**036** When the morning came, and the sun had risen the height of two spears,/1/ my eyes opened, but I saw nothing of the preparations, the assembly, or the beautiful lady-- only the empty house remained-- but in a corner [of the hall] something lay folded up in a blanket; I unfolded it, and saw the corpses of the young merchant and of his [black] woman, with their heads severed from their bodies. On seeing this sight, my senses forsook me, and my judgment was of no avail [in explaining to me] what this was and what had happened. I was staring about me, in every direction with amazement, when I perceived a eunuch (whom I had seen in the preparations of the entertainment). I was somewhat comforted on seeing him, and asked him an explanation of these strange events. He replied briefly, "What good will it do thee to hear an explanation of what has happened, that thou askest it?"
I also reflected in my mind, that what he said was true; however, after a short pause, I said to the eunuch, well, do not tell it to me; but inform me in what apartment is the beloved lady. He answered, "Certainly; whatever I know I will relate to thee; but [I am surprised] that a man like thee, possessed of understanding, should, without her ladyship's permission, and without fear or ceremony, have indulged in a wine-drinking party after an intimacy of only a few days./2/ What does all this mean?"
I became much ashamed of my folly [and felt the justice] of the eunuch's reprobation. I could make no other reply than to say, "indeed I have been guilty, pardon me." At last the eunuch, becoming gracious, pointed out the beloved lady's abode, and took his leave; he himself went to bury the two beheaded bodies. I was free from any participation in that crime, and was anxious to meet the beautiful lady. After a painful and difficult search, I arrived at eventide in that street, [where she then was] according to (the eunuch's) direction; and in a corner near the door I passed the whole night **037** in a state of agitation. I did not hear the sound of any person's footsteps, nor did any one ask me about my affairs. In this forlorn state the morning came; when the sun rose, the lovely fair one looked at me from a window in the balcony of the house. My heart only knows the state of joy I felt at that moment. I praised the goodness of God.
In the meanwhile, an eunuch came up to me, and said, "Go and stay in this [adjoining] mosque; perhaps your wishes may, in that place, be accomplished, and you may yet gain the desires of your heart." According to his advice I got up from the place [where I had passed the night], and went to the mosque; but my eyes remained fixed in the direction of the door of the house, to see what might appear from behind the curtain of futurity. 1 waited for the arrival of evening with the anxiety of a person who keeps the fast [of Ramazan]./3/ At last the evening came, and the heavy day was removed from my heart. All at once the same eunuch who had given me the directions to find out the lady's house, came to the mosque. After finishing the evening prayer, having come up to me, that obliging person, who was in all my secrets, gave me much comfort, and taking me by the hand, led me along with him, proceeding onwards at last having made me sit down in a small garden, he said: "Stay here until your desire [of seeing your mistress] be accomplished." Then he himself having taken his leave, went, perhaps, to impart my wishes to the beautiful lady. I amused myself with admiring the beauty of the flowers of the garden, and the brightness of the full moon, and the play of the fountains in the canals and rivulets, a display like that of the months of Sawan and Bhadon; but when I beheld the roses, I thought of the beautiful rose-like angel, and when I gazed on the bright moon, I recollected her moon-like face. All these delightful scenes without her were so many thorns in my eyes.
At last God made her heart favourable to me. After a little while that lovely fair one **038** entered from the [garden] door adorned like the full moon, wearing a rich dress, enriched with pearls, and covered from head to feet with an embroidered veil; she stepped along the garden walk, and stood [at a little distance from me]. By her coming, the beauties of that garden, and the joy of my heart, revived. After strolling for a few minutes about the garden, she sat down in the alcove on a richly-embroidered masnad. I ran, and like the moth that flutters around the candle, offered my life as a sacrifice to her, and like a slave stood before her with folded arms. At this moment the eunuch appeared, and began to plead for my pardon and restoration to her favour. Addressing myself to him, I said, I am guilty, and culpable; whatever punishment is fixed on me, let it be executed. The lady, though she was displeased, said with hauteur, "The best thing that can be done for him now is that he should receive a hundred bags of gold pieces, and having got his property all right, let him return to his native country."
On hearing these words, I became a block of withered wood; if any one had cut my body, not a drop of blood would have issued; all the world began to appear dark before my sight; a sigh of despair burst involuntarily from my heart, and the tears flowed from my eyes. I had at that time no hope from any one except God; driven to utter despair, I ventured to say, "Well, [cruel fair,] reflect a moment, that if to this unfortunate wretch there had been a desire for worldly wealth, he would not have devoted his life and property to you. Are the acknowledgments due to my services, and my having devoted my life to you, flown all of a sudden from this world, that you have shown such disfavour to a wretch like me? It is all well; to me life is no longer of any use; to the helpless, half-dead lover there is no resource against the faithlessness of the beloved one."
On hearing these words, she was greatly offended, and frowning with anger, she exclaimed, "Very fine indeed! What, thou **039** art my lover! Has the frog then caught cold?/4/ O fool, for one in thy situation to talk thus is an idle fancy; little mouths should not utter big words: no more-- be silent-- repeat not such presumptuous language; if any other had dared to behave so improperly, I vow to God, I would have ordered his body to be cut in pieces, and given to the kites [of the air]; but what can I do? --Your services ever come to my recollection. Thou hadst best now take the road [to thy home;] thy fate had decreed thee food and drink only until now in my house!" I then weeping, said, if it has been written in my destiny that I am not to attain the desires of my heart, but to wander miserably through woods and over mountains, then I have no remedy left. On hearing these words, she became vexed and said, "These hints and this flattering nonsense are not agreeable to me; go and repeat them to those who are fit to hear them." Then getting up in the same angry mood, she returned to her house. I beseeched her to hear me, but she disregarded what I said. Having no resource, I likewise left the place, sad and hopeless.
In short, for forty days this same state of things continued. When I was tired of pacing the lanes of the city, I wandered into the woods, and when I became restless there, I returned to the lanes of the city like a lunatic. I thought not of nourishment during the day, or sleep at night; like a washerman's dog, that belongs neither to the house nor the ghat./5/ [The existence of man depends on eating and drinking; he is the worm of the grain. Not the least strength remained in my body. Becoming feeble, I went and lay down under the wall of the same mosque; when one day the eunuch aforementioned came there to say his Friday prayers, and passed near me; I was repeating at the time, slow from weakness, this verse:
"Give me strength of mind to bear these pangs of the heart, or give me death;**040** Though in appearance my looks were greatly altered, and my face was such that whoever had seen me formerly would not have recognised me to be the same person; yet the eunuch, hearing the sounds of grief, looked at me, and regarding me with attention, pitied me, and with much kindness addressed me, saying, "At last to this State thou hast brought thyself." I replied, what was to occur has now happened; I devoted my property to her welfare, and I have sacrificed my life likewise; such has been her pleasure; then what shall I do?
On hearing this, he left a servant with me, and went into the mosque; when he finished his prayers, and [heard] the Khutba,/6/ he returned to me, and putting me into a miyana,/7/ had me carried along to the house of that indifferent fair, and placed me outside the chick [of her apartment]. Though no trace of my former self remained, yet as I had been for a long while constantly with the lovely fair one, [she must have recognised me]; however, though knowing me perfectly, she acted as a stranger, and asked the eunuch who I was. That excellent man replied, "This is that unfortunate, ill-fated wretch who has fallen under the displeasure and reprehension of your highness; for this reason his appearance is such; he is burning with the fire of love; how much soever he endeavours to quench the flame with the water of tears, yet it burns with double force. Nothing is of the least avail; moreover he is dying with the shame of his fault." The fair lady jocosely said, "Why dost thou tell lies? I received from my intelligencers,/8/ many days ago, the news of his arrival in his own country; God knows who this is of whom you speak." Then the eunuch, putting his hands together, said, "If security be granted to my life,/9/ then I will be so bold as to address your highness." She answered, "Speak; your life is secure." The eunuch said, "Your highness is by nature a judge of merit; for God's sake lift up the screen from between you, and recognise him, and take pity on his lamentable condition. Ingratitude is not proper. Now **041** whatever compassion you may feel for his present condition is amiable and meritorious-- to say more would be [to outstep] the bounds of respect; whatever your highness ordains, that assuredly is best."
On hearing this speech [of the eunuch], she smiled and said, "Well, let him be who he will, keep him in the hospital; when he gets well, then his situation shall be inquired into." The eunuch answered, "If you will condescend to sprinkle rose-water on him with your own royal hands, and say a kind word to him, then there may be hopes of his living; despair is a bad thing; the world exists through hope." Even on this, the fair one said nothing [to console me]. Hearing this dialogue, I also continued becoming more and more tired of existence. I fearlessly said, "I do not wish to live any longer on these terms; my feet are hanging in the grave, and I must soon die; my remedy is in the power of your highness; whether you may apply it or not, that you only know." At last the Almighty/10/ softened the heart of that stony-hearted one; she became gracious and said, "Send immediately for the royal physicians." In a short time they came and assembled [around me]; they felt my pulse and examined my urine with much deliberation; at last it was settled in their prægnosis, that "this person is in love with some one; except the being united with the beloved object, there is no other cure; whenever he possesses her he will be well." When from the declaration of the physicians my complaint was thus confirmed, the fair lady said, "Carry this young man to the warm bath, and after bathing him and dressing him in fine clothes, bring him to me." They instantly carried me out, and after bathing me and clothing me well, they led me before the lovely angel; then that beautiful creature said with kindness, "Thou hast constantly, and for nothing, got me censured and dishonoured; now what more dost thou wish? Whatever is in thy heart, speak it out quite plainly."
O, Darweshes!/11/ at that moment my emotions were such that [I thought] I should have died with joy, and swelled **042** so greatly with pleasure, that my jama/12/ could hardly contain me, and my countenance and appearance became changed; I praised God, and said to her, this moment all the art of physic is centered in you, who have restored a corpse like me to life with a single word; behold, from that time to this, what a change has taken place in my circumstances [by the kindness you have shewn]." After saying this, I went round her three times,/13/ and standing before her, I said, "your commands are that I should speak whatever I have in my heart; this boon is more precious to your slave than the empire of the seven climes; then be generous and accept this wretch! keep me at your feet and elevate me," On hearing this ejaculation, she became thoughtful for a moment; then regarding me askance, she said, "Sit down; your services and fidelity have been such that whatever you say becomes you; they are also engraven on my heart. Well; I comply with your request."
The same day, in a happy hour, and under a propitious star the kazi/14/ quite privately performed the marriage rites. After so much trouble and afflictions, God shewed me this happy day, when I gained the desires of my heart; but in the same degree that my heart wished to possess this angelic lady, it felt equally anxious and uneasy to know the explication of those strange events [which had occurred]; for, up to that day I knew nothing about who she was; or who was that brown, handsome negro, who on seeing a bit of paper, delivered to me so many bags of gold; and how that princely entertainment was prepared in the space of one pahar; and why those two innocent persons were put to death after the entertainment; and the cause of the anger and ingratitude she showed me after all my services and kindnesses; and then all at once to elevate this wretch [to the height of happiness.]. In short, I was so anxious to develop these strange circumstances and doubts, that for eight days after the marriage ceremonies, notwithstanding my great affection for her, I did not attempt to **043** consummate the rites of wedlock. I merely slept with her at night, and got up in the morning "re non effectâ."
One morning I desired an attendant to prepare some warm water in order that I might bathe./15/ The princess smiling, said, "Where is the necessity for the hot water?" I remained silent; but she was perplexed [to account] for my conduct; moreover, in her looks the signs of anger were visible; so much so, that she one day said to me, "Thou art indeed a strange man; at one time so warm before, and now so cold! what do people call this [conduct]? If you had not manly vigour, then why did you form so foolish a wish? I then having become fearless, replied, "O, my darling, justice is a positive duty; no person ought to deviate from the rules of justice. She replied, "What further justice remains [to be done]? whatever was to happen has taken place." I answered, in truth, that which was my most earnest wish and desire I have gained; but, my heart is uneasy with doubts, and the man whose mind is filled with suspicions is ever perplexed; he can do nothing, and becomes different from other human creatures. I had determined within myself that after this marriage, which is my soul's entire delight, I would question your highness respecting sundry circumstances which I do not comprehend, and which I cannot unravel; that from your own blessed lips I might hear their explanation; then my heart would be at ease." The lovely lady frowning, said, "How pretty! you have already forgotten [what I told you]; recollect, many times I have desired you not to search into my concerns, or to oppose what I say; and is it proper in you to take, contrary to custom, such liberties?" I laughing replied, as you have pardoned me much greater liberties, forgive this also. That angelic fair, changing her looks and getting warm, became a whirlwind of fire, and said; "You presume too much; go and mind your own affairs; what advantage can you derive from [the explanation of) these circumstances?" I answered, "the greatest shame in this world is the exposure of our person; but we are conversant **044** with one another [in that respect], hence as you have thought it right to lay aside this repugnance with me, then why conceal any other secrets from me?"
Her good sense made her comprehend my hint, and she said, "This is true; but I am very apprehensive if I, wretched, should divulge my secrets; it may be the cause of great trouble." I answered, what strange apprehensions you form! do not conceive in your heart such an idea of me, and relate without restraint all the events of your life; never, never, shall they pass from my breast to my lips; what possibility, then, of their reaching the ear of another?" When she perceived that, without satisfying my curiosity she should have no rest, being without resource, she said, "Many evils attend the explanation of these matters, but you are obstinately bent upon it. Well, I must please you; for which reason I am going to relate the events of my past life-- take care; it is equally necessary for you to conceal them [from the world]; my information is on this condition."
In short, after many injunctions, she began the relation [of her life] as follows: --"The unfortunate wretch before you is the daughter of the King of Damascus; he is a great sovereign among sultans; he never had any child except me. From the day I was born I was brought up with great delicacy and tenderness, in joy and happiness under the eye of my father and mother. As I grew up I became attached to handsome and beautiful women; so that I kept near my person the most lovely young girls of noble families, and of my own age; and handsome female servants of the like age, in my service. I ever enjoyed the amusements of dancing and singing, and never had a care about the good or evil of the world. Contemplating my own condition thus free from care, except the praises of God, nothing else occupied my thoughts.
**045** "It so happened that my disposition became suddenly of itself so changed, that I lost all relish for the company of others, nor did the gay assembly afford me any pleasure; my temper became melancholic, and my heart sad and confused; no one's presence was agreeable to me, nor did my heart feel inclined for conversation. Seeing this sad condition of mine, all the female servants were overwhelmed with sorrow and fell at my feet [begging to know the cause of my gloom]. This faithful eunuch, who has long been in my secrets, and from whom no action of my life is concealed, seeing my melancholy, said, 'If the princess would drink a little of the exhilarating lemonade,/16/ it is most probable that her cheerful disposition would be restored; and gladness return to her heart.' On hearing him say so, I had a desire [to taste it], and ordered some to be prepared immediately.
"The eunuch went out [to make it up], and returned, accompanied by a young boy, who brought a goblet of the lemonade, carefully prepared and cooled in ice. I drank it, and perceived it produced the good effect ascribed to it; for this piece of service I bestowed on the eunuch a rich khil'at,/17/ and desired him to bring me a goblet of the same every day at the same hour. From that day it became a regular duty, that the eunuch came, accompanied by the boy who brought the lemonade, and I drank it. When its inebriating quality took effect, I used in the elevation of my spirits to jest and laugh with the boy, and beguile my time. When his timidity wore off, he began to utter very agreeable speeches, and related many pleasant anecdotes; moreover, he began to heave sighs and sobs. His face was handsome and worth seeing; I began to like him beyond control. I, from the affections of my heart, and the relish I felt for his playful humour, every day gave him rewards and gratuities; but the wretch always appeared before me in the same clothes that he had been accustomed to wear, and they even were dirty and soiled.
**046** "One day I said to him, you have received a good deal [of money] from the treasury, but your appearance is as wretched as ever; what is the cause of it? have you spent the money, or do you amass it?" When the boy heard these encouraging words, and found that I enquired into his condition, he said with tears in his eyes, 'Whatever you have bestowed on this slave, my preceptor has taken from me; he did not give me one paisa/18/ for myself; with what shall I make up other clothes, and appear better dressed before you? it is not my fault, and I cannot help it.' At this humble statement of his, I felt pity for him; I instantly ordered the eunuch to take charge of the boy from that day, to educate him under his own eye, and give him good clothes, and not to allow him to play and skip about with other boys; moreover, that my wish was, he should be taught a respectful mode of behaviour, to fit him for my own princely service, and to wait on me. The eunuch obeyed my orders, and perceiving how my inclinations leaned, he took the utmost care of him. In a little time, from ease and good living, his colour and sleekness changed greatly, like a snake's throwing off its slough; I restrained my inclinations as much as I could, but the [handsome] form of that rogue/19/ was so engraven on my heart, that I fondly wished to keep him clasped to my bosom, and never take my eyes off him for a moment.
"At last, I made him enter into my companionship, and dressing him in a variety of rich clothes and all kinds of jewels, I used to gaze at him. In short, by being always with me, my longing eyes were satisfied and my heart comforted; I every moment complied with his wants and wishes; at last, my condition was such, that if on any urgent occasion he was absent for a moment from my sight, I became quite uneasy. In a few years he became a youth, and the down appeared on his cheeks; his body **047** and limbs were well formed! then there began to be a talk about him out of doors among the courtiers. The guards of all descriptions began to forbid him from coming and going within the palace. At length, his entrance into it was quite stopped, and without him I had no rest; a moment [of absence on his part,] was an age [of pain on mine]. When I heard these tidings of despair, I was as distracted as if the day of judgment had burst over me; and such was my condition that I could not speak a word [to express my wishes]: nor yet could I live separated from him. I had no means of relief; O God, what could I do; a strange kind of uneasiness came over me, and in consequence of my distraction I addressed myself to the same eunuch [who was in all my secrets], and said to him, 'I wish to take care of this youth. In fact, the best plan is for you to give him a thousand gold pieces, to set him up in a jeweller's shop in the chauk, that he may from the profit of his trade live comfortably; and to build him a handsome house near my residence; to buy him slaves, and hire him servants and fix their pay, that he may in every way live at his ease.' The eunuch furnished him with a house, and set up a jeweller's shop for him to carry on the traffic, and prepared everything that was requisite. In a short time, his shop became so brilliant and showy, that whatever rich khil'ats or superb jewels were required for the king and his nobles, could only be procured there; and by degrees his shop so flourished, that all the rarities of every country were to be found there; and the daily traffic of all other jewellers became languid in comparison with his. In short, no one was able to compete with him in the city, nor was his equal [to be found] in any other country.
"He made a great deal of money/20/ by his business; but [grief for his] absence daily preyed on my mind, and injured my health; no expedient could be hit upon by which **048** I might see him, and console my heart. At last, for the purpose of consultation, I sent for the same experienced eunuch, and said to him, 'I can devise no plan by which I may see the youth for a moment, and inspire my heart with patience. There remains only this method, which is to dig a mine from his house and join the same to the palace.' I had no sooner expressed my wish, than such a mine was dug in a few days, so that on the approach of evening the eunuch used to conduct the young man through that same passage, in silence and secrecy [to my apartment]. We used to pass the whole night in eating and drinking, and every enjoyment; I was delighted to meet him, and he was rejoiced to see me. When the morning star appeared, and the muwazzin/21/ gave notice [of the time for morning prayers], the eunuch used to lead the youth by the same way to his house. No fourth person had any knowledge of these circumstances; [it was known] only to the eunuch and two nurses who had given me milk, and brought me up.
"A long period passed in this manner; but it happened one day that when the eunuch went to call him, according to custom, then he perceived that the youth was sitting sorrowful and silent. The eunuch asked him, 'Is all well to-day? why are you so sad? Come to the princess; she has sent for you.' The youth made no reply whatever, nor did he move his tongue. The eunuch returned alone with a similar face, and mentioned to me the young man's condition. As the devil was about to ruin me, even after this conduct I could not banish him from my heart; if I had known that my love and affection for such an ungrateful wretch would have at last rendered me infamous and degraded, and would have destroyed my fame and honour; then I should have at that moment shrunk back from such a proceeding, and should have done penance; I never again should have pronounced his name, neither should I have devoted my heart to the shameless [fellow]. But it was to happen so; for this reason I took no heed of his improper conduct, and his not coming I imagined to be the affectation and airs of those [who are conscious of being] beloved; its consequences I have sadly rued, and thou art now also informed **049** of these events without hearing or seeing them; or else where were you, and where was I? Well, what has happened is past. Bestowing not a thought on the conceited airs of that ass, I again sent him word by the eunuch, saying, 'if thou wilt not come to me now, by some means or other I will come to thee; but there is much impropriety in my coming there; --if this secret is discovered, thou wilt have cause to rue it; so do not act in a manner that will have no other result than disgrace; it is best that thou comest quickly [to me], otherwise imagine me arrived [near thee]. When he received this message, and perceived that my love for him was unbounded, he came with disagreeable looks and affected airs.
"When he sat down by me, I asked him, 'what is the cause of your coolness and anger to-day; you never showed so much insolence and disrespect before, you always used to come without making any excuses.' To this he replied, 'I am a poor nameless wretch; by your favour, and owing to you, I am arrived to such power, and with much ease and affluence I pass my days. I ever pray for your life and prosperity; I have committed this fault in full reliance on your highness's forgiveness, and I hope for pardon. As I loved him from my soul and heart, I accepted his well-turned apology, and not only overlooked his knavery, but even asked him again with affection, what great difficulty has occurred that you are so thoughtful? mention it, and it shall be instantly removed.'
"In short, in his humble way, he replied, 'Everything is difficult to me; before your highness, all is easy,' At last, from the purport of his discourse and conversation, it appeared that an elegant garden, with a grand house in it, together with reservoirs, tanks and wells, **050** of finished masonry, was for sale, situated in the centre of the city and near his house; and that with the garden a female slave was to be sold, who sung admirably and understood music perfectly. But they were to be sold together, and not the garden alone, 'like the cat tied to the camel's neck;'/22/ and that whoever purchased the garden must also buy the slave; the best of it was, the price of the garden was five thousand rupees, and the price of the slave five hundred thousand. [He concluded saying], 'Your devoted slave cannot at present raise so large a sum.' I perceived that his heart was greatly bent on buying them, and that for this reason he was thoughtful, and embarrassed in mind; although he was seated near me, yet his looks were pensive and his heart sad: as his happiness every hour and moment was dear to me, I that instant ordered the eunuch to go in the morning and settle the price of the garden and the slave, get their bills of sale drawn up, and deliver them to this person, and pay the price to their owner from the royal treasury.
"On hearing this order, the young man thanked me, tears of joy came upon his face; and we passed the night as usual in laughing and delight; in the morning he took leave. The eunuch, agreeably to my orders, bought and delivered over to him the garden and the slave. The youth continued his visits at night, according to custom [and retired in the morning]. One day in the season of spring, when the whole place was indeed charming, the clouds were gathering low, and the rain drizzling fell, the lightning also continued to flash [through the murky clouds], and the breeze played gently [through the trees]-- in short, it was a delightful scene. When in the taks/23/ the liquors of various colours, arranged in elegant phials, fell upon my sight; my heart longed to take a draught. After I had drank two or three cupfulls, instantly the idea of the newly purchased **051** garden struck me. An irrepressible desire arose within me, when in that state, that for a short time I should enjoy a walk in that [garden]. When the stream of misfortune flows against us, we struggle in vain against the tide./24/ I involuntarily took a female servant with me, and went to the young man's house by the way of the mine; from thence I proceeded to the garden, and saw that the delightful place was in truth equal to the Elysian fields. As the raindrops fell on the fresh green leaves of the trees, one might say they were like pearls set in pieces of emerald, and the carnation of the flowers, in that cloudy day, appeared as beautiful as the ruddy crepuscle after the setting sun; the basons and canals, full of water, seemed like sheets of mirrors, over which the small waves undulated.
"In short, I was strolling about in every direction in that garden, when the day vanished and the darkness of night became conspicuous. At that moment, the young man appeared on a walk [in the garden]; and on seeing me, he approached with respect and great warmth of affection, and taking my hand in his, led me to the pavilion./25/ On entering it, the splendour of the scene made me entirely forget all the beauty of the garden. The illuminations within were magnificent; on every side, gerandoles, in the shape of cypresses, and various kinds of lights in variegated lamps were lighted up; even the shabi barat,/25b/ with all its moonlight and its illuminations, would appear dark [in comparison to the brightness which shone in the pavilion]; on one side, fire-works/26/ of every description were displayed.
"In the meantime, the clouds dispersed, and the bright moon appeared like a lovely mistress clothed in a lilac-coloured robe, who suddenly strikes our sight. It was a scene of great beauty; as the moon burst forth, the young man said, 'Let us now go and sit in the balcony which overlooks the garden.' I had become so infatuated, that whatever the wretch proposed I implicitly obeyed; now he led me such a dance, that **052** he dragged me up [to the balcony.] That building was so high, that all the houses of the city and the lights of the bazar, appeared as if they were at the foot of it. I was seated in a state of delight, with my arms round the youth's neck; meanwhile, a woman, quite ugly, without form or shape, entered as it were from the chimney, with a bottle of wine in her hand; I was at that time greatly displeased at her sudden entrance, and on seeing her looks, my heart became alarmed. Then, in confusion, I asked the young man, 'who is this precious hag; from whence have you grubbed her up?' Joining his hands together, he replied, 'This is the slave who was bought with the garden through your generous assistance.'
I had perceived that the simpleton had bought her with much eager desire, and perhaps his heart was fixed on her; for this reason, I, suppressing my inward vexation, remained silent; but my heart from that moment was disturbed and displeasure affected my temper; moreover, the wretch had the impudence to make this harlot our cup-bearer. At that moment I was drinking my own blood with rage, and was as uneasy as a parrot shut up in the same cage with a crow: I had no opportunity of going away, and did not wish to stay. To shorten the story, the wine was of the strongest description, so that on drinking it a man would become a beast. She plied the young man with two or three cups in succession of that fiery liquor, and I also bitterly swallowed half a cupful at the importunity of the youth; at last, the shameless harlot likewise got beastly drunk, and took very unbecoming liberties with that vile youth; and the mean wretch also, in his intoxication, having become regardless, began to be disrespectful, and behave indecently.
"I was so much ashamed, that had the earth opened at the moment I would have willingly jumped into it; but in consequence of my passion for him, I, infatuated, even after all these circumstances, remained silent. However, he was completely **053** a vile wretch, and did not feel the value of my forbearance. In the fervour of intoxication, he drank off two cups more, so that his little remaining sense vanished, and he completely drove from his heart all respect for me. Without shame, and in the rage of lust, the barefaced villain consummated before me his career of infamous indecency with his hideous mistress, who, in that posture, began to play off all the blandishments of love, and kissing and embracing took place between the two. In that faithless man no sense of honour remained; neither did modesty exist in that shameless woman; 'As the soul is, so are the angels.'/27/ My state [of mind] at the time was like that of a songstress who having [lost the musical time,] sings out of tune. I was invoking curses on myself for having come there, saying that I was properly punished for my folly. At last, how could I bear it? I was on fire from head to foot, and began to roll on live coals. In my rage and wrath I recollected the proverb, that 'It is not the bullock that leaps, but the sack;/28/ whoever has seen a sight like this?' in saying this to myself, I came away thence.
"That drunkard in the depravity of his heart thought, if I was offended now, what then would be his treatment the next day, and what a commotion I should raise. So he imagined it best to finish my existence [whilst he had me in his power.] Having formed this resolution in his mind with the advice of the hag, he put his patka/29/ round his neck and fell at my feet, and taking off his turban from his head, began to supplicate [my forgiveness] in the humblest manner. My heart was infatuated towards him; whithersoever he turned I turned; and like the handmill I was entirely under his control. I implicitly complied with all he desired; some way or other he pacified me, and persuaded me to retake my seat. He again took two or three cupfulls of the fiery liquor, and he induced me to drink some also. I, in the first place, was already inflamed with rage, and secondly, after drinking such strong liquor I soon became quite senseless-- no recollection remained. Then that unfeeling, ungrateful, cruel wretch **054** wounded me with his sword; yea, further, he thought he had completely killed me. At that moment, my eyes opened, and I uttered these words, 'Well, as I have acted, so I have been rewarded; but do thou screen thyself from the consequences of shedding unjustly my blood.
Let it not so happen that some tyrant
should seize thee;
"Do not divulge this secret to any one; I have not been wanting to thee even with loss of life. Then placing him under the protection of God's mercy, I fainted [from the loss of blood], and knew nothing of what afterwards happened. Perhaps, that butcher, conceiving me dead, put me into the chest, and let me down over the walls of the fortress, the same as you yourself saw, I wished no one ill; but these misfortunes were written in my destiny, and the lines of fate cannot be effaced. My eyes have been the cause of all these calamities: if I had not had a strong desire to behold beautiful persons, then that wretch would not have been my bane./30/ God so ordained that He made thee arrive there; and, He made thee the means of saving my life. After undergoing these disgraces, I am ashamed to reflect that I should yet live and show my face to any one. But what can I do? the choice of death is not in our hands; God, after killing me, hath restored me to life; let us see what is written in my future fate. In all appearance, your exertions and zeal have been of use, so that I have been cured of such wounds. Thou hast been ready to promote my wishes with thy life and property, and whatever were thy means, thou hast offered [them cheerfully]. In those days, seeing thee without money and sad, I wrote the note to Sidi Bahar, who is my cashier. In that note, I mentioned that I was in health and safety in such a place, and I said, "convey the intelligence of me, unfortunate, to my excellent mother."
"The Sidi sent by thee those trays of gold for my expenses; and when I sent thee to the shop of Yusuf the merchant, to purchase khil'ats and jewels, **055** I felt confident that the weakminded wretch, who soon becomes friends with every one, conceiving you a stranger, would certainly form an intimacy with you, and indulging his conceit, invite you to a feast and entertainment. This stratagem of mine turned out right, and he did exactly what I had imagined in my heart. Then, when you promised him to return, and came to me and related the particulars of his insisting upon it, I was heartily pleased with the circumstance; for I knew that if you went to his house, and there ate and drank, you would invite him in return, and that he would eagerly come; for this reason, I sent thee back quickly to him. After three days, when you returned from the entertainment, and, quite abashed, made me many apologies for staying away so long, to make you easy in your mind, I replied, 'it is of no consequence; when he gave you leave then you came away; but to be without delicacy is not proper, and we should not bear another's debt of gratitude without an idea of paying it; now do you go and invite him also, and bring him along with you.' When you went away to his house, I saw that no preparations could be got ready for the entertainment at our house, and if he should all at once come, what could I do? but it fortunately happened that from time immemorial, the custom of this country has been for the kings to remain out for eight months in the year, to settle the affairs of the provinces, and collect the revenues, and for four months, during the rains, to stay [in the city] in their auspicious palaces. In those days, the king, this unfortunate wretch's father, had gone into the provinces some two or four months previously to arrange the affairs of the kingdom.
"Whilst you were gone to bring the young merchant [to the entertainment], Sidi Bahar imparted the particulars of my present situation to the queen (who is the mother of me, impure). Again I, ashamed of my guilty conduct, went to the queen **056** and related to her all that happened to me. Although she, from motherly affection and good sense, had used every means to conceal the circumstance of my disappearance, saying, 'God knows what may be the end of it;' she conceived it wrong to make public my disgrace for the present, and for my sake she had concealed my errors in her maternal breast; but she had all along been in search of me.
"When she saw me in this condition, and heard all the circumstances [of my misfortune], her eyes filled with tears, and she said, 'O unfortunate wretch! thou hast knowingly destroyed the honour and glory of the throne; a thousand pities that thou hadst not perished also; if instead of thee I had been brought to bed of a stone, I should have been patient; even now [it is not too late to] repent; whatever was in thy unfortunate fate has happened; what wilt thou do next? Wilt thou live or die?' I replied, with excessive shame, that in this worthless wretch's fate it was so written, that I should live in such disgrace and distress after escaping such various dangers; it would have been better to have perished; though the mark of infamy is stamped on my forehead, yet I have not been guilty of such an action as can disgrace my parents.
"The great pain I now feel is, that those base wretches should escape my vengeance, and enjoy their crime in each other's company, whilst I have suffered such affliction from their hands: it is a pity that I can do nothing [in order to punish them]. I hope one favour [from your majesty], that you would order your steward to prepare all the necessary articles for an entertainment at my house, that I may, under the pretence of an entertainment, send for those two wretches, and punish them for their deeds and also inflict vengeance for myself. In the same manner that he lifted his hand upon me and wounded me, may I be enabled to cut them to pieces; then my heart will be soothed; otherwise I must continue glowing in this fire of resentment, and ultimately I must be burnt **057** to cinders. On hearing this speech, my excellent mother became kind from maternal fondness, and concealed my guilt in her own breast, and sent all the necessaries for the entertainment by the same eunuch who is in my secrets. Every necessary attendant came also, and each was ready in his own appropriate occupation. In the time of evening, you brought the [base villain who is now dead]; I wished the harlot should likewise come.
"For this reason I earnestly desired you to send for her; when she also came and the guests were assembled, they all became thoroughly intoxicated and senseless by drinking largely of wine; you also got drunk along with them, and lay like a corpse. I ordered a Kilmakini/31/ to cut off both their heads with a sword; she instantly drew her sword and cut off both their heads, and dyed their bodies with their blood. The cause of my anger towards thee was this, that I had given thee permission for the entertainment, but not to become an associate in wine-drinking, with people thou hadst only known for a few days. Assuredly this folly on thy part was anything but pleasing to me; for when you drank till you became senseless, then what hopes of aid from you remained? But the claims of thy services so cling around my neck, that, notwithstanding such conduct, I forgive thee. And now, behold, I have related to thee all my adventures from the beginning to the end; do you yet desire in your heart any other [explanations]? In the same manner that I have, in compliance with your wishes, granted all you requested, do you also in like manner perform what I desire; my advice on this occasion is, that it is no longer proper either for you or me to remain in this city. Henceforward you are master."
O devoted to God!/32/ the princess having spoken thus far, remained silent. I, who with heart and soul considered her wishes paramount to everything, and was entangled in the net of her affections, replied, "whatever you advise, that is best, and I will without hesitation **058** carry the same into effect." When the princess found me obedient, and her servant, she ordered two swift and high-mettled horses (which might vie with the wind in speed), to be brought from the royal stables, and kept in readiness. I went and picked out just such beautiful and high spirited horses as she required, and had them saddled and brought [to our house]. When a few hours of the night remained, the princess put on men's clothes, and arming herself with the five weapons,/33/ mounted on one of the horses; I got on the other, completely armed, and we set out in the same direction.
When night was over, and the dawn began to appear, we arrived on the banks of a certain lake; alighting from our horses, we washed our hands and faces; having breakfasted in great haste, we mounted again and set off. Now and then the princess spoke, and said, "I have for your sake left fame, honour, wealth, country and parents all behind me; now, may it not so happen, that you also should behave to me like that faithless savage." Sometimes I talked of different matters to beguile the journey, and sometimes replied to her questions and doubts, saying "O princess, all men are not alike; there must have been some defect in that base villain's parentage, that by him such a deed was done; but I have sacrificed my wealth and devoted my life to you, and you have dignified me in every way. I am now your slave without purchase, and if you should make shoes of my skin and wear them, I will not complain." Such conversation passed between us, and day and night to travel onward was our business. If through fatigue we sometimes dismounted somewhere, we then used to hunt down the beasts and birds of the woods, and having lawfully slain them, and applied salt from the salt-cellar, and having struck fire with steel/34/ (from a flint), we used to broil and eat them. The horses we let loose [to graze], and they generally found sufficient to satisfy their hunger from the grass and leaves.
**059** One day we reached a large even plain, where there was no trace of any habitation, and where no human face could be seen; even in this [solitary and dreary scene], owing to the princess's company, the day appeared festive and the nights joyful. Proceeding on our journey, we came suddenly to a large river, the sight of which would appal the firmest heart./35/ As we stood on its banks, as far as the eye could reach, nothing was to be seen but water; no means of crossing was to be found. O God [cried I], how shall we pass this sea! we stood reflecting on this sad obstacle for a few moments, when the thought came into my mind to leave the princess there, and to go in search of a boat; and that until I could find some means to pass over, the princess would have time to rest. Having formed this plan, I said, "O princess, if you will allow me, I will go and look out for a ferry or ford." She replied, "I am greatly tired, and likewise hungry and thirsty; I will rest here a little, whilst thou findest out some means to pass over [the river]."
On that spot was a large pipal/36/ tree, forming a canopy [of such extent], that if a thousand horsemen sheltered themselves under its wide-spread branches, they would be protected from the sun and rain. Leaving there the princess, I set out, and was looking all around to find somewhere or other on the ground, or the river, some trace of a human being. I searched much, but found the same nowhere. At last, I returned hopeless, but did not find the princess under the tree; how can I describe the state of my mind at that moment! my senses forsook me, and I became quite distracted. Sometimes I mounted the tree, and looked for her in every individual leaf and branch; sometimes, letting go my hold, I fell on the ground, and went round the roots of the tree as one who performs the tasadduk/37/. Sometimes I wept and shrieked at my miserable condition; now I ran from west to east, then from north to south. **060** In short, I searched everywhere,/38/ but could not find any trace of the rare jewel [I had lost]; when, at last, I found I could do nothing, then weeping and throwing dust over my head, I looked for her everywhere.
This idea came into my mind, that perhaps some of the jinns had carried her away, and had inflicted on me this wound; or else that some one had followed her from her country, and finding her alone, had persuaded her to return to Damascus. Distracted with these fancies, I threw off and cast away my clothes, and becoming a naked faqir, I wandered about in the kingdom of Syria from morn until eve, and at night lay down to rest in any place [I could find]. I wandered over the whole region, but could find no trace of my princess, nor hear any thing of her from any one, nor could I ascertain the cause of her disappearance. Then this idea came into my mind, that since I could find no trace of that beloved one, even life itself was a weariness. I perceived a mountain in some wilderness; I ascended it, and formed the design of throwing myself headlong [from its summit], that I might end my wretched existence in a moment, by dashing my head to pieces against the stones, then would my soul be freed from a state of affliction.
Having formed this resolution within myself, I was on the point of precipitating myself [from the mountain], and had even lifted up my foot, when some one laid hold of my arm. In the meanwhile, I regained my senses, and looking round, I saw a horseman clothed in green, with a veil thrown over his face, who said to me, "Why dost thou attempt to destroy thy life; it is impious to despair of God's mercy; whilst there is breath, so long there is hope. Three Darweshes will meet thee a few days hence, in the empire of Rum, who are equally afflicted with thyself, entangled in the same difficulties, and who have met with adventures similar to thine; the name of the king of that country is Azad Bakht; he is also in great trouble; when he meets you and the other three Darweshes, **061** then the wishes and desires of the heart of each of you will be completely fulfilled."
I instantly laid hold of the stirrup [of this guardian angel,] and kissed it, and exclaimed, "O messenger of God, the few words you have pronounced have consoled my afflicted heart; but tell me, for God's sake, who you are, and what is your name." He replied, "My name is Murtaza 'Ali,/39/ and my office is this, that to whomsoever there occurs a danger or difficulty, I am at hand to afford relief." Having said this much, he vanished from my sight. In short, having set my heart at ease from the happy tidings I received from my spiritual guide [Murtaza 'Ali], "the remover of difficulties," I formed the design of [proceeding to] Constantinople. On the road I suffered all those misfortunes which were decreed me by fate; with the hopes of meeting the princess. Through the assistance of God, I am come here, and by good fortune I have become honoured by your presence. The promised meeting has taken place between us, and we have enjoyed each other's society and conversation; now it only remains for us to be known to, and acquainted with, the king Azad Bakht.
Assuredly after this, we five shall attain the desires of our hearts. Do you also beseech the blessings of God, and say amen. O ye holy guides! such have been the adventures which have befallen this bewildered wanderer, which have been faithfully related in your presence; now let us look forward [to the time] when my trouble and sorrows will be changed into joy and gladness by the recovery of the princess. Azad Bakht, concealed in silence in his corner, having heard with attention the story of the first Darwesh, was greatly pleased; then he betook himself to listen to the adventures of the next Darwesh.
A figurative and highly poetic expression as old as Homer. In this instance
it is said to signify that the sun had been two gharis above the
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