Bagh O Bahar, Or Tales of the Four Darweshes
by Mir Amman of Dihli
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Translated from the Hindustani of Mir Amman of Dihli

By Duncan Forbes, LL.D.,

Professor of Oriental Languages in King's College, London; Member of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland, author of several works on the Hindustani and Persian Languages.



The Bagh O Bahar, or "Garden and Spring," has, for the last half century, been held as a classical work throughout our Indian empire. It highly deserves this distinguished fate, as it contains various modes of expression in correct language; and displays a great variety of Eastern manners and modes of thinking. It is an excellent introduction not only to the colloquial style of the Hindustani language, but also to a knowledge of its various idioms and popular phrases.

The tale itself is interesting, if we bear in mind the fact, that no Asiatic writer of romance or history has ever been consistent, or free from fabulous credulity. The cautious march of undeviating truth, and a careful regard to vraisemblance, have never entered into their plan. Wildness of imagination, fabulous machinery, and unnatural scenes ever pervade the compositions of Oriental authors,—even in most serious works on history and ethics. Be it remembered, that jinns, demons, fairies, and angels, form a part of the Muhammadan creed. The people to this day believe in the existence of such beings on the faith of the Kur,an; and as they are fully as much attached to their own religion as we are to ours, we ought not to be surprised at their credulity.

I have rendered the translation as literal as possible, consistent with the comprehension of the author's meaning. This may be considered by some a slavish and dull compliance; but in my humble opinion we ought, in this case, to display the author's own thoughts and ideas; all we are permitted to do, is to change their garb. This course has one superior advantage which may compensate for its seeming dulness; we acquire an insight into the modes of thinking and action of the people, whose works we peruse through the medium of a literal translation, and thence many instructive and interesting conclusions may be drawn.

To the present edition numerous notes are appended; some, with a view to illustrate certain peculiarities of the author's style, and such grammatical forms of the language as might appear difficult to a beginner; others, which mainly relate to the manners and customs of the people of the East, may appear superfluous to the Oriental scholar who has been in India; but in this case, I think it better to be redundant, than risk the chance of being deficient. Moreover, as the book may be perused by the curious in Europe, many of of whom know nothing of India, except that it occupies a certain space in the map of the world, these notes were absolutely necessary to understand the work. Finally, as I am no poet, and have a most thorough contempt for the maker of mere doggerel rhymes, I have translated the pieces of poetry, which are interspersed in the original, into plain and humble prose.


58, BURTON CRESCENT, July, 1857.


Which was Presented to the Gentlemen Managers of the College [of Fort William].

May God preserve the gentlemen of great dignity, and the appreciators of respectable men. This exile from his country, on hearing the command [issued by] proclamation, [1] hath composed, with a thousand labours and efforts, the "Tale of the Four Darweshes," [entitled] the Bagh O Bahar [2] [i.e. Garden and Spring,] in the Urdu, e Mu'alla [3] tongue. By the grace of God it has become refreshed from the perusal of all the gentlemen [4] [of the college]. I now hope I may reap some fruit from it; then the bud of my heart will expand like a flower, according to the word of Hakim Firdausi, [5] who has said [of himself] in the Shahnama,

"Many sorrows I have borne for these thirty years; But I have revived Persia by this Persian [History.] [6] I having in like manner polished the Urdu tongue, Have metamorphosed Bengal into Hindustan." [7]

You gentlemen are yourselves appreciators of merit. There is no need of representation [on my part]. O God! may the star of your prosperity ever shine!


"The Name of God, Most Merciful and Gracious."

The pure God! what an [excellent] Artificer he is! He who, out of a handful of dust, hath created such a variety of faces and figures of earth. Notwithstanding the two colours [of men], one white and one black, yet the same nose and ears, the same hands and feet, He has given to all. But such variety of features has He formed, that the form and shape of one [individual] does not agree with the personal appearance of another. Among millions of created beings, you may recognise whomsoever you wish. The sky is a bubble in the ocean of his [eternal] unity; and the earth is as a drop of water in it; but this is wonderful, that the sea beats its thousands of billows against it, and yet cannot do it any injury. The tongue of man is impotent to sound the praise and eulogy of Him who has such power and might! If it utter any thing, what can it say? It is best to be silent on a subject concerning which nothing can be said.


"From earth to heaven, He whose work this is, If I wish to write his praise, then what power have I; When the prophet himself has said, 'I do not comprehend Him.' After this, if any one pretends to it, he is a great fool. Day and night the sun and moon wander through their course, and behold his works— Yea, the form of every individual being is a sight of surprise: He, whose second or equal is not, and never will be; No such a unique Being, Godhead is every way fit. But so much I know, that He is the Creator and Nourisher. In every way his favour and beneficence are upon me."

And blessings on his friend, for whose sake He created the earth and heavens, and on whom He bestowed the dignity of prophet.


"The pure body of Mustafa is an emanation of Divine light, For which reason, it is well known that his body threw no shadow. [8] Where is my capacity, that I should sufficiently speak his praise; Only with men of eloquence this is an established rule." [9]

And blessings and salvation be on his posterity, who are the twelve Imams. [10]


"The praise of God and the eulogy of the prophet having here ended; Now I begin that which is requisite to be done. O God! for the sake of the posterity of thy prophet, [11] Render this my story acceptable to the hearts of high and low."

The reasons for compiling this work are these, that in the year of the Hijra, 1215, A.D. 1801, corresponding to the [12] Fasli year 1207, in the time of his Excellency the noble of nobles, Marquis Wellesley, Lord Mornington, Governor-general, (in whose praise the judgment is at a loss, and the understanding perplexed, and in whom God has centred all the excellent qualities that great men ought to possess. In short, it was the good fortune of this country that such a chief came here, from whose happy presence multitudes enjoy ease and happiness. No one can now dare to injure or wrong another; and the tiger and the goat drink at the same ghat; [13] and all the poor bless him and live,) [14] the pursuit of learning came into vogue, and the gentlemen of dignity perceived that by acquiring the Urdu tongue, they might hold converse with the people of India, and transact with perfect accuracy the affairs of the country; for this reason many books were compiled during this same year, according to orders.

To those gentlemen who are learned, and speak the language of Hindustan, [15] I address myself, and say, that this "Tale of the Four Darwesh" was originally composed by Amir Khusru, [16] of Dihli [17] on the following occasion; the holy Nizamu-d-Din Auliya, surnamed Zari-Zar-bakhsh, [18] who was his spiritual preceptor, (and whose holy residence was near Dilli, three Kos [19] from the fort, beyond the red gate, and outside the Matiya gate, near the red house), fell ill; and to amuse his preceptor's mind, Amir Khusru used to repeat this tale to him, and attend him during his sickness. God, in the course of time, removed his illness; then he pronounced this benediction on the day he performed the ablution of cure: [20] "That whoever will hear this tale, will, with the blessing of God, remain in health:" since which time this tale, composed in Persian, has been extensively read.

Now, the excellent and liberal gentleman, the judge of respectable men, Mr. John Gilchrist, (may his good fortune ever increase as long as the Jamuna and Ganges flow!) with kindness said to me, "Translate this tale into the pure Hindustani tongue, which the Urdu people, both Hindus and Musalmans, high and low, men, women and children, use to each other." In accordance with his honour's desire, I commenced translating it into this same dialect, just such as any one uses in common conversation.

But first this guilty being, Mir Amman, of Dilli, begs to relate his own story: "That my forefathers, from the time of King Humayun, served every king, in regular descent, with zeal and fidelity; and they [21] also (i.e. the kings), with the eye of protection, ever justly appreciated and rewarded our services. Jagirs, titles and rewards, were plentifully bestowed on us; and we were called hereditary [22] vassals, and old servants; so that these epithets were enrolled in the royal archives. [23] When such a family (owing to which all other families were prosperous) dwindled to such a point! which is too well [24] known to require mention, then Suraj Mal, the Jat, [25] confiscated our Jagir, and Ahmad Shah the Durrani, [26] pillaged our home. Having sustained such various misfortunes, I abandoned that city, which was my native land, and the place of my birth. Such a vessel, whose pilot was such a king, was wrecked; and I began to sink in the sea of destitution! a drowning person catches at a straw, and I sustained life for some years in the city of 'Azim-abad, [27] experiencing both good and bad fortune there. At length I left it also—the times were not propitious; leaving my family there, I embarked alone in a boat, and came in quest of a livelihood [28] to Calcutta, the chief of cities. I remained unemployed for some time, when it happened that Nawwab Dilawar Jang sent for me, and appointed me tutor to his younger brother, Mir Muhammad Kazim Khan. I stayed with him nearly two years; but saw not my advantage [in remaining there any longer.] Then, through the assistance of Mir Bahadur 'Ali Munshi, I was introduced to Mr. John Gilchrist (may his dignity be lasting.) At last, by the aid of good fortune, I have acquired the protection of so liberal a person, that I hope better days; if not, even, this is so much gain, that I have bread to eat, and having stretched my feet, I repose in quiet; and that ten persons in my family, old and young, are fed; and bless that patron. May God accept [their prayers!]

"The account of the Urdu tongue I have thus heard from my ancestors;—that the city of Dilli, according to the opinion of the Hindus, was founded in the earliest times, [29] and that their Rajas and subjects lived there from the remotest antiquity, and spoke their own peculiar Bhakha. [30] For a thousand years past, the Musalmans have been masters there. Mahmud of Ghazni [31] came [there first]; then the Ghori and Lodi [32] became kings; owing to this intercourse, the languages of the Hindus and Musalmans were partially blended together. At last Amir Taimur [33] (in whose family the name and empire remain to this day), conquered Hindustan. From his coming and stay, the bazar of his camp was settled in the city; for which reason the bazar of the city was called Urdu. [34] Then King Humayun, annoyed by the Pathans, went abroad [to Persia]; and at last, returning from thence, he punished the surviving [Pathans], and no rebel remained to raise strife or disturbance.

When King Akbar ascended the throne, then all tribes of people, from all the surrounding countries, hearing of the goodness and liberality of this unequalled family, flocked to his court, but the speech and dialect of each was different. Yet, by being assembled together, they used to traffic and do business, and converse with each other, whence resulted the common Urdu language. When his majesty Shahjahan Sahib Kiran [35] built the auspicious fort, and the great mosque, [36] and caused the walls of the city to be built; and inlaid the peacock throne [37] with precious stones, and erected his tent, made of gold and silver brocade; and Nawwab' Ali Mardan Khan cut the canal [38] [to Dilli]; then the king, being pleased, made great rejoicings, and constituted the city his capital. Since that time it has been called Shajahan-abad, (although the city of Dilli is distinct from it, the latter being called the old city, and the former the new,) and to the bazar of it was given the title of Urdu-e Mu'alla. [39]

From the time of Amir Taimur until the reign of Muhammad Shah, and even to the time of Ahmad Shah, and Alamgir the Second, the throne descended lineally from generation to generation. In the end, the Urdu language, receiving repeated polish, was so refined, that the language of no city is to be compared to it; but an impartial judge is necessary to examine it. Such a one God has at last, after a long period, created in the learned, acute and profound Mr. John Gilchrist, who from his own judgment, genius, labour and research, has composed books of rules [for the acquisition of it]. From this cause, the language of Hindustan has become general throughout the provinces, and has been polished anew; otherwise no one conceives his own turban, language and behaviour, to be improper. If you ask a countryman, he censures the citizen's idiom, and considers his own the best; "well, the learned only know [what is correct]." [40]

When Ahmad Shah Abdali, came from Kabul and pillaged the city of Dilli, Shah 'Alam was in the east. [41] No master or protector of the country remained, and [42] the city became without a head. True it is, that the city only flourished from the prosperity of the throne. All at once it was overwhelmed with calamity: its principal inhabitants were scattered, and fled wherever they could. To whatever country they went, their own tongue was adulterated by mixing with the people there; and there were many who, after an absence of ten to five years, from some cause or other, returned to Dilli, and stayed there. How can they speak the pure language of Dilli? somewhere or other they will slip; but the person who bore all misfortunes, and remained fixed at Dilli and whose five or ten anterior generations lived in that city, and who mixed in the company of the great, and the assemblies and processions of the people, who strolled in its streets for a length of time, and even after quitting it, kept his language pure from corruption, his style of speaking will certainly be correct. This humble being [viz. Mir Amman], wandering through many cities, and viewing their sights, has at last arrived at this place.


I now commence my tale; pay attention to it, and be just to its merits. In the "Adventures of the Four Darwesh, [43]" it is thus written, and the narrator has related, that formerly in the Empire of Rum [44] there reigned a great king, in whom were innate justice equal to that of Naushirwan, [45] and generosity like that of Hatim. [46] His name was Azad-Bakht, and his imperial residence was at Constantinople, [47] (which they call Istambol.) In his reign the peasant was happy, the treasury full, the army satisied, and the poor at ease. They lived in such peace and plenty, that in their homes the day was a festival, and the night was a shabi barat [48]. Thieves, robbers, pickpockets, swindlers, and all such as were vicious and dishonest, he utterly exterminated, and no vestige of them allowed he to remain in his kingdom. [49] The doors of the houses were unshut all night, and the shops of the bazar remained open. The travellers and wayfarers chinked gold as they went along, over plains and through woods; and no one asked them, "How many teeth have you in your mouth," [50] or "Where are you going?"

There were thousands of cities in that king's dominions, and many princes paid him tribute. Though he was so great a king, he never for a moment neglected his duties or his prayers to God. He possessed all the necessary comforts of this world; but male issue, which is the fruit of life, was not in the garden of his destiny, for which reason he was often pensive and sorrowful, and after the five [51] regulated periods of prayer, he used to address himself to his Creator and say, "O God! thou hast, through thy infinite goodness blest thy weak creature with every comfort, but thou hast given no light to this dark abode. [52] This desire alone is unaccomplished, that I have no one to transmit my name and support my old age. [53] Thou hast everything in thy hidden treasury; give me a living and thriving son, that my name and the vestiges of this kingdom may remain."

In this hope the king reached his fortieth year; when one day he had finished his prayers in the Mirror Saloon, [54] and while telling his beads, he happened to cast his eyes towards one of the mirrors, and perceived a white hair in his whiskers, which glittered like a silver wire; on seeing it, the king's eyes filled with tears, and he heaved a deep sigh, and then said to himself, "Alas! thou hast wasted thy years to no purpose, and for earthly advantages thou hast overturned the world. And all the countries thou hast conquered, what advantage are they to thee? Some other race will in the end squander these riches.

Death hath already sent thee a messenger; [55] and even if thou livest a few years, the strength of thy body will be less. Hence, it appears clearly from this circumstance, that it is not my destiny to have an heir to my canopy and throne. I must one day die, and leave everything behind me; so it is better for me to quit them now, and dedicate the rest of my days to the adoration of my Maker."

Having in his heart made this resolve, he descended to his lower garden. [56] Having dismissed his courtiers, he ordered that no one should approach him in future, but that all should attend the Public Hall of Audience, [57] and continue occupied in their respective duties. After this speech the king retired to a private apartment, spread the carpet of prayer, [58] and began to occupy himself in devotion: he did nothing but weep and sigh. Thus the king, Azud Bakhht passed many days; in the evening he broke his fast with a date and three mouthfuls of water, and lay all day and night on the carpet of prayer. Those circumstances became public, and by degrees the intelligence spread over the whole empire, that the king having withdrawn his hand from public affairs, had become a recluse. In every quarter enemies and rebels raised their heads, and stepped beyond the bounds [of obedience]; whoever wished it, encroached on the kingdom, and rebelled; wherever there were governors, in their jurisdictions great disturbance took place; and complaints of mal-administration arrived at court from every province. All the courtiers and nobles assembled, and began to confer and consult.

At last it was agreed, "that as his Highness the Wazir is wise and intelligent, and in the king's intimacy and confidence, and is first in dignity, we ought to go before him, and hear what he thinks proper to say on the occasion," All the nobles went to his Highness the Wazir, and said: "Such is the state of the king and such the condition of the kingdom, that if more delay takes place, this empire, which has been acquired with such trouble, will be lost for nothing, and will not be easily regained." The Wazir was an old, faithful servant, and wise; his name was Khiradmand, a name self-significant. [59] He replied, "Though the king has forbidden us to come into his presence, yet go you: I will also go—may it please God that the king be inclined to call me to his presence." After saying this, the Wazir brought them all along with him as far as the Public Hall of Audience, and leaving them there, he went into the Private Hall of Audience, [60] and sent word by the eunuch [61] to the royal presence, saying, "this old slave is in waiting, and for many days has not beheld the royal countenance; he is in hopes that, after one look, he may kiss the royal feet, then his mind will be at ease." The king heard this request of his Wazir, and inasmuch as his majesty knew his length of services, his zeal, his talents, and his devotedness, and had often followed his advice, after some consideration, he said, "call in Khiradmand." As soon as permission was obtained, the Wazir appeared in the royal presence, made his obeisance, and stood with crossed arms. [62] He saw the king's strange and altered appearance, that from extreme weeping and emaciation his eyes were sunk in their sockets, [63] and his visage was pale.

Khiradmand could no longer restrain himself, but without choice, ran and threw himself at [the king's] feet. His majesty lifted up the Wazir's head with his hands, and said, "There, thou hast at last seen me; art thou satisfied? Now go away, and do not disturb me more—do thou govern the empire." Khiradmand, on hearing this, gnashing his teeth, wept said, "This slave, by your favour and welfare, can always possess a kingdom; but ruin is spread over the empire from your majesty's such sudden seclusion, and the end of it will not be prosperous. What strange fancy has possessed the royal mind! If to this hereditary vassal your majesty will condescend to explain yourself, it will be for the best—that I may unfold whatever occurs to my imperfect judgment on the occasion. If you have bestowed honours on your slaves, it is for this exigency, that your majesty may enjoy yourself at your ease, and your slaves regulate the affairs of the state; for if your imperial highness is to bear this trouble, which God forbid! of what utility are the servants of the state?" The king replied, "Thou sayest true; but the sorrow which preys on my mind is beyond cure.

"Hear, O Khiradmand! my whole age has been passed in this vexatious career of conquest, and I am now arrived at these years; there is only death before me; I have even received a message from him, for my hairs are turned white. There is a saying; 'We have slept all night, and shall we not awake in the morning?' Until now I have not had a son, that I might be easy in mind; for which reason my heart is very sorrowful, and I have utterly abandoned everything. Whoever wishes, may take the country and my riches. I have no use for them. Moreover, I intend some day or other, to quit everything, retire to the woods and mountains, and not show my face to any one. In this manner I will pass this life of [at best but] a few days' duration. If some spot pleases me, I shall sit down on it; and by devoting my time in prayers to God, perhaps my future state will be happy; this world I have seen well, and have found no felicity in it." After pronouncing these words, the king heaved a deep sigh, and became silent.

Khiradmand had been the Wazir of his majesty's father, and when the king was heir-apparent he had loved him; moreover, he was wise and zealous. He said (to Azad Bakht,) "It is ever wrong to despair of God's grace; He who has created the eighteen thousand species of living beings [64] by one fiat, can give you children without any difficulty. Mighty sire, banish these fanciful notions from your mind, or else all your subjects will be thrown into confusion, and this empire,—with what trouble and pains your royal forefathers and yourself have erected it!—will be lost in a moment, and, from want of care, the whole country will be ruined; God forbid that you should incur evil fame! Moreover, you will have to answer to God, in the day of judgment, when he will say, 'Having made thee a king, I placed my creatures under thy care; but thou hadst no faith in my beneficence, and thou hast afflicted thy subjects [by abandoning thy charge.'] What answer will you make to this accusation? Then even your devotion and prayers will not avail you, for the heart of man is the abode of God, and kings will have to answer only for the justice [65] of their conduct. Pardon your slave's want of respect, but to leave their homes, and wander from forest to forest, is the occupation of hermits, [66] but not that of kings. You ought to act according to your allotted station: the remembering of God, and devotion to him, are not limited to woods or mountains: your majesty has undoubtedly heard this verse, 'God is near him, and he seeks him in the wilderness; the child is in his arms, and there is a proclamation [of its being lost] throughout the city.'

"If you will be pleased to act impartially, and follow this slave's advice, in that case the best thing is, that your Majesty should keep God in mind every moment, and offer up to him your prayers. No one has yet returned hopeless from his threshold. In the day, arrange the affairs of state, and administer justice to the poor and injured; then the creatures of God will repose in peace and comfort under the skirt of your prosperity. Pray at night; and after beseeching blessings for the pure spirit of the Prophet, solicit assistance from recluse Darweshes and holy men, [who are abstracted from worldly objects and cares;] bestow daily food on orphans, prisoners, poor parents of numerous children, and helpless widows. From the blessings of these good works and benevolent intentions, if God please, it is to be fervently hoped that the objects and desires of your heart will all be fulfilled, and the circumstances for which the royal mind is afflicted, will likewise be accomplished, and your noble heart will rejoice! Look towards the favour of God, for he can in a moment do what he wishes." At length, from such various representations on the part of Khiradmand the Wazir, Azad Bakht's heart took courage, and he said, "Well, what you say is true; let us see to this also; and hereafter, the will of God be done."

When the king's mind was comforted, he asked the Wazir what the other nobles and ministers were doing, and how they were. He replied, that "all the pillars of state are praying for the life and prosperity of your majesty; and from grief for your situation, they are all in confusion and dejected. Show the royal countenance to them, that they may be easy in their minds. Accordingly, they are now waiting in the Diwani Amm." On hearing this, the king said, "If God please, I will hold a court to-morrow: tell them all to attend." Khiradmand was quite rejoiced on hearing this promise, and lifting up his hands, blessed the king, saying, "As long as this earth and heaven exist, may your majesty's crown and throne remain. Then taking leave [of the king,] he retired with infinite joy, and communicated these pleasing tidings to the nobles. All the nobles returned to their homes with smiles and gladness of heart. The whole city rejoiced, and the subjects became boundless [in their transports at the idea] that the king would hold a general court the next day. In the morning, all the servants of state, noble and menial, and the pillars of state, small and great, came to the court, and stood each according to his respective place and degree, and waited with anxiety to behold the royal splendour.

When one pahar [67] of the day had elapsed, all at once the curtain drew up, and the king, having ascended, seated himself on the auspicious throne. The sounds of joy struck up in the Naubat-Khana, [68] and all the assembly offered the nazars [69] of congratulation, and made their obeisance in the hall of audience. Each was rewarded according to his respective degree and rank, and the hearts of all became joyful and easy. At midday [70] his majesty arose and retired to the interior of the palace; and after enjoying the royal repast, retired to rest. From that day the king made this an established rule, viz., to hold his court every morning, and pass the afternoons in reading and in the offices of devotion; and after expressing penitence, and beseeching forgiveness from God, to pray for the accomplishment of his desires.

One day, the king saw it written in a book, that if any one is so oppressed with grief and care as not to be relieved by [any human] contrivance, he ought to commit [his sorrows] to Providence, visit the tombs of the dead, and pray for the blessing of God on them, [71] through the mediation of the Prophet; and conceiving himself nothing, keep his heart free from the thoughtlessness of mankind; weep as a warning to others, and behold [with awe] the power of God, saying, "Anterior to me, what mighty possessors of kingdoms and wealth have been born on earth! but the sky, involving them all in its revolving circle, has mixed them with the dust." It is a bye-word, that, "on beholding the moving handmill, Kabira, [72] weeping, exclaimed, 'Alas! nothing has yet survived the pressure of the two millstones.'"

"Now, if you look [for those heroes], not one vestige of them remains, except a heap of dust. All of them, leaving their riches and possessions, their homes and offsprings, their friends and dependants, their horses and elephants, are lying alone! All these [worldly advantages] have been of no use to them; moreover, no one by this time, knows even their names, or who they were; and their state within the grave cannot be discovered; (for worms, insects, ants, and snakes have eaten them up;) or [who knows] what has happened to them, or how they have settled their accounts with God? After meditating on these words in his mind, he should look on the whole of this world as a perfect farce; then the flower of his heart will ever bloom, and it will not wither in any circumstance." When the king read this admonition in the book, he recollected the advice of Khiradmand the Wazir, and found that they coincided. He became anxious in his mind to put this in execution; "but to mount on horseback, [said his majesty to himself,] and take a retinue with me, and go like a king, is not becoming; it is better to change my dress, and go at night and alone to visit the graves of the dead, or some godly recluse, and keep awake all night; perhaps by the mediation of these holy men, the desires of this world and salvation in the next, may be obtained."

Having formed this resolution, the king one night put on coarse and soiled clothes, and taking some money with him, he stole silently out of the fort, and bent his way over the plain; proceeding onwards, he arrived at a cemetery, and was repeating his prayers with a sincere heart. At that time, a fierce wind continued blowing, and might be called a storm. Suddenly the king saw a flame at a distance which shone like the morning star; he said to himself, "In this storm and darkness this light cannot shine without art, or it may be a talisman; for if nitre and sulphur be sprinkled in the lamp, around the wick, then let the wind be ever so strong, the flame will not be extinguished—or may it not be the lamp of some holy man which burns? Let it be what it may, I ought to go and examine it; perhaps by the light of this lamp, the lamp of my house also may be lighted, [73] and the wish of my heart fulfilled." Having formed this resolution, the king advanced in that direction; when he drew near, he saw four erratic fakirs, [74] with kafnis [75] on their bodies, and their head reclined on their knees; sitting in profound silence, and senselessly abstracted. Their state was such as that of a traveller, who, separated from his country and his sect, friendless and alone, and overwhelmed with grief, is desponding and at a loss. In the same manner sat these four Fakirs, like statues, [76] and a lamp placed on a stone burnt brightly; the wind touched it not, as if the sky itself had been its shade, [77] so that it burnt without danger [of being extinguished.]

On seeing this sight, Azad Bakht was convinced [and said to himself] that "assuredly thy desires will be fulfilled, by the blessing [resulting from] the footsteps of these men of God; and the withered tree of thy hopes shall revive by their looks, and yield fruit. Go into their company, and tell thy story, and join their society; perhaps they may feel pity for thee, and offer up for thee such a prayer as may be accepted by the Almighty." Having formed this determination, he was about to step forward, when his judgment told him, O fool, do not be hasty! Look a little [before thee.] What dost thou know as to who they are, from whence they have come, and where they are going? How can we know but they may be Devs [78] or Ghuls [79] of the wilderness, who, assuming the appearance of men, are sitting together? In every way, to be in haste, and go amongst them and disturb them, is improper. At present, hide thyself in some corner, and learn the story of these Darweshes." At last the king did so, and hid himself in a corner with such silence, that no one heard the sound of his approach; he directed his attention towards them to hear what they were saying amongst themselves. By chance one of the Fakirs sneezed, and said, "God be praised." [80] The other three Kalandars, [81] awakened by the noise he made, trimmed the lamp; the flame was burning bright, and each of them sitting on his mattrass, lighted their hukkas, [82] and began to smoke. One of these Azads [83] said, "O friends in mutual pain, and faithful wanderers over the world! we four persons, by the revolution of the heavens, and changes of day and night, with dust on our heads, have wandered for some time, from door to door. God be praised, that by the aid of our good fortune, and the decree of fate, we have to-day met each other on this spot. The events of to-morrow are not in the least known, nor what will happen; whether we remain together, or become totally separated; the night is a heavy load, [84] and to retire to sleep so early is not salutary. It is far better that we relate, each on his own part, the events which have passed over our heads in this world, without admitting a particle of untruth [in our narrations;] then the night will pass away in words, and when little of it remains, let us retire to rest." They all replied, "O leader, we agree to whatever you command. First you begin your own history, and relate what you have seen; then shall we be edified."


The first Darwesh, sitting at his ease, [85] began thus to relate the events of his travels:

"Beloved of God, turn towards me, and hear this helpless one's narrative. Hear what has passed over my head with attentive ears, Hear how Providence has raised and depressed me. I am going to relate whatever misfortunes I have suffered; hear the whole narrative."

O my friends, the place of my birth, and the country of my forefathers, is the land of Yaman; [86] the father of this wretch was Maliku-t-Tujjar, [87] a great merchant, named Khwaja Ahmad. At that time no merchant or banker was equal to him. In most cities he had established factories and agents, for the purchase and sale (of goods); and in his warehouses were lakhs of rupis in cash, and merchandise of different countries. He had two children born to him; one was this pilgrim, who, clad in the kafni [88] and saili, [89] is now in your presence, and addressing you, holy guides; the other was a sister, whom my father, during his life time, had married to a merchant's son of another city; she lived in the family of her father-in-law. In short, what bounds could be set to the fondness of a father, who had an only son, and was so exceedingly rich! This wanderer received his education with great tenderness under the shadow of his father and mother; and began to learn reading and writing, and the science and practice of the military profession; and likewise the art of commerce, and the keeping of accounts. Up to [the age of] fourteen years, my life passed away in extreme delight and freedom from anxiety; no care of the world entered my heart. All at once, even in one year, both my father and mother died by the decree of God.

I was overwhelmed with such extreme grief, that I cannot express [its anguish.] At once I became an orphan! No elder [of the family] remained to watch over me. From this unexpected misfortune I wept night and day; food and drink were utterly disregarded. In this sad state I passed forty days: on the fortieth day, [90] [after the death of my parents,] my relations and strangers of every degree assembled [to perform the rites of mourning.] When the Fatiha [91] for the dead was finished, they tied on this pilgrim's head the turban of his father; [92] they made me understand, that, "In this world the parents of all have died, and you yourself must one day follow the same path. Therefore, have patience, and look after your establishment; you are now become its master in the room of your father; be vigilant in your affairs and transactions." After consoling me [in this friendly manner,] they took their leave. All the agents, factors and employes [of my late father] came and waited on me; they presented their nazars, and said, "Be pleased to behold with your own auspicious eye the cash in the coffers, and the merchandise in the warehouses." When all at once my sight fell on this boundless wealth, my eyes expanded. I gave orders for the fitting up of a diwan-khana; [93] the farrashes [94] spread the carpets, and hung up the pardas [95] and magnificent chicks. [96] I took handsome servants into my service; and caused them to be clothed in rich dresses out of my treasury. This mendicant had no sooner reposed himself in [the vacant] seat [of his father] than he was surrounded by fops, coxcombs, "thiggars [97] and sornars," liars and flatterers, who became his favourites and friends. I began to have them constantly in my company. They amused me with the gossip of every place, and every idle, lying tittle tattle; they continued urging me thus. "In this season of youth, you ought to drink [98] of the choicest wines, and send for beautiful mistresses to participate in the pleasures thereof, and enjoy yourself in their company."

In short, the evil genius of man is man: my disposition changed from listening constantly [to their pernicious advice.] Wine, dancing, and gaming occupied my time. At last matters came to such a pitch, that, forgetting my commercial concerns, a mania for debauchery and gambling came over me. My servants and companions, when they perceived my careless habits, secreted all they could lay hand on; one might say a systematic plunder took place. No account was kept of the money which was squandered; from whence it came, or where it went:

"When the wealth comes gratuitously, the heart has no mercy on it." [99]

Had I possessed even the treasures of Karun, [100] they would not have been sufficient to supply this vast expenditure. In the course of a few years such became all at once my condition, that, a bare skull cap for my head, and a rag about my loins, were all that remained. Those friends who used to share my board, and [who so often swore] [101] to shed their blood by the spoonful for my advantage, disappeared; yea, even if I met them by chance on the highway, they used to withdraw their looks and turn aside their faces from me; moreover, my servants, of every description, left me, and went away; no one remained to enquire after me, and say, "what state is this you are reduced to?" I had no companion left but my grief and regret.

I now had not a half-farthing's worth of parched grain [to grind between my jaws,] and give a relish to the water I drank: I endured two or three severe fasts, but could no longer bear [the cravings of] hunger. From necessity, covering my face with the mask of shamelessness, I formed the resolution of going to my sister; but this shame continued to come into my mind, that, since the death of my father, I had kept up no friendly intercourse with her, or even written her a single line; nay, further, she had written me two or three letters of condolence and affection, to which I had not deigned to make any reply in my inebriated moments of prosperity. From this sense of shame my heart felt no inclination [to go to my sister,] but except her house, I had no other [to which I could resort.] In the best way I could, on foot, empty-handed, with much fatigue and a thousand toils, having traversed the few [intervening] stages, I arrived at the city where my sister lived, and reached her house. My sister, seeing my wretched state, invoked a blessing upon me, embraced me with affection, and wept bitterly; she distributed [the customary offerings to the poor] on the occasion of my safe arrival, such as oil, vegetables, and small coins, [102] and said to me, "Though my heart is greatly rejoiced at this meeting, yet, brother, in what sad plight do I see you?" I could make her no reply, but shedding tears, I remained silent. My sister sent me quickly to the bath, after having ordered a splendid dress to be sewn for me. I having bathed and washed, put on these clothes. She fixed on an elegant apartment, near her own, for my residence. I had in the morning sharbat, [103] and various kinds of sweetmeats for my breakfast; in the afternoon, fresh and dried fruits for my luncheon; and at dinner and supper she having procured for me pulaos, [104] kababs, [105] and bread of the most exquisite flavour and delicious cookery; she saw me eat them in her own presence; and in every manner she took care of me. I offered thousands upon thousands of thanksgivings to God for enjoying such comfort, after such affliction [as I had suffered.] Several months passed in this tranquillity, during which I never put my foot out of my apartment.

One day, my sister, who treated me like a mother, said to me, "O brother, you are the delight of my eyes, and the living emblem of the dead dust of our parents; by your arrival the longing of my heart is satisfied; whenever I see you, I am infinitely rejoiced; you have made me completely happy; but God has created men to work for their living, and they ought not to sit idle at home. If a man becomes idle and stays at home, the people of the world cast unfavourable reflections on him; more especially the people of this city, both great and little, though it concerns them not, will say, on your remaining [with me and doing nothing,] 'That having lavished and spent his father's worldly wealth, he is now living on the scraps from his brother-in-law's board.' This is an excessive want of proper pride, and will be our ridicule, and the subject of shame to the memory of our parents; otherwise I would keep you near my heart, and make you shoes of my own skin, and have you wear them. Now, my advice is that you should make an effort at travelling; please God the times will change, and in place of your present embarrassment and destitution, gladness and prosperity may be the result." On hearing this speech my pride was roused; I approved of her advice, and replied, very well, you are now in the place of my mother, and I will do whatever you say. Having thus received my consent, she went into the interior of her house, and brought out, by the assistance of her female slaves and servants, fifty toras [106] of gold and laid them before me, saying, "A caravan of merchants is on the point of setting out for Damascus. [107] Do you purchase with this money some articles of merchandise. Having put them under the care of a merchant of probity, take from him a proper receipt for them: and do you also proceed to Damascus. When you arrive there in safety, receive the amount sales of your goods, and the profit which may accrue [from your merchant,] or sell them yourself [as may be most convenient or advantageous."] I took the money and went to the bazar; [108] and having bought articles of merchandise, I delivered them over in charge to an eminent merchant, and set my mind at ease on receiving a satisfactory receipt from him. The merchant embarked with the goods on board a vessel, and set off by sea, [109] and I prepared to go by land. When I took leave of my excellent sister, she gave me a rich dress and a superb horse with jewelled harness; she put some sweetmeats in a leather bag and hung it to the pummel of my saddle, and she suspended a flask of water from the crupper; she tied a sacred rupee on my arm, [110] and having marked my forehead with tika, [111] "Proceed," said she, suppressing her tears, "I have put thee under the protection of God; thou showest thy back in going, in the same happy state show me soon your face." I also said, after repeating the prayer of welfare, "God be your protector also. I obey your commands." Coming out from thence, I mounted my horse, and having placed my reliance on the protection of the Almighty, I set forward, and throwing two stages into one, I soon reached the neighbourhood of Damascus.

In short, when I arrived at the city gate, the night was far advanced, and the door-keepers and guards had shut them. I made much entreaty, and added, "I am a traveller, who has come a long journey, at a great rate; if you would kindly open the gates, I could get into the city and procure some refreshment for myself and my horse." They rudely replied from within, "There is no order to open the gates at this hour; why have you come so late in the night?" When I heard this plain answer of theirs, I alighted from my horse under the walls of the city, and spreading my housing, I sat down; but to keep awake, I often rose up and walked about. When it was exactly midnight, [112] there was a dead silence. What do I see but a chest descending slowly from the walls of the fortress! When I beheld this [strange sight], I was filled with surprise, thinking what talisman is this! perhaps God, taking pity on my perplexity and my misfortunes, has sent me here some bounty from his hidden treasure. When the chest rested on the ground, I approached it with much fear, and perceived it was of wood. Instigated by curiosity, I opened it; I beheld in it a beautiful lovely woman (at the sight of whom the senses would vanish), wounded and weltering in her blood, with her eyes closed, and in extreme agonies. By degrees her lips moved, and these sounds issued slowly from her mouth, "O faithless wretch! O barbarous tyrant! Is this deed which thou hast done, the return I merited for all my affection and kindness! Well, well! give me another blow [and complete thy cruelty]: I entrust to God the executing of justice between myself and thee." After pronouncing these words, even in that insensible state, she drew the end of her dopatta [113] over her face; she did not look towards me.

Gazing on her, and hearing her exclamations, I became torpid. It occurred to me, what savage tyrant could wound so beautiful a lady! what [demon] possessed his heart, and how could he lift his hand against her! she still loves him, [114] and even in this agony of death, she recollects him! I was muttering this to myself; the sound reached her ear; drawing at once her veil from her face, she looked at me. The moment her looks met mine, I nearly fainted, and my heart throbbed with difficulty; I supported myself by a strong effort, and taking courage, I asked her, "tell me true, who art you, and what sad occurrence is this I see; if you will explain it, then it will give ease to my heart." On hearing these words, though she had scarce strength to speak, yet she slowly uttered, "I thank you! how can I speak? my condition, owing to my wounds, is what you see; I am your guest for a few moments only; when my spirit shall depart, then, for God's sake, act like a man, and bury unfortunate me in some place, in this chest; then I shall be freed from the tongue of the good and bad, and you will earn for yourself a future reward." After pronouncing these words, she became silent.

In the night I could apply no remedy; I brought the chest near me, and began to count the gharis [115] of the remaining night. I determined, when the morning came, to go into the city and do all in my power for the cure [of this beautiful woman]. The short, remaining night became so heavy [116] a load, that my heart was quite restless. At last, after suffering much uneasiness, the morning approached—the cock crowed, and the voices of men were heard. After performing the morning prayer, I inclosed the chest in a coarse canvas sack, and just as the gates opened, I entered the city. I began to inquire of every man and shop-keeper where I could find a mansion for hire; and after much search, I found a convenient, handsome house, which I rented. The first thing I did, was to take that beautiful woman out of the chest, and lay her on a soft bed made up of flocks of cotton, which I had removed to a corner. I then placed a trusty person near her, and went in search of a surgeon. I wandered about, asking of every one I met who was the cleverest surgeon in the city, and where he lived. One person said, "There is a certain barber who is unique in the practice of surgery, and the science of physic; and in these arts is quite perfect. If you carry a dead person to him, by the help of God, he will apply such remedies as will bring him to life. He dwells in this quarter [of the city,] and his name is 'Isa." [117]

On hearing this agreeable intelligence, I went in search of him, and after several inquiries, I found out his abode from the directions I had received. I saw a man with a white beard sitting under the portico of his door, and several men were grinding materials for plasters beside him. For the sake of complimenting him, I made him a respectful salam, [118] and said,—"having heard of your name and excellent qualities, I am come [to solicit your assistance.] The case is this: I set out from my country for the purpose of trade, and took my wife with me, from the great affection I had for her; when I arrived near this city, I halted at a little distance, as the evening had set in. I did not think it safe to travel at night in an unseen country; I therefore rested under a tree on the plains. At the last quarter of the night, I was attacked by robbers; they plundered me of all the money and the property they could find, and wounded my wife, from avidity for her jewels. I could make no resistance, and passed the remainder of the night as well as I could. Early in the morning I came into this city, and rented a house; leaving her there, I am come to you with all speed. God has given you this perfection in your profession; favour this [unfortunate] traveller, and come to his humble dwelling; see my wife, and if her life should be saved, then you will acquire great fame, and I will be your slave as long as I live." 'Isa, the surgeon, was very humane and devout; he took pity on my misfortune, and accompanied me to my house. On examining the wounds, he gave me hopes, and said, "By the blessing of God, this lady's wounds will be cured in forty days; and I will then cause to be administered to her the ablution of cure."

In short, the good man having thoroughly washed all the wounds with the decoction of nim, [119] he cleansed them; those that he found fit for stitching, he sewed up; and on the others he laid lint and plasters, which he took out of his box, and tied them up with bandages, and said with much kindness, "I will continue to call morning and evening; be thou careful that she remain perfectly quiet, so that the stitches may not give way; let her food be chicken broth administered in small quantities at a time, and give her often the spirit of Bed-Mushk, [120] with rose water, so that her strength may be supported." After giving these directions, he took his leave. I thanked him much with joined hands, [121] and added, "From the consolation you have bestowed, my life also has been restored; otherwise, I saw nothing but death before me; God keep you safe." And after giving him 'Itr [122] and betel, I took leave of him. Night and day I attended on that beautiful lady with the utmost solicitude; rest to myself I renounced as impious, and in the threshold of God I daily prayed for her cure.

It came to pass that the merchant [who had charge of my merchandise,] arrived, and delivered over to me the goods I had entrusted to his care. I sold them as occasion required, and began to spend the amount in medicines and remedies. The good surgeon was regular in his attendance, and in a short time all the wounds filled up, and began to heal; a few days after she performed the ablution of cure. Joy of a wonderful nature arose [in my heart]! A rich khil'at, [123] and [a purse of] gold pieces I laid before 'Isa, the surgeon. I ordered elegant carpets to be spread for that fair one [124], and caused her to sit upon the masnad. [125] I distributed large sums to the poor [on the joyous occasion,] and that day I was as happy as if I had gained possession of the sovereignty of the seven climes. [126] On that beautiful lady's cure, such rosy, pure colour appeared in her complexion, that her face shone like the sun, and sparkled with the lustre of the purest gold. I could not gaze on her without being dazzled with her beauty. [127] I devoted myself entirely to her services, and zealously performed whatever she commanded. In the full pride of beauty and consciousness of high rank, if ever she condescended to cast a look on me, she used to say, "Take care, if my good opinion is desirable to you, then never breathe a syllable in my affairs; whatever I order, perform without objection; never utter a breath in my concerns, otherwise you will repent." It appeared, however, from her manners, that the return due to me for my services and obedience, was fully impressed on her mind. I also did nothing without her consent, and executed her commands with implicit obedience.

A certain space of time passed away in this mystery and submission—I instantly procured for her whatever she desired. I spent all the money I had from the sale of my goods, both principal and interest. In a foreign country [where I was unknown], who would trust me? that by borrowing, affairs might go on. At last, I was distressed for money, even for our daily expenses, and thence my heart became much embarrassed. With this anxious solicitude I pined daily, and the colour fled from my face; but to whom could I speak [for aid]? What my heart suffered, that it must suffer. "The grief of the poor man [preys] on his own soul." [128] One day the beautiful lady, from her own penetration, perceived [my distressed state] and said, "O youth! my obligations [to you] for the services [you have rendered] me are engraven on my heart as indelible as on stone; but their return I am unable to make at present. If there be any thing required for necessary expenses, do not be distressed on that account, but bring me a slip of paper, pen, and ink." I was then convinced that this fair lady must be a princess of some country, or else she would not have addressed me with such boldness and haughtiness. I instantly brought her the writing materials, [129] and placed them before her—she having written a note in a fair hand, delivered it to me, and said, "There is a Tirpauliya [130] near the fort; in the adjoining street is a large mansion, and the master of that house is called Sidi Bahar; [131] go and deliver this note to him."

I went according to her commands, and by the name and address she had given me, I soon found out the house; by the porter I sent word of the circumstance [of my having brought] a letter. The moment he heard [my message,] a handsome young negro, with a flashy turban on his head, came out to me; though his colour was dark, his countenance was full of animation. He took the note from my hand, but said nothing, asked no questions, and at the same pace [without a pause] entered the house. In a short time he came out, accompanied by slaves, who carried on their heads eleven sealed trays covered with brocade. He told the slaves, "Go with this young man, and deliver these trays." I, having made my salutation, took my leave of him, and brought [the slaves with their burdens] to our house. I dismissed the men from the door, and carried in the trays entrusted to me to the presence of the fair lady. On seeing them she said, "Take these eleven bags of gold pieces and appropriate the money to necessary expenses; God is most bountiful." I took the gold, and began to lay it out in immediate necessaries. Although I became more easy in my mind, yet this perplexity continued in my heart. "O God, [said I to myself,] what a strange circumstance is this! that a stranger, whose person is unknown to me, should, on the mere sight of a bit of paper, have delivered over to me so much money without question or inquiry. I cannot ask the fair lady to explain the mystery, as she has beforehand forbidden me." Through fear, I was unable to breathe a syllable.

Eight days after this occurrence, the beloved fair one thus addressed me:—"God has bestowed on man the robe of humanity which may not be torn or soiled; and although tattered clothes are no disparagement to his manhood, yet in public, in the eyes of the world he has no respect paid to him [if shabbily clothed]. So take two bags of gold with thee, and go to the chauk, [132] to the shop of Yusuf the merchant, and buy there some sets of jewels of high value, and two rich suits of clothes, and bring them with thee." I instantly mounted my horse, and went to the shop described. I saw there a handsome young man, clothed in a saffron-coloured dress, seated on a cushion; his beauty [133] was such, that a whole multitude stopped in the street from his shop as far as the bazar to gaze at him. I approached him with perfect pleasure, having made my "salam 'alaika." I sat down, and mentioned the articles required. My pronunciation was not like that of the inhabitants of that city. The young merchant replied with great kindness, "Whatever you require is ready, but tell me, sir, from what country are you come, and what are the motives of your stay in this foreign city? If you will condescend to inform me on these points, it will not be remote from kindness." It was not agreeable to me to divulge my circumstances, so I made up some story, took the jewels and the clothes, paid their price, and begged to take my leave. The young man seemed displeased and said, "O sir, if you wished to be so reserved, it was not necessary to show such warmth of friendly greeting in your first approach. Amongst well-bred people these [134] amicable greetings are of much consideration." He pronounced this speech with such elegance and propriety, that it quite delighted my heart, and I did not think it courteous to be unkind and leave [135] him so hastily; therefore, to please him, I sat down again and said, I agree to your request with all my heart, [136] and am ready [to obey your commands.]

He was greatly pleased with my compliance, and smiling he said, "If you will honour my poor mansion [with your company] to-day, then having a party of pleasure, we shall regale our hearts for some hours [in good cheer and hilarity."] I had never left the fair lady alone [since we first met,] and recollecting her solitary situation, I made many excuses, but that young man would not accept any; at last, having extorted from me a promise to return as soon as I had carried home the articles I had purchased, and having made me swear [to that effect,] he gave me leave to depart. I, having left the shop, carried the jewels and the clothes to the presence of the fair lady. She asked the price of the different articles, and what passed at the merchant's. I related all the particulars of the purchase, and the teasing invitation I had received from him. She replied, "It is incumbent on man to fulfil whatever promise he may make; leave me under the protection of God, and fulfil your engagement; the law of the prophet requires we should accept the offers of hospitality." I said, "My heart does not wish to go and leave you alone, but such are your orders, and I am forced to go; until I return, my heart will be attached to this very spot." Saying this, I went to the merchant's: he, seated on a chair, was waiting for me. On seeing me, he said, "Come, good sir, you have made me wait long." [137]

He instantly arose, seized my hand, and moved on; proceeding along, he conducted me to a garden; it was a garden of great beauty; in the basons and canals fountains were playing; fruits of various kinds were in full bloom, and the branches of the trees were bent down with their weight; [138] birds of various species were perched on the boughs, and sung their merry notes, and elegant carpets were spread in every apartment [of the grand pavilion which stood in the centre of the garden]. There on the border of the canal, we sat down in an elegant saloon; he got up a moment after and went out, and then returned richly dressed. On seeing him, I exclaimed, "Praised be the Lord, may the evil eye be averted!" [139] On hearing this, exclamation, he smiled, and said, "It is fit you, too, should change your dress." To please him, I also put on other clothes. The young merchant, with much sumptuousness, prepared an elegant entertainment, and provided every article of pleasure that could be desired; he was warm in his expressions of attachment to me, and his conversation was quite enchanting. At this moment a cupbearer appeared with a flask [of wine] and a crystal cup, and delicious meats of various kinds were served up. The salt-cellars were set in order, and the sparkling cup began to circulate. When it had performed three or four revolutions, four young dancing boys, very beautiful, with loose, flowing tresses, entered the assembly, and began to sing and play. Such was the scene, and such the melody, that had Tan-Sen [140] been present at that hour, he would have forgot his strains; and Baiju-Ba,ora [141] would have gone mad. In the midst of this festivity, the young merchant's eyes filled suddenly with tears, and involuntarily two or three drops trickled down [his cheeks]; he turned round and said to me, "Now between us a friendship for life is formed; to hide the secrets of our hearts is approved by no religion. I am going to impart a secret to you, in the confidence of friendship and without reserve. If you will give me leave I will send for my mistress into our company, and exhilarate my heart [with her presence]; for in her absence, I cannot enjoy any pleasure."

He pronounced these words with such eager desire, that though I had not seen her, yet my heart longed for her. I replied, your happiness is essential to me, what can be better [than what you propose]; send for her without delay; nothing, it is true, is agreeable without the presence of the beloved one. The young merchant made a sign towards the chick and shortly a black woman, as ugly as an ogress, on seeing whom one would die without [the intervention of] fate, approached the young man and sat down. I was frightened at her sight, and said within myself, is it possible this she-demon can be beloved by so beautiful a young man, and is this the creature he praised [142] so highly, and spoke of with such affection! I muttered the form of exorcism, [143] and became silent. In this same condition, the festive scene of wine and music continued for three days and nights; on the fourth night, intoxication and sleep gained the victory; I, in the sleep of forgetfulness, involuntarily slumbered; next morning the young merchant wakened me, and made me drink some cups of a cooling and sedative nature. He said to his mistress, "To trouble our guest any longer would be improper."

He then took hold of both my hands, and we stood up. I begged leave to depart; well pleased [with my complaisance], he gave me permission [to return home]. I then quickly put on my former clothes, and bent my way homewards, waited on the angelic lady. But it had never before occurred in my case, to leave her by herself and remain out all night. I was quite ashamed of myself for being absent three days [and nights], and I made her many apologies, and related the whole circumstances of the entertainment, and his not permitting me [to come home sooner]. She was well acquainted with the manners of the world, and smiling said, "What does it signify, if you had to remain to oblige your friend; I cheerfully pardon you, where is the blame on your part; when a man goes on occasions of this sort to any person's house, he returns when the other pleases to let him. But you having eaten and drunk at his entertainments for nothing, will you remain silent, or give him a feast in return? Now I think it proper you should go to the young merchant, and bring him with you, and feast him two-fold greater than he did you. Give yourself no concern about the materials [for such an entertainment]; by the favour of God, all the requisites will soon be ready, and in an excellent style, the hospitable party will obtain splendour." According to her desire, I went to the jeweller, and said to him, "I have complied with your request most cheerfully, now do you also in the way of friendship, grant my request." He said, "I will obey you with heart and soul."

Then I said, "If you will honour your humble servant's house with a visit, it will be the essence of condescension. That young man made many excuses and evasions, but I would not give up the point. When [at length] he consented, I brought him with me to my house; but on the way I could not avoid making the reflection, that "if I had had the means, I could receive my guest in a style which would be highly gratifying to him. Now I am taking him with me, let us see what will be the result." Absorbed in these apprehensions, I drew near my house. Then how was I surprised to see a great crowd and bustle at the door; the street had been swept and watered; silver mace and club bearers [144] were in waiting. I wondered greatly [at what I saw], but knowing it to be mine own house, I entered, and perceived that elegant carpets befitting every apartment, were spread in all directions, and rich masnads were laid out. Betel boxes, gulab-pashes, 'itr-dans, pik-duns [145] flower pots, narcissus-pots, were all arranged in order. In the recesses of the walls, various kinds of oranges and confectionery of various colours were placed. On one side variegated screens of talk, with lights behind them were displayed, and on the other side tall branches of lamps in the shape of cypresses and lotuses, were lighted up. In the hall and alcove camphorated candles were placed in golden candlesticks, and rich glass shades were placed over thorn; every attendant waited at his respective post. In the kitchen the pots continued jingling; and in the abdar-khana [146] there was a corresponding preparation; jars of water, quite new, stood on silver stands, with percolators attached, and covered with lids. Further on, on a platform, were placed spoons and cups, with salvers and covers; kulfis [147] of ice were arranged, and the goglets [148] were being agitated in saltpetre.

In short, every requisite becoming a prince was displayed. Dancing girls and boys, singers, musicians and buffoons, in rich apparel, were in waiting, and singing in concert. I led the young merchant in, and seated him on the masnad; [149] I was all amazement [and said to myself] "O God, in so short a time how have such preparations been made?" I was staring around and walking about in every direction, but I could nowhere perceive a trace of the beautiful lady; searching for her, I went into the kitchen, and I saw her there, with an upper garment on her neck, slippers on her feet, and a white handkerchief thrown over her head, plain and simply dressed, and without any jewels.

"She on whom God hath bestowed beauty has no need of ornaments; Behold how beautiful appears the moon, without decorations."

She was busily employed in the superintendence of the feast, and was giving directions for the eatables, saying, "have a care that [this dish] may be savoury, and that its moisture, its seasoning and its fragrance, may be quite correct." In this toil that rose-like person was all over perspiration.

I approached her with reverence, and having expressed my admiration of her good sense, and the propriety of her conduct, I invoked blessings upon her. On hearing my compliments, she was displeased, and said, "various deeds are done on the part of human beings which it is not the power of angels [to perform]: what have I done that thou art so much astonished? Enough, I dislike much talk; but say, what manners is this to leave your guest alone, and amuse yourself by staring about; what will he think of your behaviour? return quickly to the company, and attend to your guest, and send for his mistress, and make her sit by him." I instantly returned to the young merchant, and shewed him every friendly attention. Soon after, two handsome slaves entered with bottles of delicious wine, and cups set with precious stones, and served us the liquor. In the meantime, I then observed to the young merchant, I am in every way your friend and servant; it were well that your handsome mistress, to whom your heart is attached, should honour us with her presence; it will be perfectly agreeable to me, and if you please, I will send a person to call her. On hearing this, he was extremely pleased, and said, "Very well, my dear friend, yon have [by your kind offer] spoken the wish of my heart." I sent a eunuch [to bring her]. When half the night was past, that foul hag, mounted on an elegant chaudol, [150] arrived like an unexpected evil.

To please my guest I was compelled to advance, and receive her with the utmost kindness, and place her near the young man. On seeing her, he became as rejoiced as if he had received all the delights of the world. That hag also clung round the neck of that angelic youth. The [ludicrous] sight appeared, in plain truth, such as when over the moon of the fourteenth night, an eclipse comes. As many people as were in the assembly began to put their fore-fingers between their teeth, [151] saying [to themselves] "How could such a hag subdue the affections of this young man!" The eyes of all were turned in that direction. Disregarding the amusements of the entertainment, they began to attend only to this strange spectacle. Some apart observed, "O friends, there is an antagonism between love and reason! what judgment cannot conceive, this cursed love will show. You must behold Laili with the eyes of Majnun. [152] All present exclaimed, "Very true, that is the fact."

According to the directions of the lady, I devoted myself to attending on my guests; and although the young merchant pressed me to eat and drink equally with himself, yet I refrained from fear of the fair [one's displeasure], and did not give myself up to eating and drinking, or the pleasures of the entertainment. I pleaded the duties of hospitality as my excuse for not joining him [in the good cheer]. In this scene of festivity three nights and days passed away. On the fourth night, [153] the young merchant said to me with extreme fondness, "I now beg to take my leave; for your good sake I have utterly neglected my affairs these three days, and have attended you. Pray do you also sit near me for a moment, and rejoice my heart," I in my own heart imagined that "if I do not comply with his request at this moment, then he will be grieved; and it is necessary I should please my new friend and guest;" on which account I replied, "it is a pleasure to me to obey the command of your honour;" for "a command is paramount to ceremony" [154]. On hearing this, the young merchant presented me a cup of wine, and I drank it off; then the cup moved in such quick successive rounds, that in a short time all the guests in the assembly became inebriated and stupefied; I also became senseless.

When the morning came, and the sun had risen the height of two spears, [155] my eyes opened, but I saw nothing of the preparations, the assembly, or the beautiful lady—only the empty house remained—but in a corner [of the hall] something lay folded up in a blanket; I unfolded it, and saw the corpses of the young merchant and of his [black] woman, with their heads severed from their bodies. On seeing this sight, my senses forsook me, and my judgment was of no avail [in explaining to me] what this was and what had happened. I was staring about me, in every direction with amazement, when I perceived a eunuch (whom I had seen in the preparations of the entertainment). I was somewhat comforted on seeing him, and asked him an explanation of these strange events. He replied briefly, "What good will it do thee to hear an explanation of what has happened, that thou askest it?"

I also reflected in my mind, that what he said was true; however, after a short pause, I said to the eunuch, well, do not tell it to me; but inform me in what apartment is the beloved lady. He answered, "Certainly; whatever I know I will relate to thee; but [I am surprised] that a man like thee, possessed of understanding, should, without her ladyship's permission, and without fear or ceremony, have indulged in a wine-drinking party after an intimacy of only a few days. [156] What does all this mean?"

I became much ashamed of my folly [and felt the justice] of the eunuch's reprobation. I could make no other reply than to say, "indeed I have been guilty, pardon me." At last the eunuch, becoming gracious, pointed out the beloved lady's abode, and took his leave; he himself went to bury the two beheaded bodies. I was free from any participation in that crime, and was anxious to meet the beautiful lady. After a painful and difficult search, I arrived at eventide in that street, [where she then was] according to (the eunuch's) direction; and in a corner near the door I passed the whole night in a state of agitation. I did not hear the sound of any person's footsteps, nor did any bne ask me about my affairs. In this forlorn state the morning came; when the sun rose, the lovely fair one looked at me from a window in the balcony of the house. My heart only knows the state of joy I felt at that moment. I praised the goodness of God.

In the meanwhile, an eunuch came up to me, and said, "Go and stay in this [adjoining] mosque; perhaps your wishes may, in that place, be accomplished, and you may yet gain the desires of your heart." According to his advice I got up from the place [where I had passed the night], and went to the mosque; but my eyes remained fixed in the direction of the door of the house, to see what might appear from behind the curtain of futurity. 1 waited for the arrival of evening with the anxiety of a person who keeps the fast [of Ramazan]. [157] At last the evening came, and the heavy day was removed from my heart. All at once the same eunuch who had given me the directions to find out the lady's house, came to the mosque. After finishing the evening prayer, having come up to me, that obliging person, who was in all my secrets, gave me much comfort, and taking me by the hand, led me along with him, proceeding onwards at last having made me sit down in a small garden, he said: "Stay here until your desire [of seeing your mistress] be accomplished." Then he himself having taken his leave, went, perhaps, to impart my wishes to the beautiful lady. I amused myself with admiring the beauty of the flowers of the garden, and the brightness of the full moon, and the play of the fountains in the canals and rivulets, a display like that of the mouths of Sawan and Bhadon; but when I beheld the roses, I thought of the beautiful rose-like angel, and when I gazed on the bright moon, I recollected her moon-like face. All these delightful scenes without her were so many thorns in my eyes.

At last God made her heart favourable to me. After a little while that lovely fair one entered from the [garden] door adorned like the full moon, wearing a rich dress, enriched with pearls, and covered from head to feet with an embroidered veil; she stepped along the garden walk, and stood [at a little distance from me]. By her coming, the beauties of that garden, and the joy of my heart revived. After strolling for a few minutes about the garden, she sat down in the alcove on a richly-embroidered masnad. I ran, and like the moth that flutters around the candle, offered my life as a sacrifice to her, and like a slave stood before her with folded arms. At this moment the eunuch appeared, and began to plead for my pardon and restoration to her favour. Addressing myself to him, I said, I am guilty, and culpable; whatever punishment is fixed on me, let it be executed. The lady, though she was displeased, said with hauteur, "The best thing that can be done for him now is that he should receive a hundred bags of gold pieces, and having got his property all right, let him return to his native country."

On hearing these words, I became a block of withered wood; if any one had cut my body, not a drop of blood would have issued; all the world began to appear dark before my sight; a sigh of despair burst involuntarily from my heart, and the tears flowed from my eyes. I had at that time no hope from any one except God; driven to utter despair, I ventured to say, "Well, [cruel fair,] reflect a moment, that if to this unfortunate wretch there had been a desire for worldly wealth, he would not have devoted his life and property to you. Are the acknowledgments due to my services, and my having devoted my life to you, flown all of a sudden from this world, that you have shown such disfavour to a wretch like me? It is all well; to me life is no longer of any use; to the helpless, half-dead lover there is no resource against the faithlessness of the beloved one."

On hearing these words, she was greatly offended, and frowning with anger, she exclaimed, "Very fine indeed! What, thou art my lover! Has the frog then caught cold? [158] O fool, for one in thy situation to talk thus is an idle fancy; little mouths should not utter big words: no more—be silent—repeat not such presumptuous language; if any other had dared to behave so improperly, I vow to God, I would have ordered his body to be cut in pieces, and given to the kites [of the air]; but what can I do?—Your services ever come to my recollection. Thou hadst best now take the road [to thy home;] thy fate had decreed thee food and drink only until now in my house!" I then weeping, said, if it has been written in my destiny that I am not to attain the desires of my heart, but to wander miserably through woods and over mountains, then I have no remedy left. On hearing these words, she became vexed and said, "These hints and this flattering nonsense are not agreeable to me; go and repeat them to those who are fit to hear them." Then getting up in the same angry mood, she returned to her house. I beseeched her to hear me, but she disregarded what I said. Having no resource, I likewise left the place, sad and hopeless.

In short, for forty days this same state of things continued. When I was tired of pacing the lanes of the city, I wandered into the woods, and when I became restless there, I returned to the lanes of the city like a lunatic. I thought not of nourishment during the day, or sleep at night; like a washerman's dog, that belongs neither to the house nor the ghat [159] The existence of man depends on eating and drinking; he is the worm of the grain. Not the least strength remained in my body. Becoming feeble, I went and lay down under the wall of the same mosque; when one day the eunuch aforementioned came there to say his Friday prayers, and passed near me; I was repeating at the time, slow from weakness, this verse:

"Give me strength of mind to bear these pangs of the heart, or give me death; Whatever may have been written in my destiny, O God! let it come soon."

Though in appearance my looks were greatly altered, and my face was such that whoever had seen me formerly would not have recognised me to be the same person; yet the eunuch, hearing the sounds of grief, looked at me, and regarding me with attention, pitied me, and with much kindness addressed me, saying, "At last to this State thou hast brought thyself." I replied, what was to occur has now happened; I devoted my property to her welfare, and I have sacrificed my life likewise; such has been her pleasure; then what shall I do?

On hearing this, he left a servant with me, and went into the mosque; when he finished his prayers, and [heard] the Khutba, [160] he returned to me, and putting me into a miyana [161] had me carried along to the house of that indifferent fair, and placed me outside the chik [of her apartment]. Though no trace of my former self remained, yet as I had been for a long while constantly with the lovely fair one, [she must have recognised me]; however, though knowing me perfectly, she acted as a stranger, and asked the eunuch who I was. That excellent man replied, "This is that unfortunate, ill-fated wretch who has fallen under the displeasure and reprehension of your highness; for this reason his appearance is such; he is burning with the fire of love; how much soever he endeavours to quench the flame with the water of tears, yet it burns with double force. Nothing is of the least avail; moreover he is dying with the shame of his fault." The fair lady jocosely said, "Why dost thou tell lies? I received from my intelligencers, [162] many days ago, the news of his arrival in his own country; God knows who this is of whom you speak." Then the eunuch, putting his hands together, said, "If security be granted to my life, [163] then I will be so bold as to address your highness." She answered, "Speak; your life is secure." The eunuch said, "Your highness is by nature a judge of merit; for God's sake lift up the screen from between you, and recognise him, and take pity on his lamentable condition. Ingratitude is not proper. Now whatever compassion you may feel for his present condition is amiable and meritorious—to say more would be [to outstep] the bounds of respect; whatever your highness ordains, that assuredly is best."

On hearing this speech [of the eunuch], she smiled and said, "Well, let him be who he will, keep him in the hospital; when he gets well, then his situation shall be inquired into." The eunuch answered, "If you will condescend to sprinkle rose-water on him with your own royal hands, and say a kind word to him, then there may be hopes of his living; despair is a bad thing; the world exists through hope." Even on this, the fair one said nothing [to console me]. Hearing this dialogue, I also continued becoming more and more tired of existence. I fearlessly said, "I do not wish to live any longer on these terms; my feet are hanging in the grave, and I must soon die; my remedy is in the power of your highness; whether you may apply it or not, that you only know." At last the Almighty [164] softened the heart of that stony-hearted one; she became gracious and said, "Send immediately for the royal physicians." In a short time they came and assembled [around me]; they felt my pulse and examined my urine with much deliberation; at last it was settled in their praegnosis, that "this person is in love with some one; except the being united with the beloved object, there is no other cure; whenever he possesses her he will be well." When from the declaration of the physicians my complaint was thus confirmed, the fair lady said, "Carry this young man to the warm bath, and after bathing him and dressing him in fine clothes, bring him to me." They instantly carried me out, and after bathing me and clothing me well, they led me before the lovely angel; then that beautiful creature said with kindness, "Thou hast constantly, and for nothing, got me censured and dishonoured; now what more dost thou wish? Whatever is in thy heart, speak it out quite plainly?"

O, Darweshes! [165] at that moment my emotions were such that [I thought] I should have died with joy, and- swelled so greatly with pleasure, that my jama [166] could hardly contain me, and my countenance and appearance became changed; I praised God, and said to her, this moment all the art of physic is centered in you, who have restored a corpse like me to life with a single word; behold, from that time to this, what a change has taken place in my circumstances [by the kindness you have shewn]." After saying this, I went round her three times, [167] and standing before her, I said, "your commands are that I should speak whatever I have in my heart; this boon is more precious to your slave than the empire of the seven climes; then be generous and accept this wretch! keep me at your feet and elevate me," On hearing this ejaculation, she became thoughtful for a moment; then regarding me askance, she said, "Sit down; your services and fidelity have been such that whatever you say becomes you; they are also engraven on my heart. Well; I comply with your request."

The same day, in a happy hour, and under a propitious star the kazi [168] quite privately performed the marriage rites. After so much trouble and afflictions, God shewed me this happy day, when I gained the desires of my heart; but in the same degree that my heart wished to possess this angelic lady, it felt equally anxious and uneasy to know the explication of those strange events [which had occurred]; for, up to that day I knew nothing about who she was; or who was that brown, handsome negro, who on seeing a bit of paper, delivered to me so many bags of gold; and how that princely entertainment was prepared in the space of one pahar; and why those two innocent persons were put to death after the entertainment; and the cause of the anger and ingratitude she showed me after all my services and kindnesses; and then all at once to elevate this wretch [to the height of happiness.]. In short, I was so anxious to develop these strange circumstances and doubts, that for eight days after the marriage ceremonies, notwithstanding my great affection for her, I did not attempt to consummate the rites of wedlock. I merely slept with her at night, and got up in the morning "re non effecta."

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