THE BOOK OF THE THOUSAND NIGHTS AND A NIGHT A Plain and Literal Translation of the Arabian Nights Entertainments Translated and Annotated by Richard F. Burton VOLUME THREE Privately Printed By The Burton Club Inscribed to the Memory of A Friend Who During A Friendship of Twenty-Six Years Ever Showed Me The Most Unwearied Kindness, Richard Monckton Milnes Baron Houghton.
Contents of the Third Volume
The Tale of King Omar Bin Al-Nu'uman and His Sons Sharrkan and Zau Al-Makan (cont) aa. Continuation of the Tale of Aziz and Azizah b. Tale of the Hashish Eater c. Tale of Hammad the Badawi 10. The Birds and Beasts and the Carpenter 11. The Hermits 12. The Water-Fowl and the Tortoise 13. The Wolf and the Fox a. Tale of the Falcon and the Partridge 14. The Mouse and the Ichneumon 15. The Cat and the Crow 16. The Fox and the Crow a. The Flea and the Mouse b. The Saker and the Birds c. The Sparrow and the Eagle 17. The Hedgehog and the Wood Pigeons a. The Merchant and the Two Sharpers 18. The Thief and His Monkey a. The Foolish Weaver 19. The Sparrow and the Peacock 20. Ali Bin Bakkar and Shams Al-Nahar 21. Tale of Kamar Al-Zaman
The Book Of The THOUSAND NIGHTS AND A NIGHT
When it was the One Hundred and Twenty-Fifth Night
Shahrazad continued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Aziz pursued to Taj al-Muluk: Then I entered the flower garden and made for the pavilion, where I found the daughter of Dalilah the Wily One, sitting with head on knee and hand to cheek. Her colour was changed and her eyes were sunken; but, when she saw me, she exclaimed, "Praised be Allah for thy safety!" And she was minded to rise but fell down for joy. I was abashed before her and hung my head; presently, however, I went up to her and kissed her and asked, "How knewest thou that I should come to thee this very night?" She answered, "I knew it not! By Allah, this whole year past I have not tasted the taste of sleep, but have watched through every night, expecting thee; and such hath been my case since the day thou wentest out from me and I gave thee the new suit of clothes, and thou promisedst me to go to the Hammam and to come back! So I sat awaiting thee that night and a second night and a third night; but thou camest not till after so great delay, and I ever expecting thy coming; for this is lovers' way. And now I would have thee tell me what hath been the cause of thine absence from me the past year long?" So I told her. And when she knew that I was married, her colour waxed yellow, and I added, "I have come to thee this night but I must leave thee before day." Quoth she, "Doth it not suffice her that she tricked thee into marrying her and kept thee prisoner with her a whole year, but she must also make thee swear by the oath of divorce, that thou wilt return to her on the same night before morning, and not allow thee to divert thyself with thy mother or me, nor suffer thee to pass one night with either of us, away from her? How then must it be with one from whom thou hast been absent a full year, and I knew thee before she did? But Allah have mercy on thy cousin Azizah, for there befel her what never befel any and she bore what none other ever bore and she died by thy ill usage; yet 'twas she who protected thee against me. Indeed, I thought thou didst love me, so I let thee take thine own way; else had I not suffered thee to go safe in a sound skin, when I had it in my power to clap thee in jail and even to slay thee." Then she wept with sore weeping and waxed wroth and shuddered in my face with skin bristling[FN#1] and looked at me with furious eyes. When I saw her in this case I was terrified at her and my side muscles trembled and quivered, for she was like a dreadful she Ghul, an ogress in ire, and I like a bean over the fire. Then said she, "Thou art of no use to me, now thou art married and hast a child; nor art thou any longer fit for my company; I care only for bachelors and not for married men:[FN#2] these profit us nothing Thou hast sold me for yonder stinking armful; but, by Allah, I will make the whore's heart ache for thee, and thou shalt not live either for me or for her!" Then she cried a loud cry and, ere I could think, up came the slave girls and threw me on the ground; and when I was helpless under their hands she rose and, taking a knife, said, "I will cut thy throat as they slaughter he goats; and that will be less than thy desert, for thy doings to me and the daughter of thy uncle before me." When I looked to my life and found myself at the mercy of her slave women, with my cheeks dust soiled, and saw her sharpen the knife, I made sure of death.—And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the One Hundred and Twenty-sixth Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the Wazir Dandan thus continued his tale to Zau al-Makan: Then quoth the youth Aziz to Taj al-Muluk, Now when I found my life at the mercy of her slave women with my cheeks dust soiled, and I saw her sharpen the knife, I made sure of death and cried out to her for mercy. But she only redoubled in ferocity and ordered the slave girls to pinion my hands behind me, which they did; and, throwing me on my back, she seated herself on my middle and held down my head. Then two of them came up and squatted on my shin bones, whilst other two grasped my hands and arms; and she summoned a third pair and bade them beat me. So they beat me till I fainted and my voice failed. When I revived, I said to myself, " 'Twere easier and better for me to have my gullet slit than to be beaten on this wise!" And I remembered the words of my cousin, and how she used to say to me, "Allah, keep thee from her mischief!"; and I shrieked and wept till my voice failed and I remained without power to breathe or to move. Then she again whetted the knife and said to the slave girls, "Uncover him." Upon this the Lord inspired me to repeat to her the two phrases my cousin had taught me, and had bequeathed to me, and I said, "O my lady, dost thou not know that Faith is fair, Unfaith is foul?" When she heard this, she cried out and said, "Allah pity thee, Azizah, and give thee Paradise in exchange for thy wasted youth! By Allah, of a truth she served thee in her life time and after her death, and now she hath saved thee alive out of my hands with these two saws. Nevertheless, I cannot by any means leave thee thus, but needs must I set my mark on thee, to spite yonder brazen faced piece, who hath kept thee from me." There upon she called out to the slave women and bade them bind my feet with cords and then said to them, "Take seat on him!" They did her bidding, upon which she arose and fetched a pan of copper and hung it over the brazier and poured into it oil of sesame, in which she fried cheese.[FN#3] Then she came up to me (and I still insensible) and, unfastening my bag trousers, tied a cord round my testicles and, giving it to two of her women, bade them trawl at it. They did so, and I swooned away and was for excess of pain in a world other than this. Then she came with a razor of steel and cut off my member masculine,[FN#4] so that I remained like a woman: after which she seared the wound with the boiling and rubbed it with a powder, and I the while unconscious. Now when I came to myself, the blood had stopped; so she bade the slave girls unbind me and made me drink a cup of wine. Then said she to me, "Go now to her whom thou hast married and who grudged me a single night, and the mercy of Allah be on thy cousin Azizah, who saved thy life and never told her secret love! Indeed, haddest thou not repeated those words to me, I had surely slit thy weasand. Go forth this instant to whom thou wilt, for I needed naught of thee save what I have just cut off; and now I have no part in thee, nor have I any further want of thee or care for thee. So begone about thy business and rub thy head[FN#5] and implore mercy for the daughter of thine uncle!" Thereupon she kicked me with her foot and I rose, hardly able to walk; and I went, little by little, till I came to the door of our house. I saw it was open, so I threw myself within it and fell down in a fainting fit; whereupon my wife came out and lifting me up, carried me into the saloon and assured herself that I had become like a woman. Then I fell into a sleep and a deep sleep; and when I awoke, I found myself thrown down at the garden gate,—And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the One Hundred and Twenty-seventh Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the Wazir Dandan pursued to King Zau al-Makan, The youth Aziz thus continued his story to Taj al-Muluk: When I awoke and found myself thrown down at the garden gate, I rose, groaning for pain and misery, and made my way to our home and entering, I came upon my mother weeping for me, and saying, "Would I knew, O my son, in what land art thou?" So I drew near and threw myself upon her, and when she looked at me and felt me, she knew that I was ill; for my face was coloured black and tan. Then I thought of my cousin and all the kind offices she had been wont to do me, and I learned when too late that she had truly loved me; so I wept for her and my mother wept also Presently she said to me, "O my son, thy sire is dead." At this my fury against Fate redoubled, and I cried till I fell into a fit. When I came to myself, I looked at the place where my cousin Azizah had been used to sit and shed tears anew, till I all but fainted once more for excess of weeping; and I ceased not to cry and sob and wail till midnight, when my mother said to me, "Thy father hath been dead these ten days." "I shall never think of any one but my cousin Azizah," replied I; "and indeed I deserve all that hath befallen me, for that I neglected her who loved me with love so dear." Asked she, "What hath befallen thee?" So I told her all that had happened and she wept awhile, then she rose and set some matter of meat and drink before me. I ate a little and drank, after which I repeated my story to her, and told her the whole occurrence; whereupon she exclaimed, "Praised be Allah, that she did but this to thee and forbore to slaughter thee!" Then she nursed me and medicined me till I regained my health; and, when my recovery was complete, she said to me, "O my son, I will now bring out to thee that which thy cousin committed to me in trust for thee; for it is thine. She swore me not to give it thee, till I should see thee recalling her to mind and weeping over her and thy connection severed from other than herself; and now I know that these conditions are fulfilled in thee." So she arose, and opening a chest, took out this piece of linen, with the figures of gazelles worked thereon, which I had given to Azizah in time past; and taking it I found written therein these couplets,
"Lady of beauty, say, who taught thee hard and harsh design, * To slay with longing Love's excess this hapless lover thine? An thou fain disremember me beyond our parting day, * Allah will know, that thee and thee my memory never shall tyne. Thou blamest me with bitter speech yet sweetest 'tis to me; * Wilt generous be and deign one day to show of love a sign? I had not reckoned Love contained so much of pine and pain; * And soul distress until I came for thee to pain and pine Never my heart knew weariness, until that eve I fell * In love wi' thee, and prostrate fell before those glancing eyne! My very foes have mercy on my case and moan therefor; * But thou, O heart of Indian steel, all mercy dost decline. No, never will I be consoled, by Allah, an I die, * Nor yet forget the love of thee though life in ruins lie!"
When I read these couplets, I wept with sore weeping and buffeted my face; then I unfolded the scroll, and there fell from it an other paper. I opened it and behold, I found written therein, 'Know, O son of my uncle, that I acquit thee of my blood and I beseech Allah to make accord between thee and her whom thou lovest; but if aught befal thee through the daughter of Dalilah the Wily, return thou not to her neither resort to any other woman and patiently bear thine affliction, for were not thy fated life tide a long life, thou hadst perished long ago; but praised be Allah who hath appointed my death day before thine! My peace be upon thee; preserve this cloth with the gazelles herein figured and let it not leave thee, for it was my companion when thou was absent from me;"—And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the One Hundred and Twenty-eighth Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the Wazir Dandan pursued to King Zau al-Makan, And the youth Aziz continued to Taj al-Muluk: So I read what my cousin had written and the charge to me which was, "Preserve this cloth with the gazelles and let it not leave thee, for it was my companion when thou west absent from me and, Allah upon thee! if thou chance to fall in with her who worked these gazelles, hold aloof from her and do not let her approach thee nor marry her; and if thou happen not on her and find no way to her, look thou consort not with any of her sex. Know that she who wrought these gazelles worketh every year a gazelle cloth and despatcheth it to far countries, that her report and the beauty of her broidery, which none in the world can match, may be bruited abroad. As for thy beloved, the daughter of Dalilah the Wily, this cloth came to her hand, and she used to ensnare folk with it, showing it to them and saying, 'I have a sister who wrought this.' But she lied in so saying, Allah rend her veil! This is my parting counsel; and I have not charged thee with this charge, but because I know[FN#6] that after my death the world will be straitened on thee and, haply, by reason of this, thou wilt leave thy native land and wander in foreign parts, and hearing of her who wrought these figures, thou mayest be minded to fore gather with her. Then wilt thou remember me, when the memory shall not avail thee; nor wilt thou know my worth till after my death. And, lastly, learn that she who wrought the gazelles is the daughter of the King of the Camphor Islands and a lady of the noblest." Now when I had read that scroll and understood what was written therein, I fell again to weeping, and my mother wept because I wept, and I ceased not to gaze upon it and to shed tears till night fall. I abode in this condition a whole year, at the end of which the merchants, with whom I am in this cafilah, prepared to set out from my native town; and my mother counseled me to equip myself and journey with them, so haply I might be consoled and my sorrow be dispelled, saying, "Take comfort and put away from thee this mourning and travel for a year or two or three, till the caravan return, when perhaps thy breast may be broadened and thy heart heartened." And she ceased not to persuade me with endearing words, till I provided myself with merchandise and set out with the caravan. But all the time of my wayfaring, my tears have never dried; no, never! and at every halting place where we halt, I open this piece of linen and look on these gazelles and call to mind my cousin Azizah and weep for her as thou hast seen; for indeed she loved me with dearest love and died, oppressed by my unlove. I did her nought but ill and she did me nought but good. When these merchants return from their journey, I shall return with them, by which time I shall have been absent a whole year: yet hath my sorrow waxed greater and my grief and affliction were but increased by my visit to the Islands of Camphor and the Castle of Crystal. Now these islands are seven in number and are ruled by a King, by name Shahriman,[FN#7] who hath a daughter called Dunya;[FN#8] and I was told that it was she who wrought these gazelles and that this piece in my possession was of her embroidery. When I knew this, my yearning redoubled and I burnt with the slow fire of pining and was drowned in the sea of sad thought; and I wept over myself for that I was become even as a woman, without manly tool like other men, and there was no help for it. From the day of my quitting the Camphor Islands, I have been tearful eyed and heavy hearted, and such hath been my case for a long while and I know not whether it will be given me to return to my native land and die beside my mother or not; for I am sick from eating too much of the world. Thereupon the young merchant wept and groaned and complained and gazed upon the gazelles; whilst the tears rolled down his cheeks in streams and he repeated these two couplets,
"Joy needs shall come," a prattler 'gan to prattle: * "Needs cease thy blame!" I was commoved to rattle: 'In time,' quoth he: quoth I ' 'Tis marvellous! * Who shall ensure my life, O cold of tattle!'"[FN#9]
And he repeated also these,
"Well Allah weets that since our severance day * I've wept till forced to ask of tears a loan: 'Patience! (the blamer cries): thou'lt have her yet!' * Quoth I, 'O blamer where may patience wone?'"
Then said he, "This, O King! is my tale: hast thou ever heard one stranger?" So Taj al-Muluk marvelled with great marvel at the young merchant's story, and fire darted into his entrails on hearing the name of the Lady Dunya and her loveliness.—And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the One Hundred and Twenty-ninth Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the Wazir Dandan continued to Zau al-Makan: Now when Taj al-Muluk heard the story of the young merchant, he marvelled with great marvel and fire darted into his entrails on hearing the name of the Lady Dunya who, as he knew, had embroidered the gazelles; and his love and longing hourly grew, so he said to the youth, "By Allah, that hath befallen thee whose like never befel any save thyself, but thou hast a life term appointed, which thou must fulfil; and now I would fain ask of thee a question." Quoth Aziz, "And what is it?" Quoth he, "Wilt thou tell me how thou sawest the young lady who wrought these gazelles?" Then he, "O my lord, I got me access to her by a sleight and it was this. When I entered her city with the caravan, I went forth and wandered about the garths till I came to a flower garden abounding in trees, whose keeper was a venerable old man, a Shaykh stricken in years. I addressed him, saying, 'O ancient sir, whose may be this garden?' and he replied, 'It belongs to the King's daughter, the Lady Dunya. We are now beneath her palace and, when she is minded to amuse herself, she openeth the private wicket and walketh in the garden and smelleth the fragrance of the flowers.' So I said to him, 'Favour me by allowing me to sit in this garden till she come; haply I may enjoy a sight of her as she passeth.' The Shaykh answered, 'There can be no harm in that.' Thereupon I gave him a dirham or so and said to him, Buy us something to eat.' He took the money gladly and opened door and, entering himself, admitted me into the garden, where we strolled and ceased not strolling till we reached a pleasant spot in which he bade me sit down and await his going and his returning. Then he brought me somewhat of fruit and, leaving me, disappeared for an hour; but after a while he returned to me bringing a roasted lamb, of which we ate till we had eaten enough, my heart yearning the while for a sight of the lady. Presently, as we sat, the postern opened and the keeper said to me, 'Rise and hide thee.' I did so; and behold, a black eunuch put his head out through the garden wicket and asked, 'O Shaykh, there any one with thee?' 'No,' answered he; and the eunuch said, 'Shut the garden gate.' So the keeper shut the gate, and lo! the Lady Dunya came in by the private door. When I saw her, methought the moon had risen above the horizon and was shining; I looked at her a full hour and longed for her as one athirst longeth for water. After a while she withdrew and shut the door; whereupon I left the garden and sought my lodging, knowing that I could not get at her and that I was no man for her, more especially as I was become like a woman, having no manly tool: moreover she was a King's daughter and I but a merchant man; so; how could I have access to the like of her or— to any other woman? Accordingly, when these my companions made ready for the road, I also made preparation and set out with them, and we journeyed towards this city till we arrived at the place ere we met with thee. Thou askedst me and I have answered; and these are my adventures and peace be with thee!" Now when Taj al-Muluk heard that account, fires raged in his bosom and his heart and thought were occupied love for the Lady Dunya; and passion and longing were sore upon him. Then he arose and mounted horse and, taking Aziz with him, returned to his father's capital, where he settled him in a separate house and supplied him with all he needed in the way of meat and drink and dress. Then he left him and returned to his palace, with the tears trickling down his cheeks, for hearing oftentimes standeth instead of seeing and knowing.[FN#10] And he ceased not to be in this state till his father came in to him and finding him wan faced, lean of limb and tearful eyed, knew that something had occurred to chagrin him and said, "O my son, acquaint me with thy case and tell me what hath befallen thee, that thy colour is changed and thy body is wasted. So he told him all that had passed and what tale he had heard of Aziz and the account of the Princess Dunya; and how he had fallen in love of her on hearsay, without having set eyes on her. Quoth his sire, "O my son, she is the daughter of a King whose land is far from ours: so put away this thought and go in to thy mother's palace."—And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the One Hundred and Thirtieth Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the Wazir Dandan continued to Zau al-Makan: And the father of Taj al-Muluk spake to him on this wise, "O my son, her father is a King whose land is far from ours: so put away this thought and go into thy mother's palace where are five hundred maidens like moons, and whichsoever of them pleaseth thee, take her; or else we will seek for thee in marriage some one of the King's daughters, fairer than the Lady Dunya." Answered Taj al-Muluk, "O my father, I desire none other, for she it is who wrought the gazelles which I saw, and there is no help but that I have her; else I will flee into the world and the waste and I will slay myself for her sake." Then said his father, "Have patience with me, till I send to her sire and demand her in marriage, and win thee thy wish as I did for myself with thy mother. Haply Allah will bring thee to thy desire; and, if her parent will not consent, I will make his kingdom quake under him with an army, whose rear shall be with me whilst its van shall be upon him." Then he sent for the youth Aziz and asked him, "O my son, tell me dost thou know the way to the Camphor Islands?" He answered "Yes"; and the King said, "I desire of thee that thou fare with my Wazir thither." Replied Aziz, "I hear and I obey, O King of the Age!"; where upon the King summoned his Minister and said to him, "Devise me some device, whereby my son's affair may be rightly managed and fare thou forth to the Camphor Islands and demand of their King his daughter in marriage for my son, Taj al-Muluk." The Wazir replied, "Hearkening and obedience." Then Taj al-Muluk returned to his dwelling place and his love and longing redoubled and the delay seemed endless to him; and when the night darkened around him, he wept and sighed and complained and repeated this poetry,
"Dark falls the night: my tears unaided rail * And fiercest flames of love my heart assail: Ask thou the nights of me, and they shall tell * An I find aught to do but weep and wail: Night long awake, I watch the stars what while * Pour down my cheeks the tears like dropping hail: And lone and lorn I'm grown with none to aid; * For kith and kin the love lost lover fail."
And when he had ended his reciting he swooned away and did not recover his senses till the morning, at which time there came to him one of his father's eunuchs and, standing at his head, summoned him to the King's presence. So he went with him and his father, seeing that his pallor had increased, exhorted him to patience and promised him union with her he loved. Then he equipped Aziz and the Wazir and supplied them with presents; and they set out and fared on day and night till they drew near the Isles of Camphor, where they halted on the banks of a stream, and the Minister despatched a messenger to acquaint the King of his arrival. The messenger hurried forwards and had not been gone more than an hour, before they saw the King's Chamberlains and Emirs advancing towards them, to meet them at a parasang's distance from the city and escort them into the royal presence. They laid their gifts before the King and became his guests for three days. And on the fourth day the Wazir rose and going in to the King, stood between his hands and acquainted him with the object which induced his visit; whereat he was perplexed for an answer inasmuch as his daughter misliked men and disliked marriage. So he bowed his head groundwards awhile, then raised it and calling one of his eunuchs, said to him, "Go to thy mistress, the Lady Dunya, and repeat to her what thou hast heard and the purport of this Wazir's coming." So the eunuch went forth and returning after a time, said to the King, "O King of the Age, when I went in to the Lady Dunya and told her what I had heard, she was wroth with exceeding wrath and rose at me with a staff designing to break my head; so I fled from her, and she said to me 'If my Father force me to wed him, whomsoever I wed I will slay.' Then said her sire to the Wazir and Aziz, "Ye have heard, and now ye know all! So let your King wot of it and give him my salutations and say that my daughter misliketh men and disliketh marriage."—And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the One Hundred and Thirty-first Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that King Shahriman thus addressed the Wazir and Aziz, "Salute your King from me and inform him of what ye have heard, namely that my daughter misliketh marriage." So they turned away unsuccessful and ceased not faring on till they rejoined the King and told him what had passed; whereupon he commanded the chief officers to summon the troops and get them ready for marching and campaigning. But the Wazir said to him, "O my liege Lord, do not thus: the King is not at fault because, when his daughter learnt our business, she sent a message saying, 'If my father force me to wed, whomsoever I wed I will slay and myself after him.' So the refusal cometh from her." When the King heard his Minister's words he feared for Taj al-Muluk and said, "Verily if I make war on the King of the Camphor Islands and carry off his daughter, she will kill herself and it will avail me naught." Then he told his son how the case stood, who hearing it said, "O my father, I cannot live without her; so I will go to her and contrive to get at her, even though I die in the attempt, and this only will I do and nothing else." Asked his father, "How wilt thou go to her?" and he answered, "I will go in the guise of a merchant."[FN#11] Then said the King, "If thou need must go and there is no help for it, take with thee the Wazir and Aziz." Then he brought out money from his treasuries and made ready for his son merchandise to the value of an hundred thousand dinars. The two had settled upon this action; and when the dark hours came Taj al-Muluk and Aziz went to Aziz's lodgings and there passed that night, and the Prince was heart smitten, taking no pleasure in food or in sleep; for melancholy was heavy upon him and he was agitated with longing for his beloved. So he besought the Creator that he would vouch safe to unite him with her and he wept and groaned and wailed and began versifying,
"Union, this severance ended, shall I see some day? * Then shall my tears this love lorn lot of me portray. While night all care forgets I only minded thee, * And thou didst gar me wake while all forgetful lay."
And when his improvising came to an end, he wept with sore weeping and Aziz wept with him, for that he remembered his cousin; and they both ceased not to shed tears till morning dawned, whereupon Taj al-Muluk rose and went to farewell his mother, in travelling dress. She asked him of his case and he repeated the story to her; so she gave him fifty thousand gold pieces and bade him adieu; and, as he fared forth, she put up prayers for his safety and for his union with his lover and his friends. Then he betook himself to his father and asked his leave to depart. The King granted him permission and, presenting him with other fifty thousand dinars, bade set up a tent for him without the city and they pitched a pavilion wherein the travellers abode two days. Then all set out on their journey. Now Taj al-Muluk delighted in the company of Aziz and said to him, "O my brother, henceforth I can never part from thee." Replied Aziz, "And I am of like mind and fain would I die under thy feet: but, O my brother, my heart is concerned for my mother." "When we shall have won our wish," said the Prince, "there will be naught save what is well!" Now the Wazir continued charging Taj al-Muluk to be patient, whilst Aziz entertained him every evening with talk and recited poetry to him and diverted him with histories and anecdotes. And so they fared on diligently night and day for two whole months, till the way became tedious to Taj al-Muluk and the fire of desire redoubled on him; and he broke out,
"The road is lonesome; grow my grief and need, * While on my breast love fires for ever feed: Goal of my hopes, sole object of my wish! * By him who moulded man from drop o' seed, I bear such loads of longing for thy love, * Dearest, as weight of al Shumm Mounts exceed: O 'Lady of my World'[FN#12] Love does me die; * No breath of life is left for life to plead; But for the union hope that lends me strength, * My weary limbs were weak this way to speed."
When he had finished his verses, he wept (and Aziz wept with him) from a wounded heart, till the Minister was moved to pity by their tears and said, "O my lord, be of good cheer and keep thine eyes clear of tears; there will be naught save what is well!" Quoth Taj al-Muluk, "O Wazir, indeed I am weary of the length of the way. Tell me how far we are yet distant from the city." Quoth Aziz, "But a little way remaineth to us." Then they continued their journey, cutting across river vales and plains, words and stony wastes, till one night, as Taj al-Muluk was sleeping, he dreamt that his beloved was with him and that he embraced her and pressed her to his bosom; and he awoke quivering, shivering with pain, delirious with emotion, and improvised these verses,
"Dear friend, my tears aye flow these cheeks adown, * With longsome pain and pine, my sorrow's crown: I plain like keening woman child bereft, * And as night falls like widow dove I groan: An blow the breeze from land where thou cost wone, * I find o'er sunburnt earth sweet coolness blown. Peace be wi' thee, my love, while zephyr breathes, * And cushat flies and turtle makes her moan."
And when he had ended his versifying, the Wazir came to him and said, "Rejoice; this is a good sign: so be of good cheer and keep thine eyes cool and clear, for thou shalt surely compass thy desire." And Aziz also came to him and exhorted him to patience and applied himself to divert him, talking with him and telling him tales. So they pressed on, marching day and night, other two months, till there appeared to them one day at sunrise some white thing in the distance and Taj al-Muluk said to Aziz, "What is yonder whiteness?" He replied, "O my lord! yonder is the Castle of Crystal and that is the city thou seekest." At this the Prince rejoiced, and they ceased not faring forwards till they drew near the city and, as they approached it, Taj al-Muluk joyed with exceeding joy, and his care ceased from him. They entered in trader guise, the King's son being habited as a merchant of importance; and repaired to a great Khan, known as the Merchants' Lodging. Quoth Taj al-Muluk to Aziz, "Is this the resort of the merchants?"; and quoth he, "Yes; 'tis the Khan wherein I lodged before." So they alighted there and making their baggage camels kneel, unloaded them and stored their goods in the warehouses.[FN#13] They abode four days for rest; when the Wazir advised that they should hire a large house. To this they assented and they found them a spacious house, fitted up for festivities, where they took up their abode, and the Wazir and Aziz studied to devise some device for Taj al-Muluk, who remained in a state of perplexity, knowing not what to do. Now the Minister could think of nothing but that he should set up as a merchant on 'Change and in the market of fine stuffs; so he turned to the Prince and his companion and said to them, "Know ye that if we tarry here on this wise, assuredly we shall not win our wish nor attain our aim; but a something occurred to me whereby (if Allah please!) we shall find our advantage." Replied Taj al-Muluk and Aziz, "Do what seemeth good to thee, indeed there is a blessing on the grey beard; more specially on those who, like thyself, are conversant with the conduct of affairs: so tell us what occurreth to thy mind." Rejoined the Wazir "It is my counsel that we hire thee a shop in the stuff bazar, where thou mayst sit to sell and buy. Every one, great and small, hath need of silken stuffs and other cloths; so if thou patiently abide in thy shop, thine affairs will prosper, Inshallah! more by token as thou art comely of aspect. Make, however, Aziz thy factor and set him within the shop, to hand thee the pieces of cloth and stuffs." When Taj al-Muluk heard these words, he said, 'This rede is right and a right pleasant recking." So he took out a handsome suit of merchant's weed, and, putting it on, set out for the bazar, followed by his servants, to one of whom he had given a thousand dinars, wherewith to fit up the shop. They ceased not walking till they came to the stuff market, and when the merchants saw Taj al-Muluk's beauty and grace, they were confounded and went about saying, "Of a truth Rizwan[FN#14] hath opened the gates of Paradise and left them unguarded, so that this youth of passing comeliness hath come forth." And others, "Peradventure this is one of the angels." Now when they went in among the traders they asked for the shop of the Overseer of the market and the merchants directed them thereto. So they delayed not to repair thither and to salute him, and he and those who were with him rose to them and seated them and made much of them, because of the Wazir, whom they saw to be a man in years and of reverend aspect; and viewing the youths Aziz and Taj al-Muluk in his company, they said to one another, "Doubtless our Shaykh is the father of these two youths." Then quoth the Wazir, "Who among you is the Overseer of the market?" "This is he," replied they; and behold, he came forward and the Wazir observed him narrowly and saw him to be an old man of grave and dignified carriage, with eunuchs and servants and black slaves. The Syndic greeted them with the greeting of friends and was lavish in his attentions to them: then he seated them by his side and asked them, "Have ye any business which we[FN#15] may have the happiness of transacting?" The Minister answered, "Yes; I am an old man, stricken in years, and have with me these two youths, with whom I have travelled through every town and country, entering no great city without tarrying there a full year, that they might take their pleasure in viewing it and come to know its citizens. Now I have visited your town intending to sojourn here for a while; so I want of thee a handsome shop in the best situation, wherein I may establish them, that they may traffic and learn to buy and sell and give and take, whilst they divert themselves with the sight of the place, and be come familiar with the usages of its people." Quoth the Overseer, "There is no harm in that;" and, looking at the two youths, he was delighted with them and affected them with a warm affection. Now he was a great connoisseur of bewitching glances, preferring the love of boys to that of girls and inclining to the sour rather than the sweet of love. So he said to himself, "This, indeed, is fine game. Glory be to Him who created and fashioned them out of vile water!"[FN#16] and rising stood before them like a servant to do them honour. Then he went out and made ready for them a shop which was in the very midst of the Exchange; nor was there any larger or better in the bazar, for it was spacious and handsomely decorated and fitted with shelves of ivory and ebony wood. After this he delivered the keys to the Wazir, who was dressed as an old merchant, saying, "Take them, O my lord, and Allah make it a blessed abiding place to thy two sons!" The Minister took the keys and the three returning to the Khan where they had alighted, bade the servants transport to the shop all their goods and stuffs.—And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the One Hundred and Thirty-second Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the Wazir took the shop keys, he went accompanied by Taj al-Muluk and Aziz to the Khan, and they bade the servants transport to the shop all their goods and stuffs and valuables of which they had great store worth treasures of money. And when all this was duly done, they went to the shop and ordered their stock in trade and slept there that night. As soon as morning morrowed the Wazir took the two young men to the Hammam bath where they washed them clean; and they donned rich dresses and scented themselves with essences and enjoyed themselves to the utmost. Now each of the youths was passing fair to look upon, and in the bath they were even as saith the poet,
"Luck to the Rubber, whose deft hand o'erdies * A frame begotten twixt the lymph and light:[FN#17] He shows the thaumaturgy of his craft, * And gathers musk in form of camphor dight."[FN#18]
After bathing they left; and, when the Overseer heard that they had gone to the Hammam, he sat down to await the twain, and presently they came up to him like two gazelles; their cheeks were reddened by the bath and their eyes were darker than ever; their faces shone and they were as two lustrous moons or two branches fruit laden. Now when he saw them he rose forthright and said to them, "O my sons, may your bath profit you always!"[FN#19] Where upon Taj al-Muluk replied, with the sweetest of speech, "Allah be bountiful to thee, O my father; why didst thou not come with us and bathe in our company?" Then they both bent over his right hand and kissed it and walked before him to the shop, to entreat him honourably and show their respect for him, for that he was Chief of the Merchants and the market, and he had done them kindness in giving them the shop. When he saw their hips quivering as they moved, desire and longing redoubled on him; and he puffed and snorted and he devoured them with his eyes, for he could not contain himself, repeating the while these two couplets,
"Here the heart reads a chapter of devotion pure; * Nor reads dispute if Heaven in worship partner take: No wonder 'tis he trembles walking 'neath such weight! * How much of movement that revolving sphere must make.[FN#20]"
Furthermore he said,
"I saw two charmers treading humble earth. * Two I must love an tread they on mine eyes."
When they heard this, they conjured him to enter the bath with them a second time. He could hardly believe his ears and hastening thither, went in with them. The Wazir had not yet left the bath; so when he heard of the Overseer's coming, he came out and meeting him in the middle of the bath hall invited him to enter. He refused, whereupon Taj al-Muluk taking him by the hand walked on one side and Aziz by the other, and carried him into a cabinet; and that impure old man submitted to them, whilst his emotion increased on him. He would have refused, albeit this was what he desired; but the Minister said to him, "They are thy sons; let them wash thee and cleanse thee." "Allah preserve them to thee!" exclaimed the Overseer, "By Allah your coming and the coming of those with you bring down blessing and good luck upon our city!" And he repeated these two couplets,
"Thou camest and green grew the hills anew; * And sweetest bloom to the bridegroom threw, While aloud cried Earth and her earth-borns too * 'Hail and welcome who comest with grace to endue.'"
They thanked him for this, and Taj al-Muluk ceased not to wash him and to pour water over him and he thought his soul in Paradise. When they had made an end of his service, he blessed them and sat by the side of the Wazir, talking but gazing the while on the youths. Presently, the servants brought them towels, and they dried themselves and donned their dress. Then they went out, and the Minister turned to the Syndic and said to him, "O my lord! verily the bath is the Paradise[FN#21] of this world." Replied the Overseer, "Allah vouchsafe to thee such Paradise, and health to thy sons and guard them from the evil eye! Do ye remember aught that the eloquent have said in praise of the bath.?" Quoth Taj al-Muluk, "I will repeat for thee a pair of couplets;" and he recited,
The life of the bath is the joy of man's life,[FN#22] * Save that time is short for us there to bide: A Heaven where irksome it were to stay; * A Hell, delightful at entering-tide."
When he ended his recital, quoth Aziz, "And I also remember two couplets in praise of the bath." The Overseer said, "Let me hear them," so he repeated the following,
"A house where flowers from stones of granite grow, * Seen at its best when hot with living lows: Thou deem'st it Hell but here, forsooth, is Heaven, * And some like suns and moons within it show."
And when he had ended his recital, his verses pleased the Overseer and he wondered at his words and savoured their grace and fecundity and said to them, "By Allah, ye possess both beauty and eloquence. But now listen to me, you twain!" And he began chanting, and recited in song the following verses,
"O joy of Hell and Heaven! whose tormentry * Enquickens frame and soul with lively gree: I marvel so delightsome house to view, * And most when 'neath it kindled fires I see: Sojourn of bliss to visitors, withal * Pools on them pour down tears unceasingly."
Then his eye-sight roamed and browsed on the gardens of their beauty and he repeated these two couplets,
"I went to the house of the keeper-man; * He was out, but others to smile began: I entered his Heaven[FN#23] and then his Hell;[FN#24] * And I said 'Bless Malik[FN#25] and bless Rizwan.' "[FN#26]
When they heard these verses they were charmed, and the Over seer invited them to his house; but they declined and returned to their own place, to rest from the great heat of the bath. So they took their ease there and ate and drank and passed that night in perfect solace and satisfaction, till morning dawned, when they arose from sleep and making their lesser ablution, prayed the dawn- prayer and drank the morning draught.[FN#27] As soon as the sun had risen and the shops and markets opened, they arose and going forth from their place to the bazar opened their shop, which their servants had already furnished, after the handsomest fashion, and had spread with prayer rugs and silken carpets and had placed on the divans a pair of mattresses, each worth an hundred dinars. On every mattress they had disposed a rug of skin fit for a King and edged with a fringe of gold; and a-middlemost the shop stood a third seat still richer, even as the place required. Then Taj al-Muluk sat down on one divan, and Aziz on another, whilst the Wazir seated himself on that in the centre, and the servants stood before them. The city people soon heard of them and crowded about them, so that they sold some of their goods and not a few of their stuffs; for Taj al-Muluk's beauty and loveliness had become the talk of the town. Thus they passed a trifle of time, and every day the people flocked to them and pressed upon them more and more, till the Wazir, after exhorting Taj al-Muluk to keep his secret, commended him to the care of Aziz and went home, that he might commune with himself alone and cast about for some contrivance which might profit them. Meanwhile, the two young men sat talking and Taj al-Muluk said to Aziz, "Haply some one will come from the Lady Dunya." So he ceased not expecting this chance days and nights, but his heart was troubled and he knew neither sleep nor rest; for desire had got the mastery of him, and love and longing were sore upon him, so that he renounced the solace of sleep and abstained from meat and drink; yet ceased he not to be like the moon on the night of fullness. Now one day as he sat in the shop, behold, there came up an ancient woman.—And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the One Hundred and Thirty-third Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the Wazir Dandan continued to Zau al-Makan: Now one day as Taj al-Muluk sat in his shop, behold, there appeared an ancient woman, who came up to him followed by two slave girls. She ceased not advancing till she stood before the shop of Taj al-Muluk and, observing his symmetry and beauty and loveliness, marvelled at his charms and sweated in her petticoat trousers, exclaiming, "Glory to Him who created thee out of vile water, and made thee a temptation to all beholders!" And she fixed her eyes on him and said, "This is not a mortal, he is none other than an angel deserving the highest respect."[FN#28] Then she drew near and saluted him, whereupon he returned her salute and rose to his feet to receive her and smiled in her face (all this by a hint from Aziz); after which he made her sit down by his side and fanned her with a fan, till she was rested and refreshed. Then she turned to Taj al-Muluk and said, "O my son! O thou who art perfect in bodily gifts and spiritual graces; say me, art thou of this country?" He replied, in voice the sweetest and in tone the pleasantest, "By Allah, O my mistress, I was never in this land during my life till this time, nor do I abide here save by way of diversion." Rejoined she, "May the Granter grant thee all honour and prosperity! And what stuffs hast thou brought with thee? Show me something passing fine; for the beauteous should bring nothing but what is beautiful." When he heard her words, his heart fluttered and he knew not their inner meaning; but Aziz made a sign to him and he replied, "I have everything thou canst desire and especially I have goods that besit none but Kings and King's daughters; so tell me what stuff thou wantest and for whom, that I may show thee what will be fitting for him." This he said, that he might learn the meaning of her words; and she rejoined, "I want a stuff fit for the Princess Dunya, daughter of King Shahriman." Now when the Prince heard the name of his beloved, he joyed with great joy and said to Aziz, "Give me such a parcel." So Aziz brought it and opened it before Taj al-Muluk who said to the old woman, "Select what will suit her; for these goods are to be found only with me." She chose stuffs worth a thousand dinars and asked, "How much is this?"; and she ceased not the while to talk with him and rub what was inside her thighs with the palm of her hand. Answered Taj al-Muluk, "Shall I haggle with the like of thee about this paltry price? Praised be Allah who hath acquainted me with thee!" The old woman rejoined, "Allah's name be upon thee! I commend thy beautiful face to the protection of the Lord of the Daybreak.[FN#29] Beautiful face and eloquent speech! Happy she who lieth in thy bosom and claspeth thy waist in her arms and enjoyeth thy youth, especially if she be beautiful and lovely like thyself!" At this, Taj al-Muluk laughed till he fell on his back and said to himself, "O Thou who fulfillest desires human by means of pimping old women! They are the true fulfillers of desires!" Then she asked, "O my son, what is thy name?" and he answered, "My name is Taj al-Muluk, the Crown of Kings." Quoth she, "This is indeed a name of Kings and King's sons and thou art clad in merchant's clothes." Quoth Aziz, "for the love his parents and family bore him and for the value they set on him, they named him thus." Replied the old woman, "Thou sayest sooth, Allah guard you both from the evil eye and the envious, though hearts be broken by your charms!" Then she took the stuffs and went her way; but she was amazed at his beauty and stature and symmetry, and she ceased not going till she found the Lady Dunya and said to her, "O my mistress! I have brought thee some handsome stuffs." Quoth the Princess, "Show me that same"; and the old woman, "O apple of my eye, here it is, turn it over and examine it." Now when the Princess looked at it she was amazed and said, "O my nurse, this is indeed handsome stuff: I have never seen its like in our city." "O my lady," replied the old nurse, "he who sold it me is handsomer still. It would seem as if Rizwan had left the gates of Paradise open in his carelessness, and as if the youth who sold me this stuff had come bodily out of Heaven. I would he might sleep this night with thee and might lie between thy breasts.[FN#30] He hath come to thy city with these precious stuffs for amusement's sake, and he is a temptation to all who set eyes on him." The Princess laughed at her words and said, "Allah afflict thee, O pernicious old hag! Thou dotest and there is no sense left in thee." Presently, she resumed, "Give me the stuff that I may look at it anew." So she gave it her and she took it again and saw that its size was small and its value great. It pleased her, for she had never in her life seen its like, and she exclaimed, "By Allah, this is a handsome stuff!" Answered the old woman, "O my lady, by Allah! if thou sawest its owner thou wouldst know him for the handsomest man on the face of the earth." Quoth the Lady Dunya, "Didst thou ask him if he had any need, that he might tell us and we might satisfy it?" But the nurse shook her head and said, "The Lord keep thy sagacity! By Allah, he hath a want, may thy skill not fail thee. What! is any man free from wants?" Rejoined the Princess, "Go back to him and salute him and say to him, 'Our land and town are honoured by thy visit and, if thou have any need, we will fulfil it to thee, on our head and eyes.' " So the old woman at once returned to Taj al-Muluk, and when he saw her his heart jumped for joy and gladness and he rose to his feet before her and, taking her hand, seated her by his side. As soon as she was rested, she told him what Princess Dunya had said; and he on hearing it joyed with exceeding joy; his breast dilated to the full; gladness entered his heart and he said to himself, "Verily, I have my need." Then he asked the old woman, "Haply thou wilt take her a message from me and bring me her answer?"; and she answered, "I hear and I obey." So he said to Aziz, "Bring me ink-case and paper and a brazen pen." And when Aziz brought him what he sought, he hent the pen in hand and wrote these lines of poetry,
"I write to thee, O fondest hope! a writ * Of grief that severance on my soul cloth lay: Saith its first line, 'Within my heart is [owe!' * Its second, 'Love and Longing on me prey!' Its third, 'My patience waste is, fades my life!' * Its fourth, 'Naught shall my pain and pine allay!' Its fifth, 'When shall mine eyes enjoy thy sight?' * Its sixth, 'Say, when shall dawn our meeting-day?' "
And, lastly, by way of subscription he wrote these words. "This letter is from the captive of captivation * prisoned in the hold of longing expectation * wherefrom is no emancipation * but in anticipation and intercourse and in unification * after absence and separation. * For from the severance of friends he loveth so fain * he suffereth love pangs and pining pain. *" Then his tears rushed out, and he indited these two couplets,
"I write thee, love, the while my tears pour down; * Nor cease they ever pouring thick and fleet: Yet I despair not of my God, whose grace * Haply some day will grant us twain to meet."
Then he folded the letter[FN#31] and sealed it with his signet ring and gave it to the old woman, saying, "Carry it to the Lady Dunya." Quoth she, "To hear is to obey;" whereupon he gave her a thousand dinars and said to her, "O my mother! accept this gift from me as a token of my affection." She took both from him and blessed him and went her way and never stinted walking till she went in to the Lady Dunya. Now when the Princess saw her she said to her, "O my nurse, what is it he asketh of need that we may fulfil his wish to him?" Replied the old woman, "O my lady, he sendeth thee this letter by me, and I know not what is in it;" and handed it to her. Then the Princess took the letter and read it; and when she understood it, she exclaimed, "Whence cometh and whither goeth this merchant man that he durst address such a letter to me?" And she slapt her face saying, "'Whence are we that we should come to shopkeeping? Awah! Awah! By the lord, but that I fear Almighty Allah I had slain him;" and she added, "Yea, I had crucified[FN#32] him over his shop door!" Asked the old woman, "What is in this letter to vex thy heart and move thy wrath on this wise? Doth it contain a complaint of oppression or demand for the price of the stuff?" Answered the Princess, "Woe to thee! There is none of this in it, naught but words of love and endearment. This is all through thee: otherwise whence should this Satan[FN#33] know me?" Rejoined the old woman, "o my lady, thou sittest in thy high palace and none may have access to thee; no, not even the birds of the air. Allah keep thee, and keep thy youth from blame and reproach! Thou needest not care for the barking of dogs, for thou art a Princess, the daughter of a King. Be not wroth with me that I brought thee this letter, knowing not what was in it; but I opine that thou send him an answer and threaten him with death and forbid him this foolish talk; surely he will abstain and not do the like again." Quoth the Lady Dunya, "I fear that, if I write to him, he will desire me the more." The old woman returned "When he heareth thy threats and promise of punishment, he will desist from his persistence." She cried, "Here with the ink case and paper and brazen pen;" and when they brought them she wrote these couplets,
"O thou who for thy wakeful nights wouldst claim my love to boon, * For what of pining thou must feel and tribulation! Dost thou, fond fool and proud of sprite, seek meeting with the Moon? * Say, did man ever win his wish to take in arms the Moon? I counsel thee, from soul cast out the wish that dwells therein, * And cut that short which threatens thee with sore risk oversoon: An to such talk thou dare return, I bid thee to expect * Fro' me such awful penalty as suiteth froward loon: I swear by Him who moulded man from gout of clotted blood,[FN#34] * Who lit the Sun to shine by day and lit for night the moon, An thou return to mention that thou spakest in thy pride, * Upon a cross of tree for boon I'll have thee crucified!"
Then she folded the letter and handing it to the old woman said, "Give him this and say him, 'Cease from this talk!' " "Hearkening and obedience," replied she, and taking the letter with joy, returned to her own house, where she passed the night; and when morning dawned she betook herself to the shop of Taj al-Muluk whom she found expecting her. When he saw her, he was ready to fly[FN#35] for delight, and when she came up to him, he stood to her on his feet and seated her by his side. Then she brought out the letter and gave it to him, saying, "Read what is in this;" adding "When Princess Dunya read thy letter she was angry; but I coaxed her and jested with her till I made her laugh, and she had pity on thee and she hath returned thee an answer." He thanked her for her kindness and bade Aziz give her a thousand gold pieces: then he perused the letter and understanding it fell to weeping a weeping so sore that the old woman's heart was moved to ruth for him, and his tears and complaints were grievous to her. Presently she asked him, "O my son, what is there in this letter to make thee weep?" Answered he, "She hath threatened me with death and crucifixion and she forbiddeth me to write to her, but if I write not my death were better than my life. So take thou my answer to the letter and let her work her will." Rejoined the old woman, "By the life of thy youth, needs must I risk my existence for thee, that I may bring thee to thy desire and help thee to win what thou hast at heart!" And Taj al-Muluk said, "Whatever thou dost, I will requite thee for it and do thou weigh it in the scales of thy judgement, for thou art experienced in managing matters, and skilled in reading the chapters of the book of intrigue: all hard matters to thee are easy doings; and Allah can bring about everything." Then he took a sheet of paper and wrote thereon these improvised couplets,
"Yestre'en my love with slaughter menaced me, * But sweet were slaughter and Death's foreordained: Yes, Death is sweet for lover doomed to bear * Long life, rejected, injured and constrained: By Allah! deign to visit friendless friend! * Thy thrall am I and like a thrall I'm chained: Mercy, O lady mine, for loving thee! * Who loveth noble soul should be assained."
Then he sighed heavy sighs and wept till the old woman wept also and presently taking the letter she said to him, "Be of good cheer and cool eyes and clear; for needs must I bring thee to thy wish."—And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the One Hundred and Thirty-fourth Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when Taj al-Muluk wept the old woman said to him, "Be of good cheer and cool eyes and clear; for needs must I bring thee to thy wish." Then she rose and left him on coals of fire; and returned to Princess Dunya, whom she found still showing on her changed face rage at Taj al-Muluk's letter. So she gave her his second letter, whereat her wrath redoubled and she said, "Did I not say he would desire us the more?" Replied the old woman, "What thing is this dog that he should aspire to thee?" Quoth the Princess, "Go back to him and tell him that, if he write me after this, I will cut off his head." Quoth the nurse, "Write these words in a letter and I will take it to him that his fear may be the greater." So she took a sheet of paper and wrote thereon these couplets,
"Ho thou, who past and bygone risks regardest with uncare! * Thou who to win thy meeting prize dost overslowly fare! In pride of spirit thinkest thou to win the star Soha[FN#36]? * Albe thou may not reach the Moon which shines through upper air? How darest thou expect to win my favours, hope to clip * Upon a lover's burning breast my lance like shape and rare? Leave this thy purpose lest my wrath come down on thee some day, * A day of wrath shall hoary turn the partings of thy hair!"
Then she folded the letter and gave it to the old woman, who took it and repaired to Taj al-Muluk. And when he saw her, he rose to his feet and exclaimed, "May Allah never bereave me of the blessing of thy coming!" Quoth she, "Take the answer to thy letter." He took it and reading it, wept with sore weeping and said, "I long for some one to slay me at this moment and send me to my rest, for indeed death were easier to me than this my state!" Then he took ink case and pen and paper and wrote a letter containing these two couplets,
"O hope of me! pursue me not with rigour and disdain: * Deign thou to visit lover wight in love of thee is drowned; Deem not a life so deeply wronged I longer will endure; * My soul for severance from my friend divorced this frame unsound."
Lastly he folded the letter and handed it to the old woman, saying, "Be not angry with me, though I have wearied thee to no purpose." And he bade Aziz give her other thousand ducats, saying, "O my mother, needs must this letter result in perfect union or utter severance." Replied she, "O my son, by Allah, I desire nought but thy weal; and it is my object that she be thine, for indeed thou art the shining moon, and she the rising sun.[FN#37] If I do not bring you together, there is no profit in my existence; and I have lived my life till I have reached the age of ninety years in the practice of wile and intrigue; so how should I fail to unite two lovers, though in defiance of right and law?" Then she took leave of him having comforted his heart, and ceased not walking till she went in to the Lady Dunya. Now she had hidden the letter in her hair: so when she sat down by the Princess she rubbed her head and said, "O my lady, maybe thou wilt untwist my hair knot, for it is a time since I went to the Hammam." The King's daughter bared her arms to the elbows and, letting down the old woman's locks, began to loose the knot of back hair; when out dropped the letter and the Lady Dunya seeing it, asked, "What is this paper?" Quoth the nurse, "As I sat in the merchant's shop, this paper must have stuck to me: give it to me that I may return it to him; possibly it containeth some account whereof he hath need." But the Princess opened it and read it and, when she understood it, she cried out, "This is one of thy manifold tricks, and hadst thou not reared me, I would lay violent hands on thee this moment! Verily Allah hath afflicted me with this merchant: but all that hath befallen me with him is on thy head. I know not from what country this one can have come: no man but he would venture to affront me thus, and I fear lest this my case get abroad, more by token as it concerneth one who is neither of my kin nor of my peers." Rejoined the old woman "None would dare speak of this for fear of thy wrath and for awe of thy sire; so there can be no harm in sending him an answer." Quoth the Princess, "O my nurse, verily this one is a perfect Satan! How durst he use such language to me and not dread the Sultan's rage. Indeed, I am perplexed about his case: if I order him to be put to death, it were unjust; and if I leave him alive his boldness will increase." Quoth the old woman, "Come, write him a letter; it may be he will desist in dread." So she called for paper and ink case and pen and wrote these couplets,
"Thy folly drives thee on though long I chid, * Writing in verse: how long shall I forbid? For all forbiddal thou persistest more, * And my sole grace it is to keep it hid; Then hide thy love nor ever dare reveal, * For an thou speak, of thee I'll soon be rid If to thy silly speech thou turn anew, * Ravens shall croak for thee the wold amid: And Death shall come and beat thee down ere long, * Put out of sight and bury 'neath an earthen lid: Thy folk, fond fool! thou'lt leave for thee to mourn, * And through their lives to sorrow all forlorn."
Then she folded the letter and committed it to the old woman, who took it and returning to Taj al-Muluk, gave it to him. When he read it, he knew that the Princess was hard hearted and that he should not win access to her; so he complained of his case to the Wazir and besought his counsel. Quoth the Minister, "Know thou that naught will profit thee save that thou write to her and invoke the retribution of Heaven upon her." And quoth the Prince, "O my brother, O Aziz, do thou write to her as if my tongue spake, according to thy knowledge." So Aziz took a paper and wrote these couplets,
"By the Five Shaykhs,[FN#38] O Lord, I pray deliver me; * Let her for whom I suffer bear like misery: Thou knowest how I fry in flaming lowe of love, * While she I love hath naught of ruth or clemency: How long shall I, despite my pain, her feelings spare? * How long shall she wreak tyranny o'er weakling me? In pains of never ceasing death I ever grieve: * O Lord, deign aid; none other helping hand I see. How fain would I forget her and forget her love! * But how forget when Love garred Patience death to dree? O thou who hinderest Love to 'joy fair meeting tide * Say! art thou safe from Time and Fortune's jealousy? Art thou not glad and blest with happy life, while I * From folk and country for thy love am doomed flee?"
Then Aziz folded the letter and gave it to Taj al-Muluk, who read it and was pleased with it. So he handed it to the old woman, who took it and went in with it to Princess Dunya. But when she read it and mastered the meaning thereof, she was enraged with great rage and said, "All that hath befallen me cometh by means of this ill omened old woman!" Then she cried out to the damsels and eunuchs, saying, "Seize this old hag, this accursed trickstress and beat her with your slippers!" So they came down upon her till she swooned away; and, when she came to herself, the Princess said to her, "By the Lord! O wicked old woman, did I not fear Almighty Allah, I would slay thee." Then quoth she to them, "Beat her again" and they did so till she fainted a second time, whereupon she bade them drag her forth and throw her outside the palace door. So they dragged her along on her face and threw her down before the gate; but as soon as she revived she got up from the ground and, walking and sitting by turns, made her way home. There she passed the night till morning, when she arose and went to Taj al-Muluk and told them all that had occurred. He was distressed at this grievous news and said, "O my mother, hard indeed to us is that which hath befallen thee, but all things are according to fate and man's lot." Replied she, "Be of good cheer and keep thine eyes cool and clear, for I will not give over striving till I have brought thee and her together, and made thee enjoy this wanton who hath burnt my skin with beating." Asked the Prince "Tell me what caused her to hate men;" and the old woman answered, "It arose from what she saw in a dream." "And what was this dream?" "'Twas this: one night, as she lay asleep, she saw a fowler spread his net upon the ground and scatter wheat grain round it. Then he sat down hard by, and not a bird in the neighbourhood but flocked to his toils. Amongst the rest she beheld a pair of pigeons, male and female; and, whilst she was watching the net, behold, the male bird's foot caught in the meshes and he began to struggle; whereupon all the other birds took fright and flew away. But presently his mate came back and hovered over him, then alighted on the toils unobserved by the fowler, and fell to pecking with her beak and pulling at the mesh in which the male bird's foot was tangled, till she released the toes and they flew away together. Then the fowler came up, mended his net and seated himself afar off. After an hour or so the birds flew back and the female pigeon was caught in the net; whereupon all the other birds took fright and scurried away; and the male pigeon fled with the rest and did not return to his mate, but the fowler came up and took the female pigeon and cut her throat. The Princess awoke, troubled by her dream, and said, 'All males are like this pigeon, worthless creatures: and men in general lack grace and goodness to women.'" When the old woman had ended her story, the Prince said to her, "O my mother, I desire to have one look at her, though it be my death; so do thou contrive me some contrivance for seeing her." She replied, "Know then that she hath under her palace windows a garden wherein she taketh her pleasure; and thither she resorteth once in every month by the private door. After ten days, the time of her thus going forth to divert herself will arrive; so when she is about to visit the garden, I will come and tell thee, that thou mayst go thither and meet her. And look thou leave not the garden, for haply, an she see thy beauty and Loveliness, her heart will be taken with love of thee, and love is the most potent means of union." He said, "I hear and obey;" whereupon he and Aziz arose and left the shop and, taking the old woman with them, showed her the place where they lodged. Then said Taj al- Muluk to Aziz, "O my brother, I have no need of the shop now, having fulfilled my purpose of it; so I give it to thee with all that is in it; for that thou hast come abroad with me and hast left thy native land for my sake." Aziz accepted his gift and then they sat conversing, while the Prince questioned him of the strange adventures which had befallen him, and his companion acquainted him with the particulars thereof. Presently, they went to the Wazir and, reporting to him Taj al-Muluk's purpose, asked him, "What is to be done?" "Let us go to the garden," answered he. So each and every donned richest clothes and went forth, followed by three white slaves to the garden, which they found thick with thickets and railing its rills. When they saw the keeper sitting at the gate, they saluted him with the Salam and he returned their salute. Then the Wazir gave him an hundred gold pieces, saying, "Prithee, take this small sum and fetch us somewhat to eat; for we are strangers and I have with me these two lads whom I wish to divert."[FN#39] The Gardener took the sequins and said to them, "Enter and amuse yourselves in the garden, for it is all yours; and sit down till I bring you what food you require." So he went to the market while the Wazir and Taj al-Muluk and Aziz entered the garden. And shortly after leaving for the bazar the Gardener returned with a roasted lamb and cotton white bread, which he placed before them, and they ate and drank; thereupon he served up sweetmeats, and they ate of them, and washed their hands and sat talking. Presently the Wazir said to the garth keeper, "Tell me about this garden: is it thine or dost thou rent it?" The Shaykh replied, "It doth not belong to me, but to our King's daughter, the Princess Dunya." "What be thy monthly wages?" asked the Wazir and he answered, "One diner and no more." Then the Minister looked round about the garden and, seeing in its midst a pavilion tall and grand but old and disused, said to the keeper, "O elder, I am minded to do here a good work, by which thou shalt remember me. Replied the other, "O my lord, what is the good work thou wouldest do?" "Take these three hundred diners," rejoined the Wazir When the Keeper heard speak of the gold, he said, "O my lord, whatso thou wilt, do!" So the Wazir gave him the monies, saying, "Inshallah, we will make a good work in this place!" Then they left him and returned to their lodging, where they passed the night; and when it was the next day, the Minister sent for a plasterer and a painter and a skilful goldsmith and, furnishing them with all the tools they wanted, carried them to the garden, where he bade them whitewash the walls of the pavilion and decorate it with various kinds of paintings. Moreover he sent for gold and lapis lazuli[FN#40] and said to the painter, "Figure me on the wall, at the upper end of this hall, a man fowler with his nets spread and birds falling into them and a female pigeon entangled in the meshes by her bill." And when the painter had finished his picture on one side, the Wazir said, "Figure me on the other side a similar figure and represent the she pigeon alone in the snare and the fowler seizing her and setting the knife to her neck; and draw on the third side wall, a great raptor clutching the male pigeon, her mate, and digging talons into him." The artist did his bidding, and when he and the others had finished the designs, they received their hire and went away. Then the Wazir and his companions took leave of the Gardener and returned to their place, where they sat down to converse. And Taj al-Muluk said to Aziz, "O my brother, recite me some verses: perchance it may broaden my breast and dispel my dolours and quench the fire flaming in my heart." So Aziz chanted with sweet modulation these couplets,
"Whate'er they say of grief to lovers came, * I, weakling I, can single handed claim: An seek thou watering spot,[FN#41] my streaming eyes * Pour floods that thirst would quench howe'er it flame Or wouldest view what ruin Love has wrought * With ruthless hands, then see this wasted frame."
And his eyes ran over with tears and he repeated these couplets also,
"Who loves not swan-neck and gazelle-like eyes, * Yet claims to know Life's joys, I say he lies: In Love is mystery, none avail to learn * Save he who loveth in pure loving wise. Allah my heart ne'er lighten of this love, * Nor rob the wakefulness these eyelids prize."
Then he changed the mode of song and sang these couplets:
"Ibn Sina[FN#42] in his Canon cloth opine * Lovers' best cure is found in merry song: In meeting lover of a like degree, * Dessert in garden, wine draughts long and strong: I chose another who of thee might cure * While Force and Fortune aided well and long But ah! I learnt Love's mortal ill, wherein * Ibn Sina's recipe is fond and wrong."
After hearing them to the end, Taj al-Muluk was pleased with his verses and wondered at his eloquence and the excellence of his recitation, saying, "Indeed, thou hast done away with somewhat of my sorrow." Then quoth the Wazir "Of a truth, there occurred to those of old what astoundeth those who hear it told." Quoth the Prince, "If thou canst recall aught of this kind, prithee let us hear thy subtle lines and keep up the talk." So the Minister chanted in modulated song these couplets,
"Indeed I deemed thy favours might be bought * By gifts of gold and things that joy the sprite And ignorantly thought thee light-o'-love, * When can thy love lay low the highmost might; Until I saw thee choosing one, that one * Loved with all favour, crowned with all delight: Then wot I thou by sleight canst ne'er be won * And under wing my head I hid from sight And in this nest of passion made my wone, * Wherein I nestle morning, noon and night."
So far concerning them; but as regards the old woman she remained shut up from the world in her house, till it befel that the King's daughter was taken with a desire to divert herself in the garden. Now she had never been wont so to do save in company with her nurse; accordingly she sent for her and made friends with her and soothed her sorrow, saying, "I wish to go forth to the garden, that I may divert myself with the sight of its trees and Fruits, and broaden my breast with the scent of its flowers." Replied the old woman, "I hear and obey; but first I would go to my house, and soon I will be with thee." The Princess rejoined, "Go home, but be not long absent from me." So the old woman left her and, repairing to Taj al-Muluk, said to him, "Get thee ready and don thy richest dress and go to the garden and find out the Gardener and salute him and then hide thyself therein." "To hear is to obey" answered he; and she agreed with him upon a signal, after which she returned to the Lady Dunya. As soon as she was gone, the Wazir and Aziz rose and robed Taj al-Muluk in a splendid suit of royal raiment worth five thousand diners, and girt his middle with a girdle of gold set with gems and precious metals. Then they repaired to the garden and found seated at the gate the Keeper who, as soon as he saw the Prince, sprang to his feet and received him with all respect and reverence, and opening the gate, said, "Enter and take thy pleasure in looking at the garden." Now the Gardener knew not that the King's daughter was to visit the place that day; but when Taj al-Muluk had been a little while there, he heard a hubbub and ere he could think, out issued the eunuchs and damsels by the private wicket. The Gardener seeing this came up to the Prince, informed him of her approach and said to him, "O my lord, what is to be done? The Princess Dunya, the King's daughter, is here." Replied the Prince, "Fear not, no harm shall befal thee; for I will hide me somewhere about the garden." So the Keeper exhorted him to the utmost prudence and went away. Presently the Princess entered the garden with her damsels and with the old woman, who said to herself, "If these eunuchs stay with us, we shall not attain our end." So quoth she to the King's daughter, "O my lady, I have somewhat to tell thee which shall ease thy heart." Quoth the Princess, "Say what thou hast to say." "O my lady, rejoined the old woman, "thou hast no need of these eunuchs at a time like the present; nor wilt thou be able to divert thyself at thine ease, whilst they are with us; so send them away;" and the Lady Dunya replied, "Thou speakest sooth" Accordingly she dismissed them and presently began to walk about, whilst Taj al-Muluk looked upon her and fed his eyes on her beauty and loveliness (but she knew it not); and every time he gazed at her he fainted by reason of her passing charms.[FN#43] The old woman drew her on by converse till they reached the pavilion which the Wazir had bidden be decorated, when the Princess entered and cast a glance round and perceived the picture of the birds the fowler and the pigeon; whereupon she cried, "Exalted be Allah! This is the very counterfeit presentment of what I saw in my dream." She continued to gaze at the figures of the birds and the fowler with his net, admiring the work, and presently she said, "O my nurse, I have been wont to blame and hate men, but look now at the fowler how he hath slaughtered the she bird who set free her mate; who was minded to return to her and aid her to escape when the bird of prey met him and tore him to pieces." Now the old woman feigned ignorance to her and ceased not to occupy her in converse, till they drew near the place where Taj al-Muluk lay hidden. Thereupon she signed to him to come out and walk under the windows of the pavilion, and, as the Lady Dunya stood looking from the casement, behold, her glance fell that way and she saw him and noting his beauty of face and form, said to the old woman, "O my nurse, whence cometh yonder handsome youth?" Replied the old woman, "I know nothing of him save that I think he must be some great King's son, for he attaineth comeliness in excess and extreme loveliness." And the Lady Dunya fell in love with him to distraction; the spells which bound her were loosed and her reason was overcome by his beauty and grace; and his fine stature and proportions strongly excited her desires sexual. So she said, "O my nurse! this is indeed a handsome youth;" and the old woman replied, "Thou sayest sooth, O my lady," and signed to Taj al-Muluk to go home. And though desire and longing flamed in him and he was distraught for love, yet he went away and took leave of the Gardener and returned to his place, obeying the old woman and not daring to cross her. When he told the Wazir and Aziz that she had signed him to depart, they exhorted him to patience, saying, "Did not the ancient dame know that there was an object to be gained by thy departure, she had not signalled thee to return home." Such was the case with Taj al-Muluk, the Wazir and Aziz but as regards the King's daughter, the Lady Dunya, desire and passion redoubled upon her; she was overcome with love and longing and she said to her nurse, "I know not how I shall manage a meeting with this youth, but through thee." Exclaimed the old woman, "I take refuge with Allah from Satan the stoned! Thou who art averse from men! How cometh it then that thou art thus afflicted with hope and fear of this young man? Yet, by Allah, none is worthy of thy youth but he." Quoth the Lady Dunya, "O my nurse, further my cause and help me to foregather with him, and thou shalt have of me a thousand diners and a dress of honour worth as much more: but if thou aid me not to come at him, I am a dead woman in very sooth." Replied the ancient dame, "Go to thy palace and leave me to devise means for bringing you twain together. I will throw away my life to content you both!" So the Lady Dunya returned to her palace, and the old woman betook herself to Taj al-Muluk who, when he saw her, rose to receive her and entreated her with respect and reverence making her sit by his side. Then she said, "The trick hath succeeded," and told him all that had passed between herself and the Princess. He asked her, "When is our meeting to be?"; and she answered, "Tomorrow." So he gave her a thousand diners and a dress of like value, and she took them and stinted not walking till she returned to her mistress, who said to her, "O my nurse! what news of the be loved?" Replied she, "I have learnt where he liveth and will bring him to thee tomorrow." At this the Princess was glad and gave her a thousand diners and a dress worth as much more, and she took them and returned to her own place, where she passed the night till morning. Then she went to Taj al-Muluk and dressing him in woman's clothes, said to him, "Follow me and sway from side to side[FN#44] as thou steppest, and hasten not thy pace nor take heed of any who speaketh to thee." And after thus charging him she went out, and the Prince followed her in woman's attire and she continued to charge and encourage him by the way, that he might not be afraid; nor ceased they walking till they came to the Palace-gate. She entered and the Prince after her, and she led him on, passing through doors and vestibules, till they had passed seven doors.[FN#45] As they approached the seventh, she said to him, "Hearten thy heart and when I call out to thee and say, 'O damsel pass on!' do not slacken thy pace, but advance as if about to run. When thou art in the vestibule, look to thy left and thou wilt see a saloon with doors: count five doors and enter the sixth, for therein is thy desire." Asked Taj al-Muluk, "And whither wilt thou go?"; and she answered, "Nowhere shall I go except that perhaps I may drop behind thee, and the Chief Eunuch may detain me to chat with him." She walked on (and he behind her) till she reached the door where the Chief Eunuch was stationed and he, seeing Taj al-Muluk with her dressed as a slave girl, said to the old woman, "What business hath this girl with thee?" Replied she, "This is a slave girl of whom the Lady Dunya hath heard that she is skilled in different kinds of work and she hath a mind to buy her." Rejoined the Eunuch, "I know neither slave girls nor anyone else; and none shall enter here without my searching according to the King's commands."—And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the One Hundred and Thirty-fifth Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the Chamberlain Eunuch cried to the old woman, "I know neither slave girl nor anyone else; and none shall enter here without my searching him according to the King's commands." Then quoth she, feigning to be angry, "I thought thee a man of sense and good breeding; but, if thou be changed, I will let the Princess know of it and tell her how thou hinderest her slave girl;" and she cried out to Taj al-Muluk, saying, "Pass on, O damsel!" So he passed on into the vestibule as she bade him, whilst the Eunuch was silent and said no more. The Prince counted five doors and entered the sixth where he found the Princess Dunya standing and awaiting him. As soon as she saw him, she knew him and clasped him to her breast, and he clasped her to his bosom. Presently the old woman came in to them, having made a pretext to dismiss the Princess's slave girls for fear of disgrace; and the Lady Dunya said to her, "Be thou