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 29 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 29 of 40)
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that I would not give my son a name till you should come and
name him of your knowledge." So they named him Badr Basim, 2
and all agreed upon this name. Then they showed the child to
his uncle Salih, who took him in his arms and arising began to
walk about the chamber with him in all directions right and left.
Presently he carried him forth of the palace and going down to
the salt sea, fared on with him, till he was hidden from the King's
sight Now when Shahriman saw him take his son and disappear
with him in the depth of the sea, he gave the child up for lost and
fel to weeping and wailing; but Julnar said to him, " O King of
the Age, fear not, neither grieve for thy son, for I love my child
more than thou and he is with my brother ; so reck thou not of
the sea neither fear for him drowning. Had my brother known
that aught of harm would betide the little one, he had not done
this deed ; and he will presently bring thee thy son safe, Inshallah
an it please the Almighty." Nor was an hour past before the
sea became turbid and troubled and King Salih came forth and
flew from the sea till he came up to them with the child lying
quiet and showing a face like the moon on the night of fulness.
Then, looking at the King he said, " Haply thou fearedst harm for
thy son, whenas I plunged into the sea with him ? " Replied the
father, " Yes, O my lord, I did indeed fear for him and thought he

1 In the text the name does not appear till near the end of the tale.
* i.e. Full moon smiling.

Julnar the Sea-born and tier Son. 275

would never be saved therefrom." Rejoined Salih, " O King of
the land, we pencilled his eyes with an eye-powder we know of
and recited over him the names graven upon the seal-ring of
Solomon David-son (on whom be the Peace !), for this is what we
use to do with children newly born among us; and now thou
needst not fear for him drowning or suffocation in all the oceans
of the world, if he should go down into them ; for, even as ye walk
on the land, so walk we in the sea." Then he pulled out of his
pocket a casket, graven and sealed and, breaking open the seals,
emptied it ; whereupon there fell from it strings of all manner
jacinths and other jewels, besides three hundred bugles of emerald
and other three hundred hollow gems, as big as ostrich eggs,
whose light dimmed that of sun and moon. Quoth Salih, " O
King of the Age, these jewels and jacinths are a present from me
to thee. We never yet brought thee a gift, for that we knew not
Julnar's abiding-place neither had we of her any tidings or trace ;
but now that we see thee to be united with her and we are all
become one thing, we have brought thee this present ; and every
little while we will bring thee the like thereof, Inshallah ! for that
these jewels and jacinths are more plentiful with us than pebbles
on the beach and we know the good and the bad of them and their
whereabouts and the way to them, and they are easy to us."
When the King saw the jewels, his wits were bewildered and his
sense was astounded and he said, " By Allah, one single gem of
these jewels is worth my realm ! " Then he thanked for his bounty
Salih the Sea-born and, looking towards Queen Julnar, said, "I
am abashed before thy brother, for that he hath dealt munificently
by me and bestowed on me this splendid gift, which the folk of
the land were unable to present." So she thanked her brother
for his deed and he said, " O King of the Age, thou hast the prior
claim on us and it behoves us to thank thee, for thou hast entreated
our sister with kindness and we have entered thy dwelling and
eaten of thy victual ; and the poet saith * :

Had 7 wept before she did in my passion for Saada, I had healed my soul

before repentance came.
But she wept before / did : her tears drew mine ; and I said, The merit

belongs to the precedent.

" And " (resumed Salih the Pious) " if we stood on our faces in thy

1 These lines have occurred in vol. iii. 264, so I quote Lane il 499,

276 A If Laylah wa Laylah.

service, O King of the Age, a thousand years, yet had we not the
might to requite thee, and this were but a scantling of thy due."
The King thanked him with heartiest thanks and the Merman and
Merwomen abode with him forty days' space, at the end of which
Salih arose and kissed the ground before his brother-in-law, who
asked "What wantest thou, O Salih ?" He answered, "O King
of the Age, indeed thou hast done us overabundant favours, and
we crave of thy bounties that thou deal charitably with us and
grant us permission to depart ; for we yearn after our people and
country and kinsfolk and our homes ; so will we never forsake thy
service nor that of my sister and my nephew ; and by Allah, O King
of the Age, 'tis not pleasant to my heart to part from thee ; but how
shall we do, seeing that we have been reared in the sea and that
the sojourn of the shore liketh us not ? " When the King heard
these words he rose to his feet and farewelled Salih the Sea-born
and his mother and his cousins, and all wept together, because of
parting and presently they said to him, " Anon we will be with
thee again, nor will we forsake thee, but will visit thee every few
days." Then they flew off and descending into the sea, disap-
peared from sight. And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day

and ceased saying her permitted say.

Koto fo&m it foas tfje &eben f^unUtefc an& Jortg - tf)ir&

She continued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the
relations of Julnar the Sea-born farewelled the King and her,
weeping together because of parting ; then they flew off and de-
scending into the depths disappeared from sight. After this King
Shahriman showed the more kindness to Julnar and honoured her
with increase of honour ; and the little one grew up and flourished,
whilst his maternal uncle and grandam and cousins visited the
King every few days and abode with him a month or two months
at a time. The boy ceased not to increase in beauty and loveli-
ness with increase of years, till he attained the age of fifteen and
was unique in his perfection and symmetry. He learnt writing
and Koran- reading , history, syntax and lexicography; archery,
spearplay and horsemanship and what not else behoveth the sons
of Kings ; nor was there one of the children of the folk of the
city, men or women, but would talk of the youth's charms, for he

Jidnar the Sea-born and her Son. 277

was of surpassing beauty and perfection, even such an one as is
praised in the saying of the poet : l "

The whiskers write upon his cheek, with ambergris on oearl, Two lines, as

'twere with jet upon an apple, line for line.
Death harbours in his languid eye and slays with every glance, And in his

cheek is drunkenness, and not in any wine.

And in that of another :

Upsprings from table of his lovely cheek * * A growth like broidery my

wonder is :
As 'twere a lamp that burns through night hung up * Beneath the gloom 8 in

chains of ambergris.

And indeed the King loved him with exceeding love, and sum*
moning his Wazir and Emirs and the Chief Officers of state and
Grandees of his realm, required of them a binding oath that they
would make Badr Basim King over them after his sire ; and they
sware the oath gladly, for the sovran was liberal to the lieges
pleasant in parley and a very compend of goodness, saying naught
but that wherein was advantage for the people. On the morrow
Shahriman mounted, with all his troops and Emirs and Lords, and
went forth into the city and returned. When they drew near the
palace, the King dismounted, to wait upon his son who abode on
horseback, and he and all the Emirs and Grandees bore the saddle-
cloth of honour before him, each and every of them bearing it in
his turn, till they came to the vestibule of the palace, where the
Prince alighted and his father and the Emirs embraced him and
seated him on the throne of Kingship, whilst they (including his
sire) stood before him. Then Badr Basim judged the people,
deposing the unjust and promoting the just and continued so
doing till near upon noon, when he descended from the throne
and went in to his mother, Julnar the Sea-born, with the crown
upon his head, as he were the moon. When she saw him, with
the King standing before him, she rose and kissing him, gave him
joy of the Sultanate and wished him and his sire length of life
and victory over their foes. He sat with her and rested till the
hour of mid-afternoon prayer, when he took horse and repaired,

1 These lines occurred in vol. ii. 301. I quote Mr. Payne.

2 Arab. "Khadd" = cheek from the eye-orbit to the place where the beard growj
also applied to the side of a rough highland, the side-planks of a litter, etc. etc.

* The black hair of youth.

278 A If Laylah wa Laylah.

with the Emirs before him, to the Maydan-plain, where he played at
arms with his father and his lords, till night-fall, when he returned
to the palace, preceded by all the folk. He rode forth thus every
day to the tilting-ground, returning to sit and judge the people
and do justice between carl and churl ; and thus he continued
doing a whole yeaFj at the end of which he began to ride out
a-hunting and a-chasing and to go round about in the cities and
countries under his rule, proclaiming security and satisfaction and
doing after the fashion of Kings ; and he was unique among the
people of his day for glory and valour and just dealing among the
subjects. And it chanced that one day the old King fell sick
and his fluttering heart forebode him of translation to the Mansion
of Eternity. His sickness grew upon him till he was nigh upon
death, when he called his son and commended his mother and
subjects to his care and caused all the Emirs and Grandees
once more swear allegiance to the Prince and assured himself of
them by strongest oaths ; after which he lingered a few days and
departed to the mercy of Almighty Allah. His son and widow
and all the Emirs and Wazirs and Lords mourned over him, and
they built him a tomb and buried him therein. They ceased not
ceremonially to mourn for him a whole month, till Salih and his
mother and cousins arrived and condoled with their grieving for
the King and said, " O Julnar, though the King be dead, yet hath
he left this noble and peerless youth, and not dead is whoso
leaveth the like of him, the rending lion and the shining moon ;"

And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say

her permitted say.

ft foas tfce

She pursued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Salih
brother of Julnar and her mother and cousins said to her, " Albeit
the King be dead, yet hath he left behind him as successor this
noble and peerless youth, the rending lion and the shining moon."
Thereupon the Grandees and notables of the Empire went in to
King Badr Basim and said to him, " O King, there is no harm in
mourning for the late sovran : but over-mourning beseemeth none
save women ; wherefore occupy thou not thy heart and our hearts
with mourning for thy sire; inasmuch as he hath left thee behind him,
and whoso leaveth the like of thee is not dead." Then they com-
forted him and diverted him and lastly carried him to the bath.

Julnar the Sea-born and her Son.. 279

When he came out of the Hammam, he donned a rich robe, pur-
fled with gold and embroidered with jewels and jacinths ; and,
setting the royal crown on his head, sat down on his throne of
kingship and ordered the affairs of the folk, doing equal justice
between strong and weak, and exacting from the prince the dues
of the pauper ; wherefore the people loved him with exceeding
love. Thus he continued doing for a full year, whilst, every now
and then, his kinsfolk of the sea visited him, and his life was
pleasant and his eye was cooled. Now it came to pass that his
uncle Salih went in one night of the nights to Julnar and saluted
her ; whereupon she rose and embracing him seated him by her
side and asked him, " O my brother, how art thou and my mother
and my cousins.'* He answered, " O my sister, they are well and
glad and in good case, lacking naught save a sight of thy face/'
Then she set somewhat of food before him and he ate, after which
talk ensued between the twain and they spake of King Badr Basim
and his beauty and loveliness, his symmetry and skill in cavalarice
and cleverness and good breeding. Now Badr was propped upon
his elbow hard by them ; and, hearing his mother and uncle
speak of him, he feigned sleep and listened to their talk. 1
Presently Salih said to his sister, " Thy son is now seventeen years
old and is unmarried, and I fear least mishap befal him and he
have no son ; wherefore it is my desire to marry him to a Princess
of the princesses of the sea, who shall be a match for him in beauty
and loveliness." Quoth Julnar, " Name them to me for I know
them all." So Salih proceeded to enumerate them to her, one by
one, but to each she said, " I like not this one for my son ; I will
not marry him but to one who is his equal in beauty and loveliness
and wit and piety and good breeding and magnanimity and
dominion and rank and lineage." 2 Quoth Salih, " I know none
other of the daughters of the Kings of the sea , for I have
numbered to thee more than an hundred girls and not one of
them pleaseth thee : but see, O my sister, whether thy son be
asleep or no." So she felt Badr and finding on him the signs of
slumber said to Salih, " He is asleep ; what hast thou to say and

1 This manner of listening is not held dishonourable amongst Arabs or Easterns
generally ; who, however, hear as little good of themselves as westerns declare in

2 Arab. " Hasab wa nasab," before explained as inherited degree and acquired
dignity. See vol. iv. 171

280 A If Laylah wa Laylah.

what is thine object in making sure his sleeping ? " Replied he,
" O my sister, know that I have bethought me of a Mermaid of
the mermaids who befitteth thy son ; but I fear to name her, lest
he be awake and his heart be taken with her love and maybe we
shall be unable to win to her ; so should he and we and the
Grandees of the realm be wearied in vain and trouble betide us
through this ; for, as saith the poet :

Love, at first sight, is a spurt of spray ; ' But a spreading sea when it
gaineth sway.

When she heard these words, she cried, "Tell me the condition of
this girl, and her name for I know all the damsels of the sea,
Kings' daughters and others ; and, if I judge her worthy of him, I
will demand her in marriage for him of her father, though I spend
on her whatso my hand possesseth. So recount to me all anent
her and fear naught, for my son sleepeth." Quoth Salih, " I fear
lest he be awake ; and the poet saith :

I loved him, soon as his praise I heard , o For ear oft loveth ere eye survey

But Julnar said, " Speak out and be brief and fear not, O my
brother." So he said, " By Allah, O my sister, none is worthy of
thy son save the Princess Jauharah, daughter of King Al-Samandal, 2
for that she is like unto him in beauty and loveliness and brilliancy
and perfection ; nor is there found, in sea or on land, a sweeter or
pleasanter of gifts than she ; for she is prime in comeliness and
seemlihead of face and symmetrical shape of perfect grace ; her
cheek is ruddy dight, her brow flower white, her teeth gem-bright,
her eyes blackest black and whitest white, her hips of heavy
weight, her waist slight and her favour exquisite. When she
turneth she shameth the wild cattle 3 and the gazelles and when
she walketh, she breedeth envy in the willow branch : when she
unveileth her face outshineth sun and moon and all who look upon
her she enslaveth soon : sweet-lipped and soft-sided indeed is she."

1 Arab. Mujajat = spittle running from the mouth: hence Lane, "is like running
aliva," which, m poetry is not pretly.

* Arab, and Heb. Salmandra from Pers. Samandal ( dar duk dun, etc), a Sala-
mander, a mouse which lives in fire, some say a bird in India and China and others
confuse with the chameleon (Bochart Hiero. Part ii. chapt. vi).

3 Arab. " Maha " one of the four kinds of wild cows or bovine antelopes, bubaluf,
Antelope defassa, A. leucoryx, etc.

Julnar the Sea-born and her Son. 281

Now when Julnar heard what Salih said, she replied, " Thou
sayest sooth, O my brother ! By Allah, I have seen her many and
many a time and she was my companion, when we were little ones;
but now we have no knowledge of each other, for constraint of
distance ; nor have I set eyes on her for eighteen years. By Allah,
none is worthy of my son but she ! " Now Badr heard all they
said and mastered what had passed, first and last, of these praises
bestowed on Jauharah daughter of King Al-Samandal ; so he fell
in love with her on hearsay, pretending sleep the while, wherefore
fire was kindled in his heart on her account full sore and he was

drowned in a sea without bottom or shore. And Shahrazad

perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

ttfofo tofoen ft toas tfjc jbebnt f^unUreto anfc Jportp^fiftfr

She resumed, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when
King Badr Basim heard the words of his uncle Salih and his
mother Julnar, praising the daughter of King Al-Samandal, a
flame of fire burnt in his heart full sore and he was drowned in a
sea which hath nor bottom nor shore. Then Salih, looking at his
sister, exclaimed, " By Allah, O my sister, there is no greater fool
among the Kings of the sea than her father nor one more violent
of temper than he ! So name thou not the girl to thy son, till we
demand her in marriage of her father. If he favour us with his
assent, we will praise Allah Almighty ; and if he refuse us and will
not give her to thy son to wife, we will say no more about it and
seek another match." Answered Julnar, "Right is thy rede;"
and they parleyed no more : but Badr passed the night with a
heart on fire with passion for Princess Jauharah. However he
concealed his case and spake not of her to his mother or his uncle,
albeit he was on coals of fire for love of her. Now when it was
morning, the King and his uncle went to the Hammam-bath and
washed, after which they came forth and drank wine and the
servants set food before them, whereof they and Julnar ate their
sufficiency, and washed their hands. Then Salih rose and said to
his nephew and sister, " With your leave, I would fain go to my
mother and my folk for I have been with you some days and their
hearts are troubled with awaiting me." But Badr Basim said to
him, " Tarry with us this day ; " and he consented. Then quoth
the King, " Come, O my uncle, let us go forth to the garden." So

282 A If Laylah wa Laylah.

they sallied forth and promenaded about the pastures and took
their solace awhile, after which King Badr lay down under a shady
tree, thinking to rest and sleep ; but he remembered his uncle's
description of the maiden and her beauty and loveliness and shed
railing tears, reciting these two couplets 1 :

Were it said to me while the flame is burning within me, o And the fire blazing

in my heart and bowels,
Wouldst thou rather that thou shouldest behold them o Or a draught of pure

water ? I would answer, Them.

Then he sighed and wept and lamented, reciting these verses
also :

Who shall save me from love of a lovely gazelle, o Brighter browed than the

sunshine, my bonnibel !
My heart, erst free from her love, now burns o With fire for the maid of


When Salih heard what his nephew said, he smote hand upon
hand and said, " There is no god but tJie God ! Mohammed is the
Apostle of God and there is no Majesty and there is no Might
save in Allah, the Glorious, the Great ! " adding, " O my son,
heardest thou what passed between me and thy mother respecting
Princess Jauharah ? " Replied Badr Basim, " Yes, O my uncle,
and I fell in love with her by hearsay through what I heard you
say. Indeed, my heart cleaveth to her and I cannot live without
her." Rejoined his uncle, " O King, let us return to thy mother
and tell her how the case standeth and crave her leave that I may
take thee with me and seek the Princess in marriage of her sire ;
after which we will farewell her and I and thou will return.
Indeed, I fear to take thee and go without her leave, lest she be
wroth with me ; and verily the right would be on her side, for I
should be the cause of her separation from us. Moreover, the
city would be left without king and there would be none to
govern the citizens and look to their affairs ; so should the realm
be disordered against thee and the kingship depart from thy
hands." But Badr Basim, hearing these words, cried, " O my
uncle, if I return to my mother and consult her on such matter,
she will not suffer me to do this ; wherefore I will not return to

1 These lines have occurred in vol. iii. 279 ; so I quote Lane (iii. 274) by way of
variety ; although I do not like his " bowels."

Julnar the Sea-born and her Son. 283

my mother nor consult her." And he wept before him and
presently added, " I will go with thee and tell her not and after
will return." When Salih heard what his nephew said, he was
confused anent his case and said, " I crave help of the Almighty
in any event." Then, seeing that Badr Basim was resolved to go
with him, whether his mother would let him or no, he drew from
his finger a seal-ring, whereon were graven certain of the names
of Allah the Most High, and gave it to him, saying, " Put this on
thy finger, and thou shalt be safe from drowning and other perils
and from the mischief of sea-beasts and great fishes." So King
Badr Basim took the ring and set it on his finger. Then they

drove into the deep And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of

day and ceased to say her permitted say.

Xofo tohcn it foas tljt &eben fDunUrefc antt Jfortrusixtf) Xt'nljt,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Badr
Basim and his uncle, after diving into the deep, fared on till
they came to Salih's palace, where they found Badr Basim's
grandmother, the mother of his mother, seated with her .kinsfolk ;
and, going in to them, kissed their hands. When the old Queen
saw Badr, she rose to him and embracing him, kissed him between
the eyes and said to him, " A blessed coming, O my son ! How
didst thou leave thy mother Julnar ? " He replied, " She is well
in health and fortune, and saluteth thee and her uncle's daughters.
Then Salih related to his mother what had occurred between him
and his sister and how King Badr Basim had fallen in love with
the Princess Jauharah daughter of Al-Samandal by report and
told her the whole tale from beginning to end adding, " He hath
not come save to demand her in wedlock of her sire;" which
when the old Queen heard, she was wroth against her son with
exceeding wrath and sore troubled and concerned and said, " O
Salih, O my son, in very sooth thou diddest wrong to name the
Princess before thy nephew, knowing, as thou dost, that her father
is stupid and violent, little of wit and tyrannical of temper,
grudging his daughter to every suitor ; for all the Monarchs of
the Main have sought her hand, but he rejected them all ; nay, he
would none of them, saying : Ye are no match for her in beauty
or in loveliness or in aught else. Wherefore we fear to demand
her in wedlock of him, lest he reject us, even as he hath rejected

284 A If Layiah wa Lay la k.

others ; and we are a folk of high spirit and should return broken-
hearted." Hearing these words Salih answered, " O my mother,
what is to do ? For King Badr Basim saith : There is no help
but that I seek her in marriage of her sire, though I expend my
whole kingdom ; and he avoucheth that, an he take her not to
wife, he will die of love for her and longing," And Salih con-
tinued, " He is handsomer and goodlier than she ; his father was
King of all the Persians, whose King he now is, and none is worthy
of Jauharah save Badr Basim. Wherefore I purpose to carry her
father a gift of jacinths and jewels befitting his dignity, and
demand her of him in marriage. An he object to us that he is a
King, behold, our man also is a King and the son of a King ; or,
if he object to us her beauty, behold our man is more beautiful
than she ; or, again, if he object to us the vastness of his dominion,
behold our man's dominion is vaster than hers and her father's
and nurnbereth more troops and guards, for that his kingdom is
greater than that of Al-Samandal. Needs must I do my endeavour
to further the desire of my sister's son, though it relieve me of my
life ; because I was the cause of whatso hath betided ; and, even
as I plunged him into the ocean of her love, so will I go about
to marry him to her, and may Almighty Allah help me thereto ! "

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 29 of 40)