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

Part 2 out of 7

wife's gear, bought a camel and hired an ass for Zoulmekan; and
they set out and reached Damascus at nightfall after six days'
journey. They alighted there, and the stoker went to the market
and bought meat and drink. They had dwelt but five days in
Damascus, when his wife sickened and after a few days' illness,
was translated to the mercy of God. The stoker mourned for her
with an exceeding grief, and her death was no light matter to
Zoulmekan, for she had tended him assiduously and he was grown
used to her. Presently, he turned to the stoker and finding him
mourning, said to him, "Do not grieve, for we must all go in at
this gate."[FN#24] "God requite thee with good, O my son!"
replied the stoker. "Surely He will compensate us with his
bounties and cause our mourning to cease. What sayst thou, O my
son? Shall we walk abroad to view Damascus and cheer our
spirits?" "Thy will is mine," replied Zoulmekan. So the stoker
took him by the hand, and they sallied forth and walked on, till
they came to the stables of the Viceroy of Damascus, where they
found camels laden with chests and carpets and brocaded stuffs
and saddle-horses and Bactrian camels and slaves, white and
black, and folk running to and fro and a great bustle. Quoth
Zoulmekan, "I wonder to whom all these camels and stuffs and
servants belong!" So he asked one of the slaves, and he replied,
"These are presents that the Viceroy of Damascus is sending to
King Omar ben Ennuman, with the tribute of Syria." When Zoulmekan
heard his father's name, his eyes filled with tears and he
repeated the following verses:

Ye that are far removed from my desireful sight, Ye that within
my heart are sojourners for aye,
Your comeliness is gone and life no more for me Is sweet, nor
will the pains of longing pass away.
If God one day decree reunion of our loves, How long a tale of
woes my tongue will have to say!

Then he wept and the stoker said to him, "O my son, thou art
hardly yet recovered; so take heart and do not weep, for I fear a
relapse for thee." And he applied himself to comfort him and
cheer him, whilst Zoulmekan sighed and bemoaned his strangerhood
and separation from his sister and his family and repeated the
following verses, with tears streaming from his eyes:

Provide thee for the world to come, for needs must thou be gone;
Or soon or late, for every one the lot of death is drawn.
Thy fortune in this world is but delusion and regret; Thy life in
it but vanity and empty chaff and awn.
The world, indeed, is but as 'twere a traveller's halting-place,
Who makes his camels kneel at eve and fares on with the

And he continued to weep and lament, whilst the stoker wept too
for the loss of his wife, yet ceased not to comfort Zoulmekan
till the morning. When the sun rose, he said to him, "Meseems
thou yearnest for thy native land?" "Even so," replied Zoulmekan,
"and I may not tarry here; so I will commend thee to God's care
and set out with these people and journey with them, little by
little, till I come to my country." "And I with thee," said the
stoker; "for I cannot bear to part with thee. I have done thee
service, and I mean to complete it by tending thee on the way."
At this, Zoulmekan rejoiced and said, "May God abundantly requite
thee for me!" Then the stoker went out and selling the camel,
bought another ass, which he brought to Zoulmekan, saying, "This
is for thee to ride by the way; and when thou art weary of
riding, thou canst dismount and walk." "May God bless thee and
help me to requite thee!" said Zoulmekan. "Indeed, thou hast
dealt with me more lovingly than one with his brother." Then the
stoker provided himself with victual for the journey, and they
waited till it was dark night, when they laid their provisions
and baggage on the ass and set out on their journey.

To return to Nuzhet ez Zeman, when she left her brother in the
khan and went out to seek service with some one, that she might
earn wherewith to buy him the roast meat he longed for, she fared
on, weeping and knowing not whither to go, whilst her mind was
occupied with concern for her brother and with thoughts of her
family and her native land. And she implored God the Most High to
do away these afflictions from them and repeated the following

The shadows darken and passion stirs up my sickness amain, And
longing rouses within me the old desireful pain.
The anguish of parting hath taken its sojourn in my breast, And
love and longing and sorrow have maddened heart and brain.
Passion hath made me restless and longing consumes my soul And
tears discover the secret that else concealed had lain.
I know of no way to ease me of sickness and care and woe, Nor can
my weak endeavour reknit love's severed skein.
The fire of my heart with yearnings and longing grief is fed And
for its heat, the lover to live in hell is fain.
O thou that thinkest to blame me for what betides me, enough; God
knows I suffer with patience whate'er He doth ordain.
I swear I shall ne'er find solace nor be consoled for love, The
oath of the children of passion, whose oaths are ne'er in
Bear tidings of me, I prithee, O night, to the bards of love And
that in thee I sleep not be witness yet again!

She walked on, weeping and turning right and left, as she went,
till there espied her an old man who had come into the town from
the desert with other five Bedouins. He took note of her and
seeing that she was charming, but had nothing on her head but a
piece of camel-cloth, marvelled at her beauty and said in
himself, "This girl is pretty enough to dazzle the wit, but it is
clear she is in poor case, and whether she be of the people of
the city or a stranger, I must have her." So he followed her,
little by little, till presently he came in front of her and
stopping the way before her in a narrow lane, called out to her,
saying, "Harkye, daughterling, art thou a freewoman or a slave?"
When she heard this, she said to him, "By thy life, do not add to
my troubles! "Quoth he, "God blessed me with six daughters, but
five of them died and only one is left me, the youngest of them
all; and I came to ask thee if thou wert of the people of this
city or a stranger, that I might take thee and carry thee to her,
to bear her company and divert her from mourning for her sisters,
If thou hast no parents, I will use thee as one of them, and thou
and she shall be as my two children." When she heard what he
said, she bowed her head for bashfulness and said to herself,
"Surely I may trust myself to this old man." Then she said to
him, "O uncle, I am a girl of the Arabs (of Irak) and a stranger,
and I have a sick brother; but I will go with thee to thy
daughter on one condition; that is, that I may spend the day only
with her and go to my brother at night. I am a stranger and was
high in honour among my people, yet am I become cast down and
abject. I came with my brother from the land of Hejaz and I fear
lest he know not where I am." When the Bedouin heard this, he
said to himself, "By Allah, I have gotten what I sought!" Then he
turned to her and said, "There shall none be dearer to me than
thou; I only wish thee to bear my daughter company by day, and
thou shalt go to thy brother at nightfall. Or, if thou wilt,
bring him to dwell with us." And he ceased not to give her fair
words and coax her, till she trusted in him and agreed to serve
him. Then he went on before her and she followed him, whilst he
winked to his men to go on in advance and harness the camels and
load them with food and water, ready for setting out as soon as
he should come up. Now this Bedouin was a base-born wretch, a
highway-robber and a brigand, a traitor to his friend and a past
master in craft and roguery. He had no daughter and no son, and
was but a wayfarer in Jerusalem, when, by the decree of God, he
fell in with this unhappy girl. He held her in converse till they
came without the city, where he joined his companions and found
they had made ready the camels. So he mounted a camel, taking
Nuzhet ez Zeman up behind him, and they rode on all night, making
for the mountains, for fear any should see them. By this, she
knew that the Bedouin's proposal was a snare and that he had
tricked her; and she gave not over weeping and crying out the
whole night long. A little before the dawn, they halted and the
Bedouin came up to Nuzhet ez Zeman and said to her, "O wretch,
what is this weeping! By Allah, an thou hold not thy peace, I
will beat thee to death, city faggot that thou art!" When she
heard this, she abhorred life and longed for death; so she turned
to him and said, "O accursed old man, O greybeard of hell, did I
trust in thee and hast thou played me false, and now thou wouldst
torture me?" When he heard her words, he cried out, "O insolent
wretch, dost thou dare to bandy words with me?" And he came up to
her and beat her with a whip, saying, "An thou hold not thy
peace, I will kill thee." So she was silent awhile, but she
called to mind her brother and her former happy estate and wept
in secret. Next day, she turned to the Bedouin and said to him,
"How couldst thou deal thus perfidiously with me and lure me into
these desert mountains, and what wilt thou do with me?" When he
heard her words, he hardened his heart and said to her, "O
pestilent baggage, wilt thou bandy words with me?" So saying, he
took the whip and brought it down on her back, till she well-nigh
fainted. Then she bowed down and kissed his feet; and he left
beating her and began to revile her, saying, "By my bonnet, if I
see or hear thee weeping, I will cut out thy tongue and thrust it
up thy kaze, city strumpet that thou art!" So she was silent and
made him no reply, for the beating irked her; but sat down, with
her arms round her knees and bowing her head, fell a-musing on
her case. Then she bethought her of her former ease and affluence
and her present abasement, and called to mind her brother and his
sickness and forlorn condition and how they were both strangers
in a foreign land; whereat the tears coursed down her cheeks and
she wept silently and repeated the following verses:

The tides of fate 'twixt good and ill shift ever to and fro, And
no estate of life for men endureth evermo'.
All things that to the world belong have each their destined end
And to all men a term is set, which none may overgo.
How long must I oppression bear and peril and distress! Ah, how I
loathe this life of mine, that nought but these can show!
May God not prosper them, these days, wherein I am oppressed of
Fate, these cruel days that add abjection to my woe!
My purposes are brought to nought, my loves are reft in twain By
exile's rigour, and my hopes are one and all laid low.
O ye, who pass the dwelling by, wherein my dear ones are, Bear
them the news of me and say, my tears for ever flow.

When she had finished, the Bedouin came up to her and taking
compassion on her, bespoke her kindly and wiped away her tears.
Then he gave her a cake of barley-bread and said to her, "I do
not love to be answered, when I am angry: so henceforth give me
no more of these insolent words, and I will sell thee to an
honest fellow like myself, who will use thee well, even as I have
done." "It is well," answered she; and when the night was long
upon her and hunger gnawed her, she ate a little of the
barley-cake. In the middle of the night, the Bedouin gave the
signal for departure; so they loaded the camels and he mounted
one of them, taking Nuzhet ez Zeman up behind him. Then they set
out and journeyed, without stopping, for three days, till they
reached the city of Damascus, where they alighted at the Sultan's
khan, hard by the Viceroy's Gate. Now she had lost her colour and
her charms were changed by grief and the fatigue of the journey,
and she ceased not to weep. So the Bedouin came up to her and
said, "Hark ye, city wench! By my bonnet, an thou leave not this
weeping, I will sell thee to a Jew!" Then he took her by the hand
and carried her to a chamber, where he left her and went to the
bazaar. Here he went round to the merchants who dealt in
slave-girls and began to parley with them, saying, "I have with
me a slave-girl, whose brother fell ill, and I sent him to my
people at Jerusalem, that they might tend him till he was cured.
The separation from him was grievous to her, and since then, she
does nothing but weep. Now I purpose to sell her, and I would
fain have whoso is minded to buy her of me speak softly to her
and say to her, 'Thy brother is with me in Jerusalem, ill;' and I
will be easy with him about her price." Quoth one of the
merchants, "How old is she?" "She is a virgin, just come to the
age of puberty," replied the Bedouin, "and is endowed with sense
and breeding and wit and beauty and grace. But from the day I
sent her brother to Jerusalem, she has done nothing but grieve
for him, so that her beauty is fallen away and her value
lessened." When the merchant heard this, he said, "O chief of the
Arabs, I will go with thee and buy this girl of thee, if she be
as thou sayest for wit and beauty and accomplishments; but it
must be upon conditions, which if thou accept, I will pay thee
her price, and if not, I will return her to thee." "If thou
wilt," said the Bedouin, "take her up to Prince Sherkan, son of
King Omar ben Ennuman, lord of Baghdad and of the land of
Khorassan, and I will agree to whatever conditions thou mayst
impose on me; for when he sees her, she will surely please him,
and he will pay thee her price and a good profit to boot for
thyself." "It happens," rejoined the merchant, "that I have just
now occasion to go to him, that I may get him to sign me patent,
exempting me from customs-dues, and I desire of him also a letter
of recommendation to his father King Omar. So, if he take the
girl, I will pay thee down her price at once." "I agree to this,"
answered the Bedouin. So they returned together to the khan,
where the Bedouin stood at the door of the girl's chamber and
called out, saying, "Ho, Najiyeh!" which was the name he had
given her. When she heard him, she wept and made no answer. Then
he turned to the merchant and said to him, "There she sits. Do
thou go up to her and look at her and speak kindly to her, as I
enjoined thee." So he went up to her courteously and saw that she
was wonder-lovely and graceful especially as she was acquainted
with the Arabic tongue; and he said to the Bedouin, "Verily she
is even as thou saidst, and I shall get of the Sultan what I will
for her." Then he said to her, "Peace be on thee, O daughterling!
How dost thou?" She turned to him and replied, "This was written
in the book of Destiny." Then she looked at him and seeing him to
be a man of reverend appearance, with a handsome face, said to
herself, "I believe this man comes to buy me. If I hold aloof
from him, I shall abide with this tyrant, and he will beat me to
death. In any case, this man is comely of face and makes me hope
for better treatment from him than from this brute of a Bedouin.
Mayhap he only comes to hear me talk; so I will give him a fair
answer." All this while, she had kept her eyes fixed on the
ground; then she raised them to him and said in a sweet voice,
"And upon thee be peace, O my lord, and the mercy of God and His
blessing! This is what is commanded of the Prophet, whom God
bless and preserve! As for thine enquiry how I do, if thou
wouldst know my condition, it is such as thou wouldst not wish
but to thine enemies." And she was silent. When the merchant
heard what she said, he was beside himself for delight in her and
turning to the Bedouin, said to him, "What is her price, for
indeed she is illustrious!" At this the Bedouin was angry and
said, "Thou wilt turn me the girl's head with this talk! Why dost
thou say that she is illustrious,[FN#25] for all she is of the
scum of slave-girls and of the refuse of the people? I will not
sell her to thee." When the merchant heard this, he knew he was
dull-witted and said to him, "Calm thyself, for I will buy her of
thee, notwithstanding the defects thou mentionest." "And how much
wilt thou give me for her?" asked the Bedouin "None should name
the child but its father," replied the merchant. "Name thy price
for her." "Not so," rejoined the Bedouin; "do thou say what thou
wilt give." Quoth the merchant in himself, "This Bedouin is an
addle-pated churl. By Allah, I cannot tell her price, for she has
mastered my heart with her sweet speech and her beauty: and if
she can read and write, it will be the finishing touch to her
good fortune and that of her purchaser. But this Bedouin does not
know her value." Then he turned to the latter and said to him, "O
elder of the Arabs, I will give thee two hundred dinars for her,
in cash, clear of the tax and the Sultan's dues." When the
Bedouin heard this, he flew into a violent passion and cried out
at the merchant, saying, "Begone about thy business! By Allah,
wert thou to offer me two hundred dinars for the piece of
camel-cloth on her head, I would not sell it to thee! I will not
sell her, but will keep her by me, to pasture the camels and
grind corn." And he cried out to her, saying, "Come, thou
stinkard, I will not sell thee." Then he turned to the merchant
and said to him, "I thought thee a man of judgment; but, by my
bonnet, if thou begone not from me, I will let thee hear what
will not please thee!" "Verily," said the merchant to himself,
"this Bedouin is mad and knows not the girl's value, and I will
say no more to him about her price for the present; for by Allah,
were he a man of sense, he would not say, 'By my bonnet!' By
Allah, she is worth the kingdom of the Chosroes and I will give
him what he will, though it be all I have." Then he said to him,
"O elder of the Arabs, calm thyself and take patience and tell me
what clothes she has with thee." "Clothes!" cried the Bedouin;
"what should the baggage want with clothes? The camel-cloth in
which she is wrapped is ample for her." "With thy leave," said
the merchant, "I will lift her veil and examine her as folk
examine girls whom they think of buying." "Up and do what thou
wilt," replied the other, "and God keep thy youth! Examine her,
inside and out, and if thou wilt, take off her clothes and look
at her naked." "God forbid!" said the merchant; "I will but look
at her face." Then he went up to her, confounded at her beauty
and grace, and seating himself by her side, said to her, "O my
mistress, what is thy name?" "Dost thou ask what is my name now,"
said she, "or what it was formerly?" "Hast thou then two names?"
asked the merchant. "Yes," replied she, "my whilom name was
Nuzhet ez Zeman;[FN#26] but my name at this present is Ghusset ez
Zeman."[FN#27] When the merchant heard this, his eyes filled with
tears, and he said to her, "Hast thou not a sick brother?"
"Indeed, my lord, I have," answered she; "but fortune hath parted
us, and he lies sick in Jerusalem." The merchant's heart was
confounded at the sweetness of her speech, and he said to
himself, "Verily, the Bedouin spoke the truth of her." Then she
called to mind her brother and how he lay sick in a strange land,
whilst she was parted from him and knew not what was become of
him; and she thought of all that had befallen her with the
Bedouin and of her severance from her father and mother and
native land; and the tears ran down her cheeks and she repeated
the following verses:

May God keep watch o'er thee, belov'd, where'er thou art, Thou
that, though far away, yet dwellest in my heart!
Where'er thy footsteps lead, may He be ever near, To guard thee
from time's shifts and evil fortune's dart!
Thou'rt absent, and my eyes long ever for thy sight, And at thy
thought the tears for aye unbidden start.
Would that I knew alas! what country holds thee now, In what
abode thou dwell'st, unfriended and apart!
If thou, in the green o the rose, still drink o' the water of
life, My drink is nought but tears, since that thou didst
If sleep e'er visit thee, live coals of my unrest, Strewn betwixt
couch and side, for aye my slumbers thwart
All but thy loss to me were but a little thing, But that and that
alone is sore to me, sweetheart.

When the merchant heard her verses, he wept and put out his hand
to wipe away her tears; but she let down her veil, saying, "God
forbid, O my master!" The Bedouin, who was sitting at a little
distance, watching them, saw her cover her face and concluded
that she would have hindered him from handling her: so he rose
and running to her, dealt her such a blow on the shoulders with a
camel's halter he had in his hand, that she fell to the ground on
her face. Her eyebrow smote against a stone, which cut it open,
and the blood streamed down her face; whereupon she gave a loud
scream and fainted away. The merchant was moved to tears for her
and said in himself, "I must and will buy this damsel, though I
pay down her weight in gold, and deliver her from this tyrant."
And he began to reproach the Bedouin, whilst Nuzhet ez Zeman lay
insensible. When she came to herself, she wiped away her tears
and bound up her head: then, raising her eyes to heaven, she
sought her Lord with a sorrowful heart and repeated the following

Have ruth on one who once was rich and great, Whom villainy hath
brought to low estate.
She weeps with never-ceasing tears and says, "There's no recourse
against the laws of Fate."

Then she turned to the merchant and said to him, in a low voice,
"By Allah, do not leave me with this tyrant, who knows not God
the Most High! If I pass this night with him, I shall kill myself
with my own hand: save me from him, and God will save thee from
hell-fire." So the merchant said to the Bedouin, "O chief of the
Arabs, this girl is none of thine affair; so do thou sell her to
me for what thou wilt." "Take her," said the Bedouin, "and pay me
down her price, or I will carry her back to the camp and set her
to feed the camels and gather their droppings."[FN#28] Quoth the
merchant, "I will give thee fifty thousand dinars for her." "God
will open,"[FN#29] replied the Bedouin. "Seventy thousand," said
the merchant. "God will open," repeated the other; "she hath cost
me more than that, for she hath eaten barley-bread with me to the
value of ninety thousand dinars." Quoth the merchant, "Thou and
all thy people and thy whole tribe in all your lives have not
eaten a thousand dinars' worth of barley: but I will make thee
one offer, which if thou accept not, I will set the Viceroy of
Damascus on thee, and he will take her from thee by force." "Say
on," rejoined the Bedouin. "A hundred thousand," said the
merchant. "I will sell her to thee at that price," answered the
Bedouin; "I shall be able to buy salt with that." The merchant
laughed and going to his house, returned with the money and gave
it to the Bedouin, who took it and made off, saying, "I must go
to Jerusalem: it may be I shall happen on her brother, and I will
bring him here and sell him." So he mounted and journeyed to
Jerusalem, where he went to the khan and enquired for Zoulmekan,
but could not find him.

Meanwhile, the merchant threw his gaberdine over Nuzhet ez Zeman
and carried her to his house, where he dressed her in the richest
clothes he could buy. Then he carried her to the bazaar, where he
bought her what jewellery she chose and put it in a bag of satin,
which he laid before her, saying, "This is all for thee, and I
ask nothing of thee in return but that, when thou comest to the
Viceroy of Damascus, thou tell him what I gave for thee and that
it was little compared with thy value: and if he buy thee, tell
him how I have dealt with thee and ask of him for me a royal
patent, with a recommendation to his father King Omar Ben
Ennuman, lord of Baghdad, to the intent that he may forbid the
taking toll on my stuffs or other goods in which I traffic." When
she heard his words, she wept and sobbed, and the merchant said
to her, "O my mistress, I note that, every time I mention
Baghdad, thine eyes fill with tears: is there any one there whom
thou lovest? If it be a merchant or the like, tell me; for I know
all the merchants and so forth there; and an thou wouldst send
him a message, I will carry it for thee." "By Allah," replied
she, "I have no acquaintance among merchants and the like! I know
none there but King Omar ben Ennuman." When the merchant heard
this, he laughed and was greatly rejoiced and said in himself,
"By Allah, I have gotten my desire!" Then he said to her, "Hast
thou then been shown to him?" "No," answered she; "but I was
brought up with his daughter and he holds me dear and I have much
credit with him; so if thou wouldst have him grant thee a patent
of exemption, give me ink-horn and paper, and I will write thee a
letter, which, when thou reachest Baghdad, do thou deliver into
the King's own hand and say to him, 'Thy handmaid Nuzhet ez Zeman
salutes thee and would have thee to know that the changing
chances of the nights and days have smitten her, so that she has
been sold from place to place and is now with the Viceroy of
Damascus.'" The merchant wondered at her eloquence and his
affection for her increased and he said to her, "I cannot think
but that men have abused thine understanding and sold thee for
money. Tell me, dost thou know the Koran?" "I do," answered she;
"and I am also acquainted with philosophy and medicine and the
Prolegomena and the commentaries of Galen the physician on the
Canons of Hippocrates, and I have commented him, as well as the
Simples of Ibn Beltar, and have studied the works of Avicenna,
according to the canon of Mecca, as well as other treatises. I
can solve enigmas and establish parallels[FN#30] and discourse
upon geometry and am skilled in anatomy. I have read the books of
the Shafiyi[FN#31] sect and the Traditions of the Prophet, I am
well read in grammar and can argue with the learned and discourse
of all manner of sciences. Moreover I am skilled in logic and
rhetoric and mathematics and the making of talismans and
calendars and the Cabala, and I understand all these branches of
knowledge thoroughly. But bring me ink-horn and paper, and I will
write thee a letter that will profit thee at Baghdad and enable
thee to dispense with passports." When the merchant heard this,
he cried out, "Excellent! Excellent! Happy he in whose palace
thou shalt be!" Then he brought her ink-horn and paper and a pen
of brass and kissed the earth before her, to do her honour. She
took the pen and wrote the following verses:

"What ails me that sleep hath forsaken my eyes and gone astray?
Have you then taught them to waken, after our parting day!
How comes it your memory maketh the fire in my heart to rage?
Is't thus with each lover remembers a dear one far away?
How sweet was the cloud of the summer, that watered our days of
yore! 'Tis flitted, before of its pleasance my longing I
could stay.
I sue to the wind and beg it to favour the slave of love, The
wind that unto the lover doth news of you convey.
A lover to you complaineth, whose every helper fails. Indeed, in
parting are sorrows would rend the rock in sway.

"These words are from her whom melancholy destroys and whom
watching hath wasted; in her darkness there are no lights found,
and she knows not night from day. She tosses from side to side on
the couch of separation and her eyes are blackened with the
pencils of sleeplessness; she watches the stars and strains her
sight into the darkness: verily, sadness and emaciation have
consumed her and the setting forth of her case would be long. No
helper hath she but tears and she reciteth the following verses:

"No turtle warbles on the branch, before the break of morn, But
stirs in me a killing grief, a sadness all forlorn.
No lover, longing for his loves, complaineth of desire, But with
a doubled stress of woe my heart is overborne.
Of passion I complain to one who hath no ruth on me. How soul and
body by desire are, one from other, torn!"

Then her eyes brimmed over with tears, and she wrote these verses

"Love-longing, the day of our parting, my body with mourning
smote, And severance from my eyelids hath made sleep far
I am so wasted for yearning and worn for sickness and woe, That,
were it not for my speaking, thou'dst scarce my presence

Then she wept and wrote at the foot of the scroll, "This is from
her who is far from her people and her native land, the
sorrowful-hearted Nuzhet ez Zeman." She folded the letter and
gave it to the merchant, who took it and reading what was written
in it, rejoiced and exclaimed, "Glory to Him who fashioned thee!"
Then he redoubled in kindness and attention to her all that day;
and at nightfall, he sallied out to the market and bought food,
wherewith he fed her; after which he carried her to the bath and
said to the tire-woman, "As soon as thou hast made an end of
washing her head, clothe her and send and let me know.' Meanwhile
he fetched food and fruit and wax candles and set them on the
dais in the outer room of the bath; and when the tire-woman had
done washing her, she sent to tell the merchant, and Nuzhet ez
Zeman went out to the outer room, where she found the tray spread
with food and fruit. So she ate, and the tire-woman with her, and
gave what was left to the people and keeper of the bath. Then she
slept till the morning, and the merchant lay the night in a place
apart. When he awoke, he came to her and waking her, presented
her with a shift of fine silk, a kerchief worth a thousand
dinars, a suit of Turkish brocade and boots embroidered with red
gold and set with pearls and jewels. Moreover, he hung in each of
her ears a circlet of gold, with a fine pearl therein, worth a
thousand dinars, and threw round her neck a collar of gold, with
bosses of garnet and a chain of amber beads, that hung down
between her breasts to her middle. Now this chain was garnished
with ten balls and nine crescents and each crescent had in its
midst a beazel of ruby and each ball a beazel of balass ruby. The
worth of the chain was three thousand dinars and each of the
balls was worth twenty thousand dirhems, so that her dress in all
was worth a great sum of money. When she had put these on, the
merchant bade her make her toilet, and she adorned herself to the
utmost advantage. Then he bade her follow him and walked on
before her through the streets, whilst the people wondered at her
beauty and exclaimed, "Blessed be God, the most excellent
Creator! O fortunate man to whom she shall belong!" till they
reached the Sultan's palace; when he sought an audience of
Sherkan and kissing the earth before him, said, "O august King, I
have brought thee a rare gift, unmatched in this time and richly
covered with beauty and good qualities." "Let me see it," said
Sherkan. So the merchant went out and returning with Nuzhet ez
Zeman, made her stand before Sherkan. When the latter beheld her,
blood drew to blood, though he had never seen her, having only
heard that he had a sister called Nuzhet ez Zeman and a brother
called Zoulmekan and not having made acquaintance with them, in
his jealousy of them, because of the succession. Then said the
merchant, "O King, not only is she without peer in her time for
perfection of beauty and grace, but she is versed to boot in all
learning, sacred and profane, besides the art of government and
the abstract sciences." Quoth Sherkan, "Take her price, according
to what thou gavest for her, and go thy ways." "I hear and obey,"
replied the merchant; "but first I would have thee write me
a patent, exempting me for ever from paying tithe on my
merchandise." "I will do this," said Sherkan; "but first tell me
what you paid for her." Quoth the merchant, "I bought her for a
hundred thousand dinars, and her clothes cost me as much more."
When the Sultan heard this, he said, "I will give thee more than
this for her," and calling his treasurer, said to him, "Give this
merchant three hundred and twenty thousand dinars; so will he
have a hundred and twenty thousand dinars profit." Then he
summoned the four Cadis and paid him the money in their presence;
after which he said to them, "I call you to witness that I free
this my slave-girl and purpose to marry her." So the Cadis drew
up the act of enfranchisement, and the Sultan scattered much gold
on the heads of those present, which was picked up by the pages
and eunuchs. Then they drew up the contract of marriage between
Sherkan and Nuzhet ez Zeman, after which he bade write the
merchant a perpetual patent, exempting him from tax and tithe
upon his merchandise and forbidding all and several to do him let
or hindrance in all his government, and bestowed on him a
splendid dress of honour. Then all who were present retired, and
there remained but the Cadis and the merchant; whereupon quoth
Sherkan to the former, "I wish you to hear such discourse from
this damsel as may prove her knowledge and accomplishment in all
that this merchant avouches of her, that we may be certified of
the truth of his pretensions." "Good," answered they; and he
commanded the curtains to be drawn before Nuzhet ez Zeman and her
attendants, who began to wish her joy and kiss her hands and
feet, for that she was become the Viceroy's wife. Then they came
round her and easing her of the weight of her clothes and
ornaments, began to look upon her beauty and grace. Presently the
wives of the Amirs and Viziers heard that King Sherkan had bought
a damsel unmatched for beauty and accomplishments and versed in
all branches of knowledge, at the price of three hundred and
twenty thousand dinars, and that he had set her free and married
her and summoned the four Cadis to examine her. So they asked
leave of their husbands and repaired to the palace. When they
came in to her, she rose and received them with courtesy,
welcoming them and promising them all good. Moreover, she smiled
in their faces and made them sit down in their proper stations,
as if she had been brought up with them, so that their hearts
were taken with her and they all wondered at her good sense and
fine manners, as well as at her beauty and grace, and said to
each other, "This damsel is none other than a queen, the daughter
of a king." Then they sat down, magnifying her, and said to her,
"O our lady, our city is illumined by thy presence, and our
country and kingdom are honoured by thee. The kingdom indeed is
thine and the palace is thy palace, and we all are thy handmaids;
so do not thou shut us out from thy favours and the sight of thy
beauty." And she thanked them for this. All this while the
curtains were drawn between Nuzhet ez Zeman and the women with
her, on the one side, and King Sherkan and the Cadis and merchant
seated by him, on the other. Presently, Sherkan called to her and
said, "O queen, the glory of thine age, this merchant describes
thee as being learned and accomplished and asserts that thou art
skilled in all branches of knowledge, even to astrology: so let
us hear something of all this and give us a taste of thy

"O King," replied she, "I hear and obey. The first subject of
which I will treat is the art of government and the duties of
kings and what behoves governors of lawful commandments and what
is incumbent on them in respect of pleasing manners. Know then, O
King, that all men's works tend either to religion or to worldly
life, for none attains to religion save through this world,
because it is indeed the road to the next world. Now the world is
ordered by the doings of its people, and the doings of men
are divided into four categories, government (or the exercise
of authority), commerce, husbandry (or agriculture) and
craftsmanship. To government are requisite perfect (knowledge of
the science of) administration and just judgment; for government
is the centre (or pivot) of the edifice of the world, which is
the road to the future life since that God the Most High hath
made the world to be to His servants even as victual to the
traveller for the attainment of the goal: and it is needful that
each man receive of it such measure as shall bring him to God,
and that he follow not in this his own mind and desire. If the
folk would take of the goods of the world with moderation and
equity, there would be an end of contentions; but they take
thereof with violence and iniquity and persist in following their
own inclinations; and their licentiousness and evil behaviour in
this give birth to strife and contention. So they have need of
the Sultan, that he may do justice between them and order their
affairs prudently, and if he restrain not the folk from one
another, the strong will get the mastery over the weak. Ardeshir
says that religion and the kingship are twin; religion is a
treasure and the king its keeper; and the divine ordinances and
men's own judgment indicate that it behoves the folk to adopt a
ruler to hold the oppressor back from the oppressed and do the
weak justice against the strong and to restrain the violence of
the proud and the unjust. For know, O King, that according to the
measure of the ruler's good morals, even so will be the time; as
says the apostle of God (on whom be peace and salvation), 'There
are two classes, who if they be virtuous, the people will be
virtuous, and if they be depraved, the people also will be
depraved: even princes and men of learning.' And it is said by a
certain sage, 'There are three kinds of kings, the king of the
Faith, the king who watches over and protects those things that
are entitled to respect and honour, and the king of his own
inclinations. The king of the Faith constrains his subjects to
follow the laws of their faith, and it behoves that he be the
most pious of them all, for it is by him that they take pattern
in the things of the Faith; and the folk shall do obedience to
him in what he commands in accordance with the Divine ordinances;
but he shall hold the discontented in the same esteem as the
contented, because of submission to the Divine decrees. As for
the king of the second order, he upholds the things of the Faith
and of the world and compels the folk to follow the Law of God
and to observe the precepts of humanity; and it behoves him to
conjoin the sword and the pen; for whoso goeth astray from what
the pen hath written, his feet slip, and the king shall rectify
his error with the edge of the sword and pour forth his justice
upon all men. As for the third kind of king, he hath no religion
but the following his own lusts and fears not the wrath of his
Lord, who set him on the throne; so his kingdom inclines to ruin,
and the end of his arrogance is in the House of Perdition.' And
another sage says, 'The king has need of many people, but the
folk have need of but one king; wherefore it behoves that he be
well acquainted with their natures, to the end that he may reduce
their difference to concord, that he may encompass them one and
all with his justice and overwhelm them with his bounties.' And
know, O King, that Ardeshir, styled Jemr Shedid, third of the
Kings of Persia, conquered the whole world and divided it into
four parts and let make for himself four seal-rings, one for each
division of his realm. The first seal was that of the sea and the
police and of prohibition, and on it was written, 'Alternatives.'
The second was the seal of revenue and of the receipt of monies,
and on it was written, 'Culture.' The third was the seal of the
commissariat, and on it was written, 'Plenty.' The fourth was the
seal of (the Court of Enquiry into) abuses, and on it was
written, 'Justice.' And these remained in use in Persia until the
revelation of Islam. King Chosroes also, wrote to his son, who
was with the army, 'Be not over-lavish to thy troops, or they
will come to have no need of thee; neither be niggardly with
them, or they will murmur against thee. Do thy giving soberly and
confer thy favours advisedly; be liberal to them in time of
affluence and stint them not in time of stress.' It is said that
an Arab of the desert came once to the Khalif Mensour[FN#32] and
said to him, 'Starve thy dog and he will follow thee.' When the
Khalif heard his words, he was enraged, but Aboulabbas et Tousi
said to him, 'I fear that, if some other than thou should show
him a cake of bread, the dog would follow him and leave thee.'
Thereupon the Khalif's wrath subsided and he knew that the
Bedouin had meant no offence and ordered him a present. And know,
O King, that Abdulmelik ben Merwan wrote to his brother
Abdulaziz, when he sent him to Egypt, as follows: 'Pay heed to
thy secretaries and thy chamberlains, for the first will acquaint
thee with necessary matters and the second with matters of
etiquette and ceremonial observance, whilst the tribute that goes
out from thee will make thy troops known to thee.' Omar ben el
Khettab[FN#33] (whom God accept) was in the habit, when he
engaged a servant, of laying four conditions on him, the first
that he should not ride the baggage-beasts, the second that he
should not wear fine clothes, the third that he should not eat of
the spoil and the fourth that he should not delay to pray after
the proper time. It is said that there is no wealth better than
understanding and no understanding like common sense and prudence
and no prudence like the fear of God; that there is no offering
like good morals and no measure like good breeding and no profit
like earning the Divine favour;[FN#34] that there is no piety
like the observance of the limits of the Law and no science like
that of meditation, no devotion like the performance of the
Divine precepts, no safeguard like modesty, no calculation like
humility and no nobility like knowledge. So guard the head and
what it contains and the body and what it comprises and remember
death and calamity. Says Ali[FN#35], (whose face God honour!),
'Beware of the wickedness of women and be on thy guard against
them. Consult them not in aught, but be not grudging of
complaisance to them, lest they be tempted to have recourse to
intrigue.' And also, 'He who leaves the path of moderation and
sobriety, his wits become perplexed.' And Omar (whom God accept)
says, 'There are three kinds of women, first, the true-believing,
God-fearing woman, loving and fruitful, helping her husband
against fate, not helping fate against her husband; secondly, she
who loves and tenders her children, but no more; and thirdly, the
woman who is as a shackle that God puts on the neck of whom He
will. Men also are three: the first, who is wise, when he
exercises his judgment; the second, wiser than he, who, when
there falls on him somewhat of which he knows not the issue,
seeks folk of good counsel and acts by their advice; and the
third, who is addle-headed, knowing not the right way nor heeding
those who would instruct him.' Justice is indispensable in all
things; even slave-girls have need of justice; and highway
robbers, who live by violence, bear witness of this, for did they
not deal equitably among themselves and observe fairness in their
divisions, their order would fall to pieces. For the rest, the
chief of noble qualities is generosity and benevolence. How well
says the poet:

'By largesse and mildness the youth chief of his tribe became, And
it were easy for thee to follow and do the same.'

And quoth another:

'In mildness stability lies and clemency wins us respect, And
safety in soothfastness is for him who is soothfast and
And he who would get himself praise and renown for his wealth
from the folk, In the racecourse of glory must be, for
munificence, first in the rank.'"

And Nuzhet ez Zeman discoursed upon the policy and behaviour of
kings, till the bystanders said, "Never heard we one reason of
the duties of kings like this damsel! Mayhap she will favour us
with discourse upon some subject other than this." When she heard
this, she said, "As for the chapter of good breeding,[FN#36] it is
wide of scope, for it is a compend of perfections. There came in
one day to the Khalif Muawiyeh[FN#37] one of his boon-companions,
who spoke of the people of Irak and the goodness of their wit;
and the Khalif's wife Meisoun, mother of Yezid, heard him. So,
when he was gone, she said to the Khalif, 'O Commander of the
Faithful, prithee let some of the people of Irak come in to thee
and talk with them, that I may hear their discourse.' So the
Khalif said to his attendants, 'Who is at the door?' And they
answered, 'The Benou Temim.' 'Let them come in,' said he. So they
came in and with them Ahnaf ben Cais.[FN#38] Now Muawiyeh had
drawn a curtain between himself and Meisoun, that she might hear
what they said without being seen herself; and he said to Ahnaf,
'O Abou Behr,[FN#39] pray, near and tell me what counsel thou hast
for me.' Quoth Ahnaf, 'Part thy hair and trim thy moustache and
clip thy nails and pluck out the hair of thine armpits and shave
thy pubes and be constant in the use of the toothstick, for
therein are two-and-seventy virtues, and make the Friday
(complete) ablution as an expiation for what is between the two
Fridays.' 'What is thy counsel to thyself?' asked Muawiyeh. 'To
plant my feet firmly on the ground,' replied Ahnaf, 'to move them
with deliberation and keep watch over them with my eyes.' 'How,'
asked the Khalif, 'dost thou carry thyself, when thou goest in to
the common folk of thy tribe?' 'I lower my eyes modestly,' replied
Ahnaf, 'and salute them first, abstaining from what does not
concern me and being sparing of words.' 'And how, when thou goest
in to thine equals?' asked Muawiyeh. 'I give ear to them, when they
speak,' answered the other, 'and do not assail them, when they err.'
'And how dost thou,' said the Khalif, 'when thou goest in to thy
chiefs?' 'I salute without making any sign,' answered Ahnaf, 'and
await the response: if they bid me draw near, I do so, and if they
bid me stand aloof, I withdraw.' 'How dost thou with thy wife?'
asked the Khalif. 'Excuse me from answering this, O Commander of
the Faithful!' replied he; but Muawiyeh said, 'I conjure thee to
answer.' Then said Ahnaf, 'I entreat her kindly and show her
pleasant familiarity and am large in expenditure, for women were
created of a crooked rib.' 'And how,' asked the Khalif, 'dost thou
when thou hast a mind to lie with her?' 'I speak to her to perfume
herself,' answered the other, 'and kiss her till she is moved to
desire; then, if it be as thou knowest, I throw her on her back. If
the seed abide in her womb, I say, "O my God, make it blessed and
let it not be a castaway, but fashion it into a goodly shape!" Then
I rise from her and betake myself to the ablution, first pouring
water over my hands and then over my body and returning thanks to
God for the delight He hath given me.' 'Thou hast answered
excellently well,' said Muawiyeh; 'and now tell me what thou wouldst
have.' Quoth Ahnaf, 'I would have thee rule thy subjects in the fear
of God and do equal justice amongst them.' So saying, he withdrew
from the Khalif's presence, and when he had gone, Meisoun said,
'Were there but this man in Irak, he would suffice to it.' This
(continued Nuzhet ez Zeman) is a small fraction of the chapter of
good breeding. Know O King, that Muyekib was intendant of the
treasury during the Khalifate of Omar ben Khettab. 'One day
(quoth he) the Khalif's son came to me and I gave him a dirhem
from the treasury. Then I returned to my own house, and
presently, as I was sitting, there came to me a messenger,
bidding me to the Khalif. So I was afraid and went to him, and
when I came into his presence, I saw in his hand the dirhem I had
given his son. "Harkye, Muyekib," said he, "I have found somewhat
concerning thy soul." "What is it, O Commander of the Faithful?"
asked I; and he answered, "It is that thou wilt have to render an
account of this dirhem to the people of Mohammed (on whom be
peace and salvation) on the Day of Resurrection."' This same Omar
wrote a letter to Abou Mousa el Ashari,[FN#40] to the following
purport, 'When these presents reach thee, give the people what is
theirs and send the rest to me.' And he did so. When Othman
succeeded to the Khalifate, he wrote a like letter to Abou Mousa,
who did his bidding and sent him the tribute accordingly, and
with it came Ziad[FN#41] When the latter laid the tribute before
Othman, the Khalif's son came in and took a dirhem, whereupon
Ziad fell a-weeping. 'Why dost thou weep?' asked Othman. Quoth
Ziad, 'I once brought Omar ben Khettab the like of this, and his
son took a dirhem, whereupon Omar bade snatch it from his hand.
Now thy son hath taken of the tribute, yet have I seen none
rebuke him nor take the money from him.' And Othman said, 'Where
wilt thou find the like of Omar?' Again, Zeid ben Aslam relates
of his father that he said, 'I went out one night with Omar, and
we walked on till we espied a blazing fire in the distance. Quoth
Omar, "This must be travellers, who are suffering from the cold:
let us join them." So we made for the fire, and when we came to
it, we found a woman who had lighted a fire under a cauldron, and
by her side were two children, crying. "Peace on you, O folk of
the light!" said Omar, for he misliked to say, "folk of the
fire;"[FN#42] "what ails you?" Quoth she, "The cold and the night
irk us." "What ails these children that they weep?" asked he.
"They are hungry," replied she. "And what is in this cauldron?"
asked Omar. "It is what I quiet them with," answered she, "and
God will question Omar ben Khettab of them, on the Day of
Resurrection." "And what," rejoined the Khalif, "should Omar know
of their case?" "Why then," said she, "should he undertake the
governance of the people's affairs and yet be unmindful of them?"
Then Omar turned to me and said, "Come with me." So we both set
off running till we reached the treasury, where he took out a
sack of flour and a pot of fat and said to me, "Put these on my
back." "O Commander of the Faithful," said I, "I will carry them
for thee." "Wilt thou bear my burden for me on the Day of
Resurrection?" replied he. So I put the things on his back, and
we set off, running, till we came to the woman, when he threw
down the sack. Then he took out some of the flour and put it in
the cauldron and saying to the woman, "Leave it to me," fell to
blowing the fire; Now he had a great beard and I saw the smoke
issuing from the interstices thereof, till the flour was cooked,
when he threw in some of the fat and said to the woman, "Do thou
feed the boys whilst I cool the food for them." So they ate their
fill and he left the rest with her. Then he turned to me and
said, "O Aslam, I see it was indeed hunger made them weep; and I
am glad I did not go away without finding out the reason of the
light I saw."' It is said that Omar passed, one day, by a flock
of sheep, kept by a slave, and asked the latter to sell him a
sheep. 'They are not mine,' replied the shepherd. 'Thou art the
man I sought,' said Omar and buying him of his master, set him
free, whereupon the slave exclaimed, 'O my God, thou hast
bestowed on me the lesser emancipation; vouchsafe me now the
greater!'[FN#43] They say also, that Omar ben Khettab was wont to
give his servants sweet milk and eat coarse fare himself and to
clothe them softly and wear himself coarse garments. He gave all
men their due and exceeded in his giving to them. He once gave a
man four thousand dirhems and added thereto yet a thousand,
wherefore it was said to him, 'Why dost thou not favour thy son
as thou favourest this man?' He answered, 'This man's father
stood firm in fight on the day of Uhud.'[FN#44] El Hassan
relates that Omar once came (back from an expedition) with much
money and that Hefseh[FN#45] came to him and said, 'O Commander
of the Faithful, be mindful of the due of kinship!' 'O Hefseh,'
replied he, 'God hath indeed enjoined us to satisfy the dues of
kinship, but of our own monies, not those of the true believers.
Indeed, thou pleasest thy family, but angerest thy father.' And
she went away, dragging her skirts. Says Omar's son, 'I implored
God one year (after Omar's death) to show me my father, till at
last I saw him wiping the sweat from his brow and said to him,
"How is it with thee, O my father?" "But for God's mercy,"
answered he, "thy father had perished." Then said Nuzhet ez
Zeman, "Hear, O august King, the second division of the first
chapter of the instances of the followers of the Prophet and
other pious men. Says El Hassan of Bassora,[FN#46] 'Not a soul of
the sons of Adam goes forth of the world, without grieving for
three things, failure to enjoy what he has amassed, failure to
compass what he hoped and failure to provide himself with
sufficient provision for that to which he goes.[FN#47]' It was
said to Sufyan,[FN#48] 'Can a man be devout and yet possess
wealth?' 'Yes,' replied he, 'so he be patient under affliction
and return thanks, when God giveth to him.' When Abdallah ben
Sheddad was on his death-bed, he sent for his son Mohammed and
admonished him, saying, 'O my son, I see the messenger of death
calling me and so I charge thee to cherish the fear of God, both
in public and private. Praise God and be true in thy speech, for
the praise of God brings increase of prosperity, and piety in
itself is the best of provision,[FN#49] even as says one of the

I see not that bliss lies in filling one's chest; The God-fearing
man can alone be called blest.
For piety aye winneth increase of God; So of all men's provision
'tis surely the best.

When Omar ben Abdulaziz[FN#50] succeeded to the Khalifate, he
went to his own house and laying hands on all that his family and
household possessed, put it into the public treasury. So the
Ommiades[FN#51] betook themselves for aid to his father's sister,
Fatimeh, daughter of Merwan, and she sent to Omar, saying, 'I
must needs speak with thee.' So she came to him by night, and
when he had made her alight from her beast and sit down, he said
to her, 'O aunt, it is for thee to speak first, since it is at
thine instance that we meet; tell me, therefore, what thou
wouldst with me.' 'O Commander of the Faithful,' replied she, 'it
is thine to speak first, for thy judgment perceives that which is
hidden from the senses.' Then said the Khalif, 'Of a verity God
sent Mohammed as a mercy to some and a punishment to others; and
He chose out for him what was with him and withdrew him to
Himself, leaving the people a river, whereof the thirsty of them
might drink. After him he made Abou Bekr the Truth-teller Khalif
and he left the river in its pristine state, doing what was
pleasing to God. Then arose Omar and worked a work and furnished
forth a strife, of which none might do the like When Othman came,
he diverted a stream from the river, and Muawiyeh in his turn
sundered several streams from it. In like manner, Yezid and the
sons of Merwan, Abdulmelik and Welid and Suleiman[FN#52], ceased
not to take from the river and dry up the main stream, till the
commandment devolved upon me, and now I am minded to restore
the river to its normal condition.' When Fatimeh heard this,
she said, 'I came, wishing only to speak and confer with thee,
but if this be thy word, I have nothing to say to thee.' Then
she returned to the Ommiades and said to them, 'See what you
have brought on you by allying yourselves with Omar ben
Khettab.' [FN#53] When Omar was on his deathbed, he gathered his
children round him, and Meslemeh[FN#54] ben Abdulmelik said to
him, 'O Commander of the Faithful, wilt thou leave thy children
beggars and thou their protector? None can hinder thee from
giving them in thy lifetime what will suffice them out of the
treasury; and this indeed were better than leaving it to revert
to him who shall come after thee.' Omar gave him a look of wrath
and wonder and replied, 'O Meslemeh, I have defended them all the
days of my life, and shall I make them miserable after my death?
My sons are like other men, either obedient to God the Most High
or disobedient: if the former, God will prosper them, and if the
latter, I will not help them in their disobedience. Know, O
Meslemeh, that I was present, even as thou, when such an one of
the sons of Merwan was buried, and I fell asleep by him and saw
him in a dream given over to one of the punishments of God, to
whom belong might and majesty. This terrified me and made me
tremble, and I vowed to God that, if ever I came to the throne, I
would not do as the dead man had done. This vow I have striven to
fulfil all the days of my life, and I hope to be received into
the mercy of my Lord.' Quoth Meslemeh, 'A certain man died and I
was present at his funeral. I fell asleep and meseemed I saw him,
as in a dream, clad in white clothes and walking in a garden full
of running waters. He came up to me and said, "O Meslemeh, it is
for the like of this that governors (or men who bear rule) should
work."' Many are the instances of this kind, and quoth one of the
men of authority, 'I used to milk the ewes in the Khalifate of
Omar ben Abdulaziz, and one day, I met a shepherd, among whose
sheep were wolves. I thought them to be dogs, for I had never
before seen wolves; so I said to the shepherd, "What dost thou
with these dogs?" "They are not dogs, but wolves," replied he.
Quoth I, "Can wolves be with sheep and not hurt them?" "When the
head is whole," replied he, "the body is whole also."' Omar ben
Abdulaziz preached once from a mud pulpit, and after praising and
glorifying God the Most High, said three words and spoke as
follows, 'O folk, make clean your hearts, that your outward lives
may be clean to your brethren, and abstain from the things of the
world. Know that from Adam to this present, there is no one man
alive among the dead. Dead are Abdulmelik and those who forewent
him, and Omar also will die, and those who come after him.' Quoth
Meslemeh (to this same Omar, when he was dying), 'O Commander of
the Faithful, shall we set a pillow behind thee, that thou mayest
lean on it a little?' But Omar answered, 'I fear lest it be a
fault about my neck on the Day of Resurrection.' Then he gasped
for breath and fell back in a swoon; whereupon Fatimeh cried out,
saying, 'Ho, Meryem! Ho, Muzahim! Ho, such an one! Look to this
man!' And she began to pour water on him, weeping, till he
revived, and seeing her in tears, said to her, 'O Fatimeh, why
dost thou weep?' 'O Commander of the Faithful,' replied she, 'I
saw thee lying prostrate before us and thought of thy prostration
before God the Most High in death and of thy departure from the
world and separation from us. This is what made me weep.'
'Enough, O Fatimeh,' answered he; 'indeed thou exceedest.' Then
he would have risen, but fell down, and Fatimeh strained him to
her, saying, 'Thou art to me as my father and my mother, O
Commander of the Faithful! We cannot speak to thee, all of
us.'[FN#55] Again (continued Nuzhet ez Zeman), Omar ben Abdulaziz
wrote to the people of the festival at Mecca, as follows, 'I call
God to witness, in the Holy Month, in the Holy City and on the
day of the Great Pilgrimage, that I am innocent of your
oppression and of the wickedness of him that doth you wrong, in
that I have neither commanded this nor purposed it, neither hath
any report of aught thereof reached me (till now) nor have I had
knowledge of it; and I trust therefore that God will pardon it to
me. None hath authority from me to do oppression, for I shall
assuredly be questioned (at the Last Day) concerning every one
who hath been wrongfully entreated. So if any one of my officers
swerve from the right and act without law or authority,[FN#56] ye
owe him no obedience, till he return to the right way.' He said
also (may God accept of him), 'I do not wish to be relieved from
death, for that it is the supreme thing for which the true
believer is rewarded.' Quoth one of authority, 'I went one day to
the Commander of the Faithful, Omar ben Abdulaziz, who was then
Khalif, and saw before him twelve dirhems, which he bade take to
the treasury. So I said to him, "O Commander of the Faithful,
thou impoverishest thy children and reducest them to beggary,
leaving nothing for them. Thou wouldst do well to appoint
somewhat by will to them and to those who are poor of the people
of thy house." "Draw near to me," answered he. So I drew near to
him and he said, "As for thy saying, 'Thou beggarest thy
children; provide for them and for the poor of thy household,' it
is without reason, for God will replace me to my children and to
those who are poor of the people of my house, and He will be
their guardian. Verily, they are like other men; he who fears
God, God will provide him a happy issue, and he that is addicted
to sin, I will not uphold him in his disobedience." Then he
called his sons before him, and they were twelve in number. When
he beheld them, his eyes filled with tears and he said to them,
"Your father is between two things; either ye will be rich and he
will enter the fire, or ye will be poor and he enter Paradise;
and your father's entry into Paradise is liefer to him than that
ye should be rich. So go, God be your helper, for to Him I commit
your affair."' Quoth Khalid ben Sefwan,[FN#57] 'Yusuf ben
Omar[FN#58] accompanied me to Hisham ben Abdulmelik,[FN#59] and I
met him as he came forth with his kinsmen and attendants. He
alighted and a tent was pitched for him. When the people had
taken their seats, I came up to the side of the carpet (on which
the Khalif was reclining) and waiting till my eyes met his,
bespoke him thus, "May God fulfil His bounty to thee, O Commander
of the Faithful, and direct into the right way the affairs He
hath committed to thy charge, and may no harm mingle with thy
cheer! O Commander of the Faithful, I have an admonition for
thee, which I have gleaned from the history of the kings of time
past!" At this, he sat up and said to me, "O son of Sefwan, say
what is in thy mind." "O Commander of the Faithful," quoth I,
"one of the kings before thee went forth, in a time before thy
time, to this very country and said to his companions, 'Saw ye
ever any in the like of my state or to whom hath been given even
as it hath been given unto me?' Now there was with him one of
those who survive to bear testimony to the Faith and are
upholders of the Truth and walkers in its highway, and he said,
'O King, thou askest of a grave matter. Wilt thou give me leave
to answer?' 'Yes,' replied the King, and the other said, 'Dost
thou judge thy present state to be temporary or enduring?' 'It is
a temporary thing,' replied the King. 'Why then,' asked the man,
'do I see thee exult in that which thou wilt enjoy but a little
while and whereof thou wilt be questioned at length and for the
rendering an account whereof thou wilt be as a pledge?' 'Whither
shall I flee,' asked the King, 'and where is that I must seek?'
'Abide in thy kingship,' replied the other, 'and apply thyself to
obey the commandments of God the Most High; or else don thy
worn-out clothes and devote thyself to the service of thy Lord,
till thine appointed hour come to thee.' Then he left him,
saying, 'I will come to thee again at daybreak.' So he knocked at
his door at dawn and found that the King had put off his crown
and resolved to become an anchorite, for the stress of his
exhortation." When Hisham heard this, he wept till his beard was
drenched and putting off his rich apparel, shut himself up in his
palace. Then the grandees and courtiers came to me and said,
"What is this thou hast done with the Commander of the Faithful?
Thou hast marred his cheer and troubled his life!"' "But
(continued Nuzhet ez Zeman, addressing herself to Sherkan) how
many admonitory instances are there not that bear upon this
branch of the subject! Indeed, it is beyond my power to report
all that pertains to this head in one sitting; but, with length
of days, O King of the age, all will be well."

Then said the Cadis, "O King, of a truth this damsel is the
wonder of the time and the unique pearl of the age! Never in all
our lives heard we the like." And they called down blessings on
Sherkan and went away. Then said he to his attendants, "Prepare
the wedding festivities and make ready food of all kinds." So
they addressed themselves to do his bidding, and he bade the
wives of the amirs and viziers and grandees depart not until the
time of the wedding banquet and of the unveiling of the bride.
Hardly was the time of afternoon-prayer come, when the tables
were spread with roast meats and geese and fowls and all that the
heart can desire or that can delight the eye; and all the people
ate till they were satisfied. Moreover, the King had sent for all
the singing-women of Damascus and they were present, together
with all the slave-girls of the King and the notables who knew
how to sing. When the evening came and it grew dark, they lighted
flambeaux, right and left, from the gate of the citadel to that
of the palace, and the amirs and viziers and grandees defiled
before King Sherkan, whilst the singers and the tire-women took
Nuzhet ez Zeman, to dress and adorn her, but found she needed no
adorning. Meantime King Sherkan went to the bath and coming out,
sat down on his bed of estate, whilst they unveiled the bride
before him in seven different dresses; after which they eased her
of the weight of her dresses and ornaments and gave such
injunctions as are usually given to girls on their wedding-night.
Then Sherkan went in to her and took her maidenhead; and she at
once conceived by him, whereat he rejoiced with an exceeding joy
and commanded the sages to record the date of her conception. On
the morrow, he went forth and seated himself on his throne, and
the grandees came in to him and gave him joy. Then he called his
private secretary and bade him write to his father, King Omar ben
Ennuman, a letter to the following effect: "Know that I have
bought me a damsel, who excels in learning and accomplishment and
is mistress of all kinds of knowledge. I have set her free and
married her and she has conceived by me. And needs must I send
her to Baghdad to visit my brother Zoulmekan and my sister Nuzhet
ez Zeman." And he went on to praise her wit and salute his
brother and sister, together with the Vizier Dendan and all the
amirs. Then he sealed the letter and despatched it to his father
by a courier, who was absent a whole month, after which time he
returned with the old King's answer. Sherkan took it and read as
follows, after the usual preamble, "In the name of God," etc.,
"This is from the afflicted and distraught, him who hath lost his
children and is (as it were) an exile from his native land, King
Omar ben Ennuman, to his son Sherkan. Know that, since thy
departure from me, the place is become contracted upon me, so
that I can no longer have patience nor keep my secret: and the
reason of this is as follows. It chanced that Zoulmekan sought my
leave to go on the pilgrimage, but I, fearing for him the shifts
of fortune, forbade him therefrom until the next year or the year
after. Soon after this, I went out to hunt and was absent a whole
month. When I returned, I found that thy brother and sister had
taken somewhat of money and set out by stealth with the caravan
of pilgrims. When I knew this, the wide world became strait on
me, O my son; but I awaited the return of the caravan, hoping
that they would return with it. Accordingly, when the caravan
came back, I questioned the pilgrims of them, but they could give
me no news of them; so I put on mourning apparel for them, being
heavy at heart and sleepless and drowned in the tears of my
eyes." Then followed these verses:

Their image is never absent a breathing-while from my breast, I
have made it within my bosom the place of the honoured
But that I look for their coming, I would not live for an hour,
And but that I see them in dreams, I ne'er should lie down
to rest.

The letter went on (after the usual salutations to Sherkan and
those of his court), "Do not thou therefore neglect to seek news
of them, for indeed this is a dishonour to us." When Sherkan read
the letter, he mourned for his father, but rejoiced in the loss
of his brother and sister. Now Nuzhet ez Zeman knew not that he
was her brother nor he that she was his sister, although he paid
her frequent visits, both by day and by night, till the months of
her pregnancy were accomplished and she sat down on the stool of
delivery. God made the delivery easy to her and she gave birth to
a daughter, whereupon she sent for Sherkan and said to him, "This
is thy daughter: name her as thou wilt." Quoth he, "Folk use to
name their children on the seventh day." Then he bent down to
kiss the child and saw, hung about her neck, a jewel, which he
knew at once for one of those that the princess Abrizeh had
brought from the land of the Greeks. At this sight, his senses
fled, his eyes rolled and wrath seized on him, and he looked at
Nuzhet ez Zeman and said to her, "O damsel, whence hadst thou
this jewel?" When she heard this, she replied, "I am thy lady and
the lady of all in thy palace. Art thou not ashamed to say to me,
'O damsel'?[FN#60] Indeed, I am a queen, the daughter of a king;
and now concealment shall cease and the truth be made known. I am
Nuzhet ez Zeman, daughter of King Omar ben Ennuman." When Sherkan
heard this, he was seized with trembling and bowed his head
towards the earth, whilst his heart throbbed and his colour
paled, for he knew that she was his sister by the same father.
Then he lost his senses; and when he revived, he abode in
amazement, but did not discover himself to her and said to her,
"O my lady, art thou indeed the daughter of King Omar ben
Ennuman?" "Yes," replied she; and he said, "Tell me how thou
camest to leave thy father and be sold for a slave." So she told
him all that had befallen her, from first to last, how she had
left her brother sick in Jerusalem and how the Bedouin had lured
her away and sold her to the merchant. When Sherkan heard this
all was certified that she was indeed his sister, he said to
himself, "How can I have my sister to wife? By Allah, I must
marry her to one of my chamberlains; and if the thing get wind, I
will avouch that I divorced her before consummation and married
her to my chief chamberlain." Then he raised his head and said,
"O Nuzhet ez Zeman, thou art my very sister; for I am Sherkan,
son of King Omar ben Ennuman, and may God forgive us the sin into
which we have fallen!" She looked at him and seeing that he spoke
the truth, became as one bereft of reason and wept and buffeted
her face, exclaiming, "There is no power and no virtue but in
God! Verily we have fallen into grievous sin! What shall I do and
what answer shall I make my father and my mother, when they say
to me, 'Whence hadst thou thy daughter'?" Quoth Sherkan, "I
purpose to marry thee to my chief chamberlain and let thee bring
up my daughter in his house, that none may know thee to be my
sister. This that hath befallen us was ordained of God for a
purpose of His own, and there is no way to cover ourselves but by
thy marriage with the chamberlain, ere any know." Then he fell to
comforting her and kissing her head, and she said to him, "What
wilt thou call the child?" "Call her Kuzia Fekan,"[FN#61] replied
he. Then he gave her in marriage to the chief chamberlain, and
they reared the child in his house, on the laps of the slave-
girls, till, one day, there came to King Sherkan a courier
from his father, with a letter to the following purport, "In the
name of God, etc. Know, O puissant King, that I am sore afflicted
for the loss of my children: sleep fails me and wakefulness is
ever present with me. I send thee this letter that thou mayst
make ready the tribute of Syria and send it to us, together with
the damsel whom thou hast bought and taken to wife; for I long to
see her and hear her discourse; because there has come to us from
the land of the Greeks a devout old woman, with five damsels,
high-bosomed maids, endowed with knowledge and accomplishments
and all fashions of learning that befit mortals; and indeed the
tongue fails to describe this old woman and her companions. As
soon as I saw the damsels, I loved them and wished to have them
in my palace and at my commandment, for none of the kings
possesses the like of them; so I asked the old woman their price,
and she replied, 'I will not sell them but for the tribute of
Damascus.' And by Allah, this is but little for them, for each
one of them is worth the whole price. So I agreed to this and
took them into my palace, and they remain in my possession.
Wherefore do thou expedite the tribute to us, that the old woman
may return to her own country; and send us the damsel, that she
may strive with them before the doctors; and if she overcome
them, I will send her back to thee with the year's revenue of
Baghdad." When Sherkan read this letter, he went in to his
brother-in-law and said to him, "Call the damsel to whom I
married thee." So she came, and he showed her the letter and said
to her, "O my sister, what answer wouldst thou have me make to
this letter?" "It is for thee to judge," replied she. Then she
recalled her people and her native land and yearned after them;
so she said to him, "Send me and my husband the Chamberlain to
Baghdad, that I may tell my father how the Bedouin seized me and
sold me to the merchant, and how thou boughtest me of him and
gavest me in marriage to the Chamberlain, after setting me free."
"Be it so," replied Sherkan. Then he made ready the tribute in
haste and gave it to the Chamberlain, bidding him make ready for
Baghdad, and furnished him with camels and mules and two
travelling litters, one for himself and the other for the
princess. Moreover, he wrote a letter to his father and committed
it to the Chamberlain. Then he took leave of his sister, after he
had taken the jewel from her and hung it round his daughter's
neck by a chain of fine gold; and she and her husband set out for
Baghdad the same night. Now their caravan was the very one to
which Zoulmekan and his friend the stoker had joined themselves,
as before related, having waited till the Chamberlain passed
them, riding on a dromedary, with his footmen around him. Then
Zoulmekan mounted the stoker's ass and said to the latter, "Do
thou mount with me." But he said, "Not so: I will be thy
servant." Quoth Zoulmekan, "Needs must thou ride awhile." "It is
well," replied the stoker; "I will ride when I grow tired." Then
said Zoulmekan, "O my brother, thou shalt see how I will do with
thee, when I come to my own people." So they journeyed on till
the sun rose, and when it was the hour of the noonday rest, the
Chamberlain called a halt, and they alighted and rested and
watered their camels. Then he gave the signal for departure and
they journeyed for five days, till they came to the city of
Hemah, where they made a three days' halt; then set out again and
fared on, till they reached the province of Diarbekir. Here there
blew on them the breezes of Baghdad, and Zoulmekan bethought him
of his father and mother and his native land and how he was
returning to his father without his sister: so he wept and sighed
and complained, and his regrets increased on him, and he repeated
the following verses:

How long wilt thou delay from me, beloved one? I wait: And yet
there comes no messenger with tidings of thy fate.
Alack, the time of love-delight and peace was brief indeed! Ah,
that the days of parting thus would of their length abate!
Take thou my hand and put aside my mantle and thou'lt find My
body wasted sore; and yet I hide my sad estate.
And if thou bid me be consoled for thee, "By God," I say, "I'll
ne'er forget thee till the Day that calls up small and

"Leave this weeping and lamenting," said the stoker, "for we are
near the Chamberlain's tent." Quoth Zoulmekan, "Needs must I
recite somewhat of verse, so haply it may allay the fire of my
heart." "God on thee," cried the stoker, "leave this lamentation,
till thou come to thine own country; then do what thou wilt, and
I will be with thee, wherever thou art." "By Allah," replied
Zoulmekan, "I cannot forbear from this!" Then he set his face
towards Baghdad and began to repeat verses. Now the moon was
shining brightly and shedding her light on the place, and Nuzhet
ez Zeman could not sleep that night, but was wakeful and called
to mind her brother and wept. Presently, she heard Zoulmekan
weeping and repeating the following verses:

The southern lightning gleams in the air And rouses in me the old
The grief for a dear one, loved and lost, Who filled me the cup
of joy whilere.
It minds me of her who fled away And left me friendless and sick
and bare.
O soft-shining lightnings, tell me true, Are the days of
happiness past fore'er?
Chide not, O blamer of me, for God Hath cursed me with two things
hard to bear,
A friend who left me to pine alone, And a fortune whose smile was
but a snare.
The sweet of my life was gone for aye, When fortune against me
did declare;
She brimmed me a cup of grief unmixed, And I must drink it and
never spare.
Or ever our meeting 'tide, sweetheart, Methinks I shall die of
sheer despair,
I prithee, fortune, bring back the days When we were a happy
childish pair;
The days, when we from the shafts of fate, That since have
pierced us, in safety were!
Ah, who shall succour the exiled wretch, Who passes the night in
dread and care,
And the day in mourning for her whose name, Delight of the
Age[FN#62], bespoke her fair?
The hands of the baseborn sons of shame Have doomed us the wede
of woe to wear.

Then he cried out and fell down in a swoon, and when Nuzhet ez
Zeman heard his voice in the night, her heart was solaced and she
rose and called the chief eunuch, who said to her, "What is thy
will?" Quoth she, "Go and fetch me him who recited verses but
now." "I did not hear him," replied he; "the people are all
asleep." And she said, "Whomsoever thou findest awake, he is the
man." So he went out and sought, but found none awake but the
stoker; for Zoulmekan was still insensible, and, Nuzhet ez Zeman,
going up to the former, said to him, "Art thou he who recited
verses but now, and my lady heard him?" The stoker concluded that
the lady was wroth and was afraid and replied, "By Allah, 'twas
not I!" "Who then was it?" rejoined the eunuch. "Point him out to
me. Thou must know who it was, seeing that thou art awake." The
stoker feared for Zoulmekan and said in himself, "Maybe the
eunuch will do him some hurt." So he answered, "I know not who it
was." "By Allah," said the eunuch, "thou liest, for there is none
awake here but thou! So needs must thou know him." "By Allah,"
replied the stoker, "I tell thee the truth! It must have been
some passer-by who recited the verses and disturbed me and
aroused me, may God requite him!" Quoth the eunuch, "If thou
happen upon him, point him out to me and I will lay hands on him
and bring him to the door of my lady's litter; or do thou take
him with thine own hand." "Go back," said the stoker, "and I will
bring him to thee." So the eunuch went back to his mistress and
said to her, "None knows who it was; it must have been some
passer-by." And she was silent. Meanwhile, Zoulmekan came to
himself and saw that the moon had reached the zenith and felt the
breath of the breeze that goes before the dawn; whereupon his
heart was moved to longing and sadness, and he cleared his throat
and was about to recite verses, when the stoker said to him,
"What wilt thou do?" "I have a mind to repeat somewhat of verse,"
answered Zoulmekan, "that I may allay therewith the fire of my
heart." Quoth the other, "Thou knowest not what befell me, whilst
thou wert aswoon, and how I only escaped death by beguiling the
eunuch." "Tell me what happened," said Zoulrnekan. "Whilst thou
wert aswoon," replied the stoker, "there came up to me but now an
eunuch, with a long staff of almond-tree wood in his hand, who
looked in all the people's faces, as they lay asleep, and finding
none awake but myself, asked me who it was recited the verses. I
told him it was some passer-by; so he went away and God delivered
me from him; else had he killed me. But first he said to me, 'If
thou hear him again, bring him to us.'" When Zoulmekan heard
this, he wept and said, "Who is it would forbid me to recite? I
will surely do so, come what may; for I am near my own country
and care for no one." "Dost thou wish to destroy thyself?" asked
the stoker; and Zoulmekan answered, "I cannot help reciting
verses." "Verily," said the stoker, "I see this will bring about
a parting between us here though I had promised myself not to
leave thee, till I had brought thee to thy native city and
re-united thee with thy mother and father. Thou hast now been
with me a year and a half, and I have never baulked thee or
harmed thee in aught. What ails thee then, that thou must needs
recite, seeing that we are exceeding weary with travel and
watching and all the folk are asleep, for they need sleep to rest
them of their fatigue." But Zoulmekan answered, "I will not be
turned from my purpose." Then grief moved him and he threw off
disguise and began to repeat the following verses:

Halt by the camp and hail the ruined steads by the brake, And
call on her name aloud; mayhap she will answer make.
And if for her absence the night of sadness darken on thee, Light
in its gloom a fire with longings for her sake.
Though the snake of the sand-hills hiss, small matter is it to me
If it sting me, so I the fair with the lips of crimson take.
O Paradise, left perforce of the spirit, but that I hope For ease
in the mansions of bliss, my heart would surely break!

And these also:

Time was when fortune was to us even as a servant is, And in the
loveliest of lands our happy lives did kiss.
Ah, who shall give me back the abode of my belov'd, wherein The
Age's Joy[FN#63] and Place's Light[FN#64] erst dwelt in
peace and bliss?

Then he cried out three times and fell down senseless, and the
stoker rose and covered him. When Nuzhet ez Zeman heard the first
verses, she called to mind her mother and father and brother; and
when she heard the second, mentioning the names of herself and
her brother and their sometime home, she wept and calling the
eunuch, said to him, "Out on thee! But now I heard him who
recited the first time do so again, and that hard by. So, by
Allah, an thou fetch him not to me, I will rouse the Chamberlain
on thee, and he shall beat thee and turn thee away. But take
these hundred dinars and give them to him and do him no hurt, but
bring him to me gently. If he refuse, give him this purse of a
thousand dinars and leave him and return to me and tell me, after
thou hast informed thyself of his place and condition and what
countryman he is. Return quickly and do not linger, and beware
lest thou come back and say, 'I could not find him.'" So the
eunuch went out and fell to examining the people and treading
amongst them, but found none awake, for the folk were all asleep
for weariness, till he came to the stoker and saw him sitting up,
with his head uncovered. So he drew near him and seizing him by
the hand, said to him, "It was thou didst recite the verses!" The
stoker was affrighted and replied, "No, by Allah, O chief of the
people, it was not I!" But the eunuch said, "I will not leave
thee till thou show me who it was; for I fear to return to my
lady without him." Thereupon the stoker feared for Zoulmekan and
wept sore and said to the eunuch, "By Allah, it was not I, nor do
I know who it was. I only heard some passer-by recite verses: so
do not thou commit sin on me, for I am a stranger and come from
Jerusalem, and Abraham the Friend of God be with thee!" "Come
thou with me," rejoined the eunuch, "and tell my lady this with
thine own mouth, for I see none awake but thee." Quoth the
stoker, "Hast thou not seen me sitting here and dost thou not
know my station? Thou knowest none can stir from his place,
except the guards seize him. So go thou to thy mistress and if
thou hear any one reciting again, whether it be near or far, it
will be I or some one whom I shall know, and thou shalt not know
of him but by me." Then he kissed the eunuch's head and spoke him
fair, till he went away; but he made a circuit and returning
secretly, came and hid himself behind the stoker, fearing to go
back to his mistress empty-handed. As soon as he was gone, the
stoker aroused Zoulmekan and said to him, "Awake and sit up, that
I may tell thee what has happened." So Zoulmekan sat up, and the
stoker told him what had passed, and he answered, "Let me alone;
I will take no heed of this and I care for none, for I am near my
own country." Quoth the stoker, "Why wilt thou obey thine own
inclinations and the promptings of the devil? If thou fearest no
one, I fear for thee and myself; so God on thee, recite no more
verses, till thou come to thine own country! Indeed, I had not
thought thee so self-willed. Dost thou not know that this lady is
the wife of the Chamberlain and is minded to chide thee for
disturbing her. Belike, she is ill or restless for fatigue, and
this is the second time she hath sent the eunuch to look for
thee." However, Zoulmekan paid no heed to him, but cried out a
third time and repeated the following verses:

The carping tribe I needs must flee; Their railing chafes my
They blame and chide at me nor know They do but fan the flame in
"She is consoled," they say. And I, "Can one consoled for country
Quoth they, "How beautiful she is!" And I, "How dear-belov'd is
"How high her rank!" say they; and I, "How base is my humility!"
Now God forfend I leave to love, Deep though I drink of agony!
Nor will I heed the railing race, Who carp at me for loving thee.

Hardly had he made an end of these verses when the eunuch, who
had heard him from his hiding, came up to him; whereupon the
stoker fled and stood afar off, to see what passed between them.
Then said the eunuch to Zoulmekan, "Peace be on thee, O my lord!"
"And on thee be peace," replied Zoulmekan, "and the mercy of God
and His blessing!" "O my lord," continued the eunuch, "this is
the third time I have sought thee this night, for my mistress
bids thee to her." Quoth Zoulmekan, "Whence comes this bitch that
seeks for me? May God curse her and her husband too!" And he
began to revile the eunuch, who could make him no answer, because
his mistress had charged him to do Zoulmekan no violence nor
bring him, save of his free will, and if he would not come, to
give him the thousand dinars. So he began to speak him fair and
say to him, "O my lord, take this (purse) and go with me. We will
do thee no unright nor wrong thee in aught; but we would have
thee bend thy gracious steps with me to my mistress, to speak
with her and return in peace and safety; and thou shalt have a
handsome present." When Zoulmekan heard this, he arose and went
with the eunuch, stepping over the sleeping folk, whilst the
stoker followed them at a distance, saying to himself, "Alas, the
pity of his youth! To-morrow they will hang him. How base it will
be of him, if he say it was I who bade him recite the verses!"
And he drew near to them and stood, watching them, without their
knowledge, till they came to Nuzhet ez Zeman's tent, when the
eunuch went in to her and said, "O my lady, I have brought thee
him whom thou soughtest, and he is a youth, fair of face and
bearing the marks of gentle breeding." When she heard this, her
heart fluttered and she said, "Let him recite some verses, that I
may hear him near at hand, and after ask him his name and
extraction." So the eunuch went out to Zoulmekan and said to him,
"Recite what verses thou knowest, for my lady is here hard by,
listening to thee, and after I will ask thee of thy name and
extraction and condition." "Willingly," replied he; "but as for
my name, it is blotted out and my trace among men is passed away
and my body wasted. I have a story, the beginning of which is not
known nor can the end of it be described, and behold, I am even
as one who hath exceeded in drinking wine, till he hath lost the
mastery of himself and is afflicted with distempers and wanders
from his right mind, being perplexed about his case and drowned
in the sea of melancholy." When Nuzhet ez Zeman heard this, she
broke out into loud weeping and sobbing and said to the eunuch,
"Ask him if he have lost a beloved one, such as his father or
mother." The eunuch did as she bade him, and Zoulmekan replied,
"Yes, I have lost all whom I loved: but the dearest of all to me
was my sister, from whom Fate hath parted me." When Nuzhet ez
Zeman heard this, she exclaimed, "May God the Most High reunite
him with those he loves!" Then said she to the eunuch, "Tell him
to let me hear somewhat on the subject of his separation from his
people and his country." The eunuch did so, and Zoulmekan sighed
heavily and repeated the following verses:

Ah, would that I knew they were ware Of the worth of the heart
they have won!
Would I knew through what passes they fare, From what quarter
they look on the sun! Are they living, I wonder, or dead?
Can it be that their life's race is run?
Ah, the lover is ever distraught And his life for misgivings

And also these:

I vow, if e'er the place shall bless my longing sight, Wherein my
sister dwells, the age's dear delight,[FN#65]
I'll take my fill of life and all the sweets of peace, Midst
trees and flowing streams: and maidens fair and bright
The lute's enchanting tones shall soothe me to repose, What while
I quaff full cups of wine like living light
And honeyed dews of love suck from the deep-red lips Of lovelings
sleepy-eyed, with tresses black as night.

When he had finished, Nuzhet ez Zeman lifted up a corner of the
curtain of the litter and looked at him. As soon as her eyes fell
on him, she knew him for certain and cried out, "O my brother! O
Zoulmekan!" He looked at her and knew her and cried out, "O my
sister! O Nuzhet ez Zeman!" Then she threw herself upon him, and
he received her in his arms, and they both fell down in a swoon.
When the eunuch saw this, he wondered and throwing over them
somewhat to cover them, waited till they should recover. After
awhile, they came to themselves, and Nuzhet ez Zeman rejoiced
exceedingly. Grief and anxiety left her and joys flocked upon her
and she repeated the following verses:

Fate swore 'twould never cease to plague my life and make me rue.
Thou hast not kept thine oath, O Fate; so look thou penance
Gladness is come and my belov'd is here to succour me; So rise
unto the summoner of joys, and quickly too.
I had no faith in Paradise of olden time, until I won the nectar
of its streams from lips of damask hue.

When Zoulmekan heard this, he pressed his sister to his breast,
whilst, for the excess of his joy, the tears streamed from his
eyes and he repeated the following verses:

Long time have I bewailed the severance of our loves, With tears
that from my lids streamed down like burning rain,
And vowed that, if the days should reunite us two, My lips should
never speak of severance again.
Joy hath o'erwhelmed me so, that, for the very stress Of that
which gladdens me, to weeping I am fain.
Tears are become to you a habit, O my eyes, So that ye weep alike
for gladness and for pain.

They sat awhile at the door of the litter, conversing, till she
said to him, "Come with me into the litter and tell me all that
has befallen thee, and I will do the like." So they entered and
Zoulmekan said, "Do thou begin." Accordingly, she told him all
that had happened to her since their separation and said,
"Praised be God who hath vouchsafed thee to me and ordained that,
even as we left our father together, so we shall return to him
together! Now tell me how it has fared with thee since I left
thee." So he told her all that had befallen him and how God had
sent the stoker to him, and how he had journeyed with him and
spent his money on him and tended him night and day. She praised
the stoker for this, and Zoulmekan added, "Indeed, O my sister,
the man hath dealt with me in such benevolent wise as would not a
lover with his mistress or a father with his son, for that he
fasted and gave me to eat, and went afoot, whilst he made me
ride; and I owe my life to him." "God willing," said she, "we
will requite him for all this, according to our power." Then she
called the eunuch, who came and kissed Zoulmekan's hand, and she
said, "Take thy reward for glad tidings, O face of good omen! It
was thy hand reunited me with my brother; so the purse I gave
thee and its contents are thine. But now go to thy master and
bring him quickly to me." The eunuch rejoiced and going to the
Chamberlain, summoned him to his mistress. Accordingly, he came
in to his wife and finding Zoulmekan with her, asked who he was.
So she told him all that had befallen them, first and last, and
added, "Know, O Chamberlain, that thou hast gotten no slave-girl
to wife: but the daughter of King Omar ben Ennuman: for I am
Nuzhet ez Zeman, and this is my brother Zoulmekan." When the
Chamberlain heard her story, he knew it for the manifest truth
and was certified that he was become King Omar ben Ennuman's
son-in-law and said to himself, "I shall surely be made governor
of some province." Then he went up to Zoulmekan and gave him joy
of his safety and re-union with his sister, and bade his servants
forthwith make him ready a tent and one of the best of his own
horses to ride. Then said Nuzhet ez Zeman, "We are now near my
country and I would fain be alone with my brother, that we may
enjoy one another's company and take our fill of each other,
before we reach Baghdad; for we have been long parted." "Be it as
thou wilt," replied the Chamberlain and going forth, sent them
wax candles and various kinds of sweetmeats, together with three
costly suits of clothes for Zoulmekan. Then he returned to the
litter, and Nuzhet ez Zeman said to him, "Bid the eunuch find the
stoker and give him a horse to ride and provide him a tray of
food morning and evening, and let him be forbidden to leave us."
The Chamberlain called the eunuch and charged him accordingly; so
he took his pages with him and went out in search of the stoker,
whom he found at the tail of the caravan, saddling his ass and
preparing for flight. The tears were running down his cheeks, out
of fear for himself and grief for his separation from Zoulmekan,
and he was saying to himself, "Indeed, I warned him for the love
of God, but he would not listen to me. O that I knew what is
become of him!" Before he had done speaking, the eunuch came up
and stood behind him, whilst the pages surrounded him. The stoker
turned and seeing the eunuch and the pages round him, changed
colour and trembled in every nerve for affright, exclaiming,
"Verily, he knows not the value of the good offices I have done
him! I believe he has denounced me to the eunuch and made me an
accomplice in his offence." Then the eunuch cried out at him,
saying, "Who was it recited the verses? Liar that thou art, why
didst thou tell me that thou knewest not who it was, when it was
thy companion? But now I will not leave thee till we come to
Baghdad, and what betides thy comrade shall betide thee." Quoth
the stoker, "Verily, what I feared has fallen on me." And he
repeated the following verse:

'Tis e'en as I feared it would be: We are God's and to Him return

Then said the eunuch to the pages, "Take him off the ass." So
they took him off the ass and setting him on a horse, carried him
along with the caravan, surrounded by the pages, to whom said the
eunuch, "If a hair of him be missing, it shall be the worse for you."
But he bade them privily treat him with consideration and not
humiliate him. When the stoker saw himself in this case, he gave
himself up for lost and turning to the eunuch, said to him, "O chief,
I am neither this youth's brother nor anywise akin to him; but I
was a stoker in a bath and found him lying asleep on the fuel-heap."
Then the caravan fared on and the stoker wept and imagined a
thousand things in himself, whilst the eunuch walked by his side
and told him nothing, but said to him, "You disturbed our mistress
by reciting verses, thou and the lad: but have no fear for thyself."
This he said, laughing at him the while in himself. When the
caravan halted, they brought them food, and he and the eunuch ate
from one dish. Then the eunuch let bring a gugglet of sherbet of
sugar and after drinking himself, gave it to the stoker, who drank;
but all the while his tears ceased not flowing, out of fear for
himself and grief for his separation from Zoulmekan and for what
had befallen them in their strangerhood. So they travelled on with
the caravan, whilst the Chamberlain now rode by the door of his
wife's litter, in attendance on Zoulmekan and the princess, and now
gave an eye to the stoker, and Nuzhet ez Zeman and her brother
occupied themselves with converse and mutual condolence; and so they
did till they came within three days' journey of Baghdad. Here they
alighted at eventide and rested till the morning, when they woke
and were about to load the beasts, when behold, there appeared
afar off a great cloud of dust, that obscured the air, till it
became as dark as night. Thereupon the Chamberlain cried out to
them to stay their preparations for departure, and mounting with
his officers rode forward in the direction of the dust-cloud.
When they drew near it, they perceived under it a numerous army,
like the full flowing sea, with drums and flags and standards and
horsemen and footmen. The Chamberlain marvelled at this: and when
the troops saw him, there came forth from amongst them a troop of
five hundred horse, who fell upon him and his suite and
surrounded them, five for one; whereupon said he to them, "What
is the matter and what are these troops, that ye use us thus?"
"Who art thou?" asked they. "Whence comest thou and whither art
thou bound?" And he answered, "I am the Chamberlain of the
Viceroy of Damascus, King Sherkan, son of King Omar ben Ennuman,
lord of Baghdad and of the land of Khorassan, and I bring tribute
and presents from him to his father in Baghdad." When the
horsemen heard speak of King Omar, they let their kerchiefs fall
over their faces and wept, saying, "Alas! King Omar is dead, and
he died poisoned. But fare ye on, no harm shall befall you, and
join his Grand Vizier Dendan." When the Chamberlain heard this,
he wept sore and exclaimed, "Alas, our disappointment in this our
journey!" Then he and his suite rode on, weeping, till they
reached the main body of the army and sought access to the
Vizier Dendan, who called a halt and causing his pavilion to be
pitched, sat down on a couch therein and commanded to admit the
Chamberlain. Then he bade him be seated and questioned him; and
he replied that he was the Viceroy's Chamberlain of Damascus and
was bound to King Omar with presents and the tribute of Syria.
The Vizier wept at the mention of King Omar's name and said,
"King Omar is dead by poison, and the folk fell out amongst
themselves as to whom they should make king after him, so that
they were like to come to blows on this account; but the notables
and grandees interposed and restored peace, and the people agreed
to refer the matter to the decision of the four Cadis, who
adjudged that we should go to Damascus and fetch thence the late
king's son Sherkan and make him king over his father's realm.
Some of them would have chosen his second son Zoulmekan, were it
not that he and his sister Nuzhet ez Zeman set out five years ago
for Mecca, and none knows what is become of them." When the
Chamberlain heard this, he knew that his wife had told him the
truth and grieved sore for the death of King Omar, what while he
was greatly rejoiced, especially at the arrival of Zoulmekan, for
that he would now become King of Baghdad in his father's room. So
he turned to the Vizier and said to him, "Verily, your affair is
a wonder of wonders! Know, O chief Vizier, that here, where you
have encountered me, God giveth you rest from fatigue and
bringeth you that you desire after the easiest of fashions, in
that He restoreth to you Zoulmekan and his sister Nuzhet ez
Zeman, whereby the matter is settled and made easy." When the
Vizier heard this, he rejoiced greatly and said, "O Chamberlain,
tell me their story and the reason of their having been so long
absent." So he repeated to him the whole story and told him that
Nuzhet ez Zeman was his wife. As soon as he had made an end of
his tale, the Vizier sent for the amirs and viziers and grandees
and acquainted them with the matter; whereat they rejoiced
greatly and wondered at the happy chance. Then they went in to
the Chamberlain and did their service to him, kissing the earth
before him; and the Vizier Dendan also rose and stood before him,
in token of respect. After this the Chamberlain held a great
council, and he and the Vizier sat upon a throne, whilst all the
amirs and officers of state took their places before them,
according to their several ranks. Then they dissolved sugar in
rose-water and drank, after which the amirs sat down to hold
council and bade the rest mount and ride forward leisurely, till
they should make an end of their deliberations and overtake them.
So the officers kissed the earth before them and mounting, rode
onward, preceded by the standards of war. When the amirs had
finished their conference, they mounted and rejoined the troops;
and the Chamberlain said to the Vizier Dendan, "I think it well
to ride on before you, that I may notify Zoulmekan of your coming
and choice of him as Sultan over the head of his brother Sherkan,
and that I may make him ready a place befitting his dignity." "It
is well thought," answered the Vizier. Then the Chamberlain rose
and Dendan also rose, to do him honour, and brought him presents,
which he conjured him to accept. On like wise did all the amirs
and officers of state, calling down blessings on him and saying
to him, "Mayhap thou will make mention of our case to King
Zoulmekan and speak to him to continue us in our dignities." The
Chamberlain promised what they asked and the Vizier Dendan sent
with him tents and bade the tent-pitchers set them up at a days
journey from the city. Then the Chamberlain mounted and rode
forward, full of joy and saying in himself, "How blessed is this
journey!" And indeed his wife was exalted in his eyes, she and
her brother Zoulmekan. They made all haste, till they reached a
place distant a day's journey from Baghdad, where he called a
halt and bade his men alight and make ready a sitting place for
the Sultan Zoulmekan, whilst he rode forward with his pages and
alighting at a distance from Nuzhet ez Zeman's litter, commanded
the eunuchs to ask the princess's leave to admit him. They did so
and she gave leave; whereupon he went in to her and her brother
and told them of the death of their father, King Omar ben
Ennuman, and how the heads of the people had made Zoulmekan king
over them in his stead; and he gave them joy of the kingdom. When
they heard this, they both wept for their father and asked the
manner of his death. "The news rests with the Vizier Dendan,"
replied the Chamberlain, "who will be here to-morrow with all the
troops; and it only remains for thee, O prince, to do what they
counsel, since they have chosen thee King; for if thou do not
this, they will crown another, and thou canst not be sure of
thyself with another king. Haply he will kill thee, or discord
may befall between you and the kingdom pass out of your hands."
Zoulmekan bowed his head awhile, then raised it and said, "I
accept;" for indeed he saw that the Chamberlain had counselled
him rightly and that there was no refusing; "but, O uncle, how
shall I do with my brother Sherkan?" "O my son," replied the
Chamberlain, "thy brother will be Sultan of Damascus, and thou
Sultan of Baghdad; so gird up thy resolution and prepare to do
what befits thy case." Then he presented him with a suit of royal
raiment and a dagger of state, that the Vizier Dendan had brought
with him, and leaving him, returned to the tent-pitchers and bade
them choose out a spot of rising ground and pitch thereon a
spacious and splendid pavilion, wherein the Sultan might sit to
receive the amirs and grandees. Then he ordered the cooks to make
ready rich food and serve it up and the water-carriers to set up
the water-troughs. They did as he bade them and presently there
arose a cloud of dust and spread till it obscured the horizon.
After awhile, the breeze dispersed it, and there appeared under
it the army of Baghdad and Khorassan, led by the Vizier Dendan,
all rejoicing in the accession of Zoulmekan. Now Zoulmekan had
donned the royal robes and girt himself with the sword of state:
so the Chamberlain brought him a steed and he mounted, surrounded
by the rest of the company on foot, and rode between the tents,
till he came to the royal pavilion, where he entered and sat
down, with the royal dagger across his thighs, whilst the
Chamberlain stood in attendance on him and his servants stationed
themselves in the vestibule of the pavilion, with drawn swords in
their hands. Presently, up came the troops and sought admission
to the King's presence; so the Chamberlain went in to Zoulmekan
and asked his leave, whereupon he bade admit them, ten by ten.
Accordingly, the Chamberlain went out to them and acquainted them
with the King's orders, to which they replied, "We hear and
obey." Then he took ten of them and carried them, through the
vestibule, into the presence of the Sultan, whom when they saw,
they were awed; but he received them with the utmost kindness and
promised them all good. So they gave him joy of his safe return
and invoked God's blessing upon him, after which they took the
oath of fealty to him, and kissing the earth before him,
withdrew. Then other ten entered and he received them in the same
manner; and they ceased not to enter, ten by ten, till none was
left but the Vizier Dendan. So he went in and kissed the earth
before Zoulmekan, who rose to meet him, saying, "Welcome, O noble
Vizier and father! Verily, thine acts are those of a precious
counsellor, and judgment and foresight are in the hands of the
Subtle, the All Wise." Then he commanded the Chamberlain to go
out and cause the tables to be spread at once and bid the troops
thereto. So they came and ate and drank. Moreover, he bade Dendan
call a ten days' halt of the army, that he might be private with
him and learn from him the manner of his father's death.
Accordingly, the Vizier went forth and transmitted the King's
wishes to the troops, who received his commands with submission
and wished him eternity of glory. Moreover, he gave them leave to
divert themselves and ordered that none of the lords in waiting
should go in to the King for his service for the space of three
days. Then Zoulmekan waited till nightfall, when he went in to
his sister Nuzhet ez Zeman and said to her, "Dost thou know the
fashion of my father's death or not?" "I have no knowledge of
it," replied she, and drew a silken curtain before herself,
whilst Zoulmekan seated himself without the curtain and sending
for the Vizier, bade him relate to him in detail the manner of
King Omar's death. "Know then, O King," replied Dendan, "that
King Omar ben Ennuman, when he returned to Baghdad from his
hunting excursion, enquired for thee and thy sister, but could
not find you and knew that you had gone on the pilgrimage,
whereat he was greatly concerned and angered, and his breast was
contracted. He abode thus a whole year, seeking news of you from
all who came and went, but none could give him any tidings of
you. At the end of this time, as we were one day in attendance
upon him, there came to us an old woman, as she were a devotee,
accompanied by five damsels, high-bosomed maids, like moons,
endowed with such beauty and grace as the tongue fails to
describe; and to crown their perfections, they knew the Koran by
heart and were versed in various kinds of learning and in the
histories of bygone peoples. The old woman sought an audience of
the King, and he bade admit her; whereupon she entered and kissed
the ground before him. Now I was then sitting by his side, and
he, seeing in her the signs of devoutness and asceticism, made
her draw near and sit down by him. So she sat down and said to
him, 'Know, O King, that with me are five damsels, whose like no
king possesses, for they are endowed with beauty and grace and
wit. They know the Koran and the traditions and are skilled in
all manner of learning and in the history of bygone peoples. They
are here before thee, at thy disposal; for it is by proof that
folk are prized or disdained.' Thy late father looked at the
damsels and their favour pleased him; so he said to them, 'Let
each of you tell me something of what she knows of the history of
bygone folk and peoples of times past.' Thereupon one of them
came forward and kissing the earth before him, spoke as follows,
'Know, O King, that it behoves the man of good breeding to eschew
impertinence and adorn himself with excellencies, observing the
Divine precepts and shunning mortal sins; and to this he should
apply himself with the assiduity of one who, if he stray
therefrom, is lost; for the foundation of good breeding is
virtuous behaviour. Know that the chief reason of existence is
the endeavour after life everlasting and the right way thereto is
the service of God: so it behoves thee to deal righteously with
the people; and swerve not from this rubrick, for the mightier
folk are in dignity, the more need they have of prudence and
foresight; and indeed kings need this more than common folk, for
the general cast themselves into affairs, without taking thought
to the issue of them. Be thou prodigal both of thyself and thy
treasure in the way of God and know that, if an enemy dispute
with thee, thou mayst litigate with him and refute him with proof
and ward thyself against him; but as for thy friend, there is
none can judge between thee and him but righteousness and
fair-dealing. Wherefore, choose thy friend for thyself, after
thou hast proved him. If he be a man of religion, let him be
zealous in observing the external letter of the Law and versed in
its inner meaning, as far as may be: and if he be a man of the
world, let him be free-born, sincere, neither ignorant nor
perverse, for the ignorant man is such that even his parents
might well flee from him, and a liar cannot be a true friend, for
the word "friend"[FN#66] is derived from "truth,"[FN#67] that
emanates from the bottom of the heart; and how can this be the
case, when falsehood is manifest upon the tongue? Know,
therefore, that the observance of the Law profits him who
practices it: so love thy brother, if he be after this fashion,
and do not cast him off, even if thou see in him that which thou
mislikest; for a friend is not like a wife whom one can divorce
and take again; but his heart is like glass; once broken, it
cannot be mended. And God bless him who says:

Be careful not to hurt men's hearts nor work them aught of dole,
For hard it is to bring again a once estranged soul;
And hearts, indeed, whose loves in twain by discord have been
rent Are like a broken glass, whose breach may never be made

The wise say (continued she), "The best of friends is he who is
the most assiduous in good counsel, the best of actions is that
which is fairest in its result, and the best of praise is (not)
that which is in the mouths of men." It is said also, "It behoves
not the believer to neglect to thank God, especially for two
favours, health and reason." Again, "He who honoureth himself,
his lust is a light matter to him, and he who makes much of small
troubles, God afflicts him with great ones: he who obeys his own
inclination neglects his duties and he who listens to the
slanderer loses the true friend. He who thinks well of thee, do
thou fulfil his thought of thee. He who exceeds in contention
sins, and he who does not beware of upright is not safe from the

Now will I tell thee somewhat of the duties of judges. Know, O
King, that no judgment serves the cause of justice except it be
given after deliberation, and it behoves the judge to treat all
people alike, to the intent that the rich and noble may not be
encouraged to oppression nor the poor and weak despair of
justice. He should extract proof from him who complains and
impose an oath upon him who denies; and compromise is lawful
between Muslims, except it be a compromise sanctioning an
unlawful or forbidding a lawful thing. If he have done aught
during the day, of which he is doubtful, the judge should
reconsider it and apply his discernment to elucidating it, that
(if he have erred) he may revert to the right, for to do justice
is a religious obligation and to return to that which is right is
better than perseverance in error. Then he should study the
precedents and the law of the case and do equal justice between
the suitors, fixing his eye upon the truth and committing his
affair to God, to whom belong might and majesty. Let him require
proof of the complainant, and if he adduce it, let him put the
defendant to his oath; for this is the ordinance of God. He
should receive the testimony of competent Muslim witnesses, one
against another, for God the Most High hath commanded judges to
judge by externals, He Himself taking charge of the secret
things. It behoves the judge also to avoid giving judgment,
whilst suffering from stress of pain or hunger, and that in his
decisions between the folk he seek to please God, for he whose
intent is pure and who is at peace with his conscience, God shall
guarantee him against what is between him and the people. Quoth
Ez Zuhri,[FN#68] "There are three things, which if they be found
in a Cadi, he should be deposed; namely, if he honour the base,
love praise and fear dismissal." It is related that Omar ben
Abdulaziz once deposed a Cadi, who asked him why he had done so.
"It has come to my knowledge," replied Omar, "that thy speech is
greater than thy condition." It is said also that Iskender[FN#69]
said to his Cadi, "I have invested thee with this function and
committed to thee in it my soul and my honour and manhood; so do
thou guard it with thy soul and thine understanding." To his cook
he said, "Thou art the governor of my body; so look thou tender
it." To his secretary he said, "Thou art the controller of my
wit: so do thou watch over me in what thou writest for me."'

With this the first damsel retired and a second one came forward
and kissing the earth seven times before the King thy father,
spoke as follows: 'The sage Lucman[FN#70] said to his son, "There
are three men whom thou shalt not know, but in three several
cases; thou shalt not know the merciful man but in time of anger,
nor the brave man but in time of war nor thy friend but when thou
hast need of him." It is said that the oppressor shall repent,
though the people praise him, and that the oppressed is safe,
though the people blame him. Quoth God the Most High, "[FN#71]
Think not that those who rejoice in their deeds and love to be
praised for that which they have not done, shall escape
punishment; indeed there is reserved for them a grievous
punishment." Quoth Mohammed (on whom be peace and salvation),
"Works are according to intentions, and to each man is attributed
that which he intends." He saith also, "There is a part of the
human body, which being whole, all the rest is whole, and which
being corrupt, the whole body is corrupt; it is the heart. And
indeed the heart is the most marvellous part of man, since it is
that which ordereth his whole affair; if covetise stir in it,
desire destroys him, and if affliction master it, anguish slays
him: if anger rage in it, danger is sore upon him, and if it be
blest with contentment, he is safe from discontent; if fear
overtake it, he is filled with mourning, and if calamity smite
it, affliction betideth him. If a man gain wealth, his heart is
peradventure diverted thereby from the remembrance of his Lord,
and if poverty afflict him, his heart is distracted by care, or
if disquietude waste his heart, weakness reduces him to
impotence. So, in any case, there is nothing will profit him but
that he be mindful of God and occupy himself with gaining his
living and securing his place in Paradise." It was asked of a
certain wise man, "Who is the most ill-conditioned of men?" "He,"
replied the sage, "whose lusts master his manhood and whose mind
exceeds in the pursuit of objects of high emprise, so that his
knowledge increases and his excuse diminishes; and how excellent
is what the poet says:

The freest of all men from need of the arrogant meddler am I, The
fool who's unguided of God and judges the folk all awry;
For wealth and good gifts are a loan and each man at last shall
be clad As it were in a mantle, with that which hid in his
bosom doth lie.
If thou enter on aught by a door that is other than right, thou
wilt err; But the right door will dead thee aright, for
sure, if thou enter there by."

As for anecdotes of devotees (continued the maiden), quoth Hisham
ben Besher, "I said to Omar ben Ubeid, 'What is true devoutness?'
and he answered, 'The Prophet (whom God bless and preserve) hath
expounded it, when he says, "The devout is he who takes thought
to death and calamity and prefers that which is eternal to that
which passes away, who counts not the morrow as of his days, but
reckons himself among the dead."'" And it is related that Abou
Dherr[FN#72] used to say, "Poverty is dearer to me than riches
and sickness than health." Quoth one of the listeners, "May God
have mercy on Abou Dherr! For my part, I say, 'He who puts his
trust in the goodness of the election of God the Most High should
be content with that condition of which the Almighty hath made
choice for him.'" Quoth one of the Companions (of the Prophet),
"Ibn Ali Aqfa[FN#73] prayed with us the morning-prayer one day.
When he had done, he read the seventy-fourth chapter (of the
Koran), beginning, 'O thou that coverest thyself!' till he came
to where God says, 'When the trumpet is blown,' and fell down
dead." It is said that Thabit el Benani wept till he well nigh
lost his eyes. They brought him a man to tend him, who said to
him, "I will cure thee, provided thou do my bidding." "In what
respect?" asked Thabit. "In that thou leave weeping," replied the
physician. "What is the use of my eyes," rejoined Thabit, "if
they do not weep?" Said a man to Mohammed ibn Abdallah, "Exhort
me." "I exhort thee," replied he, "to be an abstinent possessor
in this world and a greedy slave in the next." "How so?" asked
the other; and Mohammed said, "The abstinent man in this world
possesses both this world and the world to come." Quoth Ghauth
ben Abdallah, "There were two brothers among the people of
Israel, one of whom said to the other, 'What is the worst thing
thou hast done?' 'One day,' answered the other, 'I came upon a
nest of young birds; so I took out one and threw it back into the
nest; but the others drew apart from it. This is the worst thing
I ever did; so now tell me what is the worst thing thou hast ever
done.' 'When I betake myself to prayer,' rejoined the first, 'I
am fearful to have done so only for the sake of the reward. This
is the worst thing I have done.' Now their father heard what they
said and exclaimed, 'O my God, if they speak the truth, take them
to Thyself!' Quoth one of the wise men, 'Verily these were of the
most virtuous of children.'" Quoth Said ben Jubeir,[FN#74] "I was
once in company with Fuzaleh ibn Ubeid and said to him, 'Give me


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