She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Shams al-Nahar thus addressed the jeweller, “Rest is gained only by work and success is gendered only by help of the generous. Now I have acquainted thee with our affair and it is in thy hand to expose us or to shield us; I say no more, because thy generosity requireth naught. Thou knowest that this my handmaiden keepeth my counsel and therefore occupieth high place in my favour; and I have selected her to transact my affairs of importance. So let none be worthier in thy sight than she and acquaint her with thine affair; and be of good cheer, for on her account thou art safe from all fear, and there is no place shut upon thee but she shall open it to thee. She shall bring thee my messages to Ali bin Bakkar and thou shalt be our intermediary.” So saying, she rose, scarcely able to rise, and fared forth, the jeweller faring before her to the door of her house, after which he returned and sat down again in his place, having seen of her beauty and heard of her speech what dazzled him and dazed his wit, and having witnessed of her grace and courtesy what bewitched his sprite. He sat musing on her perfections till his mind waxed tranquil, when he called for food and ate enough to keep soul and body together. Then he changed his clothes and went out; and, repairing to the house of the youth Ali bin Bakkar, knocked at the door. The servants hastened to admit him and walked before him till they had brought him to their master, whom he found strown upon his bed. Now when he saw the jeweller, he said to him, “Thou hast tarried long from me, and that hath heaped care upon my care.” Then he dismissed his servants and bade the doors be shut; after which he said to the jeweller, “By Allah, O my brother, I have not closed my eyes since the day I saw thee last; for the slave-girl came to me yesterday with a sealed letter from her mistress Shams al-Nahar;” and went on to tell him all that had passed with her, adding, “By the Lord, I am indeed perplexed concerning mine affair and my patience faileth me: for Abu al-Hasan was a comforter who cheered me because he knew the slave-girl.” When the jeweller heard his words, he laughed; and Ali said, “Why dost thou laugh at my words, thou on whose coming I congratulated myself and to whom I looked for provision against the shifts of fortune?” Then he sighed and wept and repeated these couplets,1
“Full many laugh at tears they see me shed
Who had shed tears an bore they what I bore;
None feeleth pity for th’ afflicted’s woe,
Save one as anxious and in woe galore:
My passion, yearning, sighing, thought, repine
Are for me cornered in my heart’s deep core:
He made a home there which he never quits,
Yet rare our meetings, not as heretofore:
No friend to stablish in his place I see;
No intimate but only he and — he.”
Now when the jeweller heard these lines and understood their significance, he wept also and told him all that had passed betwixt himself and the slave-girl and her mistress since he left him. And Ali bin Bakkar gave ear to his speech, and at every word he heard his colour shifted from white to red and his body grew now stronger and then weaker till the tale came to an end, when he wept and said, “O my brother, I am a lost man in any case: would mine end were nigh, that I might be at rest from all this! But I beg thee, of thy favour, to be my helper and comforter in all my affairs till Allah fulfil whatso be His will; and I will not gainsay thee with a single word.” Quoth the jeweller, “Nothing will quench thy fire save union with her whom thou lovest; and the meeting must be in other than this perilous place. Better it were in a house of mine where the girl and her mistress met me; which place she chose for herself, to the intent that ye twain may there meet and complain each to other of what you have suffered from the pangs of love.” Quoth Ali bin Bakkar, “O good Sir, do as thou wilt and with Allah be thy reward!; and what thou deemest is right do it forthright: but be not long in doing it, lest I perish of this anguish.” “So I abode with him (said the jeweller) that night conversing with him till the morning morrowed,”— And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
1 Mr. Payne remarks, “These verses apparently relate to Aboulhusn, but it is possible that they may be meant to refer to Shemsennehar.” (iii. 80.)
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the jeweller continued:—“So I abode with him that night conversing with him till the morning morrowed, when I prayed the dawn-prayers and, going out from him, returned to my house. Hardly had I settled down when the damsel came up and saluted me; and I returned her salutation and told her what had passed between myself and Ali bin Bakkar, and she said, ‘Know that the Caliph hath left us and there is no one in our place and it is safer for us and better.’ Replied I, ‘Sooth thou sayest; yet is it not like my other house which is both fitter and surer for us;’ and the slave-girl rejoined ‘Be it as thou seest fit. I am now going to my lady and will tell her what thou sayest and acquaint her with all thou hast mentioned.’ So she went away and sought her mistress and laid the project before her, and presently returned and said to me, ‘It is to be as thou sayest: so make us ready the place and expect us.’ Then she took out of her breast-pocket a purse of dinars and gave this message, ‘My lady saluteth thee and saith to thee, ‘Take this and provide therewith what the case requireth.’ But I swore that I would accept naught of it; so she took the purse and returning to her mistress, told her, ‘He would not receive the money, but gave it back to me.’ ‘No matter,’ answered Shams al-Nahar. As soon as the slave-girl was gone” (continued the jeweller), “I arose and betook myself to my other house and transported thither all that was needful, by way of vessels and furniture and rich carpets; and I did not forget china vases and cups of glass and gold and silver; and I made ready meat and drink required for the occasion. When the damsel came and saw what I had done, it pleased her and she bade me fetch Ali bin Bakkar; but I said, ‘None shall bring him save thou.’ Accordingly she went to him and brought him back perfectly dressed and looking his best. I met him and greeted him and then seated him upon a divan befitting his condition, and set before him sweet-scented flowers in vases of china and vari-coloured glass.1 Then I set on a tray of many-tinted meats such as broaden the breast with their sight, and sat talking with him and diverting him, whilst the slave-girl went away and was absent till after sundown-prayers, when she returned with Shams al-Nahar, attended by two maids and none else. Now as soon as she saw Ali bin Bakkar and he saw her, he rose and embraced her, and she on her side embraced him and both fell in a fit to the ground. They lay for a whole hour insensible; then, coming to themselves, they began mutually to complain of the pains of separation. Thereupon they drew near to each other and sat talking charmingly, softly, tenderly; after which they somewhat perfumed themselves and fell to thanking me for what I had done for them. Quoth I, ‘Have ye a mind for food?’ ‘Yes,’ quoth they. So I set before them a small matter of food and they ate till they were satisfied and then washed their hands; after which I led them to another sitting-room and brought them wine. So they drank and drank deep and inclined to each other; and presently Shams al-Nahar said to me, ‘O my master, complete thy kindness by bringing us a lute or other instrument of mirth and music that the measure of our joy may be fully filled.’ I replied, ‘On my head and eyes!’ and rising brought her a lute, which she took and tuned; then laying it in her lap she touched it with a masterly touch, at once exciting to sadness and changing sorrow to gladness; after which she sang these two couplets,
‘My sleeplessness would show I love to bide on wake;
And would my leanness prove that sickness is my make:
And tear-floods course adown the cheeks they only scald;
Would I knew union shall disunion overtake!’
Then she went on to sing the choicest and most affecting poesy to many and various modes, till our senses were bewitched and the very room danced with excess of delight and surprise at her sweet singing; and neither thought nor reason was left in us. When we had sat awhile and the cup had gone round amongst us, the damsel took the lute and sang to a lively measure these couplets,
‘My love a meeting promised me and kept it faithfully,
One night as many I shall count in number and degree:
O Night of joyance Fate vouchsafed to faithful lovers tway,
Uncaring for the railer loon and all his company!
My lover lay the Night with me and clipt me with his right,
While I with left embraced him, a-faint for ecstasy;
And hugged him to my breast and sucked the sweet wine of his lips,
Full savouring the honey-draught the honey-man sold to me.’
Whilst we were thus drowned in the sea of gladness” (continued the jeweller) “behold, there came in to us a little maid trembling and said, ‘O my lady, look how you may go away for the folk have found you out and have surrounded the house; and we know not the cause of this!’ When I heard her words, I arose startled and lo! in rushed a slave-girl who cried, ‘Calamity hath come upon you.’ At the same moment the door was burst open and there rushed in upon us ten men masked in kerchiefs with hangers in their hands and swords by their sides, and as many more behind them. When I saw this, the world was straitened on me for all its wideness, and I looked to the door but saw no issue; so I sprang from the terrace into the house of one of my neighbours and there hid myself. Thence I found that folk had entered my lodgings and were making a mighty hubbub; and I concluded that the Caliph had got wind of us and had sent his Chief of the Watch to seize us and bring us before him. So I abode confounded and ceased not remaining in my place, without any possibility of quitting it till midnight. And presently the house-master arose, for he had heard me moving, and he feared with exceeding great fear of me; so he came forth from his room with drawn brand in hand and made at me, saying, ‘Who is this in my house?’ Quoth I, ‘I am thy neighbour the jeweller;’ and he knew me and retired. Then he fetched a light and coming up to me, said, ‘O my brother, indeed that which hath befallen thee this night is no light matter to me.’ I replied, ‘O my brother, tell me who was in my house and entered it breaking in my door; for I fled to thee not knowing what was to do.’ He answered, ‘Of a truth the robbers who attacked our neighbours yesterday and slew such an one and took his goods, saw thee on the same day bringing furniture into this house; so they broke in upon thee and stole thy goods and slew thy guests.’ Then we arose” (pursued the jeweller), “I and he, and repaired to my house, which we found empty without a stick remaining in it; so I was confounded at the case and said to myself, ‘As for the gear I care naught about its loss, albeit I borrowed part of the stuff from my friends and it hath come to grief; yet is there no harm in that, for they know my excuse in the plunder of my property and the pillage of my place. But as for Ali bin Bakkar and the Caliph’s favourite concubine, I fear lest their case get bruited abroad and this cause the loss of my life.’ So I turned to my neighbour and said to him, ‘Thou art my brother and my neighbour and wilt cover my nakedness; what then dost thou advise me to do?’ The man answered, ‘What I counsel thee to do is to keep quiet and wait; for they who entered thy house and took thy goods have murdered the best men of a party from the palace of the Caliphate and have killed not a few of the watchmen: the government officers and guards are now in quest of them on every road and haply they will hit upon them, whereby thy wish will come about without effort of thine.’” The jeweller hearing these words returned to his other house, that wherein he dwelt — And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
1 Arab. and Pers “Bulúr” (vulg. billaur) retaining the venerable tradition of the Belus — river. In Al–Hariri (Ass. of Halwán) it means crystal and there is no need of proposing to translate it by onyx or to identify it with the Greek, the beryl.
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the jeweller heard these words he returned to his other house wherein he dwelt, and said to himself, “Indeed this that hath befallen me is what Abu al-Hasan feared and from which he fled to Bassorah. And now I have fallen into it.” Presently the pillage of his pleasure-house was noised abroad among the folk, and they came to him from all sides and places, some exulting in his misfortune and others excusing him and condoling with his sorrow; whilst he bewailed himself to them and for grief neither ate meat nor drank drink. And as he sat, repenting him of what he had done, behold one of his servants came in to him and said, “There is a person at the door who asketh for thee; and I know him not.” The jeweller went forth to him and saluted him who was a stranger; and the man whispered to him, “I have somewhat to say between our two selves.” Thereupon he brought him in and asked him, “What hast thou to tell me?” Quoth the man, “Come with me to thine other house;” and the jeweller enquired, “Dost thou then know my other house?” Replied the other, “I know all about thee and I know that also whereby Allah will dispel thy dolours.” “So I said to myself” (continued the jeweller) “‘I will go with him whither he will;’ and went out and walked on till we came to my second house; and when the man saw it he said to me, ‘It is without door or doorkeeper, and we cannot possibly sit in it; so come thou with me to another place.’ Then the man continued passing from stead to stead (and I with him) till night overtook us. Yet I put no question to him of the matter in hand and we ceased not to walk on, till we reached the open country. He kept saying, ‘Follow me,’ and quickened his pace to a trot, whilst I trotted after him heartening my heart to go on, until we reached the river, where he took boat with me, and the boatman rowed us over to the other bank. Then he landed from the boat and I landed after him: and he took my hand and led me to a street which I had never entered in all my days, nor do I know in what quarter it was. Presently the man stopped at the door of a house, and opening it entered and made me enter with him; after which he locked the door with an iron padlock,1 and led me along the vestibule, till he brought me in the presence of ten men who were as though they were one and the same man; they being brothers. We saluted them” (continued the jeweller) “and they returned our greeting and bade us be seated; so we sat down. Now I was like to die for excess of weariness; but they brought me rose-water and sprinkled it on my face; after which they gave me a sherbet to drink and set before me food whereof some of them ate with me. Quoth I to myself, ‘Were there aught harmful in the food, they would not eat with me.’ So I ate, and when we had washed our hands, each of us returned to his place. Then they asked me, ‘Dost thou know us?’ and I answered, ‘No! nor in my life have I ever seen you; nay, I know not even him who brought me hither.’ Said they, ‘Tell us thy tidings and lie not at all.’ Replied I, ‘Know then that my case is wondrous and my affair marvellous; but wot ye anything about me?’ They rejoined, ‘Yes! it was we took thy goods yesternight and carried off thy friend and her who was singing to him.’ Quoth I, ‘Allah let down His veil over you! Where be my friend and she who was singing to him?’ They pointed with their hands to one side and replied, ‘Yonder, but, by Allah, O our brother, the secret of their case is known to none save to thee, for from the time we brought the twain hither up to this day, we have not looked upon them nor questioned them of their condition, seeing them to be persons of rank and dignity. Now this and this only it was that hindered our killing them: so tell us the truth of their case and thou shalt be assured of thy safety and of theirs.’ When I heard this” (continued the jeweller) “I almost died of fright and horror, and I said to them, ‘Know ye, O my brethren, that if generosity were lost, it would not be found save with you; and had I a secret which I feared to reveal, none but your breasts would conceal it.’ And I went on exaggerating their praises in this fashion, till I saw that frankness and readiness to speak out would profit me more than concealing facts; so I told them all that had betided me to the very end of the tale. When they heard it, they said, ‘And is this young man Ali Bakkar-son and this lady Shams al-Nahar?’ I replied, ‘Yes.’ Now this was grievous to them and they rose and made their excuses to the two and then they said to me, ‘Of what we took from thy house part is spent, but here is what is left of it.’ So speaking, they gave me back most of my goods and they engaged to return them to their places in my house, and to restore me the rest as soon as they could. My heart was set at ease till they split into two parties, one with me and the other against me; and we fared forth from that house and such was my case. But as regards Ali bin Bakkar and Shams al-Nahar; they were well-nigh dying for excess of fear, when I went up to them and saluting them, asked, ‘What happened to the damsel and the two maids, and where be they gone?’, and they answered only, ‘We know nothing of them.’ Then we walked on and stinted not till we came to the river-bank where the barque lay; and we all boarded it, for it was the same which had brought me over on the day before. The boatman rowed us to the other side; but hardly had we landed and taken seat on the bank to rest, when a troop of horse swooped down on us like eagles and surrounded us on all sides and places, whereupon the robbers with us sprang up in haste like vultures, and the boat put back for them and took them in and the boatman pushed off into mid-stream, leaving us on the river bank, unable to move or to stand still. Then the chief horseman said to us, ‘Whence be ye!’; and we were perplexed for an answer, but I said” (continued the jeweller), “‘Those ye saw with us are rogues; we know them not. As for us, we are singers, and they intended taking us to sing for them, nor could we get free of them, save by subtlety and soft words; so on this occasion they let us go, their works being such as you have seen.’ But they looked at Shams al-Nahar and Ali bin Bakkar and said to me, ‘Thou hast not spoken sooth but, if thy tale be true, tell us who ye are and whence ye are; and what be your place and in what quarter you dwell.’ I knew not what to answer them, but Shams al-Nahar sprang up and approaching the Captain of the horsemen spoke with him privily, whereupon he dismounted from his steed and, setting her on horse-back, took the bridle and began to lead his beast. And two of his men did the like with the youth, Ali bin Bakkar, and it was the same with myself. The Commandant of the troop ceased not faring on with us, till they reached a certain part of the river bank, when he sang out in some barbarous jargon2 and there came to us a number of men with two boats. Then the Captain embarked us in one of them (and he with us) whilst the rest of his men put off in the other, and rowed on with us till we arrived at the palace of the Caliphate where Shams al-Nahar landed. And all the while we endured the agonies of death for excess of fear, and they ceased not faring till they came to a place whence there was a way to our quarter. Here we landed and walked on, escorted by some of the horsemen, till we came to Ali bin Bakkar’s house; and when we entered it, our escort took leave of us and went their way. We abode there, unable to stir from the place and not knowing the difference between morning and evening; and in such case we continued till the dawn of the next day. And when it was again nightfall, I came to myself and saw Ali bin Bakkar and the women and men of his household weeping over him, for he was stretched out without sense or motion. Some of them came to me and thoroughly arousing me said, ‘Tell us what hath befallen our son and say how came he in this plight?’ Replied I, ‘O folk, hearken to me!’”— And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the jeweller answered them, “‘O folk, hearken to my words and give me no trouble and annoyance! but be patient and he will come to and tell you his tale for himself.’ And I was hard upon them and made them afraid of a scandal between me and them, but as we were thus, behold, Ali bin Bakkar moved on his carpet-bed, whereat his friends rejoiced and the stranger folk withdrew from him; but his people forbade me to go away. Then they sprinkled rose-water on his face and he presently revived and sensed the air; whereupon they questioned him of his case, and he essayed to answer them but his tongue could not speak forthright and he signed to them to let me go home. So they let me go, and I went forth hardly crediting my escape and returned to my own house, supported by two men. When my people saw me thus, they rose up and set to shrieking and slapping their faces; but I signed to them with my hand to be silent and they were silent. Then the two men went their way and I threw myself down on my bed, where I lay the rest of the night and awoke not till the forenoon, when I found my people gathered round me and saying, ‘What calamity befel thee, and what evil with its mischief did fell thee?’ Quoth I ‘Bring me somewhat to drink.’ So they brought me drink, and I drank of it what I would and said to them, ‘What happened, happened.’ Thereupon they went away and I made my excuses to my friends, and asked if any of the goods that had been stolen from my other house had been returned. They answered, ‘Yes! some of them have come back; by token that a man entered and threw them down within the doorway and we saw him not.’ So I comforted myself and abode in my place two days, unable to rise and leave it; and presently I took courage and went to the bath, for I was worn out with fatigue and troubled in mind for Ali bin Bakkar and Shams al-Nahar, because I had no news of them all this time and could neither get to Ali’s house nor, out of fear for my life, take my rest in mine own. And I repented to Almighty Allah of what I had done and praised Him for my safety. Presently my fancy suggested to me to go to such and such a place and see the folk and solace myself; so I went on foot to the cloth-market and sat awhile with a friend of mine there. When I rose to go, I saw a woman standing over against me; so I looked at her, and lo! it was Shams al-Nahar’s slave-girl. When I saw her, the world grew dark in my eyes and I hurried on. She followed me, but I was seized with affright and fled from her, and whenever I looked at her, a trembling came upon me whilst she pursued me, saying. ‘Stop, that I may tell thee somewhat!’ But I heeded her not and never ceased walking till I reached a mosque, and she entered after me. I prayed a two-bow prayer, after which I turned to her and, sighing, said, ‘What cost thou want?’ She asked me how I did, and I told her all that had befallen myself and Ali bin Bakkar and besought her for news of herself. She answered, ‘Know that when I saw the robbers break open thy door and rush in, I was in sore terror, for I doubted not but that they were the Caliph’s officers and would seize me and my mistress and we should perish forthwith: so we fled over the roofs, I and the maids; and, casting ourselves down from a high place, came upon some people with whom we took refuge; and they received us and brought us to the palace of the Caliphate, where we arrived in the sorriest of plights. We concealed our case and abode on coals of fire till nightfall, when I opened the river-gate and, calling the boatman who had carried us the night before, said to him, ‘I know not what is become of my mistress; so take me in the boat, that we may go seek her on the river: haply I shall chance on some news of her. Accordingly he took me into the boat and went about with me and ceased not wending till midnight, when I spied a barque making towards the water gate, with one man rowing and another standing up and a woman lying prostrate between them twain. And they rowed on till they reached the shore when the woman landed, and I looked at her, and behold, it was Shams al-Nahar. Thereupon I got out and joined her, dazed for joy to see her after having lost all hopes of finding her alive.’” — And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the slave-girl went on telling the jeweller, “‘I was dazed for joy to see her, after having lost all hopes of finding her alive. When I came up to her, she bade me give the man who had brought her thither a thousand gold pieces; and we carried her in, I and the two maids, and laid her on her bed; where she passed that night in a sorely troubled state; and, when morning dawned, I forbade the women and eunuchs to go in to her, or even to draw near her for the whole of that day; but on the next she revived and somewhat recovered and I found her as if she had come out of her grave. I sprinkled rose-water upon her face and changed her clothes and washed her hands and feet; nor did I cease to coax her, till I brought her to eat a little and drink some wine, though she had no mind to any such matter. As soon as she had breathed the fresh air and strength began to return to her, I took to upbraiding her, saying, ‘O my lady, consider and have pity on thyself; thou seest what hath betided us: surely, enough and more than enough of evil hath befallen thee; for indeed thou hast been nigh upon death. She said, ‘By Allah, O good damsel, in sooth death were easier to me than what hath betided me; for it seemed as though I should be slain and no power could save me. When the robbers took us from the jeweller’s house they asked me, Who mayest thou be? and hearing my answer, ‘I am a singing girl, they believed me. Then they turned to Ali bin Bakkar and made enquiries about him, ‘And who art thou and what is thy condition?; whereto he replied, ‘I am of the common kind. So they took us and carried us along, without our resisting, to their abode; and we hurried on with them for excess of fear; but when they had us set down with them in the house, they looked hard at me and seeing the clothes I wore and my necklaces and jewellery, believed not my account of myself and said to me, ‘Of a truth these necklaces belong to no singing-girl; so be soothfast and tell us the truth of thy case. I returned them no answer whatever, saying in my mind, ‘Now will they slay me for the sake of my apparel and ornaments; and I spoke not a word. Then the villains turned to Ali bin Bakkar, asking, ‘And thou, who art thou and whence art thou? for thy semblance seemeth not as that of the common kind. But he was silent and we ceased not to keep our counsel and to weep, till Allah softened the rogues’ hearts to pity and they said to us, ‘Who is the owner of the house wherein we were?’ We answered, ‘Such an one, the jeweller; whereupon quoth one of them, ‘I know him right well and I wot the other house where he liveth and I will engage to bring him to you this very hour. Then they agreed to set me in a place by myself and Ali bin Bakkar in a place by himself, and said to us, ‘Be at rest ye twain and fear not lest your secret be divulged; ye are safe from us. Meanwhile their comrade went away and returned with the jeweller, who made known to them our case, and we joined company with him; after which a man of the band fetched a barque, wherein they embarked us all three and, rowing us over the river, landed us with scant ceremony on the opposite bank and went their ways. Thereupon up came a horse-patrol and asked us who we were; so I spoke with the Captain of the watch and said to him, ‘I am Shams al-Nahar, the Caliph’s favourite; I had drunken strong wine and went out to visit certain of my acquaintance of the wives of the Wazirs, when yonder rogues came upon me and laid hold of me and brought me to this place; but when they saw you, they fled as fast as they could. I met these men with them: so do thou escort me and them to a place of safety and I will requite thee as I am well able to do. When the Captain of the watch heard my speech, he knew me and alighting, mounted me on his horse; and in like manner did two of his men with Ali bin Bakkar. So I spoke to her’ (continued the handmaid) ‘and blamed her doings, and bade her beware, and said to her, ‘O my lady, have some care for thy life!’ But she was angered at my words and cried out at me; accordingly I left her and came forth in quest of thee, but found thee not and dared not go to the house of Ali bin Bakkar; so stood watching for thee, that I might ask thee of him and wot how it goes with him. And I pray thee, of thy favour, to take of me some money, for thou hast doubtless borrowed from thy friends part of the gear and as it is lost, it behoveth thee to make it good with folk.’ I replied, ‘To hear is to obey! go on;’ and I walked with her till we drew near my house, when she said to me, ‘Wait here till I come back to thee.’”— And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that after the slave-girl had addressed the jeweller, “‘Wait here till I come back to thee!’ she went away and presently returned with the money, which she put” (continued the jeweller) “into my hand, saying, ‘O my master, in what place shall we meet?’ Quoth I, ‘I will start and go to my house at once and suffer hard things for thy sake and contrive how thou mayst win access to him, for such access is difficult at this present.’ Said she, ‘Let me know some spot, where I shall come to thee,’ and I answered, ‘In my other house, I will go thither forthright and have the doors mended and the place made safe again, and henceforth we will meet there.’ Then she took leave of me and went her way, whilst I carried the money home, and counting it, found it five thousand dinars. So I gave my people some of it and to all who had lent me aught I made good their loss, after which I arose and took my servants and repaired to my other house whence the things had been stolen; and I brought builders and carpenters and masons who restored it to its former state. Moreover, I placed my negress-slave there and forgot the mishaps which had befallen me. Then I fared forth and repaired to Ali bin Bakkar’s house and, when I reached it, his slave-servants accosted me, saying, ‘Our lord calleth for thee night and day, and hath promised to free whichever of us bringeth thee to him; so they have been wandering about in quest of thee everywhere but knew not in what part to find thee. Our master is by way of recovering strength, but at times he reviveth and at times he relapseth; and whenever he reviveth he nameth thee, and saith, ‘Needs must ye bring him to me, though but for the twinkling of an eye;’ and then he sinketh back into his torpor.’ Accordingly” (continued the jeweller) “I accompanied the slave and went in to Ali bin Bakkar; and, finding him unable to speak, sat down at his head, whereupon he opened his eyes and seeing me, wept and said, ‘Welcome and well come!’ I raised him and making him sit up, strained him to my bosom, and he said, ‘Know, O my brother, that, from the hour I took to my bed, I have not sat up till now: praise to Allah that I see thee again!’ And I ceased not to prop him and support him until I made him stand on his feet and walk a few steps, after which I changed his clothes and he drank some wine: but all this he did for my satisfaction. Then, seeing him somewhat restored, I told him what had befallen me with the slave-girl (none else hearing me), and said to him, ‘Take heart and be of good courage, I know what thou sufferest.’ He smiled and I added, ‘Verily nothing shall betide thee save what shall rejoice thee and medicine thee.’ Thereupon he called for food, which being brought, he signed to his pages, and they withdrew. Then quoth he to me, ‘O my brother, hast thou seen what hath befallen me?’; and he made excuses to me and asked how I had fared all that while. I told him everything that had befallen me, from beginning to end, whereat he wondered and calling his servants, said, ‘Bring me such and such things.’ They brought in fine carpets and hangings and, besides that, vessels of gold and silver, more than I had lost, and he gave them all to me; so I sent them to my house and abode with him that night. When the day began to yellow, he said to me, ‘Know thou that as to all things there is an end, so the end of love is either death or accomplishment of desire. I am nearer unto death, would I had died ere this befel!; and had not Allah favoured us, we had been found out and put to shame. And now I know not what shall deliver me from this my strait, and were it not that I fear Allah, I would hasten my own death; for know, O my brother, that I am like bird in cage and that my life is of a surety perished, choked by the distresses which have befallen me; yet hath it a period stablished firm and an appointed term.’ And he wept and groaned and began repeating,
‘Enough of tears hath shed the lover-wight,
When grief outcast all patience from his sprite:
He hid the secrets which united us,
But now His eye parts what He did unite!’”
When he had finished his verses, the jeweller said to him, “O my lord, I now intend returning to my house.” He answered, “There be no harm in that; go and come back to me with news as fast as possible, for thou seest my case.” “So I took leave of him” (continued the jeweller) “and went home, and hardly had I sat down, when up came the damsel, choked with long weeping. I asked, ‘What is the matter’?; and she answered, ‘O my lord, know then that what we feared hath befallen us; for, when I left thee yesterday and returned to my lady, I found her in a fury with one of the two maids who were with us the other night, and she ordered her to be beaten. The girl was frightened and ran away; but, as she was leaving the house, one of the door-porters and guards of the gate met her and took her up and would have sent her back to her mistress. However, she let fall some hints, which were a disclosure to him; so he cajoled her and led her on to talk, and she tattled about our case and let him know of all our doings. This affair came to the ears of the Caliph, who bade remove my mistress, Shams al-Nahar, and all her gear to the palace of the Caliphate; and set over her a guard of twenty eunuchs. Since then to the present hour he hath not visited her nor hath given her to know the reason of his action, but I suspect this to be the cause; wherefore I am in fear for my life and am sore troubled, O my lord, knowing not what I shall do, nor with what contrivance I shall order my affair and hers; for she hath none by her more trusted or more trustworthy than myself.’”— And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the slave-girl thus addressed the jeweller, “‘And in very sooth my lady hath none by her more trusted or more trustworthy in matter of secrecy than myself. So go thou, O my master, and speed thee without delay to Ali bin Bakkar; and acquaint him with this, that he may be on his guard and ward; and, if the affair be discovered, we will cast about for some means whereby to save our lives.’ On this” (continued the jeweller), “I was seized with sore trouble and the world grew dark in my sight for the slave-girl’s words; and when she was about to wend, I said to her, ‘What reckest thou and what is to be done?’ Quoth she, ‘My counsel is that thou hasten to Ali bin Bakkar, if thou be indeed his friend and desire to save him; thine be it to carry him this news at once without aught of stay and delay, or regard for far and near; and mine be it to sniff about for further news.’ Then she took her leave of me and went away: so I rose and followed her track and, betaking myself to Ali bin Bakkar, found him flattering himself with impossible expectations. When he saw me returning to him so soon, he said, ‘I see thou hast come back to me forthwith and only too soon.’ I answered, ‘Patience, and cut short this foolish connection and shake off the pre-occupation wherein thou art, for there hath befallen that which may bring about the loss of thy life and good.’ Now when he heard this, he was troubled and strongly moved; and he said to me, ‘O my brother, tell me what hath happened.’ Replied I, ‘O my lord, know that such and such things have happened and thou art lost without recourse, if thou abide in this thy house till the end of the day.’ At this, he was confounded and his soul well-nigh departed his body, but he recovered himself and said to me, ‘What shall I do, O my brother, and what counsel hast thou to offer.’ Answered I, ‘My advice is that thou take what thou canst of thy property and whom of thy slaves thou trustest, and flee with us to a land other than this, ere this very day come to an end.’ And he said, ‘I hear and I obey.’ So he rose, confused and dazed like one in epilepsy, now walking and now falling, and took what came under his hand. Then he made an excuse to his household and gave them his last injunctions, after which he loaded three camels and mounted his beast; and I did likewise. We went forth privily in disguise and fared on and ceased not our wayfare the rest of that day and all its night, till nigh upon morning, when we unloaded and, hobbling our camels, lay down to sleep. But we were worn with fatigue and we neglected to keep watch, so that there fell upon us robbers, who stripped us of all we had and slew our slaves, when these would have beaten them off, leaving us naked and in the sorriest of plights, after they had taken our money and lifted our beasts and disappeared. As soon as they were gone, we arose and walked on till morning dawned, when we came to a village which we entered, and finding a mosque took refuge therein for we were naked. So we sat in a corner all that day and we passed the next night without meat or drink; and at day-break we prayed our dawn-prayer and sat down again. Presently behold, a man entered and saluting us prayed a two-bow prayer, after which he turned to us and said, ‘O folk, are ye strangers?’ We replied, ‘Yes: the bandits waylaid us and stripped us naked, and we came to this town but know none here with whom we may shelter.’ Quoth he, ‘What say ye? will you come home with me?’ And” (pursued the jeweller) “I said to Ali bin Bakkar, ‘Up and let us go with him, and we shall escape two evils; the first, our fear lest some one who knoweth us enter this mosque and recognise us, so that we come to disgrace; and the second, that we are strangers and have no place wherein to lodge.’ And he answered helplessly, ‘As thou wilt.’ Then the man said to us again, ‘O ye poor folk, give ear unto me and come with me to my place,’ and I replied, ‘Hearkening and obedience;’ whereupon he pulled off a part of his own clothes and covered us therewith and made his excuses to us and spoke kindly to us. Then we arose and accompanied him to his house and he knocked at the door, whereupon a little slave-boy came out and opened to us. The host entered and we followed him;1 when he called for a bundle of clothes and muslins for turbands, and gave us each a suit and a piece; so we dressed and turbanded ourselves and sat us down. Presently, in came a damsel with a tray of food and set it before us, saying, ‘Eat.’ We ate some small matter and she took away the tray: after which we abode with our host till nightfall, when Ali bin Bakkar sighed and said to me, ‘Know, O my brother, that I am a dying man past hope of life and I would charge thee with a charge: it is that, when thou seest me dead, thou go to my parent2 and tell her of my decease and bid her come hither that she may be here to receive the visits of condolence and be present at the washing of my corpse, and do thou exhort her to bear my loss with patience.’ Then he fell down in a fainting fit and, when he recovered he heard a damsel singing afar off and making verses as she sang. Thereupon he addressed himself to give ear to her and hearken to her voice; and now he was insensible, absent from the world, and now he came to himself; and anon he wept for grief and mourning at the love which had befallen him. Presently, he heard the damsel who was singing repeat these couplets,
‘Parting ran up to part from lover-twain
Free converse, perfect concord, friendship fain:
The Nights with shifting drifted us apart,
Would heaven I wot if we shall meet again:
How bitter after meeting ’tis to part,
May lovers ne’er endure so bitter pain!
Death-grip, death-choke, lasts for an hour and ends,
But parting-tortures aye in heart remain:
Could we but trace where Parting’s house is placed,
We would make Parting eke of parting taste!’
When Ali son of Bakkar heard the damsel’s song, he sobbed one sob and his soul quitted his body. As soon as I saw that he was dead” (continued the jeweller), “I committed his corpse to the care of the house-master and said to him ‘Know thou, that I am going to Baghdad, to tell his mother and kinsfolk, that they may come hither and conduct his burial.’ So I betook myself to Baghdad and, going to my house, changed my clothes; after which I repaired to Ali bin Bakkar’s lodging. Now when his servants saw me, they came to me and questioned me of him, and I bade them ask permission for me to go in to his mother. She gave me leave; so I entered and saluting her, said, ‘Verily Allah ordereth the lives of all creatures by His commandment and when He decreeth aught, there is no escaping its fulfilment; nor can any soul depart but by leave of Allah, according to the Writ which affirmeth the appointed term.’3 She guessed by these words that her son was dead and wept with sore weeping, then she said to me, ‘Allah upon thee! tell me, is my son dead?’ I could not answer her for tears and excess of grief, and when she saw me thus, she was choked with weeping and fell to the ground in a fit. As soon as she came to herself she said to me, ‘Tell me how it was with my son.’ I replied, ‘May Allah abundantly compensate thee for his loss!’ and I told her all that had befallen him from beginning to end. She then asked, ‘Did he give thee any charge?’; and I answered, ‘Yes,’ and told her what he had said, adding, ‘Hasten to perform his funeral.’ When she heard these words, she swooned away again; and, when she recovered, she addressed herself to do as I charged her. Then I returned to my house; and as I went along musing sadly upon the fair gifts of his youth, behold, a woman caught hold of my hand;”— And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
1 This is the rule; to guard against the guet-apens.
2 Arab. “Wálidati,” used when speaking to one not of the family in lieu of the familiar “Ummi”=my mother. So the father is Wálid=the begetter.
3 This is one of the many euphemistic formulæ for such occasions: they usually begin “May thy head live.” etc.
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the jeweller thus continued:—“A woman caught hold of my hand; and I looked at her and lo! it was the slave-girl who used to come from Shams al-Nahar, and she seemed broken by grief. When we knew each other we both wept and ceased not weeping till we reached my house, and I said to her, ‘Knowest thou the news of the youth, Ali bin Bakkar?’ She replied, ‘No, by Allah!’; so I told her the manner of his death and all that had passed, whilst we both wept; after which quoth I to her, ‘How is it with thy mistress?’ Quoth she, ‘The Commander of the Faithful would not hear a single word against her; but, for the great love he bore her, saw all her actions in a favourable light, and said to her, ‘O Shams al-Nahar, thou art dear to me and I will bear with thee and bring the noses of thy foes to the grindstone. Then he bade them furnish her an apartment decorated with gold and a handsome sleeping-chamber, and she abode with him in all ease of life and high favour. Now it came to pass that one day, as he sat at wine according to his custom, with his favourite concubines in presence, he bade them be seated in their several ranks and made Shams al-Nahar sit by his side. But her patience had failed and her disorder had redoubled upon her. Then he bade one of the damsels sing: so she took a lute and tuning it struck the chords, and began to sing these verses,
‘One craved my love and I gave all he craved of me,
And tears on cheek betray how ’twas I came to yield:
Tear-drops, meseemeth, are familiar with our case,
Revealing what I hide, hiding what I revealed:
How can I hope in secret to conceal my love,
Which stress of passion ever showeth unconcealed:
Death, since I lost my lover, is grown sweet to me;
Would I knew what their joys when I shall quit the field!
Now when Shams al-Nahar heard these verses sung by the slave-girl, she could not keep her seat; but fell down in a fainting-fit whereupon the Caliph cast the cup from his hand and drew her to him crying out; and the damsels also cried out, and the Prince of True Believers turned her over and shook her, and lo and behold! she was dead. The Caliph grieved over her death with sore grief and bade break all the vessels and dulcimers1 and other instruments of mirth and music which were in the room; then carrying her body to his closet, he abode with her the rest of the night. When the day broke, he laid her out and commanded to wash her and shroud her and bury her. And he mourned for her with sore mourning, and questioned not of her case nor of what caused her condition. And I beg thee in Allah’s name’ (continued the damsel) ‘to let me know the day of the coming of Ali bin Bakkar’s funeral procession that I may be present at his burial.’ Quoth I, ‘For myself, where thou wilt thou canst find me; but thou, where art thou to be found, and who can come at thee where thou art?’ She replied, ‘On the day of Shams al-Nahar’s death, the Commander of the Faithful freed all her women, myself among the rest;2 and I am one of those now abiding at the tomb in such a place.’ So I rose and accompanied her to the burial-ground and piously visited Shams al-Nahar’s tomb; after which I went my way and ceased not to await the coming of Ali bin Bakkar’s funeral. When it arrived, the people of Baghdad went forth to meet it and I went forth with them: and I saw the damsel among the women and she the loudest of them in lamentation, crying out and wailing with a voice that rent the vitals and made the heart ache. Never was seen in Baghdad a finer funeral than his; and we ceased not to follow in crowds till we reached the cemetery and buried him to the mercy of Almighty Allah; nor from that time to this have I ceased to visit the tombs of Ali son of Bakkar and of Shams al-Nahar. This, then, is their story, and Allah Almighty have mercy upon them!”3 And yet is not their tale (continued Shahrazad) more wonderful than that of King Shahriman. The King asked her “And what was his tale?”— And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
1 Arab. “Kánún,” an instrument not unlike the Austrian zither; it is illustrated in Lane (ii. 77).
2 This is often done, the merit of the act being transferred to the soul of the deceased.
3 The two amourists were martyrs; and their amours, which appear exaggerated to the Western mind, have many parallels in the East. The story is a hopeless affair of love; with only one moral (if any be wanted) viz., there may be too much of a good thing. It is given very concisely in the Bul. Edit. vol. i.; and more fully in the Mac. Edit. aided in places by the Bresl. (ii. 320) and the Calc. (ii. 230).
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, as regards the
That there was in times of yore and in ages long gone before a King called Shahrimán,1 who was lord of many troops and guards, and officers, and who reigned over certain islands, known as the Khálidán Islands,2 on the borders of the land of the Persians. But he was stricken in years and his bones were wasted, without having been blessed with a son, albeit he had four wives, daughters of Kings, and threescore concubines, with each of whom he was wont to lie one night in turn.3 This preyed upon his mind and disquieted him, so that he complained thereof to one of his Wazirs, saying, “Verily I fear lest my kingdom be lost when I die, for that I have no son to succeed me.” The Minister answered, “O King, peradventure Allah shall yet bring something to pass; so rely upon the Almighty and be instant in prayer. It is also my counsel that thou spread a banquet and invite to it the poor and needy, and let them eat of thy food; and supplicate the Lord to vouchsafe thee a son; for perchance there may be among thy guests a righteous soul whose prayers find acceptance; and thereby thou shalt win thy wish.” So the King rose, made the lesser ablution, and prayed a two-bow prayer,4 then he cried upon Allah with pure intention; after which he called his chief wife to bed and lay with her forthright. By grace of God she conceived and, when her months were accomplished, she bore a male child, like the moon on the night of fulness. The King named him Kamar al-Zamán,5 and rejoiced in him with extreme joy and bade the city be dressed out in his honour; so they decorated the streets seven days, whilst the drums beat and the messengers bore the glad tidings abroad. Then wet and dry nurses were provided for the boy and he was reared in splendour and delight, until he reached the age of fifteen. He grew up of surpassing beauty and seemlihead and symmetry, and his father loved him so dear that he could not brook to be parted from him day or night. One day he complained to a certain of his Ministers anent the excess of his love for his only child, saying, “O thou the Wazir, of a truth I fear for my son, Kamar al-Zaman, the shifts and accidents which befal man and fain would I marry him in my life-time.” Answered the Wazir, “O King, know thou that marriage is one of the most honourable of moral actions, and thou wouldst indeed do well and right to marry thy son in thy lifetime, ere thou make him Sultan.” On this quoth the King, “Hither with my son Kamar al-Zaman;” so he came and bowed his head to the ground in modesty before his sire. “O Kamar al Zaman,” said King Shahriman, “of a truth I desire to marry thee and rejoice in thee during my lifetime.” Replied he, “O my father, know that I have no lust to marry nor cloth my soul incline to women; for that concerning their craft and perfidy I have read many books and heard much talk, even as saith the poet,
‘Now, an of women ask ye, I reply:—
In their affairs I’m versed a doctor rare!
When man’s head grizzles and his money dwindles,
In their affections he hath naught for share.’
And another said:—
‘Rebel against women and so shalt thou serve Allah the more;
The youth who gives women the rein must forfeit all hope to soar.
They’ll baulk him when seeking the strange device, Excelsior,
Tho’ waste he a thousand of years in the study of science and lore.’ ”
And when he had ended his verses he continued, “O my father, wedlock is a thing whereto I will never consent; no, not though I drink the cup of death.” When Sultan Shahriman heard these words from his son, light became darkness in his sight and he grieved thereat with great grief. — And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
1 Lane is in error (vol. ii. 78) when he corrects this to “Sháh Zemán”; the name is fanciful and intended to be old Persian, on the “weight” of Kahramán. The Bul. Edit. has by misprint “Shahramán.”
2 The “topothesia” is worthy of Shakespeare’s day. “Khálidán” is evidently a corruption of “Khálidatáni” (for Khálidát), the Eternal, as Ibn Wardi calls the Fortunate Islands, or Canaries, which owe both their modern names to the classics of Europe. Their present history dates from A.D. 1385, unless we accept the Dieppe–Rouen legend of Labat which would place the discovery in A.D. 1326. I for one thoroughly believe in the priority on the West African Coast, of the gallant descendants of the Northmen.
3 Four wives are allowed by Moslem law and for this reason. If you marry one wife she holds herself your equal, answers you and “gives herself airs”; two are always quarrelling and making a hell of the house; three are “no company” and two of them always combine against the nicest to make her hours bitter. Four are company, they can quarrel and “make it up” amongst themselves, and the husband enjoys comparative peace. But the Moslem is bound by his law to deal equally with the four, each must have her dresses her establishment and her night, like her sister wives. The number is taken from the Jews (Arbah Turim Ev. Hazaer, i.) “the wise men have given good advice that a man should not marry more than four wives.” Europeans, knowing that Moslem women are cloistered and appear veiled in public, begin with believing them to be mere articles of luxury, and only after long residence they find out that nowhere has the sex so much real liberty and power as in the Moslem East. They can possess property and will it away without the husband’s leave: they can absent themselves from the house for a month without his having a right to complain; and they assist in all his counsels for the best of reasons: a man can rely only on his wives and children, being surrounded by rivals who hope to rise by his ruin. As regards political matters the Circassian women of Constantinople really rule the Sultanate and there soignez la femme! is the first lesson of getting on in the official world.
4 This two-bow prayer is common on the bride-night; and at all times when issue is desired.
5 The older Camaralzaman=“Moon of the age.” Kamar is the moon between her third and twenty-sixth day: Hilál during the rest of the month: Badr (plur. Budúr whence the name of the Princess) is the full moon.
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when King Shahriman heard these words from his son, the light became darkness in his sight and he grieved over his son’s lack of obedience to his directions in the matter of marriage; yet, for the great love he bore him, he was unwilling to repeat his wishes and was not wroth with him, but caressed him and spake him fair and showed him all manner of kindness such as tendeth to induce affection. All this, and Kamar al-Zaman increased daily in beauty and loveliness and amorous grace; and the King bore with him for a whole year till he became perfect in eloquence and elegant wit. All men were ravished with his charms; and every breeze that blew bore the tidings of his gracious favour; his fair sight was a seduction to the loving and a garden of delight to the longing, for he was honey-sweet of speech and the sheen of his face shamed the full moon; he was a model of symmetry and blandishment and engaging ways; his shape was as the willow-wand or the rattan-cane and his cheeks might take the place of rose or red anemone. He was, in fine the pink of perfection, even as the poet hath said of him,
“He came and cried they, ‘Now be Allah blest!
Praise Him that clad that soul in so fair vest!’
He’s King of Beauty where the beauteous be;
All are his Ryots,1 all obey his hest:
His lip-dew’s sweeter than the virgin honey;
His teeth are pearls in double row close press:
All charms are congregate in him alone,
And deals his loveliness to man unrest.
Beauty wrote on those cheeks for worlds to see
‘I testify there is none good but He.’”2
When the year came to an end, the King called his son to him and said, “O my son, wilt thou not hearken to me?” Whereupon Kamar al-Zaman fell down for respect and shame before his sire and replied, “O my father, how should I not hearken to thee, seeing that Allah commandeth me to obey thee and not gain-say thee?” Rejoined King Shahriman, “O my son, know that I desire to marry thee and rejoice in thee whilst yet I live, and make thee King over my realm, before my death.” When the Prince heard his sire pronounce these words he bowed his head awhile, then raised it and said, “O my father, this is a thing which I will never do; no, not though I drink the cup of death! I know of a surety that the Almighty hath made obedience to thee a duty in religion; but, Allah upon thee! press me not in this matter of marriage, nor fancy that I will ever marry my life long; for that I have read the books both of the ancients and the moderns, and have come to know all the mischiefs and miseries which have befallen them through women and their endless artifices. And how excellent is the saying of the poet,
‘He whom the randy motts entrap
Shall never see deliverance!
Though build he forts a thousand-fold,
Whose mighty strength lead-plates enhance,3
Their force shall be of no avail;
These fortresses have not a chance!
Women aye deal in treachery
To far and near o’er earth’s expanse
With fingers dipt in Henna-blood
And locks in braids that mad the glance;
And eyelids painted o’er with Kohl
They gar us drink of dire mischance.’
And how excellently saith another,
‘Women, for all the chastity they claim,
Are offal cast by kites where’er they list:
This night their talk and secret charms are thine,
That night another joyeth calf and wrist:
Like inn, whence after night thou far’st at dawn,
And lodges other wight thou hast not wist.’”4
Now when King Shahriman heard these his son’s words and learnt the import of his verses and poetical quotations, he made no answer, of his excessive love for him, but redoubled in graciousness and kindness to him. He at once broke up the audience and, as soon as the seance was over, he summoned his Minister and taking him apart, said to him, “O thou the Wazir! tell me how I shall deal with my son in the matter of marriage.” — And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted stay.
1 Arab “Ra’áyá” plur. of ‘Ra’íyat” our Anglo–Indian Ryot, lit. a liege, a subject; secondarily a peasant, a Fellah.
2 Another audacious parody of the Moslem “testification” to the one God, and to Mohammed the Apostle.
3 Showing how long ago forts were armed with metal plates which we have applied to war-ships only of late years.
4 The comparison is abominably true — in the East.
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the King summoned his Minister; and, taking him apart, said to him, “O thou the Wazir, tell me what I shall do with my son in the matter of marriage. Of a truth I took counsel with thee thereon and thou didst counsel me to marry him, before making him King. I have spoken with him of wedlock time after time and he still gainsaid me; so do thou, O Wazir, forthright advise me what to do.” Answered the Minister, “O King, wait another year and, if after that thou be minded to speak to him on the matter of marriage, speak not to him privily, but address him on a day of state, when all the Emirs and Wazirs are present with the whole of the army standing before thee. And when all are in crowd then send for thy son, Kamar al-Zaman, and summon him; and, when he cometh, broach to him the matter of marriage before the Wazirs and Grandees and Officers of state and Captains; for he will surely be bashful and daunted by their presence and will not dare to oppose thy will.” Now when King Shahriman heard his Wazir’s words, he rejoiced with exceeding joy, seeing success in the project, and bestowed on him a splendid robe of honour. Then he took patience with his son another year, whilst, with every day that passed over him, Kamar al-Zaman increased in beauty and loveliness, and elegance and perfect grace, till he was nigh twenty years old. Indeed Allah had clad him in the cloak of comeliness and had crowned him with the crown of completion: his eye-glance was more bewitching than Hárút and Marút1 and the play of his luring looks more misleading than Tághút;2 and his cheeks shone like the dawn rosy-red and his eyelashes stormed the keen-edged blade: the whiteness of his brow resembled the moon shining bright, and the blackness of his locks was as the murky night; and his waist was more slender than the gossamer3 and his back parts than two sand heaps bulkier, making a Babel of the heart with their softness; but his waist complained of the weight of his hips and loins; and his charms ravished all mankind, even as one of the poets saith in these couplets,
“By his eyelash tendril curled, by his slender waist I swear,
By the dart his witchery feathers, fatal hurtling through the air;
By the just roundness of his shape, by his glances bright and keen
By the swart limping of his locks, and his fair forehead shining sheen;
By his eyebrows which deny that she who looks on them should sleep,
Which now commanding, now forbidding, o’er me high dominion keep;
By the roses of his cheek, his face as fresh as myrtle wreath
His tulip lips, and those pure pearls that hold the places of his teeth;
By his noble form, which rises featly turned in even swell
To where upon his jutting chest two young pomegranates seem to dwell
By his supple moving hips, his taper waist, the silky skin,
By all he robbed Perfection of, and holds enchained his form within;
By his tongue of steadfastness, his nature true, and excellent,
By the greatness of his rank, his noble birth, and high descent,
Musk from my love her savour steals, who musk exhales from every limb
And all the airs ambergris breathes are but the Zephyr’s blow o’er him.
The sun, methinks, the broad bright sun, as low before my love should quail
As would my love himself transcend the paltry paring of his nail!”4
So King Shahriman, having accepted the counsel of his Wazir, waited for another year and a great festival — And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
1 Two fallen angels who taught men the art of magic. They are mentioned in the Koran (chaps. ii.), and the commentators have extensively embroidered the simple text. Popularly they are supposed to be hanging by their feet in a well in the territory of Babel, hence the frequent allusions to “Babylonian sorcery” in Moslem writings; and those who would study the black art at head-quarters are supposed to go there. They are counterparts of the Egyptian Jamnes and Mambres, the Jannes and Jambres of St. Paul (2 Tim. iii. 8).
2 An idol or idols of the Arabs (Allat and Ozza) before Mohammed (Koran chaps. ii. 256). Etymologically the word means “error” and the termination is rather Hebraic than Arabic.
3 Arab. “Khayt hamayán” (wandering threads of vanity), or Mukhát al-Shaytan (Satan’s snivel),=our “gossamer”=God’s summer (Mutter Gottes Sommer) or God’s cymar (?).
4 These lines occur in Night xvii.; so I borrow from Torrens (p. 163) by way of variety.
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Shahriman having accepted the counsel of his Wazir, waited for another year and a great festival, a day of state when the audience hall was filled with his Emirs and Wazirs and Grandees of his reign and Officers of State and Captains of might and main. Thereupon he sent for his son Kamar al-Zaman who came, and kissing the ground before him three times, stood in presence of his sire with his hands behind his back the right grasping the left.1 Then said the King to him, “Know O my son, that I have not sent for thee on this occasion and summoned thee to appear before this assembly and all these officers of estate here awaiting our orders save and except that I may lay a commandment on thee, wherein do thou not disobey me; and my commandment is that thou marry, for I am minded to wed thee to a King’s daughter and rejoice in thee ere I die.” When the Prince heard this much from his royal sire, he bowed his head groundwards awhile, then raising it towards his father and being moved thereto at that time by youthful folly and boyish ignorance, replied, “But for myself I will never marry; no, not though I drink the cup of death! As for thee, thou art great in age and small of wit: hast thou not, twice ere this day and before this occasion, questioned me of the matter of marriage and I refused my consent? Indeed thou dotest and are not fit to govern a flock of sheep!” So saying Kamar al-Zaman unclasped his hands from behind his back and tucked up his sleeves above his elbows before his father, being in a fit of fury; moreover, he added many words to his sire, knowing not what he said in the trouble of his spirits. The King was confounded and ashamed, for that this befel in the presence of his grandees and soldier-officers assembled on a high festival and a state occasion; but presently the majesty of Kingship took him, and he cried out at his son and made him tremble. Then he called to the guards standing before him and said, “Seize him!’ So they came forward and laid hands on him and, binding him, brought him before his sire, who bade them pinion his elbows behind his back and in this guise make him stand before the presence. And the Prince bowed down his head for fear and apprehension, and his brow and face were beaded and spangled with sweat; and shame and confusion troubled him sorely. Thereupon his father abused him and reviled him and cried, “Woe to thee, thou son of adultery and nursling of abomination!2 How durst thou answer me on this wise before my captains and soldiers? But hitherto none hath chastised thee,”— And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that King Shahriman cried out to his son Kamar al-Zaman, “How durst thou answer me on this wise before my captains and soldiers? But hitherto none hath chastised thee. Knowest thou not that this deed thou hast done were a disgrace to him had it been done by the meanest of my subjects?” And the King commanded his Mamelukes to loose his elbow bonds and imprison him in one of the bastions of the citadel. So they took the Prince and thrust him into an old tower, wherein there was a dilapidated saloon and in its middle a ruined well, after having first swept it and cleansed its floor-flags and set therein a couch on which they laid a mattress, a leathern rug and a cushion; and then they brought a great lanthorn and a wax candle, for that place was dark, even by day. And lastly the Mamelukes led Kamar al-Zaman thither, and stationed an eunuch at the door. And when all this was done, the Prince threw himself on the couch, sad-spirited, and heavy-hearted; blaming himself and repenting of his injurious conduct to his father, whenas repentance availed him naught, and saying, “Allah curse marriage and marriageable and married women, the traitresses all! Would I had hearkened to my father and accepted a wife! Had I so done it had been better for me than this jail.” This is how it fared with him; but as regards King Shahri man, he remained seated on his throne all through the day until sundown; then he took the Minister apart and said to him “Know thou, O Wazir, that thou and thou only west the cause of all this that hath come to pass between me and my son by the advice thou west pleased to devise; and so what dost thou counsel me to do now?” Answered he, “O King, leave thy son in limbo for the space of fifteen days: then summon him to thy presence and bid him wed; and assuredly he shall not gainsay thee again.”— 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, said to King Shahriman, “Leave thy son in limbo for the space of fifteen days; then summon him to thy presence and bid him wed; and assuredly he shall not gainsay thee again.” The King accepted the Wazir’s opinion and lay down to sleep that night troubled at heart concerning his son; for he loved him with dearest love because he had no other child but this; and it was his wont every night not to sleep, save after placing his arm under his son’s neck. So he passed that night in trouble and unease on the Prince ‘s account, tossing from side to side, as he were laid on coals of Artemisia-wood1: for he was overcome with doubts and fears and sleep visited him not all that livelong night; but his eyes ran over with tears and he began repeating,;
“While slanderers slumber, longsome is my night;
Suffice thee a heart so sad in parting-plight;
I say, while night in care slow moments by,
‘What! no return for thee, fair morning light?’”
And the saying of another,
“When saw I Pleiad-stars his glance escape
And Pole star draught of sleep upon him pour;
And the Bier-daughters2 wend in mourning dight,
I knew that morning was for him no more!”
Such was the case with King Shahriman; but as regards Kamar al- Zaman, when the night came upon him the eunuch set the lanthorn before him and lighting the wax-candle, placed it in the candlestick; then brought him somewhat of food. The Prince ate a little and continually reproached himself for his unseemly treatment of his father, saying to himself, “O my soul, knowest thou not that a son of Adam is the hostage of his tongue, and that a man’s tongue is what casteth him into deadly perils?” Then his eyes ran over with tears and he bewailed that which he had done, from anguished vitals and aching heart, repenting him with exceeding repentance of the wrong wherewith he had wronged his father and repeating,
“Fair youth shall die by stumbling of the tongue:
Stumble of foot works not man’s life such wrong:
The slip of lip shall oft smite off the head,
While slip of foot shall never harm one long.”
Now when he had made an end of eating, he asked for the wherewithal to wash his hands and when the Mameluke had washed them clean of the remnants of food, he arose and made the Wuzu-ablution and prayed the prayers of sundown and nightfall, conjoining them in one; after which he sat down. — And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
1 Arab. “Ghazá,” the Artemisia (Euphorbia?) before noticed. If the word be a misprint for Ghadá it means a kind of Euphorbia which, with the Arák (wild caper-tree) and the Daum palm (Crucifera thebiaca), is one of the three normal growths of the Arabian desert (Pilgrimage iii. 22).
2 Arab. “Banát al-Na’ash,” usually translated daughters of the bier, the three stars which represent the horses in either Bear, “Charles’ Wain,” or Ursa Minor, the waggon being supposed to be a bier. “Banát” may be also sons, plur. of Ibn, as the word points to irrational objects. So Job (ix. 9 and xxxviii. 32) refers to U. Major as “Ash” or “Aysh” in the words, “Canst thou guide the bier with its sons?” (erroneously rendered “Arcturus with his sons”) In the text the lines are enigmatical, but apparently refer to a death parting.
Last updated Tuesday, August 25, 2015 at 14:06