She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that they laid Sharrkan out and buried him in the mountain aforesaid and mourned over his far-famed virtues. Then they looked for the opening of the city gate; but it opened not and no sign of men appeared to them on the walls; whereat they wondered with exceeding wonder. But King Zau al-Makan said, “By Allah, I will not turn back from them, though I sit here for years and years, till I take blood revenge for my brother Sharrkan and waste Constantinople and kill the King of the Nazarenes, even if death overcome me and I be at rest from this woeful world!” Then he bade be brought out the treasure taken from the Monastery of Matruhina; and mustered the troops and divided the monies among them, and he left not one of them but he gave him gifts which contented him. Moreover, he assembled in the presence three hundred horse of every division and said to them, “Do ye send supplies to your households, for I am resolved to abide by this city, year after year, till I have taken man bote for my brother Sharrkan, even if I die in this stead.” And when the army heard these words and had received his gifts of money they replied, “To hear is to obey!” Thereupon he summoned couriers and gave them letters and charged them to deliver the same, together with the monies, to the soldiers’ families and inform them that all were safe and satisfied, and acquaint them saying, “We are encamped before Constantinople and we will either destroy it or die; and, albeit we be obliged to abide here months and years, we will not depart hence till we take it.” Moreover, he bade the Wazir Dandan write to his sister, Nuzhat al-Zaman, and said to him, “Acquaint her with what hath befallen us, and what be our situation and commend my child to her care since that, when I went out to war, my wife was near her delivery and by this time she must needs have been brought to bed; and if she hath given birth to a boy, as I have heard say, hasten your return and bring me the acceptable news.” Then he gave them somewhat of money, which they pouched and set out at once; and all the people flocked forth to take leave of them and entrust them with the monies and the messages. After they had departed, Zau al-Makan turned to the Wazir Dandan and commanded him to advance with the army against the city walls. So the troops pushed forward, but found none on the ramparts, whereat they marvelled, while Zau al-Makan was troubled at the case, for he deeply mourned the severance from his brother Sharrkan and he was sore perturbed about that traitor the Ascetic. In this condition they abode three days without seeing anyone. So far concerning the Moslems; but as regards the Greeks and the cause of their refusing to fight during these three days the case was this. As soon as Zat al-Dawahi had slain Sharrkan, she hastened her march and reached the walls of Constantinople, where she called out in the Greek tongue to the guards to throw her down a rope. Quoth they, “Who art thou?”; and quoth she, “I am Zat al-Dawahi.” They knew her and let down a cord to which she tied herself and they drew her up; and, when inside the city, she went in to the King Afridun and said to him, “What is this I hear from the Moslems? They say that my son King Hardub is slain.” He answered, “Yes;” and she shrieked out and wept right grievously and ceased not weeping thus till she made Afridun and all who were present weep with her. Then she told the King how she had slain Sharrkan and thirty of his servants, whereat he rejoiced and thanked her; and, kissing her hands, exhorted her to resignation for the loss of her son. Said she, “By the truth of the Messiah, I will not rest content with killing that dog of the Moslem dogs in blood revenge for my son, a King of the Kings of the age! Now there is no help for it but that I work some guile and I contrive a wile whereby to slay the Sultan Zau al-Makan and the Wazir Dandan and the Chamberlain and Rustam and Bahram and ten thousand cavaliers of the army of Al–Islam; for it shall never be said that my son’s head be paid with the bloodwit of Sharrkan’s head; no, never!” Then said she to King Afridun, “Know, O King of the Age, that it is my wish to set forth mourning for my son and to cut my Girdle and to break the Crosses.” Replied Afridun, “Do what thou desire; I will not gainsay thee in aught. And if thou prolong thy mourning for many days it were a little thing; for though the Moslems resolve to beleaguer us years and years, they will never win their will of us nor gain aught of us save trouble and weariness.” Then the Accursed One (when she had ended with the calamity she had wrought and the ignominies which in herself she had thought) took ink case and paper and wrote thereon: “From Shawahi, Zat al-Dawahi, to the host of the Moslems. Know ye that I entered your country and duped by my cunning your nobles and at first hand I slew your King Omar bin al-Nu’uman in the midst of his palace. Moreover, I slew, in the affair of the mountain pass and of the cave, many of your men; and the last I killed were Sharrkan and his servants. And if fortune do not stay me and Satan obey me, I needs must slay me your Sultan and the Wazir Dandan, for I am she who came to you in disguise of a Recluse and who heaped upon you my devices and deceits. Wherefore, an you would be in safety after this, fare ye forth at once; and if you seek your own destruction cease not abiding for the nonce; and though ye tarry here years and years, ye shall not do your desire on us. And so peace be yours!” After writing her writ she devoted three days to mourning for King Hardub; arid, on the fourth, she called a Knight and bade him take the letter and make it fast to a shaft and shoot it into the Moslem camp. When this was done, she entered the church and gave herself up to weeping and wailing for the loss of her son, saying to him who took the kingship after him, “Nothing will serve me but I must kill Zau al-Makan and all the nobles of Al–Islam.” Such was the case with her; but as regards what occurred to the Moslems, all passed three days in trouble and anxiety, and on the fourth when gazing at the walls behold, they saw a knight holding a bow and about to shoot an arrow along whose side a letter was bound. So they waited till he had shot it among them and the Sultan bade the Wazir Dandan take the missive and read it. He perused it accordingly; and, when Zau al-Makan heard it to end and understood its purport, his eyes filled with tears and he shrieked for agony at her perfidy; and the Minister Dandan said, “By Allah, my heart shrank from her!” Quoth the Sultan, “How could this whore play her tricks upon us twice? But by the Almighty I will not depart hence till I fill her cleft with molten lead and jail her with the jailing of a bird encaged, then bind her with her own hair and crucify her over the gate of Constantinople.” And he called to mind his brother and wept with excessive weeping. But when Zat al-Dawahi arrived amongst the Infidels and related to them her adventures at length, they rejoiced at her safety and at the slaying of Sharrkan. There upon the Moslems addressed themselves again to the siege of the city and the Sultan promised his men that, if it should be taken, he would divide its treasures among them in equal parts. But he dried not his tears grieving for his brother till his body was wasted and sick, growing thin as a tooth pick. Presently the Wazir Dandan came in to him and said, “Be of good cheer and keep thine eyes cool and clear; in very sooth thy brother died not but because his hour was come, and there is no profit in this mourning. How well saith the poet,
“Whatso is not to be no sleight shall bring to pass;
What is to be without a failure shall become;
Soon the becoming fortune shall be found to be,
And Folly’s brother1 shall abide forlorn and glum.”
Wherefore do thou leave this weeping and wailing and hearten thy heart to bear arms.” He replied, “O Wazir, my heart is heavy for the death of my father and my brother and for our absence from hearth and home; and my mind is concerned for my subjects.” Thereupon the Wazir and the bystanders wept; but they ceased not from pushing forward the siege of Constantinople for a length of days. And they being thus, behold, news arrived from Baghdad, by one of the Emirs to the effect that the King’s wife had been blessed with a boy, and that his sister, Nuzhat al-Zaman, had named him Kánmákán.2 Moreover, that the boy bid fair to be famous, already showing wondrous signs and marvellous tokens; and that she had commanded the Olema and the preachers to pray for mother and child from the pulpits and bless them in all wise; furthermore that the twain were well, that the land had enjoyed abundant rains, and that his comrade the Fireman was established in all prosperity, with eunuchs and slaves to wait upon him; but that he was still ignorant of what had befallen him. And she ended with the greeting of peace. Then quoth Zau al — Makan to the Wazir Dandan, “Now is my back strengthened for that I have been blest with a son whose name is Kanmakan.”— And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when they brought him the news of his wife having borne him a boy child, Zau al — Makan rejoiced with great joy and cried, “Now is my back strengthened, for that I have been blessed with a son1 whose name is Kanmakan.” And he spake to the Wazir Dandan, saying, “I am minded to leave this mourning and order perfections of the Koran for my brother and command almsdeeds on his account.” Quoth the Wazir, “Thy design is good.” Thereupon he caused tents to be pitched over his brother’s tomb; so they raised them and gathered together such of the men at arms as could repeat the Koran; and some began reciting the Holy volume; whilst others chanted litanies containing the names of Allah, and thus they did till the morning. Then Zau al-Makan went up to the grave of his brother Sharrkan and poured forth copious tears, and improvised these couplets,
“They bore him bier’d, and all who followed wept
With Moses’ shrieks what day o’erhead shook Tor;2
Till reached the grave which Pate had made his home,
Dug in men’s souls who one sole God adore:
Ne’er had I thought before to see my joy
Borne on the bier which heads of bearers bore:
Ah no! nor ere they homed thee in the dust
That stars of heaven earth ever covered o’er.
Is the tomb dweller hostage of a stead,
Where light and splendour o’er thy face shall pour?
Praise to restore his life her word hath pledged:
Cribbed and confined he shall dispread the more!”
When Zau al-Makan had made an end of his versifying he wept and wept with him all the troops; then he came to the grave and threw himself upon it wild with woe, and the Wazir repeated the words of the poet,
“Pain leaving life that fleets thou hast th’ eternal won;
Thou didst as whilom many a doer like thee hath done
Leftest this worldly house without reproach or blame;
Ah, may th’ ex change secure thee every benison!
Thou west from hostile onset shield and firm defence,
For us to baffle shafts and whistling spears to shun.
I see this world is only cheat and vanity,
Where man naught else must seek but please the Truthful One:
Th’ Empyrean’s Lord allow thee bower of heavenly bliss,
And wi’ thy faithful friends The Guide show goodly wone:
I bid thee last good e’en with sigh of bitter grief,
West in woe for lack of Easting Sun.”
When the Wazir Dandan had finished his reciting, he wept with sore weeping and the tears rained from his eyes like cushioned pearls. Then came forward one who had been of Sharrkan’s boon companions in his cups and he wept till ran in rills the drops, and he enumerated the dead man’s generous qualities, reciting the following pentastichs,
“Where gone is Bounty since thy hand is turned to clay?
And I in misery lie since thou west ta’en away.
See’st not, O litter guide3 (Heaven keep thee glad and gay!),
How tears adorn my cheeks, these furrowed wrinkles fray?
A sight to joy thine eyes and fill thee with dismay.4
By Allah ne’er this heart within I spoke of thee;
Ah no! nor dared my sight to see thy brilliancy:
Save that my tear drops sorest wound have garred me dree
Yea! and if e’er on other rest these eyne of me,
May yearning draw their reins nor suffer sleep to see.”
And when the man stinted reciting, Zau al-Makan and the Minister Dandan wept and the whole army was moved to tears; after which all retired to their tents, and the King turning to the Wazir took counsel with him concerning the conduct of the campaign. On this wise the two passed days and nights, while Zau al-Makan was weighed down with grief and mourning till at last he said, “I long to hear stories and adventures of Kings and tales of lover folk enslaved by love; haply Allah may make this to solace that which is on my heart of heavy anxiety, and stint and stay my weeping and wailing.” Quoth the Wazir, “If naught can dispel thy trouble but hearing curious tales of Kings and people long gone before and stories of folk enslaved by love of yore, and so forth, this thing were easy, for I had no other business, in the lifetime of thy father (who hath found mercy) than to relate stories and to repeat verses to him. This very night I will tell thee a tale of a lover and his beloved, so shall thy breast be broadened.” When Zau al-Makan heard these words from the Minister, his heart was set upon that which had been promised to him and he did nothing but watch for the coming of the night, that he might hear what the Wazir Dandan had to tell of the Kings of yore and distracted lovers long gone before. And hardly would he believe that night had fallen ere he bade light the wax candles and the lamps and bring all that was needful of meat and drink and perfume gear, and what not; and when all was in presence, he summoned the Wazir Dandan, and the Emirs Rustam and Bahram and Tarkash and the Grand Chamberlain; then waited till the whole party was seated before him; whereupon he turned to the Minister and said, “Know, O Wazir, that night is come and hath let down over us its veil of gloom, and we desire that thou tell us those tales which thou promisedst us.” Replied the Wazir, “With joy and good will.”— And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
1 A son being “the lamp of a dark house.”
2 When the Israelites refused to receive the Law (the souls of all the Prophets even those unborn being present at the Covenant), Allah tore up the mountain (Sinai which is not mentioned) by the roots and shook it over their heads to terrify them, saying, “Receive the Law which we have given you with a resolution to keep it” (Koran chaps. xlx. 170). Much of this story is from the Talmud (Abodah Sar. 2, 2, Tract Sabbath, etc.) whence Al–Islam borrowed so much of its Judaism, as it took Christianity from the Apocryphal New Testament. This tradition is still held by the Israelites, says Mr. Rodwell (p. 333) who refers it to a misunderstanding of Exod. xix. 17, rightly rendered in the E. version “at the nether part of the mountain.”
3 Arab. “Azghán” = the camel-litters in which women travel.
4 i.e. to joy foes and dismay friends.
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when King Zau Al–Makan summoned the Wazir and the Chamberlain and Rustam and Bahram, he turned towards the Minister Dandan and said, “Know, O Wazir, that night is come and hath let down over us its veil of gloom, and we desire that thou tell us those tales which thou promisedst us.” Replied the Wazir, “With love and gladness! Know, O auspicious King, that there reached my ears a relation of a lover and a loved one and of the discourse between them and what befel them of things rare and fair, a story such as repelleth care from the heart and dispelleth sorrow like unto that of the patriarch Jacob1; and it is as follows”:
1 Whose eyes became white (i.e. went blind) with mourning for his son Joseph (Koran, chaps. xii. 84). He recovered his sight when his face was covered with the shirt which Gabriel had given to the youth after his brethren had thrown him into the well.
There stood in times long gone by behind the Mountains of Ispahán, a city hight the Green City, wherein dwelt a King named Suláyman Sháh. Now he was a man of liberality and beneficence, of justice and integrity, of generosity and sincerity, to whom travellers repaired from every country, and his name was noised abroad in all regions and cities and he reigned many a year in high worship and prosperity, save that he owned neither wives nor children. He had a Minister who rivalled him in goodness and generosity and it so happened that one day, he sent for him and when he came into the presence said to him, “O my Wazir, my heart is heavy and my patience is past and my force faileth me, for that I have neither wife nor child. This is not the way of Kings who rule over all men, princes. and paupers; for they rejoice in leaving behind them children and successors whereby are doubled their number and their strength. Quoth the Prophet (whom Allah bless and keep!); ‘Marry ye, increase ye, and multiply ye, that I may boast me of your superiority over the nations on the Day of Resurrection.’ So what is thy rede, O Wazir? Advise me of what course and contrivance be advisable!” When the Minister heard these words, the tears sprang from his eyes in streams, and he replied, “Far be it from me, O King of the Age, that I debate on that which appertaineth to the Compassionate One! Wilt thou have me cast into the fire by the All powerful King’s wrath and ire? Buy thee a concubine.” Rejoined the King, “Know, O Wazir, that when a sovereign buyeth a female slave, he knoweth neither her rank nor her lineage and thus he cannot tell if she be of simple origin that he may abstain from her, or of gentle strain that he may be intimate in her companionship. So, if he have commerce with her, haply she will conceive by him and her son be a hypocrite, a man of wrath and a shedder of blood. Indeed the like of such woman may be instanced by a salt and marshy soil, which if one till for ever it yieldeth only worthless growth and no endurance show eth; for it may be that her son will be obnoxious to his Lord’s anger, doing not what He biddeth him or abstaining from what He for biddeth him. Wherefore will I never become the cause of this through the purchase of a concubine; and it is my desire that thou demand for me in marriage the daughter of some one of the Kings, whose lineage is known and whose loveliness hath renown. If thou can direct me to some maiden of birth and piety of the daughters of Moslem Sovranty, I will ask her in marriage and wed her in presence of witnesses, so may accrue to me the favour of the Lord of all Creatures.” Said the Wazir, “O King, verily Allah hath fulfilled thy wish and hath brought thee to thy desire;” presently adding, “Know, O King, it hath come to my knowledge that King Zahr Shah,1 Lord of the White Land, hath a daughter of surpassing loveliness whose charms talk and tale fail to express: she hath not her equal in this age, for she is perfect in proportion and symmetry, black eyed as if Kohl dyed and long locked, wee of waist and heavy of hip. When she draweth nigh she seduceth and when she turneth her back2 she slayeth; she ravisheth heart and view and she looketh even as saith of her the poet,
‘A thin waist maid who shames the willow wand;
Nor sun nor moon can like her rising shine:
’Tis as her honey dew of lips were blent
With wine, and pearls of teeth were bathed in wine:
Her form, like heavenly Houri’s, graceful slim;
Fair face; and ruin dealt by glancing eyne:
How many a dead done man her eyes have slain
Upon her way of love in ruin li’en:
An live I she’s my death! I’ll say no more
But dying without her vain were life of mine.’ ”
Now when the Wazir had made an end of describing that maiden, he said to Sulayman Shah, “It is my counsel, O King, that thou despatch to her father an ambassador, sagacious, experienced and trained in the ways of the world, who shall courteously demand her in marriage for thee of her sire; for in good sooth she hath not her equal in the far parts of the world nor in the near. So shalt thou enjoy her lovely face in the way of grace, and the Lord of Glory be content with thy case; for it is reported of the Prophet (whom Allah bless and preserve!) that he said, ‘There be no monkery in Al–Islam.”’ At this the King was transported to perfect joy; his breast was broadened and lightened; care and cark ceased from him and he turned to the Wazir and said, “Know thou, O Minister, that none shall fare about this affair save thou, by reason of thy consummate intelligence and good breeding; wherefore hie thee home and do all thou hast to do and get thee ready by the morrow and depart and demand me in marriage this maiden, with whom thou hast occupied my heart and thought; and return not to me but with her.” Replied the Wazir, “I hear and I obey.” Then he tried to his own house and bade make ready presents befitting Kings, of precious stones and things of price and other matters light of load but weighty of worth, besides Rabite steeds and coats of mail, such as David made3 and chests of treasure for which speech hath no measure. And the Wazir loaded the whole on camels and mules, and set out attended by an hundred slave girls with flags and banners flaunting over his head. The King charged him to return to him after a few days; and, when he was gone, Sulayman Shah lay on coals of fire, engrossed night and day with desire; while the envoy fared on without ceasing through gloom and light, spanning fertile field and desert site, till but a day’s march remained between him and the city whereto he was bound. Here he sat him down on the banks of a river and, summoning one of his confidants, bade him wend his way to King Zahr Shah and announce his approach without delay. Quoth the messenger, “I hear and I obey!” And he rode on in haste to that city and, as he was about to enter therein, it so chanced that the King, who was sitting in one of his pleasaunces before the city gate, espied him as he was passing the doors, and knowing him for a stranger, bade bring him before the presence. So the messenger coming forward informed him of the approach of the Wazir of the mighty King Sulayman Shah, Lord of the Green Land and of the Mountains of Ispahan: whereat King Zahr Shah rejoiced and welcomed him. Then he carried him to his palace and asked him, “Where leavedst thou the Wazir?”; and he answered, “I left him in early day on the banks of such a river and tomorrow he will reach thee, Allah continue his favours to thee and have mercy upon thy parents!” Thereupon King Zahr Shah commanded one of his Wazirs to take the better part of his Grandees and Chamberlains and Lieutenants and Lords of the land, and go out to meet the ambassador in honour of King Sulayman Shah; for that his dominion extended over the country. Such was the case with Zahr Shah; but as regards the Wazir he abode in his stead till night was half spent4 and then set out for the city; but when morning shone and the sun rose upon hill and down, of a sudden he saw King Zahr Shah’s Wazir approaching him, with his Chamberlains and high Lords and Chief Officers of the kingdom; and the two parties joined company at some parasangs’ distance from the city.5 Thereat the Wazir made sure of the success of his errand and saluted the escort, which ceased not preceding him till they reached the King’s palace and passed in before him through the gate to the seventh vestibule, a place where none might enter on horseback, for it was near to where the King sat. So the Minister alighted and fared on a foot till he came to a lofty saloon, at whose upper end stood a marble couch, set with pearls and stones of price, and having for legs four elephant’s tusks. Upon it was a coverlet of green satin purfled with red gold, and above it hung a canopy adorned with pearls and gems, whereon sat King Zahr Shah, whilst his officers of state stood in attendance before him. When the Wazir went in to him, he composed his mind and, unbinding his tongue, displayed the oratory of Wazirs and saluted the King in the language of eloquence. — And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say,
1 “Poison King” (Persian); or “Flower–King” (Arabic).
2 A delicate allusion to the size of her hips and back parts, in which volume is, I have said, greatly admired for the best of reasons.
3 All Prophets had some manual trade and that of David was making coats of mail, which he invented, for before his day men used plate-armour. So “Allah softened the iron for him” and in his hands it became like wax (Koran xxi. xxxiv., etc.). Hence a good coat of mail is called “Davidean.” I have noticed (First Footsteps, p. 33 and elsewhere) the homage paid to the blacksmith on the principle which made Mulciber (Malik Kabir) a god. The myth of David inventing mail possibly arose from his peculiarly fighting career. Moslems venerate Dáúd on account of his extraordinary devotion, nor has this view of his character ceased: a modern divine preferred him to “all characters in history.”
4 “Travel by night,” said the Prophet, “when the plagues of earth (scorpions, serpents, etc.) afflict ye not.” Yet the night- march in Arabia is detestable (Pilgrimage iii.).
5 This form of ceremony is called “Istikbál” (coming forth to greet) and is regulated by the severest laws of etiquette. As a rule the greater the distance (which may be a minimum of one step) the higher the honour. Easterns infinitely despise strangers who ignore these vitals of politeness.
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the Wazir of King Sulayman Shah entered the presence of King Zahr Shah he composed his mind and, unbinding his tongue, displayed the oratory of Wazirs and saluted the King in the language of eloquence and improvised these couplets,
“He cometh robed and bending gracefully:
O’er crop and cropper dews of grace sheds he:
He charms; nor characts, spells nor gramarye
May fend the glances of those eyne from thee:
Say to the blamer, “Blame me not, for I
From love of him will never turn to flee”:
My heart hath played me false while true to him,
And Sleep, in love with him, abhorreth me:
O heart! th’art not the sole who loveth him,
So bide with him while I desertion dree:
There’s nought to joy mine ears with joyous sound
Save praise of King Zahr Shah in jubilee:
A King albeit thou leave thy life to win
One look, that look were all sufficiency:
And if a pious prayer thou breathe for him,
Shall join all Faithfuls in such pious gree:
Folk of his realm! If any shirk his right
For other hoping, gross Unfaith I see.”
When the Wazir had ended his poetry, King Zahr Shah bade him draw near and honoured him with the highmost honours; then, seating him by his own side, smiled in his face and favoured him with a gracious reply. They ceased not on this wise till the time of the under meal when the attendants brought forward the tables of food in that saloon and all ate till they were sated; after which the tables were removed and those who were in the assembly withdrew, leaving only the chief officers. Now when the Minister saw this, he rose to his feet and, after complimenting the King a second time and kissing the ground before him, spake as follows, “O mighty King and dread Lord! I have travelled hither and have visited thee upon a matter which shall bring thee peace, profit and prosperity: and it is this, that I come as ambassador to thee, seeking in marriage thy daughter, the noble and illustrious maid, from Sulayman Shah, a Prince famed for justice and integrity, sincerity and generosity, Lord of the Green Land and of the Mountains of Ispahan, who sendeth thee of presents a store, and gifts of price galore, ardently desiring to become thy son in law. But art thou inclined to him as he to thee?” He then kept silence, awaiting a reply. When King Zahr Shah heard these words, he sprang to his feet and kissed the ground respectfully before the Wazir, while the bystanders were confounded at his condescension to the ambassador and their minds were amazed. Then he praised Him who is the Lord of Honour and Glory and replied (and he still standing), “O mighty Wazir and illustrious Chief; hear thou what I say! Of a truth we are to King Sulayman Shah of the number of his subjects, and we shall be ennobled by his alliance and we covet it ardently; for my daughter is a handmaid of his handmaidens, and it is my dearest desire that he may become my stay and my reliable support.” Then he summoned the Kazis and the witnesses, who should bear testimony that King Sulayman Shah had despatched his Wazir as proxy to conclude the marriage, and that King Zahr Shah joyfully acted and officiated for his daughter. So the Kazis concluded the wedding contract and offered up prayers for the happiness and prosperity of the wedded feres; after which the Wazir arose and, fetching the gifts and rarities and precious things, laid them all before the King. Then Zahr Shah occupied himself anent the fitting out of his daughter and honourably entertained the Wazir and feasted his subjects all, great and small; and for two months they held high festival, omitting naught that could rejoice heart and eye. Now when all things needful for the bride were ready, the King caused the tents to be carried out and they pitched the camp within sight of the city, where they packed the bride’s stuffs in chests and get ready the Greek handmaids and Turkish slave girls, and provided the Princess with great store of precious treasures and costly jewels. Then he had made for her a litter of red gold, inlaid with pearls and stones of price, and set apart two mules to carry it; a litter which was like one of the chambers of a palace, and within which she seemed as she were of the loveliest Houris and it became as one of the pavilions of Paradise. And after they had made bales of the treasures and monies, and had loaded them upon the mules and camels, King Zahr Shah went forth with her for a distance of three parasangs; after which he bade farewell to her and the Wazir and those with him, and returned to his home in gladness and safety. Thereupon the Wazir, faring with the King’s daughter, pushed on and ceased not his stages over desert ways — And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the Wazir fared on with the King’s daughter and ceased not forcing his stages over desert ways and hastened his best through nights and days, till there remained between him and his city but three marches. Thereupon he sent forward to King Sulayman Shah one who should announce the coming of the bride. The King rejoiced thereat and bestowed on the messenger a dress of honour; and bade his troops march forth in grand procession to meet the Princess and her company for due worship and honour, and don their richest apparel with banners flying over their heads. And his orders were obeyed. He also commanded to cry throughout the city that neither curtained damsel nor honoured lady nor time-ruptured crone should fail to fare forth and meet the bride. So they all went out to greet her and the grandest of them vied in doing her service and they agreed to bring her to the King’s palace by night. More over, the chief officers decided to decorate the road and to stand in espalier of double line, whilst the bride should pass by preceded by her eunuchs and serving women and clad in the gear her father had given her. So when she made her appearance, the troops surrounded her, these of the right wing and those of the left, and the litter ceased not advancing with her till she approached the palace; nor remained any but came forth to gaze upon the Princess. Drums were beaten and spears were brandished and horns blared and flags fluttered and steeds pranced for precedence and scents shed fragrance till they reached the Palace gate and the pages entered with the litter through the Harim wicket. The place shone with its splendours and the walls glittered for the glamour of its gear. Now when night came, the eunuchs threw open the doors of the bridal chamber and stood surrounding the chief entrance whereupon the bride came forward and amid her damsels she was like the moon among stars or an union shining on a string of lesser pearls, and she passed into the bridal closet where they had set for her a couch of alabaster inlaid with unions and jewels. As soon as she had taken seat there, the King came in to her and Allah filled his heart with her love so he abated her maidenhead and ceased from him his trouble and disquiet. He abode with her well nigh a month but she had conceived by him the first night; and, when the month was ended, he went forth and sat on his sofa of state, and dispensed justice to his subjects, till the months of her pregnancy were accomplished. On the last day of the ninth month, towards day break, the Queen was seized with the pangs of labour; so she sat down on the stool of delivery and Allah made the travail easy to her and she gave birth to a boy child, on whom appeared auspicious signs. When the King heard of this, he joyed with exceeding joy and rewarded the bearer of the good tidings with much treasure; and of his gladness he went in to the child and kissed him between the eyes and wondered at his brilliant loveliness; for in him was approved the saying of the poet,
“In the towering forts Allah throned him King,
A lion, a star in the skies of reign:
At his rising the spear and the throne rejoiced,
The gazelle, the ostrich, The men of main:1
Mount him not on the paps, for right soon he’ll show
That to throne on the war steed’s loins he’s fain:
And wean him from sucking of milk, for soon
A sweeter drink, the foe’s blood, he’ll drain.”
Then the midwives took the newborn child and cut the navel cord and darkened his eyelids with Kohl powder2 and named him Táj al-Mulúk Khárán.3 He was suckled at the breast of fond indulgence and was reared in the lap of happy fortune; and thus his days ceased not running and the years passing by till he reached the age of seven. Thereupon Sulayman Shah summoned the doctors and learned men and bade them teach his son writing and science and belle-lettres. This they continued to do for some years, till he had learnt what was needful; and, when the King saw that he was well grounded in whatso he desired, he took him out of the teachers’ and professors’ hands and engaged for him a skilful master, who taught him cavalarice and knightly exercises till the boy attained the age of fourteen; and when he fared abroad on any occasion, all who saw him were ravished by his beauty and made him the subject of verse; and even pious men were seduced by his brilliant loveliness. — And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, That when Taj al-Muluk Kharan, son of Sulayman Shah, became perfect in riding craft and excelled all those of his time, his excessive beauty, when he fared abroad on any occasion, caused all who saw him to be ravished and to make him the subject of verse; and even pious men were seduced by his brilliant loveliness. Quoth the poet of him,
“I clipt his form and wax’d drunk with his scent,
Fair branch to whom Zephyr gave nutriment:
Nor drunken as one who drinks wine, but drunk
With night draught his lips of the honey dew lent:
All beauty is shown in the all of him,
Hence all human hearts he in hand hath hens:
My mind, by Allah! shall ne’er unmind
His love, while I wear life’s chains till spent:
If I live, in his love I’ll live; if I die
For pine and longing, ‘O blest!’ I’ll cry
When he reached the eighteenth year of his age, tender down1 sprouted, on his side face fresh with youth, from a mole upon one rosy cheek and a second beauty spot, like a grain of ambergris adorned the other; and he won the wits and eyes of every wight who looked on him, even as saith the poet,
“He is Caliph of Beauty in Yúsufs lieu,
And all lovers fear when they sight his grace:
Pause and gaze with me; on his cheek thou’lt sight
The Caliphate’s banner of sable hue.”2
And as saith another,
“Thy sight hath never seen a fairer sight,
Of all things men can in the world espy,
Than yon brown mole, that studs his bonny cheek
Of rosy red beneath that jet black eye.”
And as saith another,
“I marvel seeing yon mole that serves his cheeks’ bright flame
Yet burneth not in fire albeit Infidel3
I wonder eke to see that apostolic glance,
Miracle working, though it work by magic spell:
How fresh and bright the down that decks his cheek, and yet
Bursten gall bladders feed which e’en as waters well.”
And as saith another,
“I marvel hearing people questioning of
The Fount of Life and in what land ’tis found:
I see it sprung from lips of dainty fawn,
Sweet rosy mouth with green mustachio down’d:
And wondrous wonder ’tis when Moses viewed
That Fount, he rested not from weary round.”4
Now having developed such beauty, when he came to man’s estate his loveliness increased, and it won for him many comrades and intimates; while every one who drew near to him wished that Taj al-Muluk Kharan might become Sultan after his father’s death, and that he himself might be one of his Emirs. Then took he passionately to chasing and hunting which he would hardly leave for a single hour. His father, King Sulayman Shah, would have forbidden him the pursuit fearing for him the perils of the waste and the wild beasts; but he paid no heed to his warning voice. And it so chanced that once upon a time he said to his attendants “Take ye ten days food and forage;” and, when they obeyed his bidding, he set out with his suite for sport and disport. They rode on into the desert and ceased not riding four days, till they came to a place where the ground was green, and they saw in it wild beasts grazing and trees with ripe fruit growing and springs flowing. Quoth Taj al-Muluk to his followers, “Set up the nets here and peg them in a wide ring and let our trysting place be at the mouth of the fence, in such a spot.” So they obeyed his words and staked out a wide circle with toils; and there gathered together a mighty matter of all kinds of wild beasts and gazelles, which cried out for fear of the men and threw themselves for fright in the face of the horses. Then they loosed on to them the hounds and lynxes5 and hawks; 6 and they shot the quarry down with shafts which pierced their vitals; and, by the time they came to the further end of the net ring, they had taken a great number of the wild beasts, and the rest fled. Then Taj al-Muluk dismounted by the water side and bade the game be brought before himself, and divided it, after he had set apart the best of the beasts for his father, King Sulayman Shah, and despatched the game to him; and some he distributed among the officers of his court. He passed the night in that place, and when morning dawned there came up a caravan of merchants conveying negro slaves and white servants, and halted by the water and the green ground. When Taj al-Muluk saw them, he said to one of his companions, “Bring me news of yonder men and question them why they have halted in this place.”7 So the messenger went up to them and addressed them, “Tell me who ye be, and answer me an answer without delay.” Replied they, “We are merchants and have halted to rest, for that the next station is distant and we abide here because we have confidence in King Sulayman Shah and his son, Taj al-Muluk, and we know that all who alight in his dominions are in peace and safety; more over we have with us precious stuffs which we have brought for the Prince.” So the messenger returned and told these news to the King’s son who, hearing the state of the case and what the merchants had replied, said, “If they have brought stuff on my account I will not enter the city nor depart hence till I see it shown to me.” Then he mounted horse and rode to the caravan and his Mamelukes followed him till he reached it. Thereupon the merchants rose to receive him and invoked on him Divine aid and favour with continuance of glory and virtues; after which they pitched him a pavilion of red satin, embroidered with pearls and jewels, wherein they spread him a kingly divan upon a silken carpet worked at the upper end with emeralds set in gold. There Taj al-Muluk seated himself whilst his white servants stood in attendance upon him, and sent to bid the merchants bring out all that they had with them. Accordingly, they produced their merchandise, and displayed the whole and he viewed it and took of it what liked him, paying them the price. Then he looked about him at the caravan, and remounted and was about to ride onwards, when his glance fell on a handsome youth in fair attire, and a comely and shapely make, with flower white brow and moon like face, save that his beauty was wasted and that yellow hues had overspread his cheeks by reason of parting from those he loved; — And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
1 Lane (i. 531) translates “the grey down.” The Arabs use “Akhzar” (prop. “green”) in many senses, fresh, gray-hued, etc.
2 Allusion to the well-known black banners of the house of Abbas. The Persians describe the growth of hair on a fair young face by, “His cheeks went into mourning for the loss of their charms.”
3 Arab. “Káfir” a Koranic word meaning Infidel, the active participle of Kufr= Infidelity i.e. rejecting the mission of Mohammed. It is insulting and in Turkish has been degraded to “Giaour.” Here it means black, as Hafiz of Shiraz terms a cheek mole “Hindu” i.e. dark-skinned and idolatrous.
4 Alluding to the travel of Moses (Koran chaps. xviii.) with Al–Khizr (the “evergreen Prophet”) who had drunk of the Fountain of Life and enjoyed flourishing and continual youth. Moses is represented as the external and superficial religionist; the man of outsight; Al–Khizr as the spiritual and illuminated man of insight.
5 The lynx was used like the lion in Ancient Egypt and the Chita-leopard in India: I have never seen or heard of it in these days.
6 Arab. “Sukúr,” whence our “Saker” the falcon, not to be confounded with the old Falco Sacer, the Gr.. Falconry which, like all arts, began in Egypt, is an extensive subject throughout Moslem lands. I must refer my readers to “Falconry in the Valley of the Indus” (Van Voorst, 1852) and a long note in Pilgrimage iii. 71.
7 It was not respectful to pitch their camp within dog-bark.
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Taj Al- Muluk, when he looked about him at the caravan, saw a handsome youth in neat attire and of shapely make, with flower like forehead and moon like face, save that his beauty was wasted and yellow hues had overspread his cheeks by reason of parting from those he loved; and great was his groaning and moaning, and the tears streamed from his eyelids as he repeated these couplets,
“Longsome is Absence; Care and Fear are sore,
And ceaseless tears, O friend, mine eyes outpour:
Yea, I farewelled my heart on parting day
And heartless, hopeless, now I bide forlore:
Pause, O my friend, with me farewelling one
Whose words my cure can work, my health restore!”
Now when the youth ended his poetry he wept awhile and fell down in a fainting fit, whilst Taj al-Muluk looked at him and wondered at his case. Then, coming to himself, he stared with distracted air, and versified in these couplets,
“Beware her glance I rede thee, ’tis like wizard wight,
None can escape unscathed those eye shafts’ glancing flight:
In very sooth black eyes, with languorous sleepy look,
Pierce deeper than white swords however these may bite.
Be not thy senses by her sweets of speech beguiled,
Whose brooding fever shall ferment in thought and sprite:
Soft sided Fair1 did silk but press upon her skin,
‘Twould draw red blood from it, as thou thyself canst sight.
Chary is she of charms twixt neck and anklets dwell,
And ah! what other scent shall cause me such delight?2”
Then he sobbed a loud sob and swooned away. But when Taj al- Muluk saw him in this case, he was perplexed about his state and went up to him; and, as the youth came to his senses and saw the King’s son standing at his head, he sprang to his feet and kissed the ground between his hands. Taj al-Muluk asked him, ‘Why didst thou not show us thy merchandise?” end he answered, O my lord, there is naught among my stock worthy of thine august highness.” Quoth the Prince, “Needs must thou show me what thou hast and acquaint me with thy circumstance; for I see thee weeping eyed and heavyhearted. If thou have been oppressed, we will end thine oppression, and if thou be in debt, we will pay thy debt; for of a truth my heart burneth to see thee, since I first set eyes on thee.”3 Then Taj al-Muluk bade the seats be set, and they brought him a chair of ivory and ebony with a net work of gold and silk, and spread him a silken rug for his feet. So he sat down on the chair and bidding the youth seat himself on the rug said to him, “Show me thy stock in trade!” The young merchant replied, “O my Lord, do not name this to me, for my goods be unworthy of thee.” Rejoined Taj al-Muluk “It needs must be thus!”; and bade some of the pages fetch the goods. So they brought them in despite of him; and, when he saw them, the tears streamed from his eyes and he wept and sighed and lamented: sobs rose in his throat and he repeated these couplets,
“By what thine eyelids show of Kohl and coquetry!
By what thy shape displays of lissome symmetry!
By what thy liplets store of honey dew and wine!
By what thy mind adorns of gracious kindly gree!
To me thy sight dream-visioned, O my hope! exceeds
The happiest escape from horriblest injury.”
Then the youth opened his bales and displayed his merchandise to Taj Al–Muluk in detail, piece by piece, and amongst them he brought out a gown of satin brocaded with gold, worth two thousand dinars. When he opened the gown there fell a piece of linen from its folds. As soon as the young merchant saw this he caught up the piece of linen in haste and hid it under his thigh; and his reason wandered, and he began versifying,
“When shall be healed of thee this heart that ever bides in woe?
Than thee the Pleiad-stars more chance of happy meeting show
Parting and banishment and longing pain and lowe of love,
Procrastinating4 and delay these ills my life lay low:
Nor union bids me live in joy, nor parting kills by grief,
Nor travel draws me nearer thee nor nearer comest thou:
Of thee no justice may be had, in thee dwells naught of rush,
Nor gain of grace by side of thee, nor flight from thee I know:
For love of thee all goings forth and comings back are strait
On me, and I am puzzled sore to know where I shall go.”
Taj al-Muluk wondered with great wonder at his verse, and could not comprehend the cause. But when the youth snatched up the bit of linen and placed it under thigh, he asked him, “What is that piece of linen?” “O my Lord,” answered the merchant, “thou hast no concern with this piece.” Quoth the King’s son, “Show it me;” and quoth the merchant, “O my lord, I refused to show thee my goods on account of this piece of linen; for I cannot let thee look upon it.”— And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say,
1 Easterns attach great importance to softness and smoothness of skin and they are right: a harsh rough epidermis spoils sport with the handsomest woman.
2 Canticles vii. 8: Hosea xiv. 6.
3 The mesmeric attraction of like to like.
4 Arab. “Taswif”=saying “Sauf,” I will do it soon. It is a beautiful word-etymologically.
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the young merchant said to Taj al-Muluk, “I did not refuse to show thee my goods save on this account, for I cannot let thee look upon it.” Whereupon Taj al Muluk retorted, “Perforce I must and will see it;” and insisted and became angry. So the youth drew it out from under his thigh, and wept and moaned and redoubled his sighs and groans, and repeated these verses,
“Now blame him not; for blame brings only irk and pain!
I spake him sooth but ne’er his ear could gain:
May Allah guard my moon which riseth in the vale
Beside our camp, from loosed robe like skyey plain:1
I left him but had Love vouchsafed to leave for me
Some peace in life such leave of him I ne’er had ta’en:
How long he pleaded for my sake on parting morn,
While down his cheeks and mine tears ran in railing rain:
Allah belie me not: the garb of mine excuse
This parting rent, but I will Mend that garb again!
No couch is easy to my side, nor on such wise
Aught easeth him, when all alone without me lain:
Time with ill omened hand hath wrought between us two,
And made my waxing joys to wane and his to wane,
And poured mere grief and woe, what time Time fain had crowned
The bowl he made me drink and gave for him to drain.”
When he ended his recitation, quoth Taj al-Muluk, “I see thy conduct without consequence; tell me then why weepest thou at the sight of this rag!” When the young merchant heard speak of the piece of linen, he sighed and answered, “O my lord, my story is a strange and my case out of range, with regard to this piece of linen and to her from whom I brought it and to her who wrought on it these figures and emblems.” Hereupon, he spread out the piece of linen, and behold, thereon was the figure of a gazelle wrought in silk and worked with red gold, and facing it was another gazelle traced in silver with a neck ring of red gold and three bugles2 of chrysolite upon the ring. When Taj al-Muluk saw the beauty of these figures, he exclaimed, “Glory be to Allah who teacheth man that which he knoweth not!”3 And his heart yearned to hear the youth’s story; so he said to him, “Tell me thy story with her who owned these gazelles.” Replied the young man: “Hear, O my Lord, the
My father was a wealthy merchant and Allah had vouchsafed him no other child than myself; but I had a cousin, Azízah hight, daughter of my paternal uncle and we twain were brought up in one house; for her father was dead and before his death, he had agreed with my father that I should marry her. So when I reached man’s estate and she reached womanhood, they did not separate her from me or me from her, till at last my father spoke to my mother and said, “This very year we will draw up the contract of marriage between Aziz and Azizah.” So having agreed upon this he betook himself to preparing provision for the wedding feast. Still we ceased not to sleep on the same carpet knowing naught of the case, albeit she was more thoughtful, more intelligent and quicker witted than I. Now when my father had made an end of his preparations, and naught remained for him but to write out the contract and for me but to consummate the marriage with my cousin, he appointed the wedding for a certain Friday, after public prayers; and, going round to his intimates among the mer chants and others, he acquainted them with that, whilst my mother went forth and invited her women friends and summoned her kith and kin. When the Friday came, they cleaned the saloon and prepared for the guests and washed the marble floor; then they spread tapestry about our house and set out thereon what was needful, after they had hung its walls with cloth of gold. Now the folk had agreed to come to us after the Friday prayers; so my father went out and bade them make sweetmeats and sugared dishes, and there remained nothing to do but to draw up the contract. Then my mother sent me to the bath and sent after me a suit of new clothes of the richest; and, when I came out of the Hammam, I donned those habits which were so perfumed that as I went along, there exhaled from them a delicious fragrance scenting the wayside. I had designed to repair to the Cathedral mosque when I bethought me of one of my friends and returned in quest of him that he might be present at the writing of the contract; and quoth I to myself, “This matter will occupy me till near the time of congregational prayer.” So I went on and entered a by street which I had never before entered, perspiring profusely from the effects of the bath and the new clothes on my body; and the sweat streamed down whilst the scents of my dress were wafted abroad: I therefore sat me at the upper end of the street resting on a stone bench, after spreading under me an embroidered kerchief I had with me. The heat oppressed me more and more, making my forehead perspire and the drops trickled along my cheeks; but I could not wipe my face with my kerchief because it was dispread under me. I was about to take the skirt of my robe and wipe my cheeks with it, when unexpectedly there fell on me from above a white kerchief, softer to the touch than the morning breeze and pleasanter to the sight than healing to the diseased. I hent it in hand and raised my head to see whence it had fallen, when my eyes met the eyes of the lady who owned these gazelles. — And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say
1 Both words (masc. and fem.) mean “dear, excellent, highly-prized.” The tale is the Arab form of the European “Patient Griselda” and shows a higher conception of womanly devotion, because Azizah, despite her wearisome weeping, is a girl of high intelligence and Aziz is a vicious zany, weak as water and wilful as wind. The phenomenon (not rare in life) is explained by the couplet:—
I love my love with an S—
Because he is stupid and not intellectual.
This fond affection of clever women for fools can be explained only by the law of unlikeness which mostly governs sexual unions in physical matters; and its appearance in the story gives novelty and point. Aziz can plead only the violence of his passion which distinguished him as a lover among the mob of men who cannot love anything beyond themselves. And none can pity him for losing a member which he so much abused.
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the youth continued to Taj al-Muluk: “So I raised my head to see whence this kerchief had fallen, when my eyes met those of the lady who owned these gazelles. And lo! she was looking out of a wicket in a lattice of brass and never saw my eyes a fairer than she, and in fine my tongue faileth to describe her beauty. When she caught sight of me looking at her, she put her forefinger into her mouth, then joined her middle finger and her witness finger1 and laid them on her bosom, between her breasts; after which she drew in her head and closed the wicket shutter and went her ways. There upon fire broke out in and was heaped upon my heart, and greater grew my smart; the one sight cost me a thousand sighs and I abode perplexed, for that I heard no word by her spoken, nor understood the meaning of her token. I looked at the window a second time, but found it shut and waited patiently till sundown, but sensed no sound and saw no one in view. So when I despaired of seeing her again, I rose from my place and taking up the handkerchief, opened it, when there breathed from it a scent of musk which caused me so great delight I became as one in Paradise.2 Then I spread it before me and out dropped from it a delicate little scroll; whereupon I opened the paper which was perfumed with a delicious perfume, and therein were writ these couplets,
“I sent to him a scroll that bore my plaint of love,
Writ in fine delicate hand; for writing proves man’s skill:
Then quoth to me my friend, ‘Why is thy writing thus;
So fine, so thin drawn ’tis to read unsuitable?’
Quoth I, ‘for that I’m fine-drawn wasted, waxed thin,
Thus lovers’ writ Should be, for so Love wills his will.
And after casting my eyes on the beauty of the kerchief,3 I saw upon one of its two borders the following couplets worked in with the needle,
“His cheek down writeth (O fair fall the goodly scribe!)
Two lines on table of his face in Rayhán-hand:4
O the wild marvel of the Moon when comes he forth!
And when he bends, O shame to every Willow wand!”
And on the opposite border these two couplets were traced,
“His cheek down writeth on his cheek with ambergris on pearl
Two lines, like jet on apple li’en, the goodliest design:
Slaughter is in those languid eyne whene’er a glance they deal,
And drunkenness in either cheek and not in any wine.”
When I read the poetry on the handkerchief the flames of love darted into my heart, and yearning and pining redoubled their smart. So I took the kerchief and the scroll and went home, knowing no means to win my wish, for that I was incapable of conducting love affairs and inexperienced in interpreting hints and tokens. Nor did I reach my home ere the night was far spent and I found the daughter of my uncle sitting in tears. But as soon as she saw me she wiped away the drops and came up to me, and took off my walking dress and asked me the reason of my absence, saying, “All the folk, Emirs and notables and merchants and others, assembled in our house; and the Kazi and the witnesses were also present at the appointed time. They ate and tarried awhile sitting to await thine appearance for the writing of the contract; and, when they despaired of thy presence, they dispersed and went their ways. And indeed,” she added, “thy father raged with exceeding wrath by reason of this, and swore that he would not celebrate our marriage save during the coming year, for that he hath spent on these festivities great store of money.” And she ended by asking, “What hath befallen thee this day to make thee delay till now?; and why hast thou allowed that to happen which happened because of thine absence?” Answered I, “O daughter of mine uncle, question me not concerning what hath befallen me.”5 Then I told her all that had passed from beginning to end, and showed her the handkerchief. She took the scroll and read what was written therein; and tears ran down her cheeks and she repeated these cinquains,
“Who saith that Love at first of free will came,
Say him: Thou liest! Love be grief and grame:
Yet shall such grame and grief entail no shame;
All annals teach us one thing and the same
Good current coin clips coin we may not crepe!
An please thou, say there’s pleasure in thy pain,
Fortune’s playful gambols glad and fain:
Or happy blessings in th’ unhappy’s bane,
That joy or grieve, with equal might and main:
Twixt phrase and antiphrase I’m all a heap!
But he, withal, whose days are summer bright,
Whom maids e’er greet with smiling lips’ delight;
Whom spicey breezes fan in every site
And wins whate’er he wills, that happy wight
White blooded coward heart should never keep!”
Then she asked me, “What said she, and what signs made she to thee?” I answered, “She uttered not a word, but put her fore finger in her mouth, then joining it to her middle finger, laid both fingers on her bosom and pointed to the ground. Thereupon she withdrew her head and shut the wicket; and after that I saw her no more. However, she took my heart with her, so I sat till sun down, expecting her again to look out of the window; but she did it not; and, when I despaired of her, I rose from my seat and came home. This is my history and I beg thee to help me in this my sore calamity.” Upon this she raised her face to me and said, “O son of mine uncle, if thou soughtest my eye, I would tear it for thee from its eyelids, and perforce I cannot but aid thee to thy desire and aid her also to her desire; for she is whelmed in passion for thee even as thou for her.” Asked I, “And what is the interpretation of her signs?”; and Azizah answered, “As for the putting her finger in her mouth,6 it showed that thou art to her as her soul to her body and that she would bite into union with thee with her wisdom teeth. As for the kerchief, it betokeneth that her breath of life is bound up in thee. As for the placing her two fingers on her bosom between her breasts, its explanation is that she saith; ‘The sight of thee may dispel my grief.’ For know, O my cousin, that she loveth thee and she trusteth in thee. This is my interpretation of her signs and, could I come and go at Will, I would bring thee and her together in shortest time, and curtain you both with my skirt.” Hearing these words I thanked her (continued the young merchant) for speaking thus, and said to myself, “I will wait two days.” So I abode two days in the house, neither going out nor coming in; neither eating nor drinking but I laid my head on my cousin’s lap, whilst she comforted me and said to me, “Be resolute and of good heart and hope for the best!”— And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say,
1 Arab. “Sháhid,” the index, the pointer raised in testimony: the comparison of the Eastern and the Western names is curious.
2 Musk is one of the perfumes of the Moslem Heaven; and “musky” is much used in verse to signify scented and dark-brown.
3 Arab. “Mandíl”: these kerchiefs are mostly oblong, the shore sides being worked with gold and coloured silk, and often fringed, while the two others are plain.
4 Arab. “Rayhání,” of the Ocymum Basilicum or sweet basil: a delicate handwriting, so called from the pen resembling a leaf (?) See vol. i. p. 128. [Volume 1, note 229 & 230]
5 All idiom meaning “something unusual happened.”
6 An action common in grief and regret: here the lady would show that she sighs for union with her beloved.
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the youth pursued to Taj al-Muluk:—“And when the two days were past she said to me, “Be of good cheer and clear thine eyes of tears and take courage to dress thyself and go to her, according to thy tryst.” Then she rose and changed my clothes and perfumed me with incense smoke. So I braced myself up and heartened my heart and went out and walked on till I came to the by-street, where I sat down on the bench awhile. And behold, the wicket suddenly opened and I looked up and seeing her, fell down in a swoon. When I revived, I called up resolution and took courage and gazed again at her and again became insensible to the world around me. Then I came to myself and looking at her, saw that she held in hand a mirror and a red kerchief. Now when she caught my glance, she bared her forearms and opened her five fingers and smote her breast with palm and digits; and after this she raised her hands and, holding the mirror outside the wicket, she took the red kerchief and retired into the room with it, but presently returned and putting out her hand with the kerchief, let it down towards the lane three several times, dipping it and raising it as often. Then she wrung it out and folded it in her hands, bending down her head the while; after which she drew it in from the lattice and, shutting the wicket shutter, went away without a single word; nay, she left me confounded and knowing not what signified her signs.1. I tarried sitting there till supper time and did not return home till near midnight; and there I found the daughter of my uncle with her cheek props in her hand and her eyelids pouring forth tears; and she was repeating these couplets,
“Woe’s me! why should the blamer gar thee blaming bow?
How be consoled for thee that art so tender bough?
Bright being! on my vitals cost thou prey, and drive
My heart before platonic passion’s2 force to bow.
Thy Turk like3 glances havoc deal in core of me,
As furbished sword thin ground at curve could never show:
Thou weigh’s” me down with weight of care, while I have not
Strength e’en to bear my shift, so weakness lays me low:
Indeed I weep blood tears to hear the blamer say;
‘The lashes of thy lover’s eyne shall pierce thee through!’
Thou hast, my prince of loveliness! an Overseer,4
Who wrongs me, and a Groom5 who beats me down with brow.
He foully lies who says all loveliness belonged
To Joseph, in thy loveliness is many a Joe:
I force myself to turn from thee, in deadly fright
Of spies; and what the force that turns away my sight!”
When I heard her verse, cark increased and care redoubled on me and I fell down in a corner of our house; whereupon she arose in haste and, coming to me lifted me up and took off my outer clothes and wiped my face with her sleeve. Then she asked me what had befallen me, and I described all that had happened from her. Quoth she, “O my cousin, as for her sign to thee with her palm and five fingers its interpretation is, Return after five days; and the putting forth of her head out of the window, and her gestures with the mirror and the letting down and raising up and wringing out of the red kerchief,6 signify, Sit in the dyer’s shop till my messenger come to thee.” When I heard her words fire flamed up in my heart and I exclaimed, “O daughter of my uncle, thou sayest sooth in this thine interpretation; for I saw in the street the shop of a Jew dyer.” Then I wept, and she said, “Be of good cheer and strong heart: of a truth others are occupied with love for years and endure with constancy the ardour of passion, whilst thou hast but a week to wait; why then this impatience?” Thereupon she went on cheering me with comfortable talk and brought me food: so I took a mouthful and tried to eat but could not; and I abstained from meat and drink and estranged myself from the solace of sleep, till my colour waxed yellow and I lost my good looks; for I had never been in love before nor had I ever savoured the ardour of passion save this time. So I fell sick and my cousin also sickened on my account; but she would relate to me, by way of consolation, stories of love and lovers every night till I fell asleep; and when ever I awoke, I found her wakeful for my sake with tears running down her cheeks. This ceased not till the five days were past, when my cousin rose and warmed some water and bathed me with it. Then she dressed me in my best and said to me, “Repair to her and Allah fulfil thy wish and bring thee to thy desire of thy beloved!” So I went out and ceased not walking on till I came to the upper end of the by street. As it was the Sabbath7 I found the dyer’s shop locked and sat before it, till I heard the call to mid afternoon prayer. Then the sun yellowed and the Mu’ezzins8 chanted the call to sundown prayer and the night came; but I saw no sign nor heard one word, nor knew any news of her. So I feared for my life sitting there alone; and at last I arose and walked home reeling like a drunken man. When I reached the house, I found my cousin Azizah standing, with one hand grasping a peg driven into the wall and the other on her breast; and she was sighing and groaning and repeating these couplets,
“The longing of an Arab lass forlorn of kith and kin
Hijazian willow wand and myrtle9 cloth incline,
And who, when meeting caravan, shall with love-lowe set light
To bivouac fire, and bang for conk her tears of pain and pine)
Exceeds not mine for him nor more devotion shows, but he
Seeing my heart is wholly his spurns love as sin indign.”
Now when she had finished her verse she turned to me and, seeing me, wiped away her tears and my tears with her sleeve. Then she smiled in my face and said, “O my cousin, Allah grant thee enjoyment of that which He hath given thee! Why didst thou not pass the night by the side of thy beloved and why hast thou not fulfilled thy desire of her?” When I heard her words, I gave her a kick in the breast and she fell down in the saloon and her brow struck upon the edge of the raised pavement and hit against a wooden peg therein. I looked at her and saw that her forehead was cut open and the blood running — And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
1 Lane (i. 608) has a valuable note on the language of signs, from M. du Vigneau’s “Secretaire Turc,” etc. (Paris, 1688), Baron von Hammer–Purgstall (“Mines de [‘Orient,” No. 1, Vienna, 1809) and Marcel’s “Comes du Cheykh El–Mohdy” (Paris, 1833). It is practiced in Africa as well as in Asia. At Abeokuta in Yoruba a man will send a symbolical letter in the shape of cowries, palm-nuts and other kernels strung on rice — straw, and sharp wits readily interpret the meaning. A specimen is given in p. 262 of Miss Tucker’s “Abbeokuta; or Sunrise within the Tropics.”
2 Mr. Payne (ii. 227) translates “Hawá al-‘Urzí” by “the love of the Beni Udhra, an Arabian tribe famous for the passion and devotion with which love was practiced among them.” See Night dclxxxiii. I understand it as “excusable love” which, for want of a better term, is here translated “platonic.” It is, however, more like the old “bundling” of Wales and Northern England; and allows all the pleasures but one, the toyings which the French call les plaisirs de la petite ode; a term my dear old friend Fred. Hankey derived from la petite voie. The Afghans know it as “Námzad-bází” or betrothed play (Pilgrimage, ii. 56); the Abyssinians as eye-love; and the Kafirs as Slambuka a Shlabonka, for which see The traveller Delegorgue.
3 “Turk” in Arabic and Persian poetry means a plunderer, a robber. Thus Hafiz: “Agar án Turk-i-Shirázi ba-dast árad dil-i-márá,” If that Shirazi (ah, the Turk!) would deign to take my heart in hand, etc.
4 Arab. “Názir,” a steward or an eye (a “looker”). The idea is borrowed from Al–Hariri (Assemblies, xiii.), and —
5 Arab. “Hájib,” a groom of the chambers, a chamberlain; also an eyebrow. See Al–Hariri, ibid. xiii. and xxii.
6 This gesture speaks for itself: it is that of a dyer staining a cloth. The “Sabbágh’s” shop is the usual small recess, open to the street and showing pans of various dyes sunk like “dog-laps” in the floor.
7 The Arab. “Sabt” (from sabata, he kept Sabt) and the Heb. “Sabbath” both mean Saturn’s day, Saturday, transferred by some unknown process throughout Christendom to Sunday. The change is one of the most curious in the history of religions. If there be a single command stronger than all others it is “Keep the Saturday holy.” It was so kept by the Founder of Christianity; the order was never abrogated and yet most Christians are not aware that Sabbath, or “Sawbath,” means Saturn’s day, the “Shiyár” of the older Arabs. And to complete its degradation “Sabbat” in French and German means a criaillerie, a “row,” a disorder, an abominable festival of Hexen (witches). This monstrous absurdity can be explained only by aberrations of sectarian zeal, of party spirit in religion.
8 The men who cry to prayer. The first was Bilál, the Abyssinian slave bought and manumitted by Abu Bakr. His simple cry was “I testify there is no Iláh (god) but Allah (God)! Come ye to prayers!” Caliph Omar, with the Prophet’s permission, added, “I testify that Mohammed is the Apostle of Allah.” The prayer-cry which is beautiful and human, contrasting pleasantly with the brazen clang of the bell. now is
Allah is Almighty (bis).
I declare no god is there but Allah (bis).
Hie ye to Rogation (Hayya=halumma).
Hie ye to Salvation (Faláh=prosperity, Paradise).
(“Hie ye to Edification,” a Shi’ah adjunct).
Prayer is better than sleep (in the morning, also bis).
No god is there but Allah
This prayer call is similarly worded and differently pronounced and intoned throughout Al–Islam.
9 i.e. a graceful youth of Al–Hijaz, the Moslem Holy Land, whose “sons” claim especial privileges.
Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:52