King Mohammed Bin Sabaik and the Merchant Hasan
Story of Prince Sayf Al-Muluk and the Princess Badi'a Al-Jamal (continued)
When it was the Seven Hundred and Seventy-seventh Night,
She resumed, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the old Queen heard the handmaid's words she was wroth with sore wrath because of her and cried, "How shall there be accord between man and Jinn?" But Safy al-Muluk replied, "Indeed, I will conform to thy will and be thy page and die in thy love and will keep with thee covenant and regard non but thee: so right soon shalt thou see my truth and lack of falsehood and the excellence of my manly dealing with thee, Inshallah!" The old woman pondered for a full hour with brow earthwards bent; after which she raised her head and said to him, "O thou beautiful youth, wilt thou indeed keep compact and covenant?" He replied, "Yes, by Him who raised the heavens and dispread the earth upon the waters, I will indeed keep faith and troth!" Thereupon quoth she, "I will win for thee thy wish, Inshallah! but for the present go thou into the garden and take thy pleasure therein and eat of its fruits, that have neither like in the world nor equal, whilst I send for my son Shahyal and confabulate with him of the matter. Nothing but good shall come of it, so Allah please, for he will not gainsay me nor disobey my commandment and I will marry thee with his daughter Badi'a al-Jamal. So be of good heart for she shall assuredly be thy wife, O Sayf al-Muluk." The Prince thanked her for those words and kissing her hands and feet, went forth from her into the garden; whilst she turned to Marjanah and said to her, "Go seek my son Shahyal wherever he is and bring him to me." So Maranah went out in quest of King Shahyal and found him and set him before his mother. On such wise fared it with them; but as regards Sayf al-Muluk, whilst he walked in the garden, lo and behold! five Jinn of the people of the Blue King espied him and said to one another, "Whence cometh yonder wight and who brought him hither? Haply 'tis he who slew the son and heir of our lord and master the Blue King;" presently adding, 'But we will go about with him and question him and find out all from him." So they walked gently and softly up to him, as he sat in a corner of the garden, and sitting down by him, said to him, "O beauteous youth, thou didst right well in slaying the son of the Blue King and delivering from him Daulat Khatun; for he was a treacherous hound and had tricked her, and had not Allah appointed thee to her, she had never won free; no, never! But how diddest thou slay him?" Sayf al-Muluk looked at them and deeming them of the gardenfolk, answered, "I slew him by means of this ring which is on my finger." Therewith they were assured that it was he who had slain him; so they seized him, two of them holding his hands, whilst other two held his feet and the fifth his mouth, lest he should cry out and King Shahyal's people should hear him and rescue him from their hands. Then they lifted him up and flying away with him ceased not their flight till they came to their King and set him down before him, saying, "O King of the Age, we bring thee the murderer of thy son." "Where is he?" asked the King and they answered, "This is he." So the Blue King said to Sayf al-Muluk, "How slewest thou my son, the core of my heart and the light of my sight, without aught of right, for all he had done thee no ill deed?" Quoth the Prince, "Yea, verily! I slew him because of his violence and frowardness, in that he used to seize Kings' daughters and sever them from their families and carry them to the Ruined Well and the High-builded Castle of Japhet son of Noah and entreat them lewdly by debauching them. I slew him by means of this ring on my finger, and Allah hurried his soul to the fire and the abiding-place dire." Therewithal the King was assured that this was indeed he who slew his son; so presently he called his Wazirs and said to them, "This is the murtherer of my son sans shadow of doubt: so how do you counsel me to deal with him? Shall I slay him with the foulest slaughter or torture him with the terriblest torments or how?" Quoth the Chief Minister, "Cut off his limbs, one a day." Another, "Beat him with a grievous beating every day till he die." A third, "Cut him across the middle." A fourth, "Chop off all his fingers and burn him with fire." A fifth, "Crucify him;" and so on, each speaking according to his rede. Now there was with the Blue King an old Emir, versed in the vicissitudes and experienced in the exchanges of the times, and he said, "O King of the Age, verily I would say to thee somewhat, and thine is the rede whether thou wilt hearken or not to my say." Now he was the King's privy Councillor and the Chief Officer of his empire, and the Sovran was wont to give ear to his word and conduct himself by his counsel and gainsay him not in aught. So he rose and kissing ground before his liege lord, said to him, "O King of the Age, if I advise thee in this matter, wilt thou follow my advice and grant me indemnity?" Quoth the King, "Set forth thine opinion, and thou shalt have immunity." Then quoth he, "O King of the Age, an thou slay this one nor accept my advice nor hearken to my word, in very sooth I say that his death were now inexpedient, for that he his thy prisoner and in thy power, and under thy protection; so whenas thou wilt, thou mayst lay hand on him and do with him what thou desirest. Have patience, then, O King of the Age, for he hath entered the garden of Iram and is become the betrothed of Badi'a al-Jamal, daughter of King Shahyal, and one of them. Thy people seized him there and brought him hither and he did not hide his case from them or from thee. So an thou slay him, assuredly King Shahyal will seek blood-revenge and lead his host against thee for his daughter's sake, and thou canst not cope with him nor make head against his power." So the King hearkened to his counsel and commanded to imprison the captive. Thus fared it with Sayf al-Muluk; but as regards the old Queen, grandmother of Badi'a al-Jamal, when her son Shahyal came to her she despatched Marjanah in search of Sayf al-Muluk; but she found him not and returning to her mistress, said, "I found him not in the garden." So the ancient dame sent for the gardeners and questioned them of the Prince. Quoth they, "We saw him sitting under a tree when behold, five of the Blue King's folk alighted by him and spoke with him, after which they took him up and having gagged him flew away with him." When the old Queen heard the damsel's words it was no light matter to her and she was wroth with exceeding wrath: so she rose to her feet and said to her son, King Shahyal, "Thou art a King and shall the Blue King's people come to our garden and carry off our guests unhindered, and thou alive?" And she proceeded to provoke him, saying, "It behoveth not that any transgress against us during thy lifetime." [FN#1] Answered he, "O mother of me, this man slew the Blue King's son, who was a Jinni and Allah threw him into his hand. He is a Jinni and I am a Jinni: how then shall I go to him and make war on him for the sake of a mortal?" But she rejoined, "Go to him and demand our guest of him, and if he be still alive and the Blue King deliver him to thee, take him and return; but an he have slain him, take the King and all his children and Harim and household depending on him; then bring them to me alive that I may cut their throats with my own hand and lay in ruins his reign. Except thou go to him and do my bidding, I will not acquit thee of my milk and my rearing of thee shall be counted unlawful."--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the Seven Hundred and Seventy-eighth Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the grandmother of Badi'a al-Jamal said to Shahyal, "Fare thee to the Blue King and look after Sayf al-Muluk: if he be still in life come with him hither; but an he have slain him take that King and all his children and Harim and the whole of his dependents an protégés and bring them here alive that I may cut their throats with my own hand and ruin his realm. Except thou go to him and do my bidding, I will not acquit thee of my milk and my rearing of thee shall be accounted unlawful." Thereupon Shahyal rose and assembling his troops, set out, in deference to his mother, desiring to content her and her friends, and in accordance with whatso had been fore-ordained from eternity without beginning; nor did they leave journeying till they came to the land of the Blue King, who met them with his army and gave them battle. The Blue King's host was put to the rout and the conquerors having taken him and all his sons, great and small, and Grandees and officers bound and brought them before King Shahyal, who said to the captive, "O Azrak, [FN#2] where is the mortal Sayf al-Muluk who whilome was my guest?" Answered the Blue King, "O Shahyal, thou art a Jinni and I am a Jinni and is't on account of a mortal who slew my son that thou hast done this deed; yea, the murtherer of my son, the core of my liver and solace of my soul. How couldest thou work such work and spill the blood of so many thousand Jinn?" He replied, "Leave this talk! Knowest thou not that a single mortal is better, in Allah's sight, than a thousand Jinn? [FN#3] If he be alive, bring him to me, and I will set thee free and all whom I have taken of thy sons and people; but an thou have slain him, I will slaughter thee and thy sons." Quoth the Malik al-Azrak, "O King, is this man of more account with thee than my son?"; and quoth Shahyal, "Verily, thy son was an evildoer who kidnapped Kings' daughters and shut them up in the Ruined Well and the High-builded Castle of Japhet son of Noah and entreated them lewdly." Then said the Blue King, "He is with me; but make thy peace between us." So he delivered the Prince to Shahyal, who made peace between him and the Blue King, and Al-Azrak gave him a bond of absolution for the death of his son. Then Shahyal conferred robes of honour on them and entertained the Blue King and his troops hospitably for three days, after which he took Sayf al-Muluk and carried him back to the old Queen, his own mother, who rejoiced in him with an exceeding joy, and Shahyal marvelled at the beauty of the Prince and his loveliness and his perfection. Then the Prince related to him his story from beginning to end, especially what did befal him with Badi'a al-Jamal and Shahyal said, "O my mother, since 'tis thy pleasure that this should be, I hear and I obey all that to command it pleaseth thee; wherefore do thou take him and bear him to Sarandib and there celebrate his wedding and marry him to her in all state, for he is a goodly youth and hath endured horrors for her sake." So she and her maidens set out with Sayf al-Muluk for Sarandib and, entering the Garden belonging to the Queen of Hind, foregathered with Daulat Khatun and Badi'a al-Jamal. Then the lovers met, and the old Queen acquainted the two Princesses with all that had passed between Sayf al-Muluk and the Blue King and how the Prince had been nearhand to a captive's death; but in repetition is no fruition. Then King Taj al-Muluk father of Daulat Khatun assembled the lords of his land and drew up the contract of marriage between Sayf al-Muluk and Badi'a al-Jamal; and he conferred costly robes of honour and gave banquets to the lieges. Then Sayf al-Muluk rose and, kissing ground before the King, said to him, "O King, pardon! I would fain ask of thee somewhat but I fear lest thou refuse it to my disappointment." Taj al-Muluk replied, "By Allah, though thou soughtest my soul of me, I would not refuse it to thee, after all the kindness thou hast done me!" Quoth Sayf al-Muluk, "I wish thee to marry the Princess Daulat Khatun to my brother Sa'id, and we will both be thy pages." "I hear and obey," answered Taj al-Muluk, and assembling his Grandees a second time, let draw up the contract of marriage between his daughter and Sa'id; after which they scattered gold and silver and the King bade decorate the city. So they held high festival and Sayf al-Muluk went in unto Badi'a al-Jamal and Sa'id went in unto Daulat Khatun on the same night. Moreover Sayf al-Muluk abode forty days with Badi'a al-Jamal, at the end of which she said to him, "O King's son, say me, is there left in thy heart any regret for aught?" And he replied, "Allah forfend! I have accomplished my quest and there abideth no regret in my heart at all: but I would fain meet my father and my mother in the land of Egypt and see if they continue in welfare or not." So she commanded a company of her slaves to convey them to Egypt, and they carried them to Cairo, where Sayf al-Muluk and Sa'id foregathered with their parents and abode with them a week; after which they took leave of them and returned to Sarandib-city; and from this time forwards, whenever they longed for their folk, they used to go to them and return. Then Sayf al-Muluk and Badi'a al-Jamal abode in all solace of life and its joyance as did Sa'id and Daulat Khatun, till there came to them the Destroyer of delights and Severer of societies; and they all died good Moslems. So glory be to the Living One who dieth not, who createth all creatures and decreeth to them death and who is the First, without beginning, and the Last, without end! This is all that hath come down to us of the story of Sayf al-Muluk and Badi'a al-Jamal. And Allah alone wotteth the truth. [FN#4] But not less excellent than this tale is the History of