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Supplemental Nights, Volume 1 by Richard F. Burton

Part 2 out of 6

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have seen you?" Then one of the sailors asked her, "Whose wife
art thou?" and she answered, "I am the wife of Such-an-one the
trader. I was on my way to him, and there hath befallen me this
calamity." When the merchant heard her words, he knew her and
rising to his feet, rent his raiment and beat his head and said
to his wife, "By Allah, I have destroyed my children with mine
own hand! This is the end of whoso looketh not to the endings of
affairs. This is his reward who taketh not time to reflect." Then
he took to wailing and weeping over them, he and his wife, and he
said to his shipmates, "By Allah, I shall never enjoy my life,
till I light upon news of them!" And he began to go round about
the sea, in quest of his sons, but found them not. Meanwhile, the
wind carried the two children from the ship towards the land, and
cast them up on the sea-shore. As for one of them, a company of
the guards of the king of those parts found him and carried him
to their lord, who marvelled at him with exceeding marvel and
adopted him, giving out to the folk that he was his own son, whom
he had hidden,[FN#158] of his love for him. So the folk rejoiced
in him with joy exceeding, for their lord's sake, and the king
appointed him his heir-apparent and the inheritor of his kingdom.
On this wise a number of years passed, till the king died and
they enthroned the youth sovran in his stead, when he sat down on
the seat of his kingship and his estate flourished and his
affairs prospered with all regularity. Meanwhile, his father and
mother had gone round about, in quest of him and his brother, all
the islands of the sea, hoping that the tide might have cast them
up, but found no trace of them; so they despaired of them and
took up their abode in a certain of the islands. One day, the
merchant, being in the market, saw a broker, and in his hand a
boy he was crying for sale, and said in himself, "I will buy
yonder boy, so I may solace myself with him for my sons."[FN#159]
So he bought him and bore him to his house; and, when his wife
saw him, she cried out and said, "By Allah, this is my son!"
Accordingly his father and mother rejoiced in him with exceeding
joy and asked him of his brother; but he answered, "The waves
parted us and I knew not how it went with him." Therewith his
father and mother consoled themselves with him and on this wise a
number of years passed by. Now the merchant and his wife had
homed them in a city of the land where their other son was king,
and when the boy they had recovered grew up, his father assigned
unto him merchandise, to the end that he might travel therewith.
Upon this he fared forth and entered the city wherein his brother
ruled and anon news reached the king that a merchant had come
thither with merchandise befitting royalties; so he sent for him
and the young trader obeyed the summons and going in to him, sat
down before him. Neither of them knew the other; but blood moved
between them[FN#160] and the king said to the merchant youth, "I
desire of thee that thou tarry with me and I will exalt thy
station and give thee all that thou requirest and cravest."
Accordingly, he abode with him awhile, never quitting him; and
when he saw that he would not suffer him to depart from him, he
sent to his father and mother and bade them remove thither to
him. Hereat they resolved upon moving to that island, and their
son still increased in honour with the king, albeit he knew not
that he was his brother. Now it chanced one night that the king
sallied forth without the city and drank and the wine got the
mastery of him and he became drunken. So, of the youth's fear for
his safety, he said, "I will keep watch myself over the king this
night, seeing that he deserveth this from me, for that which he
hath done with me of kindly deeds;" and he arose forthright and
baring his brand, stationed himself at the door of the king's
pavilion. But one of the royal pages saw him standing there, with
the drawn sword in his hand, and he was of those who envied him
his favour with the king; therefore, he said to him. "Why dost
thou on this wise at this time and in the like of this place?"
Said the youth, "I am keeping watch and ward over the king
myself, in requital of his bounties to me." The page said no more
to him; however, when it was morning, he acquainted a number of
the king's servants with the matter, and they said, "This is an
opportunity for us. Come, let us assemble together and acquaint
the king therewith, so the young merchant may lose regard with
him[FN#161] and he rid us of him and we be at rest from him." So
they assembled together and going in to the king, said to him,
"We have a warning wherewith we would warn thee." Quoth he, "And
what is your warning?" and quoth they, "This youth, the trader,
whom thou hast taken into favour and whose rank thou hast exalted
above the chiefest of thy lords, we saw yesterday bare his brand
and design to fall upon thee, to the end that he might slay
thee." Now when the king heard this, his colour changed and he
said to them, "Have ye proof of this?" They rejoined, "What proof
wouldst thou have? An thou desirest this, feign thyself drunken
again this night and lie down as if asleep, and privily watch him
and thou wilt see with thine eyes all that we have mentioned to
thee." Then they went to the youth and said to him, "Know that
the king thanketh thee for thy dealing yesternight and exceedeth
in commendation of thy good deed;" and they prompted him again to
do the like. Accordingly, when the next night came, the king
abode on wake, watching the youth; and as for the latter, he went
to the door of the pavilion and unsheathing his scymitar, stood
in the doorway. When the king saw him do thus, he was sore
disquieted and bade seize him and said to him, "Is this my reward
from thee? I showed thee favour more than any else and thou
wouldst do with me this abominable deed." Then arose two of the
king's pages and said to him, "O our lord, an thou order it, we
will smite his neck." But the king said, "Haste in killing is a
vile thing, for 'tis a grave[FN#162] matter; the quick we can
kill, but the killed we cannot quicken, and needs must we look to
the end of affairs. The slaying of this youth will not escape
us."[FN#163] Therewith he bade imprison him, whilst he himself
went back to the city and, his duties done, fared forth to the
chase. Then he returned to town and forgot the youth; so the
pages went in to him and said to him, "O king, an thou keep
silence concerning yonder youth, who designed to slaughter thee,
all thy servants will presume upon the king's majesty, and indeed
the folk talk of this matter." Hereat the king waxed wroth and
cried, "Fetch him hither;" and bade the headsman strike off his
head. So they brought the youth and bound his eyes; and the
sworder stood at his head and said to the king, "By thy leave, O
my lord, I will smite his neck." But the king cried, "Stay, till
I look into his affair. Needs must I put him to death and the
dispatching of him will not escape me." Then he restored him to
the prison and there he abode till it should be the king's will
to do him die. Presently, his parents heard of the matter;
whereupon his father arose and going up to the palace, wrote a
letter and presented it to the king, who read it, and behold,
therein was written, saying, "Have ruth on me, so may Allah have
ruth on thee, and hasten not in the slaughter of my son; for
indeed I acted hastily in a certain affair and drowned his
brother in the sea, and to this day I bemourn him. An thou must
needs kill him, kill me in his stead." Therewith the old
merchant, weeping bitterly, prostrated himself before the king,
who said to him, "Tell me thy tale." Said the merchant, "O my
lord, this youth had a brother and I in my haste cast the twain
into the sea." And he related to him his story, first and last,
whereupon the king cried with a mighty loud cry and casting
himself down from the throne, embraced his father and brother and
said to the merchant, "By Allah, thou art my very father and this
is my brother and thy wife is our mother." And they abode
weeping, all three of them. Then the king acquainted his people
with the matter and said to them, "O folk, how deem ye of my
looking to the consequences of action?" and they all marvelled at
his wisdom and foresight. Then he turned to his sire and said to
him, "Hadst thou looked to the issue of thine affair and made due
delay in whatso thou didst, there had not betided thee this
repentance and chagrin all this time." Thereupon he sent for his
mother and they rejoiced one in other and lived all their days in
joy and gladness. "What then" (continued the young treasurer),
"is more grievous than the lack of looking to the ends of things?
Wherefore hasten thou not in the slaying of me, lest penitence
betide thee and sore chagrin." When the king heard this, he said,
"Return him to the prison till the morrow, so we may look into
his affair; for that deliberation in such is advisable and the
slaughter of this youth shall not escape us."

The Third Day.

Of the Advantages of Patience.[FN#164]

When it was the third day, the third Wazir came in to the king
and said to him, "O king, delay not the matter of this youth,
because his deed hath caused us fall into the mouths of folk, and
it behoveth that thou slay him forthright, that the talk may be
cut from us and it be not said, ‘The king saw on his bed a man
with his wife and spared him.'" The king was chagrined by these
words and bade bring the youth. Accordingly, they fetched him in
fetters, and indeed the king's anger was upstirred against him by
the Minister's speech and he was troubled; so he said to him, "O
base of birth, thou hast dishonoured us and marred our mention,
and needs must I do away thy life from the world." Quoth the
youth, "O king, make use of patience in all thine affairs, so
wilt thou win to thy wish, for that Allah Almighty hath appointed
the issue of long-suffering to be in abounding good, and indeed
by patience Abú Sábir ascended from the pit and sat down upon the
throne." Asked the king, "Who was Abú Sábir, and what is his
tale?" and the youth answered, saying, "Hear thou, O king,

The Story of Abu Sabir.

There was once a man, a village headman,[FN#165] Abú Sabír hight,
and he had much black cattle and a buxom wife, who had borne him
two sons. They abode in a certain hamlet and there used to come
thither a lion and rend and devour Abu Sabir's herd, so that the
most part thereof was wasted and his wife said to him one day,
"This lion hath wasted the greater part of our property. Arise,
mount thy horse and take thy host and do thy best to kill him, so
we may be at rest from him." But Abu Sabir said, "Have patience,
O woman, for the issue of patience is praised. This lion it is
which transgresseth against us, and the transgressor, perforce
must Almighty Allah destroy him. Indeed, 'tis our long-suffering
that shall slay him,[FN#166] and he that doth evil needs must it
recoil upon him." A few days after, the king went forth one
morning to hunt and falling in with the lion, he and his host,
gave chase to him and ceased not pursuit till they slew him. This
news reached Abú Sábir who improved the occasion to his wife,
"Said I not to thee, O woman, that whoso doth evil, it shall
recoil upon him? Haply an I sought to slay the lion myself, I had
not prevailed against him, and this is the issue of patience." It
befel, after this, that a man was slain in Abú Sábir's village;
wherefore the Sultan bade plunder the village, and they spoiled
the patient one's goods with the rest. Thereupon his wife said to
him, "All the king's officers know thee; so do thou prefer thy
plaint to the sovran, that he may bid thy beasts to be restored
to thee." But he said to her, "O woman, said I not to thee that
he who worketh wrong shall be wronged? Indeed, the king hath done
evil, and right soon he shall suffer the issues of his deed, for
whoso taketh the goods of the folk, needs must his goods be
taken." A man of his neighbours heard his speech, and he was an
envier of his; so he went to the Sultan and acquainted him
therewith, whereupon the king sent and plundered all the rest of
his goods and drave him forth from the village, and his wife and
family with him. They went wandering in the waste grounds about
the hamlet and his wife said to him, "All that hath befallen us
cometh of thy slowness in affairs and thy helplessness." But he
said to her, "Have patience, for the issue of patience is good."
Then they walked on a little way, and thieves met them and
despoiling them of whatso remained with them, stripped them of
their raiment and took from them the two children; whereupon the
woman wept and said to her husband, "Hearkye, my good man, put
away from thee this folly and up with us to follow the thieves,
so, peradventure they may have compassion on us and restore the
children to us." He replied, "O woman, have patience, for he who
doth evil shall be requited with evil and his frowardness shall
revert upon him. Were I to follow them, belike one of them would
take his sword and smite my neck and slay me; but have patience,
for the issue of patience is praised." Then they fared on till
they made a village[FN#167] in the land of Kirman, and by it a
river of water; so the man said to his wife, "Tarry thou here,
whilst I enter the village and look us out a place wherein we may
home ourselves." And he left her by the water and entered the
village. Presently, up came a horseman in quest of water,
wherewith to water his horse: he saw the woman and she was
pleasing in his eyes; so quoth he to her, "Arise, mount with me
and I will take thee to wife and entreat thee kindly." Quoth she,
"Spare me, so may Allah spare thee! Indeed I have a husband." But
he drew his dudgeon and said to her, "An thou obey me not, I will
smite thee and slay thee." When she saw his frowardness, she
wrote on the ground in the sand with her finger, saying, "O Abú
Sábir, thou hast not ceased to be patient, till thy good is gone
from thee and thy children and now thy wife, who was more
precious in thy sight than everything and than all thy monies,
and indeed thou abidest in thy sorrow the whole of thy life long,
so thou mayest see what thy patience will profit thee." Then the
horseman took her, and setting her behind him, went his way. As
for Abú Sábir, when he returned, he saw not his wife but he read
what was writ upon the ground, wherefore he wept and sat awhile
sorrowing. Then said he to himself, "O Abú Sábir, it behoveth
thee to be patient, for haply there shall betide thee an affair
yet sorer than this and more grievous;" and he went forth
a-following his face,[FN#168] like to one lovedistraught and
passion-madded, till he came to a gang of labourers working upon
the palace of the king, by way of forced labour.[FN#169] When the
overseers saw him, they laid hold of him and said to him, "Work
thou with these folk at the palace of the king; else we will
imprison thee for life." So he fell to working with them as a
labourer and every day they gave him a bannock of bread. He
wrought with them a month's space, till it chanced that one of
the labourers mounted a ladder and falling, brake his leg;
whereupon he cried out and shed tears. Quoth Abú Sábir to him,
"Have patience and weep not; for in thine endurance thou shalt
find ease." But the man said to him, "How long shall I have
patience?" And he answered, saying, "Long-suffering bringeth a
man forth of the bottom of the pit and seateth him on the throne
of the kingdom." It so fortuned that the king was seated at the
lattice, hearkening to their talk, and Abú Sábir's words angered
him for the moment; wherefore he bade bring him before him and
they brought him forthright. Now there was in the king's palace
an underground dungeon and therein a vast silo[FN#170] and a
deep, into which the king caused cast Abú Sábir, saying to him,
"O little of wit, soon shall we see how thou wilt come forth of
the pit to the throne of the kingdom." Then he used continuously
to come and stand at the mouth of the pit and say, "O little of
wit, O Abú Sábir,[FN#171] I see thee not come forth of the pit
and sit down on the king's throne!" And he assigned him each day
two bannocks of bread, whilst Abú Sábir kept silence and spake
not, but patiently bore whatso betided him. Now the king had a
brother, whom he had imprisoned in that pit of old time, and he
had died there; but the folk of the realm deemed him still alive,
and when his durance grew long, the courtiers of the king used to
talk of this and of the tyranny of their liege Lord, and the
bruit spread abroad that the sovran was a tyrant, so they fell
upon him one day and slew him. Then they sought the silo and
brought out therefrom Abú Sábir, deeming him the king's brother,
for that he was the nearest of folk to him in favour and the
likest, and he had been long in the pit. So they doubted not but
that he was the Prince and said to him, "Reign thou in thy
brother's room, for we have slain him and thou art sovran in his
stead." But Abú Sábir was silent and spoke not a word;[FN#172]
and he knew that this was the result of his patience. Then he
arose and sitting down on the king's throne, donned the royal
dress and dispensed justice and equity, and affairs prospered;
wherefore the lieges obeyed him and the subjects inclined to him
and many were his soldiers. Now the king, who erst had plundered
Abú Sábir's goods and driven him forth of his village, had an
enemy; and the foe mounted horse against him and overcame him and
captured his capital; wherefore he betook him to flight and came
to Abú Sábir's city, craving support of him and seeking that he
should succour him. He knew not that the king of the city was the
headman whom he had spoiled; so he presented himself before him
and made complaint to him; but Abú Sábir knew him and said to
him, "This is somewhat of the issue of patience. Allah the Most
High hath given me power over thee." Then he commanded his guards
to plunder the unjust king and his suite; so they spoiled them
and stripping them of their clothes, put them forth of his
country. When Abú Sábir's troops saw this, they marvelled and
said, "What be this deed the king doth? There cometh a king to
him, craving protection, and he spoileth him! This is not the
fashion of kings." But they dared not speak of this. Presently,
news came to the king of highwaymen in his land; so he set out in
quest of them and ceased not to follow after them, till he had
seized on them all. and behold, they were the very thieves who
had plundered him and his wife by the way and had carried off his
children. Accordingly he bade bring them before him, and when
they came into his presence, he questioned them, saying, "Where
are the two boys ye took on such a day?" Said they, "They are
with us and we will present them to our lord the king for
Mamelukes to serve him and give him wealth galore that we have
gotten together and doff all we own and repent from lawlessness
and fight in thy service." Abú Sábir, however, paid no heed to
their words, and seized all their good and bade put them all to
death. Furthermore. he took his two boys and rejoiced in them
with exceeding joy, whereat the troops murmured among themselves,
saying, "Verily, this is a greater tyrant than his brother! There
cometh to him a gang of thieves, and they seek to repent and
proffer two boys by way of peace-offering, and he taketh the two
lads and all their good and slayeth them! Indeed this be violent
oppression." After this came the horseman, who had seized Abú
Sábir's wife, and complained of her to the king that she would
not give him possession of her person, and solemnly declared that
she was his wife. The king bade bring her before him, that he
might hear her plea and pronounce judgment upon her. So the
horseman came with her before him, and when the king saw her, he
knew her and taking her from her ravisher, bade put him to death.
Then he became aware of the troops, that they murmured against
him and spake of him as a tyrant; so he turned to his courtiers
and ministers and said to them, "As for me, by Allah of
All-might,[FN#173] I am not the king's brother! Nay, I am but one
whom the king imprisoned upon a word he heard from me and he used
every day to come and taunt me therewith. Ye deem me the king's
brother; but I am Abú Sabir and the Lord hath given me the
kingship in virtue of my patience. As for the king who sought
protection of me and I plundered him, 'twas he who first wronged
me, for that he plundered me afore, time and drave me forth of my
native land and banished me, without due cause; wherefore I
requited him with that which he had done to me, in the way of
lawful retribution. As for the highwaymen who proffered
repentance, there was no repentance for them with me, because
they began upon me with foul dealing and waylaid me by the road
and despoiled me and seized my good and my sons, the two boys
that I took of them, and those ye deemed Mamelukes are my very
sons; so I avenged myself on the thieves of that which they did
with me whilome and requited them with strict justice. As for the
horseman whom I slew, this woman I took from him was my wife and
he seized her by force, but Allah the Most High hath restored her
to me; so this was my right, and my deed that I have done was
righteous, albeit ye, judging by the externals of the matter,
deemed that I had done this by way of tyranny." When the folk
heard these words, they marvelled and fell prostrate before him;
and they redoubled in esteem for him and exceeding affection and
sued pardon of him, admiring that which Allah had done with him
and how He had given him the kingship by reason of his
longsuffering and his patience and how he had raised himself by
his endurance from the bottom of the pit to the throne of the
kingdom, what while Allah cast down the late king from the throne
into the pit.[FN#174] Then Abú Sábir foregathered with his wife
and said to her, "How deemest thou of the fruit of patience and
its sweetness and the fruit of haste and its bitterness? Verily,
all that a man doth of good and evil, he shall assuredly
encounter the same." "On like wise, O king" (continued the young
treasurer), "it befitteth thee to practice patience, whenever it
is possible to thee, for that longsuffering is the wont of the
noble, and it is the chiefest of their reliance, especially for
kings." When the king heard this from the youth, his wrath
subsided; so he bade return him to the prison, and the folk
dispersed that day.

The Fourth Day.

Of the Ill Effects of Impatience.

When it was the fourth day, the fourth Wazir, whose name was
Zúshád,[FN#175] made his appearance, and prostrating himself to
his liege lord, said to him, "O king, let not the talk of yonder
youth delude thee, for that he is not a truth-teller. As long as
he shall remain alive, the folk will not leave talking nor will
thy heart cease to be occupied with him." Cried the king, "By
Allah, thou sayst sooth and I will cause fetch him this day and
slay him between my hands." Then bade he bring the youth; so they
fetched him in fetters and he said to him, "Woe to thee! Thinkest
thou to appease my heart with thy prate, whereby the days are
spent in talk? I mean to do thee die this day and be quit of
thee." Said the youth, "O king, 'tis in thy power to put me out
of the world whenso thou wilt, but haste is the wont of the
ignoble and patience the sign of the noble. An thou do me to
death, thou wilt repent, and when thou desire to bring me back to
life, thou wilt not be able. Indeed, whoso acteth hastily in an
affair, there befalleth him what befel Bihzád, son of the king."
Quoth the king, "And what is his tale?" Replied the treasurer, "O
king, hear

The Story of Prince Bihzad.[FN#176]

There was once, of olden time, a king and he had a son Bihzad
hight, there was not in his tide a fairer than he and he loved to
fellow with the folk and to mix with the merchants and sit and
talk with them. One day, as he was seated in an assembly, amongst
a number of people, he heard them talking of his own beauty and
loveliness, and saying, "There be not in his time a fairer than
he." But one of the company said, "Indeed, the daughter of King
Such-an-one is seemlier than he." When Bihzad heard this saying,
his reason fled and his heart fluttered and he called the last
speaker and said to him, "Repeat to me that which thou saidst and
tell me the truth concerning her whom thou avouchest to be
goodlier than I and whose daughter she is." Quoth the man, "She
is the daughter of King Such-an-one;" whereupon Bihzad's heart
clave to her and his colour changed. Presently the news reached
his sire, who said to him, "O my son, this maiden to whom thy
heart cleaveth is at thy command and we have power over her; so
wait till I demand her in wedlock for thee." But the Prince said,
"I will not wait." So the king hastened in the matter and sent to
demand her of her sire, who required of him an hundred thousand
dinars paid down to his daughter's dowry. Quoth Bihzad's father,
"So be it," and weighed out what was in his treasuries, and there
remained to his charge but a little of the dower.[FN#177] So he
said, "Have patience, O my son, till we gather together the rest
of the money and send to fetch her for thee, since now she is
become thine." Therewith the Prince waxed wroth with exceeding
wrath and cried, "I will not have patience;" so he took his sword
and his lance[FN#178] and mounting his horse, went forth and fell
to cutting the way.[FN#179] It chanced one day that he fell upon
a company of folk who overcame him by dint of numbers and taking
him prisoner, pinioned him and carried him to the lord of that
land wherein he was a-highwaying. This king saw his semblance and
loveliness and misdoubting of him, said, "This be no robber's
favour. Tell me truly, O youth, who thou art." Bihzad was ashamed
to acquaint him with his condition and preferred death for
himself; so he answered, "I am naught but a thief and a bandit."
Quoth the king, "It behoveth us not to act hastily in the matter
of this youth, but that we look into his affair, for that
impatience gendereth penitence." So he imprisoned him in his
palace and assigned him one to serve him. Meanwhile the news
spread abroad that Bihzad, son of the sovran, was lost, whereupon
his father sent letters in quest of him to all the kings
including him with whom he was imprisoned. When the letter
reached the latter, he praised Almighty Allah for that he had not
anyways hastened in Bihzad's affair and bidding them bring him
before himself, said to him, "Art thou minded to destroy thy
life?" Quoth Bihzad, "I did this for fear of shame;" and the king
said, "An thou fear shame, thou shouldst not practise haste in
thy doings; knowest thou not that the fruit of impatience is
repentance? Had we hasted, we also, like thee, had repented."
Then he conferred on him a robe of honour and engaged to him for
the completion of the dowry and sent to his father, giving him
the glad tidings and comforting his heart with news of his son's
safety; after which he said to Bihzad, "Arise, O my son, and go
to thy sire." Rejoined the Prince, "O king, complete thy kindness
to me by hastening my going-in to my wife; for, an I go back to
my sire, the time will be long till he send a messenger and he
return, promising me dispatch." The king laughed and marvelled at
him and said to him, "I fear for thee from this precipitancy,
lest thou come to shame and win not thy wish." Then he gave him
muchel of wealth and wrote him letters, commending him to the
father of the Princess, and despatched him to them. When he drew
near their country, the king came forth to meet him with the
people of his realm and assigned him a fine lodging and bade
hasten the going-in of his daughter to him, in compliance with
the other king's letter. He also advised the Prince's father of
his son's coming and they busied themselves with the affair of
the young lady. When it was the day of the bride's
going-in[FN#180] Bihzad, of his impetuosity and lack of patience,
betook himself to the wall, which was between himself and her
lodging and wherein was a hole pierced, and of his haste looked
through it, so he might see his bride. But her mother espied
him[FN#181] and this was grievous to her; so she took from one of
the pages two red-hot iron spits and thrust them into the hole
through which the Prince was looking. The spits ran into his eyes
and put them out and he fell down fainting and the
wedding-festival was changed to mourning and sore concern. "See,
then, O king" (continued the youth), "the issue of the Prince's
haste and lack of deliberation, for indeed his impatience
bequeathed him long penitence and his joy turned to annoy; and on
like wise was it with the woman who hastened to put out his eyes
and delayed not to deliberate. All this was the doing of haste;
wherefore it behoveth the king not to be hasty in putting me to
death, for that I am under the hold of his hand, and whatso time
thou desirest my slaughter, it shall not escape thee." When the
king heard this his anger subsided and he said, "Return him back
to the prison till to-morrow, so we may look into his case."

The Fifth Day.

Of the Issues of Good and Evil Actions.

When it was the fifth day, the fifth Wazir, whose name was
Jahrbaur,[FN#182] came in to the king and prostrating himself
before him. said, "O king, it behoveth thee, an thou see or hear
one look on thy house,[FN#183] that thou pluck out his eyes. How
then should it be with him whom thou sawest a-middlemost thy
palace and on thy royal bed, and he suspected with thy Harim, and
not of thy lineage or of thy kindred? So do thou away this shame
by putting him to death. Indeed, we urge thee not to this, except
for the assurance of thine empire and of our zeal for thy loyal
counselling and of our affection to thee. How can it be lawful
that this youth should live for a single hour?" Therewith the
king was filled with fury and cried, "Bring him forthright." So
they fetched the youth whom they set before him in fetters, and
the king said to him, "Woe to thee! Thou hast sinned a great sin
and the time of thy survival hath been long;[FN#184] but needs
must we put thee to death, because there is no case for us in thy
life till we take it." Quoth the youth, "Know O king, that I, by
Allah, am guiltless, and by reason of this I hope for life, for
that he who is innocent of all offence goeth not in fear of pains
and penalties, neither greateneth his mourning and his concern;
but whoso hath sinned, needs must his sin be expiated upon him,
though his life be prolonged, and it shall overtake him, even as
it overtook Dádbín the king and his Wazir." Asked Azadbakht,"How
was that?" and the youth said,"Hear, O king (whose days may Allah

The Story of King Dadbin[FN#185] and his Wazirs.

There was once a king in the land of Tabaristan,[FN#186] by name
Dádbín, and he had two Wazirs, one called Zorkhan and the other
Kárdán.[FN#187] The Minister Zorkhan had a daughter, there was
not in her day a fairer than she nor yet a chaster or a more
pious, for she was a faster, a prayer and an adorer of Allah the
Almighty, and her name was Arwá.[FN#188] Now Dadbin, the king,
heard tell of her praises; so his heart clave to her and he
called the Wazir her sire and said to him, "I desire of thee that
thou marry me to thy daughter." Quoth Zorkhan, "O my liegest
lord, suffer me to consult her, and if she consent, I will marry
thee with her." And the king, said, "Haste thee with this." So
the Minister went in to his daughter and said to her, "O my
daughter, the king seeketh thee of me and desireth to marry
thee." She said. "O my father, I desire not a husband, and if
thou wilt marry me not but with a mate who shall be mine inferior
in rank and I nobler than he, so he may not turn to other than
myself nor lift his eyes upon me,[FN#189] and marry me not to one
who is nobler than I, lest I be with him as a slave-girl and a
serving-woman." Accordingly the Wazir returned to the king and
acquainted him with that which his daughter had said, whenas he
redoubled in desire and love-longing for her, and said to her
sire, "An thou marry me not to her of good grace, I will take her
in thy despite and by force." The Minister again betook himself
to his daughter and repeated to her the king's words, but she
replied, "I want no husband." So he returned to the king and told
him what she said, and he was wroth and threatened him, whereupon
the father took his daughter and fled with her. When this came to
the king's knowledge, he despatched troops in pursuit of Zorkhan,
to stop the road upon him, whilst he himself went out and
overtaking the Wazir, smote him on the head with his mace[FN#190]
and slew him. Then he took his daughter by force and returning to
his dwelling-place, went in to her and married her. Arwa resigned
herself with patience to that which betided her and committed her
case to Allah Almighty; and indeed she was used to serve Him
night and day with a goodly service in the house of King Dadbin
her husband. It befel one day that the king had occasion to make
a journey; so he called his second Wazir Kardan and said to him,
"I have a charge to commit to thy care, and it is yonder lady, my
wife, the daughter of the Wazir Zorkhan, and I desire that thou
keep her and guard her thy very self, because I have not in the
world aught dearer than she." Quoth Kardan in his mind, "Of a
truth, the king honoureth me with an exceeding honour in
entrusting me with this lady." And he answered, "With love and
all gladness." When the king had departed on his journey, Kardan
said in himself, "Needs must I look upon this lady whom the king
loveth with all this love." So he hid himself in a place, that he
might espy her, and saw her surpassing description; wherefor he
was confounded at her and his wit was wildered and love gat the
lordship of him, so that he sent to her, saying, "Have pity on
me, for indeed I perish for the love of thee." She sent back to
him and replied, "O Wazir, thou art in the place of faith and
confidence, so do not thou betray thy trust, but make thine
inward life like unto thine outward[FN#191] and occupy thyself
with thy wife and that which is lawful to thee. As for this, 'tis
mere lust and women are all of one and the same taste.[FN#192]
And if thou wilt not be forbidden from this talk, I will make
thee a byword and a reproach among folk." When the Minister heard
her answer, he knew that she was chaste of soul and body;
wherefore he repented with the utmost of repentance and feared
for himself from the king and said, "Needs must I devise a device
whereby I may destroy her; else shall I be disgraced with the
king." Now when the king returned from his journey, he questioned
Kardan of the affairs of his kingdom, and the Wazir answered,
"All is right well, O king, save a vile matter, which I have
espied here and with which I am ashamed to confront the sovran;
but, if I hold my peace thereof, I fear lest other than I
discover it and I shall have played traitor to the king in the
matter of my warning and my trust." Quoth Dadbin, "Speak, for to
me thou art none other than a truth-teller, a trustworthy and a
loyal counsellor in whatso thou sayest, undistrusted in aught."
And the Minister said, "O king, this woman to whose love thy
heart cleaveth and of whose piety thou talkest and her fasting
and her praying, I will plainly prove to thee that this is craft
and guile." Hereat the king was troubled and said, "What may be
the matter?" and the Wazir replied, "I would have thee wot that
some days after thy departure, one came to me and said to me,
Come, O Wazir, and look. So I went to the door of the queen's
sleeping-chamber and behold, she was sitting with Abu al-Khayr,
her father's page, whom she favoureth, and she did with him what
she did, and such is the manner of that which I saw and heard."
When Dadbin heard this, he burnt with rage and said to one of his
eunuchs,[FN#193] "Go and slay her in her chamber." But the eunuch
said to him, "O king, Allah prolong thy life! Indeed, the killing
of her may not be in this way neither at this time; but do thou
bid one of thine Castratos take her up on a camel and carry her
to one of the trackless wolds and cast her down there; so, if she
be guilty, Allah shall cause her to perish, and if she be
innocent, He will deliver her, and the king shall be free from
default against her; for that this lady is dear to thee and thou
slewest her father by reason of thy love for her." Quoth the
king, "By Allah, thou sayst sooth!" Then he bade one of his
eunuchs carry her on a camel to one of the far-off wilds and
cut-off wolds and there leave her and wend his ways, and he
forbade her torment to be prolonged. So he took her up and
betaking himself with her to the desert, left her there without
provaunt or water and returned, whereupon she made for one of the
hills, and ranging stones before her in form of prayer-niche,
stood praying. Now it chanced that a camel-driver, belonging to
Kisrà[FN#194] the king, lost certain camels, and his lord
threatened him, if he found them not, that he would slay him.
Accordingly he set out and plunged into the wastes till he came
to the place where the lady was, and seeing her standing at
prayer utterly alone, waited till she had made an end of her
orisons, when he went up to her and saluted her with the salam,
saying, "Who art thou?" Quoth she, "I am a hand-maid of the
Almighty." He asked, "What doest thou in this desolate place?"
and she answered, "I serve Allah the Most High." When he saw her
beauty and loveliness, he fell in love with her, and said to her,
"Harkye! Do thou take me to mate and I will be tender to thee and
use thee with exceeding ruth, and I will further thee in
obedience to Allah Almighty." But she answered, saying, "I have
no need of wedlock and I desire to abide here alone with my Lord
and His worship; but an thou wouldst have ruth upon me and
further me in the obedience of Allah the Most High, carry me to a
place where there is water and thou wilt have done me a
kindness." Thereupon he took her to a place wherein was running
water and setting her down on the ground, left her and went his
ways, marvelling at her. After he left her, he found his camels,
by her blessing, and when he returned, King Kisra asked him,
"Hast thou found the camels?" He answered "Yes," and acquainted
him with the affair of the damsel, and detailed to him her beauty
and loveliness: whereupon the king's heart clave to her and he
mounted with a few men and betook himself to that place, where he
found the lady and was amazed at her, because he saw her
surpassing the description wherewith the camel-driver had
described her to him. So he accosted her and said to her, "I am
King Kisra, greatest of the kings. Wilt thou not have me to
husband?" Quoth she, "What wilt thou do with me, O king, and I a
woman abandoned in the waste?" And quoth he, "Needs must this be,
and if thou wilt not consent to me, I will take up my abode here
and devote myself to Allah's service and thy service, and with
thee worship the Almighty." Then he bade set up for her a tent
and another for himself, facing hers, so he might adore Allah
with her, and fell to sending her food; and she said in herself,
"This is a king, and 'tis not lawful for me that I suffer him for
my sake to forsake his lieges and his land." Presently she said
to the servingwoman, who used to bring her the food, "Speak the
king that he return to his women, for he hath no need of me, and
I desire to abide in this place, so I may worship therein Allah
the Most High." The slave-girl returned to the king and told him
this, whereupon he sent back to her, saying, "I have no need of
the kingship and I also desire to tarry here and worship Allah
with thee in this waste." When she found this earnestness in him,
she fell in with his wishes, and said, "O king, I will consent to
that which thou desirest and will be to thee a wife, but on
condition that thou bring me Dadbin the king and his Wazir Kardan
and his Chamberlain the chief Eunuch, and that they be present in
thine assembly, so I may speak a word with them in thy presence,
to the intent that thou mayst redouble in affection for me."
Quoth Kisra, "And what is thy want unto this?" So she related to
him her story from first to last, how she was the wife of Dadbin
the king and how the Wazir Kardan had misspoken of her honour.
When King Kisra heard this, he redoubled in love-longing for her
and affection and said to her, "Do whatso thou willest:" then he
let bring a litter[FN#195] and carrying her therein to his
dwelling-place, entreated her with the utmost honour and espoused
her. Presently he sent a great army to King Dadbin and fetching
him and his Wazir Kardan and the Eunuch-chamberlain, caused bring
them before him, they unknowing the while what he might purpose
to do with them. Moreover, he caused set up for Arwa a
pavilion[FN#196] in the courtyard of his palace, and she entered
it and let down the curtain before herself. When the servants had
set their seats and they had seated themselves, Arwa raised a
corner of the curtain and said, "O Kardan, rise to thy feet, for
it befitteth not that thou sit in the like of this assembly,
before this mighty King Kisra." When the Wazir heard these words,
his heart fluttered and his joints were loosened and he rose to
his feet of his fear. Then said she to him, "By the virtue of Him
who hath made thee stand up to judgment in this standing-stead,
and thou abject and humiliated, I conjure thee speak the truth
and say what egged thee on to lie against me and drive me from my
home and from the land of my husband and made thee practise thus
against a man and a Moslem so as to slay him.[FN#197] This is no
place wherein lying availeth nor may artifice be herein." When
the Wazir was 'ware that she was Arwa and heard her speech, he
knew that it behoved him not to lie and that naught would avail
him save truth; so he bowed his head groundwards and wept and
said, "Whoso doth evil, needs must he incur it, albe his day be
prolonged. By Allah, I am he who hath sinned and transgressed,
and naught prompted me unto this but fear and overmastering
desire and the misery writ upon my brow.[FN#198] And indeed this
woman is pure and chaste and free from all fault." When King
Dadbin heard this, he beat his face and said to Kardan, his
Wazir, "Allah slay thee![FN#199] 'Tis thou that hast parted me
and my wife and wronged me!" But Kisra the king said to him,
"Allah shall assuredly slay thee, because thou hastenedst and
lookedst not into thine affair, and knewest not the guilty from
the guiltless. Hadst thou wrought deliberately, the unright had
been made manifest to thee from the right; so when this villain
Wazir purposed thy ruin, where was thy judgment and whither went
thy sight?" Then he asked Arwa, "What wilt thou that I do with
them?" and she answered, "Accomplish on them the ordinance of
Almighty Allah:[FN#200] let the slayer be slain and the
transgressor transgressed against, even as he transgressed
against us; yea, and to the well-doer weal shall be done even as
he did unto us." So she gave her officers order concerning Dadbin
and they smote him on the head with a mace and slew him, and she
said, "This is for the slaughter of my sire." Then she bade set
the Wazir on a beast and bear him to the desert whither he had
caused her to be borne, and leave him there without provaunt or
water; and she said to him, "An thou be guilty, thou shalt suffer
the punishment of thy guilt and die in the desert of hunger and
thirst; but an there be no guilt in thee, thou shalt be
delivered, even as I was delivered." As for the
Eunuch-chamberlain, who had counselled King Dadbin not to slay
her, but to cause carry her to the desert, she bestowed on him a
costly robe of honour and said to him, "The like of thee it
befitteth kings to hold in favour and promote to high place, for
that thou spakest loyally and well, and a man is requited
according to his deed." And Kisra the King made him Wali in a
certain province of his empire. "Know, therefore, O king"
(continued the youth), "that whoso doeth good is requited with
good, and he who is guiltless of sin and offence feareth not the
issue of his affair. And I, O my liege lord, am free from guilt,
wherefore I hope in Allah that He will show forth the truth to
mine auspicious king, and vouchsafe me the victory over enemies
and enviers." When the king heard this, his wrath subsided and he
said, "Return him to the prison till the morrow, so we may look
into his case."

The Sixth Day.

Of Trust in Allah.

When it was the sixth day, the wrath of the Wazirs redoubled,
because they had not won their will of the youth and they feared
for their lives from the liege lord; so three of them went in to
him and prostrating themselves between his hands, said to him, "O
king, indeed we are loyal counsellors to thy dignity and fondly
solicitous for thy weal. Verily, thou persistest long in leaving
this youth alive and we know not what is thine advantage therein.
Every day findeth him yet on life and the talk of folk redoubleth
suspicion on thee; so do thou do him dead, that the talk may be
made an end of." When the king heard this speech, he said, "By
Allah, verily ye say sooth and speak rightly!" Then he bade them
bring the young treasurer and when he came into the presence said
to him, "How Iong shall I look into thy case, and find no helper
for thee and see them athirst for thy blood?" The youth answered,
"O king, I hope for succour only from Allah, not from created
beings: an He aid me, none shall have power to harm me, and if He
be with me and on my side, because of the truth, from whom shall
I fear, because of untruth? Indeed, I have made my intent with
Allah a pure intent and a sincere, and I have severed my
expectation from the help of the creature; and whoso seeketh aid
of Allah findeth of his desire that which Bakhtzamán found."
Quoth the king, "Who was Bakhtzaman and what is his story?" and
quoth the youth, "Hear, O king,

The Story of King Bakhtzaman.[FN#201]

There was once a king of the kings whose name was Bakhtzaman, and
he was a great eater and drinker and carouser. Now enemies of his
made their appearance in certain parts of his realm which they
coveted; and one of his friends said to him, "O king, the foe
intendeth for thee: be on thy guard against him." Quoth
Bakhtzaman "I reck not of him, for that I have weapons and wealth
and warmen and am not afraid of aught." Then said his friends to
him, "Ask aid of Allah, O king, for He will help thee more than
thy wealth and thy weapons and thy warriors." But he turned a
deaf ear to the speech of his loyal counsellors, and presently
the enemy came upon him and waged war upon him and got the
victory over him and profited him naught his trust in other than
Allah the Most High. So he fled from him and seeking one of the
sovrans, said to him, "I come to thee and lay hold upon thy
skirts and take refuge with thee, so thou mayst help me against
my foe." The king gave him money and men and a mighty many and
Bakhtzaman said in himself, "Now am I fortified with this force
and needs must I conquer my foe with such combatants and overcome
him;" but he said not, "With the aid of Allah Almighty." So his
enemy met him and overcame him again and he was defeated and put
to the rout and fled at random: his troops were dispersed from
him and his money lost and the enemy pursued him. Thereupon he
sought the sea and passing over to the other side, saw a great
city and therein a mighty citadel. He asked its name and that of
its owner, and they said to him, "It belongeth to
Khadídán[FN#202] the king." So he fared on till he came to the
royal palace and concealing his condition, passed himself off for
a horseman[FN#203] and sought service with King Khadidan, who
attached him to his attendance and entreated him with honour; but
his heart still clung to his mother-land and his home. Presently,
it chanced that an enemy came out against King Khadidan; so he
sent his troops to meet him and made Bakhtzaman head of the host.
Then they went forth to the field and Khadidan also came forth
and ranged his troops and levelled lance and sallied out in
person and fought a sore fight and overcame his foe, who with his
troops ignominiously fled. When the king and his army returned in
triumph, Bakhtzaman said to him, "Harkye, O king! This be a
strange thing I see in thee that thou art compassed about with
this mighty great army, yet dost thou apply thyself in person to
battle and adventurest thy life." Quoth the king, "Dost thou call
thyself a knight and a learned wight and deemest that victory is
in the many of men?" Quoth Bakhtzaman, "Such is indeed my
belief." And Khadidan the king cried, "By Allah, then, thou
errest in this thy belief!" presently adding, "woe and again woe
to him whose trust is in other than Allah! Indeed, this army is
appointed only for phantasy and majesty, and victory is from
Allah alone. I too, O Bakhtzaman, whilome believed that victory
was in the number of men,[FN#204] and an enemy came out against
me with eight hundred head, whilst I had eight hundred thousand.
I trusted in the tale of my troops, whilst my foe trusted in
Allah, so he defeated me and routed me and I was put to a
shameful flight and hid myself in one of the mountains, where I
met with a Religious who had withdrawn himself from the world. So
I joined myself to him and complained to him of my case and
acquainted him with all that had befallen me. Quoth the Recluse,
‘Wottest thou why this befel thee and thou wast defeated?' Quoth
I, ‘I know not;' and he said. ‘Because thou didst put thy trust
in the multitude of thy warmen and reliedst not upon Allah the
Most High. Hadst thou put thy trust in the Almighty and believed
of Him that it is He alone who advantageth and endamageth thee,
never had thy foe availed to cope with thee. Return unto Allah.'
So I returned to my right senses, and repented at the hands of
that Religious, who said to me, ‘Turn back with what remaineth to
thee of troops and confront thy foes, for, if their intents be
changed and turned away from Allah, thou wilt overcome them, e'en
wert thou alone.' When I heard the Solitary's words, I put my
trust in Allah of All-Might; and, gathering together those who
remained with me, fell upon mine enemies at unawares in the
night. They deemed us many and fled with the shamefullest flight,
whereupon I entered my city and repossessed myself of my place by
the might of Almighty Allah, and now I fight not but trusting in
His aid. When Bakhtzaman heard these words he awoke from his
heedlessness and cried, "Extolled be the perfection of God the
Great! O king, this is my case and my story, nothing added and
naught subtracted, for I am King Bakhtzaman and all this happened
to me: wherefore I will seek the gate of Allah's mercy and repent
unto Him." So he went forth to one of the mountains and
worshipped Allah there awhile, till one night, as he slept, a
personage appeared to him in a dream and said to him, "O
Bakhtzaman, Allah accepteth thy repentance and openeth on thee
the door of succour and will aid thee against thy foe." When he
was assured of this in the dream, he arose and turned back,
intending for his own city; and when he drew near thereunto, he
saw a company of the king's retainers, who said to him, "Whence
art thou? We see that thou art a foreigner and fear for thee from
this king, for that every stranger who entereth this city, he
destroyeth him, of his dread of King Bakhtzaman." Said
Bakhtzaman, "None shall prejudice him nor profit him save Allah
the Most High." And they replied. "Indeed, he hath a vast army
and his heart is fortified in the multitude of his many." When
King Bakhtzaman heard this, his mind was comforted and he said to
himself, "I place my trust in Allah. An He will, I shall overcome
mine enemy by the might of the Lord of Omnipotence." So he said
to the folk, "Wot ye not who I am?" and they said, "No, by
Allah." Cried he, "I am King Bakhtzaman." When they heard this
and knew that it was indeed he, they dismounted from their horses
and kissed his stirrup, to do him honour, and said to him, "O
king, why thus risk thy life?" Quoth he, "Indeed, my life is a
light matter to me and I set my trust in Almighty Allah, looking
to Him for protection." And quoth they, "May that suffice thee!"
presently adding, "We will do with thee that which is in our
power and whereof thou art worthy: hearten thy heart, for we will
succour thee with our substance and our existence, and we are his
chief officers and the most in favour with him of all folk. So we
will take thee with us and cause the lieges follow after thee,
because the inclination of the people, all of them, is
theewards." Said he, "Do whatso Allah Almighty enableth you to
do." So they carried him into the city and hid him with them.
Then they agreed with a company of the king's chief officers, who
had aforetime been those of Bakhtzaman, and acquainted them with
this; whereat they rejoiced with joy exceeding. Then they
assembled together to Bakhtzaman, and made a covenant and
handfast of fealty with him and fell upon the foe and slew him
and seated King Bakhtzaman again on the throne of his kingship.
And his affairs prospered and Allah amended his estate and
restored to him His bounty, and he ruled his subjects justly and
abode in the obedience of the Almighty. "On this wise, O king"
(continued the young treasurer), "he with whom Allah is and whose
intent is pure, meeteth naught save good. As for me, I have no
helper other than the Almighty, and I am content to submit myself
to His ordinance, for that He knoweth the purity of my intent."
With this the king's wrath subsided and he said, "Return him to
the prison till the morrow, so we may look into his case."

The Seventh Day.

Of Clemency.

When it was the seventh day, the seventh Wazir, whose name was
Bihkamál,[FN#205] came in to the king and prostrating himself to
him, said, "O king, what doth thy long-suffering with this youth
profit thee? Indeed the folk talk of thee and of him. Why, then,
dost thou postpone the putting him to death?" The Minister's
words aroused the anger of the king, and he bade bring the youth.
So they fetched him before him in fetters and Azadbakht said to
him, "Ho, woe to thee! By Allah, after this day there abideth no
deliverance for thee from my hand, by reason that thou hast
outraged mine honour, and there can be no forgiveness for thee"
The youth replied, "O king, there is no great forgiveness save in
case of a great default, for according as the offence is great in
so much magnified is mercy; and it is no grace to the like of
thee if he spare the like of me. Verily, Allah knoweth that there
is no crime in me, and indeed He commandeth to clemency, and no
clemency is greater than that which spareth from slaughter, for
that thy pardon of him whom thou purposest to put to death is as
the quickening of a dead man; and whoso doth evil shall find it
before him, even as it was with King Bihkard." Asked the king,
"And what is the story of King Bihkard?" And the youth answered,
"Hear, O king,

The Story of King Bihkard.[FN#206]

There was once a king named Bihkard, and he had mickle of wealth
and many troops; but his deeds were evil and he would punish for
a slight offence, and he never forgave any offender. He went
forth one day to hunt and a certain of his pages shot a shaft,
which lit on the king's ear and cut it off. Bihkard cried, "Who
shot that arrow?" So the guards brought him in haste the
misdemeanant, whose name was Yatrú,[FN#207] and he of his fear
fell down on the ground in a fainting fit. Then quoth the king,
"Slay him;" but Yatru said, "O king, this which hath befallen was
not of my choice nor of my knowledge; so do thou pardon me, in
the hour of thy power over me, for that mercy is of the goodliest
of deeds and belike it shall be in this world a provision and a
good work for which thou shalt be repaid one of these days, and a
treasure laid up to thine account with Allah in the world to
come. Pardon me, therefore, and fend off evil from me, so shall
Allah fend off from thee the like evil." When the king beard
this, it pleased him and he pardoned the page, albeit he had
never before pardoned any. Now this page was of the sons of the
kings and had fled from his sire on account of a sin he had
committed: then he went and took service with Bihkard the king,
and there happened to him what happened. After a while, it
chanced that a man recognised him and went and told his father,
who sent him a letter, comforting his heart and mind and calling
upon him to return to him. Accordingly he returned to his father,
who came forth to meet him and rejoiced in him, and the Prince's
affairs were set right with his sire. Now it befel, one day of
the days, that king Bihkard shipped him in a ship and put out to
sea, so he might fish: but the wind blew on them and the craft
sank. The king made the land upon a plank, unknown of any, and
came forth, mother-naked, on one of the coasts; and it chanced
that he landed in the country whereof the father of the page
aforesaid was king. So he came in the night to the gate of the
sovran's capital, and finding it shut, lodged him in a
burying-place there. When the morning morrowed and the folk came
forth of the city, behold, they found a man lately murthered and
cast down in a corner of the burial ground, and seeing Bihkard
there, doubted not but it was he who had slain him during the
night; so they laid hands on him and carried him up to the king
and said to him, "This fellow hath slain a man." The king bade
imprison him; whereupon they threw him in jail, and he fell to
saying in himself, what while he was in the prison, "All that
hath befallen me is of the abundance of my sins and my tyranny,
for, indeed, I have slain much people unrighteously and this is
the requital of my deeds and that which I have wrought whilome of
oppression." As he was thus pondering in himself, there came a
bird and lighted down on the pinnacle of the prison, whereupon,
of his passing eagerness in the chase, he took a stone and threw
it at the bird. Now the king's son was playing in the
exercise-ground with the ball and the bat,[FN#208] and the stone
lit on his ear and cut it off, whereupon the Prince fell down in
a fit. So they enquired who had thrown the stone and finding that
it was Bihkard, took him and carried him before the king's son,
who bade do him die. Accordingly, they cast the turband from his
head and were about to fillet his eyes, when the Prince looked at
him and seeing him cropped of an ear, said to him, "But for thy
villainies thine ear had not been cut off." Said Bihkard, "Not
so, by Allah! Nay, but the story of the loss of my ear is so and
so, and I pardoned him who smote me with an arrow and cut off my
ear." When the prince heard this, he looked in his face and
knowing him, cried out and said, "Art thou not Bihkard the king?"
"Yes," replied he, and the Prince said to him, "What ill chance
threw thee here?" Thereupon he told him all that had betided him
and the folk wondered and extolled the perfection of the
Almighty, crying "Subhána 'llah!--laud to the Lord!" Then the
Prince rose to him and embraced him and kissed him and,
entreating him with respect, seated him in a chair and bestowed
on him a robe of honour; and he turned to his sire and said to
him, "This be the king who pardoned me and this be his ear which
I cut off with a shaft; and indeed he deserveth my pardon by
having pardoned me." Then said he to Bihkard, "Verily, the issue
of mercy hath been a provision for thee in such hour as this."
And they entreated him with the utmost kindness and sent him back
to his own country in all honour. "Know, then, O king" (continued
the youth), "that there is no goodlier quality than mercy and
that all thou dost of clemency, thou shalt find before thee a
treasure for thee treasured up." When the king heard this, his
wrath subsided and he said, "Return him to the prison till the
morrow, so we may look into his case.

The Eighth Day.

Of Envy and Malice.

When it was the eighth day, the Wazirs all assembled and had
speech together and said, "How shall we do with this youth, who
overcometh us with his much talk? Indeed, we fear lest he be
saved and we fall into destruction. So, let us all go in to the
king and unite our efforts to gain our cause, ere he appear
without guilt and come forth and get the better of us."
Accordingly they all went in to the king and prostrating
themselves before him, said to him, "O king, beware lest this
youth ensorcell thee with his sorcery and beguile thee with his
wiles. An thou heardest what we hear, thou wouldst not suffer him
live; no, not a single day. Wherefore heed not his speech, for we
are thy Ministers, who endeavour for thy permanence, and if thou
hearken not to our word, to whose word wilt thou hearken? See, we
are ten Wazirs who testify against this youth that he is guilty
and entered not the king's sleeping chamber save with ill intent,
so he might put the king to shame and outrage his honour; and if
the king slay him not, let him banish him his realm, that the
tongue of the folk may desist from him." When the king heard his
Ministers' words, he was wroth with exceeding wrath and bade
bring the youth, and when he came in to the king, the Wazirs all
cried out with one voice, saying, "O Lack-wits, thinkest thou to
save thyself from slaughter by guile and sleight, that thou
wilest the king with thy talk and hopest pardon for the like of
this mighty great crime thou hast committed?" Then the king bade
fetch the sworder, so he might smite his neck; whereupon each of
the Wazirs fell to saying, "I will slay him;" and they sprang
upon him. Quoth the youth, "O king, consider and ponder the
eagerness of these thy Ministers. Is this of envy or is it not?
They would fain make severance between me and thee, so there may
fall to them what they shall plunder, as aforetime." And the king
said to him, "Consider their witness against thee." The young man
said, "O king, how shall they testify of that which they saw
not?[FN#209] This is but envy and despight; and thou, an thou
slay me, wilt indeed regret me, and I fear lest there betide thee
of repentance that which betided Aylán Sháh, by reason of the
malice of his Wazirs." Asked Azadbakht, "And what is his story?"
and the youth answered, "Hear, O king,

The Story of Aylan Shah and Abu Tammam.[FN#210]

Whilome there was a merchant named Abu Tammám, and he was a
clever man and a well-bred, quickwitted and truthful in all his
affairs, and he was monied to boot. Now there was in his land a
king as unjust as he was jealous, and Abu Tammam feared for his
wealth from this king and said, "I will remove hence to another
place where I shall not be in dread." So he made for the city of
Aylán Sháh and built himself a palace therein and transporting
his wealth thither, took up his abode there. Presently, the news
of him reached King Aylan Shah; so he sent to invite him to his
presence and said to him, "We know of thy coming to us and thine
entering under our allegiance, and indeed we have heard of thine
excellence and wit and generosity; so welcome to thee and fair
welcome! The land is thy land and at thy command, and whatsoever
need thou needest of us, 'tis already accomplished to thee; and
it behoveth that thou be near our person and of our assembly."
Abu Tammam prostrated himself before the king, and said to him,
"O king, I will serve thee with my monies and with my life, but
do thou excuse me from nearness to thee, for that an I took
office about thee, I should not be safe from enemies and
enviers." Then he applied himself to the royal service with
presents and largesses, and the king saw him to be intelligent,
well-bred and of good counsel; so his heart inclined to him and
he committed to him the ordinance of his affairs and the power to
bind and to loose was in his hand. Now Aylan Shah had three
Wazirs, in whose hands public affairs were wont to be and they
had been accustomed not to quit the king night or day; but they
became shut out from him by reason of Abu Tammam and the king was
occupied with him to their exclusion. Herewith the Ministers took
counsel together upon the matter and said, "What is your rede we
should do, seeing that the king is occupied from us with yonder
man, and indeed he honoureth him with more honour than us? But
now come, let us devise some device whereby we may alienate him
from the king." So each of them spoke forth that which was in his
mind, and one of them said, "The king of the Turks hath a
daughter, whose like there is not in the world, and whatso
messenger goeth to demand her in marriage, him her father
slaughtereth. Now our king hath no knowledge of this; so, come,
let us foregather with him and bring up the mention of her: when
his heart is taken with her, we will advise him to dispatch Abu
Tammam to seek her hand in marriage; whereupon her father will
slay him and we shall be quit of him and settle his affair once
for all." Accordingly, they went in to the king one day (Abu
Tammam being present among them), and mentioned the affair of the
damsel, the daughter of the Turks' king, and enlarged upon her
charms, till the king's heart was taken with her and he said to
them, "We will send one to demand her to wife for us; but who
shall be our messenger?" Quoth the Wazirs, "There is none fit for
this business but Abu Tammam, by reason of his wit and good
breeding;" and the king said, "Indeed, even as ye say, none is
fitting for this affair save he." Then he turned to Abu Tammam
and said to him, "Wilt thou not go with my message and seek me in
marriage the daughter of the Turks' king?" and he answered, "To
hear is to obey, O my Sovran!" So they made ready his affair and
the king conferred on him a robe of honour, and he took with him
a present and a letter under the king's hand and setting out,
fared on till he came to the capital city of Turkistan. When the
king of the Turks knew of his coming, he despatched his officers
to receive him and entreated him with honour and lodged him as
befitted his rank. Then he guested him three days, after which
time he summoned him to his presence and Abu Tammam went in to
him; and, prostrating himself as beseemeth before kings, laid
that present before him and gave him the letter. The king read
the writ and said to Abu Tammam, "We will do what behoveth in the
matter; but, O Abu Tammam, needs must thou view my daughter and
she view thee, and needs must thou hear her speech and she hear
thine." So saying, he sent him to the lodging of the Princess,
who had had notice of this; so that they had adorned her
sitting-room with the costliest that might be of vessels of gold
and silver and the like, and she seated herself on a chair of
gold, clad in the richest of royal robes and ornaments. When Abu
Tammam entered, he took thought and said, "The wise declare that
whoso governeth his sight shall suffer naught unright and he who
guardeth his tongue shall hear naught of foul taunt, and he who
keepeth watch over his hand, it shall be lengthened and not
shortened."[FN#211] So he entered and seating himself on the
floor, cast down his eyes and covered his hands and feet with his
dress.[FN#212] Quoth the king's daughter to him, "Raise thy head,
O Abu Tammam, and look on me and speak with me." But he spake not
neither raised his head, and she continued, "They sent thee only
to view me and talk with me, and yet behold thou sayest not a
word;" presently adding, "Take of these union-pearls that be
round thee and of these jewels and gold and silver." But he put
not forth his hand to aught, and when she saw that he paid no
heed to anything, she was angry and cried, "They have messaged me
with a messenger, blind, dumb, deaf." Then she sent to acquaint
her father with this; whereupon the king called Abu Tammam to him
and said to him, "Thou camest not save to view my daughter: why,
then, hast thou not looked upon her?" Quoth Abu Tammam, "I saw
everything;" and quoth the king, "Why didst thou not take
somewhat of that which thou sawest of jewels and the like? Indeed
they were set out for thee." But he answered, "It behoveth me not
to put out my hand to aught that is not mine." When the king
heard his speech, he gave him a sumptuous robe of honour and
loved him muchly[FN#213] and said to him, "Come, look at this
well." So Abu Tammam went up to the pit-mouth and looked, and
behold, it was full of heads of the sons of Adam, and the king
said to him, "These are the heads of envoys whom I slew, because
I saw them without loyalty to their lords, and I was used, whenas
I beheld an envoy without good manners, to say, ‘He who sent him
is worsemannered than he, because the messenger is the tongue of
him who sendeth him and his breeding is of his master's breeding;
and whoso is after this fashion, it befitteth not that he be akin
to me.'[FN#214] For this reason I used to put the envoys to
death; but, as for thee, thou hast overcome us and won my
daughter, of the excellence of thy manners; so hearten thy heart,
for she is thy lord's." Then he sent him back to King Aylan Shah
with presents and rarities and a letter, saying, "This that I
have done is in honour of thee and of thine envoy." When Abu
Tammam returned after accomplishing his mission and brought the
presents and the letter, King Aylan Shah rejoiced in this and
redoubled all his favours and showed him honour the highest. Some
days after, the King of Turkistan sent his daughter and she went
in to King Aylan Shah, who rejoiced in her with exceeding joy and
Abu Tammam's worth was exalted in the royal sight. When the
Wazirs saw this, they redoubled in envy and despite and said,
"‘An we contrive us not a contrivance to rid us of this man, we
shall die of rage." So they bethought them and agreed upon a
device they should practise. Then they betook themselves to two
boys, pages affected to the service of the king, who slept not
but on their knees,[FN#215] and they lay at his head, for that
they were his bed-chamber pages. So the Ministers gave them each
a thousand dinars of gold, saying, "We desire of you that ye do
somewhat we require and take this gold as a provision against
your time of need." Quoth the lads, "What is it ye would have us
do?" and quoth the Wazirs, "This Abu Tammam hath marred matters
for us, and if his case abide in this way, he will remove us all
from the king's favour; and what we want of you twain is that,
when ye are alone with the king and he leaneth back, as he were
asleep, one of you say to his fellow, ‘Verily, the king hath
taken Abu Tammam into high favour and hath advanced him to
exalted rank, yet he is a transgressor against the king's honour
and an accursed wight.' Then let the other of you ask, ‘And what
is his transgression?' and let the first answer, ‘He outrageth
the king's honour and saith, the King of Turkistan was used, when
a messenger went to him to seek his daughter in marriage, to slay
him; but me he spared, because she liked me, and by reason of
this her sire sent her hither, for that she loved me.' Then let
the other say, ‘Knowest thou this for truth?' and let the first
reply, ‘By Allah, this is familiar to all the folk, but, of their
fear of the king, they dare not divulge it to him; and as often
as the king is absent a-hunting or a-wayfaring, Abu Tammam cometh
to her and is private with her.'" Whereupon the boys answered,
"We will say this." Accordingly, one night, when they were alone
with the king and he leant back, as he were asleep, they said
these words and the king heard all and was like to die of fury
and despite and said to himself, "These are young boys, not come
to years of discretion, and have no business with any; and unless
they had heard these words from some one, they had not spoken
thereof each with other." When it was morning wrath overmastered
him, so that he stayed not neither deliberated, but summoned Abu
Tammam and taking him apart, said to him, "Whoso guardeth not the
honour of his liege lord,[FN#216] what deserveth he?" Said Abu
Tammam, "He deserveth that his lord guard not his honour." Aylan
Shah continued, "And whoso entereth the king's house and playeth
traitor with him, what behoveth unto him?" and Abu Tammam
replied, "He shall not be left alive." Whereupon the king spat in
his face and said to him, "Both these deeds hast thou done." Then
he drew his poinard on him in haste and smiting him in the belly,
slit it and Abu Tammam died forthright; whereupon the king
dragged him along and cast him into a well that was in his
palace. After he had slain him, he fell into repentance and
mourning increased and chagrin waxed sore upon him, and he would
acquaint none who questioned him with the cause, nor, of his love
for his wife, did he tell her of this, and whenever she asked him
wherefore he grieved, he answered her not. When the Wazirs knew
of Abu Tammam's death, they rejoiced with exceeding joy and knew
that the king's sorrow arose from regret for him. As for Aylan
Shah, after this he used to betake himself by night to the
sleeping-chamber of the two boys and spy upon them, that he might
hear what they said concerning his wife. As he stood one night
privily at the door of their chamber, he saw them spread out the
gold between their hands and play with it and heard one of them
say, "Woe to us! What doth this gold profit us? Indeed we cannot
buy therewith any thing nor spend it upon ourselves. Nay, but we
have sinned against Abu Tammam and done him dead unjustly." And
said the other, "Had we known that the king would slay him on the
spot, we had not done what we did." When the king heard that, he
could not contain himself, but rushed in upon them and said to
them, "Woe to you! What did ye? Tell me." And they cried,
"Amán,[FN#217] O king!" He cried, "An ye would have pardon from
Allah and me, you are bound to tell me the truth, for nothing
shall save you from me but soothfastness." Hereat they prostrated
themselves before him and said, "By Allah, O king, the Wazirs
gave us this gold and taught us to lie against Abu Tammam, so
thou mightest kill him, and what we said was their speech." When
the king heard this, he plucked at his beard, till he was like to
tear it up by the roots and bit upon his fingers, till he well
nigh cut them in twain, for repentance and sorrow that he had
wrought hastily and had not delayed with Abu Tammam, so he might
consider his case. Then he sent for the Ministers and said to
them, "O villainous Wazirs, ye deemed that Allah was heedless of
your deed, but right soon shall your wickedness revert upon you.
Know ye not that whoso diggeth for his brother a pit shall
himself fall into it?[FN#218] Take from me the punishment of this
world and to-morrow ye shall receive the punishment of the next
world and requital from Allah." Then he bade put them to death;
so the headsman smote off their heads before the king, and he
went in to his wife and acquainted her with whatso he had misdone
to Abu Tammam; whereupon she grieved for him with mighty great
grief and the king and his household ceased not weeping and
repenting all their lives. Moreover, they brought Abu Tammam
forth of the well and the king built him a dome[FN#219] in his
palace and buried him therein. "See, then, O auspicious king"
(continued the youth), "what jealousy doth and injustice and how
Allah caused the Wazirs' malice to revert upon their own necks;
and I trust in the Almighty that He will empower me over all who
envy me my favour with the king and show forth the truth unto
him. Indeed, I dread naught for my life from death; only I fear
lest the king repent of my slaughter, for that I am guiltless of
offence, and if I knew that I were guilty on any wise, my tongue
would be dumb-struck." When the king heard this, he bowed his
head groundwards in perplexity and confusion and said, "Restore
him to the prison till the morrow, so we may look into his case."

The Ninth Day.

Of Destiny or That Which is Written on the Forehead.

Now when it was the ninth day, the Wazirs met and said one to
other, "Verily, this youth baffleth us, for as often as the king
is minded to kill him, he beguileth him and bewitcheth him with a
story; so what be your rede we should do, that we may slay him
and be at rest from him?" Then they advised together and agreed
that they should go to the king's wife.[FN#220] So they betook
themselves to her and said to her, "Thou art careless of this
affair wherein thou art and this uncare shall not profit thee;
whilst the king, occupied with eating and drinking and diversion,
forgetteth that the folk beat upon tambourines and sing of thee
and say, The wife of the king loveth the youth; and as long as he
abideth alive the talk will increase and not diminish." Quoth
she, "By Allah, 'twas ye egged me on against him, and what shall
I do now?" and quoth they, "Go thou in to the king and weep and
say to him, ‘Verily, the women come to me and inform me that I am
dishonoured throughout the city, and what is thine advantage in
the sparing of this youth? An thou wilt not slay him, slay me to
the end that this talk may be cut off from us.'" So the woman
arose and rending her raiment, went in to the king, in the
presence of the Wazirs, and cast herself upon him, saying, "O
king, is my shame not upon thee or fearest thou not shame?
Indeed, this is not the fashion of kings that their jealousy over
their women should be such as this.[FN#221] Thou art heedless and
all the folk of the realm prate of thee, men and women. Either
slay him, that the talk may be cut off, or slay me, if thy soul
will not consent to his slaughter." Thereupon the king's wrath
waxed hot and he said to her, "I have no pleasure in his
continuance and needs must I slay him this very day. So return to
thy palace and solace thy heart." Then he bade fetch the youth;
whereupon they brought him before him and the Wazirs said, O base
of base, fie upon thee! Thy life-term is at hand and earth
hungereth for thy flesh, so it may make a meal of it." But he
said to them, "Death is not in your word or in your envy; nay, it
is a destiny written upon the forehead: wherefore, if aught be
writ upon my front, there is no help but it come to pass, and
neither striving nor thought-taking nor precaution-seeking shall
deliver me therefrom; even as happened to King Ibrahim and his
son." Quoth the king, "Who was King Ibrahim and who was his son?"
and quoth the youth "Hear, O king,

The Story of King Ibrahim and his Son.[FN#222]

There was once a king of the kings, Sultan Ibrahim hight, to whom
the sovrans abased themselves and did obedience; but he had no
son and was straitened of breast because of that, fearing lest
the kingship go forth of his hand. He ceased not to long for a
son and to buy slave-girls and he with them, till one of them
conceived, whereat he rejoiced with passing joy and grave great
gifts and the largest largesse. When the girl's months were
complete and the time of her lying-in drew near, the king
summoned the astrologers and they watched for the hour of
child-bearing and raised their astrolabes and carefully noted the
time. The hand-maid gave birth to a man-child, whereat the king
rejoiced exceedingly, and the people congratulated one another
with this glad news. Then the astrophils made their calculations
and looked into his nativity and his ascendant, whereupon their
colour changed and they were confounded. Quoth the king to them,
"Acquaint me with his horoscope and ye shall have assurance of
pardon and have naught to fear."[FN#223] They replied, "O king,
this princely child's nativity denoteth that, in the seventh year
of his age, there is fearful danger for him from a lion, which
shall attempt to rend him: and if he be saved from the lion,
there will betide a matter yet sorer and more grievous even than
that." Asked the king, "What is it?" and they answered, "We will
not speak, except the king command us and give us assurance from
fear." Quoth the king, "Allah assure you!" and quoth they, "An he
be saved from the lion, the king's destruction shall be at his
hand." When the king heard this, his complexion changed and his
breast was straitened; but he said to himself, "I will be
watchful and do my endeavour and suffer not the lion to eat him.
It cannot be that he will kill me, and indeed ‘The astrologers
lied.'"[FN#224] Then he caused rear him among the wet-nurses and
the noble matrons;[FN#225] but withal he ceased not to ponder the
prediction of the astrophils and verily his life was troubled. So
he betook himself to the top of a high mountain and hollowed
there a deep excavation[FN#226] and made in it many
dwelling-places and rooms and filled it with all that was needful
of rations and raiment and what not else and laid in it
pipe-conduits of water from the mountain and lodged the boy
therein, with a nurse who should rear him. Moreover, at the first
of each month he used to go to the mountain and stand at the
mouth of the hollow and let down a rope he had with him and draw
up the boy to him and strain him to his bosom and kiss him and
play with him awhile, after which he would let him down again to
his place and return; and he was wont to count the days till the
seven years should pass by. Now when arrived the time of the Fate
foreordered and the Fortune graven on the forehead and there
remained for the boy but ten days till the seven years should be
complete, there came to that mountain hunters chasing wild beasts
and, seeing a lion, they attacked him. He fled from them and
seeking refuge in the mountain, fell into the hollow in its
midst. The nurse saw him forthwith and escaped from him into one
of the chambers; upon which the lion made for the lad and seizing
upon him, tare his shoulder, after which he sought the room
wherein was the nurse and falling upon her, devoured her, whilst
the boy lay in a swoon. Meanwhile, when the huntsmen saw that the
lion had fallen into the pit, they came to the mouth and heard
the shrieking of the boy and the woman; and after awhile the
cries died away, whereby they knew that the lion had slain them.
Presently, as they stood by the mouth of the excavation behold,
the lion came scrambling up the sides and would have issued
forth: but, as often as he showed his head, they pelted him with
stones, till they beat him down and he fell; whereupon one of the
hunters descended into the pit and despatched him and saw the boy
wounded; after which he went to the chamber, where he found the
woman dead, and indeed the lion had eaten his fill of her. Then
he noted that which was therein of clothes and what not else, and
notifying his mates, fell to passing the stuff up to them:
lastly, he took up the boy and bringing him forth of the pit,
carried him to their dwelling-place where they dressed his
wounds. He grew up with them, but acquainted them not with his
affair; and indeed, when they questioned him, he knew not what he
should say, because they let him down into the pit when he was a
little one. The hunters marvelled at his speech and loved him
with exceeding love and one of them took him to son and abode
rearing him by his side and training him in hunting and
horseriding, till he reached the age of twelve and became a
brave, going forth with the folk to the chase and to the cutting
of the way. Now it chanced one day that they sallied forth to
stop the road and fell in with a caravan during the night: but
its stout fellows were on their guard; so they joined battle with
the robbers and overcame them and slew them and the boy fell
wounded and tarried cast down in that place till the morrow, when
he opened his eyes and finding his comrades slain, lifted himself
up and arose to walk the road. Presently, there met him a man, a
treasure-seeker, and asked him, "Whither away, O lad?" So he told
him what had betided him and the other said, "Be of good heart,
for that the tide of thy good fortune is come and Allah bringeth
thee joy and gladness. I am one who am in quest of a hidden
treasure, wherein is a mighty mickle of wealth. So come with me
that thou mayst help me, and I will give thee monies with which
thou shalt provide thyself all thy life long." Then he carried
the youth to his dwelling and dressed his wounds and he tarried
with him some days till he was rested; when the treasure-seeker
took him and two beasts and all that he needed, and they fared on
till they came to a towering highland. Here the man brought out a
book and reading therein, dug in the crest of the mountain five
cubits deep, whereupon there appeared to him a stone. He pulled
it up and behold it was a trap-door covering the mouth of a pit.
So he waited till the foul air[FN#227] was come forth from the
midst of the pit, when he bound a rope about the lad's middle and
let him down bucket-wise to the bottom, and with him a lighted
waxen taper. The boy looked and beheld, at the upper end of the
pit, wealth abundant; so the treasure-seeker let down a rope and
a basket and the boy fell to filling and the man to drawing up,
till the fellow had got his sufficiency, when he loaded his
beasts and ceased working, whilst the boy looked for him to let
down the rope and draw him up; but he rolled a great stone to the
mouth of the pit and went his ways. When the boy saw what the
treasure-seeker had done with him, he relied upon Allah (extolled
and exalted be He!) and abode perplexed concerning his case and
said, "How bitter be this death!" for indeed the world was
darkened on him and the pit was blinded to him. So he fell
a-weeping and saying, "I escaped the lion and the robbers and now
is my death to be in this pit, where I shall die by slow
degrees." And he abode perplexed and looked for nothing but
death. But as he stood pondering, behold, he heard a sound of
water rushing with a thunderous noise; so he arose and walked in
the pit following the sound, till he came to a corner and heard
the mighty coursing of water. Then he laid his ear to the sound
of the current and hearing it rushing in great strength, said to
himself, "This is the flowing of a mighty watercourse and needs
must I depart life in this place, be it to-day or to-morrow; so I
will throw myself into the stream and not die a slow death in
this pit." Thereupon he called up his courage and gathering up
his skirts, cast himself into the water, and it bore him along
with force exceeding and carrying him under the earth, stayed not
till it brought him out into a deep Wady, adown which ran a great
river, that welled up from under the ground. When he found
himself on the face of earth, he abode dazed and a-swoon all that
day; after which he came to himself and rising, fared on along
that valley; and he ceased not his wayfare, praising Almighty
Allah the while, till he came to an inhabited land and a great
village in the reign of the king his sire. So he entered and
foregathered with the villagers, who questioned him of his case;
whereupon he told them his tale, and they admired how Allah had
delivered him from all those dangers. Then he took up his abode
with them and they loved him much. On this wise happened it to
him; but as regards the king, his father, when he went to the
pit, as was his wont, and called the nurse, she returned him no
answer, whereat his breast was straitened and he let down a man
who found the woman dead and the boy gone and acquainted
therewith the king, who when he heard this, buffeted his head and
wept with sore weeping and descended into the midst of the pit
that he might see how the case stood. There he espied the nurse
slain and the lion dead, but beheld not the boy; so he returned
and acquainted the astrologers with the soothfastness of their
saying, and they replied, "O king, the lion hath eaten him;
destiny hath been wroughten upon him and thou art delivered from
his hand; for, had he been saved from the lion, we indeed, by
Allah, had feared for thee from him, because the king's
destruction would have been at his hand." So the king ceased to
sorrow for this and the days passed by and the affair was
forgotten. Meanwhile the boy grew up and abode with the people of
the village, and when Allah willed the accomplishing of His
commandment, which no endeavour availeth to avert, he went forth
with a party of the villagers to cut the way. The folk complained
to King Ibrahim his father, who sallied out with a company of his
men and surrounded the highwaymen. Now that boy was with them,
and he drew forth an arrow and launched it at them, and it smote
the king and wounded him in a mortal place. So they carried him
to his palace, after they had laid hands upon the youth and his
comrades and brought them before the sovran, saying, "What
biddest us to do with them?" Quoth he, "I am presently in trouble
for myself, so bring me the astrologers." Accordingly, they
brought them before him and he said to them, "Ye said to me Thy
death shall be by slaying at the hand of thy son: how, then,
befalleth it that I have got my death-hurt by yonder thieves?"
The astrologers marvelled and said to him, "O king, 'tis not
beyond the lore of the stars, together with the doom of Allah,
that he who hath smitten thee should be thy son." When King
Ibrahim heard this, he bade fetch the thieves and said to them,
"Tell me truly, which of you shot the shaft that wounded me."
Said they, "'Twas this youth that is with us." Whereupon the king
fell to considering him and said, "O youth, acquaint me with thy
case and tell me who was thy father and thou shalt have assurance
of safety from Allah." The youth replied, "O my lord, I know no
father; as for me, my father lodged me in a pit, with a nurse to
rear me, and one day, there fell in upon us a lion, which tare my
shoulder, then left me and occupied himself with the nurse and
rent her in pieces; and Allah vouchsafed me one who brought me
forth the pit." Then he related to him all that had befallen him,
first and last; which when King Ibrahim heard, he cried out and
said, "By Allah, this is my son!" presently adding, "Bare thy
shoulder." So he uncovered it, and behold, it was scarred. Then
the king assembled his lords and lieges and the astrologers and
said to them, "Know that what Allah hath writ upon the forehead,
be it fair fortune or misfortune, none may efface, and all that
is decreed to a man must perforce befal him. Indeed, this my
care-taking and my endeavour profited me naught, for what weird
Allah decreed for my son, he hath dreed and whatso He decreed to
me I have endured. Nevertheless, I praise Allah and thank Him
because this was at my son's hand, and not at the hand of
another, and Alhamdolillah--laud to the Lord--for that the
kingship is come to my son!" And he strained the youth to his
bosom and embraced him and kissed him, saying "O my son, this
matter was after such fashion, and of my watchfulness over thee
from Fate, I lodged thee in that pit; but caretaking availed
not." Then he took the crown of the kingship and set it on his
son's head and caused the lieges and the people do homage to him
and commended the subjects to his care and enjoined to him
justice and equity. And he farewelled him that night and died and
his son reigned in his stead.[FN#228] "On like wise, O king"
(continued the young treasurer), "'tis with thee. If Allah have
written aught on my forehead, needs must it befal me and my
speech to the king shall not avail me; no, nor my illustrating it
to him with instances, against the doom of Allah. And so it is
with these Wazirs, for all their eagerness and endeavour for my
destruction, this shall not profit them; because, if Allah
determine to save me, He will give me the victory over them."
When the king heard these words he became perplexed and said,
"Return him to the prison till the morrow, so we may look into
his affair, for the day draweth to an end and I mean to do him
dead in foulest sort, and to-morrow we will visit him with that
which he meriteth."

The Tenth Day.

Of the Appointed Term,[FN#229] Which, if it be Advanced, may
not be Deferred, and if it be Deferred, may not be Advanced.

When it was the tenth day (now this day was called
Al-Mihrján[FN#230] and it was the day of the coming in of the
folk, gentle and simple, to the king, so they might give him joy
and salute him and go forth), the council of the Wazirs agreed
that they should speak with a company of the city notables. So
they said to them, "When ye go in today to the king and salute
him, do ye say to him, ‘O king (to the Lord be the laud!), thou
art praiseworthy of policy and procedure and just to all thy
subjects; but respecting this youth whom thou hast favoured and
who nevertheless hath reverted to his base origin and done this
foul deed, what is thy purpose in his continuance? Indeed, thou
hast prisoned him in thy palace, and every day thou hearest his
palaver and thou knowest not what the folk say.'" And they
answered, "Hearing is obeying." Accordingly, when they entered
with the folk and had prostrated themselves before the king and
congratulated his majesty, he raised their several degrees. Now
it was the custom of the folk to salute and go forth; but they
took seat, and the king knew that they had a word they would fain
address to him: so he turned to them (the Wazirs being also
present) and said, "Ask your need." Therefore they repeated to
him all that the Ministers had taught them and the Wazirs also
spoke with them; and Azadbakht said to them, "O folk, I would
have it known to you that there is no doubt with me concerning
this your speech proceeding from love and loyal counsel to me,
and ye ken that, were I inclined to kill half these folk, I could
do them die and this would not be hard to me; so how shall I not
slay this youth and he in my power and in the hending of my hand?
Indeed, his crime is manifest and he hath incurred death penalty;
and I have deferred it only by reason of the greatness of the
offence; for, an I do this with him and my proof against him be
strengthened, my heart is healed and the heart of my whole folk;
and if I slay him not to-day, his slaying shall not escape me
to-morrow." Then he bade fetch the youth who, when present
between his hands, prostrated to him and blessed him; whereupon
quoth the king, "Woe to thee! How long shall the folk upbraid me
on thine account and blame me for delaying thy death? Even the
people of my city reproach me because of thee, so that I am grown
a prating-stock amongst them, and indeed they come in to me and
reproach me for not putting thee to death. How long shall I delay
this? Verily, this very day I mean to shed thy blood and rid the
folk of thy prattling." The youth replied, "O king, an there have
betided thee talk because of me, by Allah, and again by Allah the
Great, those who have brought on thee this talk from the folk are
none but these wicked Wazirs, who chatter with the crowd and tell
them foul tales and ill things in the king's house, but I hope in
the Most High that He will cause their malice to recoil upon
their own heads. As for the king's menace of slaying me, I am in
the grip of his hand; so let not the king occupy his mind with my
slaughter, because I am like the sparrow in the grasp of the
fowler; if he will, he cutteth his throat, and if he will, he
letteth him go. As for the delaying of my death, 'tis not from
the king, but from Him in whose hand is my life; for, by Allah, O
king, an the Almighty willed my slaughter, thou couldst not
postpone it; no, not for a single hour. And, indeed, man availeth
not to fend off evil from himself, even as it was with the son of
King Sulayman Shah, whose anxiety and carefulness for the winning
of his wish in the matter of the new-born child availed him
naught, for his last hour was deferred how many a time! and Allah
saved him until he had accomplished his period and had fulfilled
his life-term." Cried the king, "Fie upon thee, how great is thy
craft and thy talk! Tell me, what was their tale." And the youth
said, "Hear, O king,

The Story of King Sulayman Shah and his Niece.[FN#231]

There was once a king named Sulayman Sháh, who was goodly of
policy and rede, and he had a brother who died and left a
daughter; so Sulayman Shah reared her with the best of rearing
and the girl became a model of reason and perfection, nor was
there in her time a more beautiful than she. Now the king had two
sons, one of whom he had appointed in his mind to wed her, while
the other purposed to take her. The elder son's name was
Bahluwán[FN#232] and that of the younger Malik Sháh[FN#233], and
the girl was called Sháh Khátún. Now one day, King Sulayman Shah
went in to his brother's daughter and kissing her head, said to
her, "Thou art my daughter and dearer to me than a child, for the
love of thy late father who hath found mercy; wherefore I purpose
espousing thee to one of my sons and appointing him my heir
apparent, so he may be king after me. Look, then, which thou wilt
have of my sons,[FN#234] for that thou hast been reared with them
and knowest them." The maiden arose and kissing his hand, said to
him, "O my lord, I am thine hand-maid and thou art the ruler over
me; so whatever liketh thee do that same, inasmuch as thy wish is
higher and honourabler and holier than mine and if thou wouldst
have me serve thee as a hand-maid for the rest of my life, 'twere
fairer to me than any mate." The king commended her speech and
conferred on her a robe of honour and gave her magnificent gifts;
after which, his choice having fallen upon his younger son, Malik
Shah, he wedded her with him and made him his heir apparent and
bade the folk swear fealty to him. When this reached his brother
Bahluwan and he was ware that his younger brother had by favour
been preferred over him, his breast was straitened and the affair
was sore to him and envy entered in to him and hate; but he hid
this in his heart, whilst fire raged therein because of the
damsel and the dominion. Meanwhile Shah Khatun went in bridal
splendour to the king's son and conceived by him and bare a son,
as he were the illuming moon. When Bahluwan saw this betide his
brother, envy and jealousy overcame him; so he went in one night
to his father's palace and coming to his brother's chamber, saw
the nurse sleeping at the door, with the cradle before her and
therein his brother's child asleep. Bahluwan stood by him and
fell to looking upon his face, whose radiance was as that of the
moon, and Satan insinuated himself into his heart, so that he
bethought himself and said, "Why be not this babe mine? Verily, I
am worthier of him than my brother; yea, and of the damsel and
the dominion." Then the idea got the mastery of him and anger
drave him, so that he took out a knife, and setting it to the
child's gullet, cut his throat and would have severed his
windpipe. So he left him for dead and entering his brother's
chamber, saw him asleep, with the Princess by his side, and
thought to slay her, but said to himself, "I will leave the
girl-wife for myself." Then he went up to his brother and cutting
his throat, parted head from body, after which he left him and
went away. But now the world was straitened upon him and his life
was a light matter to him and he sought the lodging of his sire
Sulayman Shah, that he might slay him also, but could not get
admission to him. So he went forth from the palace and hid
himself in the city till the morrow, when he repaired to one of
his father's fortalices and therein fortified himself. On this
wise it was with him; but as regards the nurse, she presently
awoke that she might give the child suck, and seeing the cradle
running with blood, cried out; whereupon the sleepers started up
and the king was aroused and making for the place, found the
child with his throat cut and the bed running over with blood and
his father dead with a slit weasand in his sleeping chamber. They
examined the child and found life in him and his windpipe whole
and they sewed up the place of the wound: then the king sought
his son Bahluwan, but found him not and saw that he had fled; so
he knew that it was he who had done this deed, and this was
grievous to the king and to the people of his realm and to the
lady Shah Khatun. Thereupon the king laid out his son Malik Shah
and buried him and made him a mighty funeral and they mourned
with passing sore mourning; after which he applied himself to
rearing the infant. As for Bahluwan, when he fled and fortified
himself, his power waxed amain and there remained for him but to
make war upon his father, who had cast his fondness upon the
child and used to rear him on his knees and supplicate Almighty
Allah that he might live, so he might commit the command to him.
When he came to five years of age, the king mounted him on
horseback and the people of the city rejoiced in him and prayed
for him length of life, that he might take vengeance for his
father[FN#235] and heal his grandsire's heart. Meanwhile,
Bahluwan the rebel[FN#236] addressed himself to pay court to
Caesar, king of the Roum[FN#237] and crave aid of him in
debelling his father, and he inclined unto him and gave him a
numerous army. His sire the king hearing of this sent to Caesar,
saying, "O glorious king of might illustrious, succour not an
evil doer. This is my son and he hath done so and so and cut his
brother's throat and that of his brother's son in the cradle."
But he told not the king of the Roum that the child had recovered
and was alive. When Caesar heard the truth of the matter, it was
grievous to him as grievous could be, and he sent back to
Sulayman Shah, saying, "An it be thy wish, O king, I will cut off
his head and send it to thee." But he made answer, saying, "I
care naught for him: soon and surely the reward of his deed and
his crimes shall overtake him, if not to-day, then tomorrow." And
from that date he continued to exchange letters and presents with
Caesar. Now the king of the Roum heard tell of the widowed
Princess[FN#238] and of the beauty and loveliness wherewith she
was endowed, wherefore his heart clave to her and he sent to seek
her in wedlock of Sulayman Shah, who could not refuse him. So he
arose and going in to Shah Khatun, said to her, "O my daughter,
the king of the Roum hath sent to me to seek thee in marriage.
What sayst thou?" She wept and replied, "O king, how canst thou
find it in thy heart to address me thus? As for me, abideth there
husband for me, after the son of my uncle?" Rejoined the king, "O
my daughter, 'tis indeed as thou sayest; but here let us look to
the issues of affairs. I must now take compt of death, for that I
am a man short in years and fear not save for thee and for thy
little son; and indeed I have written to the king of the Roum and
others of the kings and said, His uncle slew him, and said not
that he had recovered and is living, but concealed his affair.
Now the king of the Roum hath sent to demand thee in marriage,
and this is no thing to be refused and fain would we have our
back strengthened with him."[FN#239] And she was silent and spake
not. So King Sulayman Shah made answer to Caesar with "Hearing
and obeying." Then he arose and despatched her to him, and Caesar
went in to her and found her passing the description wherewith
they had described her; wherefore he loved her every day more and
more and preferred her over all his women and his affection for
Sulayman Shah was increased; but Shah Khatun's heart still clave
to her child and she could say naught. As for Sulayman Shah's
son, the rebel Bahluwan, when he saw that Shah Khatun had married
the king of the Roum, this was grievous to him and he despaired
of her. Meanwhile, his father Sulayman Shah watched over the
child and cherished him and named him Malik Shah, after the name
of his sire. When he reached the age of ten, he made the folk do
homage to him and appointed him his heir apparent, and after some
days, the old king's time for paying the debt of nature drew near
and he died. Now a party of the troops had banded themselves
together for Bahluwan; so they sent to him, and bringing him
privily, went in to the little Malik Shah and seized him and
seated his uncle Bahluwan on the throne of kingship. Then they
proclaimed him king and did homage to him all, saying, "Verily,
we desire thee and deliver to thee the throne of kingship; but we
wish of thee that thou slay not thy brother's son, because we are
still bounden by the oaths we sware to his sire and his grandsire
and the covenants we made with them." So Bahluwan granted this to
them and imprisoned the boy in an underground dungeon and
straitened him. Presently, the grievous news reached his mother
and this was to her a fresh grief; but she could not speak and
committed her affair to Allah Almighty, for that she durst not
name this to King Caesar her spouse, lest she should make her
uncle King Sulayman Shah a liar. But as regards Bahluwan the
Rebel, he abode king in his father's place and his affairs
prospered, while young Malik Shah lay in the souterrain four
full-told years, till his favour faded and his charms changed.
When He (extolled and exalted be He!) willed to relieve him and
to bring him forth of the prison, Bahluwan sat one day with his
chief Officers and the Lords of his land and discoursed with them
of the story of his sire, King Sulayman Shah and what was in his
heart. Now there were present certain Wazirs, men of worth, and
they said to him, "O king, verily Allah hath been bountiful to
thee and hath brought thee to thy wish, so that thou art become
king in thy father's place and hast won whatso thou wishedst.
But, as for this youth, there is no guilt in him, because he,
from the day of his coming into the world, hath seen neither ease
nor pleasure, and indeed his favour is faded and his charms
changed. What is his crime that he should merit such pains and
penalties? Indeed, others than he were to blame, and hereto Allah
hath given thee the victory over them, and there is no fault in
this poor lad." Quoth Bahluwan, "Verily, 'tis as ye say; but I
fear his machinations and am not safe from his mischief; haply
the most part of the folk will incline unto him." They replied,
"O king, what is this boy and what power hath he? An thou fear
him, send him to one of the frontiers." And Bahluwan said, "Ye
speak sooth; so we will send him as captain of war to reduce one
of the outlying stations." Now over against the place in question
was a host of enemies, hard of heart, and in this he designed the
slaughter of the youth; so he bade bring him forth of the
underground dungeon and caused him draw near to him and saw his
case. Then he robed him, whereat the folk rejoiced, and bound for
him the banners[FN#240] and, giving him a mighty many, despatched
him to the quarter aforesaid, whither all who went or were slain
or were taken. Accordingly Malik Shah fared thither with his
force and when it was one of the days, behold, the enemy attacked
them in the night; whereupon some of his men fled and the rest
the enemy captured; and they seized Malik Shah also and cast him
into a pit with a company of his men. His fellows mourned over
his beauty and loveliness and there he abode a whole twelvemonth
in evillest plight. Now at the beginning of every year it was the
enemy's wont to bring forth their prisoners and cast them down
from the top of the citadel to the bottom; so at the customed
time they brought them forth and cast them down, and Malik Shah
with them. However, he fell upon the other men and the ground
touched him not, for his term was God-guarded. But those who were
cast down there were slain upon the spot and their bodies ceased
not to lie there till the wild beasts ate them and the winds
scattered their bones. Malik Shah abode strown in his place and
aswoon, all that day and that night, and when he revived and
found himself safe and sound, he thanked Allah the Most High for
his safety and rising, left the place. He gave not over walking,
unknowing whither he went and dieting upon the leaves of the
trees; and by day he hid himself where he might and fared on at
hazard all his night; and thus he did for some days, till he came
to a populous part and seeing folk there, accosted them. He
acquainted them with his case, giving them to know that he had
been prisoned in the fortress and that they had thrown him down,
but Almighty Allah had saved him and brought him off alive. The
people had ruth on him and gave him to eat and drink and he abode
with them several days; then he questioned them of the way that
led to the kingdom of his uncle Bahluwan, but told them not that
he was his father's brother. So they showed him the road and he
ceased not to go barefoot, till he drew near his uncle's capital,
naked, anhungered, and indeed his limbs were lean and his colour
changed. He sat down at the city gate, when behold, up came a
company of King Bahluwan's chief officers, who were out a-hunting
and wished to water their horses. They lighted down to rest and
the youth accosted them, saying, "I would ask you of somewhat
that ye may acquaint me therewith." Quoth they, "Ask what thou
wilt;" and quoth he, "Is King Bahluwan well?" They derided him
and replied, "What a fool art thou, O youth! Thou art a stranger
and a beggar, and whence art thou that thou should'st question
concerning the king?"[FN#241] Cried he, "In very sooth, he is my
uncle;" whereat they marvelled and said, "'Twas one
catch-question[FN#242] and now 'tis become two." Then said they
to him, "O youth, it is as if thou wert Jinn-mad. Whence comest
thou to claim kinship with the king? Indeed, we know not that he
hath any kith and kin save a nephew, a brother's son, who was
prisoned with him, and he despatched him to wage war upon the
infidels, so that they slew him." Said Malik Shah, "I am he and
they slew me not, but there befel me this and that." They knew
him forthwith and rising to him, kissed his hands and rejoiced in
him and said to him, "O our lord, thou art indeed a king and the
son of a king, and we desire thee naught but good and we pray for
thy continuance. Look how Allah hath rescued thee from this
wicked uncle, who sent thee to a place whence none ever came off
safe and sound, purposing not in this but thy destruction; and
indeed thou fellest upon death from which Allah delivered thee.
How, then, wilt thou return and cast thyself again into thine
foeman's hand? By Allah, save thyself and return not to him this
second time. Haply thou shalt abide upon the face of the earth
till it please Almighty Allah to receive thee; but, an thou fall
again into his hand, he will not suffer thee to live a single
hour." The Prince thanked them and said to them, "Allah reward
you with all weal, for indeed ye give me loyal counsel; but
whither would ye have me wend?" Quoth they, "To the land of the
Roum, the abiding place of thy mother." "But," quoth he, "My
grandfather Sulayman Shah, when the king of the Roum wrote to him
demanding my mother in marriage, hid my affair and secreted my
secret; and she hath done the same, and I cannot make her a
liar." Rejoined they, "Thou sayst sooth, but we desire thine
advantage, and even wert thou to take service with the folk,
'twere a means of thy continuance." Then each and every of them
brought out to him money and gave him a modicum and clad him and
fed him and fared on with him the length of a parasang, till they
brought him far from the city, and letting him know that he was
safe, departed from him, whilst he journeyed till he came forth
of his uncle's reign and entered the dominion of the Roum. Then
he made a village and taking up his abode therein, applied
himself to serving one there in earing and seeding and the like.
As for his mother, Shah Khatun, great was her longing for her
child and she thought of him ever and news of him was cut off
from her, so her life was troubled and she foresware sleep and
could not make mention of him before King Caesar her spouse. Now
she had a Castrato who had come with her from the court of her
uncle King Sulayman Shah, and he was intelligent, quick-witted,
right-reded. So she took him apart one day and said to him,
shedding tears the while, "Thou hast been my Eunuch from my
childhood to this day; canst thou not therefore get me tidings of
my son, seeing that I cannot speak of his matter?" He replied, "O
my lady, this is an affair which thou hast concealed from the
commencement, and were thy son here, 'twould not be possible for
thee to entertain him, lest[FN#243] thine honour be smirched with
the king; for they would never credit thee, since the news hath
been bruited abroad that thy son was slain by his uncle." Quoth
she, "The case is even as thou sayst and thou speaketh sooth;
but, provided I know that my son is alive, let him be in these
parts pasturing sheep and let me not sight him nor he sight me."
He asked, "How shall we manage in this matter?" and she answered,
"Here be my treasures and my wealth: take all thou wilt and bring
me my son or else tidings of him." Then they devised a device
between them, which was that they should feign some business in
their own country, to wit that she had wealth there buried from
the time of her husband, Malik Shah, and that none knew of it but
this Eunuch who was with her, so it behoved him to go fetch it.
Accordingly she acquainted the king her husband with that and
sought his permit for the Eunuch to fare: and the king granted
him leave of absence for the journey and charged him devise a
device, lest he come to grief. The Castrato, therefore, disguised
himself in merchant's habit and repairing to Bahluwan's city,
began to make espial concerning the youth's case; whereupon they
told him that he had been prisoned in a souterrain and that his
uncle had released him and despatched him to such a place, where
they had slain him. When the Eunuch heard this, the mishap was
grievous to him and his breast was straitened and he knew not
what to do. It chanced one day of the days that a certain of the
horsemen, who had fallen in with the young Malik Shah by the
water and clad him and given him spendingmoney, saw the Eunuch in
the city, habited as a merchant, and recognising him, questioned
him of his case and of the cause of his coming. Quoth he, "I came
to sell merchandise;" and quoth the horseman, "I will tell thee
somewhat, an thou canst keep it secret." Answered the Neutral,
"That I can! What is it?" and the other said, "We met the king's
son Malik Shah, I and sundry of the Arabs who were with me, and
saw him by such a water and gave him spending-money and sent him
towards the land of the Roum, near his mother, for that we feared
for him lest his uncle Bahluwan slay him." Then he told him all
that had passed between them, whereat the Eunuch's countenance
changed and he said to the cavalier "Thou art safe!" The knight
replied, "Thou also art safe though thou come in quest of him."
And the Eunuch rejoined, saying, "Truly, that is my errand: there
is no rest for his mother, lying down or rising up, and she hath
sent me to seek news of him." Quoth the cavalier, "Go in safety,
for he is in a quarter of the land of the Roum, even as I said to
thee." The Castrato thanked him and blessed him and mounting,
returned upon his road, following the trail, whilst the knight
rode with him to a certain highway, when he said to him, "This is
where we left him." Then he took leave of him and returned to his
own city, whilst the Eunuch fared on along the road, enquiring in
every village he entered of the youth, by the description which
the rider had given him, and he ceased not thus to do till he
came to the village wherein was young Malik Shah. So he entered,
and dismounting, made enquiry after the Prince, but none gave him
news of him; whereat he abode perplexed concerning his affair and
made ready to depart. Accordingly he mounted his horse; but, as
he passed through the village, he saw a cow bound with a rope and
a youth asleep by her side, hending the halter in hand; so he
looked at him and passed on and heeded him not in his heart; but
presently he halted and said to himself, "An the youth whom I am
questing have become the like of this sleeping youth whom I
passed but now, how shall I know him? Alas, the length of my
travail and travel! How shall I go about in search of a somebody
I know not, one whom, if I saw him face to face I should not
know?" So saying he turned back, musing anent that sleeping
youth, and coming to him, he still sleeping, dismounted from his

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