birds, all the big and the small, such as pigeon and rock-pigeon, and greens marinated and viands roasted and fried of every kind and colour and cheeses and sugared dishes. Then she seated Yusuf beside her and served him with all manner cates and confections and conjured him to fall-to and morselled him until he had eaten his sufficiency; after which they twain sat together in laughter and enjoyment each conjoined to other and both cast in the mould of beauty and loveliness and brilliancy and stature and symmetric grace as though in the likeness of a rattan-palm. All this and Al-Hayfa rejoiced in Yusuf, but ever and anon she took thought anent her sire King Al-Mihrjan and his works and she kept saying in her mind, "Would Heaven I wot will he wed me to this youth so charming of inner grace; and, if my father be not satisfied therewith, I will marry my lover in despite of him." And the while Yusuf quoth to himself "Would Heaven I wot how my sire will act in the business of the concubine whose pucelage I did away, and would Heaven I knew if he have ridden forth in search of me, or he have lost sight of me and never asked of me." On this wise either of the twain spoke to themselves, and neither of them believed in safety, all unknowing what was predestined to them by Him who saith to a thing, "Be" and it becometh. So Al-Hayfa and Yusuf sat drowned in the depths of thought, withal their joyance and enjoyment made them clean forget that writ for them by Fate; and the Prince gazing upon the greater tray saw graven upon its edge these couplets,
"For the gathering of friends and familiars design'd * Between hands of Kings and Wazirs I'm shrin'd:
Upon me is whatever taste loves and joys * Of flesh and viands all kinds combin'd:
From me fill thee full of these cates and praise * Thy Lord, the Maker of all mankind."
Then the attendants placed bread upon the trays, and the Prince found writ in moulded letters upon the loaves the couplets that follow,
"And a loaf new-born from the flour of wheat, * White and piping hot from the oven-heat:
Quoth to me my chider, Be wise and say * Soothe my heart and blame not, O friend I greet."
Presently the handmaidens piled upon the trays platters of silver and porcelain (whereof mention hath been made) containing all that lip and tongue gratify of the meat of muttons in fry and Katá-grouse and pigeon-poults and quails and things that fly of every kind and dye which hungry men can long to espy, and Yusuf saw inscribed upon the china dishes the following couplets,
"Platters of china fair * That all men's eyne ensnare,
None seeth in this our town * China of mould so rare.
Then he looked upon the silver plate and found it graven with these lines,
"Plate worked in silver of the brightest white * In height of beauty, O thou joy to sight,
When fully finisht and when perfect made * Becometh chargers peerless in delight."
And portrayed upon the porcelain were all that grow and fly of geese and poultry. Anon a handmaid brought in hand a knife wherewith to carve the meats, and Yusuf looking at the blade saw upon it letters gold-inlaid and forming these verses,
I am blade of finest grain * Wherefrom comes naught of bane:
Fro' my friends all harm I ward * And thy foes by me be slain!"
Hereupon the handmaids ended the ordinance of the table and set everything in its own stead; after which the Princess took seat beside the Prince and said to him, "O my lord, hearten our heart and deign grace to us and honour us by eating with us: this indeed be a day of joy for my union with thee and for thy lighting this my lodging with the splendour of thy semblance so bright and thy beauty so rare and for thine alighting at my home and thine opportune kindness and thine inner graciousness, [FN#209] O thou unique one of the Age and the Time, and O thou who hast no peer in our day and our tide." Now when Yusuf heard the words of Al-Hayfa he said to her, "Wallahi, O thou who the moons adornest and who the sun and the daylight shamest, O lady of brow flower-bright and of stature elegant-slight, O thou who passest in beauty and comeliness all mortal beings, O thou with smile like water sweet and mouth-dews like purest spring and of speech the softest, I wot thou art the lady of goodness and excellence and generosity and liberality." Then she again fell to morselling the Prince until they both had a sufficiency of food, whereupon she bade them fetch water for washing their hands after meat. And they brought to Yusuf a basin of glittering gold, when he rejoiced with exceeding exultation the while he was sunk in meditation, and at times he gazed upon Al-Hayfa and his wits were bewildered and his senses seduced him to some- thing he would do with her for the abundance that was in her of beauty and loveliness. But his reason forbade to him his passion, and quoth he in his mind, "To everything its own time,"-- 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 Six Hundred and Seventy-sixth 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 Yusuf said, "To everything its own time, and soothly sayeth the old saw, Whoso hurrieth upon a matter ere opportunity consent shall at last repent. Now when they brought the basin before him and therein stood an ewer of crystal garnished with gold, he looked at it and saw graven thereupon the following couplets,
"I'm a Basin gold beautifies * For the hands of the great and the wise:
Abased [FN#210] for the cleansing of palms, * Washing hands with the water of eyes."
Thereat he considered the ewer and saw inscribed upon it these lines,
"O rare the Ewer's form whereon must dote * Our hearts and pupils of our eyes fain gloat:
Seems ferly fair to all admiring orbs * You seemly body wi' the slender throat.
And when he had finished washing his hands and had dried them with the napkins he pointed at them and spoke these couplets,
"Groweth my love a-heart and how to hide * When o'er the plains of cheek tear-torrents glide?
I veil what love these sobs and moans betray * With narrowed heart I spread my patience wide.
O Farer to the fountain, [FN#211] flow these eyes * Nor seek from other source to be supplied:
Who loveth, veil of Love his force shall reave, * For tears shall tell his secrets unespied:
I for the love of you am bye-word grown, * My lords, and driven to the Desert-side;
While you in heart of me are homes, your home; * And the heart-dweller kens what there may bide.
When Prince Yusuf had finished his improvisation and the poetry which he produced, Princess Al-Hayfa bussed him upon the brow, and he seeing this waxed dazed of his wits and right judgment fled him and he fell fainting to the floor for a while of time. And when he came to himself he pondered how she had entreated him and his Passion would have persuaded him to do with her somewhat but Reason forbade and with her force he overcame himself. After his improvising Al-Hayfa again saluted him on the front and cried, "Indeed thou hast done well in thy words, O thou with Crescent's brow!" Presently she came for the table of wine and filling a cup drank it off; then she crowned another goblet and passed it to Yusuf who took it and kissed it while she improvised some couplets as follows,
"Thy seduction of lips ne'er can I forbear * Nor deny love-confession for charms so rare:
O thou aim of my eyes, how my longing stay? * O thou tall of form and long wavy hair?
Thy rose-hued cheek showeth writ new-writ [FN#212] * Dimming wine my cups in their rondure bear."
And presently she added, [FN#213]
"I hid his phantom, by the Lord, but showed * My looks the blush his scented cheek had sent:
How veil the joy his love bestows, when I * To blood-red [FN#214] tears on cheek give open vent,
When his uplighted cheek my heart enfires * As though a-morn in flame my heart were pent?
By Allah, ne'er my love for you I'll change * Though change my body and to change consent.
And when Al-Hayfa had finished her improvisation and her poetry, Yusuf drained the goblet and after kissing it returned it to her; but he was as one a-swoon. Then she took it from him and he recovered and presently declaimed for her the following couplets,
"A maiden in your tribe avails my heart with love to fire [FN#215] * And how can I a-hidden bear the love my eyes declare?
The branches of the sand-hill tree remember and recall * What time she softly bent and showed a grace beyond compare;
And taught me how those eyne o'erguard the roses of her cheek * And knew to ward them from the hand to cull her charms would dare."
As soon as Yusuf had finished his improvisation and what of poetry he had produced, Al-Hayfa took seat by his side and fell to conversing with him in sweetest words with softest smiles, the while saying, "Fair welcome to thee, O wonder of beauty and lovesome in eloquence and O charming in riant semblance and lord of high degree and clear nobility: thou hast indeed illumined our place with the light of thy flower-like forehead and to our hearts joyance hast thou given and our cares afar hast thou driven and eke our breasts hast made broad; and this is a day of festival to laud, so do thou solace our souls and drain of our wine with us for thou art the bourne and end and aim of our intent." Then Al-Hayfa took a cup of crystal, and crowning it with clear-strained wine which had been sealed with musk and saffron, she passed it to Prince Yusuf. He accepted it from her albeit his hand trembled from what befel him of her beauty and the sweetness of her poetry and her perfection; after which he began to improvise these couplets,
"O thou who drainest thy morning wine * With friends in a bower sweet blooms enshrine
Place unlike all seen by sight of man * In the lands and gardens of best design--,
Take gladly the liquor that quivers in cup * And elevates man, this clean aid of the Vine:
This goblet bright that goes round the room * Nor Chosroës held neither Nu'uman's line.
Drink amid sweet flowers and myrtle's scent * Orange-bloom and Lily and Eglantine,
And Rose and Apple whose cheek is dight * In days that glow with a fiery shine;
'Mid the music of strings and musician's gear * Where harp and pipe with the lute combine;--
An I fail to find her right soon shall I * Of parting perish foredeemed to die!"
Then Al-Hayfa responded to him in the same rhyme and measure and spake to him as follows,
"O thou who dealest in written line * Whose nature hiding shall e'er decline;
And subdued by wine in its mainest might * Like lover drunken by strains divine, [FN#216]
Do thou gaze on our garden of goodly gifts * And all manner blooms that in wreaths entwine;
See the birdies warble on every bough * Make melodious music the finest fine.
And each Pippet pipes [FN#217] and each Curlew cries * And Blackbird and Turtle with voice of pine;
Ring-dove and Culver, and eke Hazár, * And Katá calling on Quail vicine;
So fill with the mere and the cups make bright * With bestest liquor, that boon benign;--
This site and sources and scents I espy * With Rizwan's garden compare defy."
And when Al-Hayfa had ended her improvisation and what she had spoken to him of poetry, and Yusuf had given ear to the last couplet, he was dazed and amazed and he shrieked aloud and waxed distraught for her and for the women that were beside and about her, and after the cry he fell fainting to the ground. But in an hour [FN#218] he came to, when the evening evened and the wax candles and the chandeliers were lighted, his desire grew and his patience flew and he would have risen to his feet and wandered in his craze but he found no force in his knees. So he feared for himself and he remained sitting as before.--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 Six Hundred and Seventy-eighth 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 when Yusuf remained sitting as before, Al-Hayfa asked him saying, "How art thou hight, O dearling of my heart and fruit of my vitals?" Here- upon he told her his name and the name of his sire, and related to her the whole of what had befallen him, first and last, with the affair of the concubine and his faring forth from his own city and how he had sighted her Palace and had swum the stream and shot the shaft that carried the paper, after which he recited to her these couplets,
"I left my home for a fair young maid * Whose love my night with its light array'd;
Yet wot I not what her name may be * Thus ignorance mating with union forbade.
But when of her gifts I was certified * Her gracious form the feat easy made;
The King of Awe sent my steps to her * And to union with beauty vouchsafed me aid:
Indeed disgrace ever works me shame * Tho' long my longing to meet I'm afraid."
When Al-Hayfa heard his name her great love to him waxed greater. Then she took the lute upon her lap and caressed it with her finger-tips when it sighed and sobbed and groaned and moaned [FN#219] and she fell to singing these verses,
"A thousand welcomes hail thy coming fain, * O Yusuf, dearling son of Sahl's strain:
We read thy letter and we understood * Thy kingly birth from sand that told it plain: [FN#220]
I'm thine, by Allah, I the loveliest maid * Of folk and thou to be my husband deign:
Bruit of his fair soft cheek my love hath won * And branch and root his beauty grows amain:
He from the Northern Realms to us draws nigh * For King Mihrjan bequeathing ban and bane;
And I behold him first my Castle seek * As mate impelled by inspiration fain.
The land upstirs he and the reign he rules * From East to West, the King my father slain;
But first he flies us for no fault of ours * Upon us wasting senseless words and vain:
E'en so Creation's Lord hath deigned decree, * Unique in Heaven--glorified be He!" [FN#221]
Now when Yusuf heard the words of Al-Hayfa he rejoiced with exceeding joy and she was gladdened in like manner, after which he gifted her with all that was upon him of gear and in similar guise she doffed what dress was upon her and presented it to him. [FN#222] Then she bade the slave-girls bring her an especial suit and they fetched her a second bundle and she clothed Yusuf with what was therein of sumptuous clothes. After this the Prince abode with Al-Hayfa as an inmate of her palace for a term of ten days in all the happiness of life, eating and drinking and enjoying conjugal intercourse. [FN#223] Presently Almighty Allah (be He extolled and exalted!) decreed that, when all tidings of Yusuf son of Sahl were lost, his sire sent in search of him Yahyà, [FN#224] his cousin and the son of his maternal aunt, amongst a troop of twenty knights to track his trail and be taught his tidings until Allah (be He glorified and magnified!) guided him to the pages who had been left upon the river-bank. Here they had tarried for ten days whilst the sunshine burnt them and hunger was exterminating them; and when they were asked concerning their lord, they gave notice that he had swum the stream and had gone up to yonder Castle and had entered therein. "And we know not (they ended) whether he be alive or dead." So the lord Yahya said to them, "Is there amongst you any will cross the current and bring us news of him?" But not one of them would consent and they remained in silence and confusion. So he asked them a second time and a third time yet none would rise up before him and hearten him to attempt the dangers of the stream, whereupon he drew forth his ink-case of brass and a sheet of paper and he fell to writing the following verses,
"This day I have witnessed a singular case * Of Yusuf scion to Sahl's dear race:
Since he fared at undurn his sire was grieved * And the Palace remained but an empty place:
I liken the youth to full moon 'mid stars * Disappeadng and darkening Earth's bright face.
'Tis my only fear that his heart is harmed, * Brent by Love-fires lacking of mercy and grace:
By Allah, albeit man's soul thou rule * Among stranger folk thou art but an ace!"
Presently he took a reed and grasping it thrust thereinto the twisted and folded paper, after which he stopped the hole with wax; then, lashing it to the surface of the shaft, he set it upon the bow-handle and drew the string and shot the bolt in the direction of the Castle, whither it flew and fell at the foot of the staircase beside the main entrance. It so fortuned at that time a slave-girl came forth to fill her pitcher with water and she found the arrow and picked it up and carried it to her lady who was sitting in the speak-room at converse with Yusuf. Hereupon the Prince hent the reed in hand and broke it and drew forth the paper which he opened and read and comprehended. Hereupon he wept with exceeding great weeping until he fell to the floor a-faint and the Princess took the note from his grasp and perused it, and it was hard upon her, so she bade them beat the slave-girl who brought the writ with an hundred blows and they bastinadoed her till she lost her senses. But when Yusuf recovered, he thought of his pages and his people and his homestead and his family and he cried to Al-Hayfa, "Wallahi, I have sinned with a great sin when I left my suite in the desert; and Satan garred me forget them and the wine made me mindless of them and banished from my thought my folk and my home. And now 'tis my desire to fare and look upon my pages and to forgather with Yahya my cousin, the son of the King's sister and greet them and dismiss them to their homesteads, after which I will return to thee forthright." Quoth she, "By Allah, I may not patient myself away from thee a single hour otherwise shall my spirit depart my body, and I conjure thee by the Almighty that thou bid me return to them a reply!" Quoth Prince Yusuf, "What news wilt thou give them? An thou say that I never came to thee none will believe; for indeed my pages saw me passing into thy Palace"--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 Six Hundred and Eightieth 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 Prince Yusuf said to the Princess Al-Hayfa, "Indeed my pages saw me passing into the Palace and have given him [FN#225] tidings to that effect." And she responded to him with fairest response and tenderness of terms and gem-like verse. Then she took her ink-case and paper and a brazen pen and would have written but he forbade her, saying by way of deprecation "This be not the right rede! An thou return a reply my slaves will take it and will bear it to my native country and will inform the folk of all our adventure: 'tis better far that I fare to them myself and greet them and going with them to my own country satisfy my sire, after which I will return to thee in hottest haste. And do not thou on this wise, for we fear lest our affair be made public and this our case be reported to thy royal father, and it prove hard to him by reason that all such talk in the case of the Kings is to them mighty grievous. Moreover, when he shall be acquainted with the truth he will either transport thee to his presence or he shall place over this Palace guards who may forbid thee from me and forbid me from thee, and this shall be a cause of our separation each from other." But Al-Hayfa shrieked aloud when she heard these words and wept and wailing said, "O my lord, prithee take me with thee, me and my handmaids and all that be in this my Palace." Said he, "I will not delay from thee save for the space of my wayfare an I live and Allah Almighty preserve me." Hereat she wept with loud weeping and groaned, and love-longing surged up in her and she fell to repeating the following couplets,
"Rain, O mine eyeballs, gouts of blood beshed * From clouds of eyelids e'en as grass turns red.
O mighty bane that beatest on my bones * And oh heart-core, that melts with fire long-fed!
My soul's own dearling speedeth on his march * Who can be patient when his true love sped?
Deal kindly with my heart, have ruth, return * Soon to my Castle nor be long misled."
And when Al-Hayfa had ended her verse, Yusuf wept with sore weeping and cried, "By Allah, I had intended to return to thee after I had fared to them and had settled the matter in hand. But suffer me dismiss those who have come for me and seek reunion with thee, Inshallah--an it be the will of Allah Almighty." Then he farewelled her and doffed what he had of dress, and when Al-Hayfa asked him, "Wherefore take off these clothes?" he answered, [FN#226] "I will not inform anyone of our news, and indeed this dress mostly befitteth womenkind." Then he went forth from her with a grief-bound heart and she wept and cried, "Help! Help!" [FN#227] and all her women shrieked and shed tears over parting with him. But as soon as Yusuf passed out of the palace-door he took off the gown which was upon him and turband'd it around his head together with his bow and quiver, and he stinted not to stem the stream until he had reached the further bank where he found and greeted the lord Yahya and his Mamelukes. They all kissed his hand, and his cousin enquired of him, "What is the cause of thy disappearing from these thy men for a space of ten days?" He replied, "By Allah, O son of my aunt, when I went up to yonder Palace, I found there a Youth of the sons of the kings, who welcomed and greeted me as a guest and honoured me with the highmost honour and favoured me with the fullest favour. But when I would have taken leave of him, the air smote me [FN#228] and fell upon my loins and laid me up so that I feared to swim the stream and the unease that was upon me increased, and such is the reason of my delaying away from you." Then he took horse together with Yahya and the pages, and they all sought their homes and cut across the wilds and the wastes and the vales and the stony hills until they drew near to their destination and their city rose clear before eyes of them. As soon as they reached it the tidings were told to King Sahl [FN#229] who made ready for faring forth, he and the lords of his land, to meet and greet his son and heir Yusuf; and meanwhile he bade decorate the capital with the choicest decorations and ornaments and adornments. The lieges gave one another joy of their Prince's safe return, and clothed their city in gala-guise, and the father having met the son alighted from his steed and embraced him and kissed him between the eyes, and personally conducting him up to the Palace did him due honour and largessed him; and so great and lasting was their joy that the day of arrival became high holiday. As soon as night fell, Prince Yusuf repaired to his own Palace where he was met by his mother and his women who were as full moons a-rising; and the spouses numbered three, besides forty concubines. However he turned away from them and he lay alone that night moaning even as moaneth the dove for the loss of her mate; and he regarded not one of those wives and lemans, and he passed the dark hours in brooding over the loss of his beloved, and in weeping and in the reciting of poetry-- 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 Six Hundred and Eighty-second 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 Yusuf passed the night weeping and improvising verse, but he let not fall a word of explanation fearing lest he divulge his secret; and his spouses supposed that he was wroth with his sire and knew not what there was in his vitals of exceeding desire to Al-Hayfa. But when brake the day he was roused and gazing upon the rise of awaking Dawn he pondered the happy mornings which had passed; so he wept and complained and moaned like the culver and he fell to reciting these couplets,
"No joy but you in house and home I know * Save bitter heart and tears that ever flow;
Nor with mine eyes I view aught save yourselves * Whenas in lowe of love-desire I glow:
My heart enjoys but gust and greed for you, * Mine eyelids own no joy save wake and woe:
O blaming me for them, avaunt, by God * Nor leave me fancy-free, worst gift of foe!"
And when Yusuf had finished his poetry he fell into a fainting fit and he quivered as quivereth the fowl with cut throat, [FN#230] and he came not to himself save when the sun had arisen arraying the lowlands with its rays. Then he waxed wood and sat with eyes at the ground, a-gazing and not accosting nor answering aught, and lastly he took to his pillow. These tidings presently reached the King his father, who accompanied by the Lords of his land came to him and after greeting him said, "O my son, whom I would ransom with my life, what contagion hath come upon thee of disease, and whereof dost thou complain?" Quoth he, "O my father, the air hath struck me and hath cut my joints," [FN#231] and quoth his father, "O my son, Almighty Allah vouchsafe ease thee of this thy disease." Then the King mounted and went forth from him, and sent a leach which was a Jew [FN#232] of wits penetrating and sagacious. The man went in to him, and sitting beside him felt his joints and asked him of his case; but he held his peace nor would return aught of reply. So the Israelite knew that he was a lover and in the depths of love bedrowned; accordingly he left him and told the King that the Prince had no complaint save that he was a hot amourist and distraught of vitals. Hereupon his mother came to Yusuf and said, "O my son, fear Almighty Allah for thy soul, and have some regard for thy wives and concubines and yield not to thy passions which will mislead thee from the path of Allah." But he deigned not answer her. In this condition he remained until three days sped, taking no taste of meat or drink, nor finding pleasure in any stead, nor aught of rest a-bed. Presently he bade summon a Mameluke of the Mamelukes Hilal hight, and asked him, "O Hilal, say me wilt thou be my companion in travel?" whereto the other answered, "Yea, verily, O my lord, to hear is to obey thee in all thou devisest and desirest." Hereupon the Prince bade him saddle a steed of the purest blood, whose name was "The-Bull-aye-ready-and-for-Battle-day- steady," [FN#233] a beast which was a bye-word amongst the folk. The Prince waited until the first third of the night had gone by when he mounted the courser and placed Hilal his Mameluke upon the crupper, and they cut once more the wilds and the wastes until they sighted hard-by the river Al-Kawa'ib and the Castle of Al-Hayfa rising from its waters. Hereupon Yusuf fell to the ground in a swoon, and he when he recovered said to Hilal, "Do thou ungirth the horse's saddle and hide it within the cave amid the rocks;" and the Mameluke did as he was bidden and returned to him. Herewith Prince Yusuf turband'd himself with his clothes and those of his man and backing the horse bade Hilal hang on by its tail, then the beast breasted the stream and ceased not swimming with them until it reached the farther side. There Yusuf dismounted and knocked at the door when a confidential handmaid established in the good graces of her mistress, [FN#234] came down and threw it open, after which she embraced him and kissed his hands and his breast and his brow between the eyes. Then she ran up and informed thereof her lady who with wits bedazed for excess of joy hurried down to him and threw her arms round his neck, and he threw his arms round hers, and she clasped him to her bosom, and he clasped her to his, and he kissed her and she kissed him, and they exchanged accolades, after which they both of them fell fainting to the floor until the women who stood by thought that they had been reaped by Death, and that their latest hour had been doomed. But when they recovered from their swoon they complained and wept, each lamenting to other the pains of parting, and lastly she asked him concerning Hilal, and he answered, "This is a Mameluke of the number of my Mamelukes." So she marvelled how two men had come upon one horse, [FN#235] and quoth she to him, "O Yusuf, thou hast indeed tortured me with thine absence;" and quoth he to her, "By Allah (and beside Him God there is none!) my hand never touched or woman or aught of feminine kind or of she-Jinn or Jinn kind, but in me desire for thee ever surged up, and wake and in vitals a fiery ache." Then the Princess bade her handmaids wend with Hilal in a body to the garden, and when they obeyed her bidding she arose and walked forth with Yusuf. And Shahrazad was surprised by dawn of day and fell silent and ceased to say her permitted say. Then quoth her sister Dunyazad, "How sweet and tasteful 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 Six Hundred and Eighty-fourth 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 Al-Hayfa walked forth with Yusuf and led him to the saloon of session where they passed their day in privacy, he and she, and right joyous was the joy of them twain. After this the Prince abode with her thirty full-told days in merriment prime and pleasure and wine. But when that time had elapsed, she said to him, "O light of my eyes, do thou arise and go up with me to the highmost post of the Palace that we may look upon this flow of stream and command a view of these mounts and mountains and these wilds and valleys wherein wander the gazelles." Thereupon the twain fared together and solaced themselves with the spectacle of the antelopes browsing on the desert growth, when quoth Al-Hayfa, "Ah, O my lord, would I had for captive one of these herding roes to keep beside me in the Palace," and quoth he, "By the rights of thine eyes, and the night of their pupils, I indeed will fill the place with them." Hereupon he went forth from her in haste, albeit she hung on to him and forbade him from that, and she invoked upon herself a mighty strong invocation, yet would he not be stayed, but taking his horse and saddling it he left his Mameluke Hilal in the Castle and swam the stream upon his steed, and rode through the wold in quest of the gazelles. He ceased not chasing them till he had taken three, [FN#236] which he tied fast and slung upon his courser and rode back until he had reached the river-bank, and Al-Hayfa sat looking at him as he pounced upon and snatched up the roes from his courser's back like a lion and she wondered with extreme wonderment. But when he had made sure of his place on the water-side and purposed returning to the palace, lo and behold! he saw a batel [FN#237] manned by sundry men coming towards him down-stream from the direction of his capital. Now Al-Hayfa, who was in her bower, expected the craft to be sent, bearing rarities and presents, by her sire King Al-Mihrjan; and Yusuf, when he looked upon its approach, was certified that it came from her father. So he delayed going down to the river till he had seen what action might be taken by the batel, but when the Princess sighted it she made sure of its coming from her sire, so she bade bring paper for note and a pen of brass wrought wherewith she wrote in verse and lastly indited to Yusuf these couplets,
"O my need, thou hast left me a-field to fare * When come is a craft which our men doth bear:
I deem she be sent by Al-Mihrján * And it bringeth of provaunt a goodly share:
So loiter a little, then back to us * And obey my bidding, O Beauty rare." [FN#238]
Then she made fast the paper to a shaft and setting it upon a bow-handle drew the string aiming high in air, and the arrow fell between the feet of the Prince, who seeing it took it up and read the writ and comprehended its meaning and full significance. So he hung back and he turned to wandering amongst the mountains, but anon he said in himself, "There is no help but that I discover this matter." Then he dismounted from his steed and stabled it in a cave hard-by, and having loosed the antelopes he propped himself against a rock and fell to gazing upon the batel, which ceased not floating down until it made fast at the Palace gate. Hereupon there issued from it a youth, singular of comeliness, whom Al-Hayfa greeted and embraced, and forth- right led within her Palace. Presently came forth from the batel the four pages that were therein, and amongst them was a man hight Mohammed ibn Ibráhim, one of the King's cup-companions, whereas the youth she had embraced was her cousin, named Sahlúb, the son of her maternal aunt. But when Yusuf looked upon this lover-like reception, his wits were wildered and the sparks started from his eyes, and he deprecated and waxed care-full and indeed he was like one Jinn-mad, and he cried, "Walláhi, I will stay away from them this night and see whatso they do." Now Al-Hayfa had left her trusty handmaid at the Palace gate, saying to her, "Tarry here alone: haply Yusuf shall return during the dark hours, when do thou open to him the door." Then she returned to her guests and bade serve the table of wine and seated Sahlub and Ibn Ibrahim, and took seat between them after she had hidden the Mameluke Hilal in a closet and she had disposed of the pages about the Palace-sides. Then they fell to drinking wine. Such was the case with these; but as regards Yusuf, he took patience until the dark hours drew near, when he swam the stream and he came forth it to the Palace-door, at which he knocked a light knock. Hereupon the porter-hand-maiden opened to him and he accosted her and questioned her concerning her lady, and was told that she was sitting with her cousin and the prime favourite and cup-companion of her sire. So quoth he to the girl, "Say me, canst thou place me in some commanding place that I may look upon them?" and she did accordingly, choosing a site whence he might spy them without being espied. He gazed at them as one distraught, while Al-Hayfa engaged them in converse and improvised verse to them; and this was so distressful to him that at last he asked the slave-girl, "Say me, hast thou by thee ink-case and paper?" 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 Six Hundred and Eighty-sixth 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 Prince Yusuf took from the handmaid the pen-case and paper, and waxing void of sense through jealousy, fell to writing the following couplets,
"Indeed I deemed you of memory true * And our hearts as one that had once been two;
But I found to my sorrow you kept no pact: * This much and you fain of unfaith I view.
Ill eye ne'er looketh on aught but love * Save when the lover is hater too.
You now to another than us incline * And leave us and homeward path pursue;
And if such doings you dare gainsay, * I can summon witness convicting you;
To the Lion, wild dogs from the fount shall drive * And shall drink themselves, is none honour due.
That I'm not of those who a portion take * In love, O Moslems, I know ye knew."
This done, he folded the paper and gave it to the slave-girl crying, "Say me, dost thou know where be Hilal?" and as she replied "Yes," he told her to fetch him. So she went and brought him, and when he came his lord dismissed the girl on some pretext; then he opened the Castle-door and turband'd himself with his gear and that of his Mameluke, and the twain went down to the river and swam the stream until they reached the other side. When they stood on terra firma, the Prince found his horse and saddled and mounted him, taking Hilal upon the crupper, and rode forth to his own country. Such was the case with Yusuf; but as regards Al-Hayfa, when she awoke a-morn, she asked of her lover and her handmaid handed to her the letter; so she took it and read it and mastered its meaning and significance, after which she wept with excessive weeping until she fainted and the blood issued from her eyes. Presently she came to herself and dismissed Sahlub and his companions; then she said to Ibn Ibrahim, "Rise thou and depart our presence; haply some wight may come to us and swim the stream and pass into the Palace." But Ibn Ibrahim remained behind while Sahlub departed with those about him; and when they had left the company, Al-Hayfa asked, "O Ibn Ibrahim, say me, canst thou keep my secret and my being fascinate [FN#239] by love?" and he answered, "Yea, verily, O my lady, how should I not conceal it for thee, when thou art my mistress and princess and the daughter of my master, even though I keep it inside mine eyes?" So she continued, "O Ibn Ibrahim, there came to me a youth named the Veiled Yusuf of Beauty, son of King Sahl, Sovran of Sind; and I waxed enamoured of him and he waxed enamoured of me, and he abode with me two score of days. One day of the days, quoth I to him, 'Come up with me to the Palace-roof that we may gaze upon the view,' when we saw from its height a herd of gazelles, and I cried, 'Ah that I had one of these!' Hereat said he, 'By Allah, and by the life of thine eyes and by the blackness of their pupils, I will in very deed fill thy Palace therewith,' and with such words he went forth and saddled his steed and swam the river to the further side, where he rode down three roes within sight of me. Then I looked city-ward up stream and saw a batel cleaving the waters, whereby I knew that my father had sent me somewhat therein; So I wrote to the Prince and shot the paper bound to a shaft and bade him hide away from your faces until ye should have departed. So he concealed himself within a cave where he tethered his horse, then he sought tidings of me, and seeing my cousin Sahlub, he was seized by jealousy. So he lingered till yesternight, when he again swam the stream and came to the Palace where I had posted Rádih, the handmaid, bidding her take seat beside the door lest haply he should enter; and presently she opened to him and he sought a place commanding a sight of us, and he saw me sitting with you twain, and both of you were carousing over your wine. Now this was sore to him; so he wrote to me yonder note, and taking his Mameluke with him, fared forth to his own folk; and my desire is that you hie to him." [FN#240]--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 Six Hundred and Eighty-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 quoth Al-Hayfa to Ibn Ibrahim, "I devise that thou hie to Yusuf with this letter;" whereto quoth he, "Hearkening is obedience: I will, however, take this thy writ and wend with it first to my own folk, after which I will mount my horse and fare to find him." So she largessed him with an hundred gold pieces and entrusted to him the paper which contained the following purport in these couplets,
"What state of heart be this no ruth can hoard? * And harm a wretch to whom none aid accord,
But sobs and singulfs, clouds that rain with tears * And seas aye flowing and with gore outpour'd;
And flames that rage in vitals sickness-burnt * The while in heart-core I enfold them stor'd.
Yet will I hearten heart with thee, O aim! * O Ravisher, O Moslems' bane ador'd:
Ne'er did I look for parting but 'twas doomed * By God Almighty of all the lords the Lord."
Then Mohammed Ibn Ibrahim took the paper and Al-Hayfa said to him, "Ho thou! Inform none that thou wast sitting beside me on that night." Then he went forth until he drew near his folk and there he mounted a she-dromedary and pushed her pace until he arrived at the capital of Sind. He asked for the son of the King; and when they had directed him thereto he entered and found the Prince in privacy; so he kissed hands and gave him the writ which he took and opened and read. But when he had comprehended its object and purport, he turned and re-turned it with stern regards until he had well nigh torn it to tatters. Then he threw it to Ibn Ibrahim who said to him, "O lord of the Time and the Tide, 'tis not on this wise that the sons of the Kings cast away an address without returning aught of reply." Quoth he, "There is no response from me," and quoth Ibn Ibrahim, "O King of the Age, pity that thou mayest be pitied!" [FN#241] Hereupon the Prince called for pen-case and paper of note and pen of brass wrought [FN#242] and wrote in reply to her poetry the following couplets,
"Al-Hayfá with verses a-tip of tongue * Comes suing mercy for love so strong:
She hath no mercy fro' me, but still * She pleadeth a plea that our love was long:
She falsed, turned face, doubted, recked her naught * And her hard false heart wrought me traitor's wrong:
Were my heart now changèd her love to woo * She with quick despisal my heart had stung:
Were my eyne to eye her, she'd pluck them out * With tip of fingers before the throng:
Soft and tranquil life for her term she seeks * While with hardness and harshness our souls are wrung.
Then Yusuf folded the paper and handed it to Ibn Ibrahim and ordered him a robe of honour and an hundred dinars. So he took them and rode forth until he drew near the Palace of Al-Hayfa, when he tethered his dromedary and hid her in a cave whose mouth he walled with stones. Then he went down to the river and swam it till he reached the other side; and entering into the presence of Al-Hayfa he drew forth the paper and committed it to her. But she, after perusing it, wept with sore weeping and groaned until she swooned away for excess of tears and for the stress of what had befallen her. Such was the effect of what she had read in the letter, and she knew not what might be the issue of all this affair and she was perplext as one drunken without wine. But when she recovered she called for pen-case and paper, and she wrote these improvised couplets,
"O Lord of folk, in our age alone * And O Raper of hearts from the bonny and boon:
I have sent to thee 'plaining of Love's hard works * And my plaint had softened the hardest stone:
Thou art silent all of my need in love * And with shafts of contempt left me prone and strown."
And after she had ended writing she folded her note and gave it to Ibn Ibrahim who took it, and cried to his slaves, "Saddle my she-dromedary,", after which he mounted and fared until he had made the city of Sind. Then he repaired to Yusuf and after greetings handed the letter to him, but the Prince after perusing it [FN#243] threw it in his face, and presently rose and would have left him. But Ibn Ibrahim followed him and heard him say to his pages, "Send him back without beating him," and they did accordingly, after forbidding him the place. So he again bestrode his she-camel and ceased not pushing on till he arrived at the Palace of Al-Hayfa where he presented himself in her presence. [FN#244] But when he handed to her the writ she found it was that very same she had sent to the Prince, so she wept and sorrow was sore upon her and presently she cried, "O Ibn Ibrahim what's to do?" He replied, "When I delivered thy writ to him, he brake its seal and read it and threw it in my face: then he rose in wrath from beside me, and as I followed he bade his slaves and pages drive me away, adding, 'I have for her nor answer nor address'; and this was all he did." When the Princess heard his words, she felt the matter to be grievous, and she wept unknowing how she should act, and fainted for awhile, and when she recovered she said, "O Ibn Ibrahim, what is this affair and on what wise shall I behave? Do thou advise me in my case; and haply joy shall come to me from thy hand, for that thou be a Counsellor of the Kings and their boon-companion." "O my lady," he replied, "do thou not cut off thy tidings from him and haply shall Almighty Allah change his heart from case to case and peradventure insistence overcometh hindrance." [FN#245] Quoth she, "Had he sent me a reply I had been rightly directed as to what I should write, but now I wot not what to indite, and if this condition long endure I shall die." "Address him again," answered he, "and I will fare back once more and fain would I ransom thee with my life, nor will I return without a reply."--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 Six Hundred and Eighty-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 Ibn Ibrahim said to Al-Hayfa, "Do thou write to him and there is no help but that I return to thee with a reply, albe life depart from me." Then she asked for pen-case and paper and thereon indited the following couplets,
"Ah would thou knew what I of parting dree * When all my hiddens show for man to see;
Passion and longing, pine and lowe o' love * Descend surchargèd on the head of me:
God help the days that sped as branches lopt * I spent in Garden of Eternity. [FN#246]
And I of you make much and of your love * By rights of you, while dearest dear be ye: [FN#247]
May Allah save you, parted though we be, * While bide I parted all unwillingly:
Then, O my lord, an come thou not right soon * The tomb shall home me for the love of thee."
And when she had written her reply, she largessed Ibn Ibrahim with an hundred dinars, after which he returned [FN#248] to the capital of Sind, where he found Yusuf issuing forth to hunt; so he handed to him the letter, and the Prince returning citywards set apart for him a fair apartment and spent the livelong night asking anent Al-Hayfa. And when it was morning he called for pen-case and paper whereupon he wrote these improvised couplets,
"You dealt to us a slender dole our love mote satisfy, * Yet nor my gratitude therefor nor laud of me shalt gain:
I'm none of those console their hearts by couplets or by verse * For breach of inner faith by one who liefly breaks the chain:
When so it fortunes she I love a partner gives to me * I wone in single bliss and let my lover love again:
Take, then, what youth your soul desires; with him forgather, for * I aim not at your inner gifts nor woo your charms I deign:
You set for me a mighty check of parting and ill-will * In public fashion and a-morn you dealt me bale and bane:
Such deed is yours and ne'er shall it, by Allah satisfy * A boy, a slave of Allah's slaves who still to slave is fain."
Then Prince Yusuf robed Ibn Ibrahim in a robe of green; and giving him an hundred gold pieces, entrusted him with the letter which he carried to Al-Hayfa and handed it to her. She brake the seal and read it and considered its contents, whereupon she wept with sore weeping which ended in her shrieking aloud; and after she abode perplext as to her affair and for a time she found no sweetness in meat and drink, nor was sleep pleasant to her for the stress of her love-longing to Yusuf. Also her nature tempted her to cast herself headlong from the terrace of the Palace; but Ibn Ibrahim forbade her saying, "Do thou write to him replies, time after time; haply shall his heart be turned and he will return unto thee." So she again called for writing materials and indited these couplets, which came from the very core of her heart,
"Thou art homed in a heart nothing else shall invade; * Save thy love and thyself naught shall stay in such stead;
O thou, whose brilliancy lights his brow, * Shaped like sandhill-tree with his locks for shade,
Forbid Heaven my like to aught else incline * Save you whose beauties none like display'd:
Art thou no amongst mortals a starless moon * O beauty the dazzle of day hath array'd?"
These she committed [FN#249] to Ibn Ibrahim who rode again on his route and forgathered with Prince Yusuf and gave him the letter, whose Contents were grievous to him; so he took writing materials and returned a reply in the following verses,
"Cease then to carry missives others write, * O Son of Ibrahim, shun silly plight:
I'm healed of longing for your land and I * Those days forget and daysters lost to sight:
Let then Al-Hayfá learn from me I love * Distance from her and furthest earthly site.
No good in loving when a rival shows * E'en tho' 'twere victual shared by other wight;
These modes and fashions never mind arride * Save him unknowing of his requisite.
Then he entrusted the writ to Ibn Ibrahim, after giving him an hundred dinars, and he fared forth and ceased not faring till he had reached the palace of the Princess. Presently he went in and handed to her the writ, and as soon as she had read it, the contents seemed to her sore and she wept until her vitals were torn with sobs. After this she raised her hand [FN#250] heavenwards and invoked Allah and humbled herself before him and said, "My God, O my Lord, do Thou soften the heart of Yusuf ibn Sahl and turn him mewards and afflict him with love of me even as thou hast afflicted me with his love; for Thou to whatso Thou wishest canst avail, O bestest of Rulers and O forcefullest of Aiders." Anon she fell to writing and indited these verses,
"Love rules my bosom and a-morn doth moan * The Voice, ah Love, who shows strength weakness grown! His lashes' rapier-blade hath rent my heart; * That keen curved brand my me hath overthrown: That freshest cheek-rose fills me with desire: * Fair fall who plucketh yonder bloom new-blown! Since love befel me for that youth did I * Begin for charms of him my pride to own: O thou my hope, I swear by Him did share * Love and decreed thou shouldst in longing wone, In so exceeding grief why sight I thee * Jacob made Joseph by the loss of me?"
She then handed the letter to Ibn Ibrahim, after giving him an hundred dinars; and he returned forthright to the city of Sind and, repairing to Yusuf, gave him the writ which he took and read. Hereupon the Prince waxed sore sorrowful and said to himself, "By Allah, indeed Al-Hayfa cleaveth to love."--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 Six Hundred and Ninety-first 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 Prince Yusuf said, "By Allah, had Al-Hayfa any save myself she had not sent me these letters; but the outgoings of the heart conciliate lovers and correspond each with other." Then he took writing materials and after thinking awhile he improvised these couplets,
O thou of stature fair with waist full slight [FN#251] * Surpassing sandhill- branch and reedlet light;
I deal in words and gems of speech that melt, * By none 'mid all of mortal kind indite;
From my tribe's lord, a lion rending foes * Moon of Perfections and 'The Yusuf' hight:
Homed in thy home I joyed my joys with maids * High-breasted, [FN#252] virgins weakening forceful sprite;
Your songs and touch of lute 'mid trembling wine * Consoled all sorrows, made all hearts delight,
Till you to other deignèd union grant * And I your nature learnt and learnt aright,
Whereat my vitals failed, sore bane befel, * Pine, disappointment, and injurious blight.
No virtue dwelleth in the fairest forms * But forms the fairest are by goodness dight.
How many a maiden deckt with crescent brow * Hath nature dealing injury and despite?
Man hath no merit save in kindly mind * And loquent tongue with light of wits unite." [FN#253]
And when Yusuf had ended his poetry he presented an hundred dinars to Ibn Ibrahim, who took the letter and fell to cutting through the wilds and the wolds, after which he went in to the presence of Al-Hayfa and gave her the missive. She wept and wailed and cried, "O Ibn Ibrahim, this letter is indeed softer than all forewent it; and as thou hast brought it to me, O Ibn Ibrahim, I will largesse thee with two honourable robes of golden brocade and a thousand dinars." So saying, she called for pen-case and paper whereupon she indited these couplets,
"O my lord, these words do my vitals destroy, * O thou gem of the earth and full moon a-sky!
How long this recourse to denial and hate * With heart whose hardness no rocks outvie?
Thou hast left my spirit in parting-pangs * And in fires of farness that flame on high:
How long shall I 'plain of its inner pains? * Haps thy grace shall grant me reunion-joy:
Then pity, my vitals and whatso homed * Thy form within me before I die.
She then handed the paper to Ibn Ibrahim who again set out and sought the Prince and kissed his hand and gave him the letter; whereupon said he, "O Ibn Ibrahim, come not thou again bringing me aught of missive--ever or any more after this one." Quoth Ibn Ibrahim, "Wherefore, O my lord, shall I not do on such wise?" and quoth Yusuf "Suffer her to learn the fates of men-kind." Said the other, "I conjure thee, by Allah Almighty, ho thou the King, inasmuch as thou art of the seed of mighty monarchs, disappoint her not of her question; and Allah upon thee, unless thou show pity to her heart it haply will melt away with melancholy and love and madness for thy sake; and all of this is for the truth of her affection." Hereupon Yusuf smiled and taking up his pen wrote these couplets,
"Stay thy tears; for hindrance and parting hie, * And the endless of Empire aye glorify:
From my core of heart fly all cark and care * After parting that seemed all Time defy.
A Lion am I for the love of him * Whom the slanderer's part ne'er can satisfy:
My mind and soul be this day with you * But my heart and thought are at enmity:
Thought and mind delight in Love's cruelty * While heart and soul for re-union cry:
And if mind and thought e'er can overcome * Soul and heart, Re-union thou ne'er shalt 'spy."
And when Yusuf had finished his writing, he gifted Ibrahim with an hundred dinars and sent him again to Al-Hayfa with the letter, and she on receiving it shed tears and said, "O Ibn Ibrahim, seeing that his soul and heart be with us, Allah Almighty availeth to turn his thoughts and his fancy and the mind of him." Hereupon she took writing materials and wrote,
"Calm, O my lord, thy vitals' painful plight, * O thou whose semblance lighteth sooty night:
O gladding heart, O sweet of union, Oh * Whose charms the tribe in festal hours delight:
O high in honour passing height of Kings, * O thou with purest blood 'mid Kings bedight,
Fear'st not the Throne [FN#254] of God (O hope of me!) * When harming heart whereon all pains alight?
Then deign thou grant me union, for such wise * Shall rest my heartstrings and dark care wax bright:
From none, except that Lion O' men Ali [FN#255] * Comes pardon proving to man- kind his might."
Then she passed her missive to Ibn Ibrahim giving him an hundred gold pieces and he pushed his pace till he reached the city of Sind, where he went in to Yusuf and kissed his hands and feet. The Prince taking the letter smiled and laughed and said, "O Ibn Ibrahim, when Allah (be He extolled and exalted!) shall decree my faring I will fare to them [FN#256] within a short while; but do thou return and let know that I intend forgathering with them." Quoth the other, "Ah! O my lord, do thou indite her a reply, otherwise she will have no trust in me; so the Prince fell to penning these lines,
"My vitals restless bide for very jealousy * The while my heart must ever show unfriendly gree:
Yet I obeyed my heart and tore it out for him * Albe man ever holds his heart in amity;
And I have heard my lover drives me forth from him * But Allah grant my prayer of benedicite.
In anxious care I came and sought your side this day * Naught shall the youth exalt save generosity."
Then Prince Yusuf passed the letter to Ibn Ibrahim who, after receiving his hundred dinars, repaired to Al-Hayfa and greeted her [FN#257] informing her the while that her lover was about to make act of presence.--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 Six Hundred and Ninety-third 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 Ibn Ibrahim said to Al-Hayfa, "Verily Yusuf purposeth to visit thee after a little while." But when the Princess heard his words she would not believe him albeit her heart palpitated with pleasure; whereupon Ibn Ibrahim improvised to her as follows,
"O thou world-seducer and full moon bright, * Stay thy speech and with boon of good news requite.
Love pledged me his word he would see thee and said, * Hie thee home and order the house aright.
I awoke this morning in cark and care, * In tears distraught and in dire despite;
For the wrongs and farness thou doom'st me dree * Have forced my forces to fright-full flight."
And when Ibn Ibrahim had ended his verse, Al-Hayfa joyed with increased and exceeding joy, and in her delight she answered him according to the rhyme and rhythm of his verse,
"O who spreadest clouds, [FN#258] Son of Ibrahim hight; * By the Lord who ruleth in 'Arsh his height,
By Mohammed the bestest of men and by * Th' adorers of yore and the Tá-Há's [FN#259] might,
By Zemzem, Safá and wall Hatím [FN#260] * And Ka'abah and glories of Ka'abah's site,
An this speech be sooth and my dearling come * One thousand, two thou- sand dinars are thy right;
And I'll give thee a courser, O Ibrahim's son, * Selle, stirrups and bridle with gold bedight;
Six turbands and robes that shall honour show * With that courser the colour of blackest night.
So hold me not like the most of mankind, * Who joy the fair ones to twit and flyte."
And when Al-Hayfa had finished her verses, Ibn Ibrahim brought out to her the letter of the Prince, and as soon as she read it her heart was comforted and she waxed glad with exceeding gladness and she bade them present him with largesse of value great and a thousand dinars upon a china plate. After this she took him by the hand and led him into a closet and said, "O Ibn Ibrahim, all that be in this cabinet is a free gift to thee when thou shalt have brought to me that lover of mine." Such was the case with them; but as regards Prince Yusuf, when Ibn Ibrahim left him, he felt love-lowe aflaming in his heart, and he summoned his Mameluke Hilal and said to him, "Go saddle for us the steed known by the name of The Bull-aye-ready-and-for-Battle-day-steady." Hereupon the slave arose and enselled the courser and Yusuf mounted; and, taking his Mameluke on the crupper, pushed his pace (and he madly in love with Al-Hayfa), and he ceased not faring till he reached her Palace. He then swam the stream with his Mameluke hanging on, as before, to the tail, and knocked at the door which was opened by a damsel hight Nuzhat al-Zaman [FN#261] and she on recognising him kissed his hands and hurrying to her lady informed her of his coming. Al-Hayfa hearing of the arrival fell fainting to the ground and when she recovered she found Yusuf standing beside her head; so she arose and embraced him for a long while, after which she improvised and said,
"O thou Pilgrim of Love, after parting far * From us driven by malice of jealous foe!
My life for the friend in affection comes; * Naught dearer to me than such boon can show;
Full many a writ have I written thee * Nor union nor grace of return I know.
In this world I see him with single heart * O my wish! and Allah ne'er part us two.
And when she had ended her verses she bade the slave-girls convey Ibn Ibrahim and Hilal to the gardens, after which she led Yusuf to the saloon of session and the twain passed the night together he and she, in joyance and enjoyment, for that night was indeed a night of delight. But when Allah bade the morn to morrow, Al-Hayfa arose and cried, "How short it is for a night: Ah that it had been longer for us! but 'tis for me to say even as said Imr al-Kays [FN#262] in sundry of his verses upon a similar theme,
"On me Night waxeth long nor would I shorten Night; * Yet hasteth Morn when I for longer Nights would sue:
It brings me union till 'My lover's mine' I cry * Yet when with him unite disunion comes to view.
Now when it was the second day, Al-Hayfa took seat in the assembly of converse.--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 Six Hundred and Ninety-fourth 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 Al-Hayfa repaired to the saloon of séance, she and Yusuf, and summoned Ibn Ibrahim and bade the handmaids bring everything that was in the closet. They obeyed her bidding and fetched her all the contents, amongst which were ten robes of honour and three coffers of silk and fine linen and a packet of musk and a parcel of rubies and pearls and jacinths and corals and similar objects of high price. And she conferred the whole of this upon Mohammed ibn Ibrahim, the while improvising these verses,
"We are noblest of lords amongst men of might; * What we give and largesse bring the most delight:
And when we strive with our hearts and souls * We strive in public nor rue our plight.
With me the pact no regret shall breed * Save in head of suspecting envying wight.
I am none who riseth sans bounteous deed; * I am none who giveth with felon sprite."
And when Al-Hayfa had ended her poetry, Prince Yusuf largessed [FN#263] Ibn Ibrahim and said to him, "Thou shalt have on my part one thousand dinars and twenty robes of brocade and an hundred she-camels and eighty horses (whereof the meanest is worth five hundred gold pieces and each is saddled with a golden selle), and lastly forty handmaids." After which he began to improvise these couplets,
"Good signeth man to sight and all men see * Sahl's son is lord of liberality:
Time and the world and mortals one and all * Witness my goodness and for aye agree:
Who comes for purpose him I gratify * With boons, though 'twere with eyen-light of me:
I back my neighbour whenas harmèd by * Dolour of debt and foeman's tyranny:
Whoso hath moneys lacking liberal mind * Though he snatch Fortune 'mid the vile is he."
And when Yusuf had finished his verse, Ibn Ibrahim arose and bussed his hands and feet and cried, "Allah dole to thee all thou desirest." The other replied, "When thou shalt return to our city, do thou go to my quarters and therefrom take thee whatso I have promised." Then the Prince and Princess waxed assiduous in the eating of meat and the drinking of wine; and this continued for many successive months [FN#264] until Ibn Ibrahim craved leave to visit his folk; and, when he received permission, he took with him that was light in weight and weighty of worth. And as he set forth, Al-Hayfa said to him, "When thou shalt return to thy people in safety, do thou salute for me my sire and name to him a certain stallion which same he shall largesse to thee and likewise its saddle and bridle." Hereupon he farewelled them and went forth and stemmed the stream and withdrawing his she-dromedary from the cave harnessed her and mounted her and set forth upon his desert way, and as soon as he reached the capital of Sind he went to his folk who greeted him kindly. Now when King Al-Mihrjan heard of Mohammed ibn Ibrahim's coming he sent to summon him and as soon as he appeared between his hands he asked concerning his absence. "O King of the Time and the Tide," quoth he, "I have been in Yasrib [FN#265] city;" and indeed he was one of the cup-companions of Al-Hayfa's father and by the decree of Destiny he had been ever in high favour with the King. So the twain sat down to drink wine and as Fortune willed it Ibn Ibrahim bore about him a letter containing poetry, part of the correspondence between the Prince and Princess, wherein were written the names of all three. Now when he was at the height of his joy he wagged his head and shook off his turband and the paper fell therefrom into Al-Mihrjan's lap. [FN#266] The King took it and read it and understood its contents but he kept the case secret for a while; presently, however, he dismissed his Courtiers and Equerries who were around him and forthright bade smite Mohammed ibn Ibrahim with stripes until his sides were torn. Then quoth he, "Acquaint me concerning this youth who correspondeth with my daughter, making thee the goer between them twain, otherwise I will cut off thy head." Quoth Ibn Ibrahim, "Ho thou King; verily this be only poetry which I found in one of the histories of old."--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 Six Hundred and Ninety-sixth 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 Ibn Ibrahim said to Al-Mihrjan, "Verily I found this poetry in a tale of the olden time." So the King issued orders to smite his neck, when intercession was made for him by a Courtier hight Tá'il al-Wasf, [FN#267] whereupon the King commanded him to jail, whither he was taken forthright. But as Ibn Ibrahim was being locked up, he said to the gaoler, "Say me, canst thou bring for me a pen-case and paper and pen?" and the other assented, fetching for him whatso he wanted. So he wrote to Prince Yusuf the following couplets,
"O Yúsuf, master mine, for safety fly; * In sorest danger Ibrahim's son doth lie:
When from thy side for house and home he sped * Forthright bade Al-Mihrjan to bring him nigh,
And 'mid th' Assembly highest stead assigned * A seat in public with a sleight full sly.
A writ thou wrotest bore he on his head * Which fell and picked it up the King to 'spy:
'Tis thus discovered he thy state and raged * With wrath and fain all guidance would defy.
Then bade he Ibrahim's son on face be thrown * And painful beating to the bare apply;
With stripes he welted and he tare his sides * Till force waxed feeble, strength debility.
So rise and haste thee to thine own and fetch * Thy power, and instant for the tribe-lands hie;
Meanwhile I'll busy to seduce his men * Who hear me, O thou princely born and high;
For of the painful stress he made me bear * The fire of bane I've sworn him even I."
Now when Ibn Ibrahim had finished his verse, he said to the gaoler, "Do thou summon for me the son of my brother hight Manná [FN#268] and thou shalt have from me one hundred gold pieces." The man did his bidding, and when the youth came the uncle gave him the letter and bespake him as follows: "O son of my brother, take thou this paper and fare with it to the Castle of Al-Hayfa and swim the stream, and go up to the building and enter therein and commit this missive unto a youth whom thou shalt see sitting beside the Princess. Then do thou greet him with the salam from me, and inform him of all that I am in and what I have seen and what thou hast witnessed, and for this service I will give thee an hundred gold pieces." The nephew took the uncle's letter and set forth from the first of the night until he drew nigh the Castle. Such was the case with Ibn Ibrahim and his sending his nephew Manna' on a mission to the Princess; but as regards King Al-Mihrjan, when the morning morrowed and showed its sheen and shone and the sun arose with rays a-low- land strown, he sent to summon Ibn Ibrahim; and, when they set him between his hands, he adjured him saying, "O thou! by the rights of the God unique in his rule for Unity; by Him who set up the skies without prop and stay and dispread the Earths firmly upon the watery way, unless thou inform me and apprise me rightly and truly I will order thy head to be struck off this very moment." So the cup-companion related to the King the whole affair of Princess Al-Hayfa and Prince Yusuf, and all that had passed between the twain; whereupon Al-Mihrjan asked, "And this Yusuf from what land may he be?" "He is son to the Sovran of Sind, King Sahl," quoth the other, and quoth Al- Mihrjan, "And is he still in the Palace, or hath he gone to his own country?" "He was therein," replied Ibn Ibrahim, "but I know not whether he be yet there, or he be gone thence." Hereupon Al-Mihrjan commanded his host at once to mount, and all took horse and rode forth making for the Castle of Al-Hayfa. Now, between Manna and King Al-Mihrjan was a march of only a single night, when the youth went up to the Palace of the Princess, where he knocked at the door and they opened and admitted him to the presence of Prince Yusuf. There he handed to him the letter, which the Prince opened and read; then he suddenly rose up crying upon Hilal, whom when he was fetched he bade forthwith bring out his steed. Hereat cried Al-Hayfa, "I ask thee by Allah, O my lord, what may be the news?" and he answered her, "Verily when Ibn Ibrahim fared from us to his folk he was summoned on his arrival by thy sire, and he went to him and informed him of all that hath befallen us, first and last." So saying he put the letter into her hands, and she having read it exclaimed, "O my lord, do thou take me with thee lest haply he slay me." Answered the Prince, "O end and aim of mine every wish, we have naught with us save this one steed who availeth not to carry three; therefore will thy father overtake us upon the road and will put us to death one and all. Now the rede that is right be this, that thou conceal thyself somewhere in the Palace and charge the slave-girls when thy sire shall come hither, to tell him that I have carried thee off to mine own country, and for the rest be thou assured that I will tarry away from thee but a few days." So saying Yusuf took his horse with him and Hilal his page a-crupper and swam the river and made for his own land pushing his pace, and presently he drew within sight of the capital. Such was the case of Prince Yusuf, son to King Sahl; but as regards the matter of King Al-Mihrjan and his host, he ceased not marching them till such time as he came within sight of the Castle of his daughter Al-Hayfa; and this was soon after the departure of Yusuf. And when he had led hither his host, which was like unto a dashing sea, he dismounted upon the river-bank that all might free themselves of their fatigue, after which he summoned Sahlub and bade him swim the stream and walk up to the Castle and knock at the door. The youth did as he was bidden, and the handmaids opened to him and greeted him as he asked for Al-Hayfa--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 Six Hundred and Ninety-eighth 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 when Sahlub went up to the Palace, he asked of Al-Hayfa, and the slave-girls told him that a youth had come thither and had taken her away and had carried her off to his own country. So he returned to Al-Mihrjan and informed him thereof, when the King took horse with all his host and pursued Yusuf with uttermost haste and hurry until there was between the twain less than a day's march. But as the Prince drew near his capital on the tenth day he went in to his sire and told him whatso had befallen him from incept to conclusion, nor did he hide from him aught; whereupon King Sahl mustered his many (all who received from him royal solde and allowances), and bade them take horse with his son Yusuf. The troops did accordingly and the Prince rode a-van, and after a little while the two armies met. Now Ibn Ibrahim had made a compact with five of the nobles who were the chiefest men of King Al-Mihrjan's reign and had promised them five hundred thousand dinars. So when the two hosts were about to engage, an Emir of the Emirs came forth (and he was one of those whom Ibn Ibrahim had appointed to watch over Yusuf) and said to the Prince, "O Son of the King, verily Ibn Ibrahim hath promised five of the nobles as many hundred thousand dinars of gold the which we may take and receive from thee." Replied he, "The like sum shall be thine from me with all thou canst ask of us." Presently the Emir returned from him to Al-Mihrjan and said to him, "Verily I have asked this youth that he make vain and void the battle between us twain, but he assented not and sware an oath that he would never return from affray until the enemies should meet and fight it out, and that he had with him a mighty host and a conquering whose van was not known from its rear. [FN#269] Now 'tis my rede that thou strive to take him prisoner [FN#270] and then do whatso he may please, especially he being son to thee, King of the mighty Kings and with him a thousand thousand knights all mailed cap-a-pie and clothed in steel not one of whom hath any fear of fight." King Al-Mihrjan waxed wroth at the Emir's speech and cried, "What words be these? Shall the Kings of the Age remain saying of me that a man hath debauched the daughter of Al-Mihrjan and hath carried her away perforce despite the nose of her father? Never shall such thing be spoken of me; no, never! But do thou know, ho thou the Emir, that an ye have no taste for fray nor avail for fight and ye have no training save for bibbing of wine and ease at home, I have sworn and swear by Him who lighted the lucident fires of the Sun and the Moon, none shall sally forth to do single combat with this youth save I myself." But when so saying he knew not that was hidden from him in the World of Secrets. Presently he rushed into the field of fight with reins floating upon his courser's neck and he renowned it, showing himself between the foremost files, and he played with the edge of glaive and spit of spear until men's wits were bewildered and he improvised the while and cried out the following couplets,
"Ibn Sahl, ho scion of tree abhorr'd! * Rise, meet me in mellay and prove thee lord:
My daughter hast snatched, O thou foul of deed, * And approachest me fearing the Lion of the horde.
Hadst come in honour and fairly sued * I had made her thine own with the best accord;
But this rape hath o'erwhelmed in dishonour foul * Her sire, and all bounds thou hast overscor'd."
Now when King Al-Mihrjan finished his verse, Yusuf rushed out to him, and cried at him with a terrible cry and a terrifying, and garred his own steed bound upon the battle-plain, where he played with brand and lance until he cast into oblivion every knight, reciting in the meantime the following verses,
"I am son to Al-Sahl, O of forbears vile! * Come forth and fight me sans guile or wile;
Thou hast hurt my heart; O of deed misdone, * So thou com'st to contend with this rank and file." [FN#271]
King Al-Mihrjan re-echoed his war-cry, but hardly had he ended when Yusuf drawing near him answered it with a shout which enquaked his heart and ravished his reason with sore terror, and repeated in reply these couplets,
"I am not to be titled of forbears vile * O whose ape-like face doth the tribe defile!
Nay, I'm rending lion amid mankind, * A hero in wilds where the murks beguile.
Al-Hayfa befitteth me, only me; * Ho thou whom men for an ape [FN#272] revile,"
When Yusuf had ended these words, Al-Mihrjan rushed forth and charged down upon him, and the two drawing nigh each of the foemen set on the other with a mighty onset and a prodigious. They fought in duello and lanced out with lance and smote with sword, and dashed together as they were two ships of two mountains clashing; and they approached and retired, and the dust- cloud arose over them and they disappeared from men's sight. But hardly had an hour passed by when Yusuf made a final attack upon his enemy and narrowed his course and barred his way and pressed him hard; and, hanging upon his flank, smote him with the scymitar upon the nape of the neck [FN#273] and caused his head to fall between his feet, when he slipt from his steed upon the ground, and he lay stone dead and in his gore drowned. Now as soon as the folk looked upon Yusuf and what he had dealt to their King and how he had made his head fly his body and had done him dead, they turned to take flight. Thereupon Yusuf recognised Sahlub the cousin of Al-Hayfa, he who had been the cause of their separation and had roused her wrath against him; so he drew near to him and smote him with the bright shining blade on the right flank, and it came forth gleaming between his left ribs; so he fell to the ground drenched with blood, and he was left prostrate in the dust. And when Yusuf had slain King Al- Mihrjan and Sahlub, his nephew, the Grandees of the realm came around him and greeted him with the salam.--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 Seven Hundredth 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 when the Grandees of King Al-Mihrjan's reign saw their Sovran slain, they flocked to Prince Yusuf and greeted him, marvelling at his beauty and valour and excellence: then they all agreed to salute him as their Sultan and they raised him to the rank of King and sole ruler over them. Presently they led him with them, and fared seeking the city of Al-Mihrjan until they reached it, when they adorned the streets on the occasion of his coming. And King Yusuf having entered his capital took seat on the throne of his kingship and bade and forbade and deposed and appointed; and lastly freed Mohammed ibn Ibrahim from gaol, and established him his Wazir. Hereupon the new Minister displayed to him the four wives and the hundred concubines of King Al-Mihrjan, also the negro slaves, male and female, whom he found to number two hundred and four hundred. Moreover, he showed his riches and rarities and treasuries wherein were found an hundred boxes full of silk and fine linen, and parcels of pearls and rubies and jacinths and jewels and precious minerals and other wealth in abundance. So he distributed the whole amongst his nobles, and largessed them with excessive largesses; and his partisans of his subjects and his guards flocked to him with presents and offerings; and all the city-folk gave him joy and rejoiced in him. Then he commissioned Ibn Ibrahim to Al-Hayfa, daughter of King Al-Mihrjan, saying "Do thou bring her hither to me, her and her hand-maids and all that be in her palace." Accordingly he went forth to Al-Hayfa's Castle, and ceased not wending till he came to its entrance where he discovered that King Yusuf had appointed a craft for the river transport. And when he arrived there and found the vessel afloat he went in to Al-Hayfa and he greeted her. Then he related to her what had betided her sire from Yusuf and how the Prince had slain him after the fashion of what befel; so she cried, "There is no Majesty and no Might save in Allah, the Glorious, the Great; and this was writ in the Book of Life!" Then she asked Ibn Ibrahim touching her mother, and he answered that she was sound and safe in her own home which she had never left nor did any one go in to her; and (added he) "she expecteth thy coming to her." Then he bade carry down her impediments and her bondmaids and all the good that was in her Castle until nothing remained, and embarked them upon the craft; and presently, mounting her in a litter of sandal-wood plated with ruddy gold, he set her women in Howdahs; [FN#274] and, taking horse himself, he rode until they drew near the city. And when they arrived there he went up to King Yusuf whom he informed of their coming and was told, "Suffer them to be till night shall set in." Hereupon he took patience, and when came the appointed term Al-Hayfa went up to the Palace. Now as Allah caused the morn to morrow and to light the world with its shine and sheen, King Yusuf sent to summon the Kazi and witnesses and bade them write his writ of marriage with Al-Hayfa and was wedded to her by Book and traditional Usage. [FN#275] After this Al-Hayfa sent to fetch her mother and bore her to her home and their joy and enjoyment were great and lasting. Now by the decree of the Decreer anon it befel that the Caliph Al-Maamun waxed strait of breast one night of the nights: so he summoned a certain of his courtiers whose name was Ibrahim the Cup-companion; [FN#276] but, as they found him not, he bade bring a man hight Al-Khadí'a, and when he came between his hands quoth he to him, "'Tis a while since I have seen thee here." Quoth the other, "O Commander of the Faithful, I have been wayfaring about the land of Syria." Continued the Prince of True Believers, "Do thou this very night broaden the Caliph's heart with a delectable tale;" and the other rejoined, "O Viceregent of Allah upon Earth, know thou an adventure befel me with a youth named the Veiled Yusuf of Beauty, son to King Sahl, the friendly ruler of Al-Sind, and with Al-Hayfa the daughter of King Al-Mihrjan, and 'tis a tale whose like hath never been heard; no, never." Hereupon he related to Al-Maamun the history of the two, first and last, adding, "Furthermore, O Commander of the Faithful, I have learnt that Al-Hayfa owneth ten handmaidens whose peers are not to be found in thy Palace, and they are mistresses of all manner instruments of mirth and merriment and other matters; and amongst things said of them by their lady when they marvelled at her good fortune, 'Verily this day I have acquired half a score of slave- girls the like of which Al-Maamun hath never collected.'" But when the Prince of True Believers heard this he gave ear to the tale anent them during the livelong night till Allah caused the morn to morrow. Then he sent for Ibrahim the Cup-companion, and to him coming into the presence the Viceregent of Allah exclaimed "Mount without stay and delay taking with thee one thousand Mamelukes and make thy way to this youth who is King of Al-Sind [FN#277] and named 'The Veiled Yusuf of Beauty,' and bring me his ten handmaidens. After which do thou ask concerning his case and anent his subjects, whether he be just or unjust to the lieges, and if he be righteous I will robe him in honourable robes and if otherwise do thou bring him to my presence." Hereupon Ibrahim took leave of the Caliph and went forth at that very time and tide intending for Al-Sind, and he ceased not wending till he arrived there and found Yusuf setting out for the chase. But when the youth saw the host approaching him--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 Seven Hundred and Second 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, when Yusuf beheld Ibrahim the Cup-companion, and those in his company, he returned to the city and took them with him; yet he knew not Ibrahim nor did Ibrahim know him. But on entering the capital he was met by his guards and his soldiers who blessed him and prayed for him length of days and permanence of rule wherefor the courtier knew him to be a just King. Yusuf led them to and lodged them in the House of Hospitality; after which returning to his own Palace he sent for Ibrahim and assembled for him a session and received him with the highmost honour that could be, and rose to him and greeted him and embraced him and accompanied him to the sitting-saloon where the twain took their places. Then Yusuf bade summon the ten handmaidens with as many instruments of music; and, sitting down begirt by them, he ordered wine be brought. So they set before him flagons and beakers of crystal and jewelled cups; and presently pointing to the first of the slave-girls whose name is not recorded, bade her recite somewhat of her pleasantest poetry. So she hent the lute in hand and set it upon her lap and swept it with a light touch and caressed it with her finger-tips and smote it after eleven modes; then she returned to the first [FN#278] and recited these couplets,
"My heart for parting ever burns with lowe; * My lids fiery with tear-floods ever flow:
Ho thou in lover's loving ferly fair, * Cut is the road for those Love gars to glow.
How many a youth has felt his vitals torn * By slender forms and glances forceful prow?
Alas for lover slain by might of Love; * Nor friend avails nor brother true, I trow!"
When the first handmaiden had finished, Yusuf rejoiced (as did Ibrahim the Cup-companion) with excessive joy and the King bade robe her in a sumptuous robe. Hereupon she drained her cup and passed it to her compeer whose name was Takná, and this second handmaiden taking beaker in hand placed it afore her and hending the lute smote on it with many a mode; then, returning to the first [FN#279] while the wits of all were bewildered, she improvised the following verses,
"Look on the lute that 'minds of Mangonel; * Whose strings are ropes that make each shot to tell:
And note the pipes that sound with shriek and cry, * The pipes that cast a fearful joyful spell;
Espy the flagons ranged in serried rank * And crops becrowned with wine that longs to well."
But when Takna had finished her poetry Yusuf and Ibrahim were gladdened and the King bade largesse her with a sumptuous robe and a thousand dinars and she tossed off her cup and passed it to her successor the third handmaiden Mubdi' [FN#280] hight. She accepted it and setting it before her took the lute and smote it after manifold fashions and presently she spake these couplets,
"Love with his painful pine doth rack this frame of me; * Melts heart and maims my vitals cruel agony;
And rail my tears like cloud that rains the largest drops; * And fails my hand to find what seek I fain to see:
Thee I conjure, O Yúsuf, by Him made thee King * O Sahl-son, Oh our dearest prop, our dignity,
This man methinks hath come to part us lovers twain * For in his eyes I see the flame of jealousy."
And when Mubdi' had sung her song, Ibrahim the Cup-companion and King Yusuf smiled and rejoiced and anon there befel them what there befel and the two slipt down aswoon;--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 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 Sovran suffer me to survive?" Now when it was the next night and that was
The Seven Hundred and Third 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 King Yusuf and Ibrahim the Cup-companion hearing the song sung by Mubdi', the third handmaiden, both fell to the floor aswoon; and when they revived after an hour or so, Ibrahim largessed to her one thousand dinars and a robe purfled with glistening gold. Then she drained her cup and crowning it again passed it to her compeer whose name was Nasím [FN#281] and who took it and set it in front of her. Then hending in hand the lute she played upon it with manifold modes and lastly spake these couplets,
"O Blamer, blaming me for draining lonely wine, * Stint carping, I this day to Holy War incline:
Oh fair reflection she within her wine-cup shows * Her sight makes spirit dullest earthly flesh refine:
How mention her? By Allah 'tis forbid in writ * To note the meaner charms in Eden-garth divine."
When the fourth handmaiden had ended her verse, Ibrahim gifted her with one thousand dinars and presented a sumptuous robe to her owner, then she drank off her cup and passed it to her compeer hight Al-Badr [FN#282] and she sang the following lines,
"One robbed of heart amid song and wine * And Love that smiteth with babe of eyne:
His voice to the lute shall make vitals pain * And the wine shall heal all his pangs and pine:
Hast e'er seen the vile drawing near such draught * Or miser close-fisted thereto incline?
The wine is set free in the two-handed jar [FN#283] * Like sun of summer in Aries' sign.
When she had finished Ibrahim bade reward her like the rest with gold and gear and she passed her cup to her compeer whose name was Radáh. [FN#284] The sixth handmaiden drained it and performed in four-and-twenty modes after which she sang these couplets,
"O thou wine-comrade languor cease to show; * Hand me the morning draught and ne'er foreslow;
And prize fair poesy and sweet musick hear * And shun the 'say' and naught of 'said' beknow:
The wine of day-dawn drunk with joyous throng * From house of Reason garreth Grief to go:
The man of Kays aye loved his wine right well * And from his lips made honey'd verse to flow;
And in like guise [FN#285] came Isa singing sweet * For such was custom of the long-ago.
When Radah ended her verse and her improvising of mysterious significance, and secret, King Yusuf and Ibrahim the Cup- companion tore their robes from their bodies until naught remained upon them save only the bag-breeches about their waists. Then the twain shrieked aloud and at one moment and they fell fainting to the floor, unheeding the world and their own selves from the excess of that was in their heads of wine and hearing of poetry spoken by the slave-girl. They remained in such condition for a while of time, after which they recovered though still amazed, a-drunken. Then they donned other dresses and sat down to listen as before, when Radah drained her goblet and filled and passed it to her compeer whose name was Na'ím; [FN#286] and she taking her lute, improvised the following verses,
"My poesy-gem showeth clear of shine, * When appears that pearl with cheek coralline:
'Tis marvel the cloud cannot quench the blaze * That fire in the heart and this water of eyne!
Then alas for Love who hath made me woe! * Pine that rends and racks limbs and vitals o' mine:
O thou Well of Poetry well forth thy gems * O'er our drink when our cups overbrim with wine:
And sing in her presence, for Envy hath fled * And flies jealous spite and all joys combine.
Oh the charms of wine which enthral the mind, * Clear and clearing sprites by its sprite refined!"
When the seventh handmaiden had ended her verses, King Yusuf and Ibrahim rejoiced with exceeding joy and each of them bade gift her with a thousand gold pieces and quoth the courtier, "By Allah Almighty, none of the Emirs or of the Wazirs or of the Kings or of the Caliphs hath attained excellence like unto this handmaid." Hereupon Na'im passed her goblet to her compeer and she, whose name was Surúr, [FN#287] tossed it off and taking in hand her lute, sang these couplets,
"How is't with heart of me all cares waylay * As drowned in surging tears of Deluge-day?
I weep for Time endured not to us twain * As though Time's honour did not oft betray.
O my lord Yúsuf, O my ending hope, * By Him who made thee lone on Beauty's way,
I dread lest glorious days us twain depart * And youth's bright world be dimmed to old and grey;
O Lord! be Parting's palm for us undyed [FN#288] * Ere death, nor carry this my lord away."
When the eighth handmaiden had ended her song, the twain marvelled at her eloquence and were like to rend that was upon them of raiment--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 Seven Hundred and 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 goodwill!" 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 King Yusuf and Ibrahim the Cup-companion were like to rend that was upon them of raiment and they joyed with extreme joy after hearing what Surur had sung to them. Hereupon she passed her cup to her fellow, hight Zahrat al-Hayy, [FN#289] who took it and recited as follows,
"O cup-boy, I crave thee cup-comrade to be * And hearten my heart of its malady;
Nor pass me the bowls for I sorely dread * when drunken all dolours of Love- lowe to dree,
To be vilely reviled in the sittings of men, * To be frowardly treated where zephyrs play free.
God-blest is the Lute for her melodies * Which pain me with painfullest penalty,
With the jewels of speech whose transcendent charms * Like fires of Jahím [FN#290] burn the vitals of me.
By Allah, show ruth, be compassionate, * For Allah deals pardon compassionately.
Yusuf and Ibrahim, hearing her words, were gladdened with excessive gladness and cried to the ninth handmaid, "May the lord be copious to thee like the fruitful years!" Then the Cup- companion bade gift her with one thousand gold pieces as like- wise did her lord. Hereupon she passed her cup to the tenth handmaiden known as Muhjat al-Kulúb [FN#291] who fell to improvising these couplets,
"O Blamer, who canst not my case explain; * Cease, for who blame friends shall of blame complain;
And whoso unknoweth the workings of Love * Mankind shall reckon him mean and vain:
Alas for Love, O ye tribe-landers, I * Am weaned that wont nipples of union to drain.
I have learnt the whole of Love's governance * Since my baby days amid cradles lain.
Forbear by Allah to ask of my state * How shall morn one banned with debtor bane?
O thou jewel of speech, O thou Yúsuf, laud * To the Lord who robed thee with charms amain!
Deign the God of 'Arsh make thy days endure * In wealth and honour sans pause or wane;
E'en as Ishak's son [FN#292] every gift conjoined * Amid men, making rulers to serve him fain."
When Muhjat al-Kulub ended her song, Yusuf gifted her with a splendid robe and a thousand gold pieces as eke did Ibrahim and presently the courtier said to the handmaiden, "Who is Ibrahim that thou shouldst sing of him in song?" She replied, "Walláhi, O my lord, he is son of Ishak, amongst the pleasant ones sans peer and a cup-companion to the Caliphs dear and the pearl concealed and the boon friend of our lord the Commander of the Faithful Al-Maamún and his familiar who to him joy and enjoyment maketh known. Ah! happy the man who can look upon him and forgather with him and company with him before his death; and verily by Allah he is the Master of the Age and the one Wonder of the World. Moreover, by the Almighty, O my lord, wert thou to see this lute fall into his hands, thou wouldst hear it converse in every language with the tongues of birds and beasts and of the sons of Adam: and well nigh would the place dance ere he had improvised a word. And he the horizons can make to joy and lovers with overlove can destroy, nor shall any after his decease such excellence of speech employ." All this, and Muhjat al-Kulub knew not who was sitting beside them as she went on to praise Ibrahim. Hereupon he took the lute from her hand and smote it till thou hadst deemed that within the instrument lurked babes of the Jinns [FN#293] which were crying and wailing while spake the strings, and in fine King Yusuf imagined that the palace had upflown with them between heaven and earth. And the handmaidens sang to his tunes in sore astonishment; when Ibrahim designed to talk but King Yusuf cut kin short and fell to saying poetry in these couplets,
"By the rights of our lord who shows ruth in extreme, * And Giver and Guide and boon Prophet we deem,
And by Ka'abah resplendent and all its site * And by Zemzem, Safa and the wall Hatim,
Lo! thou'rt hight Ibrahim, and suppose I say * Thee sooth, my wits thou must surely esteem:
And thy face shows signalled with clearest eyne * Deliv'rance followed by Yá and Mím." [FN#294]
Now Ibrahim kept his secret and did not manifest himself to any, but presently he also improvised and spake in these words preserving the measure and rhyme,
"By him who chose Musà, the Speaker, [FN#295] by Him * who made [FN#296] Háshimite orphan select and supreme!
Ibrahim am I not, but I deem this one * The Caliph who sits by Baghdadian stream;
Of his grace the heir of all eloquent arts * And no partner hath he in all gifts that beseem."
And when Ibrahim had finished his verses, Yusuf said to him, "By the virtue of Almighty Allah, an I guess aright and my shot [FN#297] go not amiss, thou art Ibrahim the musician;" but the courtier retained his incognito and replied, "O my lord, Ibrahim is my familiar friend and I am a man of Al-Basrah who hath stolen from him sundry of his modes and airs for the lute and other instruments and I have the practice of improvisation." Now when Ibrahim was speaking behold, there came one of the Caliph's pages and he walked up to the head of the assembly bearing with him a letter, which he handed to his lord. But Yusuf put forth his hand and took it, and after reading the superscription he learnt that his companion was Ibrahim without doubt or mistake, so he said to him, "By Allah, O my lord, verily thou hast slighted me, for that thou hast not informed me of thyself." Quoth the other, "By Allah, I feared from thee lest I give thee excess of trouble;" and quoth Yusuf, "Do thou take to thee all these handmaids whom the Commander of the Faithful hath bid thee receive." Ibrahim replied, "Nay, I will not accept from thee the hand- maidens but rather will I fend from thee the Prince of True Believers;" however, King Yusuf rejoined, "I have gifted them to the Viceregent of Allah: an thou take them not I will send them by other than thyself." Presently King Yusuf set apart for the Caliph great store of gifts, and when the handmaidens heard of that they wept with sore weeping. Ibrahim, hearing their wailing, found it hard to bear, and he also shed tears for the sobbing and crying of them; and presently he exclaimed, "Allah upon thee, O Yusuf leave these ten handmaidens by thee and I will be thy ward with the Prince of True Believers." But Yusuf answered, "Now by the might of Him who stablished the mountains stable, unless thou bear them away with thee I will despatch them escorted by another." Hereupon Ibrahim took them and farewelled King Yusuf and fared forth and hastened his faring till the party arrived at Baghdad, the House of Peace, where he went up into the Palace of the Commander of the Faithful-- 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 Seven Hundred and 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 when Ibrahim reached Baghdad and went up to the Palace of the Commander of the Faithful and stood in the presence he was asked, "What hast thou brought for us from thy journey, O Ibrahim?" whereto he answered, "O our lord, I have come to thee with all thou willest and wishest that of rede be right and of word apposite." Quoth he, "And what may that be?" and quoth the other, "The ten handmaids:" and so saying he set them before the Caliph, whereupon they kissed ground and did him suit and service and deprecated for him and greeted him with blessings, and each and every of them addressed him in tongue most eloquent and with theme most prevalent. The Prince of True Believers hugely admired them, marvelling at their deftness of address and their sweetness of speech which he had never witnessed in any other; and he was delighted with their beauty and loveliness and their stature and symmetrical grace, and he wondered with extreme wonderment how their lord had consented they should be brought before him. Then cried he, "O Ibrahim, what hath been thy case with the owner of these damsels, and did he commit them to thee despite himself in anger and care or with resignation of mind and broadening of bosom and joy and satisfaction?" "O my lord," said Ibrahim, "verily he made them over to me in none except the best of dispositions, and Allah give him length of life for a youth! How benign was his countenance and how beautiful, and how perfect and how liberal were his hands and prompt to act, and how excellent were his wits and how goodly and gracious was his society and how yielding was his nature and how great was his dignity and how just were his dealings with his lieges! By Allah, O Commander of the Faithful, when I went to him from thee I found him outside his city intending for the hunt and chase and about to enjoy himself in pleasurable case, but seeing our coming he met me and salam'd to me and greeted me and rejoiced in me with extreme joy. All this, and he knew me not nor did I on my part know him; but he took me with him and returned to town, and as we entered he was met by the Lords of the land and the lieges who prayed for him; so I knew that man to be their King and Captain of commandment, also that he was equitable to his subjects. Then he made me alight in his House of Hospitality, and went up into his Palace, after which he sent to call me and I obeyed his summons, when he set apart for me an apartment under his own roof and taking me by the hand led me thereto, where I found everything the best that could be. Anon he despatched for us wine and wax candles and perfumes and fruits fresh and dry and whatnot of that which becometh such assembly; and, when this was done, he bade summon the ten handmaidens, and they also took their seats in the session, and they smote their instruments and they sang verse wherein each one excelled her companion. But one of them insisted in her song upon the name of me, saying, 'None availeth to compose such lines save Ibrahim the Cup-companion, the son of Ishak.' Now I had denied myself to their lord and acquainted him not with my name; but when the damsel had finished her verse, I largessed to her a thousand gold pieces and asked her, 'Who may be this Ibrahim whereat thou hast hinted in thy song?' Said she, 'He is the boon-companion of the Caliph and he is unique among the pleasant'; then she fell to praising me with praise galore than which naught could be more, unknowing me the while, until I took the lute from her hand and smote it with a touch unlike their play. Hereby their lord discovered me and said in his verse, 'Thou art Ibrahim without doubt or mistake'; but still I denied myself, replying, 'I am a man from Al-Basrah and a familiar of Ibrahim the Master-Musician': And on this wise I answered him, when behold, there came up to us a page bearing a rescript from thee. So King Yusuf took it from his hand and read the address when he made certain that I was Ibrahim, the Cup-companion, and having learnt my name he blamed me saying, 'O Ibrahim, thou hast denied thyself to me.' 'O my lord,' I replied, 'Twas that I feared for thee excess of trouble'; after which quoth he, 'Verily these ten damsels are a free gift from me to the Commander of the Faithful.' Hearing these words I refused to receive them and promised on my return to the Caliph that I would defend their lord from all detraction, but he cried, 'O Ibrahim, unless thou take them I will forward them with other than thyself' And lastly, O Prince of True Believers, he presented to me fifty slave-girls and as many Mamelukes and an hundred and fifty negro-serviles and twenty steeds of purest blood, with their housings and furniture, and four hundred she-camels and twenty pods of musk." [FN#298] Then having told his tale, the Cup-companion fell to commending Yusuf, and the Caliph inclined ear to him admiring at this man and his generosity and his openness of hand and the eloquence of his tongue and the excellence of his manners, until Al-Maamun desired to forgather with him and work him weal and gift him with liberal gifts. Presently the Caliph bade summon the ten handmaidens and the hour was past supper-tide, at which time Ibrahim the Cup-companion was seated beside him without other being present. And as soon as the girls came before him the Caliph bade them take their seats, and when they obeyed his order the wine cups went merrily round, and the ten were directed to let him hear somewhat of their chaunting and playing. So they fell to smiting their instruments of mirth and merriment and singing their songs, one after other, and each as she ended her poetry touched the Caliph with delight until it came to the last of them, who was hight Muhjat al-Kulúb;--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 Seven Hundred and 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 last poetical piece recited by the ten damsels to the Commander of the Faithful was by Muhjat al-Kulub; and he upon hearing it rose at once to his feet and shrieked and fell aswoon for an hour of time. And when he recovered he cried, "By Allah, O Muhjat al-Kulub and Oh of eyne the coolth, do thou repeat to me what thou hast said." Hereupon she touched her instrument with another touch accompanying the repetition of her poetry in a style wholly unlike the first, and she repeated her song in the mode and form Nahawand. [FN#299] But when the Caliph heard her, his wits were wildered, and he rent that was upon him of raiment, and he fell fainting to the floor until Ibrahim the Cup-companion and the ten handmaidens deemed him dead. But as he revived after an hour of time he said to the handmaiden, "O Muhjat al-Kulub, ask and it shall be granted to thee. "I pray," quoth she, "first of Allah and then of the Commander of the Faithful that he restore us, all the ten, unto our lord;" and he granted her request after he had gifted them all and largessed them. [FN#300] He also wrote to their owner, King Yusuf, a royal Rescript appointing him Sultan over all the kingdoms that were in and about the land of Al-Sind; and moreover that whenas the Caliph might be absent from his good city of Baghdad, Yusuf should take his place in bidding and forbidding and ordering and governing. This ended, he despatched the ten slave-girls with a body of his Chamberlains after giving them wealth galore and of presents and rarities great store; and they fared forth from him and ceased not faring till they reached the city of Al-Sind. Now when the ten handmaidens drew nigh thereto they sent to inform King Yusuf of their coming, and he commissioned his Wazir Mohammed bin Ibrahim to meet and receive them, and he caused them enter the Palace, wondering the while that his ten bondswomen had not found favour with the Prince of True Believers. So he summoned them to his presence and asked them thereanent, and they answered by relating all that had befallen them; and presently Muhjat al-Kulub presented to him the Royal Rescript, and when he read it he increased in joy and delight. [FN#301] Now [FN#302] when supper was over the Prince of True Believers said to Ibn Ahyam, "Needs must thou relate unto us a story which shall solace us; and said the other, "O Commander of the Faithful, I have heard a tale touching one of the Kings." "What is that?" asked the Caliph, whereupon Ibn Ahyam fell to relating the adventures of