Richard Francis Burton.

A plain and literal translation of the Arabian nights' entertainments, now entituled The book of the thousand nights and a night : with introduction, explanatory notes on the manners and customs of Moslem men, and a terminal essay upon the history of The nights (Volume 7) online

. (page 27 of 40)
Online LibraryRichard Francis BurtonA plain and literal translation of the Arabian nights' entertainments, now entituled The book of the thousand nights and a night : with introduction, explanatory notes on the manners and customs of Moslem men, and a terminal essay upon the history of The nights (Volume 7) → online text (page 27 of 40)
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no means rare amongst Eastern princesses ; and terrible tales are told in Persia con-
cerning the daughters of Path AH Shah. Few men and no woman can resist the temp-
tations of absolute command. The daughter of a certain Dictator all-powerful in the
Argentine Republic was once seen on horseback with a white bridle of peculiar
leather ; it was made of the skin of a man who had boasted of her favours. The slave-
girls suffer first from these masterful young persons and then it is the turn of the

Ardashir and Hay at al-Nufus

commandment." So she went away, as if to fetch the key ; but
fear overtook her and she sought safety in flight. Then the
eunuch awaited her awhile ; then, finding she did not return, he
feared that the King would be angry at his delay ; so he rattled
at the door and shook it, whereupon the bolt gave way and the
leaf opened. He entered and passed on, till he came to the seventh
door and walking in to the Princess's chamber found the place
splendidly furnished and saw candles and flagons there. At this
spectacle he marvelled and going close up to the bed, which was
curtained by a hanging of silk, embroidered with a net-work of
jewels, drew back the curtain from before the Princess and saw
her sleeping with her arms about the neck of a young man hand-
somer than herself ; whereat he magnified Allah Almighty, who
had created such a youth of vile water, and said, " How goodly
be this fashion for one who hateth men ! How came she by this
fellow ? Methinks 'twas on his account that she knocked out
my back teeth ! " Then he drew the curtain and made for the
door ; but the King's daughter awoke in affright and seeing the
eunuch, whose name was Kafur, called to him. He made her no
answer : so she came down from the bed on the estrade ; and
catching hold of his skirt laid it on her head and kissed his feet,
saying, " Veil what Allah veileth ! " Quoth he, " May Allah not
veil thee nor him who would veil thee ! Thou didst knock out
my grinders and saidst to me : Let none make mention to me
aught of men and their ways ! " So saying, he disengaged him-
self from her grasp and running out, locked the door on them
and set another eunuch to guard it. Then he went in to the King
who said to him " Hast thou given the necklace to Hayat al-
Nufus ? " The eunuch replied, " By Allah, thou deservest
altogether a better fate ; " and the King asked, " What hath
happened ? Tell me quickly ; " whereto he answered, " I will not
tell thee, save in private and between our eyes," but the King
retorted, saying, " Tell me at once and in public." Cried the
eunuch, "Then grant me immunity." So the King threw him
the kerchief of immunity and he said, " O King, I went into the
Princess Hayat al-Nufus and found her asleep in a carpeted
chamber and on her bosom was a young man. So I locked the
door upon the two and came back to thee." When the King
heard these words he started up and taking a sword in his
hand, cried out to the Rais of the eunuchs, saying, "Take thy
lads and go to the Princess's chamber and bring me her and

A If Laylah wa Laylah.

him who is with her as they twain lie on the bed ; but cover

them both up." And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day

and ceased saying her permitted say.

Jloto fofjm (t foa* t&e &ebcn ^tm&rrtr an&

She resumed, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when
the King commanded the head eunuch to take his lads and to
fetch and set before him Hayat al-Nufus and him who was with
her, the chief and his men entered the Princess's apartment
where he found her standing up, dissolved in railing tears, and
the Prince by her side ; so he said to them, " Lie down on the
bed, as thou wast and let him do likewise." The King's daughter
feared for her lover 1 and said to him, " This is no time for
resistance." So they both lay down and the eunuchs covered
them up and carried the twain into the King's presence. There-
upon Abd al-Kadir pulled off the coverings and the Princess
sprang to her feet. He looked at her and would have smitten
her neck : but the Prince threw himself on the father's breast,
saying, " The fault was not hers but mine only : kill me before
thou killest her." The King made at him, to cut him down, but
Hayat al-Nufus cast herself on her father and said, " Kill me
not him ; for he is the son of a great King, lord of all the land
in its length and breadth." When the King heard this, he turned
to the Chief Wazir, who was a gathering-place of all that is evil,
and said to him, " What sayst thou of this matter, O Minister ? "
Quoth his Wazir, " What I say is that all who find themselves in
such case as this have need of lying, and there is nothing for it
but to cut off both their heads, after torturing them with all
manner of tortures." Hereupon the King called his sworder of
vengeance, who came with his lads, and said to him, " Take this
gallows bird and strike off his head and after do the like with
this harlot and burn their bodies, and consult me not about them
a second time." So the headsmen put his hand to her back, to
take her ; but the King cried out at him and cast at him some-
what he hent in hand, which had well-nigh killed him, saying,
" O dog, how durst thou show ruth to those with whom I am
wroth ? Put thy hand to her hair and drag her along by it, so that

1 A neat touch ; she was too thorough-bred to care for herself first.

Ardaskir and Hayat al-Nufus. 257

she may fall on her face." Accordingly he haled her by her hair
and the Prince in like manner to the place of blood, where he tore
off a piece of his skirt and therewith bound the Prince's eyes
putting the Princess last, in the hope that some one would inter-
cede for her. Then, having made ready the Prince he swung his
sharp sword three times (whilst all the troops wept and prayed
Allah to send them deliverance by some intercessor), and raised
his hand to cut off Ardashir's head when, behold, there arose a
cloud of dust, that spread and flew till it veiled the view. Now
the cause thereof was that when the young Prince had delayed
beyond measure, the King, his sire, had levied a mighty host and
had marched with it in person to get tidings of his son. Such
was his case ; but as regards King Abd al-Kadir, when he saw
this, he said, " O wights, what is the meaning of yonder dust that
dimmeth sights ? " The Grand Wazir sprang up and went out to
reconnoitre and found behind the cloud men like locusts, of whom
no count could be made nor aught avail of aid, filling the hills and
plains and valleys. So he returned with the report to the King,
who said to him, " Go down and learn for us what may be this
host and the cause of its marching upon our country. Ask also
of their commander and salute him for me and enquire the reason
of his coming. An he came in quest of aught, we will aid him,
and if he have a blood-feud with one of the Kings, we will ride
with him ; or, if he desire a gift, we will handsel him ; for this is
indeed a numerous host and a power uttermost, and we fear for
our land from its mischief." So the Minister went forth and
walked among the tents and troopers and body-guards, and ceased
not faring on from the first of the day till near sundown, when he
came to the warders with gilded swords in tents star-studded.
Passing these, he made his way through Emirs and Wazirs and
Nabobs and Chamberlains, to the pavilion of the Sultan, and found
him a mighty King. When the King's officers saw him, they
cried out to him, saying, " Kiss ground ! Kiss ground ! " * He did
so and would have risen, but they cried out at him a second and a
third time. So he kissed the earth again and again and raised his
head and would have stood up, but fell down at full length for excess
of awe. When at last he was set between the hands of the King
he said to him, " Allah prolong thy days and increase thy sovranty
and exalt thy rank, O thou auspicious King ! And furthermore,

1 Here the ground or earth is really kissed.

258 Alf Laylah wa Laylah.

of a truth, King Abd al-Kadir saluteth thee and kisseth the earth
before thee and asketh on what weighty business thou art come,
An thou seek to avenge thee for blood on any King, he will take
horse in thy service ; or, an thou come in quest of aught, wherein
it is in his power to help thee, he standeth up at thy service on
account thereof." So Ardashir's father replied to the Wazir,
saying, " O messenger, return to thy lord and tell him that the
most mighty King Sayf al-A'azam Shah, Lord of Shiraz, had a
son who hath been long absent from him and news of him have
not come and all traces of him have been cut off. An he be in
this city, he will take him and depart from you ; but, if aught have
befallen him or any mischief have ensued to him from you, his
father will lay waste your land and make spoil of your goods and
slay your men and seize your women. Return, therefore, to thy
lord in haste and tell him this, ere evil befal him." Answered the
Minister, " To hear is to obey ! " and turned to go away, when the
Chamberlains cried out to him, saying, " Kiss ground ! Kiss
ground ! " So he kissed the ground a score of times and rose
not till his life-breath was in his nostrils. 1 Then he left the King's
high court and returned to the city, full of anxious thought con-
cerning the affair of this King and the multitude of his troops,
and going in to King Abd al-Kadir, pale with fear and trembling
in his side-muscles, acquainted him with that had befallen him ;
- And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say
her permitted say.

Note fofjen t't foas t&e Sbebcn ^untircU antr

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the Wazir
returned from the court of the Great King, pale with fear and
with side-muscles quivering for dread exceeding ; and acquainted
his lord with that had befallen him. Hereat disquietude and
terror for himself and for his people laid hold upon him and he
said to the Minister, " O Wazir, and who is this King's son ? "
Replied the other, " 'Tis even he whom thou badest put to death,
but praised be Allah who hastened not his slaughter ! Else had
his father wasted our lands and spoiled our good." Quoth the
King " See now thy corrupt judgment, in that thou didst counsel

J Corresponding with our phrase, " His heart was in his mouth-"

Ardashir and Hayat al-Nufus. 259

us to slay him ! Where is the young man, the son of yonder
magnanimous King ? " And quoth the Wazir, " O mighty King,
thou didst command him be put to death." When the King heard
this, he was clean distraught and cried out from his heart's core
and in-most of head, saying, " Woe to you ! Fetch me the Heads-
man forthright, lest death fall on him ! " So they fetched the
Sworder and he said, " O King of the Age, I have smitten off his
head even as thou badest me." Cried Abd al-Kadir " O dog, an
this be true, I will assuredly send thee after him." The Heads-
man replied, " O King, thou didst command me to slay him with-
out consulting thee a second time." Said the King, " I was in my
wrath ; but speak the truth, ere thou lose thy life ;" and said the
Sworder, " O King, he is yet in the chains of life." At this Abd
al-Kadir rejoiced and his heart was set at rest ; then he called for
Ardashir, and when he came, he stood up to receive him and kissed
his mouth, saying, " O my son, I ask pardon of Allah Almighty
for the wrong I have done thee, and say thou not aught that may
lower my credit with thy sire, the Great King." The Prince asked
" O King of the Age, and where is my father ? " and the other
answered, " He is come hither on thine account." Thereupon
quoth Ardashir, " By thy worship, I will not stir from before thee
till I have cleared my honour and the honour of thy daughter
from that which thou laidest to our charge ; for she is a pure
virgin. Send for the midwives and let them examine her before
thee. An they find her maidenhead gone, I give thee leave to
shed my blood ; and if they find her a clean maid, her innocence
of dishonour and mine also will be made manifest." So he sum-
moned the midwives, who examined the Princess and found her a
pure virgin and so told the King, seeking largesse of him. He
gave them what they sought, putting off his royal robes to bestow
on them, and in like manner he was bountiful to all who were in
the Harim. And they brought forth the scent-cups and perfumed
all the Lords of estate and Grandees ; and not one but rejoiced
with exceeding joy. Then the King threw his arms about Arda-
shir's neck and entreated him with all worship and honour, bidding
his chief eunuchs bear him to the bath. When he came out, he
cast over his shoulders a costly robe and crowned him with a
coronet of jewels ; he also girt him with a girdle of silk, purfled
with red gold and set with pearls and gems, and mounted him on
one of his noblest mares, with selle and trappings of gold inlaid
with pearls and jewels. Then he bade his Grandees and Captains

2oo A If Laylah wa Laylah.

mount on his service and escort him to his father's presence ; and
charged him tell his sire that King Abd al-Kadir was at his disposal,
hearkening to and obeying him in whatso he should bid or forbid.
" I will not fail of this," answered Ardashir and farewelling him,
repaired to his father who, at sight of him, was transported for
delight and springing up, advanced to meet him and embraced
him, whilst joy and gladness spread among all the host of the
Great King. Then came the Wazirs and Chamberlains and
Captains and guards and kissed the ground before the Prince and
rejoiced in his coming : and it was a great day with them for
enjoyment, for the King's son gave leave to those of King Abd
al-Kadir's officers who had accompanied him and others of the
townsfolk, to view the ordinance of his father's host, without let
or stay, so they might know the multitude of the Great King's
troops and the might of his empire. And all who had seen him
selling stuffs in the linendrapers' bazar marvelled how his soul
could have consented thereto, considering the nobility of his spirit
and the loftiness of his dignity ; but it was his love and inclination
to the King's daughter that to this had constrained him. Mean-
while, news of the multitude of her lover's troops came to Hayat
al-Nufus, who was still jailed by her sire's commandment, till they
knew what he should order respecting her, whether pardon and
release or death and burning ; and she looked down from the
terrace-roof of the palace and, turning towards the mountains, saw
even these covered with armed men. When she beheld all those
warriors and knew that they were the army of Ardashir's father,
she feared lest he should be diverted from her by his sire and
forget her and depart from her, whereupon her father would slay
her. So she called a handmaid that was with her in her apartment
by way of service, and said to her, " Go to Ardashir, son of the
Great King, and fear not. When thou comest into his presence,
kiss the ground before him and tell him what thou art and say to
him : My lady saluteth thee and would have thee to know that
she is a prisoner in her father's palace, awaiting his sentence,
whether he be minded to pardon her or put her to death, and she
beseecheth thee not to forget her or forsake her ; for to-day thou
art all-powerful ; and, in whatso thou commandest, no man dare
cross thee. Wherefore, an it seem good to thee to rescue her from
her sire and take her with thee, it were of thy bounty, for indeed
she endureth all these trials for thy sake. But, an this seem not
good to thee, for that thy desire of her is at an end, still speak to

Ardashir and Hay at al-Nufus. 261

thy sire, so haply he may intercede for her with her father and he
depart not, till he have made him set her free and taken surety
from and made covenant with him, that he will not go about to
put her to death nor work her aught of harm. This is her last
word to thee, may Allah not desolate her of thee, and so The

Peace ! "' And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and

ceased saying her permitted say.

ftfofo fo&en it toas tfje ^ebtn f^uirtm* an&

She continued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the
bondmaid sent by Hayat al-Nufus made her way to Ardashir and
delivered him her lady's message, which when he heard, he wept
with sore weeping and said to her, " Know that Hayat al-Nufus
is my mistress and that I am her slave and the captive of her love.
I have not forgotten what was between us nor the bitterness of
the parting day ; so do thou say to her, after thou hast kissed her
feet, that I will speak with my father of her, and he shall send his
Wazir, who sought her aforetime in marriage for me, to demand
her hand once more of her sire, for he dare not refuse. So, if he
send to her to consult her, let her make no opposition ; for I will
not return to my country without her." Then the handmaid
returned to Hayat al-Nufus ; and, kissing her hands, delivered to
her the message, which when she heard, she wept for very joy and
returned thanks to Almighty Allah. Such was her case ; but as
regards Ardashir, he was alone with his father that night and the
Great King questioned him of his case, whereupon he told him all
that had befallen him, first and last. Then quoth the King,
" What wilt thou have me do for thee, O my son ? An thou
desire Abd al-Kadir's ruin, I will lay waste his lands and spoil his
hoards and dishonour his house." Replied Ardashir, " I do not
desire that, O my father, for he hath done nothing to me deserving
thereof; but I wish for union with her; wherefore I beseech thee
of thy favour to make ready a present for her father, (but let
it be a magnificent gift !) and send it to him by thy Minister,
the man of just judgment." Quoth the King, " I hear and
consent ;" and sending for the treasures he had laid up from

1 Very artful is the contrast of the love-lorn Princess's humility with her furious
behaviour, in the pride of her purity, while she was yet a virginette and fancy free.

262 Alf Laylah wa Laylah.

time past, brought out all manner precious things and showed
them to his son, who was pleased with them. Then he called
his Wazir and bade him bear the present with him * to King Abd
al-Kadir and demand his daughter in marriage for Ardashir,
saying, " Accept the present and return him a reply." Now from
the time of Ardashir's departure, King Abd al-Kadir had been
troubled and ceased not to be heavy at heart, fearing the laying
waste of his reign and the spoiling of his realm ; when behold,
the Wazir came in to him and saluting him, kissed ground before
him. He rose up standing and received him with honour ; but
the Minister made haste to fall at his feet and kissing them cried,
" Pardon, O King of the Age ! The like of thee should not rise
to the like of me, for I am the least of servants' slaves. Know, O
King, that Prince Ardashir hath acquainted his father with some
of the favours and kindnesses thou hast done him, wherefore he
thanketh thee and sendeth thee in company of thy servant who
standeth before thee, a present, saluting thee and wishing thee
especial blessings and prosperities." Abd al-Kadir could not
believe what he heard of the excess of his fear, till the Wazir
laid the present before him, when he saw it to be such gift as
no money could purchase nor could one of the Kings of the
earth avail to the like thereof; wherefore he was belittled in his
own eyes and springing to his feet, praised Almighty Allah and
glorified Him and thanked the Prince. Then said the Minister
to him, "O noble King, give ear to my word and know that
the Great King sendeth to thee, desiring thine alliance, and I
come to thee seeking and craving the hand of thy daughter, the
chaste dame and treasured gem Hayat al-Nufus, in wedlock for
his son Ardashir, wherefore, if thou consent to this proposal and
accept of him, do thou agree with me for her marriage-portion.'*
Abd al-Kadir hearing these words replied, " I hear and obey.
For my part, I make no objection, and nothing can be more
pleasurable to me ; but the girl is of full age and reason and her
affair is in her own hand. So be assured that I will refer it to
her and she shall chose for herself." Then he turned to the chief
eunuch and bade him go and acquaint the Princess with the
event. So he repaired to the Harim and, kissing the Princess's
hands, acquainted her with the Great King's offer adding, " What

1 Arab. " Suhbat-hu " lit. = in company with him, a popular idiom in Egypt and
Syria. It often occurs in the Bresl. Edit

Ardashir and Hayat al-Nufus. 263

sayest thou in answer ? " " I hear and I obey," replied she.

And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say
her permitted say.

Nofo fofjm it tons tfje gtfbtn ^uirtrrrtr an* i)trtB=tf$rt) Xtg!)t,

She pursued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the
chief eunuch of the Harim having informed the Princess how she
had been demanded in marriage by the Great King and having
heard her reply, " I hear and I obey," returned therewith to the
King and gave him this answer, whereat he rejoiced with exceeding
joy and, calling for a costly robe of honour, threw it over the
Wazir*s shoulders. Furthermore, he ordered him ten thousand
dinars and bade him carry the answer to the Great King and
crave leave for him to pay him a visit. " Hearing and obeying,"
answered the Minister; and, returning to his master, delivered him
the reply and Abd al-Kadir's message, and repeated all their talk,
whereat he rejoiced greatly and Ardashir was transported for
delight and his breast broadened and he was a most happy man.
King Sayf al-A'azam also gave King Abd al-Kadir leave to come
forth to visit him ; so, on the morrow, he took horse and rode to
the camp of the Great King, who came to meet him and saluting
him, seated him in the place of honour, and gave him welcome ;
and they two sat whilst Ardashir stood before them. Then arose
an orator of the King Abd al-Kadir's court and pronounced an
eloquent discourse, giving the Prince joy of the attainment of his
desire and of his marriage with the Princess, a Queen among
King's daughters. When he sat down the Great King caused
bring a chest full of pearls and gems, together with fifty thousand
dinars, and said to King Abd al-Kadir, " I am my son's deputy in
all that concerneth this matter." So Abd al-Kadir acknowledged
receipt of the marriage-portion and amongst the rest, fifty thousand
dinars for the nuptial festivities ; after which they fetched the
Kazis and the witnesses, who wrote out the contract of marriage
between the Prince and Princess, and it was a notable day, wherein
all lovers made merry and all haters and enviers were mortified.
They spread the marriage-feasts and banquets and lastly Ardashir
went in unto the Princess and found her a jewel which had been
hidden, an union pearl unthridden and a filly that none but he
had ridden, so he notified this to his sire. Then King Sayf al-

264 Alf Laylah wa Laylah.

A'azam asked his son, " Hast thou any wish thou wouldst have
fulfilled ere we depart ? " ; and he answered, " Yes, O King, know
that I would fain take my wreak of the Wazir who entreated us
on evil wise and the eunuch who forged a lie against us." So the
King sent forthright to Abd al-Kadir, demanding of him the
Minister and the castrato, whereupon he despatched them both
to him and he commanded to hang them over the city gate.
After this, they abode a little while and then sought of Abd
al-Kadir leave for his daughter to equip her for departure. So
he equipped her and mounted her in a Takhtrawan, a travelling
litter of red gold, inlaid with pearls and gems and drawn by noble
steeds. She carried with her all her waiting-women and eunuchs,
as well as the nurse, who had returned, after her flight, and re-
sumed her office. Then King Sayf al-A'azam and his son mounted
and Abd al-Kadir mounted also with all the lords of his land, to
take leave of his son-in-law and daughter ; and it was a day to be
reckoned of the goodliest of days. After they had gone some
distance, the Great King conjured Abd al-Kadir to turn back;
so he farewelled him and his son, after he had strained him to his
breast and kissed him between the eyes and thanked him for his
grace and favours and commended his daughter to his care. Then
he went in to the Princess and embraced her ; and she kissed his
hands and they wept in the standing-place of parting. After this
he returned to his capital and Ardashir and his company fared
on, till they reached Shiraz, where they celebrated the marriage-
festivities anew. And they abode in all comfort and solace and

Online LibraryRichard Francis BurtonA plain and literal translation of the Arabian nights' entertainments, now entituled The book of the thousand nights and a night : with introduction, explanatory notes on the manners and customs of Moslem men, and a terminal essay upon the history of The nights (Volume 7) → online text (page 27 of 40)