AL-HAJJAJ AND THE PIOUS MAN.
Al-Hajjaj bin Yusuf al-Sakafi had been long in pursuit of a certain man of the notables, and when at last he was brought before him, he said, "O enemy of Allah, He hath delivered thee over to me;" and cried, "Hale him to prison and lay him by the heels in heavy fetters and build a closet over him, that he may not come forth of it nor any go into him." So they bore him to jail and summoned the blacksmith with the irons; and every time the smith gave a stroke with his hammer, the prisoner raised his eyes to heaven and said, "Is not the whole Creation and the Empire thereof His?" [FN#480] Then the gaolers built the cage [FN#481] over him and left him therein, lorn and lone, whereupon longing and consternation entered into him and the tongue of his case recited in extempore verse,
"O, Wish of wistful men, for Thee I yearn; * My heart seeks grace of one no heart shall spurn.
Unhidden from thy sight is this my case; * And for one glance of thee I pine and burn.
They jailed and tortured me with sorest pains: * Alas for lone one can no aid discern!
But, albe lone, I find Thy name befriends * And cheers, though sleep to eyes shall ne'er return:
An thou accept of me, I care for naught; * And only Thou what's in my heart canst learn!"
Now when night fell dark, the gaoler left his watchmen to guard him and went to his house; and on the morrow, when he came to the prison, he found the fetters lying on the ground and the prisoner gone; whereat he was affrighted and made sure of death. So he returned to his place and bade his family farewell, after which he took in his sleeve his shroud and the sweet herbs for his corpse, and went in to Al-Hajjaj. And as he stood before the presence, the Governor smelt the perfumes and asked, "What is that?" when the gaoler answered, "O my lord, it is I who have brought it." "And what moved thee to that?" enquired the Governor; whereupon he told him his case,--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the Four Hundred and Seventy-first Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the gaoler told his case to Al-Hajjaj, the Governor cried, "Woe to thee! Didst thou hear him say aught?" Answered the gaoler, "Yes! whilst the blacksmith was hammering his irons, he ceased not to look up heavenwards and say, 'Is not the whole Creation and the Empire thereof His?'" Rejoined Al-Hajjaj, "Dost thou not know that He, on whom he called in thy presence, delivered him in thine absence?" And the tongue of the case recited on this theme,
"O Lord, how many a grief from me hast driven * Nor can I sit or stand without Thy hold:
How many many things I cannot count, * Thou sav'st from many many and manifold!"
And they also tell a tale of