The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night

When it was the Forty-eighth Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the Nazarene damsel said to Sharrkan (and he listening impatiently enow), “Verily if Sharrkan fell into my hands, I would go forth to him in the habit of a man and drag him from his saddle seat and make him my captive and lay him in bilboes,” pride and passion and knightly jealousy took possession of him and he desired to discover and declare himself and to lay on load; but her loveliness restrained him and he began repeating,

“An faulty of one fault the Beauty prove,

Her charms a thousand advocates shall move.”

So she went up and Sharrkan after her; and, when he saw the maiden’s back and hinder cheeks that clashed against each other, like rollers in the rolling sea, he extemporised these couplets:-

“For her sins is a pleader that brow,

And all hearts its fair pleading must bow:

When I saw it I cried, “To night

The moon at its fullest doth show;

Tho’ Balkis’ own Ifrit1 try a bout,

Spite his force she would deal him a throw.”

The two fared on till they reached a gate over which rose a marble archway. This she opened and ushered Sharrkan into a long vestibule, vaulted with ten connected arches, from each of which hung a crystal lamp glistening like a spark of fire. The handmaids met her at the further end bearing wax candles of goodly perfume, and wearing on their heads golden fillets crusted with all manner bezel gems,2 and went on before her (Sharrkan still following), till they reached the inner convent. There the Moslem saw couches and sofas ranged all around, one opposite the other and all over hung with curtains flowered in gold. The monastery floor was paved with every kind of vari coloured marbles and mosaic work, and in the midst stood a basin that held four and twenty jetting fountains of gold, whence the water ran like molten silver; whilst at the upper end stood a throne spread with silks fit only for Kings. Then said the damsel, “Ascend, O my lord, this throne.” So he went up to it and sat down and she withdrew to remain absent for some time. Sharrkan asked of her from one of the servants who answered him, “She hath gone to her dormitory; but we will serve thee even as she ordered.” So they set before him viands of rare varieties, and he ate his sufficiency, when they brought him a basin of gold and an ewer of silver, and he washed his hands. Then his thoughts reverted to his army, knowing not what had befallen it in his absence and calling to mind also how he had forgotten his father’s injunctions: so he was troubled about his case, repenting of what he had done till the dawn broke and the day appeared; when he lamented and sighed and became drowned in sea of sadness and repeated,

“I am not lost to prudence, but indeed

Here I’m bewildered, what shall be my rede?

Would any aid me in mine ails of love,

By my own might and sleight would I be free’d:

But ah! my heart is lost and passion-shent:

To none save Allah can I trust my need!”

When he ended his verse behold, there came up to him a rare show and a fair, more than twenty maidens like crescents encompassing the young lady, who shone in their midst as the full moon among the constellations guarding and girding her. She was clad in brocades befitting Kings; her breasts were like twin pomegranates, a woven zone set with all kinds of jewels tightly clasped her waist which expanded below into jutting hips; and her hinder cheeks stood out as a mound of crystal3 supporting a silvern shaft. When Sharrkan looked at her his wits went nigh to fly away from him with delight; and he forgot army and Wazir as he gazed on her fair head decked and dight with a net work of pearls set off by divers sorts of gems. Handmaids on her right and handmaids on her left bore her train, as she paced with dainty graceful gait in all the pride of seemlihead. He sprang to his feet seeing such beauty and loveliness, and cried aloud, “Beware and beware of that zone rarely fair!” and broke out into these couplets,

“With heavy back parts, high breasts delicate,

And lissome form that sways with swimming gait

She deftly hides love longing in her breast;

But I may never hide its ban and bate

While hosts of followers her steps precede,4

Like pearls now necklaced and now separate.”

She gazed upon him for a long time and considered him till she was assured of him, when she came up to him and said, “In very sooth the place is honoured and illumined by thee, O Sharrkan! How sped thy night, O hero, after we went away and left thee?”; adding, “Verily lying is a vile thing and a shameful, especially in great Kings! and thou art Crown Prince Sharrkan, son and heir of King Omar bin al-Nu’uman; so henceforth make no secret of thy rank and condition, nor let me hear aught from thee but the truth; for leasing bequeatheth hate and despite. And as thou art pierced by the shaft of Fate, be resignation thine and abide content to wait.” When he heard her words he saw that artifice availed him naught and he acknowledged the truth, saying, “I am Sharrkan, bin Omar bin al-Nu’uman, whom fortune hath afflicted and cast into this place; so whatso thou willest, do it in my case!” She hung her head groundwards a long while, then turned to him and said, “Be of good cheer and let thine eyes be cool and clear;5 for thou art the guest of my hospitality, and bread and salt hath made a tie between me and thee; wherefore thou art in my ward and under my safeguard. Have no fear for, by the truth of the Messiah, if all on earth sought to do thee hurt they should not come at thee, till life had left my body for thy sake: indeed thou art now under the charge of the Messiah and of me.” Hereat she sat her down by his side and fell to playing with him, till his alarm subsided and he knew that had she desired to slay him, she would have done so during the past night. Presently she bespoke in the Grecian tongue one of her slave girls, who went away and soon came back bringing a beaker and a tray of food; but Sharrkan abstained from eating and said to himself, “Haply she hath put somewhat in this meat.” She knew what was in his thought; so she turned to him and said, “By the truth of the Messiah, the case is not on such wise, nor is there aught in this meat of what thou suspectest! Had my mind been set on slaying thee, I had slain thee ere now.” Then she walked up to the tray and ate of every dish a mouthful; where upon Sharrkan came forward and ate too. She was pleased at this and both ate till they were satisfied. They washed their hands and after that she rose and ordered a handmaid to bring perfumes and herbs of sweet savour, wines of all colours and kinds and a wine-service with vessels of gold, silver and crystal. She filled a first goblet and drank it off before offering it to him, even as she had done with the food: then she crowned a second and handed it to him. He drank and she said to him, “O Moslem, see how thou art here in all solace and delight of life!” And she ceased not to drink and ply him with drink, till he took leave of his wits, — And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day, and ceased saying her permitted say.

1 And Solomon said, “O nobles, which of you will bring me her throne?” A terrible genius (i.e. an If rit of the Jinn named Dhakwan or the notorious Sakhr) said, “ I will bring it unto thee before thou arise from thy seat (of justice); for I am able to perform it, and may be trusted” (Koran, xxvii. 38–39). Balkís or Bilkís (says the Durrat al-Ghawwás) daughter of Hozád bin Sharhabíl, twenty-second in the list of the rulers of Al — Yaman, according to some murdered her husband, and became, by Moslem ignorance, the Biblical “ Queen of Sheba.” The Abyssinians transfer her from Arabian Saba to Ethiopia and make her the mother by Solomon of Menelek, their proto-monarch; thus claiming for their royalties an antiquity compared with which all reigning houses in the world are of yesterday. The dates of the Tabábi’ah or Tobbas prove that the Bilkis of history ruled Al–Yaman in the early Christian era.

2 Arab. “Fass,” fiss or fuss; the gem set in a ring; also applied to a hillock rounded en cabochon. In The Nights it is used to signify “a fine gem.”

3 This prominence of the glutæi muscles is always insisted upon, because it is supposed to promise well in a bed-fellow. In Somali land where the people are sub — steatopygous, a rich young man, who can afford such luxury, will have the girls drawn up in line and choose her to wife who projects furthest behind

4 The “bull” is only half mine.

5 A favourite Arab phrase, the “hot eye” is one full of tears.

When it was the Forty-ninth Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the damsel ceased not to drink and ply Sharrkan with drink till he took leave of his wits, for the wine and the intoxication of love he bore her. Presently she said to the slave girl, “O Marjanah1! bring us some instruments of music!” “To hear is to obey,” said the hand maid and going out, returned in the twinkling of an eye with a Damascus lute,2 a Persian harp, a Tartar pipe, and an Egyptian dulcimer. The young lady took the lute and, after tuning each several string, began in gentle undersong to sing, softer than zephyr’s wing and sweeter than Tasmin3 spring, with heart safe and secure from everything the couplets following,

“Allah assain those eyne! What streams of blood they shed!

How many an arrowy glance those lids of thine have sped.

I love all lovers who to lovers show them cure;

’Twere wrong to rue the love in wrong head born and bred:

Haply fall hapless eye for thee no sleeping kens!

Heaven help the hapless heart by force of thee misled!

Thou doomest me to death who art my king, and I

Ransom with life the deemster who would doom me dead.”

Thereupon each and every of the maidens rose up and taking an instrument, played and recited couplets in the Roumi tongue; then their mistress sang also and seeing Sharrkan in ecstasies asked him, “O Moslem, dost thou understand what I say?”; and he answered, “Nay, my ecstasy cometh from the beauty of thy finger sips.” She laughed and continued, “If I sing to thee in Arabic what wouldst thou do?” “I should no longer,” quoth he, “be master of my senses.” Then she took an instrument and, changing the measure, began singing these verses,

“The smack of parting’s myrrh to me,

How, then, bear patience’ aloë?

I’m girt by ills in trinity

Severance, distance, cruelty!

My freedom stole that fairest she,

And parting irks me bitterly.”

When she ended her verse, she looked at Sharrkan and found him lost to existence, and he lay for a while stretched at full length and prone among the maidens.4 Then he revived and, remembering the songs, again inclined to mirth and merriment; and the twain returned to their wine and wassail, and continued their playing and toying, their pastime and pleasure till day ceased illuminating and night drooped her wing. Then the damsel went off to her dormitory and when Sharrkan asked after her they answered, “She is gone to her sleeping chamber,” whereto he rejoined, “Under Allah’s ward and His good guard!” As soon as it was morning, a handmaid came to him and said to him, “My mistress biddeth thee to her.” So he rose and followed her and, as he drew near her lodging, the damsels welcomed him with smitten tabrets and songs of greeting, and led him through a great door of ivory studded with pearls and jewels. Thence they passed with him into a tall and spacious hall, at the upper end of which was a wide dais carpeted with all kinds of silks, and round it open lattices commanding a view of trees and streams. About the saloon were figures carved in human form, and fashioned on such wise that the air passed through them and set in motion musical instruments within, so that the beholder would fancy they spoke.5 Here sat the young lady, looking at the figures; but when she saw Sharrkan, she sprang to her feet and, taking him by the hand, made him sit down by her side, and asked him how he had passed the night. He blessed her and the two sat talking awhile till she asked him, “Knowest thou aught touching lovers and slaves of love?”; and he answered “Yes! I wot somewhat in verse on that matter.” “Let me hear it,” quoth she, so he began quoting,

“Pleasure and health, good cheer, good appetite

To Azzah, freest with our name and fame!

By Allah! would I near her off she flies

At tangent, granting less the more I claim:

I dote on Azzah, but when clear I off

My rivals, clears me too that dearest dame;

Like wandering wight that chose for shade a cloud

Which, ere siesta done, thin air became.”

When she heard this she said, “Verily Al–Kuthayyir6 was conspicuous for sweet speech and chaste, and he was superlative in his praise of Azzah when he sang” (and she began to recite),

“Did Azzah deal behest to Sun o’ noon,

The judge had judged her beauty’s bestest boon;

And girls who come to me and carp at her,

God make their rosy cheeks her sandal-shoon!

And indeed,” quoth she, “’twas said that Azzah boasted exceeding beauty and loveliness.” Then she asked Sharrkan saying, “O Prince, cost thou know aught of Jamil’s7 verses to Buthaynah? if so repeat to us somewhat of them;” and he answered, “Yes, I know them better than any;” whereupon he began repeating these couplets,

“Jamil, in Holy war go fight!” to me they say:

What war save fight for fair ones would I e’er essay?

To me their every word and work are mere delight,

And martyrs crepe I all they slay in fight and fray:

An ask I, ‘O Buthaynah! what’s this love, I pray,

Which eats my heart?’ quoth she ‘ ’Twill stay for ever and aye!’

And when I cry, ‘Of wits return some small display

For daily use,’ quoth she, ‘Far, far ’tis fled away!

Thou seekst my death; naught else thy will can satisfy

While I no goal espy save thee and thee alway.’”

“Thou hast spoken right well,” said she, “O King’s son, and Jamil also spoke excellently well. But what would Buthaynah have done with him that he saith in his hemistich,

‘Thou seekst my death; naught else thy will can satisfy?’”

“O my lady,” quoth Sharrkan, “she willed to do him what thou willest to do with me, and even that will not satisfy thee.” She laughed at his opportune reply and they ceased not carousing till Day put out her light and Night came in darkness dight. Then she rose and went to her dormitory and slept, while Sharrkan slept in his place till morning dawned. As soon as he awoke, the hand maids came to him with tabrets and other instruments of mirth and merriment, as wont; and, kissing the ground between his hands, said to him, “Bismillah! in Allah’s name be so kind as to come8: our mistress biddeth thee to her presence!” So he rose and accompanied the slave girls who surrounded him, playing on tabrets and other instruments of music, till they passed from that saloon into another and a yet more spacious hall, decorated with pictured likenesses and figures of birds and beasts, passing all description. Sharrkan marvelled at the art and artifice of the place and began reciting,

“He plucks fruits of her necklace in rivalry,

And her breast-pearls that bedded in gold mine lie.

Pure water on silvern bars is her brow,

And her cheeks show roses with rubies vie:

Meseems in her eyne that the violet’s hue

Lies purpling set in the Ithmid’s9 dye.”

When the lady saw Sharrkan, she stood up to him in honour and, taking his hand, seated him by her side and asked, “O son of King Omar bin al-Nu’uman, hast thou any cunning in the game of chess?” “Yes,” he answered, “but do not thou with me as said the poet,

‘I speak and longing love upties me and unties me;

Till with her honey dew of inner lip she plies me:

I brought the chess board and my liefest lover plays me

With white and black,10 but black cum white ne’er satisfies me:

’Twas as if King for Castle I were fain to place me

Till wilful loss of game atwixt two queens surprise me:

And if I seek to read intent in eyes that eye me

Oh man! that glance askance with hint of wish defies me.’”

Then she brought the chessboard and played with him; but Sharrkan, instead of looking at her moves, kept gazing at her fair mouth, and putting knight in place of elephant and elephant11 instead of knight. She laughed and said to him, “If thy play be after this fashion, thou knowest naught of the game.” “This is only our first,” replied he, “judge not by this bout.” When she beat him he replaced the pieces in position and played again with her; but she beat him a second time, a third, a fourth and a fifth. So she turned to him and said, “Thou art beaten in everything;” and he replied, “O my lady, how should one playing with the like of thee avoid being beaten?” Then she bade bring food, and they ate and washed their hands; after which the wine was set before them and they drank. Presently, she took the dulcimer, for her hand was cunning in smiting it, and she began repeating to an accompaniment these couplets,

“Twixt the close tied and open wide no medium Fortune knoweth,

Now ebb and flow then flow and ebb this wise her likeness showeth.

Then drink her wine the syne she’s thine and smiling thou dost find her

Anon she’ll fall and fare away when all thy good forth goeth.”

They ceased not to carouse till nightfall and this day was pleasanter even than the first. When darkness set in, the lady betook her to her dormitory, leaving him alone with the hand maids; so he threw himself on the ground and slept till dawn, when the damsels came to him with tambourines and other instruments according to custom. Seeing them he roused him hastily and sat up; and they carried him to their mistress, who came to meet him and, taking him by the hand, seated him by her side. Then she asked him how he had passed his night, whereat he prayed that her life be prolonged; and she took the lute and sang to it these verses which she improvised,

“Ne’er incline thee to part

Which embitters the heart

E’en the sun when he sets

Shall in pallor depart.”

While they were solacing themselves after this fashion, behold, there arose a great and sudden clamour, and a confused crowd of knights and men rushed in, holding drawn swords that glittered and gleamed in their hands, and cried aloud in the Grecian tongue “Thou hast fallen into our hands, O Sharrkan, so make thee sure of death!” When he heard this, he said to himself, “By Allah, she hath entrapped me and held me in play, till her men should come. These are the Knights with whom she threatened me; but ’tis I who have thrown myself into this strait.” Then he turned towards the young lady to reproach her, but saw that she had changed colour and her face was pale; and she sprang to her feet and asked the crowd, “Who are ye?” “O most gracious Princess and peerless onion pearl,” answered the leading Knight, “dost thou weet who is yon man by thy side?” “Not I,” she replied, “who may he be?” Quoth the Patrician, “This is of towns the highwayman! This is he who rideth in the horseman’s van! This is Sharrkan, son of King Omar bin al-Nu’uman! This is he that forceth fortalice and penetrateth every impregnable place! The news of him reached King Hardub, thy father, by report of the ancient dame Zat al-Dawahi; and thy sire, our sovereign, hath made sure that thou hast rendered good service to the army of the Greeks by taking captive this ominous lion.” When she heard this, she looked at the Knight and asked him, “What be thy name?” and he answered, “I am Másúrah, son of thy slave Mausúrah bin Káshardah, Knight of Knights.” “And how?” quoth she, “durst thou enter my presence without leave?” Quoth he, “O my lady, when I came to the gate, none forbade me, neither chamberlain nor porter, but all the door keepers rose and forewent us as of wont; although, when others come, they leave them standing at the gate while they ask permission to admit them. But this is not a time for long talking, when the King is expecting our return with this Prince, the scorpion sting12 of the Islamitic host, that he may kill him and drive back his men whither they came, without the bane of battling with them.” “These words be ill words,” rejoined the Princess, “and Dame Zat al-Dawahi lied, avouching an idle thing and a vain, whereof she weeteth not the truth; for by the virtue of the Messiah, this man who is with me is not Sharrkan, nor is he a captive, but a stranger who came to us seeking our hospitality, and I made him my guest. So even were we assured that this be Sharrkan and were it proved to us that it is he beyond a doubt, I say it would ill befit mine honour that I should deliver into your hands one who hath entered under my protection. So make me not a traitor to my guest and a disgrace among men; but return to the King, my father, and kiss the ground before him, and inform him that the case is contrariwise to the report of the Lady Zat al-Dawahi.” “O Abrízah,” replied Masurah, the Knight, “I cannot return to the King’s majesty without his debtor and enemy.” Quoth she (and indeed she had waxed very wroth). “Out on thee! Return to him with my answer, and no blame shall befal thee!” Quoth Masurah, “I will not return without him.” Thereupon her colour changed and she exclaimed, “Exceed not in talk and vain words; for verily this man had not come in to us, were he not assured that he could of himself and single handed make head against an hundred riders; and if I said to him, ‘Thou art Sharrkan, son of King Omar bin al-Nu’uman,’ he would answer, ‘Yes.’ But ’tis not of your competence to let or hinder him; for if you do so, he will not turn back from you till he hath slain all that are in this place. Behold, here he is by my side, and I will bring him before you sword and targe in hand.” “Albeit I were safe from thy wrath,” answered Masurah the Knight, “I am not safe from that of thy father, and when I see him, I shall sign to the Knights to take him captive, and we will carry him to the King bound and in abject sort.” When she heard this, she said, “The matter shall not pass thus, for ‘twould be blazoning mere folly. This man is but one and ye are an hundred Knights: so if you would attack him come out against him, one after one, that it may appear to the King which is the valiant amongst you.”— And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

1 i.e., “Coral,” coral branch, a favourite name for a slave-girl, especially a negress. It is the older “Morgiana.” I do not see why Preston in Al–Haríni’s “Makamah (Séance) of Singar” renders it pearls, because Golius gives “small pearls,” when it is evidently “coral.” Richardson (Dissert. xlviii.) seems to me justified in finding the Pari (fairy) Marjan of heroic Persian history reflected in the Fairy Morgain who earned off King Arthur after the battle of Camelon.

2 Arab. “‘Ud Jalaki”=Jalak or Jalik being a poetical and almost obsolete name of Damascus.

3 The fountain in Paradise whose water shall be drunk with “pure” wine mixed and sealed with musk (for clay). It is so called because it comes from the “Sanam” (Sanima, to be high) boss or highest ridge of the Moslem Heaven (Koran lv. 78 and lxxxiii. 27). Mr. Rodwell says “it is conveyed to the highest apartments in the Pavilions of Paradise.” (?)

4 This “hysterical” temperament is not rare even amongst the bravest Arabs.

5 An idea evidently derived from the Æolipyla (olla animatoria) the invention of Hero Alexandrinus, which showed that the ancient Egyptians could apply the motive force of steam.

6 Kuthayyir ibn Abi Jumah, a poet and far-famed Ráwí or Tale-reciter, mentioned by Ibn Khallikan he lived at Al–Medinah and sang the attractions of one Azzah, hence his soubriquet Sáhib (lover of) Azzah. As he died in A. H. 105 (=726), his presence here is a gross anachronism the imaginary Sharrkan flourished before the Caliphate of Abd al-Malik bin Marwán A. H. 65–86.

7 Jamíl bin Ma’amar, a poet and lover contemporary with Al–Kuthayrir.

8 Arab. “Tafazzal,” a word of frequent use in conversation=“favour me,” etc.

9 The word has a long history. From the Gr. or is the Lat. stibium; while the Low Latin “antimonium” and the Span. Althimod are by metathesis for Al–Ithmid. The dictionaries define the substance as a stone from which antimony is prepared, but the Arabs understand a semi-mythical mineral of yellow colour which enters into the veins of the eyes and gives them Iynx-like vision. The famous Anz nicknamed Zarká (the blue eyed) of Yamámah (Province) used it; and, according to some, invented Kohl. When her (protohistoric) tribe Jadis had destroyed all the rival race of Tasm, except Ribáh ibn Murrah; the sole survivor fled to the Tobba of Al–Yaman, who sent a host to avenge him. The king commanded his Himyarites to cut tree-boughs and use them as screens (again Birnam wood). Zarká from her Utum, or peel-tower, saw the army three marches off and cried, “O folk, either trees or Himyar are coming upon you!” adding, in Rajaz verse:—

I swear by Allah that trees creep onward, or that Himyar beareth somewhat which he draweth along!

She then saw a man mending his sandal. But Jadis disbelieved; Cassandra was slain and, when her eyes were cut out the vessels were found full of Ithmid. Hence Al–Mutanabbi sang:

“Sharper-sighted than Zarká of Jau” (Yamámah).

See C. de Perceval i. 101; Arab. Prov. i. 192; and Chenery p. 381. (The Assemblies of Al–Hariri; London, Williams and Norgate, 1867). I have made many enquiries into the true nature of Ithmid and failed to learn anything: on the Upper Nile the word is=Kohl.

10 The general colour of chessmen in the East, where the game is played on a cloth more often than a board.

11 Arab. “Al-fil,” the elephant=the French fol or fou and our bishop. I have derived “elephant” from Píl (old Persian, Sansk. Pilu) and Arab. Fil, with the article Al–Fil, whence the Greek {Greek text} the suffix — as being devoted to barbarous words as Obod-as (Al Ubayd), Aretas (Al-Háris), etc. Mr. Isaac Taylor (The Alphabet i. 169), preserves the old absurdity of “eleph-ant or ox-like (!) beast of Africa.” Prof. Sayce finds the word al-ab (two distinct characters) in line 3, above the figure of an (Indian) elephant, on the black obelisk of Nimrod Mound, and suggests an Assyrian derivation.

12 Arab. “Shaukat” which may also mean the “pride” or “mainstay” (of the army).

When it was the Fiftieth Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Princess Abrizah said to the Knight, “This man is but one, and ye are an hundred: so if ye would attack him, come out against him, one after one, that it may appear to the King which is the valiant.” Quoth Masurah, the Knight, “By the truth of the Messiah, thou sayest sooth, and none but I shall sally out against him first.” Quoth she, “Wait till I go to him and acquaint him with the case and hear what answer he will make. If he consent, ’tis well; but if he refuse, ye shall on no wise come to him, for I and my hand maids and whosoever is in the convent will be his ransom.” So she went to Sharrkan and told him the news, whereat he smiled and knew that she had not informed any of the Emirs; but that tidings of him had been bruited and blazed abroad, till the report reached the King, against her wish and intent. So he again began reproaching himself and said, “How came I to adventure and play with my life by coming to the country of the Greeks?” But hearing the young lady’s proposal he said to her, “Indeed their onset, one after one, would be overburdensome to them. Will they not come out against me, ten by ten?” “That would be villainy,” said she; “Let one have at one.” When he heard this, he sprang to his feet and made for them with his sword and battle gear; and Masurah, the Knight, also sprang up and bore down upon him. Sharrkan met him like a lion and delivered a shoulder cut1 which clove him to the middle, and the blade came out gleaming and glittering from his back and bowels. When the lady beheld that swashingblow, Sharrkan’s might was magnified in her sight and she knew that when she overthrew him in the wrestle it was not by her strength but by her beauty and loveliness. So she turned to the Knights and said, “Take wreak for your chief!” Thereupon out came the slain man’s brother, a fierce and furious Knight, and rushed upon Sharrkan, who delayed not, but smote him also with the shoulder cut and the sword came out glittering from his vitals. Then cried the Princess, “O ye servants of the Messiah, avenge your comrade!” So they ceased not charging down upon him, one after one; and Sharrkan also ceased not playing upon them with the blade, till he had slain fifty Knights, the lady looking on the while. And Allah cast a panic into the hearts of the survivors, so that they held back and dared not meet him in the duello, but fell upon him in a body; and he laid on load with heart firmer than a rock, and smote them and trod them down like straw under the threshing sled,2 till he had driven sense and soul out of them. Then the Princess called aloud to her damsels, saying, “Who is left in the convent?”; and they replied, “None but the gate keepers;” whereupon she went up to Sharrkan and took him to her bosom, he doing the same, and they returned to the palace, after he had made an end of the melee. Now there remained a few of the Knights hiding from him in the cells of the monastery, and when the Princess saw this she rose from Sharrkan’s side and left him for a while, but presently came back clad in closely meshed coat of ring mail and holding in her hand a fine Indian scymitar. And she said, “Now by the truth of the Messiah, I will not be a niggard of myself for my guest; nor will I abandon him though for this I abide a reproach and a by word in the land of the Greeks.” Then she took reckoning of the dead and found that he had slain fourscore of the Knights, and other twenty had taken to flight.3 When she saw what work he had made with them she said to him, “Allah bless thee, O Sharrkan! The Cavaliers may well glory in the like of thee.” Then he rose and wiping his blade clean of the blood of the slain began reciting these couplets,

“How oft in the mellay I’ve cleft the array,

And given their bravest to lions a prey:

Ask of me and of them when I proved me prow

O’er creation, on days of the foray and fray:

When I left in the onslaught their lions to lie

On the sands of the low lands4 in fieriest day.”

When he ended his verse, the Princess came up to him with smiles and kissed his hand; then she doffed her hauberk and he said to her, “O lady mine, wherefore didst thou don that coat of mail and bare thy brand?” “To guard thee against these caitiffs,”5 she replied. Then she summoned the gate keepers and asked them, “How came ye to admit the King’s Knights into my dwelling without leave of me?”; and they answered, “O Princess, it is not our custom to ask leave of thee for the King’s messengers, and especially for the chief of his Knights.” Quoth she, “I think ye were minded only to disgrace me and murder my guest;” and bade Sharrkan smite their necks. He did so and she cried to the rest of her servants, “Of a truth, they deserved even more than that!” Then turning to Sharrkan, she said to him, “Now that there hath become manifest to thee what was concealed, thou shalt be made acquainted with my history. Know, then, that I am the daughter of King Hardub of Roum; my name is Abrizah and the ancient dame, yclept Zat al-Dawahi, is my grandmother by the sword side. She it certainly is who told my father of thee, and as surely she will compass a sleight to slay me, more by token as thou hast slain my father’s chivalry and it is noised abroad that I have separated myself from the Nazarenes and have become no better than I should be with the Moslems. Wherefore it were wiser that I leave this dwelling while Zat al-Dawahi is on my track; but I require of thee the like kindness and courtesy I have shown thee, for enmity will presently befal between me and my father on thine account. So do not thou neglect to do aught that I shall say to thee, remembering all this betided me not save by reason of thee.” Hearing her words, Sharrkan joyed greatly; his breast broadened and his wits flew from him for delight, and he said, “By Allah, none shall come at thee, while life is in my bosom! But hast thou patience to bear parting from thy parents and thy people?” “Even so,” she answered; and Sharrkan swore to her and the two plighted their troth. Then said she, “Now is my heart at ease; but there remaineth one other condition for thee.” “What is it?” asked he and she answered, “It is that thou return with thy host to thine own country.” Quoth he, “O lady mine, my father, King Omar bin al — Nu’uman, sent me to wage war upon thy sire, on account of the treasure he plundered from the King of Constantinople, and amongst the rest three great jewels, noted givers of good fortune.” Quoth she, “Cheer thy heart and clear thine eyes: I will tell thee the whole of the tale and the cause of our feud with the King of Constantinople. Know that we have a yearly festival, hight the Convent Feast, whereat Kings from all quarters and the noblest women are wont to congregate; thither also come merchants and traders with their wives and families, and the visitors abide there seven days. I was wont to be one of them; but, when there befel enmity between us, my father forbade me to be present at the festival for the space of seven years. One year, it chanced that amongst the daughters of the great who resorted to the patron, as was their custom, came a daughter of the King of Constantinople, a beautiful girl called Sophia. They tarried at the monastery six days and on the seventh the folk went their ways;6 but Sophia said, ‘I will not return to Constantinople save by water.’ So they equipped for her a ship in which she embarked with her suite; and making sail they put out to sea; but as they were voyaging behold, a contrary wind caught them and drove the vessel from her course till, as Fate and Fortune would have it, she fell in with a Nazarene craft from the Camphor Island7 carrying a crew of five hundred armed Franks, who had been cruising about a long time. When they sighted the sails of the ship, wherein Sophia and her women were, they gave chase in all haste and in less than an hour they came up with her, then they laid the grappling irons aboard her and captured her. Then taking her in tow they made all sail for their own island and were but a little distant from it when the wind veered round and, splitting their sails, drove them on to a shoal which lies off our coast. Thereupon we sallied forth and, looking on them as spoil driven to us by Fate,8 boarded and took them; and, slaying the men, made prize of the wreck, wherein we found the treasures and rarities in question and forty maidens, amongst whom was the King’s daughter, Sophia. After the capture we carried the Princess and her women to my father, not knowing her to be a daughter of King Afridun of Constantinople; and he chose out for himself ten including her; and divided the rest among his dependents. Presently he set apart five damsels, amongst whom was the King s daughter, and sent them to thy father, King Omar bin al-Nu’uman, together with other gifts, such as broadcloth9 and woollen stuffs and Grecian silks. Thy father accepted them and chose out from amongst the five girls Sophia, daughter of King Afridun; nor did we hear more of her till the beginning of this year, when her father wrote to my father in words unfitting for me to repeat, rebuking him with menaces and saying to him: Two years ago, you plundered a ship of ours which had been seized by a band of Frankish pirates in which was my daughter, Sophia, attended by her maidens numbering some threescore. Yet ye informed me not thereof by messenger or otherwise; nor could I make the matter public, lest reproach befal me amongst the Kings, by reason of my daughter’s honour. So I concealed my case till this year, when I wrote to certain Frankish corsairs and sought news of my daughter from the Kings of the Isles. They replied, ‘By Allah we carried her not forth of thy realm; but we have heard that King Hardub rescued her from certain pirates. And they told me the whole tale.’ Then he added in the writing which he writ to my father: ‘Except you wish to be at feud with me and design to disgrace me and dishonour my daughter, you will, the instant my letter reacheth you, send my daughter back to me. But if you slight my letter and disobey my commandment, I will assuredly make you full return for your foul dealing and the baseness of your practices.’10 When my father read this letter and understood the contents,11 it vexed him and he regretted not having known that Sophia, King Afridun’s daughter, was among the captured damsels, that he might have sent her back to her sire; and he was perplexed about the case because, after so long a time, he could not send to King Omar bin al-Nu’uman and demand her back from him, especially as he had lately heard that Heaven had granted him boon of babe by this Sophia. So when we pondered that truth, we knew that this letter was none other than a grievous calamity; and my father found nothing for it but to write an answer to King Afridun, making his excuses and swearing to him by strong oaths that he knew not his daughter to be among the bevy of damsels in the ship and setting forth how he had sent her to King Omar bin al Nu’uman, who had gotten the blessing of issue by her. When my father’s reply reached King Afridun he rose up and sat down,12 and roared and foamed at the mouth crying:—‘What! shall he take captive my daughter and even her with slave girls and pass her on from hand to hand sending her for a gift to Kings, and they lie with her without marriage contract? By the Messiah and the true Faith,’ said he, ‘I will not desist till I have taken my blood vengeance for this and have wiped out my shame; and indeed I will do a deed which the chroniclers shall chronicle after me!’ So he bided his time till he devised a device and laid notable toils and snares, when he sent an embassy to thy father, King Omar, to tell him that which thou hast heard: accordingly thy father equipped thee and an army with thee and sent thee to King Afridun, whose object is to seize thee and thine army to boot. As for the three jewels whereof he told thy father when asking his aid, there was not one soothfast word in that matter, for they were with Sophia, his daughter; and my father took them from her, when he got possession of her and of her maidens, and gave them to me in free gift, and they are now with me. So go thou to thy host and turn them back ere they be led deep into, and shut in by, the land of the bevy of damsels in the ship and setting forth the Franks and the country of the Greeks; for as soon as you have come far enough into their interior, they will stop the roads upon you and there will be no escape for you till the Day of retribution and retaliation. I know that thy troops are still halting where thou leftest them, because thou didst order a three days’ rest; withal they have missed thee all this time and they wot not what to do.” When Sharrkan heard her words, he was absent awhile in thought; then he kissed Princess Abrizah’s hand and said, “Praise be to Allah who hath bestowed thee on me and appointed thee to be the cause of my salvation and the salvation of whoso is with me! But ’tis grievous to me to part from thee and I know not what will become of thee after my departure.” “Go now to thine army,” she replied, “and turn them back, while ye are yet near your own country. If the envoys be still with them, lay hands on them and keep them, that the case may be made manifest to you; and, after three days, I will be with you all and we will enter Baghdad together.” As he turned to depart she said, “Forget not the compact which is between me and thee,” then she rose to bid13 him farewell and embrace him and quench the fire of desire, so she took leave of him and, throwing her arms round his neck, wept with exceeding weeping, and repeated these verses,

“I bade adieu, my right hand wiped my tears away,

The while my left hand held her in a close embrace:

‘Fearest thou naught,’ quoth she, ‘of shame?’ I answered ‘Nay,

The lover’s parting day is lover’s worst disgrace.’”

Then Sharrkan left her and walked down from the convent. They brought his steed, so he mounted and rode down stream to the drawbridge which he crossed and presently threaded the woodland paths and passed into the open meadow. As soon as he was clear of the trees he was aware of horsemen which made him stand on the alert, and he bared his brand and rode cautiously, but as they drew near and exchanged curious looks he recognized them and behold, it was the Wazir Dandan and two of his Emirs. When they saw him and knew him, they dismounted and saluting him, asked the reason of his absence; whereupon he told them all that had passed between him and Princess Abrizah from first to last. The Wazir returned thanks to Almighty Allah for his safety and said,14 “Let us at once leave these lands; for the envoys who came with us are gone to inform the King of our approach, and haply he will hasten to fall on us and take us prisoners.” So Sharrkan cried to his men to saddle and mount, which they did and, setting out at once, they stinted not faring till they reached the sole of the valley wherein the host lay. The Ambassadors meanwhile had reported Sharrkan’s approach to their King, who forthright equipped a host to lay hold of him and those with him. But Sharrkan, escorted by the Wazir Dandan and the two Emirs, had no sooner sighted the army, than he raised the cry “March! March!” They took horse on the instant and fared through the first day and second and third day, nor did they cease faring for five days; at the end of which time they alighted in a well wooded valley, where they rested awhile. Then they again set out and stayed not riding for five and twenty days which placed them on the frontiers of their own country. Here, deeming themselves safe, they halted to rest; and the country people came out to them with guest gifts for the men and provender and forage for the beasts. They tarried there two days after which, as all would be making for their homes, Sharrkan put the Wazir Dandan in command, bidding him lead the host back to Baghdad. But he himself remained behind with an hundred riders, till the rest of the army had made one day’s march: then he called “To horse!” and mounted with his hundred men. They rode on two parasangs’15 space till they arrived at a gorge between two mountains and lo! there arose before them a dark cloud of sand and dust. So they checked their steeds awhile till the dust opened and lifted, discovering beneath it an hundred cavaliers, lion faced and in mail coats cased. As soon as they drew within earshot of Sharrkan and his meiny they cried out to them, saying, “By the virtue of John and Mary, we have won to our wish! We have been following you by forced marches, night and day, till we forewent you to this place. So dismount and lay down your arms and yield yourselves, that we may grant you your lives.” When Sharrkan heard this, his eyes stood out from his head and his cheeks flushed red and he said ‘How is it, O. Nazarene dogs, ye dare enter our country and overmatch our land? And doth not this suffice you, but ye must adventure yourselves and address us in such unseemly speech? Do you think to escape out of our hands and return to your country?” Then he shouted to his hundred horsemen, “Up and at these hounds, for they even you in number!” So saying, he bared his sabre and bore down on them, he and his, but the Franks met them with hearts firmer than rocks, and wight dashed against wight, and knight dashed upon knight, and hot waxed the fight, and sore was the affright, and nor parley nor cries of quarter helped their plight; and they stinted not to charge and to smite, right hand meeting right, nor to hack and hew with blades bright white, till day turned to night and gloom oppressed the sight. Then they drew apart and Sharrkan mustered his men and found none wounded save four only, who showed hurts but not death hurts. Said he to them, “By Allah, my life long have I waded in the clashing sea of fight and I have met many a gallant sprite, but none so unfrightened of the sword that smites and the shock of men that affrights like these valiant Knights!” “Know, O King,” said they, that there is among them a Frankish cavalier who is their leader and, indeed, he is a man of valour and fatal is his spear thrust: but, by Allah, he spares us great and small; for whoso falls into his hands he lets him go and forbears to slay him. By Allah, had he willed he had killed us all.” Sharrkan was astounded when he heard what the Knight had done and such high report of him, so he said, “When the morn shall morrow, we will draw out and defy them, for we are an hundred to their hundred; and we will seek aid against them from the Lord of the Heavens.” So they rested that night in such intent; whilst the Franks gathered round their Captain and said, “Verily this day we did not win our will of these;” and he replied, “At early dawn when the morrow shall morn, we will draw out and challenge them, one after one.” They also rested in that mind, and both camps kept guard until Almighty Allah sent the light of day dawn. Thereupon King Sharrkan and his hundred riders took horse and rode forth to the plain, where they found the Franks ranged in line of battle; and Sharrkan said to his followers, “Our foes have determined like ourselves to do their devoir; so up and at them and lay on load.” Then came forth an Herald of the Franks and cried out, saying, “Let there be no general engagement betwixt us this day, save by the duello, a champion of yours against a champion of ours.” Whereupon one of Sharrkan’s riders dashed out from the ranks and crave between the two lines crying, “Ho! who is for smiting? Let no dastard engage me this day nor niderling!” Hardly had he made an end of his vaunt, when there sallied forth to him a Frankish cavalier, armed cap-à-pie and clad in a surcoat of gold stuff, riding on a grey white steed,16 and he had no hair on his cheeks. He urged his charger on to the midst of the battle plain and the two fell to derring do of cut and thrust, but it was not long before the Frank foined the Moslem with the lance point; and, toppling him from his steed, took him prisoner and led him off crestfallen. His folk rejoiced in their comrade and, forbidding him to go out again to the field, sent forth another, to whom sallied out another Moslem, brother to the captive, and offered him battle. The two fell to, either against other, and fought for a little while, till the Frank bore down upon the Moslem and, falsing him with a feint, tumbled him by a thrust of the lance heel from his destrier and took him prisoner. After this fashion the Moslems ceased not dashing forwards, one after one, and the Franks to unhorse them and take them captive, till day departed and the night with darkness upstarted. Now they had captured of the Moslems twenty cavaliers, and when Sharrken saw this, it was grievous to him and he mustered his men and said to them, “What is this thing that hath befallen us? To — morrow, I myself will go forth to the field and offer singular combat to their chief and learn what is the cause of his entering our land and warn him against doing battle with our band. If he persist, we will punish him with death, and if he prove peaceable we will make peace with him.” They righted on this wise till Allah Almighty caused the morn to dawn, when mounted the twain and drew up for battle fain; and Sharrkan was going forth to the plain, but behold, more than one half of the Franks dismounted and remained on foot before one of them who was mounted, till they reached the midst of the battle plain. Sharrken looked at that horseman and lo! he was their chief. He was clad in a surcoat of blue satin and a close ringed mail shirt; his face was as the moon when it rises and no hair was upon his cheeks. He hent in hand an Indian scymitar and he rode a sable steed with a white blaze on brow, like a dirham; and he smote the horse with heel till he stood almost in the midst of the field when, signing to the Moslems, he cried out in fluent Arab speech “Ho, Sharrkan! Ho, son of Omar bin al — Nu’uman! Ho, thou who forcest fortalice and overthrowest cities and countries! up and out to battle bout, and blade single handed wield with one who halves with thee the field! Thou art Prince of thy people and I am Prince of mine; and whoso overcometh his adversary, him let the other’s men obey and come under his sway.” Hardly had he ended his speech, when out came Sharrkan with a heart full of fury, and urging his steed into the midst of the field, closed like a raging lion with the Frank who encountered him with wariness and steadfastness and met him with the meeting of warriors. Then they fell to foining and hewing, and they stinted not of onset and offset, and give and take, as they were two mountains clashing together or two seas together dashing; nor did they cease fighting until day darkened and night starkened. Then they drew apart and each returned to his own party; but as soon as Sharrkan foregathered with his comrades, he said, “Never looked I on the like of this cavalier: he hath one quality I have not yet seen in any and this it is that, when his foemen uncovereth a place for the death blow, he reverseth his weapon and smiteth with the lance-heel! In very deed I know not what will be the issue ‘twixt him and me; but ’tis my wish that we had in our host his like and the like of his men.” Then he went to his rest for the night and, when morning dawned, the Frank came forth and rode down to the mid field, where Sharrkan met him; and they fell to fighting and to wheeling, left and right; and necks were stretched out to see the sight, nor did they stint from strife and sword play and lunge of lance with main and might, till the day turned to night and darkness overwhelmed the light. Then the twain drew asunder and returned each to his own camp, where both related to their comrades what had befallen them in the duello; and at last the Frank said to his men, “Tomorrow shall decide the matter!” So they both passed that night restfully till dawn; and, as soon as it was day, they mounted and each bore down on other and ceased not to fight till half the day was done. Then the Frank bethought him of a ruse; first urging his steed with heel and then checking him with the rein, so that he stumbled and fell with his rider; thereupon Sharrkan threw himself on the foe, and would have smitten him with the sword fearing lest the strife be prolonged, when the Frank cried out to him, “O Sharrkan, champions are not wont to do thus! This is the act of a man accustomed to be beaten by a woman.”17 When Sharrkan heard this, he raised his eyes to the Frank’s face and gazing steadfastly at him, recognized in him Princess Abrizah with whom that pleasant adventure had befallen him in the convent; whereupon he cast brand from hand and, kissing the earth before her, asked her, “What moved thee to a deed like this?”; and she answered, “I desired to prove thy prowess afield and test thy doughtiness in tilting and jousting. These that are with me are my handmaids, and they are all clean maids; yet they have vanquished thy horsemen in fair press and stress of plain; and had not my steed stumbled with me, thou shouldst have seen my might and prowess in combat.” Sharrkan smiled at her speech and said, “Praise be to Allah for safety and for my reunion with thee, O Queen of the age!” Then she cried out to her damsels to loose the twenty captives of Sharrkan’s troop and dismount. They did as she bade and came and kissed the earth before her and Sharrkan who said to them, “It is the like of you that Kings keep in store for the need hour.” Then he signed to his comrades to salute the Princess; so all alighted and kissed the earth before her, for they knew the story. After this, the whole two hundred took horse, and fared on night and day for six days’ space, till they drew near to Baghdad, when they halted and Sharrkan bade Abrizah and her handmaids doff the Frankish garb that was on them — And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

1 Lit. “smote him on the tendons of his neck.” This is the famous shoulder-cut (Tawash shuh) which, with the leg-cut (Kalam), formed, and still forms, the staple of Eastern attack with the sword.

2 Arab. “Dirás.” Easterns do not thresh with flails. The material is strewed over a round and smoothed floor of dried mud in the open air and threshed by different connivances. In Egypt the favourite is a chair-like machine called “Norag,” running on iron plates and drawn by bulls or cows over the corn. Generally, however, Moslems prefer the old classical, the Tribulum of Virgil and Varro, a slipper-shaped sled of wood garnished on the sole with large-headed iron nails, or sharp fragments of flint or basalt. Thus is made the “Tibn” or straw, the universal hay of the East, which our machines cannot imitate.

3 These numbers appear to be grossly exaggerated, but they were possible in the days of sword and armour: at the battle of Saffayn the Caliph Ali is said to have cut down five hundred and twenty-three men in a single night.

4 Arab. “Bika’á”: hence the “Buka’ah” or Cœlesyria.

5 Richardson in his excellent dictionary (note 103) which modern priggism finds “unscientific “ wonderfully derives this word from Arab. “Khattáf,” a snatcher (i.e. of women), a ravisher. It is an evident corruption of “captivus” through Italian and French

6 These periodical and fair-like visitations to convents are still customary; especially amongst the Christians of Damascus.

7 Camphor being then unknown.

8 The “wrecker” is known all over the world; and not only barbarians hold that ships driven ashore become the property of the shore

9 Arab. “Jokh”: it is not a dictionary word, but the only term in popular use for European broadcloth.

10 The second person plural is used because the writer would involve the subjects of his correspondent in the matter.

11 This part of the phrase, which may seem unnecessary to the European, is perfectly intelligible to all Orientalists. You may read many an Eastern letter and not understand it. Compare Boccacoo iv. 1.

12 i.e. he was greatly agitated

13 In text “Li-ajal a al-Taudi’a,” for the purpose of farewelling, a low Egyptianism; emphatically a “Kalám wáti.” (Pilgrimage thee iii. 330.)

14 In the Mac. Edit. Sharrkan speaks, a clerical error.

15 The Farsakh (Germ. Stunde) a measure of time rather than distance, is an hour’s travel or its equivalent, a league, a meile=three English stat. miles. The word is still used in Persia its true home, but not elsewhere. It is very old, having been determined as a lineal measure of distance by Herodotus (ii. 5 and 6; v. 53), who computes it at 30 furlongs (=furrow-lengths, 8 to the stat. mile). Strabo (xi.) makes it range from 40 to 60 stades (each=606 feet 9 inches), and even now it varies between 1,500 to 6,000 yards. Captain Francklin (Tour to Persia) estimates it = about four miles. (Pilgrimage ii. 113.)

16 Arab. “Ashhab.” Names of colours are few amongst semi civilised peoples, but in Arabia there is a distinct word for every shade of horseflesh.

17 She had already said to him “Thou art beaten in everything!”

When it was the Fifty-first Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Sharrkan bade Princess Abrizah and her damsels doff the garb that was on them and don the garments of daughters of Greece; and thus did they. Then he despatched a company of his companions to Baghdad to acquaint his father Omar bin al-Nu’uman, with his arrival and report that he was accompanied by Princess Abrizah, daughter of King Hardub, Lord of Graecia-land. They halted forthright in the place they had reached, and Sharrkan also halted and all righted there; and when Almighty Allah made morning dawn, Sharrkan and his company and Abrizah and her company took horse and fared on towards the city; when lo! on the way they met the Wazir Dandan, who had come out amongst a thousand horse to honour Abrizah and Sharrkan, by especial commandment of King Omar Son of Al-Nu’uman. When the two drew near, they turned towards them and kissed ground before them; then they mounted again and escorted them into the city and went up with them to the palace. Sharrkan walked in to his father, who rose and embraced him and questioned him of his case. So he told him all that Abrizah had told him, and what had passed between them and said, “She hath parted from her sire and departed from her reign and hath chosen to take part with us and make her abode with us; and indeed,” he said to his father, “the King of Constantinople hath plotted to do us a mischief, because of his daughter Sophia, for that the King of Greece had made known to him her story and the cause of her being given to thee; and he (the Grecian King) not knowing her to be daughter of King Afridun, Lord of Constantinople; and, had he known that, he would not have bestowed her upon thee, but he would have restored her to her parent. And of a verity,” he continued, “we were saved from these perils only by the Lady Abrizah, and never saw we a more valiant than she.” And he went on to tell his father all that had passed from first to last of the wrestling and the single fighting. When King Omar heard the story of Sharrkan, Abrizah was exalted in his eyes, and he longed to see her and question her. Thereupon Sharrkan went out to her and said, “The King calleth for thee;” she replied, “I hear and I obey;” and he took her and brought her in to his father, who was seated on his throne and who, having dismissed his high officers, was attended only by his eunuchs. The Princess entered and kissing the ground between his hands, saluted him in choice terms. He was amazed at her eloquent speech and thanked her for her dealing with his son Sharrkan and bade her be seated. So she sat down and unveiled her face;1 and, when the King saw her beauty, his reason fled his head and he made her draw near and showed her favour, appointing her an especial palace for herself and her damsels, and assigning them solde and allowances. Then began he to ask her of the three jewels aforesaid, and she answered, “Here be they with me, O King of the age!” So saying, she rose and going to her lodging, unpacked her baggage and from it brought out a box and from the box a casket of gold. She opened the casket and taking out those three jewels, kissed them and gave them to the King. Then she went away bearing his heart with her. After her going the King sent for his son Sharrkan and gave him one jewel of the three, and when he enquired of the other two replied, “O my son! I mean to give one to thy brother Zau al-Makan, and the other to thy sister Nuzhat al — Zaman.” But when Sharrkan heard that he had a brother (for to that time he knew only of his sister) he turned to his sire and said to him, “O King, hast thou a son other than myself?” He answered, “Yes, and he is now six years old;” adding that his name was Zau al-Makan and that he and Nuzhat al-Zaman were twins, born at a birth. This news was grievous to Sharrkan, but he kept his secret and said, “The bless — ing of Allah Most High be upon them!”, and he cast the jewel from his hand and shook the dust off his clothes. Quoth the King, “How do I see thee change thy manner when hearing of this, considering that after me thou becomes” heir of the kingdom. Of a truth the troops have sworn to thee and the Emirs and Grandees have taken the oath of succession to thee; and this one of the three jewels is thine.” Sharrkan bowed his head to the ground and was ashamed to bandy words with his parent so he accepted the jewel and went away, knowing not what to do for exceeding wrath, and stayed not walking till he had entered Abrizah’s palace. As he approached she stood up to meet him and thanked him for what he had done and prayed for blessings on him and his sire. Then she sat down and seated him by her side; but when he had taken his place she saw rage in his face and questioned him, whereupon he told her that Allah had blessed his father with two children by Sophia, a boy and a girl, and that he had named the boy Zau al-Makan and the girl Nuzhat al-Zaman; adding, “He hath kept the other two jewels for them and hath given me one of thine, so I left it behind; I knew naught of Zau al-Makan’s birth till this day, and the twain are now six years old. So when I learnt this, wrath possessed me; and I tell thee the reason of my rage and hide nothing from thee. But now I fear lest my father take thee to wife, for he loveth thee and I saw in him signs of desire for thee: so what wilt thou say, if he wish this?” Quoth she, “Know, O Sharrkan, that thy father hath no dominion over me, nor can he have me without my consent; and if he prevail over me by force, I will take my own life. As for the three jewels, it was not my intent that he should give any of them to either of his children and I had no thought but that he would lay them up in his treasury with his things of price; but now I desire of thy favour that thou make me a present of the jewel which he gave thee, if thou have accepted it.” “Hearkening and obedience,” replied Sharrkan, and gave it to her. Then said she, “Fear nothing,” and talked with him awhile and continued, “I fear lest my father hear that I am with you and sit not patiently under my loss, but do his endeavours to find me; and to that end he may ally himself with King Afridun, on account of his daughter Sophia, and both come on thee with armies and so there befal great turmoil.” When Sharrken heard these words, he said to her, “O my lady, if it please thee to sojourn with us, take no thought of them; though there gather together against us all that be on land and on sea.” “ ’Tis well,” rejoined she; “if ye entreat me fair, I will tarry with you, and if ye deal evilly by me, I will depart from you.” Then she bade her slave maidens bring food; so they set the tables, and Sharrkan ate a little and went away to his own house, disturbed and perturbed. Such was his case; but regarding the affairs of his father, Omar bin al-Nu’uman, after dismissing his son Sharrkan he arose and, taking the other two jewels, betook himself to the Lady Sophia, who stood up when she saw him and remained standing till he was seated. Presently, his two children, Zau al-Makan and Nuzhat al-Zaman, came to him and he kissed them and hung a jewel round each one’s neck, at which they rejoiced and kissed his hands. Then went they to their mother, who joyed in their joy and wished the King long life; so he asked her, “Why hast thou not informed me all this time that thou art the daughter of King Afridun, Lord of Constantinople, that I might have honoured thee still more and enlarged thee in dignity and raised thy rank?” “O King,” answered Sophia, “and what could I desire greater or higher than this my standing with thee, overwhelmed as I am with thy favours and thy benefits? And, furthermore, Allah hath blessed me with two children by thee, a son and a daughter.” Her reply pleased the King and after leaving her, he set apart for her and her children a wondrous fine palace. Moreover, he appointed for them eunuchs and attendants and doctors of law and doctors of philosophy and astrologers and physicians and surgeons to do them service; and in every way he redoubled his favour and entreated them with the best of treatment. And presently he returned to the palace of his dominion and to his Court where he distributed justice among the lieges. So far concerning him and Sophia and her children; but in the matter of Abrizah the King was greatly occupied with love of her and burnt with desire of her night and day; and every night, he would go in to her and converse with her and pay his court to her, but she gave him no answer, only saying, “O King of the age! I have no desire for men at this present.” When he saw her withdraw from him, his passion waxed hotter and his longing and pining increased until, when weary of this, he summoned his Wazir Dandan and, opening his very heart to him, told him of his love for Princess Abrizah, daughter of Hardub, and informed him how she refused to yield to his wishes and how desire for her was doing him to die, for that he could get no grace of her. The Wazir, hearing these words, said to the King, “As soon as it is dark night, take thou a piece of Bhang the measure of a miskal, about an ounce, and go in to her and drink somewhat of wine with her. When the hour of ending the carousel shall draw near, fill her a last cup and dropping therein the Bhang, give it to her to drink, and she will not reach her sleeping chamber ere the drug take effect on her. Then do thou go in to her and take thy will of her; and such is my advice.”2 “Thy rede is aright,” quoth the King, and seeking his treasury, he took thence a piece of concentrated Bhang, if an elephant smelt it he would sleep from year to year. This he put in his bosom pocket and waited till some little of the night went by, when he betook himself to the palace of Princess Abrizah, who seeing him stood up to receive him; but he bade her sit down. So she sat down, and he sat by her, and he began to talk with her of wine and wassail, whereupon she furnished the carousing table3 and placed it before him. Then she set on the drinking vessels and lighted the candles and ordered to bring dried fruits and sweet meats and all that pertaineth to drinking. So they fell to tippling and the King ceased not to pledge her till drunkenness crept into her head; and seeing this he took out the bit of Bhang from his pocket and, holding it between his fingers, filled a cup with his own hand and drank it off. Then filling a second he said, “To thy companionship!”; and dropped the drug into her cup, she knowing naught of it. She took it and drank it off; then she rose and went to her sleeping chamber. He waited for less than an hour till he was assured that the dose had taken effect on her and had robbed her of her senses, when he went in to her and found her thrown on her back: and she had doffed her petticoat trousers and the air raised the skirt of her shift and discovered what was between her thighs. When the King saw the state of things and found a lighted candle at her head and another at her feet, shining upon what her thighs enshrined he took leave of his five senses for lust and Satan seduced him and he could not master himself, but put off his trousers and fell upon her and abated her maiden head. Then he rose off her and went to one of her women, by name Marjánah, and said, “Go in to thy lady and speak with her.” So she went in to her mistress and found her lying on her back insensible, with the blood running down to the calves of her legs, whereupon she took a kerchief and wiped away the blood and lay by her that night. As soon as Almighty Allah brought the dawn, the handmaid Marjanah washed her mistress’s hands and feet and brought rose water and bathed her face and mouth with it, where upon she sneezed and yawned and cast up from her inside that bit of Bhang like a bolus.4 Then she revived and washed her hands and mouth and said to Marjanah, “Tell me what hath befallen me.” So she told her what had passed and how she had found her, lying on her back, with the blood running down, wherefore she knew that King Omar bin al-Nu’uman had lain with her and had undone her and taken his will of her. At this she grieved with exceeding grief and retired into privacy, saying to her damsels, “Deny me to whoso would come in to me and say to him that I am ill, till I see what Allah will do with me.” Presently the news of her sickness came to the King; so he sent her sherbets and sugar electuaries. Some months she thus passed in solitude, during which time the King’s flame cooled and his desire for her was quenched, so that he abstained from her. Now she had conceived by him, and when the months of child breeding had gone by, her pregnancy appeared and her belly swelled, and the world was straitened upon her, so she said to her handmaid Marjanah, “Know that it is not the folk who have wronged me, but I who sinned against my own self5 in that I left my father and mother and country. Indeed, I abhor life, for my spirit is broken and neither courage nor strength is left me. I used, when I mounted my steed, to have the mastery of him, but now I am unable to ride. If I be brought to bed among them I shall be dishonoured before my hand women and every one in the palace will know that he hath taken my maidenhead in the way of shame; and if I return to my father, with what face shall I meet him or with what face shall I have recourse to him? How well quoth the poet,

‘Say, what shall solace one who hath nor home nor stable stead

Nor cup companion, nor a cup, nor place to house his head?’”

Marjanah answered her, “It is thine to command; I will obey;” and Abrizah said, “I desire at once to leave this place secretly, so that none shall know of me but thou; and return to my father and my mother, for when flesh stinketh, there is naught for it but its own folk and Allah shall do with me e’en as He will.” “O Princess,” Marjanah replied, “what thou wouldest do is well.” Then she made matters ready and kept her secret and waited for some days till the King went out to chase and hunt, and his son Sharrkan betook himself to certain of the fortresses to sojourn there awhile. Then said she to Marjanah, “I wish to set out this night, but how shall I do against my destiny? For already I feel the pangs of labour and child birth, and if I abide other four or five days, I shall be brought to bed here, and I shall be unable to travel to my country. But this is what was written on my forehead.” Then she considered awhile, and said to Marjanah, “Look us out a man who will go with us and serve us by the way, for I have no strength to bear arms.” “By Allah, O my lady,” replied Marjanah, “I know none but a black slave called Al-Ghazbán,6 who is one of the slaves of King Omar bin al-Nu’uman; he is a valiant wight, and he keepeth guard at our palace gate. The King appointed him to attend us, and indeed we have overwhelmed him with our favours; so, lookye, I will go out and speak with him of this matter, and promise him some monies and tell him that, if he have a mind to tarry with us, I will marry him to whom he will. He told me before to day that he had been a highwayman; so if he consent to us we shall win our wish and reach to our own land.” She rejoined, “Call him that I may talk with him;” whereupon Marjanah fared forth and said to the slave, ‘O Ghazban, Allah prosper thee, so thou fall in with what my lady saith to thee!” Then she took him by the hand and brought him to the Princess, whose hands he kissed but as she beheld him, her heart took fright at him. “How ever,” she said to herself, “of a truth, Need giveth the law;” and she approached to speak with him, yet her heart started away from him. Presently she said, “O Ghazban, say me, wilt thou help me against the perfidies of Fortune and conceal my secret if I discover it to thee?” When the slave saw her, his heart was taken by storm and he fell in love with her forthright and could not but reply; “O my mistress, whatsoever thou biddest me do, I will not depart therefrom.” Quoth she, “I would have thee take me at this hour and take this my handmaid and saddle us two camels and two of the King’s horses and set on each horse a saddle bag of goods and somewhat of provaunt, and go with us to our own country; where, if thou desire to abide with us, I will marry thee to her thou shalt choose of my handmaidens, or, if thou prefer return to thine own land, we will marry thee and give thee whatso thou desires” after thou hast taken of money what shall satisfy thee.” When Al Ghazban, heard this, he rejoiced with great joy and replied, “O my lady, I will serve both of you with mine eyes and will go at once and saddle the horses.” Then he went away gladsome and saying to himself, “I shall get my will of them and if they will not yield to me, I will kill them both and take their riches.” But he kept this his intent to himself, and presently returned with two camels and three head of horses, one of which he rode, and Princess Abrizah made Marjanah mount the second she mounting the third, albeit she was in labour pains and possessed not her soul for anguish. And the slave ceased not travelling with them night and day through the passes of the mountains, till there remained but musingly march between them and their own country; when the travail pangs came upon Abrizah and she could no longer resist; so she said to Al–Ghazban, “Set me down, for the pains of labour are upon me;” and cried to Marjanah, “Do thou alight and sit by me and deliver me.” Then Marjanah dismounted from her horse, and Al–Ghazban did in like sort, and they made fast the bridles and helped the Princess to dismount, for she was aswoon from excess of anguish. When Al–Ghazban saw her on the ground, Satan entered into him and he drew his falchion and brandishing it in her face, said “O my lady, vouchsafe me thy favours.” Hearing these words she turned to him and said, “It remaineth for me only that I yield me to negro slaves, after having refused Kings and Braves!”— And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

1 Showing that she was still a Christian.

2 This is not Badawi sentiment: the honoratioren amongst wild people would scorn such foul play; but amongst the settled Arabs honour between men and women is unknown and such “hocussing” would be held quite fair.

3 The table of wine, in our day, is mostly a japanned tray with glasses and bottles, saucers of pickles and fruits and, perhaps, a bunch of flowers and aromatic herbs. During the Caliphate the “wine-service” was on a larger scale.

4 Here the “Bhang” (almost a generic term applied to hellebore, etc.) may be hyoscyamus or henbane. Yet there are varieties of Cannabis, such as the Dakha of South Africa capable of most violent effect. I found the use of the drug well known to the negroes of the Southern United States and of the Brazil, although few of their owners had ever heard of it.

5 Amongst Moslems this is a reference to Adam who first “sinned against himself,’ and who therefore is called ” Safíyu’llah,” the Pure of Allah. (Pilgrimage iii. 333.)

6 Meaning, an angry, violent man.

Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:52