There was once in days of yore and in ages and times long gone before a man and a merchant Masrúr hight, who was of the comeliest of the folk of his tide, a wight of wealth galore and in easiest case; but he loved to take his pleasure in vergiers and flower-gardens and to divert himself with the love of the fair. Now it fortuned one night, as he lay asleep, he dreamt that he was in a garth of the loveliest, wherein were four birds, and amongst them a dove, white as polished silver. That dove pleased him and for her grew up in his heart an exceeding love. Presently, he beheld a great bird swoop down on him and snatch the dove from his hand, and this was grievous to him. After which he awoke and not finding the bird strave with his yearnings till morning, when he said in himself, “There is no help but that I go to-day to some one who will expound to me this vision.”— And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
1 i.e. “Adornment of (good) Qualities.” See the name punned on in Night dcccli. Lane omits this tale because it contains the illicit “Amours of a Christian and a Jewess who dupes her husband in various abominable ways.” The text has been taken from the Mac. and the Bresl. Edits. x. 72 etc. In many parts the former is a mere Epitome.
She continued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the merchant awoke, he strave with his yearnings till morning when he said to himself, “There is no help but that I go this day to some one who will expound to me this vision.” So he went forth and walked right and left, till he was far from his dwelling-place, but found none to interpret the dream to him. Then he would have returned, but on his way behold, the fancy took him to turn aside to the house of a certain trader, a man of the wealthiest, and when he drew near to it, suddenly he heard from within a plaintive voice from a sorrowful heart reciting these couplets,
“The breeze o’ Morn blows uswards from her trace
Fragrant, and heals the love-sick lover’s case.
I stand like captive on the mounds and ask
While tears make answer for the ruined place:
Quoth I, ‘By Allah, Breeze o’ Morning, say
Shall Time and Fortune aye this stead regrace?
Shall I enjoy a fawn whose form bewitched
And langourous eyelids wasted frame and face?’”
When Masrur heard this, he looked in through the doorway and saw a garden of the goodliest of gardens, and at its farther end a curtain of red brocade, purfled with pearls and gems, behind which sat four damsels, and amongst them a young lady over four feet and under five in height, as she were the rondure of the lune and the full moon shining boon: she had eyes Kohl’d with nature’s dye and joined eyebrows, a mouth as it were Solomon’s seal and lips and teeth bright with pearls and coral’s light; and indeed she ravished all wits with her beauty and loveliness and symmetry and perfect grace. When Masrur espied her, he entered the porch and went on entering till he came to the curtain: whereupon she raised her head and glanced at him. So he saluted her and she returned his salam with sweetest speech; and, when he considered her more straitly, his reason was dazed and his heart amazed. Then he looked at the garden and saw that it was full of jessamine and gilly flowers and violets and roses and orange blossoms and all manner sweet-scented blooms and herbs. Every tree was girt about with fruits and there coursed down water from four daïses, which faced one another and occupied the four corners of the garden. He looked at the first Líwán and found written around it with vermilion these two couplets,
“Ho thou the House! Grief never home in thee;
Nor Time work treason on thine owner’s head:
All good betide the House which every guest
Harbours, when sore distrest for way and stead!”
Then he looked at the second daïs and found written thereon in red gold these couplets,
“Robe thee, O House, in richest raiment Time,
Long as the birdies on the branchlets chime!
And sweetest perfumes breathe within thy walls
And lover meet beloved in bliss sublime.
And dwell thy dwellers all in joy and pride
Long as the wandering stars Heaven-hill shall climb.”
Then he looked at the third, whereon he found written in ultramarine these two couplets,
“Ever thy pomp and pride, O House! display
While starkeneth Night and shineth sheeny Day!
Boon Fortune bless all entering thy walls,
And whomso dwell in thee, for ever and aye!”
Then he looked at the fourth and saw painted in yellow characters this couplet,
“This garden and this lake in truth
Are fair sitting-steads, by the Lord of Ruth!”
Moreover, in that garden were birds of all breeds, ring-dove and cushat and nightingale and culver, each singing his several song, and amongst them the lady, swaying gracefully to and fro in her beauty and grace and symmetry and loveliness and ravishing all who saw her. Presently quoth she to Masrur, “Hola man! what bringeth thee into a house other than thy house and wherefore comest thou in unto women other than thy women, without leave of their owner?” Quoth he, “O my lady, I saw this garden, and the goodliness of its greenery pleased me and the fragrance of its flowers and the carolling of its birds; so I entered, thinking to gaze on it awhile and wend my way.” Said she, “With love and gladness!”; and Masrur was amazed at the sweetness of her speech and the coquetry of her glances and the straightness of her shape, and transported by her beauty and seemlihead and the pleasantness of the garden and the birds. So in the disorder of his spirits he recited these couplets,
“As a crescent-moon in the garth her form
’Mid Basil and jasmine and Rose I scan;
And Violet faced by the Myrtle-spray
And Nu’umán’s bloom and Myrobalan:
By her perfume the Zephyrs perfumèd breathe
And with scented sighings the branches fan.
O Garden, thou perfect of beauty art
All charms comprising in perfect plan;
And melodious birdies sing madrigals
And the Full Moon1 shineth in branchshade wan;
Its ring-dove, its culver, its mocking-bird
And its Philomel sing my soul t’ unman;
And the longing of love all my wits confuseth
For her charms, as the man whom his wine bemuseth.”
Now when Zayn al-Mawásif heard his verse, she glanced at him with eyes which bequeathed a thousand sighs and utterly ravished his wisdom and wits and replied to him in these lines,
“Hope not of our favours to make thy prey
And of what thou wishest thy greed allay:
And cease thy longing; thou canst not win
The love of the Fair thou’rt fain t’ essay,
My glances to lovers are baleful and naught
I reek of thy speech: I have said my say!”
“Ho, thou! Begone about thy business, for we are none of the woman-tribe who are neither thine nor another’s.2” And he answered, “O my lady, I said nothing ill.” Quoth she, “Thou soughtest to divert thyself3 and thou hast had thy diversion; so wend thy ways.” Quoth he, “O my lady, belike thou wilt give me a draught of water, for I am athirst.” Whereupon she cried, “How canst thou drink of a Jew’s water, and thou a Nazarene?” But he replied, “O my lady, your water is not forbidden to us nor ours unlawful to you, for we are all as one creation.” So she said to her slave-girl, “Give him to drink;” and she did as she was bidden. Then she called for the table of food, and there came four damsels, high-bosomed maids, bearing four trays of meats and four gilt flagons full of strong old-wine, as it were the tears of a slave of love for clearness, and a table around whose edge were graven these couplets,
“For eaters a table they brought and set
In the banquet-hall and ’twas dight with gold:
Like th’ Eternal Garden that gathers all
Man wants of meat and wines manifold.”
And when the high-breasted maids had set all this before him, quoth she, “Thou soughtest to drink of our drink; so up and at our meat and drink!” He could hardly credit what his ears had heard and sat down at the table forthright; whereupon she bade her nurse4 give him a cup, that he might drink. Now her slave-girls were called, one Hubúb, another Khutúb and the third Sukúb,5 and she who gave him the cup was Hubub. So he took the cup and looking at the outside there saw written these couplets,
“Drain not the howl but with lovely wight
Who loves thee and wine makes brighter bright.
And ‘ware her Scorpions6 that o’er thee creep
And guard thy tongue lest thou vex her sprite.”
Then the cup went round and when he emptied it he looked inside and saw written,
“And ‘ware her Scorpions when pressing them,
And hide her secrets from foes’ despight.”
Whereupon Masrur laughed her-wards and she asked him, “What causeth thee to laugh?” “For the fulness of my joy,” quoth he. Presently, the breeze blew on her and the scarf7 fell from her head and discovered a fillet 8 of glittering gold, set with pearls and gems and jacinths; and on her breast was a necklace of all manner ring-jewels and precious stones, to the centre of which hung a sparrow of red gold, with feet of red coral and bill of white silver and body full of Nadd-powder and pure ambergris and odoriferous musk. And upon its back was engraved,
“The Nadd is my wine-scented powder, my bread;
And the bosom’s my bed and the breasts my stead:
And my neck-nape complains of the weight of love,
Of my pain, of my pine, of my drearihead.”
Then Masrur looked at the breast of her shift and behold, thereon lay wroughten in red gold this verse,
“The fragrance of musk from the breasts of the fair
Zephyr borrows, to sweeten the morning air.”
Masrur marvelled at this with exceeding wonder and was dazed by her charms and amazement gat hold upon him. Then said Zayn al-Mawásif to him, “Begone from us and go about thy business, lest the neighbours hear of us and even us with the lewd.” He replied, “By Allah, O my lady, suffer my sight to enjoy the view of thy beauty and loveliness.” With this she was wroth with him and leaving him, walked in the garden, and he looked at her shift-sleeve and saw upon it embroidered these lines,
“The weaver-wight wrote with gold-ore bright
And her wrists on brocade rained a brighter light:
Her palms are adorned with a silvern sheen;
And favour her fingers the ivory’s white:
For their tips are rounded like priceless pearl;
And her charms would enlighten the nightiest night.”
And, as she paced the garth, Masrur gazed at her slippers and saw written upon them these pleasant lines,
“The slippers that carry these fair young feet
Cause her form to bend in its gracious bloom:
When she paces and waves in the breeze she owns,
She shines fullest moon in the murkiest gloom.”
She was followed by her women leaving Hubub with Masrur by the curtain, upon whose edge were embroidered these couplets,
“Behind the veil a damsel sits with gracious beauty dight,
Praise to the Lord who decked her with these inner gifts of sprite!
Guards her the garden and the bird fain bears her company;
Gladden her wine-draughts and the bowl but makes her brighter-bright.
Apple and Cassia-blossom show their envy of her cheeks;
And borrows Pearl resplendency from her resplendent light;
As though the sperm that gendered her were drop of marguerite9
Happy who kisses her and spends in her embrace the night.”
So Masrur entered into a long discourse with Hubub and presently said to her, “O Hubub, hath thy mistress a husband or not?” She replied, “My lady hath a husband; but he is actually abroad on a journey with merchandise of his.” Now whenas he heard that her husband was abroad on a journey, his heart lusted after her and he said, “O Hubub, glorified be He who created this damsel and fashioned her! How sweet is her beauty and her loveliness and her symmetry and perfect grace! Verily, into my heart is fallen sore travail for her. O Hubub, so do that I come to enjoy her, and thou shalt have of me what thou wilt of wealth and what not else.” Replied Hubub, “O Nazarene, if she heard thee speak thus, she would slay thee, or else she would kill herself, for she is the daughter of a Zealot10 of the Jews nor is there her like amongst them: she hath no need of money and she keepeth herself ever cloistered, discovering not her case to any.” Quoth Masrur, “O Hubub, an thou wilt but bring me to enjoy her, I will be to thee slave and foot page and will serve thee all my life and give thee whatsoever thou seekest of me.” But quoth she, “O Masrur, in very sooth this woman hath no lust for money nor yet for men, because my lady Zayn al-Mawasif is of the cloistered, going not forth her house-door in fear lest folk see her; and but that she bore with thee by reason of thy strangerhood, she had not permitted thee to pass her threshold; no, not though thou wert her brother.” He replied, “O Hubub, be thou our go-between and thou shalt have of me an hundred gold dinars and a dress worth as much more, for that the love of her hath gotten hold of my heart.” Hearing this she said, “O man, let me go about with her in talk and I will return thee and answer and acquaint thee with what she saith. Indeed, she loveth those who berhyme her and she affecteth those who set forth her charms and beauty and loveliness in verse, and we may not prevail over her save by wiles and soft speech and beguilement.” Thereupon Hubub rose and going up to her mistress, accosted her with privy talk of this and that and presently said to her, “O my lady, look at yonder young man, the Nazarene; how sweet is his speech and how shapely his shape!” When Zayn al-Mawasif heard this, she turned to her and said, “An thou like his comeliness love him thyself. Art thou not ashamed to address the like of me with these words? Go, bid him begone about his business; or I will make it the worse for him.” So Hubub returned to Masrur, but acquainted him not with that which her mistress had said. Then the lady bade her hie to the door and look if she saw any of the folk, lest foul befal them. So she went and returning, said, “O my lady, without are folk in plenty and we cannot let him go forth this night.” Quoth Zayn al-Mawasif, “I am in dole because of a dream I have seen and am fearful therefrom.” And Masrur said, “What sawest thou? Allah never trouble thy heart!” She replied, “I was asleep in the middle of the night, when suddenly an eagle swooped down upon me from the highest of the clouds and would have carried me off from behind the curtain, wherefore I was affrighted at him. Then I awoke from sleep and bade my women bring me meat and drink, so haply, when I had drunken, the dolour of the dream would cease from me.” Hearing this, Masrur smiled and told her his dream from first to last and how he had caught the dove, whereat she marvelled with exceeding marvel. Then he went on to talk with her at great length and said, “I am now certified of the truth of my dream, for thou art the dove and I the eagle, and there is no hope but that this must be, for, the moment I set eyes on thee, thou tookest possession of my vitals and settest my heart a-fire for love of thee!” Thereupon Zayn al-Mawasif became wroth with exceeding wrath and said to him, “I take refuge with Allah from this! Allah upon thee, begone about thy business ere the neighbours espy thee and there betide us sore reproach,” adding, “Harkye, man! Let not thy soul covet that it shall not obtain. Thou weariest thyself in vain; for I am a merchant’s wife and a merchant’s daughter and thou art a druggist; and when sawest thou a druggist and a merchant’s daughter conjoined by such sentiment?” He replied, “O my lady, never lacked love-liesse between folk11; so cut thou not off from me hope of this and whatsoever thou seekest of me of money and raiment and ornaments and what not else, I will give thee.” Then he abode with her in discourse and mutual blaming whilst she still redoubled in anger, till it was black night, when he said to her, “O my lady, take this gold piece and fetch me a little wine, for I am athirst and heavy hearted.” So she said to the slave-girl Hubub, “Fetch him wine and take naught from him, for we have no need of his dinar.” So she went whilst Masrur held his peace and bespake not the lady, who suddenly improvised these lines,
“Leave this thy design and depart, O man!
Nor tread paths where lewdness and crime trepan!
Love is a net shall enmesh thy sprite,
Make thee rise a-morning sad, weary and wan:
For our spy thou shalt eke be the cause of talk;
And for thee shall blame me my tribe and clan:
Yet scant I marvel thou lovest a Fair:—
Gazelles hunting lions we aye shall scan!”
And he answered her with these,
“Joy of boughs, bright branch of Myrobalan!
Have ruth on the heart all thy charms unman:
Death-cup to the dregs thou garrest me drain
And don weed of Love with its bane and ban:
How can soothe I a heart which for stress of pine
Burns with living coals which my longings fan?”
Hearing these lines she exclaimed, “Away from me! Quoth the saw ‘Whoso looseth his sight wearieth his sprite.’ By Allah, I am tired of discourse with thee and chiding, and indeed thy soul coveteth that shall never become thine; nay, though thou gave me my weight in gold, thou shouldst not get thy wicked will of me; for, I know naught of the things of the world, save pleasant life, by the boon of Allah Almighty!” He answered, “O my lady Zayn al-Mawasif, ask of me what thou wilt of the goods of the world.” Quoth she, “What shall I ask of thee? For sure thou wilt fare forth and prate of me in the highway and I shall become a laughing-stock among the folk and they will make a byword of me in verse, me who am the daughter of the chief of the merchants and whose father is known of the notables of the tribe. I have no need of money or raiment and such love will not be hidden from the people and I shall be brought to shame, I and my kith and kin.” With this Masrur was confounded and could make her no answer; but presently she said, “Indeed, the master-thief, if he steal, stealeth not but what is worth his neck, and every woman who doth lewdness with other than her husband is styled a thief; so, if it must be thus and no help12, thou shalt give me whatsoever my heart desireth of money and raiment and ornaments and what not.” Quoth he, “An thou sought of me the world and all its regions contain from its East to its West, ’twere but a little thing, compared with thy favour;” and quoth she, “I will have of thee three suits, each worth a thousand Egyptian dinars, and adorned with gold and fairly purfled with pearls and jewels and jacinths, the best of their kind. Furthermore I require that thou swear to me thou wilt keep my secret nor discover it to any and that thou wilt company with none but me; and I in turn will swear to thee a true oath that I will never false thee in love.” So he sware to her the oath she required and she sware to him, and they agreed upon this; after which she said to her nurse Hubub, “To-morrow go thou with Masrur to his lodging and seek somewhat of musk and ambergris and Nadd and rose-water and see what he hath. If he be a man of condition, we will take him into favour; but an he be otherwise we will leave him.” Then said she to him, “O Masrur, I desire somewhat of musk and ambergris and aloes-wood and Nadd; so do thou send it me by Hubub;” and he answered, “With love and gladness; my shop is at thy disposal!” Then the wine went round between them and their séance was sweet: but Masrur’s heart was troubled for the passion and pining which possessed him; and when Zayn alMawasif saw him in this plight, she said to her slave-girl Sukub, “Arouse Masrur from his stupor; mayhap he will recover.” Answered Sukub, “Hearkening and obedience,” and sang these couplets,
“Bring gold and gear an a lover thou,
And hymn thy love so success shalt row;
Joy the smiling fawn with the black-edged eyne
And the bending lines of the Cassiabough:
On her look, and a marvel therein shalt sight,
And pour out thy life ere thy life-term show:
Love’s affect be this, an thou weet the same;
But, an gold deceive thee, leave gold and go!”
Hereupon Masrur understood her and said, “I hear and apprehend. Never was grief but after came relief, and after affliction dealing He will order the healing.” Then Zayn al-Mawasif recited these couplets,
“From Love-stupor awake, O Masrur, ’twere best;
For this day I dread my love rend thy breast;
And to-morrow I fear me folks’ marvel-tale
Shall make us a byword from East to West:
Leave love of my like or thou’lt gain thee blame;
Why turn thee us-wards? Such love’s unblest!
For one strange of lineage whose kin repel
Thou shalt wake ill-famed, of friends dispossest:
I’m a Zealot’s child and affright the folk:
Would my life were ended and I at rest!”
Then Masrur answered her improvisation and began to say these lines,
“To grief leave a heart that to love ne’er ceased;
Nor blame, for your blame ever love increased:
You misrule my vitals in tyrant-guise;
Morn and Eve I wend not or West or East;
Love’s law forbids me to do me die;
They say Love’s victim is ne’er released:
Well-away! Could I find in Love’s Court a judge
I’d ‘plain and win to my rights at least.”
They ceased not from mutual chiding till morning morrowed, when Zayn al-Mawasif said, “O Masrur ’tis time for thee to depart, lest one of the folk see thee and foul befal us twain.” So he arose and accompanied by nurse Hubub fared on, till they came to his lodging, where he talked with her and said to her, “All thou seekest of me is ready for thee, so but thou wilt bring me to enjoy her.” Hubub replied, “Hearten thy heart;” whereupon he rose and gave her an hundred dinars, saying “O Hubub, I have by me a dress worth an hundred gold pieces.” Answered she, “O Masrur, make haste with the trinkets and other things promised her, ere she change her mind, for we may not take her, save with wile and guile, and she loveth the saying of verse.” Quoth he, “Hearing and obeying,” and bringing her the musk and ambergris and lign-aloes and rosewater, returned with her to Zayn al-Mawasif and saluted her. She returned his salam with the sweetest speech, and he was dazed by her beauty and improvised these lines,
“O thou sheeniest Sun who in night dost shine!
O who stole my soul with those large black eyne!
O slim-shaped fair with the graceful neck!
O who shamest Rose wi’ those checks o’ thine!
Blind not our sight wi’ thy fell disdain,
Disdain, that shall load us with pain and pine;
Passion homes in our inmost, nor will be quenched
The fire of yearning in vitals li’en:
Your love has housèd in heart of me
And of issue but you see I ne’er a sign:
Then haply you’ll pity this hapless wight
Thy sad lover and then — O the Morn divine!”
When Zayn al-Mawasif heard his verses, she cast at him a glance of eyes, that bequeathed him a thousand regrets and sighs and his wits and soul were ravished in such wise, and answered him with these couplets13,
“Think not from her, of whom thou art enamoured aye
To win delight; so put desire from thee away.
Leave that thou hop’st, for ’gainst her rigours whom thou lov’st
Among the fair, in vain is all thou canst essay.
My looks to lovers bring discomfiture and woe: Indeed,
I make no count of that which thou dost say.”
When Masrur heard this, he hardened his heart and took patience, concealing his case and saying in himself, “There is nothing for it against calamity save longsuffering;” and after this fashion they abode till nightfall when Zayn al-Mawasif called for food and they set before her a tray wherein were all manner of dishes, quails and pigeons and mutton and so forth, whereof they ate their sufficiency. Then she bade take away the tables and they did so and fetched the lavatory gear; and they washed their hands, after which she ordered her women to bring the candlesticks, and they set on candelabra and candles therein of camphorated wax. Thereupon quoth Zayn al-Mawasif, “By Allah, my breast is straitened this night and I am afevered;” and quoth Masrur, “Allah broaden thy breast and banish thy bane!” Then she said, “O Masrur, I am used to play at chess: say me, knowest aught of the game?” He replied, “Yes; I am skilled therein;” whereupon she commanded her handmaid Hubub fetch her the chessboard. So she went away and presently returning with the board, set it before her, and behold, it was of ivory-marquetried ebony with squares marked in glittering gold, and its pieces of pearl and ruby. — And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
1 The face of her who owns the garden.
2 i.e. I am no public woman.
3 i.e. with the sight of the garden and its mistress — purposely left vague.
4 Arab. “Dádat.” Night dcclxxvi. vol. vii. p. 372.
5 Meaning respectively “Awaking” (or blowing hard), “Affairs” (or Misfortunes) and “Flowing” (blood or water). They are evidently intended for the names of Jewish slave-girls.
6 i.e. the brow-curls, or accroche-cœurs. See vol. i. 168.
7 Arab. “Wisháh” usually applied to woman’s broad belt, stomacher (Al–Hariri Ass. af Rayy).
8 The old Greek “Stephane.”
9 Alluding to the popular fancy of the rain-drop which becomes a pearl.
10 Arab. “Ghází”=one who fights for the faith.
11 i.e. people of different conditions.
12 The sudden change appears unnatural to Europeans; but an Eastern girl talking to a strange man in a garden is already half won. The beauty, however, intends to make trial of her lover’s generosity before yielding.
13 These lines have occurred in the earlier part of the Night: I quote Mr. Payne for variety.
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when Zayn al-Mawasif bade the chessboard be brought, they set it between her hands; and Masrur was amazed at this, when she turned to him and said, “Wilt have red or white?” He replied, “O Princess of the fair and adornment of morning air, do thou take the red for they formous are and fitter for the like of thee to bear and leave the white to my care.” Answered she, “So be it;” and, taking the red pieces, ranged them opposite the white, then put out her hand to a piece purposing the first pass into the battle-plain. Masrur considered her fingers, which were white as paste, and was confounded at their beauty and shapely shape; whereupon she turned to him and said, “O Masrur, be not bedazed, but take patience and calm thyself.” He rejoined, “O thou whose beauty shameth the moon, how shall a lover look on thee and have patience-boon?” And while this was doing she cried, “Checkmate1!” and beat him; wherefore she knew that he was Jinn-mad for love of her and said to him, “O Masrur, I will not play with thee save for a set stake.” He replied, “I hear and obey,” and she rejoined, “Swear to me and I will swear to thee that neither of us will cheat2 the adversary.” So both sware this and she said, “O Masrur, an I beat thee, I will have ten dinars of thee, but an thou beat me, I will give thee a mere nothing.” He expected to win, so he said, “O my lady, be not false to thine oath, for I see thou art an overmatch for me at this game!” “Agreed,” said she and they ranged their men and fell again to playing and pushing on their pawns and catching them up with the queens and aligning and matching them with the castles and solacing them with the onslaught of the knights. Now the “Adornment of Qualities” wore on head a kerchief of blue brocade so she loosed it off and tucking up her sleeve, showed a wrist like a shaft of light and passed her palm over the red pieces, saying to him, “Look to thyself.” But he was dazzled at her beauty, and the sight of her graces bereft him of reason, so that he became dazed and amazed and put out his hand to the white men, but it alit upon the red. Said she, “O Masrur, where be thy wits? The red are mine and the white thine;” and he replied, “Whoso looketh at thee perforce loseth all his senses.” Then, seeing how it was with him, she took the white from him and gave him the red, and they played and she beat him. He ceased not to play with her and she to beat him, whilst he paid her each time ten dinars, till, knowing him to be distraught for love of her, she said, “O Masrur, thou wilt never win to thy wish, except thou beat me, for such was our understanding; and henceforth, I will not play with thee save for a stake of an hundred dinars a game.” “With love and gladness,” answered he and she went on playing and ever beating him and he paid her an hundred dinars each time; and on this wise they abode till the morning, without his having won a single game, when he suddenly sprang to his feet. Quoth she, “What wilt thou do, O Masrur?”; and quoth he, “I mean to go to my lodging and fetch somewhat of money: it may be I shall come to my desire.” “Do whatso seemeth good to thee,” said she; so he went home and taking all the money he had, returned to her improvising these two couplets,
“In dream I saw a bird o’er speed (meseem’d),
Love’s garden decked with blooms that smiled and gleamed:
But I shall ken, when won my wish and will
Of thee, the truthful sense of what I dreamed.”
Now when Masrur returned to her with all his monies they fell a-playing again; but she still beat him and he could not beat her once; and in such case they abode three days, till she had gotten of him the whole of his coin; whereupon said she, “O Masrur, what wilt thou do now?”; and he replied, “I will stake thee a druggist’s shop.” “What is its worth?” asked she; and he answered, “Five hundred dinars.” So they played five bouts and she won the shop of him. Then he betted his slave-girls, lands, houses, gardens, and she won the whole of them, till she had gotten of him all he had; whereupon she turned to him and said, “Hast thou aught left to lay down?” Cried he, “By Him who made me fall into the snare of thy love, I have neither money to touch nor aught else left, little or much!” She rejoined, “O Masrur, the end of whatso began in content shall not drive man to repent; wherefore, an thou regret aught, take back thy good and begone from us about thy business and I will hold thee quit towards me.” Masrur rejoined, “By Him who decreed these things to us, though thou sought to take my life ’twere a wee thing to stake for thine approof, because I love none but thee!” Then said she, “O Masrur, fare forthright and fetch the Kazi and the witnesses and make over to me by deed all thy lands and possessions.” “Willingly,” replied he and, going forth without stay or delay, brought the Kazi and the witnesses and set them before her. When the judge saw her, his wits fled and his mind was amazed and his reason was dazed for the beauty of her fingers, and he said to her, “O my lady, I will not write out the writ of conveyance, save upon condition that thou buy the lands and mansions and slave-girls and that they all pass under thy control and into thy possession.” She rejoined, “We’re agreed upon that. Write me a deed, whereby all Masrur’s houses and lands and slave-girls and whatso his right hand possesseth shall pass to Zayn al-Mawasif and become her property at such a price.” So the Kazi wrote out the writ and the witnesses set hands thereto; whereupon she took it. — And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
1 Arab. “Al–Sháh mát”=the King is dead, Pers. and Arab. grotesquely mixed: Europeans explain “Checkmate” in sundry ways, all more or less wrong.
2 Cheating (Ghadr) is so common that Easterns who have no tincture of Western civilisation look upon it not only as venial but laudable when one can take advantage of a simpleton. No idea of “honour” enters into it. Even in England the old lady whist-player of the last generation required to be looked after pretty closely — if Mr. Charles Dickens is to be trusted.
She pursued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when Zayn al-Mawasif took from the Kazi the deed which made over her lover’s property to her, she said to him, “O Masrur, now gang thy gait.” But her slave-girl Hubub turned to him and said, “Recite us some verses.” So he improvised upon that game of chess these couplets,
“Of Time and what befel me I complain,
Mourning my loss by chess and eyes of bane.
For love of gentlest, softest-sided fair
Whose like is not of maids or mortal strain:
The shafts of glances from those eyne who shot
And led her conquering host to battle-plain
Red men and white men and the clashing Knights
And, crying ‘Look to thee!’ came forth amain:
And, when down charging, finger-tips she showed
That gloomed like blackest night for sable stain,
The Whites I could not rescue, could not save
While ecstasy made tear, floods rail and rain:
The Pawns and Castles with their Queens fell low
And fled the Whites nor could the brunt sustain:
Yea, with her shaft of glance at me she shot
And soon that shaft had pierced my heart and brain:
She gave me choice between her hosts, and I
The Whites like moonlight first to choose was fain,
Saying, ‘This argent folk best fitteth me
I love them, but the Red by thee be ta’en!’
She playèd me for free accepted stake
Yet amorous mercy I could ne’er obtain:
O fire of heart, O pine and woe of me,
Wooing a fair like moon mid starry train:
Burns not my heart O no! nor aught regrets
Of good or land, but ah! her eyes’ disdain!
Amazed I’m grown and dazed for drearihead
And blame I Time who brought such pine and pain.
Quoth she, ‘Why art thou so bedazed!’ quoth I
‘Wine-drunken wight shall more of wine assain?’
That mortal stole my sense by silk-soft shape,
Which doth for heart-core hardest rock contain.
I nervèd self and cried, ‘This day she’s mine’
By bet, nor fear I prove she unhumàne:
My heart ne’er ceased to seek possession, till
Beggared I found me for conditions twain:
Will youth you loveth shun the Love-dealt blow,
Tho’ were he whelmed in Love’s high-surging main?
So woke the slave sans e’en a coin to turn,
Thralled to repine for what he ne’er shall gain!”
Zayn al-Mawasif hearing these words marvelled at the eloquence of his tongue and said to him, “O Masrur, leave this madness and return to thy right reason and wend thy ways; for thou hast wasted all thy moveables and immoveables at the chessgame, yet hast not won thy wish, nor hast thou any resource or device whereby thou mayst attain to it.” But he turned to her and said, “O my lady, ask of me whatso thou wilt and thou shalt have it; for I will bring it to thee and lay it at thy feet.” Answered she, “O Masrur, thou hast no money left.” “O goal of all hopes, if I have no money, the folk will help me.” “Shall the giver turn asker?” “I have friends and kinsfolk, and whatsoever I seek of them, they will give me.” “O Masrur, I will have of thee four pods of musk and four vases of civet1 and four pounds of ambergris and four thousand dinars and four hundred pieces of royal brocade, purfled with gold. An thou bring me these things, O Masrur, I will grant thee my favours.” “This is a light matter to me, O thou that puttest the moons to shame,” replied he and went forth to fetch her what she sought. She sent her maid Hubub after him, to see what worth he had with the folk of whom he had spoken to her; but, as he walked along the highways he turned and seeing her afar off, waited till she came up to him and said to her, “Whither away, O Hubub?” So she said to him, “My mistress sent me to follow for this and that,” and he replied, “By Allah, O Hubub, I have nothing to hand!” She asked, “Then why didst thou promise her?”; and he answered, “How many a promise made is unkept of its maker! Fine words in love-matters needs must be.” When she heard this from him, she said, “O Masrur, be of good cheer and eyes clear for, by Allah, most assuredly I will be the means of thy coming to enjoy her!” Then she left him nor ceased walking till she stood before her mistress weeping with sore weeping, and said, “O my lady, indeed he is a man of great consideration, and good repute among the folk.” Quoth Zayn al-Mawasif, “There is no device against the destiny of Almighty Allah! Verily, this man found not in me a pitiful heart, for that I despoiled him of his substance and he got of me neither affection nor complaisance in granting him amorous joy; but, if I incline to his inclination, I fear lest the thing be bruited abroad.” Quoth Hubub, “O my lady, verily, grievous upon us is his present plight and the loss of his good and thou hast with thee none save thyself and thy slave-girl Sukub; so which of us two would dare prate of thee, and we thy handmaids?” With this, she bowed her head for a while ground-wards and the damsels said to her, “O my lady, it is our rede that thou send after him and show him grace and suffer him not ask of the sordid; for how bitter is such begging!” So she accepted their counsel and calling for inkcase and paper, wrote him these couplets,
“Joy is nigh, O Masrúr, so rejoice in true rede;
Whenas night shall fall thou shalt do kind-deed:
Crave not of the sordid a loan, fair youth,
Wine stole my wits but they now take heed:
All thy good I reft shall return to thee,
O Masrúr, and I’ll add to them amorous meed;
For indeed th’ art patient, and sweet of soul
When wronged by thy lover’s tyrannic greed.
So haste to enjoy us and luck to thee!
Lest my folk come between us speed, love, all speed!
Hurry uswards thou, nor delay, and while
My mate is far, on Love’s fruit come feed.”
Then she folded the paper and gave it to Hubub the handmaid, who carried it to Masrur and found him weeping and reciting in a transport of passion and love-longing these lines,
“A breeze of love on my soul did blow
That consumed my liver for stress of lowe;
When my sweetheart went all my longings grew;
And with tears in torrent mine eyelids flow:
Such my doubt and fears, did I tell their tale
To deaf rocks and pebbles they’d melt for woe.
Would Heaven I wot shall I sight delight,
And shall win my wish and my friend shall know!
Shall be folded up nights that doomed us part
And I be healed of what harms my heart?”
— And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
1 Arab. “Al–Gháliyah,” whence the older English Algallia. See vol. i., 128. The Voyage of Linschoten, etc. Hakluyt Society MDCCCLXXXV., with notes by my learned friend the late Arthur Coke Burnell whose early death was so sore a loss to Oriental students.
She pursued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that while Masrur, transported by passion and love-longing, was repeating his couplets in sing-song tone Hubub knocked at his door; so he rose and opened to her, and she entered and gave him the letter. He read it and said to her, “O Hubub, what is behind thee of thy lady’s news1?” She answered, “O my lord, verily, in this letter is that dispenseth me from reply, for thou art of those who readily descry!” Thereat he rejoiced with joy exceeding and repeated these two couplets,
“Came the writ whose contents a new joy revealed,
Which in vitals mine I would keep ensealed:
And my longings grew when I kissed that writ,
As were pearl of passion therein concealed.”
Then he wrote a letter answering hers and gave it to Hubub, who took it and returned with it to her mistress and forthright fell to extolling his charms to her and expiating on his good gifts and generosity; for she was become a helper to him, to bring about his union with her lady. Quoth Zayn al-Mawasif, “O Hubub, indeed he tarrieth to come to us;” and quoth Hubub, “He will certainly come soon.” Hardly had she made an end of speaking when behold, he knocked at the door, and she opened to him and brought him in to her mistress, who saluted him with the salam2 and welcomed him and seated him by her side. Then she said to Hubub, “Bring me a suit of brocade;” so she brought a robe broidered with gold and Zayn al-Mawasif threw it over him, whilst she herself donned one of the richest dresses and crowned her head with a net of pearls of the freshest water. About this she bound a fillet of brocade, purfled with pearls, jacinths and other jewels, from beneath which she let down two tresses3 each looped with a pendant of ruby, charactered with glittering gold, and she loosed her hair, as it were the sombrest night; and lastly she incensed herself with aloes-wood and scented herself with musk and ambergris, and Hubub said to her, “Allah save thee from the evil eye!” Then she began to walk, swaying from side to side with gracefullest gait, whilst Hubub who excelled in verse-making, recited in her honour these couplets,
“Shamed is the bough of Bán by pace of her;
And harmed are lovers by the gaze of her.
A moon she rose from murks, the hair of her,
A sun from locks the brow encase of her:
Blest he she nights with by the grace of her,
Who dies in her with oath by days of her!”
So Zayn al-Mawasif thanked her and went up to Masrur, as she were full moon displayed. But when he saw her, he rose to his feet and exclaimed, “An my thought deceive me not, she is no human, but one of the brides of Heaven!” Then she called for food and they brought a table, about whose marge were written these couplets,4
“Dip thou with spoons in saucers four and gladden heart and eye
With many a various kind of stew and fricassee and fry.
Thereon fat quails (ne’er shall I cease to love and tender them)
And rails and fowls and dainty birds of all the kinds that fly.
Glory to God for the Kabobs, for redness all aglow,
And potherbs, steeped in vinegar, in porringers thereby!
Fair fall the rice with sweet milk dressed, wherein the hands did plunge
And eke the forearms of the fair were buried, bracelet-high!
How my heart yearneth with regret over two plates of fish
That by two manchet-cakes of bread of Tewarij5 did lie!”
Then they ate and drank and made mirth and merriment, after which the servants removed the table of food and set on the wine service; so cup and tasse6 passed round between them and they were gladdened in soul. Then Masrur filled the cup and saying, “O whose thrall am I and who is my mistress!”7 chanted these improvised couplets,
“Mine eyes I admire that can feed their fill
On charms of a girl rising worlds to light:
In her time she hath none to compare for gifts
Of spirit and body a mere delight.
Her shape breeds envy in Cassia-tree
When fares she forth in her symmetry dight:
With luminous brow shaming moon of dark
And crown-like crescent the brightest bright.
When treads she earth’s surface her fragrance scents
The Zephyr that breathes over plain and height.”
When he ended his extempore song she said, “O Masrur, whoso religiously keepeth his faith and hath eaten our bread and salt, it behoveth us to give him his due; so put away from thee all thought of what hath been and I will restore thee thy lands and houses and all we have taken from thee.” He replied, “O my lady, I acquit thee of that whereof thou speakest, though thou hadst been false to the oath and covenant between us; for I will go and become a Moslem.” Zayn al-Mawasif protested that she would follow suit8 when Hubub cried to her, “O my lady, thou art young of years and knowest many things, and I claim the intercession of Almighty Allah with thee for, except thou do my bidding and heal my heart, I will not lie the night with thee in the house.” And she replied, “O Hubub, it shall be as thou wilt. Rise and make us ready another sitting-room.” So she sprang to her feet and gat ready a room and adorned and perfumed it after fairest fashion even as her lady loved and preferred; after which she again set on food and wine, and the cup went round between them and their hearts were glad. — And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
1 A favourite idiom, “What news bringest thou?” (“O Asám!” Arab. Prov. ii. 589) used by Háris bin Amrú, King of Kindah, to the old woman Asám whom he had sent to inspect a girl he purposed marrying.
2 Amongst the Jews the Arab Salám becomes “Shalúm” and a Jewess would certainly not address this ceremonial greeting to a Christian. But Eastern storytellers care little for these minutiæ; and the “Adornment of Qualities,” was not by birth a Jewess as the sequel will show.
3 Arab. “Sálifah,” the silken plaits used as adjuncts. See vol. iii, 313.
4 I have translated these lines in vol. i. 131, and quoted Mr. Torrens in vol. iv. 235. Here I borrow from Mr. Payne.
5 Mr. Payne notes:— Apparently some place celebrated for its fine bread, as Gonesse in seventeenth-century France. It occurs also in Bresl. Edit. (iv. 203) and Dozy does not understand it. But Arj the root=good odour.
6 Arab. “Tás,” from Pers. Tásah. M. Charbonneau a Professor of Arabic at Constantine and Member of the Asiatic Soc. Paris, who published the Histoire de Chams–Eddine et Nour–Eddine with Maghrabi punctuation (Paris, Hachette, 1852) remarks the similarity of this word to Tazza and a number of other whimsical coincidences as Zauj, jugum; Inkár, negare; matrah, matelas; Ishtirá, acheter, etc. To which I may add wasat, waist; zabad, civet; Bás, buss (kiss); uzrub (pron. Zrub), drub; Kat’, cut; Tarík, track; etc., etc.
7 We should say “To her (I drink)” etc.
8 This is ad captandum. The lovers becoming Moslems would secure the sympathy of the audience. In the sequel (Night dccclviii) we learn that the wilful young woman was a born Moslemah who had married a Jew but had never Judaized.
She resumed, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when Zayn al-Mawasif bade her maid Hubub make ready a private sitting-room she arose and did her bidding, after which she again set food and wine before them and cup and tasse went round gladdening their hearts. Presently quoth Zayn al-Mawasif, “O Masrur, come is the time of Union and favour; so, as thou studiest my love to savour recite us some verses surpassing of flavour. “ Upon this he recited the following ode1,
“I am taken: my heart bums with living flame For Union shorn whenas Severance came, In the love of a damsel who forced my soul And with delicate cheeklet my reason stole. She hath eyebrows united and eyes black-white And her teeth are leven that smiles in light: The tale of her years is but ten plus four; Tears like Dragon’s blood2 for her love I pour. First I saw that face ’mid parterre and rill, Outshining full Lune on horizon-hill; And stood like a captive for awe, and cried, ‘Allah’s Peace, O who in demesne3 doth hide!’ She returned my salam, gaily answering With the sweetest speech likest pearls a-string. But when heard my words, she right soon had known My want and her heart waxed hard as stone, And quoth she, ‘Be not this a word silly-bold?’ But quoth I, ‘Refrain thee nor flyte and scold! An to-day thou consent such affair were light; They like is the loved, mine the lover-wight!’ When she knew my mind she but smiled in mirth And cried, ‘Now, by the Maker of Heaven and Earth! I’m a Jewess of Jewry’s driest e’er seen And thou art naught save a Nazarene. Why seek my favours? Thine’s other caste; An this deed thou do thou’lt repent the past. Say, does Love allow with two Faiths to play? Men shall blame thee like me, at each break of day! Wilt thou laugh at beliefs and deride their rite, And in thine and mine prove thee sinful sprite? An thou lovedest me thou hadst turnèd Jew, Losing worlds for love and my favours due; And by the Evangel strong oath hadst sworn To keep our secret intact from scorn!’ So I took the Torah and sware strong oath I would hold to the covenant made by both. Then by law, religion and creed I sware, And bound her by oaths that most binding were; And asked her, ‘Thy name, O my dear delight?’ And she, ‘Zayn al-Mawásif at home I’m hight!’ ‘O Zayn al-Mawasif!’ (cried I) ‘Hear my call: Thy love hath made me thy veriest thrall!’ Then I peeped ‘neath her chin-veil and ‘spied such charms That the longing of love filled my heart with qualms. ‘Neath the curtain I ceased not to humble me, And complain of my heart-felt misery; But when she saw me by Love beguiled She raised her face-veil and sweetly smiled: And when breeze of Union our faces kiss’d With musk-pod she scented fair neck and wrist; And the house with her essences seemed to drip, And I kissed pure wine from each smiling lip: Then like branch of Bán ‘neath her robe she swayed And joys erst unlawful4 she lawful made: And joined, conjoined through our night we lay With clip, kiss of inner lip, langue fourrée. The world hath no grace but the one loved fere In thine arms to clasp with possession sheer! With the morn she rose and she bade Good-bye While her brow shone brighter than moon a-sky; Reciting at parting (while tear-drops hung On her cheeks, these scattered and other strung),5 ‘Allah’s pact in mind all my life I’ll bear And the lovely nights and strong oath I sware.’”
Zayn al-Mawasif was delighted and said to him, “O Masrur, how goodly are thy inner gifts! May he live not who would harm thy heart!” Then she entered her boudoir and called him: so he went in to her and taking her in his arms, embraced her and hugged her and kissed her and got of her that which he had deemed impossible and rejoiced in winning the sweet of amorous will. Then said she, “O Masrur, thy good is unlawful to me and is lawfully thine again now that we are become lovers.” So she returned to him all she had taken of him and asked him, “O Masrur, hast thou a flower-garden whither we may wend and take our pleasure?”; whereto he answered, “Yes, O my lady, I have a garden that hath not its like.” Then he returned to his lodgings and bade his slave-girls make ready a splendid banquet and a handsome room; after which he summoned Zayn al-Mawasif who came surrounded by her damsels, and they ate and drank and made mirth and merriment, whilst the cup passed round between them and their spirits rose high. Then lover withdrew with beloved and Zayn al-Mawasif said to Masrur, “I have bethought me of some dainty verses, which I would fain sing to the lute.” He replied, “Do sing them”; so she took the lute and tuning it, sang to a pleasant air these couplets,
“Joy from stroke of string doth to me incline,
And sweet is a-morning our early wine;
Whenas Love unveileth the amourist’s heart,
And by rending the veil he displays his sign,
With a draught so pure, so dear, so bright,
As in hand of Moons6 the Sun’s sheeny shine
O’ nights it cometh with joy to ‘rase
The hoar of sorrow by boon divine.”
Then ending her verse, she said to him, “O Masrur, recite us somewhat of thy poetry and favour us with the fruit of thy thought.” So he recited these two couplets,
“We joy in full Moon who the wine bears round,
And in concert of lutes that from gardens sound;
Where the dove moans at dawn and where bends the bough
To Morn, and all pathways of pleasure are found.”
When he had finished his recitation she said to him, “Make us some verses on that which hath passed between us an thou be occupied with love of me.”— And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
1 The doggerel of this Kasidah is not so phenomenal as some we have seen.
2 Arab. “‘Andam”=Brazil wood, vol. iii. 263.
3 Arab. “ Himà.” See supra, p. 102.
4 i.e. her favours were not lawful till the union was sanctified by heartwhole (if not pure) love.
5 Arab. “Mansúr wa munazzam=oratio soluta et ligata.
6 i.e. the cupbearers.
She continued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when Zayn al-Mawasif said to Masrur, “An thou be occupied with love of me, make us some verses on that hath passed between us,” “With love and gladness,” he replied and improvised the following Kasídah1,
“Stand thou and hear what fell to me
For love of you gazelle to dree!
Shot me a white doe with her shaft
O’ glances wounding woundily.
Love was my ruin, for was I
Straitened by longing ecstasy: I loved and woo’d a young coquette
Girded by strong artillery,
Whom in a garth I first beheld
A form whose sight was symmetry.
I greeted her and when she deigned
Greeting return, ‘Salám,’ quoth she
‘What be thy name?’ said I, she said,
‘My name declares my quality!2’
‘Zayn al-Mawásif I am hight.’
Cried I, ‘Oh deign I mercy see,’
‘Such is the longing in my heart
No lover claimeth rivalry!’
Quoth she, ‘With me an thou ‘rt in love
And to enjoy me pleadest plea,
I want of thee oh! muchel wealth;
Beyond all compt my wants o’ thee!
I want o’ thee full many a robe
Of sendal, silk and damaskry;
A quarter quintal eke of musk:
These of one night shall pay the fee.
Pearls, unions and carnelian3-stones
The bestest best of jewelry!’
Of fairest patience showed I show
In contrariety albe: At last she favoured me one night
When rose the moon a crescent wee;
An stranger blame me for her sake
I say, ‘O blamers listen ye!
She showeth locks of goodly length
And black as blackest night its blee;
While on her cheeks the roses glow
Like Lazá-flame incendiary:
In every eyelash is a sword
And every glance hath archery: Her liplets twain old wine contain,
And dews of fount-like purity:
Her teeth resemble strings o’ pearls,
Arrayed in line and fresh from sea:
Her neck is like the neck of doe,
Pretty and carven perfectly:
Her bosom is a marble slab
Whence rise two breasts like towers on lea:
And on her stomach shows a crease
Perfumed with rich perfumery;
Beneath which same there lurks a Thing
Limit of mine expectancy.
A something rounded, cushioned-high
And plump, my lords, to high degree:
To me ’tis likest royal throne
Whither my longings wander free;
There ‘twixt two pillars man shall find
Benches of high-built tracery.
It hath specific qualities
Drive sanest men t’ insanity;
Full mouth it hath like mouth of neck
Or well begirt by stony key;
Firm lips with camelry’s compare
And shows it eye of cramoisie.
An draw thou nigh with doughty will
To do thy doing lustily, Thou’ll find it fain to face thy bout
And strong and fierce in valiancy.
It bendeth backwards every brave
Shorn of his battle-bravery. At times imberbe, but full of spunk
To battle with the Paynimry.
‘T will show thee liveliness galore
And perfect in its raillery:
Zayn al-Mawasif it is like
Complete in charms and courtesy. To her dear arms one night I came
And won meed given lawfully:
I passed with her that self-same night
(Best of my nights!) in gladdest glee;
And when the morning rose, she rose
And crescent like her visnomy:
Then swayed her supple form as sway
The lances lopt from limber tree;
And when farewelling me she cried,
‘When shall such nights return to me?’
Then I replied, ‘O eyen-light,
When He vouchsafeth His decree!’”4
Zayn al-Mawasif was delighted with this Ode and the utmost gladness gat hold of her. Then said she, “O Masrur day-dawn draweth nigh and there is naught for it save to fly for fear of scandal and spy!” He replied, “I hear and obey,” and rising led her to her lodging, after which he returned to his quarters5 and passed the rest of the night pondering on her charms. When the morning morrowed with its sheen and shone, he made ready a splendid present and carried it to her and sat by her side. And thus they abode awhile, in all solace of life and its delight, till one day there came to Zayn al-Mawasif a letter from her husband reporting to her his speedy return. Thereupon she said in herself, “May Allah not keep him nor quicken him! If he come hither, our life will be troubled: would Heaven I might despair of him!” Presently entered Masrur and sat with her at chat, as was his wont, whereupon she said to him, “O Masrur, I have received a missive from my mate, announcing his speedy return from his wayfaring. What is to be done, since neither of us without other can live?” He replied, “I know not; but thou art better able to judge, being acquainted with the ways of thy man, more by token that thou art one of the sharpest-witted of women and past mistress of devices such as devise that whereof fail the wise.” Quoth she, “He is a hard man and jealous of his household: but, when he shall come home and thou hearest of his coming, do thou repair to him and salute him and sit down by his side, saying, ‘O my brother, I am a druggist.’ Then buy of him somewhat of drugs and spices of sorts and call upon him frequently and prolong thy talks with him and gainsay him not in whatsoever he shall bid thee; so haply that I would contrive may betide, as it were by chance.” “I hear and I obey,” quoth Masrur and fared forth from her, with heart a-fire for love. When her husband came home, she rejoiced in meeting him and after saluting him bade him welcome; but he looked in her face and seeing it pale and sallow (for she bad washed it with saffron, using one of women’s arts), asked her of her case. She answered that she had been sick, she and her women, from the time of his wayfaring, adding, “Verily, our hearts have been engrossed with thoughts of thee because of the length of thine absence.” And she went on to complain to him of the misery of separation and to pour forth copious tears, saying, “Hadst thou but a companion with thee, my heart had not borne all this cark and care for thee. So, Allah upon thee, O my lord, travel not again without a comrade and cut me not off from news of thee, that my heart and mind may be at rest concerning thee!”— And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
1 Which is not worse than usual.
2 i.e. “Ornament of Qualities.”
3 The ‘Akík, a mean and common stone, ranks high in Moslem poetry on account of the saying of Mohammed recorded by Ali and Ayishah “Seal with seals of Carnelian.” (‘Akik.)
4 See note ii. at the end of this volume.
5 Arab. “Mahall” as opposed to the lady’s “Manzil,” which would be better “Makám.” The Arabs had many names for their old habitations, e.g.; Kubbah, of brick; Sutrah, of sun-dried mud; Hazírah, of wood; Tiráf, a tent of leather; Khabáa, of wool; Kash’a, of skins; Nakhád, of camel’s or goat’s hair; Khaymah, of cotton cloth; Wabar, of soft hair as the camel’s undercoat and Fustát (the well-known P.N.) a tent of horsehair or any hair (Sha’ar) but Wabar.
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when Zayn al-Mawasif said to her mate, “Travel not without comrade and cut me not off from news of thee, that my heart and mind may be at rest concerning thee,” he replied, “With love and gladness! By Allah thy bede is good indeed and right is thy rede! By thy life, it shall be as thou dost heed.” Then he unpacked some of his stock-in-trade and carrying the goods to his shop, opened it and sat down to sell in the Soko.1 No sooner had he taken his place than lo and behold! up came Masrur and saluting him, sat down by his side and began talking and talked with him awhile. Then he pulled out a purse and taking forth gold, handed it to Zayn al-Mawasif’s man and said, “Give me the worth of these dinars in drugs and spices of sorts, that I may sell them in my shop.” The Jew replied, “I hear and I obey,” and gave him what he sought. And Masrur continued to pay him frequent visits till, one day, the merchant said to him, “I have a mind to take me a man to partner in trade.” Quoth Masrur, “And I also, desire to take a partner; for my father was a merchant in the land of Al–Yaman and left me great store of money and I fear lest it fare from me.” Quoth the Jew, turning towards him, “Wilt thou be my partner, and I will be thy partner and a true friend and comrade to thee at home and abroad; and I will teach thee selling and buying, giving and taking?” And Masrur rejoined, “With all my heart.” So the merchant carried him to his place and seated him in the vestibule, whilst he went in to his wife and said to her, “I have provided me with a partner and have bidden him hither as a guest; so do thou get us ready good guest-cheer.” Whenas she heard this, she rejoiced divining that it was Masrur, and made ready a magnificent banquet,2 of her delight in the success of her device. Then, when the guest drew nigh, her husband said to her, “Come out with me to him and bid him welcome and say, ‘Thou gladdenest us3!’” But Zayn al-Mawasif made a show of anger, crying, “Wilt thou have me display myself before a strange man? I take refuge with Allah! Though thou cut me to bits, I will not appear before him!” Rejoined he, “Why shouldst thou be abashed at him, seeing that he is a Nazarene and we are Jews and, to boot, we are become chums, he and I?” Quoth she, “I am not minded to present myself before a strange man, on whom I have never once set eyes and whom I know not any wise.” Her husband thought she spoke sooth and ceased not to importune her, till she rose and veiling herself, took the food and went out to Masrur and welcomed him; whereupon he bowed his head groundwards, as he were ashamed, and the Jew, seeing such dejection said in himself, “Doubtless, this man is a devotee.” They ate their fill and the table being removed, wine was set on. As for Zayn al-Mawasif, she sat over against Masrur and gazed on him and he gazed on her till ended day, when he went home, with a heart to fire a prey. But the Jew abode pondering the grace and the comeliness of him; and, as soon as it was night, his wife according to custom served him with supper and they seated themselves before it. Now he had a mockingbird which was wont, whenever he sat down to meat, to come and eat with him and hover over his head; but in his absence the fowl was grown familiar with Masrur and used to flutter about him as he sat at meals. Now when Masrur disappeared and the master returned, it knew him not and would not draw near him, and this made him thoughtful concerning his case and the fowl’s withdrawing from him. As for Zayn al-Mawasif, she could not sleep with her heart thinking of Masrur, and thus it was with her a second and even a third night, till the Jew became aware of her condition and, watching her while she sat distraught, began to suspect somewhat wrong. On the fourth night, he awoke in the middle thereof and heard his wife babbling in her sleep and naming Masrur, what while she lay on her husband’s bosom, wherefore he misdoubted her; but he dissembled his suspicions and when morning morrowed he repaired to his shop and sat therein. Presently, up came Masrur and saluted him. He returned his salam and said to him, “Welcome, O my brother!” adding anon, “I have wished for thee;” and he sat talking with him for an hour or so, after which he said to him, “Rise, O my brother, and hie with me to my house, that we may enter into the pact of brotherhood.”4 Replied Masrur, “With joy and goodly gree,” and they repaired to the Jew’s house, where the master went in and told his wife of Masrur’s visit, for the purpose of conditioning their partnership, and said, “Make us ready a goodly entertainment, and needs must thou be present and witness our brotherhood.” But she replied, “Allah upon thee, cause me not show myself to this strange man, for I have no mind to company with him.” So he held his peace and forbore to press her and bade the waiting-women bring food and drink. Then he called the mocking-bird but it knew not its lord and settled upon Masrur’s lap; and the Jew said to him, “O my master, what is thy name?” He answered, “My name is Masrur;” whereupon the Jew remembered that this was the name which his wife had repeated all night long in her sleep. Presently, he raised his head and saw her making signs5 with her forefingers to Masrur and motioning to him with her eyes, wherefore he knew that he had been completely cozened and cuckolded and said, “O my lord, excuse me awhile, till I fetch my kinsmen, so they may be present at our swearing brotherhood.” Quoth Masrur, “Do what seemeth good to thee;” whereupon the Jew went forth the house and returning privily by a back way. — And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
1 This is the Maghribi form of the Arab. Súk=a bazar-street, known from Tanjah (Tangiers) to Timbuctoo.
2 Arab. “Walímah” usually=a wedding-feast. According to the learned Nasíf alYazají the names of entertainments are as follows: Al–Jafalà=a general invitation, opp. to Al–Nakarà, especial; Khurs, a childbirth feast; ‘Akíkah, when the boy-babe is first shaved; A’zár=circumcision-feast; Hizák, when the boy has finished his perlection of the Koran; Milák, on occasion of marriage-offer; Wazímah, a mourning entertainment; Wakírah=a “house-warming”; Nakí‘ah, on returning from wayfare; ‘Akírah, at beginning of the month Rajab; Kirà=a guest-feast and Maadubah, a feast for other cause; any feast.
3 Arab. “Anistaná” the pop. phrase=thy company gladdens us.
4 Here “Muákhát” or making mutual brotherhood would be=entering into a formal agreement for partnership. For the forms of “making brotherhood,” see vol. iii. 15.
5 Arab. “Ishárah” in classical Arab. signs with the finger (beckoning); Aumá with the hand; Ramz, with the lips; Khalaj, with the eyelids (wink); and Ghamz with the eye. Aumáz is a furtive glance, especially of women, and Ilház, a side-glance from lahaza, limis oculis intuitus est. See Preston’s Al–Hariri, p. 181.
She pursued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Zayn al-Mawasif’s husband said to Masrur, “Excuse me awhile, till I fetch my cousins to witness the brother-bond between me and thee.” Then he went forth and, privily returning behind the sitting-room, there took his station hard by a window which gave upon the saloon and whence he could watch them without their seeing him. Suddenly quoth Zayn al-Mawasif to her maid Sukub, “Whither is thy master gone?”; and quoth she, “He is gone without the house.” Cried the mistress, “Lock the door and bar it with iron and open thou not till he knock, after thou hast told me.” Answered Sukub, “So shall it be done.” Then, while her husband watched them, she rose and filling a cup with wine, flavoured with powdered musk and rose-water, went close to Masrur, who sprang up to meet her, saying, “By Allah, the water of thy mouth is sweeter than this wine!” “Here it is for thee,” said she and filling her mouth with wine, gave him to drink thereof, whilst he gave her the like to drink; after which she sprinkled him with rose-water from front to foot, till the perfume scented the whole place. All this while, the Jew was looking on and marvelling at the stress of love that was between them and his heart was filled with fury for what he saw and he was not only wroth, but jealous with exceeding jealousy. Then he went out again and coming to the door found it locked and knocked a loud knock of the excess of his rage; whereupon quoth Sukub, “O my lady, here is my master;” and quoth Zayn al-Mawasif, “Open to him; would that Allah had not brought him back in safety!” So Sukub went and opened the door to the Jew, who said to her, “What ailed thee to lock the door?” Quoth she, “It hath never ceased to be locked thus during thine absence; nor hath it been opened night nor day;” and cried he, “Thou hast done well; this pleaseth me.” Then he went in to Masrur, laughing and dissembling his chagrin, and said to him, “O Masrur, let us put off the conclusion of our pact of brotherhood this day and defer it to another.” Replied Masrur, “As thou wilt,” and hied him home, leaving the Jew pondering his case and knowing not what to do; for his heart was sore troubled and he said in himself, “Even the mocking-bird disowneth me and the slave-girls shut the door in my face and favour another.” And of his exceeding chagrin, he fell to reciting these couplets,
“Masrur joys life made fair by all delight of days,
Fulfilled of boons, while mine the sorest grief displays.
The Days have falsed me in the breast of her I love
And in my heart are fires which all-consuming blaze:
Yea, Time was clear for thee, but now ’tis past and gone
While yet her lovely charms thy wit and senses daze:
Espied these eyes of mine her gifts of loveliness:
Oh, hard my case and sore my woe on spirit weighs!
I saw the maiden of the tribe deal rich old wine
Of lips like Salsabíl to friend my love betrays:
E’en so, O mocking-bird, thou dost betray my breast
And to a rival teachest Love and lover-ways:
Strange things indeed and wondrous saw these eyne of me
Which were they sleepdrowned still from Sleep’s abyss would raise:
I see my best belovèd hath forsworn my love
And eke like my mocking-bird fro’ me a-startled strays.
By truth of Allah, Lord of Worlds who, whatso wills
His Fate, for creatures works and none His hest gainsays,
Forsure I’ll deal to that ungodly wight his due
Who but to sate his wicked will her heart withdrew!”
When Zayn al-Mawasif heard this, her side-muscles trembled and quoth she to her handmaid, “Heardest thou those lines?”; whereupon quoth the girl, “I never heard him in my born days recite the like of these verses; but let him say what he will.” Then having assured himself of the truth of his suspicions, the Jew began to sell all his property, saying to himself, “Unless I part them by removing her from her mother land the twain will not turn back from this that they are engaged in, no, never!” So, when he had converted all his possessions into coin, he forged a letter and read it to Zayn al-Mawasif, declaring that it had come from his kinsmen, who invited him to visit them, him and his wife. She asked, “How long shall we tarry with them?” and he answered, “Twelve days.” Accordingly she consented to this and said, “Shall I take any of my maids with me?”; whereto he replied, “Take Hubub and Sukub and leave Khutub here.” Then he made ready a handsome camel-litter1 for his spouse and her women and prepared to set out with them; whilst she sent to her leman, telling him what had betided her and saying, “O Masrur, an the trysting-time2 that is between us pass and I come not back, know that he hath cheated and cozened us and planned a plot to separate us each from other, so forget thou not the plighted faith betwixt us, for I fear that he hath found out our love and I dread his craft and perfidy.” Then, whilst her man was busy about his march she fell a-weeping and lamenting and no peace was left her, night or day. Her husband saw this, but took no note thereof; and when she saw there was scant help for it, she gathered together her clothes and gear and deposited them with her sister, telling her what had befallen her. Then she farewelled her and going out from her, drowned in tears, returned to her own house, where she found her husband had brought the camels and was busy loading them, having set apart the handsomest dromedary for her riding, and when she saw this and knew that needs must she be separated from Masrur, she waxt clean distraught. Presently it chanced that the Jew went out on some business of his; so she fared forth to the first or outer door and wrote thereon these couplets — And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:52