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He hath sought to attain a becoming patience; but found nought save a heart pining with desire.
She then said to me, When thou goest to her as usual, repeat to her this verse which thou hast heard. I replied, I hear and obey.
So I went to the garden according to my custom, and when I was about to return, I recited to the damsel that verse; and when she heard it, tears poured from her eyes, and she replied,–
Then, if he have not patience to conceal his secret, I know nothing better for him than death.
Retaining this in my memory, I returned to the house; and when I went in to my cousin, I found her fallen down in a fit, and my mother sitting at her head; and when my cousin heard my voice, she opened her eyes, and said, O ‘Azeez, hast thou repeated to her the verse? I answered, Yes: and when she heard it, she wept, and recited to me this other verse. And I repeated it to her; and as soon as she heard it she fainted again, and, on her recovering, recited another verse, which was this:–
We hear and obey, and we die; then convey my salutation to the person who hath prevented our union.[VIII_36]
At the approach of the following night I went again to the garden as usual, and found the damsel expecting me; and we ate and drank; and in the morning, when I was about to depart, I repeated to her what my cousin had said; whereupon she uttered a loud cry, and was agitated, and exclaimed, By Allah, she who uttered this verse hath died! She then wept, and said to me, Wo to thee! Is not she who uttered this verse related to thee?–I answered, She is the daughter of my paternal uncle.–Thou liest, replied she: by Allah, if she were the daughter of thy uncle thou hadst borne her the same love that she bore thee. Thou art he who hath destroyed her, and may G.o.d destroy thee in like manner!
By Allah, if thou hadst told me of thy having a cousin, I had not admitted thee into my favour.–Verily, said I, she is my cousin, and she explained to me the signs that thou madest me, and it was she who taught me how to proceed with thee: I had not obtained access to thee but through her good management.–And did she know of our affair? said she.
I answered, Yes.–May Allah, she exclaimed, cause thee to bewail thy youth, as thou hast caused her to bewail hers! She then said to me, Go and see her.
I departed, therefore, troubled in mind, and proceeded until I came to our street, when I heard a wailing, and, asking respecting it, was answered, We found ‘Azeezeh lying behind the door, dead. I entered the house, and when my mother beheld me, she exclaimed, The crime of destroying her is on thy neck, and may G.o.d not pardon thee her blood!
Perdition to such a cousin as thou!–My father then came, and we prepared her body for interment, and performed the funeral-ceremonies, and buried her; and we caused recitations of the whole of the ?ur-an to be performed at her tomb, and remained there three days, after which I returned to the house, sorrowing for her. And my mother addressed me, and said, I desire to know what thou didst to her, so that thou brokest her heart. I asked her continually, O my son, respecting the cause of her disorder; but she would not acquaint me with it. I conjure thee, therefore, by Allah, that thou inform me what thou didst unto her, to cause her death.–I replied, I did nothing. But she said, May G.o.d avenge her upon thee! for she mentioned to me nothing, but concealed the truth of her case until she died, still preserving her affection for thee; and when she died I was with her, and she opened her eyes, and said to me, O wife of my uncle, may G.o.d hold thy son guiltless of my blood, and not punish him for that which he hath done unto me; and now G.o.d transporteth me from the perishable world to the world of eternity. And I replied, O my daughter, may G.o.d preserve thee, and preserve thy youth! And I asked her respecting the cause of her disorder: but she answered not. Then she smiled, and said, O wife of my uncle, if thy son desire to go to the place which he is accustomed to frequent, tell him to repeat these two phrases on departing from it:–Fidelity is good, and treachery is base:–and this I desire in my compa.s.sion for him, that I may shew him compa.s.sion in my life and after my death. She then gave me something for thee, and took an oath of me that I would not give it to thee until I should see thee weeping for her and lamenting: this thing I have, and when I see thee in the state that she hath described I will give it to thee.–I said to her, Shew it me. But she would not.
I then gave myself up to my pleasures, and thought not of the death of my cousin; for I was unsettled in mind, and wished that I were pa.s.sing the whole of every night and day with my beloved; and scarcely had the next night approached when I repaired again to the garden. I found the damsel sitting there, burning with impatience to see me; and as soon as she beheld me, she hastened to me and clung to my neck, and asked me respecting my cousin. I answered her, She is dead, and we have performed zikrs[VIII_37] and recitations of the ?ur-an for her, and four nights have pa.s.sed since her death, and this is the fifth. When she heard this, she cried out and wept, and said, Did I not tell thee that thou hadst killed her? Hadst thou informed me of her, before her death, I had requited her for the kindness that she hath shewn me; for she hath been of service to me in giving thee access to me: had it not been for her, I should not have had an interview with thee, and I fear thou wilt fall into a calamity on account of her disaster.–I replied, She acquitted me before her death. And I related to her what my mother had told me; upon which she exclaimed, By Allah, I conjure thee, when thou goest to thy mother, learn what it is that she hath.–My mother, said I, told me, Thy cousin, before she died, charged me saying, If thy son desire to go to the place which he is accustomed to frequent, tell him to repeat these two phrases:–Fidelity is good, and treachery is base.–And when the damsel heard this, she exclaimed, The mercy of G.o.d (whose name be exalted!) be upon her, for she hath saved thee from me: I was meditating an injury to thee; but now I will not hurt thee nor trouble thee. And I wondered at this, and said to her, What didst thou purpose before this to do to me, after mutual love had taken place between us? She answered, Thou art devoted to me; but thou art young, and thy mind is free from deceit, and thou knowest not our malice nor our deceit: were she still in the bonds of life, she would a.s.sist thee; for she is the cause of thy safety, and hath delivered thee from destruction: and now I charge thee that thou speak not with any female, nor answer any of our s.e.x, young or old. Beware, beware; for thou art ignorant of the deceit of women, and their malice: she who used to interpret the signs to thee is dead; and I fear for thee lest thou fall into a calamity and find none to deliver thee from it after the death of thy cousin. O my sorrow for the daughter of thy uncle! Would that I had known her before her death, that I might have requited her for the kindness that she hath done me! The mercy of G.o.d (whose name be exalted!) be upon her, for she concealed her secret, and revealed not what she felt; and but for her, thou wouldst never have had access to me. And now I have a service to demand of thee.–What is it? said I. She answered, That thou conduct me to her tomb, that I may visit her at her grave, and inscribe some verses upon it. I replied, To-morrow, if it be the will of G.o.d, whose name be exalted!–So I remained with her that night, and frequently she said to me, Would that thou hadst told me of thy cousin before her death! And I asked her, What is the meaning of these words which she said–Fidelity is good, and treachery is base? But she answered me not.
In the morning, therefore, she arose, and, taking a purse containing some pieces of gold, said to me, Arise, and shew me the tomb, that I may visit it, and write upon it some verses, and build over it a cupola, and pray for mercy upon her, and bestow these pieces of gold in alms for her soul. I replied, I hear and obey. And I walked before her, and she followed me, and employed herself in giving alms on the way as she went, and every time that she did so she said, This is an alms for the soul of ‘Azeezeh, who concealed her secret until she drank the cup of death, and revealed not her love. Thus she continued to give of the contents of the purse, and to say, For the soul of ‘Azeezeh,–until we arrived at the tomb, and the contents of the purse were exhausted; and when she beheld the tomb, she threw herself upon it, and wept violently. She then took forth a pointed instrument of steel, and a small mallet, and engraved upon the stone at the head of the tomb, in small characters, these verses:–
I pa.s.sed by an undistinguished tomb in the midst of a garden, with seven anemones upon it;[VIII_38]
And I said, Whose tomb is this? The soil answered, Be respectful, for this is the resting-place of a lover.
So I said, G.o.d keep thee, O victim of love, and lodge thee in the highest stage of Paradise!
How miserable are lovers among the creation, when even their tombs are covered with vile dust!
Were I able [O tomb], I would make of thee a garden, and water it with my streaming tears!
She then again wept violently, and arose, and I arose with her; and after we had returned to the garden, she said to me, I conjure thee by Allah that thou never forsake me. And I replied, I hear and obey. So I resumed my visits to her as before, and she treated me with kindness and honour, and used to ask me respecting the two phrases which my cousin ‘Azeezeh had mentioned to my mother, and I repeated them to her. Thus I remained, eating and drinking, and enjoying her conversation, and attiring myself in changes of delicate clothing, until I became stout and fat, and I experienced neither anxiety nor grief nor sorrow, and forgot my cousin.
I continued drowned in these pleasures for a whole year; and at the commencement of the new year, I entered the bath, and refreshed myself, and put on a handsome suit; and after I had gone forth from the bath, I drank a cup of wine, and smelt the odours of my clothes, which were richly perfumed with various scents. My heart was unoppressed by calamities or misfortunes; and when the hour of nightfall came, I desired to repair to the damsel; but I was intoxicated, and knew not my way; and, in going to her, intoxication led me aside into a by-street called the street of the Na?eeb:[VIII_39] and as I was proceeding along it, lo, an old woman came, with a lighted candle in one of her hands, and in her other hand a folded letter. I advanced towards her, and she, with weeping eye, said to me, O my son, art thou able to read?
I answered her, Yes, my old aunt. And she said, Take this letter, and read it to me. And she handed me the letter; so I took it from her and opened it, and read to her its contents, informing her that it was a letter from the absent, with salutations to the beloved. And when she heard this, she rejoiced at the good news, and e.j.a.c.u.l.a.t.ed a prayer for me, saying, May G.o.d dispel thine anxiety as thou hast dispelled mine!
She then took the letter, and proceeded a few steps; but presently she returned to me, and, kissing my hand, said, O my lord, may G.o.d (whose name be exalted!) give thee enjoyment of thy youth, and not disgrace thee. I beg that thou wilt walk with me a few paces, to that door; for I have told them what thou hast read to me of the letter, and they do not believe me: come with me, therefore, two steps, and read to them the letter outside the door, and accept my prayer for thee.–And what, said I, is the history of this letter? She answered, O my son, this letter hath come from my son, who hath been absent from us for the s.p.a.ce of ten years; for he journeyed with merchandise, and hath remained abroad during that period, and we relinquished all hope of his return, thinking that he was dead: then came to us this letter from him; and he hath a sister who hath wept for him during his absence night and day; and I told her that he was in health and prosperity; but she believed me not, and said to me, Thou must bring me a person to read this letter and to acquaint me with its contents, that my heart may be set at ease and my mind comforted.–Thou knowest, O my son, that the loving is prepossessed with evil antic.i.p.ations: favour me, therefore, by reading this letter while thou shalt stand outside the curtain, and his sister shall hear it within the door, that the recompense of him who accomplisheth a want for a Muslim, and dispelleth from his mind a trouble, may be thine: for the Apostle of G.o.d (may G.o.d bless and save him!) hath said, Whoso dispelleth from the mind of a sorrowful person one of the troubles of this world, G.o.d will dispel from his mind one of the troubles of the world to come:–and in another tradition, Whoso dispelleth from the mind of his brother one of the troubles of this world, G.o.d will dispel from his mind seventy-two of the troubles of the day of resurrection:–and now I have desired thee, do not disappoint me.–So I replied, I hear and obey: proceed before me.
She therefore walked before me, and I followed her a little way, until she arrived at a great door overlaid with copper; and she stopped at this door, and called out in Persian, and immediately a damsel approached, with light and nimble step. Her trousers were tucked up to her knees, and I beheld a pair of legs that confounded the mind and the eye by their beauty: they were like two columns of alabaster, and ornamented with anklets of gold set with jewels. The skirts of her outer clothes were tucked up under her arms, and her sleeves were turned up from her arms, and I looked at her white wrists, and upon them were two pairs of bracelets: in her ears were two ear-rings of pearls; and upon her neck was a necklace of costly jewels; and on her head, a koofeeyeh,[VIII_40] quite new, adorned with precious gems. She had tucked the skirt of her inner tunic within the band of her trousers, and appeared as though she had been employed in some active work. And when she beheld me, she said, with an eloquent and sweet tongue that I had never heard surpa.s.sed in sweetness, O my mother, is this he who hath come to read the letter? She answered, Yes. And the damsel stretched forth her hand to me with the letter. There was, between her and the door, a distance of about half a rod;[VIII_41] and I extended my hand to take the letter from her, and put my head and shoulders within the door to draw near to her; but before I knew what she was about to do, the old woman placed her head against my back, and pushed me forward, while my hand was holding the letter, and I looked around, and found myself in the midst of the house; that is, within the vestibule.
The old woman entered more quickly than the blinding lightning, and had nothing to do but to shut the door: and when the damsel beheld me within the vestibule, she approached me, and pressed me to her bosom, and, taking me by the hand, unable to extricate myself from her grasp, led me, preceded by the old woman with the lighted candle, until she had pa.s.sed through seven vestibules; after which she conducted me into a large saloon, with four leewans,[VIII_42] in which a horseman might play at goff.[VIII_43] She then seated me, and said to me, Open thine eye. And I did so, giddy from the violence that I had experienced, and saw that the whole construction of the saloon was of the most beautiful alabaster, and all its furniture, including the cushions and mattresses, of brocade. In it were also two benches of bra.s.s, and a couch of red gold set with pearls and jewels, not suitable to any but a King like thee.
After this, she said to me, O ‘Azeez, which of the two states is the more agreeable to thee, life or death? I answered her, Life. And she said, Then if life is more agreeable to thee, marry me.–I dislike, I replied, marrying such a person as thou. She rejoined, if thou marry me, thou wilt be secure from the daughter of the crafty Deleeleh.[VIII_44]–And who, said I, is the daughter of the crafty Deleeleh? She laughed, and answered, How is it that thou knowest her not, when thou hast now been in her company a year and four months? May Allah (whose name be exalted!) destroy her. Verily there existeth not any one more treacherous than she. How many persons hath she killed before thee, and what deeds hath she done! And how hast thou escaped from her, without her killing or troubling thee, when thou hast been in her company all this time?–When I heard her words I wondered extremely, and said to her, O my mistress, who acquainted thee with her? She answered, I know her as the age knoweth its calamities; but I desire that thou inform me of all that thou hast experienced from her, that I may know the cause of thy safety from her. So I related to her all that had happened to me with her and with my cousin ‘Azeezeh; and she exclaimed, Allah have mercy upon her!–and her eyes shed tears, and she struck her hands together, when she heard of the death of my cousin ‘Azeezeh, and said, May Allah compensate thee abundantly for the loss of her, O ‘Azeez; for she hath been the cause of thy safety from the daughter of the crafty Deleeleh; and had it not been for her, thou hadst perished.[VIII_45] After this, she clapped her hands, and said, O my mother, bring in those who are with thee. And lo, the old woman approached with four lawful witnesses; and she lighted four candles; and when the witnesses entered, they saluted me, and seated themselves; and the damsel covered herself with an izar, and appointed one of the witnesses to be her deputy in making her contract. So they performed the marriage-contract, and she affirmed of herself that she had received the whole of the dowry, both the portion usually paid in advance and the arrears, and that she was indebted to me in the sum of ten thousand pieces of silver; after which she gave to the witnesses their fees, and they departed.
On the following day, I desired to go out; but she approached me laughing, and said, Dost thou think that going out from the bath is like entering it?[VIII_46] I imagine thou thinkest me to be like the daughter of the crafty Deleeleh. Beware of entertaining such an idea.
Thou art no other than my husband, according to the ?ur-an and the Sunneh; and if thou hast been intoxicated, return to thy reason. Verily this house in which thou art is not opened but on one day in every year.
Go to the street-door and look.–So I went and looked, and found it closed and nailed, and returned and told her so; and she said to me, O ‘Azeez, we have of flour and grain and fruits and pomegranates and sugar and meat and sheep and fowls and other provisions what will suffice us for many years, and from this last night our door will not be opened until after a year and I know that thou wilt not behold thyself outside this house until after a year hath expired. Upon this I exclaimed, There is no strength nor power but in G.o.d! And she laughed, and I laughed also, and complied with her orders, and remained with her until the twelve months of the year had expired, when I was blest with a son by her. And on the first day of the following year, I heard the opening of the door, and lo, men came in with ka?ks[VIII_47] and flour and sugar; and I desired to go out; but she said to me, Wait until nightfall, and as thou camest in, so go forth. I therefore waited until that hour, and was on the point of going out, in fear and trembling, when she said to me, By Allah, I will not let thee go until I have made thee swear to me that thou wilt return this night before the door is closed. So I promised her to do it; and she made me swear by binding oaths upon the sword and the ?ur-an, and by the oath of divorce, that I would return to her.[VIII_48]
I then went forth from her, and repaired to the garden. I found it open as usual, and was angry, saying within myself, I have been absent from this place a whole year, and, coming unawares, have found it open as usual. I wonder if the damsel be still there as heretofore, and I must enter and see before I go to my mother.–It was then nightfall, and I entered the garden, and, proceeding to the ma?’ad, found the daughter of the crafty Deleeleh sitting with her head upon her knee and her hand upon her cheek. Her complexion was changed, and her eyes were sunk, and when she beheld me she exclaimed, Praise be to G.o.d for thy safety!–and she endeavoured to rise, but fell down through her joy. I was ashamed at seeing her, and hung down my head; but presently I advanced to her and kissed her, and said to her, How didst thou know that I was coming to thee at this time? She answered, I knew it not. By Allah, for a year I have not tasted sleep; but have sat up every night expecting thee, and in this state have I been from the day when thou wentest forth from me and I gave thee the new suit of clothing and thou promisedst me that thou wouldst return to me. I remained expecting thee, and thou camest not the first night, nor the second, nor the third: so I still waited in expectation of thy coming; for such is the way of the lover: and I would now that thou tell me what hath been the cause of thine absence from me this year. I therefore told her; and when she knew that I had married, her countenance became pale. I then said to her, I have come to thee this night, but must go before the morning. But she exclaimed, Is it not enough for her to have married thee, and to have employed this stratagem against thee, and imprisoned thee with her a whole year, that she hath made thee swear by the oath of divorce that thou wilt return to her before the morning, and will not allow thee to divert thyself with thy mother nor with me, and cannot endure thy pa.s.sing one night with either of us? What then must be the state of her from whom thou hast been absent a whole year, though I knew thee before she did! But may Allah have mercy on ‘Azeezeh; for she suffered what none other hath suffered, and endured with patience that of which none else hath endured the like, and died through thy oppression. It was she who protected thee from me.
I thought that thou wouldst return, and gave thee liberty, though I was able to imprison thee, and to destroy thee.
Having thus said, she wept, and became enraged, and looked at me with the eye of anger; and when I beheld her in this state, the muscles of my side quivered, and I feared her, and became as the bean upon the fire.
She then cried out, and suddenly ten female slaves came to me, and threw me upon the floor; and when I fell under their hands, she arose, and, taking a knife, said, I will slaughter thee as goats are slaughtered, and this shall be thy least recompense for that which thou hast done unto thy cousin. When I beheld myself, therefore, beneath her female slaves, and my cheek was soiled with the dust, and I saw the knife in her hand, I looked upon death as inevitable. I implored her mercy; but she only increased in hardness, and ordered the female slaves to bind my hands behind me; and they did so, and, throwing me upon my back, seated themselves upon my body, and held my head. Then two of them arose and took hold of my toes, and two others seated themselves upon my legs; after which, their mistress arose, with two others of them, and she ordered them to beat me; whereupon they beat me until I fainted, and my voice became inaudible; and when I recovered, I said within myself, Verily my being slaughtered were easier to me than this beating! I bethought myself of the words of my cousin, when she said, May G.o.d avert from thee her wickedness!–and I cried out and wept until my voice failed. She then sharpened the knife, and said to the female slaves, Uncover his throat. But G.o.d inspired me to repeat the two phrases which my cousin had charged me to utter, namely, Fidelity is good, and treachery is base;–and when she heard this, she cried out and said, Allah have mercy upon thee, O ‘Azeezeh! Would that thy youth had been spared! Thou hast profited thy cousin during thy life and after thy death!–Then addressing me, she added, By Allah, thou hast saved thy life from me by means of these two phrases; but I must cause thee to bear a mark of my resentment.–So saying, she inflicted upon me a cruel wound, and I fainted; but when I recovered, the blood had stopped, and she gave me to drink a cup of wine, and spurned me with her foot.
I rose; but was unable at first to walk: presently, however, I proceeded by little and little until I arrived at the door of my wife’s house. I found it open, and threw myself within it, in a state of distraction; and my wife came and took me up and conveyed me to the saloon, where I fell into a deep sleep; but when I awoke, I found myself laid at the gate of the garden.
In anguish I rose, and went to my home, and, entering the house, found my mother weeping for me, and exclaiming, Would that I knew, O my son, in what land thou art! So I approached her, and threw myself upon her, and when she beheld me, she saw that I was unwell. Yellowness and blackness were mingled upon my face; and I remembered my cousin, and the kindness she had shewn me, and was convinced that she loved me. I wept for her, and my mother also wept, and then said to me, O my son, thy father is dead. And upon this, my rage increased, and I wept until I became insensible; and when I recovered, I looked towards the place where my cousin was accustomed to sit, and wept again till I fainted from the violence of my lamentation. I ceased not to weep and wail until midnight, when my mother said to me, Thy father hath been dead ten days.
But I replied, I think of no one but my cousin; for I deserve what hath happened to me, because I neglected her when she loved me. She asked me, therefore, And what hath happened to thee? So I related to her that which had befallen me; to which she replied, Praise be to G.o.d that this happened to thee and that she did not slaughter thee! She then applied remedies to my wound until I recovered, and regained my usual strength; and she said to me, O my son, I will now produce to thee the deposite with which thy cousin intrusted me; for it is thine, and she made me swear that I would not produce it to thee until I saw that thou rememberedst her and mournedst for her, and that thine affections for another were severed; and now I hope that I find in thee these dispositions. She therefore arose, and, opening a chest, took forth from it this piece of linen containing the design of the gazelles, which I had originally given to her; and when I took it, I found written upon it some verses complaining of her unrequited love for me, and there fell from it a paper containing some words of consolation and counsel.[VIII_49]
As soon as I had read and understood this paper, I wept again, and my mother did the same, and I continued looking at it and weeping until the approach of night; and in this state I remained for the s.p.a.ce of a year; after which, some merchants of my city, the same whom I am accompanying in this caravan, prepared for a journey; and my mother suggested to me that I should fit myself out and go with them, saying to me, Perhaps the journey will dispel this sorrow which thou sufferest, and thou wilt be absent a year, or two years, or three, until the caravan returneth, and thy heart may become dilated. Thus she continued to persuade me, so that I prepared some merchandise, and journeyed with them; but my tears have not dried up during my travels; for at every station where we halt I spread this piece of linen before me, and look at this design, and think of my cousin, and weep for her as thou seest, since she loved me excessively, and died through my unkindness; I doing nothing but evil to her, while she did nothing to me but what was good. When the merchants return from their journey, I shall return with them, and the period of my absence will be a complete year; but I still suffer increasing sorrow; and my sorrow hath been only augmented in consequence of my pa.s.sing by the Islands of Camphor and the Castle of Crystal.[VIII_50]
These Islands are seven in number, and the sovereign of them is a King named Shah-Zeman.[VIII_51] He hath a daughter named Dunya;[VIII_52]
and it was told me that it was she who worked the designs of the gazelles, and that this design which is in my possession was one of her work; and when I knew this, I became excessively desirous of seeing her: so, when the caravan entered her country, I went forth and wandered about the gardens, which contained a profusion of trees. The superintendent of the gardens was a sheykh advanced in age; and I said to him, O sheykh, to whom doth this garden belong? He answered, To the King’s daughter, the lady Dunya, and we are beneath her palace; and if thou desire to amuse thyself, open the private door, and take a view of the garden and smell the odours of the flowers. So I said to him, Have the kindness to allow me to sit in this garden until she pa.s.seth by, that I may enjoy a glance at her. The sheykh replied, There will be no harm in thy doing so. When he said this, therefore, I gave him some money, saying to him, Buy for us something to eat. And he rejoiced at receiving the money, and, opening the door, conducted me within; and we proceeded until we came to a pleasant spot, where he brought me some delicate fruits, and said to me, Sit here while I go and return to thee.
And he left me and departed, and, after he had been absent a while, returned bringing a roasted lamb; and we ate until we were satisfied, my heart longing to behold the lady, and while we were sitting, lo, the door opened; whereupon he said to me, Rise, and conceal thyself. So I rose, and hid myself; and a black eunuch put forth his head from the door, and said, O sheykh, is any one with thee? He answered, No.–Then close the door, said the eunuch. The sheykh, therefore, closed the door of the garden; and lo, the lady Dunya came forth. When I beheld her, I thought that the moon had descended upon the earth; my mind was confounded, and I desired her as the thirsty longeth for water; and after a while, she closed the door and departed. I then went forth from the garden, and repaired to my lodging, knowing that I could not obtain access to her; and when my companions prepared for departure, I also prepared myself, and travelled with them towards thy city; and on our arrival here, we met with thee.–This is my story, and this is what hath happened unto me; and peace be on thee.
CONTINUATION OF THE STORY OF TaJ-EL-MULOOK AND THE LADY DUNYa.
When Taj-el-Mulook heard this story, his heart became troubled with love for the lady Dunya. He then mounted his horse, and, taking with him ‘Azeez, returned to his father’s city, where he a.s.signed to him a house, and furnished it with everything that he required; after which he left him, and repaired to his palace. His tears ran down upon his cheeks (for hearing affecteth as sight and union), and in this state he remained until his father came in to him, and, finding that his colour was changed, knew that he was oppressed by anxiety and grief: so he said to him, O my son, acquaint me with thy case, and tell me what hath happened to thee to change thy colour. He therefore related to him all that he had heard of the story of Dunya, and how he had fallen in love with her from hearsay, without having seen her; whereupon his father said to him, O my son, her father is a King, and his country is distant from us: abandon, therefore, this idea, and enter the palace of thy mother; for in it are five hundred female slaves like so many moons, and whoever of them pleaseth thee do thou take her; or, if none of them please thee, we will demand in marriage for thee one of the daughters of the Kings, more beautiful than the lady Dunya. But he replied, O my father, I desire not any but her: it was she who worked the design of the gazelles that I saw, and I must have her, or I will flee into the deserts, and kill myself on her account.
So his father said, Have patience with me, O my son, that I may send to her father and demand her of him in marriage, and accomplish for thee thy wish, like as I did for myself in the case of thy mother; and if he consent not, I will convulse his kingdom around him, and send against him an army of which the rear shall be with me when the van is with him.
He then called for the young man ‘Azeez, and said to him, O my son, knowest thou the way? He answered, Yes.–Then I desire of thee, said the King, that thou journey with my Wezeer. And ‘Azeez replied, I hear and obey, O King of the age. The King, therefore, summoned his Wezeer, and said to him, Manage for me the affair of my son according to thy knowledge, and repair to the Islands of Camphor, and demand in marriage the daughter of their King. He replied, I hear and obey. And Taj-el-Mulook returned to his apartments, and his malady and impatience increased: he fell down in a swoon, and recovered not until the morning; and when the morning arrived, his father came to him, and saw his complexion more changed, and his sallowness increased; and he exhorted him to patience, and promised him the accomplishment of his union.
The King then equipped ‘Azeez, with his Wezeer, and supplied them with the presents; and they journeyed days and nights until they beheld the Islands of Camphor, when they halted on the bank of a river, and the Wezeer sent forward a messenger from his party to the King, to acquaint him with their approach; and half a day after the departure of the messenger, suddenly they saw that the chamberlains of the King, and his emeers, had advanced to meet them from the distance of a league; and they met him, and attended them until they went in with them to the King. They placed before the King the presents, and remained in his palace four days; and on the fifth day the Wezeer arose and went in to the King, and, standing before him, delivered to him his message, and acquainted him with the cause of his coming; but the King was perplexed how to answer, for his daughter liked not marriage; and he hung down his head for a while towards the floor; and after this he raised it, and, looking towards one of the eunuchs, said to him, Go to thy mistress Dunya, and acquaint her with what thou hast heard, and with the purpose of the visit of this Wezeer. So the eunuch went, and, after a short absence, returned to the King, and said to him, O King of the age, when I went in to the lady Dunya, and acquainted her with what I had heard, she was violently enraged, and rose against me with a stick, and would have broken my head; wherefore I fled from her; and she said to me, If my father force me to marry, him whom I marry I will kill. Her father, therefore, said to the Wezeer and ‘Azeez, Salute ye the King, and inform him of this, and that my daughter liketh not marriage. Accordingly the Wezeer returned with his attendants unsuccessful, and they continued their journey until they went in unto the King, and acquainted him with what had happened; and upon this he ordered the chiefs to call together the troops that they might march to war; but the Wezeer said to him, Do not this; for the King is not in fault: the refusal is on the part of his daughter, who, when she knew of this proposal, sent to say, If my father force me to marry, I will kill him whom I marry, and kill myself after him.
And when the King heard the words of the Wezeer, he feared for his son Taj-el-Mulook, and said, If I make war upon her father, and obtain possession of his daughter, she will kill herself. He then acquainted his son Taj-el-Mulook with the truth of the case; and when the prince heard it, he said to his father, O my father, I cannot exist without her: I will therefore go to her, and seek means of obtaining an interview with her, though I die in the attempt: and I will do nothing but this. His father said, How wilt thou go to her? He answered, I will go in the disguise of a merchant.–Then if it must be so, rejoined the King, take with thee the Wezeer and ‘Azeez. He then took forth for him some money from his treasuries, and prepared for him merchandise at the price of a hundred thousand pieces of gold, and they both agreed as to this course; and when night came, Taj-el-Mulook and ‘Azeez went to the abode of the latter, and there pa.s.sed that night. But the heart of Taj-el-Mulook was captivated, and neither eating nor rest pleased him: reflections overwhelmed him, and he was drowned in them; and, longing for his beloved, he poured forth his tears, and wept violently; and ‘Azeez wept with him, reflecting upon his cousin; and they both continued thus until the morning, when Taj-el-Mulook arose and went in to his mother. He was equipped for the journey; and she asked him respecting his state: so he acquainted her with the whole truth; and she gave him fifty thousand pieces of gold, and bade him farewell, and he went forth from her, while she offered up prayers for his safety, and for his union with the object of his love. He then went in to his father, and asked his permission to depart; and the King granted him permission, and gave him fifty thousand pieces of gold, and ordered that a tent should be pitched for him outside the city.
A large tent was therefore pitched for him; and after they had remained in it two days, they commenced their journey; and Taj-el-Mulook treated ‘Azeez with familiar kindness, and said to him, O my brother, I cannot henceforth part with thee.–And I, replied ‘Azeez, am of the like mind, and desire to die at thy feet; but, O my brother, my heart is troubled with thoughts of my mother. So Taj-el-Mulook said, When we shall have attained our wish, all will be well. Now the Wezeer had charged Taj-el-Mulook to display an air of patience, and ‘Azeez occupied himself with reciting to him verses, and narrating to him histories and tales; and they continued on their way by night and day for the s.p.a.ce of two months. The length of the journey became wearisome to Taj-el-Mulook; and the violence of his desire, and his pa.s.sion and distraction, increased: so when they drew near to the city, he rejoiced excessively, and his anxiety and grief ceased.
They entered it in the garb of merchants, the King’s son being also clad in the same manner, and, coming to a place known as the abode of merchants, which was a large Khan, Taj-el-Mulook said to ‘Azeez, Is this the abode of the merchants? ‘Azeez answered, Yes: it is not, however, the Khan in which I lodged with the caravan that I accompanied; but it is better than that. So they made their camels lie down, and unloaded, and, having deposited their goods in the magazines, remained there to take rest four days. The Wezeer then suggested to them that they should hire for themselves a large house; to which they a.s.sented; and they hired a s.p.a.cious house, fitted for festivities. There they took up their abode; and the Wezeer and ‘Azeez studied to devise some stratagem for the sake of Taj-el-Mulook, who was perplexed, not knowing what to do.
The Wezeer could contrive no other plan than that of his opening for himself a shop to carry on the trade of a merchant in the market of fine stuffs: he therefore addressed Taj-el-Mulook and ‘Azeez, and said to them, Know that if we remain in this state we shall not attain our wish; and a thing hath occurred to my mind which probably may be advisable, if it be the will of G.o.d. So they replied, Do what seemeth fit to thee; for a blessing attendeth the aged, and especially in thy case, since thou hast devoted thyself to the management of affairs: therefore give us the advice which hath suggested itself to thy mind. And he said to Taj-el-Mulook, It is my opinion that we should hire for thee a shop in the market of fine stuffs, and that thou shouldst sit in it to sell and buy; for every person of the higher ranks and of the people in general standeth in need of such stuffs, and if thou sit in that shop thy affair will be arranged, if it be the will of G.o.d (whose name be exalted!), especially because of thy comely person; but make ‘Azeez thy trusty attendant, and seat him in the shop to hand to thee the stuffs. And when Taj-el-Mulook heard these words, he said, This is a judicious opinion;–and immediately he took forth a suit of merchant’s attire, and clad himself in it, and arose and went forth, followed by his young men, and gave to one of them a thousand pieces of gold to fit up the shop.
They proceeded until they arrived at the market of fine stuffs, and when the merchants saw Taj-el-Mulook, and observed his handsome and comely person, they were confounded, and began to say, Hath Ri?wan[VIII_53]
opened the gates of Paradise and neglected them, so that this youth of surprising beauty hath come forth?–and one said, This is probably one of the angels. And when they went in among the merchants, they inquired for the shop of the Sheykh of the market. The merchants, therefore, guided them thither, and they went to him; and as they approached him, he and the merchants who were with him rose to them, and received them with honour, especially the excellent Wezeer; for they saw him to be an aged and venerable man; and observing that he was accompanied by Taj-el-Mulook and ‘Azeez, they said, No doubt this sheykh is the father of these two young men. The Wezeer then said to them, Who among you is the Sheykh of the market? They answered, This is he. And the Wezeer, looking at him and observing him, saw that he was an old man of grave and respectable aspect, and possessing servants and young men. The Sheykh of the market greeted them with friendly compliments, and treated them with great honour, and, having seated them by his side, said to them, Have ye any business which we may have the happiness of transacting? The Wezeer answered, Yes: I am an old man, advanced in age, and I have these two young men: I have travelled with them through all regions and countries, and have not entered a town without remaining in it a whole year, that they might amuse themselves with the sight of it and become acquainted with its inhabitants; and now I have come to this your town, and have chosen to make a stay in it: I therefore desire of thee one of the best shops, that I may seat them in it to traffic, and that they may amuse themselves with the sight of this city, and acquire the manners of its people, and obtain an experience in buying and selling and other commercial transactions.
So the Sheykh of the market replied, There will be no harm in doing so:–and, looking at the two young men, he was delighted with them, and he arose and stood like a servant before them to wait upon them. And afterwards he went and prepared for them the shop: it was in the midst of the market, and there was none larger than it, nor any more handsome there; for it was s.p.a.cious and decorated, and contained shelves of ivory and ebony. He then delivered the keys to the Wezeer (who was also in the garb of a merchant), and said, G.o.d grant that it may be attended with blessings to thy two sons![VIII_54] And when the Wezeer had taken the keys of the shop, he went to it, together with the servants, who deposited in it their goods; and they ordered the servants to remove thither all the merchandise and stuffs and rarities that they had. These things were worth treasuries of wealth; and they transported the whole of them to the shop. They then pa.s.sed the night, and in the morning the Wezeer conducted the two young men to the bath, where they washed and enjoyed themselves to the utmost, after which they returned to their abode to rest from the fatigue of bathing, and ate and drank; and they pa.s.sed the next night in their abode in the most perfect joy and happiness. And on the following morning they rose from their sleep, and, having performed the ablution, recited the divinely-ordained prayers, and drank their morning-beverage;[VIII_55] and when daylight came, and the shops and markets were opened, they went forth from their abode, and repaired to the market, and opened the shop. The servants had prepared it for them in the handsomest manner, and spread it with carpets of silk, and placed in it two mattresses, each of which was worth a hundred pieces of gold; and upon each mattress they spread a skin such as Kings sit upon, surrounded with an edge of gold: so Taj-el-Mulook seated himself upon one mattress, and ‘Azeez upon the other, and the Wezeer sat in the midst of the shop, while the servants stood before them. The people heard of them, and crowded about them, and they sold of their merchandise; and the fame of Taj-el-Mulook was spread through the city, and the report of his handsomeness and comeliness was blazed throughout it. They continued this life for several days, the people pressing to them; after which the Wezeer addressed Taj-el-Mulook, and enjoined him to conceal his case, and, having charged ‘Azeez to keep watch over him, repaired to the house to plan some mode of proceeding that might be of advantage to them. Meanwhile, Taj-el-Mulook and ‘Azeez sat conversing together; and the former said, Perhaps some one may come from the lady Dunya.
Thus Taj-el-Mulook pa.s.sed his time days and nights, and slept not; desire overpowered him, and he became more and more emaciated and infirm, renouncing the delight of sleep, and abstaining from drink and food; but still he was like the full moon: and as he was sitting one day, lo, an old woman approached and advanced towards him, followed by two female slaves, and she continued to draw near until she stopped at his shop. Beholding his graceful person, and his handsome and lovely aspect, she wondered at his beauty, and said, Extolled be the perfection of Him who created thee! Extolled be the perfection of Him who hath made thee a temptation to all creatures!–She ceased not to gaze at him, and said, This is not a mortal: this is no other than a n.o.ble angel![VIII_56] Then drawing close to him, she saluted him, and he returned her salutation, and rose to her, standing upon his feet,[VIII_57] and smiled in her face. All this he did at the hinting of ‘Azeez; after which he seated her by his side, and occupied himself with fanning her until she had rested herself; when she said to him, O my son! O thou of perfect qualities and graces! art thou of this country?–Taj-el-Mulook answered her, with an eloquent and sweet and charming voice, By Allah, O my mistress, in my life I never entered this country until now; and I have not taken up my abode in it but for the sake of amus.e.m.e.nt. And she wished him honour, and welcomed him, and said, What stuffs hast thou brought with thee? Show me something beautiful; for the beautiful bringeth not anything but what is beautiful.–And when Taj-el-Mulook heard her words his heart palpitated; but he understood not their meaning: so ‘Azeez made a sign to him; and Taj-el-Mulook said to her, I have everything that thou desirest of stuffs suitable only to Kings and the daughters of Kings.
For whom, then, wouldst thou purchase, that I may display to thee what will be appropriate?–He desired by this question to learn the meaning of her words; and she answered, I want some stuff suitable to the lady Dunya, the daughter of King Shah-Zeman. On hearing the mention of his beloved, Taj-el-Mulook rejoiced exceedingly, and said to ‘Azeez, Bring me the most magnificent of the goods that are by thee. And ‘Azeez gave him a wrapper, and untied it before her, and Taj-el-Mulook said to her, Choose what will suit her; for this is such as is not found with any but me. So the old woman chose some stuff that was worth a thousand pieces of gold; and said, What is the price of this?–What! said he, shall I bargain with a person like thee respecting this contemptible thing?
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