The Book Of The Thousand Nights And One Night, Volume II

Part 1 out of 7

Richard F. Burton in 16 volumes.


Now First Completely Done Into English
Prose and Verse, From The Original Arabic,

By John Payne
(Author of "The Masque of Shadows," "Intaglios: Sonnets," "Songs
of Life and Death,"
"Lautrec," "The Poems of Master Francis Villon of Paris," "New
Poems," Etc, Etc.).

In Nine Volumes:



Delhi Edition

Contents of The Second Volume.

9. The History of King Omar Ben Ennuman and His Sons Sherkan
and Zoulmekan
a. Story of Taj El Mulouk and the Princess Dunya
aa. Story of Aziz and Azizeh
b. Bakoun's Story of the Hashish-Eater
c. Hemmand the Bedouin's Story



There reigned once in the City of Peace, (Baghdad), before the
Khalifate of Abdulmelik ben Merwan,[FN#1] a king called Omar ben
Ennuman, who was of the mighty giants and had subdued the kings
of Persia and the Emperors of the East, for none could warm
himself at his fire[FN#2] nor cope with him in battle, and when
he was angry, there came sparks out of his nostrils. He had
gotten him the dominion over all countries, and God had subjected
unto him all creatures; his commands were obeyed in all the great
cities and his armies penetrated the most distant lands: the East
and West came under his rule, with the regions between them, Hind
and Sind and China and Hejaz and Yemen and the islands of India
and China, Syria and Mesopotamia and the land of the blacks and
the islands of the ocean and all the famous rivers of the earth,
Jaxartes and Bactrus, Nile and Euphrates. He sent his ambassadors
to the farthest parts of the earth, to fetch him true report, and
they returned with tidings of justice and peace, bringing him
assurance of loyalty and obedience and invocations of blessings
on his head; for he was a right noble king and there came to him
gifts and tribute from all parts of the world. He had a son
called Sherkan, who was one of the prodigies of the age and the
likest of all men to his father, who loved him with an exceeding
love and had appointed him to be king after him. The prince grew
up till he reached man's estate and was twenty years old, and God
subjected all men to him, for he was gifted with great might and
prowess in battle, humbling the champions and destroying all who
made head against him. So, before long, this Sherkan became
famous in all quarters of the world and his father rejoiced in
him: and his might waxed, till he passed all bounds and magnified
himself, taking by storm the citadels and strong places.

Now King Omar had four lawful wives, but God had vouchsafed him
no son by them, except Sherkan, whom he had gotten of one of
them, and the rest were barren. Moreover he had three hundred and
threescore concubines, after the number of the days of the Coptic
year, who were of all nations, and he had lodged them all within
his palace. For he had built twelve pavilions, after the number
of the months of the year, in each thirty chambers, and appointed
to each of his concubines a night, which he lay with her and came
not to her again for a full year. As providence would have it,
one of them conceived and her pregnancy was made known, whereupon
the King rejoiced with an exceeding joy, saying, "Mayhap it will
be a son, in which case all my offspring will be males." Then he
recorded the date of her conception and made much of her. But
when the news came to Sherkan, he was troubled and it was
grievous to him, for he said, "Verily, there cometh one who shall
dispute the kingdom with me." So he said to himself, "If this
damsel bear a male child, I will kill it." But he kept this his
intent secret in his heart. Now the damsel in question was a
Greek girl, by name Sufiyeh,[FN#3] whom the King of Roum,[FN#4]
lord of Caesarea, had sent to King Omar as a present, together
with great store of rarities. She was the fairest of face and
most graceful of all his women and the most careful of his honour
and was gifted with abounding wit and surpassing loveliness. She
had served the King on the night of his lying with her, saying to
him, "O King, I desire of the God of the heavens that He grant
thee of me a male child, so I may rear him well and do my utmost
endeavour to educate him and preserve him from harm." And her
words pleased the King. She passed the time of her pregnancy in
devout exercises, praying fervently to God to grant her a goodly
male child and make his birth easy to her, till her months were
accomplished and she sat down on the stool of delivery. Now the
King had given an eunuch charge to let him know if the child she
should bring forth were male or female; and in like manner his
son Sherkan had sent one to bring him news of this. In due time,
Sufiyeh was delivered of a child, which the midwives took and
found to be a girl with a face more radiant than the moon. So
they announced this to the bystanders, whereupon the eunuch
carried the news to the King and Sherkan's messenger did the like
with his master, who rejoiced with exceeding joy; but after these
two had departed, Sufiyeh said to the midwives, "Wait with me
awhile, for I feel there is yet somewhat in my entrails." Then
she moaned and the pains of labour took her again but God made it
easy to her and she gave birth to a second child. The midwives
looked at it and found it a boy like the full moon, with
flower-white forehead and rose-red cheeks; whereupon the damsel
and her eunuchs and attendants rejoiced and she was delivered of
the afterbirth, whilst all who were in the palace set up cries of
joy. The other damsels heard of this and envied her; and the news
came to Omar, who was glad and rejoiced. Then he rose and went to
her and kissed her head, after which he looked at the boy and
bending down to it, kissed it, whilst the damsels smote the
tabrets and played on instruments of music; and he commanded that
the boy should be named Zoulmekan and the girl Nuzbet ez Zeman,
which was done accordingly. Then he appointed nurses, wet and
dry, and eunuchs and attendants to serve them and assigned them
rations of sugar and liquors and oil and other necessaries, such
as the tongue fails to set out. Moreover the people of Baghdad
heard of the children that God had vouchsafed to the King; so
they decorated the city and made proclamation of the good news.
Then came the amirs and viziers and grandees and wished the King
joy of his son and daughter, wherefore he thanked them and
bestowed dresses of honour and favours and largesse on them and
on all who were present, gentle and simple. Then he bade carry
great store of jewellery and apparel and money to Sufiyeh and
charged her to rear the children carefully and educate them well.
After this wise, four years passed by, during which time the King
sent every few days to seek news of Sufiyeh and her children; but
all this while, his son Sherkan knew not that a male child had
been born to his father, having news only of the birth of his
daughter Nuzhet ez Zeman, and they hid the thing from him, until
years and days had passed by, whilst he was busied in contending
with the men of war and tilting against the cavaliers.

One day, as the King was sitting on his throne, there came in to
him his chamberlains, who kissed the earth before him and said,
"O King, there be come ambassadors from the King of the Greeks,
lord of Constantinople the mighty, and they desire to be admitted
to pay their respects to thee: so if the King give them leave to
enter, we will admit them, and if not, there is no appeal from
his decree." He bade admit them, and when they entered, he turned
to them and asked them how they did and the reason of their
coming. They kissed the earth before him and replied, "O
illustrious King and lord of the long arm,[FN#5] know that King
Afridoun, lord of the lands of the Greeks and of the Nazarene
armies, holding the empire of Constantinople, hath sent us to
make known to thee that he is now waging grievous war with a
fierce rebel, the lord of Caesarea; and the cause of this war is
as follows. One of the kings of the Arabs, awhile since, chanced,
in one of his conquests, upon a treasure of the time of
Alexander, from which he carried away countless riches and
amongst other things, three round jewels, of the bigness of an
ostrich's egg, from a mine of pure white jewels, never was seen
the like. Upon each of these jewels were graven talismans in the
Greek character, and they had many properties and virtues,
amongst the rest that if one of them were hung round the neck of
a new-born child, no ailment would hurt him nor would he moan or
be fevered, so long as it was about his neck. When they came to
the hands of the Arabian King and he knew their virtues, he sent
the three jewels, together with other presents and rarities, as a
gift to King Afridoun, and to that end fitted out two ships, one
bearing the treasure and presents and the other men to guard them
against whoso should offer them hindrance on the sea, being
nevertheless assured that none would dare waylay them, for that
he was King of the Arabs, more by token that their way lay
through the sea in the dominions of the King of Constantinople
and they were bound to him, nor were there on the shores of that
sea any but subjects of the most mighty King Afridoun. The ships
set out and sailed till they drew near our city, when there
sallied out on them certain corsairs of the country and amongst
them troops of the King of Caesarea, who took all the treasures
and rarities in the ships, together with the three jewels, and
slew the men. When the news came to our King, he sent an army
against them, but they defeated it; then he sent another army,
stronger than the first, but they put this also to the rout;
whereupon the King was wroth and swore that he would go out
against them in person at the head of his whole army and not turn
back from them, till he had left Caesarea in ruins and laid waste
all the lands and cities over which its King held sway. So he
craves of the lord of the age and the time, the King of Baghdad
and Khorassan, that he succour us with an army, to the end that
glory may redound to him; and he has sent by us somewhat of
various kinds of presents and begs the King to favour him by
accepting them and accord us his aid." Then they kissed the earth
before King Omar and brought out the presents, which were fifty
slave-girls of the choicest of the land of the Greeks, and fifty
white male slaves in tunics of brocade, rich girdles of gold and
silver and in their ears pendants of gold and fine pearls, worth
a thousand dinars each. The damsels were adorned after the same
fashion and clad in stuffs worth much money. When the King saw
them, he rejoiced in them and accepted them. Then he commanded
that the ambassadors should be honourably entreated and summoning
his viziers, took counsel with them of what he should do.
Accordingly, one of them, an old man named Dendan, arose and
kissing the earth before King Omar, said, "O King, thou wouldst
do well to equip numerous army and set over it thy son Sherkan,
with us as his lieutenants; and to my mind it behoves thee to do
thus, for two reasons: first, that the King of the Greeks hath
appealed to thee for aid and hath sent thee presents, and thou
hast accepted them; and secondly, that no enemy dares attack our
country, and that if thy host succour the King of the Greeks and
his foe be put to the rout, the glory will fall to thee and the
news of it will be noised abroad in all cities and countries; and
especially, when the tidings reach the islands of the ocean and
the people of Western Africa, they will send thee presents and
tribute." When the King heard the Vizier's speech, it pleased him
and he approved his counsel: so he bestowed on him dress of
honour and said to him, "It is with such as thee that kings take
counsel and it befits that thou command the van of the army and
my son Sherkan the main battle." Then he sent for Sherkan and
expounded the matter to him, telling him what the ambassadors and
the Vizier had said, and enjoined him to take arms and prepare to
set out, charging him not to cross the Vizier Dendan in aught
that he should do. Then he bade him choose from among his troops
ten thousand horsemen armed cap-a-pie and inured to war and
hardship. Accordingly, Sherkan rose at once and chose out ten
thousand horsemen, in obedience to his father's commandment,
after which he entered his palace and mustered his troops and
distributed money to them, saying, "Ye have three days to make
ready." They kissed the earth before him and proceeded at once to
make their preparations for the campaign; whilst Sherkan repaired
to the armouries and provided himself with all the arms and
armour that he needed, and thence to the stables, whence he took
horses of choice breeds and others. When the three days were
ended, the troops marched out of Baghdad, and King Omar came
forth to take leave of his son, who kissed the earth before him,
and he gave him seven thousand purses.[FN#6] Then he turned to
the Vizier Dendan and commended to his care his son Sherkan's
army and charged the latter to consult the Vizier in all things,
to which they both promised obedience. After this, the King
returned to Baghdad and Sherkan commanded the officers to draw
out the troops in battle array. So they mustered them and the
number of the army was ten thousand horsemen, besides footmen and
followers. Then they loaded the beasts and beat the drums and
blew the clarions and unfurled the banners and the standards,
whilst Sherkan mounted, with the Vizier Dendan by his side and
the standards waving over them, and the army set out and fared
on, with the ambassadors in the van, till the day departed and
the night came, when they halted and encamped for the night. On
the morrow, as soon as God brought in the day, they took horse
and continued their march, nor did they cease to press onward,
guided by the ambassadors, for the space of twenty days. On the
twenty-first day, at nightfall, they came to a wide and fertile
valley, whose sides were thickly wooded and covered with grass,
and there Sherkan called a three days' halt. So they dismounted
and pitched their tents, dispersing right and left in the valley,
whilst the Vizier Dendan and the ambassadors alighted in the
midst. As for Sherkan, when he had seen the tents pitched and the
troops dispersed on either side and had commanded his officers
and attendants to camp beside the Vizier Dendan, he gave reins to
his horse, being minded to explore the valley and himself mount
guard over the army, having regard to his father's injunctions
and to the fact that they had reached the frontier of the land of
Roum and were now in the enemy's country. So he rode on alone
along the valley, till a fourth part of the night was passed,
when he grew weary and sleep overcame him, so that he could no
longer spur his horse. Now he was used to sleep on horseback; so
when drowsiness got the better of him, he fell asleep and the
horse paced on with him half the night and entered a forest; but
Sherkan awoke not, till the steed smote the earth with his hoof.
Then he started from sleep and found himself among trees; and the
moon arose and lighted up the two horizons. He was troubled at
finding himself alone in this place and spoke the words, which
whoso says shall never be confounded, that is to say, "There is
no power and no virtue but in God the Most High, the Supreme!"
But as he rode on, in fear of the wild beasts, behold, the trees
thinned and the moon shone out upon a meadow as it were one of
the meads of Paradise and he heard therein a noise of talk and
pleasant laughter such as ravishes the wit of men. So King
Sherkan dismounted and tying his horse to a tree, fared on a
little way, till he espied a stream of running water and heard a
woman talking and saying in Arabic, "By the virtue of the
Messiah, this is not handsome of you! But whoso speaks a word, I
will throw her down and bind her with her girdle." He followed in
the direction of the voice and saw gazelles frisking and wild
cattle pasturing and birds in their various voices expressing joy
and gladness: and the earth was embroidered with all manner of
flowers and green herbs, even as says of it the poet in the
following verses:

Earth has no fairer sight to show than this its blossom-time,
With all the gently running streams that wander o'er its
It is indeed the handiwork of God Omnipotent, The Lord of every
noble gift and Giver of all grace!

Midmost the meadow stood a monastery, and within the enclosure
was a citadel that rose high into the air in the light of the
moon. The stream passed through the midst of the monastery and
therenigh sat ten damsels like moons, high-bosomed maids, clad in
dresses and ornaments that dazzled the eyes, as says of them the

The meadow glitters with the troops Of lovely ones that wander
Its grace and beauty doubled are By these that are so passing
Virgins that, with their swimming gait, The hearts of all that
see ensnare;
Along whose necks, like trails of grapes, Stream down the tresses
of their hair:
Proudly they walk, with eyes that dart The shafts and arrows of
And all the champions of the world Are slain by their seductive

Sherkan looked at the ten girls and saw in their midst a lady
like the moon at its full, with ringleted hair and shining
forehead, great black eyes and curling brow-locks, perfect in
person and attributes, as says the poet:

Her beauty beamed on me with glances wonder-bright: The slender
Syrian spears are not so straight and slight:
She laid her veil aside, and lo, her cheeks rose-red! All manner
lovelyness was in their sweetest sight.
The locks, that o'er her brow fell down, were like the night,
From out of which there shines a morning of delight.

Then Sherkan heard her say to the girls, "Come on, that I may
wrestle with you, ere the moon set and the dawn come." So they
came up to her, one after another, and she overthrew them, one by
one, and bound their hands behind them with their girdles. When
she had thrown them all, there turned to her an old woman, who
was before her, and said, as if she were wroth with her, "O
wanton, dost thou glory in overthrowing these girls? Behold, I am
an old woman, yet have I thrown them forty times! So what hast
thou to boast of? But if thou have strength to wrestle with me,
stand up that I may grip thee and put thy head between thy feet."
The young lady smiled at her words, although her heart was full
of anger against her, and said, "O my lady Dhat ed Dewahi, wilt
indeed wrestle with me, or dost thou jest with me?" "I mean to
wrestle with thee in very deed," replied she. "Stand up to me
then," said the damsel, "if thou have strength to do so." When
the old woman heard this, she was sore enraged and the hair of
her body stood on end, like that of a hedge-hog. Then she sprang
up, whilst the damsel confronted her, and said, "By the virtue of
the Messiah, I will not wrestle with thee, except I be naked." "O
baggage!" So she loosed her trousers and putting her hand under
her clothes, tore them off her body; then, taking a handkerchief
of silk, she bound it about her middle and became as she were a
bald Afriteh or a pied snake. Then she turned to the young lady
and said to her, "Do as I have done." All this time, Sherkan was
watching them and laughing at the loathly favour of the old
woman. So the damsel took a sash of Yemen stuff and doubled it
about her waist, then tucked up her trousers and showed legs of
alabaster and above them a hummock of crystal, soft and swelling,
and a belly that exhaled musk from its dimples, as it were a bed
of blood-red anemones, and breasts like double pomegranates. Then
the old woman bent to her and they took hold of one another,
whilst Sherkan raised his eyes to heaven and prayed to God that
the damsel might conquer the old hag. Presently, the former bored
in under the latter, and gripping her by the breech with the left
hand and by the gullet with the right, hoisted her off the
ground; whereupon the old woman strove to free herself and in the
struggle wriggled out of the girl's hands and fell on her back.
Up went her legs and showed her hairy tout in the moonlight, and
she let fly two great cracks of wind, one of which smote the
earth, whilst the other smoked up to the skies. At this Sherkan
laughed, till he fell to the ground, and said, "He lied not who
dubbed thee Lady of Calamities![FN#7] Verily, thou sawest her
prowess against the others." Then he arose and looked right and
left, but saw none save the old woman thrown down on her back. So
he drew near to hear what should pass between them; and behold,
the young lady came up to the old one and throwing over her a
veil of fine silk, helped her to dress herself, making excuses to
her and saying, "O my lady Dhat ed Dewahi, I did not mean to
throw thee so roughly, but thou wriggledst out of my hands; so
praised be God for safety!" She returned her no answer, but rose
in her confusion and walked away out of sight, leaving the young
lady standing alone, by the other girls thrown down and bound.
Then said Sherkan to himself, "To every fortune there is a cause.
Sleep fell not on me nor did the steed bear me hither but for my
good fortune; for of a surety this damsel and what is with her
shall be my prize." So he turned back and mounted and drew his
scimitar; then he gave his horse the spur and he started off with
him, like an arrow from a bow, whilst he brandished his naked
blade and cried out, "God is Most Great!" When the damsel saw
him, she sprang to her feet and running to the bank of the river,
which was there six cubits wide, made a spring and landed on the
other side, where she turned and standing, cried out in a loud
voice, "Who art thou, sirrah, that breakest in on our pastime,
and that with thy whinger bared, as thou wert charging an army?
Whence comest thou and whither art thou bound? Speak the truth,
and it shall profit thee, and do not lie, for lying is of the
loser's fashion. Doubtless thou hast strayed this night from thy
road, that thou hast happened on this place. So tell me what thou
seekest: if thou wouldst have us set thee in the right road, we
will do so, or if thou seek help, we will help thee." When
Sherkan heard her words, he replied, "I am a stranger of the
Muslims, who am come out by myself in quest of booty, and I have
found no fairer purchase this moonlit night than these ten
damsels; so I will take them and rejoin my comrades with them."
Quoth she, "I would have thee to know that thou hast not yet come
at the booty: and as for these ten damsels, by Allah, they are no
purchase for thee! Indeed, the fairest purchase thou canst look
for is to win free of this place; for thou art now in a mead,
where, if we gave one cry, there would be with us anon four
thousand knights. Did I not tell thee that lying is shameful?"
And he said, "The fortunate man is he to whom God sufficeth and
who hath no need of other than Him." "By the virtue of the
Messiah," replied she, "did I not fear to have thy death at my
hand, I would give a cry that would fill the meadow on thee with
horse and foot; but I have pity on the stranger: so if thou seek
booty, I require of thee that thou dismount from thy horse and
swear to me, by thy faith, that thou wilt not approach me with
aught of arms, and we will wrestle, I and thou. If thou throw me,
lay me on thy horse and take all of us to thy booty; and if I
throw thee, thou shalt be at my commandment. Swear this to me,
for I fear thy perfidy, since experience has it that, as long as
perfidy is in men's natures, to trust in every one is weakness.
But if thou wilt swear, I will come over to thee." Quoth Sherkan
(and indeed he lusted after her and said to himself, "She does
not know that I am a champion of the champions."), "Impose on me
whatever oath thou deemest binding, and I will swear not to draw
near thee till thou hast made thy preparations and sayest, 'Come
and wrestle with me.' If thou throw me, I have wealth wherewith
to ransom myself, and if I throw thee, I shall get fine
purchase." Then said she, "Swear to me by Him who hath lodged the
soul in the body and given laws to mankind, that thou wilt not
beset me with aught of violence, but by way of wrestling; else
mayst thou die out of the pale of Islam." "By Allah," exclaimed
Sherkan, "if a Cadi should swear me, though he were Cadi of the
Cadis, he would not impose on me the like of this oath!" Then he
took the oath she required and tied his horse to a tree, sunken
in the sea of reverie and saying in himself, "Glory to Him who
fashioned her of vile water!"[FN#8] Then he girt himself and made
ready for wrestling and said to her, "Cross the stream to me."
Quoth she, "It is not for me to come to thee: if thou wilt, do
thou cross over to me." "I cannot do that," replied he, and she
said, "O boy, I will come to thee." So she gathered her skirts
and making a spring, landed on the other side of the river by
him; whereupon he drew near to her, wondering at her beauty and
grace, and saw a form that the hand of Omnipotence had tanned
with the leaves of the Jinn and which had been fostered by Divine
solicitude, a form on which the zephyrs of fair fortune had blown
and over whose creation favourable planets had presided. Then she
called out to him, saying, "O Muslim, come and wrestle before the
day break!" and tucked up her sleeves, showing a fore-arm like
fresh curd; the whole place was lighted up by its whiteness and
Sherkan was dazzled by it. Then he bent forward and clapped his
hands and she did the like, and they took hold and gripped each
other. He laid his hands on her slender waist, so that the tips
of his fingers sank into the folds of her belly, and his limbs
relaxed and he stood in the stead of desire, for there was
displayed to him a body, in which was languishment of hearts, and
he fell a-trembling like the Persian reed in the hurricane. So
she lifted him up and throwing him to the ground, sat down on his
breast with buttocks like a hill of sand, for he was not master
of his reason. Then she said to him, "O Muslim, it is lawful
among you to kill Christians; what sayst thou to my killing
thee?" "O my lady," replied he, "as for killing me, it is
unlawful; for our Prophet (whom God bless and preserve!) hath
forbidden the slaying of women and children and old men and
monks." "Since this was revealed unto your prophet," rejoined
she, "it behoves us to be even with him therein; so rise: I give
thee thy life, for beneficence is not lost upon men." Then she
got off his breast and he rose and brushed the earth from his
head, and she said to him, "Be not abashed; but, indeed, one who
enters the land of the Greeks in quest of booty and to succour
kings against kings, how comes it that there is no strength in
him to defend himself against a woman?" "It was not lack of
strength in me," replied he; "nor was it thy strength that
overthrew me, but thy beauty: so if thou wilt grant me another
bout, it will be of thy favour." She laughed and said, "I grant
thee this: but these damsels have been long bound and their arms
and shoulders are weary, and it were fitting I should loose them,
since this next bout may peradventure be a long one." Then she
went up to the girls and unbinding them, said to them in the
Greek tongue, "Go and put yourselves in safety, till I have
brought to nought this Muslim's craving for you." So they went
away, whilst Sherkan looked at them and they gazed at him and the
young lady. Then she and he drew near again and set breast
against breast; but, when he felt her belly against his, his
strength failed him, and she feeling this, lifted him in her
hands, swiftlier than the blinding lightning, and threw him to
the ground. He fell on his back, and she said to him, "Rise, I
give thee thy life a second time. I spared thee before for the
sake of thy prophet, for that he forbade the killing of women,
and I do so this second time because of thy weakness and tender
age and strangerhood; but I charge thee, if there be, in the army
sent by King Omar ben Ennuman to the succour of the King of
Constantinople, a stronger than thou, send him hither and tell
him of me, for in wrestling there are divers kinds of strokes and
tricks, such as feinting and the fore-tripe and the back-tripe
and the leg-crick and the thigh-twist and the jostle and the
cross-buttock." "By Allah, O my lady," replied Sherkan, (and
indeed he was greatly incensed against her), "were I the chief Es
Sefedi or Mohammed Caimal or Ibn es Seddi,[FN#9] I had not
observed the fashion thou namest; for, by Allah, it was not by
thy strength that thou overthrewest me, but by filling me with
the desire of thy buttocks, because we people of Chaldaea love
great thighs, so that nor wit nor foresight was left in me. But
now if thou have a mind to try another fall with me, with my wits
about me, I have a right to this one bout more, by the rules of
the game, for my presence of mind has now returned to me." "Hast
thou not had enough of wrestling, O conquered one?" rejoined she.
"However, come, if thou wilt; but know that this bout must be the
last." Then they took hold of each other and he set to in earnest
and warded himself against being thrown down: so they strained
awhile, and the damsel found in him strength such as she had not
before observed and said to him, "O Muslim, thou art on thy
guard!" "Yes," replied he; "thou knowest that there remaineth but
this bout, and after each of us will go his own way." She laughed
and he laughed too: then she seized the opportunity to bore in
upon him unawares, and gripping him by the thigh, threw him to
the ground, so that he fell on his back. She laughed at him and
said, "Thou art surely an eater of bran; for thou art like a
Bedouin bonnet, that falls at a touch, or a child's toy, that a
puff of air overturns. Out on thee, thou poor creature! Go back
to the army of the Muslims and send us other than thyself, for
thou lackest thews, and cry us among the Arabs and Persians and
Turks and Medes, 'Whoso has might in him, let him come to us.'"
Then she made a spring and landed on the other side of the stream
and said to Sherkan, laughing, "It goes to my heart to part with
thee; get thee to thy friends, O my lord, before the morning,
lest the knights come upon thee and take thee on the points of
their lances. Thou hast not strength enough to defend thee
against women; so how couldst thou make head against men and
cavaliers?" And she turned to go back to the monastery. Sherkan
was confounded and called out to her, saying, "O my lady, wilt
thou go away and leave the wretched stranger, the broken-hearted
slave of love?" So she turned to him, laughing, and said, "What
wouldst thou? I grant thy prayer." "Have I set foot in thy
country and tasted the sweetness of thy favours," replied
Sherkan, "and shall I return without eating of thy victual
and tasting thy hospitality? Indeed I am become one of thy
servitors." Quoth she, "None but the base refuses hospitality; on
my head and eyes be it! Do me the favour to mount and ride along
the bank of the stream, abreast of me, for thou art my guest." At
this Sherkan rejoiced and hastening back to his horse, mounted
and rode along the river-bank, keeping abreast of her, till he
came to a drawbridge, that hung by pulleys and chains of steel,
made fast with hooks and padlocks. Here stood the ten damsels
awaiting the lady, who spoke to one of them in the Greek tongue
and said to her, "Go to him and take his horse's rein and bring
him over to the monastery." So she went up to Sherkan and led him
over the bridge to the other side and he followed her, amazed at
what he saw and saying in himself, "Would the Vizier Dendan were
with me, to look on these fair faces with his own eyes." Then he
turned to the young lady and said to her, "O wonder of beauty,
now art thou doubly bound to me, firstly, by the bond of
comradeship, and secondly for that thou carriest me to thy house
and I accept of thy hospitality and am at thy disposal and under
thy protection. So do me the favour to go with me to the land of
Islam, where thou shalt look upon many a lion-hearted prince and
know who I am." His speech angered her and she said to him, "By
the virtue of the Messiah, thou art keen of wit with me! But I
see now what depravity is in thy heart and how thou allowest
thyself to say a thing that proves thee a traitor. How should I
do what thou sayest, when I know that, if I came to thy King Omar
ben Ennuman, I should never win free of him? For he has not the
like of me among his women nor in his palace, all lord of Baghdad
and Khorassan as he is, with his twelve palaces, in number as the
months of the year, and his concubines therein, in number as the
days thereof; and if I come to him, he will not respect me, for
that ye hold it lawful to take possession of the like of me, as
it is said in your scripture, 'That which your right hand
possesses.'[FN#10] So how canst thou speak thus to me? As for thy
saying, 'Thou shalt look upon the champions of the Muslims,' by
the Messiah, thou sayst that which is not true; for I saw your
army, when it reached our country, these two days ago, and I did
not see that your ordinance was that of kings, but beheld you
only as a rabble of men collected together. And as for thy
saying, 'Thou shalt know who I am,' I did not show thee courtesy
of any intent to honour thee, but out of pride in myself; and the
like of thee should not say this to the like of me, even though
thou be Sherkan himself, King Omar ben Ennuman's son, who is
renowned in these days." "And dost thou know Sherkan?" asked he.
"Yes," replied she; "and I know of his coming with an army of ten
thousand horse, for that he was sent by his father with these
troops to the succour of the King of Constantinople." "O my
lady," rejoined Sherkan, "I conjure thee, as thou believest in
thy religion, tell me the cause of all this, that I may know
truth from falsehood and with whom the fault lies." "By the
virtue of thy faith," replied she, "were it not that I fear lest
the news of me be bruited abroad that I am of the daughters of
the Greeks, I would adventure myself and sally forth against the
ten thousand horse and kill their chief, the Vizier Dendan, and
take their champion Sherkan. Nor would there be any reproach to
me in this, for I have read books and know the Arabic language
and have studied good breeding and polite letters. But I have no
need to vaunt my own prowess to thee, for thou hast tasted of my
quality and proved my strength and skill and pre-eminence in
wrestling; nor if Sherkan himself had been in thy place to-night
and it had been said to him, 'Leap this river,' could he have
done so. And I could wish well that the Messiah would throw him
into my hands here in this monastery, that I might go forth to
him in the habit of a man and pull him from his saddle and take
him prisoner and lay him in fetters." When Sherkan heard this,
pride and heat and warlike jealousy overcame him and he was
minded to discover himself and lay violent hands on her but her
beauty held him back from her, and he repeated the following

Their charms, whatever fault the fair commit, A thousand
intercessors bring for it.

So she went up, and he after her; whilst he looked at her back
and saw her buttocks smiting against each other, like the billows
in the troubled sea; and he recited the following verses:

In her face an advocate harbours, who blots out her every fault
From the hearts of mankind, for he is mighty to intercede.
Whenas I look at her face, I cry in my wonder aloud, "The moon of
the skies in the night of her full is risen indeed!"
If the Afrit of Belkis[FN#11] himself should wrestle a fall with
her, Her charms would throw him forthright, for all his
strength and speed.

They went on till they reached a vaulted gate, arched over with
marble. This she opened and entered with Sherkan into a long
vestibule, vaulted with ten arches from each of which hung a lamp
of crystal, shining like the rays of the sun. The damsels met her
at the end of the vestibule, bearing perfumed flambeaux and
having on their heads kerchiefs embroidered with all manner
jewels and went on before her, till they came to the inward of
the monastery, where Sherkan saw couches set up all around,
facing one another and overhung with curtains spangled with gold.
The floor was paved with all kinds of variegated marbles, and in
the midst was a basin of water, with four-and-twenty spouts of
gold around it, from which issued water like liquid silver;
whilst at the upper end stood a throne covered with silks of
royal purple. Then said the damsel, "O my lord, mount this
throne." So he seated himself on it, and she withdrew: and when
she had been absent awhile, he asked the servants of her, and
they said, "She hath gone to her sleeping-chamber; but we will
serve thee as thou shalt order." So they set before him rare
meats and he ate till he was satisfied, when they brought him a
basin of gold and an ewer of silver, and he washed his hands.
Then his mind reverted to his troops, and he was troubled,
knowing not what had befallen them in his absence and thinking
how he had forgotten his father's injunctions, so that he abode
oppressed with anxiety and repenting of what he had done, till
the dawn broke and the day appeared, when he lamented and sighed
and became drowned in the sea of melancholy, repeating the
following verses:

I lack not of prudence and yet in this case I've been fooled; so
what shift shall avail unto me?
If any could ease me of love and its stress, Of my might and my
virtue I'd set myself free.
But alas! my heart's lost in the maze of desire, And no helper
save God in my strait can I see.

Hardly had he finished, when up came more than twenty damsels
like moons, encompassing the young lady, who appeared amongst
them as the full moon among stars. She was clad in royal brocade
and girt with a woven girdle set with various kinds of jewels,
that straitly clasped her waist and made her buttocks stand out
as they were a hill of crystal upholding a wand of silver; and
her breasts were like double pomegranates. On her head she wore a
network of pearls, gemmed with various kinds of jewels, and she
moved with a coquettish swimming gait, swaying wonder-gracefully,
whilst the damsels held up her skirts. When Sherkan saw her
beauty and grace, he was transported for joy and forgot his army
and the Vizier Dendan end springing to his feet, cried out,
"Beware, beware of that girdle rare!" and repeated the following

Heavy of buttocks, languorous of gait, With limber shape and
breasts right delicate,
She hides what passion in her bosom burns; Yet cannot I my heat
Her maidens, like strung pearls, behind her fare, Now all
dispersed now knit in ordered state.

She fixed her eyes on him and considered him awhile, till she was
assured of him, when she came up to him and said, "Indeed the
place is honoured and illumined by thy presence, O Sherkan! How
didst thou pass the night, O hero, after we went away and left
thee? Verily lying is a defect and a reproach in kings,
especially in great kings; and thou art Sherkan, son of King Omar
ben Ennuman; so henceforth tell me nought but truth and strive
not to keep the secret of thy condition, for falsehood engenders
hatred and enmity. The arrow of destiny hath fallen on thee, and
it behoves thee to show resignation and submission." When Sherkan
heard what she said, he saw nothing for it but to tell her the
truth so he said, "I am indeed Sherkan, son of Omar ben Ennuman,
whom fortune hath afflicted and cast into this place: so now do
whatsoever thou wilt." She bowed her head a long while, then
turned to him and said, "Reassure thyself and be of good cheer;
for thou art my guest, and bread and salt have passed between us;
so art thou in my safeguard and under my protection. Have no
fear; by the virtue of the Messiah, if all the people of the
earth sought to harm thee, they should not come at thee till the
breath had left my body for thy sake; for thou art under my
protection and that of the Messiah." Then she sat down by his
side and began to sport with him, till his alarm subsided and he
knew that, had she been minded to kill him, she would have done
so on the past night. After awhile, she spoke in the Greek tongue
to one of her serving-women, who went away and returned in a
little with a goblet and a tray of food; but Sherkan abstained
from eating, saying in himself, "Maybe she hath put somewhat in
this meat." She knew what was in his thought; so she turned to
him and said, "By the virtue of the Messiah, the case is not as
thou deemest, nor is there aught in this food of what thou
suspectest! Were I minded to kill thee, I had done so before
now." Then she came to the table and ate a mouthful of every
dish, whereupon Sherkan came forward and fell to. She was pleased
at this, and they both ate till they were satisfied, after which
she let bring perfumes and sweet-smelling herbs and wines of all
colours and kinds, in vessels of gold and silver and crystal. She
filled a first cup and drank it off, before offering it to
Sherkan, even as she had done with the food. Then she filled a
second time and gave the cup to him. He drank and she said to
him, "See, O Muslim, how thou art in the utmost delight and
pleasure of life!" And she ceased not to drink and to ply him
with drink, till he took leave of his wits, for the wine and the
intoxication of love for her. Presently she said to the
serving-maid, "O Merjaneh, bring us some instruments of music."
"I hear and obey," replied Merjaneh, and going out, returned
immediately with a lute, a Persian harp, a Tartar flute and an
Egyptian dulcimer. The young lady took the lute and tuning it,
sang to it in a dulcet voice, softer than the zephyr and sweeter
than the waters of Tesnim,[FN#12] the following verses:

May Allah assoilzie thine eyes! How much is the blood they have
shed! How great is the tale of the shafts thy pitiless
glances have sped!
I honour the mistress, indeed, that harshly her suitor entreats;
'Tis sin in the loved to relent or pity a lover misled.
Fair fortune and grace to the eyes that watch the night,
sleepless, for thee, And hail to the heart of thy slave, by
day that is heavy as lead!
'Tis thine to condemn me to death, for thou art my king and my
lord. With my life I will ransom the judge, who heapeth
unright on my head.

Then each of the damsels rose and taking an instrument played and
sang to it in the Greek language. The lady their mistress, sang
also, to Sherkan's delight. Then she said to him, "O Muslim, dost
thou understand what I say?" "No," replied he; "it was the beauty
of thy finger-tips that threw me into ecstasies." She laughed and
said, "If I sang to thee in Arabic, what wouldst thou do?" "I
should lose the mastery of my reason," replied he. So she took an
instrument and changing the measure, sang the following verses:

Parting must ever bitter be; How shall one bear it patiently?
Three things are heavy on my heart, Absence, estrangement,
I love a fair to whom I'm thrall, And severance bitter is to me.

Then she looked at Sherkan and found he had lost his senses for
delight: and he lay amongst them insensible awhile, after which
he revived and recalling the singing inclined to mirth. Then they
fell again to drinking and ceased not from sport and merriment
till the day departed with the evening and the night let fall her
wings. Thereupon she rose and retired to her chamber. Sherkan
enquired after her and being told that she was gone to her
bedchamber, said, "I commend her to the safe-keeping of God and
to His protection!" As soon as it was day, a waiting-woman came
to him and said, "My mistress bids thee to her." So he rose and
followed her, and as he drew near her lodging, the damsels
received him with smitten tabrets and songs of greeting and
escorted him to a great door of ivory set with pearls and jewels.
Here they entered and he found himself in a spacious saloon, at
the upper end of which was a great estrade, carpeted with various
kinds of silk, and round it open lattices giving upon trees and
streams. About the place were figures, so fashioned that the air
entered them and set in motion instruments of music within them,
and it seemed to the beholder as if they spoke. Here sat the
young lady, looking on the figures; but when she saw Sherkan, she
sprang to her feet and taking him by the hand, made him sit down
by her and asked him how he had passed the night. He blessed her
and they sat talking awhile, till she said to him, "Knowest thou
aught touching lovers and slaves of passion?" "Yes," replied he;
"I know some verses on the subject." "Let me hear them," said
she. So he repeated the following verses:

Pleasure and health, O Azzeh, and good digestion to thee! How
with our goods and our names and our honours thou makest
By Allah, whene'er I blow hot, she of a sudden blows cold, And no
sooner do I draw near, than off at a tangent flies she!
Indeed, as I dote upon Azzeh, as soon as I've cleared me of all
That stands between us and our loves, she turns and abandons
As a traveller that trusts in the shade of a cloud for his
noontide rest, But as soon as he halts, the shade flits and
the cloud in the distance cloth flee.

When she heard this, she said, "Verily Kutheiyir[FN#13] was a
poet of renown and a master of chaste eloquence and attained rare
perfection in praise of Azzeh, especially when he says:

'If Azzeh should before a judge the sun of morning cite, Needs
must the umpire doom to her the meed of beauty bright;
And women all, who come to me, at her to rail and flite, God make
your cheeks the sandal-soles whereon her feet alight!'

"And indeed it is reported," added she, "that Azzeh was endowed
with the extreme of beauty and grace." Then she said to Sherkan,
"O king's son, dost thou know aught of Jemil's[FN#14] verses to
Butheineh?" "Yes," replied he; "none knows Jemil's verses better
than I." And he repeated the following:

"Up and away to the holy war, Jemil!" they say; and I, "What have
I to do with waging war except among the fair?"
For deed and saying with them alike are full of ease and cheer,
And he's a martyr[FN#15] who tilts with them and falleth
fighting there.
If I say to Butheineh, "What is this love, that eateth my life
away?" She answers, "Tis rooted fast in thy heart and will
increase fore'er."
Or if I beg her to give me back some scantling of my wit,
Wherewith to deal with the folk and live, she answereth,
"Hope it ne'er!"
Thou willst my death, ah, woe is me! thou willst nought else but
that; Yet I, I can see no goal but thee, towards which my
wishes fare.

"Thou hast done well, O king's son," said she, "and Jemil also
did excellently well. But what would Butheineh have done with him
that he says, 'Thou wishest to kill me and nought else?'" "O my
lady," replied he, "she sought to do with him what thou seekest
to do with me, and even that will not content thee." She laughed
at his answer, and they ceased not to carouse till the day
departed and the night came with the darkness. Then she rose and
went to her sleeping-chamber, and Sherkan slept in his place till
the morning. As soon as he awoke, the damsels came to him with
tambourines and other instruments of music, according to their
wont, and kissing the earth before him, said to him, "In the name
of God, deign to follow us; for our mistress bids thee to her."
So he rose and accompanied the girls, who escorted him, smiting
on tabrets and other instruments of music, to another saloon,
bigger than the first and decorated with pictures and figures of
birds and beasts, passing description. Sherkan wondered at the
fashion of the place and repeated the following verses:

My rival plucks, of the fruits of the necklets branching wide,
Pearls of the breasts in gold enchased and beautified
With running fountains of liquid silver in streams And cheeks of
rose and beryl, side by side.
It seemeth, indeed, as if the violet's colour vied With the
sombre blue of the eyes, with antimony dyed.[FN#16]

When the lady saw Sherkan, she came to meet him, and taking him
by the hand, said to him, "O son of King Omar ben Ennuman, hast
thou any skill in the game of chess?" "Yes," replied he; "but do
not thou be as says the poet." And he repeated the following

I speak, and passion, the while, folds and unfolds me aye; But a
draught of the honey of love my spirits thirst could stay.
I sit at the chess with her I love, and she plays with me, With
white and with black; but this contenteth me no way.
Meseemeth as if the king were set in the place of the rook And
sought with the rival queens a bout of the game to play.
And if I looked in her eyes, to spy the drift of her moves, The
amorous grace of her glance would doom me to death

Then she brought the chess-board and played with him; but instead
of looking at her moves, he looked at her face and set the knight
in the place of the elephant[FN#17] and the elephant in the place
of the knight. She laughed and said to him, "If this be thy play,
thou knowest nothing of the game." "This is only the first bout,"
replied he; "take no count of it." She beat him, and he replaced
the pieces and played again with her; but she beat him a second
time and a third and a fourth and a fifth. So she fumed to him
and said, "Thou art beaten in everything." "O my lady," answered
he, "how should one not be beaten, who plays with the like of
thee?" Then she called for food, and they ate and washed their
hands, after which the maids brought wine, and they drank.
Presently, the lady took the dulcimer, for she was skilled to
play thereon, and sang to it the following verses:

Fortune is still on the shift, now gladness and now woe; I liken
it to the tide, in its ceaseless ebb and flow.
So drink, if thou have the power, whilst it is yet serene, Lest
it at unawares depart, and thou not know.

They gave not over carousing till nightfall, and this day was
pleasanter than the first. When the night came, the lady went to
her sleeping-chamber, leaving Sherkan with the damsels. So he
threw himself on the ground and slept till the morning, when
the damsels came to him with tambourines and other musical
instruments, according to their wont. When he saw them, he sat
up; and they took him and carried him to their mistress, who came
to meet him and taking him by the hand, made him sit down by her
side. Then she asked him how he had passed the night, to which he
replied by wishing her long life; and she took the lute and sang
the following verses:

Incline not to parting, I pray, For bitter its taste is alway.
The sun at his setting grows pale, To think he must part from the

Hardly had she made an end of singing, when there arose of a
sudden a great clamour, and a crowd of men and knights rushed
into the place, with naked swords gleaming in their hands, crying
out in the Greek tongue, "Thou hast fallen into our hands, O
Sherkan! Be sure of death!" When he heard this, he said to
himself, "By Allah, she hath laid a trap for me and held me in
play, till her men should come! These are the knights with whom
she threatened me: but it is I who have thrown myself into this
peril." Then he turned to the lady to reproach her, but saw that
she had changed colour; and she sprang to her feet and said to
the new-comers, "Who are ye?" "O noble princess and unpeered
pearl," replied the knight their chief, "dost thou know who is
this man with thee?" "Not I," answered she. "Who is he?" Quoth
the knight, "He is the despoiler of cities and prince of
cavaliers, Sherkan, son of King Omar ben Ennuman. This is he who
captures the citadels and masters the most impregnable strengths.
The news of him reached King Herdoub, thy father, by the report
of the old princess Dhat ed Dewahi; and thou hast done good
service to the army of the Greeks by helping them to lay hands on
this pestilent lion." When she heard this, she looked at the
knight and said to him, "What is thy name?" And he answered, "My
name is Masoureh son of thy slave Mousoureh ben Kasherdeh, chief
of the nobles." Quoth she, "And how camest thou in to me without
my leave?" "O our lady," replied he, "when I came to the gate,
neither chamberlain nor porter offered me any hindrance; but all
the gate-keepers rose and forewent me as of wont; though, when
others come, they leave them standing at the gate, whilst they
ask leave for them to enter. But this is no time for long talk,
for the King awaits our return to him with this prince, who is
the mainstay of the army of Islam, that he may kill him and that
his troops may depart whence they came, without our having the
toil of fighting them." "Thou sayest an ill thing," rejoined the
princess. "Verily, the lady Dhat ed Dewahi lied; and she hath
avouched a vain thing, of which she knows not the truth; for by
the virtue of the Messiah, this man who is with me is not
Sherkan, nor is he a captive, but a stranger, who came to us,
seeking hospitality, and we received him as a guest. So, even
were we assured that this was Sherkan and did we know that it was
he beyond doubt, it would suit ill with my honour that I should
deliver into your hands one who hath come under my safeguard.
Betray me not, therefore, in the person of my guest, neither
bring me into ill repute among men; but return to the King my
father and kiss the earth before him and tell him that the case
is not according to the report of the lady Dhat ed Dewahi." "O
Abrizeh," replied the knight Masoureh, "I cannot go back to the
King without his enemy." Quoth she (and indeed she was angry),
"Out on thee! Return to him with the answer, and no blame shall
fall on thee." But he said, "I will not return without him." At
this her colour changed and she exclaimed, "A truce to talk and
idle words; for of a verity this man would not have come in to
us, except he were assured that he could of himself make head
against a hundred horse; and if I said to him, 'Art thou Sherkan,
son of King Omar ben Ennuman?' he would answer, 'Yes.' Nathless,
it is not in your power to hinder him; for if ye beset him, he
will not turn back from you, till he have slain all that are in
the place. Behold, he is with me and I will bring him before you,
with his sword and buckler in his hands." "If I be safe from thy
wrath," replied Masoureh, "I am not safe from that of thy father,
and when I see him, I shall sign to the knights to take him
prisoner, and we will carry him, bound and abject, to the King."
When she heard this, she said, "The thing shall not pass thus,
for it would be a disgrace. This man is but one and ye are a
hundred. So, an ye be minded to attack him, come out against him,
one after one, that it may appear to the King which is the
valiant amongst you." "By the Messiah," rejoined Masoureh, "thou
sayest sooth, and none but I shall go out against him first!"
Then she said, "Wait till I go to him and tell him and hear what
he says. If he consent, it is well but if he refuse, ye shall not
anywise come at him, for I and my damsels and all that are in the
house will be his ransom." So she went to Sherkan and told him
the case, whereat he smiled and knew that she had not betrayed
him, but that the matter had been bruited abroad, till it came to
the King, against her wish. So he laid all the blame on himself,
saying, "How came I to venture myself in the country of the
Greeks?" Then he said to her, "Indeed, to let them tilt against
me, one by one, were to lay on them a burden more than they can
bear. Will they not come out against me, ten by ten?" "That were
knavery and oppression," replied she. "One man is a match for
another." When he heard this, he sprang to his feet and made
towards them, with his sword and battle-gear; and Masoureh also
sprang up and rushed on him. Sherkan met him like a lion and
smote him with his sword upon the shoulder, that the blade came
out gleaming from his back and vitals. When the princess saw
this, Sherkan's prowess was magnified in her eyes and she knew
that she had not overthrown him by her strength, but by her
beauty and grace. So she turned to the knights and said to them,
"Avenge your chief!" Thereupon out came the slain man's brother,
a fierce warrior, and rushed upon Sherkan, who delayed not, but
smote him on the shoulders, and the sword came out, gleaming,
from his vitals. Then cried the princess, "O servants of the
Messiah, avenge your comrades!" So they ceased not to come out
against him, one by one, and he plied them with the sword, till
he had slain fifty knights, whilst the princess looked on. And
God cast terror into the hearts of those who were left, so that
they held back and dared not meet him in single combat, but
rushed on him all at once; and he drove at them with a heart
firmer than a rock and smote them as the thresher smiteth the
corn, till he had driven sense and life forth of them. Then the
princess cried out to her damsels, saying, "Who is left in the
monastery?" "None but the porters," replied they; whereupon she
went up to Sherkan and embraced him, and he returned with her to
the saloon, after he had made an end of the mellay. Now there
remained a few of the knights hidden in the cells of the convent,
and when Abrizeh saw this, she rose and going away, returned,
clad in a strait-ringed coat of mail and holding in her hand a
scimitar of Indian steel. And she said, "By the virtue of the
Messiah, I will not be grudging of myself for my guest nor will I
abandon him, though for this I abide a reproach in the land of
the Greeks!" Then she counted the dead and found that he had
slain fourscore of the knights and other twenty had taken flight.
When she saw how he had dealt with them, she said to him, "God
bless thee, O Sherkan! The cavaliers may well glory in the like
of thee!" Then he rose and wiping his sword of the blood of the
slain, repeated the following verses:

How often in battle I've cleft the array And given the champions
to wild beasts a prey!
Ask all men what happened to me and to them, When I drove through
the ranks on the sword-smiting day.
I left ail their lions of war overthrown: On the sun-scorched
sands of those countries they lay.

When he had finished, the princess came up to him and kissed his
hand; then she put off her coat of mail, and he said to her, "O
my lady, wherefore didst thou don that coat of mail and bare thy
sabre?" "It was of my care for thee against yonder wretches,"
replied she. Then she called the porters and said to them, "How
came you to let the king's men enter my house, without my leave!"
"O princess," replied they, "we have not used to need to ask
leave for the king's messengers, and especially for the chief of
the knights." Quoth she, "I think you were minded to dishonour me
and slay my guest." And she bade Sherkan strike off their heads.
He did so and she said to the rest of her servants, "Indeed, they
deserved more than that." Then turning to Sherkan, she said to
him, "Now that there hath become manifest to thee what was
hidden, I will tell thee my story. Know, then, that I am the
daughter of Herdoub, King of Roum; my name is Abrizeh and the old
woman called Dhat ed Dewahi is my grandmother, my father's
mother. She it was who told my father of thee, and she will
certainly cast about to ruin me, especially as thou hast slain my
father's men and it is noised abroad that I have made common
cause with the Muslims. Wherefore it were wiser that I should
leave dwelling here, what while Dhat ed Dewahi is behind me; but
I claim of thee the like kindness and courtesy I have shown thee,
for my father and I are now become at odds on thine account. So
do not thou omit to do aught that I shall say to thee, for indeed
all this hath fallen out through thee." At this, Sherkan was
transported for joy and his breast dilated, and he said, "By
Allah, none shall come at thee, whilst my life lasts in my body!
But canst thou endure the parting from thy father and thy folk?"
"Yes," answered she. So Sherkan swore to her and they made a
covenant of this. Then said she, "Now my heart is at ease; but
there is one other condition I must exact of thee." "What is
that?" asked Sherkan. "It is," replied she, "that thou return
with thy troops to thine own country." "O my lady," said he, "my
father, King Omar ben Ennuman, sent me to make war upon thy
father, on account of the treasure he took from the King of
Constantinople, and amongst the rest three great jewels, rich in
happy properties." "Reassure thyself," answered she; "I will tell
thee the truth of the matter and the cause of the feud between us
and the King of Constantinople. Know that we have a festival
called the Festival of the Monastery, for which each year the
kings' daughters of various countries and the wives and daughters
of the notables and merchants resort to a certain monastery and
abide there seven days. I was wont to resort thither with the
rest; but when there befell hostility between us, my father
forbade me to be present at the festival for the space of seven
years. One year, it chanced that amongst the young ladies who
resorted to the Festival as of wont, there came the King's
daughter of Constantinople, a handsome girl called Sufiyeh.
They tarried at the monastery six days, and on the seventh,
the folk went away; but Sufiyeh said, 'I will not return to
Constantinople, but by sea.' So they fitted her out a ship, in
which she embarked, she and her suite, and put out to sea; but as
they sailed, a contrary wind caught them and drove the ship from
her course, till, as fate and providence would have it, she fell
in with a ship of the Christians from the Island of Camphor, with
a crew of five hundred armed Franks, who had been cruising about
for some time. When they sighted the sails of the ship in which
were Sufiyeh and her maidens, they gave chase in all haste and
coming up with her before long, threw grapnels on board and made
fast to her. Then they made all sail for their own island and
were but a little distant from it, when the wind veered and rent
their sails and cast them on to a reef on our coast. Thereupon we
sallied forth on them, and looking on them as booty driven to us
by fate, slew the men and made prize of the ships, in which we
found the treasures and rarities in question and forty damsels,
amongst whom was Sufiyeh. We carried the damsels to my father,
not knowing that the King's daughter of Constantinople was among
them, and he chose out ten of them, including Sufiyeh, for
himself, and divided the rest among his courtiers. Then he set
apart Sufiyeh and four other girls and sent them to thy father,
King Omar ben Ennuman, together with other presents, such as
cloth and stuffs of wool and Grecian silks. Thy father accepted
them and chose out from amongst the five girls the princess
Sufiyeh, daughter of King Afridoun; nor did we hear aught more of
the matter till the beginning of this year, when King Afridoun
wrote to my father in terms which it befits not to repeat,
reproaching and menacing him and saying to him, 'Two years ago,
there fell into thy hands a ship of ours, that had been seized by
a company of Frankish corsairs and in which was my daughter
Sufiyeh, attended by near threescore damsels. Yet thou sentest
none to tell me of this and I could not make the case public,
lest disgrace fall on my repute among the kings, by reason of my
daughter's dishonour. So I kept the affair secret till this year,
when I communicated with certain of the Frankish pirates and
sought news of my daughter from the kings of the islands. They
replied, "By Allah, we carried her not forth of thy realm, but we
have heard that King Herdoub took her from certain pirates." And
they told me all that had befallen her. So now, except thou wish
to be at feud with me and design to disgrace me and dishonour my
daughter, thou wilt forthright, as soon as this letter reaches
thee, send my daughter back to me. But if thou pay no heed to my
letter and disobey my commandment, I will assuredly requite thee
thy foul dealing and the baseness of thine acts.' When my father
read this letter, it was grievous to him and he regretted not
having known that Sufiyeh, King Afridoun's daughter, was amongst
the captured damsels, that he might have sent her back to her
father; and he was perplexed about the affair, for that, after
the lapse of so long a time, he could not send to King Omar ben
Ennuman and demand her back from him, the more that he had lately
heard that God had vouchsafed him children by this very Sufiyeh.
So when we considered the matter, we knew that this letter was
none other than a great calamity; and nothing would serve but
that my father must write an answer to it, making his excuses to
King Afridoun and swearing to him that he knew not that his
daughter was among the girls in the ship and setting forth how he
had sent her to King Omar ben Ennuman and God had vouchsafed him
children by her. When my father's reply reached King Afridoun, he
rose and sat down and roared and foamed at the mouth, exclaiming,
'What! shall he make prize of my daughter and she become a
slave-girl and be passed from hand to hand and sent for a gift to
kings, and they lie with her without a contract? By the virtue of
the Messiah and the true faith, I will not desist till I have
taken my revenge for this and wiped out my disgrace, and indeed I
will do a deed that the chroniclers shall chronicle after me.' So
he took patience till he had devised a plot and laid great
snares, when he sent an embassy to thy father King Omar, to tell
him that which thou hast heard so that thy father equipped thee
and an army with thee and sent thee to him, Afridoun's object
being to lay hold of thee and thine army with thee. As for the
three jewels of which he told thy father, he spoke not the truth
of them; for they were with Sufiyeh and my father took them from
her, when she fell into his hands, she and her maidens, and gave
them to me, and they are now with me. So go thou to thy troops
and turn them back, ere they fare farther into the land of the
Franks and the country of the Greeks; for as soon as you are come
far enough into the inward of the country, they will stop the
roads upon you, and there will be no escape for you from their
hands till the day of rewards and punishments. I know that thy
troops are still where thou leftest them, because thou didst
order them to halt there three days; and they have missed thee
all this time and know not what to do." When Sherkan heard her
words, he was absent awhile in thought then he kissed Abrizeh's
hand and said, "Praise be to God who hath bestowed thee on me and
appointed thee to be the cause of my salvation and that of those
who are with me! But it is grievous to me to part from thee and I
know not what will become of thee after my departure." Quoth she,
"Go now to thy troops and lead them back, whilst ye are yet near
your own country. If the ambassadors are still with them, lay
hands on them, that the case may be made manifest to thee, and
after three days I will rejoin thee and we will all enter Baghdad
together; but forget thou not the compact between us." Then she
rose to bid him farewell and assuage the fire of longing; so she
took leave of him and embraced him and wept sore; whereupon
passion and desire were sore upon him and he also wept and
repeated the following verses:

I bade her farewell, whilst my right hand was wiping my eyes, And
still with my left, the while, I held her in close embrace.
Then, "Fearest thou not disgrace?" quoth she; and I answered,
"No. Sure, on the parting-day, for lovers there's no

Then Sherkan left her and went without the monastery, where they
brought him his horse and he mounted and rode down the bank of
the stream, till he came to the bridge, and crossing it, entered
the forest. As soon as he was clear of the trees and came to the
open country, he was aware of three horsemen pricking towards
him. So he drew his sword and rode on cautiously: but as they
drew near he recognized them and behold, it was the Vizier Dendan
and two of his officers. When they saw him and knew him, they
dismounted and saluting him, asked the reason of his absence,
whereupon he told them all that had passed between him and the
princess Abrizeh from first to last. The Vizier returned thanks
to God the Most High for his safety and said, "Let us at once
depart hence, for the ambassadors that were with us are gone to
inform their king of our arrival, and belike he will hasten to
fall on us and seize us." So they rode on in haste, till they
came to the camp, when Sherkan commanded to depart forthright,
and the army set out and journeyed by forced marches for five
days, at the end of which time they alighted in a thickly wooded
valley, where they rested awhile. Then they set out again and
fared on till they came to the frontiers of their own country.
Here they felt themselves in safety and halted to rest; and the
country people came out to them with guest-gifts and victual and
fodder for the cattle. They lay there and rested two days; after
which Sherkan bade the Vizier Dendan fare forward to Baghdad with
his troops, and he did so. But Sherkan himself abode behind with
a hundred horse, till the rest of the army had been gone a day,
when he mounted, he and his men, and fared on two parasangs'
space, till they came to a narrow pass between two mountains and
behold, there arose a great cloud of dust in their front. So they
halted their horses awhile, till the dust lifted and discovered a
hundred cavaliers, as they were fierce lions, cased in complete
steel As soon as they came within earshot of Sherkan and his men,
they cried out to them, saying, "By John and Mary, we have gotten
what we hoped! We have been following you by forced marches,
night and day, till we forewent you in this place. So alight and
lay down your arms and yield yourselves, that we may grant you
your lives." When Sherkan heard this, his eyes rolled and his
cheeks flushed and he said, "O dogs of Nazarenes, how dare ye
enter our country and set foot on our earth? And doth not this
suffice you, but ye must adventure yourselves and give us such
words as these? Do ye think to escape out of our hands and return
to your country?" Then he cried out to his hundred horse, saying,
"Up and at these dogs, for they are even as you in number!" So
saying, he drew his sword and drove at them, without further
parley, he and his hundred men. The Franks received them with
hearts stouter than stone, and they met, man to man. Then fell
champion upon champion and there befell a sore strife and great
was the terror and the roar of the battle; nor did they leave
jousting and foining and smiting with swords, till the day
departed and the night came with the darkness; when they drew
apart, and Sherkan mustered his men and found them all unhurt,
save four who were slightly wounded. Then said he to them, "By
Allah, all my life I have waded in the surging sea of war and
battle, but never saw I any so firm and stout in sword-play and
shock of men as these warriors!" "Know, O King," replied they,
"that there is among them a Frank cavalier, who is their leader,
and indeed he is a man of valour and his strokes are terrible:
but, by Allah, he spares us, great and small; for whoso falls
into his hands, he lets him go and forbears to slay him. By
Allah, an he would, he could kill us all!" When Sherkan heard
this, he was confounded and said, "To-morrow, we will draw out
and defy them to single combat, for we are a hundred to their
hundred; and we will seek help against them from the Lord of the
heavens." Meanwhile, the Franks came to their leader and said to
him, "Of a truth, we have not come by our desire of these this
day." "To-morrow," quoth he, "we will draw out and joust against
them, one by one." So they passed the night in this mind, and
both camps kept watch till the morning. As soon as God the Most
High brought on the day, King Sherkan mounted, with his hundred
horse, and they betook themselves to the field, where they found
the Franks ranged in battle array, and Sherkan said to his men,
"Verily, our enemies are of the same mind as we; so up and at
them briskly." Then came forth a herald of the Franks and cried
out, saying, "Let there be no fighting betwixt us to-day, except
by way of single combat, a champion of yours against one of
ours!" Thereupon one of Sherkan's men came out from the ranks and
spurring between the two parties, cried out, "Who is for
jousting? Who is for fighting? Let no laggard nor weakling come
out against me to-day!" Hardly had he made an end of speaking,
when there sallied forth to him a Frankish horseman, armed
cap-a-pie and clad in cloth of gold, riding on a gray horse, and
he had no hair on his cheeks. He drove his horse into the midst
of the field and the two champions fell to cutting and thrusting,
nor was it long before the Frank smote the Muslim with his lance
and unhorsing him, took him prisoner and bore him off in triumph.
At this, his comrades rejoiced and forbidding him to go out
again, sent forth another to the field, to whom sallied out a
second Muslim, the brother of the first. The two drove at each
other and fought for a little, till the Frank ran at the Muslim
and throwing him off his guard by a feint, smote him with the
butt-end of his spear and unhorsed him and took him prisoner.
After this fashion, the Muslims ceased not to come forth and the
Franks to unhorse them and take them prisoner, till the day
departed and the night came with the darkness. Now they had
captured twenty cavaliers of the Muslims, and when Sherkan saw
this, it was grievous to him, and he mustered his men and said to
them, "What is this thing that hath befallen us? To-morrow
morning, I myself will go out into the field and seek to joust
with their chief and learn his reason for entering our country
and warn him against fighting. If he persist, we will do battle
with him, and if he proffer peace, we will make peace with him."
They passed the night thus, and when God brought on the day, both
parties mounted and drew out in battle array. Then Sherkan was
about to sally forth, when behold, more than half of the Franks
dismounted and marched on foot, before one of them, who was
mounted, to the midst of the field. Sherkan looked at this
cavalier and behold, he was their chief. He was clad in a tunic
of blue satin and a close-ringed shirt of mail; his face was as
the full moon at its rising and he had no hair on his cheeks. In
his hand he held a sword of Indian steel, and he was mounted on a
black horse with a white star, like a dirhem, on his forehead. He
spurred into the midst of the field and signing to the Muslims,
cried out with fluent speech in the Arabic tongue, saying, "Ho,
Sherkan! Ho, son of Omar ben Ennuman, thou that stormest the
citadels and layest waste the lands, up and out to joust and
battle with him who halves the field with thee! Thou art prince
of thy people and I am prince of mine; and whoso hath the upper
hand, the other's men shall come under his sway." Hardly had he
made an end of speaking, when out came Sherkan, with a heart full
of wrath, and spurring his horse into the midst of the field,
drove like an angry lion at the Frank, who awaited him with calm
and steadfastness and met him as a champion should. Then they
fell to cutting and thrusting, nor did they cease to wheel and
turn and give and take, as they were two mountains clashing
together or two seas breaking one against the other, till the day
departed and the night brought on the darkness, when they drew
apart and returned, each to his people. As soon as Sherkan
reached his comrades, he said to them, "Never in my life saw I
the like of this cavalier; and he has one fashion I never yet
beheld in any. It is that, when he has a chance of dealing his
adversary a deadly blow, he reverses his lance and smites him
with the butt. Of a truth, I know not what will be the issue
between him and me; but I would we had in our army his like and
the like of his men." Then he passed the night in sleep, and when
it was morning, the Frank spurred out to the mid-field, where
Sherkan met him, and they fell to fighting and circling one about
the other, whilst all necks were stretched out to look at them;
nor did they cease from battle and swordplay and thrusting with
spears, till the day departed and the night came with the
darkness, when they drew asunder and returned each to his own
camp. Then each related to his comrades what had befallen him
with his adversary, and the Frank said to his men, "To-morrow
shall decide the matter." So they both passed the night in sleep,
and as soon as it was day, they mounted and drove at each other
and ceased not to fight till the middle of the day. Then the
Frank made a shift, first spurring his horse and then checking
him with the bridle, so that he stumbled and threw him; whereupon
Sherkan fell on him and was about to smite him with his sword and
make an end of the long strife, when the Frank cried out, "O
Sherkan, this is not the fashion of champions! It is only the
beaten[FN#18] who deal thus with women." When Sherkan heard this,
he raised his eyes to the Frank's face and looking straitly at
him, knew him for none other than the princess Abrizeh, whereupon
he threw the sword from his hand and kissing the earth before
her, said to her, "What moved thee to do this thing?" Quoth she,
"I was minded to prove thee in the field and try thy stoutness in
battle. These that are with me are all of them my women, and they
are all maids; yet have they overcome thy horsemen in fair fight;
and had not my horse stumbled with me, thou shouldst have seen my
strength and prowess." Sherkan smiled at her speech and said,
"Praised be God for safety and for my reunion with thee, O queen
of the age!" Then she cried out to her damsels to loose the
prisoners and dismount. They did as she bade and came and kissed
the earth before her and Sherkan, who said to them, "It is the
like of you that kings treasure up against the hour of need."
Then he signed to his comrades to salute the princess; so they
dismounted all and kissed the earth before her, for they knew the
story. After this, the whole two hundred mounted and rode day and
night for six days' space, till they drew near to Baghdad when
they halted and Sherkan made Abrizeh and her companions put off
their male attire and don the dress of the women of the Greeks.
Then he despatched a company of his men to Baghdad to acquaint
his father with his arrival in company with the princess Abrizeh,
daughter of King Herdoub, to the intent that he might send some
one to meet her. They passed the night in that place, and when
God the Most High brought on the day, Sherkan and his company
took horse and fared on towards the city. On the way, they met
the Vizier Dendan, who had come out with a thousand horse, by
commandment of King Omar, to do honour to the princess Abrizeh
and to Sherkan. When they drew near, the Vizier and his company
dismounted and kissed the earth before the prince and princess,
then mounted again and escorted them, till they reached the city
and came to the palace. Sherkan went in to his father, who rose
and embraced him and questioned him of what had happened. So he
told him all that had befallen him, including what the princess
Abrizeh had told him and what had passed between them and how she
had left her father and her kingdom and had chosen to depart and
take up her abode with them. And he said to his father, "Indeed,
the King of Constantinople had plotted to do us a mischief,
because of his daughter Sufiyeh, for that the King of Caesarea
had made known to him her history and the manner of her being
made a gift to thee, he not knowing her to be King Afridoun's
daughter; else would he have restored her to her father. And of a
verity, we were only saved from these perils by the lady Abrizeh,
and never saw I a more valiant than she!" And he went on to tell
his father of the wrestling and the jousting from beginning to
end. When King Omar heard his son's story, Abrizeh was exalted in
his eyes, and he longed to see her and sent Sherkan to fetch her.
So Sherkan went out to her and said, "The king calls for thee."
She replied, "I hear and obey;" and he took her and brought her
in to his father, who was seated on his throne, attended only by
the eunuchs, having dismissed his courtiers and officers. The
princess entered and kissing the ground before him, saluted him
in choice terms. He was amazed at her fluent speech and thanked
her for her dealing with his son Sherkan and bade her be seated.
So she sat down and uncovered her face, which when the king saw,
his reason fled and he made her draw near and showed her especial
favour, appointing her a palace for herself and her damsels and
assigning them due allowances. Then he asked her of the three
jewels aforesaid, and she replied, "O King of the age, they are
with me." So saying, she rose and going to her lodging, opened
her baggage and brought out a box, from which she took a casket
of gold. She opened the casket and taking out the three jewels,
kissed them and gave them to the King and went away, taking his
heart with her. Then the king sent for his son Sherkan and gave
him one of the three jewels. Sherkan enquired of the other two,
and the King replied, "O my son, I mean to give one to thy
brother Zoulmekan and the other to thy sister Nuzhet ez Zeman."
When Sherkan heard that he had a brother (for up to that time he
had only known of his sister) he turned to his father and said to
him, "O King, hast thou a son other than myself?" "Yes," answered
Omar, "and he is now six years old." And he told him that his
name was Zoulmekan and that he and Nuzhet ez Zeman were twins,
born at a birth. This news was grievous to Sherkan, but he hid
his chagrin and said, "The blessing of God the Most High be upon
them!" And he threw the jewel from his hand and shook the dust
off his clothes. Quoth his father, "What made thee change colour,
when I told thee of this, seeing that the kingdom is assured to
thee after me? For, verily, the troops have sworn to thee and the
Amirs and grandees have taken the oath of succession to thee; and
this one of the three jewels is thine." At this, Sherkan bowed
his head and was ashamed to bandy words with his father: so he
accepted the jewel and went away, knowing not what to do for
excess of anger, and stayed not till he reached the princess
Abrizeh's palace. When she saw him, she rose to meet him and
thanked him for what he had done and called down blessings on him
and his father. Then she sat down and made him sit by her side.
After awhile, she saw anger in his face and questioned him,
whereupon he told her that God had vouchsafed his father two
children, a boy and a girl, by Sufiyeh, and that he had named the
boy Zoulmekan and the girl Nuzhet ez Zeman. "He has given me one
of the jewels," continued he, "and kept the other two for them. I
knew not of Zoulmekan's birth till this day, and he is now six
years old. So when I learnt this, wrath possessed me and I threw
down the jewel: and I tell thee the reason of my anger and hide
nothing from thee. But I fear lest the King take thee to wife,
for he loves thee and I saw in him signs of desire for thee: so
what wilt thou say, if he wish this?" "Know, O Sherkan," replied
the princess, "that thy father has no dominion over me, nor can
he take me without my consent; and if he take me by force, I will
kill myself. As for the three jewels, it was not my intent that
he should give them to either of his children and I had no
thought but that he would lay them up with his things of price in
his treasury; but now I desire of thy favour that thou make me a
present of the jewel that he gave thee, if thou hast accepted
it." "I hear and obey," replied Sherkan and gave her the jewel.
Then said she, "Fear nothing," and talked with him awhile.
Presently she said, "I fear lest my father hear that I am with
you and sit not down with my loss, but do his endeavour to come
at me; and to that end he may ally himself with King Afridoun and
both come on thee with armies and so there befall a great
turmoil." "O my lady," replied Sherkan, "if it please thee to
sojourn with us, take no thought of them, though all that be in
the earth and in the ocean gather themselves together against
us!" "It is well," rejoined she; "if ye entreat me well, I will
tarry with you, and if ye deal evilly by me, I will depart from
you." Then she bade her maidens bring food; so they set the
tables, and Sherkan ate a little and went away to his own house,
anxious and troubled.

Meanwhile, King Omar betook himself to the lodging of the lady
Sufiyeh, who rose to her feet, when she saw him, and stood till
he was seated. Presently, his two children, Zoulmekan and Nuzbet
ez Zeman, came to him, and he kissed them and hung a jewel round
each one's neck, at which they rejoiced and kissed his hands.
Then they went to their mother, who rejoiced in them and wished
the King long life; and he said to her, "Why hast thou not told
me, all this time, that thou art King Afridoun's daughter, that I
might have advanced thee and enlarged thee in dignity and used
thee with increase of honour and consideration?" "O King,"
replied Sufiyeh, "what could I desire greater or more exalted
than this my standing with thee, overwhelmed as I am with thy
favours and thy goodness? And God to boot hath blessed me by thee
with two children, a son and a daughter." Her answer pleased the
King and he set apart for her and her children a splendid palace.
Moreover, he appointed for their service eunuchs and attendants
and doctors and sages and astrologers and physicians and surgeons
and in every way redoubled in favour and munificence towards
them. Nevertheless, he was greatly occupied with love of the
princess Abrizeh and burnt with desire of her night and day; and
every night, he would go in to her, and talk with her and pay his
court to her, but she gave him no answer, saying only, "O King of
the age, I have no desire for men at this present." When he saw
that she repelled him, his passion and longing increased till, at
last, when he was weary of this, he called his Vizier Dendan and
opening his heart to him, told him how love for the princess
Abrizeh was killing him and how she refused to yield to his
wishes and he could get nothing of her. Quoth the Vizier, "As
soon as it is dark night, do thou take a piece of henbane, the
bigness of a diner, and go in to her and drink wine with her.
When the hour of leave-taking draws near, fill a last cup and
dropping the henbane in it, give it to her to drink, and she will
not reach her sleeping chamber, ere the drug take effect on her.
Then do thou go in to her and take thy will of her." "Thy counsel
is good," said the King, and going to his treasury, took thence a
piece of concentrated henbane, which if an elephant smelt, he
would sleep from year to year. He put it in his bosom and waited
till some little of the night was past, when he betook himself to
the palace of the princess, who rose to receive him; but he bade
her sit down. So she sat down, and he by her, and he began to
talk with her of drinking, whereupon she brought the table of
wine and set it before him. Then she set on the drinking-vessels,
and lighted the candles and called for fruits and confections and
sweetmeats and all that pertains to drinking. So they fell to
drinking and ceased not to carouse, till drunkenness crept into
the princess's head. When the King saw this, he took out the
piece of henbane and holding it between his fingers, filled a cup
and drank it off; then filled another cup, into which he dropped
the henbane, unseen of Abrizeh, and saying, "Thy health!"
presented it to her. She took it and drank it off; then rose and
went to her sleeping-chamber. He waited awhile, till he was
assured that the drug had taken effect on her and gotten the
mastery of her senses, when he went in to her and found her lying
on her back, with a lighted candle at her head and another at her
feet. She had put off her trousers, and the air raised the skirt
of her shift and discovered what was between her thighs. When the
King saw this, he took leave of his senses for desire and Satan
tempted him and he could not master himself, but put off his
trousers and fell upon her and did away her maidenhead. Then he
went out and said to one of her women, by name Merjaneh, "Go in
to thy mistress, for she calls for thee." So she went in to the
princess and found her lying on her back, with the blood running
down her thighs; whereupon she took a handkerchief and wiped away
the blood and tended her mistress and lay by her that night. As
soon as it was day, she washed the princess's hands and feet and
bathed her face and mouth with rose-water, whereupon she sneezed
and yawned and cast up the henbane. Then she revived and washed
her hands and mouth and said to Merjaneh, "Tell me what has
befallen me." So she told her what had passed and how she had
found her, lying on her back, with the blood running down her
thighs, wherefore she knew that the King had played the traitor
with her and had undone her and taken his will of her. At this
she was afflicted and shut herself up, saying to her damsels,
"Let no one come in to me and say to all that I am ill, till I
see what God will do with me." The news of her illness came to
the King, and he sent her cordials and sherbet of sugar and
confections. Some months passed thus, during which time the
King's flame subsided and his desire for her cooled, so that he
abstained from her. Now she had conceived by him, and in due
time, her pregnancy appeared and her belly swelled, wherefore the
world was straitened upon her and she said to her maid Merjaneh,
"Know that it is not the folk who have wronged me, but I who
sinned against myself in that I left my father and mother and
country. Indeed, I abhor life, for my heart is broken and I have
neither courage nor strength left. I used, when I mounted my
horse, to have the mastery of him, but now I have no strength
to ride. If I be brought to bed in this place, I shall be
dishonoured among my women, and every one in the palace will know
that he has taken my maidenhead in the way of shame; and if I
return to my father, with what face shall I meet him or have
recourse to him? How well says the poet:

Wherewith shall I be comforted, that am of all bereft, To whom
nor folk nor home nor friend nor dwelling-place is left?"

Quoth Merjaneh, "It is for thee to command; I will obey." And
Abrizeh said, "I would fain leave this place privily, so that
none shall know of me but thou, and return to my father and
mother; for when flesh stinketh, there is nought for it but its
own folk, and God shall do with me as He will." "It is well, O
princess," replied Merjaneh. So she made ready in secret and
waited awhile, till the King went out to hunt and Sherkan betook
himself to certain of the fortresses to sojourn there awhile.
Then she said to Merjaneh, "I wish to set out to-night, but how
shall I do? For already I feel the pangs of labour, and if I
abide other four or five days, I shall be brought to bed here,
and how then can I go to my country? But this is what was written
on my forehead." Then she considered awhile and said, "Look us
out a man who will go with us and serve us by the way, for I have
no strength to bear arms." "By Allah, O my lady," replied
Merjaneh, "I know none but a black slave called Ghezban, who is
one of the slaves of King Omar ben Ennuman; he is a stout fellow
and keeps guard at the gate of our palace. The King appointed him
to attend us, and indeed we have overwhelmed him with favours. I
will go out and speak with him of the matter and promise him
money and tell him that, if he have a mind to tarry with us, we
will marry him to whom he will. He told me before to-day that he
had been a highwayman; so if he consent, we shall have our desire
and come to our own country." "Call him, that I may talk with
him," said the princess. So Merjaneh went out and said to the
slave, "O Ghezban, God prosper thee, do thou fall in with what my
lady says to thee." Then she took him by the hand and brought him
to Abrizeh. He kissed the princess's hands and when she saw him,
her heart took fright at him, but she said to herself, "Necessity
is imperious," and to him, "O Ghezban, wilt thou help us against
the perfidies of fortune and keep my secret, if I discover it to
thee?" When the slave saw her, his heart was taken by storm and
he fell in love with her forthright, and could not choose but
answer, "O my mistress, whatsoever thou biddest me do, I will not
depart from it." Quoth she, "I would have thee take me and this
my maid and saddle us two camels and two of the king's horses and
set on each horse a saddle-bag of stuff and somewhat of victual,
and go with us to our own country; where, if thou desire to abide
with us, I will marry thee to her thou shalt choose of my
damsels; or if thou prefer to return to thine own country, we
will send thee thither, with as much money as will content thee."
When Ghezban heard this, he rejoiced greatly and replied, "O my
lady, I will serve thee faithfully and will go at once and saddle
the horses." Then he went away, rejoicing and saying in himself,
"I shall get my will of them; and if they will not yield to me, I
will kill them and take their riches." But this his intent he
kept to himself and presently returned, mounted on one horse and
leading other two and two camels. He brought the horses to the
princess, who mounted one and made Merjaneh mount the other,
albeit she was suffering from the pains of labour and could
scarce possess herself for anguish. Then they set out and
journeyed night and day through the passes of the mountains, till
there remained but a day's journey between them and their own
country, when the pangs of travail came upon Abrizeh and she
could no longer sit her horse. So she said to Ghezban, "Set me
down, for the pains of labour are upon me," and cried to
Merjaneh, saying, "Do thou alight and sit down by me and deliver
me." They both drew rein and dismounting from their horses,
helped the princess to alight, and she aswoon for stress of pain.
When Ghezban saw her on the ground, Satan entered into him and he
drew his sabre and brandishing it in her face, said, "O my lady,
vouchsafe me thy favours." With this, she turned to him and said,
"It were a fine thing that I should yield to black slaves, after
having I refused kings and princes!" And she was wroth with him
and said, "What words are these? Out on thee! Do not talk thus in
my presence and know that I will never consent to what thou
sayst, though I drink the cup of death. Wait till I have cast my
burden and am delivered of the after-birth, and after, if thou be
able thereto, do with me as thou wilt; but, an thou leave not
lewd talk at this time, I will slay myself and leave the world
and be at peace from all this." And she recited the following

O Ghezban, unhand me and let me go freer Sure, fortune is heavy
enough upon me.
My Lord hath forbidden me whoredom. "The fire Shall be the
transgressor's last dwelling," quoth He:
So look not on me with the eye of desire, For surely to lewdness
I may not agree;
And if thou respect not mine honour and God Nor put away filthy
behaviour from thee,
I will call with my might on the men of my tribe And draw them
ail hither from upland and lea.
Were I hewn, limb from limb, with the Yemani sword, Yet never a
lecher my visage should see
Of the freeborn and mighty; so how then should I Let a whoreson
black slave have possession of me?

When Ghezban heard this, he was exceeding angry; his eyes grew
bloodshot and his face became of the colour of dust; his nostrils
swelled, his lips protruded and the terrors of his aspect
redoubled. And he repeated the following verses:

Abrizeh, have mercy nor leave me to sigh, Who am slain by the
glance of thy Yemani eye![FN#19]
My body is wasted, my patience at end, And my heart for thy
cruelty racked like to die.
Thy glances with sorcery ravish all hearts; My reason is distant
and passion is nigh.
Though thou drewst to thy succour the world full of troops, I'd
not stir till my purpose accomplished had I.

Thereupon Abrizeh wept sore and said to him, "Out on thee, O
Ghezban! How darest thou demand this of me, O son of shame and
nursling of lewdness? Dost thou think all folk are alike!" When
the pestilent slave heard this, he was enraged and his eyes
reddened: and he came up to her and smote her with the sword on
her neck and killed her. Then he made off into the mountains,
driving her horse before him with the treasure. In the agonies of
death, she gave birth to a son, like the moon, and Merjaneh took
him and laid him by her side, after doing him the necessary
offices; and behold, the child fastened to its mother's breast,
and she dead. When Merjaneh saw this, she cried out grievously
and rent her clothes and cast dust on her head and buffeted her
cheeks, till the blood came, saying, "Alas, my mistress! Alas,
the pity of it! Thou art dead by the hand of a worthless black
slave, after all thy prowess!" As she sat weeping, there arose a
great cloud of dust and darkened the plain; but, after awhile, it
lifted and discovered a numerous army. Now this was the army of
King Herdoub, the princess Abrizeh's father, who, hearing that
his daughter had fled to Baghdad, she and her maidens, and that
they were with King Omar ben Ennuman, had come out with his
troops to seek tidings of her from travellers who might have seen
her with King Omar at Baghdad. When he had gone a day's journey
from his capital, he espied three horsemen afar off and made
towards them, thinking to ask whence they came and seek news of
his daughter. Now these three were his daughter and Merjaneh and
Ghezban; and when the latter saw the troops drawing near, he
feared for himself; so he killed Abrizeh and fled. When they came
up and King Herdoub saw his daughter lying dead and Merjaneh
weeping over her, he threw himself from his horse and fell down
in a swoon. So all his company dismounted and pitching the tents,
set up a great pavilion for the King, without which stood the
grandees of the kingdom. At the sight of her lord the King,
Merjaneh's tears redoubled, and when he came to himself, he
questioned her and she told him all that had passed, how he that
had slain his daughter was a black slave, belonging to King Omar
ben Ennuman, and how the latter had dealt with the princess. When
King Herdoub heard this, the world grew black in his sight and he
wept sore. Then he called for a litter and laying his dead
daughter therein, returned to Caesarea and carried her into the
palace. Then he went in to his mother Dhat ed Dewahi and said to
her, "Shall the Muslims deal thus with my daughter? King Omar ben
Ennuman despoiled her by force of her honour and after this, one
of his black slaves slew her. By the Messiah, I will assuredly be
revenged for her and clear away the stain from my honour! Else I
shall kill myself with my own hand." And he wept passing sore.
Quoth his mother, "It was none other than Merjaneh killed her,
for she hated her in secret. But do not thou fret for taking
revenge for thy daughter, for, by the virtue of the Messiah, I
will not turn back from King Omar ben Ennuman, till I have slain
him and his sons; and I will assuredly do a deed, passing the
power of wise men and champions, of which the chroniclers shall
tell in all countries and places: but needs must thou obey me in
all I shall direct, for he who is firmly set on aught shall
surely compass his desire." "By the virtue of the Messiah,"
replied he, "I will not cross thee in aught that thou shalt say!"
Then said she, "Bring me a number of damsels, high-bosomed maids,
and summon the wise men of the time and let them teach them
philosophy and the art of conversation and making verses and the
rules of behaviour before kings, and let them talk with them of
all manner of science and edifying knowledge. The sages must be
Muslims, that they may teach the damsels the language and
traditions of the Arabs, together with the history of the Khalifs
and the pedigree of the Kings of Islam; and if we persevere in
this for the space of four years, we shall attain our end. So
possess thy soul in patience and wait; for, as one of the Arabs
says, 'It is a little thing to wait forty years for one's
revenge.' When we have taught the girls these things, we shall be
able to do our will with our enemy, for he is a doting lover of
women and has three hundred and threescore concubines, to which
are now added a hundred of the flower of thy damsels, that were
with thy late daughter. So, as soon as we have made an end of
their education, I will take them and set out with them." When
the King heard his mother's words, he rejoiced and came up to her
and kissed her head. Then he rose at once and despatched
messengers and couriers to the ends of the earth, to fetch him
Muslim sages. So they betook them to distant lands and brought
him thence the sages and doctors whom he sought. When they were
before him, he made much of them and bestowed on them dresses of
honour, appointing them stipends and allowances and promising
them much money, whenas they should have taught the damsels. Then
he committed the latter to their charge, enjoining them to
instruct them in all manner of knowledge, sacred and profane, and
all polite accomplishments; and they set themselves to do his

As for King Omar ben Ennuman, when he returned from hunting, he
sought the princess Abrizeh, but found her not nor could any give
him news of her. This was grievous to him and he said, "How did
she leave the palace, unknown of any? Had my kingdom been at
stake in this, it were in a parlous case! Never again will I go
a-hunting till I have sent to the gates those who shall keep good
guard over them!" And he was sore vexed and heavy at heart for
the loss of the princess Abrizeh. Presently, his son Sherkan
returned from his journey; and he told him what had happened and
how the princess had fled, whilst he was absent a-hunting,
whereat he was greatly concerned. Then King Omar took to visiting
his children every day and making much of them and brought them
wise men and doctors, to teach them, appointing them stipends and
allowances. When Sherkan saw this, he was exceeding wroth and
jealous of his brother and sister, so that the signs of chagrin
appeared in his face and he ceased not to languish by reason of
this, till one day his father said to him, "What ails thee, that
I see thee grown weak in body and pale of face?" "O my father,"
replied Sherkan, "every time I see thee fondle my brother and
sister and make much of them, jealousy seizes on me, and I fear
lest it grow on me, till I slay them and thou slay me in return.
This is the reason of my weakness of body and change of colour.
But now I crave of thy favour that thou give me one of thine
outlying fortresses, that I may abide there the rest of my life,
for as the byword says, 'It is better and fitter for me to be at
a distance from my friend; for when the eye seeth not, the heart
doth not grieve.'" And he bowed his head. When the King heard
Sherkan's words and knew the cause of his ailment, he soothed him
and said to him, "O my son, I grant thee this. I have not in my
realm a greater than the fortress of Damascus, and the government
of it is thine from this time." So saying, he called his
secretaries of state and bade them make out Sherkan's patent of
investiture to the viceroyalty of Damascus of Syria. Then he
equipped Sherkan and formally invested him with the office and
gave him his final instructions, enjoining him to policy and good
government; and the prince took leave of his father and the
grandees and officers of state and set out for his government,
taking with him the Vizier Dendan. When he arrived at Damascus,
the townspeople beat the drums and blew the trumpets and
decorated the city and came out to meet him in great state,
whilst all the notables and grandees walked in procession, each
according to his rank.

Soon after Sherkan's departure, the governors of King Omar's
children presented themselves before him and said to him, "O our
lord, thy children's education is now complete and they are
versed in all polite accomplishments and in the rules of manners
and etiquette." At this the King rejoiced with an exceeding joy
and conferred bountiful largesse upon the wise men, seeing
Zoulmekan grown up and flourishing and skilled in horsemanship.
The prince had now reached the age of fourteen and occupied
himself with piety and devout exercises, loving the poor and wise
men and the students of the Koran, so that all the people of
Baghdad loved him, men and women. One day, the procession of the
Mehmil[FN#20] of Irak passed round Baghdad, previously to the
departure of the pilgrimage to the holy places[FN#21] and tomb of
the Prophet.[FN#22] When Zoulmekan saw the procession, he was
seized with longing to go on the pilgrimage; so he went in to his
father and said to him, "I come to ask thy leave to make the

But his father forbade him, saying, "Wait till next year, and I
will go with thee." When Zoulmekan saw that the fulfilment of his
desire was postponed, he betook himself to his sister Nuzhet ez
Zeman, whom he found standing at prayer. As soon as she had made
an end of her devotions, he said to her, "I am dying of desire to
see the Holy House of God at Mecca and to visit the Prophet's
tomb. I asked my father's leave, but he forbade me: so I mean to
take somewhat of money and set out privily on the pilgrimage,
without his knowledge." "I conjure thee by Allah," exclaimed she,
"to take me with thee and that thou forbid me not to visit the
tomb of the Prophet, whom God bless and preserve!" And he
answered, "As soon as it is dark night, do thou leave this place,
without telling any, and come to me." Accordingly, she waited
till the middle of the night, when she donned a man's habit and
went to the gate of the palace, where she found Zoulmekan with
camels ready harnessed. So they mounted and riding after the
caravan, mingled with the Irak pilgrims, and God decreed them a
prosperous journey, so that they entered Mecca the Holy in
safety, standing upon Arafat and performing the various rites of
the pilgrimage. Then they paid a visit to the tomb of the Prophet
(whom God bless and preserve) and thought to return with the
pilgrims to their native land; but Zoulmekan said to his sister,
"O my sister, it is in my mind to visit Jerusalem and the tomb of
Abraham the friend of God (on whom be peace)." "I also desire to
do this," replied she. So they agreed upon this, and he went out
and took passage for himself and her and they made ready and
set out with a company of pilgrims bound for Jerusalem. That very
night she fell sick of an ague and was grievously ill, but
presently recovered, after which her brother also sickened. She
tended him during the journey, but the fever increased on him and
he grew weaker and weaker, till they arrived at Jerusalem, where
they alighted at a khan and hired a lodging there. Here they
abode some time, whilst Zoulmekan's weakness increased on him,
till he was wasted with sickness and became delirious. At this,
his sister was greatly afflicted and exclaimed, "There is no
power and no virtue but in God the Most High, the Supreme! It is
He who hath decreed this." They sojourned there awhile, his
sickness ever increasing and she tending him, till all their
money was spent and she had not so much as a dirhem left. Then
she sent a servant of the khan to the market, to sell some of her
clothes, and spent the price upon her brother; and so she sold
all she had, piece by piece, till she had nothing left but an old
rug; whereupon she wept and exclaimed, "God is the Orderer of the
past and the future!" Presently, her brother said to her, "O my
sister, I feel recovery drawing near and I long for a little
roast meat." "O my brother," replied she, "I am ashamed to beg;
but tomorrow I will enter some rich man's house and serve him and
earn somewhat for our living." Then she bethought herself awhile
and said, "It is hard to me to leave thee and thou in this state,
but I must perforce go." "God forbid!" rejoined he. "Thou wilt be
put to shame; but there is no power and no virtue but in God!"
And he wept and she wept too. Then she said, "O my brother, we
are strangers and this whole year have we dwelt here; yet none
hath knocked at our door. Shall we then die of hunger? I know no
resource but that I go out and earn somewhat to keep us alive,
till thou recover from thy sickness; when we will return to our
native land." She sat weeping with him awhile, after which she
rose and veiling her head with a camel-cloth, which the owner had
forgotten with them, embraced her brother and went forth, weeping
and knowing not whither she should go. Zoulmekan abode, awaiting
her return, till the evening; but she came not, and the night
passed and the morning came, but still she returned not; and so
two days went by. At this he was greatly troubled and his heart
fluttered for her, and hunger was sore upon him. At last he left
the chamber and calling the servant of the inn, bade him carry
him to the bazaar. So he carried him to the market and laid him
down there; and the people of Jerusalem came round him and were
moved to tears at his condition. He signed to them for somewhat
to eat; so they took money from some of the merchants and bought
food and fed him therewith; after which they carried him to a
shop, where they laid him on a mat of palm-leaves and set a
vessel of water at his head. At nightfall, they all went away,
sore concerned for him, and in the middle of the night, he called
to mind his sister, and his sickness redoubled on him, so that he
abstained from eating and drinking and became insensible. When
the people of the market saw him thus, they took thirty dirhems
for him from the merchants and hiring a camel, said to the
driver, "Carry this sick man to Damascus and leave him at the
hospital; peradventure he may be cured and recover his health."
"On my head be it!" replied he; but he said to himself, "How
shall I take this sick man to Damascus, and he nigh upon death?"
So he carried him away and hid with him till the night, when he
threw him down on the fuel-heap in the stoke-hole of a bath and
went his way. In the morning, the stoker of the bath came to his
work and finding Zoulmekan cast on his back on the fuel-heap,
exclaimed, "Could they find no other place in which to throw this
dead man?" So saying, he gave him a push with his foot, and he
moved, whereupon quoth the stoker, "This is some one who has
eaten hashish and thrown himself down at hazard." Then he looked
at him and saw that he had no hair on his face and was endowed
with grace and comeliness; so he took pity on him and knew that
he was sick and a stranger. "There is no power and no virtue but
in God!" said he "I have sinned against this youth; for indeed
the Prophet (whom God bless and preserve!) enjoins hospitality to
strangers." Then he lifted him up and carrying him to his own
house, committed him to his wife and bade her tend him. So she
spread him a bed and laid a cushion under his head, then heated
water and washed his hands and feet and face. Meanwhile, the
stoker went to the market and buying rose-water and sherbet of
sugar, sprinkled Zoulmekan's face with the one and gave him to
drink of the other. Then he fetched a clean shirt and put it on
him. With this, Zoulmekan scented the breeze of recovery and life
returned to him; and he sat up and leant against the pillow. At
this the stoker rejoiced and exclaimed, "O my God, I beseech
Thee, by Thy hidden mysteries, make the salvation of this youth
to be at my hands!" And he nursed him assiduously for three days,
giving him to drink of sherbet of sugar and willow-flower water
and rose-water and doing him all manner of service and kindness,
till health began to return to his body and he opened his eyes
and sat up. Presently the stoker came in and seeing him sitting
up and showing signs of amendment, said to him, "How dost thou
now, O my son?" "Thanks be to God," replied Zoulmekan, "I am well
and like to recover, if so He please." The stoker praised the
Lord of All for this and going to the market, bought ten
chickens, which he carried to his wife and said to her, "Kill two
of these for him every day, one in the morning and the other at
nightfall." So she rose and killed a fowl, then boiling it,
brought it to him and fed him with the flesh and gave him the
broth to drink. When he had done eating, she brought hot water
and he washed his hands and lay back upon the pillow; whereupon
she covered him up and he slept till the time of afternoon-prayer.
Then she killed another fowl and boiled it; after which she cut
it up and bringing it to Zoulmekan, said, "Eat, O my son!"
Presently, her husband entered and seeing her feeding him, sat
down at his head and said to him, "How is it with thee now, O my
son?" "Thanks be to God for recovery!" replied he. "May He
requite thee thy goodness to me!" At this the stoker rejoiced
and going out, bought sherbet of violets and rose-water and made
him drink it. Now his day's earnings at the bath were five
dirhems, of which he spent every day two dirhems for Zoulmekan,
one for sweet waters and sherbets and another for fowls; and he
ceased not to entreat him thus kindly for a whole month, till
the trace of illness ceased from him and he was quite recovered
whereupon the stoker and his wife rejoiced and the former
said to him, "O my son, wilt thou go with me to the bath?"
"Willingly," replied he. So the stoker went to the market and
fetched an ass, on which he mounted Zoulmekan and supported him
in the saddle, till they came to the bath Then he made him alight
and sit down, whilst he repaired to the market and bought
lote-leaves and lupin-meal,[FN#23] with which he returned to the
bath and said to Zoulmekan, "O my son, in the name of God, enter,
and I will wash thy body." So they both entered the inner room of
the bath, and the stoker fell to rubbing Zoulmekan's legs and was
going on to wash his body with the lote-leaves and powder, when
there came to them a bathman, whom the keeper of the bath had
sent to Zoulmekan, and seeing the stoker rubbing and washing the
latter, said to him, "This is trespassing on the keeper's
rights." "By Allah," replied the stoker, "the master overwhelms
us with his favours!" Then the bathman proceeded to shave
Zoulmekan's head, after which he and the stoker washed and
returned to the latter's house, where he clad Zoulmekan in a
shirt of fine stuff and a tunic of his own and gave him a
handsome turban and girdle and wound a silken kerchief about his
neck. Meanwhile the stoker's wife had killed two chickens and
cooked them for him; so, as soon as Zoulmekan entered and seated
himself on the couch, the stoker arose and dissolving sugar in
willow-flower water, made him drink it. Then he brought the tray
of food and cutting up the chickens, fed him with the meat and
broth, till he was satisfied, when he washed his hands and
praised God for recovery, saying to the stoker, "It is to thee,
under God the Most High, that I owe my life!" "Leave this talk,"
replied the stoker, "and tell us the manner of thy coming to this
city and whence thou art; for I see signs of gentle breeding in
thy face." "Tell me first how thou camest to fall in with me,"
said Zoulmekan; "and after I will tell thee my story." "As
for that," rejoined the stoker, "I found thee lying on the
rubbish-heap, by the door of the stoke-house, as I went to my
work, near the morning, and knew not who had thrown thee down
there. So I carried thee home with me; and this all I have to
tell." Quoth Zoulmekan, "Glory to Him who quickens the bones,
though they be rotten! Indeed, O my brother, thou hast not done
good to one who is unworthy, and thou shalt reap the reward of
this. But where am I now?" "In the city of Jerusalem," replied
the stoker; whereupon Zoulmekan called to mind his strangerhood
and his separation from his sister and wept. Then he discovered
his secret to the stoker and told him his story, repeating the
following verses:

They heaped up passion on my soul, beyond my strength to bear,
And for their sake my heart is racked with weariness and
Ah, be ye pitiful to me, O cruel that ye are, For e'en my foes do
pity me, since you away did fare!
Grudge not to grant unto mine eyes a passing glimpse of you, To
ease the longing of my soul and lighten my despair.
I begged my heart to arm itself with patience for your loss.
"Patience was never of my wont," it answered; "so forbear."

Then he redoubled his weeping, and the stoker said to him, "Weep
not, but rather praise God for safety and recovery." Quoth
Zoulmekan, "How far is it hence to Damascus?" "Six days'
journey," answered the stoker "Wilt thou send me thither?" asked
Zoulmekan. "O my lord," replied the stoker, "how can I let thee
go alone, and thou a young lad and a stranger? If thou be minded
to make the journey to Damascus, I will go with thee; and if my
wife will listen to me and accompany me, I will take up my abode
there; for it goes to my heart to part with thee." Then said he
to his wife, "Wilt thou go with me to Damascus or wilt thou abide
here, whilst I bring this my lord thither and return to thee? For
he is bent upon, going to Damascus, and by Allah, it is hard to
me to part with him, and I fear for him from the highway
robbers." Quoth she, "I will go with you." And he said, "Praised
be God for accord!" Then he rose and selling all his own and his


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