TWENTY-THREE -- ‘Abdur Rahman the Jinn, vazir of the King of Kings of the Realm of Qaf, comes to bear away the Amir.

The narrators of news, and the clerks of archives, recount:  Since the vile Devs had rebelled against Shahpal son of Shahrukh, King of Kings of the Realm of Qaf, and had snatched from him the Silver City, the #City of Gold, the Pine City, the Sable City, the Crystal Palace, the Azure Wilderness, the White-decorated Palace, the Pearl Palace, the Emerald Palace, the Ruby Palace, the Forty Pillars, the Garden of Perpetual Spring, the Garden of Joyful Effects, the Garden of Eight Heavens, the Azure Palace, the Garden of Paradise, the #tilisms made by Hazrat Solomon, and the lands of the Camel-heads, Cow-heads, Cow-feet, Carpet-ears, Half-bodies, etc., only the #Garden of Iram remained, so that the King of Kings, with his family, was confined to it.

One day the King of Kings remembered something.  He sent for his vazir, ‘Abdur Rahman the Jinn, and said, “Where is that boy Hamzah, that son of Adam whose cradle you caused to be picked up from the land of the Arabs, in the World, and brought here?  You used to say, ‘One day it will happen that all the Devs of Mount Qaf, rebelling, will snatch away all your lands, and you will be confined to the Garden of Iram.  That boy will come and kill them all; freeing the country from their hands, he will give it back to you as before.’  Inquire where he is these days, and in what land he makes his home and dwells.”

‘Abdur Rahman, throwing the divining-dice, said, “He has just been involved in a big battle, and during this fight has been wounded in the head with a poisoned sword.  If you wish, he can come here right now.”  The King of Kings said, “What could be better?”  At once sending for the #Ointment of Solomon, he gave it to ‘Abdur Rahman, and sent with him a great many of the various kinds of fruits of the Realm of Qaf, and ordered, “Now go quickly and apply this ointment to his head, so the wound will be healed.  Feed him fruit so that he’ll grow strong, and after his recovery, bring him back with you.”

‘Abdur Rahman, mounting a #throne, took some hundreds of Jinns with him and set out from the Realm of Qaf.  In a moment he disappeared.  When he reached the glade below Mount Abul Qais, he began to look carefully around in every direction.  He saw that Hamzah had a deep head-wound, and from the effects of the wound was lying unconscious on the grass.  Then, lifting Hamzah onto the throne, he took him away to a cave on Mount Abul Qais.  There he most gently and tenderly washed the wound, and anointed it with the Ointment of Solomon, and bandaged it.  He spread baskets of fruit from Qaf around Hamzah, so that his brain would be strengthened by their scent, and his spirit would be fortified.

He had changed the bandage for the third time when the Amir opened his eyes and recovered from his faint.  ‘Abdur Rahman greeted him with, “Peace be upon you.”  The Amir returned the greeting and asked, “Who are you, and where are you from, and what is your name and rank?  Was it you who brought me here on this throne?”  ‘Abdur Rahman said, “I am the vazir of Shahpal son of Shahrukh, King of Kings of the Realm of Qaf.  My name is ‘Abdur Rahman; I am obeying the orders of that king of kings.

“In your infancy, I had your cradle lifted from your house and brought to Qaf, at the orders of the king of kings.  The king of kings kept you for a week, and had you regularly fed on the milk of Devs, Ghouls, and Jinns, so that in your youth you would not have to lower your eyes in front of anyone.  Putting the Kohl of Solomon in your eyes, the king of kings ordered an elaborately decorated cradle from his palace and laid you in it, and sent you back to your own house, and sent a great many costly jewels with you.

“Thus when recently he happened to ask me about you, I discovered from the fall of the divining-dice that you were lying unconscious in this field, wounded by a poisoned sword, separated from your friends and companions of the army.  The king, giving me the Ointment of Solomon and baskets of fruit from Qaf, sent me to you so that I could nurse you and serve you properly.  When I came here I found you, just as I had known from the divining-dice, lying unconscious in the glade of the mountain.  Placing you on the flying throne, I brought you into this cave.  Thanks be to God that your head-wound has healed, and now I can be at ease.  But as for your strength, please eat this fruit:  strength will come back to you from one moment to the next, and in no time at all the weakness and languor will be gone.”

The Amir asked, “How did you recognize me--what token did you see in me?”  ‘Abdur Rahman said, “By signs discerned through wisdom, and your dark #mole, and the #lock of hair of Abraham.”  The Amir was very pleased at ‘Abdur Rahman’s good qualities, and began to praise him in a suitable manner.  ‘Abdur Rahman presented to the Amir the many hundreds of Jinns who had come with him, and said to the Amir, “I have one plea to make on my own account; I trust to your manly courage.  If God Most High wills, you will regain your full strength.  Then I will make my petition, and will beg only for your attention.”  The Amir said, “Before you have even stated your plea, I accept it heart and soul; nothing more need be said about it.”

Please hear about ‘Amar.  When he went out in search of the Amir, he combed the whole Emerald Border and Mount Abul Qais, but couldn’t find a trace of the Amir.  Wandering and wandering everywhere, he came to the border where Black Constellation was grazing.  He saw that Black Constellation was grazing, and was glancing unhappily and anxiously all around him.  ‘Amar ran to catch him.  At first  Black Constellation did not recognize him; lifting his tail, he rushed at ‘Amar like a roaring tiger.  When ‘Amar raised his voice and called out to him affectionately, he recognized the voice, tilted his ears forward, and stood still in silence.

‘Amar, kissing his forehead, asked him, “Where is your rider?  Take me there, where he is!”  The horse, whinnying, began to gesture toward the cave.  ‘Amar didn’t understand his gesture.  He searched and searched all around, but didn’t find a trace or sign anywhere.  ‘Amar told himself, “Let’s take Black Constellation home, so that the weeping ones can dry their tears, then we’ll search further for the Amir.”  With this thought, he took Black Constellation back and showed him to the whole army, the chiefs, kings, and renowned champions, and Khvajah ‘Abdul Muttalib and Mihr Nigar.  He said, “Here at least is Black Constellation--I’ve brought him to comfort you all.  Now I’m off to find out where the Amir himself is.”

With these words, ‘Amar set out.  And this time, he happened to find himself right in the foothills of Mount Abul Qais.  From inside a cave some human voices fell on ‘Amar’s ear, he heard the murmur of a human voice.  Going in, he saw the Amir seated on a couch, eating various kinds of rare and strange fruit.  ‘Amar ran and fell at the Amir’s feet.  The Amir lifted his head and embraced him, and asked if Mihr Nigar was safe and well.  ‘Amar told him the whole situation; ‘Amar stood, with his hands folded, before the Amir.

Since there was no Kohl of Solomon in ‘Amar’s eyes, he could not see any of the Jinns.  And the Jinns, who saw in ‘Amar a strange creation indeed, began to be playful and to amuse themselves.  One Jinn grabbed both ‘Amar’s legs from behind.  ‘Amar fell flat on his face.  The Amir began to laugh.  ‘Amar said, “Sahib-qiran, why are you laughing?  I’ve wandered over the whole mountain and wilderness searching for you, it’s exhausted me; there’s no more strength in my legs, and I fell.”

The Amir called ‘Amar nearer.  A Jinn knelt down in front of ‘Amar.  When ‘Amar took a step forward, he stumbled over him, and again fell.  The Amir began to laugh.  ‘Amar again made the same excuse.  A Jinn lifted off ‘Amar’s turban and took it away, and ‘Amar didn’t realize it.  The Sahib-qiran said, “Brother ‘Amar, why are you bare-headed?  What have you done with your turban?”  When ‘Amar passed his hand over his head, the turban was indeed gone; he began to grow agitated and angry.

When the Amir saw that ‘Amar felt harassed, and was anxious over the disappearance of his turban, he then said, “Brother, Shahpal son of Shahrukh, King of Kings of the Realm of Qaf, has sent his vazir, ‘Abdur Rahman the Jinn, to me in connection with some task, but he has not yet told me anything about it.  After I regain my health he will tell me, and will give me the message.  He has cured my head-wound too; my wound has healed very quickly.  He is the one who brought me these fruits to eat, so that I can regain my strength quickly.  The Jinns who are with him are being playful with you.”

With these words he took the turban from the Jinn who had removed it, and restored it to ‘Amar.  And praising him to ‘Abdur Rahman, he had the Kohl of Solomon put into ‘Amar’s eyes.  Then ‘Amar could see everyone.  The Amir, introducing ‘Amar to ‘Abdur Rahman, said, “All right, now go.  Take the news of my health and well-being to Mecca, but don’t tell anyone that I’m staying here.”  ‘Amar set off toward Mecca.

The Sahib-qiran said to ‘Abdur Rahman, “Now please declare your purpose, tell me what your benevolent master has said.”  ‘Abdur Rahman said, “As I’ve already told you, when you were seven days old I informed the king of kings by means of geomancy, and told him at that very time, ‘There will come a time when all the Devs will show themselves refractory and arrogant toward you, and will seize your whole land, and will not respect or obey you at all.  But a boy of the sons of Adam, who was born seven days ago in the city of Mecca into a noble lineage, the son of a highborn chief of Mecca, will come and suppress all the arrogant and high-headed Devs, and will capture thousands, and with his relentless sword will dispatch many of them to Hell.  Through the strength of his arm your land will be returned to you, and all mischief and strife will be banished from your borders.’

“Therefore the king of kings caused me to have your cradle picked up and brought, and kept you with him for seven days, and had you fed on the milk of Devs, Jinns, Ghouls, tigers, and other beasts of prey, so that in your youth you would not have to lower your eyes before anyone, and by the grace of God your dignity and high fortune would prevail over all.  And on the eighth day, he laid you in a cradle from his storehouse that was covered with jewels, and sent you back to Mecca; your revered father, who had been greatly grieved and sorrowful at your loss, was thoroughly reassured and delighted.

“So now that very time has come.  A Dev called *’Ifrit has gained so much strength that he has brought all the land of Qaf under his sway.  The king of kings is besieged in the Garden of Iram, and is under pressure from ‘Ifrit to vacate that as well.  He is extremely anxious, and longs for death--may that be his enemies’ fate!  The king of kings said to me, ‘That boy whose cradle you caused to be brought from the Realm of the World in his infancy, and whom you had, through the divining-dice, described with such great brilliance:  ‘This boy will kill all your enemies, and restore the land that has slipped from your hands’--now surely that boy must have become a youth!  He must have grown to be wise and intelligent, full of knowledge and sagacity, the admiration of his peers and contemporaries.  See where he is today, and where he lives and has his dwelling.’

“When I, according to his order, threw the divining-dice, then by geomancy I discovered you lying wounded in that glade.  The king of kings, when he heard this, commanded, ‘Take the Ointment of Solomon at once, and cure his wound, and feed him fruit, so that he can regain his strength from one day to the next.  And after blessing him, tell him from me, ‘This infidel ‘Ifrit, who in my elders’ time was a petty pawn, by evil means has made knights of one-horse and two-horse rank, and straightforward pawns, and bishop-like champions who ride elephants, all subject to him.  Like the queen on a chessboard, he moves obliquely in all directions, and has straitened me very much, and has besieged me in a square named the Garden of Iram, and castled me there, so that I can move neither forward nor back, nor to the right or left, and I’m absolutely held in check.  If a grand-master like you doesn’t help me, my design will be ruined, my game has already been checked--for my opponent’s high-handedness has destroyed my game:  he has resolved to upset the board.  Obviously I am of Hazrat Solomon’s people, and you are of Hazrat Abraham’s people; the descendants of one Prophet must help the people of another Prophet, and strive to fulfill their needs as far as possible.’”

The Amir said, “’Abdur Rahman, if I can kill that Dev, and by the might of my arm liberate the king of kings’ land and return it to him, then I’m ready to set out, I’m thoroughly delighted.”  ‘Abdur Rahman said, “I have already seen very clearly through geomancy, and have been perfectly convinced from the outset, and can affirm from my heart, that you alone are to be the killer of ‘Ifrit, and the land will be regained by your kindness and support alone.  If God Most High wills, that renegade will be sent to Hell by your hands.”

Please hear about ‘Amar.  When he left the Amir, he brought word of the Amir’s safety and well-being to Khvajah ‘Abdul Muttalib, the nobles of Mecca, the officers of the army, and Mihr Nigar, and said, “If you will not reward me to my heart’s content for bringing such good news, then which day will you reward me, when will you fill the skirt of my robe with the hoped-for pearls?”  Each one gave ‘Amar as much as he could, and each one in his own way prepared to celebrate.

The next morning ‘Amar again went to the Amir, and brought the story of his arrival and of the celebrations to the Amir’s auspicious ear.  The Amir said to ‘Amar, “Brother ‘Amar, another journey of some days lies before me yet; let us see what God has in store.”  ‘Amar said, “Why is this?”  The Amir repeated to ‘Amar all that he had heard from ‘Abdur Rahman.

‘Amar replied, “Oh Hamzah, are you in your senses?  To travel for nothing, and to bring Mihr Nigar back with so much labor and exertion, only to leave her sitting alone in a corner!  To forego a life of ease and enjoyment--what kind of notion is this?  In the light of sound reason, this is a very poor deed.”  The Amir said, “I am now in ‘Abdur Rahman’s debt, for he came and cured my head-wound, he took great pains over my medicines, he constantly had my comfort at heart.  As for the rest, you know I’m not afraid even of the fathers of Devs, Jinns, Ghouls, or magicians!  The True Protector is my guardian.  When have I ever given a thought to such things?”

At this point ‘Abdur Rahman said, “Oh Sahib-qiran, it will take three days to go, and three days to come back, and one day to stay there beforehand, and one day to kill ‘Ifrit, and one day to celebrate the victory.  Altogether, this coming and going will require the space of nine days.”  The Amir said, “I agree, and even if the time is doubled, and it takes eighteen days, there’s no harm done.  At such a time as this, to avert your eyes and refuse is to deny the claims of compassion and courage.”

‘Amar said, “Very good, just as you wish!  I will protect Mihr Nigar for eighteen days more.  On the nineteenth day, I wash my hands of it--it will be your business to deal with as you choose, and I’ll go my own way.”  The Amir said, “I agree.  Go, bring my pen-case, and let me write a letter of counsel to Mihr Nigar and the officers of the army, so that they’ll all obey you until I come, and stay happy and contented.  But for the Lord’s sake, please don’t be too high-spirited, or lord it over the officers too much!”  ‘Amar, weeping, emerged from the cave, and set out toward Mecca.

When ‘Amar arrived in Mecca, and Khvajah ‘Abdul Muttalib heard that the Amir would go to the Realm of Qaf, he grew extremely agitated and said to ‘Amar, “The Amir must somehow be persuaded to give up this intention; he must be brought here somehow!”  ‘Amar said, “My persuasion had no effect, but let Your Excellency write a letter; if your words can make an impression, perhaps he might be persuaded.”  Khvajah ‘Abdul Muttalib sent for the Amir’s pen-case, and wrote him a letter of counsel, and confided it to ‘Amar.  ‘Amar went from there to the camp, and informed the officers of the army about the Amir’s trip.  They also began weeping and beating their breasts; a Doomsday-like tumult broke out.

When ‘Amar told Mihr Nigar about the Amir’s resolve, Mihr Nigar sank to the ground and began to weep and wail aloud; writhing on the ground, she began to bathe her face in tears.  ‘Amar said, “Princess, there’s nothing to be gained by this weeping and breast-beating!  Control yourself, come to your senses.  Just as Khvajah ‘Abdul Muttalib has written the Amir a letter of counsel, you write some such letter on your part too, let’s see what response it gets; his real intentions will be disclosed.”

Mihr Nigar wrote the Amir a letter of lover’s longing, full of counsel.  And at the bottom she wrote this too:  “If you will not give up the idea, then take me with you when you go!  If you go off and leave me, remember that you won’t find me alive--I’ll spill my own blood, I’ll sacrifice myself!”  ‘Amar took this letter with him also, along with Khvajah ‘Abdul Muttalib’s; quietly slipping the Amir’s pen-case under his arm, he went to the Amir.

Placing the pen-case before the Amir, he brought out the letters of Khvajah ‘Abdul Muttalib and Mihr Nigar, and told him something of the situation orally as well.  First the Amir wrote a petition in his father’s service.  After that, he wrote a note to the officers of the army:  “An absolutely necessary journey of some days lies before me.  At such a time, to avert one’s eyes and feign ignorance is utterly unbecoming.  Whoever among you want to be my servants and companions should consider Khvajah ‘Amar to be in my place until I return, and should in no way oppose ‘Amar’s authority.”

And in answer to Mihr Nigar’s letter he wrote, “I am going for eighteen days.  If God Most High wills, I won’t delay beyond that time, I’ll come at once.  The King of Kings of Qaf sent his vazir to treat my wound, and he came and restored my health.  Thus it would be contrary to morality and compassion and chivalry, if I didn’t help him in his difficulties, and just turned my face aside from him at such a bad time.  If you want to please me, then accept another eighteen days of separation from me.  Praise and trust the Lord.  It’s not as though men take women with them on hard expeditions, that I should take you along, and keep your tent with me during every battle and adventure!  If I were going on some pleasure trip or hunt, for amusement, there would be no harm, I’d take you along with me.  Until I come, do what ‘Amar says.  Consider him your well-wisher, faithful to the death.  He will never be unfaithful; never think that in matters affecting your interest he could be at all tricky or treacherous.”

He gave the letters to ‘Amar:  “Deliver them later to the addressees, and bring me my arms and armor; but don’t let anyone know until I’m gone, don’t let any mention of my going slip out.”  ‘Amar left the Amir and went to the city.  But he didn’t give any of the letters to anyone.  Taking the arms and armor, he left and went back to the Amir.  The Sahib-qiran was extremely pleased with ‘Amar.  Donning his arms and armor, he began planning his departure.

== on to Chapter 24 ==

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