HASAN OF BASSORAH. [FN#5]
There was once of days of yore and in ages and times long gone before, a merchant, who dwelt in the land of Bassorah and who owned two sons and wealth galore. But in due time Allah, the All-hearing the All-knowing, decreed that he should be admitted to the mercy of the Most High; so he died, and his two sons laid him out and buried him, after which they divided his gardens and estates equally between them and of his portion each one opened a shop. [FN#6] Presently the elder son, Hasan hight, a youth of passing beauty and loveliness, symmetry and perfect grace, betook himself to the company of lewd folk, women and low boys, frolicking with them in gardens and feasting them with meat and wine for months together and occupying himself not with his business like as his father had done, for that he exulted in the abundance of his good. After some time he had wasted all his ready money, so he sold all his father's lands and houses and played the wastrel until there remained in his hand nothing, neither little nor muchel, nor was one of his comrades left who knew him. He abode thus anhungred, he and his widowed mother, three days, and on the fourth day, as he walked along, unknowing whither to wend, there met him a man of his father's friends, who questioned him of his case. He told him what had befallen him and the other said, "O my son, I have a brother who is a goldsmith; an thou wilt, thou shalt be with him and learn his craft and become skilled therein." Hasan consented and accompanied him to his brother, to whom he commended him, saying, "In very sooth this is my son; do thou teach him for my sake." So Hasan abode with the goldsmith and busied himself with the craft; and Allah opened to him the door of gain and in due course he set up shop for himself. One day, as he sat in his booth in the bazar, there came up to him an Ajamí, a foreigner, a Persian, with a great white beard and a white turband [FN#7] on his head, having the semblance of a merchant who, after saluting him, looked at his handiwork and examined it knowingly. It pleased him and he shook his head, saying, "By Allah, thou art a cunning goldsmith! What may be thy name?" "Hasan," replied the other, shortly. [FN#8] The Persian continued to look at his wares, whilst Hasan read in an old book [FN#9] he hent in hand and the folk were taken up with his beauty and loveliness and symmetry and perfect grace, till the hour of midafternoon prayer, when the shop became clear of people and the Persian accosted the young man, saying, "O my son, thou art a comely youth! What book is that? Thou hast no sire and I have no son, and I know an art, than which there is no goodlier in the world."--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the Seven Hundred and Seventy-ninth Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the Persian accosted the young man saying, "O my son, thou art a comely youth! Thou hast no sire and I have no son, and I know an art than which there is no goodlier in the world. Many have sought of me instruction therein, but I consented not to instruct any of them in it; yet hath my soul consented that I teach it to thee, for thy love hath gotten hold upon my heart and I will make thee my son and set up between thee and poverty a barrier, so shalt thou be quit of this handicraft and toil no more with hammer and anvil, [FN#10] charcoal and fire." Hasan asked, "O my lord and when wilt thou teach me this?"; and the Persian answered, "To-morrow, Inshallah, I will come to thee betimes and make thee in thy presence fine gold of this copper." Whereupon Hasan rejoiced and sat talking with the Persian till nightfall, when he took leave of him and going in to his mother, saluted her with the salam and ate with her; but he was dazed, without memory or reason, for that the stranger's words had gotten hold upon his heart. So she questioned him and he told her what had passed between himself and the Persian, which when she heard, her heart fluttered and she strained him to her bosom, saying, "O my son, beware of hearkening to the talk of the folk, and especially of the Persians, and obey them not in aught; for they are sharpers and tricksters, who profess the art of alchemy [FN#11] and swindle people and take their money and devour it in vain." Replied Hasan, "O my mother, we are paupers and have nothing he may covet, that he should put a cheat on us. Indeed, this Persian is a right worthy Shaykh and the signs of virtue are manifest on him; Allah hath inclined his heart to me and he hath adopted me to son." She was silent in her chagrin, and he passed the night without sleep, his heart being full of what the Persian had said to him; nor did slumber visit him for the excess of his joy therein. But when morning morrowed, he rose and taking the keys, opened the shop, whereupon behold, the Persian accosted him. Hasan stood up to him and would have kissed his hands; but he forbade him from this and suffered it not, saying, "O Hasan, set on the crucible and apply the bellows." [FN#12] So he did as the stranger bade him and lighted the charcoal. Then said the Persian, "O my son, hast thou any copper?" and he replied, "I have a broken platter." So he bade him work the shears [FN#13] and cut it into bittocks and cast it into the crucible and blow up the fire with the bellows, till the copper became liquid, when he put hand to turband and took therefrom a folded paper and opening it, sprinkled thereout into the pot about half a drachm of somewhat like yellow Kohl or eyepowder. [FN#14] Then he bade Hasan blow upon it with the bellows, and he did so, till the contents of the crucible became a lump of gold. [FN#15] When the youth saw this, he was stupefied and at his wits' end for the joy he felt and taking the ingot from the crucible handled it and tried it with the file and found it pure gold of the finest quality: whereupon his reason fled and he was dazed with excess of delight and bent over the Persian's hand to kiss it. But he forbade him, saying, "Art thou married?" and when the youth replied "No!" he said, "Carry this ingot to the market and sell it and take the price in haste and speak not." So Hasan went down into the market and gave the bar to the broker, who took it and rubbed it upon the touchstone and found it pure gold. So they opened the biddings at ten thousand dirhams and the merchants bid against one another for it up to fifteen thousand dirhams, [FN#16] at which price he sold it and taking the money, went home and told his mother all that had passed, saying, "O my mother, I have learnt this art and mystery." But she laughed at him, saying, "There is no Majesty and there is no Might save in Allah, the Glorious, the Great!"--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the Seven Hundred and Eightieth Night,
She continued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when Hasan the goldsmith told his mother what he had done with the Ajami and cried, "I have learnt this art and mystery," she laughed at him, saying, "There is no Majesty and there is no Might save in Allah, the Glorious, the Great!"; and she was silent for vexation. Then of his ignorance, he took a metal mortar and returning to the shop, laid it before the Persian, who was still sitting there and asked him, "O my son, what wilt thou do with this mortar?" Hasan answered, "Let us put it in the fire, and make of it lumps of gold." The Persian laughed and rejoined, "O my son, art thou Jinn-mad that thou wouldst go down into the market with two ingots of gold in one day? Knowest thou not that the folk would suspect us and our lives would be lost? Now, O my son, an I teach thee this craft, thou must practise it but once in each twelvemonth; for that will suffice thee from year to year." Cried Hasan, "True, O my lord," and sitting down in his open shop, set on the crucible and cast more charcoal on the fire. Quoth the Persian, "What wilt thou, O my son?"; and quoth Hasan, "Teach me this craft." "There is no Majesty and there is no Might save in Allah, the Glorious, the Great!" exclaimed the Persian, laughing; "Verily, O my son, thou art little of wit and in nowise fitted for this noble craft. Did ever any during all his life learn this art on the beaten way or in the bazars? If we busy ourselves with it here, the folk will say of us, These practise alchemy; and the magistrates will hear of us, and we shall lose our lives. [FN#17] Wherefore, O my son, an thou desire to learn this mystery forthright, come thou with me to my house." So Hasan barred his shop and went with that Ajamí; but by the way he remembered his mother's words and thinking in himself a thousand thoughts he stood still, with bowed head. The Persian turned and seeing him thus standing laughed and said to him, "Art thou mad? What! I in my heart purpose thee good and thou misdoubtest I will harm thee!" presently adding, "But, if thou fear to go with me to my house, I will go with thee to thine and teach thee there." Hasan replied, "'Tis well, O uncle," and the Persian rejoined, "Go thou before me." So Hasan led the way to his own house, and entering, told his mother of the Persian's coming, for he had left him standing at the door. She ordered the house for them and when she had made an end of furnishing and adorning it, her son bade her go to one of the neighbours' lodgings. So she left her home to them and wended her way, whereupon Hasan brought in the Persian, who entered after asking leave. Then he took in hand a dish and going to the market, returned with food, which he set before the Persian, saying, "Eat, O my lord, that between us there may be bread and salt and may Almighty Allah do vengeance upon the traitor to bread and salt!" The Persian replied with a smile, "True, O my son! Who knoweth the virtue and worth of bread and salt?" [FN#18] Then he came forward and ate with Hasan, till they were satisfied; after which the Ajami said, "O my son Hasan, bring us somewhat of sweetmeats." So Hasan went to the market, rejoicing in his words, and returned with ten saucers [FN#19] of sweetmeats, of which they both ate and the Persian said, "May Allah abundantly requite thee, O my son! It is the like of thee with whom folk company and to whom they discover their secrets and teach what may profit him!" [FN#20] Then said he, "O Hasan bring the gear." But hardly did Hasan hear these words than he went forth like a colt let out to grass in spring-tide, and hastening to the shop, fetched the apparatus and set it before the Persian, who pulled out a piece of paper and said, "O Hasan, by the bond of bread and salt, wert thou not dearer to me than my son, I would not let thee into the mysteries of this art, for I have none of the Elixir [FN#21] left save what is in this paper; but by and by I will compound the simples whereof it is composed and will make it before thee. Know, O my son Hasan, that to every ten pounds of copper thou must set half a drachm of that which is in this paper, and the whole ten will presently become unalloyed virgin gold;" presently adding, "O my son, O Hasan, there are in this paper three ounces, [FN#22] Egyptian measure, and when it is spent, I will make thee other and more." Hasan took the packet and finding therein a yellow powder, finer than the first, said to the Persian, "O my lord, what is the name of this substance and where is it found and how is it made?" But he laughed, longing to get hold of the youth, and replied, "Of what dost thou question? Indeed thou art a froward boy! Do thy work and hold thy peace." So Hasan arose and fetching a brass platter from the house, shore it in shreds and threw it into the melting-pot; then he scattered on it a little of the powder from the paper and it became a lump of pure gold. When he saw this, he joyed with exceeding joy and was filled with amazement and could think of nothing save the gold; but, whilst he was occupied with taking up the lumps of metal from the melting-pot, the Persian pulled out of his turband in haste a packet of Cretan Bhang, which if an elephant smelt, he would sleep from night to night, and cutting off a little thereof, put it in a piece of the sweetmeat. Then said he, "O Hasan, thou art become my very son and dearer to me than soul and wealth, and I have a daughter whose like never have eyes beheld for beauty and loveliness, symmetry and perfect grace. Now I see that thou befittest none but her and she none but thee; wherefore, if it be Allah's will, I will marry thee to her." Replied Hasan, "I am thy servant and whatso good thou dost with me will be a deposit with the Almighty!" and the Persian rejoined, "O my son, have fair patience and fair shall betide thee." Therewith he gave him the piece of sweetmeat and he took it and kissing his hand, put it in his mouth, knowing not what was hidden for him in the after time for only the Lord of Futurity knoweth the Future. But hardly had he swallowed it, when he fell down, head foregoing heels, and was lost to the world; whereupon the Persian, seeing him in such calamitous case, rejoiced exceedingly and cried, "Thou hast fallen into my snares, O gallows-carrion, O dog of the Arabs! This many a year have I sought thee and now I have found thee, O Hasan!"--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the Seven Hundred and Eighty-first Night,
She pursued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when Hasan the goldsmith ate the bit of sweetmeat given to him by the Ajami and fell fainting to the ground, the Persian rejoiced exceedingly and cried, "This many a year have I sought thee and now I have found thee!" Then he girt himself and pinioned Hasan's arms and binding his feet to his hands laid him in a chest, which he emptied to that end and locked it upon him. Moreover, he cleared another chest and laying therein all Hasan's valuables, together with the piece of the first gold-lump and the second ingot which he had made locked it with a padlock. Then he ran to the market and fetching a porter, took up the two chests and made off with them to a place within sight of the city, where he set them down on the sea-shore, hard by a vessel at anchor there. Now this craft had been freighted and fitted out by the Persian and her master was awaiting him; so, when the crew saw him, they came to him and bore the two chests on board. Then the Persian called out to the Rais or Captain, saying, "Up and let us be off, for I have done my desire and won my wish." So the skipper sang out to the sailors, saying, "Weigh anchor and set sail!" And the ship put out to sea with a fair wind. So far concerning the Persian; but as regards Hasan's mother, she awaited him till supper-time but heard neither sound nor news of him; so she went to the house and finding it thrown open, entered and saw none therein and missed the two chests and their valuables; wherefore she knew that her son was lost and that doom had overtaken him; and she buffeted her face and rent her raiment crying out and wailing and saying, "Alas, my son, ah! Alas, the fruit of my vitals, ah!" And she recited these couplets,"My patience fails me and grows anxiety; * And with your absence growth of grief I see.
And she ceased not to weep and wail till the dawn, when the neighbours came in to her and asked her of her son, and she told them what had befallen him with the Persian, assured that she should never, never see him again. Then she went round about the house, weeping, and wending she espied two lines written upon the wall; so she sent for a scholar, who read them to her; and they were these,
"Leyla's phantom came by night, when drowsiness had overcome me, towards morning while my companions were sleeping in the desert,
But when we awoke to behold the nightly phantom, I saw the air vacant and the place of visitation was distant." [FN#23]
When Hasan's mother heard these lines, she shrieked and said, "Yes, O my son! Indeed, the house is desolate and the visitation-place is distant!" Then the neighbours took leave of her and after they had prayed that she might be vouchsafed patience and speedy reunion with her son, went away; but she ceased not to weep all watches of the night and tides of the day and she built amiddlemost the house a tomb whereon she let write Hasan's name and the date of his loss, and thenceforward she quitted it not, but made a habit of incessantly biding thereby night and day. Such was her case; but touching her son Hasan and the Ajami, this Persian was a Magian, who hated Moslems with exceeding hatred and destroyed all who fell into his power. He was a lewd and filthy villain, a hankerer after alchemy, an astrologer and a hunter of hidden hoards, such an one as he of whom quoth the poet,"A dog, dog-fathered, by dog-grandsire bred; * No good in dog from dog race issued:
The name of this accursed was Bahrám the Guebre, and he was wont, every year, to take a Moslem and cut his throat for his own purposes. So, when he had carried out his plot against Hasan the goldsmith, they sailed on from dawn till dark, when the ship made fast to the shore for the night, and at sunrise, when they set sail again, Bahram bade his black slaves and white servants bring him the chest wherein were Hasan. They did so, and he opened it and taking out the young man, made him sniff up vinegar and blew a powder into his nostrils. Hasan sneezed and vomited the Bhang; then, opening his eyes, he looked about him right and left and found himself amiddleward the sea on aboard a ship in full sail, and saw the Persian sitting by him; wherefore he knew that the accursed Magian had put a cheat on him and that he had fallen into the very peril against which his mother had warned him. So he spake the saying which shall never shame the sayer, to wit, "There is no Majesty and there is no Might save in Allah, the Glorious, the Great! Verity, we are Allah's and unto Him we are returning! O my God, be Thou gracious to me in Thine appointment and give me patience to endure this Thine affliction, O Lord of the three Worlds!" Then he turned to the Persian and bespoke him softly, saying, "O my father, what fashion is this and where is the covenant of bread and salt and the oath thou swarest to me?" [FN#25] But Bahram stared at him and replied, "O dog, knoweth the like of me bond of bread and salt? I have slain of youths like thee a thousand, save one, and thou shalt make up the thousand." And he cried out at him and Hasan was silent, knowing that the Fate-shaft had shot him.--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the Seven Hundred and Eighty-second Night,
She resumed, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when Hasan beheld himself fallen into the hands of the damned Persian he bespoke him softly but gained naught thereby for the Ajami cried out at him in wrath, so he was silent, knowing that the Fate-shaft had shot him. Then the accursed bade loose his pinion-bonds and they gave him a little water to drink, whilst the Magian laughed and said, "By the virtue of the Fire and the Light and the Shade and the Heat, methought not thou wouldst fall into my nets! But the Fire empowered me over thee and helped me to lay hold upon thee, that I might win my wish and return and make thee a sacrifice, to her [FN#26] so she may accept of me." Quoth Hasan, "Thou hast foully betrayed bread and salt"; whereupon the Magus raised his hand and dealt him such a buffet that he fell and, biting the deck with his fore-teeth, swooned away, whilst the tears trickled down his cheeks. Then the Guebre bade his servants light him a fire and Hasan said, "What wilt thou do with it?" Replied the Magian, "This is the Fire, lady of light and sparkles bright! This it is I worship, and if thou wilt worship her even as I, verily I will give thee half my monies and marry thee to my maiden daughter." Thereupon Hasan cried angrily at him, "Woe to thee! Thou art a miscreant Magian who to Fire dost pray in lieu of the King of Omnipotent sway, Creator of Night and Day; and this is naught but a calamity among creeds!" At this the Magian was wroth and said to him, "Wilt thou not then conform with me, O dog of the Arabs, and enter my faith?" But Hasan consented not to this: so the accursed Guebre arose and prostrating himself to the fire, bade his pages throw him flat on his face. They did so, and he beat him with a hide whip of plaited thongs [FN#27] till his flanks were laid open, whilst he cried aloud for aid but none aided him, and besought protection, but none protected him. Then he raised his eyes to the All-powerful King and sought of Him succour in the name of the Chosen Prophet. And indeed patience failed him; his tears ran down his cheeks, like rain, and he repeated these couplets twain,"In patience, O my God, Thy doom forecast * I'll bear, an thereby come Thy grace at last:
Then the Magian bade his negro-slaves raise him to a sitting posture and bring him somewhat of meat and drink. So they sat food before him; but he consented not to eat or drink; and Bahram ceased not to torment him day and night during the whole voyage, whilst Hasan took patience and humbled himself in supplication before Almighty Allah to whom belong Honour and Glory; whereby the Guebre's heart was hardened against him. They ceased not to sail the sea three months, during which time Hasan was continually tortured till Allah Almighty sent forth upon them a foul wind and the sea grew black and rose against the ship, by reason of the fierce gale; whereupon quoth the captain and crew, [FN#28] "By Allah, this is all on account of yonder youth, who hath been these three months in torture with this Magian. Indeed, this is not allowed of God the Most High." Then they rose against the Magian and slew his servants and all who were with him; which when he saw, he made sure of death and feared for himself. So he loosed Hasan from his bonds and pulling off the ragged clothes the youth had on, clad him in others; and made excuses to him and promised to teach him the craft and restore him to his native land, saying, "O my son, return me not evil for that I have done with thee." Quoth Hasan, "How can I ever rely upon thee again?"; and quoth Bahram, "O my son, but for sin, there were no pardon. Indeed, I did all these doings with thee, but to try thy patience, and thou knowest that the case is altogether in the hands of Allah." So the crew and captain rejoiced in Hasan's release, and he called down blessings on them and praised the Almighty and thanked Him. With this the wind was stilled and the sky cleared and with a fair breeze they continued their voyage. Then said Hasan to Bahram, "O Master, [FN#29] whither wendest thou?" Replied the Magian, "O, my son, I am bound for the Mountain of Clouds, where is the Elixir which we use in alchemy." And the Guebre swore to him by the Fire and the Light that he had no longer any cause to fear him. So Hasan's heart was set at ease and rejoicing at the Persian's words, he continued to eat and drink and sleep with the Magian, who clad him in his own raiment. They ceased not sailing on other three months, when the ship came to anchor off a long shoreline of many coloured pebbles, white and yellow and sky-blue and black and every other hue, and the Magian sprang up and said, "O Hasan, come, let us go ashore for we have reached the place of our wish and will." So Hasan rose and landed with Bahram, after the Persian had commended his goods to the captain's care. They walked on inland, till they were far enough from the ship to be out of sight, when Bahram sat down and taking from his pocket a kettle-drum [FN#30] of copper and a silken strap, worked in gold with characts, beat the drum with the strap, until there arose a cloud of dust from the further side of the waste. Hasan marvelled at the Magian's doings and was afraid of him: he repented of having come ashore with him and his colour changed. But Bahram looked at him and said, "What aileth thee, O my son? By the truth of the Fire and the Light, thou hast naught to fear from me; and, were it not that my wish may never be won save by thy means, I had not brought thee ashore. So rejoice in all good; for yonder cloud of dust is the dust of somewhat we will mount and which will aid us to cut across this wold and make easy to us the hardships thereof."--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the Seven Hundred and Eighty-third Night,
She continued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the Persian said to Hasan, "In very sooth yonder dust-cloud is the cloud of something we will mount and which will aid us to cut across this wold and will make easy to us the hardships thereof." Presently the dust lifted off three she-dromedaries, one of which Bahram mounted and Hasan another. Then they loaded their victual on the third and fared on seven days, till they came to a wide champaign and, descending into its midst, they saw a dome vaulted upon four pilasters of red gold; so they alighted and entering thereunder, ate and drank and took their rest. Anon Hasan chanced to glance aside and seeing from afar a something lofty said to the Magian, "What is that, O nuncle?" Bahram replied, "'Tis a palace," and quoth Hasan, "Wilt thou not go thither, that we may enter and there repose ourselves and solace ourselves with inspecting it?" But the Persian was wroth and said, "Name not to me yonder palace; for therein dwelleth a foe, with whom there befel me somewhat whereof this is no time to tell thee." Then he beat the kettle-drum and up came the dromedaries, and they mounted and fared on other seven days. On the eighth day, the Magian said, "O Hasan, what seest thou?" Hasan replied, "I see clouds and mists twixt east and west." Quoth Bahram, "That is neither clouds nor mists, but a vast mountain and a lofty whereon the clouds split, [FN#31] and there are no clouds above it, for its exceeding height and surpassing elevation. Yon mount is my goal and thereon is the need we seek. 'Tis for that I brought thee hither, for my wish may not be won save at thy hands. Hasan hearing this gave his life up for lost and said to the Magian, "By the right of that thou worshippest and by the faith wherein thou believest, I conjure thee to tell me what is the object wherefor thou hast brought me!" Bahram replied, "The art of alchemy may not be accomplished save by means of a herb which groweth in the place where the clouds pass and whereon they split. Such a site is yonder mountain upon whose head the herb groweth and I purpose to send thee up thither to fetch it; and when we have it, I will show thee the secret of this craft which thou desirest to learn." Hasan answered, in his fear, "'Tis well, O my master;" and indeed he despaired of life and wept for his parting from his parent and people and patrial stead, repenting him of having gainsaid his mother and reciting these two couplets,"Consider but thy Lord, His work shall bring * Comfort to thee, with quick relief and near:
They ceased not faring on till they came to the foothills of that mountain where they halted; and Hasan saw thereon a palace and asked Bahram, "What be yonder palace?"; whereto he answered, "'Tis the abode of the Jann and Ghuls and Satans." Then the Magian alighted and making Hasan also dismount from his dromedary kissed his head and said to him, "Bear me no ill will anent that I did with thee, for I will keep guard over thee in thine ascent to the palace; and I conjure thee not to trick and cheat me of aught thou shalt bring therefrom; and I and thou will share equally therein." And Hasan replied, "To hear is to obey." Then Bahram opened a bag and taking out a handmill and a sufficiency of wheat, ground the grain and kneaded three round cakes of the flour; after which he lighted a fire and baked the bannocks. Then he took out the copper kettledrum and beat it with the broidered strap, whereupon up came the dromedaries. He chose out one and said, "Hearken, O my son, O Hasan, to what I am about to enjoin on thee;" and Hasan replied, "'Tis well." Bahram continued, "Lie down on this skin and I will sew thee up therein and lay thee on the ground; whereupon the Rakham birds [FN#32] will come to thee and carry thee up to the mountain-top. Take this knife with thee; and, when thou feelest that the birds have done flying and have set thee down, slit open therewith the skin and come forth. The vultures will then take fright at thee and fly away; whereupon do thou look down from the mountain head and speak to me, and I will tell thee what to do." So he sewed him up in the skin, placing therein three cakes and a leathern bottle full of water, and withdrew to a distance. Presently a vulture pounced upon him and taking him up, flew away with him to the mountain-top and there set him down. As soon as Hasan felt himself on the ground, he slit the skin and coming forth, called out to the Magian, who hearing his speech rejoiced and danced for excess of joy, saying to him, "Look behind thee and tell me what thou seest." Hasan looked and seeing many rotten bones and much wood, told Bahram, who said to him, "This be what we need and seek. Make six bundles of the wood and throw them down to me, for this is wherewithal we do alchemy." So he threw him the six bundles and when he had gotten them into his power he said to Hasan, "O gallows bird, I have won my wish of thee; and now, if thou wilt, thou mayst abide on this mountain, or cast thyself down to the earth and perish. So saying, he left him [FN#33] and went away, and Hasan exclaimed, "There is no Majesty and there is no Might save in Allah, the Glorious, the Great! This hound hath played the traitor with me." And he sat bemoaning himself and reciting these couplets,"When God upon a man possessed of reasoning, Hearing and sight His will in aught to pass would bring,
--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the Seven Hundred and Eighty-fourth Night,
She pursued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the Magian sent Hasan to the mountain-top and made him throw down all he required he presently reviled him and left him and wended his ways and the youth exclaimed, "There is no Majesty and there is no Might save in Allah, the Glorious, the Great! This damned hound hath played the traitor." Then he rose to his feet and looked right and left, after which he walked on along the mountain top, in mind making certain of death. He fared on thus till he came to the counterslope of the mountain, along which he saw a dark-blue sea, dashing with billows clashing and yeasting waves each as it were a lofty mount. So he sat down and repeated what he might of the Koran and besought Allah the Most High to ease him of his troubles, or by death or by deliverance from such strait. Then he recited for himself the funeral-prayer [FN#35] and cast himself down into the main; but, the waves bore him up by Allah's grace, so that he reached the water unhurt, and the angel in whose charge is the sea watched over him, so that the billows bore him safe to land, by the decree of the Most High. Thereupon he rejoiced and praised Almighty Allah and thanked Him; after which he walked on in quest of something to eat, for stress of hunger, and came presently to the place where he had halted with the Magian, Bahram. Then he fared on awhile, till behold, he caught sight of a great palace, rising high in air, and knew it for that of which he had questioned the Persian and he had replied, "Therein dwelleth a foe, of mine." Hasan said to himself, "By Allah, needs must I enter yonder palace; perchance relief awaiteth me there." So coming to it and finding the gate open, he entered the vestibule, where he saw seated on a bench two girls like twin moons with a chess-cloth before them and they were at play. One of them raised her head to him and cried out for joy saying, "By Allah, here is a son of Adam, and methinks 'tis he whom Bahram the Magian brought hither this year!" So Hasan hearing her words cast himself at their feet and wept with sore weeping and said, "Yes, O my ladies, by Allah, I am indeed that unhappy." Then said the younger damsel to her elder sister, "Bear witness against me, [FN#36] O my sister, that this is my brother by covenant of Allah and that I will die for his death and live for his life and joy for his joy and mourn for his mourning." So saying, she rose and embraced him and kissed him and presently taking him by the hand and her sister with her, led him into the palace, where she did off his ragged clothes and brought him a suit of King's raiment wherewith she arrayed him. Moreover, she made ready all manner viands [FN#37] and set them before him, and sat and ate with him, she and her sister. Then said they to him, "Tell us thy tale with yonder dog, the wicked, the wizard, from the time of thy falling into his hands to that of thy freeing thee from him; and after we will tell thee all that hath passed between us and him, so thou mayst be on thy guard against him an thou see him again." Hearing these words and finding himself thus kindly received, Hasan took heart of grace and reason returned to him and he related to them all that had befallen him with the Magian from first to last. Then they asked, "Didst thou ask him of this palace?"; and he answered, "Yes, but he said, 'Name it not to me; for it belongeth to Ghuls and Satans.'" At this, the two damsels waxed wroth with exceeding wrath and said, "Did that miscreant style us Ghuls and Satans?" And Hasan answered, "Yes." Cried the younger sister, "By Allah, I will assuredly do him die with the foulest death and make him to lack the wind of the world!" Quoth Hasan, "And how wilt thou get at him, to kill him, for he is a crafty magician?"; and quoth she, "He is in a garden by name Al-Mushayyad, [FN#38] and there is no help but that I slay him before long." Then said her sister, "Sooth spake Hasan in everything he hath recounted to us of this cur; but now tell him our tale, that all of it may abide in his memory." So the younger said to him, "Know, O my brother, that we are the daughters of a King of the mightiest Kings of the Jann, having Marids for troops and guards and servants, and Almighty Allah blessed him with seven daughters by one wife; but of his folly such jealousy and stiff-neckedness and pride beyond compare gat hold upon him that he would not give us in marriage to any one and, summoning his Wazirs and Emirs, he said to them, 'Can ye tell me of any place untrodden by the tread of men and Jinn and abounding in trees and fruits and rills?' And quoth they, 'What wilt thou therewith, O King of the Age?' And quoth he, 'I desire there to lodge my seven daughters.' Answered they, 'O King, the place for them is the Castle of the Mountain of Clouds, built by an Ifrit of the rebellious Jinn, who revolted from the covenant of our lord Solomon, on whom be the peace! Since his destruction, none hath dwelt there, nor man nor Jinni, for 'tis cut off [FN#39] and none may win to it. And the Castle is girt about with trees and fruits and rills, and the water running around it is sweeter than honey and colder than snow: none who is afflicted with leprosy or elephantiasis [FN#40] or what not else drinketh thereof but he is healed forthright. Hearing this our father sent us hither, with an escort of his troops and guards and provided us with all that we need here. When he is minded to ride to us he beateth a kettle-drum, whereupon all his hosts present themselves before him and he chooseth whom he shall ride and dismisseth the rest; but, when he desireth that we shall visit him, he commandeth his followers, the enchanters, to fetch us and carry us to the presence; so he may solace himself with our society and we accomplish our desire of him; after which they again carry us back hither. Our five other sisters are gone a-hunting in our desert, wherein are wild beasts past compt or calculation and, it being our turn to do this we two abode at home, to make ready for them food. Indeed, we had besought Allah (extolled and exalted be He!) to vouchsafe us a son of Adam to cheer us with his company and praised be He who hath brought thee to us! So be of good cheer and keep thine eyes cool and clear, for no harm shall befal thee." Hasan rejoiced and said, "Alhamdolillah, laud to the Lord who guideth us into the path of deliverance and inclineth hearts to us!" Then his sister [FN#41] rose and taking him by the hand, led him into a private chamber, where she brought out to him linen and furniture that no mortal can avail unto. Presently, the other damsels returned from hunting and birding and their sisters acquainted them with Hasan's case; whereupon they rejoiced in him and going into him in his chamber, saluted him with the salam and gave him joy of his safety. Then he abode with them in all the solace of life and its joyance, riding out with them to the chase and taking his pleasure with them whilst they entreated him courteously and cheered him with converse, till his sadness ceased from him and he recovered health and strength and his body waxed stout and fat, by dint of fair treatment and pleasant time among the seven moons in that fair palace with its gardens and flowers; for indeed he led the delightsomest of lives with the damsels who delighted in him and he yet more in them. And they used to give him drink of the honey-dew of their lips [FN#42] these beauties with the high bosoms, adorned with grace and loveliness, the perfection of brilliancy and in shape very symmetry. Moreover the youngest Princess told her sisters how Bahram the Magian had made them of the Ghuls and Demons and Satans, [FN#43] and they sware that they would surely slay him. Next year the accursed Guebre again made his appearance, having with him a handsome young Moslem, as he were the moon, bound hand and foot and tormented with grievous tortures, and alighted with him below the palace-walls. Now Hasan was sitting under the trees by the side of the stream; and when he espied Bahram, his heart fluttered, [FN#44] his hue changed and he smote hand upon hand.--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the Seven Hundred and Eighty-fifth Night,
She resumed, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when Hasan the goldsmith saw the Magian, his heart fluttered, his hue changed and he smote hand upon hand. Then he said to the Princesses, "O my sisters, help me to the slaughter of this accursed, for here he is come back and in your grasp, and he leadeth with him captive a young Moslem of the sons of the notables, whom he is torturing with all manner grievous torments. Lief would I kill him and console my heart of him; and, by delivering the young Moslem from his mischief and restoring him to his country and kith and kin and friends, fain would I lay up merit for the world to come, by taking my wreak of him. [FN#45] This will be an almsdeed from you and ye will reap the reward thereof from Almighty Allah." "We hear and we obey Allah and thee, O our brother, O Hasan," replied they and binding chin-veils, armed themselves and slung on their swords: after which they brought Hasan a steed of the best and equipped him in panoply and weaponed him with goodly weapons. Then they all sallied out and found the Magian who had slaughtered and skinned a camel, ill-using the young Moslem, and saying to him, "Sit thee in this hide." So Hasan came behind him, without his knowledge, and cried out at him till he was dazed and amazed. Then he came up to him, saying, "Hold thy hand, O accursed! O enemy of Allah and foe of the Moslems! O dog! O traitor! O thou that flame dost obey! O thou that walkest in the wicked ones' ways, worshipping the fire and the light and swearing by the shade and the heat!" Herewith the Magian turned and seeing Hasan, thought to wheedle him and said to him, "O my son, how diddest thou escape and who brought thee down to earth?" Hasan replied, "He delivered me, who hath appointed the taking of thy life to be at my hand, and I will torture thee even as thou torturedst me the whole way long. O miscreant, O atheist, [FN#46] thou hast fallen into the twist and the way thou hast missed; and neither mother shall avail thee nor brother, nor friend nor solemn covenant shall assist thee; for thou saidst, O accursed, Whoso betrayeth bread and salt, may Allah do vengeance upon him! And thou hast broken the bond of bread and salt; wherefore the Almighty hath thrown thee into my grasp, and far is thy chance of escape from me." Rejoined Bahram, "By Allah, O my son, O Hasan, thou art dearer to me than my sprite and the light of mine eyes!" But Hasan stepped up to him and hastily smote him between the shoulders, that the sword issued gleaming from his throat-tendons and Allah hurried his soul to the fire, and abiding-place dire. Then Hasan took the Magian's bag and opened it, then having taken out the kettle-drum he struck it with the strap, whereupon up came the dromedaries like lightning. So he unbound the youth from his bonds and setting him on one of the camels, loaded him another with victual and water, [FN#47] saying, "Wend whither thou wilt." So he departed, after Almighty Allah had thus delivered him from his strait at the hands of Hasan. When the damsels saw their brother slay the Magian they joyed in him with exceeding joy and gat round him, marvelling at his valour and prowess, [FN#48] and thanked him for his deed and gave him joy of his safety, saying, "O Hasan thou hast done a deed, whereby thou hast healed the burning of him that thirsteth for vengeance and pleased the King of Omnipotence!" Then they returned to the palace, and he abode with them, eating and drinking and laughing and making merry; and indeed his sojourn with them was joyous to him and he forgot his mother; [FN#49] but while he led with them this goodly life one day, behold, there arose from the further side of the desert a great cloud of dust that darkened the welkin and made towards them. When the Princess saw this, they said to him, "Rise, O Hasan, run to thy chamber and conceal thyself; or an thou wilt, go down into the garden and hide thyself among the trees and vines; but fear not, for no harm shall befal thee." So he arose and entering his chamber, locked the door upon himself, and lay lurking in the palace. Presently the dust opened out and showed beneath it a great conquering host, as it were a surging sea, coming from the King, the father of the damsels. Now when the troops reached the castle, the Princesses received them with all honour and hospitably entertained them three days; after which they questioned them of their case and tidings and they replied saying, "We come from the King in quest of you." They asked, "And what would the King with us?"; and the officers answered, "One of the Kings maketh a marriage festival, and your father would have you be present thereat and take your pleasure therewith." The damsels enquired, "And how long shall we be absent from our place?"; and they rejoined, "The time to come and go, and to sojourn may be two months." So the Princesses arose and going in to the palace sought Hasan, acquainted him with the case and said to him, "Verily this place is thy place and our house is thy house; so be of good cheer and keep thine eyes cool and clear and feel nor grief nor fear, for none can come at thee here; but keep a good heart and a glad mind, till we return to thee. The keys of our chambers we leave with thee; but, O our brother, we beseech thee, by the bond of brotherhood, in very deed not to open such a door, for thou hast no need thereto." Then they farewelled him and fared forth with the troops, leaving Hasan alone in the palace. It was not long before his breast grew straitened and his patience shortened: solitude and sadness were heavy on him and he sorrowed for his severance from them with passing chagrin. The palace for all its vastness, waxed small to him and finding himself sad and solitary, he bethought him of the damsels and their pleasant converse and recited these couplets,"The wide plain is narrowed before these eyes * And the landscape troubles this heart of mine.
--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the Seven Hundred and Eighty-sixth Night,
She said, it hath reached me, O auspicious King, that after the departure of the damsels, Hasan sat in the palace sad and solitary and his breast was straitened by severance. He used to ride forth a-hunting by himself in the wold and bring back the game and slaughter it and eat thereof alone: but melancholy and disquiet redoubled on him, by reason of his loneliness. So he arose and went round about the palace and explored its every part; he opened the Princesses' apartments and found therein riches and treasures fit to ravish the beholder's reason; but he delighted not in aught thereof, by reason of their absence. His heart was fired by thinking of the door they had charged him not to approach or open on any account and he said in himself, "My sister had never enjoined me not to open this door, except there were behind it somewhat whereof she would have none to know; but, by Allah, I will arise and open it and see what is within, though within it were sudden death!" Then he took the key and, opening the door, [FN#50] saw therein no treasure but he espied a vaulted and winding staircase of Yamani onyx at the upper end of the chamber. So he mounted the stair, which brought him out upon the terrace- roof of the palace, whence he looked down upon the gardens and vergiers, full of trees and fruits and beasts and birds warbling praises of Allah, the One, the All-powerful; and said in himself "This is that they forbade to me." He gazed upon these pleasaunces and saw beyond a surging sea, dashing with clashing billows, and he ceased not to explore the palace right and left, till he ended at a pavilion builded with alternate courses, two bricks of gold and one of silver and jacinth and emerald and supported by four columns. And in the centre he saw a sitting- room paved and lined with a mosaic of all manner precious stones such as rubies and emeralds and balasses and other jewels of sorts; and in its midst stood a basin [FN#51] brimful of water, over which was a trellis-work of sandalwood and aloes-wood reticulated with rods of red gold and wands of emerald and set with various kinds of jewels and fine pearls, each sized as a pigeon's egg. The trellis was covered with a climbing vine, bearing grapes like rubies, and beside the basin stood a throne of lign-aloes latticed with red gold, inlaid with great pearls and comprising vari-coloured gems of every sort and precious minerals each kind fronting each and symmetrically disposed. About it the birds warbled with sweet tongues and various voices celebrating the praises of Allah the Most High: brief, it was a palace such as nor Cæsar nor Chosroës ever owned; but Hasan saw therein none of the creatures of Allah, whereat he marvelled and said in himself, "I wonder to which of the Kings this place pertaineth, or is it Many-Columned Iram whereof they tell, for who among mortals can avail to the like of this?" And indeed he was amazed at the spectacle and sat down in the pavilion and cast glances around him marvelling at the beauty of its ordinance and at the lustre of the pearls and jewels and the curious works which therein were, no less than at the gardens and orchards aforesaid and at the birds that hymned the praises of Allah, the One, the Almighty; and he abode pondering the traces of him whom the Most High had enabled to rear that structure, for indeed He is muchel of might. [FN#52] And presently, behold, he espied ten birds [FN#53] flying towards the pavilion from the heart of the desert and knew that they were making the palace and bound for the basin, to drink of its waters: so he hid himself, for fear they should see him and take flight. They lighted on a great tree and a goodly and circled round about it; and he saw amongst them a bird of marvel-beauty, the goodliest of them all, and the nine stood around it and did it service; and Hasan marvelled to see it peck them with its bill and lord it over them while they fled from it. He stood gazing at them from afar as they entered the pavilion and perched on the couch; after which each bird rent open its neck-skin with its claws and issued out of it; and lo! it was but a garment of feathers, and there came forth therefrom ten virgins, maids whose beauty shamed the brilliancy of the moon. They all doffed their clothes and plunging into the basin, washed and fell to playing and sporting one with other; whilst the chief bird of them lifted up the rest and ducked them down and they fled from her and dared not put forth their hands to her. When Hasan beheld her thus he took leave of his right reason and his sense was enslaved, so he knew that the Princesses had not forbidden him to open the door save because of this; for he fell passionately in love with her, for what he saw of her beauty and loveliness, symmetry and perfect grace, as she played and sported and splashed the others with the water. He stood looking upon them whilst they saw him not, with eye gazing and heart burning and soul [FN#54] to evil prompting; and he sighed to be with them and wept for longing, because of the beauty and loveliness of the chief damsel. His mind was amazed at her charms and his heart taken in the net of her love; lowe was loosed in his heart for her sake and there waxed on him a flame, whose sparks might not be quenched, and desire, whose signs might not be hidden. Presently, they came up out of that basin, whilst Hasan marvelled at their beauty and loveliness and the tokens of inner gifts in the elegance of their movements. Then he cast a glance at the chief damsel who stood mother- naked and there was manifest to him what was between her thighs a goodly rounded dome on pillars borne, like a bowl of silver or crystal, which recalled to him the saying of the poet, [FN#55]"When I took up her shift and discovered the terrace-roof of her kaze, I found it as strait as my humour or eke my worldly ways:
Then coming out of the water they all put on their dresses and ornaments, and the chief maiden donned a green dress, [FN#56] wherein she surpassed for loveliness all the fair ones of the world and the lustre of her face outshone the resplendent full moons: she excelled the branches with the grace of her bending gait and confounded the wit with apprehension of disdain; and indeed she was as saith the poet, [FN#57]"A maiden 'twas, the dresser's art had decked with cunning sleight;
--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the Seven Hundred and Eighty-seventh Night,
She continued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when Hasan saw the damsels issue forth the basin, the chief maiden robbed his reason with her beauty and loveliness compelling him to recite the couplets forequoted. And after dressing they sat talking and laughing, whilst he stood gazing on them, drowned in the sea of his love, burning in the flames of passion and wandering in the Wady of his melancholy thought. And he said to himself, "By Allah, my sister forbade me not to open the door, but for cause of these maidens and for fear lest I should fall in love with one of them! How, O Hasan shalt thou woo and win them? How bring down a bird flying in the vasty firmament? By Allah thou hast cast thyself into a bottomless sea and snared thyself in a net whence there is no escape! I shall die desolate and none shall wot of my death." And he continued to gaze on the charms of the chief damsel, who was the loveliest creature Allah had made in her day, and indeed she outdid in beauty all human beings. She had a mouth magical as Solomon's seal and hair blacker than the night of estrangement to the love-despairing man; her brow was bright as the crescent moon of the Feast of Ramazán [FN#58] and her eyes were like eyes wherewith gazelles scan; she had a polished nose straight as a cane and cheeks like blood-red anemones of Nu'uman, lips like coralline and teeth like strung pearls in carcanets of gold virgin to man, and a neck like an ingot of silver, above a shape like a wand of Bán: her middle was full of folds, a dimpled plain such as enforceth the distracted lover to magnify Allah and extol His might and main, and her navel [FN#59] an ounce of musk, sweetest of savour could contain: she had thighs great and plump, like marble columns twain or bolsters stuffed with down from ostrich ta'en, and between them a somewhat, as it were a hummock great of span or a hare with ears back lain while terrace-roof and pilasters completed the plan; and indeed she surpassed the bough of the myrobalan with her beauty and symmetry, and the Indian rattan, for she was even as saith of them the poet whom love did unman, [FN#60]"Her lip-dews rival honey-sweets, that sweet virginity; * Keener than Hindi scymitar the glance she casts at thee:
They ceased not to laugh and play, whilst Hasan stood still a-watching them, forgetting meat and drink, till near the hour of mid-afternoon prayer, when the beauty, the chief damsel, said to her mates, "O Kings' daughters, it waxeth late and our land is afar and we are weary of this stead. Come, therefore, let us depart to our own place." So they all arose and donned their feather vests, and becoming birds as they were before, flew away all together, with the chief lady in their midst. Then, Hasan, despairing of their return, would have arisen and gone down into the palace but could not move or even stand; wherefore the tears ran down his cheeks and passion was sore on him and he recited these couplets,"May God deny me boon of troth if I * After your absence sweets of slumber know:
Then Hasan walked on, little by little, heeding not the way he went, till he reached the foot of the stairs, whence he dragged himself to his own chamber; then he entered and shutting the door, lay sick eating not nor drinking and drowned in the sea of his solitude. He spent the night thus, weeping and bemoaning himself, till the morning, and when it morrowed he repeated these couplets,"The birds took flight at eve and winged their way; * And sinless he who died of Love's death-blow.
When the sun rose he opened the door, went forth of the chamber and mounted to the stead where he was before: then he sat down facing the pavilion and awaited the return of the birds till nightfall; but they returned not; wherefore he wept till he fell to the ground in a fainting-fit. When he came to after his swoon, he dragged himself down the stairs to his chamber; and indeed, the darkness was come and straitened upon him was the whole world and he ceased not to weep and wail himself through the livelong night, till the day broke and the sun rained over hill and dale its rays serene. He ate not nor drank nor slept, nor was there any rest for him; but by day he was distracted and by night distressed, with sleeplessness delirious and drunken with melancholy thought and excess of love-longing. And he repeated the verses of the love-distraught poet,"O thou who shamest sun in morning sheen * The branch confounding, yet with nescience blest;
--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the Seven Hundred and Eighty-eighty Night,
She pursued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when Hasan the goldsmith felt love redouble upon him, he recited those lines; and, as he abode thus in the stress of his love-distraction, alone and finding none to cheer him with company, behold, there arose a dust-cloud from the desert, wherefore he ran down and hid himself knowing that the Princesses who owned the castle had returned. Before long, the troops halted and dismounted round the palace and the seven damsels alighted and entering, put off their arms and armour of war. As for the youngest, she stayed not to doff her weapons and gear, but went straight to Hasan's chamber, where finding him not, she sought for him, till she lighted on him in one of the sleeping closets hidden, feeble and thin, with shrunken body and wasted bones and indeed his colour was changed and his eyes sunken in his face for lack of food and drink and for much weeping, by reason of his love and longing for the young lady. When she saw him in this plight, she was confounded and lost her wits; but presently she questioned him of his case and what had befallen him, saying, "Tell me what aileth thee, O my brother, that I may contrive to do away thine affliction, and I will be thy ransom!" [FN#64] Whereupon he wept with sore weeping and by way of reply he began reciting,"Lover, when parted from the thing he loves, * Has naught save weary woe and bane to bear.
When his sister heard this, she marvelled at his eloquence and loquent speech and his readiness at answering her in verse and said to him, "O my brother, when didst thou fall into this thy case and what hath betided thee, that I find thee speaking in song and shedding tears that throng? Allah upon thee, O my brother, and by the honest love which is between us, tell me what aileth thee and discover to me thy secret, nor conceal from me aught of that which hath befallen thee in our absence; for my breast is straitened and my life is troubled because of thee." He sighed and railed tears like rain, after which he said, "I fear, O my sister, if I tell thee, that thou wilt not aid me to win my wish but wilt leave me to die wretchedly in mine anguish." She replied, "No, by Allah, O my brother, I will not abandon thee, though it cost me my life!" So he told her all that had befallen him, and that the cause of his distress and affliction was the passion he had conceived for the young lady whom he had seen when he opened the forbidden door; and how he had not tasted meat nor drink for ten days past. Then he wept with sore weeping and recited these couplets,"Restore my heart as 'twas within my breast, * Let mine eyes sleep again, then fly fro' me.
His sister wept for his weeping and was moved to ruth for his case and pitied his strangerhood; so she said to him, "O my brother, be of good cheer and keep thine eyes cool and clear, for I will venture being and risk existence to content thee and devise thee a device wherewith, though it cost me my dear life and all I hold dear, thou mayst get possession of her and accomplish thy desire, if such be the will of Allah Almighty. But I charge thee, O my brother, keep the matter secret from my sisterhood and discover not thy case to any one of them, lest my life be lost with thy life. An they question thee of opening the forbidden door, reply to them, 'I opened it not; no, never; but I was troubled at heart for your absence and by my loneliness here and yearning for you.'" [FN#65] And he answered, "Yes: this is the right rede." So he kissed her head and his heart was comforted and his bosom broadened. He had been nigh upon death for excess of affright, for he had gone in fear of her by reason of his having opened the door; but now his life and soul returned to him. Then he sought of her somewhat of food and after serving it she left him, and went in to her sisters, weeping and mourning for him. They questioned her of her case and she told them how she was heavy at heart for her brother, because he was sick and for ten days no food had found way into his stomach. So they asked the cause of his sickness and she answered, "The reason was our severance from him and our leaving him desolate; for these days we have been absent from him were longer to him than a thousand years and scant blame to him, seeing he is a stranger, and solitary and we left him alone, with none to company with him or hearten his heart; more by token that he is but a youth and may be he called to mind his family and his mother, who is a woman in years, and bethought him that she weepeth for him all whiles of the day and watches of the night, ever mourning his loss; and we used to solace him with our society and divert him from thinking of her." When her sisters heard these words they wept in the stress of their distress for him and said, "Wa'lláhi--'fore Allah, he is not to blame!" Then they went out to the army and dismissed it, after which they went into Hasan and saluted him with the salam. When they saw his charms changed with yellow colour and shrunken body, they wept for very pity and sat by his side and comforted him and cheered him with converse, relating to him all they had seen by the way of wonders and rarities and what had befallen the bridegroom with the bride. They abode with him thus a whole month, tendering him and caressing him with words sweeter than syrup; but every day sickness was added to his sickness, which when they saw, they bewept him with sore weeping, and the youngest wept even more than the rest. At the end of this time, the Princesses having made up their minds to ride forth a-hunting and a-birding invited their sister to accompany them, but she said, "By Allah, O my sisters, I cannot go forth with you whilst my brother is in this plight, nor indeed till he be restored to health and there cease from him that which is with him of affliction. Rather will I sit with him and comfort him." They thanked her for her kindness and said to her, "Allah will requite thee all thou dost with this stranger." Then they left her with him in the palace and rode forth taking with them twenty days' victual;--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the Seven Hundred and Eighty-ninth Night,
She resumed, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the Princesses mounted and rode forth a-hunting and a-birding, after leaving in the palace their youngest sister sitting by Hasan's side; and as soon as the damsel knew that they had covered a long distance from home, she went in to him and said, "O my brother, come, show me the place where thou sawest the maidens." He rejoiced in her words, making sure of winning his wish, and replied, "Bismillah! On my head!" Then he essayed to rise and show her the place, but could not walk; so she took him up in her arms, holding him to her bosom between her breasts; and, opening the staircase-door, carried him to the top of the palace, and he showed her the pavilion where he had seen the girls and the basin of water, wherein they had bathed. Then she said to him, "Set forth to me, O my brother, their case and how they came." So he described to her whatso he had seen of them and especially the girl of whom he was enamoured; but hearing these words she knew her and her cheeks paled and her case changed. Quoth he, "O my sister, what aileth thee to wax wan and be troubled?"; and quoth she, "O my brother, know thou that this young lady is the daughter of a Sovran of the Jann, of one of the most puissant of their Kings, and her father had dominion over men and Jinn and wizards and Cohens and tribal chiefs and guards and countries and cities and islands galore and hath immense wealth in store. Our father is a Viceroy and one of his vassals and none can avail against him, for the multitude of his many and the extent of his empire and the muchness of his monies. He hath assigned to his offspring, the daughters thou sawest, a tract of country, a whole year's journey in length and breadth, a region girt about with a great river and a deep; and thereto none may attain, nor man nor Jann. He hath an army of women, smiters with swords and lungers with lances, five-and-twenty thousand in number, each of whom, whenas she mounteth steed and donneth battle-gear, eveneth a thousand knights of the bravest. Moreover, he hath seven daughters, who in valour and prowess equal and even excel their sisters, [FN#66] and he hath made the eldest of them, the damsel whom thou sawest, [FN#67] queen over the country aforesaid and who is the wisest of her sisters and in valour and horsemanship and craft and skill and magic excels all the folk of her dominions. The girls who companied with her are the ladies of her court and guards and grandees of her empire, and the plumed skins wherewith they fly are the handiwork of enchanters of the Jann. Now an thou wouldst get possession of this queen and wed this jewel seld-seen and enjoy her beauty and loveliness and grace, do thou pay heed to my words and keep them in thy memory. They resort to this place on the first day of every month; and thou must take seat here and watch for them; and when thou seest them coming hide thee near the pavilion sitting where thou mayst see them, without being seen of them, and beware, again beware lest thou show thyself, or we shall all lose our lives. When they doff their dress note which is the feather-suit of her whom thou lovest and take it, and it only, for this it is that carrieth her to her country, and when thou hast mastered it, thou hast mastered her. And beware lest she wile thee, saying, 'O thou who hast robbed my raiment, restore it to me, because here am I in thine hands and at thy mercy!' For, an thou give it her, she will kill thee and break down over us palace and pavilion and slay our sire: know, then, thy case and how thou shalt act. When her companions see that her feather-suit is stolen, they will take flight and leave her to thee, and beware lest thou show thyself to them, but wait till they have flown away and she despaireth of them: whereupon do thou go in to her and hale her by the hair of her head [FN#68] and drag her to thee; which being done, she will be at thy mercy. And I rede thee discover not to her that thou hast taken the feather-suit, but keep it with care; for, so long as thou hast it in hold, she is thy prisoner and in thy power, seeing that she cannot fly to her country save with it. And lastly carry her down to thy chamber where she will be thine." When Hasan heard her words his heart became at ease, his trouble ceased and affliction left him; so he rose to his feet and kissing his sister's head, went down from the terrace with her into the palace, where they slept that night. He medicined himself till morning morrowed; and when the sun rose, he sprang up and opened the staircase-door and ascending to the flat roof sat there till supper-tide when his sister brought him up somewhat of meat and drink and a change of clothes and he slept. And thus they continued doing, day by day until the end of the month. When he saw the new moon, he rejoiced and began to watch for the birds, and while he was thus, behold, up they came, like lightning. As soon as he espied them, he hid himself where he could watch them, unwatched by them, and they lighted down one and all of them, and putting off their clothes, descended into the basin. All this took place near the stead where Hasan lay concealed, and as soon as he caught sight of the girl he loved, he arose and crept under cover, little by little, towards the dresses, and Allah veiled him so that none marked his approach for they were laughing and playing with one another, till he laid hand on the dress. Now when they had made an end of their diversion, they came forth of the basin and each of them slipped on her feather-suit. But the damsel he loved sought for her plumage that she might put it on, but found it not; whereupon she shrieked and beat her cheeks and rent her raiment. Her sisterhood [FN#69] came to her and asked what ailed her, and she told them that her feather-suit was missing; wherefore they wept and shrieked and buffeted their faces: and they were confounded, wotting not the cause of this, and knew not what to do. Presently the night overtook them and they feared to abide with her lest that which had befallen her should befal them also; so they farewelled her and flying away left her alone upon the terrace-roof of the palace, by the pavilion basin.--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the Seven Hundred and Ninetieth Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when Hasan had carried off the girl's plumery, she sought it but found it not and her sisterhood flew away leaving her alone. When they were out of sight, Hasan gave ear to her and heard her say, "O who hast taken my dress and stripped me, I beseech thee to restore it to me and cover my shame, so may Allah never make thee taste of my tribulation!" But when Hasan heard her speak thus, with speech sweeter than syrup, his love for her redoubled, passion got the mastery of his reason and he had not patience to endure from her. So springing up from his hiding-place, he rushed upon her and laying hold of her by the hair dragged her to him and carried her down to the basement of the palace and set her in his own chamber, where he threw over her a silken cloak [FN#70] and left her weeping and biting her hands. Then he shut the door upon her and going to his sister, informed her how he had made prize of his lover and carried her to his sleeping-closet, "And there," quoth he, "she is now sitting, weeping and biting her hands." When his sister heard this, she rose forthright and betook herself to the chamber, where she found the captive weeping and mourning. So she kissed ground before her and saluted her with the salam and the young lady said to her, "O King's daughter, do folk like you do such foul deed with the daughters of Kings? Thou knowest that my father is a mighty Sovran and that all the liege lords of the Jinn stand in awe of him and fear his majesty: for that there are with him magicians and sages and Cohens and Satans and Marids, such as none may cope withal, and under his hand are folk whose number none knoweth save Allah. How then doth it become you, O daughters of Kings, to harbour mortal men with you and disclose to them our case and yours? Else how should this man, a stranger, come at us?" Hasan's sister made reply, "O King's daughter, in very sooth this human is perfect in nobleness and purposeth thee no villainy; but he loveth thee, and women were not made save for men. Did he not love thee, he had not fallen sick for thy sake and well-nigh given up the ghost for desire of thee." And she told her the whole tale how Hasan had seen her bathing in the basin with her attendants, and fallen in love with her, and none had pleased him but she, for the rest were all her handmaids, and none had availed to put forth a hand to her. When the Princess heard this, she despaired of deliverance and presently Hasan's sister went forth and brought her a costly dress, wherein she robed her. Then she set before her somewhat of meat and drink and ate with her and heartened her heart and soothed her sorrows. And she ceased not to speak her fair with soft and pleasant words, saying, "Have pity on him who saw thee once and became as one slain by thy love;" and continued to console her and caress her, quoting fair says and pleasant instances. But she wept till daybreak, when her trouble subsided and she left shedding tears, knowing that she had fallen into the net and that there was no deliverance for her. Then said she to Hasan's sister, "O King's daughter, with this my strangerhood and severance from my country and sisterhood which Allah wrote upon my brow, patience becometh me to support what my Lord hath foreordained." Therewith the youngest Princess assigned her a chamber in the palace, than which there was none goodlier and ceased not to sit with her and console her and solace her heart, till she was satisfied with her lot and her bosom was broadened and she laughed and there ceased from her what trouble and oppression possessed her, by reason of her separation from her people and country and sisterhood and parents. Thereupon Hasan's sister repaired to him, and said, "Arise, go in to her in her chamber and kiss her hands and feet." [FN#71] So he went in to her and did this and bussed her between the eyes, saying, "O Princess of fair ones and life of sprites and beholder's delight, be easy of heart, for I took thee only that I might be thy bondsman till the Day of Doom, and this my sister will be thy servant; for I, O my lady, desire naught but to take thee to wife, after the law of Allah and the practice of His Apostle, and whenas thou wilt, I will journey with thee to my country and carry thee to Baghdad-city and abide with thee there: moreover, I will buy thee handmaidens and negro chattels; and I have a mother, of the best of women, who will do thee service. There is no goodlier land than our land; everything therein is better than elsewhere and its folk are a pleasant people and bright of face." Now as he bespake her thus and strave to comfort her, what while she answered him not a syllable, lo! there came a knocking at the palace-gate. So Hasan went out to see who was at the door and found there the six Princesses, who had returned from hunting and birding, whereat he rejoiced and went to meet them and welcomed them. They wished him safety and health and he wished them the like; after which they dismounted and going each to her chamber doffed their soiled clothes and donned fine linen. Then they came forth and demanded the game, for they had taken a store of gazelles and wild cows, hares and lions, hyaenas, and others; so their suite brought out some thereof for butchering, keeping the rest by them in the palace, and Hasan girt himself and fell to slaughtering for them in due form, [FN#72] whilst they sported and made merry, joying with great joy to see him standing amongst them hale and hearty once more. When they had made an end of slaughtering, they sat down and addressed themselves to get ready somewhat for breaking their fast, and Hasan, coming up to the eldest Princess, kissed her head and on like wise did he with the rest, one after other. Whereupon said they to him, "Indeed, thou humblest thyself to us passing measure, O our brother, and we marvel at the excess of the affection thou showest us. But Allah forfend that thou shouldst do this thing, which it behoveth us rather to do with thee, seeing thou art a man and therefor worthier than we, who are of the Jinn." [FN#73] Thereupon his eyes brimmed with tears and he wept sore; so they said to him, "What causeth thee to weep? Indeed, thou troublest our pleasant lives with thy weeping this day. 'Twould seem thou longest after thy mother and native land. An things be so, we will equip thee and carry thee to thy home and thy friends." He replied, "By Allah, I desire not to part from you!" Then they asked, "Which of us hath vexed thee, that thou art thus troubled?" But he was ashamed to say, "Naught troubleth me save love of a damsel," lest they should deny and disavow him: so he was silent and would tell them nothing of his case. Then his sister came forward and said to them, "He hath caught a bird from the air and would have you help him to tame her." Whereupon they all turned to him and cried, "We are at thy service every one of us and whatsoever thou seekest that will we do: but tell us thy tale and conceal from us naught of thy case." So he said to his sister, "Do thou tell them, for I am ashamed before them nor can I face them with these words."--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the Seven Hundred and Ninety-first Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Hasan said to his sister, "Do thou tell them my tale, for before them I stand abashed nor can I face them with these words." So she said to them, "O my sisters, when we went away and left alone this unhappy one, the palace was straitened upon him and he feared lest some one should come in to him, for ye know that the sons of Adam are light of wits. So, he opened the door of the staircase leading to the roof, of his loneliness and trouble, and sat there, looking upon the Wady and watching the gate, in his fear lest any should come thither. One day, as he sat thus, suddenly he saw ten birds approach him, making for the palace, and they lighted down on the brink of the basin which is in the pavilion-terrace. He watched these birds and saw, amongst them, one goodlier than the rest, which pecked the others and flouted them, whilst none of them dared put out a claw to it. Presently, they set their nails to their neck-collars and, rending their feather-suits, came forth therefrom and became damsels, each and every, like the moon on fullest night. Then they doffed their dress and plunging into the water, fell to playing with one another, whilst the chief damsel ducked the others, who dared not lay a finger on her and she was fairest of favour and most famous of form and most feateous of finery. They ceased not to be in this case till near the hour of mid-afternoon prayer, when they came forth of the basin and, donning their feather-shifts, flew away home. Thereupon he waxed distracted, with a heart afire for love of the chief damsel and repenting him that he had not stolen her plumery. Wherefore he fell sick and abode on the palace-roof expecting her return and abstaining from meat and drink and sleep, and he ceased not to be so till the new moon showed, when behold, they again made their appearance according to custom and doffing their dresses went down into the basin. So he stole the chief damsel's feather-suit, knowing that she could not fly save therewith, hiding himself carefully lest they sight him and slay him. Then he waited till the rest had flown away, when he arose and seizing the damsel, carried her down from the terrace into the castle." Her sisters asked, "Where is she?"; and she answered, "She is with him in such a chamber." Quoth they, "Describe her to us, O our sister:" so quoth she, "She is fairer than the moon on the night of fullness and her face is sheenier than the sun; the dew of her lips is sweeter than honey and her shape is straighter and slenderer than the cane; one with eyes black as night and brow flower-white; a bosom jewel-bright, breasts like pomegranates twain and cheeks like apples twain, a waist with dimples overlain, a navel like a casket of ivory full of musk in grain, and legs like columns of alabastrine vein. She ravisheth all hearts with Nature-kohl'd eyne, and a waist slender-fine and hips of heaviest design and speech that heals all pain and pine: she is goodly of shape and sweet of smile, as she were the moon in fullest sheen and shine." When the Princesses heard these praises, they turned to Hasan and said to him, "Show her to us." So he arose with them, all love-distraught, and carrying them to the chamber wherein was the captive damsel, opened the door and entered, preceding the seven Princesses. Now when they saw her and noted her loveliness, they kissed the ground between her hands, marvelling at the fairness of her favour and the significance which showed her inner gifts, and said to her, "By Allah, O daughter of the Sovran Supreme, this is indeed a mighty matter: and haddest thou heard tell of this mortal among women thou haddest marvelled at him all thy days. Indeed, he loveth thee with passionate love; yet, O King's daughter, he seeketh not lewdness, but desireth thee only in the way of lawful wedlock. Had we known that maids can do without men, we had impeached him from his intent, albeit he sent thee no messenger, but came to thee in person; and he telleth us he hath burnt the feather dress; else had we taken it from him." Then one of them agreed with the Princess and becoming her deputy in the matter of the wedding contract, performed the marriage ceremony between them, whilst Hasan clapped palms with her, laying his hand in hers, and she wedded him to the damsel by consent; after which they celebrated her bridal feast, as beseemeth Kings' daughters, and brought Hasan in to her. So he rose and rent the veil and oped the gate and pierced the forge [FN#74] and brake the seal, whereupon affection for her waxed in him and he redoubled in love and longing for her. Then, since he had gotten that which he sought, he gave himself joy and improvised these couplets,"Thy shape's temptation, eyes as Houri's fain * And sheddeth Beauty's sheen [FN#75] that radiance rare:
--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the Seven Hundred and Ninety-second Night,
She continued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when Hasan went in unto the King's daughter and did away her maidenhead, he enjoyed her with exceeding joy and affection for her waxed in him and he redoubled in love-longing for her; so he recited the lines aforesaid. Now the Princesses were standing at the door and when they heard his verses, they said to her, "O King's daughter, hearest thou the words of this mortal? How canst thou blame us, seeing that he maketh poetry for love of thee and indeed he hath so done a thousand times." [FN#77] When she heard this she rejoiced and was glad and felt happy and Hasan abode with her forty [FN#78] days in all solace and delight, joyance and happiest plight, whilst the damsels renewed festivities for him every day and overwhelmed him with bounty and presents and rarities; and the King's daughter became reconciled to her sojourn amongst them and forgot her kith and kin. At the end of the forty days, Hasan saw in a dream, one night, his mother mourning for him and indeed her bones were wasted and her body had waxed shrunken and her complexion had yellowed and her favour had changed the while he was in excellent case. When she saw him in this state, she said to him, "O my son, O Hasan, how is it that thou livest thy worldly life at thine ease and forgettest me? Look at my plight since thy loss! I do not forget thee, nor will my tongue cease to name thy name till I die; and I have made thee a tomb in my house, that I may never forget thee. Would Heaven I knew [FN#79] if I shall live, O my son, to see thee by my side and if we shall ever again foregather as we were." Thereupon Hasan awoke from sleep, weeping and wailing, the tears railed down his cheeks like rain and he became mournful and melancholy; his tears dried not nor did sleep visit him, but he had no rest, and no patience was left to him. When he arose, the Princesses came in to him and gave him good-morrow and made merry with him as was their wont; but he paid no heed to them; so they asked his wife concerning his case and she said, "I ken not." Quoth they, "Question him of his condition." So she went up to him and said, "What aileth thee, O my lord?" Whereupon he moaned and groaned and told her what he had seen in his dream and repeated these two couplets,"Indeed afflicted sore are we and all distraught, * Seeking for union; yet we find no way:
His wife repeated to the Princesses what he said and they, hearing the verses, had pity on him and said to him, "In Allah's name, do as thou wilt, for we may not hinder thee from visiting thy mother; nay, we will help thee to thy wish by what means we may. But it behoveth that thou desert us not, but visit us, though it be only once a year." And he answered, "To hear is to obey: be your behest on my head and eyes!" Then they arose forthright and making him ready victual for the voyage, equipped the bride for him with raiment and ornaments and everything of price, such as defy description, and they bestowed on him gifts and presents which pens of ready writers lack power to set forth. Then they beat the magical kettle-drum and up came the dromedaries from all sides. They chose of them such as could carry all the gear they had prepared; amongst the rest five-and-twenty chests of gold and fifty of silver; and, mounting Hasan and his bride on others, rode with them three days, wherein they accomplished a march of three months. Then they bade them farewell and addressed themselves to return; whereupon his sister, the youngest damsel, threw herself on Hasan's neck and wept till she fainted. When she came to herself, she repeated these two couplets,"Ne'er dawn the severance-day on any wise * That robs of sleep these heavy-lidded eyes.
Her verses finished she farewelled him, straitly charging him, whenas he should have come to his native land and have foregathered with his mother and set his heart at ease, to fail not of visiting her once in every six months and saying, "If aught grieve thee or thou fear aught of vexation, beat the Magian's kettle-drum, whereupon the dromedaries shall come to thee; and do thou mount and return to us and persist not in staying away." He swore thus to do and conjured them to go home. So they returned to the palace, mourning for their separation from him, especially the youngest, with whom no rest would stay nor would Patience her call obey, but she wept night and day. Thus it was with them; but as regards Hasan and his wife, they fared on by day and night over plain and desert site and valley and stony heights through noon-tide glare and dawn's soft light; and Allah decreed them safety, so that they reached Bassorah-city without hindrance and made their camels kneel at the door of his house. Hasan then dismissed the dromedaries and, going up to the door to open it, heard his mother weeping and in a faint strain, from a heart worn with parting-pain and on fire with consuming bane, reciting these couplets,"How shall he taste of sleep who lacks repose * Who wakes a-night when all in slumber wone?
When Hasan heard his mother weeping and wailing he wept also and knocked at the door a loud knock. Quoth she, "Who is at the door?"; and quoth he, "Open!" Whereupon she opened the door and knowing him at first sight fell down in a fainting fit; but he ceased not to tend her till she came to herself, when he embraced her and she embraced him and kissed him, whilst his wife looked on mother and son. Then he carried his goods and gear into the house, whilst his mother, for that her heart was comforted and Allah had reunited her with her son versified with these couplets,"Fortune had ruth upon my plight * Pitied my long long bane and blight;
--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the Seven Hundred and Ninety-third Night,
She pursued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Hasan with his mother then sat talking and she asked him, "How faredst thou, O my son, with the Persian?" whereto he answered, "O my mother, he was no Persian, but a Magian, who worshipped the fire, not the All-powerful Sire." Then he told her how he dealt with him, in that he had journeyed with him to the Mountain of Clouds and sewed him up in the camel's skin, and how the vultures had taken him up and set him down on the summit and what he had seen there of dead folk, whom the Magian had deluded and left to die on the crest after they had done his desire. And he told her how he had cast himself from the mountain-top into the sea and Allah the Most High had preserved him and brought him to the palace of the seven Princesses and how the youngest of them had taken him to brother and he had sojourned with them till the Almighty brought the Magian to the place where he was and he slew him. Moreover, he told her of his passion for the King's daughter and how he had made prize of her and of his seeing her [FN#81] in sleep and all else that had befallen him up to the time when Allah vouchsafed them reunion. She wondered at his story and praised the Lord who had restored him to her in health and safety. Then she arose and examined the baggage and loads and questioned him of them. So he told her what was in them, whereat she joyed with exceeding joy. Then she went up to the King's daughter, to talk with her and bear her company; but, when her eyes fell on her, her wits were confounded at her brilliancy and she rejoiced and marvelled at her beauty and loveliness and symmetry and perfect grace: and she sat down beside her, cheering her and comforting her heart while she never ceased to repeat "Alhamdolillah, O my son, for thy return to me safe and sound!" Next morning early she went down into the market and bought mighty fine furniture and ten suits of the richest raiment in the city, and clad the young wife and adorned her with everything seemiy. Then said she to Hasan, "O my son, we cannot tarry in this town with all this wealth; for thou knowest that we are poor folk and the people will suspect us of practising alchemy. So come, let us depart to Baghdad, the House [FN#82] of Peace, where we may dwell in the Caliph's Sanctuary, and thou shalt sit in a shop to buy and sell, in the fear of Allah (to whom belong Might and Majesty!) and He shall open to thee the door of blessings with this wealth." Hasan approved her counsel and going forth straightway, sold the house and summoned the dromedaries, which he loaded with all his goods and gear, together with his mother and wife. Then he went down to the Tigris, where he hired him a craft to carry them to Baghdad and embarked therein all his possessions and his mother and wife. They sailed up the river with a fair wind for ten days till they drew in sight of Baghdad, at which they all rejoiced, and the ship landed them in the city, where without stay or delay Hasan hired a storehouse in one of the caravanserais and transported his goods thither. He lodged that night in the Khan, and on the morrow he changed his clothes and going down into the city, enquired for a broker. The folk directed him to one, and when the broker saw him, he asked him what he lacked. Quoth he, "I want a house, a handsome one and a spacious." So the broker showed him the houses at his disposal and he chose one that belonged to one of the Wazirs and buying it of him for an hundred thousand golden dinars, gave him the price. Then he returned to his caravanserai and removed all his goods and monies to the house; after which he went down to the market and bought all the mansion needed of vessels and carpets and other household stuff, besides servants and eunuchs, including a little black boy for the house. He abode with his wife in all solace and delight of life three years, during which time he was vouchsafed by her two sons, one of whom he named Násir and the other Mansúr: but, at the end of this time he bethought him of his sisters, the Princesses, and called to mind all their goodness to him and how they had helped him to his desire. So he longed after them and going out to the marketstreets of the city, bought trinkets and costly stuffs and fruit-confections, such as they had never seen or known. His mother asked him the reason of his buying these rarities and he answered, "I purpose to visit my sisters, who showed me every kind of kindness and all the wealth that I at present enjoy is due to their goodness and munificence: wherefore I will journey to them and return soon, Inshallah!" Quoth she, "O my son, be not long absent from me;" and quoth he, "Know, O my mother, how thou shalt do with my wife. Here is her feather-dress in a chest, buried under ground in such a place; do thou watch over it, lest haply she hap on it and take it, for she would fly away, she and her children, and I should never hear of them again and should die of grieving for them; wherefore take heed, O my mother, while I warn thee that thou name this not to her. Thou must know that she is the daughter of a King of the Jinn, than whom there is not a greater among the Sovrans of the Jann nor a richer in troops and treasure, and she is mistress of her people and dearest to her father of all he hath. Moreover, she is passing high-spirited, so do thou serve her thyself and suffer her not to go forth the door neither look out of window nor over the wall, for I fear the air for her when it bloweth, [FN#83] and if aught befel her of the calamities of this world, I should slay myself for her sake." She replied, "O my son, I take refuge with Allah [FN#84] from gainsaying thee! Am I mad that thou shouldst lay this charge on me and I disobey thee therein? Depart, O my son, with heart at ease, and please Allah, soon thou shalt return in safety and see her and she shall tell thee how I have dealt with her: but tarry not, O my son, beyond the time of travel."--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the Seven Hundred and Ninety-fourth Night,
She resumed, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when Hasan had determined to visit the Princesses, he gave his mother the orders we have mentioned. [FN#85] Now, as Fate would have it, his wife heard what he said to his mother and neither of them knew it. Then Hasan went without the city and beat the kettle-drum, whereupon up came the dromedaries and he loaded twenty of them with rarities of Al-Irak; after which he returned to his mother and repeated his charge to her and took leave of her and his wife and children, one of whom was a yearling babe and the other two years old. Then he mounted and fared on, without stopping night or day, over hills and valleys and plains and wastes for a term of ten days till, on the eleventh, he reached the palace and went in to his sisters, with the gifts he had brought them. The Princesses rejoiced at his sight and gave him joy of his safety, whilst his sister decorated the palace within and without. Then they took the presents and, lodging him in a chamber as before, asked him of his mother and his wife, and he told them that she had borne him two sons. And the youngest Princess, seeing him well and in good case, joyed with exceeding joy and repeated this couplet,
"I ever ask for news of you from whatso breezes pass * And never any but yourselves can pass across my mind."
Then he abode with them in all honour and hospitality, for three months, spending his time in feasting and merrymaking, joy and delight, hunting and sporting. So fared it with him; but as regards his wife, she abode with his mother two days after her husband's departure, and on the third day, she said to her, "Glory be to God! Have I lived with him three years and shall I never go to the bath?" Then she wept and Hasan's mother had pity on her condition and said to her, "O my daughter, here we are strangers and thy husband is abroad. Were he at home, he would serve thee himself, but, as for me, I know no one. However, O my daughter, I will heat thee water and wash thy head in the Hammam-bath which is in the house." Answered the King's daughter, "O my lady, hadst thou spoken thus to one of the slave-girls, she had demanded to be sold in the Sultan's open market and had not abode with thee. [FN#86] Men are excusable, because they are jealous and their reason telleth them that, if a woman go forth the house, haply she will do frowardness. But women, O my lady, are not all equal and alike and thou knowest that, if woman have a mind to aught, whether it be the Hammam or what not else, none hath power over her to guard her or keep her chaste or debar her from her desire; for she will do whatso she willeth and naught restraineth her but her reason and her religion." [FN#87] Then she wept and cursed fate and bemoaned herself and her strangerhood, till Hasan's mother was moved to ruth for her case and knew that all she said was but truth and that there was nothing for it but to let her have her way. So she committed the affair to Allah (extolled and exalted be He!) and making ready all that they needed for the bath, took her and went with her to the Hammam. She carried her two little sons with her, and when they entered, they put off their clothes and all the women fell to gazing on the Princess and glorifying God (to whom belong Might and Majesty!) for that He had created so fair a form. The women of the city, even those who were passing by, flocked to gaze upon her, and the report of her was noised abroad in Baghdad till the bath was crowded that there was no passing through it. Now it chanced there was present on that day and on that rare occasion with the rest of the women in the Hammam, one of the slave-girls of the Commander of the Faithful, Harun al-Rashid, by name Tohfah [FN#88] the Lutanist, and she, finding the Hammam over crowded and no passing for the throng of women and girls, asked what was to do; and they told her of the young lady. So she walked up to her and, considering her closely, was amazed at her grace and loveliness and glorified God (magnified be His majesty!) for the fair forms He hath created. The sight hindered her from her bath, so that she went not farther in nor washed, but sat staring at the Princess, till she had made an end of bathing and coming forth of the caldarium donned her raiment, whereupon beauty was added to her beauty. She sat down on the divan, [FN#89] whilst the women gazed upon her; then she looked at them and veiling herself, went out. Tohfah went out with her and followed her, till she saw where she dwelt, when she left her and returned to the Caliph's palace; and ceased not wending till she went in to the Lady Zubaydah and kissed ground between her hands; whereupon quoth her mistress, "O Tohfah, why hast thou tarried in the Hammam?" She replied, "O my lady, I have seen a marvel, never saw I its like amongst men or women, and this it was that distracted me and dazed my wit and amazed me, so that I forgot even to wash my head." Asked Zubaydah, "And what was that?" ; and Tohfah answered, "O my lady, I saw a damsel in the bath, having with her two little boys like moons, eye never espied her like, nor before her nor after her, neither is there the fellow of her form in the whole world nor her peer amongst Ajams or Turks or Arabs. By the munificence, O my lady, an thou toldest the Commander of the Faithful of her, he would slay her husband and take her from him, for her like is not to be found among women. I asked of her mate and they told me that he is a merchant Hasan of Bassorah hight. Moreover, I followed her from the bath to her own house and found it to be that of the Wazir, with the two gates, one opening on the river and the other on the land. [FN#90] Indeed, O my lady, I fear lest the Prince of True Believers hear of her and break the law and slay her husband and take love-liesse with her."--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the Seven Hundred and Ninety-fifth Night,
She continued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when Tohfah, after seeing the King's daughter, described her beauty to the Lady Zubaydah ending with, "Indeed, O my mistress, I fear lest the Prince of True Believers hear of her and break the law and slay her mate and take her to wife," Zubaydah cried, "Woe to thee, O Tohfah, say me, doth this damsel display such passing beauty and loveliness that the Commander of the Faithful should, on her account, barter his soul's good for his worldly lust and break the Holy Law! By Allah, needs must I look on her, and if she be not as thou sayest, I will bid strike off thy head! O strumpet, there are in the Caliph's Serraglio three hundred and three score slave girls, after the number of the days of the year, yet is there none amongst them so excellent as thou describest!" Tohfah replied, "No, by Allah, O my lady!: nor is there her like in all Baghdad; no, nor amongst the Arabs or the Daylamites nor hath Allah (to whom belong Might and Majesty!) created the like of her!" Thereupon Zuhaydah called for Masrur, the eunuch, who came and kissed the ground before her, and she said to him, "O Masrur, go to the Wazir's house, that with the two gates, one giving on the water and the other on the land, and bring me the damsel who dwelleth there, also her two children and the old woman who is with her, and haste thou and tarry not." Said Masrur, "I hear and I obey," and repairing to Hasan's house, knocked at the door. Quoth the old woman, "Who is at the door?" and quoth he, "Masrur, the eunuch of the Commander of the Faithful." So she opened the door and he entered and saluted her with the salam; whereupon she returned his salute and asked his need; and he replied, "The Lady Zubaydah, daughter of Al-Kasim [FN#91] and queen-spouse of the Commander of the Faithful Harun al-Rashid sixth [FN#92] of the sons of Al-Abbas, paternal uncle of the Prophet (whom Allah bless and keep!) summoneth thee to her, thee and thy son's wife and her children; for the women have told her anent her and her beauty." Rejoined the old woman, "O my lord Masrur, we are foreigner folk and the girl's husband (my son) who is abroad and far from home hath strictly charged me not to go forth nor let her go forth in his absence, neither show her to any of the creatures of Allah Almighty; and I fear me, if aught befal her and he come back, he will slay himself; wherefore of thy favour I beseech thee, O Masrur, require us not of that whereof we are unable." Masrur retorted, "O my lady, if I knew aught to be feared for you in this, I would not require you to go; the Lady Zubaydah desireth but to see her and then she may return. So disobey not or thou wilt repent; and like as I take you, I will bring you both back in safety, Inshallah!" Hasan's mother could not gainsay him; so she went in and making the damsel ready, brought her and her children forth and they all followed Masrur to the palace of the Caliphate where he carried them in and seated them on the floor before the Lady Zubaydah. They kissed ground before her and called down blessings upon her; and Zubaydah said to the young lady (who was veiled), "Wilt thou not uncover thy face, that I may look on it?" So she kissed the ground between her hands and discovered a face which put to shame the full moon in the height of heaven. Zubaydah fixed her eyes on her and let their glances wander over her, whilst the palace was illumined by the light of her countenance; whereupon the Queen and the whole company were amazed at her beauty and all who looked on her became Jinn-mad and unable to bespeak one another. As for Zubaydah, she rose and making the damsel stand up, strained her to her bosom and seated her by herself on the couch. Moreover, she bade decorate the palace in her honour and calling for a suit of the richest raiment and a necklace of the rarest ornaments put them upon her. Then said she to her, "O liege lady of fair ones, verily thou astoundest me and fillest mine eyes. [FN#93] What arts knowest thou?" She replied, "O my lady, I have a dress of feathers, and could I but put it on before thee, thou wouldst see one of the fairest of fashions and marvel thereat, and all who saw it would talk of its goodliness, generation after generation." Zubaydah asked, "And where is this dress of thine?"; and the damsel answered, "'Tis with my husband's mother. Do thou seek it for me of her." So Zubaydah said to the old woman, "O my lady the pilgrimess, O my mother, go forth and fetch us her feather-dress, that we may solace ourselves by looking on what she will do, and after take it back again." Replied the old woman, "O my lady, this damsel is a liar. Hast thou ever seen any of womankind with a dress of feathers? Indeed, this belongeth only to birds." But the damsel said to the Lady Zubaydah, "As thou livest, O my lady, she hath a feather-dress of mine and it is in a chest, which is buried in such a store-closet in the house." So Zubaydah took off her neck a rivière of jewels, worth all the treasures of Chosroe and Cæsar, and gave it to the old woman, saying, "O my mother, I conjure thee by my life, take this necklace and go and fetch us this dress, that we may divert ourselves with the sight thereof, and after take it again!" But she sware to her that she had never seen any such dress and wist not what the damsel meant by her speech. Then the Lady Zubaydah cried out at her and taking the key from her, called Masrur and said to him as soon as her came, "Take this key and go to the house; then open it and enter a store-closet there whose door is such and such and amiddlemost of it thou wilt find a chest buried. Take it out and break it open and bring me the feather-dress which is therein and set it before me."--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the Seven Hundred and Ninety-sixth Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the Lady Zubaydah, having taken the key from Hasan's mother, handed it to Masrur, saying, "Take this key and open such a closet; then bring forth of it the chest; break it open; bring me the feather-dress which is therein and set it before me." "Hearkening and obedience," replied he and taking the key went forth, whereupon the old woman arose and followed him, weeping-eyed and repenting her of having given ear to the damsel and gone with her to the bath, for her desire to go thither was but a device. So she went with him to the house and opened the door of the closet, and he entered and brought out the chest. Then he took therefrom the feather,dress and wrapping it in a napkin, carried it to the Lady Zubaydah, who took it and turned it about, marvelling at the beauty of its make; after which she gave it to the damsel, saying, "Is this thy dress of feathers?" She replied, "Yes, O my lady," and at once putting forth her hand, took it joyfully. Then she examined it and rejoiced to find it whole as it was, not a feather gone. So she rose and came down from beside the Lady Zubaydah and taking her sons in her bosom, wrapped herself in the feather-dress and became a bird, by the ordinance of Allah (to whom belong Might and Majesty!), whereat Zubaydah marvelled as did all who were present. Then she walked with a swaying and graceful gait and danced and sported and flapped her wings, whilst all eyes were fixed on her and all marvelled at what she did. Then said she with fluent tongue, "Is this goodly, O my ladies?"; and they replied, "Yes, O Princess of the fair! All thou dost is goodly." Said she, "And this, O my mistresses, that I am about to do is better yet." Then she spread her wings and flying up with her children to the dome of the palace, perched on the saloon-roof whilst they all looked at her, wide-eyed and said, "By Allah, this is indeed a rare and peregrine fashion! Never saw we its like." Then, as she was about to take flight for her own land, she bethought her of Hasan and said, "Hark ye, my mistresses!" and she improvised these couplets, [FN#94]"O who bast quitted these abodes and faredst lief and light * To other objects of thy love with fain and fastest flight!
When she had made an end of her verses, the Lady Zubaydah said to her, "Wilt thou not come down to us, that we may take our fill of thy beauty, O fairest of the fair? Glory be to Him who hath given thee eloquence and brilliance!" But she said, "Far be from me that the Past return should see!" Then said she to the mother of the hapless, wretched Hasan, "By Allah, O my lady, O mother of my husband, it irketh me to part from thee; but, whenas thy son cometh to thee and upon him the nights of severance longsome shall be and he craveth reunion and meeting to see and whenas breezes of love and longing shake him dolefully, let him come in the islands of Wák [FN#95] to me." Then she took flight with her children and sought her own country, whilst the old woman wept and beat her face and moaned and groaned till she swooned away. When she came to herself, she said to the Lady Zubaydah, "O my lady, what is this thou hast done?" And Zubaydah said to her, "O my lady the pilgrimess, I knew not that this would happen and hadst thou told me of the case and acquainted me with her condition, I had not gainsaid thee. Nor did I know until now that she was of the Flying Jinn; else had I not suffered her to don the dress nor permitted her to take her children: but now, O my lady, words profit nothing; so do thou acquit me of offence against thee." And the old woman could do no otherwise than shortly answer, "Thou art acquitted.!" Then she went forth the palace of the Caliphate and returned to her own house, where she buffeted her face till she swooned away, When she came to herself, she pined for her daughter-in-law and her grandchildren and for the sight of her son and versified with these couplets,"Your faring on the parting-day drew many a tear fro' me, * Who must your flying from the home long mourn in misery:
Then arising she dug in the house three graves and betook herself to them with weeping all whiles of the day and watches of the night; and when her son's absence was longsome upon her and grief and yearning and unquiet waxed upon her, she recited these couplets,"Deep in mine eye-balls ever dwells the phantom-form of thee * My heart when throbbing or at rest holds fast thy memory:
--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the Seven Hundred and Ninety-seventh Night,
She continued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Hasan's mother bewept through the watches of the night and the whiles of the day her separation from her son and his wife and children. On this wise it fared with her; but as regards Hasan, when he came to the Princesses, they conjured him to tarry with them three months, after which long sojourn they gave him five loads of gold and the like of silver and one load of victual and accompanied him on his homeward way till he conjured them to return, whereupon they farewelled him with an embrace; but the youngest came up to him, to bid him adieu and clasping his neck wept till she fainted. Then she recited these two couplets,"When shall the severance-fire be quenched by union, love, with you? * When shall I win my wish of you and days that were renew?
Anon came forward the second Princess and embraced him and recited these two couplets,"Farewelling thee indeed is like to bidding life farewell * And like the loss of Zephyr [FN#96] 'tis to lose thee far our sight:
Presently came forward the third and embraced him and recited these two couplets,"We left not taking leave of thee (when bound to other goal) * From aught of ill intention or from weariness and dole:
After her came forward the fourth and embraced him and recited these two couplets,"Nought garred me weep save where and when of severance spake he, * Persisting in his cruel will with sore persistency:
In her turn came forward the fifth and embraced him and recited these two couplets,"Ah, fare thee not; for I've no force thy faring to endure, * Nor e'en to say the word farewell before my friend is sped:
Next came the sixth and embraced him and recited these two couplets,"I cried, as the camels went off with them, * And Love pained my vitals with sorest pain:
Lastly came forward the seventh and embraced him and recited these couplets,"When thou seest parting, be patient still, * Nor let foreign parts deal thy soul affright:
And eke these two couplets,"Indeed I'm heartbroken to see thee start, * Nor can I farewell thee ere thou depart;
Hasan also wept for parting from them, till he swooned, and repeated these couplets,"Indeed, ran my tears on the severance-day * Like pearls I threaded in necklace-way
Then he farewelled them and fared on diligently night and day, till he came to Baghdad, the House of Peace and Sanctuary of the Abbaside Caliphs, unknowing what had passed during his wayfare. At once entering his house he went in to his mother to salute her, but found her worn of body and wasted of bones, for excess of mourning and watching, weeping and wailing, till she was grown thin as a toothpick and could not answer him a word. So he dismissed the dromedaries then asked her of his wife and children and she wept till she fainted, and he seeing her in this state searched the house for them, but found no trace of them. Then he went to the store-closet and finding it open and the chest broken and the feather-dress missing, knew forthright that his wife had possessed herself thereof and flown away with her children. Then he returned to his mother and, finding her recovered from her fit, questioned her of his spouse and babes, whereupon she wept and said, "O my son, may Allah amply requite thee their loss! These are their three tombs." [FN#99] When Hasan heard these words of his mother, he shrieked a loud shriek and fell down in a fainting-fit in which he lay from the first of the day till noon-tide; whereupon anguish was added to his mother's anguish and she despaired of his life. However, after a-while, he came to himself and wept and buffeted his face and rent his raiment and went about the house clean distraught, reciting these two couplets, [FN#100]"Folk have made moan of passion before me, of past years, * And live and dead for absence have suffered pains and fears;
Then finishing his verses he bared his brand and coming up to his mother, said to her, "Except thou tell me the truth of the case, I will strike off thy head and kill myself." She replied, "O my son, do not such deed: put up thy sword and sit down, till I tell thee what hath passed." So he sheathed his scymitar and sat by her side, whilst she recounted to him all that had happened in his absence from first to last, adding, "O my son, but that I saw her weep in her longing for the bath and feared that she would go and complain to thee on thy return, and thou wouldst be wroth with me. I had never carried her thither; and were it not that the Lady Zubaydah was wroth with me and took the key from me by force, I had never brought out the feather-dress, though I died for it. But thou knowest, O my son, that no hand may measure length with that of the Caliphate. When they brought her the dress, she took it and turned it over, fancying that somewhat might be lost thereof, but she found it uninjured; wherefore she rejoiced and making her children fast to her waist, donned the feather-vest, after the Lady Zubaydah had pulled off to her all that was upon herself and clad her therein, in honour of her and because of her beauty. No sooner had she donned the dress than she shook and becoming a bird, promenaded about the palace, whilst all who were present gazed at her and marvelled at her beauty and loveliness. Then she flew up to the palace roof and perching thereon, looked at me and said: 'Whenas thy son cometh to thee and the nights of separation upon him longsome shall be and he craveth reunion and meeting to see and whenas the breezes of love and longing shake him dolefully let him leave his native land and journey to the Islands of Wak and seek me.' This, then, is her story and what befel in thine absence."--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the Seven Hundred and Ninety-eighth Night,
She pursued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that as soon as Hasan's mother had made an end of her story, he gave a great cry and fell down in a fainting fit which continued till the end of day, when he revived and fell to buffeting his face and writhing on the floor like a scotched snake. His mother sat weeping by his head until midnight, when he came to himself and wept sore and recited these couplets', [FN#101]"Pause ye and see his sorry state since when ye fain withdrew; * Haply, when wrought your cruelty, you'll have the grace to rue:
Then having ended his verse he rose and went round about the house, weeping and wailing, groaning and bemoaning himself, five days, during which he tasted nor meat nor drink. His mother came to him and conjured him, till he broke his fast, and besought him to leave weeping; but he hearkened not to her and continued to shed tears and lament, whilst she strove to comfort him and he heeded her not. Then he recited these couplets, [FN#102]"Beareth for love a burden sore this soul of me, * Could break a mortal's back however strong that be;
And Hasan ceased not to do thus till daybreak, when his eyes closed and he saw in a dream his wife grief-full and repentant for that which she had done. So he started up from sleep crying out and reciting these two couplets,"Their image bides with me, ne'er quits me, ne'er shall fly; * But holds within my heart most honourable stead;
And as morning morrowed he redoubled his lamentations. He abode weeping-eyed and heavy-hearted, wakeful by night and eating little, for a whole month, at the end of which he bethought him to repair to his sisters and take counsel with them in the matter of his wife, so haply they might help him to regain her. Accordingly he summoned the dromedaries and loading fifty of them with rarities of Al-Irak, committed the house to his mother's care and deposited all his goods in safe keeping, except some few he left at home. Then he mounted one of the beasts and set out on his journey single handed, intent upon obtaining aidance from the Princesses, and he stayed not till he reached the Palace of the Mountain of Clouds, when he went in to the damsels and gave them the presents in which they rejoiced. Then they wished him joy of his safety and said to him, "O our brother, what can ail thee to come again so soon, seeing thou wast with us but two months since?" Whereupon he wept and improvised these couplets,"My soul for loss of lover sped I sight; * Nor life enjoying neither life's delight:
And when he ended his verse he gave a great cry and fell down in a fainting-fit. The Princesses sat round him, weeping over him, till he recovered and repeated these two couplets,"Haply and happily may Fortune bend her rein * Bringing my love, for Time's a freke of jealous strain; [FN#103]
Then he wept till he fainted again, and presently coming to himself recited the two following couplets,"My wish, mine illness, mine unease! by Allah, own * Art thou content? then I in love contented wone!
Then he wept till he swooned away once more and when he revived he repeated these couplets,"Sleep fled me, by my side wake ever shows * And hoard of tear-drops from these eyne aye flows;
Then he wept till he fainted away a fourth time, and presently recovering, recited these couplets,"Ah! for lowe of love and longing suffer ye as suffer we? * Say, as pine we and as yearn we for you are pining ye?
Now when his sister heard these words and saw his condition and how he lay fainting on the floor, she screamed and beat her face and the other Princesses hearing her scream came out and learning his misfortune and the transport of love and longing and the passion and distraction that possessed him they questioned him of his case. He wept and told them what had befallen in his absence and how his wife had taken flight with her children, wherefore they grieved for him and asked him what she said at leave-taking. Answered he, "O my sisters, she said to my mother, 'Tell thy son, whenas he cometh to thee and the nights of sever- ance upon him longsome shall be and he craveth reunion and meeting to see, and whenas the winds of love and longing shake him dolefully, let him fare in the Islands of Wak to me." When they heard his words they signed one to other with their eyes and shook their heads, and each looked at her sister, whilst Hasan looked at them all. Then they bowed their heads groundwards and bethought themselves awhile; after which they raised their heads and said, "There is no Majesty and there is no Might save in Allah, the Glorious, the Great!"; presently adding, "Put forth thy hand to heaven and when thou reach thither, then shalt thou win to thy wife.--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the Seven Hundred and Ninety-ninth Night,
She resumed, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the Princesses said to Hasan, "Put forth thy hand to Heaven and when thou reach thither, then shalt thou win to wife and children," thereat the tears ran down his cheeks like rain and wet his clothes, and he recited these couplets,"Pink cheeks and eyes enpupil'd black have dealt me sore despight; * And whenas wake overpowered sleep my patience fled in fright:
Then he wept, whilst the Princesses wept for his weeping, and they were moved to compassion and jealousy for him. So they fell to comforting him and exhorting him to patience and offering up prayers for his reunion with his wife; whilst his sister said to him, "O my brother, be of good cheer and keep thine eyes cool and clear and be patient; so shalt thou win thy will; for whoso hath patience and waiteth, that he seeketh attaineth. Patience holdeth the keys of relief and indeed the poet saith,'Let destiny with slackened rein its course appointed fare! And lie thou down to sleep by night, with heart devoid of care;
So hearten thy heart and brace up thy resolve, for the son of ten years dieth not in the ninth. [FN#105] Weeping and grief and mourning gender sickness and disease; wherefore do thou abide with us till thou be rested, and I will devise some device for thy winning to thy wife and children, Inshallah--so it please Allah the Most High!" And he wept sore and recited these verses,"An I be healed of disease in frame, * I'm unhealed of illness in heart and sprite:
Then he sat down beside her and she proceeded to talk with him and comfort him and question him of the cause and the manner of his wife's departure. So he told her and she said, "By Allah, O my brother, I was minded to bid thee burn the feather-dress, but Satan made me forget it." She ceased not to converse with him and caress him and company with him other ten days, whilst sleep visited him not and he delighted not in food; and when the case was longsome upon him and unrest waxed in him, he versified with these couplets,"A beloved familiar o'erreigns my heart * And Allah's ruling reigns evermore:
When the youngest Princess saw him thus distracted for love and longing for passion and the fever-heat of desire, she went in to her sisterhood weeping-eyed and woeful-hearted, and shedding copious tears threw herself upon them, kissed their feet and besought them to devise some device for bringing Hasan to the Islands of Wak and effecting his reunion with his wife and wees. She ceased not to conjure them to further her brother in the accomplishment of his desire and to weep before them, till she made them weep and they said to her, "Hearten thy heart: we will do our best endeavour to bring about his reunion with his family, Inshallah!" And he abode with them a whole year, during which his eyes never could retain their tears. Now the sisterhood had an uncle, brother-german to their sire and his name was Abd al-Kaddús, or Slave of the Most Holy; and he loved the eldest with exceeding love and was wont to visit her once a year and do all she desired. They had told him of Hasan's adventure with the Magian and how he had been able to slay him; whereat he rejoiced and gave the eldest Princess a pouch [FN#107] which contained certain perfumes, saying, "O daughter of my brother, an thou be in concern for aught, or if aught irk thee, or thou stand in any need, cast of these perfumes upon fire naming my name and I will be with thee forthright and will do thy desire." This speech was spoken on the first of Moharram [FN#108]; and the eldest Princess said to one of the sisterhood, "Lo, the year is wholly past and my uncle is not come. Rise, bring me the fire-sticks and the box of perfumes." So the damsel arose rejoicing and, fetching what she sought, laid it before her sister, who opened the box and taking thence a little of the perfume, cast it into the fire naming her unde's name; nor was it burnt out ere appeared a dust-cloud at the farther end of the Wady; and presently lifting, it discovered a Shaykh riding on an elephant, which moved at a swift and easy pace, and trumpeted under the rider. As soon as he came within sight of the Princesses, he began making signs to them with his hands and feet; nor was it long ere he reached the castle and, alighting from the elephant, came in to them, whereupon they embraced him and kissed his hands and saluted him with the salam. Then he sat down, whilst the girls talked with him and questioned him of his absence. Quoth he, "I was sitting but now with my wife, your aunt, when I smelt the perfumes and hastened to you on this elephant. What wouldst thou, O daughter of my brother?" Quoth she, "O uncle, indeed we longed for thee, as the year is past and 'tis not thy wont to be absent from us more than a twelvemonth." Answered he, "I was busy, but I purposed to come to you to-morrow." Wherefore they thanked him and blessed him and sat talking with him.--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the Eight Hundredth Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the girls sat down to chat with their uncle the eldest said to him "O my uncle, we told thee the tale of Hasan of Bassorah, whom Bahram the Magian brought and how he slew the wizard and how, after enduring all manner of hardships and horrors, he made prize of the Supreme King's daughter and took her to wife and journeyed with her to his native land?" Replied he, "Yes, and what befel him after that?" Quoth the Princess, "She played him false after he was blest with two sons by her; for she took them in his absence and fled with them to her own country, saying to his mother: 'Whenas thy son returneth to thee and asketh for me and upon him the nights of severance longsome shall be and he craveth reunion and meeting to see and whenas the breezes of love and longing shake him dolefully, let him come in the Islands of Wak to me.'" When Abd al-Kaddus heard this, he shook his head and bit his forefinger; then, bowing his brow groundwards he began to make marks on the earth with his finger-tips; [FN#109] after which he again shook his head and looked right and left and shook his head a third time, whilst Hasan watched him from a place where he was hidden from him. Then said the Princesses to their uncle, "Return us some answer, for our hearts are rent in sunder." But he shook his head at them, saying, "O my daughters, verily hath this man wearied himself in vain and cast himself into grievous predicament and sore peril; for he may not gain access to the Islands of Wak." With this the Princesses called Hasan, who came forth and, advancing to Shaykh Abd al-Kaddus, kissed his hand and saluted him. The old man rejoiced in him and seated him by his side; whereupon quoth the damsels, "O uncle, acquaint our brother Hasan with that thou hast told us." So he said to Hasan, "O my son, put away from thee this peine forte et dure; for thou canst never gain access to the Islands of Wak, though the Flying Jinn and the Wandering Stars were with thee; for that betwixt thee and these islands are seven Wadys and seven seas and seven mighty mountains. How then canst thou come at this stead and who shall bring thee thither? Wherefore, Allah upon thee, O my son, do thou reckon thy spouse and sons as dead and turn back forthright and weary not thy sprite! Indeed, I give thee good counsel, an thou wilt but accept it." Hearing these words from the Shaykh, Hasan wept till he fainted, and the Princesses sat round him, weeping for his weeping, whilst the youngest sister rent her raiment and buffeted her face, till she swooned away. When Shaykh Abd al-Kaddus saw them in this transport of grief and trouble and mourning, he was moved to ruth for them and cried, "Be ye silent!" Then said he to Hasan, "O my son, hearten thy heart and rejoice in the winning of thy wish, an it be the will of Allah the Most High;" presently adding, "Rise, O my son, take courage and follow me." So Hasan arose forthright and after he had taken leave of the Princesses followed him, rejoicing in the fulfilment of his wish. Then the Shaykh called the elephant and mounting, took Hasan up behind him and fared on three days with their nights, like the blinding leven, till he came to a vast blue mountain, whose stones were all of azure hue and amiddlemost of which was a cavern, with a door of Chinese iron. Here he took Hasan's hand and let him down and alighting dismissed the elephant. Then he went up to the door and knocked, whereupon it opened and there came out to him a black slave, hairless, as he were an Ifrit, with brand in right hand and targe of steel in left. When he saw Abd al-Kaddus, he threw sword and buckler from his grip and coming up to the Shaykh kissed his hand. Thereupon the old man took Hasan by the hand and entered with him, whilst the slave shut the door behind them; when Hasan found himself in a vast cavern and a spacious, through which ran an arched corridor and they ceased not faring on therein a mile or so, till it abutted upon a great open space and thence they made for an angle of the mountain wherein were two huge doors cast of solid brass. The old man opened one of them and said to Hasan, "Sit at the door, whilst I go within and come back to thee in haste, and beware lest thou open it and enter." Then he fared inside and, shutting the door after him, was absent during a full sidereal hour, after which he returned, leading a black stallion, thin of flank and short of nose, which was ready bridled and saddled, with velvet housings; and when it ran it flew, and when it flew, the very dust in vain would pursue; and brought it to Hasan, saying, "Mount!" So he mounted and Abd al-Kaddus opened the second door, beyond which appeared a vast desert. Then the twain passed through the door into that desert and the old man said to him, "O my son, take this scroll and wend thou whither this steed will carry thee. When thou seest him stop at the door of a cavern like this, alight and throw the reins over the saddle-bow and let him go. He will enter the cavern, which do thou not enter with him, but tarry at the door five days, without being weary of waiting. On the sixth day there will come forth to thee a black Shaykh, clad all in sable, with a long white beard, flowing down to his navel. As soon as thou seest him, kiss his hands and seize his skirt and lay it on thy head and weep before him, till he take pity on thee and he will ask thee what thou wouldst have. When he saith to thee, 'What is thy want?' give him this scroll which he will take without speaking and go in and leave thee. Wait at the door other five days, without wearying, and on the sixth day expect him; and if he come out to thee himself, know that thy wish will be won, but, if one of his pages come forth to thee, know that he who cometh forth to thee, purposeth to kill thee; and--the Peace! [FN#110] For know, O my son, that whoso self imperilleth doeth himself to death;"--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the Eight Hundred and First Night,
She continued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that after handing the scroll to Hasan, Shaykh Abd al-Kaddus told him what would befal him and said, "Whoso self imperilleth doeth himself to death; but also who ventureth naught advantageth naught. However an thou fear for thy life, cast it not into danger of destruction; but, an thou fear not, up and do thy will, for I have expounded to thee the whole case. Yet shouldest thou be minded to return to thy friends, the elephant is still here and he will carry thee to my nieces, who will restore thee to thy country and return thee to thy home, and Allah will vouchsafe thee a better than this girl, of whom thou art enamoured." Hasan answered the Shaykh, saying, "And how shall life be sweet to me, except I win my wish? By Allah, I will never turn back, till I regain my beloved or my death overtake me!" And he wept and recited these couplets,"For loss of lover mine and stress of love I dree, * I stood bewailing self in deep despondency.
When Abd al-Kaddus heard his verse he knew that he would not turn back from his desire nor would words have effect on him, and was certified that naught would serve him but he must imperil himself, though it lose him his life. So he said to him, "Know, O my son, that the Islands of Wak are seven islands, wherein is a mighty host, all virgin girls, and the Inner Isles are peopled by Satans and Marids and warlocks and various tribesmen of the Jinn; and whoso entereth their land never returneth thence; at least none hath done so to this day. So, Allah upon thee, return presently to thy people, for know that she whom thou seekest is the King's daughter of all these islands: and how canst thou attain to her? Hearken to me, O my son, and haply Allah will vouchsafe thee in her stead a better than she." "O my lord," answered Hasan, though for the love of her I were cut in pieces yet should I but redouble in love and transport! There is no help but that I enter the Wak Islands and come to the sight of my wife and children; and Inshallah, I will not return save with her and with them." Said the Shaykh, "Then nothing will serve thee but thou must make the journey?" Hasan replied "Nothing! and I only ask of thee thy prayers for help and aidance; so haply Allah will reunite me with my wife and children right soon." Then he wept for stress of longing and recited these couplets,"You are my wish, of creatures brightest-light * I deem you lief as hearing, fain as sight:
Then he wept with sore weeping till he fainted away; and when he came to himself, Shaykh Abd al-Kaddus said to him, "O my son, thou hast a mother; make her not taste the torment of thy loss." Hasan replied, "By Allah, O my lord, I will never return except with my wife, or my death shall overtake me." And he wept and wailed and recited these couplets,"By Love's right! naught of farness thy slave can estrange * Nor am I one to fail in my fealty:
With this the old man knew that he would not turn from his purpose, though it cost him his life; so he handed him the scroll and prayed for him and charged him how he should do, saying "I have in this letter given a strict charge concerning thee to Abú al-Ruwaysh, [FN#112] son of Bilkís, daughter of Mu'in, for he is my Shaykh and my teacher, and all, men and Jinn, humble themselves to him and stand in awe of him. And now go with the blessing of God." Hasan forthright set out giving the horse the rein, and it flew off with him swiftlier than lightning, and stayed not in its course ten days, when he saw before him a vast loom black as night, walling the world from East to West. As he neared it, the stallion neighed under him, whereupon there flocked to it horses in number as the drops of rain, none could tell their tale or against them prevail, and fell to rubbing themselves against it. Hasan was affrighted at them and fared forwards surrounded by the horses, without drawing rein till he came to the cavern which Shaykh Abd al-Kaddus had described to him. The steed stood still at the door and Hasan alighted and bridged the bridle over the saddle-bow [FN#113]; whereupon the steed entered the cavern, whilst the rider abode without, as the old man had charged him, pondering the issue of his case in perplexity and distraction and unknowing what would befal him.--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the Eight Hundred and Second Night,
She pursued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Hasan, dismounting from the steed, stood at the cavern-mouth pondering the issue of his case and unknowing what might befal him. He abode standing on the same spot five days with their nights, sleepless, mournful, tearful-eyed; distracted, perplexed, pondering his severance from home and family, comrades and friends, with weeping eye-lids and heavy heart. Then he bethought him of his mother and of what might yet happen to him and of his separation from his wife and children and of all that he had suffered, and he recited these couplets,"With you is my heart-cure a heart that goes; * And from hill-foot of eyelids the tear-rill flows:
Hardly had Hasan made an end of his verses, when out came the Shaykh Abu al-Ruwaysh, a blackamoor and clad in black raiment, and at first sight he knew him by the description that Abd al-Kaddus had given him. He threw himself at his feet and rubbed his cheeks on them and seizing his skirt, laid it on his head and wept before him. Quoth the old man, "What wantest thou, O my son?" Whereupon he put out his hand to him with the letter, and Abu al-Ruwaysh took it and reentered the cavern, without making him any answer. So Hasan sat down at the cave-mouth in his place other five days as he had been bidden, whilst concern grew upon him and terror redoubled on him and restlessness gat hold of him, and he fell to weeping and bemoaning himself for the anguish of estrangement and much watching. And he recited these couplets,"Glory to Him who guides the skies! * The lover sore in sorrow lies.
Hasan ceased not to weep till dawn of the sixth day, when Shaykh Abu al-Ruwaysh came forth to him, clad in white raiment, and with his hand signed [FN#114] to him to enter. So he went in, rejoicing and assured of the winning of his wish, and the old man took him by the hand and leading him into the cavern, fared on with him half a day's journey, till they reached an arched doorway with a door of steel. The Shaykh opened the door and they two entered a vestibule vaulted with onyx stones and arabesqued with gold, and they stayed not walking till they came to a great hall and a wide, paved and walled with marble. In its midst was a flower-garden containing all manner trees and flowers and fruits, with birds warbling on the boughs and singing the praises of Allah the Almighty Sovran; and there were four daises, each facing other, and in each dais a jetting fountain, at whose corners stood lions of red gold, spouting gerbes from their mouths into the basin. On each dais stood a chair, whereon sat an elder, with exceeding store of books before him [FN#115] and censers of gold, containing fire and perfumes, and before each elder were students, who read the books to him. Now when the twain entered, the elders rose to them and did them honour; whereupon Abu al-Ruwaysh signed to them to dismiss their scholars and they did so. Then the four arose and seating themselves before that Shaykh, asked him of the case of Hasan to whom he said, "Tell the company thy tale and all that hath betided thee from the beginning of thine adventure to the end." So Hasan wept with sore weeping and related to them his story with Bahram; whereupon all the Shaykhs cried out and said, "Is this indeed he whom the Magian caused to climb the Mountain of Clouds by means of the vultures, sewn up in the camel-hide?" And Hasan said, "Yes." So they turned to the Shaykh, Abu al-Ruwaysh and said to him, "O our Shaykh, of a truth Bahram contrived his mounting to the mountaintop; but how came he down and what marvels saw he there?" And Abu al-Ruwaysh said, "O Hasan, tell them how thou camest down and acquaint them with what thou sawest of marvels." So he told them all that had befallen him, first and last; how he had gotten the Magian into his power and slain him, how he had delivered the youth from him and sent him back to his own country, and how he had captured the King's daughter of the Jinn and married her; yet had she played him false and taken the two boys she had borne him and flown away; brief, he related to them all the hardships and horrors he had undergone; whereat they marvelled, each and every, and said to Abu al-Ruwaysh, "O elder of elders, verily by Allah, this youth is to be pitied! But belike thou wilt aid him to recover his wife and wees."--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the Eight Hundred and Third Night,
She resumed, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when Hasan told his tale to the elders, they said to Shaykh Abu al-Ruwaysh, "This youth is to be pitied and haply thou wilt aid him to recover his wife and wees." He replied, "O my brothers, in very sooth this is a grave matter and a perilous; and never saw I any loathe his life save this youth. You know that the Islands of Wak are hard of access and that none may come to them but at risk of life; and ye know also the strength of their people and their guards. Moreover I have sworn an oath not to tread their soil nor transgress against them in aught; so how shall this man come at the daughter of the Great King, and who hath power to bring him to her or help him in this matter?" Replied the other, "O Shaykh of Shaykhs, verily this man is consumed with desire and he hath endangered himself to bring thee a scroll from thy brother Abd al-Kaddus; wherefore it behoveth thee to help him." And Hasan arose and kissed Abu al-Ruwaysh's feet and raising the hem of his garment laid it on his head, weeping and crying. "I beseech thee, by Allah, to reunite me with my wife and children, though it cost me my life and my soul!" The four elders all wept for his weeping and said to Abu al-Ruwaysh, "Deal generously with this unhappy and show him kindness for the sake of thy brother Abd al-Kaddus and profit by this occasion to earn reward from Allah for helping him." Quoth he, "This wilful youth weeteth not what he undertaketh; but Inshallah! we will help him after the measure of our means, nor leave aught feasible undone." When Hasan heard the Shaykh's word he rejoiced and kissed the hands of the five elders, one after other, imploring their aidance. Thereupon Abd al-Ruwaysh took inkcase and a sheet of paper and wrote a letter, which he sealed and gave to Hasan, together with a pouch of perfumed leather, [FN#116] containing incense and fire-sticks [FN#117] and other needs, and said to him, "Take strictest care of this pouch, and whenas thou fallest into any strait, burn a little of the incense therein and name my name, whereupon I will be with thee forthright and save thee from thy stress." Moreover, he bade one of those present fetch him an Ifrit of the Flying Jinn; and he did so incontinently; whereupon quoth Abu al-Ruwaysh to the fire-drake, "What is thy name!" Replied the Ifrit, "Thy thrall is hight Dahnash bin Faktash." And the Shaykh said "Draw near to me!" So Dahnash drew near to him and he put his mouth to his ear and said somewhat to him, whereat the Ifrit shook his head and answered, "I accept, O elder of elders!" Then said Abu al-Ruwaysh to Hasan, "Arise, O my son, mount the shoulders of this Ifrit, Dahnash the Flyer; but, when he heaveth thee heavenwards and thou hearest the angels glorifying God a-welkin with 'Subhána Iláh,' have a care lest thou do the like; else wilt thou perish and he too." Hasan replied, "I will not say a word; no, never;" and the old man continued, "O Hasan, after faring with thee all this day, to-morrow at peep of dawn he will set thee down in a land cleanly white, like unto camphor, whereupon do thou walk on ten days by thyself, till thou come to the gate of a city. Then enter and enquire for the King of the city; and when thou comest to his presence, salute him with the salam and kiss his hand: then give him this scroll and consider well whatso he shall counsel thee," Hasan replied, "Hearing and obeying," and rose up and mounted the Ifrit's shoulders, whilst the elders rose and offered up prayers for him and commended him to the care of Dahnash the Firedrake. And when he had perched on the Flyer's back the Ifrit soared with him to the very confines of the sky, till he heard the angels glorifying God in Heaven, and flew on with him a day and a night till at dawn of the next day he set him down in a land white as camphor, and went his way, leaving him there. When Hasan found himself in the land aforesaid with none by his side he fared on night and day for ten days, till he came to the gate of the city in question and entering, enquired for the King. They directed him to him and told him that his name was King Hassún, [FN#118] Lord of the Land of Camphor, and that he had troops and soldiers enough to fill the earth in its length and breadth. So he sought audience of him and, being admitted to his presence, found him a mighty King and kissed ground between his hands. Quoth the King, "What is thy want?" Whereupon Hasan kissed the letter and gave it to him. The King read it and shook his head awhile, then said to one of his officers, "Take this youth and lodge him in the house of hospitality." So he took him and stablished him in the guest-house, where he tarried three days, eating and drinking and seeing none but the eunuch who waited on him and who entertained him with discourse and cheered him with his company, questioning him of his case and how he came to that city; whereupon he told him his whole story, and the perilous condition wherein he was. On the fourth day, that eunuch carried him before the King, who said to him, "O Hasan, thou comest to me, seeking to enter the Islands of Wak, as the Shaykh of Shaykhs adviseth me. O my son, I would send thee thither this very day, but that by the way are many perils and thirsty wolds full of terrors; yet do thou have patience and naught save fair shall befal thee, for needs must I devise to bring thee to thy desire, Inshallah! Know, O my son, that here is a mighty host, [FN#119] equipped with arms and steeds and warlike gear, who long to enter the Wak Islands and lack power thereto. But, O my son, for the sake of the Shaykh Abu al-Ruwaysh, son of Bilkis, [FN#120] the daughter of Mu'in, I may not send thee back to him unfulfilled of thine affair. Presently there will come to us ships from the Islands of Wak and the first that shall arrive I will send thee on board of her and give thee in charge to the sailors, so they may take care of thee and carry thee to the Islands. If any question thee of thy case and condition, answer him saying, 'I am kinsman to King Hassun, Lord of the Land of Camphor;' and when the ship shall make fast to the shore of the Islands of Wak and the master shall bid thee land, do thou land. Now as soon as thou comest ashore, thou wilt see a multitude of wooden settles all about the beach, of which do thou choose thee one and crouch under it and stir not. And when dark night sets in, thou wilt see an army of women appear and flock about the goods landed from the ship, and one of them will sit down on the settle, under which thou hast hidden thyself, whereupon do thou put forth thy hand to her and take hold of her and implore her protection. And know thou, O my son, that an she accord thee protection, thou wilt win thy wish and regain thy wife and children; but, if she refuse to protect thee, make thy mourning for thyself and give up all hope of life, and make sure of death for indeed thou art a dead man. Understand, O my son, that thou adventurest thy life and this is all I can do for thee, and--the peace!"--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the Eight Hundred and Fourth Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that King Hassun spake these words to Hasan and charged him as we have related, ending with, "This is all I can do for thee and know that except the Lord of Heaven had aided thee, thou hadst not come hither!" The youth wept till he swooned away, and when he recovered, he recited these two couplets,"A term decreed my lot I 'spy; * And, when its days shall end, I die.
Then having ended his verse he kissed the ground before the Sovran and said to him, "O mighty King, how many days remain till the coming of the ships?" Replied the other, "In a month's time they will come and will tarry here, selling their cargueson, other two months, after which they will return to their own country; so hope not to set out save after three whole months." Then the King bade him return to the house of hospitality and bade supply him with all that he needed of meat and drink and raiment fit for Kings. Hasan abode in the guest-house a month, at the end of which the vessels arrived and the King and the merchants went forth to them, taking Hasan with them. Amongst them he saw a ship with much people therein, like the shingles for number; none knew their tale save He who created them. She was anchored in mid-harbour and had cocks which transported her lading to the shore. So Hasan abode till the crew had landed all the goods and sold and bought and to the time of departure there wanted but three days; whereupon the King sent for him and equipped him with all he required and gave him great gifts: after which he summoned the captain of the great ship and said to him, "Take this youth with thee in the vessel, so none may know of him save thou, and carry him to the Islands of Wak and leave him there; and bring him not back." And the Rais said, "To hear is to obey: with love and gladness!" Then quoth the King to Hasan, "Look thou tell none of those who are with thee in the ship thine errand nor discover to them aught of thy case; else thou art a lost man;" and quoth he, "Hearing and obedience!" With this he farewelled the King, after he had wished him long life and victory over his enviers and his enemies; wherefore the King thanked him and wished him safety and the winning of his wish. Then he committed him to the captain, who laid him in a chest which he embarked in a dinghy, and bore him aboard, whilst the folk were busy in breaking bulk and no man doubted but the chest contained somewhat of merchandise. After this, the vessels set sail and fared on without ceasing ten days, and on the eleventh day they made the land. So the Rais set Hasan ashore and, as he walked up the beach, he saw wooden settles [FN#121] without number, none knew their count save Allah, even as the King had told him. He went on, till he came to one that had no fellow and hid under it till nightfall, when there came up a mighty many of women, as they were locusts over-swarming the land and they marched afoot and armed cap-à-pie in hauberks and strait-knit coats of mail hending drawn swords in their hands, who, seeing the merchandise landed from the ships, busied themselves therewith. Presently they sat down to rest themselves, and one of them seated herself on the settle under which Hasan had crouched: whereupon he took hold of the hem of her garment and laid it on his head and throwing himself before her, fell to kissing her hands and feet and weeping and crying, "Thy protection! thy good-will!" Quoth she, "Ho, thou! Arise and stand up, ere any see thee and slay thee." So he came forth and springing up kissed her hands and wept and said to her, "O my mistress, I am under thy protection!"; adding, "Have ruth on one who is parted from his people and wife and children, one who hath haste to rejoin them and one who adventureth life and soul for their sake! Take pity on me and be assured that therefor Paradise will be thy reward; or, an thou wilt not receive me, I beseech thee, by Allah the Great, the Concealer, to conceal my case!" The merchants stared to see him talking with her; and she, hearing his words and beholding his humility, was moved to ruth for him; her heart inclined to him and she knew that he had not ventured himself and come to that place, save for a grave matter. So she said to him, "O my son, be of good cheer and keep thine eyes cool and clear, hearten thy heart and take courage and return to thy hiding-place till the coming night, and Allah shall do as He will." Then she took leave of him and Hasan crept under the wooden settle as before, whilst the troops lighted flambeaux of wax mixed with aloes-wood and Nadd-perfume and crude ambergris [FN#122] and passed the night in sport and delight till the morning. At daybreak, the boats returned to the shore and the merchants busied themselves with buying and selling and the transport of the goods and gear till nightfall, whilst Hasan lay hidden beneath the settle, weeping-eyed and woeful-hearted, knowing not what was decreed to him in the secret preordainment of Allah. As he was thus, behold, the merchant-woman with whom he had taken refuge came up to him and giving him a habergeon and a helmet, a spear, a sword and a gilded girdle, bade him don them and seat himself on the settle after which she left him, for fear of the troops. So he arose and donned the mail-coat and helmet and clasped the girdle about his middle; then he slung the sword over his shoulder till it hung under his armpit, and taking the spear in his hand, sat down on that settle, whilst his tongue neglected not to name Allah Almighty and call on Him for protection.--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the Eight Hundred and Fifth Night,
She continued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when Hasan received the weapons which the merchant-woman had given to him, saying, "Sit thee upon the settle and let none wot thy case," he armed himself and took his seat, whilst his tongue neglected not to name Allah Almighty and to call upon Him for protection. And behold, there appeared cressets and lanthorns and flambeaux and up came the army of women. So he arose and mingling with them, became as one of them. A little before daybreak, they set out, and Hasan with them, and fared on till they came to their camp, where they dispersed each to her tent, and Hasan followed one of them and lo! it was hers for whose protection he had prayed. When she entered, she threw down her arms and doffed her hauberk and veil. So Hasan did the like and looking at his companion, saw her to be a grizzled old woman blue-eyed and big-nosed, a calamity of calamities, the foulest of all created things, with face pock-marked and eyebrows bald, gap-toothed and chap-fallen, with hair hoary, nose running and mouth slavering; [FN#123] even as saith the like of her the poet,"In her cheek-corners nine calamities * Wone, and when shown, each one Jehannam is:
And indeed she was like a pied snake or a scald she-wolf. Now when the old woman looked at Hasan, she marvelled and said, "How came this one to these lands and in which of the ships was he and how arrived he hither in safety?" And she fell to questioning him of his case and admiring at his arrival, whereupon he fell at her feet and rubbed his face on them and wept till he fainted; and, when he recovered himself, he recited these couplets,"When will Time grant we meet, when shall we be * Again united after severance stark?
Then he took the crone's skirt and laid it on his head and fell to weeping and craving her protection. When she saw his ardency and transport and anguish and distress, her heart softened to him and she promised him her safeguard, saying, "Have no fear whatsoever." Then she questioned him of his case and he told her the manner of his coming thither and all that had befallen him from beginning to end, whereat she marvelled and said, "This that hath betide thee, methinks, never betided any save thyself and except thou hadst been vouchsafed the especial protection of Allah, thou hadst not been saved: but now, O my son, take comfort and be of good courage; thou hast nothing more to fear, for indeed thou hast won thy wish and attained thy desire, if it please the Most High!" Thereat Hasan rejoiced with joy exceeding and she sent to summon the captains of the army to her presence, and it was the last day of the month. So they presented themselves and the old woman said to them, "Go out and proclaim to all the troops that they come forth to-morrow at daybreak and let none tarry behind, for whoso tarryeth shall be slain." They replied, "We hear and we obey," and going forth, made proclamation to all the host anent a review next morning, even as she bade them, after which they returned and told her of this; whereby Hasan knew that she was the Commander-in-chief of the army and the Viceregent in authority over them; and her name was Shawahí the Fascinator, entituled Umm al-Dawáhi, or Mother of Calamities. [FN#124] She ceased not to bid and forbid and Hasan doffed not off his arms from his body that day. Now when the morning broke, all the troops fared forth from their places, but the old woman came not out with them, and as soon as they were sped and the stead was clear of them, she said to Hasan, "Draw near unto me, O my son [FN#125]." So he drew near unto her and stood between her hands. Quoth she, "Why and wherefore hast thou adventured thyself so boldly as to enter this land, and how came thy soul to consent to its own undoing? Tell me the truth and the whole truth and fear aught of ill come of it, for thou hast my plighted word and I am moved to compassion for thy case and pity thee and have taken thee under my protection. So, if thou tell me the truth, I will help thee to win thy wish, though it involve the undoing of souls and the destruction of bodies; and since thou hast come to seek me, no hurt shall betide thee from me, nor will I suffer any to have at thee with harm of all who be in the Islands of Wak." So he told her his tale from first to last, acquainting her with the matter of his wife and of the birds; how he had captured her as his prize from amongst the ten and married her and abode with her, till she had borne him two sons, and how she had taken her children and flown away with them, whenas she knew the way to the feather-dress. Brief, he concealed from her no whit of his case, from the beginning to that day. But when Shawahi heard his relation, she shook her head and said to him, "Glory be to God who hath brought thee hither in safety and made thee hap upon me! For, hadst thou happened on any but myself, thou hadst lost thy life without winning thy wish; but the truth of thine intent and thy fond affection and the excess of thy love-longing for thy wife and yearning for thy children, these it was that have brought thee to the attainment of thine aim. Didst thou not love her and love her to distraction, thou hadst not thus imperilled thyself, and Alhamdolillah--Praised be Allah--for thy safety! Wherefore it behoveth us to do thy desire and conduce to thy quest, so thou mayst presently attain that thou seekest, if it be the will of Almighty Allah. But know, O my son, that thy wife is not here, but in the seventh of the Islands of Wak and between us and it is seven months' journey, night and day. From here we go to an island called the Land of Birds, wherein, for the loud crying of the birds and the flapping of their wings, one cannot hear other speak."--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the Eight Hundred and Sixth Night,
She pursued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the old woman said to Hasan, "Indeed thy wife is in the Seventh Island, [FN#126] the greatest amongst the Islands of Wak and betwixt us and it is a seven-months' journey. From here we fare for the Land of Birds, whereon for the force of their flying and the flapping of their wings, we cannot hear one other speak. Over that country we journey night and day, eleven days, after which we come forth of it to another called the Land of Ferals where, for stress of roaring of lions and howling of wolves and laughing of hyaenas and the crying of other beasts of prey we shall hear naught, and therein we travel twenty days' journey. Then we issue therefrom and come to a third country, called the Land of the Jánn, where, for stress of the crying of the Jinn and the flaming of fires and the flight of sparks and smoke from their mouths and the noise of their groaning and their arrogance in blocking up the road before us, our ears will be deafened and our eyes blinded, so that we shall neither hear nor see, nor dare any look behind him, or he perisheth: but there horseman boweth head on saddle-bow and raiseth it not for three days. After this, we abut upon a mighty mountain and a running river contiguous with the Isles of Wak, which are seven in number and the extent whereof is a whole year's journey for a well-girt horseman. And thou must know, O my son, that these troops are all virgin girls, and that the ruler over us is a woman of the Archipelago of Wak. On the bank of the river aforesaid is another mountain, called Mount Wak, and it is thus named by reason of a tree which beareth fruits like heads of the Sons of Adam. [FN#127] When the sun riseth on them, the heads cry out all, saying in their cries:-- 'Wak! Wak! Glory be to the Creating King, Al-Khallák!' And when we hear their crying, we know that the sun is risen. In like manner, at sundown, the heads set up the same cry, 'Wak! Wak! Glory to Al-Khallak!' and so we know that the sun hath set. No man may abide with us or reach to us or tread our earth: and betwixt us and the abiding-place of the Queen who ruleth over us is a month's journey from this shore, all the lieges whereof are under her hand, as are also the tribes of the Jinn, Marids and Satans, while of the warlocks none kenneth the number save He who created them. Wherefore, an thou be afraid, I will send with thee one who will convey thee to the coast and there bring one who will embark thee on board a ship that bear thee to thine own land. But an thou be content to tarry with us, I will not forbid thee and thou shalt be with me in mine eye, [FN#128] till thou win thy wish, Inshallah!" Quoth he, "O my lady, I will never quit thee till I foregather with my wife or lose my life!"; and quoth she, "This is a light matter; be of good heart, for soon shalt thou come to thy desire, Allah willing; and there is no help but that I let the Queen know of thee, that she may help thee to attain thine aim." Hasan blessed her and kissed her head and hands, thanking her for her good deed and exceeding kindness and firm will. Then he set out with her, pondering the issue of his case and the horrors of his strangerhood; wherefore he fell a-weeping and a-wailing and recited these couplets,"A Zephyr bloweth from the lover's site; * And thou canst view me in the saddest plight:
Then the old woman bade beat the kettle-drums for departure and the army set out. Hasan fared with her, drowned in the sea of solicitude and reciting verses like those above, whilst she strave to comfort him and exhorted him to patience; but he awoke not from his tristesse and heeded not her exhortations. They journeyed thus till they came to the boundaries of the Land of Birds [FN#129] and when they entered it, it seemed to Hasan as if the world were turned topsy-turvy for the exceeding clamour. His head ached and his mind was dazed, his eyes were blinded and his ears deafened, and he feared with exceeding fear and made certain of deaths saying to himself, "If this be the Land of Birds, how will be the Land of Beasts?" But, when the crone hight Shawahi saw him in this plight, she laughed at him, saying, "O my son, if this be thy case in the first island, how will it fare with thee, when thou comest to the others?" So he prayed to Allah and humbled himself before the Lord, beseeching Him to assist him against that wherewith He had afflicted him and bring him to his wishes; and they ceased not going till they passed out of the Land of Birds and, traversing the Land of Beasts, came to the Land of the Jann which when Hasan saw, he was sore affrighted and repented him of having entered it with them. But he sought aid of Allah the Most High and fared on with them, till they were quit of the Land of the Jann and came to the river and set down their loads at the foot of a vast mountain and a lofty, and pitched their tents by the stream-bank. Then they rested and ate and drank and slept in security, for they were come to their own country. On the morrow the old woman set Hasan a couch of alabaster, inlaid with pearls and jewels and nuggets of red gold, by the river-side, and he sat down thereon, having first bound his face with a chin-kerchief, that discovered naught of him but his eyes. Then she bade proclaim among the troops that they should all assemble before her tent and put off their clothes and go down into the stream and wash; and this she did that she might parade before him all the girls, so haply his wife should be amongst them and he know her. So the whole army mustered before her and putting off their clothes, went down into the stream, and Hasan seated on his couch watched them washing their white skins and frolicking and making merry, whilst they took no heed of his inspecting them, deeming him to be of the daughters of the Kings. When he beheld them stripped of their clothes, his chord stiffened for that looking at them mother-naked he saw what was between their thighs, and that of all kinds, soft and rounded, plump and cushioned; large-lipped, perfect, redundant and ample, [FN#130] and their faces were as moons and their hair as night upon day, for that they were of the daughters of the Kings. When they were clean, they came up out of the water, stark naked, as the moon on the night of fullness and the old woman questioned Hasan of them, company by company, if his wife were among them; but, as often as she asked him of a troop, he made answer, "She is not among these, O my lady."--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the Eight Hundred and Seventh Night,
She resumed, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the old woman questioned Hasan of the girls, company after company, if haply his wife were among them; but as often as she asked him of a troop, he made answer, "She is not among these, O my lady!" Last of all, there came up a damsel, attended by ten slave-girls and thirty waiting-women, all of them high-bosomed maidens. They put off their clothes and went down into the river, where the damsel fell to riding the high horse over her women, throwing them down and ducking them. On this wise she continued for a full hour, after which all came up out of the water and sat down; and they brought her napkins [FN#131] of gold-purfled silk, with which she dried herself. Then they brought her clothes and jewels and ornaments of the handiwork of the Jinn, and she donned them and rose and walked with graceful pace among the troops, she and her maidens. When Hasan saw her, his heart was ready to fly from his breast and he said, "Verily this girl is the likest of all folk to the bird I saw in the basin atop of the palace of my sisters the Princesses, and she lorded it over her lieges even as doth this one." The old woman asked, "O Hasan, is this thy wife?"; and he answered, "No, by thy life, O my lady; this is not my wife, nor ever in my life have I set eyes on her; neither among all the girls I have seen in these islands is there the like of my wife nor her match for symmetry and grace and beauty and loveliness!" Then said Shawaki, "Describe her to me and acquaint me with all her attributes, that I may have her in my mind; for I know every girl in the Islands of Wak, being commander of the army of maids and governor over them; wherefore, an thou describe her to me, I shall know her and will contrive for thee to take her." Quoth he, "My wife hath the fairest face and a form all grace; smooth is she of cheeks and high of breasts with eyes of liquid light, calves and thighs plump to sight, teeth snowy white, with dulcet speech dight; in speech soft and bland as she were a willow-wand; her gifts are a moral and lips are red as coral; her eyes wear natural Kohl-dye and her lower labia [FN#132] in softness lie. On her right cheek is a mole and on her waist, under her navel, is a sign; her face shines as the rondure of the moon in sheen, her waist is slight, her hips a heavy weight, and the water of her mouth the sick doth heal, as it were Kausar or Salsabil." [FN#133] Said the old woman, "Give me an increased account of her, Allah increase thee of passion for her!" Quoth he, "My wife hath a face the fairest fair and oval cheeks the rarest rare; neck long and spare and eyes that Kohl wear; her side face shows the Anemones of Nu'uman, her mouth is like a seal of cornelian and flashing teeth that lure and stand one in stead of cup and ewer. She is cast in the mould of pleasantness and between her thighs is the throne of the Caliphate, there is no such sanctuary among the Holy Places; as saith in its praise the poet,"The name of what drave me distraught * Hath letters renowned among men:
Then Hasan wept and chanted the following Mawwál, [FN#135]"O heart, an lover false thee, shun the parting bane * Nor to forgetfulness thy thoughts constrain:
And this also,"An wouldst be life,long safe, vaunt not delight; * Never despair, nor wone o'erjoyed in sprite!
Thereupon the old woman bowed her head groundwards awhile, then, raising it, said, "Laud be to the Lord, the Mighty of Award! Indeed I am afflicted with thee, O Hasan! Would Heaven I had never known thee! This woman, whom thou describest to me as thy wife, I know by description and I know her to be none other than the eldest daughter of the Supreme King, she who ruleth over all the Islands of Wak. So open both eyes and consider thy case; and if thou be asleep, awake; for, if this woman be indeed thy wife, it is impossible for thee ever to obtain her, and though thou come to her, yet couldst thou not avail to her possession, since between thee and her the distance is as that between earth and Heaven. Wherefore, O my son, return presently and cast not thyself into destruction nor cast me with thee; for meseemeth thou hast no lot in her; so return whence thou camest lest our lives be lost." And she feared for herself and for him. When Hasan heard her words, he wept till he fainted and she left not sprinkling water on his face, till he came to himself, when he continued to weep, so that he drenched his dress with tears, for the much cark and care and chagrin which betided him by reason of her words. And indeed he despaired of life and said to the old woman, "O my lady, and how shall I go back, after having come hither? Verily, I thought not thou wouldst forsake me nor fail of the winning of my wish, especially as thou art the Commander-in-chief of the army of the girls." Answered Shawahl, "O my son, I doubted not but thy wife was a maid of the maids, and had I known she was the King's daughter, I had not suffered thee to come hither nor had I shown the troops to thee, for all the love I bear thee. But now, O my son, thou hast seen all the girls naked; so tell me which of them pleaseth thee and I will give her to thee, in lieu of thy wife, and do thou put it that thy wife and children are dead and take her and return to thine own country in safety, ere thou fall into the King's hand and I have no means of delivering thee. So, Allah upon thee, O my son, hearken unto me. Choose thyself one of these damsels, in the stead of yonder woman, and return presently to thy country in safety and cause me not quaff the cup of thine anguish! For, by Allah, thou hast cast thyself into affliction sore and peril galore, wherefrom none may avail to deliver thee evermore!" But Hasan hung down his head and wept with long weeping and recited these couplets,"'Blame not!' said I to all who blamèd me; * 'Mine eye-lids naught but tears were made to dree:'
--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the Eight Hundred and Eighth Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the old woman said to Hasan, "By Allah, O my son, hearken to my words! Choose thee one of these girls in lieu of thy wife and presently return to thy country in safety," he hung down his head and recited the couplets quoted above. Then he wept till he swooned away and Shawahl sprinkled water on his face till he revived, when she addressed him, "O my lord, I have no shift left; because if I carry thee to the city thy life is lost and mine also: for, when the Queen cometh to know of this, she will blame me for admitting thee into her lands and islands, whereto none of Adam's sons hath access, and will slay me for bringing thee with me and for suffering mortal to look upon the virgins seen by thee in the sea, whom ne'er touched male, neither approached mate." And Hasan sware that he had never looked on them with evil of eye. She resumed, "O my son, hearken to me and return to thy country and I will give thee wealth and treasures and things of price, such as shall suffice thee for all the women in the world. Moreover, I will give thee a girl of the best of them, so lend an ear to my words and return presently and imperil not thyself; indeed I counsel thee with good counsel." But he wept and rubbed both cheeks against her feet, saying, "O my lady and mistress and coolth of mine eyes, how can I turn back now that I have made my way hither, without the sight of those I desire, and now that I have come near the beloved's site, hoping for meeting forthright, so haply there may be a portion in reunion to my plight?" And he improvised these couplets,"O Kings of beauty, grace to prisoner ta'en * Of eyelids fit to rule the Chosroës' reign:
Hearing his verses the old woman was moved to ruth for him and Allah planted the seed of affection for him in her heart; so coming up to him she consoled him, saying, "Be of good cheer and keep thine eyes cool and clear and put away trouble from thy thought, for, by Allah, I will venture my life with thee, till thou attain thine aim or death undo me!" With this, Hasan's heart was comforted and his bosom broadened and he sat talking with the old woman till the end of the day, when all the girls dispersed, some entering their town-mansions and others nighting in the tents. Then the old woman carried him into the city and lodged him in a place apart, lest any should come to know of him and tell the Queen of him and she should slay him and slay her who had brought him thither. Moreover, she served him herself and strave to put him in fear of the awful majesty of the Supreme King, his wife's father; whilst he wept before her and said, "O my fady, I choose death for myself and loathe this worldly life, if I foregather not with my wife and children: I have set my existence on the venture and will either attain my aim or die." So the old woman fell to pondering the means of bringing him and his wife together and casting about how to do in the case of this unhappy one, who had thrown himself into destruction and would not be diverted from his purpose by fear or aught else; for, indeed he reeked not of his life and the sayer of bywords saith, "Lover in nowise hearkeneth he to the speech of the man who is fancy-free." Now the name of the Queen of the island wherein they were was Núr al-Hudà, [FN#137] eldest daughter of the Supreme King, and she had six virgin sisters, abiding with their father, whose capital and court were in the chief city of that region and who had made her ruler over all the lands and islands of Wak. So when the ancient dame saw Hasan on fire with yearning after his wife and children, she rose up and repaired to the palace and going in to Queen Nur al-Huda kissed ground before her; for she had a claim on her favour because she had reared the King's daughters one and all and had authority over each and every of them and was high in honour and consideration with them and with the King. Nur al-Huda rose to her as she entered and embracing her, seated her by her side and asked her of her journey. She answered, "By Allah, O my lady 'twas a blessed journey and I have brought thee a gift which I will presently present to thee," adding, "O my daughter, O Queen of the age and the time, I have a favour to crave of thee and I fain would discover it to thee, that thou mayst help me to accomplish it, and but for my confidence that thou wilt not gainsay me therein, I would not expose it to thee." Asked the Queen, "And what is thy need? Expound it to me, and I will accomplish it to thee, for I and my kingdom and troops are all at thy commandment and disposition." Therewithal the old woman quivered as quivereth the reed on a day when the storm-wind is abroad and saying in herself, "O [FN#138] Protector, protect me from the Queen's mischief!" [FN#139] fell down before her and acquainted her with Hasan's case, saying, "O my lady, a man, who had hidden himself under my wooden settle on the seashore, sought my protection; so I took him under my safeguard and carried him with me among the army of girls armed and accoutred so that none might know him, and brought him into the city; and indeed I have striven to affright him with thy fierceness, giving him to know of thy power and prowess; but, as often as I threatened him, he weepeth and reciteth verses and sayeth, 'Needs must I have my wife and children or die, and I will not return to my country without them.' And indeed he hath adventured himself and come to the Islands of Wak, and never in all my days saw I mortal heartier of heart than he or doughtier of derring-do, save that love hath mastered him to the utmost of mastery."--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the Eight Hundred and Ninth Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the old woman related to Queen Nur al-Huda the adventure of Hasan, ending with, "Never I saw any one heartier of heart than he save that love hath mastered him to the utmost of mastery," the Queen, after lending an attentive ear and comprehending the case, waxed wroth at her with exceeding wrath and bowed her head awhile groundwards; then, raising it, she looked at Shawahi and said to her, "O ill-omened beldam, art thou come to such a pass of lewdness that thou carriest males, men, with thee into the Islands of Wak and bringest them into me, unfearing of my mischief? Who hath foregone thee with this fashion, that thou shouldst do thus? By the head of the King, but for thy claim on me for fosterage and service, I would forthwith do both him and thee to die the foulest of deaths, that travellers might take warning by thee, O accursed, lest any other do the like of this outrageous deed thou hast done, which none durst hitherto! But go and bring him hither forthright, that I may see him; or I will strike off thy head, O accursed." So the old woman went out from her, confounded, unknowing whither she went and saying, "All this calamity hath Allah driven upon me from this Queen because of Hasan!" and going in to him, said, "Rise, speak with the Queen, O wight whose last hour is at hand!" So he rose and went with her, whilst his tongue ceased not to call upon Almighty Allah and say, "O my God, be gracious to me in Thy decrees and deliver me from this Thine affliction!" [FN#140] And Shawahi went with him charging him by the way how he should speak with the Queen. When he stood before Nur al-Huda, he found that she had donned the chinveil [FN#141]; so he kissed ground before her and saluted her with the salam, improvising these two couplets,"God make thy glory last in joy of life; * Allah confirm the boons he deigned bestow:
When he ended his verse Nur al-Huda bade the old woman ask him questions before her, that she might hear his answers: so she said to him, "The Queen returneth thy salam-greeting and saith to thee, 'What is thy name and that of thy country, and what are the names of thy wife and children, on whose account thou art come hither?"' Quoth he, and indeed he had made firm his heart and destiny aided him, "O Queen of the age and tide and peerless jewel of the epoch and the time, my name is Hasan the fullfilled of sorrow, and my native city is Bassorah. I know not the name of my wife [FN#142] but my children's names are Násir and Mansúr." When the Queen heard his reply and his provenance, she bespoke him herself and said, "And whence took she her children?" He replied, "O Queen, she took them from the city of Baghdad and the palace of the Caliphate." Quoth Nur al-Huda, "And did she say naught to thee at the time she flew away?;" and quoth he, "Yes; she said to my mother, 'Whenas thy son cometh to thee and the nights of severance upon him longsome shall be and he craveth meeting and reunion to see, and whenas the breezes of love and longing shake him dolefully let him come in the Islands of Wak to me.'" Whereupon Queen Nur al-Huda shook her head and said to him, "Had she not desired thee she had not said to thy mother this say, and had she not yearned for reunion with thee, never had she bidden thee to her stead nor acquainted thee with her abiding-place." Rejoined Hasan, "O mistress of Kings and asylum of prince and pauper, whatso happened I have told thee and have concealed naught thereof, and I take refuge from evil with Allah and with thee; wherefore oppress me not, but have compassion on me and earn recompense and requital for me in the world to come, and aid me to regain my wife and children. Grant me my urgent need and cool mine eyes with my children and help me to the sight of them." Then he wept and wailed and lamenting his lot recited these two couplets,"Yea, I will laud thee while the ring-dove moans, * Though fail my wish of due and lawful scope:
The Queen shook her head and bowed it in thought a long time; then, raising it, she said to Hasan (and indeed she was wroth), "I have ruth on thee and am resolved to show thee in review all the girls in the city and in the provinces of my island; and in case thou know thy wife, I will deliver her to thee; but, an thou know her not and know not her place, I will put thee to death and crucify thee over the old woman's door." Replied Hasan, "I accept this from thee, O Queen of the Age, and am content to submit to this thy condition. There is no Majesty and there is no Might save in Allah, the Glorious, the Great!" And he recited these couplets,"You've roused my desire and remain at rest,-- * Waked my wounded lids while you slept with zest.
Then Queen Nur al-Huda commanded that not a girl should abide in the city but should come up to the palace and pass in review before Hasan and moreover she bade Shawahi go down in person and bring them up herself. Accordingly all the maidens in the city presented themselves before the Queen, who caused them to go in to Hasan, hundred after hundred, till there was no girl left in the place, but she had shown her to him; yet he saw not his wife amongst them. Then said she to him, "Seest thou her amongst these?"; and he replied, "By thy life, O Queen, she is not amongst them." With this she was sore enraged against him and said to the old woman, "Go in and bring out all who are in the palace and show them to him." So she displayed to him every one of the palace-girls, but he saw not his wife among them and said to the Queen, "By the life of thy head, O Queen, she is not among these." Whereat the Queen was wroth and cried out at those around her, saying, "Take him and hale him along, face to earth, and cut off his head, least any adventure himself after him and intrude upon us in our country and spy out our estate by thus treading the soil of our islands." So they threw him down on his face and dragged him along; then, covering his eyes with his skirt, stood at his head with bared brands awaiting royal permission. Thereupon Shawahi came forward and kissing the ground before the Queen, took the hem of her garment and laid it on her head, saying, "O Queen, by my claim for fosterage, be not hasty with him, more by token of thy knowledge that this poor wretch is a stranger, who hath adventured himself and suffered what none ever suffered before him, and Allah (to whom belong Might and Majesty,) preserved him from death, for that his life was ordained to be long. He heard of thine equity and entered thy city and guarded site; [FN#144] wherefore, if thou put him to death, the report will dispread abroad of thee, by means of the travellers, that thou hatest strangers and slayest them. He is in any case at thy mercy and the slain of thy sword, if his wife be not found in thy dominions; and whensoever thou desireth his presence, I can bring him back to thee. Moreover, in very sooth I took him under my protection only of my trust in thy magnanimity through my claim on thee for fosterage, so that I engaged to him that thou wouldst bring him to his desire, for my knowledge of thy justice and quality of mercy. But for this, I had not brought him into thy kingdom; for I said to myself: 'The Queen will take pleasure in looking upon him, and hearing him speak his verses and his sweet discourse and eloquent which is like unto pearls strung on string.' Moreover, he hath entered our land and eaten of our meat; wherefore he hath a claim upon us."--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the Eight Hundred and Tenth Night,
She continued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when Queen Nur al-Huda bade her pages seize Hasan and smite his neck, the old woman, Shawahi, began to reason with her and say, "Verily he hath entered our land and eaten of our meat, wherefore he hath a claim upon us, the more especially since I promised him to bring him in company with thee; and thou knowest that, parting is a grievous ill and severance hath power to kill, especially separation from children. Now he hath seen all our women, save only thyself; so do thou show him thy face?" The Queen smiled and said, "How can he be my husband and have had children by me, that I should show him my face?" Then she made them bring Hasan before her and when he stood in the presence, she unveiled her face, which when he saw, he cried out with a great cry and fell down fainting. The old woman ceased not to tend him, till he came to himself and as soon as he revived he recited these couplets,"O breeze that blowest from the land Irak * And from their corners whoso cry 'Wak! Wak!'
When he ended his verse he rose and looking on the Queen's face, cried out with a great cry, for stress whereof the palace was like to fall upon all therein. Then he swooned away again and the old woman ceased not to tend him till he revived, when she asked him what ailed him and he answered, "In very sooth this Queen is either my wife or else the likest of all folk to my wife."--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the Eight Hundred and Eleventh Night,
She pursued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the old woman asked Hasan what ailed him, he answered, "In very sooth this Queen is either my wife or else the likest of all folk to my wife." Quoth Nur al-Huda to the old woman, "Woe to thee, O nurse! This stranger is either Jinn-mad or out of his mind, for he stareth me in the face with wide eyes and saith I am his wife." Quoth the old woman, "O Queen, indeed he is excusable; so blame him not, for the saying saith, 'For the lovesick is no remedy and alike are the madman and he.'" And Hasan wept with sore weeping and recited these two couplets,"I sight their track and pine for longing love; * And o'er their homesteads weep I and I yearn:
Then said Hasan to the Queen once more, "By Allah, thou art not my wife, but thou art the likest of all folk to her!" Hereupon Nur al-Huda laughed till she fell backwards and rolled round on her side. [FN#145] Then she said to him, "O my friend, take thy time and observe me attentively: answer me at thy leisure what I shall ask thee and put away from thee insanity and perplexity and inadvertency for relief is at hand." Answered Hasan, "O mistress of Kings and asylum of all princes and paupers, when I looked upon thee, I was distracted, seeing thee to be either my wife or the likest of all folk to her; but now ask me whatso thou wilt." Quoth she, "What is it in thy wife that resembleth me?"; and quoth he, "O my lady, all that is in thee of beauty and loveliness, elegance and amorous grace, such as the symmetry of thy shape and the sweetness of thy speech and the blushing of thy cheeks and the jutting of thy breasts and so forth, all resembleth her and thou art her very self in thy faculty of parlance and the fairness of thy favour and the brilliancy of thy brow." [FN#146] When the Queen heard this, she smiled and gloried in her beauty and loveliness and her cheeks reddened and her eyes wantoned; then she turned to Shawahi Umm Dawahi and said to her, "O my mother, carry him back to the place where he tarried with thee and tend him thyself, till I examine into his affair; for, an he be indeed a man of manliness and mindful of friendship and love and affection, it behoveth we help him to win his wish, more by token that he hath sojourned in our country and eaten of our victual, not to speak of the hardships of travel he hath suffered and the travail and horrors he hath undergone. But, when thou hast brought him to thy house, commend him to the care of thy dependents and return to me in all haste; and Allah Almighty willing! [FN#147] all shall be well." Thereupon Shawahi carried him back to her lodging and charged her handmaids and servants and suite wait upon him and bring him all he needed nor fail in what was his due. Then she returned to Queen Nur al-Huda, who bade her don her arms and set out, taking with her a thousand doughty horsemen. So she obeyed and donned her war-gear and having collected the thousand riders reported them ready to the Queen, who bade her march upon the city of the Supreme King, her father, there to alight at the abode of her youngest sister, Manár al-Saná [FN#148] and say to her, "Clothe thy two sons in the coats of mail which their aunt hath made them and send them to her; for she longeth for them." Moreover the Queen charged her keep Hasan's affair secret and say to Manar al-Sana, after securing her children, "Thy sister inviteth thee to visit her." "Then," she continued, "bring the children to me in haste and let her follow at her leisure. Do thou come by a road other than her road and journey night and day and beware of discovering this matter to any. And I swear by all manner oaths that, if my sister prove to be his wife and it appear that her children are his, I will not hinder him from taking her and them and departing with them to his own country."--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the Eight Hundred and Twelfth Night,
She resumed, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the Oueen said, "I swear by Allah and by all manner of oaths that if she prove to be his wife, I will not hinder him from taking her but will aid him thereto and eke to departing with them to his mother-land." And the old woman put faith in her words, knowing not what she purposed in her mind, for the wicked Jezebel had resolved that if she were not his wife she would slay him; but if the children resembled him, she would believe him. The Queen resumed, "O my mother, an my thought tell me true, my sister Manar al-Sana is his wife, but Allah alone is All-knowing! seeing that these traits of surpassing beauty and excelling grace, of which he spoke, are found in none except my sisters and especially in the youngest." The old woman kissed her hand and returning to Hasan, told him what the Queen had said, whereat he was like to fly for joy and coming up to her, kissed her head. Quoth she, "O my son, kiss not my head, but kiss me on the mouth and be this kiss by way of sweetmeat for thy salvation. [FN#149] Be of good cheer and keep thine eyes cool and clear and grudge not to kiss my mouth, for I and only I was the means of thy foregathering with her. So take comfort, and hearten thy heart and broaden thy breast and gladden thy glance and console thy soul for, Allah willing, thy desire shall be accomplished at my hand." So saying, she bade him farewell and departed, whilst he recited these two couplets,"Witnesses unto love of thee I've four; * And wants each case two witnesses; no more!
And also these two,"Two things there be, an blood-tears thereover * Wept eyes till not one trace thou couldst discover,
Then the old woman armed herself and, taking with her a thousand weaponed horsemen, set out and journeyed till she came to the island and the city where dwelt the Lady Manar al-Sana and between which and that of her sister Queen Nur al-Huda was three days' journey. When Shawahi reached the city, she went in to the Princess and saluting her, gave her her sister's salam and acquainted her with the Queen's longing for her and her children and that she reproached her for not visiting her. Quoth Manar al-Sana, "Verily, I am beholden to my sister and have failed of my duty to her in not visiting her, but I will do so forthright." Then she bade pitch her tents without the city and took with her for her sister a suitable present of rare things. Presently, the King her father looked out of a window of his palace, and seeing the tents pitched by the road, asked of them, and they answered him, "The Princess Manar al-Sana hath pitched her tents by the way-side, being minded to visit her sister Queen Nur al-Huda." When the King heard this, he equipped troops to escort her to her sister and brought out to her from his treasuries meat and drink and monies and jewels and rarities which beggar description. Now the King had seven daughters, all sisters-german by one mother and father except the youngest: the eldest was called Núr al-Hudà, the second Najm al-Sabáh, the third Shams al-Zuhà, the fourth Shajarat al-Durr, the fifth Kút al-Kulúb, the sixth Sharaf al-Banát and the youngest Manar al-Sana, Hasan's wife, who was their sister by the father's side only. [FN#150] Anon the old woman again presented herself and kissed ground before the Princess, who said to her, "Hast thou any need, O my mother?" Quoth Shawahi, "Thy sister, Queen Nur al-Huda, biddeth thee clothe thy sons in the two habergeons which she fashioned for them and send them to her by me, and I will take them and forego thee with them and be the harbinger of glad tidings and the announcer of thy coming to her." When the Princess heard these words, her colour changed and she bowed her head a long while, after which she shook it and looking up, said to the old woman, "O my mother, my vitals tremble and my heart fluttereth when thou namest my children; for, from the time of their birth none hath looked on their faces either Jinn or man, male or female, and I am jealous for them of the zephyr when it breatheth in the night." Exclaimed the old woman, "What words are these, O my lady? Dost thou fear for them from thy sister?"--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the Eight Hundred and Thirteenth Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the old woman said to the Princess Manar al-Sana, "What words be these, O my lady? Dost thou fear for them from thy sister? Allah safeguard thy reason! Thou mayst not cross the Queen's majesty in this matter, for she would be wroth with thee. However, O my lady, the children are young, and thou art excusable in fearing for them, for those that love well are wont to deem ill: but, O my daughter, thou knowest my tenderness and mine affection for thee and thy children, for indeed I reared thee before them. I will take them in my charge and make my cheek their pillow and open my heart and set them within, nor is it needful to charge me with care of them in the like of this case; so be of cheerful heart and tearless eye and send them to her, for, at the most, I shall but precede thee with them a day or at most two days." And she ceased not to urge her, till she gave way, fearing her sister's fury and unknowing what lurked for her in the dark future, and consented to send them with the old woman. So she called them and bathed them and equipped them and changed their apparel. Then she clad them in the two little coats of mail and delivered them to Shawahi, who took them and sped on with them like a bird, by another road than that by which their mother should travel, even as the Queen had charged her; nor did she cease to fare on with all diligence, being fearful for them, till she came in sight of Nur al-Huda's city, when she crossed the river and entering the town, carried them in to their aunt. The Queen rejoiced at their sight and embraced them, and pressed them to her breast; after which she seated them, one upon the right thigh and the other upon the left; and turning round said to the old woman, "Fetch me Hasan forthright, for I have granted him my safeguard and have spared him from my sabre and he hath sought asylum in my house and taken up his abode in my courts, after having endured hardships and horrors and passed through all manner mortal risks, each terribler than other; yet hitherto is he not safe from drinking the cup of death and from cutting off his breath." --And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the Eight Hundred and Fourteenth Night,
She continued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when Queen Nur al-Huda bade the old woman bring Hasan she said, "Verily he hath endured hardships and horrors and passed through all manner mortal risks each terribler than other; yet hitherto he is not safe from death and from the cutting off of his breath." Replied Shawahi, "An I bring him to thee, wilt thou reunite him with these his children? Or, if they prove not his, wilt thou pardon him and restore him to his own country?" Hearing these her words the Queen waxed exceeding wroth and cried to her, "Fie upon thee, O ill-omened old woman! How long wilt thou false us in the matter of this strange man who hath dared to intrude himself upon us and hath lifted our veil and pried into our conditions? Say me: thinkest thou that he shall come to our land and look upon our faces and betray our honour, and after return in safety to his own country and expose our affairs to his people, wherefore our report will be bruited abroad among all the Kings of the quarters of the earth and the merchants will journey bearing tidings of us in all directions, saying, 'A mortal entered the Isles of Wak and traversed the Land of the Jinn and the lands of the Wild Beasts and the Islands of Birds and set foot in the country of the Warlocks and the Enchanters and returned in safety?' This shall never be; no, never; and I swear by Him who made the Heavens and builded them; yea, by Him who dispread the earth and smoothed it, and who created all creatures and counted them, that, an they be not his children, I will assuredly slay him and strike his neck with mine own hand!" Then she cried out at the old woman, who fell down for fear; and set upon her the Chamberlain and twenty Mamelukes, saying, "Go with this crone and fetch me in haste the youth who is in her house." So they dragged Shawahi along, yellow with fright and with side-muscles quivering, till they came to her house, where she went in to Hasan, who rose to her and kissed her hands and saluted her. She returned not his salam, but said to him, "Come; speak the Queen. Did I not say to thee: 'Return presently to thine own country and I will give thee that to which no mortal may avail?' And did I forbid thee from all this? But thou wouldst not obey me nor listen to my words; nay, thou rejectedst my counsel and chosest to bring destruction on me and on thyself. Up, then, and take that which thou hast chosen; for death is near hand. Arise: speak with yonder vile harlot [FN#151] and tyrant that she is!" So Hasan arose, broken-spirited, heavy, hearted, and full of fear, and crying, "O Preserver, preserve Thou me! O my God, be gracious to me in that which Thou hast decreed to me of Thine affliction and protect me, O Thou the most Merciful of the Mercifuls!" Then, despairing of his life, he followed the twenty Mamelukes, the Chamberlain and the crone to the Queen's presence, where he found his two sons Nasir and Mansur sitting in her lap, whilst she played and made merry with them. As soon as his eyes fell on them, he knew them and crying a great cry fell down a-fainting for excess of joy at the sight of his children.--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the Eight Hundred and Fifteenth Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when Hasan's eyes fell upon his two sons, he knew them both and crying a great cry fell down a-fainting. They also knew him [FN#152] and natural affection moved them so that they freed themselves from the Queen's lap and fell upon Hasan, and Allah (to whom belong Might and Majesty,) made them speak and say to him, "O our father!" Whereupon the old woman and all who were present wept for pity and tenderness over them and said, "Praised be Allah, who hath reunited you with your Sire!" Presently, Hasan came to himself and embracing his children, wept till again he swooned away, and when he revived, he recited these verses,"By rights of you, this heart of mine could ne'er aby * Severance from you albeit Union death imply!
When Nur al-Huda was assured that the little ones were indeed Hasan's children and that her sister, the Princess Manar al-Sana, was his wife, of whom he was come in quest, she was wroth against her with wrath beyond measure.--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the Eight Hundred and Sixteenth Night,
She pursued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when Nur al-Huda was certified that the little ones were Hasan's children and that her sister Manar al-Sana was his wife of whom he had come in quest, she raged with exceeding rage, too great to be assuaged and screamed in Hasan's face and reviled him and kicked him in the breast, so that he fell on his back in a swoon. Then she cried out at him, saying, "Arise! fly for thy life. But that I swore that no evil should betide thee from me, should thy tale prove true, I would slay thee with mine own hand forthright!" And she cried out at the old woman, who fell on her face for fear, and said to her, "By Allah, but that I am loath to break the oath that I swore, I would put both thee and him to death after the foulest fashion!"; presently adding, "Arise, go out from before me in safety and return to thine own country, for I swear by my fortune, if ever mine eye espy thee or if any bring thee in to me after this, I will smite off thy head and that of whoso bringeth thee!" Then she cried out to her officers, saying, "Put him out from before me!" So they thrust him out, and when he came to himself, he recited these couplets,"You're far, yet to my heart you're nearest near; * Absent yet present in my sprite you appear:
Then he once more fell down in a swoon, and when he came to himself, he found himself without the palace whither they had dragged him on his face; so he rose, stumbling over his skirts and hardly crediting his escape from Nur al-Huda. Now this was grievous to Shawahi; but she dared not remonstrate with the Queen by reason of the violence of her wrath. And forthright Hasan went forth, distracted and knowing not whence to come or whither to go; the world, for all its wideness, was straitened upon him and he found none to speak a kind word with him and comfort him, nor any to whom he might resort for counsel or to apply for refuge; wherefore he made sure of death for that he could not journey to his own country and knew none to travel with him, neither wist he the way thither nor might he pass through the Wady of the Jann and the Land of Beasts and the Islands of Birds. So giving himself up for lost he bewept himself, till he fainted, and when he revived, he bethought him of his children and his wife and of that might befal her with her sister, repenting him of having come to those countries and of having hearkened to none, and recited these couplets,"Suffer mine eye-babes weep lost of love and tears express: * Rare is my solace and increases my distress:
Then he went on, till he came without the city, where he found the river, and walked along its bank, knowing not whither he went. Such was Hasan's case; but as regards his wife Manar al-Sana, as she was about to carry out her purpose and to set out, on the second day after the departure of the old woman with her children, behold, there came in to her one of the chamberlains of the King her sire, and kissed ground between his hands,--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the Eight Hundred and Seventeenth Night,
She resumed, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when Manar al-Sana was about to set out upon the journey, behold, a chamberlain of the King, her sire, came in to her and kissing the ground before her, said, "O Princess, the Supreme King, thy father saluteth thee and biddeth thee to him." So she rose and accompanied the chamberlain to learn what was required by her father, who seated her by his side on the couch, and said to her, "O my daughter, know that I have this night had a dream which maketh me fear for thee and that long sorrow will betide thee from this thy journey." Quoth she, "How so, O my father, and what didst thou see in thy dream?" and quoth he, "I dreamt that I entered a hidden hoard, wherein was great store of monies, of jewels, of jacinths and of other riches; but 'twas as if naught pleased me of all this treasure and jewelry save seven bezels, which were the finest things there. I chose out one of the seven jewels, for it was the smallest, finest and most lustrous of them and its water pleased me; so I took it in my hand-palm and fared forth of the treasury. When I came without the door, I opened my hand, rejoicing, and turned over the jewel, when, behold, there swooped down on me out of the welkin a strange bird from a far land (for it was not of the birds of our country) and, snatching it from my hand, returned with it whence it came. [FN#155] Whereupon sorrow and concern and sore vexation overcame me and my exceeding chagrin so troubled me that I awoke, mourning and lamenting for the loss of the jewel. At once on awaking I summoned the interpreters and expounders of dreams and declared to them my dream, [FN#156] and they said to me: 'Thou hast seven daughters, the youngest of whom thou wilt lose, and she will be taken from thee perforce, without thy will.' Now thou, O my girl, art the youngest and dearest of my daughters and the most affectionate of them to me, and look'ye thou art about to journey to thy sister, and I know not what may befal thee from her; so go thou not; but return to thy palace." But when the Princess heard her father's words, her heart fluttered and she feared for her children and bent earthwards her head awhile: then she raised it and said to her sire, "O King, Queen Nur al-Huda hath made ready for me an entertainment and awaiteth my coming to her, hour by hour. These four years she hath not seen me and if I delay to visit her, she will be wroth with me. The utmost of my stay with her shall be a month and then I will return to thee. Besides, who is the mortal who can travel our land and make his way to the Islands of Wak? Who can gain access to the White Country and the Black Mountain and come to the Land of Camphor and the Castle of Crystal, and how shall he traverse the Island of Birds and the Wady of Wild Beasts and the Valley of the Jann and enter our Islands? If any stranger came hither, he would be drowned in the seas of destruction: so be of good cheer and eyes without a tear anent my journey; for none may avail to tread our earth." And she ceased not to persuade him, till he deigned give her leave to depart.--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the Eight Hundred and Eighteenth Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the Princess ceased not to persuade him till he deigned give her leave to depart, and bade a thousand horse escort her to the river and abide there, till she entered her sister's city and palace and returned to them, when they should take her and carry her back to him. Moreover, he charged her tarry with her sister but two days and return to him in haste; and she answered, "Hearing and obedience." Then rising up she went forth and he with her and farewelled her. Now his words had sunken deep into her heart and she feared for her children; but it availeth not to fortify herself by any device against the onset of Destiny. So she set out and fared on diligently three days, till she came to the river and pitched her tents on its bank. Then she crossed the stream, with some of her counsellors, pages and suite and, going up to the city and the palace, went in to Queen Nur al-Huda, with whom she found her children who ran to her weeping and crying out, "O our father!" At this, the tears railed from her eyes and she wept; then she strained them to her bosom, saying, "What! Have you seen your sire at this time? Would the hour had never been, in which I left him! If I knew him to be in the house of the world, I would carry you to him." Then she bemoaned herself and her husband and her children weeping and reciting these couplets,"My friends, despight this distance and this cruelty, * I pine for you, incline to you where'er you be.
When her sister saw her fold her children to her bosom, saying, "'Tis I who have done thus with myself and my children and have ruined my own house!" she saluted her not, but said to her, "O whore, whence haddest thou these children? Say, hast thou married unbeknown to thy sire or hast thou committed fornication? [FN#157] An thou have played the piece, it behoveth thou be exemplarily punished; and if thou have married sans our knowledge, why didst thou abandon thy husband and separate thy sons from thy sire and bring them hither?"--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the Eight Hundred and Nineteenth Night,
She continued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that quoth Nur al-Huda, the Queen, to her sister Manar al-Sana, the Princess, "An thou have married sans our knowledge, why didst thou abandon thy husband and separate thy sons from their sire and bring them to our land? Thou hast hidden thy children from us. Thinkest thou we know not of this? Allah Almighty, He who is cognisant of the concealed, hath made known to us thy case and revealed thy condition and bared thy nakedness." Then she bade her guards seize her and pinion her elbows and shackle her with shackles of iron. So they did as she commanded and she beat her with a grievous beating, so that her skin was torn, and hanged her up by the hair; after which she cast her in prison and wrote the King her father a writ acquainting him with her case and saying, "There hath appeared in our land a man, a mortal, by name Hasan, and our sister Manar al-Sana avoucheth that she is lawfully married to him and bare him two sons, whom she hath hidden from us and thee; nor did she discover aught of herself till there came to us this man and informed us that he wedded her and she tarried with him a long while; after which she took her children and departed, without his knowledge, bidding as she went his mother tell her son, whenas longing began to rack to come to her in the Islands of Wak. So we laid hands on the man and sent the old woman Shawahi to fetch her and her offspring, enjoining her to bring us the children in advance of her. And she did so, whilst Manar al-Sana equipped herself and set out to visit me. When the boys were brought to me and ere the mother came, I sent for Hasan the mortal who claimeth her to wife, and he on entering and at first sight knew them and they knew him; whereby was I certified that the children were indeed his children and that she was his wife and I learned that the man's story was true and he was not to blame, but that the reproach and the infamy rested with my sister. Now I feared the rending of our honour-veil before the folk of our Isles; so when this wanton, this traitress, came in to me, I was incensed against her and cast her into prison and bastinado'd her grievously and hanged her up by the hair. Behold, I have acquainted thee with her case and it is thine to command, and whatso thou orderest us that we will do. Thou knowest that in this affair is dishonour and disgrace to our name and to thine, and haply the islanders will hear of it, and we shall become amongst them a byword; wherefore it befitteth thou return us an answer with all speed." Then she delivered the letter to a courier and he carried it to the King, who, when he read it, was wroth with exceeding wrath with his daughter Manar al-Sana and wrote to Nur al-Huda, saying, "I commit her case to thee and give thee command over her life; so, if the matter be as thou sayest, kill her without consulting me." When the Queen had received and read her father's letter, she sent for Manar al-Sana and they set before her the prisoner drowned in her blood and pinioned with her hair, shackled with heavy iron shackles and clad in hair-cloth; and they made her stand in the presence abject and abashed. When she saw herself in this condition of passing humiliation and exceeding abjection, she called to mind her former high estate and wept with sore weeping and recited these two couplets,"O Lord my foes are fain to slay me in despight * Nor deem I anywise to find escape by flight:
Then wept she grievously, till she fell down in a swoon, and presently coming to herself, repeated these two couplets, [FN#158]"Troubles familiar with my heart are grown and I with them, * Erst shunning; for the generous are sociable still.
And also these,"Oft times Mischance shall straiten noble breast * With grief, whence issue is for Him to shape:
--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the Eight Hundred and Twentieth Night,
She pursued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when Queen Nur al-Huda ordered into the presence her sister Princess Manar al-Sana, they set her between her hands and she, pinioned as she was recited the verses aforesaid. Then the Queen [FN#159] sent for a ladder of wood and made the eunuchs lay her on her back, with her arms spread out and bind her with cords thereto; after which she bared her head and wound her hair about the ladder-rungs and indeed all pity for her was rooted out from her heart. When Manar al-Sana saw herself in this state of abjection and humiliation, she cried out and wept; but none succoured her. Then said she to the Queen, "O my sister, how is thy heart hardened against me? Hast thou no mercy on me nor pity on these little children?" But her words only hardened her sister's heart and she insulted her, saying, "O Wanton! O harlot! Allah have no ruth on whoso sueth for thee! How should I have compassion on thee, O traitress?" Replied Manar al-Sana who lay stretched on the ladder, "I appeal from thee to the Lord of the Heavens, concerning that wherewith thou revilest me and whereof I am innocent! By Allah, I have done no whoredom, but am lawfully married to him, and my Lord knoweth an I speak sooth or not! Indeed, my heart is wroth with thee, by reason of thine excessive hardheartedness against me! How canst thou cast at me the charge of harlotry, without knowledge? But my Lord will deliver me from thee and if that whoredom whereof thou accusest me be true, may He presently punish me for it!" Quoth Nur al-Huda after a few moments of reflection "How durst thou bespeak me thus?" and rose and beat her till she fainted away; [FN#160] whereupon they sprinkled water on her face till she revived; and in truth her charms were wasted for excess of beating and the straitness of her bonds and the sore insults she had suffered. Then she recited these two couplets,"If aught I've sinned in sinful way, * Or done ill deed and gone astray,
When Nur al-Huda heard these lines, her wrath redoubled and she said to her, "Wilt speak before me in verse, O whore, and seek to excuse thyself for the mortal sins thou hast sinned? 'Twas my desire that thou shouldst return to thy husband, that I might witness thy wickedness and matchless brazenfacedness; for thou gloriest in thy lewdness and wantonness and mortal heinousness." Then she called for a palm-stick and, whenas they brought the Jaríd, she arose and baring arms to elbows, beat her sister from head to foot; after which she called for a whip of plaited thongs, wherewith if one smote an elephant, he would start off at full speed, and came down therewith on her back and her stomach and every part of her body, till she fainted. When the old woman Shawahi saw this, she fled forth from the Queen's presence, weeping and cursing her; but Nur al-Huda cried out to her eunuchs, saying, "Fetch her to me!" So they ran after her and seizing her, brought her back to the Queen, who bade throw her on the ground and making them lay hold of her, rose and took the whip, with which she beat her, till she swooned away, when she said to her waiting-women, "Drag this ill-omened beldam forth on her face and put her out." And they did as she bade them. So far concerning them; but as regards Hasan, he walked on beside the river, in the direction of the desert, distracted, troubled, and despairing of life; and indeed he was dazed and knew not night from day for stress of affliction. He ceased not faring on thus, till he came to a tree whereto he saw a scroll hanging: so he took it and found written thereon these couplets,"When in thy mother's womb thou wast, * I cast thy case the bestest best;
When he had ended reading this scroll, he made sure of deliverance from trouble and of winning reunion with those he loved. Then he walked forward a few steps and found himself alone in a wild and perilous wold wherein there was none to company with him; upon which his heart sank within him for horror and loneliness and his side-muscles trembled, for that fearsome place, and he recited these couplets,"O Zephyr of Morn, an thou pass where the dear ones dwell, * Bear greeting of lover who ever in love-longing wones!
--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the Eight Hundred and Twenty-first Night,
She resumed, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when Hasan read the scroll he was certified of deliverance from his trouble and made sure of winning reunion with those he loved. Then he walked forward a couple of steps and stopped finding himself alone in a wild and perilous wold wherein was none to company with him, so he wept sore and recited the verses before mentioned. Then he walked on a few steps farther beside the river, till he came upon two little boys of the sons of the sorcerers, before whom lay a rod of copper graven with talismans, and beside it a skull-cap [FN#162] of leather, made of three gores and wroughten in steel with names and characts. The cap and rod were upon the ground and the boys were disputing and beating each other, till the blood ran down between them; whilst each cried, "None shall take the wand but I." So Hasan interposed and parted them, saying, "What is the cause of your contention?" and they replied, "O uncle, be thou judge of our case, for Allah the Most High hath surely sent thee to do justice between us." Quoth Hasan, "Tell me your case, and I will judge between you;" and quoth one of them, "We twain are brothers-german and our sire was a mighty magician, who dwelt in a cave on yonder mountain. He died and left us this cap and rod; and my brother saith, 'None shall have the rod but I,' whilst I say the like; so be thou judge between us and deliver us each from other." Hasan asked, "What is the difference between the rod and the cap and what is their value? The rod appears to be worth six coppers [FN#163] and the cap three;" whereto they answered, "Thou knowest not their properties." "And what are their properties?" "Each of them hath a wonderful secret virtue, wherefore the rod is worth the revenue of all the Islands of Wak and their provinces and dependencies, and the cap the like!" "By Allah, O my sons, discover to me their secret virtues." So they said, "O uncle, they are extraordinary; for our father wrought an hundred and thirty and five years at their contrivance, till he brought them to perfection and ingrafted them with secret attributes which might serve him extraordinary services and engraved them after the likeness of the revolving sphere, and by their aid he dissolved all spells; and when he had made an end of their fashion, Death, which all needs must suffer, overtook him. Now the hidden virtue of the cap is, that whoso setteth it on his head is concealed from all folks' eyes, nor can any see him, whilst it remaineth on his head; and that of the rod is that whoso owneth it hath authority over seven tribes of the Jinn, who all serve the order and ordinance of the rod; and whenever he who possesseth it smiteth therewith on the ground, their Kings come to do him homage, and all the Jinn are at his service." Now when Hasan heard these words, he bowed his head groundwards awhile, then said in himself, "By Allah, I shall conquer every foe by means of this rod and cap, Inshallah! and I am worthier of them both than these two boys. So I will go about forthright to get them from the twain by craft, that I may use them to free myself and my wife and children from yonder tyrannical Queen, and then we will depart from this dismal stead, whence there is no deliverance for mortal man nor flight. Doubtless, Allah caused me not to fall in with these two lads, but that I might get the rod and cap from them." Then he raised his head and said to the two boys, "If ye would have me decide the case, I will make trial of you and see what each of you deserveth. He who overcometh his brother shall have the rod and he who faileth shall have the cap." They replied,"'O uncle, we depute thee to make trial of us and do thou decide between us as thou deems fit." Hasan asked, "Will ye hearken to me and have regard to my words?"; and they answered, "Yes." Then said he, "I will take a stone and throw it and he who outrunneth his brother thereto and picketh it up shall take the rod, and the other who is outraced shall take the cap." And they said, "We accept and consent to this thy proposal." Then Hasan took a stone and threw it with his might, so that it disappeared from sight. The two boys ran under and after it and when they were at a distance, he donned the cap and hending the rod in hand, removed from his place that he might prove the truth of that which the boys had said, with regard to their scant properties. The younger outran the elder and coming first to the stone, took it and returned with it to the place where they had left Hasan, but found no signs of him. So he called to his brother, saying, "Where is the man who was to be umpire between us?" Quoth the other, "I espy him not neither wot I whether he hath flown up to heaven above or sunk into earth beneath." Then they sought for him, but saw him not, though all the while he was standing in his stead hard by them. So they abused each other, saying, "Rod and Cap are both gone; they are neither mine nor thine: and indeed our father warned us of this very thing; but we forgot whatso he said." Then they retraced their steps and Hasan also entered the city, wearing the cap and bearing the rod; and none saw him. Now when he was thus certified of the truth of their speech, he rejoiced with exceeding joy and making the palace, went up into the lodging of Shawahi, who saw him not, because of the cap. Then he walked up to a shelf [FN#164] over her head upon which were vessels of glass and chinaware, and shook it with his hand, so that what was thereon fell to the ground. The old woman cried out and beat her face; then she rose and restored the fallen things to their places, [FN#165] saying in herself, "By Allah, methinks Queen Nur al-Huda hath sent a Satan to torment me, and he hath tricked me this trick! I beg Allah Almighty, deliver me from her and preserve me from her wrath, for, O Lord, if she deal thus abominably with her half-sister, beating and hanging her, dear as she is to her sire, how will she do with a stranger like myself, against whom she is incensed?"--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the Eight Hundred and Twenty-second Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the ancient Lady of Calamities cried, "When Queen Nur al-Huda doeth such misdeed to her sister, what will she do to a stranger like myself, against whom she is incensed?" Then said she, "I conjure thee, O devil, by the Most Compassionate, the Bountiful-great, the High of Estate, of Dominion Elate who man and Jinn did create, and by the writing upon the seal of Solomon David-son (on both be the Peace!) speak to me and answer me;" Quoth Hasan, "I am no devil; I am Hasan, the afflicted, the distraught." Then he raised the cap from his head and appeared to the old woman, who knew him and taking him apart, said to him, "What is come to thy reason, that thou returnest hither? Go hide thee; for, if this wicked woman have tormented thy wife with such torments, and she her sister, what will she do, an she light on thee?" Then she told him all that had befallen his spouse and that wherein she was of travail and torment and tribulation, and straitly described all the pains she endured adding, "And indeed the Queen repenteth her of having let thee go and hath sent one after thee, promising him an hundred-weight of gold and my rank in her service; and she hath sworn that, if he bring thee back, she will do thee and thy wife and children dead." And she shed tears and discovered to Hasan what the Queen had done with herself, whereat he wept and said, "O my lady, how shall I do to escape from this land and deliver myself and my wife and children from this tyrannical Queen and how devise to return with them in safety to my own country?" Replied the old woman, "Woe to thee! Save thyself." Quoth he, "There is no help but I deliver her and my children from the Queen perforce and in her despite;" and quoth Shawahi, "How canst thou forcibly rescue them from her? Go and hide thyself, O my son, till Allah Almighty empower thee." Then Hasan showed her the rod and the cap, whereat she rejoiced with joy exceeding and cried, "Glory be to Him who quickeneth the bones, though they be rotten! By Allah, O my son, thou and thy wife were but of lost folk; now, however, thou art saved, thou and thy wife and children! For I know the rod and I know its maker, who was my Shaykh in the science of Gramarye. He was a mighty magician and spent an hundred and thirty and five years working at this rod and cap, till he brought them to perfection, when Death the Inevitable overtook him. And I have heard him say to his two boys, 'O my sons, these two things are not of your lot, for there will come a stranger from a far country, who will take them from you by force, and ye shall not know how he taketh them.' Said they, 'O our father, tell us how he will avail to take them.' But he answered, 'I wot not.' And O my son," added she, "how availedst thou to take them?" So he told her how he had taken them from the two boys, whereat she rejoiced and said, "O my son, since thou hast gotten the whereby to free thy wife and children, give ear to what I shall say to thee. For me there is no woning with this wicked woman, after the foul fashion in which she durst use me; so I am minded to depart from her to the caves of the Magicians and there abide with them until I die. But do thou, O my son, don the cap and hend the rod in hand and enter the place where thy wife and children are. Unbind her bonds and smite the earth with the rod saying, 'Be ye present, O servants of these names!' whereupon the servants of the rod will appear; and if there present himself one of the Chiefs of the Tribes, command him whatso thou shalt wish and will." So he farewelled her and went forth, donning the cap and hending the rod, and entered the place where his wife was. He found her well-nigh lifeless, bound to the ladder by her hair, tearful-eyed and woeful-hearted, in the sorriest of plights, knowing no way to deliver herself. Her children were playing under the ladder, whilst she looked at them and wept for them and herself, because of the barbarities and sore treatings and bitter penalties which had befallen her; and he heard her repeat these couplets [FN#166],"There remained not aught save a fluttering, breath and an eye whose owner is confounded.
When Hasan saw her in this state of torment and misery and ignominy and infamy, he wept till he fainted; and when he recovered he saw his children playing and their mother aswoon for excess of pain; so he took the cap from his head and the children saw him and cried out, "O our father!" Then he covered his head again and the Princess came to herself, hearing their cry, but saw only her children weeping and shrieking, "O our father!" When she heard them name their sire and weep, her heart was broken and her vitals rent asunder and she said to them, "What maketh you in mind of your father at this time?" And she wept sore and cried out, from a bursten liver and an aching bosom, "Where are ye and where is your father?" Then she recalled the days of her union with Hasan and what had befallen her since her desertion of him and wept with sore weeping till her cheeks were seared and furrowed and her face was drowned in a briny flood. Her tears ran down and wetted the ground and she had not a hand loose to wipe them from her cheeks, whilst the flies fed their fill on her skin, and she found no helper but weeping and no solace but improvising verses. Then she repeated these couplets,"I call to mind the parting-day that rent our loves in twain, When, as I turned away, the tears in very streams did rain.
--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the Eight Hundred and Twenty-third Night,
She continued, When Hasan went in to his wife he saw his children and heard her repeating the verses afore mentioned. [FN#168] Then she turned right and left, seeking the cause of her children's crying out, "O our father!" but saw no one and marvelled that her sons should name their sire at that time and call upon him. But when Hasan heard her verses, he wept till he swooned away and the tears railed down his cheeks like rain. Then he drew near the children and raised the cap from his head unseen of his wife, whereupon they saw him and they knew him and cried out, saying, "O our father!" Their mother fell a-weeping again, when she heard them name their sire's name and said, "There is no avoiding the doom which Almighty Allah hath decreed!" adding, "O Strange! What garreth them think of their father at this time and call upon him, albeit it is not of their wont?" Then she wept and recited these couplets,"The land of lamping moon is bare and drear; * O eyne of me pour forth the brimming tear!
Then Hasan could no longer contain himself, but took the cap from his head; whereupon his wife saw him and recognising him screamed a scream which startled all in the palace, and said to him, "How camest thou hither? From the sky hast thou dropped or through the earth hast thou come up?" And her eyes brimmed with tears and Hasan also wept. Quoth she, "O man, this be no time for tears or blame. Fate hath had its course and the sight was blinded and the Pen hath run with what was ordained of Allah when Time was begun: so, Allah upon thee, whencesoever thou comest, go hide, lest any espy thee and tell my sister and she do thee and me die!" Answered he, "O my lady and lady of all Queens, I have adventured myself and come hither, and either I will die or I will deliver thee from this strait and travel with thee and my children to my country, despite the nose of this thy wickedest sister." But as she heard his words she smiled and for awhile fell to shaking her head and said, "Far, O my fife, far is it from the power of any except Allah Almighty to deliver me from this my strait! Save thyself by flight and wend thy ways and cast not thyself into destruction; for she hath conquering hosts none may withstand. Given that thou tookest me and wentest forth, how canst thou make thy country and escape from these islands and the perils of these awesome places? Verily, thou hast seen on thy way hither, the wonders, the marvels, the dangers and the terrors of the road, such as none may escape, not even one of the rebel Jinns. Depart, therefore, forthright and add not cark to my cark and care to my care, neither do thou pretend to rescue me from this my plight; for who shall carry me to thy country through all these vales and thirsty wolds and fatal steads?" Rejoined Hasan, "By thy life, O light of mine eyes, I will not depart this place nor fare but with thee!" Quoth she, "O man! How canst thou avail unto this thing and what manner of man art thou? Thou knowest not what thou sayest! None can escape from these realms, even had he command over Jinns, Ifrits, magicians, chiefs of tribes and Marids. Save thyself and leave me; perchance Allah will bring about good after ill." Answered Hasan, "O lady of fair ones, I came not save to deliver thee with this rod and with this cap." And he told her what had befallen him with the two boys; but, whilst he was speaking, behold, up came the Queen and heard their speech. Now when he was ware of her, he donned the cap and was hidden from sight, and she entered and said to the Princess, "O wanton, who is he with whom thou wast talking?" Answered Manar al-Sanar, "Who is with me that should talk with me, except these children?" Then the Quee took the whip and beat her, whilst Hasan stood by and looked on, nor did she leave beating her till she fainted; whereupon she bade transport her to another place. So they loosed her and carried her to another chamber whilst Hasan followed unseen. There they cast her down, senseless, and stood gazing upon her, till she revived and recited these couplets, [FN#169]"I have sorrowed on account of our disunion with a sorrow that made the tears to overflow from my eyelids;
When she ceased her verse the slave-girls went out from her and Hasan took off the cap; whereupon his wife said to him, "See, O man, all this befel me not save by reason of my having rebelled against thee and transgressed thy commandment and gone forth without thy leave. [FN#170] So, Allah upon thee blame me not for my sins and know that women never wot a man's worth till they have lost him. Indeed, I have offended and done evil; but I crave pardon of Allah Almighty for whatso I did, and if He reunite us, I will never again gainsay thee in aught, no, never!"--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the Eight Hundred and Twenty-fourth Night,
She pursued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Hasan's wife besought pardon of him saying, "Blame me not for my sin; and indeed I crave mercy of Allah Almighty." Quoth Hasan (and indeed his heart ached for her), "'Twas not thou that wast in fault; nay, the fault was mine and mine only, for I fared forth and left thee with one who knew not thy rank, neither thy worth nor thy degree. But know, O beloved of my heart and fruit of my vitals and light of mine eyes, that Allah (blessed be He!) hath ordained to me power of releasing thee; so, say me, wouldst thou have me carry thee to thy father's home, there to accomplish what Allah decreeth unto thee, or wilt thou forthright depart with me to mine own country, now that relief is come to thee?" Quoth she, "Who can deliver me save the Lord of the Heavens? Go to thy motherland and put away from thee false hope; for thou knowest not the perils of these parts which, an thou obey me not, soon shalt thou sight." And she improvised these couplets,"On me and with me bides thy volunty; * Why then such anger such despite to me?
Then wept she and her children, and the handmaidens heard them: so they came in to them and found them weeping, but saw not Hasan with them; wherefore they wept for ruth of them and damned Queen Nur al-Huda. Then Hasan took patience till night came on and her guards had gone to their sleeping-places, when he arose and girded his waist; then went up to her and, loosing her, kissed her on the head and between the eyes and pressed her to his bosom, saying, "How long have we wearied for our mother-land and for reunion there! Is this our meeting in sleep, or on wake?" Then he took up the elder boy and she took up the younger and they went forth the palace; and Allah veiled them with the veil of His protection, so that they came safe to the outer gate which closed the entrance to the Queen's Serraglio. But finding it locked from without, Hasan said, "There is no Majesty and there is no Might save in Allah, the Glorious, the Great! Verily we are Allah's and unto Him shall we return!" With this they despaired of escape and Hasan beat hand upon hand, saying, "O Dispeller of dolours! Indeed, I had bethought me of every thing and considered its conclusion but this; and now, when it is daybreak, they will take us, and what device have we in this case?" And he recited the following two couplets, [FN#171]"Thou madest fair thy thought of Fate, whenas the days were fair, And fearedst not the unknown ills that they to thee might bring.
Then Hasan wept and his wife wept for his weeping and for the abasement she had suffered and the cruelties of Time and Fortune,"Baulks me my Fate as tho' she were my foe; * Each day she showeth me new cark and care:
And also these,"Irks me my Fate and clean unknows that I * Of my high worth her shifts and shafts despise.
Then his wife said to him, "By Allah, there is no relief for us but to kill ourselves and be at rest from this great and weary travail; else we shall suffer grievous torment on the morrow." At this moment, behold, they heard a voice from without the door say, "By Allah, O my lady Manar al-Sana, I will not open to thee and thy husband Hasan, except ye obey me in whatso I shall say to you!" When they heard these words they were silent for excess of fright and would have returned whence they came; when lo! the voice spake again saying, "What aileth you both to be silent and answer me not?" Therewith they knew the speaker for the old woman Shawahi, Lady of Calamities, and said to her, "Whatsoever thou biddest us, that will we do; but first open the door to us; this being no time for talk." Replied she, "By Allah, I will not open to you until ye both swear to me that you will take me with you and not leave me with yonder whore: so, whatever befalleth you shall befal me and if ye escape, I shall escape, and if ye perish, I shall perish: for yonder abominable woman, tribade [FN#172] that she is! entreateth me with indignity and still tormenteth me on your account; and thou, O my daughter, knowest my worth." Now recognising her they trusted in her and sware to her an oath such as contented her, whereupon she opened the door to them and they fared forth and found her riding on a Greek jar of red earthenware with a rope of palm-fibres about its neck, [FN#173] which rolled under her and ran faster than a Najdi colt, and she came up to them, and said, "Follow me and fear naught, for I know forty modes of magic by the least of which I could make this city a dashing sea, swollen with clashing billows, and ensorcel each damsel therein to a fish, and all before dawn. But I was not able to work aught of my mischief, for fear of the King her father and of regard to her sisters, for that they are formidable, by reason of their many guards and tribesmen and servants. However, soon will I show you wonders of my skill in witchcraft; and now let us on, relying upon the blessing of Allah and His good aid." Now Hasan and his wife rejoiced in this, making sure of escape, --And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the Eight Hundred and Twenty-fifth Night,
She resumed, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when Hasan and his wife, accompanied by the ancient dame Shawahi, fared forth from the palace, they made sure of deliverance and they walked on till they came without the city, when he fortified his heart and, smiting the earth with the rod, cried, "Ho, ye servants of these names, appear to me and acquaint me with your conditions!" Thereupon the earth clave asunder and out came ten [FN#174] Ifrits, with their feet in the bowels of the earth and their heads in the clouds. They kissed the earth three times before Hasan and said as with one voice, "Adsumus! Here are we at thy service, O our lord and ruler over us! What dost thou bid us do? For we hear and obey thy commandment. An thou wilt, we will dry thee up seas and remove mountains from their places." So Hasan rejoiced in their words and at their speedy answer to his evocation then taking courage and bracing up his resolution, he said to them, "Who are ye and what be your names and your races, and to what tribes and clans and companies appertain ye?" They kissed the earth once more and answered as with one voice, saying, "We are seven Kings, each ruling over seven tribes of the Jinn of all conditions, and Satans and Marids, flyers and divers, dwellers in mountains and wastes and wolds and haunters of the seas: so bid us do whatso thou wilt; for we are thy servants and thy slaves, and whoso possesseth this rod hath dominion over an our necks and we owe him obedience." Now when Hasan heard this, he rejoiced with joy exceeding, as did his wife and the old woman, and presently he said to the Kings of the Jinn, "I desire of you that ye show me your tribes and hosts and guards." "O our lord," answered they, "if we show thee our tribes, we fear for thee and these who are with thee, for their name is legion and they are various in form and fashion, figure and favour. Some of us are heads sans bodies and others bodies sans heads, and others again are in the likeness of wild beasts and ravening lions. However, if this be thy will, there is no help but we first show thee those of us who are like unto wild beasts. But, O our lord, what wouldst thou of us at this present?" Quoth Hasan, "I would have you carry me forthwith to the city of Baghdad, me and my wife and this honest woman." But, hearing his words they hung down their heads and were silent, whereupon Hasan asked them, "Why do ye not reply?" And they answered as with one voice, "O our lord and ruler over us, we are of the covenant of Solomon son of David (on the twain be Peace!) and he sware us in that we would bear none of the sons of Adam on our backs; since which time we have borne no mortal on back or shoulder: but we will straightway harness thee horses of the Jinn, that shall carry thee and thy company to thy country." Hasan enquired, "How far are we from Baghdad?" and they, "Seven years' journey for a diligent horseman." Hasan marvelled at this and said to them, "Then how came I hither in less than a year?"; and they said, "Allah softened to thee the hearts of His pious servants else hadst thou never come to this country nor hadst thou set eyes on these regions; no, never! For the Shaykh Abd al-Kaddus, who mounted thee on the elephant and the magical horse, traversed with thee, in ten days, three years' journey for a well-girt rider, and the Ifrit Dahnash, to whom the Shaykh committed thee, carried thee a three years' march in a day and a night; all which was of the blessing of Allah Almighty, for that the Shaykh Abu al-Ruwaysh is of the seed of Asaf bin Barkhiyá [FN#175] and knoweth the Most Great name of Allah. [FN#176] Moreover, from Baghdad to the palace of the damsels is a year's journey, and this maketh up the seven years." When Hasan heard this, he marvelled with exceeding marvel and cried, "Glory be to God, Facilitator of the hard, Fortifier of the weak heart, Approximator of the far and Humbler of every froward tyrant, Who hath eased us of every accident and carried me to these countries and subjected to me these creatures and reunited me with my wife and children! I know not whether I am asleep or awake or if I be sober or drunken!" Then he turned to the Jinn and asked, "When ye have mounted me upon your steeds, in how many days will they bring us to Baghdad?"; and they answered, "They will carry you thither under the year, but not till after ye have endured terrible perils and hardships and horrors and ye have traversed thirsty Wadys and frightful wastes and horrible steads without number; and we cannot promise thee safety, O our lord, from the people of these islands,"--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the Eight Hundred and Twenty-sixth Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the Jann said to Hasan, "We cannot promise thee safety, O our lord, from this Islandry, nor from the mischief of the Supreme King and his enchanters and warlocks. It may be they will overcome us and take you from us and we fall into affliction with them, and all to whom the tidings shall come after this will say to us: 'Ye are wrong-doers! How could ye go against the Supreme King and carry a mortal out of his dominions, and eke the King's daughter with him?' adding, 'Wert thou alone with us the thing were light; but He who conveyed thee hither is capable to carry thee back to thy country and reunite thee with thine own people forthright and in readiest plight. So take heart and put thy trust in Allah and fear not; for we are at thy service, to convey thee to thy country." Hasan thanked them therefor and said, "Allah requite you with good! but now make haste with the horses;" they replied, "We hear and we obey," and struck the ground with their feet, whereupon it opened and they disappeared within it and were absent awhile, after which they suddenly reappeared with three horses, saddled and bridled, and on each saddle-bow a pair of saddle-bags, with a leathern bottle of water in one pocket and the other full of provaunt. So Hasan mounted one steed and took a child before him, whilst his wife mounted a second and took the other child before her. Then the old woman alighted from the jar and bestrode the third horse and they rode on, without ceasing, all night. At break of day, they turned aside from the road and made for the mountain, whilst their tongues ceased not to name Allah. Then they fared on under the highland all that day, till Hasan caught sight of a black object afar as it were a tall column of smoke a-twisting skywards; so he recited somewhat of the Koran and Holy Writ, and sought refuge with Allah from Satan the Stoned. The black thing grew plainer as they drew near, and when hard by it, they saw that it was an Ifrit, with a head like a huge dome and tusks like grapnels and jaws like a lane and nostrils like ewers and ears like leathern targes and mouth like a cave and teeth like pillars of stone and hands like winnowing forks and legs like masts: his head was in the cloud and his feet in the bowels of the earth had plowed. Whenas Hasan gazed upon him he bowed himself and kissed the ground before him, saying, "O Hasan, have no fear of me; for I am the chief of the dwellers in this land, which is the first of the Isles of Wak, and I am a Moslem and an adorer of the One God. I have heard of you and your coming and when I knew of your case, I desired to depart from the land of the magicians to another land, void of inhabitants and far from men and Jinn, that I might dwell there alone and worship Allah till my fated end came upon me. So I wish to accompany you and be your guide, till ye fare forth of the Wak Islands; and I will not appear save at night; and do ye hearten your hearts on my account; for I am a Moslem, even as ye are Moslems." When Hasan heard the Ifrit's words, he rejoiced with exceeding joy and made sure of deliverance; and he said to him, "Allah requite thee weal! Go with us relying upon the blessing of Allah!" So the Ifrit forewent them and they followed, talking and making merry, for their hearts were pleased and their breasts were eased and Hasan fell to telling his wife all that had befallen him and all the hardships he had undergone, whilst she excused herself to him and told him, in turn, all she had seen and suffered. They ceased not faring all that night.--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the Eight Hundred and Twenty-seventh Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that they ceased not faring all that night and the horses bore them like the blinding leven, and when the day rose all put their hands to the saddle-bags and took forth provaunt which they ate and water which they drank. Then they sped diligently on their way, preceded by the Ifrit, who turned aside with them from the beaten track into another road, till then untrodden, along the seashores and they ceased not faring on, without stopping, across Wadys and wolds a whole month, till on the thirty-first day there arose before them a dust-cloud, that walled the world and darkened the day; and when Hasan saw this, he was confused and turned pale; and more so when a frightful crying and clamour struck their ears. There, upon the old woman said to him, "O my son, this is the army of the Wak Islands, that hath overtaken us; and presently they will lay violent hands on us." Hasan asked, "What shall I do, O my mother?"; and she answered, "Strike the earth with the rod." He did so whereupon the Seven Kings presented themselves and saluted him with the salam, kissing ground before him and saying, "Fear not neither grieve." Hasan rejoiced at these words and answered them, saying, "Well said, O Princes of the Jinn and the Ifrits! This is your time!" Quoth they, "Get ye up to the mountain-top, thou and thy wife and children and she who is with thee and leave us to deal with them, for we know that you all are in the right and they in the wrong and Allah will aid us against them." So Hasan and his wife and children and the old woman dismounted and dismissing the horses, ascended the flank of the mountain.--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the Eight Hundred and Twenty-eighth Night,
She continued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Hasan with his wife, his children and the ancient dame ascended the mountain-flank after they had dismissed the coursers. Presently, up came Queen Nur al-Huda, with the troops right and left, and the captains went round about among the host and ranged them rank by rank in battle array. Then the hosts charged down upon each other and clashed together the twain with a mighty strain, the brave pressed on amain and the coward to fly was fain and the Jinn cast flames of fire from their mouths, whilst the smoke of them rose up to the confines of the sky and the two armies appeared and disappeared. The champions fought and heads flew from trunks and the blood ran in rills; nor did brand leave to play and blood to flow and battle fire to flow, till the murk o' night came, when the two hosts drew apart and, alighting from their steeds rested upon the field by the fires they had kindled. Therewith the Seven Kings went up to Hasan and kissed the earth before him. He pressed forwards to meet them and thanked them and prayed Allah to give them the victory and asked them how they had fared with the Queen's troops. Quoth they, "They will not withstand us more than three days, for we had the better of them to-day, taking some two thousand of them prisoners and slaying of them much folk whose compt may not be told. So be of good cheer and broad of breast." Then they farewelled him and went down to look after the safety of their troops; and they ceased not to keep up the fires till the morning rose with its sheen and shone, when the fighting-men mounted their horses of noble strain and smote one another with thin-edged skean and with brawn of bill they thrust amain nor did they cease that day battle to darraign. Moreover, they passed the night on horseback clashing together like dashing seas; raged among them the fires of war and they stinted not from battle and jar, till the armies of Wak were defeated and their power broken and their courage quelled; their feet slipped and whither they fled soever defeat was before them; wherefore they turned tail and of flight began to avail: but the most part of them were slain and their Queen and her chief officers and the grandees of her realm were captive ta'en. When the morning morrowed, the Seven Kings presented themselves before Hasan and set for him a throne of alabaster inlaid with pearls and jewels, and he sat down thereon. They also set thereby a throne of ivory, plated with glittering gold, for the Princess Manar al-Sana and another for the ancient dame Shawahi Zat al-Dawahi. Then they brought before them the prisoners and among the rest, Queen Nur al-Huda with elbows pinioned and feet fettered, whom when Shawahi saw, she said to her, "Thy recompense, O harlot, O tyrant, shall be that two bitches be starved and two mares stinted of water, till they be athirst: then shalt thou be bound to the mares' tails and these driven to the river, with the bitches following thee that they may rend thy skin; and after, thy flesh shall be cut off and given them to eat. How couldst thou do with thy sister such deed, O strumpet, seeing that she was lawfully married, after the ordinance of Allah and of His Apostle? For there is no monkery in Al-Islam and marriage is one of the institutions of the Apostles (on whom be the Peace!) [FN#177] nor were women created but for men." Then Hasan commanded to put all the captives to the sword and the old woman cried out, saying, "Slay them all and spare none [FN#178]!" But, when Princess Manar al-Sana saw her sister in this plight, a bondswoman and in fetters, she wept over her and said, "O my sister, who is this hath conquered us and made us captives in our own country?" Quoth Nur al-Huda, "Verily, this is a mighty matter. Indeed this man Hasan hath gotten the mastery over us and Allah hath given him dominion over us and over all our realm and he hath overcome us, us and the Kings of the Jinn." And quoth her sister, "Indeed, Allah aided him not against you nor did he overcome you nor capture you save by means of this cap and rod." So Nur al-Huda was certified and assured that he had conquered her by means thereof and humbled herself to her sister, till she was moved to ruth for her and said to her husband, "What wilt thou do with my sister? Behold, she is in thy hands and she hath done thee no misdeed that thou shouldest punish her." Replied Hasan, "Her torturing of thee was misdeed enow." But she answered, saying, "She hath excuse for all she did with me. As for thee, thou hast set my father's heart on fire for the loss of me, and what will be his case, if he lose my sister also?" And he said to her, "'Tis thine to decide; do whatso thou wilt." So she bade loose her sister and the rest of the captives, and they did her bidding. Then she went up to Queen Nur al-Huda and embraced her, and they wept together a long while; after which quoth the Queen, "O my sister, bear me not malice for that I did with thee;" and quoth Manar al-Sana, "O my sister, this was foreordained to me by Fate." Then they sat on the couch talking and Manar al-Sana made peace between the old woman and her sister, after the goodliest fashion, and their hearts were set at ease. Thereupon Hasan dismissed the servants of the rod thanking them for the succour which they had afforded him against his foes, and Manar al-Sana related to her sister all that had befallen her with Hasan her husband and every thing he had suffered for her sake, saying, "O my sister, since he hath done these deeds and is possessed of this might and Allah Almighty hath gifted him with such exceeding prowess, that he hath entered our country and beaten thine army and taken thee prisoner and defied our father, the Supreme King, who hath dominion over all the Princes of the Jinn, it behoveth us to fail not of what is due to him." Replied Nur al-Huda, "By Allah, O my sister, thou sayest sooth in whatso thou tellest me of the marvels which this man hath seen and suffered; and none may fail of respect to him. But was all this on thine account, O my sister?"--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the Eight Hundred and Twenty-ninth Night,
She pursued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when Princess Manar al-Sana repeated to her sister these praises of Hasan, the other replied, "By Allah, this man can claim all respect more by token of his generosity. But was all this on thine account?" "Yes," answered Manar al-Sana, and they passed the night in converse till the morning morrowed and the sun rose and they were minded to depart. So they farewelled one another and Manar al-Sana gave God-speed to the ancient dame after the reconciling her with Queen Nur al-Huda. Thereupon Hasan smote the earth with the rod and its servants the Jinn appeared and saluted him, saying, "Praised be Allah, who hath set thy soul at rest! Command us what thou wilt, and we will do it for thee in less than the twinking of an eye." He thanked them for their saying and said to them "Allah requite you with good! Saddle me two steeds of the best." So they brought him forthwith two saddled coursers, one of which he mounted, taking his elder son before him, and his wife rode the other, taking the younger son in front of her. Then the Queen and the old woman also backed horse and departed, Hasan and his wife following the right and Nur al-Huda and Shawahi the left hand road. The spouses fared on with their children, without stopping, for a whole month, till they drew in sight of a city, which they found compassed about with trees and streams and, making the trees, dismounted beneath them thinking to rest there. As they sat talking, behold, they saw many horsemen coming towards them, whereupon Hasan rose and going to meet them, saw that it was King Hassun, lord of the Land of Camphor and Castle of Crystal, with his attendants. So Hasan went up to the King and kissed his hands and saluted him; and when Hassun saw him, he dismounted and seating himself with Hasan upon carpets under the trees returned his salam and gave him joy of his safety and rejoiced in him with exceeding joy, saying to him, "O Hasan, tell me all that hath befallen thee, first and last." So he told him all of that, whereupon the King marvelled and said to him, "O my son, none ever reached the Islands of Wak and returned thence but thou, and indeed thy case is wondrous; but Alhamdolillah--praised be God--for safety!" Then he mounted and bade Hasan ride with his wife and children into the city, where he lodged them in the guest-house of his palace; and they abode with him three days, eating and drinking in mirth and merriment, after which Hasan sought Hassun's leave to depart to his own country and the King granted it. Accordingly they took horse and the King rode with them ten days, after which he farewelled them and turned back, whilst Hasan and his wife and children fared on a whole month, at the end of which time they came to a great cavern, whose floor was of brass. Quoth Hasan to his wife, "Kennest thou yonder cave?"; and quoth she, "No." Said he, "Therein dwelleth a Shaykh, Abu al-Ruwaysh hight, to whom I am greatly beholden, for that he was the means of my becoming acquainted with King Hassun." Then he went on to tell her all that had passed between him and Abu al-Ruwaysh, and as he was thus engaged, behold, the Shaykh himself issued from the cavernmouth. When Hasan saw him, he dismounted from his steed and kissed his hands, and the old man saluted him and gave him joy of his safety and rejoiced in him. Then he carried him into the antre and sat down with him, whilst Hasan related to him what had befallen him in the Islands of Wak; whereat the Elder marvelled with exceeding marvel and said, "O Hasan, how didst thou deliver thy wife and children?" So he told them the tale of the cap and the rod, hearing which he wondered and said, "O Hasan, O my son, but for this rod and the cap, thou hadst never delivered thy wife and children." And he replied, "Even so, O my lord." As they were talking, there came a knocking at the door and Abu al-Ruwaysh went out and found Abd al-Kaddus mounted on his elephant. So he saluted him and brought him into the cavern, where he embraced Hasan and congratulated him on his safety, rejoicing greatly in his return. Then said Abu al-Ruwaysh to Hasan, "Tell the Shaykh Abd al-Kaddus all that hath befallen thee, O Hasan." He repeated to him every thing that had passed, first and last, till he came to the tale of the rod and cap,--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the Eight Hundred and Thirtieth Night,
She resumed, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Hasan began relating to Shaykh Abd al-Kaddus and Shaykh Abu al-Ruwaysh (who sat chattting in the cave) all that had passed, first and last, till he came to the tale of the rod and cap; where, upon quoth Abd al-Kaddus, "O my son, thou hast delivered thy wife and thy children and hast no further need of the two. Now we were the means of thy winning to the Islands of Wak, and I have done thee kindness for the sake of my nieces, the daughters of my brother; wherefore I beg thee, of thy bounty and favour, to give me the rod and the Shaykh Abu al-Ruwaysh the cap." When Hasan heard this, he hung down his head, being ashamed to reply, "I will not give them to you," and said in his mind, "Indeed these two Shaykhs have done me great kindness and were the means of my winning to the Islands of Wak, and but for them I had never made the place, nor delivered my children, nor had I gotten me this rod and cap." So he raised his head and answered, "Yes, I will give them to you: but, O my lords, I fear lest the Supreme King, my wife's father, come upon me with his commando and combat with me in my own country, and I be unable to repel them, for want of the rod and the cap." Replied Abd al-Kaddus, "Fear not, O my son; we will continually succour thee and keep watch and ward for thee in this place; and whosoever shall come against thee from thy wife's father or any other, him we will fend off from thee; wherefore be thou of good cheer and keep thine eyes cool of tear, and hearten thy heart and broaden thy breast and feel naught whatsoever of fear, for no harm shall come to thee." When Hasan heard this he was abashed and gave the cap to Abu al-Ruwaysh, saying to Abd al-Kaddus, "Accompany me to my own country and I will give thee the rod." At this the two elders rejoiced with exceeding joy and made him ready riches and treasures which beggar all description. He abode with them three days, at the end of which he set out again and the Shaykh Abd al-Kaddus made ready to depart with him. So he and his wife mounted their beasts and Abd al-Kaddus whistled, when, behold, a mighty big elephant trotted up with fore hand and feet on amble from the heart of the desert and he took it and mounted it. Then they farewelled Abu al-Ruwaysh who disappeared within his cavern; and they fared on across country, traversing the land in its length and breadth wherever Abd al-Kaddus guided them by a short cut and an easy way, till they drew near the land of the Princesses; whereupon Hasan rejoiced at finding himself once more near his mother, and praised Allah for his safe return and reunion with his wife and children after so many hardships and perils; and thanked Him for His favours and bounties, reciting these couplets,"Haply shall Allah deign us twain unite * And lockt in strict embrace we'll hail the light:
Hardly had he made an end of these verses, when he looked and behold, there rose to view the Green Dome [FN#179] and the jetting Fount and the Emerald Palace, and the Mountain of Clouds showed to them from afar; whereupon quoth Abd al-Kaddus, "Rejoice, O Hasan, in good tidings: to-night shalt thou be the guest of my nieces!" At this he joyed with exceeding joy and as also did his wife, and they alighted at the domed pavilion, where they took their rest [FN#180] and ate and drank; after which they mounted horse again and rode on till they came upon the palace. As they drew near, the Princesses who were daughters of the King, brother to Shaykh Abd al-Kaddus, came forth to meet them and saluted them and their uncle who said to them, "O daughters of my brother, behold, I have accomplished the need of this your brother Hasan and have helped him to regain his wife and children." So they embraced him and gave him joy of his return in safety and health and of his reunion with his wife and children, and it was a day of festival [FN#181] with them. Then came forward Hasan's sister, the youngest Princess, and embraced him, weeping with sore weeping, whilst he also wept for his long desolation: after which she complained to him of that which she had suffered for the pangs of separation and weariness of spirit in his absence and recited these two couplets,"After thy faring never chanced I'spy * A shape, but did thy form therein descry:
When she had made an end of her verses, she rejoiced with joy exceeding and Hasan said to her, "O my sister, I thank none in this matter save thyself over all thy sisters, and may Allah Almighty vouchsafe thee aidance and countenance!" Then he related to her all that had past in his journey, from first to last, and all that he had undergone, telling her what had betided him with his wife's sister and how he had delivered his wife and wees and he also described to her all that he had seen of marvels and grievous perils, even to how Queen Nur al-Huda would have slain him and his spouse and children and none saved them from her but the Lord the Most High. Moreover, he related to her the adventure of the cap and the rod and how Abd al-Kaddus and Abu al-Ruwaysh had asked for them and he had not agreed to give them to the twain save for her sake; wherefore she thanked him and blessed him wishing him long life; and he cried, "By Allah, I shall never forget all the kindness thou hast done me from incept to conclusion."--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the Eight Hundred and Thirty-first Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when Hasan foregathered with the Princesses, he related to his sister all that he had endured and said to her, "Never will I forget what thou hast done for me from incept to conclusion." Then she turned to his wife Manar al-Sana and embraced her and pressed her children to her breast, saying to her, "O daughter of the Supreme King, was there no pity in thy bosom, that thou partedst him and his children and settedst his heart on fire for them? Say me, didst thou desire by this deed that he should die?" The Princess laughed and answered, "Thus was it ordained of Allah (extolled and exalted be He!) and whoso beguileth folk, him shall Allah begule." [FN#182] Then they set on somewhat of meat and drink, and they all ate and drank and made merry. They abode thus ten days in feast and festival, mirth and merry-making, at the end of which time Hasan prepared to continue his journey. So his sister rose and made him ready riches and rarities, such as defy description. Then she strained him to her bosom, because of leavetaking, and threw her arms round his neck whilst he recited on her account these couplets,"The solace of lovers is naught but far, * And parting is naught save grief singular:
With this Hasan gave the rod to Shaykh Abd al-Kaddus, who joyed therein with exceeding joy and thanking him and securing it mounted and returned to his own place. Then Hasan took horse with his wife and children and departed from the Palace of the Princesses, who went forth [FN#183] with him, to farewell him. Then they turned back and Hasan fared on, over wild and wold, two months and ten days, till he came to the city of Baghdad, the House of Peace, and repairing to his home by the private postern which gave upon the open country, knocked at the door. Now his mother, for long absence, had forsworn sleep and given herself to mourning and weeping and wailing, till she fell sick and ate no meat, neither took delight in slumber but shed tears night and day. She ceased not to call upon her son's name albeit she despaired of his returning to her; and as he stood at the door, he heard her weeping and reciting these couplets,"By Allah, heal, O my lords, the unwhole * Of wasted frame and heart worn with dole:
When she had ended her verses, she heard her son's voice at the door, calling out, "O mother, mother ah! fortune hath been kind and hath vouchsafed our reunion!" Hearing his cry she knew his voice and went to the door, between belief and misbelief; but, when she opened it she saw him standing there and with him his wife and children; so she shrieked aloud, for excess of joy, and fell to the earth in a fainting-fit. Hasan ceased not soothing her, till she recovered and embraced him; then she wept with joy, and presently she called his slaves and servants and bade them carry all his baggage into the house. [FN#184] So they brought in every one of the loads, and his wife and children entered also, whereupon Hasan's mother went up to the Princess and kissed her head and bussed her feet, saying, "O daughter of the Supreme King, if I have failed of thy due, behold, I crave pardon of Almighty Allah." Then she turned to Hasan and said to him, "O my son, what was the cause of this long strangerhood?" He related to her all his adventures from beginning to end; and when she heard tell of all that had befallen him, she cried a great cry and fell down a-fainting at the very mention of his mishaps. He solaced her, till she came to herself and said, "By Allah, O my son, thou hast done unwisely in parting with the rod and the cap for, hadst thou kept them with the care due to them, thou wert master of the whole earth, in its breadth and length; but praised be Allah, for thy safety, O my son, and that of thy wife and children!" They passed the night in all pleasance and happiness, and on the morrow Hasan changed his clothes and donning a suit of the richest apparel, went down into the bazar and bought black slaves and slave-girls and the richest stuffs and ornaments and furniture such as carpets and costly vessels and all manner other precious things, whose like is not found with Kings. Moreover, he purchased houses and gardens and estates and so forth and abode with his wife and his children and his mother, eating and drinking and pleasuring: nor did they cease from all joy of life and its solace till there came to them the Destroyer of delights and the Severer of societies. And Glory be to Him who hath dominion over the Seen and the Unseen, [FN#185] who is the Living, the Eternal, Who dieth not at all! And men also recount the adventures of