THE MAD LOVER.
Quoth Abu 'l-Abbás al-Mubarrad, [FN#198] "I set out one day with a company to Al-Bárid on an occasion and, coming to the monastery of Hirakl, [FN#199] we alighted in its shade. Presently a man came out to us and said, 'There are madmen in the monastery, [FN#200] and amongst them one who speaketh wisdom; if ye saw him, ye would marvel at his speech.' So we arose all and went into the monastery' where we saw a man seated on a skin mat in one of the cells, with bare head and eyes intently fixed upon the wall. We saluted him, and he returned our salaam, without looking at us, and one said to us, 'Repeat some verses to him; for, when he heareth verse, he speaketh.' So I repeated these two couplets,
'O best of race to whom gave Hawwa [FN#201] boon of birth, *
Except for thee the world were neither sweet nor fair!
Thou'rt he, whose face, by Allah shown to man, *
Doth ward off death, decay and hoary hair.'
When he heard from me this praise of the Apostle he turned towards us and repeated these lines,
'Well Allah wotteth I am sorely plagued: *
Nor can I show my pain to human sight.
Two souls have I, one soul is here contained, *
While other woneth in another site.
Meseems the absent soul's like present soul, *
And that she suffers what to me is dight.'
Then he asked us. 'Have I said well or said ill? And we answered, 'Thou hast said the clean contrary of ill, well and right well.' Then he put out his hand to a stone, that was by him and took it up; whereupon thinking he would throw it at us we fled from him; but he fell to beating upon his breast therewith violent blows and said to us, 'Fear not, but draw near and hear somewhat from me and receive it from me.' So we came back, and he repeated these couplets,
'When they made their camels yellow white kneel down at dawning grey *
They mounted her on crupper and the camel went his way,
Mine eye balls through the prison wall beheld them, and I cried *
With streaming eyelids and a heart that burnt in dire dismay
O camel driver turn thy beast that I farewell my love! *
In parting and farewelling her I see my doomed day
I'm faithful to my vows of love which I have never broke, *
Would Heaven I kenned what they have done with vows that vowed they!'
Then he looked at me and said, 'Say me, dost thou know what they did?' [FN#202] Answered I, 'Yes, they are dead; Almighty Allah have mercy on them!' At this his face changed and he sprang to his feet and cried out, 'How knowest thou they be dead?;' and I replied, 'Were they alive they had not left thee thus.' Quoth he, 'By Allah, thou art right, and I care not to live after them.' Then his side muscles quivered and he fell on his face; and we ran up to him and shook him and found him dead, the mercy of the Almighty be on him! At this we marvelled and mourned for him and, sore mourning, laid him out and buried him.--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the Four Hundred and Twelfth Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that al-Mubarrad thus continued: "When the man fell we mourned over him with sore mourning and laid him out and buried him. And when I returned to Baghdad and went in to the Caliph al-Mutawakkil, he saw the trace of tears on my face and said to me, 'What is this?' So I told him what had passed and it was grievous to him and he cried, 'What moved thee to deal thus with him? [FN#203] By Allah, if I thought thou didst not repent it and regret him I would punish thee therefor!' And he mourned for him the rest of the day." And amongst the tales they tell is one of