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

Part 4 out of 7

the jars and found each one full of gold and scarce enough olives
in the whole fifty to fill one jar. Moreover, she sought among
the gold and found the talisman, which she took and examined and
knew for that which Kemerezzeman had taken from off the riband of
her trousers; whereupon she cried out for joy and fell down in a
swoon. When she revived, she said in herself, 'Verily, this
talisman was the cause of my separation from my beloved
Kemerezzeman; but now it is an omen of good.' Then she showed it
to Heyat en Nufous and said to her, 'This was the cause of
separation and now, please God, it shall be the cause of
reunion.' As soon as it was day, she seated herself on her
throne and sent for the captain, who came and kissed the ground
before her. Quoth she, 'Where didst thou leave the owner of
these olives?' 'O King of the age,' answered he, 'we left him in
the land of the Magians and he is a gardener there.' 'Except
thou bring him to me,' said she, 'thou knowest not the harm that
awaits thee and thy ship.' Then she bade seal up the merchants'
storehouses and said to them, 'The owner of these olives is my
debtor; and an ye bring him not to me, I will without fail put
you all to death and confiscate your goods.' So they all went to
the captain and promised him the hire of the ship, if he would go
and return a second time, saying, 'Deliver us from this masterful
tyrant.' Accordingly, the captain set sail and God decreed him a
prosperous voyage, till he came to the city of the Magians, and
landing by night, went up to the garden. Now the night was long
upon Kemerezzeman, and he sat, bethinking him of his beloved and
weeping over what had befallen him and repeating the following

Full many a night I've passed, whose stars their course did stay,
A night that seemed of those that will not pass away,
That was, as 'twere, for length the Resurrection-morn, To him
that watched therein and waited for the day!

At this moment, the captain knocked at the garden-gate, and
Kemerezzeman opened and went out to him, whereupon the sailors
seized him and carrying him on board the ship, weighed anchor
forthright. They sailed on without ceasing days and nights,
whilst Kemerezzeman knew not why they dealt thus with him; but
when he questioned them, they replied, 'Thou hast offended
against the lord of the Ebony Islands, the son-in-law of King
Armanous, and hast stolen his good, unhappy wretch that thou
art!' 'By Allah,' said he, 'I know not the country nor was I
ever there in all my life!' However, they fared on with him,
till they made the Ebony Islands and landing, carried him up to
the princess Budour, who knew him at sight and said, 'Leave him
with the eunuchs, that they may take him to the bath.' Then she
relieved the merchant of the embargo and gave the captain a dress
of honour and ten thousand dinars; after which, she went in that
night to the princess Heyat en Nufous and told her what had
passed, saying, 'Keep thou my counsel, till I accomplish my
purpose and do a thing that shall be recorded and told to kings
and commoners after us.' Meanwhile, they carried Kemerezzeman to
the bath and clad him in a royal habit, so that, when he came
forth, he resembled a willow-wand or a star whose aspect put to
shame both sun and moon, and his life returned to him. Then he
went in to the princess Budour, who, when she saw him, schooled
her heart to patience, till she should have accomplished her
purpose, and bestowed on him slaves and servants, black and
white, and camels and mules. Moreover, she gave him a treasury
of money and advanced him from dignity to dignity, till she made
him treasurer and committed to his charge all the treasures of
the state; nor did she leave day by day to increase his
allowances and afford him fresh marks of her favour. As for
Kemerezzeman, he was at a loss for the reason of all the honour
and favour she showed him and gave gifts and largesse out of the
abundance of the wealth he owed to her munificence, devoting
himself in particular to the service of King Armanous, so that he
and all the Amirs and people, great and small, loved him and were
wont to swear by his life. Nevertheless, he ceased not to marvel
at the favour shown him by Budour and said in himself, 'By Allah,
there must be a reason for this affection! Peradventure, this
king favours me thus excessively with some ill purpose and needs
must I therefore crave leave of him to depart his realm.' So he
went in to Budour and said to her, 'O King, thou hast overwhelmed
me with favours, but it will fulfil the measure of thy bounties
if thou wilt take from me all thou hast given and let me depart.'
She smiled and said, 'What makes thee seek to depart and plunge
into new perils, whenas thou art in the enjoyment of the greatest
favour and prosperity?' 'O King,' answered Kemerezzeman, 'this
favour, if there be no reason for it, is indeed a wonder of
wonders, more by token that thou hast advanced me to dignities
such as befit graybeards, albeit I am but a child.' 'The reason
is,' answered she, 'that I love thee for thine exceeding grace
and thy surpassing beauty; and so thou wilt but grant me my
desire of thee, I will advance thee yet further in honour and
favour and largesse and make thee Vizier, for all thy tender age,
even as the folk made me Sultan and I no older than thou; so that
nowadays there is nothing strange in the headship of children,
and gifted of God was he who said:

Our time is, meseems, of the lineage of Lot; It craves the
advancement of younglings, God wot.'

When Kemerezzeman heard this, he was confounded and his cheeks
flushed till they seemed on fire; and he said, 'I reck not of
favours that involve the commission of sin; I will live poor in
wealth but rich in virtue and honour.' Quoth she, 'I am not the
dupe of thy scruples, arising from prudery and coquetry: and God
bless him who says:

I mentioned to him the pact of fruition, and he, "How long with
vexatious discourse wilt thou set upon me?"
I showed him a dinar and straightway he sang out and said, "O
whither shall one from Fate irresistible flee!"

'O King,' replied Kemerezzeman, 'I have not the wont of these
doings, nor have I strength, who am but of tender years, to bear
these heavy burdens, for which elder than I have proved unable.'
She smiled and rejoined, 'Indeed, it is wonderful how error
springs from the disorder of the wit. Since thou art but a boy,
why standest thou in fear of sin or the doing of forbidden
things, seeing that thou art not yet come to years of discretion
and the offences of a child incur neither punishment nor reproof?
Verily, thou committest thyself to an argument advanced but for
the sake of contention, and it behoves thee to bow to the
ordinance of fruition, which has been given against thee.
Wherefore, henceforward, give over denial and coyness, for the
commandment of God is a foreordained decree:[FN#51] indeed, I
have more reason than thou to fear falling into error; and
well-inspired was he who said:

My pintle is big and the little one said unto me, "Tilt boldly
therewith at my inwards and quit thee thy need."
Quoth I, "'Tis unlawful;" but he, "It is lawful with me;" So to
it I fell, supporting myself by his rede.'

When Kemerezzeman heard these words, the light in his eyes became
darkness and he said, 'O King, thou hast in thy palace women and
female slaves, that have not their like in this age: may not
these suffice thee without me? Do thy will with them and leave
me.' 'Thou speakest truth,' answered she; 'but it is not with
them that one who loves thee can heal himself of torment and
fever; for when tastes and inclinations are corrupted, they
hearken to other than good counsel. So leave arguing and hear
what the poet says:

Seest not the fruits of the market, how of two kinds they be?
Some are for figs,[FN#52] but more for the fruit of the

And what another says:

Full many an one, whose ankle-rings are dumb, her girdle sounds;
So this one is content and that a tale of need must tell.
Thou'dst have me, foolwise, in her charms forget thee. God
forfend I, that a true believer am, should turn an infidel!
No, by a whisker that makes mock of all her curls, I swear, Nor
maid nor strumpet from thy side shall me by guile compel!

And a third:

O pearl of loveliness, to love thee is my faith; Yea, and my
choice of all the faiths that have been aye.
Women I have forsworn, indeed, for thy sweet sake, So that the
folk avouch I'm grown a monk to-day

And a fourth:

Compare not a wench with a boy and to the spy, Who says to thee,
"This is wrong," pay thou no heed.
'Twixt a woman whose feet one's lips kiss and a smooth-faced
fawn, Who kisses the earth, the diff'rence is great indeed.

And a fifth:

My soul be thy ransom! Indeed, I've chosen thee out with intent,
Because thou layest no eggs and dost not menstruate.
For, an I inclined to foregather with harlots, upon my faith, The
wide, wide world for the brats I should get would prove too

And a sixth:

Quoth she to me,--and sore enraged for wounded pride was she, For
she in sooth had bidden me to that which might not be,--
"An if thou swive me not forthright, as one should swive his
wife, If thou be made a cuckold straight, reproach it not to
Meseems thy yard is made of wax, for very flaccidness; For, when
I rub it with my hand, it softens instantly."

And a seventh:

Quoth she (for I to lie with her would not consent), "O fool,
that followest on thy folly to the extent,
If thou reject my kaze for Kibleh[FN#54] to thy yard, We'll show
thee one wherewith thou shalt be sure content."

And an eighth:

She proffered me a tender kaze; But I, "I will not swive,"
She drew back, saying, "From the truth Needs must he turn who's
turned aside;[FN#55]
And swiving frontwise in our day Is all abandoned and decried;"
Then turned and showed me, as it were A lump of silver, her
"Well done, O mistress mine! No more Am I in pain for thee," I
"Whose poke of all God's openings[FN#56] Is sure the amplest and
most wide!"

And a ninth:

Men crave forgiveness with uplifted hands; But women pray with
lifted legs, I trow.[FN#57]
Out on it for a pious piece of work! God shall exalt it to the
deeps below.[FN#58]

When Kemerezzeman heard these verses and was certified that there
was no escaping compliance with her will, he said, 'O King, if
thou must needs have it so, swear to me that thou wilt use me
thus but once, though it avail not to stay thy debauched
appetite; and that thou wilt never again require me of this to
the end of time; so it may be God will purge me of the sin.' 'I
promise thee that,' replied she, 'hoping that God of His favour
will relent towards us and blot out our mortal sins; for the
compass of the Divine forgiveness is not indeed so strait, but it
may altogether embrace us and absolve us of the excess of our
transgressions and bring us to the light of righteousness out of
the darkness of error. As most excellent well saith the poet:

The folk imagine of us twain an evil thing, I ween, And with
their hearts and souls, indeed, they do persist therein.
Come, let us justify their thought and free them thus from guilt,
This once, 'gainst us; and then will we repent us of our

Then she swore to him a solemn oath, by Him whose existence is
unconditioned, that this thing should befall betwixt them but
once and never again for all time, and vowed to him that the
desire of him was driving her to death and perdition. So he went
with her, on this condition, to her privy closet, that she might
quench the fire of her passion, saying, 'There is no power and no
virtue save in God the Most High, the Supreme! This is the
ordinance of the All-powerful, the All-wise!' And did off his
trousers, in the utmost confusion, with the tears running from
his eyes for stress of affright; whereat she smiled and carrying
him on to a couch, said to him, 'After this night, thou shalt see
nought that will displease thee.' Then she turned to him,
kissing and clipping him and twining leg with leg, and said to
him, 'Put thy hand, between my thighs, to that thou wottest of,
so haply it may be won to stand up after prostration.' He wept
and said, 'I am not good at aught of this.' But she said, 'As I
live, an thou do as I bid thee, it shall profit thee!' So he put
out his hand, with a heart on fire for confusion, and found her
thighs fresher than cream and softer than silk. The touching of
them pleasured him and he moved his hand hither and thither, till
he came to a dome abounding in benedictions and movements and
said in himself, 'Belike this king is a hermaphrodite, nor male
nor female.' So he said to her, 'O King, I cannot find that thou
hast any manly gear, even as other men; what then moved thee to
do thus?' When the princess heard this, she laughed till she
fell backward, and said, 'O my beloved, how quickly thou hast
forgotten the nights we have lain together!' Then she made
herself known to him and he knew her for his wife, the Lady
Budour, daughter of King Ghaiour. So he embraced her and she
embraced him and they kissed each other; then they lay down on
the bed of delight, repeating the words of the poet:

Whenas the softness of a shape did bid him to my arms, That, as
it were a trailing vine with twinings did him ply
And on the hardness of his heart its very softness shed, He
yielded, though at first he feigned reluctance to comply,
And came, provided with a stock of caution safe and sure, Fearing
lest, when he did appear, the railers should him spy.
His waist of buttocks maketh moan, that lay upon his feet A very
camel's load, what time he would a-walking hie.
Girt with his glances' trenchant swords and cuirassed with the
mail Of his bright locks, as 'twere the dusk new fallen from
the sky,
His fragrance brought me from afar the news of his approach, And
forth, as bird let out from cage, to meet my love fled I.
I laid my cheek within his way, beneath his sandal-soles, And lo,
their dust's collyrium healed the ailment of mine eye!
With an embrace I hoisted up the flag of loves new linked And
loosed the knot of my delight, that made as 'twould deny.
Then let I call high festival, and gladness, all unmixed With any
thought of troublousness, came flocking in reply.
The full moon handselled with the stars the teeth, like grains of
pearl, That on the laughing face of wine now dance, now
stirless lie.
So in the niche of their delight I gave me up to joys, The
veriest sinner would repent if he their like might try.
The morning-glories of his face be pledge I'll ne'er, in him,
Forget the writ that biddeth us One only glorify![FN#59]

Then they told one another all that had befallen them since their
separation, after which he began to upbraid her, saying, 'What
moved thee to deal with me as thou hast done this night?' 'Do
not reproach me,' replied she; 'for I did this but by way of jest
and for increase of pleasure and gladness.' When it was morning
and the day arose with its light and shone, she sent to King
Armanous and acquainted him with the truth of the case and that
she was wife to Kemerezzeman. Moreover, she told him their story
and the manner of their separation and how his daughter Heyat
en Nufous was yet a maid. He marvelled greatly at their story
and bade record it in letters of gold. Then he turned to
Kemerezzeman and said, 'O king's son, art thou minded to marry my
daughter and become my son-in-law?' 'I must consult the princess
Budour,' answered he; 'for I owe her favour without stint.' So
he took counsel with her and she said, 'This is well seen; marry
her and I will be her handmaid, for I am her debtor for kindness
and favour and good offices, more by token that we are here in
her place and that the king her father has loaded us with
benefits.' When he saw that she inclined to this and was not
jealous of Heyat en Nufous, he agreed with her thereupon and told
King Armanous what she had said, whereat he rejoiced greatly.
Then he went out and seating himself in his chair of estate,
assembled all the Viziers and Amirs and chamberlains and
grandees, to whom he related the whole story and acquainted them
with his desire to marry his daughter to Kemerezzeman and make
him king in the stead of the princess Budour. Whereupon said
they all, 'Since he is the husband of the princess Budour, who
hath been our Sultan till now, whilst we deemed her King
Armanous's son-in-law, we are all content to have him to Sultan
over us and will be his servants, nor will we swerve from his
allegiance.' At this Armanous rejoiced and summoning Cadis and
witnesses and the chief officers of state, let draw up the
contract of marriage between Kemerezzeman and his daughter, the
princess Heyat en Nufous. Then he held high festival, giving
sumptuous banquets and bestowing costly dresses of honour upon
the Amirs and captains; moreover, he gave alms to the poor and
needy and freed the prisoners. All the folk rejoiced in the
coming of Kemerezzeman to the throne, wishing him abiding glory
and prosperity and happiness and renown, and as soon as he became
king, he remitted the customs-dues and released all that
remained in prison. Thus he abode a long while, ordering himself
worthily towards his subjects, and lived with his wives in peace
and happiness and content, lying the night with each of them in
turn. And indeed all his troubles and afflictions were blotted
out from him and he forgot his father King Shehriman and his
former estate of honour and worship with him.

After awhile, God the Most High blessed him with two sons, as
they were two shining moons, the elder, whose name was prince
Amjed, by Queen Budour, and the younger, whose name was prince
Asaad and who was comelier than his brother, by Queen Heyat en
Nufous. They were reared in splendour and delight and were
instructed in penmanship and science and the arts of government
and horsemanship and other polite arts and accomplishments, till
they attained the extreme of perfection and the utmost limit of
beauty and grace, and both men and women were ravished by their
charms. They grew up together, till they reached the age of
seventeen, and loved one another so dear that they were never
apart, eating and drinking together and sleeping in one bed; and
all the people envied them their beauty and concord. When they
came to man's estate and were endowed with every perfection,
their father was wont, as often as he went on a journey, to make
them sit in his stead by turns in the place of judgment, and
each did justice among the folk one day at a time. Now, as
unalterable fate and foreordained destiny would have it, Queen
Budour fell in love with Asaad, son of Queen Heyat en Nufous, and
the latter became enamoured of Amjed; and each of them used to
sport and play with the other's son, kissing him and straining
him to her bosom, whilst each thought that the other's behaviour
arose but from motherly affection. On this wise, passion got the
mastery of the two women's hearts and they became madly enamoured
of the two youths, so that when the other's son came in to either
of them, she would press him to her bosom and long for him never
to be parted from her; till, at last, when waiting grew tedious
to them and they found no way to enjoyment, they refused meat and
drink and forewent the solace of sleep. Presently, the King went
out to hunt, bidding his sons sit to do justice in his stead,
each one day in turn, according to their wont. So prince Amjed
sat on the throne the first day, ordering and forbidding,
appointing and deposing, giving and denying; and Queen Heyat
en Nufous took a scroll and wrote to him the following letter,
suing for his favour and discovering to him her passion, in
fine, altogether putting off the mask and giving him to know
that she desired to enjoy him. 'From the wretched lover, the
sorrowful severed one, whose youth is wasted in the love of
thee and whose torment for thee is prolonged. Were I to
recount to thee the extent of my affliction and what I suffer
for sadness, the passion that is in my breast and all that I
endure for weeping and groaning and the rending of my sorrowful
heart, my unremitting cares and my ceaseless griefs and all my
suffering for severance and sadness and the ardour of desire,
no letter could contain it nor calculation compass it. Indeed,
earth and heaven are straitened upon me, and I have no hope and
no trust but in thee. I am come nigh upon death and suffer the
horrors of dissolution; burning is sore upon me, and the pangs
of separation and estrangement. Were I to set out the yearnings
that possess me, no scrolls would suffice thereto: and of the
excess of my affliction and wasting away, I have made the
following verses:

Were I to set down all I feel of heart-consuming dole And all the
transport and unease that harbour in my soul,
Nor ink nor pen in all the world thereafter would remain, Nor
aught from east to west were left of paper or of scroll.'

Then she folded up the silken tresses of her hair, whose cost
swallowed up treasures, in the letter, and wrapping it in a piece
of rich silk, scented with musk and ambergris, laid it in a
handkerchief; after which she gave it to an eunuch and bade him
carry it to prince Amjed. The eunuch took it, knowing not what
the future hid for him, (for He who knoweth the hidden things
ordereth events according to His will,) and going in to the
prince, kissed the earth before him and gave him the letter. He
opened it and reading it, was ware that his father's wife was in
intent an adulteress and a traitress to her husband; whereat he
was exceeding wroth and railed at women and their works, saying,
'May God curse women, the traitresses, that lack reason and
religion!' Then he drew his sword and said to the eunuch, 'Out
on thee, thou wicked slave! Dost thou carry adulterous messages
for thy lord's wife? By Allah, there is no good in thee, O black
of hue and heart, O foul of face and nature!' So saying, he
smote him on the neck and severed his head from his body; then,
folding the letter in the handkerchief, he thrust it into his
pocket and went in to his own mother and told her what had
passed, reviling and reproaching her and saying, 'Each one of you
is worse than the other; and by God the Great, did I not fear to
transgress against the rights of my father and my brother Asaad,
I would assuredly go in to her and cut off her head, even as I
cut off that of her eunuch!' Then he went out in a great rage;
and when the news reached Queen Heyat en Nufous of what he had
done with her messenger, she reviled him and cursed him and
plotted perfidy against him. He passed the night, sick with
anger and disgust and concern, nor was meat nor drink nor sleep
sweet to him. Next morning, prince Asaad went out in his
turn to rule the folk in his father's stead and sat in the
audience-chamber, judging and administering justice, appointing
and deposing, ordering and forbidding, giving and bestowing, till
near the time of afternoon-prayer, when Queen Budour sent for a
crafty old woman and discovering to her what was in her heart,
wrote a letter to prince Asaad, complaining of the excess of her
love and longing for him, as follows: 'From her who perisheth for
passion and love-longing to the goodliest of mankind in form and
nature, him who is conceited of his own loveliness and glories in
his amorous grace, who turneth away from those that seek to
enjoy him and refuseth to show favour unto the lowly and the
self-abasing, him who is cruel and disdainful; from the
despairing lover to prince Asaad, lord of surpassing beauty and
excelling grace, of the moon-bright face and the flower-white
brow and dazzling splendour. This is my letter to him whose love
consumes my body and rends my skin and my bones. Know that my
patience fails me and I am at a loss what to do: longing and
wakefulness weary me and sleep and patience deny themselves to
me; but mourning and watching stick fast to me and desire and
passion torment me, and the extremes of languor and sickness.
Yet may my life be thy ransom, though it be thy pleasure to slay
her who loveth thee, and may God prolong thy life and preserve
thee from every ill!' After this, she wrote the following

Fate hath so ordered it that I must needs thy lover be, O thou
whose charms shine as the moon, when at the full is she!
All beauty and all eloquence thou dost in thee contain And over
all the world of men thou'rt bright and brave to see.
That thou my torturer shouldst be, I am indeed content, So but
thou wilt one glance bestow, as almous-deed, on me.
Happy, thrice happy is her lot who dieth for thy love! No good is
there in any one that doth not cherish thee.

And these also:

To thee, O Asaad, of the pangs of passion I complain; Have pity
on a slave of love, that burns for longing pain.
How long, I wonder, shall the hands of passion sport with me And
love and dole and sleeplessness consume me, heart and brain?
Whiles do I plain me of a sea within my heart and whiles Of
flaming; surely, this is strange, O thou my wish and bane!
Give o'er thy railing, censor mine, and set thyself to flee From
love that maketh eyes for aye with burning tears to rain.
How oft, for absence and desire, I cry, "Alas, my grief!" But all
my crying and lament in this my case are vain.
Thou hast with rigours made me sick, that passed my power to
bear: Thou'rt the physician; do thou me with what befits
O thou my censurer, forbear to chide me for my case, Lest, of
Love's cruel malady, perdition thee attain.

Then she scented the letter with odoriferous musk and winding it
in the tresses of her hair, which were of Irak silk, with tassels
of oblong emeralds, set with pearls and jewels, delivered it to
the old woman, bidding her carry it to prince Asaad. She
undertook the errand, to pleasure her, and going in straightway
to the prince, found him in his closet and delivered him the
letter; after which she stood waiting for the answer. When Asaad
had read the letter and knew its purport, he wrapped it up again
in the tresses and put it in his pocket, cursing false women;
then, for he was beyond measure wroth, he sprang up and drawing
his sword, smote the old woman on the neck and cut off her head.
Then he went in to his mother, Queen Heyat en Nufous, whom he
found lying on her bed, sick for that which had betided her with
prince Amjed, and railed at her and cursed her; after which he
left her and betook himself to his brother, to whom he related
what had befallen him with Queen Budour, adding, 'By Allah, O my
brother, but that I feared to grieve thee, I had gone in to her
forthright and smitten her head off her shoulders!' 'By Allah, O
my brother,' replied Amjed, 'the like of what hath befallen thee
befell me also yesterday with thy mother Queen Heyat en Nufous.'
And he told him what had passed, adding, 'By Allah, O my brother,
nought but respect for thee withheld me from going in to her and
dealing with her even as I dealt with the eunuch!' They passed
the rest of the night in trouble and affliction, conversing and
cursing false women, and agreed to keep the matter secret, lest
their father should hear of it and kill the two women.

On the morrow, the King returned with his suite from hunting and
sat awhile in his chair of estate; after which he dismissed the
Amirs and went up to his harem, where he found his two wives
lying on the bed, exceeding sick. Now they had made a plot
against the two princes and concerted to do away their lives, for
that they had exposed themselves before them and feared to be at
their mercy. When Kemerezzeman saw them on this wise, he said to
them, 'What ails you?' Whereupon they rose and kissing his
hands, answered, perverting the case and saying, 'Know, O King,
that thy sons, who have been reared in thy bounty, have played
thee false and outraged thee in the persons of thy wives.' When
he heard this, the light in his eyes became darkness and his
reason fled for the excess of his rage; then said he to them,
'Expound this thing to me.' 'O King of the age,' answered
Budour, 'know that these many days past thy son Asaad has been
wont to send me letters and messages to solicit me to lewdness,
and I still forbade him from this, but he would not be forbidden.
When thou wentest forth to hunt, he rushed in on me, drunk and
with a drawn sword in his hand, and smiting my eunuch, slew him.
Then he mounted on my breast, still holding the sword, and I
feared lest he should slay me even as he had slain my eunuch, if
I gainsaid him; so he took his will of me by force; and now an
thou do me not justice on him, O King, I will slay myself with my
own hand, for I reck not of life in the world after this foul
deed.' Queen Heyat en Nufous, choking with tears, told him a
like story respecting prince Amjed, after which she fell a-
weeping and wailing and said, 'Except thou avenge me on him, I
will tell my father, King Armanous.' Then they both wept sore
before King Kemerezzeman, who, when he saw their tears and heard
their words, concluded that their story was true and waxing
beyond measure wroth, went out, thinking to fall upon his two
sons and put them to death. On his way he met his father-in-law
King Armanous, who hearing of his return from the chase, had come
to salute him and seeing him with the naked sword in his hand and
the blood dripping from his nostrils, for excess of rage,
enquired what ailed him. Kemerezzeman told him what his sons
Amjed and Asaad had done and added, 'I am now going in to them,
to slay them on the foulest wise and make of them the most
shameful of examples.' 'O my son,' said King Armanous, (and
indeed he too was wroth with them,) 'thou dost well, and may God
not bless them nor any sons that offend thus against their
father's honour! But, O my son, the proverb says, "Whoso looks
not to the issues, Fortune is no friend to him." In any case,
they are thy sons, and it befits not that thou put them to death
with thine own hand, lest thou drink of their agony and after
repent of having slain them, whenas repentance will avail thee
nothing. Rather do thou send one of thine officers with them
into the desert and let him kill them there, out of thy sight,
for, as says the adage, "When the eye sees not, the heart grieves
not."' Kemerezzeman saw his father-in-law's words to be just, so
he sheathed his sword and turning back, sat down upon his throne
and called his treasurer, a very old man, versed in affairs and
in the shifts of fortune, to whom he said, 'Go in to my sons
Amjed and Asaad; bind fast their hands behind them and lay them
in two chests and set them on a mule. Then take horse and carry
them into the mid-desert, where do thou put them to death and
fill two vials with their blood and bring them to me in haste.'
'I hear and obey,' answered the treasurer and went out forthright
to do his bidding. On his way, he met the princes coming out of
the palace-vestibule, for they had donned their richest clothes
and were on their way to salute their father and give him joy of
his safe return from the chase. When he saw them, he laid hands
on them, saying, 'O my sons, know that I am but a slave commanded
and that your father hath laid a commandment on me: will ye obey
his commandment?' 'Yes,' answered they; whereupon he bound their
hands and laying them in the chests, set the latter on the back
of a mule, with which he left the city and rode into the open
country, till near midday, when he halted in a waste and desert
spot and dismounting, set down the two chests. He opened them
and took out Amjed and Asaad; whom when he saw, he wept sore for
their beauty and grace; then drawing his sword, he said to them,
'O my lords, indeed it irks me to deal so foully by you; but I am
to be excused in this, being but a slave commanded, for that your
father King Kemerezzeman hath bidden me strike off your heads.'
'O Amir,' answered they, 'do the King's bidding, for we submit
with patience to that which God (to whom be ascribed might and
majesty) hath decreed to us; and thou art quit of our blood.'
Then they embraced and bade each other farewell, and Asaad said
to the treasurer, 'God on thee, O uncle, spare me the sight of my
brother's agony and make me not drink of his anguish, but kill me
first, that it may be the easier for me.' Amjed said the like
and entreated the treasurer to kill him before Asaad, saying, 'My
brother is younger than I; so make me not taste of his anguish.'
And they both wept sore, whilst the treasurer wept for their
weeping, and they said to each other, 'All this comes of the
malice of those traitresses, our mothers; and this is the reward
of our forbearance towards them. But there is no power and no
virtue but in God the Most High, the Supreme! Verily, we are His
and unto Him we return.' And Asaad embraced his brother, sobbing
and repeating the following verses:

O Thou to whom the sad complain, to whom the fearful flee, Thou
that art evermore prepared for all that is to be,
Lord, there is left me no resource but at Thy door to knock; Yea,
at whose portal shall I knock, if Thou be deaf to me?
O Thou, the treasures of whose grace are in the one word "Be," Be
favourable, I beseech, for all good is with Thee!

When Amjed heard his brother's weeping, he wept also and pressed
him to his bosom, repeating the following verses:

O Thou, whose bounties unto me are more than one, I trow, Whose
favours lavished on my head are countless as the sand,
No blow of all the blows of fate has ever fall'n on me, But I
have found Thee ready still to take me by the hand.

Then said he to the treasurer, 'I conjure thee by the One God the
Omnipotent King and Protector, kill me before my brother Asaad
and allay the fire of my heart!' But Asaad wept and exclaimed,
'Not so: I will die first;' whereupon said Amjed, 'It were best
that we embrace each other, so the sword may fall upon us and
kill us both at one stroke.' So they embraced, face to face, and
clipped each other straitly, whilst the treasurer bound them fast
with cords, weeping the while. Then he drew his sword and said
to them, 'By Allah, O my lords, it is indeed hard to me to kill
you! But have ye no last wishes or injunctions that I may fulfil
or message that I may carry?' 'We have no wish,' replied Amjed,
'and my only injunction to thee is that thou set my brother
undermost, that the blow may fall on me first; and when thou hast
slain us and returnest to the King and he asks thee, "What said
they before their death?" do thou answer, "Thy sons salute thee
and say to thee, 'Thou knewest not if we were innocent or guilty,
yet hast thou put us to death and hast not certified thyself of
our guilt nor looked into our case.'" Then do thou repeat to him
these verses:

Women are very devils, made to work us dole and death; Refuge I
seek with God Most High from all their craft and scaith.
Prime source are they of all the ills that fall upon mankind,
Both in the fortunes of this world and matters of the faith.

'We desire of thee nought but this,' continued Amjed, 'except
that thou have patience with us, whilst I repeat other two lines
to my brother.' Then he wept sore and recited the following

Examples many, thou and I, We have in kings of days gone by,
How many, alack, have trod this road, Of great and small and low
and high!

At this the treasurer wept, till his beard was wet, whilst
Asaad's eyes filled with tears and he in turn repeated these

Fate, when the thing itself is past, afflicteth with the trace,
And weeping is not, of a truth, for body or form or
What ails the nights?[FN#61] May God blot out our error from the
nights And may the hand of change bewray and bring them to
They wreaked their malice to the full on Ibn ez Zubeir[FN#62]
erst, And on the House and Sacred Stone[FN#63] his safeguard
did embrace.
Would God, since Kharijeh[FN#64] they took for Amrou's sacrifice,
They'd ransomed Ali with whome'er they would of all our

Then, with cheeks stained with thick-coming tears, he recited
these also:

The days and nights are fashioned for treachery and despite; Yea,
they are full of perfidy and knavish craft and sleight.
The mirage is their lustre of teeth, and to their eyes The horror
of all darkness the kohl that keeps them bright.
My crime against them (hateful their nature is!) is but The
sword's crime, when the sworder sets on into the fight.

Then he sobbed and said:

O thou that seeketh the worthless world, give ear to me and know
The very net of ruin it is and quarry of dole and woe;
A stead, whom it maketh laugh to-day, to-morrow it maketh weep:
Out on it then for a dwelling-place, since it is even so!
Its raids and its onsets are never done, nor can its bondsman win
To free himself from its iron clutch by dint of stress and
How many an one in its vanities hath gloried and taken pride,
Till froward and arrogant thus he grew and did all bounds
Then did she[FN#65] turn him the buckler's back and give him to
drink therein Full measure and set her to take her wreak of
the favours she did show.
For know that her blows fall sudden and swift and unawares,
though long The time of forbearance be and halt the coming
of fate and slow.
So look to thyself, lest life in the world pass idle and
profitless by, And see that thou fail not of taking thought
to the end of all below.
Cast loose from the chains of the love and the wish of the world
and thou shalt find Guidance and help unto righteousness and
peace of heart, I trow.

When he had made an end of these verses, he clipped his brother
in his arms, till they seemed as it were one body, and the
treasurer, raising his sword, was about to strike them, when,
behold, his horse took fright at the wind of his upraised hand
and breaking its tether, fled into the desert. Now the horse was
worth a thousand dinars and on his back was a splendid saddle,
worth much money: so the treasurer threw down his sword, in
great concern, and ran after him, to catch him. The horse
galloped on, snorting and neighing and pawing the earth in his
fright, till he raised a cloud of dust, and presently coming to a
wood, fled into the midst of it, whither the treasurer followed
him. Now there was in this wood a terrible lion, foul of face,
with eyes that cast forth sparks; his look was grim and his
aspect struck terror into men's souls. He heard the noise made
by the horse and came out to see what was to do. Presently the
treasurer turned and saw the lion making towards him; but found
no way of escape, nor had he his sword with him. So he said in
himself, 'There is no power and no virtue but in God the Most
High, the Supreme! This stress is come upon me because of Amjed
and Asaad; and indeed this journey was unblest from the first!'
Meanwhile Amjed and Asaad were grievously oppressed by the heat
and grew sore athirst, so that their tongues hung out and they
cried for succour; but none came to their relief and they said,
'Would God we were dead and at peace from this torment! But we
know not whither the treasurer's horse hath fled, that he has
gone and left us bound. If he would but come back and kill us,
it were easier to us than to suffer this torture.' 'O my
brother,' said Asaad, 'be patient and the relief of God (blessed
and exalted be He) will surely come to us; for the horse ran not
away save of His favour towards us, and nought irks us but this
thirst.' So saying, he stretched himself and strained right and
left, till he burst his bonds; then he unbound his brother and
taking up the Amir's sword, said, 'By Allah, we will not go
hence, till we know what is come of him!' So they followed the
track, till it led them to the wood and they said to one another,
'Of a surety, the horse and the treasurer have not overgone this
wood.' Quoth Asaad, 'Stay thou here, whilst I enter the wood and
search it.' 'I will not let thee go in alone,' answered Amjed.
'We will both go in; so if we escape, we shall escape together,
and if we perish, we shall perish together.' So they entered
both and found the lion standing over the treasurer, who lay like
a sparrow in his grip, calling upon God for help and lifting his
hands to heaven. When Amjed saw this, he took the sword and
running to the lion, smote him between the eyes and laid him dead
on the ground. The Amir arose, marvelling at this, and seeing
Amjed and Asaad his lord's sons, standing there, cast himself at
their feet and exclaimed, 'By Allah, O my lords, it were foul
wrong in me to put you to death! May the man never be who would
kill you! Indeed, I will ransom you with my life.' Then he rose
and embracing them, enquired how they had loosed their bonds and
come thither, whereupon they told him how the bonds of one of
them had fallen loose and he had unbound the other, that they
might quit their intent, and how they had followed his track till
they came upon him. He thanked them for their deed and went with
them forth of the wood, where they said to him, 'O uncle, do our
father's bidding.' 'God forbid,' answered he, 'that I should
draw near to you with hurt! I mean to take your clothes and
clothe you with mine; then will I fill two vials with the lion's
blood and go back to the King and tell him I have put you to
death. But as for you, fare ye forth into the lands, for God's
earth is wide; and know, O my lords, that it irks me to part from
you.' At this, they all fell a-weeping; then the two youths put
off their clothes and the treasurer covered them with his own.
Moreover, he filled two vials with the lion's blood and making
two parcels of the princes' clothes, set them before him on his
horse's back. Then he took leave of them and making his way back
to the city, went in to King Kemerezzeman and kissed the earth
before him. The King saw him pale and troubled and deeming this
came of the slaughter of the two princes (though in truth it came
of his adventure with the lion) rejoiced and said to him, 'Hast
thou done the business?' 'Yes, O our lord,' answered the
treasurer and gave him the two parcels of clothes and the two
vials of blood. 'How bore they themselves,' asked the King, 'and
did they give thee any charge?' 'I found them patient and
resigned to their fate,' answered the treasurer; 'and they said
to me, "Verily, our father is excusable; bear him our salutation
and say to him, 'Thou art quit of our blood;' and repeat to him
the following verses:

Women are very devils, made to work us dole and death; Refuge I
seek with God Most High from all their craft and scaith.
Prime source are they of all the ills that fall upon mankind,
Both in the fortunes of this world and matters of the

When the King heard this, he bowed his head a long while and knew
this to mean that they had wrongfully been put to death. Then he
bethought himself of the perfidy of women and the calamities
brought about by them, and opening the two parcels fell to
turning over his sons' clothes and weeping. Presently, he found
in the pocket of his son Asaad's clothes a letter in Queen
Budour's hand, enclosing the tresses of her hair, and reading it,
knew that the prince had been falsely accused. Then he searched
Amjed's clothes and found in his pocket a letter in the
handwriting of Queen Heyat en Nufous, enclosing the tresses of
her hair; so he opened and read it and knew that Amjed also had
been wronged; whereupon he beat hand upon hand and exclaimed,
'There is no power and no virtue but in God! I have slain my
sons unjustly.' And he buffeted his face, crying out, 'Alas, my
sons! Alas, my long grief!' Then he bade build two tombs in one
house, which he styled 'House of Lamentations,' and let grave
thereon his sons' names; and he threw himself on Amjed's tomb,
weeping and groaning and lamenting, and repeated these verses:

O moon, that hast set beneath the earth for aye, For whose loss
weep the shining stars of the sky,
O wand, after whom no more shall the flexile grace Of the
willow-like bending shape enchant the eye,
My sight I've bereft of thee, of my jealousy, And ne'er shall I
see thee again, till I come to die.
I'm drowned in the sea of my tears, for sheer unrest; Indeed, for
sleepless sorrow in hell am I.

Then he threw himself on Asaad's tomb and recited the following
verses, whilst the tears poured from his eyes:

Fain had I shared with thee, dear heart, in death and ill; But
God, that ordereth all, willed other than my will.
All that I see, my dole makes black, whilst from my eyes All
black I've blotted out with weeping all my fill.[FN#66]
I weep and never stint; mine eyes run never dry; My entrails
ulcered are and blood and tears distil.
Sore, sore it irketh me to see thee in a place[FN#67] Where
slaves and kings alike foregather, will or nill.

Then he forsook his friends and intimates, and denying himself to
his women and his family, shut himself up in the House of
Lamentations, where he passed his time in weeping for his sons.

Meanwhile, Amjed and Asaad fared on into the desert a whole
month's journey, eating of the fruits of the earth and drinking
of the rain-pools, till their travel brought them to a mountain
of black stone, where the road divided in two, one skirting the
foot of the mountain and the other leading to its summit. They
took the former way, for fear of thirst, and followed it five
days, but saw no end to it and were overcome with weariness,
being unused to walking in mountains or elsewhere. At last,
despairing of coming to the end of the road, they retraced their
steps and taking the other, that led over the mountain, followed
it all that day, till nightfall, when Asaad, weary with much
travel, said to Amjed, 'O my brother, I can go no farther, for I
am exceeding weak.' 'Courage,' replied Amjed; 'may be God will
send us relief.' So they walked on part of the night, till the
darkness closed in upon them, when Asaad became beyond measure
weary and saying, 'O my brother, I am worn out and spent with
walking,' threw himself on the ground and wept. Amjed took him
in his arms and fared on with him, halting bytimes to rest, till
break of day, when they came to the mountain-top and found there
a stream of running water and by it a pomegranate-tree and a
prayer-niche. They could hardly believe their eyes, but, sitting
down by the spring, drank of its water and ate of the fruit of
the tree; after which they lay down and slept till sunrise, when
they washed in the spring and eating of the pomegranates, slept
again till the time of afternoon-prayer. Then they thought to
continue their journey, but Asaad could not walk, for his feet
were swollen. So they abode there three days, till they were
rested, after which they set out again and fared on over the
mountain days and nights, well-nigh perished for thirst, till
they came in sight of a city afar off, at which they rejoiced and
made towards it. When they drew near it, they thanked God the
Most High and Amjed said to Asaad, 'O my brother, sit here,
whilst I go to yonder city and see what and whose it is and where
we are in God's wide world, that we may know through what lands
we have passed in crossing this mountain, whose skirts if we had
followed, we had not reached this city in a whole year: so
praised be God for safety!' 'By Allah,' replied Asaad, 'none
shall go but myself, and may I be thy ransom! If thou leave me,
I shall imagine a thousand things and suffer tortures of anxiety
on thine account, for I cannot brook thine absence from me.' 'Go
then,' rejoined Amjed, 'and do not tarry.' So Asaad took money
and leaving his brother awaiting him, descended the mountain and
fared on, till he entered the city. As he passed through the
streets, he met an old man, with a beard that flowed down upon
his breast and was parted in twain; he bore a walking-staff in
his hand and was richly clad, with a great red turban on his
head. When Asaad saw him, he wondered at his mien and habit;
nevertheless, he went up to him and saluting him, enquired the
way to the market. The old man smiled in his face and said, 'O
my son, meseems thou art a stranger?' 'Yes,' answered Asaad; 'I
am a stranger.' 'O my son,' rejoined the other, 'verily, thou
gladdenest our country with thy presence and makest thine own
land desolate by reason of thine absence. What wantest thou of
the market?' 'O uncle,' replied Asaad, 'I have an elder brother,
with whom I have journeyed these three months, for we come from a
far country. When we sighted this city, I left my brother in the
mountain and came hither, purposing to buy food and what else and
return therewith to him, that we might feed thereon.' 'Rejoice
in all good, O my son!' said the old man. 'Know that to-day I
give a marriage-feast, to which I have bidden many guests, and I
have made ready great plenty of the best and most delicious meats
that the heart can desire. So, if thou wilt come home with me, I
will give thee freely all thou lackest, without price. Moreover,
I will teach thee the ways of the city; and praised be God, O my
son, that thou hast fallen in with me and none other!' 'As thou
wilt,' answered Asaad; 'but make haste, for my brother awaits me
and his whole heart is with me.' So the old man took Asaad by
the hand, smiling in his face and saying, 'Glory be to Him who
hath delivered thee from the people of this city!' Then he
carried him to a narrow lane and entering a spacious house,
brought him into a saloon, wherein were forty old men, seated in
a circle about a lighted fire, to which they were doing worship
and prostrating themselves. When Asaad saw this he was
confounded and his flesh quaked, though he knew not what they
were; and the old man said to them, 'O elders of the fire, how
blessed is this day!' Then he cried out, saying, 'Ho, Ghezban!'
Whereupon there came out to him a tall black slave of forbidding
aspect, grim-visaged and flat-nosed. The old man made a sign to
him, and he bound Asaad straitly; after which the old man said
to him, 'Bear him to the dungeon under the earth and bid my
slave-girl Kewam torture him day and night and give him a cake of
bread to eat morning and evening, against the time come of the
voyage to the Blue Sea and the Mountain of Fire, when we will
slaughter him on the mountain as a sacrifice.' So the black
carried him out at another door and raising a flag in the floor,
discovered a flight of twenty steps leading to a chamber under
the earth, into which he descended with him and laying his
feet in irons, committed him to the slave-girl and went away.
Meanwhile, the old men said to one another, 'When the day of
the Festival of the Fire comes, we will sacrifice him on the
mountain, as a propitiatory offering to the Fire.' Presently the
damsel went down to him and beat him grievously, till the blood
streamed from his sides and he fainted away; after which she set
at his head a cake of bread and a cruse of brackish water and
went away and left him. In the middle of the night, he revived
and found himself bound and sore with beating: so he wept
bitterly and recalling his former estate of ease and honour and
lordship and dominion, groaned and lamented and repeated the
following verses:

Halt by the ruins of the house and question of our fate Nor think
we sojourn in the land, as in our first estate.
Fortune, the sunderer, hath wrought the severance of our loves;
Yet doth our enemies' despite against us nought abate.
A filthy cockatrice is set to torture me with whips, Whose breast
against me is fulfilled with rancour and with hate.
But haply God shall yet reknit our severed loves again And turn
our enemies from us with vengeance stern and strait.

Then he put out his hand and finding the bread and water at his
head, ate enough to keep life in him and drank a little water,
but could get no sleep for the swarms of bugs and lice. As soon
as it was day, the slave-girl came down to him and changed his
clothes, which were drenched with blood and stuck to him, so that
his skin came off with the shirt; wherefore he shrieked aloud and
cried, 'Alas!' and said, 'O my God, if this be Thy pleasure,
increase it upon me! O Lord, verily Thou art not unmindful of
him that oppresses me: do Thou then avenge me upon him!' And he
groaned and repeated the following verses:

Lord, I submit myself to that Thou dost decree, Contented to
endure, if but it pleasure Thee;
To suffer at Thy will with patience nor complain, Though I be
cast to burn on coals of tamarisk-tree.[FN#68]
Mine enemies oppress and torture me; but Thou With benefits
belike shall 'quite and comfort me.
Far be 't from Thee to let th' oppressor go unscathed; Thou art
my hope and stay, O Lord of Destiny!

And what another says:

Avert thy face from thought-taking and care And trust to fate to
order thine affair;
For many a weary and a troublous thing Is, in its issue,
solaceful and fair.
That which was strait is oftentimes made wide And straitened
that, which easy was whilere.
God orders all, according to His will; Gainsay Him not in what He
doth prepare,
But trust in happy fortune near at hand, Wherein thou shalt
forget the woes that were.

Then the slave-girl beat him till he fainted away and throwing
him a cake of bread and a cruse of brackish water, went away and
left him sad and lonely, bound in chains of iron, with the blood
streaming from his sides and far from those he loved. So he
called to mind his brother and his former high estate and
repeated the following verses, shedding floods of tears the

How long wilt thou wage war on me, O Fate, and bear away My
brethren from me? Hold thy hand and spare awhile, I pray!
Is it not time, O thou whose heart is as the rock, that thou My
long estrangement and my dole shouldst pity and allay?
Ill hast thou wrought to those I love and made my foes exult With
all that thou hast wreaked on me of ruin and dismay.
Yea, for the pains he sees me brook of exile and desire And
loneliness, my foeman's heart is solaceful and gay.
Thou'rt not content with what is fallen on me of bitter dole, Of
loss of friends and swollen eyes, affliction and affray.
But I must lie and rot, to boot, in prison strait and dour, Where
nought but gnawing of my hands I have for help and stay,
And tears that shower in torrents down, as from the rain-charged
clouds, And fire of yearning, never quenched, that rages
night and day,
And memory and longing pain and melancholy thought And sobs and
sighs and groans and cries of "Woe!" and "Wellaway!"
Passion and soul-destroying grief I suffer, and unto Desire, that
knoweth not relent nor end, am fallen a prey.
No kindly soul is found to have compassion on my case And with
his visits and his grace my misery allay.
Lives there a true and tender friend, who doth compassionate My
sickness and my long unrest, that unto him I may
Make moan of all that I endure for dole and drearihead And of my
sleepless eyes, oppressed of wakefulness alway?
My night in torments is prolonged; I burn, without reprieve, In
flames of heart-consuming care that rage in me for aye.
The bug and flea do drink my blood, even as one drinks of wine,
Poured by the hand of damask-lipped and slender-waisted may.
The body of me, amongst the lice, is as an orphan's good, That in
an unjust Cadi's hands doth dwindle and decay.
My dwelling-place is in a tomb, three scanty cubits wide, Wherein
in shackles and in bonds I languish night and day.
My tears my wine are and my chains my music: my dessert Woeworthy
thought and cares the bed whereon myself I lay.

Meanwhile his brother abode, awaiting him, till mid-day, but he
returned not: whereupon Amjed's heart fluttered and the tears
welled from his eyes. The pangs of severance were sore upon him
and he wept sore, exclaiming, 'Alas, my brother! Alas, my
companion! Alas, my grief! I fear me we are separated!' Then
he descended the mountain, with the tears running down his
cheeks, and entering the city, made for the market. He asked
the folk the name of the city and of its people, and they said,
'This is called the City of the Magians, and its people serve
the Fire, not the Omnipotent King.' Then he enquired of the
City of Ebony and they answered, 'It is a year's journey
thither by land and six months' by sea: it was governed erst by
a King called Armanous, but he took to son-in-law a prince called
Kemerezzeman, distinguished for justice and loyalty, munificence
and benevolence, and made him king in his stead.' When Amjed
heard tell of his father, he groaned and wept and lamented and knew
not whither to go. However, he bought food and carried it with him,
till he came to a retired spot, where he sat down, thinking to
eat: but, recalling his brother, he fell a-weeping and ate but a
morsel to stay his stomach, and that against his will. Then he
rose and walked about the city, seeking news of his brother, till
he saw a Muslim, a tailor, sitting in his shop; so he sat down by
him and told him his story; whereupon quoth the tailor, 'If he
have fallen into the hands of any of the Magians, thou shalt
hardly see him again: yet it may be God will reunite you. But
thou, O my brother,' added he, 'wilt thou lodge with me?' 'Yes,'
answered Amjed, and the tailor rejoiced at this. So Amjed abode
with him many days, what while the tailor comforted him and
exhorted him to patience and taught him his craft, till he became
expert. One day, he went forth to the sea-shore and washed his
clothes; after which he entered the bath and put on clean
raiment. Then he walked about the streets, to divert himself,
and presently fell in with a woman of surpassing beauty and
symmetry, unequalled for grace and loveliness. When she saw him,
she raised her face-veil and winked to him and ogled him,
reciting the following verses:

Afar, I saw thee coming and cast mine eyes down straight, As if,
loveling slender, thou wert the very sun.
Indeed, thou art the fairest of all beholden; yea, Even than
thyself thou'rt fairer, since yesterday was done.
Were beauty but allotted, to every one his due, One-fifth of it
were Joseph's or but a part of one,
And all the rest were surely thine own and only thine; May all
men be thy ransom, yea, every mother's son!

When he heard this, his heart inclined to her and the hands of
love sported with him: so he winked to her in answer and
repeated the following verses:

Over the rose of the cheek, the thorns of the eyelashes rise; So
who shall adventure himself to gather the flowery prize?
Lift not your hands to the rose, for long have the lashes waged
war And poured on us battle, because we lifted to it-ward
our eyes.
Tell her the tyrant who plays and yet is temptation itself,
(Though still more seductive she'd be, if she dealt but in
loyaller wise),
I see that, for beauty like thine, exposure's the surest of
guards, For the veiling thy face but augments its seductions
and adds to our sighs;
Like the sun, on whose visage undimmed the eye still refuses to
look, And yet we may gaze at our ease, when the thinnest of
clouds o'er it lies.
The honey's protected, forsooth, by the sting of the bees of the
hive: So question the guards of the camp why they stay us in
this our emprise.
If my slaughter be what they desire, let them put off their
rancours and stand From between us and leave her to deal
with me and my life at her guise;
For, I wot, not so deadly are they, when they set on a foe with
their swords, As the eyes of the fair with the mole, when
her glances upon us she plies.

At this she sighed deeply and signing to him again, repeated the
following verses:

'Tis thou that hast trodden the road of aversion and coyness; not
I Vouchsafe me the promised delight, for the time of
fulfilment draws nigh.
O thou that mak'st morning to dawn with the lustre and light of
thy brows And eke, with thy brow-locks unloosed, the night
to sink down from the sky,
Thou hast, with an idol's aspect, seduced me and made me thy
slave And hast stirred me up troubles galore in many a
season past by.
And yet it is just that my heart with the ardour of passion
should burn, For the fire is their due who adore aught other
than God the Most High.
Thou sellest the like of myself for nothing, yea, free, without
price; If needs thou must sell, and no help, take a price,
then, of those that would buy.

When he heard this, he said to her, 'Wilt thou come to my lodging
or shall I go with thee to thine?' At this, she hung her head
bashfully and repeated the words of the Most High, 'Men shall
have precedence over women, for that God hath preferred these
over those.'[FN#69] By this, Amjed understood that she wished to
go with him and felt himself bounden to find a place wherein to
receive her, but was ashamed to carry her to the house of his
host, the tailor. So he walked on and she followed him from
street to street, till she was tired and said to him, 'O my lord,
where is thy house?' 'But a little way before us,' answered he.
Then he turned aside into a handsome street, followed by the
young lady, and walked on, till he came to the end, when he found
it had no issue and exclaimed, 'There is no power and no virtue
but in God the Most High, the Supreme!' Then, raising his eyes,
he saw, at the upper end of the street, a great door, with two
stone benches; but it was locked. So he sat down on one of the
benches and the lady on the other; and she said to him, 'O my
lord, wherefore waitest thou?' He bowed his head awhile, then
raised it and answered, 'I am waiting for my servant, who has the
key: for I bade him make me ready meat and drink and flowers for
the wine-service against my return from the bath.' But he said
in himself, 'Belike she will grow tired of waiting and go about
her business, leaving me here, when I will go my own way.'
However, when she was weary of waiting, she said, 'O my lord, thy
servant tarries long; and here are we waiting in the street.'
And she took a stone and went up to the lock. 'Be not in haste,'
said Amjed; 'but have patience till the servant comes.' However,
she hearkened not to him, but smote the lock with the stone and
broke it in half, whereupon the door opened. Quoth he, 'What
possessed thee to do this?' 'Pooh, pooh, my lord!' answered she.
'What matters it? Is not the house thine?' 'Yes,' said he; 'but
there was no need to break the lock.' Then she entered, leaving
Amjed confounded and knowing not what to do for fear of the
people of the house; but she said to him, 'Why dost thou not
enter, O light of mine eyes and darling of my heart?' 'I hear
and obey,' answered he; 'but my servant tarries long upon me and
I know not if he have done aught of what I bade him or not.' So
saying, he entered, sore in fear of the people of the house, and
found himself in a handsome saloon, full of buffets and niches
and settles, furnished with stuffs of silk and brocade. It had
four raised recesses, each facing other, and in the midst was a
fountain of costly fashion, on whose margin stood a covered tray
(of meats), with a leather table-cloth hanging up and dishes set
with jewels, full of fruits and sweet-scented flowers. Hard by
stood drinking vessels and a candlestick with a candle therein.
The place was full of precious stuffs, and therein were chests
and stools set, on each of which latter lay a parcel of clothes
and a purse full of gold and silver. The floor was paved with
marble and the house bore witness in every part to its owner's
fortune. When Amjed saw all this, he was confounded and said in
himself, 'I am a lost man! Verily, we are God's and to God we
return!' As for the lady, she was transported at what she saw
and said to him, 'By Allah, O my lord, thy servant has not failed
of his duty; for see, he has swept the place and cooked the meat
and set on the fruit; and indeed I come at the best of times.'
But he paid no heed to her, his heart being taken up with fear of
the people of the house; and she said, 'Fie, O my lord, O my
heart! What ails thee to stand thus?' Then she sighed and
giving him a kiss, that sounded like the cracking of a walnut,
said, 'O my lord, and thou have bidden other than me, I will gird
my middle and serve her and thee.' Amjed laughed from an
angerful heart and sat down, panting and saying in himself,
'Alack, how I shall smart for it, when the owner of the house
returns!' She seated herself by him and fell to jesting and
laughing, whilst he sat careful and frowning, thinking a thousand
thoughts and saying in himself, 'The master of the house will
surely come and what shall I say to him? He will assuredly kill
me without mercy.' Presently, she rose and tucking up her
sleeves, took a table, on which she laid the cloth and the tray
of food; then set it before Amjed and began to eat, saying, 'Eat,
O my lord.' So he came forward and ate; but the food was not
pleasant to him and he ceased not to look towards the door, till
the lady had eaten her fill, when she took away the meats and
setting on the dessert, fell to eating of the dried fruits. Then
she brought the wine-service and opening the jar, filled a cup
and gave it to Amjed, who took it, saying in himself, 'Alas!
what will become of me, when the master of the house comes and
sees me!' Presently, as he sat, with the cup in his hand and his
eyes fixed on the vestibule, in came the master of the house, who
was one of the chief men of the city, being Master of the Horse
to the King. He had fitted up this house for his privy
pleasures, that he might make merry therein and be private with
whom he would, and had that day bidden one whom he loved and had
made this entertainment for him. When, therefore, this man
(whose name was Behadir and who was a kindly, liberal and open-
handed man) came thither and found the door open and the lock
broken, he entered softly and putting in his head at the door of
the saloon, saw Amjed and the lady sitting, with the dish of
fruit and the wine-jar before them. Amjed at that moment had the
cup in his hand and his face turned to the door; and when his
eyes met Behadir's, he turned pale and trembled in every nerve.
Behadir, seeing his trouble, signed to him, with his finger on
his lips, as who should say, 'Be silent and come hither to me.'
So he set down the cup and rose, whereupon quoth the lady,
'Whither away?' He shook his head and signing to her that he
wished to make water, went out into the corridor, barefoot. When
he saw Behadir, he knew him for the master of the house; so he
hastened to him and kissing his hands, said to him, 'God on thee,
O my lord, before thou do me any hurt, hear what I have to say.'
Then he told him who he was and what caused him leave his native
land and royal state, and how he had not entered his house of his
free will, but that it was the lady who had broken the lock and
done all this. When Behadir heard his story and knew that he was
a king's son, he inclined to him and taking compassion on him,
said to him, 'O Amjed, hearken to me and do what I bid thee, and
I will ensure thee safety from that thou fearest; but, if thou
cross me, I will kill thee.' 'Command me as thou wilt,' answered
Amjed. 'I will not gainsay thee in aught, for I am the freedman
of thy bounty.' 'Then go back forthright into the saloon,'
rejoined Behadir, 'and sit down in thy place and take thine ease.
I will presently come in to thee, and when thou seest me (now my
name is Behadir) do thou revile me and rail at me, saying, "Why
hast thou tarried till now?" And accept no excuse from me, but
rise and beat me; and if thou spare me, I will do away thy life.
Enter now and make merry and whatsoever thou seekest of me, I
will bring thee forthwith. So pass the night as thou wilt and on
the morrow go thy way. This in honour of thy strangerhood, for I
love strangers and hold myself bounden to do them honour.' So
Amjed kissed his hand and returning to the saloon, with his face
clad in its native white and red, said to the lady, 'O my
mistress, the place is gladdened by thy presence, and this is
indeed a blessed night.' 'Verily,' said she, 'this is a
wonderful change in thee, that thou now welcomest me so
cordially!' 'By Allah, O my lady,' answered he, 'methought my
servant Behadir had robbed me of some necklaces of jewels, worth
ten thousand dinars each; however, when I went out but now, in
concern for this, I sought for them and found them in their
place. I know not why the knave tarries thus, and needs must I
punish him for it.' She was satisfied with his answer, and they
drank and sported and made merry, till near upon sundown, when
Behadir came in to them, having changed his clothes and girt his
middle and put on shoes, such as are worn of servants. He
saluted and kissed the earth, then clasped his hands behind him
and stood, with his head hanging down, as one who confesses to a
fault. Amjed looked at him with angry eyes and said, 'Why hast
thou tarried till now, O most pestilent of slaves?' 'O my lord,'
answered Behadir, 'I was busy washing my clothes and knew not of
thy being here; for thou hadst appointed me for nightfall and not
for the daytime.' But Amjed cried out at him, saying, 'Thou
liest, O vilest of slaves! By Allah, I must beat thee!' So he
rose and laying Behadir on the ground, took a stick and beat him
gingerly: but the lady sprang up and snatching the stick from his
hand, laid on to Behadir so lustily, that the tears ran from his
eyes and he ground his teeth together and called out for succour;
whilst Amjed cried out to the lady to hold her hand and she
answered, 'Let me stay my anger on him;' till at last he snatched
the stick from her hand and pushed her away. Behadir arose and
wiping away his tears, waited upon them awhile; after which he
swept the hall and lighted the lamps; but, as often as he went in
and out, the lady railed at him and cursed him, till Amjed was
wroth with her and said, 'For God's sake, leave my servant; he is
not used to this.' Then they sat eating and drinking, whilst
Behadir waited upon them, till midnight, when the latter, weary
with service and beating, fell asleep in the midst of the hall
and snored and snorted; whereupon the lady, who was heated with
wine, said to Amjed, 'Arise, take the sword that hangs yonder and
cut off this slave's head, or I will be the death of thee.'
'What possesses thee to kill my slave?' asked Amjed; and she
answered, 'Our delight will not be fulfilled but by his death.
If thou wilt not kill him, I will do it myself.' 'For God's
sake,' cried Amjed, 'do not this thing!' 'It must be,' replied
she and taking down the sword, drew it and made at Behadir to
kill him; but Amjed said in himself, 'This man hath entreated us
courteously and sheltered us and done us kindness and made
himself my servant: and shall we requite him by killing him?
This shall never be. Then he said to the lady, 'If my slave must
be killed, better I should do it than thou.' So saying, he took
the sword from her and raising his hand, smote her on the neck
and made her head fly from her body. It fell upon Behadir, who
awoke and sitting up, saw Amjed standing by him, with the
bloodstained sword in his hand, and the damsel lying dead. He
enquired what had passed, and Amjed told him what she had said,
adding, 'Nothing would serve her but she must kill thee; and this
is her reward.' Behadir rose and kissing the prince's hand, said
to him, 'Would God thou hadst spared her! But now there is
nothing for it but to rid us of her forthright, before the day
break.' So saying, he wrapped the body in a mantle and laying it
in a basket, said to Amjed, 'Thou art a stranger here and knowest
no one: so sit thou here and await my return. If I come back, I
will assuredly do thee great good service and use my endeavour to
have news of thy brother; but if I return not by sunrise, know
that all is over with me; in which case the house and all it
contains are thine, and peace be on thee.' Then he shouldered
the basket and going forth, made for the sea, thinking to throw
it therein: but as he drew near the shore, he turned and found
himself surrounded by the chief of the police and his officers.
They knew him and wondered and opened the basket, in which they
found the slain woman. So they seized him and laid him in irons
till the morning, when they carried him and the basket to the
King and acquainted the latter with the case. The King was sore
enraged and said to Behadir, 'Out on thee! This is not the first
time thou hast slain folk and cast them into the sea and taken
their goods. How many murders hast thou done ere this?' Behadir
hung his head, and the King cried out at him, saying, 'Woe to
thee! Who killed this young lady?' 'O my lord,' answered
Behadir, 'I killed her, and there is no power and no virtue but
in God the Most High, the Supreme!' At this the King's anger
redoubled and he commanded to hang him. So the hangman and
the chief of the police went down with him, by the King's
commandment, and paraded him through the streets and markets of
the town, whilst a crier forewent them, bidding all the folk to
the execution of Behadir, the King's Master of the Horse.

Meanwhile, Amjed awaited his host's return till the day broke and
the sun rose, and when he saw that he came not, he exclaimed,
'There is no power and no virtue but in God the Most High, the
Supreme! I wonder what is come of him?' As he sat musing, he
heard the crier proclaiming aloud Behadir's sentence and bidding
the people to his hanging at midday; whereat he wept and
exclaimed, 'Verily, we are God's and to Him we return! He means
to sacrifice himself unjustly for my sake, when it was I killed
her. By Allah, this shall never be!' Then he went out and
shutting the door after him, hurried through the streets, till he
overtook Behadir, when he accosted the chief of the police and
said to him, 'O my lord, put not Behadir to death, for he is
innocent. By Allah, none killed her but I.' When the Master of
the Police heard this, he took them both and carrying them before
the King, told him what Amjed had said; whereupon he looked at
the prince and said to him, 'Didst thou kill the young lady?'
'Yes,' answered he, and the King said, 'Tell me why thou killedst
her, and speak the truth.' 'O King,' replied Amjed, 'indeed, it
is a rare event and a strange matter that hath befallen me: were
it graven with needles on the corners of the eye, it would serve
as a lesson to whoso can profit by admonition.' Then he told him
his whole story and all that had befallen him and his brother,
first and last; whereat the King wondered greatly and said to
him, 'O youth, I know thee now to be excusable. Wilt thou be my
Vizier?' 'I hear and obey,' answered Amjed; whereupon the King
bestowed magnificent dresses of honour on him and Behadir and
gave him a handsome house, with servants and officers and all
things needful, appointing him stipends and allowances and
bidding him make search for his brother Asaad. So Amjed sat down
in the seat of office and governed and did justice and invested
and deposed and gave and took. Moreover, he sent out a crier to
cry his brother throughout the city, and he made proclamation in
the streets and markets many days, but heard no news of Asaad nor
happened on any trace of him.

Meanwhile, the Magians ceased not to torture Asaad, night and
day, for a whole year's space, till the day of their festival
drew near, when the old man (whose name was Behram) made ready
for the voyage and fitted out a ship for himself. When all was
ready, he laid Asaad in a chest and locking it, transported it to
the ship. As fate would have it, Amjed was at that very time
standing looking upon the sea; and when he saw the men carrying
the chest and other gear on board the ship, his heart throbbed
and he called to his servants to bring him his horse. Then,
mounting with a company of his officers, he rode down to the port
and halted before the Magian's ship, which he commanded his men
to search. So they boarded the vessel and searched it in every
part, but found nothing and returned and told Amjed, who mounted
again and rode back to his palace, with a troubled mind. As he
entered, he cast his eyes on the wall and saw written thereon the
following verses, which when he read, he called to mind his
brother and wept:

Beloved ones, for all you're absent from my sight, Yet in my
heart and thought you have your sojourn still.
You leave me here to pine and languish for desire; You rob mine
eyes of sleep and sleep yourselves your fill.

Meanwhile, Behram embarked and shouted to his crew to make sail
in all haste. So they loosed the sails and departing, fared on
without ceasing many days and nights; and every other day, Behram
took out Asaad and gave him a little bread and water, till they
drew near the Mountain of Fire, when there came out on them a
contrary wind and the sea rose against them, so that they were
driven out of their course into strange waters and came in sight
of a city builded upon the shore, with a citadel whose windows
overlooked the sea. Now the ruler of this city was a queen
called Merjaneh, and the captain said to Behram, 'O my lord, we
have strayed from our course and come to the island of Queen
Merjaneh, who is a devout Muslim; and if she know that we are
Magians, she will take our ship and slay us to the last man. Yet
needs must we put in here to rest [and refit].' Quoth Behram,
'Let us clothe this Muslim we have with us in a slave's habit and
carry him ashore with us, so that, when the queen sees him, she
will think and say, "This is a slave." As for me, I will tell
her that I am a dealer in white slaves and that I had with me
many, but have sold all but this one, whom I have retained to
keep my accounts, for he can read and write.' And the captain
said, 'This device should serve well.' Presently they reached
the city and slackening sail, cast anchor; when, behold, Queen
Merjaneh came down to them, attended by her guards, and halting
before the ship, called out to the captain, who landed and kissed
the earth before her. Quoth she, 'What is the lading of thy ship
and whom hast thou with thee?' 'O queen of the age,' answered
he, 'I have with me a merchant who deals in slaves.' And she
said, 'Bring him to me;' whereupon Behram came ashore to her,
followed by Asaad in a slave's habit, and kissed the earth before
her. 'What is thy condition?' asked the queen; and Behram
answered, 'I am a slave-dealer.' Then she looked at Asaad and
taking him for a slave, said to him, 'What is thy name?' Quoth
he, 'Dost thou ask my present or my former name?' 'Hast thou
then two names?' asked she, and he answered (and indeed his voice
was choked with tears), 'Yes; my name aforetime was Asaad,[FN#70]
but now it is Muterr.'[FN#71] Her heart inclined to him and she
said, 'Canst thou write?' 'Yes,' answered he; and she gave him
inkhorn and pen and paper and said to him, 'Write somewhat, that
I may see it.' So he wrote the following verses:

Harkye, O thou that judgest, what can a mortal do, When fate, in
all conditions, doth him to death ensue?
It casts him in the ocean, bound hand and foot, and says, "Beware
lest with the water you wet yourself, look you!"

When she read this, she had compassion upon him and said to
Behram, 'Sell me this slave.' 'O my lady,' answered he, 'I
cannot sell him, for he is the only slave I have left.' Quoth
she, 'I must have him of thee, either by purchase or as a gift.'
But Behram said, 'I will neither sell him nor give him.' Whereat
she was wroth and taking Asaad by the hand, carried him up to the
palace and sent to Behram, saying, 'Except thou set sail and
depart our city this very night, I will seize all thy goods and
break up thy ship.' When the message reached the Magian, he was
sore troubled and said, 'Verily, this voyage is every way
unfortunate.' Then he made ready and took all he needed and
awaited the coming of the night, to resume his voyage, saying to
the sailors, 'Provide yourselves and fill the waterskins, that we
may set sail at the last of the night.' So the sailors did their
occasions and awaited the coming of the night.

To return to Queen Merjaneh. When she had brought Asaad into the
palace, she opened the windows overlooking the sea and bade her
handmaids bring food. Accordingly, they set food before Asaad
and herself, and they ate, after which the queen called for wine
and fell to drinking with him. Now God (may He be exalted and
glorified!) filled her heart with love for Asaad and she plied
him with wine, till his reason fled and presently he rose and
left the hall, to do an occasion. Seeing a door open, he went
out and walked on, till he came to a vast garden full of all
manner fruits and flowers and sitting down under a tree, did his
occasion. Then he went up to a fountain in the garden and made
the ablution and washed his hands and face, after which he would
have risen to go away; but the air smote him and he fell back,
with his clothes undone, and slept, and night overcame him thus.

Meanwhile, Behram, the night being come, cried out to the sailors
to spread sail and depart. 'We hear and obey,' answered they;
'but give us time to fill our water-skins.' Then they landed
with their water-skins and coasting the palace, found nothing but
walls: so they climbed over into the garden and followed the
track of feet, that led them to the fountain, where they found
Asaad lying on his back, asleep. They knew him and taking him
up, climbed the wall again with him, after they had filled their
skins, and carried him back in haste to Behram, to whom said
they, 'Beat thy drums and sound thy pipes; for we have found thy
prisoner, whom Queen Merjaneh took from thee by force, and have
brought him back to thee.' And they threw Asaad down before
him. When Behram saw him, his heart leapt for joy and his
breast dilated with gladness. Then he bestowed largesse on
the sailors and bade them weigh anchor in haste. So they set
sail forthright, intending for the Mountain of Fire, and stayed
not their course till the morning.

As for Queen Merjaneh, she abode awhile, awaiting Asaad's return;
and when she saw that he came not, she rose and sought him, but
found no trace of him. Then she bade her women light flambeaux
and search for him, whilst she herself went forth and seeing the
garden-door open, knew that he had gone thither. So she went out
and finding his slippers lying by the fountain, searched the
garden in every part, but found no sign of him. Nevertheless,
she gave not over the search till morning, when she enquired for
the Magian's ship and was told that it had set sail in the first
watch of the night; wherefore she knew that they had taken Asaad
with them and this was grievous to her and she was angry. So she
bade equip ten great ships forthwith and arming herself, embarked
in one of them, with her guards and women and troops, richly
accoutred and armed for war. They spread the sails and she said
to the captain, 'If you overtake the Magian's ship, ye shall have
of me dresses of honour and largesse; but if ye let it escape, I
will kill you all.' Whereat fear and great hope fell upon the
seamen, and they sailed three days and nights, till, on the
fourth day, they sighted Behram's ship. Ere ended day, they came
up with it and surrounded it on all sides, even as Behram had
taken Asaad forth of the chest and was beating and torturing him,
whilst the prince cried out for succour and relief, but found
neither helper nor deliverer; and indeed he was sorely tormented
with much beating. Presently Behram chanced to look up and
seeing himself encompassed by the queen's ships, as the white of
the eye encompasses the black, gave himself up for lost and
groaned and said to Asaad, 'Out on thee, O Asaad! This is all
thy doing; but, by Allah, I will kill thee ere I die myself.'
Then he bade the sailors throw him overboard; so they took him by
the hands and feet and cast him into the sea and he sank. But
God (may He be exalted and glorified!) willed that his life
should be saved and that his last day should be deferred; so He
caused him to rise again and he struck out with his hands and
feet, till the Almighty gave him ease and relief and the waves
bore him far from the Magian's ship and threw him ashore. He
landed, scarce crediting his escape, and putting off his clothes,
wrung them and spread them out to dry, whilst he sat, naked and
weeping over his misfortunes and desolate and forlorn condition
and repeating the following verses:

My fortitude fails me for travail and pain; My patience is spent,
my endeavour in vain;
My sinews are sundered; O Lord of all lords, To whom but his Lord
shall the wretched complain?

Then, rising, he donned his clothes and set out at a venture,
knowing not whither he went. He fared on day and night, eating
of the herbs of the earth and the fruits of the trees and
drinking of the streams, till he came in sight of a city;
whereupon he rejoiced and hurried on; but before he reached it,
the night overtook him and the gates were shut. Now, as chance
would have it, this was the very city in which he had been a
prisoner and to whose king his brother Amjed was vizier. When
he saw the gate was shut, he turned back and made for the
burial-ground, where finding a tomb without a door, he entered
and lay down and fell asleep, with his face in his sleeve.

Meanwhile, Queen Merjaneh, coming up with Behram's ship,
questioned him of Asaad; but he swore to her that he was not with
him and that he knew nothing of him. She searched the ship, but
found no trace of Asaad, so took Behram and carrying him back to
her castle, would have put him to death; but he ransomed himself
from her with all his good and his ship and she released him and
his men. They went forth from her, hardly believing in their
escape, and fared on ten days' journey, till they came to their
own city and found the gate shut, it being eventide. So they
made for the burial-ground, thinking to lie the night there, and
going round about the tombs, as fate would have it, saw that, in
which Asaad lay, open; whereat Behram marvelled and said,' I must
look into this tomb.' Then he entered and found Asaad lying
asleep, with his head on his sleeve; so he raised his head and
looking in his face, knew him for him on whose account he had
lost his goods and his ship, and said, 'Art thou yet alive?'
Then he bound him and gagged him, without further parley, and
carried him to his house, where he clapped heavy shackles on his
feet and lowered him into the underground dungeon aforesaid,
affected to the tormenting of Muslims, bidding a daughter of his,
by name Bustan, torture him night and day, till the next year,
when they would again visit the Mountain of Fire and offer him up
as a sacrifice there. Then he beat him grievously and locking
the dungeon door upon him, gave the keys to his daughter. By and
by, she opened the door and went down to beat him, but finding
him a comely sweet-faced youth, with arched brows and melting
black eyes, fell in love with him and said to him, 'What is thy
name?' 'My name is Assad,'[FN#72] answered he. 'Mayst thou
indeed be happy,' exclaimed she, 'and happy be thy days! Thou
deservest not torture and blows, and I see thou hast been
unjustly entreated.' And she comforted him with kind words and
loosed his bonds. Then she questioned him of the faith of Islam,
and he told her that it was the true and orthodox faith and that
our lord Mohammed had approved himself by surpassing miracles and
manifest signs and that the [worship of] fire was not profitable,
but harmful; and he went on to expound to her the tenets of
Islam, till she was persuaded and the love of the True Faith
entered her heart. Then (for God the Most High had filled her
with love of Asaad), she made profession of the faith and became
of the people of felicity. After this, she brought him meat and
drink and talked with him and they prayed together: moreover, she
made him chicken-broths and fed him therewith, till he regained
strength and his sickness left him and he was restored to health.
One day, as she stood at the door of the house, she heard the
crier proclaiming aloud and saying, 'Whoso hath with him a
handsome young man, whose favour is thus and thus, and bringeth
him forth, shall have all he seeketh of wealth; but if any have
him and discover it not, he shall be hanged over his own door and
his goods shall be confiscated and his blood go for nought.' Now
Asaad had acquainted her with his whole history: so, when she
heard the crier, she knew that it was he who was sought for and
going down to him, told him the news. Then she went forth with
him to the palace of the Vizier, whom when Asaad saw, he
exclaimed, 'By Allah, this is my brother Amjed!' And threw
himself upon him; whereupon Amjed also knew him and they embraced
each other and lay awhile insensible, whilst the Vizier's
officers stood round them. When they came to themselves, Amjed
took his brother and carried him to the Sultan, to whom he
related the whole story, and the Sultan charged him to plunder
Behram's house and take himself. So Amjed despatched thither a
company of men, who sacked the house and took Behram and brought
his daughter to the Vizier, who received her with all honour, for
Asaad had told his brother all the torments he had suffered and
the kindness that she had done him. Moreover, Amjed, in his
turn, related to Asaad all that had passed between the lady and
himself and how he had escaped hanging and become Vizier; and
they made moan, each to the other, of the anguish they had
suffered for separation. Then the Sultan sent for Behram and
bade strike off his head; but he said, 'O most mighty King, art
thou indeed resolved to put me to death?' 'Yes,' replied the
King, 'except thou save thyself by becoming a Muslim.' And
Behram said, 'O King, have patience with me a little.' Then he
bowed his head awhile and presently raising it again, made
profession of the faith and avowed himself a Muslim at the hands
of the Sultan. They all rejoiced at his conversion and Amjed and
Asaad told him all that had befallen them, whereat he wondered
and said, 'O my lords, make ready for the journey and I will
depart with you and carry you back to your father's court in a
ship.' At this they rejoiced and wept sore; but he said, 'O my
lords, weep not for your departure, for ye shall be re-united
[with those you love], even as were Nimeh and Num.' 'And what
befell Nimeh and Num?' asked they. 'It is told,' replied Behram,
'(but God alone is all-knowing), that

Story of Nimeh Ben Er Rebya and Num His Slave-girl

There lived once in the city of Cufa a man called Er Rebya ben
Hatim, who was one of the chief men of the town, rich in goods
and prosperous, and God had vouchsafed him a son, whom he named
Nimet Allah.[FN#73] One day, being in the slave-dealers' mart, he
saw a female slave exposed for sale, with a little girl of
wonderful beauty and grace in her hand. So he beckoned to the
broker and said to him, "What is the price of this woman and her
child?" "Fifty dinars," answered he. "Write the contract of
sale," said Er Rebya, "and take the money and give it to her
owner." Then he gave the broker the price and his brokerage and
taking the woman and her child, carried them to his house. When
his wife saw the slave, she said to her husband (who was the son
of her father's brother), "O my cousin, what is this damsel?"
Quoth he, "I bought her for the sake of the little one on her
arm, for know that, when she grows up, there will not be her like
for beauty, either in the land of the Arabs or elsewhere." "It
was well seen of thee," answered his wife. Then said she to the
woman, "What is thy name?" "O my lady," replied she, "my name is
Taufic." "And what is thy daughter's name?" asked she.
"Saad,"[FN#74] answered the slave. "Thou sayst sooth," rejoined
her mistress. "Thou art indeed happy, and happy is he who hath
bought thee." Then said she to her husband, "O my cousin, what
wilt thou call her?" "What thou choosest," answered he. "Then
let us call her Num,"[FN#75] quoth she, and he said, "Good." The
little Num was reared with Er Rebya's son Nimeh in one cradle and
each grew up handsomer than the other. They were wont to call
each other brother and sister, till they came to the age of ten,
when Er Rebya said to Nimeh, "O my son, Num is not thy sister,
but thy slave. I bought her in thy name, whilst thou wast yet in
the cradle; so call her no more 'sister' from this day forth."
"If that be so," quoth Nimeh, "I will take her to wife." Then he
went to his mother and told her of this, and she said to him, "O
my son, she is thy handmaid." So he went in to Num and loved her
and two years passed over them, whilst Num grew up, nor was there
in all Cufa a fairer or sweeter or more graceful girl than she.
She learnt the Koran and all manner of knowledge and excelled in
music and singing and playing upon all kinds of instruments, so
that she surpassed all the folk of her time. One day, as she sat
with her husband in the wine-chamber, she took the lute and
tuning it, sang the following verses:

Since thou'rt my lord, by whose good grace I live in fair estate,
A sword wherewith I smite in twain the neck of adverse fate,
No need is mine to have recourse to Amr[FN#76] or to Zeid,[FN#77]
Nor any but thyself, an if the ways on me grow strait.

Nimeh was charmed with these verses and said to her, "I conjure
thee, by my life, O Num, sing to us with the tambourine and other
instruments!" So she sang the following verses to a lively air:

By him whose hand possesses the reins of my affair, On passion's
score, I swear it, my enviers I'll dare.
Yea, I will vex my censors and thee alone obey And sleep and ease
and solace, for thy sweet sake, forswear
And dig midmost my entrails, to hold the love of thee, A grave,
of which not even my heart shall be aware.

And Nimeh exclaimed, "Gifted of God art thou, O Num!"

But whilst they led thus the most delightsome life, El Hejjaj,
[FN#78] [the governor of Cufa, heard of Num and] said in
himself, "Needs must I make shift to take this girl Num and send
her to the Commander of the Faithful Abdulmelik ben Merwan, for
he hath not in his palace her like for beauty and sweet singing."
Then, calling an old woman, one of his body-servants, he said to
her, "Go to Er Rebya's house and foregather with the girl Num and
cast about to steal her away, for her like is not to be found on
the face of the earth." She promised to do his bidding; so next
morning she donned clothes of wool[FN#79] and threw round her
neck a rosary of thousands of beads; then, taking in her hand a
staff and water-bottle of Yemen make, went forth, exclaiming,
"Glory be to God! Praised be God! There is no god but God! God
is most great! There is no power and no virtue but in God the
Most High, the Supreme!" Nor did she leave making devout
ejaculations, whilst her heart was full of craft and fraud, till
she came to Nimeh's house, at the hour of noonday-prayer, and
knocked at the door. The doorkeeper opened and said to her,
"What dost thou want?" Quoth she, "I am a poor pious woman, whom
the time of noonday-prayer hath overtaken, and I would fain pray
in this blessed place." "O old woman," answered the porter,
"this is no mosque nor oratory, but the house of Nimeh ben er
Rebya." "I know there is neither mosque nor oratory like the
house of Nimeh ben er Rebya," rejoined she. "I am a chamberwoman
of the palace of the Commander of the Faithful and am come out
upon a pilgrimage of devotion." But the porter replied, "Thou
canst not enter;" and many words passed between them, till at
last she caught hold of him, saying, "Shall the like of me, who
have free access to the houses of Amirs and grandees, be denied
admission to the house of Nimeh ben er Rebya?" Presently, out
came Nimeh and hearing their dispute, laughed and bade the old
woman enter. So she followed him into the presence of Num, whom
she saluted after the goodliest fashion; and when she looked on
her, she was confounded at her exceeding beauty and said to her,
"O my lady, I commend thee to the safeguard of God, who made thee
and thy lord to accord in beauty and grace!" Then she stood up
in the prayer-niche and betook herself to inclination and
prostration and prayer, till the day departed and the night came
with the darkness, when Num said to her, "O my mother, rest thy
feet awhile." "O my lady," answered the old woman, "whoso
seeketh the world to come must weary himself in this world, and
whoso wearieth not himself in this world shall not attain the
dwellings of the just in the world to come." Then Num brought
her food and said to her, "O my mother, eat of my victual and
pray that God may relent towards me and have mercy on me." But
she replied, "O my lady, I am fasting. As for thee, thou art but
a girl and it befits thee to eat and drink and make merry. May
God be indulgent to thee! Quoth the Most High, '(None shall be
saved) except those that repent and believe and work the works of
righteousness.'"[FN#80] Num sat awhile, conversing with the old
woman, and presently said to Nimeh, "O my lord, conjure this old
woman to sojourn with us awhile, for piety is imprinted on her
face." Quoth he, "Set apart for her a chamber, where she may do
her devotions, and let none go in to her: peradventure God
(glorified and exalted be He!) shall prosper us by the blessing
of her presence and part us not." The old woman passed the night
in prayer and recitation,[FN#81] till daybreak, when she went in
to Nimeh and Num and giving them good morning, said to them, "I
pray God to have you in His holy keeping!" "Whither away, O my
mother?" said Num. "My lord hath bidden me set apart for thee a
chamber, where thou mayst retire for thy devotions." "God give
him long life," replied the old woman, "and continue His favour
to you both! I would have you charge the doorkeeper not to stay
my coming in to you, and (God willing) I will go the round of the
Holy Places and pray for you at the end of my devotions every day
and night." Then she went out (whilst Num wept for parting with
her, knowing not the purpose of her coming) and returned to El
Hejjaj, who said to her, "What news?" She answered, "I have seen
the girl, and indeed never bore woman of her day a lovelier than
she." And El Hejjaj said to her, "So thou do my bidding, thou
shalt have of me abundant good." Quoth she, "I ask of thee a
month's time." And he replied, "It is well." Then she fell to
paying frequent visits to Nimeh and Num, who redoubled in honour
and kindness to her, and she used to go in to them morning and
evening, and all in the house welcomed her, till, one day, being
alone with Num, she said to her, "By Allah, O my lady, when I go
to the Holy Places, I will pray for thee; but I should love thee
to go thither with me, that thou mightest look on the Elders
of the Faith that resort thither, and they should pray for
thee, according to thy desire." "O my mother," said Num, "I
conjure thee by Allah, take me with thee!" "Ask leave of thy
mother-in-law," replied the old woman, "and I will take thee."
So Num said to her mother-in-law, "O my lady, ask my master to
let us go, thee and me, one day, with this my old mother, to pray
and worship with the fakirs in the Holy Places." Presently,
Nimeh came in and sat down, whereupon the old woman went up to
him and would have kissed his hand, but he forbade her; so she
called down blessings on him and left the house. Next day, she
came again, in the absence of Nimeh, and said to Num, "We prayed
for thee yesterday; but arise now and divert thyself and return
ere thy lord come home." So Num said to her mother-in-law, "I
beseech thee, for God's sake, let me go with this pious woman,
that I may look upon the friends of God in the Holy Places and
return speedily, ere my lord come." Quoth Nimeh's mother, "I
fear lest thy lord know." "By Allah," said the old woman, "I
will not let her sit down; but she shall look, standing on her
feet, and not tarry." So on this wise she took the damsel by
guile and carrying her to El Hejjaj's palace, bestowed her in a
privy chamber and told him of her coming; whereupon he went in to
her and looking upon her, saw her to be the loveliest of the
people of the day, never had he beheld her like. When Num saw
him, she veiled her face from him; but he left her not till he
had called his chamberlain, whom he commanded to take fifty
horsemen and mounting the damsel on a swift dromedary, carry her
to Damascus and there deliver her to the Commander of the
Faithful, Abdulmelik ben Merwan. Moreover, he gave him a letter
for the Khalif, saying, "Bear him this letter and bring me his
answer in all haste." So the chamberlain took the damsel, all
tearful for separation from her lord, and setting out with her
for Syria, gave not over journeying till he reached Damascus and
sought an audience of the Commander of the Faithful, to whom he
delivered the damsel and the letter. The Khalif appointed her a
separate apartment and going into his harem, said to his wife,
"El Hejjaj has bought me a female slave of the daughters
(descendants) of the (ancient) Kings of Cufa, for ten thousand
dinars, and has sent her to me with this letter." "May God
increase thee of his favour!" answered she. Then the Khalif's
sister went into Num and when she saw her, she said, "By Allah,
happy the man who hath thee in his house, were thy cost a hundred
thousand dinars!" "O fair-faced one," said Num, "what King's
palace is this?" "This is the city of Damascus," answered the
princess, "and the palace of my brother, the Commander of the
Faithful, Abdulmelik ben Merwan. Didst thou not know this?" "By
Allah, O my lady," said Num, "I had no knowledge of this!" "And
he who sold thee and took thy price," asked the princess, "did he
not tell thee that the Khalif had bought thee?" When Num heard
this, she wept and said in herself, "I have been cozened; but, if
I speak, none will credit me; so I will hold my peace and take
patience, knowing that the relief of God is near." Then she bent
her head for shame, and indeed her cheeks were tanned with the
journey and the sun. So the Khalif's sister left her that day
and returned to her on the morrow with clothes and necklaces of
jewels and dressed her; after which the Khalif came in to her and
sat down by her side, and his sister said to him, "Look on this
damsel, in whom God hath united every perfection of beauty and
grace." So he said to Num, "Draw back the veil from thy face;"
but she would not unveil, and he beheld not her face. However,
he saw her wrists and love of her entered his heart; and he said
to his sister, "I will not go in to her for three days, till she
be cheered by thy converse." Then he left her, but Num ceased
not to brood over her case and sigh for her separation from
Nimeh, till, at eventide, she fell sick of a fever and ate not
nor drank; and her face grew pale and her charms faded. They
told the Khalif of this, and it grieved him; so he visited her
with physicians and men of skill, but none could come at a cure
for her.

As for Nimeh, when he returned home, he sat down on his bed and
cried, "Ho, Num!" But she answered not; so he rose in haste and
called out, but none came to him, for all the women in the house
had hidden themselves, for fear of him. Then he went in to his
mother, whom he found sitting with her cheek on her hand, and
said to her, "O my mother, where is Num?" "O my son," answered
she, "she is with one who is worthier than I to be trusted with
her, namely, the devout old woman; she went forth with her to
visit the fakirs and return." "Since when has this been her
wont," asked Nimeh, "and at what hour went she forth?" Quoth his
mother, "She went out early in the morning." "And how camest
thou to give her leave for this?" said he, and she replied, "O my
son, it was she persuaded me." "There is no power and no virtue
but in God the Most High, the Supreme!" exclaimed Nimeh and going
forth, in a state of distraction, repaired to the chief of the
police, to whom said he, "Dost thou practice on me and steal my
slave-girl away from me? I will assuredly complain of thee to
the Commander of the Faithful." "Who has taken her?" asked the
chief of the police, and Nimeh answered, "An old woman of such
and such a favour, clad in woollen raiment and carrying a rosary
of thousands of beads." "Find me the old woman," rejoined the
other, "and I will get thee back thy slave-girl." "Who knows
the old woman?" said Nimeh. "And who knows the hidden things
save God, may He be glorified and exalted?" replied the official,
who knew her for El Hejjaj's agent. Quoth Nimeh, "I look to thee
for my slave-girl, and El Hejjaj shall judge between thee and
me." And the master of police answered, "Go to whom thou wilt."
Now Nimeh's father was one of the chief men of Cufa; so he went
to the palace of the governor, whose chamberlain went in to him
and told him what was to do. El Hejjaj bade admit him and
enquired his business. Quoth Nimeh, "Such and such things have
befallen me." And the governor said, "Bring me the chief of the
police, and we will bid him seek for the old woman." Now he knew
that the chief of the police knew her; so, when he came, he said
to him, "I wish thee to make search for the slave-girl of Nimeh
ben er Rebya." And he answered, "None knoweth the hidden things
save God the Most High." "Thou must send out horsemen," rejoined
El Hejjaj, "and look for the damsel in all the roads and towns."
Then he turned to Nimeh and said to him, "An thy slave-girl
return not, I will give thee ten slave-girls from my house and
ten from that of the chief of the police." And he said to the
latter, "Go and seek for the girl." So he went out and Nimeh
returned home, full of trouble and despairing of life. He had
now reached the age of fourteen and there was yet no hair on his
cheeks. He shut himself up from his household and ceased not to
weep and lament, he and his mother, till the morning, when his
father came in to him and said, "O my son, El Hejjaj hath put a
cheat on the damsel and stolen her away; but from hour to hour
God giveth relief." But grief redoubled on Nimeh, so that he
knew not what he said nor who came in to him, and indeed his
charms were changed and he was in sorry case. In this plight he
abode three months, till his father despaired of him, and the
physicians visited him and said, "There is no cure for him but
the damsel." One day, Er Rebya heard tell of a skilful Persian
physician, whom the folk gave out for accomplished in medicine
and astrology and geomancy. So he sent for him and seating him
by his side, entreated him with honour and said to him, "Look
into my son's case." So he said to Nimeh, "Give me thy hand."
Accordingly, the young man gave him his hand and he felt his
pulse and his joints and looked in his face; then he laughed and
turning to Er Rebya, said, "Thy son's only ailment is in his
heart." "Thou sayst sooth, O sage," answered Er Rebya; "but
apply thy skill to the consideration of his state and case and
acquaint me with the whole thereof and hide nought from me."
Quoth the Persian, "He is enamoured of a girl, who is either in
Bassora or Damascus; and there is no cure for him but reunion
with her." "An thou bring them together," said Er Rebya, "thou
shalt have of me what will rejoice thee and shalt live all thy
life in wealth and delight." "This is an easy matter," answered
the Persian, "and soon brought about;" and he turned to Nimeh and
said to him, "Fear not; no hurt shall befall thee; so take heart
and be of good cheer." Then said he to Er Rebya, "Give me four
thousand dinars of your money." So he gave them to him, and he
said, "I wish to carry thy son with me to Damascus, and God
willing, we will not return thence but with the damsel." Then
said he to the youth, "What is thy name?" And he answered,
"Nimeh." "O Nimeh," said the Persian, "sit up and be of good
heart, for God will reunite thee with the damsel. So put thy
trust in Him and eat and drink and be cheerful and fortify
thyself for travel, for we set out for Damascus this very day."
So he sat up whilst the Persian made his preparations and took of
Er Rebya, in all, the sum of ten thousand dinars, together with
horses and camels and beasts of burden such as he needed for the
journey. Then Nimeh took leave of his father and mother and
journeyed with the physician to Aleppo. They could get no news
of Num there, so fared on to Damascus, where they abode three
days, after which the Persian took a shop and adorned its shelves
with gilding and stuffs of price and stocked them with vessels of
costly porcelain, with covers of silver. Moreover, he set before
himself vases and flagons of glass full of all manner ointments
and syrups, surrounded by cups of crystal, and donning a
physician's habit, took his seat in the shop, with his astrolabe
and geomantic tablet before him. Then he clad Nimeh in a shirt
and gown of silk and girding his middle with a silken kerchief
embroidered with gold, made him sit before himself, saying to
him, "O Nimeh, henceforth thou art my son; so call me nought but
father and I will call thee son." And he replied, "I hear and
obey." The people of Damascus flocked to gaze on the youth's
goodliness and the beauty of the shop and its contents, whilst
the physician spoke to Nimeh in Persian and he answered him in
the same tongue, for he knew the language, after the wont of the
sons of the notables. The Persian soon became known among the
townsfolk and they began to resort to him and acquaint him with
their ailments, for which he prescribed. Moreover, they brought
him the water of the sick in phials, and he would examine it and
say, "He, whose water this is, is suffering from such and such a
disease." And the patient would say, "Verily, this physician
says sooth." So he continued to do the occasions of the folk and
they to flock to him, till his fame spread throughout the city
and into the houses of the great. One day, as he sat in his
shop, there came up an old woman riding on an ass with housings
of brocade, embroidered with jewels, and drawing bridle before
his shop, beckoned to him, saying, "Take my hand." So he took
her hand, and she alighted and said to him, "Art thou the Persian
physician from Irak?" "Yes," answered he, and she said, "Know
that I have a sick daughter." Then she brought out to him
a phial and he looked at it and said to her, "Tell me thy
daughter's name, that I may calculate her horoscope and learn the
hour in which it will befit her to take medicine." "O brother of
the Persians," answered she, "her name is Num." When he heard
this, he fell to calculating and writing on his hand and
presently said to her, "O my lady, I cannot prescribe for the
girl, till I know what countrywoman she is, because of the
difference of climate: so tell me where she was brought up and
what is her age." "She is fourteen years old," replied the old
woman, "and was brought up in Cufa of Irak." "And how long,"
asked he, "has she sojourned in this country?" "But a few
months," answered she. When Nimeh heard the old woman's words
and the name of his slave-girl, his heart fluttered and he was
like to swoon. Then said the Persian to the old woman, "Such and
such medicines will suit her case;" and she rejoined, "Then make
them up and give them to me, with the blessing of God the Most
High!" So saying, she threw him ten dinars, and he bade Nimeh
prepare the necessary drugs; whereupon she looked at the youth
and exclaimed, "God have thee in His holy keeping, O my son!
Verily, she is like thee in age and favour." Then said she to
the physician, "O brother of the Persians, is this thy slave or
thy son?" "He is my son," answered he. So Nimeh made up the
medicine and laying it in a little box, took a piece of paper and
wrote thereon the following verses:

So Num but vouchsafe me a glance, to gladden my heart and my
mind, Let Suada unfavouring prove and Juml, an't please her,
"Forget her," quoth they unto me, "And thou shalt have twenty
like her." I will not forget her, I swear, for never her
like should I find.

He put the paper in the box and sealing it up, wrote on the cover
the following words in the Cufic character, "I am Nimeh ben er
Rebya of Cufa." Then he gave it to the old woman, who bade them
farewell and returning to the Khalif's palace, went in to Num, to
whom she delivered the box, saying, "O my lady, know that there
is lately come to our town a Persian physician, than whom I never
saw a more skilful nor a better versed in matters of sickness. I
showed him the phial and told him thy name, and he knew thine
ailment and prescribed a remedy. Then, by his order, his son
made thee up this medicine; and there is not in Damascus a
comelier or more elegant youth than this son of his nor hath any
the like of his shop." Num took the box and seeing the names of
her lord and his father written thereon, changed colour and said
to herself, "Doubtless, the owner of this shop is come in search
of me." So she said to the old woman, "Describe this youth to
me." "His name is Nimeh," answered the old woman; "he is richly
clad and perfectly handsome and has a mole on his right eyebrow."
"Give me the medicine," cried Num, "and may the blessing and help
of God the Most High attend it!" So she drank off the potion and
said, laughing, "Indeed, it is a blessed medicine." Then she
sought in the box and finding the paper, read it and knew that
this was indeed her lord, whereat her heart was solaced and she
rejoiced. When the old woman saw her laughing, she exclaimed,
"This is indeed a blessed day!" And Num said, "O nurse, I
have a mind to eat and drink." So the old woman said to the
serving-women, "Bring a tray of dainty viands for your mistress;"
whereupon they set food before her and she sat down to eat.
Presently, in came the Khalif and seeing her sitting eating,
rejoiced; and the old woman said to him, "O Commander of the
Faithful, I give thee joy of thy slave's recovery! Know that
there is lately come to our city a physician, than whom I never
saw a better versed in diseases and their cure. I fetched her
medicine from him and she has taken of it but once and is
restored to health." Quoth he, "Take a thousand dinars and
provide for her treatment, till she be completely recovered." And
he went away, rejoicing in the damsel's recovery, whilst the old
woman betook herself to the physician, to whom she delivered the


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