She pursued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when Badr Basim dismounted from and delivered the mule to the old woman, she drew the bit from her mouth and, taking water in her hand, sprinkled the mule therewith, saying, “O my daughter, quit this shape for that form wherein thou wast aforetime!” Upon this she was straightway restored to her original semblance and the two women embraced and kissed each other. So King Badr Basim knew that the old woman was Queen Lab’s mother and that he had been tricked and would have fled; when, lo! the old woman whistled a loud whistle and her call was obeyed by an Ifrit as he were a great mountain, whereat Badr was affrighted and stood still. Then the old woman mounted on the Ifrit’s back, taking her daughter behind her and King Badr Basim before her, and the Ifrit flew off with them; nor was it a full hour ere they were in the palace of Queen Lab, who sat down on the throne of kingship and said to Badr, “Gallows-bird that thou art, now am I come hither and have attained to that I desired and soon will I show thee how I will do with thee and with yonder old man the grocer! How many favours have I shown him! Yet he cloth me frowardness; for thou hast not attained thine end but by means of him.” Then she took water and sprinkled him therewith, saying, “Quit the shape wherein thou art for the form of a foul-favoured fowl, the foulest of all fowls”; and she set him in a cage and cut off from him meat and drink; but one of her women seeing this cruelty, took compassion on him and gave him food and water without her knowledge. One day, the damsel took her mistress at unawares and going forth the palace, repaired to the old grocer, to whom she told the whole case, saying, “Queen Lab is minded to make an end of thy brother’s son.” The Shaykh thanked her and said, “There is no help but that I take the city from her and make thee Queen thereof in her stead.” Then he whistled a loud whistle and there came forth to him an Ifrit with four wings, to whom he said, “Take up this damsel and carry her to the city of Julnar the Sea-born and her mother Faráshah1 for they twain are the most powerful magicians on face of earth.” And he said to the damsel, “When thou comest thither, tell them that King Badr Basim is Queen Lab’s captive.” Then the Ifrit took up his load and, flying off with her, in a little while set her down upon the terrace roof of Queen Julnar’s palace. So she descended and going in to the Queen, kissed the earth and told her what had passed to her son, first and last, whereupon Julnar rose to her and entreated her with honour and thanked her. Then she let beat the drums in the city and acquainted her lieges and the lords of her realm with the good news that King Badr Basim was found after which she and her mother Farashah and her brother Salih assembled all the tribes of the Jinn and the troops of the main; for the Kings of the Jinn obeyed them since the taking of King Al–Samandal. Presently they all flew up into the air and lighting down on the city of the sorceress, sacked the town and the palace and slew all the Unbelievers therein in the twinkling of an eye. Then said Julnar to the damsel, “Where is my son?” And the slave girl brought her the cage and signing to the bird within, cried, “This is thy son.” So Julnar took him forth of the cage and sprinkled him with water, saying, “Quit this shape for the form wherein thou wast aforetime;” nor had she made an end of her speech ere he shook and became a man as before: whereupon his mother, seeing him restored to human shape, embraced him and he wept with sore weeping. On like wise did his uncle Salih and his grandmother and the daughters of his uncle and fell to kissing his hands and feet. Then Julnar sent for Shaykh Abdallah and thanking him for his kind dealing with her son, married him to the damsel, whom he had despatched to her with news of him, and made him King of the city. Moreover, she summoned those who survived of the citizens (and they were Moslems), and made them swear fealty to him and take the oath of loyalty, whereto they replied, “Hearkening and obedience!” Then she and her company farewelled him and returned to their own capital. The townsfolk came out to meet them, with drums beating, and decorated the place three days and held high festival, of the greatness of their joy for the return of their King Badr Basim. After this Badr said to his mother, “O my mother, naught remains but that I marry and we be all united.” She replied, “Right is thy rede, O my son, but wait till we ask who befitteth thee among the daughters of the Kings.” And his grandmother Farashah, and the daughters of both his uncles said, “O Badr Basim, we will help thee to win thy wish forthright.” Then each of them arose and fared forth questing in the lands, whilst Julnar sent out her waiting women on the necks of Ifrits, bidding them leave not a city nor a King’s palace without noting all the handsome girls that were therein. But, when King Badr Basim saw the trouble they were taking in this matter, he said to Julnar, “O my mother, leave this thing, for none will content me save Jauharah, daughter of King Al–Samandal; for that she is indeed a jewel,2 according to her name.” Replied Julnar, “I know that which thou seekest;” and bade forthright bring Al–Samandal the King. As soon as he was present, she sent for Badr Basim and acquainted him with the King’s coming, whereupon he went in to him. Now when Al–Samandal was aware of his presence, he rose to him and saluted him and bade him welcome; and King Badr Basim demanded of him his daughter Jauharah in marriage. Quoth he, “She is thine handmaid and at thy service and disposition,” and despatched some of his suite bidding them seek her abode and, after telling her that her sire was in the hands of King Badr Basim, to bring her forthright. So they flew up into the air and disappeared and they returned after a while, with the Princess who, as soon as she saw her father, went up to him and threw her arms round his neck. Then looking at her he said, “O my daughter, know that I have given thee in wedlock to this magnanimous Sovran, and valiant lion King Badr Basim, son of Queen Julnar the Sea-born, for that he is the goodliest of the folk of his day and most powerful and the most exalted of them in degree and the noblest in rank; he befitteth none but thee and thou none but him.” Answered she, “I may not gainsay thee, O my sire do as thou wilt, for indeed chagrin and despite are at an end, and I am one of his handmaids.” So they summoned the Kazi and the witnesses who drew up the marriage contract between King Badr Basim and the Princess Jauharah, and the citizens decorated the city and beat the drums of rejoicing, and they released all who were in the jails, whilst the King clothed the widows and the orphans and bestowed robes of honour upon the Lords of the Realm and Emirs and Grandees: and they made bride-feasts and held high festival night and morn ten days, at the end of which time they displayed the bride, in nine different dresses, before King Badr Basim who bestowed an honourable robe upon King Al-Samandal and sent him back to his country and people and kinsfolk. And they ceased not from living the most delectable of life and the most solaceful of days, eating and drinking and enjoying every luxury, till there came to them the Destroyer of delights and the Sunderer of Societies; and this is the end of their story3, may Allah have mercy on them all! Moreover, O auspicious King, a tale is also told anent
1 Here, for the first time we find the name of the mother who has often been mentioned in the story. Faráshah is the fem. or singular form of “Farásh,” a butterfly, a moth. Lane notes that his Shaykh gives it the very unusual sense of “a locust.”
2 Punning upon Jauharah= “a jewel” a name which has an Hibernian smack.
3 In the old version “All the lovers of the Magic Queen resumed their pristine forms as soon as she ceased to live;” moreover, they were all sons of kings, princes, or persons of high degree.
There was once, in days of yore and in ages and times long gone before, a King of the Kings of the Persians, by name Mohammed bin Sabáik, who ruled over Khorásán-land and used every year to go on razzia into the countries of the Miscreants in Hind and Sind and China and the lands of Máwarannahr beyond the Oxus and other regions of the barbarians and what not else. He was a just King, a valiant and a generous, and loved table-talk1 and tales and verses and anecdotes and histories and entertaining stories and legends of the ancients. Whoso knew a rare recital and related it to him in such fashion as to please him he would bestow on him a sumptuous robe of honour and clothe him from head to foot and give him a thousand dinars, and mount him on a horse saddled and bridled besides other great gifts; and the man would take all this and wend his way. Now it chanced that one day there came an old man before him and related to him a rare story, which pleased the King and made him marvel, so he ordered him a magnificent present, amongst other things a thousand dinars of Khorasan and a horse with its housings and trappings. After this, the bruit of the King’s munificence was blazed abroad in all countries and there heard of him a man, Hasan the Merchant hight, who was a generous, open-handed and learned, a scholar and an accomplished poet. Now the King had an envious Wazir, a multum-in-parvo of ill, loving no man, rich nor poor, and whoso came before the King and he gave him aught he envied him and said, “Verily, this fashion annihilateth wealth and ruineth the land; and such is the custom of the King.” But this was naught save envy and despite in that Minister. Presently the King heard talk of Hasan the Merchant and sending for him, said to him as soon as he came into the presence, “O Merchant Hasan, this Wazir of mine vexeth and thwarteth me concerning the money I give to poets and boon-companions and story-tellers and glee-men, and I would have thee tell me a goodly history and a rare story, such as I have never before heard. An it please me, I will give thee lands galore, with their forts, in free tenure, in addition to thy fiefs and untaxed lands; besides which I will put my whole kingdom in thy hands and make thee my Chief Wazir; so shalt thy sit on my right hand and rule my subjects. But an thou bring me not that which I bid thee, I will take all that is thy hand and banish thee my realm.” Replied Hasan, “Hearkening and obedience to our lord the King! But thy slave beseecheth thee to have patience with him a year; then will he tell thee a tale, such as thou hast never in thy life heard, neither hath other than thou heard its like, not to say a better than it.” Quoth the King, “I grant thee a whole year’s delay.” And he called for a costly robe of honour wherein he robed Hasan, saying, “Keep thy house and mount not horse, neither go nor come for a year’s time, till thou bring me that I seek of thee. An thou bring it, especial favour awaiteth thee and thou mayst count upon that which I have promised thee; but an thou bring it not, thou art not of us nor are we of thee.”— And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
1 Arab. “Munádamah,” = conversation over the cup (Lane), used somewhat in the sense of “Musámarah” = talks by moonlight.
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when King Mohammed son of Sabaik said to Hasan the Merchant, “An thou bring me that I seek of thee, especial favour awaiteth thee and thou mayest now rejoice in that which I have promised thee; but, an thou bring it not, thou art not of us nor are we of thee.” Hasan kissed ground before the King and went out from the presence. Then he chose five of the best of his Mamelukes, who could all write and read and were learned, intelligent, accomplished; and he gave each of them five thousand dinars, saying, “I reared you not save for the like of this day; so do ye help me to further the King’s desire and deliver me from his hand.” Quoth they, “What wilt thou have us do? Our lives be thy ransom!” Quoth he, “I wish you to go each to a different country and seek out diligently the learned and erudite and literate and the tellers of wondrous stories and marvellous histories and do your endeavour to procure me the story of Sayf al-Mulúk. If ye find it with any one, pay him what price soever he asketh for it although he demand a thousand dinars; give him what ye may and promise him the rest and bring me the story; for whoso happeneth on it and bringeth it to me, I will bestow on him a costly robe of honour and largesse galore, and there shall be to me none more worshipped than he.” Then said he to one of them, “Hie thou to Al–Hind and Al–Sind and all their provinces and dependencies.” To another, “Hie thou to the home of the Persians and to China and her climates.” To the third, “Hie thou to the land of Khorasan with its districts.” To the fourth, “Hie thou to Mauritania and all its regions, districts, provinces and quarters.” And to the fifth, “Hie thou to Syria and Egypt and their outliers.” Moreover, he chose them out an auspicious day and said to them, “Fare ye forth this day and be diligent in the accomplishment of my need and be not slothful, though the case cost you your lives.” So they farewelled him and departed, each taking the direction perscribed to him. Now, four of them were absent four months, and searched but found nothing; so they returned and told their master, whose breast was straitened, that they had ransacked towns and cities and countries for the thing he sought, but had happened upon naught thereof. Meanwhile, the fifth servant journeyed till he came to the land of Syria and entered Damascus, which he found a pleasant city and a secure, abounding in trees and rills, leas and fruiteries and birds chanting the praises of Allah the One, the All-powerful of sway, Creator of Night and Day. Here he tarried some time, asking for his master’s desire, but non answered him, wherefore he was on the point of departing thence to another place, when he met a young man running and stumbling over his skirts. So he asked of him, “Wherefore runnest thou in such eagerness and whither dost thou press?” And he answered, “There is an elder here, a man of learning, who every day at this time taketh his seat on a stool1 and relateth tales and stories and delectable anecdotes, whereof never heard any the like; and I am running to get me a place near him and fear I shall find no room, because of the much folk.” Quoth the Mameluke, “Take me with thee;” and quoth the youth, “Make haste in thy walking.” So he shut his door and hastened with him to the place of recitation, where he saw an old man of bright favour seated on a stool holding forth to the folk. He sat down near him and addressed himself to hear his story, till the going down of the sun, when the old man made an end of his tale and the people, having heard it all, dispersed from about him; whereupon the Mameluke accosted him and saluted him, and he returned his salam and greeted him with the utmost worship and courtesy. Then said the messenger to him, “O my lord Shaykh, thou art a comely and reverend man, and thy discourse is goodly; but I would fain ask thee of somewhat.” Replied the old man, “Ask of what thou wilt!” Then said the Mameluke, “Hast thou the story of Sayf al-Muluk and Badí‘a al-Jamál?” Rejoined the elder, “And who told thee of this story and informed thee thereof?” Answered the messenger, “None told me of it, but I am come from a far country, in quest of this tale, and I will pay thee whatever thou askest for its price if thou have it and wilt, of thy bounty and charity, impart it to me and make it an alms to me, of the generosity of thy nature for, had I my life in my hand and lavished it upon thee for this thing, yet were it pleasing to my heart.” Replied the old man, “Be of good cheer and keep thine eye cool and clear: thou shalt have it; but this is no story that one telleth in the beaten highway, nor do I give it to every one.” Cried the other, “By Allah, O my lord, do not grudge it me, but ask of me what price thou wilt.” And the old man, “If thou wish for the history give me an hundred dinars and thou shalt have it; but upon five conditions.” Now when the Mameluke knew that the old man had the story and was willing to sell it to him, he joyed with exceeding joy and said, “I will give thee the hundred dinars by way of price and ten to boot as a gratuity and take it on the conditions of which thou speakest.” Said the old man, “Then go and fetch the gold pieces, and take that thou seekest.” So the messenger kissed his hands and joyful and happy returned to his lodging, where he laid an hundred and ten dinars2 in a purse he had by him. As soon as morning morrowed, he donned his clothes and taking the dinars, repaired to the story-teller, whom he found seated at the door of his house. So he saluted him and the other returned his salam. Then he gave him the gold and the old man took it and carrying the messenger into his house made him sit down in a convenient place, when he set before him ink-case and reed-pen and paper and giving him a book, said to him, “Write out what thou seekest of the night-story3 of Sayf al-Muluk from this book.” Accordingly the Mameluke fell to work and wrote till he had made an end of his copy, when he read it to the old man, and he corrected it and presently said to him, “Know, O my son, that my five conditions are as follows; firstly, that thou tell not this story in the beaten high road nor before women and slave-girls nor to black slaves nor feather-heads; nor again to boys; but read it only before Kings and Emirs and Wazirs and men of learning, such as expounders of the Koran and others.” Thereupon the messenger accepted the conditions and kissing the old man’shand, took leave of him, and fared forth. — And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
1 Arab. “Kursi,” a word of many meanings; here it would allure to the square crate-like seat of palm-fronds used by the Ráwi or public reciter of tales when he is not pacing about the coffee-house.
2 Von Hammer remarks that this is precisely the sum paid in Egypt for a Ms. copy of The Nights.
3 Arab. “Samar,” the origin of Musámarah, which see, vol. iv. 237.
She continued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the Mameluke of Hasan the Merchant had copied the tale out of the book belonging to the old man of Damascus, and had accepted his conditions and farewelled him, he fared forth on the same day, glad and joyful, and journeyed on diligently, of the excess of his contentment, for that he had gotten the story of Sayf al-Muluk, till he came to his own country, when he despatched his servant to bear the good news to his master and say to him, “Thy Mameluke is come back in safety and hath won his will and his aim.” (Now of the term appointed between Hasan and the King there wanted but ten days.) Then, after taking rest in his own quarters he himself went in to the Merchant and told him all that had befallen him and gave him the book containing the story of Sayf al-Muluk and Badi’a al-Jamal, when Hasan joyed with exceeding joy at the sight and bestowed on him all the clothes he had on and gave him ten thoroughbred horses and the like number of camels and mules and three negro chattels and two white slaves. Then Hasan took the book and copied out the story plainly in his own hand; after which he presented himself before the King and said to him, “O thou auspicious King, I have brought thee a night-story and a rarely pleasant relation, whose like none ever heard at all.” When these words reached the King’s ear, he sent forthright for all the Emirs, who were men of understanding, and all the learned doctors and folk of erudition and culture and poets and wits; and Hasan sat down and read the history before the King, who marvelled thereat and approved it, as did all who were present, and they showered gold and silver and jewels upon the Merchant. Moreover, the King bestowed on him a costly robe of honour of the richest of his raiment and gave him a great city with its castles and outliers; and he appointed him one of his Chief Wazirs and seated him on his right hand. Then he caused the scribes write the story in letters of gold and lay it up in his privy treasures: and whenever his breast was straitened, he would summon Hasan and he would read him the story,1 which was as follows:—
1 The pomp and circumstance, with which the tale is introduced to the reader showing the importance attached to it. Lane, most inudiciously I think, transfers the Proemium to a note in chapt. xxiv., thus converting an Arabian Night into an Arabian Note.
There was once, in days of old and in ages and times long told, a King in Egypt called Asim bin Safwán,1 who was a liberal and beneficent sovran, venerable and majestic. He owned many cities and sconces and fortresses and troops and warriors and had a Wazir named Fáris bin Sálih,2 and he and all his subjects worshipped the sun and the fire, instead of the All-powerful Sire, the Glorious, the Victorious. Now this King was become a very old man, weakened and wasted with age and sickness and decrepitude; for he had lived an hundred and fourscore years and had no child, male or female, by reason whereof he was ever in cark and care from morning to night and from night to morn. It so happened that one day of the days, he was sitting on the throne of his Kingship, with his Emirs and Wazirs and Captains and Grandees in attendance on him, according to their custom, in their several stations, and whenever there came in an Emir, who had with him a son or two sons, or haply three who stood at the sides of their sires the King envied him and said in himself, “Every one of these is happy and rejoiceth in his children, whilst I, I have no child, and to-morrow I die and leave my reign and throne and lands and hoards, and strangers will take them and none will bear me in memory nor will there remain any mention of me in the world.” Then he became drowned in the sea of thought and for the much thronging of griefs and anxieties upon his hear, like travellers faring for the well, he shed tears and descending from his throne, sat down upon the floor,3 weeping and humbling himself before the Lord. Now when the Wazir and notables of the realm and others who were present in the assembly saw him do thus with his royal person, they feared for their lives and let the poursuivants cry aloud to the lieges, saying, “Hie ye to your homes and rest till the King recover from what aileth him.” So they went away, leaving none in the presence save the Minister who, as soon as the King came to himself, kissed ground between his hands and said, “O King of the Age and the Time, wherefore this weeping and wailing? Tell me who hath transgressed against thee of the Kings or Castellans or Emirs or Grandees, and inform me who hath thwarted thee, O my liege lord, that we may all fall on him and tear his soul from his two sides.” But he spake not neither raised his head; whereupon the Minister kissed ground before him a second time and said to him, “O Master,4 I am even as thy son and thy slave, nay, I have reared thee; yet know I not the cause of thy cark and chagrin and of this thy case; and who should know but I who should stand in my stead between thy hands? Tell me therefore why this weeping and wherefore thine affliction.” Nevertheless, the King neither opened his mouth nor raised his head, but ceased not to weep and cry with a loud crying and lament with exceeding lamentation and ejaculate, “Alas!” The Wazir took patience with him awhile, after which he said to him, “Except thou tell me the cause of this thine affliction, I will set this sword to my heart and will slay myself before thine eyes, rather than see thee thus distressed.” Then King Asim raised his head and, wiping away his tears, said, “O Minister of good counself and experience, leave me to my care and my chagrin, for that which is in my heart of sorrow sufficeth me.” But Faris said, “Tell me, O King, the cause of this thy weeping, haply Allah will appoint thee relief at my hands.”— And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
1 ‘Asim = defending (honour) or defended, son of Safwán = clear, cold (dry). Trébutien ii. 126, has Safran.
2 Fáris = the rider, the Knight, son of Sálih = the righteous, the pious, the just.
3 In sign of the deepest dejection, when a man would signify that he can fall no lower.
4 Arab. Yá Khawand (in Bresl. Edit. vol. iv. 191) and fem. form Khawandah (p. 20) from Pers. Kháwand or Kháwandagár = superior, lord, master; Khudáwand is still used in popular as in classical Persian, and is universally understood in Hindostan.
She pursued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the Wazir said to King Asim, “Tell me the cause of this thy weeping: haply Allah shall appoint thee relief at my hands.” Replied the King, “O Wazir, I weep not for monies nor horses nor kingdoms nor aught else, but that I am become an old man, yea, very old, nigh upon an hundred and fourscore years of age, and I have not been blessed with a child, male or female; so, when I die, they will bury me and my trace will be effaced and my name cut off; the stranger will take my throne and reign and none will ever make mention of my being.” Rejoined the Minister Faris, “O King of the Age, I am older than thou by an hundred years yet have I never been blest with boon of child and cease not day and night from cark and care and concern; so how shall we do, I and thou?” Quoth Asim, “O Wazir, hast thou no device or shift in this matter?” and quoth the Minister, “Know, O King that I have heard of a Sovran in the land of Sabá1 by name Solomon David-son (upon the twain be the Peace!),2 who pretendeth to prophetship and avoucheth that he hath a mighty Lord who can do all things and whose kingdom is in the Heavens and who hath dominion over all mankind and birds and beasts and over the wind and the Jinn. Moreover, he kenneth the speech of birds and the language of every other created thing; and withal, he calleth all creatures to the worship of his Lord and discourseth to them of their service. So let us send him a messenger in the King’s name and seek of him our need, beseeching him to put up prayer to his Lord, that He vouchsafe each of us boon of issue. If his Faith be soothfast and his Lord Omnipotent, He will assuredly bless each of us with a child male or female, and if the thing thus fall out, we will enter his faith and worship his Lord; else will we take patience and devise us another device.” The King cried, “This is well seen, and my breast is braodened by this thy speech; but where shall we find a messenger befitting this grave matter, for that this Solomon is no Kinglet and the approaching him is no light affair? Indeed, I will send him none, on the like of this matter, save thyself; for thou art ancient and versed in all manner affairs and the like of thee is the like of myself; wherefore I desire that thou weary thyself and journey to him and occupy thyself sedulously with accomplishing this matter, so haply solace may be at thy hand.” The Minister said, “I hear and I obey; but rise thou forthwith and seat thee upon the throne, so the Emirs and Lords of the realm and officers and the lieges may enter applying themselves to thy service, according to their custom; for they all went away from thee, troubled at heart on thine account. Then will I go out and set forth on the Sovran’s errand.” So the King arose forthright and sat down on the throne of his kingship, whilst the Wazir went out and said to the Chamberlain, “Bid the folk proceed to their service, as of their wont.” Accordingly the troops and Captains and Lords of the land entered, after they had spread the tables and ate and drank and withdrew as was their wont, after which the Wazir Faris went forth from King Asim and, repairing to his own house, equipped himself for travel and returned to the King, who opened to him the treasuries and provided him with rarities and things of price and rich stuffs and gear without compare, such as nor Emir nor Wazir hath power to possess. Moreover, King Asim charged him to accost Solomon with reverence, foregoing him with the salam, but not exceeding in speech; “and (continued he) then do thou ask of him thy need, and if he say ’tis granted, return to us in haste, for I shall be awaiting thee.” Accordingly, the Minister kissed hands and took the presents and setting out, fared on night and day, till he came within fifteen days’ journey of Saba. Meanwhile Allah (extolled and exalted be He!) inspired Solomon the son of David (the Peace be upon both!) and said to him, “O Solomon, the King of Egypt sendeth unto thee his Chief Wazir, with a present of rarities and such and such things of price; so do thou also despatch thy Counsellor Asaf bin Barkhiyá to meet him with honour and with victual at the halting-places; and when he cometh to thy presence, say unto him, ‘Verily, thy King hath sent thee in quest of this and that and thy business is thus and thus.’ Then do thou propound to him The Saving Faith.”3 Whereupon Solomon bade his Wazir make ready a company of his retainers and go forth to meet the Minister of Egypt with honour and sumptuous provision at the halting-places. So Asaf made ready all that was needed for their entertainment and setting out, fared on till he fell in with Faris and accosted him with the salam, honouring him and his company with exceeding honour. Moreover, he brought them provaunt and provender at the halting-places and said to them, “Well come and welcome and fair welcome to the coming guests! Rejoice in the certain winning of your wish! Be your souls of good cheer and your eyes cool and clear and your breasts be broadened!” Quoth Faris in himself, “Who acquainted him with this?”; and he said to Asaf,4 “O my lord, and who gave thee to know of us and our need?” “It was Solomon son of David (on whom be the Peace!), told us of this!” “And who told our lord Solomon?” “The Lord of the heaven and the earth told him, the God of all creatures!” “This is none other than a mighty God!” “And do ye not worship him?” “We worship the Sun, and prostrate ourselves thereto.” “O Wazir Faris, the sun is but a star of the stars created by Allah (extolled and exalted be He!), and Allah forbid that it should be a Lord! Because whiles it riseth and whiles it setteth, but our Lord is ever present and never absent and He over all things is Omnipotent!” Then they journeyed on a little while till they came to the land Saba and drew near the throne of Solomon David-son, (upon the twain be peace!), who commanded his hosts of men and Jinn and others5 to form line on their road. So the beasts of the sea and the elephants and leopards and lynxes and all beasts of the land ranged themselves in espalier on either side of the way, after their several kinds, and similarly the Jinn drew out in two ranks, appearing all to mortal eyes without concealment, in divers forms grisly and gruesome. So they lined the road on either hand, and the birds bespread their wings over the host of creatures to shade them, warbling one to other in all manner of voices and tongues. Now when the people of Egypt came to this terrible array, they dreaded it and durst not proceed; but Asaf said to them, “Pass on amidst them and walk forward and fear them not: for they are slaves of Solomon son of David, and none of them will harm you.” So saying, he entered between the ranks, followed by all the folk and amongst them the Wazir of Egypt and his company, fearful: and they ceased not faring forwards till they reached the city, where they lodged the embassy in the guest-house and for the space of three days entertained them sumptuously, entreating them with the utmost honour. Then they carried them before Solomon, prophet of Allah (on whom be the Peace!), and when entering they would have kissed the earth before him; but he forbade them, saying, “It befitteth not a man prostrate himself to earth save before Allah (to whom belong Might and Majesty!), Creator of Earth and Heaven and all other things; wherefore, whosoever of you hath a mint to sit let him be seated in my service, or to stand, let him stand, but let none stand to do me worship.” So they obeyed him and the Wazir Faris and some of his intimates sat down, whilst certain of the lesser sort remained afoot to wait on him. When they had sat awhile, the servants spread the tables and they all, men and beasts, ate their sufficiency.6 Then Solomon bade Faris expound his errand, that it might be accomplished, saying, “Speak and hide naught of that wherefor thou art come; for I know why ye come and what is your errand, which is thus and thus. The King of Egypt who despatched thee, Asim hight, hath become a very old man, infirm, decrepit; and Allah (whose name be exalted!) hath not blessed him with offspring, male or female. So he abode in cark and care and chagrin from morn to night and from night to morn. It so happened that one day of the days as he sat upon the throne of his kingship with his Emirs and Wazirs, and Captains and Grandees in attendance on him, he saw some of them with two sons, others with one, and others even three, who came with their sires to do him service. So he said in himself, of the excess of his sorrow, ‘Who shall get my kingdom after my death? Will any save a stranger take it? And thus shall I pass out of being as though I had never been!’ On this account he became drowned in the sea of thought, until his eyes were flooded with tears and he covered his face with his kerchief and wept with sore weeping. Then he rose from off his throne and sat down upon the floor wailing and lamenting and none knew what was in heart as he grovelled in the ground save Allah Almighty.”— And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
1 The Biblical Sheba, whence came the Queen of many Hebrew fables.
2 These would be the interjections of the writer or story-teller. The Mac. Edit. is here a sketch which must be filled up by the Bresl. Edit. vol. iv. 189–318: “Tale of King Asim and his son Sayf al-Mulúk with Badí‘a al-Jamál.”
3 The oath by the Seal-ring of Solomon was the Stygian “swear” in Fairy-land. The signet consisted of four jewels, presented by as many angels, representing the Winds, the Birds, Earth (including sea) and Spirits, and the gems were inscribed with as many sentences: (1) To Allah belong Majesty and Might; (2) All created things praise the Lord; (3) Heaven and Earth are Allah’s slaves and (4) There is no god but the God and Mohammed is His messenger. For Sakhr and his theft of the signet see Dr. Weil’s, “The Bible, the Koran, and the Talmud.”
4 Trébutien (ii. 128) remarks, “Cet Assaf peut être celui auquel David adresse plusieurs de ses psaumes, et que nos interprètes disent avoir été son maître de chapelle (from Biblioth. Orient).
5 Mermen, monsters, beasts, etc.
6 This is in accordance with Eastern etiqette; the guest must be fed before his errand is asked. The Porte, in the days of its pride, managed in this way sorely to insult the Ambassadors of the most powerful European kingdoms and the first French Republic had the honour of abating the barbarians’ nuisance. So the old Scottish Highlanders never asked the name or clan of a chance guest, lest he prove a foe before he had eaten their food.
She resumed, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Solomon David-son (upon both of whom be peace!) after disclosing to the Wazir Faris that which had passed between himself and his master, King Asim, said to him, “Is this that I have told thee the truth, O Wazir?” Replied Faris, “O prophet of Allah, this thou hast said is indeed sooth and verity; but when we discoursed of this matter, none was with the King and myself, nor was any ware of our case; who, then told thee of all these things?” Answered Solomon, “They were told to me by my Lord who knoweth whatso is concealed1 from the eye and what is hidden in the breasts.” Quoth Faris, “O Prophet of Allah, verily this is none other than a mighty Lord and an omnipotent God!” And he Islamized with all his many. Then said Solomon to him, “Thou hast with thee such and such presents and rarities;” and Faris replied “Yes.” The prophet continued, “I accept them all and give them in free gift unto thee. So do ye rest, thou and thy company, in the place where you have been lodging, till the fatigue of the journey shall cease from you; and to-morrow, Inshallah! thine errand shall be accomplished to the uttermost, if it be the will of Allah the Most High, Lord of heaven and earth and the light which followeth the gloom; Creator of all creatures.” So Faris returned to his quarters and passed the night in deep thought. But when morning morrowed he presented himself before the Lord Solomon, who said to him, “When thou returnest to King Asim bin Safwan and you twain are re-united, do ye both go forth some day armed with bow, bolts and brand, and fare to such a place, where ye shall find a certain tree. Mount upon it and sit silent until the midhour between noon-prayer and that of mid-afternoon, when the noontide heat hath cooled; then descend and look at the foot of the tree, whence ye will see two serpents come forth, one with a head like an ape’s and the other with a head like an Ifrit’s. Shoot them ye twain with bolts and kill them both; then cut off a span’s length from their heads and the like from their tails and throw it away. The rest of the flesh cook and cook well and give it to your wives to eat: then lie with them that night and, by Allah’s leave, they shall conceive and bear male children.” Moreover, he gave him a seal-ring, a sword, and a wrapper containing two tunics2 embroidered with gold and jewels, saying, “O Wazir Faris, when your sons grow up to man’s estate, give to each of them one of these tunics.” Then said he, “In the name of Allah! May the Almighty accomplish your desire! And now nothing remaineth for thee but to depart, relying on the blessing of the Lord the Most High, for the King looketh for thy return night and day and his eye is ever gazing on the road.” So the Wazir advanced to the prophet Solomon son of David (upon both of whom be the Peace!) and farewelled him and fared forth from him after kissing his hands. Rejoicing in the accomplishment of his errand he travelled on with all diligence night and day, and ceased not wayfaring till he drew near to Cairo, when he despatched one of his servants to acquaint King Asim with his approach and the successful issue of his journey; which when the King heard he joyed with exceeding joy, he and his Grandees and Officers and troops especially in the Wazir’s safe return. When they met, the Minister dismounted and, kissing ground before the King, gave him the glad news anent the winning of his wish in fullest fashion; after which he expounded the True Faith to him, and the King and all his people embraced Al–Islam with much joy and gladness. Then said Asim to his Wazir, “Go home and rest this night and a week to boot; then go to the Hammambath and come to me, that I may inform thee of what we shall have to consider.” So Faris kissed ground and withdrew, with his suite, pages and eunuchs, to his house, where he rested eight days; after which he repaired to the King and related to him all that had passed between Solomon and himself, adding, “Do thou rise and go forth with me alone.” Then the King and the Minister took two bows and two bolts and repairing to the tree indicated by Solomon, clomb up into it and there sat in silence till the mid-day heat had passed away and it was near upon the hour of mid-afternoon prayer, when they descended and looking about them saw a serpent-couple3 issue from the roots of the tree. The King gazed at them, marvelling to see them ringed with collars of gold about their necks, and said to Faris, “O Wazir, verily these snakes have golden torques! By Allah, this is forsooth a rare thing! Let us catch them and set them in a cage and keep them to look upon.” But the Minister said, “These hath Allah created for profitable use;4 so do thou shoot one and I will shoot the other with these our shafts.” Accordingly they shot at them with arrows and slew them; after which they cut off a span’s length of their heads and tails and threw it away. Then they carried the rest to the King’s palace, where they called the kitchener and giving him the flesh said, “Dress this meat daintily, with onion-sauce5 and spices, and ladle it out into two saucers and bring them hither at such an hour, without delay!”— And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
1 In Bresl. Edit. (301) Kháfiyah: in Mac. Kháinah, the perfidy.
2 So in the Mac. Edit., in the Bresl. only one “Kabá” or Kaftan; but from the sequel it seems to be a clerical error.
3 Arab. “Su’ubán” (Thu’ubán) popularly translated “basilisk.” The Egyptians suppose that when this serpent forms ring round the Ibn ‘Irs (weasel or ichneumon) the latter emits a peculiar air which causes the reptile to burst.
4 i.e. that prophesied by Solomon.
5 Arab. “Takliyah” from kaly, a fry: Lane’s Shaykh explained it as “onions cooked in clarified butter, after which they are put upon other cooked food.” The mention of onions points to Egypt as the origin of this tale and certainly not to Arabia, where the strong-smelling root is hated.
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the King and the Wazir gave the serpents’ flesh to the kitchener, saying, “Cook it and ladle it out into two saucers and bring them hither without delay!”; the cook took the meat and went with it to the kitchen, where he cooked it and dressed it in skilful fashion with a mighty fine onion-sauce and hot spices; after which he ladled it out into two saucers and set them before the King and the Wazir, who took each a dish and gave their wives to eat of the meat. Then they went in that night unto them and knew them carnally, and by the good pleasure of Allah (extolled and exalted be He!) and His all-might and furtherance, they both conceived on one and the same night. The King abode three months, troubled in mind and saying in himself, “I wonder whether this thing will prove true or untrue”; till one day, as the lady his Queen was sitting, the child stirred in her womb and she felt a pain and her colour changed. So she knew that she was with child and calling the chief of her eunuchs, gave him this command, “Go to the King, wherever he may be and congratulate him saying, ‘O King of the Age, I bring thee the glad tidings that our lady’s pregnancy is become manifest, for the child stirreth in her womb’.” So the eunuch went out in haste, rejoicing, and finding the King alone, with cheek on palm, pondering this thing, kissed ground between his hands and acquainted him with his wife’s pregnancy. When the King heard his words, he sprang to his feet and in the excess of his joy, he kissed1 the eunuch’s hands and head and doffing the clothes he had on, gave them to him. Moreover, he said to those who were present in his assembly, “Whoso loveth me, let him bestow largesse upon this man.”2 And they gave him of coin and jewels and jacinths and horses and mules and estates and gardens what was beyond count or calculation. At that moment in came the Wazir Faris and said to Asim, “O my master, but now I was sitting alone at home and absorbed in thought, pondering the matter of the pregnancy and saying to myself, ‘Would I wot an this thing be true and whether my wife Khátún3 have conceived or not!’ when, behold, an eunuch came in to me and brought me the glad tidings that his lady was indeed pregnant, for that her colour was changed and the child stirred in her womb; whereupon, in my joy, I doffed all the clothes I had on and gave them to him, together with a thousand dinars, and made him Chief of the Eunuchs.” Rejoined the King, “O Minister, Allah (extolled and exalted be He!) hath, of His grace and bounty and goodness, and beneficence, made gift to us of the True Faith and brought us out of night into light, and hath been bountiful to us, of His favour and benevolence; wherefore I am minded to solace the folk and cause them to rejoice.” Quoth Faris, “Do what thou wilt,4” and quoth the King, “O Wazir, go down without stay or delay and set free all who are in the prisons, both criminals and debtors, and whoso transgresseth after this, we will requite as he deserveth even to the striking off of his head. Moreover, we forgive the people three years’ taxes, and do thou set up kitchens all around about the city walls5 and bid the kitcheners hang over the fire all kinds of cooking pots and cook all manner of meats, continuing their cooking night and day, and let all comers, both of our citizens and of the neighbouring countries, far and near, eat and drink and carry to their houses. And do thou command the people to make holiday and decorate the city seven days and shut not the taverns night nor day6; and if thou delay I will behead thee7!” So he did as the King bade him and the folk decorated the city and citadel and bulwarks after the goodliest fashion and, donning their richest attire, passed their time in feasting and sporting and making merry, till the days of the Queen’s pregnancy were accomplished and she was taken, one night, with labour pains hard before dawn. Then the King bade summon all the Olema and astronomers, mathematicians and men of learning, astrologers, scientists and scribes in the city, and they assembled and sat awaiting the throwing of a bead into the cup8 which was to be the signal to the Astrophils, as well as to the nurses and attendants, that the child was born. Presently, as they sat in expectation, the Queen gave birth to a boy like a slice of the moon when fullest and the astrologers fell to calculating and noted his star and nativity and drew his horoscope. Then, on being summoned they rose and, kissing the earth before the King, gave him the glad tidings, saying, “In very sooth the new-born child is of happy augury and born under an auspicious aspect, but” they added, “in the first of his life there will befall him a thing which we fear to name before the King.” Quoth Asim, “Speak and fear not;” so quoth they, “O King, this boy will fare forth from this land and journey in strangerhood and suffer shipwreck and hardship and prisonment and distress, and indeed he hath before him the sorest of sufferings; but he shall free him of them in the end, and win to his wish and live the happiest of lives the rest of his days, ruling over subjects with a strong hand and having dominion in the land, despite enemies and enviers.” Now when the King heard the astrologers’ words, he said, “The matter is a mystery; but all that Allah Almighty hath written for the creature of good and bad cometh to pass and needs must betide him from this day to that a thousand solaces.” So he paid no heed to their words or attention to their speeches but bestowed on them robes of honour, as well upon all who were present, and dismissed them; when, behold, in came Faris the Wazir and kissed the earth before the King in huge joy, saying, “Good tidings, O King! My wife hath but now given birth to a son, as he were a slice of the moon.” Replied Asim, “O Wazir, go, bring thy wife and child hither, that she may abide with my wife in my palace, and they shall bring up the two boys together.” So Faris fetched his wife and son and they committed the two children to the nurses wet and dry. And after seven days had passed over them, they brought them before the King and said to him, “What wilt thou name the twain?” Quoth he, “Do ye name them;” but quoth they, “None nameth the son save his sire.” So he said, “Name my son Sayf al-Muluk, after my grandfather, and the Minister’s son Sa’id9 Then he bestowed robes of honour on the nurses wet and dry and said to them, “Be ye ruthful over them and rear them after the goodliest fashion.” So they brought up the two boys diligently till they reached the age of five, when the King committed them to a doctor of Sciences10 who taught them to read the Koran and write. When they were ten years old, King Asim gave them in charge to masters, who instructed them in cavalarice and shooting with shafts and lunging with lance and play of Polo and the like till, by the time they were fifteen years old, they were clever in all manner of martial exercises, nor was there one to view with them in horsemanship, for each of them would do battle with a thousand men and make head against them single handed. So when they came to years of discretion, whenever King Asim looked on them he joyed in them with exceeding joy; and when they attained their twenty-fifth year, he took Faris his Minister apart one day and said to him, “O Wazir, I am minded to consult with thee concerning a thing I desire to do.” Replied he, “Whatever thou hast a mind to do, do it; for thy judgment is blessed.” Quoth the King, “O Wazir, I am become a very old and decrepit man, sore stricken in years, and I desire to take up my abode in an oratory, that I may worship Allah Almighty and give my kingdom and Sultanate to my son Sayf al-Muluk for that he is grown a goodly youth, perfect in knightly exercises and intellectual attainments, polite letters and gravity, dignity and the art of government. What sayst thou, O Minister, of this project?” And quoth the counsellor, “Right indeed is thy rede: the idea is a blessed and a fortunate, and if thou do this, I will do the like and my son Sa’id shall be the Prince’s Wazir, for he is a comely young man and complete in knowledge and judgment. Thus will the two youths be together, and we will order their affair and neglect not their case, but guide them to goodness and in the way that is straight.” Quoth the King, “Write letters and send them by couriers to all the countries and cities and sconces and fortresses that be under our hands, bidding their chiefs be present on such a day at the Horse-course of the Elephant.”11 So the Wazir went out without stay or delay and despatched letters of this purport to all the deputies and governors of fortresses and others under King Asim; and he commanded also that all in the city should be present, far and near, high and low. When the appointed time drew nigh, King Asim bade the tent-pitchers plant pavilions in the midst of the Champ-de-Mars and decorate them after the most sumptuous fashion and set up the great throne whereon he sat not but on festivals. And they at once did his bidding. Then he and all his Nabobs and Chamberlains and Emirs sallied forth, and he commanded proclamation be made to the people, saying, “In the name of Allah, come forth to the Maydán!” So all the Emirs and Wazirs and Governors of provinces and Feudatories12 came forth to the place of assembly and, entering the royal pavilion, addressed themselves to the service of the King as was their wont, and abode in their several stations, some sitting and others standing, till all the people were gathered together, when the King bade spread the tables and they ate and drank and prayed for him. Then he commanded the Chamberlains13 to proclaim to the people that they should not depart: so they made proclamation to them, saying, “Let none of you fare hence till he have heard the King’s words!” So they withdrew the curtains of the royal pavilion and the King said, “Whoso loveth me, let him remain till he have heard my speech!” Whereupon all the folk sat down in mind tranquil after they had been fearful, saying, “Wherefore have we been summoned by the King?” Then the Sovran rose to his feet, and making them swear that none would stir from his stead, said to them, “O ye Emirs and Wazirs and Lords of the land; the great and the small of you, and all ye who are present of the people; say me, wot ye not that this kingdom was an inheritance to me from my fathers and forefathers?” Answered they, “Yes, O King we all know that.” And he continued, “I and you, we all worshipped the sun and moon, till Allah (extolled and exalted be He!) vouchsafed us the knowledge of the True Faith and brought us out of darkness unto light, and directed us to the religion of Al–Islam. Know that I am become a very old man, feeble and decrepit, and I desire to take up my abode in a hermitage14 there to worship Allah Almighty and crave His pardon for past offenses and make this my son Sayf al-Muluk ruler. Ye know full well that he is a comely youth, eloquent, liberal, learned, versed in affairs, intelligent, equitable; wherefore I am minded presently to resign to him my realm and to make him ruler over you and seat him as Sultan in my stead, whilst I give myself to solitude and to the worship of Allah in an oratory, and my son and heir shall judge between you. What say ye then, all of you?” Thereupon they all rose and kissing ground before him, made answer with “Hearing and obedience,” saying, “O our King and our defender an thou should set over us one of thy blackamoor slaves we would obey him and hearken to thy word and accept thy command: how much more then with thy son Sayf al-Muluk? Indeed, we accept of him and approve him on our eyes and heads!” So King Asim bin Safwan arose and came down from his seat and seating his son on the great throne,15 took the crown from his own head and set it on the head of Sayf al-Muluk and girt his middle with the royal girdle.16 Then he sat down beside his son on the throne of his kingship, whilst the Emirs and Wazirs and Lords of the land and all the rest of the folk rose and kissed ground before him, saying, “Indeed, he is worthy of the kingship and hath better right to it than any other.” Then the Chamberlains made proclamation crying, “Amán! Amán! Safety! Safety!” and offered up prayers for his victory and prosperity. And Sayf al-Muluk scattered gold and silver on the heads of the lieges one and all. — And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
1 Von Hammer quotes the case of the Grand Vizier Yúsuf throwing his own pelisse over the shoulders of the Aleppine Merchant who brought him the news of the death of his enemy, Jazzár Pasha.
2 This peculiar style of generosity was also the custom in contemporary Europe.
3 Khátún, which follows the name (e.g. Hurmat Khatun), in India corresponds with the male title Khan, taken by the Pathan Moslems (e.g. Pír Khán). Khánum is the affix to the Moghul or Tartar nobility, the men assuming a double designation e.g. Mirza Abdallah Beg. See Oriental collections (Ouseley’s) vol. i. 97.
4 Lit. “Whatso thou wouldest do that do!” a contrast with our European laconism.
5 These are booths built against and outside the walls, made of palm-fronds and light materials.
6 Von Hammer in Trébutien (ii. 135) says, “Such rejoicings are still customary at Constantinople, under the name of Donánmá, not only when the Sultanas are enceintes, but also when they are brought to bed. In 1803 the rumour of the pregnancy of a Sultana, being falsely spread, involved all the Ministers in useless expenses to prepare for a Donánmá which never took place.” Lane justly remarks upon this passage that the title Sultán precedes while the feminine Sultánah follows the name.
7 These words (Bresl. Edit.) would be spoken in jest, a grim joke enough, but showing the elation of the King’s spirits.
8 A signal like a gong: the Mac. Edit. reads “Tákah,” = in at the window.
9 Sayf al-Mulúk = “Sword (Egyptian Sif, Arab. Sayf, Gr.
) of the Kings”; and he must not be called tout bonnement
Sayf. Sái’d = the forearm.
10 Arab. “Fakíh” = a divine, from Fikh = theology, a man versed in law and divinity i.e. (1) the Koran and its interpretation comprehending the sacred ancient history of the creation and prophets (Chapters iii., iv., v. and vi.), (2) the traditions and legends connected with early Moslem History and (3) some auxiliary sciences as grammar, syntax and prosody; logic, rhetoric and philosophy. See p. 18 of “El–Mas’údí‘s Historical Encyclopædia etc.,” By my friend Prof. Aloys Springer, London 1841. This fine fragment printed by the Oriental Translation Fund has been left unfinished whilst the Asiatic Society of Paris has printed in Eight Vols. 8vo the text and translation of MM. Barbier de Meynard and Pavet de Courteille. What a national disgrace! And the same with the mere abridgment of Ibn Batutah by Prof. Lee (Orient. Tr. Fund 1820) when the French have the fine Edition and translation by Defrémery and Sanguinetti with index etc. in 4 vols. 8vo 1858–59. But England is now content to rank in such matters as encouragement of learning, endowment of research etc., with the basest of kingdoms, and the contrast of status between the learned Societies of London and of Paris, Berlin, Vienna or Rome is mortifying to an Englishman — a national opprobrium.
11 Arab. “Maydán al-Fíl,” prob. for Birkat al-Fíl, the Tank of the Elephant before-mentioned. Lane quotes Al Makrizi who in his Khitat informs us that the lakelet was made abot the end of the seventh century (A.H.), and in the seventeenth year of the eighth century became the site of the stables. The Bresl. Edit. (iv. 214) reads “Maydan al-‘Adl,” prob. for Al-’Ádil the name of the King who laid out the Maydán.
12 Arab. “Asháb al-Ziyá’,” the latter word mostly signifies estates consisting, strictly speaking of land under artificial irrigation.
13 The Bresl. Edit. (iv. 215) has “Chawáshiyah” = ‘Chiaush, the Turkish word, written with the Pers. “ch,” a letter which in Arabic is supplanted by “sh,” everywhere except in Morocco.
14 Arab. “Záwiyah” lit. a corner, a cell. Lane (M. F., chapt. xxiv.) renders it “a small kiosque,” and translates the famous Zawiyat al-Umyán (Blind Men’s Angle) near the south-eastern corner of the Azhar or great Collegiate Mosque of Cairo, “Chapel of the Blind” (chapt. ix.). In popular parlance it suggests a hermitage.
15 Arab. “Takht,” a Pers. word used as more emphatic than the Arab. Sarír.
16 This girding the sovereign is found in the hieroglyphs as a peculiarity of the ancient Kings of Egypt, says Von Hammer referring readers to Denon.
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when King Asim seated his son, Sayf al-Muluk, upon the throne and all the people prayed for his victory and prosperity, the youth scattered gold and silver on the heads of the lieges, one and all, and conferred robes of honour and gave gifts and largesse. Then, after a moment, the Wazir Faris arose and kissing ground said, “O Emirs, O Grandees, ye ken that I am Wazir and that my Wazirate dateth from old, before the accession of King Asim bin Safwan, who hath now divested himself of the Kingship and made his son King in his stead?” Answered they, “Yes, we know that thy Wazirate is from sire after grandsire.” He continued, “And now in my turn I divest myself of office and invest this my son Sa’id, for he is intelligent, quick-witted, sagacious. What say ye all?” And they replied, “None is worthy to be Wazir to King Sayf al-Muluk but thy son, Sa’id, and they befit each other.” With this Faris arose and taking off his Wazirial turband, set it on his son’s head and eke laid his ink-case of office before him, whilst the Chamberlains and the Emirs said, “Indeed, he is deserving of the Wazirship” and the Heralds cried aloud, “Mubárak! Mubarak! — Felix sit et faustus!” After this, King Asim and Faris the Minister arose and, opening the royal treasuries, conferred magnificent robes of honour on all the Viceroys and Emirs and Wazirs and Lords of the land and other folk and gave salaries and benefactions and wrote them new mandates and diplomas with the signatures of King Sayf al-Muluk and his Wazir Sa’id. Moreover, he made distribution of money to the men-at-arms and gave guerdons, and the provincials abode in the city a full week ere they departed each to his own country and place. Then King Asim carried his son and his Wazir Sa’id back to the palace which was in the city and bade the treasurer bring the seal-ring and signet,1 sword and wrapper; which being done, he said to the two young men, “O my sons, come hither and let each of you choose two of these things and take them.” The first to make choice was Sayf al-Muluk, who put out his hand and took the ring and the wrapper, whilst Sa’id took the sword and the signet; after which they both kissed the King’s hands and went away to their lodging. Now Sayf al-Muluk opened not the wrapper to see what was therein, but threw it on the couch where he and Sa’id slept by night, for it was their habit to lie together. Presently they spread them the bed and the two lay down with a pair of wax candles burning over them and slept till midnight, when Sayf al-Muluk awoke and, seeing the bundle at his head, said in his mind, “I wonder what thing of price is in this wrapper my father gave me!” So he took it together with a candle and descended from the couch leaving Sa’id sleeping and carried the bundle into a closet, where he opened it and found within a tunic of the fabric of the Jann. He spread it out and saw on the lining2 of the back, the portraiture wroughten in gold of a girl and marvellous was her loveliness; and no sooner had he set eyes on the figure than his reason fled his head and he became Jinn-mad for love thereof, so that he fell down in a swoon and presently recovering, began to weep and lament, beating his face and breast and kissing her. And he recited these verses,
“Love, at the first, is a spurt of spray3
Which Doom disposes and Fates display;
Till, when deep diveth youth in passion-sea
Unbearable sorrows his soul waylay.”
And also these two couplets,
“Had I known of Love in what fashion he
Robbeth heart and soul I had guarded me:
But of malice prepense I threw self away
Unwitting of Love what his nature be.”
And Sayf al-Muluk ceased not to weep and wail and beat face and breast, till Sa’id awoke and missing him from the bed and seeing but a single candle, said to himself, “Whither is Sayf al-Muluk gone?” Then he took the other candle and went round about the palace, till he came upon the closet where he saw the Prince lying at full length, weeping with sore weeping and lamenting aloud. So he said to him, “O my brother, for what cause are these tears and what hath befallen thee? Speak to me and tell me the reason thereof.” But Sayf al-Muluk spoke not neither raised his head and continued to weep and wail and beat hand on breast. Seeing him in this case quoth Sa’id, “I am thy Wazir and thy brother, and we were reared together, I and thou; so an thou do not unburden thy breast and discover thy secret to me, to whom shalt thou reveal it and disclose its cause?” And he went on to humble himself and kiss the ground before him a full hour, whilst Sayf al-Muluk paid no heed to him nor answered him a word, but gave not over to weeping. At last, being affrighted at his case and weary of striving with him, he went out and fetched a sword, with which he returned to the closet, and setting the point to his own breast, said to the Prince, “Rouse thee, O my brother! An thou tell me not what aileth thee, I will slay myself and see thee no longer in this case.” Whereupon Sayf al-Muluk raised his head towards the Wazir and answered him, “O my brother, I am ashamed to tell thee what hath betided me;” but Sa’id said, “I conjure thee by Allah, Lord of Lords, Liberator of Necks,4 Causer of causes, the One, the Ruthful, the Gift-full, the Bountiful, that thou tell me what aileth thee and be not abashed at me, for I am thy slave and thy Minister and counsellor in all thine affairs!” Quoth Sayf al-Muluk, “Come and look at this likeness.” So Sa’id looked at it awhile and considering it straitly, behold, he saw written, as a crown over its head, in letters of pearl, these words, “This is the counterfeit presentment of Badi’a al-Jamal, daughter of Shahyál bin Shárukh, a King of the Kings of the true-believing Jann who have taken up their abode in the city of Babel and sojourn in the garden of Iram, Son of ‘Ad the Greater.’”5 — And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
1 Arab. “Mohr,” which was not amongst the gifts of Solomon in Night dcclx. The Bresl. Edit. (p. 220) adds “and the bow,” which is also de trop.
2 Arab. “Batánah,” the ordinary lining opp. to Tazríb, or quilting with a layer of coton between two folds of cloth. The idea in the text is that the unhappy wearer would have to carry his cross (the girl) on his back.
3 This line has occurred in Night dccxliv. supra p. 280.
4 Arab. “Mu’attik al-Rikáb” i.e. who frees those in bondage from the yoke.
5 In the Mac. Edit. and in Trébutien (ii. 143) the King is here called Schimakh son of Scharoukh, but elsewhere, Schohiali = Shahyál, in the Bresl. Edit. Shahál. What the author means by “Son of ‘Ad the Greater,” I cannot divine.
She continued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when Sa’id, son of the Wazir Faris, had read to Sayf al-Muluk, son of King Asim, the writ on the tunic, which showed the portraiture of Badi’a al-Jamal, daughter of Shahyal bin Sharukh, a King of the Kings of the Moslem Jinns dwelling in Babel-city and in the Garden of Iram, son of ‘Ad the Greater, he cried, “O my brother, knowest thou of what woman this is the presentment, that we may seek for her?” Sayf al-Muluk replied, “No, by Allah, O my brother, I know her not!” and Sa’id rejoined, “Come, read this writing on the crown.” So Sayf al-Muluk read it and cried out from his heart’s core and very vitals, saying, “Alas! Alas! Alas!” Quoth Sa’id, “O my brother, an the original of the portrait exist and her name be Badi’a al-Jamal, and she abide in the world, I will hasten to seek her, that thou mayst win thy will without delay. But, Allah upon thee, O my brother, leave this weeping and ascend thy throne, that the Officers of the State may come in to do their service to thee, and in the undurn, do thou summon the merchants and fakirs and travellers and pilgrims and paupers and ask of them concerning this city and the garden of Iram; haply by the help and blessing of Allah (extolled and exalted be He!), some one of them shall direct us thither.” So, when it was day, Sayf al-Muluk went forth and mounted the throne, clasping the tunic in his arms, for he could neither stand nor sit without it, nor would sleep visit him save it were with him; and the Emirs and Wazirs and Lords and Officers came in to him. When the Divan was complete all being assembled in their places he said to his Minister, “Go forth to them and tell them that the King hath been suddenly struck by sickness and he, by Allah, hath passed the night in ill case.” So Sa’id fared forth and told the folk what he said; which when old King Asim heard, he was concerned for his son and, summoning the physicians and astrologers, carried them in to Sayf al-Muluk. They looked at him and prescribed him ptisanes and diet-drinks, simples and medicinal waters and wrote him characts and incensed him with Nadd and aloes-wood and ambergris three days’ space; but his malady persisted three months, till King Asim was wroth with the leaches and said to them, “Woe to you, O dogs! What? Are all of you impotent to cure my son? Except ye heal him forthright, I will put the whole of you to death.” The Archiater replied, “O King of the Age, in very sooth we know that this is thy son and thou wottest that we fail not of diligence in tending a stranger; so how much more with medicining thy son? But thy son is afflicted with a malady hard to heal, which, if thou desire to know, we will discover it to thee.” Quoth Asim, “What then find ye to be the malady of my son?”; and quoth the leach, “O King of the Age, thy son is in love and he loveth one to whose enjoyment he hath no way of access.” At this the King was wroth and asked, “How know ye that my son is in love and how came love to him?”; they answered, “Enquire of his Wazir and brother Sa’id for he knoweth his case.” The King rose and repaired to his private closet and summoning Sa’id said to him, “Tell me the truth of thy brother’s malady.” But Sa’id replied, “I know it not.” So King Asim said to the Sworder, “Take Sa’id and bind his eyes and strike his neck.” Whereupon Sa’id feared for himself and cried, “O King of the Age, grant me immunity.” Replied the King, “Speak and thou shalt have it.” “Thy son is in love.” “With whom is he in love?” “With a King’s daughter of the Jann.” “And where could he have espied a daughter of the Jinns?” “Her portrait is wroughten on the tunic that was in the bundle given thee by Solomon, prophet of Allah!” When the King heard this, he rose, and going in to Sayf al-Muluk, said to him, “O my son, what hath afflicted thee? What is this portrait whereof thou art enamoured? And why didst thou not tell me.” He replied, “O my sire, I was ashamed to name this to thee and could not bring myself to discover aught thereof to any one at all; but now thou knowest my case, look how thou mayest do to cure me.” Rejoined his father, “What is to be done? Were this one of the daughters of men we might devise a device for coming at her; but she is a King’s daughter of the Jinns and who can woo and win her, save it be Solomon David-son, and hardly he?1 However, O my son, do thou arise forthright and hearten thy heart and take horse and ride out a-hunting or to weapon-play in the Maydan. Divert thyself with eating and drinking and put away cark and care from thy heart, and I will bring thee an hundred maids of the daughters of Kings; for thou hast no need to the daughters of the Jann, over whom we lack controul and of kind other than ours.” But he said, “I cannot renounce her nor will I seek other than her.” Asked King Asim, “How then shall we do, O my son?”; and Sayf al-Muluk answered, “Bring us all the merchants and travellers and wanderers in the city, that we may question them thereof. Peradventure, Allah will lead us to the city of Babel and the garden of Iram.” So King Asim bade summon all the merchants in the city and strangers and seacaptains and, as each came, enquired of him anent the city of Babel and its peninsula2 and the garden of Iram; but none of them knew these places nor could any give him tidings thereof. However, when the séance broke up, one of them said, “O King of the Age, an thou be minded to ken this thing, up and hie thee to the land of China; for it hath a vast city3 and a safe, wherein are store of rarities and things of price and folk of all kinds; and thou shalt not come to the knowledge of this city and garden but from its folk; it may be one of them will direct thee to that thou seekest.” Whereupon quoth Sayf al-Muluk, “O my sire, equip me a ship, that I may fare to the China-land; and do thou rule the reign in my stead.” Replied the old King, “O my son, abide thou on the throne of thy kingship and govern thy commons, and I myself will make the voyage to China and ask for thee of the city of Babel and the garden of Iram.” But Sayf al-Muluk rejoined, “O my sire, in very sooth this affair concerneth me and none can search after it like myself: so, come what will, an thou give me leave to make the voyage, I will depart and wander awhile. If I find trace or tidings of her, my wish will be won, and if not, belike the voyage will broaden my breast and recruit my courage; and haply by foreign travel my case will be made easy to me, and if I live, I shall return to thee safe and sound.”— And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
Last updated Tuesday, August 25, 2015 at 14:06