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

Part 2 out of 8

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come to pass to you?" When they saw him they exclaimed, "Praise
be to Allah for thy preservation!" and threw themselves upon him
and his children hung about him crying, "Slack, our father!
Thanks to Allah for thy safety, O our father!" And his wife said
to him, "Art thou indeed well! Laud to Allah who hath shown us
thy face in safety!" And indeed she was confounded and her reason
fled when she saw him, and she asked, "O, my lord, how didst thou
escape, thou and thy friends the merchants?"; and he answered
her, "And how fared it with thee in the house?" Quoth they, "We
were all well, whole and healthy, nor hath aught of evil befallen
us in the house, save that thy slave Kafur came to us, bareheaded
with torn garments and howling, 'Alas, the master! Alas the
master!' So we asked him, 'What tidings, O Kafur?' and he
answered 'A wall of the garden hath fallen on my master and his
friends the merchants, and they are all crushed and dead!''' "By
Allah," said my master, "he came to me but now howling, 'Alas, my
mistress! Alas, the children of the mistress!', and said, 'My
mistress and her children are all dead, every one of them!'" Then
he looked round and seeing me with my turband rent in rags round
my neck, howling and weeping with exceeding weeping and throwing
dust upon my head, he cried out at me. So I came to him and he
said, "Woe to thee, O ill omened slave! O whoreson knave! O thou
damned breed! What mischief thou hast wrought? By Allah! I will
flog thy skin from thy flesh and cut thy flesh from thy bones!" I
rejoined, "By Allah, thou canst do nothing of the kind with me, O
my lord, for thou boughtest me with my blemish; and there are
honest men to bear witness against thee that thou didst so
accepting the condition, and that thou knewest of my fault which
is to tell one lie every year. Now this is only a half lie, but
by the end of the year I will tell the other half, then will the
lie stand whole and complete." "O dog, son of a dog!", cried my
master, "O most accursed of slaves, is this all of it but a half
lie? Verily if it be a half lie 'tis a whole calamity! Get thee
from me, thou art free in the face of Allah!" "By Allah,"
rejoined I, if thou free me, I will not free thee till my year is
completed and I have told thee the half lie which is left. When
this is done, go down with me to the slave market and sell me as
thou boughtest me to whoso will buy me with my blemish; but thou
shalt not manumit me, for I have no handicraft whereby to gain my
living;[FN#99] and this my demand is a matter of law which the
doctors have laid down in the Chapter of Emancipation."[FN#100]
While we were at these words, up came the crowd of people, and
the neighbours of the quarter, men, women and children, together
with the Governor and his suite offering condolence. So my master
and the other merchants went up to him and informed him of the
adventure, and how this was but a half lie, at which all
wondered, deeming it a whole lie and a big one. And they cursed
me and reviled me, while I stood laughing and grinning at them,
till at last I asked, "How shall my master slay me when he bought
me with this my blemish?" Then my master returned home and found
his house in ruins, and it was I who had laid waste the greater
part of it,[FN#101] having broken things which were worth much
money, as also had done his wife, who said to him, "'Twas Kafur
who broke the vessels and chinaware." Thereupon his rage
redoubled and he struck hand upon hand exclaiming, "By Allah! in
my life never saw I a whoreson like this slave; and he saith this
is but a half lie! How, then, if he had told me a whole lie? He
would ruin a city, aye or even two." Then in his fury he went to
the Governor, and they gave me a neat thing in the bastinado-line
and made me eat stick till I was lost to the world and a fainting
fit came on me; and, whilst I was yet senseless, they brought the
barber who docked me and gelded me[FN#102] and cauterised the
wound. When I revived I found myself a clean eunuch with nothing
left, and my master said to me, "Even as thou hast burned my
heart for the things I held dearest, so have I burnt thy heart
for that of thy members whereby thou settest most store!" Then he
took me and sold me at a profit, for that I was become an eunuch.
And I ceased not bringing trouble upon all, wherever I was sold,
and was shifted from lord to lord and from notable to notable,
being sold and being bought, till I entered the palace of the
Commander of the Faithful. But now my spirit is broken and my
tricks are gone from me, so alas! are my ballocks. When the two
slaves heard his history, they laughed at him and chaffed him and
said, "Truly thou art skite[FN#103] and skite-son! Thou liedest
an odious lie." Then quoth they to the third slave, "Tell us thy
tale." "O sons of my uncle," quoth he, "all that ye have said is
idle: I will tell you the cause of my losing my testicles, and
indeed I deserved to lose even more, for I futtered both my
mistress and my master's eldest son and heir: but my story is a
long one and this is not the time to tell it; for the dawn, O my
cousins, draweth near and if morning come upon us with this chest
still unburied, we shall get into sore disgrace and our lives
will pay for it. So up with you and open the door and, when we
get back to the palace, I will tell you my story and the cause of
my losing my precious stones." Then he swarmed up and dropped
down from the wall inside and opened the door, so they entered
and, setting down the lantern, dug between four tombs a hole as
long as the chest and of the same breadth. Kafur plied the spade
and Sawab removed the earth by baskets full till they reached the
depth of the stature of a man;[FN#104] when they laid the chest
in the hole and threw back the earth over it: then they went
forth and shutting the door disappeared from Ghanim's eyes. When
all was quiet and he felt sure that he was left alone in the
place, his thought was busied about what the chest contained and
he said to himself, "Would that I knew the contents of that box!"
However, he waited till day broke, when morning shone and showed
her sheen: whereupon he came down from the date tree and scooped
away the earth with his hands, till the box was laid bare and
disengaged from the ground. Then he took a large stone and
hammered at the lock till he broke it and, opening the lid,
behold a young lady, a model of beauty and loveliness, clad in
the richest of garments and jewels of gold and such necklaces of
precious stones that, were the Sultan's country evened with them,
it would not pay their price. She had been drugged with Bhang,
but her bosom, rising and falling, showed that her breath had not
departed. When Ghanim saw her, he knew that some one had played
her false and hocussed her; so he pulled her out of the chest and
laid her on the ground with her face upwards. As soon as she
smelt the breeze and the air entered her nostrils, mouth and
lungs, she sneezed and choked and coughed; when there fell from
out her throat a pill of Cretan Bhang, had an elephant smelt it
he would have slept from night to night. Then she opened her eyes
and glancing around said, in sweet voice and gracious words, "Woe
to thee O wind! there is naught in thee to satisfy the thirsty,
nor aught to gratify one whose thirst is satisfied! Where is Zhar
al-Bostan?" But no one answered her, so she turned her and cried
out, "Ho Sabíhah! Shajarat al-Durr! Núr al-Hudá! Najmat al-Subh!
be ye awake? Shahwah, Nuzhab, Halwá, Zarífah, out on you,
speak![FN#105]'' But no one answered; so she looked all around
and said, "Woe's me! have they entombed me in the tombs? O Thou
who knowest what man's thought enwombs and who givest
compensation on the Day of Doom, who can have brought me from
amid hanging screens and curtains veiling the Harim rooms and set
me down between four tombs?" All this while Ghanim was standing
by: then he said to her, "O my lady, here are neither screened
rooms nor palace Harims nor yet tombs; only the slave henceforth
devoted to thy love, Ghanim bin Ayyub, sent to thee by the
Omniscient One above, that all thy troubles He may remove and win
for thee every wish that cloth behove!" Then he held his peace.
She was reassured by his words and cried, "I testify that there
is no god but the God and I testify that Mohammed is the Apostle
of God!"; then she turned to Ghanim and, placing her hands before
her face, said to him in the sweetest speech, "O blessed youth,
who brought me hither? See, I am now come to myself." "O my
lady," he replied, "three slave eunuchs came here bearing this
chest;" and related to her the whole of what had befallen him,
and how evening having closed upon him had proved the cause of
her preservation, otherwise she had died smothered.[FN#106] Then
he asked her who she was and what was her story, and she
answered, "O youth, thanks be to Allah who hath cast me into the
hands of the like of thee! But now rise and put me back into the
box; then fare forth upon the road and hire the first camel
driver or muleteer thou findest to carry it to thy house. When I
am there, all will be well and I will tell thee my tale and
acquaint thee with my adventures, and great shall be thy gain by
means of me." At this he rejoiced and went outside the tomb. The
day was now dazzling bright and the firmament shone with light
and the folk had begun to circulate; so he hired a man with a
mule and, bringing him to the tomb, lifted the chest wherein he
had put the damsel and set it on the mule. Her love now engrossed
his heart and he fared homeward with her rejoicing, for that she
was a girl worth ten thousand gold pieces and her raiment and
ornaments would fetch a mint of money. As soon as he arrived at
his house he carried in the chest and opening it,--And Shahrazad
perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

When it was the Forty-first night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when Ghanim
son of Ayyub arrived with the chest at his house, he opened it
and took out the young lady, who looked about her and, seeing
that the place was handsome, spread with carpets and dight with
cheerful colours and other deckings; and noting the stuffs up
piled and packed bales and other else than that, knew that he was
a substantial merchant and a man of much money. There upon she
uncovered her face and looked at him, and lo! he was a fair
youth; so when she saw him she loved him and said, "O my lord,
bring us something to eat." "On my head and mine eyes!" replied
he; and, going down to the bazar, bought a roasted lamb and a
dish of sweetmeats and with these dry fruits and wax candles,
besides wine and whatsoever was required of drinking materials,
not forgetting perfumes. With all this gear he returned to the
house; and when the damsel saw him she laughed and kissed him and
clasped his neck. Then she began caressing him, which made his
love wax hotter till it got the mastery of his heart. They ate
and drank and each had conceived the fondest affection; for
indeed the two were one in age and one in loveliness; and when
night came on Ghanim bin Ayyub, the Distraught, the Thrall o'
Love, rose and lit the wax candles and lamps till the place
blazed with light;[FN#107] after which he produced the wine
service and spread the table. Then both sat down again, he and
she, and he kept filling and giving her to drink, and she kept
filling and giving him to drink, and they played and toyed and
laughed and recited verses; whilst their joy increased and they
dove in closer love each to each (glory be to the Uniter of
Hearts!). They ceased not to carouse after this fashion till near
upon dawn when drowsiness overcame them and they slept where they
were, apart each from other, till the morning.[FN#108] Then
Ghanim arose and going to the market, bought all they required of
meat and vegetables and wine and what not, and brought them to
the house; whereupon both sat down to eat and ate their
sufficiency, when he set on wine. They drank and each played with
each, till their cheeks flushed red and their eyes took a darker
hue and Ghanim's soul longed to kiss the girl and to lie with her
and he said, "O my lady, grant me one kiss of that dear mouth:
per chance 't will quench the fire of my heart." "O Ghanim,"
replied she, "wait till I am drunk and dead to the world; then
steal a kiss of me, secretly and on such wise that I may not know
thou hast kissed me." Then she rose and taking off her upper
dress sat; in a thin shift of fine linen and a silken head
kerchief.[FN#109] At this passion inflamed Ghanim and he said to
her, "O my lady, wilt thou not vouchsafe me what I asked of
thee?" "By Allah," she replied, "that may not be thine, for there
is written upon my trouser string[FN#110] a hard word!" Thereupon
Ghanim's heart sank and desire grew on him as its object offered
difficulties; and he improvised these verses,

"I asked the author of mine ills * To heal the wound with one
sweet kiss:
No! No! she cried,[FN#111] for ever no! * But I, soft whispering,
urged yes:
Quoth she, Then take it by my leave, * When smiles shall pardon
thine amiss:
By force, cried I? Nay, she replied * With love and gladness eke
I wis.
Now ask me not what next occurred * Seek grace of God and whist
of this!
Deem what thou wilt of us, for love * By calumnies the sweeter is
Nor after this care I one jot * Whether my foe be known or not."

Then his affection increased and love fires rose hotter in his
heart, while she refused herself to him saying, "Thou canst not
possess me." They ceased not to make love and enjoy their wine
and wassail, whilst Ghanim was drowned in the sea of love and
longing; but she redoubled in coyness and cruelty till the night
brought on the darkness and let fall on them the skirts of sleep.
Thereupon Ghanim rose and lit the lamps and wax candles and
refreshed the room and removed the table; then he took her feet
and kissed them and, finding them like fresh cream, pressed his
face[FN#112] on them and said to her, "O my lady, take pity on
one thy love hath ta'en and thine eyes hath slain; for indeed I
were heart whole but for thy bane!" And he wept somewhat. "O my
lord, and light of my eyes," quoth she, "by Allah, I love thee in
very sooth and I trust to thy truth, but I know that I may not be
thine." "And what is the obstacle?" asked he; when she answered,
"Tonight I will tell thee my tale, that thou mayst accept my
excuse." Then she threw herself upon him and winding her arms
like a necklace about his neck, kissed him and caressed him and
promised him her favours; and they ceased not playing and
laughing till love get the firmest hold upon both their hearts.
And so it continued a whole month, both passing the night on a
single carpet bed, but whenever he would enjoy her, she put him
off; whilst mutual love increased upon them and each could hardly
abstain from other. One night, as he lay by her side, and both
were warm with wine Ghanim passed his hand over her breasts and
stroked them; then he slipped it down to her waist as far as her
navel. She awoke and, sitting up, put her hand to her trousers
and finding them fast tied, once more fell asleep. Presently, he
again felt her and sliding his hand down to her trouser string,
began pulling at it, whereupon she awoke and sat upright. Ghanim
also sat up by her side and she asked him, "What dost thou want?"
"I want to lie with thee," he answered, "and that we may deal
openly and frankly with each other." Quoth she, "I must now
declare to thee my case, that thou mayst know my quality; then
will my secret be disclosed to thee and my excuse become manifest
to thee." Quoth he, "So be it!" Thereat she opened the skirt of
her shift and taking up her trouser string, said to him, "O my
lord, read what is worked on the flat of this string:" so he took
it in hand, and saw these words broidered on it in gold, "I AM
he read this, he withdrew his hand and said to her, "Tell me who
thou art!" "So be it," answered she; "know that I am one of the
concubines of the Commander of the Faithful, and my name is Kút
al-Kulúb the Food of Hearts. I was brought up in his palace and,
when I grew to woman's estate, he looked on me and, noting what
share of beauty and loveliness the Creator had given me, loved me
with exceeding love, and assigned me a separate apartment, and
gave me ten slave girls to wait on me and all these ornaments
thou seest me wearing. On a certain day he set out for one of his
provinces, and the Lady Zubaydah came to one of the slave girls
in my service and said to her, 'I have something to require of
thee.' 'What is it, O my lady?' asked she and the Caliph's wife
answered, 'When thy mistress Kut al-Kulub is asleep, put this
piece of Bhang into her nostrils or drop it into her drink, and
thou shalt have of me as much money as will satisfy thee.' 'With
love and gladness;' replied the girl and took the Bhang from her,
being a glad woman because of the money and because aforetime she
had been one of Zubaydah's slaves. So she put the Bhang in my
drink, and when it was night drank, and the drug had no sooner
settled in my stomach than I fell to the ground, my head touching
my feet, and knew naught of my life but that I was in another
world. When her device succeeded, she bade put me in this chest,
and secretly brought in the slaves and the doorkeepers and bribed
them; and, on the night when thou wast perched upon the date
tree, she sent the blacks to do with me as thou sawest. So my
delivery was at thy hands, and thou broughtest me to this house
and hast entreated me honourably and with thy kindest. This is my
story, and I wot not what is become of the Caliph during my
absence. Know then my condition and divulge not my case." When
Ghanim heard her words and knew that she was a concubine of the
Caliph, he drew back, for awe of the Caliphate beset him, and sat
apart from her in one of the corners of the place, blaming
himself and brooding over his affair and patiencing his heart
bewildered for love of one he could not possess. Then he wept for
excess of longing, and plained him of Fortune and her injuries,
and the world and its enmities (and praise be to Him who causeth
generous hearts to be troubled with love and the beloved, and who
endoweth not the minds of the mean and miserly with so much of it
as eveneth a grain-weight!). So he began repeating,

"The lover's heart for his beloved must meet * Sad pain, and from
her charms bear sore defeat:
What is Love's taste? They asked and answered I, * Sweet is the
taste but ah! 'tis bitter sweet."

Thereupon Kut al-Kulub arose and took him to her bosom and kissed
him; for the love of him was firm fixed in her heart, so that she
disclosed to him her secret and all the affection she felt; and,
throwing her arms round Ghanim's neck like a collar of pearls,
kissed him again and yet again. But he held off from her in awe
of the Caliph. Then they talked together a long while (and indeed
both were drowned in the sea of their mutual love); and, as the
day broke, Ghanim rose and donned his clothes and going to the
bazar, as was his wont, took what the occasion required and
returned home. He found her weeping; but when she saw him she
checked herself and, smiling through her tears, said, "Thou hast
desolated me, O beloved of my heart. By Allah, this hour of
absence hath been to me like a year![FN#114] I have explained to
thee my condition in the excess of my eager love for thee; so
come now near me, and forget the past and have thy will of me."
But he interrupted her crying, "I seek refuge with Allah! This
thing may never be. How shall the dog sit in the lion's stead?
What is the lord's is unlawful to the slave!" So he with-drew
from her, and sat down on a corner of the mat. Her passion for
him increased with his forbearance; so she seated herself by his
side and caroused and played with him, till the two were flushed
with wine, and she was mad for her own dishonour. Then she sang
these verses,

"The lover's heart is like to break in twain: * Till when these
coy denials ah! till when?
O thou who fliest me sans fault of mine, * Gazelles are wont at
times prove tame to men:
Absence, aversion, distance and disdain, * How shall young lover
all these ills sustain?"

Thereupon Ghanim wept and she wept at his weeping, and they
ceased not drinking till nightfall, when he rose and spread two
beds, each in its place. "For whom is this second bed?" asked
she, and he answered her, "One is for me and the other is for
thee: from this night forth we must not sleep save thus, for that
which is the lord's is unlawful to the thrall." "O my master!"
cried she, "let us have done with this, for all things come to
pass by Fate and Fortune." But he refused, and the fire was
lighted in her heart and, as her longing waxed fiercer, she clung
to him and cried, "By Allah, we will not sleep save side by
side!" "Allah forefend!" he replied and prevailed against her and
lay apart till the morning, when love and longing redoubled on
her and distraction and eager thirst of passion. They abode after
this fashion three full told months, which were long and longsome
indeed, and every time she made advances to him, he would refuse
himself and say, "Whatever belongeth to the master is unlawful to
the man." Now when time waxed tiresome and tedious to her and
anguish and distress grew on her, she burst out from her
oppressed heart with these verses,

"How long, rare beauty! wilt do wrong to me? * Who was it bade
thee not belong to me?
With outer charms thou weddest inner grace * Comprising every
point of piquancy:
Passion thou hast infused in every heart, * From eyelids driven
sleep by deputy:
Erst was (I wet) the spray made thin of leaf. * O Cassia spray!
Unlief thy sin I see:[FN#115]
The hart erst hunted I: how is 't I spy * The hunter hunted (fair
my hart!) by thee?
Wondrouser still I tell thee aye that I * Am trapped while never
up to trap thou be!
Ne'er grant my prayer! For if I grudge thyself * To thee, I
grudge my me more jealously
And cry so long as life belong to me, * Rare beauty how, how long
this wrong to me?"

They abode in this state a long time, and fear kept Ghanim aloof
from her. So far concerning these two; but as regards the Lady
Zubaydah, when, in the Caliph's absence she had done this deed by
Kut al-Kulub she became perplexed, saying to herself, "What shall
I tell my cousin when he comes back and asks for her? What
possible answer can I make to him?" Then she called an old woman,
who was about her and discovered her secret to her saying, "How
shall I act seeing that Kut al-Kulub died by such untimely
death?" "O my lady," quoth the old crone, "the time of the
Caliph's return is near; so do thou send for a carpenter and bid
him make thee a figure of wood in the form of a corpse. We will
dig a grave for it midmost the palace and there bury it: then do
thou build an oratory over it and set therein lighted candles and
lamps, and order each and every in the palace to be clad in
black.[FN#116] Furthermore command thy handmaids and eunuchs as
soon as they know of the Caliph's returning from his journey, to
spread straw over the vestibule floors and, when the Commander of
the Faithful enters and asks what is the matter, let them say:--
Kut al-Kulub is dead, and may Allah abundantly compensate thee
for the loss of her![FN#117]; and, for the high esteem in which
she was held of our mistress, she hath buried her in her own
palace. When he hears this he will weep and it shall be grievous
to him; then will he cause perfections of the Koran to be made
for her and he will watch by night at her tomb. Should he say to
himself, 'Verily Zubaydah, the daughter of my uncle, hath
compassed in her jealousy the death of Kut al-Kulub'; or, if love
longing overcome him and he bid her be taken out of her tomb,
fear thou not; for when they dig down and come to the image in
human shape he will see it shrouded in costly grave clothes; and,
if he wish to take off the winding sheet that he may look upon
her, do thou forbid him or let some other forbid him, saying,
'The sight of her nakedness is unlawful.' The fear of the world
to come will restrain him and he will believe that she is dead
and will restore the figure to its place and thank thee for thy
doings; and thus thou shalt escape, please Almighty Allah, from
this slough of despond." When the Lady Zubaydah heard her words,
she commended the counsel and gave her a dress of honour and a
large sum of money, ordering her to do all she had said. So the
old woman set about the business forthright and bade the
carpenter make her the afore said image; and, as soon as it was
finished, she brought it to the Lady Zubaydah, who shrouded it
and buried it and built a sepulchre over it, wherein they lighted
candles and lamps, and laid down carpets about the tomb. Moreover
she put on black and she spread abroad in the Harim that Kut
al-Kulub was dead. After a time the Caliph returned from his
journey and went up to the palace, thinking only of Kut al-Kulub.
He saw all the pages and eunuchs and handmaids habited in black,
at which his heart fluttered with extreme fear; and, when he went
in to the Lady Zubaydah, he found her also garbed in black. So he
asked the cause of this and they gave him tidings of the death of
Kut al-Kulub, whereon he fell a swooning. As soon as he came to
himself, he asked for her tomb, and the Lady Zubaydah said to
him, "Know, O Prince of the Faithful, that for especial honour I
have buried her in my own palace." Then he repaired in his
travelling garb[FN#118] to the tomb that he might wail over her,
and found the carpets spread and the candles and lamps lighted.
When he saw this, he thanked Zubaydah for her good deed and abode
perplexed, halting between belief and unbelief till at last
suspicion overcame him and he gave order to open the grave and
take out the body. When he saw the shroud and would have removed
it to look upon her, the fear of Allah Almighty restrained him,
and the old woman (taking advantage of the delay) said, "Restore
her to her place." Then he sent at once for Fakirs and Koran
readers, and caused perfections to be made over her tomb and sat
by the side of the grave, weeping till he fainted; and he
continued to frequent the tomb and sit there for a whole month,--
And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her
permitted say.

When it was the Forty-second Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the Caliph
ceased not to frequent the tomb for the period of a whole month,
at the end of which time it so happened one day that he entered
the Serraglio, after dismissing the Emirs and Wazirs, and lay
down and slept awhile; and there sat at his head a slave girl
fanning him, and at his feet a second rubbing and shampooing
them. Presently he awoke and, opening his eyes, shut them again
and heard the handmaid at his head saying to her who was at his
feet, "A nice business this, O Khayzarán!" and the other answered
her "Well, O Kazíb al-Bán?"[FN#119] "Verily" said the first, "our
lord knoweth naught of what hath happened and sitteth waking and
watching by a tomb wherein is only a log of wood carved by the
carpenter's art." "And Kut al-Kulub," quoth the other, "what hath
befallen her?" She replied, "Know that the Lady Zubaydah sent a
pellet of Bhang by one of the slave women who was bribed to drug
her; and when sleep overpowered her she let put her in a chest,
and ordered Sawab and Kafur and Bukhayt to throw her amongst the
tombs." "What dost thou say, O Kazib al-Ban;" asked Khayzaran,
"is not the lady Kut al-Kulub dead?" "Nay, by Allah!" she
answered "and long may her youth be saved from death! but I have
heard the Lady Zubaydah say that she is in the house of a young
merchant named Ghanim bin Ayyub of Damascus, highs the
Distraught, the Thrall o' Love; and she hath been with him these
four months, whilst our lord is weeping and watching by night at
a tomb wherein is no corpse." They kept on talking this sort of
talk, and the Caliph gave ear to their words; and, by the time
they had ceased speaking, he knew right well that the tomb was a
feint and a fraud, and that Kut al-Kulub had been in Ghanim's
house for four months. Whereupon he was angered with exceeding
anger and rising up, he summoned the Emirs of his state; and his
Wazir Ja'afar the Barmaki came also and kissed the ground between
his hands. The Caliph said to him in fury, "Go down, O Ja'afar,
with a party of armed men and ask for the house of Ghanim son of
Ayyub: fall upon it and spoil it and bring him to me with my
slave girl, Kut al-Kulub, for there is no help but that I punish
him!" "To hear is to obey," said Ja'afar; and setting out with
the Governor and the guards and a world of people, repaired to
Ghanim's house. Now about that time the youth happened to have
brought back a pot of dressed meat and was about to put forth his
hand to eat of it, he and Kut al-Kulub, when the lady, happening
to look out saw calamity surrounding the house on every side; for
the Wazir and the Governor, the night guard and the Mamelukes
with swords drawn had girt it as the white of the eye girdeth the
black. At this she knew that tidings of her had reached the
Caliph, her lord; and she made sure of ruin, and her colour paled
and her fair features changed and her favour faded. Then she
turned to Ghanim and said to him, "O my love! fly for thy life!"
"What shall I do," asked he, "and whither shall I go, seeing that
my money and means of maintenance are all in this house?"; and
she answered, "Delay not lest thou be slain and lose life as well
as wealth." "O my loved one and light of mine eyes!" he cried,
"how shall I do to get away when they have surrounded the house?"
Quoth she, "Fear not;" and, stripping off his fine clothes,
dressed him in ragged old garments, after which she took the pot
and, putting in it bits of broken bread and a saucer of
meat,[FN#120] placed the whole in a basket and setting it upon
his head said, "Go out in this guise and fear not for me who
wotteth right well what thing is in my hand for the
Caliph."[FN#121] So he went out amongst them, bearing the basket
with its contents, and the Protector vouchsafed him His
protection and he escaped the snares and perils that beset him,
by the blessing of his good conscience and pure conduct.
Meanwhile Ja'afar dismounted and entering the house, saw Kut
al-Kulub who had dressed and decked herself in splendid raiments
and ornaments and filled a chest with gold and jewellery and
precious stones and rarities and what else was light to bear and
of value rare. When she saw Ja'afar come in, she rose and,
kissing the ground before him, said, "O my lord, the Reed hath
written of old the rede which Allah decreed!''[FN#122] "By Allah,
O my lady," answered Ja'afar, "he gave me an order to seize
Ghanim son of Ayyub;" and she rejoined, "O my lord, he made ready
his goods and set out therewith for Damascus and I know nothing
more of him; but I desire thee take charge of this chest and
deliver it to me in the Harim of the Prince of the Faithful."
"Hearing and obedience," said Ja'afar, and bade his men bear it
away to the head quarters of the Caliphate together with Kut
al-Kulub, commanding them to entreat her with honour as one in
high esteem. They did his bidding after they had wrecked and
plundered Ghanim's house. Then Ja'afar went in to the Caliph and
told him all that had happened, and he ordered Kut al-Kulub to be
lodged in a dark chamber and appointed an old women to serve her,
feeling convinced that Ghanim had debauched her and slept with
her. Then he wrote a mandate to the Emir Mohammed bin Sulayman
al-Zayni, his viceroy in Damascus, to this effect: "The instant
thou shalt receive this our letter, seize upon Ghanim bin Ayyub
and send him to us." When the missive came to the viceroy, he
kissed it and laid it on his head; then he let proclaim in the
bazars, "Whoso is desirous to plunder, away with him to the house
of Ghanim son of Ayyub."[FN#123] So they flocked thither, when
they found that Ghanim's mother and sister had built him a
tomb[FN#124] in the midst of the house and sat by it weeping for
him; whereupon they seized the two without telling them the cause
and, after spoiling the house, carried them before the viceroy.
He questioned them concerning Ghanim and both replied, "For a
year or more we have had no news of him." So they restored them
to their place. Thus far concerning them; but as regards Ghanim,
when he saw his wealth spoiled and his ruin utterest he wept over
himself till his heart well nigh brake. Then he fared on at
random till the last of the day, and hunger grew hard on him and
walking wearied him. So coming to a village he entered a
mosque[FN#125] where he sat down upon a mat and propped his back
against the wall; but presently he sank to the ground in his
extremity of famine and fatigue. There he lay till dawn, his
heart fluttering for want of food; and, owing to his sweating,
the lice[FN#126] coursed over his skin; his breath waxed fetid
and his whole condition was changed. When the villagers came to
pray the dawn prayer, they found him prostrate, ailing, hunger
lean, yet showing evident signs of former affluence. As soon as
prayers were over, they drew near him; and, understanding that he
was starved with hunger and cold, they gave him an old robe with
ragged sleeves and said to him, "O stranger, whence art thou and
what sickness is upon thee?" He opened his eyes and wept but
returned no answer; whereupon one of them, who saw that he was
starving, brought him a saucer of honey and two barley scones. He
ate a little and they sat with him till sun rise, when they went
to their work. He abode with them in this state for a month,
whilst sickness and weakliness grew upon him; and they wept for
him and, pitying his condition, took counsel with one another
upon his case and agreed to forward him to the hospital in
Baghdad.[FN#127] Meanwhile behold, two beggar women, who were
none other than Ghanim's mother and sister,[FN#128] came into the
mosque and, when he saw them, he gave them the bread that was at
his head; and they slept by his side that night but he knew them
not. Next day the villagers brought a camel and said to the
cameleer, "Set this sick man on thy beast and carry him to
Baghdad and put him down at the Spital door; so haply he may be
medicined and be healed and thou shalt have thy hire."[FN#129]
"To hear is to comply," said the man. So they brought Ghanim, who
was asleep, out of the mosque and set him, mat and all, on the
camel; and his mother and sister came out among the crowd to gaze
upon him, but they knew him not. However, after looking at him
and considering him carefully they said, "Of a truth he favours
our Ghanim, poor boy!; can this sick man be he?" Presently, he
woke and finding himself bound with ropes on a camel's back, he
began to weep and complain,[FN#130] and the village people saw
his mother and sister weeping over him, albeit they knew him not.
Then they fared forth for Baghdad, but the camel-man forewent
them and, setting Ghanim down at the Spital gate, went away with
his beast. The sick man lay there till dawn and, when the folk
began to go about the streets, they saw him and stood gazing on
him, for he had become as thin as a toothpick, till the Syndic of
the bazar came up and drove them away from him, saying, "I will
gain Paradise through this poor creature; for if they take him
into the Hospital, they will kill him in a single day."[FN#131]
Then he made his young men carry him to his house, where they
spread him a new bed with a new pillow,[FN#132] and he said to
his wife, "Tend him carefully;" and she replied, "Good! on my
head be it!" Thereupon she tucked up her sleeves and warming some
water, washed his hands, feet and body; after which she clothed
him in a robe belonging to one of her slave girls and made him
drink a cup of wine and sprinkled rose wafer over him. So he
revived and complained, and the thought of his beloved Kut
al-Kulub made his grief redouble. Thus far concerning him; but as
regards Kut al-Kulub, when the Caliph was angered against her,--
And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her
permitted say.

When it was the Forty-third Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the
Caliph was angered against Kut al-Kulub, he ordered her to a dark
chamber where she abode eighty days, at the end of which the
Caliph, happening to pass on a certain day the place where she
was, heard her repeating poetry, and after she ceased reciting
her verse, saying, "O my darling, O my Ghanim! how great is thy
goodness and how chaste is thy nature! thou didst well by one who
did ill by thee and thou guardedst his honour who garred thine
become dishonour, and his Harim thou didst protect who to enslave
thee and shine did elect! But thou shalt surely stand, thou and
the Commander of the Faithful, before the Just Judge, and thou
shalt be justified of him on the Day when the Lord (to whom be
honour and glory!) shall be Kazi and the Angels of Heaven shall
be witnesses!" When the Caliph heard her com plaint, he knew that
she had been wronged and, returning to the palace, sent Masrur
the Eunuch for her. She came before him with bowed head and eyes
tearful and heart sorrowful; and he said to her, "O Kut al-Kulub,
I find thou accuses me of tyranny and oppression, and thou
avouches that I have done ill by one who did well by me. Who is
this who hath guarded my honour while I garred his become
dishonour? Who protected my Harim and whose Harim I wrecked?" "He
is Ghanim son of Ayyub," replied she, "for he never approached me
in wantonness or with lewd intent, I swear by thy munificence, O
Commander of the Faithful!" Then said the Caliph, "There is no
Majesty and there is no Might save in Allah! Ask what thou wilt
of me, O Kut al-Kulub." "O Prince of the Faithful!", answered
she, "I require of thee only my beloved Ghanim son of Ayyub." He
did as she desired, whereupon she said, "O Lord of the Moslems,
if I bring him to thy presence, wilt thou bestow me on him?"; and
he replied, "If he come into my presence, I will give thee to him
as the gift of the generous who revoketh not his largesse." "O
Prince of True Believers," quoth she, "suffer me to go and seek
him; haply Allah may unite me with him:" and quoth he, "Do even
as thou wilt." So she rejoiced and, taking with her a thousand
diners in gold, went out and visited the elders of the various
faiths and gave alms in Ghanim's name.[FN#133] Next day she
walked to the merchants' bazar and disclosed her object to the
Syndic and gave him money, saying, "Bestow this in charity to the
stranger!" On the following Friday she fared to the bazar (with
other thousand diners) and, entering the goldsmiths' and
jewellers' market street, called the Chief and presented to him a
thousand diners with these words, "Bestow this in charity to the
stranger!" The Chief looked at her (and he was the Syndic who had
taken in Ghanim) and said, "O my lady, wilt thou come to my house
and look upon a youth, a stranger I have there and see how goodly
and graceful he is?" Now the stranger was Ghanim, son of Ayyub,
but the Chief had no knowledge of him and thought him to be some
wandering pauper, some debtor whose wealth had been taken from
him, or some lover parted from his beloved. When she heard his
words her heart fluttered[FN#134] and her vitals yearned, and she
said to him, "Send with me one who shall guide me to thy house."
So he sent a little lad who brought her to the house wherein was
the head man's stranger guest and she thanked him for this. When
she reached the house, she went in and saluted the Syndic's wife,
who rose and kissed the ground between her hands, for she knew
her. Then quoth Kut al-Kulub, "Where is the sick man who is with
thee?" She wept and replied, "Here is he, O my lady; by Allah, he
is come of good folk and he beareth the signs of gentle breeding:
you see him lying on yonder bed." So she turned and looked at
him: and she saw something like him, but he was worn and wasted
till he had become lean as a toothpick, so his identity was
doubtful to her and she could not be certain that it was he. Yet
pity for him possessed her and she wept saying, "Verily the
stranger is unhappy, even though he be a prince in his own
land!"; and his case was grievous to her and her heart ached for
him, yet she knew him not to be Ghanim. Then she furnished him
with wine and medicines and she sat awhile by his head, after
which she mounted and returned to her palace and continued to
visit every bazar in quest of her lover. Meanwhile Ghanim's
mother and sister Fitnah arrived at Baghdad and met the Syndic,
who carried them to Kut al-Kulub and said to her, "O Princess of
beneficent ladies, there came to our city this day a woman and
her daughter, who are fair of favour and signs of good breeding
and dignity are apparent in them, though they be dressed in hair
cloth and have each one a wallet hanging to her neck; and their
eyes are tearful and their hearts are sorrowful. So I have
brought them to thee that thou mayst give them refuge, and rescue
them from beggary, for they are not of asker folk and, if it
please Allah, we shall enter Paradise through them." "By Allah, O
my master," cried she, "thou makest me long to see them! Where
are they?", adding, "Here with them to me!" So he bade the eunuch
bring them in; and, when she looked on them and saw that they
were both of distinguished beauty, she wept for them and said,
"By Allah, these are people of condition and show plain signs of
former opulence." "O my lady," said the Syndic's wife, "we love
the poor and the destitute, more especially as reward in Heaven
will recompense our love; and, as for these persons, haply the
oppressor hath dealt hardly with them and hath plundered their
property and harried their houses." Then Ghanim's mother and
sister wept with sore weeping, remembering their former
prosperity and contrasting it with their present poverty and
miserable condition; and their thoughts dwelt upon son and
brother, whilst Kut al-Kulub wept for their weeping; and they
said, "We beseech Allah to reunite us with him whom we desire,
and he is none other but my son named Ghanim bin Ayyud!" When Kut
al-Kulub heard this, she knew them to be the mother and sister of
her lover and wept till a swoon came over her. When she revived
she turned to them and said, "Have no fear and sorrow not, for
this day is the first of your prosperity and the last of your
adversity!"--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased
saying her permitted say.

When it was the Forty-fourth Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when Kut
al-Kulub had consoled them she bade the Syndic lead them to his
house and let his wife carry them to the Hammam and dress them in
handsome clothes and take care of them and honour them with all
honour; and she gave him a sufficient sum of money. Next day, she
mounted and, riding to his house, went in to his wife who rose up
and kissed her hands and thanked her for her kindness. There she
saw Ghanim's mother and sister whom the Syndic's wife had taken
to the Hammam and clothed afresh, so that the traces of their
former condition became manifest upon them. She sat talking with
them awhile, after which she asked the wife about the sick youth
who was in her house and she replied, "He is in the same state."
Then said Kut al-Kulub, "Come, let us go and visit him." So she
arose, she and the Chief's wife and Ghanim's mother and sister,
and went in to the room where he lay and sat down near him.
Presently Ghanim bin Ayyub, the Distraught, the Thrall o' Love,
heard them mention the name of Kut al-Kulub; whereupon life
returned to him, emaciated and withered as he was and he raised
his head from the pillow and cried aloud, "O Kut al-Kulub!" She
looked at him and made certain it was he and shrieked rather than
said, "Yes, O my beloved!" "Draw near to me;" said he, and she
replied, "Surely thou art Ghanim bin Ayyub?"; and he rejoined "I
am indeed!" Hereupon a swoon came upon her; and, as soon as
Ghanim's mother and his sister Fitnah heard these words, both
cried out "O our joy'" and fainted clean away. When they all
recovered, Kut al-Kulub exclaimed "Praise be to Allah who hath
brought us together again and who hath reunited thee with thy
mother and thy sister!" And she related to him all that had
befallen her with the Caliph and said "I have made known the
truth to the Commander of the Faithful, who believed my words and
was pleased with thee; and now he desireth to see thee," adding,
"He hath given me to thee." Thereat he rejoiced with extreme joy,
when she said, "Quit not this place till I come back" and, rising
forthwith, betook herself to her palace. There she opened the
chest which she had brought from Ghanim's house and, taking out
some of the diners, gave them to the Syndic saying, "Buy with
this money for each of them four complete suits of the finest
stuffs and twenty kerchiefs, and else beside of whatsoever they
require;" after which she carried all three to the baths and had
them washed and bathed and made ready for them consommés, and
galangale-water and cider against their coming out. When they
left the Hammam, they put on the new clothes, and she abode with
them three days feeding them with chicken meats and bouillis, and
making them drink sherbert of sugar candy. After three days their
spirits returned; and she carried them again to the baths, and
when they came out and had changed their raiment, she led them
back to the Syndic's house and left them there, whilst she
returned to the palace and craved permission to see the Caliph.
When he ordered her to come in, she entered and, kissing the
ground between his hands, told him the whole story and how her
lord, Ghanim bin Ayyub, yclept the Distraught, the Thrall o'
Love, and his mother and sister were now in Baghdad. When the
Caliph heard this, he turned to the eunuchs and said, "Here with
Ghanim to me." So Ja'afar went to fetch him; but Kut al-Kulub
forewent him and told Ghanim, "The Caliph hath sent to fetch thee
before him," and charged him to show readiness of tongue and
firmness of heart and sweetness of speech. Then she robed him in
a sumptuous dress and gave him diners in plenty, saying, "Be
lavish of largesse to the Caliph's household as thou goest in to
him." Presently Ja'afar, mounted on his Nubian mule, came to
fetch him; and Ghanim advanced to welcome the Wazir and, wishing
him long life, kissed the ground before him. Now the star of his
good fortune had risen and shone brightly; and Ja'afar took him;
and they ceased not faring together, he and the Minister, till
they went in to the Commander of the Faithful. When he stood in
the presence, he looked at the Wazirs and Emirs and Chamberlains,
and Viceroys and Grandees and Captains, and then at the Caliph.
Hereupon he sweetened his speech and his eloquence and, bowing
his head to the ground, broke out in these extempore couplets,

"May that Monarch's life span a mighty span, * Whose lavish of
largesse all Empyrean! lieges scan:
None other but he shall be Kaysar highs, * Lord of lordly hall
and of haught Divan:
Kings lay their gems on his threshold-dust * As they bow and
salam to the mighty man;
And his glances foil them and all recoil, * Bowing beards aground
and with faces wan:
Yet they gain the profit of royal grace, * The rank and station
of high
Earth's plain is scant for thy world of men, * Camp there in Kay
wan's[FN#135] Empyrean!
May the King of Kings ever hold thee dear; * Be counsel shine and
right steadfast plan
Till thy justice spread o'er the wide spread earth * And the near
and the far be of equal worth."

When he ended his improvisation the Caliph was pleased by it and
marvelled at the eloquence of his tongue and the sweetness of his
speech,--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to
say her permitted say.

When it was the Forty-fifth Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the Caliph,
after marvelling at his eloquence of tongue and sweetness of
speech, said to him, "Draw near to me." So he drew near and quoth
the King, "Tell me thy tale and declare to me thy case." So
Ghanim sat down and related to him what had befallen him in
Baghdad, of his sleeping in the tomb and of his opening the chest
after the three slaves had departed, and informed him, in short,
of everything that had happened to him from commencement to
conclusion none of which we will repeat for interest fails in
twice told tales. The Caliph was convinced that he was a true
man; so he invested him with a dress of honour, and placed him
near himself in token of favour, and said to him, "Acquit me of
the responsibility I have incurred.''[FN#136] And Ghanim so did,
saying, "O our lord the Sultan, of a truth thy slave and all
things his two hands own are his master's." The Caliph was
pleased at this and gave orders to set apart a palace for him and
assigned to him pay and allowances, rations and donations, which
amounted to something immense. So he removed thither with sister
and mother; after which the Caliph, hearing that his sister
Fitnah was in beauty a very "fitnah,"[FN#137] a mere seduction,
demanded her in marriage of Ghanim who replied, "She is thy
handmaid as I am thy slave." The Caliph thanked him and gave him
an hundred thousand diners, then summoned the witnesses and the
Kazi, and on one and the same day they wrote out the two
contracts of marriage between the Caliph and Fitnah and between
Ghanim bin Ayyub and Kut al-Kulub; and the two marriages were
consummated on one and the same night. When it was morning, the
Caliph gave orders to record the history of what had befallen
Ghanim from first to last and to deposit it in the royal muniment
rooms, that those who came after him might read it and marvel at
the dealings of Destiny and put their trust in Him who created
the night and the day. Yet, O auspicious King, this story to
which thou hast deigned give ear is on no wise more wondrous than

Tale Of King Omar Bin Al-Nu'uman And His Sons Sharrkan
And Zau Al-Makan,

And What Befel Them of Things Seld-Seen and Peregrine.[FN#138]

The King asked her, "And what was their story?" and she answered:
It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that there was in the City
of Safety, Baghdad, before the Caliphate of Abd al-Malik bin
Marwán,[FN#139] a King, Omar bin al-Nu'umán highs, who was of the
mighty giants and had subjected the Chosroës of Persia and the
Kaysars of Eastern Rome; for none could warm himself at his
fire;[FN#140] nor could any avail to meet him in the field of
foray and fray; and, when he was angered, there came forth from
his nostrils sparks of flame. He had made himself King over all
quarters, and Allah had subjected to him all His creatures; his
word went forth to all great cities and his hosts had harried the
farthest lands. East and West had come under his command with
whatsoever regions lay interspersed between them, Hind and Sind
and Sin,[FN#141] the Holy Land, Al-Hijaz, the rich mountains of
Al-Yaman and the archipelagos of India and China. Moreover, he
reigned supreme over the north country and Diyár Bakr, or
Mesopotamia, and over Sudán, the Eastern Negro land and the
Islands of the Ocean, and all the far famed rivers of the earth,
Sayhún and Jayhún,[FN#142] Nile and Euphrates. He sent envoys
and ambassadors to capitals the most remote, to provide him with
true report; and they would bring back tidings of justice and
peace, with assurance of loyalty and obedience and of prayers in
the pulpits for King Omar bin al-Nu'uman; for he was, O Ruler of
the Age, a right noble King; and there came to him presents of
rarities and toll and tribute from all lands of his governing.
This mighty monarch had a son yclept Sharrkan,[FN#143] who was
likest of all men to his father and who proved himself one of the
prodigies of his time for subduing the brave and bringing his
contemporaries to bane and ban. For this his father loved him
with love so great none could be greater, and made him heir to
the kingdom after himself. This Prince grew up till he reached
man's estate and was twenty years old, and Allah subjected His
servants to him, by reason of his great might and prowess in
battle. Now his father, King Omar, had four wives legally
married, but Allah had vouchsafed him no son by them, save
Sharrkan, whom he had begotten upon one of them, and the rest
were barren. Moreover he had three hundred and sixty concubines,
after the number of days in the Coptic year, who were of all
nations; and he had furnished for each and every a private
chamber within his own palace. For he had built twelve
pavilions, after the number of the months, each containing thirty
private chambers, which thus numbered three hundred and three
score, wherein he lodged his handmaids: and he appointed
according to law for each one her night, when he lay with her and
came not again to her for a full year;[FN#144] and on this wise
he abode for a length of time. Meanwhile his son Sharrkan was
making himself renowned in all quarters of the world and his
father was proud of him and his might waxed and grew mightier; so
that he passed all bounds and bore himself masterfully and took
by storm castles and cities. Presently, by decree of the
Decreer, a handmaid among the handmaids of Omar bin Nu'uman
became pregnant; and, her pregnancy being announced to the Harim,
the King was informed thereof; whereupon he rejoiced with
exceeding joy and said, "Haply it will be a son, and so all my
offspring will be males!" Then he documented the date of her
conception and entreated her with all manner of kindness. But
when the tidings came to Sharrkan, he was troubled and the matter
seemed to him a sore one and a grievous; and he said, "Verily one
cometh who shall dispute with me the sovereignty:" so quoth he to
himself, "If this concubine bear a male child I will kill it:"
but he kept that intention hidden in his heart. Such was the
case with Sharrkan; but what happened in the matter of the damsel
was as follows. She was a Roumiyah, a Greek girl, by name
Sofiyah or Sophia,[FN#145] whom the King of Roum and Lord of
Cæsarea had sent to King Omar as a present, together with great
store of gifts and of rarities: she was the fairest of favour and
loveliest of all his handmaids and the most regardful of her
honour; and she was gifted with a wit as penetrating as her
presence was fascinating. Now she had served the King on the
night of his sleeping with her, saying to him, "O King! I desire
of the God of the Heavens that he bless thee this night with a
male child by me, so I may bring him up with the best of rearing,
and enable him to reach man's estate perfect in intelligence,
good manners and prudent bearing"[FN#146]--a speech which much
pleased the King. During her pregnancy she was instant in
prayer, fervently supplicating the Lord to bless her with a
goodly male child and make his birth easy to her; and Allah heard
her petition so that after her months were accomplished she sat
safely upon the birth stool.[FN#147] Now the King had deputed a
eunuch to let him know if the child she should bring forth were
male or female; and in like way his son Sharrkan had sent one to
bring him tidings of the same. In due time Sophia was delivered
of a child, which the midwives examined and found to be a girl
with a face sheenier than the moon. So they announced this to
all present in the room, whereupon the King's messenger carried
the news to him; and Sharrkan's eunuch did the like with his
master who rejoiced with exceeding joy. But, after the two had
departed, quoth Sophia to the midwives, "Wait with me awhile, for
I feel as if there were still somewhat in my womb." Then she
cried out and the pains of child bed again took her; and Allah
made it easy to her and she gave birth to a second child. The
wise women looked at it and found it a boy like the full moon,
with forehead flower white, and cheek ruddy bright with rosy
light; whereupon the mother rejoiced, as did the eunuchs and
attendants and all the company; and Sophia was delivered of the
after birth whilst all in the palace sent forth the trill of
joy.[FN#148] The rest of the concubines heard it and envied her
lot; and the tidings reached Omar son of Al- Nu'uman, who was
glad and rejoiced at the excellent news. Then he rose and went
to her and kissed her head, after which he looked at the boy;
and, bending over him, kissed him, whilst the damsels struck the
tabors and played on instruments of music; and the King gave
order that the boy should be named Zau al-Makán and his sister
Nuzhat al-Zamán.[FN#149] They answered "Hearing and obedience,"
and did his bidding; so he appointed wet nurses and dry nurses
and eunuchs and attendants to serve them; and assigned them
rations of sugar and diet drinks and unguents and else beside,
beyond the power of tongue to rehearse. Moreover the people of
Baghdad, hearing that Allah had blessed their King with issue,
decorated the city and made proclamation of the glad tidings with
drum and tom tom; and the Emirs and Wazirs and high dignitaries
came to the palace and wished King Omar bin al-Nu'uman joy of his
son, Zau al-Makan, and of his daughter Nuzhat al-Zaman, wherefore
he thanked them and bestowed on them dresses of honour and
further favoured them with gifts, and dealt largesse to all,
gentle and simple, who were present. After this fashion he did
for four days full told, and he lavished upon Sophia raiment and
ornaments and great store of wealth; and, every few days he would
send a messenger to ask after her and the new-borns. And when
four years had gone by, he provided her with the wherewithal to
rear the two children carefully and educate them with the best of
instructions. All this while his son Sharrkan knew not that a
male child had been born to his father, Omar son of Al-Nu'uman,
having news only that he had been blessed with the birth of
Nuzhat al-Zaman; and they hid the intelligence from him, until
days and years had sped by, whilst he was busied in battling with
the brave and fighting single handed against the knights. One
day, as King Omar was sitting in his palace, his Chamberlains
came in to him and, kissing the ground before him, said, "O King
there be come Ambassadors from the King of Roum, Lord of
Constantinople the Great, and they desire admission to thee and
submission to thy decree: if the King commend us to introduce
them we will so do; and, if not, there is no disputing his
behest." He bade them enter and, when they came in, he turned to
them and, courteously receiving them, asked them of their case,
and what was the cause of their coming. They kissed the ground
before him and said, "O King glorious and strong! O lord of the
arm that is long! know that he who despatched us to thee is King
Afrídún,[FN#150] Lord of Ionia land[FN#151] and of the Nazarene
armies, the sovereign who is firmly established in the empery of
Constantinople, to acquaint thee that he is now waging fierce war
and fell with a tyrant and a rebel, the Prince of Casarea; and
the cause of this war is as follows. One of the Kings of the
Arabs in past time, during certain of his conquests, chanced upon
a hoard of the time of Alexander,[FN#152] whence he removed
wealth past compute; and, amongst other things, three round
jewels, big as ostrich eggs, from a mine of pure white gems whose
like was never seen by man. Upon each were graven characts in
Ionian characters, and they have many virtues and properties,
amongst the rest that if one of these jewels be hung round the
neck of a new-born child, no evil shall befal him and he shall
neither wail, nor shall fever ail him as long as the jewel remain
without fail.[FN#153] When the Arab King laid hands upon them and
learned their secrets, he sent to King Afridun presents of
certain rarities and amongst them the three jewels afore
mentioned; and he equipped for the mission two ships, one bearing
the treasure and the other men of might to guard it from any who
might offer hindrance on the high seas, albeit well assured that
none would dare waylay his vessels, for that he was King of the
Arabs, and more by token that their course lay over waters
subject to the King of Constantinople and they were bound to his
port; nor were there on the shores of that sea any save the
subjects of the Great King, Afridun. The two ships set out and
voyaged till they drew near our city, when there sallied out on
them certain corsairs from that country and amongst them troops
from the Prince of Caesarea, who took all the treasures and
rarities in the ships, together with the three jewels, and slew
the crews. When our King heard of this, he sent an army against
them, but they routed it; then he marched a second and a stronger
but they put this also to flight,--whereupon the King waxed wroth
and swore that he would not go forth[FN#154] against them save in
his own person at the head of his whole army; nor would he turn
back from them till he had left Caesarea, of Armenia[FN#155] in
ruins and had laid waste all the lands and cities over which her
Prince held sway. So he sent us to the Lord of the age and the
time, Sultan Omar bin al-Nu'uman, King of Baghdad and of
Khorasan, desiring that he aid us with an army, so may honour and
glory accrue to him; and he hath also forwarded by us somewhat of
various kinds of presents, and of the King's grace he beggeth
their acceptance and the friendly boon of furtherance." Then the
Ambassadors kissed the ground before him,--And Shahrazad
perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

When it was the Forty-sixth Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that, after the
Ambassadors and retinue from the Constantinopolitan King had
kissed the ground before Omar and had delivered their embassage,
they brought out the presents, which were fifty damsels of the
choicest from Graecia-land, and fifty Mamelukes in tunics of
brocade, belted with girdles of gold and silver, each wearing in
his ears hoops of gold with pendants of fine pearls costing a
thousand ducats every one. The girls were adorned in like
fashion and were clad in stuffs worth a treasury of money. When
the King saw them, he rejoiced in them and accepted them; then he
bade the Ambassadors be honourably entreated and, summoning his
Wazirs, took counsel with them of what he should do. Herewith
rose up among them a Wazir, an ancient man, Dandan[FN#156] highs,
who kissed the ground before Omar and said, "O King, there is
nothing better to do in this matter than equip an army valiant
and victorious, and set over it thy son Sharrkan with us as his
lieutenants; and this rede commendeth itself to me on two counts;
first, because the King of Roum hath invoked thine assistance and
hath sent thee gifts which thou hast accepted; and, secondly,
because while no enemy dareth attack our country, thine army may
go forth safely and, should it succour the King of Graecia-land
and defeat his foe, the glory will be thine. Moreover, the news
of it will be noised abroad in all cities and countries and
especially, when the tidings shall reach the Islands of the Ocean
and the Kings of Mauritania shall hear it, they will send thee
offerings of rarities and pay thee tribute of money." The King
pleased by the Wazir's words and approving his rede, gave him a
dress of honour and said to him, "Of the like of thee should
Kings ask counsel, and it seemeth fit that thou shouldst conduct
the van of our army and our son Sharrkan command the main
battle." Then he sent for his son who came and kissed ground
before him and sat down; and he expounded to him the matter,
telling him what the Ambassadors and the Wazir Dandan had said,
and he charged him to take arms and equip himself for the
campaign, enjoining him not to gainsay Dandan in aught he should
do. Moreover, he ordered him to pick out of his army ten
thousand horsemen, armed cap-à-pie and inured to onset and stress
of war. Accordingly, Sharrkan arose on the instant, and chose
out a myriad of horsemen, after which he entered his palace and
mustered his host and distributed largesse to them, saying, "Ye
have delay of three days." They kissed the earth before him in
obedience to his commands and began at once to lay in munitions,
and provide provisions for the occasion; whilst Sharrkan repaired
to the armouries and took therefrom whatsoever he required of
arms and armour, and thence to the stable where he chose horses
of choice blood and others. When the appointed three days were
ended, the army drew out to the suburbs of Baghdad city;[FN#157]
and King Omar came forth to take leave of his son who kissed the
ground before him and received from the King seven parcels of
money.[FN#158] Then he turned to Danden and commended to his care
the army of his son; and the Wazir kissed the ground before him
and answered, "I hear and I obey;" and lastly he charged Sharrkan
that he should consult the Wazir on all occasions, which he
promised to do. After this, the King returned to his city and
Sharrkan ordered the officers to muster their troops in battle
array. So they mustered them and their number was ten thousand
horsemen, besides footmen and camp followers. Then they loaded
their baggage on their beasts and the war drums beat and the
trumpets blared and the bannerols and standards were unfurled,
whilst Sharrkan mounted horse, with the Wazir Dandan by his side,
and the colours fluttering over their heads. So the host fared
forth and stinted not faring, with the ambassadors preceding
them, till day departed and night drew nigh, when they alighted
and encamped for the night. And as soon as Allah caused the morn
tomorrow, they mounted and tried on, guided by the Ambassadors,
for a space of twenty days; and by the night of the twenty first
they came to a fine and spacious Wady well grown with trees and
shrubbery. Here Sharrkan ordered them to alight and commanded a
three days' halt, so they dismounted and pitched their tents,
spreading their camp over the right and the left slopes of the
extensive valley, whilst the Wazir Dandan and the Ambassadors of
King Afridun pitched in the sole of the Wady.[FN#159] As for
Sharrkan, he tarried behind them for awhile till all had
dismounted and had dispersed themselves over the valley sides; he
then slacked the reins of his steed, being minded to explore the
Wady and to mount guard in his own person, because of his
father's charge and owing to the fact that they were on the
frontier of Graecia land and in the enemy's country. So he rode
out alone after ordering his armed slaves and his body guard to
camp near the Wazir Dandan, and he fared on along the side of the
valley till a fourth part of the night was passed, when he felt
tired and drowsiness overcame him, so that he could no longer
urge horse with heel. Now he was accustomed to take rest on
horseback; so when slumber overpowered him, he slept and the
steed ceased not going on with him till half the night was spent
and entered one of the thickets[FN#160] which was dense with
growth; but Sharrkan awoke not until his horse stumbled over
wooded ground. Then he started from sleep and found himself
among the trees, and the moon arose and shone brightly over the
two horizons, Eastern and Western. He was startled when he found
himself alone in this place and said the say which ne'er yet
shamed its sayer, "There is no Majesty and there is no Might save
in Allah, the Glorious, the Great!" But as he rode on, in fear of
wild beasts, behold, the moon spread her glad light over a meadow
as if it were of the meads of Paradise; and he heard pleasant
voices and a loud noise of talk and laughter captivating the
senses of men. So King Sharrkan alighted and, tying his steed to
one of the trees, went over a little way till he came upon a
stream and heard a woman talking in Arabic and saying, "Now by
the crush of the Messiah, this is not well of you! but whose
utters a word, I will throw her and truss her up with her own
girdle[FN#161]!" He kept walking in the direction of the sound
and when he reached the further side he looked and behold, a
stream was gushing and flowing, and antelopes at large were
frisking and roving, and wild cattle amid the pasture moving, and
birds expressed joy and gladness in their divers tongues, and
that place was purfled with all manner flowers and green herbs,
even as a poet described it in these couplets,

"Most beautiful is earth in budding bloom, * When lucid waters
course through plain and wood:
No work but His th' All great, th' All glorious, * Giver of all
gifts, Giver of all good!"

And as Sharrkan considered the place, he saw in it a Christian
Monastery within whose enceinte a castle towered high in air
catching the light of the moon.[FN#162] Through the midst of the
convent passed a stream, the water flowing amongst its gardens;
and upon the bank sat the woman whose voice he had heard, while
before her stood ten handmaids like moons and wearing various
sorts of raiment and ornaments that dazed and dazzled the
beholder, high bosomed virgins, as saith of them the poet in
these couplets,

"The mead is bright with what is on't * Of merry maidens
Double its beauty and its grace * Those trooping damsels slender-
Virgins of graceful swimming gait * Ready with eye and lip to
And like the tendril'd vine they loose * The rich profusion of
their hair:
Shooting their shafts and arrows from * Beautiful eyes beyond
Overpowering and transpiercing * Every froward adversaire."

Sharrkan gazed upon the ten girls and saw in their midst a lady
like the moon at fullest, with ringleted hair and forehead sheeny
white, and eyes wondrous wide and black and bright, and temple
locks like the scorpion's tail; and she was perfect in essence
and attributes, as the poet said of her in these couplets,

"She beamed on my sight with a wondrous glance, * And her
straight slender stature enshamed the lance:
She burst on my sight with cheeks rosy red, * Where all manner of
beauties have habitance:
And the locks on her forehead were lowering as night * Whence
issues a dawn tide of happiest chance."

Then Sharrkan heard her say to the handmaids, "Come ye on, that I
may wrestle with you and gravel you, ere the moon set and the
dawn break!" So each came up to her in turn and she grounded them
forthright, and pinioned them with their girdles, and ceased not
wrestling and pitching them until she had overthrown one and all.
Then there turned to her an old woman who was before her, and the
beldam said as in wrath, "O strumpet, cost thou glory in
grounding these girls? Behold I am an old woman, yet have I
thrown them forty times! So what hast thou to boast of? But if
thou have the strength to wrestle with me, stand up that I may
grip thee and set thy head between thy heels!" The young lady
smiled at her words, but she was filled with inward wrath, and
she jumped up and asked, "O my lady Zat al-Dawahi,[FN#163] by the
truth of the Messiah, wilt thou wrestle with me in very deed, or
dost thou jest with me?"; and she answered, "Yea,"--And Shahrazad
perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

When it was the Forty-seventh Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the
young lady asked Zat al-Dawahi, "By the truth of the Messiah,
wilt wrestle with me or dost jest?", and she answered, "Yea, I
will wrestle with thee in very deed" (Sharrkan looking on the
while), the damsel cried, "Rise up for the fall an thou have
spunk so to do." When the old woman heard this, she raged with
exceeding rage, and her body hair stood on end like the bristles
of a fretful hedgehog.[FN#164] Then she sprang to her feet,
whilst the damsel stood up to her, and said, "Now by the truth of
the Messiah, I will not wrestle with thee unless I be naked,
Mistress whore!"[FN#165] So she loosed her petticoat trousers
and, putting her hand under her clothes, tore them off her body;
then twisted up a silken kerchief into cord shape, girt it round
her middle and became as she were a scald head If ritah or a
spotted snake. With this she inclined towards the damsel and
said, "Do thou as I have done." All this time, Sharrkan was
gazing at the twain, and laughing at the beldam's loathly
semblance. So the damsel leisurely rose and, taking a sash of
Yamani stuff, passed it twice round her waist, then she tucked up
her trousers and displayed two calves of alabaster carrying a
mound of crystal, smooth and rounded, and a stomach which exhaled
musk from its dimples, as it were a bed of Nu'uman's anemones;
and breasts like double pomegranates. Then the old woman leant
towards her, and the two laid hold either of each, while Sharrkan
raised his head Heavenwards and prayed Allah that the belle might
beat the beldam. Presently the young woman get beneath the old
woman; and, gripping her waist cloth with the left and circling
her neck with the right hand, hoisted her off the ground with
both; whereupon the old woman strove to free herself and, in so
doing fell on her back arsiversy, with her legs high in air and
her hairy bush between them showed manifest in the moonshine;
furthermore she let fly two great farts[FN#166] one of which blew
up the dust from the earth's face and the other steamed up to the
gate of Heaven. Sharrkan laughed till he fell back upon the
ground. Then he arose and, baring his brand looked right and
left, but he saw no one save the old woman sprawling on her back,
and said to himself, "He lied not who named thee Lady of
Calamities! Verily thou knewest her prowess by her performance
upon the others." So he drew near them to hear what should pass
between them. Then the young lady went up to the old one and,
throwing a wrapper of thin silk upon her nakedness, helped her to
don her clothes and made excuses saying, "O my lady Zat al-
Dawahi, I intended only to throw thee and not all this, but thou
triedst to twist out of my hands; so laud to Allah for safety!"
She returned her no answer, but rose in her shame and walked away
till out of sight, leaving the handmaids prostrate and pinioned,
with the fair damsel standing amongst them. Quoth Sharrkan to
himself, "Every luck hath its cause. Sleep did not fall upon me
nor the war horse bear me hither save for my good fortune; for
doubtless this maid and what is with her shall become booty to
me." So he made towards his steed and mounted and heeled[FN#167]
him on, when he sped as the shaft speeds from the bow and in his
hand he still hent his brand bare of sheath, which he brandished
shouting the while his war cry, "Allah is All mighty[FN#168]!"
When the damsel saw him she sprang to her feet and, taking firm
stand on the bank of the stream, whose breadth was six ells, the
normal cubits, made one bound and landed clear on the farther
side,[FN#169] where she turned and cried out with a loud voice,
"Who art thou, O thou fellow, that breakest in upon our privacy
and pastime, and that too hanger in hand as if charging a host?
Whence camest thou and whither art thou going? Speak sooth, for
truth will stand thee in good stead, and lie not, for lies come
of villein breed Doubtless thou hast wandered this night from thy
way, that thou chancedst upon this place whence escape were the
greatest of mercies; for thou art now in an open plain and, did
we shout but a single shout, would come to our rescue four
thousand knights.[FN#170] So tell me what thou wantest; and if
thou wouldst only have us set thee on the right road, we will do
so." When Sharrkan heard her words he replied, "I am a stranger
of the Moslems, who fared forth this night single handed, seeking
for spoil; nor could this moonlight show me a fairer booty than
these ten maidens; so I shall seize them and rejoin my comrades
with them." Quoth she, "I would have thee know that as for the
booty thou hast not come at it; and, as for the handmaids, by
Allah, they shall never be thy spoil. Have I not told thee that
to lie is villein vile?" Quoth he, "The wise man is he who taketh
warning by others." Thereupon quoth she, "By the truth of the
Messiah, did I not fear that thy death would be on my hands, I
would shout a shout should fill the mead for thee with war steeds
and with men of might, but I take pity upon the stranger. So, if
thou seek booty, I require of thee that thou alight from thy
steed and swear to me, by thy faith, that thou wilt not advance
against me aught like arms in hand, and we will wrestle, I and
thou. If thou throw me, set me on thy steed and take all of us
to thy booty; but if I throw thee, thou shalt become under my
command. Swear this to me, for I fear thy treachery: indeed it
hath become a common saw, 'Where Perfidy is innate there Trust is
a weakly mate.' Now an thou wilt swear I will return and draw
near to thee and tackle thee." Answered Sharrkan (and indeed he
lusted to seize her and said in his soul, "Truly she knoweth not
that I am a champion of champions"); "Swear me by what oath thou
wilt and by what thou deemest most binding, and I will not
approach thee with aught till thou hast made thy preparation and
sayest, 'Draw near that I wrestle with thee.' If thou throw me, I
have money where withal to ransom myself; and if I throw thee,
'twill be booty and booty enough for me!" Rejoined the damsel, "I
am content herewith!" and Sharrkan was astounded at her words and
said, "And by the truth of the Apostle (whom Allah bless and
keep!) I too am content on the other part!" Then said she, "Swear
to me by Him who sprite in body dight and dealt laws to rule man
kind aright, that thou wilt not offer me aught of violence save
by way of wrestling; else mayst thou die without the pale of Al-
Islam." Sharrkan replied, "By Allah! were a Kazi to swear me,
even though he were a Kazi of the Kazis,[FN#171] he would not
impose upon me such an oath as this!" Then he sware to her by all
she named and tied his steed to a tree; but he was drowned in the
sea of thought, saying in himself, "Praise be to Him who
fashioned her from dirty water!"[FN#172] Then he girt himself and
made ready for wrestling, and said to her, "Cross the stream to
me;" but she replied, "It is not for me to come over to thee: if
thou wilt, pass thou over here to me." "I cannot do that," quoth
he, and quoth she, "O boy, I will come across to thee." So she
tucked up her skirts and, leaping, landed on the other side of
the stream by his side; whereupon he drew near to her and bent
him forwards and clapped palms.[FN#173] But he was confounded by
her beauty and loveliness; for he saw a shape which the Hand of
Power had tanned with the dye leaves of the Jann, which had been
fostered by the Hand of Beneficence and fanned by the Zephyrs of
fair fortune and whose birth a propitious ascendant had greeted.
Then she called out to him, "O Moslem, come on and let us wrestle
ere the break of morning," and tucked up her sleeves from a
forearm like fresh curd, which illumined the whole place with its
whiteness; and Sharrkan was dazzled by it. Then he bent forwards
and clapped his palms by way of challenge, she doing the like,
and caught hold of her, and the two grappled and gripped and
interlocked hands and arms. Presently he shifted his hands to
her slender waist, when his finger tips sank into the soft folds
of her middle, breeding languishment, and he fell a trembling
like the Persian reed in the roaring gale. So she lifted him up
and, throwing him to the ground, sat upon his breast with hips
and hinder cheeks like mounds of sand, for his soul had lost
mastery over his senses. Then she asked him, "O Moslem! the
slaying of Nazarenes is lawful to you folk; what then hast thou
to say about being slain thyself?"; and he answered, "O my lady,
thy speech as regards slaying me is not other than unlawful; for
our prophet Mohammed (whom Allah bless and preserve!) prohibited
the slaying of women and children, old men and monks!" "As it was
thus revealed to your Prophet," she replied, "it behoveth us to
render the equivalent of his mercy; so rise. I give thee thy
life, for generosity is never lost upon the generous." Then she
got off his breast and he rose and stood shaking the dust from
his head against the owners of the curved rib, even women; and
she said to him, "Be not ashamed; but verily one who entereth the
land of Roum in quest of booty, and cometh to assist Kings
against Kings, how happeneth it that he hath not strength enough
to defend himself from one made out of the curved rib?" "'Twas
not for lack of strength in me," he answered; "nor didst thou
throw me by thy force; it was thy loveliness overthrew me; so if
thou wilt grant me another bout, it will be of thy courtesy." She
laughed and said, "I grant thee thy request: but these handmaids
have long been pinioned and their arms and sides are weary, and
it were only right I should loose them, for haply this next
wrestling bout will be long." Then she went to the slave girls
and, unbinding them, said to them in the tongue of Greece, "Get
ye to some safe place, till I foil this Moslem's lust and longing
for you." So they went away, whilst Sharrkan kept gazing at them
and they kept turning to look at the two. Then each approached
the adversary and he set his breast against hers, but when he
felt waist touch waist, his strength failed him; and she, waxing
ware of this, lifted him with her hands swiftlier than the
blinding leven-flash, and threw him to the ground. He fell on
his back,[FN#174] and then she said to him, "Rise: I give thee
thy life a second time. I spared thee in the first count because
of thy Prophet, for that he made unlawful the slaying of women;
and I do so on the second count because of thy weakliness and the
greenness of thine years and thy strangerhood; but I charge thee,
if there be in the Moslem army sent by Omar bin al-Nu'uman to
succour the King of Constantinople, a stronger than thou, send
him hither and tell him of me: for in wrestling there are shifts
and trips, catches and holds, such as the feint or falsing and
the snap or first grip, the hug, the feet-catch, the thigh
Lite,[FN#175] the jostle and the leg-lock." "By Allah, O my
lady," quoth Sharrkan (and indeed he was highly incensed against
her), "had I been Master al-Safdí, Master Mohammed Kimál or Ibn
al-Saddí,[FN#176] as they were in their prime, I had kept no note
of these shifts thou mentionest; for O my mistress, by Allah,
thou hast not grassed me by thy strength, but by the
blandishments of thy back parts; for we men of Mesopotamia so
love a full formed thigh that nor sense was left me nor
foresight. But now, an thou wish, thou shalt try a third fall
with me while my wits are about me, and this last match is
allowed me by the laws of the game which sayeth the best of
three: moreover I have regained my presence of mind." When she
heard his words she said to him, "Hast thou not had a belly full
of this wrestling, O vanquished one? However come on, an thou
wilt; but know that this must be the last round." Then she bent
forward and challenged him and Sharrkan did likewise, setting to
it in real earnest and being right cautious about the throw: so
the two strove awhile and the damsel found in him a strength such
as she had not observed before and said to him, "O Moslem, thou
art now on thy mettle." "Yes," he replied, "thou knowest that
there remaineth to me but this one round, after which each of us
will wend a different way." She laughed and he laughed
too;[FN#177] then she overreached at his thigh and caught firm
hold of it unawares, which made him greet the ground and fall
full on his back. She laughed at him and said, "Art thou an
eater of bran? Thou are like a Badawi's bonnet which falleth off
with every touch or else the Father of Winds[FN#178] that
droppeth before a puff of air. Fie upon thee, O thou poor
thing!" adding, "Get thee back to the Moslem army and send us
other than thyself, for thou fairest of thews; and proclaim for
us, among the Arabs and Persians, the Turks and
Daylamites,[FN#179] whoso hath might in him, let him come to us."
Then she made a spring and landed on the other side of the stream
and said to Sharrkan, laughing, "Parting with thee is right
grievous to me, O my lord; but get thee to thy mates before dawn,
lest the Knights come upon thee and pick thee up on their lance
points. Thou hast no strength to defend thee against a woman, so
how couldst thou hold thine own amongst men of might and
Knights?" Sharrkan was confounded and called to her (as she
turned from him making towards the convent), "O my lady, wilt
thou go away and leave the miserable stranger, the broken hearted
slave of love?" So she turned to him laughing and said, "What is
thy want? I will grant thee thy prayer." "Have I set foot in thy
country and tasted the sweetness of thy courtesy," replied he,
"and shall I return without eating of thy victual and tasting thy
hospitality; I who have become one of thy servitors!" "None baulk
kindliness save the base," she rejoined, "honour us in Allah's
name, on my head and eyes be it! Mount thy steed and ride along
the brink of the stream over against me, for now thou art my
guest." At this Sharrkan was glad and, hastening back to his
horse, mounted and walked him abreast of her, and she kept faring
on till they came to a drawbridge[FN#180] built of beams of the
white poplar, hung by pullies and steel chains and made fast with
hooks and padlocks. When Sharrkan looked, he saw awaiting her
upon the bridge the same ten handmaids whom she had thrown in the
wrestling bouts; and, as she came up to them, she said to one in
the Greek tongue, "Arise and take the reins of his horse and
conduct him across into the convent." So she went up to Sharrkan
and led him over, much puzzled and perturbed with what he saw,
and saying to himself, "O would that the Wazir Dandan were here
with me that his eyes might look upon these fairest of favours."
Then he turned to the young lady and said to her, "O marvel of
loveliness, now I have two claims upon thee; first the claim of
good fellowship, and secondly for that thou hast carried me to
thy home and offered me thy hospitality. I am now under thy
commandance and thy guidance; so do me one last favour by
accompanying me to the lands of Al-Islam; where thou shalt look
upon many a lion hearted warrior and thou shalt learn who I am."
When she heard this she was angered and said to him, "By the
truth of the Messiah, thou hast proved thyself with me a man of
keen wit; but now I see what mischief there is in thy heart, and
how thou canst permit thyself a speech which proveth thy
traitorous intent. How should I do as thou sayest, when I wot
that if I came to that King of yours, Omar bin al- Nu'uman, I
should never get free from him? For truly he hath not the like
of me or behind his city walls or within his palace halls, Lord
of Baghdad and of Khorasan though he be, who hath built for
himself twelve pavilions, in number as the months of the year,
and in each a concubine after the number of the days; and if I
come to him he would not prove shy of me, for your folk believe I
am lawful to have and to hold as is said in your writ, 'Or those
women whom your right hand shall possess as slaves.'[FN#181] So
how canst thou speak thus to me? As for thy saying, 'Thou shalt
look upon the braves of the Moslems,' by the truth of the
Messiah, thou sayest that which is not true, for I saw your army
when it reached our land, these two days ago; and I did not see
that your ordinance was the ordinance of Kings, but I beheld only
a rabble of tribesmen gathered together. And as to thy words,
'Thou shalt know who I am,' I did not do thee kindness because of
thy dignity but out of pride in myself; and the like of thee
should not talk thus to the like of me, even wert thou Sharrkan,
Omar bin al- Nu'uman's son, the prowess name in these days!"
"Knowest thou Sharrkan?" asked he; and she answered Yes! and I
know of his coming with an army numbering ten thousand horsemen;
also that he was sent by his sire with this force to gain
prevalence for the King of Constantinople." "O my lady," said
Sharrkan, "I adjure thee by thy religion, tell me the cause of
all this, that sooth may appear to me clear of untruth, and with
whom the fault lies." "Now by the virtue of thy faith," she
replied, "did I not fear lest the news of me be bruited abroad
that I am of the daughters of Roum, I would adventure myself and
sally forth single handed against the ten thousand horsemen and
slay their leader, the Wazir Dandan and vanquish their champion
Sharrkan.[FN#182] Nor would aught of shame accrue to me thereby,
for I have read books and studied the rules of good breeding in
the language of the Arabs. But I have no need to vaunt my own
prowess to thee, more by token as thou hast proved in thy proper
person my skill and strength in wrestling; and thou hast learnt
my superiority over other women. Nor, indeed, had Sharrkan
himself been here this night and it were said to him, 'Clear this
stream,' could he have done it; and I only long and lust that the
Messiah would throw him into my hands in this very convent, that
I might go forth to him in the habit of a man and drag him from
his saddle seat and make him my captive and lay him in bilboes."-
-And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her
permitted say.

When it was the Forty-eighth Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the
Nazarene damsel said to Sharrkan (and he listening impatiently
enow), "Verily if Sharrkan fell into my hands, I would go forth
to him in the habit of a man and drag him from his saddle seat
and make him my captive and lay him in bilboes," pride and
passion and knightly jealousy took possession of him and he
desired to discover and declare himself and to lay on load; but
her loveliness restrained him and he began repeating,

"An faulty of one fault the Beauty prove, * Her charms a thousand
advocates shall move."

So she went up and Sharrkan after her; and, when he saw the
maiden's back and hinder cheeks that clashed against each other,
like rollers in the rolling sea, he extemporised these couplets:-

"For her sins is a pleader that brow, * And all hearts its fair
pleading must bow:
When I saw it I cried, "To night * The moon at its fullest doth
Tho' Balkis' own Ifrit[FN#183] try a bout, * Spite his force she
would deal him a throw."

The two fared on till they reached a gate over which rose a
marble archway. This she opened and ushered Sharrkan into a long
vestibule, vaulted with ten connected arches, from each of which
hung a crystal lamp glistening like a spark of fire. The
handmaids met her at the further end bearing wax candles of
goodly perfume, and wearing on their heads golden fillets crusted
with all manner bezel gems,[FN#184] and went on before her
(Sharrkan still following), till they reached the inner convent.
There the Moslem saw couches and sofas ranged all around, one
opposite the other and all over hung with curtains flowered in
gold. The monastery floor was paved with every kind of vari
coloured marbles and mosaic work, and in the midst stood a basin
that held four and twenty jetting fountains of gold, whence the
water ran like molten silver; whilst at the upper end stood a
throne spread with silks fit only for Kings. Then said the
damsel, "Ascend, O my lord, this throne." So he went up to it and
sat down and she withdrew to remain absent for some time.
Sharrkan asked of her from one of the servants who answered him,
"She hath gone to her dormitory; but we will serve thee even as
she ordered." So they set before him viands of rare varieties,
and he ate his sufficiency, when they brought him a basin of gold
and an ewer of silver, and he washed his hands. Then his
thoughts reverted to his army, knowing not what had befallen it
in his absence and calling to mind also how he had forgotten his
father's injunctions: so he was troubled about his case,
repenting of what he had done till the dawn broke and the day
appeared; when he lamented and sighed and became drowned in sea
of sadness and repeated,

"I am not lost to prudence, but indeed * Here I'm bewildered,
what shall be my rede?
Would any aid me in mine ails of love, * By my own might and
sleight would I be free'd:
But ah! my heart is lost and passion-shent: * To none save Allah
can I trust my need!"

When he ended his verse behold, there came up to him a rare show
and a fair, more than twenty maidens like crescents encompassing
the young lady, who shone in their midst as the full moon among
the constellations guarding and girding her. She was clad in
brocades befitting Kings; her breasts were like twin
pomegranates, a woven zone set with all kinds of jewels tightly
clasped her waist which expanded below into jutting hips; and her
hinder cheeks stood out as a mound of crystal[FN#185] supporting
a silvern shaft. When Sharrkan looked at her his wits went nigh
to fly away from him with delight; and he forgot army and Wazir
as he gazed on her fair head decked and dight with a net work of
pearls set off by divers sorts of gems. Handmaids on her right
and handmaids on her left bore her train, as she paced with
dainty graceful gait in all the pride of seemlihead. He sprang
to his feet seeing such beauty and loveliness, and cried aloud,
"Beware and beware of that zone rarely fair!" and broke out into
these couplets,

"With heavy back parts, high breasts delicate, * And lissome form
that sways with swimming gait
She deftly hides love longing in her breast; * But I may never
hide its ban and bate
While hosts of followers her steps precede,[FN#186] * Like pearls
now necklaced and now separate."

She gazed upon him for a long time and considered him till she
was assured of him, when she came up to him and said, "In very
sooth the place is honoured and illumined by thee, O Sharrkan!
How sped thy night, O hero, after we went away and left thee?";
adding, "Verily lying is a vile thing and a shameful, especially
in great Kings! and thou art Crown Prince Sharrkan, son and heir
of King Omar bin al-Nu'uman; so henceforth make no secret of thy
rank and condition, nor let me hear aught from thee but the
truth; for leasing bequeatheth hate and despite. And as thou art
pierced by the shaft of Fate, be resignation thine and abide
content to wait." When he heard her words he saw that artifice
availed him naught and he acknowledged the truth, saying, "I am
Sharrkan, bin Omar bin al-Nu'uman, whom fortune hath afflicted
and cast into this place; so whatso thou willest, do it in my
case!" She hung her head groundwards a long while, then turned to
him and said, "Be of good cheer and let thine eyes be cool and
clear;[FN#187] for thou art the guest of my hospitality, and
bread and salt hath made a tie between me and thee; wherefore
thou art in my ward and under my safeguard. Have no fear for, by
the truth of the Messiah, if all on earth sought to do thee hurt
they should not come at thee, till life had left my body for thy
sake: indeed thou art now under the charge of the Messiah and of
me." Hereat she sat her down by his side and fell to playing with
him, till his alarm subsided and he knew that had she desired to
slay him, she would have done so during the past night.
Presently she bespoke in the Grecian tongue one of her slave
girls, who went away and soon came back bringing a beaker and a
tray of food; but Sharrkan abstained from eating and said to
himself, "Haply she hath put somewhat in this meat." She knew
what was in his thought; so she turned to him and said, "By the
truth of the Messiah, the case is not on such wise, nor is there
aught in this meat of what thou suspectest! Had my mind been set
on slaying thee, I had slain thee ere now." Then she walked up to
the tray and ate of every dish a mouthful; where upon Sharrkan
came forward and ate too. She was pleased at this and both ate
till they were satisfied. They washed their hands and after that
she rose and ordered a handmaid to bring perfumes and herbs of
sweet savour, wines of all colours and kinds and a wine-service
with vessels of gold, silver and crystal. She filled a first
goblet and drank it off before offering it to him, even as she
had done with the food: then she crowned a second and handed it
to him. He drank and she said to him, "O Moslem, see how thou
art here in all solace and delight of life!" And she ceased not
to drink and ply him with drink, till he took leave of his wits,-
-And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day, and ceased saying her
permitted say.

When it was the Forty-ninth Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the damsel
ceased not to drink and ply Sharrkan with drink till he took
leave of his wits, for the wine and the intoxication of love he
bore her. Presently she said to the slave girl, "O
Marjanah[FN#188]! bring us some instruments of music!" "To hear
is to obey," said the hand maid and going out, returned in the
twinkling of an eye with a Damascus lute,[FN#189] a Persian harp,
a Tartar pipe, and an Egyptian dulcimer. The young lady took the
lute and, after tuning each several string, began in gentle
undersong to sing, softer than zephyr's wing and sweeter than
Tasmin[FN#190] spring, with heart safe and secure from everything
the couplets following,

"Allah assain those eyne! What streams of blood they shed! * How
many an arrowy glance those lids of thine have sped.
I love all lovers who to lovers show them cure; * 'Twere wrong to
rue the love in wrong head born and bred:
Haply fall hapless eye for thee no sleeping kens! * Heaven help
the hapless heart by force of thee misled!
Thou doomest me to death who art my king, and I * Ransom with
life the deemster who would doom me dead."

Thereupon each and every of the maidens rose up and taking an
instrument, played and recited couplets in the Roumi tongue; then
their mistress sang also and seeing Sharrkan in ecstasies asked
him, "O Moslem, dost thou understand what I say?"; and he
answered, "Nay, my ecstasy cometh from the beauty of thy finger
sips." She laughed and continued, "If I sing to thee in Arabic
what wouldst thou do?" "I should no longer," quoth he, "be master
of my senses." Then she took an instrument and, changing the
measure, began singing these verses,

"The smack of parting's myrrh to me, * How, then, bear patience'
I'm girt by ills in trinity * Severance, distance,
My freedom stole that fairest she, * And parting irks me

When she ended her verse, she looked at Sharrkan and found him
lost to existence, and he lay for a while stretched at full
length and prone among the maidens.[FN#191] Then he revived and,
remembering the songs, again inclined to mirth and merriment; and
the twain returned to their wine and wassail, and continued their
playing and toying, their pastime and pleasure till day ceased
illuminating and night drooped her wing. Then the damsel went
off to her dormitory and when Sharrkan asked after her they
answered, "She is gone to her sleeping chamber," whereto he
rejoined, "Under Allah's ward and His good guard!" As soon as it
was morning, a handmaid came to him and said to him, "My mistress
biddeth thee to her." So he rose and followed her and, as he drew
near her lodging, the damsels welcomed him with smitten tabrets
and songs of greeting, and led him through a great door of ivory
studded with pearls and jewels. Thence they passed with him into
a tall and spacious hall, at the upper end of which was a wide
dais carpeted with all kinds of silks, and round it open lattices
commanding a view of trees and streams. About the saloon were
figures carved in human form, and fashioned on such wise that the
air passed through them and set in motion musical instruments
within, so that the beholder would fancy they spoke.[FN#192] Here
sat the young lady, looking at the figures; but when she saw
Sharrkan, she sprang to her feet and, taking him by the hand,
made him sit down by her side, and asked him how he had passed
the night. He blessed her and the two sat talking awhile till
she asked him, "Knowest thou aught touching lovers and slaves of
love?"; and he answered "Yes! I wot somewhat in verse on that
matter." "Let me hear it," quoth she, so he began quoting,

"Pleasure and health, good cheer, good appetite * To Azzah,
freest with our name and fame!
By Allah! would I near her off she flies * At tangent, granting
less the more I claim:
I dote on Azzah, but when clear I off * My rivals, clears me too
that dearest dame;
Like wandering wight that chose for shade a cloud * Which, ere
siesta done, thin air became."

When she heard this she said, "Verily Al-Kuthayyir[FN#193] was
conspicuous for sweet speech and chaste, and he was superlative
in his praise of Azzah when he sang" (and she began to recite),

"Did Azzah deal behest to Sun o' noon, * The judge had judged her
beauty's bestest boon;
And girls who come to me and carp at her, * God make their rosy
cheeks her sandal-shoon!

And indeed," quoth she, "'twas said that Azzah boasted exceeding
beauty and loveliness." Then she asked Sharrkan saying, "O
Prince, cost thou know aught of Jamil's[FN#194] verses to
Buthaynah? if so repeat to us somewhat of them;" and he
answered, "Yes, I know them better than any;" whereupon he began
repeating these couplets,

"Jamil, in Holy war go fight!" to me they say: * What war save
fight for fair ones would I e'er essay?
To me their every word and work are mere delight, * And martyrs
crepe I all they slay in fight and fray:
An ask I, 'O Buthaynah! what's this love, I pray, * Which eats
my heart?' quoth she ' 'Twill stay for ever and aye!'
And when I cry, 'Of wits return some small display * For daily
use,' quoth she, 'Far, far 'tis fled away!
Thou seekst my death; naught else thy will can satisfy * While I
no goal espy save thee and thee alway.'"

"Thou hast spoken right well," said she, "O King's son, and Jamil
also spoke excellently well. But what would Buthaynah have done
with him that he saith in his hemistich,

'Thou seekst my death; naught else thy will can satisfy?'"

"O my lady," quoth Sharrkan, "she willed to do him what thou
willest to do with me, and even that will not satisfy thee." She
laughed at his opportune reply and they ceased not carousing till
Day put out her light and Night came in darkness dight. Then she
rose and went to her dormitory and slept, while Sharrkan slept in
his place till morning dawned. As soon as he awoke, the hand
maids came to him with tabrets and other instruments of mirth and
merriment, as wont; and, kissing the ground between his hands,
said to him, "Bismillah! in Allah's name be so kind as to
come[FN#195]: our mistress biddeth thee to her presence!" So he
rose and accompanied the slave girls who surrounded him, playing
on tabrets and other instruments of music, till they passed from
that saloon into another and a yet more spacious hall, decorated
with pictured likenesses and figures of birds and beasts, passing
all description. Sharrkan marvelled at the art and artifice of
the place and began reciting,

"He plucks fruits of her necklace in rivalry, * And her breast-
pearls that bedded in gold mine lie.
Pure water on silvern bars is her brow, * And her cheeks show
roses with rubies vie:
Meseems in her eyne that the violet's hue * Lies purpling set in
the Ithmid's[FN#196] dye."

When the lady saw Sharrkan, she stood up to him in honour and,
taking his hand, seated him by her side and asked, "O son of King
Omar bin al-Nu'uman, hast thou any cunning in the game of chess?"
"Yes," he answered, "but do not thou with me as said the poet,

'I speak and longing love upties me and unties me; * Till with
her honey dew of inner lip she plies me:
I brought the chess board and my liefest lover plays me * With
white and black,[FN#197] but black cum white ne'er satisfies
'Twas as if King for Castle I were fain to place me * Till wilful
loss of game atwixt two queens surprise me:
And if I seek to read intent in eyes that eye me * Oh man! that
glance askance with hint of wish defies me.'"

Then she brought the chessboard and played with him; but
Sharrkan, instead of looking at her moves, kept gazing at her
fair mouth, and putting knight in place of elephant and
elephant[FN#198] instead of knight. She laughed and said to him,
"If thy play be after this fashion, thou knowest naught of the
game." "This is only our first," replied he, "judge not by this
bout." When she beat him he replaced the pieces in position and
played again with her; but she beat him a second time, a third, a
fourth and a fifth. So she turned to him and said, "Thou art
beaten in everything;" and he replied, "O my lady, how should one
playing with the like of thee avoid being beaten?" Then she bade
bring food, and they ate and washed their hands; after which the
wine was set before them and they drank. Presently, she took the
dulcimer, for her hand was cunning in smiting it, and she began
repeating to an accompaniment these couplets,

"Twixt the close tied and open wide no medium Fortune knoweth, *
Now ebb and flow then flow and ebb this wise her likeness
Then drink her wine the syne she's thine and smiling thou dost
find her * Anon she'll fall and fare away when all thy good
forth goeth."

They ceased not to carouse till nightfall and this day was
pleasanter even than the first. When darkness set in, the lady
betook her to her dormitory, leaving him alone with the hand
maids; so he threw himself on the ground and slept till dawn,
when the damsels came to him with tambourines and other
instruments according to custom. Seeing them he roused him
hastily and sat up; and they carried him to their mistress, who
came to meet him and, taking him by the hand, seated him by her
side. Then she asked him how he had passed his night, whereat he
prayed that her life be prolonged; and she took the lute and sang
to it these verses which she improvised,

"Ne'er incline thee to part * Which embitters the heart
E'en the sun when he sets * Shall in pallor depart."

While they were solacing themselves after this fashion, behold,
there arose a great and sudden clamour, and a confused crowd of
knights and men rushed in, holding drawn swords that glittered
and gleamed in their hands, and cried aloud in the Grecian tongue
"Thou hast fallen into our hands, O Sharrkan, so make thee sure
of death!" When he heard this, he said to himself, "By Allah, she
hath entrapped me and held me in play, till her men should come.
These are the Knights with whom she threatened me; but 'tis I who
have thrown myself into this strait." Then he turned towards the
young lady to reproach her, but saw that she had changed colour
and her face was pale; and she sprang to her feet and asked the
crowd, "Who are ye?" "O most gracious Princess and peerless onion
pearl," answered the leading Knight, "dost thou weet who is yon
man by thy side?" "Not I," she replied, "who may he be?" Quoth
the Patrician, "This is of towns the highwayman! This is he who
rideth in the horseman's van! This is Sharrkan, son of King Omar
bin al-Nu'uman! This is he that forceth fortalice and
penetrateth every impregnable place! The news of him reached
King Hardub, thy father, by report of the ancient dame Zat al-
Dawahi; and thy sire, our sovereign, hath made sure that thou
hast rendered good service to the army of the Greeks by taking
captive this ominous lion." When she heard this, she looked at
the Knight and asked him, "What be thy name?" and he answered, "I
am Másúrah, son of thy slave Mausúrah bin Káshardah, Knight of
Knights." "And how?" quoth she, "durst thou enter my presence
without leave?" Quoth he, "O my lady, when I came to the gate,
none forbade me, neither chamberlain nor porter, but all the door
keepers rose and forewent us as of wont; although, when others
come, they leave them standing at the gate while they ask
permission to admit them. But this is not a time for long
talking, when the King is expecting our return with this Prince,
the scorpion sting[FN#199] of the Islamitic host, that he may
kill him and drive back his men whither they came, without the
bane of battling with them." "These words be ill words," rejoined
the Princess, "and Dame Zat al-Dawahi lied, avouching an idle
thing and a vain, whereof she weeteth not the truth; for by the
virtue of the Messiah, this man who is with me is not Sharrkan,
nor is he a captive, but a stranger who came to us seeking our
hospitality, and I made him my guest. So even were we assured
that this be Sharrkan and were it proved to us that it is he
beyond a doubt, I say it would ill befit mine honour that I
should deliver into your hands one who hath entered under my
protection. So make me not a traitor to my guest and a disgrace
among men; but return to the King, my father, and kiss the ground
before him, and inform him that the case is contrariwise to the
report of the Lady Zat al-Dawahi." "O Abrízah," replied Masurah,
the Knight, "I cannot return to the King's majesty without his
debtor and enemy." Quoth she (and indeed she had waxed very
wroth). "Out on thee! Return to him with my answer, and no
blame shall befal thee!" Quoth Masurah, "I will not return
without him." Thereupon her colour changed and she exclaimed,
"Exceed not in talk and vain words; for verily this man had not
come in to us, were he not assured that he could of himself and
single handed make head against an hundred riders; and if I said
to him, 'Thou art Sharrkan, son of King Omar bin al-Nu'uman,' he
would answer, 'Yes.' But 'tis not of your competence to let or
hinder him; for if you do so, he will not turn back from you till
he hath slain all that are in this place. Behold, here he is by
my side, and I will bring him before you sword and targe in
hand." "Albeit I were safe from thy wrath," answered Masurah the
Knight, "I am not safe from that of thy father, and when I see
him, I shall sign to the Knights to take him captive, and we will
carry him to the King bound and in abject sort." When she heard
this, she said, "The matter shall not pass thus, for 'twould be
blazoning mere folly. This man is but one and ye are an hundred
Knights: so if you would attack him come out against him, one
after one, that it may appear to the King which is the valiant
amongst you."--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased
to say her permitted say.

When it was the Fiftieth Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Princess
Abrizah said to the Knight, "This man is but one, and ye are an
hundred: so if ye would attack him, come out against him, one
after one, that it may appear to the King which is the valiant."
Quoth Masurah, the Knight, "By the truth of the Messiah, thou
sayest sooth, and none but I shall sally out against him first."
Quoth she, "Wait till I go to him and acquaint him with the case
and hear what answer he will make. If he consent, 'tis well; but
if he refuse, ye shall on no wise come to him, for I and my hand
maids and whosoever is in the convent will be his ransom." So she
went to Sharrkan and told him the news, whereat he smiled and
knew that she had not informed any of the Emirs; but that tidings
of him had been bruited and blazed abroad, till the report
reached the King, against her wish and intent. So he again began
reproaching himself and said, "How came I to adventure and play
with my life by coming to the country of the Greeks?" But hearing
the young lady's proposal he said to her, "Indeed their onset,
one after one, would be overburdensome to them. Will they not
come out against me, ten by ten?" "That would be villainy," said
she; "Let one have at one." When he heard this, he sprang to his
feet and made for them with his sword and battle gear; and
Masurah, the Knight, also sprang up and bore down upon him.
Sharrkan met him like a lion and delivered a shoulder cut[FN#200]
which clove him to the middle, and the blade came out gleaming
and glittering from his back and bowels. When the lady beheld
that swashingblow, Sharrkan's might was magnified in her sight
and she knew that when she overthrew him in the wrestle it was
not by her strength but by her beauty and loveliness. So she
turned to the Knights and said, "Take wreak for your chief!"
Thereupon out came the slain man's brother, a fierce and furious
Knight, and rushed upon Sharrkan, who delayed not, but smote him
also with the shoulder cut and the sword came out glittering from
his vitals. Then cried the Princess, "O ye servants of the
Messiah, avenge your comrade!" So they ceased not charging down
upon him, one after one; and Sharrkan also ceased not playing
upon them with the blade, till he had slain fifty Knights, the
lady looking on the while. And Allah cast a panic into the
hearts of the survivors, so that they held back and dared not
meet him in the duello, but fell upon him in a body; and he laid
on load with heart firmer than a rock, and smote them and trod
them down like straw under the threshing sled,[FN#201] till he
had driven sense and soul out of them. Then the Princess called
aloud to her damsels, saying, "Who is left in the convent?"; and
they replied, "None but the gate keepers;" whereupon she went up
to Sharrkan and took him to her bosom, he doing the same, and
they returned to the palace, after he had made an end of the
melee. Now there remained a few of the Knights hiding from him
in the cells of the monastery, and when the Princess saw this she
rose from Sharrkan's side and left him for a while, but presently
came back clad in closely meshed coat of ring mail and holding in
her hand a fine Indian scymitar. And she said, "Now by the truth
of the Messiah, I will not be a niggard of myself for my guest;
nor will I abandon him though for this I abide a reproach and a
by word in the land of the Greeks." Then she took reckoning of
the dead and found that he had slain fourscore of the Knights,
and other twenty had taken to flight.[FN#202] When she saw what
work he had made with them she said to him, "Allah bless thee, O
Sharrkan! The Cavaliers may well glory in the like of thee."
Then he rose and wiping his blade clean of the blood of the slain
began reciting these couplets,

"How oft in the mellay I've cleft the array, * And given their
bravest to lions a prey:
Ask of me and of them when I proved me prow * O'er creation, on
days of the foray and fray:
When I left in the onslaught their lions to lie * On the sands of
the low lands[FN#203] in fieriest day."

When he ended his verse, the Princess came up to him with smiles
and kissed his hand; then she doffed her hauberk and he said to
her, "O lady mine, wherefore didst thou don that coat of mail and
bare thy brand?" "To guard thee against these caitiffs,"[FN#204]
she replied. Then she summoned the gate keepers and asked them,
"How came ye to admit the King's Knights into my dwelling without
leave of me?"; and they answered, "O Princess, it is not our
custom to ask leave of thee for the King's messengers, and
especially for the chief of his Knights." Quoth she, "I think ye
were minded only to disgrace me and murder my guest;" and bade
Sharrkan smite their necks. He did so and she cried to the rest
of her servants, "Of a truth, they deserved even more than that!"
Then turning to Sharrkan, she said to him, "Now that there hath
become manifest to thee what was concealed, thou shalt be made
acquainted with my history. Know, then, that I am the daughter
of King Hardub of Roum; my name is Abrizah and the ancient dame,
yclept Zat al-Dawahi, is my grandmother by the sword side. She
it certainly is who told my father of thee, and as surely she
will compass a sleight to slay me, more by token as thou hast
slain my father's chivalry and it is noised abroad that I have
separated myself from the Nazarenes and have become no better
than I should be with the Moslems. Wherefore it were wiser that
I leave this dwelling while Zat al-Dawahi is on my track; but I
require of thee the like kindness and courtesy I have shown thee,
for enmity will presently befal between me and my father on thine
account. So do not thou neglect to do aught that I shall say to
thee, remembering all this betided me not save by reason of
thee." Hearing her words, Sharrkan joyed greatly; his breast
broadened and his wits flew from him for delight, and he said,
"By Allah, none shall come at thee, while life is in my bosom!
But hast thou patience to bear parting from thy parents and thy
people?" "Even so," she answered; and Sharrkan swore to her and
the two plighted their troth. Then said she, "Now is my heart at
ease; but there remaineth one other condition for thee." "What is
it?" asked he and she answered, "It is that thou return with thy
host to thine own country." Quoth he, "O lady mine, my father,
King Omar bin al- Nu'uman, sent me to wage war upon thy sire, on
account of the treasure he plundered from the King of
Constantinople, and amongst the rest three great jewels, noted
givers of good fortune." Quoth she, "Cheer thy heart and clear
thine eyes: I will tell thee the whole of the tale and the cause
of our feud with the King of Constantinople. Know that we have a
yearly festival, highs the Convent Feast, whereat Kings from all
quarters and the noblest women are wont to congregate; thither
also come merchants and traders with their wives and families,
and the visitors abide there seven days. I was wont to be one of
them; but, when there befel enmity between us, my father forbade
me to be present at the festival for the space of seven years.
One year, it chanced that amongst the daughters of the great who

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