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The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night, Volume 2 by Richard F. Burton

Part 5 out of 8

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Constantinople, for I opine that the Moslems will not await our
attack." Said Hardub, "Tarry thou till they draw near our
country, that we may make us ready meantime and assemble our
power." Accordingly they took to levying their forces and
preparing for war, and, when the news of the Moslems' advance
reached them, they were prepared for defence; and Zat al Dawahi
had preceded them. Now when she and her son arrived at
Constantinople, the King of Kings, Afridun, hearing of the
approach of Hardub, King of the Greeks, came forth to meet him
and asked how it was with him and the cause of his visit. So
Hardub acquainted him with the cunning doings of his mother, Zat
al-Dawahi, how she had slain the Moslem King and recovered from
him Queen Sophia, and had said, "The Moslems have assembled their
forces and are on their way to attack us, wherefore it behoveth
that we two join hands in single band and meet them." Now King
Afridun rejoiced in the return of his daughter and the killing of
King Omar bin al-Nu'uman; and he sent to all countries seeking
succour and acquainting the folk with the cause of slaying the
Moslem King. So the Nazarene troops flocked to him and three
months were not past ere the army of the Greeks was complete,
besides which there joined themselves to him Franks from all
their lands, French, Germans[FN#384] and Ragusans,[FN#385] with
men of Zara,[FN#386] Venetians, Genoese, and all the hosts of the
Yellow Faces[FN#387]; and, when the gathering was at its full,
earth was straitened on them by reason of their multitude. Then
Afridun, the Great King, ordered a march; so they set out and
ceased not to defile through the city for ten days. They fared
on till they reached the Wady highs Al-Nu'uman, a broad sided
vale hard by the Salt Sea, where they halted three days; and on
the fourth they were about to set out again, when news came that
the army of Al-Islam on them press, and the defenders of the
faith of Mohammed, of Men the Best. So they halted in it other
three days, and on the eighth they espied a dust cloud which
towered till it walled the whole land; nor was an hour of the day
past ere that dust began to drift and was torn to shreds in the
lift, and pierced through its shades the starry radiance of lance
and the white levee of blades. Presently there appeared beneath
it the banners Islamitan and the ensigns Mahometan; the horsemen
urged forward, like the letting loose of seas that surged, clad
in mail, as they were mackerel-back clouds which the moon enveil;
whereupon the two hosts clashed, like two torrents on each other
dashed. Eyes fell upon eyes; and the first to seek combat
singular was the Wazir Dandan, he and the army of Syria,
numbering thirty thousand bridles, and with him were the General
of the Turks, and the General of Daylam, Rustam and Bahram, amid
twenty thousand horse, behind whom came the men from the shores
of the Salt Sea, clad in iron mail, as they were full moons that
past through a night o'ercast. Then the Nazarene host called out
on Jesus and Mary, and the defiled[FN#388] Cross and they heaped
themselves upon the Wazir Dandan and those with him of the Syrian
host. Now all this was in pursuance of a stratagem devised by
that ancient woman Zat al-Dawahi; for, before his departure, King
Afridun had gone in to her and asked her, "How shall I do and
what plan shall I pursue?; it is thou hast caused this great
distress to us;" and she had answered, "O great King and mighty
Cohen![FN#389] I will teach thee a trick would baffle Iblis
himself, though he summon to his assistance all his grisly
hosts."--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to
say her permitted say.

When it was the Eighty-ninth Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, all this was a
stratagem of the ancient woman, for that the King before his
departure had gone to her and asked, "How shall I do and what
plan shall I pursue? it is thou hast caused this great distress
to us!" And she had answered, "O great King and mighty Cohen, I
will teach thee a trick would baffle the Devil himself though he
summon to his assistance all his grisly hosts. It is that thou
send fifty thousand men going down in ships, and sailing over the
sea to the Mountain of Smoke; and there let them land and stir
not till {he standards of Al-Islam come upon thee, when do thou
up and at them. Then bid the troops from the seaward sally out
upon the Moslems and take them in rear, whilst we confront them
from the landward. So not one of them shall escape, and our
sorrows shall tease and peace abide with us." Now the counsel of
this ancient woman commended itself to King Afridun, and he
replied, "Right is the recking thou reckest, O Princess of wits
and recourse of Kings and Cohens warring for their blood wit!" So
when the army of Al-Islam came upon them in chat valley, before
they knew of it the flames began to burn up the tents and the
swords in men's bodies to make rents. Then hurried up the army
of Baghdad and Khorasan who numbered one hundred and twenty
thousand horse, with Zau al-Makan in the front of war. When the
host of the Infidels that lay by the sea saw them, they sallied
out against them and followed in their tracks; and when Zau al-
Makan espied this he cried out to his men, "Turn back to the
Infidels, O People of the Chosen Apostle, and slay those who deny
and hate the authority of the Compassionating, the
Compassionate!" So they turned and fought with the Christians.
Then Sharrkan marched up with another corps of the Moslem host,
some hundred thousand men, whilst the Infidels numbered nigh upon
a thousand and six hundred thousand men. When the Moslems were
united, their hearts were strengthened and they cried out,
saying, "Verily Allah hath pro mised us victory, and to the
Infidels hath assigned defeat." And they clashed together with
sword and spear. Now Sharrkan tare through rank and row and
raged among the masses of the foe, fighting so fierce a fight as
to make children grey grow; nor did he cease tourneying among the
infidel horde and working havoc among them with the keen edged
sword, shouting "Allaho Akbar!" (Allah is Most Great) till he
drove back the host to the coast. Then failed the force of the
foe and Allah gave victory to the faith of Al-Islam, and folk
fought folk, drunken without strong drink till they slew of the
Infidels in this affair forty and five thousand, while of the
Moslems but three thousand and five hundred fell. Moreover, the
Lion of the Faith, King Sharrkan, and his brother, Zau al-Makan,
slept not that night, but occupied themselves with congratulating
their braves and with looking to the wounded and with assuring
the army of victory and salvation and promise of reward in the
world to come. Thus far concerning the Moslem; but as regards
King Afridun, Lord of Constantinople and Sovran of Roum, and Zat
Al-Dawahi, they assembled the Emirs of the host and said to them,
"Verily, we had worked our will and solaced our hearts, but our
over confidence in our numbers, and that only, defeated us." Then
quoth to them the ancient one, the Lady of Calamities, "In very
sooth nought shall profit you, except ye draw you nigh unto the
Messiah and put your trust in the True Belief, for, by the virtue
of the Messiah, the whole strength of the Moslem host lieth in
that Satan, King Sharrkan." "Tomorrow," said King Afridun, "I
have resolved to draw up in battle array and to send out against
them that redoubtable cavalier, Luka bin Shamlut; for if King
Sharrkan come forth as a champion to fight single handed, our man
will slay him and will slay the other Moslem Knights, till not
one is left. And I purpose this night to sacre you all with the
Holy Incense." When the Emirs heard these words they kissed the
ground before him. Now the incense which he designated was the
excrement of the Chief Patriarch, the denier, the defiler of the
Truth, and they sought for it with such instance, and they so
highly valued it that the high priests of the Greeks used to send
it to all the countries of the Christians in silken wraps after
mixing it with musk and ambergris. Hearing of it Kings would pay
a thousand gold pieces for every dram and they sent for and
sought it to fumigate brides withal; and the Chief Priests and
the great Kings were wont to use a little of it as collyrium for
the eyes and as a remedy in sickness and colic; and the
Patriarchs used to mix their own skite[FN#390] with it, for that
the skite of the Chief Patriarch could not suffice for ten
countries.[FN#391] So, as soon as dawn was seen and the morning
shone with its shine and sheen, the horsemen ran to their spears
full keen, and King Afridun,--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of
day and ceased saying her permitted say.

When it was the Ninetieth Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, as soon as dawn
was seen and the morning shone with its shine and sheen, the
horsemen ran to their spears full keen and King Afridun summoned
his chief Knights and Nobles and invested them with dresses of
honour; and, drawing the sign of the cross on their brows,
incensed them with the incense which as aforesaid was the skite
of the Chief Patriarch, the Cohen, the Heresiarch. This
incensing done, he called for Luka bin Shamlut, surnamed the
Sword of the Messiah; and, after fumigating him and rubbing his
palate with the Holy Merde, caused him to snuff it and smeared
his cheeks and anointed his moustaches with the rest. Now there
was no stouter champion in the land of Roum than this accursed
Luka, nor any better at bending of bow or sway of sword or lunge
with lance on the day of devoir; but he was foul of favour, for
his face was as the face of an ass, his shape that of an ape and
his look as the look of a malignant snake: his presence was
grievouser than parting from the beloved make; and blacker than
night was his blackness and more fetid than the lion was his
breath for foulness; more crooked than a bow was his crookedness
and grimmer than the leopard was his ugliness, and he was branded
with the mark of the Infidels on face.[FN#392] After this he came
up to King Afridun and kissed his feet and stood before him; and
the King said to him, "I desire thou go out against Sharrkan,
King of Damascus, son of Omar bin al-Nu'uman, and deliver us from
this affliction." Quoth Luka, "Hearkening and obedience;" and the
King made the sign of the cross on his forehead and felt assured
of help from Heaven being near hand. Then Luka went out from the
presence and the accursed one mounted a sorrel horse; he was clad
in a red robe and a hauberk of gold set with jewels, and he bore
a trident spear, as he were Iblis the damned on the day of
drewing out his hosts war to darraign. Then he rode forward, he
and his horde of Infidels, even as though they were driving to
the Fire, preceded by a herald, crying aloud in the Arabic tongue
and saying, "Ho, sect of Mohammed (upon whom be salutation and
salvation!), let none of you come out but your champion Sharrkan,
the Sword of Al-Islam, Lord of Damascus in Sham[FN#393]!" Nor had
he made an end of speaking, when arose a tumult in the plain; all
the people heard the strain and the whole moving bodies of the
armies twain called to mind the Day of Complain. Then the
cowards trembled and all necks turned towards the sound, and lo!
it was King Sharrkan, son of King Omar bin al-Nu'uman. For when
his brother, Zau al-Makan, saw that accursed one push out on the
plain, and heard the pursuivant, he turned to Sharrkan and said
to him, "Of a surety they seek for thee." Said he, "Should it so
be, 'twere most pleasing to me." So when they made sure of the
matter and heard the herald crying in the plain, "Let none of you
come out against me save Sharrkan," they knew this cursed Luka to
be champion of the land of Roum who had sworn to sweep the earth
clean of Moslems. Now he was one of the greatest of villains, a
wretch who caused hearts to pain; and the DayIamites, Turks and
Kurds dreaded his might and main. Presently Sharrkan crave at
him like a lion angry grim, mounted on a courser like a wild
gazelle flying snell and slim; and coming nigh to him made the
spear he hent to shake as it were a darting snake, and recited
these couplets,

"I have a sorrel steed, whose pride is fain to bear the rein, *
Shall give thee what thou likest not and make thee feel his
I have a handy limber spear full bright and keen of point, * Upon
whose shaft the dam of Death her throny seat hath ta'en:
I have a trenchant glaive of Hind; and, when I bare its face * Of
scabbard" veil, from out its brow the rays of levee rain."

Luka understood not the sense of his speech nor did he apprehend
the vehemence of the verse; but he smote his forehead with his
hand, in honour of the Cross drawn thereon and kissed it; then he
couched his throw spear and ran at Sharrkan. But first he tossed
the javelin with one hand in air to such height that it was lost
to the spectators' sight; and, catching it with the other hand as
do the jugglers, hurled it at Sharrkan. It flew from his grasp
like a shooting star and folk clamoured and feared for Sharrkan;
but, as the spear flew near him, he put out his hand and caught
it in full flight to the amazement of all who saw the sight.
Then he shook it with the hand that took it till it was well nigh
broken, and hurled it so high into the welkin that it disappeared
from view. As it descended, he caught it again with the other
hand, in less than the twinkling of an eye, and cried out from
his heart core, saying, "By the truth of Him who created the
sevenfold skies, I will assuredly make this cursed wight a byword
for mankind to despise!" Then threw he the throw spear at Luka,
who thought to do as Sharrkan had done and put forth his hand to
trend it in mid flight; but Sharrkan prevented him, and sped at
him a second throw spear which smote him and the point fell on
his forehead, in the very centre of the sign of the Cross, and
Allah hurried his soul to the Fire and Dwelling place
dire.[FN#394] But when the Infidels saw Luka bin Shamlut fall
slain, they buffeted their faces and they cried, "Alas!" and "Woe
worth the day!" and called for aid upon the Abbots of the
monasteries,--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased
to say her permitted say.

When it was the Ninety-first Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the
Infidels saw Luka bin Shamlut fall slain, they buffeted their
faces and cried, "Alas!" and "Woe worth the day!" and called upon
the Abbots of the monasteries and cried, "Where be the crosses?"
So the Religious offered up prayers and the Christians all drew
together against Sharrkan; and, brandishing their scymitars and
lances, rushed forward to the attack. Then army met army and
breasts fell under hoof, whilst spear and sword ruled the day and
forearms and wrists grew weak and the coursers seemed created
without legs;[FN#395] nor did the herald of-war cease calling to
fight, till arms were aweary and day took flight and night came
on with darkness dight. So the two hosts drew apart, whilst
every brave staggered like a drunken knave, for that with so much
cut and thrust they strave; and the place was choked with the
slain; fell were the wounds and the hurt knew not by whom they
fell. Then Sharrkan joined his brother, Zau al-Makan, and the
Chamberlain and the Wazir Dandan, and said to them, "Verily Allah
hath opened a door for the Infidels to fall, praised be the Lord
of the Worlds one and all!" Replied Zau al-Makan, "Let us never
cease to praise Allah, for that He hath dispelled trouble from
the Arab and the Ajam. Indeed the folk, generation after
generation, shall tell of thy derring do against the accursed
Luka, the falsifier of the Evangel;[FN#396] of thy catching the
throng spear in mid-flight, and how the enemy of Allah among men
thou didst smite; and thy fame shall endure until the end of
time." Then said Sharrkan, "Harkye, O grand Chamberlain and
doughty Capitayne!" and he answered, "Adsum!"[FN#397] Quoth
Sharrkan, "Take with thee the Wazir Dandan and twenty thousand
horse, and lead them seven parasangs towards the sea, and force
the march till ye shall have come near the shore, and there
remain only two parasangs between thee and the foe. Then ambush
ye in the hollows of the ground till ye hear the tumult of the
Infidels disembarking from their ships; and the war cry from
every side strike your ear and ye know that the sabres have begun
labour between us and them; and, whenso ye see our troops falling
back, as if defeated, and all the Infidels following them, as
well those in front as those from the seaward and the tents, do
ye still lie in wait for them: but as soon as ye see the standard
with the words, There is no god but the God, and Mohammed is
God's Apostle (on whom be salutation and salvation!), then up
with the green banner, and do your endeavour and fall on their
rear and shout, 'Alla ho Akbar! Allah is most Great!' and circle
round that they may not interpose between the retreating army and
the sea." He replied, "To hear is to obey!"; and forthright they
agreed upon this matter and they went forth. Now the Chamberlain
took with himself the Wazir Dandan and twenty thousand men even
as Sharrkan had commanded. As soon as dawned the morn, the
troops sprung to horse when they had donned their armour gear and
drawn the scymitar and slung the spear. Then the Christians
dispread themselves over hill and dale and the
Ecclesiasts[FN#398] cried out and all heads were bared, and those
in the ships hoisted the Cross at their mast heads and began
making for shore from every side, and landed their horses and get
them ready for fight and fray, whilst the sword blades glittered
bright and the javelins glanced like levee light on mail shirt
white; and all joined fight and the grind mill of Death whirled
round and ground those who fought from horse and aground: heads
from bodies flew end tongues mute grew and eyes no vision knew.
Scymitars strave with utmost strain and heads flew over the
battle plain; gall bladders crave and wrists were shorn in twain;
steeds plashed in pools of gore and beards were gripped right
sore; the host of Al-Islam called out, saying, "On the Prince of
Mankind be blessings and peace, and to the Compassionate glory
and praise, which ne'er shall cease, for His boons which aye
increase;" and the host of the Infidels shouted, "Glory to the
Cross and the Belt and the vine press juice, and the wine presser
and the Priests and the Monks and the Festival of Palms and the
Metropolitan!" Now Zau al-Makan and Sharrkan held back and their
troops gave way and feigned flight from before the enemy, while
the Infidel array pressed hard upon them deeming them in rout,
and made ready to foin and hew. Then the meiny of the Moslems
raised their voices, reciting the first verses of the Chapter of
the Cow,[FN#399] whilst the dead were trampled under hoofs of
steeds, and the heralds of the Greeks cried out, "Ho, servants of
the Messiah! Ho, people of the True Faith! Ho, followers of the
Primate![FN#400] Verily Divine grace upon you opes; for see, the
hosts of Al Islam like birds with broken wings incline to elope!
So turn ye not to them your backs, but let your swords cleave
deep in their necks and hold not your hands from them, else are
ye outcasts from the Messiah, Mary's son, who spoke even when a
cradled one!"[FN#401] Now Afridun, King of Constantinople, deemed
that the Infidels were victorious, knowing not that this was but
a clever stratagem of the Moslems, and sent to King Hardub of
Roum congratulations on success, adding, "Availed us naught but
the Holy Merde of the Arch Patriarch, whose fragrance exhaled
from the beards and mustachios of the slaves of the Cross near
and far; and I swear, by the Miracles of the Messiah; and by thy
daughter Abrizah, the Nazarene, the Mariolater; and by the Waters
of Baptism, that I will not leave upon the earth a single
defender of Al- Islam! And to the bitter end will I carry out
this plan." So the messenger betook himself with the address to
King Hardub, whilst the Infidels called to one another saying,
"Take we vengeance wreak for Luka!"--And Shahrazad perceived the
dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

When it was the Ninety-second Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the
Infidels called to one another, saying, "Take we vengeance wreak
for Luka!" while Hardub King of Greece cried aloud, "Ho, to our
revenge for Abrizah!" Thereupon King Zau al-Makan shouted "Ho,
servants of the Requiting King!: smite the children of denial and
disobedience with the blanch of sword and the brown of spear!" So
the Moslems returned to the Infidels and plied them with the keen
edged scymitar, whilst their herald cried aloud, "Up, and at the
foes of the Faith, all ye who love the Prophet Elect, with hope
of salvation on the Day of Fear, to win favour of the Bountiful,
the Forgiving One; for verily the Garden of Paradise is under the
shadow of swords!" And behold, Sharrkan and his men charged down
upon the Infidels and cut off their retreat and wheeled and
tourneyed among the ranks; when lo! a knight of goodly presence
opened a passage through the army of Unbelievers and circled
hither and thither amongst the Deniers, cutting and thrusting and
covering the ground with heads and trunks, so that the Faithless
feared him and their necks bent under his lunge and hew. He was
girt with two swords, his glances and his brand, and he was armed
with two lances, one of bamboo cane and the other his straight
wand like shape; and his flowing hair stood him in stead of many
warriors, even as saith the poet,

"Laud not long hair,[FN#402] except it be dispread * In two fold
locks, on day of fight and fray,
O'er youth who bears his lance 'twixt flank and thigh, * From
many a whis kered knight to win the day."

And as singeth another,

"I say to him, what while he slings his sword, * 'For sword shall
serve those looks that sword like show!'
Says he, 'My sabre looks for those I love, * My sword for those
who sweets of love unknow!'"

When Sharrkan saw him, he said to him, "I conjure thee by the
Koran and the attributes of the Compassionate One, O Champion of
the Champions! tell me who thou art: for verily by thy deeds
this day thou hast pleased the Requiting King, whom one thing
distracteth not from other thing; in that thou hast been
discomforting the children of impiety and in rebellion
revelling." Then cried the Cavalier to him saying, "Thou art he
who madest brother covenant with me but yesterday: how quickly
thou hast forgotten me!" Thereupon he withdrew his mouth
veil,[FN#403] so that what was hidden of his beauty was
disclosed, and lo! it was none other than Zau al-Makan. Then
Sharrkan rejoiced in his brother, save that he feared for him the
rush of fighting and the crush of braves a smiting; and this for
two reasons, the first, his tender age and exposure to the evil
eye, and the second, that his safety was to the kingdom the
greater of the two overshadowing wings. So he said to him, "O
King! thou riskest thy life, so join thy steed to mine; in very
sooth I fear for thee from the foe; and better thou stint
hazarding thyself forth of these squadrons, that we may shoot at
the enemy thine unerring shaft." Quoth Zau al-Makan, "I desire to
even thee in fray and I will not be niggard of myself before thee
in the melay." Then the host of Al-Islam, heaping itself upon the
Infidels, girt them on all sides, warred on them a right Holy
War, and brake the power of the children of impiety and pride and
stowre. But King Afridun sighed when he saw the evil wreak that
had fallen on the Greek, and they turned their backs from fight
and addressed themselves to flight, making for the ships, when
lo! there came out upon them from the seacoast another host, led
by the Minister Dandan, the champion who was wont to make
champions bite the dust, and to lay load on them with cut and
thrust. Nor less came forth the Emir Bahram, Lord of the
Provinces of Sham, amid twenty thousand horse doughty of arm; and
the host of Al-Islam pressed them in front and on flank and
wrought them grievous harm. Then a body of the Moslems turned
against those who in the ships remained, and perdition on them
rained, till they threw themselves into the main, and they slew
of them many slain, more than a hundred thousand noblemen, nor
was one of their champions, great or small, saved from bale and
bane. Moreover, they took their ships, with all the money and
treasure and cargo, save a score of keel, and the Moslems got
that loot whose like was never gotten in by gone years; nor was
such cut and thrust ever heard of by men's ears.[FN#404] Now
amongst the booty were fifty thousand horses, besides treasure
and spoil past reckoning and arithmetic, whereat the Moslems
rejoiced with an exceeding joy for that Allah had given them
victory and protection. Such was the case with them; but as
regards the fugitive Infidels they soon reached Constantinople,
whither the tidings preceded them that King Afridun had prevailed
over the Moslems; so quoth the ancient dame, Zat al-Dawahi, "I
know that my son Hardub, King of Roum, is no runagate and that he
feareth not the Islamitic hosts, but will restore the whole world
to the Nazarene faith." Then she bade the Great King, Afridun,
give command that the city be decorated, and the people held
festival high and drank their wines drunkenly and knew not the
decrees of Destiny. Now whilst they were in the midst of their
rejoicings, behold, the raven of dule and downfall croaked over
them, and up came the twenty fugitive ships wherein was the King
of Caesarea. So King Afridun, Lord of Constantinople, met them
on the sea shore, and they told him all that had befallen them
from the Moslem, and they wept sore and groaned and moaned; and
rejoicing at weal was turned into dismay for unheal; and they
informed him concerning Luka son of Shamlut, how calamity had
betided him and how Death had shot him with his shaft. Thereat
the horrors of Doomday rose upon King Afridun,[FN#405] and he
knew that there was no making straight their crook. Then came up
from them the sound of weeping and wailing; the city was full of
men mourning and the keepers were keening, and sighs and cries
were heard from all sides. And when King Hardub of Greece met
King Afridun he told him the truth of the case and how the flight
of the Moslems was by way of stratagem and deceit, and said to
him, "Look not to see any of the army, save those who have
already reached thee." When King Afridun heard these words he
fell down in a fainting fit, with his nose under his feet; and,
as soon as he revived, he exclaimed, "Surely the Messiah was
wroth with them that he caused the Moslems to prevail over them!"
Then came the Arch Patriarch sadly to the King who said to him,
"O our father, annihilation hath overtaken our army and the
Messiah hath punished us!" Replied the Patriarch, "Grieve not nor
feel concerned, for it cannot be but that one of you have sinned
against the Messiah, and all have been punished for his offence;
but now we will read prayers for you in the churches, that the
Mohammeden hosts may be repelled from you." After which the old
woman, Zat al-Dawahi, came to Afridun and said to him, "O King,
verily the Moslem hosts are many, and we shall never overcome
them save by wile: wherefore I purpose to work upon them by guile
and repair to this army of Al-Islam, haply I may win my wish of
their leader and slay their champion, even as I slew his father.
If my stratagem succeed in his case, not one of the host he leads
shall return to his native land, for all are strong only because
of him; but I desire to have some Christian dwellers of Syria,
such as go out every month and year to sell their goods, that
they may help me (for this they can do) in carrying out my plan."
Replied the King, "Be it so whenever thou wilt." So she bade
fetch an hundred men, natives of Najran,[FN#406] in Sham, and the
King asked them, "Have ye not heard what hath befallen the
Christians with the Moslems?" "Yes," answered they; and he
rejoined, "Know ye that this woman hath devoted her life to the
Messiah and purposeth to go forth with you, disguised as
Monotheists and Mohammedans, to work out a device which shall
profit us and hinder the Moslem from us: say, then, are ye also
willing to devote yourselves to the Anointed and I will give you
a quintal of gold?[FN#407] He of you who escapeth shall have the
money, and him of you who dieth will the Messiah reward." "O
King," replied they, "we will devote our lives to the Messiah,
and we will be thy sacrifice." Thereupon the old woman took all
she required of aromatic roots and placed them in water which she
boiled over the fire till the black essence of them was
extracted. She waited till the decoction was cold, then dipped
the corner of a long kerchief therein and stained her face
therewith. Moreover, she donned over her clothes a long
gaberdine with an embroidered border and took in her hand a
rosary, and afterwards went in to King Afridun, who knew her not,
nor did any of his companions know her, till she discovered
herself to them: and there was none in the assembly but who
thanked and praised her for her cunning; and her son rejoiced and
said, "May the Messiah never fail thee!" Thereupon she took with
her the Syrian Christians, and set out for the army of Baghdad.--
And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her
permitted say.

When it was the Ninety-third Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when King
Afridun heard these words, he fell into a fainting fit with his
nose under his feet; and, as soon as he revived, fear fluttered
the scrotum[FN#408] below his belly and he complained to the
ancient dame, Zat al-Dawahi. Now this accursed old woman was a
witch of the witches, past mistress in sorcery and deception;
wanton and wily, deboshed and deceptious; with foul breath, red
eyelids, yellow cheeks, dull brown face, eyes bleared, mangy
body, hair grizzled, back humped, skin withered and wan and
nostrils which ever ran. But she had studied the scriptures of
Al-Islam and had made the Pilgrimage to the Holy House of Meccah
and all this that she might come to the knowledge of the
Mohammedan ordinances and the miraculous versets of the Koran;
and she had professed Judaism in the Holy City of
Jerusalem[FN#409] for two years' space, that she might master the
magic of men and demons; so that she was a plague of plagues and
a pest of pests, wrong headed as to belief and to no religion
fief. Now the chief reason of her sojourn with her son, King
Hardub of Greece, was on account of the slave virgins at his
court: for she was given to tribadism[FN#410] and could not exist
without sapphism or she went mad: so if any damsel pleased her,
she was wont to teach her the art of rubbing clitoris against
clitoris and would anoint her with saffron[FN#411] till she
fainted away for excess of volupty. Whoso obeyed her she was
wont to favour and make her son incline towards her; but whoso
repelled her she would contrive to destroy; and so she abode for
a length of time. This was known to Marjanah and Rayhanah and
Utrijah, the handmaids of Abrizah, and their Princess loathed the
old woman and abhorred to lie with her, because of the rank smell
from her armpits, the stench of her fizzles more fetid than
carrion, and the roughness of her hide coarser than palm fibre.
She was wont to bribe those who rubbed parts with her by means of
jewels and instructions; but Abrizah held aloof from her and
sought refuge with the Omnipotent, the Omniscient; for, by Allah,
right well quoth the poet,

"Ho thou who grovellest low before the great * Nor over fording
lesser men dost blench
Who gildest dross by dirham gathering, * No otter scent disguises
carrion stench!

And now to return to the story of her stratagem and the woes of
her working. Presently she departed, taking the chief Nazarenes
with their hosts, and turned towards the army of the Moslems.
Whereupon King Hardub went in to King Afridun and said to him, "O
King, we have no need of the Chief Patriarch nor of his prayers,
but will consult my mother's counsel and observe what she will do
with her craft unending against the Moslem hosts; for these are
marching with all their power, they will soon be upon us and they
will encircle us on all sides." When King Afridun heard this,
terror took hold upon his heart and he wrote letters, without
stay or delay, to all the nations of the Nazarenes, saying, "It
behoveth none of the Messiahites or Cross knights to hold back,
especially the folk of the strongholds and forts: but let them
all come to us, foot and horse, women and children, for the
Moslem hosts already tread our soil. So haste! haste ye! ere
what we fear to us here appear." Thus much concerning them; but
regarding the work of the old woman, Zat al-Dawahi; when she went
forth from the city with her suite, she clad them in the clothing
of Moslem merchants, having provided herself with an hundred
mules carrying stuffs of Antioch, such as goldwoven satins and
royal brocades and so forth. And she had taken a letter from
King Afridun to the following effect: "These be merchantmen from
the land of Sham who have been with us: so it besitteth none to
do them harm or hindrance, nor take tax and tithe of them, till
they reach their homes and safe places, for by merchants a
country flourisheth, and these are no men of war nor of ill
faith." Then quoth the accursed Zat al-Dawahi to those with her,
"Verily I wish to work out a plot for the destruction of the
Moslem." Replied they, "O Queen, command us whatso thou wilt; we
are at thy disposal and may the Messiah never disappoint thy
dealings!" Then she donned a gown of fine white wool and rubbed
her forehead, till she made a great mark as of a scar and
anointed it with an ointment of her own fashion, so that it shone
with prodigious sheen. Now the old hag was lean bodied and
hollow eyed, and she bound her legs tightly round with
cords[FN#412] just above her feet, till she drew near the Moslem
camp, when she unwound them, leaving their marks deeply embedded
in her ankles. Then she anointed the wheels with dragon's blood
and bade her companions beat her with a severe beating, and set
her in a chest and, quoth she, "Cry abroad the Refrain of
Unity,[FN#413] nor fear from it aught of damage!" Replied they,
"How can we beat thee, who be our sovereign lady, Zat al-Dawahi,
mother of the King we glory in?" Then said she, "We blame not nor
deal reproach to him who goeth to the jakes, and in need evil
becometh good deed. When ye have set me in the chest, take it
and make it one of the bales and place it on mule back and fare
forth with it and the other goods through the Moslem camp, and
fear ye no blame. And if any of the Moslems hinder you, give up
the mules and their lading and be take yourselves to their King,
Zau al-Makan, and implore his protection saying, 'We were in the
land of the Infidels and they took nothing from us, but wrote us
a passport, that none shall do us hindrance or work our
mischance.' If he ask you, 'What profit had ye of your property
in the land of Roum?' answer him, 'We profited in the deliverance
of a pious man, who had been bound down in an underground cell
nigh fifteen years, crying out for help yet none helped him.
Nay, the Infidels tortured him night and day. We knew not this;
but, after we had tarried in Constantinople for some time, having
sold our goods and bought others in their stead, we determined on
and made ready for a return to our native land. We spent that
night conversing about our journey and when day broke, we saw
figured upon the wall a human form and as we drew nigh it,
behold, it moved and said, 'O Moslems, is there amongst you one
who is minded to woo the favour of the Lord of the three
Worlds?'[FN#414] 'How so?' asked we; and the figure answered,
'Know that Allah hath made me speak to you, to the intent that
your faith be fortified, and that your belief embolden you and
that you may go forth of the country of the Infidels and repair
to the Moslem host; for with them wones the Sword of the Com
passionate One, of our Age the Champion, King Sharrkan, by whom
He shall conquer Constantinople town and destroy the sect of the
Nazarene. And when ye shall have journeyed three days, you will
find an hermitage known as the Hermitage of the ascetic
Matruhina[FN#415] and containing a cell; visit it with pure
intent and contrive to arrive there by force of will, for therein
is a Religious from the Holy City, Jerusalem, by name Abdullah,
and he is one of the devoutest of mankind, endowed with the power
of working saintly miracles[FN#416] such as dispel doubts and
obscurity. Certain of the monks seized him by fraud and shut him
up in a souterrain where he hath lain a long time. By his
deliverance you will please the Lord of Faithful Men, for such
release is better than fighting for the Faith.'" Now when the
ancient dame and those with her had agreed upon such words, she
said, "As soon as that which I impart shall reach the ears of
King Sharrkan, say him further, 'Hearing this from that image we
knew that the holy man'"--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day
and ceased to say her permitted say.

When it was the Ninety-fourth Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the
old woman, Zat al-Dawahi, and those with her had agreed upon such
words, she said, "Now as soon as that which I impart shall reach
the ears of King Sharrkan say him further, 'Hearing these words
from that image we knew that the holy man was indeed of the
chiefest devotees and Allah's servants of purest qualities; so we
made three days' march till we came in sight of that hermitage,
and then we went up to it and passed the day in buying and
selling, as is the wont of merchants. As soon as day had
departed our sight and night was come to darken light, we
repaired to the cell wherein was the dungeon, and we heard the
holy man, after chanting some verses of the Koran, repeat the
following couplets,

'My heart disheartened is, my breast is strait, * And sinks my
soul in sea of bale and bate
Unless escape be near I soon shall die; * And Death were better
than this doleful strait:
O Lightning an thou light my home and folk, * An their still
brighter charms thy shine abate,
Say, what my path to meet them, being barred * By wars, and
barricado'd succour's gate?'

"When once ye have brought me into the Moslem camp, and I mix
with them you shall see," the old woman continued, "how I will
make shift to beguile them and slay them all, even to the last
man." The Nazarenes hearing whet she said, kissed her hands and
set her in the chest, after they had beaten her with a grievous
beating in obedience to her commands, for they saw it was
incumbent on them to do her bidding in this; then they all made
for the Moslem host as hath erst been said. Such was the case
with the damned hag, Zat al-Dawahi and her companions; but as
regards the Mohammeden army, they indeed, after Allah had given
them victory over their enemies and they had plundered everything
in the ships of money and hoards, all sat down to converse with
one another and Zau al-Makan said to his brother Sharrkan,
"Verily, Allah hath granted us to prevail because of our just
dealing and discipline and concord amongst ourselves; wherefore
continue, O Sharrkan, to obey my commandment, in submission to
Allah (be He exalted and extolled!), for I mean to slay ten Kings
in blood revenge for my sire, to cut the throat of fifty thousand
Greeks and to enter Constantinople." Replied Sharrkan, "My life
be thy ransom against death! Needs must I follow out the Holy
War, though I wone many a year in their country. But I have, O
my brother, in Damascus a daughter, named Kuzia Fakan, whom I
love heartily for she is one of the marvels of the time and she
will soon be of age.' Said Zau al-Makan, "And I also have left my
wife with child and near her time, nor do I know what Allah will
vouchsafe me by her. But promise me, O my brother, that if Allah
bless me with a son, thou wilt grant me thy daughter for wife to
him, and make covenant with me and pledge me thy faith thereon."
"With love and good will, replied Sharrkan; and, stretching out
his hand to his brother, he said, If she bring thee a son, I will
give him my daughter Kuzia Fakan, to wife." At this Zau al-Makan
rejoiced, and they fell to congratulating each other on the
victory over the enemy. And the Wazir Dandan also congratulated
the two brothers and said to them, "Know, O ye Kings, that Allah
hath given us the victory, for that we have devoted our lives to
Him (be He exalted and ex tolled!); and we have left our homes
and households; and it is my counsel that we follow up the foe
and press upon him and harass him, so haply Allah shall enable us
to win our wishes, and we shall destroy our enemies, branch and
root. If it please you, do ye go down in these ships and sail
over the sea, whilst we fare forward by land and bear the brunt
of battle and the thrust of fight." And the Minister Dandan
ceased not to urge them to combat and repeated his words who

"To slay my foes is chiefest bliss I wist, * And on the courser's
back be borne a list;
Comes promising tryst a messenger from friend * Full oft, when
comes the friend withouten tryst."

And these words of another,

"War for my mother (an I live) I'll take; * Spear for my brother;
scymitar for sire
With every shag haired brave who meets his death * Smiling, till
won from Doom his dear desire!"

And when the Wazir ended his verses, he said, "Praise be to Him
who aided us dear victory to uphold and who hath given us spoil
of silver and fine gold!" Then Zau al-Makan commanded the army to
depart; and they fared on forcing their marches for
Constantinople, till they came to a wide and spacious champaign,
full of all things fair and fain, with wild cattle frisking and
gazelles pacing to and fro across the plain. Now they had
traversed great deserts and drink had been six days cut off from
them, when they drew near this meadow and saw therein waters
founting and ripe fruits daunting and that land as it were
Paradise; for it had donned its adornments and decked
itself.[FN#417] Gently waved the branches of its trees drunken
with the new wine of the dew, and combined with the nectar of
Tasnim the soft breathings of the morning breeze. Mind and gazer
were confounded by its beauty, even as saith the poet,

"Behold this lovely garden! 'tis as though * Spring o'er its
frame her greeny cloak had spread.
Looking with fleshly eyne, thou shalt but sight * A lake whose
waters balance in their bed,
But look with spirit eyes and lo! shalt see * Glory in every
leaf o'erwaves thy head."

And as another saith,

"The stream's a cheek by sunlight rosy dyed, * Whose down[FN#418]
is creeping shade of tamarisk stems
Round legs of tree trunks waveless roll in rings * Silvern, and
blossoms are the diadems."

When Zau al-Makan saw this champaign, with its trees bowing and
its flowers blooming and its birds warbling, he called to his
brother Sharrkan and said, "O my brother, verily in Damascus is
naught the like of this place. We will not march from it save
after three days, that we may take rest ourselves and that the
army of Al-Islam may regain strength and their souls be fortified
to encounter the blamed Infidels." So they halted therein and
while camping behold, they heard a noise of voices from afar, and
Zau al-Makan asked the cause thereof, and was answered that a
caravan of merchants from the Land of Syria had halted there to
rest and that the Moslem troops had come on them and had haply
seized something of the goods which they had brought from the
country of the Infidels. After a while up came the merchants,
crying out and appealing to the King for aidance. When Zau al-
Makan saw this, he bade them be brought before him and, when in
presence they said to him, "O King, we have been in the country
of the Infidels and they plundered us of nothing: why then do our
brothers the Moslems despoil our goods, and we in their own land?
Of a truth when we saw your troops, we went up to them and they
robbed us of what we had with us and we have now reported to thee
all that hath befallen us." Thereupon they brought out to him the
letter of the King of Constantinople, and Sharrkan read it and
said, "We will presently restore to you what hath been taken from
you; but yet it behoveth you not to carry merchandise to the
country of the Infidels." Replied they, "O our Lord, in very
sooth Allah despatched us thither that we might win what
Ghazi[FN#419] never won the like of, not even thou in all thy
razzias." Asked Sharrkan, "What was it ye won?" "O King,"
answered they, "we will not tell thee save in private; for if
this matter be noised among the folk, haply it may come to the
ears of some,[FN#420] and this will be the cause of our ruin and
of the ruin of all Moslems who resort to the land of the Greeks."
Now they had hidden the chest wherein was the damned Zat al-
Dawahi. So Zau al-Makan and his brother brought them to a
private place, where they laid bare to both of them the story of
the devotee, and wept till they made the two Kings weep.--And
Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her
permitted say.

When it was the Ninety-fifth Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the
Nazarenes who wore merchants' weed, when brought to a private
place by Zau al-Makan and his brother Sharrkan, laid bare to both
of them the story of the devotee and wept till they made the two
Kings weep and repeated to them all which had been taught by the
old witch Zat al-Dawahi. Thereupon Sharrkan's heart yearned to
the devotee and he was moved to ruth for him and was fired with
zeal for the service of Almighty Allah. So quoth he to them,
"Did ye rescue this holy man or is he still in the hermitage?"
Quoth they, "We delivered him and slew the hermit, fearing for
our lives; after which we made haste to fly for dread of death;
but a trusty man told us that in this hermitage are quintals of
gold and silver and stones of price." Then they fetched the chest
and brought out the accursed old woman, as she were a cassia
pod[FN#421] for excess of blackness and leanness, and she was
laden with the same fetters and shackles. When Zau al-Makan and
the bystanders saw her, they took her for a man of the best of
Allah's devotees and surpassing in pious qualities, more
especially because of the shining of her forehead for the
ointment wherewith she had anointed her face. So Zau al-Makan
and Sharrkan wept sore; then they rose up in honour and kissed
her hands and feet, sobbing aloud: but she signed to them and
said, "Cease this weeping and hear my words. Hereat they dried
their tears in obedience to her bidding, and she said, "Know ye
both that I was content to accept what my Lord did unto me, for I
kenned that the affliction which befel me was a trial from Him
(be He exalted and extolled!); and whoso hath not patience under
calamity and tribulation, for him there is no coming to the
delights of Paradise. I had indeed supplicated Him that I might
return to my native land, not as a compensation for the
sufferings decreed to me, but that I might die under the horse
hoofs of warriors fighting for the Faith who, being slain in
fray, live again without suffering death."[FN#422] Then she
repeated the following couplets,

"Our Fort is Tor,[FN#423] and flames the fire of fight: * Moses
art thou and this is time for aid:
Cast down thy rod, 'twill swallow all they wrought, * Nor dread
for men their ropes be vipers made.[FN#424]
For Chapters read on fight day lines of foes, * And on their
necks 'grave versets[FN#425] wi' thy blade!"

When the old woman had ended her verse, her eyes overflowed with
tears and her forehead under the unguent shone like gleaming
light, and Sharrkan rose and kissed her hand and caused food be
brought before her: but she refused it, saying, "I have not
broken my fast by day for fifteen years; and how should I break
it at such a time when my Lord hath been bountiful to me in
delivering me from the captivity of the Infidels and removing
from me that which was more grievous to me than torment of fire?
I will wait till sun down." So when it was nightfall, Sharrkan
and Zau al-Makan came and served her with food and said, "Eat, O
ascetic!" But she said, "This is no time for eating; it is the
time for worshipping the Requiting King." Then she stood up in
the prayer niche and remained praying till the night was spent;
and she ceased not to do after this fashion for three days and
nights, sitting not but at the time of the Salam or
salutation[FN#426] ending with several prayers. When Zau al-
Makan saw her on this wise, firm belief in her get hold of his
heart and he said to Sharrkan, "Cause a tent of perfumed leather
to be pitched for this Religious, and appoint a body servant to
wait upon him." On the fourth day she called for food; so they
brought her all kinds of meats that could seduce the sense or
delight the sight; but of all this she would eat only a scone
with salt. Then she again turned to her fast and, as the night
came, she rose anew to pray; when Sharrkan said to Zau al-Makan,
"Verily, this man carrieth renunciation of the world to the
extreme of renouncing, and, were it not for this Holy War, I
would join myself to him and worship Allah in his service, till I
came before His presence. And now I desire to enter his tent and
talk with him for an hour." Quoth Zau al-Makan, "And I also:
tomorrow we sally forth to fight against Constantinople, and we
shall find no time like the present." Said the Wazir Dandan, "And
I no less desire to see this ascetic; haply he will pray for me
that I find death in this Holy War and come to the presence of my
Lord, for I am aweary of the world." So as soon as night had
darkened, they repaired to the tent of that witch, Zat al-Dawahi;
and, seeing her standing to pray, they drew near her and fell a
weeping for pity of her; but she paid no heed to them till
midnight was past, when she ended her orisons by pronouncing the
salutation. Then she turned to them and after wishing them long
life, asked them "Wherefore come ye?", whereto they answered, "O
thou holy man! diddest thou not hear us weep around thee?" She
rejoined, "To him who standeth in the presence of Allah,
remaineth no existence in time, either for hearing any or for
seeing aught about him." Quoth they, "We would have thee recount
to us the cause of thy captivity and pray for us this night, for
that will profit us more than the possession of Constantinople."
Now when she heard their words she said, "By Allah, were ye not
the Emirs of the Moslems, I would not relate to you aught of this
at any time; for I complain not but to Allah alone. However, to
you I will relate the circumstances of my captivity. Know, then,
that I was in the saintly City of Jerusalem with certain
ecstatics and inspired men, and did not magnify myself among
them, for that Allah (be He exalted and extolled!) had endowed me
with humility and abnegation, till I chanced to go down to the
sea one night and walked upon the water. Then entered into me
pride; whence I know not, and I said to myself, 'Who like me can
walk the water?' And my heart from that time hardened and Allah
afflicted me with the love of travel. So I journeyed to Roum
land and visited every part for a whole year, and left no place
but therein I worshiped Allah. When I came to this spot,[FN#427]
I clomb the mountain and saw there an hermitage, inhabited by a
monk called Matrubina, who, when he sighted me, came out and
kissed my hands and feet and said, 'Verily, I have seen thee
since thou enteredst the land of the Greeks, and thou hast filled
me with longing for the land of Al-Islam.' Then he took my hand
and carried me into that hermitage, and brought me to a dark
room; and, when I entered it unawares, he locked the door on me
and left me there forty days, without meat or drink; for it was
his intent to kill me by delay. It chanced one day, that a
Knight called Dakianus[FN#428] came to the hermitage, accompanied
by ten squires and his daughter Tamasil, a girl whose beauty was
incom parable. When they entered that hermitage, the monk
Matruhina told them of me, and the Knight said, 'Bring him out,
for surely there is not on him a bird's meal of meat.' So they
opened the door of the dark room and found me standing in the
niche, praying and reciting the Koran and glorifying Allah and
humbling myself before the Almighty. When they saw me in this
state Matrohina exclaimed, 'This man is indeed a sorcerer of the
sorcerers!'; and hearing his words, they all came in on me,
Dakianus and his company withal, and they beat me with a grievous
beating, till I desired death and reproached myself, saying,
'This is his reward who exalteth himself and who prideth himself
on that which Allah hath vouchsafed to him, beyond his own
competence! And thou, O my soul, verily self esteem and
arrogance have crept into thee. Dost thou not know that pride
angereth the Lord and hardeneth the heart and bringeth men to the
Fire?' Then they laid me in fetters and returned me to my place
which was the dungeon under ground. Every three days, they threw
me down a scone of barley bread and a draught of water; and every
month or two the Knight came to the hermitage. Now his daughter
Tamasil had grown up, for she was nine years old when I first saw
her, and fifteen years passed over me in captivity, so that she
had reached her four and twentieth year. There is not in our
land nor in the land of the Greeks a fairer than she, and her
father feared lest the King take her from him; for she had vowed
herself to the Messiah and rode with Dakianus in the habit of a
cavalier, so that albeit none might compare with her in
loveliness, no one who saw her knew her for a woman. And her
father had laid up his monies in this hermitage, every one who
had aught of price or treasured hoard being wont to deposit it
therein; and I saw there all manner of gold and silver and jewels
and precious vessels and rarities, none may keep count of them
save Almighty Allah. Now ye are worthier of these riches than
those Infidels; so lay hands on that which is in the hermitage
and divide it among the Moslems and especially on fighters in the
Holy War. When these merchants came to Constantinople and sold
their merchandise, that image which is on the wall spoke to them,
by grace of a marvel which Allah granted to me; so they made for
that hermitage and slew Matruhina, after torturing him with most
grievous torments, and dragging him by the beard, till he showed
them the place where I was; when they took me and found no path
but flight for dread of death. Now tomorrow night Tamasil will
visit that hermitage as is her habit, and her father and his
squires will come after her, as he feareth for her; so, if ye
would witness these things, take me with you and I will deliver
to you the monies and the riches of the Knight Dakianus which be
in that mountain; for I saw them bring out vessels of gold and
silver to drink therefrom, and I heard a damsel of their company
sing to them in Arabic and well-away! that so sweet a voice
should not be busied in chaunting the Koran. If, then, ye will;
enter into that hermitage and hide there against the coming of
Dakianus and his daughter; and take her, for she is fit only for
the King of the Age, Sharrkan, or King Zau al-Makan." Thereat
they all rejoiced with the exception of the Wazir Dandan, who put
scant faith in her story, for her words took no hold on his
reason, and signs of doubt in her and disbelief showed in his
face.[FN#429] Yet he was confounded at her discourse, but he
feared to speak with her for awe of the King. Then quoth the
ancient dame, Zat al-Dawahi, "Verily, I fear lest the Knight come
and, seeing these troops encamped in the meadow, be afraid to
enter the hermitage." So Zau al-Makan ordered the army to march
upon Constantinople and said, "I have resolved to take with me an
hundred horse and many mules and make for that mountain, where we
will load the beasts with the monies which be in the hermitage."
Then he sent at once for the Chief Chamberlain whom they brought
into the presence; and he summoned likewise the leaders of the
Turks and Daylamites and said, "As soon as it is dawn, do ye set
forth for Constantinople; and thou, O Chamberlain, shalt take my
place in council and contrivance, while thou, O Rustam, shalt be
my brother's deputy in battle. But let none know that we are not
with you and after three days we will rejoin you." Then he chose
out an hundred of the doughtiest riders, and he and Sharrkan and
the Minister Dandan set out for the hermitage, and the hundred
horsemen led the mules with chests for transporting the
treasure.--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased
saying her permitted say.

When it was the Ninety-sixth Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Sharrkan
and his brother, Zau al-Makan and the Wazir Dandan set off with
an hundred horse for the hermitage described to them by that
accursed Zat al-Dawahi, and they took with them mules and chests
for transporting the treasure. Now as soon as dawned the morn,
the Chamberlain signalled to the host an order for departure, and
they set out thinking that the two Kings and the Wazir were with
them; knowing not that the three had made for the monastery.
Such was the case with the host, but as regards the two Kings and
the Minister, they tarried in their place till the end of that
day. Now the Infidels who were with Zat al-Dawahi took their
departure privily, after they had gone in to her and kissed her
hands and feet and obtained her leave to march. So she not only
gave them permission but also taught them all she minded of wile
and guile. And when it was dark night, she arose and went in to
Zau al-Makan and his companions and said to them, "Come, let us
set out for the mountain, and take with you a few men at arms."
They obeyed her and left five horsemen at the foot of the
mountain, whilst the rest rode on before Zat al-Dawahi, who
gained new strength for excess of joy, so that Zau al-Makan said,
"Glory be to Him who sustaineth this holy man, whose like we
never saw!" Now the witch had written a letter to the King of
Constantinople and despatched it on the wings of a bird,[FN#430]
acquainting him with what had passed and ending, "I wish thee to
send me ten thousand horsemen of the bravest of the Greeks and
let them steal along the foot of the mountains with caution, lest
the host of Al-Islam get sight of them; and, when they reach the
hermitage, let them ambush themselves there, till I come to them
with the Moslem King and his brother, for I shall inveigle them
and will bring them thither, together with the Wazir and an
hundred horse and no more, that I may presently deliver to them
the crosses which be in the hermitage. I am resolved to slay the
Monk Matruhina, since my scheme cannot be carried out but by
taking his life. If my plot work well, not one of the Moslems
shall return to his own country; no, not a living wight nor one
who blows the fire alight; and Matruhina shall be a sacrifice for
the followers of the Nazarene faith and the servants of the
Cross, and praise be to the Messiah, first and last." When this
letter reached Constantinople, the keeper of the carrier pigeons
carried it to King Afridun, who read it and forthwith inspected
his host and equipped ten thousand cavaliers with horses and
dromedaries and mules and provaunt and bade them repair to that
hermitage and, after reaching the tower, to hide therein. Thus
far concerning them; but as regards King Zau al-Makan and his
brother Sharrkan and the Wazir Dandan and the escort, when they
reached the hermitage they entered and met the Monk Matruhina,
who came out to see who and what they were; whereupon quoth that
pious man Zat al-Dawahi, "Slay this damned fellow."[FN#431] So
they smote him with their swords and made him drink the cup of
death. Then the accursed old woman carried them to the place of
offerings and ex votos, and brought out to them treasures and
precious things more than she had described to them; and after
gathering the whole together, they set the booty in chests and
loaded the mules therewith. As for Tamasil, she came not, she or
her father, for fear of the Moslems; so Zau al-Makan tarried
there, awaiting her all that day and the next and a third, till
Sharrkan said to him, "By Allah, I am troubled anent the army of
Al-Islam, for I know not what is become of them." His brother
replied, "And I also am concerned for them: we have come by this
great treasure and I do not believe that Tamasil or any one else
will approach the hermitage, after that befel which hath befallen
the host of the Christians. It behoveth us, then, to content
ourselves with what Allah hath given us and depart; so haply He
will help us conquer Constantinople." Accordingly they came down
from the mountain, while Zat al-Dawahi was impotent to oppose
their march for fear of betraying her deceit; and they fared
forwards till they reached the head of a defile, where the old
woman had laid an ambush for them with the ten thousand horse.
As soon as these saw the Moslems they encircled them from all
sides, couching lance and baring the white sabre blade; and the
Infidels shouted the watch word of their faithless Faith and set
the shafts of their mischief astring. When Zau al-Makan and his
brother Sharrkan and the Minister Dandan looked upon this host,
they saw that it was a numerous army and said, "Who can have
given these troops information of us?" Replied Sharrkan, "O my
brother, this be no time for talk; this is the time for smiting
with swords and shooting with shafts) so gird up your courage and
hearten your hearts, for this strait is like a street with two
gates; though, by the virtue of the Lord of Arabs and Ajams, were
not the place so narrow I would bring them to naught, even though
they were an hundred thousand men!" Said Zau al-Makan, "Had we
wotted this we would have brought with us five thousand horse;"
and the Wazir Dandan continued, "If we had ten thousand horse
they had availed us naught in these narrows; but Allah will
succour us against them. I know this defile and its straitness,
and I know there be many places of refuge in it; for I have been
here on razzia with King Omar bin al-Nu'uman, what while we
besieged Constantinople. We abode in this place, and here is
water colder than snow. So come, let us push out of this defile
ere the Infidel host increase on us and get the start of us to
the mountain top, whence they will hurl down rocks upon us, and
we powerless to come at them." So they began hurrying on to get
out of those narrows; but the pious man, Zat al-Dawahi, looked at
them and said, "What is it ye fear, ye who have vowed yourselves
to the Lord, and to working His will? By Allah, I abode
imprisoned underground for fifteen years, yet never gainsaid the
Almighty in aught he did with me! Fight ye in Allah's way; so
whoever of you is slain Paradise shall be his abode, and whoso
slayeth, his striving shall be to his honour." When they heard
from the ascetic these words, their care and anxiety ceased from
them and they stood firm till the Infidels charged down from all
sides, whilst the swords played upon their necks and the cup of
death went round amongst them. The Moslems fought for the
service of Allah a right good fight, and wrought upon His foes
with sway of sword and lunge of lance; whilst Zau al-Makan smote
upon the men and garred the knights bite the dust and their heads
from their bodies take flight, five by five and ten by ten, till
he had done to death a number of them past numbering and an
accompt beyond counting. Now while so doing, he looked at the
accursed old woman who was waving her sword and heartening them,
and all who feared fled to her for shelter; but she was also
signing the Infidels to slay Sharrkan. So troop after troop
rushed on him with design to do him die; but each troop that
charged, he charged and drove back; and when another troop
attacked him he repelled the assault with the sword in their
backs; for he thought it was the devotee's blessing that gave him
the vic tory, and he said in himself, "Verily on this holy men
Allah looketh with eyes of His favour and strengtheneth my
prowess against the Infidels with the purity of his pious intent:
for I see that they fear me and cannot prevail against me, but
every one who assaileth me turneth tail and taketh flight." So
they battled the rest of the day and, when night fell, the
Moslems took refuge in a cave of that defile being weary with
stress of war and cast of stone: and that day were slain of them
five and forty. And when they were gathered together, they
sought the devotee, but could find no trace of him; and this was
grievous to them and they said, "Belike, he hath died a martyr."
Quoth Sharrkan, "I saw him heartening the horsemen with divine
instances and using as talisman verses of Holy Writ." Now while
they were talking, behold, the accursed old woman, Zat al-Dawahi,
stood before them, hending in hand the head of the Chief Captain
of the ten thousand horse, a noble knight, a champion fierce in
fight and a Satan for blight. One of the Turks had slain him
with an arrow, and Allah hurried his soul to the fire; and when
the Infidels saw what that Moslem had done with their leader,
they all fell on him and wrought his bane and hewed him in pieces
with their swords, and Allah hurried his soul to Heaven. Then
the accursed old woman cut off that Knight's head and brought it
and threw it at the feet of Sharrkan and Zau al-Makan and the
Wazir Dandan. Now when Sharrkan sew her, he sprang up hastily
before her and exclaimed, "Praised be Allah for thy safety and
for our sighting thee, O holy man and devout champion of the
Religion!" Replied she, O my son, I have sought martyrdom this
day, and have thrown my life away amid the Infidel array, but
they feared me with dismay. When ye dispersed, I waxed jealous
for your honour; so I rushed on the Chief Knight their leader,
albeit he was a match for a thousand horse, and I smote him till
I severed head from trunk. Not one of the Infidels could near
me; so I brought his head to you,"--And Shahrazad perceived the
dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

When it was the Ninety-seventh Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the
damned witch, Zat al-Dawahi, took the head of the Knight, the
leader of the twenty thousand Infidels, she brought it and threw
it down before Zau al-Makan and his brother Sharrkan and the
Wazir Dandan, saying, "When I saw your condition, I waxed jealous
for your honour; so I rushed on the Chief Knight and smote him
with the sword till I severed head from trunk. And none could
near me, so I brought his head to you, that you may be
strengthened in Holy War and work out with your swords the will
of the Lord of the Faithful. And now I purpose leaving you to
strive against the Infidels, whilst I go to your army, though
they be at the gates of Constantinople, and return with twenty
thousand horse to destroy these Unfaithfuls." Quoth Sharrkan,
"How wilt thou pass to them, O thou holy man, seeing that the
valley is blocked up on all sides by the Miscreants?" Quoth the
accursed hag, "Allah will veil me from their eyes and they shall
not sight me;[FN#432] nor, if any saw me, would he dare to attack
me at that time, for I shall be as one non existing, absorbed in
Allah, and He will fend off from me His foes." "Thou sayest
sooth, O holy man," rejoined Sharrkan, "for indeed I have been
witness of that; so, if thou can pass out at the first of the
night, 'twill be best for us." Replied she, "I will set out at
this very hour and, if thou desire, thou shalt go with me and
none shall see thee. Furthermore if thy brother also have a mind
to go with us we will take him, but none else; for the shadow of
a saint can cover only twain." Sharrkan said, "As for me I will
not leave my comrades; but, if my brother will, there is no harm
in his going with thee and setting us free of this strait; for he
is the stronghold of the Moslems and the sword of the Lord of the
three Worlds; and if it be his pleasure, let him take with him
the Wazir Dandan, or whom else he may elect and send us ten
thousand horse to succour us against these caitiffs." So after
debate they agreed on this and the old woman said, "Give me
leisure to go before you and consider the condition of the
Infidels, if they be asleep or awake." Quoth they, "We will not
go forth save with thee and trust our affair to Allah." "If I do
your bidding," replied she, "blame me not but blame yourselves;
for it is my rede that you await me till I bring you tidings of
the case." Then said Sharrkan, "Go to them and delay not from us,
for we shall be awaiting thee." Thereupon she fared forth and
Sharrkan turned to his brother addressing him and said, "Were not
this holy man a miracle worker, he had never slain yonder furious
knight. This is proof sufficient of the ascetic's power; and of
a truth the pride of the Infidels is laid low by the slaying of
this cavalier, for he was violent, an evil devil and a stubborn."
Now whilst they were thus devising of the mighty works of the
devotee, behold, the accursed Zat al-Dawahi came upon them and
promised them victory over the Unbelievers; wherefor they thanked
her (not knowing that all this was wile and guile) and the damned
hag asked, "Where be the King of the Age, Zau al-Makan, and the
Minister Dandan?" Answered he, "Here am I!" Take with thee thy
Wazir," said she, "and follow after me, that we may fare forth to
Constantinople." Now she had acquainted the Infidels with the
cheat she had put upon the Moslems, and they rejoiced with
exceeding great joy, and said, Our hearts will not be contented
till we shall have slain their King in return for the Knight's
death; because we had no stouter rider than he;" and they added
(bespeaking the ill omened hag as she told them her plan of
faring to the land of the Moslems), "When thou bringest him to
us, we will bear him to King Afridun." Then she went out and went
out with her Zau al-Makan and the Minister Dandan, and she walked
on before the two saying, "Fare forth with the blessing of
Almighty Allah!" So they did her bidding, for the shaft of Pate
and Fortune of man's lot had shot them, and she ceased not
leading them both through the midst of the Grecian camp, till
they came to the defile, the narrow pass aforesaid, whilst the
Infidel enemy watched them, but did them no hindrance; for the
infernal old woman had enjoined this. Now when Zau al-Makan and
the Wazir Dandan saw that the Infidel host offered them no let
and stay and yet had them in sight, the Wazir exclaimed, "By
Allah, this is one of the holy man's saintly miracles! and
doubtless he be of the elect." Rejoined Zau al-Makan, "By Allah,
I think the Infidels be naught but blind, for we see them and
they see us not." And while they were thus praising the holy man
and recounting his mighty works and his piety and his prayers,
behold, the Infidels charged down on them from all sides and
surrounded them and seized them, saying, "Is there anyone else
with you twain, that we may seize upon him too?" And the Wazir
Dandan replied, "See you not yon other man that is before us? '
Replied the Unbelievers, "By the truth of the Messiah and the
Monks, and the Primate and the Metropolitan, we see none save you
two!" Then Zau Al-Makan said, "By Allah, this is a chastisement
decreed to us by Almighty Allah!"--And Shahrazad perceived the
dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

When it was the Ninety-eighth Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the
Unfaithful had seized upon King Zau al-Makan and the Wazir
Dandan, they said to the two, "Is there anyone else with you
twain, that we may seize upon him also?" And the Wazir Dandan
replied, "See you not yon other man who be with us?" They
rejoined, "By the truth of the Messiah and the Monks and the
Primate and the Metropolitan, we see none save you two!" Then the
Infidels laid shackles on their feet and set men to guard them
during the night, whilst Zat al-Dawahi fared on and disappeared
from their sight. So they fell to lamenting and saying to each
other, "Verily, the opposing of pious men leadeth to greater
distress than this, and we are punished by the strait which hath
befallen us." So far concerning Zau al-Makan and the Wazir
Dandan; but as regards King Sharrkan, he passed that night in the
cavern with his comrades, and when dawned the day and he had
prayed the morn prayer, he and his men made ready to do battle
with the Infidel and he heartened them and promised them all
good. Then they sallied out till they were hard upon the
Unbelievers and, when these saw them from afar, they cried out to
them, saying, "O Moslems, we have taken captives your Sultan and
your Wazir who hath the ordering of your affairs; and except ye
leave off fighting us, we will slay you to the last man; but an
you yield yourselves we will take you to our King, who will make
peace with you on condition that you quit our country and return
home and harm us in naught, and we will do you no harm in aught.
If ye accept, it will be well for you; but if ye refuse there
remaineth nothing for you but death. So we have told you sooth,
and this is our last word to you." Now when Sharrkan heard this
and was certified of the captivity of his brother and the Wazir
Dandan, he was weighed down with woe and wept; his force failed
him and, making sure of death, he said to himself, "Would I knew
the cause of their capture! Did they fail of respect to the holy
man or disobey him, or what was the matter?" Then they sprang up
to battle with the Unbelievers and slew great numbers of them.
The brave was known that day from craven men, and sword and spear
were dyed with bloody stain; for the Infidels flocked up on them,
as flies flock to drink, from hill and from plain; but Sharrkan
and his men ceased not to wage the fight of those who fear not to
die, nor let death hinder them from the pursuit of victory, till
the valley ran gore and earth was full of the slain she bore.
And when night fell the armies separated each making for his own
place; and the Moslems returned to the cavern where gain and loss
were manifest to them: few remained of them and there was no
dependence for them but on Allah and the scymitar. Now there had
been slain of them that day five and thirty men of the chiefest
Emirs, and they had killed thousands of the Infidels, footmen and
fighters on horse. When Sharrkan saw this, the case was grievous
to him and he asked his comrades "What shall we do?"; whereto all
answered, "That which Almighty Allah willeth shall befal us." On
the morning of the second day, Sharrkan said to the remnant of
his troop, "If ye go forth to fight, not one of you will remain
alive and we have but little left of food and water; so I deem ye
would do better to bare your brands and go forth and stand at the
mouth of this cavern, to hinder any from entering. Haply the
holy man may have reached the Moslem host, and may return with
ten thousand horses to succour us in fight with the Infidels, for
belike the Unfaithful may have failed to see him and those with
him." They said, This were the better course to take, and of its
expediency no doubt we make." So the troop went out and held the
cavern mouth standing by its walls; and every one of the Infidels
who sought to enter in, they slew. Thus did they fend off the
foe from the gape of the cave and they patiently supported all
such assaults, till day was done and night came on dusky and
dun;--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying
her permitted say.

When it was the Ninety-ninth Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the army of
the Moslems held the cavern mouth and stood by its walls and they
fended off the foe, and every one of the Infidels attempted to
charge them, him they slew; and they patiently supported all such
assaults till day was done and night came on dusky and dun, by
which time King Sharrkan had only five and twenty men and no more
left. Then quoth the Infidels to one another, "When shall these
battle days have an end? We are weary of warring the Moslems."
And quoth one of them, "Up and at them, for there remain of them
but five and twenty men! If we cannot prevail on them to fight,
let us light a fire upon them;[FN#433] and if they submit
themselves and yield to us, we will take them prisoners; but if
they refuse we will leave them for fuel to the fire, so shall
they become to men of foreseeing mind a warning dire. May the
Messiah on their fathers have no grace, and may the sojourn of
the Nazarenes be for them no abiding place!" So they carried fuel
to the jaws of the cavern and set fire to it. Thereupon Sharrkan
and his companions made sure of perdition and yielded themselves
prisoners. And while they were in this condition, lo! the
knight their captain said to those who counselled their
slaughter, "It is not for any save for King Afridun to kill them,
that he may gratify his wrath; therefore it behoveth us to keep
them in durance by us till the morrow, when we will journey with
them to Constantinople and deliver them to our King, who shall
deal with them as he please." Said they, "This is the right
course;" and he commanded to pinion them and set guards over
them. Then, as soon as it was black night, the Infidels busied
themselves with feasting and making festival; and they called for
wine and drank it till all fell upon their backs. Now Sharrkan
and his brother, Zau al-Makan, were in confinement and so also
were his companion knights; whereupon the elder turned to the
younger brother and said to him, "O my brother, how win free?"
"By Allah," replied Zau al Makan, "I know not; for here we be
like birds in cage." Then Sharrkan waxed wroth and sighed for
excess of rage and stretched himself, till his pinion bonds brass
asunder; whereupon being free he arose and went up to the Captain
of the guard, and taking from his pocket the keys of the fetters,
freed Zau al-Makan and the Wazir Dandan and the rest of his men.
Then he turned to the two and said, "I desire to slay three of
these Infidels and take and don their dress, we three; so that we
shall be guised as Greeks and we will pass through them, with out
their knowing us, and fare forth to our own force." Replied Zau
al-Makan, "This is no safe counsel for if we kill them, I fear
some of their comrades may hear their shrieks and the foe be
aroused upon us and kill us. 'Twere the surer way to pass out of
the defile." So they agreed upon this and set out; and, when they
had left the head of the strait a little distance behind, they
saw horses picketed and the riders sleeping: and Sharrkan said to
his brother, "Better we take each one of us a steed." There were
five and twenty horsemen, so they took five and twenty horses,
whilst Allah sent sleep upon the Infidels for a purpose He knew
and the Faithful mounted and fared on till they were out of
reach. Meanwhile Sharrkan set to gathering from the Infidels as
many weapons, swords, and spears, as were wanted. And while they
took saddle and struck forwards none of the Infidels supposed
that anyone could release Zau al-Makan and his brother and their
men; or that their prisoners had power to escape. Now when all
the captives were safe from the Unfaithful, Sharrkan came up with
his comrades, and found them awaiting his arrival, on coals of
flame, expecting him in anxious grame, so he turned to them and
said, "Feel no fear since Allah protecteth us. I have that to
propose which haply shall effect our purpose." "What is it?"
asked they and he answered, "I desire that ye all climb to the
mountain top and cry out with one voice, 'Allaho Akbar!' and ye
add, 'The army of Al Islam is upon you! Allaho Akbar!' This wise
their company will surely be dissolved nor will they find out the
trick for they are drunk, but they will think that the Moslem
troops have encompassed them about on all sides and have mingled
with them; so they will fall on one another brand in hand during
the confusion of drunkenness and sleep, and we will cleave them
asunder with their own swords and the scymitar will go round
amongst them till dawn." Replied Zau al-Makan, "This plan is not
good; we should do better to make our way to our army and speak
not a word; for if we cry out 'Allaho Akbar,' they will wake and
fall on us and not one of us will escape." Rejoined Sharrkan, "By
Allah, though they should awake tis no matter, and I long that ye
fall in with my plan, for naught save good can come of it!" So
they agreed thereon and clomb the mountain and shouted, "Allaho
Akbar!" And hills and trees and rocks reworded their Allaho Akbar
for fear of the Almighty. But when the Kafirs heard this slogan
they cried out to one another,--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn
of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

When it was the One Hundredth Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Sharrkan
spake thus, "I long that ye fall in with this my plan, for naught
save good can come of it." So they agreed thereon and clomb the
mountain head and shouted, "Allaho Akbar!"; and hills and trees
and rocks re worded their Allaho Akbar for fear of the Almighty.
The Infidels heard it and cried out one to other and donned their
armour and said, "The foe is upon us, by the truth of the
Messiah!" Then they fell on one another and slew of their own men
more than any knoweth save Almighty Allah. As soon as it was
dawn, they sought for the captives, but found no trace of them,
and their captains said, "They who did this were the prisoners in
our possession; up, then, and after them in all haste till ye
overtake them, when we will make them quaff the cup of requital;
and let not fright nor the panic of sudden awaking possess you."
So they took horse and rode after the fugitives and it wanted but
an eye twinkling before they overtook them and surrounded them.
Now when Zau al-Makan saw this, he was seized with increase of
terror and said to his brother, "What I feared would come, is
come upon us, and now it remaineth only for us to fight for the
Faith." But Sharrkan preferred to hold his peace. Then Zau al-
Makan and his companions rushed down from the hill crest,
shouting, "Allaho Akbar!" and his men repeated the war cry and
addressed themselves to fight and to sell their lives in the
service of the Lord of Faithful Men; and while they were in this
case, behold, they heard many voices voicing, "There is no god
but the God! God is most great! Salutation and salvation upon
the Apostle, the Bringer of glad Tidings, the Bearer of bad
Tidings!''[FN#434] So they turned towards the direction of the
sound and saw a company of Moslems who believed in one God,
pushing towards them, whereat their hearts were heartened and
Sharrkan charged upon the Infidels crying out, "There is no god
but the God! God is most great! he and those with him, so that
earth quaked as with an earthquake and the Unbeliever host brake
asunder and fled into the mountains and the Moslems followed them
with lunge and blow; and Zau al-Makan and his comrades of the
Moslems ceased not to smite the hosts of the Infidel foe, and
parted heads from bodies till day darkened and night coming on
starkened sight. Thereupon the Moslems drew together and passed
the night in congratulations, and, when morning dawned and
daybreak shone with its shine and sheen, they saw Bahram, the
captain of the Daylamites, and Rustam, the captain of the Turks,
advancing to join them, with twenty thousand cavaliers like lions
grim. As soon as they saw Zau al-Makan, the riders dismounted
and saluted him, and kissed ground between his hands when he said
to them, "Rejoice ye in the glad tidings of the victory of the
Moslem and the discomfiture of the tribe of Unbelievers!" Then
they gave one another joy of their deliverance and of the
greatness of their reward after Resurrection Day. Now the cause
of the coming of the succours to that place was this. When the
Emir Bahram and the Emir Rustam and the Chief Chamberlain, with
the Moslem host and flags flaunting high ahead, came in sight of
Constantinople they saw that the Nazarenes had mounted the walls
and manned the towers and the forts, and had set all their
defenders in order of defence, as soon as they learned of the
approach of the host of Al-Islam and the banners Mohammedan, and
they heard the clash of arms and the noise of war voices and
tramp of horse hoofs and from their look outs they beheld the
Moslems, with their standards and ensigns of the Faith of Unity
under the dust clouds and lo! they were like a flight of locusts
or rain clouds raining rain, and the voices of the Moslems
chanting the Koran and glorifying the Compassionate One, struck
their ears. Now the Infidels knew of the approach of this host
through Zat al-Dawahi with her craft and whoredom,[FN#435]
calumny and contrivance. And the armies of Al-Islam drew near,
as it were the swollen sea, for the multitude of footmen and
horsemen and women and children. Then quoth the General of the
Turks to the General of the Daylamites, "O Emir, of a truth, we
are in jeopardy from the multitude of the foe who is on the
walls. Look at yonder bulwarks and at this world of folk like
the seas that clash with dashing billows. Indeed yon Infidel
outnumbereth us an hundredfold and we cannot be safe from spies
who may inform them that we are without a Sultan. In very sooth,
we run danger from these enemies, whose numbers may not be told
and whose resources none can withhold, especially in the absence
of King Zau al-Makan and his brother Sharrkan and the illustrious
Wazir Dandan. If they know of this, they will be emboldened to
attack us in their absence and with the sword they will
annihilate us to the last man; not one of us safety shall see.
So it is my counsel that thou take ten thousand riders of the
allies and the Turks, and march them to the hermitage of
Matruhina and the meadow of Malukhina in quest of our brothers
and comrades. If thou act by my advice, it may be we shall
approve ourselves the cause of their deliverance, in case they be
hard pressed by the Infidels; and if thou act not, blame will not
attach to me. But, an ye go, it behoveth that ye return quickly,
for ill suspicion is part of prudence." The Emir aforesaid fell
in with his counsel; so they chose twenty thousand horse and they
set out covering the roads and making for the monastery above
mentioned. So much for the cause of their coming; but as regards
the ancient dame, Zat al-Dawahi, as soon as she had delivered
Sultan Zau al-Makan and his brother Sharrkan and the Wazir Dandan
into the hands of the Infidels, the foul whore mounted a swift
steed, saying to the Faithless, "I design to rejoin the Moslem
army which is at Constantinople and contrive for their
destruction; for I will inform them that their chiefs are dead,
and when they hear that from me, their joining will be disjointed
and the cord of their confederation cut and their host scattered.
Then will I go to King Afridun, Lord of Constantinople, and to my
son Hardub, King of Roum, and relate to them their tidings and
they will sally forth on the Moslems with their troops and will
destroy them and will not leave one of them alive." So she
mounted and struck across country on her good steed all the
livelong night; and, when day dawned, appeared the armies of
Bahram and Rustam advancing towards her. So she turned into a
wayside brake and hid her horse among the trees and she walked a
while saying to herself, "Haply the Moslem hosts be returning,
routed, from the assault of Constantinople." However, as she drew
near them she looked narrowly and made sure that their standards
were not reversed,[FN#436] and she knew that they were coming not
as conquered men, but fearing for their King and comrades. When
she was assured of this, she hastened towards them, running at
speed, like a devil of ill rede, till reaching them she cried
out, "Haste ye! haste ye! O soldiers of the Compassionate One,
hasten to the Holy War against the hosts of Satan!" When Bahram
saw her he dismounted and kissed the ground before her and asked
her, "O friend of Allah what is behind thee?" Answered she,
"Question not of sad case and sore condition; for when our
comrades had taken the treasure from the hermitage of Matruhina,
and designed to win their way Constantinople wards, thereupon
came out on them a driving host and a dreadful of the Infidels."
And the damned witch repeated to them the story to fill them with
trouble and terror, adding, "The most of them are dead, and there
are but five and twenty men left." Said Bahram, "O holy man!
when didst thou leave them?" "But this night,"[FN#437] replied
she. He cried, "Glory be to Allah! to Him who hath rolled up
the far distance for thee like a rug, so that thou hast sped thus
walking upon thy feet and props upon a mid-rib of palm-tree! But
thou art one of the saints which fly like birds when inspired and
possessed by His directions."[FN#438] Then he mounted his horse,
and he was perplexed and confounded by what he had heard from the
beldam so strong in lies and ill calumnies, and he said, "There
is no Majesty and there is no Might save in Allah, the Glorious,
the Great! Verily our labour is lost and our hearts are heavy
within us, for our Sultan is a prisoner and those who are with
him." Then they cut across the country, wide and side, night and
day, and when morning dawned they reached the head of the defile
and saw Zau al-Makan and Sharrkan shouting. "There is no god but
the God! Allaho Akbar! and Salutation and Salvation upon the
Congratulator, the Comminator."[FN#439] Whereupon he and his
drove at the Unbelievers and whelmed them, as the rain torrent
whelms the waste; and cried out their war cries, till fear get
hold of the prowess Knights and the mountains were cloven in
affright. And when shone the day and showed its shine and sheen,
the breeze of morning blew upon them sweet and fragrant, and each
recognised other as hath been said before. Then they kissed the
ground before the King and before his brother Sharrkan, who told
them all that had befallen the party in the cave. Now thereat
they marvelled and said to one another, "Hasten we back to
Constantinople, for we left our companions there, and our hearts
are with them." So they hurried departure, commending themselves
to the Subtle, the All-wise, and Zau al-Makan exhorted the
Moslems to steadfast- ness and versified in the following

"Be praises mine to all praiseworthy Thee, * O Lord, who stinted
not mine aid to be!
Though was I lost abroad, Thou west to me * Strongest support
which vouchsafed victory:
Thou gav'st me wealth and reign and goodly gifts, * And slungest
con quering sword of valiancy:
Thou mad'st me blest beneath Thy kingly shade, * Engraced with
generous boons dealt fain and free:
Thou savedst *from every fear I feared, by aid * Of my Wazir, the
Age's noblest he!
Garred us Thy grace in fight to throw the Greek, * Who yet came
back dight in War's cramoisie:
Then made I feint to fly from out the fight; * But like grim lion
turning made them flee,
And left on valley sole my foemen, drunk * Not with old
wine[FN#441] but Death-cup's revelry:
Then came the Saintly Hermit, and he showed * His marvels wrought
for town and wold to see;
When slew they hero-wights who woke to dwell * In Eden bowers
wherein sweet rill-lets well."

But, when Zau al-Makan had made an end of versifying, his brother
Sharrkan congratulated him on his safety and thanked him for the
deeds he had done; after which both set out forcing their marches
to rejoin their army.--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day
and ceased saying her permitted say.

When it was the One Hundred and First Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Sharrkan
congratulated his brother, Zau al-Makan, on his safety and
thanked him for the deeds he had done; after which both set out
forcing their marches to rejoin their army. Such was their case;
but as regards the old woman, Zat al-Dawahi, after she had
foregathered with the hosts of Rustam and Bahram, she returned to
the coppice, where she took her steed and mounted and sped on at
speed, till she drew near the Moslem army that beleaguered
Constantinople, when she lighted down from her destrier and led
it to the pavilion tent of the Chief Chamberlain. And when he
saw her, he stood up to her in honour and signed to her with his
right hand and said, "Welcome O pious recluse!" Then he
questioned her of what had befallen, and she repeated to him her
disquieting lies and deluding calumnies, saying, "In sooth I fear
for the Emir Rustam, and the Emir Bahram, for that I met them and
theirs on the way and sent them and their following to relieve
the King and his companions. Now there are but twenty thousand
horse and the Unbelievers outnumber them; so I would have thee at
this moment send off the rest of thy troops at full speed to
their suc cour, lest they be slain to the last man." And she
cried to them, "Haste! Haste!" When the Chamberlain and the
Moslems heard these words, their spirits fell and they wept; but
Zat al-Dawahi said to them, "Ask aidance of Allah and bear
patiently this triburation; for ye have the example of those who
have been before you of the people of Mohammed; and Paradise with
its palaces is laid out by Allah for those who die martyrs; and
needs must all die, but most praiseworthy is dying while fighting
for the Faith." The Chamberlain, hearing this speech of the
accursed old woman, called for the Emir Bahram's brother, a
knight by name Tarkash; and, choosing out for him ten thousand
horse, riders famed for force, bade him set out at once. So he
fared forth and marched all that day and the whole of the next
night, till he neared the Moslems. When daylight dawned,
Sharrkan saw the dust cloud about them and feared for the men of
Al-Islam and said, "If these troops which are coming upon us be
Moslem men our victory is assured by them; but, if these be
Nazarenes, there is no gainsaying Destiny's decrees." Then he
turned to his brother, Zau al- Makan, and said, Never fear, for
with my life I will ransom thee from death. If these be
Mohammedan troops, then were it an increase of heavenly favours;
but, if they be our foes, there is no help save that we fight
them. Yet do I long to meet the Holy Man ere I die, so I may beg
him to pray that I die not save by death of martyrdom." Whilst
the twain were thus speaking, behold, there appeared the banners
inscribed with the words, "There is no god but the God and
Mohammed is the Apostle of God;" and Sharrkan cried out, "How is
it with the Moslems?" "All are sound and safe," replied they,
"and we came not but out of concern for you." Then the Chief of
the army dismounted and, kissing ground before Sharrkan, asked,
"O my lord, how be the Sultan and the Wazir Dandan and Rustam and
my brother Bahram; are they all in safety?" He answered, "All
well; but who brought thee tidings of us?" Quoth Tarkash; "It was
the Holy Man who told us that he had met my brother Bahram and
Rustam and had sent them both to you and he also assured us that
the Infidels had encompassed you and out numbered you; but I see
not the case save the contrary thereof and that you are
victorious." They questioned him, "And how did the Holy Man reach
you?"; and he replied, "Walking on his feet and he had compassed
in a day and a night, ten days' journey for a well girt
horseman." "There is no doubt but that he is a Saint of Allah,"
said Sharrkan, "but where is he now?" They rejoined, "We left him
with our troops, the folk of the Faith, moving them to do battle
with the rebels and the Faithless." Thereat Sharrkan rejoiced and
all thanked Allah for their own deliverance and the safety of the
Holy Man; and commended the dead to His mercy saying, "This was
writ in the Book." Then they set out making for Constantinople by
forced marches, and whilst they were on this enterprise, behold,
a dust cloud arose to such height that it walled the two
horizons, the eastern and the western, from man's sight and the
day was darkened by it to night. But Sharrkan looked at it and
said, "Verily, I fear lest this be the Infidels who have routed
the army of Al-Islam for that this dust walleth the world, east
and west, and hideth the two horizons, north and south."
Presently appeared under the dust a pillar of darkness, blacker
than the blackness of dismal days; nor ceased to come upon them
that column more dreadful than the dread of the Day of Doom.
Horse and foot hastened up to look at it and know the terrors of
the case, when behold, they saw it to be the recluse aforesaid;
so they thronged round him to kiss his hands and he cried out, "O
people of the Best of Mankind,[FN#442] the lamp which shineth in
darkness blind, verily the Infidels have outwitted the Moslems by
guile, for they fell upon the host of the One God whilst they
deemed themselves safe from the Faithless, and attacked them in
their tents and made a sore slaughter of them what while they
looked for no wile; so hasten to the aid of the Believers in the
unity of God, and deliver them from those who deny Him!" Now when
Sharrkan heard these words, his heart flew from his breast with
sore trouble; and, alighting from his steed in amazement, he
kissed the Recluse's hands and feet. On like wise did his
brother, Zau al-Makan, and the rest of the foot and horse troops;
except the Wazir Dandan, who dismounted not but said, "By Allah,
my heart flieth from this devotee, for I never knew show of
devotion to religion that bred not bane. So leave him and rejoin
your comrades the Moslems, for this man is of the outcasts from
the gate of the mercy of the Lord of the Three Worlds! How often
have I here made razzias with King Omar bin al-Nu'uman and
trodden the earth of these lands!" Said Sharrkan, "Put away from
thee such evil thought, hast thou not seen this Holy Man exciting
the Faithful to fight, and holding spears and swords light? So
slander him not, for backbiting is blameable and poisoned is the
flesh of the pious.[FN#443] Look how he inciteth us to fight the
foe; and, did not Almighty Allah love him, He had cast him
aforetime into fearful torment." Then Sharrkan bade bring a
Nubian mule for the ascetic to ride and said, "Mount, O pious
man, devout and virtuous!" But the devotee refused to ride and
feigned self denial, that he might attain his end; and they knew
not that this holy personage was like him of whom the poet saith,

"He prayeth and he fasteth for an end he doth espy; * When once
his end is safely won then fast and prayer good

So the devotee ceased not to walk among the horsemen and the
footmen, like a wily fox meditating guile, and began to uplift
her voice, chanting the Koran and praising the Compassionate One.
And they continued pressing forward till they approached the camp
of Al-Islam, where Sharrkan found the Moslem in conquered plight
and the Chamberlain upon the brink of falling back in flight,
whilst the sword of Greece havoc dight among the Faithful, the
righteous and those who work upright,--And Shahrazad perceived
the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

When it was the One Hundred and Second Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when
Sharrkan saw the Moslems in conquered plight and the Chamberlain
upon the brink of retreat and flight and the sword havoc dight
among the righteous and the workers of upright, the cause of this
weakness among the Moslems was that the accursed old woman, Zat
al- Dawahi, the foe of the Faith, after seeing that Bahram and
Rustam had set forward with their troops to join Sharrkan and his
brother Zau al-Makan, repaired to the camp of the Mahometans
before Constantinople and caused the mission of the Emir Tarkash,
as hath been before said. In this her purpose was to divide the
Moslem forces the better to weaken them. Then she left them and
entered Constantinople, and called with a loud voice on the
knights of the Greeks, saying, "Let me down a cord that I may tie
thereto this letter, and do ye bear it to your King Afridun, that
he may read it and to my son King Hardub that they both do what
is written therein of bidding and forbidding." So they let down
for her a string and she tied thereto a letter whose purport was
the following: "From the terriblest of tribulations[FN#445] and
the chiefest of all calamities, Zat al-Dawahi, to King Afridun
greeting. But afterwards, of a truth I have contrived a device
for destroying the Moslems; so bide ye quiet and content. I have
cozened and captured their Sultan and the Wazir Dandan; and then
I returned to their camp and acquainted them therewith, whereby
their pride had a fall and their withers were wrung. And I have
so wrought upon the host 'leaguering Constantinople that they
have sent ten thousand men under the Emir Tarkash to succour the
capitves, of whom there be now left but few; it is therefore my
object that ye sally forth against them with all your power while
this day endureth; and that ye fall on them in their tents and
that ye leave them not till ye shall have slain them to the last
man; for, verily the Messiah looketh down upon you and the
Blessed Virgin favoureth you; and I hope of the Messiah that he
forget not what deed I have done." When her letter came to King
Afridun, he rejoiced with great joyance; and, sending at once for
King Hardub of Greece, son of Zat al-Dawahi, read the letter to
him as soon as he came,whereathe was exceeding glad and said,
"See my mother's craft; verily it dispenseth with swords, and her
aspect standeth in stead of the terrors of the Day of Dread."
Rejoined Afridun, "May the Messiah not bereave us of thy
venerable parent nor deprive her of her wile and guile!" Then he
bade the Knights give orders for sallying outside the city, and
the news was noised abroad in Constantinople. So the Nazarenes
and the cohorts of the Cross burst forth and unsheathed their
keen sabres in their numbers, shouting out their professions of
impiety and heresies, and blaspheming the Lord of all Creatures.
When the Chamberlain saw the sally, he said, "Behold, the Greek
is upon us and they surely have learned that our Sultan is far
away; and haply they have attacked us, for that the most part of
our troops have marched to the succour of King Zau al-Makan!"
Therewith he waxed wroth and cried out, "Ho, soldiers of Al-Islam
and favourers of the True Faith, an you flee you are lost, but if
ye stand fast, ye win! Know ye that valiancy lieth in endurance
of outrance and that no case is so strait but that the Almighty
is able to make it straight; Allah assain you and look upon you
with eyes of compassion fain!" Thereupon the Moslems cried out,
"Allaho Akbar!" and the believer in the One God shouted his
slogan, and whirled the mill wheels of fight with cutting and
thrusting in main and might; scymitars and spears played sore and
the plains and valleys were swamped with gore. The priests and
monks priested it, tight girding their girdles and uplifting the
Crucifixes, while the Moslem shouted out the professions of the
Requiting King and verses of the Koran began to sing. The hosts
of the Compassion are One fought against the legions of Satan;
and head flew from body of man, while the good Angels hovered
above the people of the Chosen Prophet, nor did the sword cease
to smite till the day darkened and night came on and starkened.
Now the miscreants had encompassed the Moslems and made sure of
escaping the pains that awaited them; and the Faithless greeded
for victory over the Faithful until day dawned and dazzled.
There upon the Chamberlain mounted, he and his men, trusting thee
Allah would help them to victory; and host was mingled with host
and battle rose a foot and took post. And heads flew from trunks
whilst the brave stood fast in stead; the craven turned tail and
fled; and the Judge of death judged and sentence sped, so that
the champions fell from their saddles slain and corpses cumbered
meadow and plain. Then the Moslem began to give ground and
rearwards bent; and the Greek took possession of some of their
tents; whereupon the Moslems were about to break and retreat and
take flight, when meanwhile behold, up came Sharrkan with the
rest of the host of Al-Islam and the standards of the Believers
in Unity. And having come up with them, he charged the Infidels;
and followed him Zau al-Makan and the Wazir Dandan and the Emirs
Bahram and Rustam with his brother Tarkash. When the foe saw
this, they lost head and their reason fled, and the dust clouds
towered till they covered the country whilst the righteous
Believers joined their pious comrades. Then Sharrkan accosted
the Chamberlain and praised him for his steadfastness; and he in
turn gave the Prince joy of his timely succour and his gaining
the day. Thereat the Moslems were glad and their hearts were
heartened; so they rushed upon their enemies and devoted
themselves to Allah in their Fight for the Faith. But when the
Idolaters beheld the standards Mohammedan and there on the
profession of Faith Islamitan, proclaiming the Unity, they
shrieked "Woe!" and "Ruin!" and besought succour of the
Patriarchs of the Monasteries. Then fell they to calling upon
John and Mary and the Cross abhorrent and stayed their hands from
slaughter, whilst King Afridun went up to consult King Hardub of
Greece, for the two Kings stood one at the head of each wing,
right and left. Now there was with them also a famous cavalier,
Lawiya highs, who commanded the centre; and they drew out in
battle array, but indeed they were full of alarm and affray.
Meanwhile, the Moslems aligned their forces and thereupon
Sharrkan came to his brother, Zau al-Makan, and said, "O King of
the Age, doubtless they mean to champion it, and that is also the
object of our desire; but it is my wish to push forward the
stoutest hearted of our fighters, for by forethought is one half
of life wrought." Replied the Sultan, "As thou wilt, O companion
of good counsel!" "It is my wish," added Sharrkan, "to stand in
mid line opposite the Infidel, with the Wazir Dandan on my left
and thee on my right, whilst the Emir Bahram leads the dexter
wing and the Emir Rustam leads the wing sinistral; and thou, O
mighty King, shalt be under the standards and the ensigns, for
that thou art the pillar of our defence; upon thee, after Allah,
is our dependence and we will all be thy ransom from aught that
can harm thee." Zau al-Makan thanked him therefor, and the
slogan arose and the sabre was drawn; but, as things stood thus,
behold, there came forth a cavalier from the ranks of Roum; and,
as he drew near, they saw that he was mounted on a slow paced she
mule, fleeing with her master from the shock of swords. Her
housings were of white silk covered by a prayer-carpet of Cash
mere stuff, and on her back sat a Shaykh, an old man of comely
presence and reverend aspect, garbed in a gown of white wool. He
stinted not pushing her and hurrying her on till he came near the
Moslem and said, "I am an ambassador to you all, and an
ambassador hath naught to do save to deliver; so give me safe
conduct and permit of speech, that I communicate to you my
message." Replied Sharrkan, "Thou art in safety: fear neither
sway of sword nor lunge of lance." Thereupon the old man
dismounted and, taking the Cross from his neck, placed it before
the Sultan and humbled himself with much humility. Then quoth to
him the Moslems, "What is with thee of news?"; and quoth he, "I
am an ambassador from King Afridun, for I counselled him to avert
the destruction of all these frames of men and temples of the
Compassionate One; and to him it seemed righteous to stay the
shedding of blood and limit it to the encounter of two knights in
shock of fight singular; so he agreed to that and he saith to
you, 'Verily, I will ransom my army with my life; so let the
Moslem King do as I do and with his life ransom his host. And if
he kill me, there will be no stay left in the army of Roum, and
if I kill him, there will be no stability with the Moslems." When
Sharrkan heard this he said, "O monk, I agree to that, for it is
just nor may it be gainsaid; and behold, I will meet him in
duello and do with him derring do, for I am Champion of the
Faithful even as he is Champion of the Faithless; and if he slay
me, he will have won the day and naught will remain for the
Moslems forces save flight. So return to him, O thou monk, and
say that the single combat shall take place to morrow, for this
day we have come off our journey and are aweary; but after rest
neither reproach nor blame fear ye." So the monk returned (and he
rejoicing) to King Afridun and King Hardub, and told them both
what Sharrkan had said, whereat King Afridun was glad with
exceeding gladness and fell from him anxiety and sadness, and he
said to himself, "No doubt but this Sharrkan is their doughtiest
swayer of the sword and the dourest at lunge of lance; and when I
shall have slain him, their hearts will be disheartened and their
strength will be shattered." Now Zat al-Dawahi had written to
King Afridun of that and had told him how Sharrkan was a Knight
of the Braves and the bravest of knights and had warned him
against him; but Afridun was a stalwart cavalier who fought in
many a fashion; he could hurl rocks and throw spears and smite
with the iron mace and he feared not the prowess of the prow. So
when he heard the report of the monk that Sharrkan agreed to the
duello, he was like to fly for exceeding joy because he had self
confidence and he knew that none could with stand him. The
Infidels passed that night in joy and jubilee and wine bibbing;
and, as soon as it was dawn, the two armies drew out with the
swart of spear and the blanch of blade. And behold a cavalier
rode single handed into the plain, mounted on a steed of purest
strain, and for foray and fray full ready and fain. And that
Knight had limbs of might and he was clad in an iron cuirass made
for stress of fight. On his breast he wore a jewelled mirror and
in his hand he bore a keen scymitar and his lance of Khalanj
wood,[FN#446] the curious work of the Frank, weighing a quintal.
Then the rider uncovered his face and cried out, saying, "Whoso
knoweth me verily hath enough of me, and whoso knoweth me not
right soon[FN#447] shall ken who I be. I am Afridun the
overwhelmed by the well omened Shawahi,[FN#448] Zat al-Dawahi."
But he had not ended speaking ere Sharrkan, the Champion of the
Moslems, fared forth to meet him, mounted on a sorrel horse worth
a thousand pieces of red gold with accoutrements purfled in
pearls and precious stone; and he bore in baldrick a blade of
watered Indian steel that through necks shore and made easy the
hard and sore. He crave his charger between the two hosts in
line whilst the horsemen all fixed on him their eyne, and he
cried out to Afridun, "Woe to thee, O accursed! dost thou deem
me one of the horsemen thou hast overta'en who cannot stand
against thee on battle plain?" Then each rushed upon other and
they bashed together like two mountains crashing or two billows
dash ing and clashing: they advanced and retreated; and drew
together and withdrew; and stinted not of fray and fight and
weapon play, and strife and stay, with stroke of sword and lunge
of lance. Of the two armies looking on, some said, "Sharrkan is
victor!" and others, "Afridun will conquer!"; and the two riders
stayed not their hands from the hustle until ceased the clamour
and the bustle; and the dust columns rose and the day waned and
the sun waxed yellow and wan. Then cried out King Afridun to
Sharrkan, saying, "By the truth of the Messiah and the Faith
which is no liar, thou art nought save a doughty rider and a
stalwart fighter; but thou art fraudful and thy nature is not
that of the noble. I ken thy work is other than praiseworthy nor
is thy prowess that of a Prince; for thy people behave to thee as
though thou wert a slave;[FN#449] and see! they bring thee out a
charger which is not thine, that thou mayst mount and return to
the fight. But by the truth of my Faith, thy fighting irketh and
fatigueth me and I am weary of cutting and thrusting with thee;
and if thou purpose to lay on load with me to night, thou wouldst
not change aught of thy harness nor thy horse, till thou approve
to the cavaliers, thy generous blood and skill in brunt." When
Sharrkan heard him say these words concerning his own folk
behaving to him though he were a slave, he waxt wroth and turned
towards his men, meaning to sign to them and bid them not prepare
him change of harness or horse, when lo! Afridun shook his throw
spear high in air and cast it at Sharrkan. Now when the Moslem
turned his back, he found none of the men near him, and he knew
this to be a trick of the accursed Infidel; so he wheeled round
in haste and behold, the javelin came at him, so he swerved from
it, till his head was bent low as his saddle bow. The weapon
grazed his breast, and pierced the skin of his chest, for
Sharrkan was high bosomed: whereupon he gave one cry and swooned
away. Thereat the accursed Afridun was joyful, thinking he had
slain him; and shouted to the Infidels bidding them rejoice,
whereat the Faithless were encouraged and the Faithful wept.
When Zau al-Makan saw his brother reeling in selle so that he
well nigh fell, he despatched cavaliers towards him and the
braves hurried to his aid and came up with him. Thereupon the
Infidels drove at the Moslems; the two hosts joined battle and
the two lines were mingled, whilst the keen scymitar of Al-Yaman
did good work. Now the first to reach Sharrkan was the Wazir
Dandan,--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to
say her permitted say.

When it was the One Hundred and Third Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when King
Zau al-Makan saw that the accursed Infidel had struck with
javelin his brother Sharrkan, he deemed him dead, and despatched
cavaliers towards him; and the first to reach him were the Wazir
Dandan and the Emir of the Turks, Bahram, and the Emir of the
Daylamites, Rustam. They found him falling from his horse; so
they stayed him in his saddle and returned with him to his
brother, Zau al-Makan; then they gave him in charge to his pages,
and went again to do the work of cut and thrust. So the strife
redoubled and the weapons together clashed and ceased not bate
and debate and naught was to be seen but blood flowing and necks
bowing; nor did the swords cease on the napes of men to make play
nor the strife to rage with more and more affray, till the most
part of the night was past away and the two hosts were aweary of
the mellay. So they called a truce and each army returned to its
tents, whilst all the Infidels repaired to King Afridun and
kissed the ground before him, and the priests and monks wished
him joy of his victory over Sharrkan. Then the King fared for
Constantinople and sat upon the throne of his realm, when King
Hardub came to him and said, "May the Messiah strengthen thy fore
arm and never cease to be thy helper and hearken to what prayers
my pious mother, Zat al-Dawahi, shall pray for thee! Know that
the Moslems can make no stay without Sharrkan." Replied Afridun,
"To morrow shall end the affair when to fight I fare: I will seek
Zau al-Makan and slay him, and their army shall turn tail and of
flight shall avail." Such was the case with the Kafirs; but as
regards the host of Al-Islam, when Zau al-Makan returned to his
tent, he thought of naught but his brother and, going into the
pavilion, found him in evil case and sore condition; whereupon he
summoned for counsel the Wazir Dandan and Rustam and Bahram.
When they entered, they opined to assemble the physicians that
they might medicine Sharrkan, and they wept and said, "The world
will not readily afford his like!" and they watched by him all
that night, and about the later hours came to them the Recluse in
tears. When Zau al-Makan saw him, he rose in honour; and the
Religious stroked Sharrkan's wound with his hand, chanting
somewhat of the Koran and repeating by way of talisman some of
the verses of the Compassionate One. And the pretender ceased
not to watch over him till dawn, when he came to himself and,
opening his eyes, moved his tongue in his mouth and spake. At
this Zau al-Makan rejoiced, saying, "Of a truth the blessing of
the Holy Man hath taken effect on him!" And Sharrkan said,
"Praised be Allah for recovery; indeed, I am well at this hour.
That accursed one played me false; and, but that I swerved aside
lighter than lightening, the throw spear had pierced through my
breast. So praised be Allah for saving me! And how is it with
the Moslems?" Answered Zau al-Makan, "All are weeping for thee."
Quoth Sharrkan, "I am well and in good case; but where is the
Holy Man?" Now he was sitting by him and said, "At thy head." So
the Prince turned to him and kissed his hand when he said, "O my
son! Be of good patience and Allah shall increase thy reward;
for the wage is measured by the work." Sharrkan rejoined, "Pray
for me," and he prayed for him. As soon as morning dawned and
day brake in shine and sheen, the Moslems sallied out to the
plain and the Kafirs made ready to thrust and cut. Then the
Islamite host advanced and offered fight with weapons ready
dight, and King Zau al-Makan and Afridun made to charge one at
other. But when Zau al-Makan fared forth into the field, there
came with him the Wazir Dandan and the Chamberlain and Bahram,
saying, "We will be thy sacrifice." He replied, "By the Holy
House and Zemzem and the Place![FN#450] I will not be stayed
from going forth against these wild asses." And when he rode out
into the field he played with sword and spear till riders
marvelled and both armies wondered; then he rushed upon the foe's
right wing and of it slew two knights and in like manner he dealt
with the left wing. Presently he stayed his steed in the midst
of the field and cried out, "Where is Afridun, that I may make
him taste the cup of disgrace?" But when King Hardub saw the case
he conjured Afridun not to attack him, saying, "O King, yesterday
it was thy turn to fight: it is mine to day. I care naught for
his prowess." So he rushed out towards Zau al-Makan brand in hand
and under him a stallion like Abjar, which was Antar's charger
and its coat was jet black even as saith the poet,

"On the glancing racer outracing glance * He speeds, as though he
would collar Doom:
His steed's black coat is of darkest jet, * And likest Night in
her nightliest gloom:
Whose neigh sounds glad to the hearer's ears * Like thunders
rolling in thun d'rous boom:
If he race the wind he will lead the way, * And the lightning
flash will behind him loom.''[FN#451]

Then each rushed upon the opponent, parrying blows and proving
the marvellous qualities were stored in him; and they fell to
drawing on and withdrawing till the breasts of the bystanders
were straitened and they were weary of waiting for the event. At
last Zau al-Makan cried out his war cry and rushed upon Hardub,
King of Caesarea,[FN#452] and struck him a stroke that shore head
from trunk and slew him on the spot. When the Infidels saw this,
they charged in a body, compact and united, upon Zau al-Makan,
who met them amidfield, and they engaged in hewing and foining,
till blood ran in rills. Then the Moslems cried out, "Allaho
Akbar!" (God is most Great) and "There is no god but the God!",
and invoked salvation for the Prophet, the Bringer of Glad
Tidings, the Bearer of Bad Tidings. And there befel a great
fight, but Allah assigned victory to the Faithful and defeat to
the Faithless. The Wazir Dandan shouted, "Take your blood
revenge for King Omar bin al Nu'uman and his son Sharrkan!"; and
bared his head and cried out to the Turks. Now there were by his
side more than twenty thousand horse, and all charged with him as

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