Here we begin to indite the history of Sultan Habib and of what befel him with Durrat al-Ghawwas.378
It is related (but Allah is All-knowing of His unknown and All-cognisant of what took place and forewent in the annals of folk!) that there was, in days of yore and in times and tides long gone before, a tribe of the tribes of the Arabs hight Banú Hilál379 whose head men were the Emir Hilál and the Emir Salámah.380 Now this Emir Salamah had well nigh told out his tale of days without having been blessed with boon of child; withal he was a ruler valiant, masterful, a fender of his foes and a noble knight of portly presence. He numbered by the thousand horsemen the notablest of cavaliers and he came to overrule three-score-and-six tribes of the Arabs. One chance night of the nights as he lay sleeping in the sweetness of slumber, a Voice addressed him saying, “Rise forthright and know thy wife, whereby she shall conceive under command of Allah Almighty.” Being thus disturbed of his rest the Emir sprang up and compressed his spouse Kamar al-Ashráf;381 she became pregnant by that embrace and when her days came to an end she bare a boy as the full moon of the fulness-night who by his father’s hest was named Habíb.382 And as time went on his sire rejoiced in him with joy exceeding and reared him with fairest rearing and bade them teach him Koran-reading together with the glorious names of Almighty Allah and instruct him in writing and in all the arts and sciences. After this he bestowed robes of honour and gifts of money and raiment upon the teachers who had made the Sultan383 Habib, when he reached the age of seventeen, the most intelligent and penetrating and knowing amongst the sons of his time. And indeed men used to admire at the largeness of his understanding and were wont to say in themselves, “There is no help but that this youth shall rise to dignity (and what dignity!) whereof men of highmost intellect shall make loud mention.” For he could write the seven caligraphs384 and he could recite traditions and he could improvise poetry; and, on one occasion when his father bade him versify impromptu, that he might see what might come thereof, he intoned,
“O my sire, I am lord of all lere man knows or knew —
Have enformed my vitals with lore and with legend true;
Nor cease I repeat what knowledge this memory guards
And my writ as ruby and pearl doth appear to view.”
So the Emir Salamah his sire marvelled at the elegance of his son’s diction; and the Notables of the clan, after hearing his poetry and his prose, stood astounded at their excellence; and presently the father clasped his child to his breast and forthright summoned his governor, to whom there and then he did honour of the highmost. Moreover he largessed him with four camels carrying loads of gold and silver and he set him over one of his subject tribes of the Arabs; then said he to him, “Indeed thou hast done well, O Shaykh; so take this good and fare therewith to such a tribe and rule it with justice and equity until the day of thy death.” Replied the governor, “O King of the Age, I may on no wise accept thy boons, for that I am not of mankind but of Jinn-kind; nor have I need of money or requirement of rule. Know thou, O my lord, that erst I sat as Kázi amongst the Jinns and I was enthroned amid the Kings of the Jánn, whenas one night of the nights a Voice385 addressed me in my sleep saying, ‘Rise and hie thee to the Sultan Habib son of the Emir Salamah ruler of the tribes of the Arabs subject to the Banu Hilal and become his tutor and teach him all things teachable; and, if thou gainsay going, I will tear thy soul from thy body.’ Now when I saw this marvel-vision in my sleep, I straightway arose and repairing to thy son did as I was bidden.”386 But as the Emir Salamah heard the words of this Shaykh he bowed him down and kissing his feet cried, “Alhamdolillah — laud to the Lord, who hath vouchsafed thee to us of His bounty; and indeed thy coming to us was of good omen, O Judge of the Jann.” “Where is thy son?” quoth the governor, and quoth the father, “Ready, aye ready;” then he summoned his child and when the Shaykh looked upon his pupil he wept with sore weeping and cried, “Parting from thee, O Habib, is heavy upon us,” presently adding, “Ah! were ye to wot all that shall soon befal this youth after my departure and when afar from me!”387 Those present in the assembly at once asked saying,
“And what shall, O Shaykh, to us fall forthright?”
Quoth he, “Sore marvels shall meet your sight:
No heart have I to describe it you.”
Then approached Habib the same tutor-wight;
And clasping the youth to the breast of him,
Kissed his cheek a-shrieking the shrillest shright.388
Whereupon all about them were perturbed and were amated and amazed at the action of the Shaykh when, vanishing from their view, he could nowhere be seen. Then the Emir Salamah addressed the lieges saying, “Ho ye Arabs, who wotteth what presently shall betide my son? would Heaven I had one to advise him!” Hereupon said his Elders and Councillors, “We know of none.” But the Sultan Habib brooded over the disappearance of his governor and bespake his sire weeping bitter tears the while, “O my father, where be he who brought me up and enformed me with all manner knowledge?” and the Emir replied, “O my son, one day of the days he farewelled us and crying out with a loud cry evanished from our view and we have seen him no more.” Thereupon the youth improvised and said,
“Indeed I am scourged by those ills whereof I felt affray, ah!
By parting and thoughts which oft compellèd my soul to say, ‘Ah!’
Oh saddest regret in vitals of me that ne’er ceaseth, nor
Shall minished be his love that still on my heart doth prey, ah!
Where hath hied the generous soul my mind with lere adorned?
And alas! what hath happened, O sire, to me, and well-away, ah!”
Hereat the Emir Salamah shed tears (as on like wise did all present) and quoth he to his son, “O Habib, we have been troubled by his action,” and quoth the youth, “How shall I endure severance from one who fostered me and brought me to honour and renown and who raised my degree so high?” Then began he to improvise saying,
“Indeed this pine in my heart grows high,
And in eyeballs wake doth my sleep outvie:
You marched, O my lords, and from me hied far
And you left a lover shall aye outcry:
I wot not where on this earth you be
And how long this patience when none is nigh:
Ye fared and my eyeballs your absence weep,
And my frame is meagre, my heart is dry.”
Now whilst the Emir Salamah was sitting in his seat of dignity and the Sultan Habib was improvising poetry and shedding tears in presence of his sire, they heard a Voice which announced itself and its sound was audible whilst its personality was invisible. Thereupon the youth shed tears and cried, “O father mine, I need one who shall teach me horsemanship and the accidents of edge and point and onset and offset and spearing and spurring in the Maydán; for my heart loveth knightly derring-do to plan, such as riding in van and encountering the horseman and the valiant man.” And the while they were in such converse behold, there appeared before them a personage rounded of head, long of length and dread, with turband wide dispread, and his breadth of breast was armoured with doubled coat of mail whose manifold rings were close-enmeshed after the model of Dáúd389 the Prophet (upon whom be The Peace!). Moreover he hent in hand a mace erst a block cut out of the live hard rock, whose shock would arrest forty braves of the doughtiest; and he was baldrick’d with an Indian blade that quivered in the grasp, and he bestrode, with a Samhari390 lance at rest, a bay destrier of black points whose peer was not amongst the steeds of the Arabs. Then he took his station standing as a vassal between the Emir Salamah’s hands and he addressed a general salam and he greeted all that stood a-foot or were seated. His salute they repealed and presently the pages hastened forwards and aided him alight from his charger’s back; and after waiting for a full-told hour that he might take somewhat of repose, the stranger-knight and doughty wight advanced and said, “Ho thou the Emir, I came hither to fulfil the want whereof thou expressedst a wish; and, if such prove thy pleasure, I will teach thy son fray and fight and prowess in the plain of sword-stroke and lance-lunge. But ere so doing I would fain test thy skill in cavalarice; so do thou, O Emir, be first to appear as champion and single combatant in the field when I will show thee what horsemanship is.” “Hearkening and obeying,” replied the Emir, “and if thou desire the duello with us we will not baulk thee thereof.” Hereat his Shaykhs and Chieftains sprang up and cried to him, “O Emir, Allah upon thee, do not meet in fight this cavalier for that thou wottest not an he be of mankind or of Jinn-kind; so be thou not deceived by his sleights and snares.” “Suffer me this day,” quoth the Emir, “to see the cavalarice of this cavalier, and, if over me he prevail, know him to be a knight with whom none may avail.” Speaking thus the Emir arose and hied him to his tent where he bade the slaves bring forth the best of his habergeons; and, when all these were set before him, he took from them a Davidian suit of manifold rings and close-meshed, which he donned, and he baldrick’d himself with a scymitar of Hindi steel, hadst thou smitten therewith a cliff it had cleft it in twain or hadst thou stricken a hill it had been laid level as a plain; and he hent in hand a Rudaynían lance391 of Khatt Hajar, whose length was thirty ells and upon whose head sat a point like unto a basilisk’s tongue; and lastly he bade his slaves bring him his courser which in the race was the fleetest-footed of all horses. Then the two combatants took the plain accompanied by the tribesmen nor did one of them all, or great or small, remain in camp for desire to witness the fight of these champions who were both as ravening lions. But first the stranger-knight addressed his adversary and speaking with free and eloquent tongue quoth he, “I will encounter thee, O Emir Salamah, with the encountering of the valiant; so have thou a heed of me for I am he hath overthrown the Champions some and all.” At these words each engaged his foeman and the twain forwards pressed for a long time, and the Raven of cut-and-thrust croaked over the field of fight and they exchanged strokes with the Hindi scymitar and they thrust and foined with the Khatti spear and more than one blade and limber lance was shivered and splintered, all the tribesmen looking on the while at both. And they ceased not to attack and retire and to draw near and draw off and to heave and fence until their forearms ailed and their endeavour failed. Already there appeared in the Emir Salamah somewhat of weakness and weariness; natheless when he looked upon his adversary’s skill in the tourney and encounter of braves he saw how to meet all the foeman’s sword-strokes with his targe: however at last fatigue and loss of strength prevailed over him and he knew that he had no longer the force to fight; so he stinted his endeavour and withdrew from brunt of battle. Hereat the stranger-knight alighted and falling at the Emir’s feet kissed them and cried, “O Sovran of the Age, I came not hither to war with thee but rather with the design of teaching thy son, the Sultan Habib, the complete art of arms and make him the prow cavalier of his day.” Replied Salamah, “In very sooth, O horseman of the age, thou hast spoken right fairly in thy speech; nor did I design with thee to fight nor devised I the duello or from steed to alight;392 nay, my sole object was my son to incite that he might learn battle and combat aright, and the charge of the heroic Himyarite393 to meet with might.” Then the twain dismounted and each kissed his adversary; after which they returned to the tribal camp and the Emir bade decorate it and all the habitations of the Arab clans with choicest decoration, and they slaughtered the victims and spread the banquets and throughout that day the tribesmen ate and drank and fed the travellers and every wayfarer and the mean and mesquin and all the miserables. Now as soon as the Sultan Habib was informed concerning that cavalier how he had foiled his father in the field of fight, he repaired to him and said, “Peace be with him who came longing for us and designing our society! Who art thou, Ho thou the valorous knight and foiler of foemen in fight?” Said the other, “Learn thou, O Habib, that Allah hath sent me theewards.” “And, say me, what may be thy name?” “I am hight Al-‘Abbús,394 the Knight of the Grim Face.” “I see thee only smiling of countenance whilst thy name clean contradicteth thy nature;” quoth the youth. Presently the Emir Salamah committed his son to the new governor saying, “I would thou make me this youth the Brave of his epoch;” whereto the knight replied, “To hear is to obey, first Allah then thyself and to do suit and service of thy son Habib.” And when this was determined youth and governor went forth to the Maydan every day and after a while of delay Habib became the best man of his age in fight and fray. Seeing this his teacher addressed him as follows. “Learn, O Sultan Habib, that there is no help but thou witness perils and affrights and adventures, wherefor is weak the description of describers and thou shalt say in thyself, ‘Would heaven I had never sighted such and I were of these same free.’ And thou shalt fall into every hardship and horror until thou be united with the beautiful Durrat al-Ghawwás, Queen-regnant over the Isles of the Sea. Meanwhile to affront all the perils of the path thou shalt fare forth from thy folk and bid adieu to thy tribe and patrial stead; and, after enduring that which amateth man’s wit, thou shalt win union with the daughter of Queen Kamar al-Zamán.”395 But when Habib heard these words concerning the “Pearl of the Diver” his wits were wildered and his senses were agitated and he cried to Al-Abbús, “I conjure thee by Allah say me, is this damsel of mankind or of Jinn-kind.” Quoth the other, “Of Jinn-kind, and she hath two Wazirs, one of either race, who overrule all her rulers, and a thousand islands of the Isles of the Sea are subject to her command, while a host of Sayyids and Sharífs396 and Grandees hath flocked to woo her, bringing wealthy gifts and noble presents, yet hath not any of them won his wish of her but all returned baffled and baulked of their will.” Now the Sultan Habib hearing this from him cried in excess of perturbation and stress of confusion, “Up with us and hie we home where we may take seat and talk over such troublous matter and debate anent its past and its future.” “Hearkening and obedience,” rejoined the other; so the twain retired into privacy in order to converse at ease concerning the Princess, and Al-Abbus began to relate in these words —
Whilome there was a Sovran amongst the Kings of the Sea, hight Sábúr, who reigned over the Crystalline Isles,397 and he was a mighty ruler and a generous, and a masterful potentate and a glorious. He loved women and he was at trouble to seek out the fairest damsels; yet many of his years had gone by nor yet had he been blessed with boon of boy. So one day of the days he took thought and said in himself, “To this length of years I have attained and am well nigh at life’s end and still am I childless: what then will be my case?” Presently, as he sat upon his throne of kingship, he saw enter to him an Ifrit fair of face and form, the which was none other than King ‘Atrús398 of the Jánn, who cried, “The Peace be upon thee, Ho thou the King! and know that I have come to thee from my liege lord who affecteth thee. In my sleep it befel that I heard a Voice crying to me, ‘During all the King’s days never hath he been vouchsafed a child, boy or girl; so now let him accept my command and he shall win to his wish. Let him distribute justice and largesse and further the rights of the wronged and bid men to good and forbid them from evil and lend not aid to tyranny or to innovation in the realm and persecute not the unfortunate, and release from gaol all the prisoners he retaineth.’ At these words of the Voice I awoke astartled by my vision and I hastened to thee without delay and I come with design to inform thee, O King of the Age, that I have a daughter, hight Kamar al-Zaman, who hath none like her in her time, and no peer in this tide, and her I design giving thee to bride. The Kings of the Jann have ofttimes asked her in marriage of me but I would have none of them save a ruler of men like thyself and Alhamdolillah — glory be to God, who caused thy Highness occur to my thought, for that thy fame in the world is goodly fair and thy works make for righteousness. And haply by the blessing of these thou shalt beget upon my daughter a man child, a pious heir and a virtuous.” Replied the King, “Ho thou who comest to us and desirest our weal, I accept thine offer with love and good will.” Then Sabur, the King of the Crystalline Isles, bade summon the Kazi and witnesses, and quoth the Ifrit, “I agree to what thou sayest, and whatso thou proposest that will I not oppose.” So they determined upon the dowry and bound him by the bond of marriage with the daughter of Al-‘Atrus, King of the Jinns, who at once sent one of his Flying Jann to bring the bride. She arrived forthright when they dressed and adorned her with all manner ornaments, and she came forth surpassing all the maidens of her era. And when King Sabur went in unto her he found her a clean maid: so he lay that night with her and Almighty Allah so willed that she conceived of him. When her days and months of pregnancy were sped, she was delivered of a girl-babe as the moon, whom they committed to wet-nurses and dry-nurses, and when she had reached her tenth year, they set over her duennas who taught her Koran-reading and writing and learning and belles-lettres; brief, they brought her up after the fairest of fashions. Such was the lot399 of Durrat al-Ghawwas, the child of Kamar al-Zaman, daughter to King ‘Atrus by her husband King Sabur. But as regards the Sultan Habib and his governor Al-Abbus, the twain ceased not wandering from place to place in search of the promised damsel until one day of the days when the youth entered his father’s garden and strolled the walks adown amid the borders400 and blossoms of basil and of rose full blown and solaced himself with the works of the Compassionate One and enjoyed the scents and savours of the flowers there bestrown; and, while thus employed, behold, he suddenly espied the maiden, Durrat al-Ghawwas hight, entering therein as she were the moon; and naught could be lovelier than she of all earth supplies, gracious as a Huriyah of the Virgins of Paradise, to whose praise no praiser could avail on any wise. But when the Sultan Habib cast upon her his eyes he could no longer master himself and his wits were bewildered from the excitement of his thoughts; so he regarded her with a long fixed look and said in himself, “I fear whenas she see me that she will vanish from my sight.” Accordingly, he retired and clomb the branches of a tree in a stead where he could not be seen and whence he could see her at his ease. But as regards the Princess, she ceased not to roam about the Emir Salamah’s garden until there approached her two score of snow-white birds each accompanied by a handmaid of moon-like beauty. Presently they settled upon the ground and stood between her hands saying, “Peace be upon thee, O our Queen and Sovran Lady.” She replied, “No welcome to you and no greeting; say me, what delayed you until this hour when ye know that I am longing to meet the Sultan Habib, the dear one, son of Salamah, and I long to visit him for that he is the dearling of my heart. Wherefor I bade you accompany me and ye obeyed not, and haply ye have made mock of me and of my commandment.” “We never gainsay thy behest,” replied they, “or in word or in deed;” and they fell to seeking her beloved. Hearing this the Sultan Habib’s heart was solaced and his mind was comforted and his thoughts were rightly directed and his soul was reposed; and when he was certified of her speech, he was minded to appear before her; but suddenly fear of her prevailed over him and he said to his thoughts, “Haply she will order one of the Jinns to do me die; so ’twere better to have patience and see what Allah shall purpose for me of His Almighty will.” But the Princess and her attendants ceased not wandering about the garden from site to site and side to side till they reached the place wherein the Sultan Habib lay in lurking; when Durrat al-Ghawwas there stood still and said in herself, “Now I came not from my capital save on his account, and I would see and be seen by him even as the Voice informed me of him, O ye handmaidens; and peradventure hath the same informed him of me.” Then the Princess and her suite, drawing still nearer to his place of concealment, found a lakelet in the Arab’s garden brimful of water amiddlemost whereof stood a brazen lion, through whose mouth the water entered to issue from his tail. Hereat the Princess marvelled and said to her bondswomen, “This be none other than a marvellous lake, together with the lion therein; and when, by the goodwill of Almighty Allah, I shall have returned home, I will let make a lakelet after this fashion, and in it set a lion of brass.” Thereupon she ordered them to doff their dress and go down to the piece of water and swim about; but they replied, “O our lady, to hear is to obey thy commandment, but we will not strip nor swim save with thee.” Then she also did off her dress and all stripped themselves and entered the lakelet in a body, whereupon the Sultan Habib looked through the leaves to solace himself with the fair spectacle and he ejaculated, “Blessed be the Lord the best of Creators!” And when the handmaids waxed aweary of swimming, the Princess commanded them to come forth the water, and said, “Whenas Heaven willeth that the desire of my heart be fulfilled in this garden, what deem ye I should do with my lover?” and quoth they, “’Twould only add to our pleasure and gladness.” Quoth she, “Verily my heart assureth me that he is here and hidden amongst the trees of yon tangled brake;” and she made signs with her hand whither Habib lay in lurking-place; and he, espying this, rejoiced with joy galore than which naught could be more, and exclaimed, “There is no Majesty and there is no Might save in Allah, the Glorious, the Great; what meaneth this lady? Indeed, I fear to stay in this stead lest she come hither and draw me forth and put me to shame; and ’twere better that of mine own accord I come out of my concealment and accost her and suffer her to do all she designeth and desireth.” So he descended from the topmost of the tree wherein he had taken refuge and presented himself before the Princess Durrat Al-Ghawwas, who drew near and cried to him, “O Habib, O welcome to Habib! and is it thus that we have travailed with love of thee and longing for thee, and where hast thou been all this time, O my dearling, and O coolth of my eyes and O slice of my liver?” Replied he, “I was in the head of yonder huge tree to which thou pointedst with thy finger.” And as they looked each at other she drew nearer to him and fell to improvising,
“Thou hast doomed me, O branchlet of Bán, to despair
Who in worship and honour was wont to fare —
Who lived in rule and folk slaved for me
And hosts girded me round every hest to bear!”
And anon quoth the Sultan Habib, “Alhamdolillah — laud be to the Lord, who deigned show me thy face and thy form! Can it be thou kennest not what it was that harmed me and sickened me for thy sake, O Durrat al-Ghawwas?” Quoth she, “And what was it hurt thee and ailed thee?” “It was the love of thee and longing for thee!” “And who was the first to tell thee and make thee ware of me?” He replied saying, “One day it so befel, as I was amongst my family and my tribe, a Jinni Al-Abbus hight became my governor and taught me the accidents of thrust and cut and cavalarice; and ere he left he commended thy beauty and loveliness and foretold to me all that would pass between thee and me. So I was engrossed with affection for thee ere my eyes had sight of thee, and thenceforwards I lost all the pleasures of sleep, nor were meat and eating sweet to me, nor were drink and wine, draughts a delight to me: so Alhamdolillah — praise be to Allah, who deigned conjoin me in such union with my heart’s desire!” Hereat the twain exchanged an embrace so long that a swoon came upon them and both fell to the ground in a fainting fit, but after a time the handmaidens raised them up and besprinkled their faces with rose-water which at once revived them. All this happened, withal the Emir Salamah wotted naught of what had befallen his son the Sultan Habib nor did his mother weet that had betided her child; and the husband presently went in to his spouse and said, “Indeed this boy hath worn us out: we see that o’ nights he sleepeth not in his own place and this day he fared forth with the dawn and suffered us not to see a sight of him.” Quoth the wife, “Since the day he went to Al-Abbus, thy boy fell into cark and care;” and quoth the husband, “Verily our son walked about the garden and Allah knoweth that therefrom is no issue anywhither. So there shalt thou find him and ask him of himself.” And they talked over this matter in sore anger and agitation. Meanwhile as the Sultan Habib sat in the garden with the handmaids waiting upon him and upon the Princess Durrat al-Ghawwas, there suddenly swooped upon them a huge bird which presently changed form to a Shaykh seemly of aspect and semblance who approached and kissing their feet humbled himself before the lover and his beloved. The youth marvelled at such action of the Shaykh, and signalled to the Princess as to ask, “Who may be this old man?” and she answered in the same way, “This is the Wazir who caused me forgather with thee;” presently adding to the Shaykh, “What may be thy need?” “I came hither for the sake of thee,” he replied, “and unless thou fare forthright to thy country and kingdom the rule of the Jánn will pass from thy hand; for that the Lords of the land and Grandees of the realm seek thy loss and not a few of the nobles have asked me saying, O Wazir, where is our Queen? I answered, She is within her palace and to-day she is busied with some business. But such pretext cannot long avail, and thou, unless thou return with me to the region of thy reign there shall betray thee some one of the Marids and the hosts will revolt against thee and thy rule will go to ruin and thou wilt be degraded from command and sultanate.” “What then is thy say and what thy bidding?” enquired she, and he replied, “Thou hast none other way save departure from this place and return to thy realm.” Now when these words reached the ear of Durrat al-Ghawwas, her breast was straitened and she waxed sorrowful with exceeding sorrow for severance from her lover whom she addressed in these words, “What sayest thou anent that thou hast heard? In very sooth I desire not parting from thee and the ruin of my reign as little do I design; so come with me, O dearling of my heart, and I will make thee liege lord over the Isles of the Sea and sole master thereof.” Hereat the Sultan Habib said in his soul, “I cannot endure parting from my own people; but as for thee thy love shall never depart from thee:” then he spake aloud, “An thou deign hear me, do thou abandon that which thou purposest and bid thy Wazir rule over the Isles and thy patrial stead; so shall we twain, I and thou, live in privacy for all time and enjoy the most joyous of lives.” “That may never be,” was her only reply; after which she cried to the Wazir saying, “Carry me off that I fare to my own land.” Then after farewelling her lover, she mounted the Emir-Wazir’s back401 and bade him bear her away, whereat he took flight and the forty handmaidens flew with him, towering high in air. Presently, the Sultan Habib shed bitter tears; his mother hearing him weeping sore as he sat in the garden went to her husband and said, “Knowest thou not what calamity hath befallen thy son that I hear him there groaning and moaning”” Now when the parents entered the garden, they found him spent with grief and the tears trickled adown his cheeks like never-ceasing rain-showers;402 so they summoned the pages who brought cucurbits of rosewater wherewith they besprinkled his face. But as soon as he recovered his senses and opened his eyes, he fell to weeping with excessive weeping and his father and mother likewise shed tears for the burning of their hearts and asked him, “O Habib, what calamity hath come down to thee and who of his mischief hath overthrown thee? Inform us of the truth of thy case.” So he related all that had betided between him and Durrat-al-Ghawwas, and his mother wept over him while his father cried, “O Habib, do thou leave this say and this thy desire cast away that the joys of meat and drink and sleep thou may enjoy alway.” But he made answer, “O my sire, I will not slumber upon this matter until I shall sleep the sleep of death.” “Arise thou, O my child,” rejoined the Emir, “and let us return homewards,”403 but the son retorted, “Verily I will not depart from this place wherein I was parted from the dearling of my heart.” So the sire again urged him saying, “These words do thou spare nor persist in this affair because therefrom for thee I fear;” and he fell to cheering him and comforting his spirits. After a while the Sultan Habib arose and fared homewards beside his sire who kept saying to him, “Patience, O my child, the while I assist thee in thy search for this young lady and I send those who shall bring her to thee.” “O my father,” rejoined the son, “I can no longer endure parting from her; nay, ’tis my desire that thou load me sundry camels with gold and silver and plunder and moneys that I may go forth to seek her: and if I win to my wish and Allah vouchsafe me length of life I will return unto you; but an the term of my days be at hand then the behest be to Allah, the One, the Omnipotent. Let not your breasts be straitened therefor and do ye hold and believe that if I abide with you and see not the beloved of my soul I shall perish of my pain while you be standing by to look upon my death. So suffer me to wayfare and attain mine aim; for from the day when my mother bare me ’twas written to my lot that I journey over wild and wold and that I see and voyage over the seas seven-fold.” Hereupon he fell to improvising these verses,
“My heart is straitened with grief amain
And my friends and familiars have wrought me pain;
And whene’er you’re absent I pine, and fires
In my heart beweep what it bears of bane:
O ye, who fare for the tribe’s domain,
Cry aloud my greetings to friends so fain!”
Now when the Emir Salamah heard these his son’s verses, he bade pack for him four camel loads of the rarest stuffs, and he largessed to him a she-dromedary laden with thrones of red gold; then he said to him, “Lo, O my son, I have given thee more than thou askedst.” “O my father,” replied Habib, “where are my steed and my sword and my spear?” Hereat the pages brought forward a mail-coat Davidian404 and a blade Maghrabian and a lance Khattian and Samharian, and set them between his hands; and the Sultan Habib donning the habergeon and drawing his sabre and sitting lance in rest backed his steed, which was of the noblest blood known to all the Arabs. Then quoth he, “O my father, is it thy desire to send with me a troop of twenty knights that they may escort me to the land of Al-Yaman and may anon bring me back to thee?” “My design,” quoth the sire, “is to despatch those with thee who shall befriend thee upon the road;” and, when Habib prayed him do as he pleased, the Emir appointed to him ten knights, valorous wights, who dreaded naught of death however sudden and awesome. Presently, the youth farewelled his father and mother, his family and his tribe, and joining his escort, mounted his destrier when Salamah, his sire, said to his company, “Be ye to my son obedient in all he shall command you;” and said they, “Hearing and obeying.” Then Habib and his many turned away from home and addressed them to the road when he began to improvise the following lines,
My longing grows less and far goes my cark
After flamed my heart with the love-fire stark;
As I ride to search for my soul’s desire
And I ask of those faring to Al-Irák.”
On this wise it befel the Sultan Habib and his farewelling his father and mother; but now lend ear to what came of the knights who escorted him. After many days of toil and travail they waxed discontented and disheartened; and presently taking counsel one with other, they said, “Come, let us slay this lad and carry off the loads of stuffs and coin he hath with him; and when we reach our homes and be questioned concerning him, let us say that he died of the excess of his desire to Princess Durrat al-Ghawwas.” So they followed this rede, while their lord wotted naught of the ambush laid for him by his followers. And having ridden through the day when the night of offence405 was dispread, the escort said, “Dismount we in this garden406 that here we may take our rest during the dark hours, and when morning shall morrow we will resume our road.” The Sultan Habib had no mind to oppose them, so all alighted and in that garden took seat and whatso of victual was with them produced; after which they ate and drank their sufficiency and lay down to sleep all of them save their lord, who could not close eye for excess of love-longing. “O Habib, why and wherefore sleepest thou not?” they asked, and he answered, “O comrades mine, how shall slumber come to one yearning for his dearling, and verily I will lie awake nor enjoy aught repose until such time as I espy the lifeblood of my heart, Durrat al-Ghawwas.” Thereupon they held their peace; and presently they held council one with other saying, “Who amongst us can supply a dose of Bhang that we may cast him asleep and his slaughter may be easy to us?” “I have two Miskáls weight407 of that same,” quoth one of them, and the others took it from him and presently, when occasion served, they put it into a cup of water and presented it to Habib. He hent that cup in hand and drank off the drugged liquid at a single draught; and presently the Bhang wrought in his vitals and its fumes mounted to his head, mastering his senses and causing his brain to whirl round, whereupon he sank into the depths of unconsciousness. Then quoth his escort, “As soon as his slumber is soundest and his sleep heaviest we will arise and slay him and bury him on the spot where he now sleepeth: then will we return to his father and mother, and tell them that of love-stress to his beloved and of excessive longing and pining for her he died.” And upon this deed of treachery all agreed. So when dawned the day and showed its sheen and shone clear and serene the knights awoke and seeing their lord drowned408 in sleep they arose and sat in council, and quoth one of them, “Let us cut his throat from ear to ear;”409 and quoth another, “Nay, better we dig us a pit the stature of a man and we will cast him amiddlemost thereof and heap upon him earth so that he will die, nor shall any know aught about him.” Hearing this said one of the retinue, whose name was Rabí’a,410 “But fear you naught from Almighty Allah and regard ye not the favours wherewith his father fulfilled you, and remember ye not the bread which ye ate in his household and from his family? Indeed ‘twas but a little while since his sire chose you out to escort him that his son might take solace with you instead of himself, and he entrusted unto you his heart’s core, and now ye are pleased to do him die and thereby destroy the life of his parents. Furthermore, say me doth your judgment decide that such ill-work can possibly abide hidden from his father? Now I swear by the loyalty411 of the Arabs there will not remain for us a wight or any who bloweth the fire alight, however mean and slight, who will receive us after such deed. So do ye at least befriend and protect your households and your clans and your wives and your children whom ye left in the tribal domain. But now you design utterly to destroy us, one and all, and after death affix to our memories the ill-name of traitors, and cause our women be enslaved and our children enthralled, nor leave one of us aught to be longed for.” Quoth they jeeringly, “Bring what thou hast of righteous rede:” so quoth he, “Have you fixed your intent upon slaying him and robbing his good?” and they answered, “We have.” However, he objected again and cried, “Come ye and hear from me what it is I advise you, albeit I will take no part412 in this matter;” presently adding, “Established is your resolve in this affair, and ye wot better than I what you are about to do. But my mind is certified of this much; do ye not transgress in the matter of his blood and suffer only his crime be upon you;413 moreover, if ye desire to lay hands upon his camels and his moneys and his provisions, then do ye carry them off and leave him where he lieth; then if he live, ’twere well, and if he die ’twill be even better and far better.” “Thy rede is right and righteous,” they replied. Accordingly they seized his steed and his habergeon and his sword and his gear of battle and combat, and they carried off all he had of money and means, and placing him naked upon the bare ground they drove away his camels. Presently asked one of other, “Whenas we shall reach the tribe what shall we say to his father and his mother?” “Whatso Rabi’a shall counsel us,” quoth they, and quoth Rabi’a, “Tell them, ‘We left not travelling with your son; and, as we fared along, we lost sight of him and we saw him nowhere until we came upon him a-swoon and lying on the road senseless: then we called to him by name but he returned no reply, and when we shook him with our hands behold, he had become a dried-up wand. Then seeing him dead we buried him and brought back to you his good and his belongings.’” “And if they ask you,” objected one, “‘In what place did ye bury him and in what land, and is the spot far or near,’ what shall ye make answer; also if they say to you, ‘Why did ye not bear his corpse with you,’ what then shall be your reply?” Rabi’a to this rejoined “Do you say to them, ‘Our strength was weakened and we waxed feeble from burn of heart and want of water, nor could we bring his remains with us.’ And if they ask you, ‘Could ye not bear him a-back; nay, might ye not have carried him upon one of the camels?’ do ye declare that ye could not for two reasons, the first being that the body was swollen and stinking from the fiery air, and the second our fear for his father, lest seeing him rotten he could not endure the sight and his sorrow be increased for that he was an only child and his sire hath none other.” All the men joined in accepting this counsel of Rabi’a, and each and every exclaimed, “This indeed is the rede that is most right.” Then they ceased not wayfaring until they reached the neighbourhood of the tribe, when they sprang from their steeds and openly donned black, and they entered the camp showing the sorest sorrow. Presently they repaired to the father’s tent, grieving and weeping and shrieking as they went; and when the Emir Salamah saw them in this case, crowding together with keening and crying for the departed, he asked them, “Where is he, my son?” and they answered, “Indeed he is dead.” Right hard upon Salamah was this lie, and his grief grew the greater, so he scattered dust upon his head and plucked out his beard and rent his raiment and shrieked aloud saying, “Woe for my son, ah! Woe for Habib, ah! Woe for the slice of my liver, ah! Woe for my grief, ah! Woe for the core414 of my heart, ah!” Thereupon his mother came forth, and seeing her husband in this case, with dust on his head and his beard plucked out and his robe-collar415 rent, and sighting her son’s steed she shrieked, “Woe is me and well-away for my child, ah!” and fainted swooning for a full-told hour. Anon when recovered she said to the knights who had formed the escort, “Woe to you, O men of evil, where have ye buried my boy?” They replied, “In a far-off land whose name we wot not, and ’tis wholly waste and tenanted by wild beasts,” whereat she was afflicted exceedingly. Then the Emir Salamah and his wife and household and all the tribesmen donned garbs black-hued and ashes whereupon to sit they strewed, and ungrateful to them was the taste of food and drink, meat and wine; nor ceased they to beweep their loss, nor could they comprehend what had befallen their son and what of ill-lot had descended upon him from Heaven. Such then was the case of them; but as regards the Sultan Habib, he continued sleeping until the Bhang ceased to work in his brain, when Allah sent a fresh, cool wind which entered his nostrils and caused him sneeze, whereby he cast out the drug and sensed the sun-heat and came to himself. Hereupon he opened his eyes and sighted a wild and waste land, and he looked in vain for his companions the knights, and his steed and his sword and his spear and his coat of mail, and he found himself mother-naked, athirst, anhungered. Then he cried out in that Desert of desolation which lay far and wide before his eyes, and the case waxed heavy upon him, and he wept and groaned and complained of his case to Allah Almighty, saying, “O my God and my Lord and my Master, trace my lot an thou hast traced it upon the Guarded Tablet, for who shall right me save Thyself, O Lord of Might that is All-might and of Grandeur All-puissant and All-excellent!” Then he began improvising these verses,
“Faileth me, O my God, the patience with the pride o’ me;
Life-tie is broke and drawing nigh I see Death-tide o’ me:
To whom shall injured man complain of injury and wrong
Save to the Lord (of Lords the Best!) who stands by side o’me.”
Now whilst the Sultan Habib was ranging with his eye-corners to the right and to the left, behold, he beheld a blackness rising high in air, and quoth he to himself, “Doubtless this dark object must be a mighty city or a vast encampment, and I will hie me thither before I be overheated by the sun-glow and I lose the power of walking and I die of distress and none shall know my fate.” Then he heartened his heart for the improvising of such poetry as came to his mind, and he repeated these verses,
“Travel, for on the way all goodly things shalt find;
And wake from sleep and dreams if still to sleep inclined!
Or victory win and rise and raise thee highmost high
And gain, O giddy pate, the food for which thy soul hath pined;
Or into sorrow thou shalt fall with breast full strait
And ne’er enjoy the Fame that wooes the gen’rous mind,
Nor is there any shall avail to hinder Fate
Except the Lord of Worlds who the Two Beings416 designed.”
And when he had finished his verse, the Sultan Habib walked in the direction of that blackness nor left walking until he drew near the ridge; but after he could fare no farther and that walking distressed him (he never having been broken to travel afoot and barefoot withal), and his forces waxed feeble and his joints relaxed and his strong will grew weak and his resolution passed away. But whilst he was perplexed concerning what he should do, suddenly there alighted between his hands a snow-white fowl huge as the dome of a Hammám, with shanks like the trunk of a palm-tree. The Sultan Habib marvelled at the sight of this Rukh, and saying to himself, “Blessed be Allah the Creator!” he advanced slowly towards it and all unknown to the fowl seized its legs. Presently the bird put forth its wings (he still hanging on) and flew upwards to the confines of the sky, when behold, a Voice was heard saying, “O Habib! O Habib! hold to the bird with straitest hold, else ’twill cast thee down to earth and thou shalt be dashed to pieces limb from limb!” Hearing these words he tightened his grasp and the fowl ceased not flying until it came to that blackness which was the outline of Káf the mighty mountain, and having set the youth down on the summit it left him and still flew onwards. Presently a Voice sounded in the sensorium of the Sultan Habib saying, “Take seat, O Habib; past is that which conveyed thee hither on thy way to Durrat al-Ghawwas;” and he, when the words met his ear, aroused himself and arose and, descending the mountain slope to the skirting plain, saw therein a cave. Hereat quoth he to himself, “If I enter this antre, haply shall I lose myself, and perish of hunger and thirst!” He then took thought and reflected, “Now death must come sooner or later, wherefore will I adventure myself in this cave.” And as he passed thereinto he heard one crying with a high voice and a sound so mighty that its volume resounded in his ears. But right soon the crier appeared in the shape of Al-Abbus, the Governor who had taught him battle and combat; and, after greeting him with great joy, the lover recounted his love-adventure to his whilome tutor. The Jinni bore in his left a scymitar, the work of the Jann and in his right a cup of water which he handed to his pupil. The draught caused him to swoon for an hour or so, and when he came-to Al-Abbus made him sit up and bathed him and robed him in the rarest of raiment and brought him a somewhat of victual and the twain ate and drank together. Then quoth Habib to Al-Abbus, “Knowest thou not that which befel me with Durrat al-Ghawwas of wondrous matters?” and quoth the other, “And what may that have been?” whereupon the youth rejoined, “O my brother, Allah be satisfied with thee for that He willed thou appear to me and direct me and guide me aright to the dearling of my heart and the cooling of mine eyes.” “Leave thou such foolish talk,” replied Al-Abbus, “for where art thou and where is Durrat al-Ghawwas? Indeed between thee and her are horrors and perils and long tracts of land and seas wondrous, and adventures marvellous, which would amaze and amate the rending lions, and spectacles which would turn grey the sucking child or any one of man’s scions.” Hearing these words Habib clasped his governor to his breast and kissed him between the eyes, and the Jinni said, “O my beloved, had I the might to unite thee with her I would do on such wise, but first ’tis my desire to make thee forgather with thy family in a moment shorter than an eye-twinkling.” “Had I longed for my own people,” rejoined Habib, “I should never have left them, nor should I have endangered my days nor wouldst thou have seen me in this stead; but as it is I will never return from my wayfaring till such time as my hope shall have been fulfilled, even although my appointed life-term should be brought to end, for I have no further need of existence.” To these words the Jinni made answer, “Learn thou, O Habib, that the cavern wherein thou art containeth the hoards of our Lord Solomon, David’s son (upon the twain be The Peace!), and he placed them under my charge and he forbade me abandon them until such time as he shall permit me, and furthermore that I let and hinder both mankind and Jinn-kind from entering the Hoard; and know thou, O Habib, that in this cavern is a treasure-house and in the Treasury forty closets offsetting to the right and to the left. Now wouldst thou gaze upon this wealth of pearls and rubies and precious stones, do thou ere passing through the first door dig under its threshold, where thou shalt find buried the keys of all the magazines. Then take the first of them in hand and unlock its door, after which thou shalt be able to open all the others and look upon the store of jewels therein. And when thou shalt design to depart the Treasury thou shalt find a curtain hung up in front of thee and fastened around it eighty hooks of red gold;417 and do thou beware how thou raise the hanging without quilting them all with cotton.” So saying he gave him a bundle of tree-wool he had by him, and pursued, “O Habib, when thou shalt have raised the curtain thou wilt discover a door with two leaves also of red gold, whereupon couplets are inscribed, and as regards the first distich an thou master the meaning of the names and the talismans, thou shalt be saved from all terrors and horrors, and if thou fail to comprehend them thou shalt perish in that Hoard. But after opening the door close it not with noise nor glance behind thee, and take all heed, as I fear for thee those charged with the care of the place418 and its tapestry. And when thou shalt stand behind the hanging thou shalt behold a sea clashing with billows dashing, and ’tis one of the Seven Mains which shall show thee, O Habib, marvels whereat thou shalt wonder, and whereof relaters shall relate the strangest relations. Then do thou take thy stand upon the sea-shore whence thou shalt descry a ship under way and do thou cry aloud to the crew who shall come to thee and bear thee aboard. After this I wot not what shall befal thee in this ocean, and such is the end of my say and the last of my speech, O Habib, and — The Peace!” Hereat the youth joyed with joy galore than which naught could be more and taking the hand Of Al-Abbus he kissed it and said, “O my brother, thou hast given kindly token in what thou hast spoken, and Allah requite thee for me with all weal, and mayest thou be fended from every injurious ill!” Quoth Al-Abbus, “O Habib, take this scymitar and baldrick thyself therewith, indeed ‘twill enforce thee and hearten thy heart, and don this dress which shall defend thee from thy foes.” The youth did as he was bidden; then he farewelled the Jinni and set forth on his way, and he ceased not pacing forward until he reached the end of the cavern and here he came upon the door whereof his governor had informed him. So he went to its threshold and dug thereunder and drew forth a black bag creased and stained by the lapse of years. This he unclosed and it yielded him a key which he applied to the lock and it forthwith opened and admitted him into the Treasury where, for exceeding murk and darkness, he could not see what he hent in hand. Then quoth he to himself, “What is to do? Haply Al-Abbus hath compassed my destruction!” And the while he sat on this wise sunken in thought, behold, he beheld a light gleaming from afar, and as he advanced its sheen guided him to the curtain whereof he had been told by the Jinni. But as he looked he saw above it a tablet of emerald dubbed with pearls and precious stones, while under it lay the hoard which lighted up the place like the rising sun. So he hastened him thither and found inscribed upon the tablet the following two couplets,
“At him I wonder who from woe is free,
And who no joy displays419 when safe is he:
And I admire how Time deludes man when
He views the past; but ah, Time’s tyranny.”
So the Sultan Habib read over these verses more than once, and wept till he swooned away; then recovering himself he said in his mind, “To me death were pleasanter than life without my love!” and turning to the closets which lay right and left he opened them all and gazed upon the hillocks of gold and silver and upon the heaps and bales of rubies and unions and precious stones and strings of pearls, wondering at all he espied, and quoth he to himself “Were but a single magazine of these treasures revealed, wealthy were all the peoples who on earth do dwell.” Then he walked up to the curtain whereupon Jinns and Ifrits appeared from every site and side, and voices and shrieks so loudened in his ears that his wits well-nigh flew from his head. So he took patience for a full-told hour when behold, a smoke which spired in air thickened and brooded low, and the sound ceased and the Jinns departed. Hereat, calling to mind the charge of Al-Abbus, he took out the cotton he had by him and after quilting the golden hooks he withdrew the curtain and sighted the portal which the Jinni had described to him. So he fitted in the key and opened it, after which, oblivious of the warning, he slammed-to the door noisily in his fear and forgetfulness, but he did not venture to look behind him. At this the Jinns flocked to him from every side and site crying, “O thou foulest of mankind, wherefore dost thou provoke us and disturb us from our stead? and, but for thy wearing the gear of the Jann, we had slain thee forthright.” But Habib answered not and, arming himself with patience and piety, he tarried awhile until the hubbub was stilled, nor did the Jann cry at him any more: and, when the storm was followed by calm, he paced forward to the shore and looked upon the ocean crashing with billows dashing. He marvelled at the waves and said to himself, “Verily none may know the secrets of the sea and the mysteries of the main save only Allah!” Presently, he beheld a ship passing along shore, so he took seat on the strand until Night let down her pall of sables upon him; and he was an-hungered with exceeding hunger and athirst with excessive thirst. But when morrowed the morn and day showed her sheen and shone serene, he awoke in his sore distress and behold, he saw two Mermaidens of the daughters of the deep (and both were as moons) issue forth hard by him. And ere long quoth one of the twain, “Say me, wottest thou the mortal who sitteth yonder?” “I know him not,” quoth the other, whereat her companion resumed, “This be the Sultan Habib who cometh in search of Durrat al-Ghawwas, our Queen and liege lady.” Hearing these words the youth considered them straitly and marvelling at their beauty and loveliness he presently rejoiced and increased in pleasure and delight. Then said one to other, “Indeed the Sultan Habib is in this matter somewhat scant and short of wits; how can he love Durrat al-Ghawwas when between him and her is a distance only to be covered by the sea-voyage of a full year over most dangerous depths? And, after all this woe hath befallen him, why doth he not hie him home and why not save himself from these horrors which promise to endure through all his days and to cast his life at last into the pit of destruction?” Asked the other, “Would heaven I knew whether he will ever attain to her or not!” and her companion answered, “Yes, he will attain to her, but after a time and a long time and much sadness of soul.” But when Habib heard this promise of success given by the Maidens of the Main his sorrow was solaced and he lost all that troubled him of hunger and thirst. Now while he pondered these matters there suddenly issued from out the ocean a third Mermaid, which asked her fellows, “Of what are you prattling?” and they answered, “Indeed the Sultan Habib sitteth here upon the sea-shore during this the fourth successive night.” Quoth she, “I have a cousin the daughter of my paternal uncle and when she came to visit me last night I enquired of her if any ship had passed by her and she replied, ‘Yea verily, one did sail driven towards us by a violent gale, and its sole object was to seek you.’” And the others rejoined, “Allah send thee tidings of welfare!” The youth hearing these words was gladdened and joyed with exceeding joy; and presently the three Mermaidens called to one another and dove into the depths leaving the listener standing upon the strand. After a short time he heard the cries of the crew from the craft announced and he shouted to them and they, noting his summons, ran alongside the shore and took him up and bore him aboard: and, when he complained of hunger and thirst, they gave him meat and drink and questioned him saying, “Thou! who art thou? Say us, art of the trader-folk?” “I am the merchant Such-and-such,” quoth he, “and my ship foundered albe ’twas a mighty great vessel; but one chance day of the days as we were sailing along there burst upon us a furious gale which shivered our timbers and my companions all perished while I floated upon a plank of the ship’s planks and was carried ashore by the send of the sea. Indeed I have been floating for three days and this be my fourth night.” Hearing this adventure from him the traders cried, “Grieve no more in heart but be thou of good cheer and of eyes cool and clear: the sea voyage is ever exposed to such chances and so is the gain thereby we obtain; and if Allah deign preserve us and keep for us the livelihood He vouchsafed to us we will bestow upon thee a portion thereof.” After this they ceased not sailing until a tempest assailed them and blew their vessel to starboard and larboard and she lost her course and went astray at sea. Hereat the pilot cried aloud, saying, “Ho ye company aboard, take your leave one of other for we be driven into unknown depths of ocean, nor may we keep our course, because the wind bloweth full in our faces.” Hereupon the voyagers fell to beweeping the loss of their lives and their goods, and the Sultan Habib shed tears which trickled adown his cheeks and exclaimed, “Would Heaven I had died before seeing such torment: indeed this is naught save a matter of marvel.” But when the merchants saw the youth thus saddened and troubled of soul, and weeping withal, they said to him, “O Monarch of the Merchants, let not thy breast be straitened or thy heart be disheartened: hapty Allah shall vouchsafe joy to us and to thee: moreover, can vain regret and sorrow of soul and shedding of tears avail aught? Do thou rather ask of the Almighty that He deign relieve us and further our voyage.” But as the vessel ran through the middle of the main, she suddenly ceased her course and came to a stop without tacking to the right or the left, and the pilot cried out, “O folk, is there any of you who conneth this ocean?” But they made answer, “We know thereof naught, neither in all our voyage did we see aught resembling it.” The pilot continued, “O folk, this main is hight ‘The Azure’;420 nor did any trader at any time therein enter but he found destruction; for that it is the home of Jinns and the house of Ifrits, and he who now withholdeth our vessel from its course is known as Al-Ghashamsham,421 and our lord Solomon son of David (upon the twain be The Peace!) deputed him to snatch up and carry off from every craft passing, through these forbidden depths whatever human beings, and especially merchants, he might find a-voyaging, and to eat them alive.” “Woe to thee!” cried Habib. “Wherefore bid us take counsel together when thou tellest us that here dwelleth a Demon over whom we have no power to prevail, and thou terrifiest us with the thoughts of being devoured by him? However, feel ye no affright; I will fend off from you the mischief of this Ifrit.” They replied, “We fear for thy life, O Monarch of the Merchants,” and he rejoined, “To you there is no danger.” Thereupon he donned a closely woven mail-coat and armed himself with the magical scymitar and spear; then, taking the skins of animals freshly slain,422 he made a hood and vizor thereof and wrapped strips of the same around his arms and legs that no harm from the sea might enter his frame. After this he bade his shipmates bind him with cords under his armpits and let him down amiddlemost the main. And as soon as he touched bottom he was confronted by the Ifrit, who rushed forward to make a mouthful of him, when the Sultan Habib raised his forearm and with the scymitar smote him a stroke which fell upon his neck and hewed him into two halves. So he died in the depths; and the youth, seeing the foeman slain, jerked the cord and his mates drew him up and took him in, after which the ship sprang forward like a shaft outshot from the belly423 of the bow. Seeing this all the traders wondered with excessive wonderment and hastened up to the youth, kissing his feet and crying, “O Monarch of the Merchants, how didst thou prevail against him and do him die?” “When I dropped into the depths,” replied he, “in order to slay him, I asked against him the aidance of Allah, who vouchsafed His assistance, and on such wise I slaughtered him.” Hearing these good tidings and being certified of their enemy’s death the traders offered to him their good and gains whereof he refused to accept aught, even a single mustard seed. Now, amongst the number was a Shaykh well shotten in years and sagacious in all affairs needing direction; and this oldster drew near the youth, and making lowly obeisance said to him, “By the right of Who sent thee uswards and sent us theewards, what art thou and what may be thy name and the cause of thy falling upon this ocean?” The Sultan Habib began by refusing to disclose aught of his errand, but when the Shaykh persisted in questioning he ended by disclosing all that had betided him first and last, and as they sailed on suddenly the Pilot cried out to them, “Rejoice ye with great joy and make ye merry and be ye gladdened with good news, O ye folk, for that ye are saved from the dangers of these terrible depths and ye are drawing near the city of Sábúr, the King who overruleth the Isles Crystalline; and his capital (which be populous and prosperous) ranketh first among the cities of Al-Hind, and his reign is foremost of the Isles of the Sea.” Then the ship inclined thither, and drawing nearer little by little entered the harbour424 and cast anchor therein, when the canoes425 appeared and the porters came on board and bore away the luggage of the voyagers and the crew, who were freed from all sorrow and anxiety. Such was their case; but as regards Durrat al-Ghawwas, when she parted from her lover, the Sultan Habib, severance weighed sore and stark upon her, and she found no pleasure in meat and drink and slumber and sleep. And presently whilst in this condition and sitting upon her throne of estate, an Ifrit appeared to her and coming forwards between her hands said, “The Peace of Allah upon thee, O Queen of the Age and Empress of the Time and the Tide!” whereto she made reply, “And upon thee be The Peace and the ruth of Allah and His blessings. What seekest thou O Ifrit?” Quoth he, “There lately hath come to us a shipful of merchants and I have heard talk of the Sultan Habib being amongst them.” As these words reached her ear she largessed the Ifrit and said to him, “An thou speak sooth I will bestow upon thee whatso thou wishest.” Then, having certified herself of the news, she bade decorate the city with the finest of decorations and let beat the kettledrums of glad tidings and bespread the way leading to the Palace with a carpeting of sendal,426 and they obeyed her behest. Anon she summoned her pages and commanded them to bring her lover before her; so they repaired to him and ordered him to accompany them. Accordingly, he followed them and they ceased not faring until they had escorted him to the Palace, when the Queen bade all her pages gang their gait and none remained therein save the two lovers; to wit, the Sultan Habib and Durrat al-Ghawwas. And after the goodly reunion she sent for the Kazi and his assessors and bade them write out her marriage-writ427 with Habib. He did as he was bidden and the witnesses bore testimony thereto and to the dowry being duly paid; and the tie was formally tied and the wedding banquets were dispread. Then the bride donned her choicest of dresses and the marriage procession was formed and the union was consummated and both joyed with joy exceeding. Now this state of things endured for a long while until the Sultan Habib fell to longing after his parents and his family and his native country; and at length, on a day of the days, when a banquet was served up to him by his bride, he refused to taste thereof, and she, noting and understanding his condition, said to him, “Be of good cheer, this very night thou shalt find thee amongst thine own folk.” Accordingly she summoned her Wazir of the Jann, and when he came she made proclamation amongst the nobles and commons of the capital saying, “This my Wazir shall be my Viceregent over you and whoso shall gainsay him that man I will slay.” They replied with “Hearkening to and obeying Allah and thyself and the Minister.” Then turning to her newly-established deputy she said, “I desire that thou guide me to the garden wherein was the Sultan Habib;” and he replied, “Upon my head be it and on my eyes!” So an Ifrit was summoned, and Habib mounting him pick-a-back together with the Princess Durrat al-Ghawwas bade him repair to the garden appointed, and the Jinni took flight, and in less than the twinkling of an eye bore the couple to their destination. Such was the reunion of the Sultan Habib with Durrat al-Ghawwas and his joyous conjunction;428 but as regards the Emir Salamah and his wife, as they were sitting and recalling to memory their only child and wondering in converse at what fate might have betided him, lo and behold! the Sultan Habib stood before them and by his side was Durrat al-Ghawwas his bride, and as they looked upon him and her, weeping prevailed over them for excess of their joyance and delight and both his parents threw themselves upon him and fell fainting to the ground. As soon as they recovered the youth told them all that had betided him, first and last, whereupon one congratulated other and the kettledrums of glad tidings were sounded, and a world of folk from all the Badawi tribes and the burghers gathered about them and offered hearty compliments on the reunion of each with other. Then the encampment was decorated in whole and in part, and festivities were appointed for a term of seven days full-told, in token of joy and gladness; and banquets were arrayed and trays were dispread, and all sat down to them in the pleasantest of life eating and drinking; and the hungry were filled, and the mean and the miserable and the mendicants were feasted until the end of the seventh day. After this they applied them to the punishment of the ten Knights whom the Emir Salamah had despatched to escort his son; and the Sultan Habib gave order that retribution be required from them, and restitution of all the coin and the good and the horses and the camels entrusted to them by his sire. When these had been recovered he commanded that there be set up for them as many stakes in the garden wherein he sat with his bride, and there in their presence he let impale429 each upon his own pale. And thenceforward the united household ceased not living the most joyous of lives and the most delectable until the old Emir Salamah paid the debt of nature, and they mourned him with excessive mourning for seven days. When these were ended his son, the Sultan Habib, became ruler in his stead and received the homage of all the tribes and clans who came before him and prayed for his victory and his length of life; and the necks of his subjects, even the most stubborn, were bowed in abasement before him. On this wise he reigned over the Crystalline Isles of Sabur, his sire-in-law, with justice and equity, and his Queen, Durrat al-Ghawwas, bare to him children in numbers who in due time followed in their father’s steps. And here is terminated the tale of Sultan Habib and Durrat al-Ghawwas with all perfection and completion and good omen.
Thereupon he donned a closely-woven mail-coat and armed himself with the magical scymitar and spear; then, taking the skins of animals freshly slain, he made a hood and vizor thereof and wrapped strips of the same around his arms and legs that no harm from the sea might enter his frame. . . . And as soon as he touched bottom he was confronted by the Ifrit
The older translators of this “New Arabian Night” have made wild work with this Novel at least as the original is given by my text and the edition of Gauttier (vii, 60-90): in their desire to gallicise it they have invested it with a toilette purely European and in the worst possible style. Amongst the insipid details are the division of the Crystalline Islands into the White, Yellow, Green and Blue; with the Genies Abarikaff, the monstrous Racachik, Ilbaccaras and Mokilras; and the terrible journey of Habib to Mount Kaf with his absurd reflections: even the “Roc” cannot come to his aid without “a damask cushion suspended between its feet by silken cords” for the greater comfort of the “Arabian Knight.” The Treasury of Solomon, “who fixed the principles of knowledge by 366 hieroglyphics (sic) each of which required a day’s application from even the ablest understanding, before its mysterious sense could be understood,” is spun out as if the episode were copy intended for the daily press. In my text the “Maidens of the Main” are introduced to say a few words and speed the action. In the French version Ilzaide the elder becomes a “leading lady,” whose rôle is that of the naïve ingénue, famous for “smartness” and “vivacty”: “one cannot refrain from smiling at the lively sallies of her good nature and simplicity of heart.” I find this young person the model of a pert, pretty, prattling little French soubrette who, moreover, makes open love to “the master.” Habib calls the “good old lady,” his governess “Esek! Esek!” which in Turk. means donkey, ass. I need hardly enlarge upon these ineptitudes; those who wish to pursue the subject have only to compare the two versions.
At the end of the Frenchified tale we find a note entitled:— Observations by the French Editor, on the “History of Habib and Dorathil-goase, or the Arabian Knight,” and these are founded not upon the Oriental text but upon the Occidental perversion. It is described “from a moral plane rather as a poem than a simple tale,” and it must be regarded as “a Romance of Chivalry which unites the two chief characteristics of works of that sort — amusement and instruction.” Habib’s education is compared with that of Telemachus, and his being inured to fatigue is according to the advice of Rousseau in his “Emilius” and the practice of Robinson Crusoe. Lastly “Grandison is a here already formed: Habib is one who needs to be instructed.” I cannot but suspect when reading all this Western travesty of an Eastern work that M. Cazotte, a typical littérateur, had prepared for caricaturing the unfortunate Habib by carefully writing up Fénélon, Rousseau, and Richardson; and had grafted his own ideas of morale upon the wild stem of the Arabian novel.
378 MS. pp. 628-685. Gauttier, vii. 64-90; Histoire du Prince Habib et de la Princesse Dorrat-el-Gawas. The English translation dubs it “Story of Habib and Dorathil-goase, or the Arabian Knight” (vol. iii. 219-89); and thus degrades the high sounding name to a fair echo of Dorothy Goose. The name = Pearl of the Diver: it is also the P.N. of a treatise on desinental syntax by the grammarian-poet Al-Hariri (Chenery, p. 539).
379 The “Banú Hilál,” a famous tribe which formed part of a confederation against the Prophet on his expedition to Honayn. See Tabari, vol. iii. chapt. 32, and Doughty, Arabia Deserta (Index, B. Helal). In the text we have the vulgarism “Baní” for “Banú”.
380 Gauttier (vii. 64) clean omits the former Emir because he has nothing to do with the tale. In Heron it is the same, and the second chief is named “Emir-Ben-Hilac-Salamis”; or for shortness tout bonnement “Salamis”; and his wife becoming Amírala which, if it mean anything, is = Colonel, or Captain R. N.
381 ie. Moon of the Nobles.
382 = the Beloved, le bien-aimé.
383 As has been seen Gauttier reduces the title to “Prince.” Amongst Arabs, however, it is not only a name proper but may denote any dignity from a Shaykh to a Sultan rightly so termed.
384 For the seven handwritings see vol. iv. 196. The old English version says, “He learned the art of writing with pens cut in seven different ways.” To give an idea of the style it renders the quatrain:—“Father,” said the youth, “you must apply to my master, to give you the information you desire. As for me, I must long be all eye and all ear. I must learn to use my hand, before I begin to exercise my tongue, and to write my letters as pure as pearls from the water.” And this is translation!
385 I need hardly note that “Voices from the other world” are a lieu commun of so-called Spiritualism. See also vol. i. 142 and Suppl. Vol. iii.
386 This tale and most of those in the MS. affect the Ká1a ‘l-Ráwí (= quoth the reciter) showing the true use of them. See Terminal Essay, vol. x. 144.
387 The missing apodosis would be, “You would understand the cause of my weeping.”
388 In the text there are only five lines. I have borrowed the sixth from the prose.
389 “Dáúd” = David: see vols. ii. 286; vi. 113.
390 For “Samharí” see vol. iv. 258.
391 From “Rudaynah,” either a woman or a place: see vols. ii. 1; vii. 265; and for “Khatt Hajar” vol. ii. 1.
392 This is the idiomatic meaning of the Arab word “Nizál” = dismounting to fight on foot.
393 In the text “Akyál,” plur. of “Kayl” = Kings of the Himyarite peoples. See vol. vii. 60; here it is = the hero, the heroes.
394 An intensive word, “on the weight,” as the Arabs say of ‘Abbás (stern-faced) and meaning “Very stern-faced, austere, grim.” In the older translations it becomes “Il Haboul”— utterly meaningless.
395 The Arab. “Moon of the Time” becomes in the olden versions “Camaulzaman,” which means, if anything, “Complete Time,” and she is the daughter of a Jinn-King “Illabousatrous (Al-‘Atrús?).” He married her to a potent monarch named “Shah-Goase” (Shah Ghawwás=King Diver), in this version “Sábúr” (Shahpur), and by him Kamar Al-Zaman became the mother of Durrat al-Ghawwas.
396 In text “Sádát wa Ashráf:” for the technical meaning of “Sayyid” and “Sharif” see vols. iv. 170; v. 259.
397 Gauttier, vii. 71. Les Isles Bellour. see vol. iii. 194.
398 Heron’s “Illabousatrous”(?).
399 In text “Zayjah,” from Pers. “Záycheh” = lit. a horoscope, a table for calculating nativities and so forth. In page 682 of the MS. the word is used = marriage-lines.
400 In text “Snsál,” for “Salsál “ = lit. chain.
401 In Sindbad the Seaman I have shown that riding men as asses is a facetious exaggeration of an African practice, the Minister being generally the beast of burden for the King. It was the same in the Maldive Islands. “As soon as the lord desires to land, one of the rhief Catibes (Arab. Khatíb = a preacher, not Kátib = a writer) comes forward to offer his shoulder (a function much esteemed) and the other gets upon his shoulders; and so, with a leg on each side, he rides him horse fashion to land, and is there set down.” See p. 71, “The Voyage of François Pyrard,” etc. The volume is unusually well edited by Mr. Albert Gray, formerly of the Ceylon Civil Service, for the Hakluyt Society, MDCCCLXXXVII: it is, however, regretable that he and Mr. Bell, his collaborateur, did not trace out the Maldive words to their “Aryan” origin showing their relationship to vulgar Hindostani as Mas to Machhí (fish) from the Sanskrit Matsya.
402 In text “Ghayth al-Hátíl = incessant rain of small drops and widely dispread. In Arab. the names for clouds, rain and all such matters important to a pastoral race are well nigh innumerable. Poetry has seized upon the material terms and has converted them into a host of metaphors; for “the genius of the Arabic language, like that of the Hebrew, is to form new ideas by giving a metaphorical signification to material objects (e.g. ‘Azud, lit. the upper arm; met. a helper).” Chenery, p. 380.
403 In the text “To the palace:” the scribe, apparently forgetting that he is describing Badawi life, lapses at times into “decorating the capital” and “adorning the mansion,” as if treating of the normal city-life. I have not followed his example.
404 Heron translates “A massy cuirass of Haoudi.”
405 In text, “Inbasata ‘l-Layl al-Asá,” which M. Houdas renders et s’étendit la nuit (mère) de la tristesse.
406 “Rauzah” in Algiers is a royal park; also a prairie, as “Rauz al-Sanájirah,” plain of the Sinjars: Ibn Khaldun, ii. 448.
407 The “Miskál” (for which see vols. i. 126; ix. 262) is the weight of a dinar = 1½ dirham = 71-72 grains avoir. A dose of 142 grains would kill a camel. In 1848, when we were marching up the Indus Valley under Sir Charles Napier to attack Náo Mall of Multan, the Sind Camel Corps was expected to march at the rate of some 50 miles a day, and this was done by making the animals more than half drunk with Bhang or Indian hemp.
408 In text, “Yakhat,” probably clerical error for “Yakhbut,” lit. = he was panting in a state of unconsciousness: see Dozy, Suppl. s. v.
409 In text “Al-Dán, which is I presume a clerical error for “Al-Uzn” = ear. [“Dán,” with the dual “Dánayn,” and “Wudn,” with the plural “Audán,” are popular forms for the literary “Uzn."— ST.]
410 This name has occurred in MS. p. 655, but it is a mere nonentity until p. 657 — the normal incuriousness. Heron dubs him “Rabir.”
411 In the text “Zimmat” = obligation, protection, clientship.
412 “Sahha ‘alakah” (=a something) “fí hazá ‘l-Amri.” The first word appears de trop being enclosed in brackets in the MS.
413 “Wa yabkí ‘alaykum Mabálu-h.” [For “Mabál” I would read “Wabál,” in the sense of crime or punishment, and translate: “lest the guilt of it rest upon you."— ST.)
414 In the text “Suwaydá” literally “a small and blackish woman”; and “Suwaydá al-Kalb” (the black one of the heart) = original sin, as we should say. [The diminutive of “Sayyid” would be “Suwayyid,” as “Kuwayyis” from “Kayyis,” and “Juwayyid” from “Jayyid” (comp. supra p. 3). “Suwayd” and “Suwaydá” are diminutives of “Aswad,” black, and its fem. “Saudá” respectively, meaning blackish. The former occurs in “Umm al-Suwayd” = anus. “Suwaydá al-Kalb” = the blackish drop of clotted blood in the heart, is synonymous with “Habbat al-Kalb” = the grain in the heart, and corresponds to our core of the heart. Metaphorically both are used for “original sin."— ST.]
415 “Yákah Thiyábish;” the former word being Turkish (M. Houdas).
416 Arab. “Kaunayn” = the two entities, this world and the other world, the past and the future, etc. Here it is opposed to “’A’lamína,” here ‘Awálim = the (three) worlds, for which see vol. ii. 236.
417 In text “Changul,” again written with a three-dotted Chím.
418 In text “Al-Mazrab” which M. Houdas translates cet endroit.
419 In text “Yabahh” = saying “Bah, Bah!”
420 In text “Bahr al-Azrak” = the Blue Sea, commonly applied to the Mediterranean: the origin of the epithet is readily understood by one who has seen the Atlantic or the Black Sea.
421 i.e. “The Stubborn,” “The Obstinate.”
422 In text “Al-Jawádit,” where M. Houdas would read “Al-Hawádith” which he renders by animaux fraîchement tués.
423 In the text “Kabad” = the liver, the sky-vault, the handle or grasp of a bow.
424 In the text “Míná” = a port both in old Egyptian and mod. Persian: see “Mitrahinna,” vol. ii. 257.
425 “Al-Nakáír,” plur. of “Nakír” = a dinghy, a dug-out.
426 For this “Pá-andáz,” as the Persians call it, see vol. iii. 141.
427 In text “Kataba Zayjata-há,” the word has before been noticed.
428 Again “Hizà bi-Zayjati-há” = le bonheur de ses aventures.
429 This impalement (“Salb,” which elsewhere means crucifying, vol. iii. 25) may be a barbarous punishment but it is highly cffective, which after all is its principal object. Old Mohammed Ali of Egypt never could have subjugated and disciplined the ferocious Badawi of Al-Asir, the Ophir region South of Al-Hijáz, without the free use of the stake. The banditti dared to die but they could not endure the idea of their bodies being torn to pieces and devoured by birds and beasts. The stake commonly called “Kházúk”, is a stout pole pointed at one end, and the criminal being thrown upon his belly is held firm whilst the end is passed up his fundament. His legs and body are then lashed to it and it is raised by degrees and planted in a hole already dug, an agonising part of the process. If the operation be performed by an expert who avoids injuring any mortal part, the wretch may live for three days suffering the pangs of thirst; but a drink of water causes hemorrhage and instant death. This was the case with the young Moslem student who murdered the excellent Marshal Kleber in the garden attached to Shepherd’s Hotel, Cairo, wherein, by the by, he suffered for his patriotic crime. Death as in crucifixion is brought on by cramps and nervous exhaustion, for which see Canon Farrar (Life of Christ, ii. 392 et seqq.).
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