"Beloved of God, turn towards me, and hear this helpless one's narrative.
I was overwhelmed with such extreme grief, that I cannot express [its anguish.] At once I became an orphan! No elder [of the family] remained to watch over me. From this unexpected misfortune I wept night and day; food and drink were utterly disregarded. In this sad state I passed forty days: on the fortieth day,/6/ [after the death of my parents,] my relations and strangers of every degree assembled [to perform the rites of mourning.] When the Fatiha/7/ for the dead was finished, they tied on this pilgrim's head the turban of his father;/8/ they made me understand, that, "In this world the parents of all have died, and you yourself must one day follow the same path. Therefore, have patience, and look after your establishment; you are now become its master in the room of your father; be vigilant in your affairs and transactions." After consoling me [in this friendly manner,] they took their leave. All the agents, factors and employés [of my late father] came and waited on me; they presented their nazars, and said, "Be pleased to behold with your own auspicious eye the cash in the coffers, and the merchandise in the warehouses." When all at once my sight fell on this boundless wealth, my eyes expanded. I gave orders for the fitting up of a diwan-khana;/9/ the farrashes/10/ spread the carpets, and hung up the pardas/11/ and magnificent chicks./12/ I took handsome servants into my service; and caused them to be clothed in rich dresses out of my treasury. This mendicant had no sooner reposed himself in [the vacant] seat [of his father] than he was surrounded by fops, coxcombs, "thiggars/13/ and sornars," liars and flatterers, who became his favourites and friends. I began to have them constantly in my company. They amused me with the gossip of every place, and every idle, lying tittle tattle; they continued urging me thus. "In this season of youth, you ought to drink/14/ of the choicest wines, and send for beautiful mistresses to participate in the pleasures thereof, and enjoy yourself in their company."
**020** In short, the evil genius of man is man: my disposition changed from listening constantly [to their pernicious advice.] Wine, dancing, and gaming occupied my time. At last matters came to such a pitch, that, forgetting my commercial concerns, a mania for debauchery and gambling came over me. My servants and companions, when they perceived my careless habits, secreted all they could lay hand on; one might say a systematic plunder took place. No account was kept of the money which was squandered; from whence it came, or where it went:
"When the wealth comes gratuitously, the heart has no mercy on it."/15/Had I possessed even the treasures of Karun,/16/ they would not have been sufficient to supply this vast expenditure. In the course of a few years such became all at once my condition, that, a bare skull cap for my head, and a rag about my loins, were all that remained. Those friends who used to share my board, and [who so often swore]/17/ to shed their blood by the spoonful for my advantage, disappeared; yea, even if I met them by chance on the highway, they used to withdraw their looks and turn aside their faces from me; moreover, my servants, of every description, left me, and went away; no one remained to enquire after me, and say, "what state is this you are reduced to?" I had no companion left but my grief and regret.
I now had not a half-farthing's worth of parched grain [to grind between my jaws,] and give a relish to the water I drank: I endured two or three severe fasts, but could no longer bear [the cravings of] hunger. From necessity, covering my face with the mask of shamelessness, I formed the resolution of going to my sister; but this shame continued to come into my mind, that, since the death of my father, I had kept up no friendly intercourse with her, or even written her a single line; nay, further, she had written me two or three letters of condolence and affection, to which I had not deigned to make any reply in my inebriated moments of prosperity. From this sense of shame my heart felt no inclination [to go to my sister,] but except her house, I had no other [to which I could resort.] In the best way I could, on foot, empty-handed, with much fatigue and a thousand toils, having traversed the few [intervening] stages, I arrived at the city where my sister lived, **021** and reached her house. My sister, seeing my wretched state, invoked a blessing upon me, embraced me with affection, and wept bitterly; she distributed [the customary offerings to the poor] on the occasion of my safe arrival, such as oil, vegetables, and small coins,/18/ and said to me, "Though my heart is greatly rejoiced at this meeting, yet, brother, in what sad plight do I see you?" I could make her no reply, but shedding tears, I remained silent. My sister sent me quickly to the bath, after having ordered a splendid dress to be sewn for me. I having bathed and washed, put on these clothes. She fixed on an elegant apartment, near her own, for my residence. I had in the morning sharbat,/19/ and various kinds of sweetmeats for my breakfast; in the afternoon, fresh and dried fruits for my luncheon; and at dinner and supper she having procured for me pulaos,/20/kababs,/21/ and bread of the most exquisite flavour and delicious cookery; she saw me eat them in her own presence; and in every manner she took care of me. I offered thousands upon thousands of thanksgivings to God for enjoying such comfort, after such affliction [as I had suffered.] Several months passed in this tranquillity, during which I never put my foot out of my apartment.
One day, my sister, who treated me like a mother, said to me, "O brother, you are the delight of my eyes, and the living emblem of the dead dust of our parents; by your arrival the longing of my heart is satisfied; whenever I see you, I am infinitely rejoiced; you have made me completely happy; but God has created men to work for their living, and they ought not to sit idle at home. If a man becomes idle and stays at home, the people of the world cast unfavourable reflections on him; more especially the people of this city, both great and little, though it concerns them not, will say, on your remaining [with me and doing nothing,] 'That having lavished and spent his father's worldly wealth, he is now living on the scraps from his brother-in-law's board.' This is an excessive want of proper pride, and will be our ridicule, and the subject of shame to the memory of our parents; otherwise I would **022** keep you near my heart, and make you shoes of my own skin, and have you wear them. Now, my advice is that you should make an effort at travelling; please God the times will change, and in place of your present embarrassment and destitution, gladness and prosperity may be the result." On hearing this speech my pride was roused; I approved of her advice, and replied, very well, you are now in the place of my mother, and I will do whatever you say. Having thus received my consent, she went into the interior of her house, and brought out, by the assistance of her female slaves and servants, fifty toras/22/ of gold and laid them before me, saying, "A caravan of merchants is on the point of setting out for Damascus./23/ Do you purchase with this money some articles of merchandise. Having put them under the care of a merchant of probity, take from him a proper receipt for them: and do you also proceed to Damascus. When you arrive there in safety, receive the amount sales of your goods, and the profit which may accrue [from your merchant,] or sell them yourself [as may be most convenient or advantageous."] I took the money and went to the bazar;/24/ and having bought articles of merchandise, I delivered them over in charge to an eminent merchant, and set my mind at ease on receiving a satisfactory receipt from him. The merchant embarked with the goods on board a vessel, and set off by sea,/25/ and I prepared to go by land. When I took leave of my excellent sister, she gave me a rich dress and a superb horse with jewelled harness; she put some sweetmeats in a leather bag and hung it to the pummel of my saddle, and she suspended a flask of water from the crupper; she tied a sacred rupee on my arm,/26/ and having marked my forehead with tika,/27/ "Proceed," said she, suppressing her tears, "I have put thee under the protection of God; thou showest thy back in going, in the same happy state show me soon your face." I also said, after repeating the prayer of welfare, "God be your protector also. I obey your commands." Coming out from thence, I mounted my horse, and having placed my reliance on the protection of the Almighty, I set forward, and throwing two stages into one, I soon reached the neighbourhood of Damascus.
In short, when I arrived at the city gate, the night was far advanced, and the door-keepers **023** and guards had shut them. I made much entreaty, and added, "I am a traveller, who has come a long journey, at a great rate; if you would kindly open the gates, I could get into the city and procure some refreshment for myself and my horse." They rudely replied from within, "There is no order to open the gates at this hour; why have you come so late in the night?" When I heard this plain answer of theirs, I alighted from my horse under the walls of the city, and spreading my housing, I sat down; but to keep awake, I often rose up and walked about. When it was exactly midnight,/28/ there was a dead silence. What do I see but a chest descending slowly from the walls of the fortress! When I beheld this [strange sight], I was filled with surprise, thinking what talisman is this! perhaps God, taking pity on my perplexity and my misfortunes, has sent me here some bounty from his hidden treasure. When the chest rested on the ground, I approached it with much fear, and perceived it was of wood. Instigated by curiosity, I opened it; I beheld in it a beautiful lovely woman (at the sight of whom the senses would vanish), wounded and weltering in her blood, with her eyes closed, and in extreme agonies. By degrees her lips moved, and these sounds issued slowly from her mouth, "O faithless wretch! O barbarous tyrant! Is this deed which thou hast done, the return I merited for all my affection and kindness! Well, well! give me another blow [and complete thy cruelty]: I entrust to God the executing of justice between myself and thee." After pronouncing these words, even in that insensible state, she drew the end of her dopatta/29/ over her face; she did not look towards me.
Gazing on her, and hearing her exclamations, I became torpid. It occurred to me, what savage tyrant could wound so beautiful a lady! what [demon] possessed his heart, and how could he lift his hand against her! she still loves him,/30/ and even in this agony of death, she recollects him! I was muttering this **024** to myself; the sound reached her ear; drawing at once her veil from her face, she looked at me. The moment her looks met mine, I nearly fainted, and my heart throbbed with difficulty; I supported myself by a strong effort, and taking courage, I asked her, "tell me true, who art you, and what sad occurrence is this I see; if you will explain it, then it will give ease to my heart." On hearing these words, though she had scarce strength to speak, yet she slowly uttered, "I thank you! how can I speak? my condition, owing to my wounds, is what you see; I am your guest for a few moments only; when my spirit shall depart, then, for God's sake, act like a man, and bury unfortunate me in some place, in this chest; then I shall be freed from the tongue of the good and bad, and you will earn for yourself a future reward." After pronouncing these words, she became silent.
In the night I could apply no remedy; I brought the chest near me, and began to count the gharis/31/ of the remaining night. I determined, when the morning came, to go into the city and do all in my power for the cure [of this beautiful woman]. The short, remaining night became so heavy/32/ a load, that my heart was quite restless. At last, after suffering much uneasiness, the morning approached--the cock crowed, and the voices of men were heard. After performing the morning prayer, I inclosed the chest in a coarse canvas sack, and just as the gates opened, I entered the city. I began to inquire of every man and shop-keeper where I could find a mansion for hire; and after much search, I found a convenient, handsome house, which I rented. The first thing I did, was to take that beautiful woman out of the chest, and lay her on a soft bed made up of flocks of cotton, which I had removed to a corner. I then placed a trusty person near her, and went in search of a surgeon. I wandered about, asking of every one I met who was the cleverest surgeon in the city, and where he lived. One person said, "There is a certain barber who is unique in the practice of surgery, and the science of physic; **025** and in these arts is quite perfect. If you carry a dead person to him, by the help of God, he will apply such remedies as will bring him to life. He dwells in this quarter [of the city,] and his name is 'Isa."/33/
On hearing this agreeable intelligence, I went in search of him, and after several inquiries, I found out his abode from the directions I had received. I saw a man with a white beard sitting under the portico of his door, and several men were grinding materials for plasters beside him. For the sake of complimenting him, I made him a respectful salam,/34/ and said,--"having heard of your name and excellent qualities, I am come [to solicit your assistance.] The case is this: I set out from my country for the purpose of trade, and took my wife with me, from the great affection I had for her; when I arrived near this city, I halted at a little distance, as the evening had set in. I did not think it safe to travel at night in an unseen country; I therefore rested under a tree on the plains. At the last quarter of the night, I was attacked by robbers; they plundered me of all the money and the property they could find, and wounded my wife, from avidity for her jewels. I could make no resistance, and passed the remainder of the night as well as I could. Early in the morning I came into this city, and rented a house; leaving her there, I am come to you with all speed. God has given you this perfection in your profession; favour this [unfortunate] traveller, and come to his humble dwelling; see my wife, and if her life should be saved, then you will acquire great fame, and I will be your slave as long as I live." 'Isa, the surgeon, was very humane and devout; he took pity on my misfortune, and accompanied me to my house. On examining the wounds, he gave me hopes, and said, "By the blessing of God, this lady's wounds will be cured in forty days; and I will then cause to be administered to her the ablution of cure."
In short, the good man having thoroughly washed all the wounds with the decoction of nim,/35/ he cleansed **026** them; those that he found fit for stitching, he sewed up; and on the others he laid lint and plasters, which he took out of his box, and tied them up with bandages, and said with much kindness, "I will continue to call morning and evening; be thou careful that she remain perfectly quiet, so that the stitches may not give way; let her food be chicken broth administered in small quantities at a time, and give her often the spirit of Bed-Mushk,/36/ with rose water, so that her strength may be supported." After giving these directions, he took his leave. I thanked him much with joined hands,/37/ and added, "From the consolation you have bestowed, my life also has been restored; otherwise, I saw nothing but death before me; God keep you safe." And after giving him 'Itr/38/ and betel, I took leave of him. Night and day I attended on that beautiful lady with the utmost solicitude; rest to myself I renounced as impious, and in the threshold of God I daily prayed for her cure.
It came to pass that the merchant [who had charge of my merchandise,] arrived, and delivered over to me the goods I had entrusted to his care. I sold them as occasion required, and began to spend the amount in medicines and remedies. The good surgeon was regular in his attendance, and in a short time all the wounds filled up, and began to heal; a few days after she performed the ablution of cure. Joy of a wonderful nature arose [in my heart]! A rich khil'at,/39/ and [a purse of] gold pieces I laid before 'Isa, the surgeon. I ordered elegant carpets to be spread for that fair one/40/, and caused her to sit upon the masnad./41/ I distributed large sums to the poor [on the joyous occasion,] and that day I was as happy as if I had gained possession of the sovereignty of the seven climes./42/ On that beautiful lady's cure, such rosy, pure colour appeared in her complexion, that her face shone like the sun, and sparkled with the lustre of the purest gold. I could not gaze on her without being dazzled with her beauty./43/ I devoted myself entirely to her services, and zealously performed whatever she commanded. In the full pride of beauty and consciousness of high rank, if ever she condescended to cast a look on me, she used to say, "Take care, if my good opinion **027** is desirable to you, then never breathe a syllable in my affairs; whatever I order, perform without objection; never utter a breath in my concerns, otherwise you will repent." It appeared, however, from her manners, that the return due to me for my services and obedience, was fully impressed on her mind. I also did nothing without her consent, and executed her commands with implicit obedience.
A certain space of time passed away in this mystery and submission--I instantly procured for her whatever she desired. I spent all the money I had from the sale of my goods, both principal and interest. In a foreign country [where I was unknown], who would trust me? that by borrowing, affairs might go on. At last, I was distressed for money, even for our daily expenses, and thence my heart became much embarrassed. With this anxious solicitude I pined daily, and the colour fled from my face; but to whom could I speak [for aid]? What my heart suffered, that it must suffer. "The grief of the poor man [preys] on his own soul."/44/ One day the beautiful lady, from her own penetration, perceived [my distressed state] and said, "O youth! my obligations [to you] for the services [you have rendered] me are engraven on my heart as indelible as on stone; but their return I am unable to make at present. If there be any thing required for necessary expenses, do not be distressed on that account, but bring me a slip of paper, pen, and ink." I was then convinced that this fair lady must be a princess of some country, or else she would not have addressed me with such boldness and haughtiness. I instantly brought her the writing materials,/45/ and placed them before her-- she having written a note in a fair hand, delivered it to me, and said, "There is a Tirpauliya/46/ near the fort; in the adjoining street is a large mansion, and the master of that house is called Sidi Bahar;/47/ go and deliver this note to him."
I went according to her commands, and by the name and address she had given me, I soon found out the house; by the porter I sent word of the circumstance [of my having brought] a letter. The moment he heard [my message,] **028** a handsome young negro, with a flashy turban on his head, came out to me; though his colour was dark, his countenance was full of animation. He took the note from my hand, but said nothing, asked no questions, and at the same pace [without a pause] entered the house. In a short time he came out, accompanied by slaves, who carried on their heads eleven sealed trays covered with brocade. He told the slaves, "Go with this young man, and deliver these trays." I, having made my salutation, took my leave of him, and brought [the slaves with their burdens] to our house. I dismissed the men from the door, and carried in the trays entrusted to me to the presence of the fair lady. On seeing them she said, "Take these eleven bags of gold pieces and appropriate the money to necessary expenses; God is most bountiful." I took the gold, and began to lay it out in immediate necessaries. Although I became more easy in my mind, yet this perplexity continued in my heart. "O God, [said I to myself,] what a strange circumstance is this! that a stranger, whose person is unknown to me, should, on the mere sight of a bit of paper, have delivered over to me so much money without question or inquiry. I cannot ask the fair lady to explain the mystery, as she has beforehand forbidden me." Through fear, I was unable to breathe a syllable.
Eight days after this occurrence, the beloved fair one thus addressed me: --"God has bestowed on man the robe of humanity which may not be torn or soiled; and although tattered clothes are no disparagement to his manhood, yet in public, in the eyes of the world he has no respect paid to him [if shabbily clothed]. So take two bags of gold with thee, and go to the chauk,/48/ to the shop of Yusuf the merchant, and buy there some sets of jewels of high value, and two rich suits of clothes, and bring them with thee." I instantly mounted my horse, and went to the shop described. I saw there a handsome young man, clothed in a saffron-coloured dress, seated on a cushion; his beauty/49/ was such, that a whole multitude stopped in the street **029** from his shop as far as the bazar to gaze at him. I approached him with perfect pleasure, having made my "salam 'alaika." I sat down, and mentioned the articles required. My pronunciation was not like that of the inhabitants of that city. The young merchant replied with great kindness, "Whatever you require is ready, but tell me, sir, from what country are you come, and what are the motives of your stay in this foreign city? If you will condescend to inform me on these points, it will not be remote from kindness." It was not agreeable to me to divulge my circumstances, so I made up some story, took the jewels and the clothes, paid their price, and begged to take my leave. The young man seemed displeased and said, "O sir, if you wished to be so reserved, it was not necessary to show such warmth of friendly greeting in your first approach. Amongst well-bred people these/50/ amicable greetings are of much consideration." He pronounced this speech with such elegance and propriety, that it quite delighted my heart, and I did not think it courteous to be unkind and leave/51/ him so hastily; therefore, to please him, I sat down again and said, "I agree to your request with all my heart,/52/ and am ready [to obey your commands.]"
He was greatly pleased with my compliance, and smiling he said, "If you will honour my poor mansion [with your company] to-day, then having a party of pleasure, we shall regale our hearts for some hours [in good cheer and hilarity."] I had never left the fair lady alone [since we first met,] and recollecting her solitary situation, I made many excuses, but that young man would not accept any; at last, having extorted from me a promise to return as soon as I had carried home the articles I had purchased, and having made me swear [to that effect,] he gave me leave to depart. I, having left the shop, carried the jewels and the clothes to the presence of the fair lady. She asked the price of the different articles, and what passed at the merchant's. I related all the particulars of the purchase, and the teasing invitation **030** I had received from him. She replied, "It is incumbent on man to fulfil whatever promise he may make; leave me under the protection of God, and fulfil your engagement; the law of the prophet requires we should accept the offers of hospitality." I said, "My heart does not wish to go and leave you alone, but such are your orders, and I am forced to go; until I return, my heart will be attached to this very spot." Saying this, I went to the merchant's: he, seated on a chair, was waiting for me. On seeing me, he said, "Come, good sir, you have made me wait long."/53/
He instantly arose, seized my hand, and moved on; proceeding along, he conducted me to a garden; it was a garden of great beauty; in the basons and canals fountains were playing; fruits of various kinds were in full bloom, and the branches of the trees were bent down with their weight;/54/ birds of various species were perched on the boughs, and sung their merry notes, and elegant carpets were spread in every apartment [of the grand pavilion which stood in the centre of the garden]. There on the border of the canal, we sat down in an elegant saloon; he got up a moment after and went out, and then returned richly dressed. On seeing him, I exclaimed, "Praised be the Lord, may the evil eye be averted!"/55/ On hearing this, exclamation, he smiled, and said, "It is fit you, too, should change your dress." To please him, I also put on other clothes. The young merchant, with much sumptuousness, prepared an elegant entertainment, and provided every article of pleasure that could be desired; he was warm in his expressions of attachment to me, and his conversation was quite enchanting. At this moment a cupbearer appeared with a flask [of wine] and a crystal cup, and delicious meats of various kinds were served up. The salt-cellars were set in order, and the sparkling cup began to circulate. When it had performed three or four revolutions, four young dancing boys, very beautiful, with loose, flowing tresses, entered the assembly, and began to sing and play. Such was the scene, and such the melody, that had Tan-Sen/56/ been present at that hour, **031** he would have forgot his strains; and Baiju-Ba,ora/57/ would have gone mad. In the midst of this festivity, the young merchant's eyes filled suddenly with tears, and involuntarily two or three drops trickled down [his cheeks]; he turned round and said to me, "Now between us a friendship for life is formed; to hide the secrets of our hearts is approved by no religion. I am going to impart a secret to you, in the confidence of friendship and without reserve. If you will give me leave I will send for my mistress into our company, and exhilarate my heart [with her presence]; for in her absence, I cannot enjoy any pleasure."
He pronounced these words with such eager desire, that though I had not seen her, yet my heart longed for her. I replied, your happiness is essential to me, what can be better [than what you propose]; send for her without delay; nothing, it is true, is agreeable without the presence of the beloved one. The young merchant made a sign towards the chick and shortly a black woman, as ugly as an ogress, on seeing whom one would die without [the intervention of] fate, approached the young man and sat down. I was frightened at her sight, and said within myself, is it possible this she-demon can be beloved by so beautiful a young man, and is this the creature he praised/58/ so highly, and spoke of with such affection! I muttered the form of exorcism,/59/ and became silent. In this same condition, the festive scene of wine and music continued for three days and nights; on the fourth night, intoxication and sleep gained the victory; I, in the sleep of forgetfulness, involuntarily slumbered; next morning the young merchant wakened me, and made me drink some cups of a cooling and sedative nature. He said to his mistress, "To trouble our guest any longer would be improper."
He then took hold of both my hands, and we stood up. I begged leave to depart; well pleased [with my complaisance], he gave me permission [to return home]. I then quickly put on my former clothes, and bent my way homewards, waited on the angelic lady. But it had never before occurred in my case, to leave her by herself and remain out all night. I was quite ashamed of myself for **032** being absent three days [and nights], and I made her many apologies, and related the whole circumstances of the entertainment, and his not permitting me [to come home sooner]. She was well acquainted with the manners of the world, and smiling said, "What does it signify, if you had to remain to oblige your friend; I cheerfully pardon you, where is the blame on your part; when a man goes on occasions of this sort to any person's house, he returns when the other pleases to let him. But you having eaten and drunk at his entertainments for nothing, will you remain silent, or give him a feast in return? Now I think it proper you should go to the young merchant, and bring him with you, and feast him two-fold greater than he did you. Give yourself no concern about the materials [for such an entertainment]; by the favour of God, all the requisites will soon be ready, and in an excellent style, the hospitable party will obtain splendour." According to her desire, I went to the jeweller, and said to him, "I have complied with your request most cheerfully, now do you also in the way of friendship, grant my request." He said, "I will obey you with heart and soul."
Then I said, "If you will honour your
humble servant's house with a visit, it will be the essence of condescension.
That young man made many excuses and evasions, but I would not give up
the point. When [at length] he consented, I brought him with me to my house;
but on the way I could not avoid making the reflection, that "if I had
had the means, I could receive my guest in a style which would be highly
gratifying to him. Now I am taking him with me, let us see what will be
the result." Absorbed in these apprehensions, I drew near my house. Then
how was I surprised to see a great crowd and bustle at the door; the street
had been swept and watered; silver mace and club bearers/60/
In short, every requisite becoming a prince was displayed. Dancing girls and boys, singers, musicians and buffoons, in rich apparel, were in waiting, and singing in concert. I led the young merchant in, and seated him on the masnad;/65/ I was all amazement [and said to myself] "O God, in so short a time how have such preparations been made?" I was staring around and walking about in every direction, but I could nowhere perceive a trace of the beautiful lady; searching for her, I went into the kitchen, and I saw her there, with an upper garment on her neck, slippers on her feet, and a white handkerchief thrown over her head, plain and simply dressed, and without any jewels: **034**
"She on whom God hath bestowed beauty has no need of ornaments;She was busily employed in the superintendence of the feast, and was giving directions for the eatables, saying, "have a care that [this dish] may be savoury, and that its moisture, its seasoning and its fragrance, may be quite correct." In this toil that rose-like person was all over perspiration.
I approached her with reverence, and having expressed my admiration of her good sense, and the propriety of her conduct, I invoked blessings upon her. On hearing my compliments, she was displeased, and said, "various deeds are done on the part of human beings which it is not the power of angels [to perform]: what have I done that thou art so much astonished? Enough, I dislike much talk; but say, what manners is this to leave your guest alone, and amuse yourself by staring about; what will he think of your behaviour? return quickly to the company, and attend to your guest, and send for his mistress, and make her sit by him." I instantly returned to the young merchant, and shewed him every friendly attention. Soon after, two handsome slaves entered with bottles of delicious wine, and cups set with precious stones, and served us the liquor. In the meantime, I then observed to the young merchant, I am in every way your friend and servant; it were well that your handsome mistress, to whom your heart is attached, should honour us with her presence; it will be perfectly agreeable to me, and if you please, I will send a person to call her. On hearing this, he was extremely pleased, and said, "Very well, my dear friend, yon have [by your kind offer] spoken the wish of my heart." I sent a eunuch [to bring her]. When half the night was past, that foul hag, mounted on an elegant chaudol,/66/ arrived like an unexpected evil.
To please my guest I was compelled to advance, and receive her with the utmost kindness, **035** and place her near the young man. On seeing her, he became as rejoiced as if he had received all the delights of the world. That hag also clung round the neck of that angelic youth. The [ludicrous] sight appeared, in plain truth, such as when over the moon of the fourteenth night, an eclipse comes. As many people as were in the assembly began to put their fore-fingers between their teeth,/67/ saying [to themselves] "How could such a hag subdue the affections of this young man!" The eyes of all were turned in that direction. Disregarding the amusements of the entertainment, they began to attend only to this strange spectacle. Some apart observed, "O friends, there is an antagonism between love and reason! what judgment cannot conceive, this cursed love will show. You must behold Laili with the eyes of Majnun./68/ All present exclaimed, "Very true, that is the fact."
According to the directions of the lady, I devoted myself to attending on my guests; and although the young merchant pressed me to eat and drink equally with himself, yet I refrained from fear of the fair [one's displeasure], and did not give myself up to eating and drinking, or the pleasures of the entertainment. I pleaded the duties of hospitality as my excuse for not joining him [in the good cheer]. In this scene of festivity three nights and days passed away. On the fourth night,/69/ the young merchant said to me with extreme fondness, "I now beg to take my leave; for your good sake I have utterly neglected my affairs these three days, and have attended you. Pray do you also sit near me for a moment, and rejoice my heart," I in my own heart imagined that "if I do not comply with his request at this moment, then he will be grieved; and it is necessary I should please my new friend and guest;" on which account I replied, "it is a pleasure to me to obey the command of your honour;" for "a command is paramount to ceremony."/70/ On hearing this, the young merchant presented me a cup of wine, and I drank it off; then the cup moved in such quick successive rounds, that in a short time all the guests **036** in the assembly became inebriated and stupefied; I also became senseless.
The phrase do zanu ho baithna denotes a mode of sitting peculiar,
more especially, to the Persians. It consists in kneeling down and sitting
back on one's heels, a posture the very reverse of easy, at least, so it
appears to us good Christians, accustomed to the use of chairs &c.
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