When it came to the turn of the second Darwesh to speak, he placed himself at his ease,/1/ and said--
"O friends, to this faqir's story listen a little; --
One day, a learned companion, who was well versed in history, and had seen [a great deal of] the world, said to me, "That though there is no reliance on the life of man, yet such excellent qualities are often found in him, that owing to them, the name of some men will be handed down with praise on people's tongues to the day of judgment." I begged of him to relate circumstantially a few instances on that score, that I might hear them, and endeavour to act accordingly. Then that person began to relate as follows, some of the adventures of Hatim Ta'i. "That there lived in the time of Hatim, a king of Arabia, named Naufal, who bore great enmity towards Hatim on account of his renown, and having assembled many troops, he went up to give him battle. Hatim was a God-fearing and good man; he thus conceived, that, "If I likewise prepare for battle, then the creatures of God will be slaughtered, and there will be much bloodshed; the punishment of heaven for which will be recorded against my name." Reflecting on this, he quite alone, taking merely his life with him, fled and hid himself in a cave in the mountains. When the news of Hatim's flight reached Naufal, he confiscated all the property and dwellings of Hatim, and proclaimed publicly, that whoever would look out for him and seize him, should receive from the king's treasury five hundred pieces of gold. On hearing this [proclamation], all became eager, and began to make diligent search for Hatim.
"One day, an old man and his wife, taking two or three of their young children with them, for the purpose of picking up wood, strayed near the cave where Hatim was concealed; and began to gather fuel in that same forest. The old woman remarked, 'If our days had been at all fortunate, we should have seen and found Hatim somewhere or other, and seizing him, we should have carried him to Naufal; then he would give us five hundred pieces of gold, and we should live comfortably, and be released from this toil and care,' The old woodman said, 'What art thou prating about? it was decreed in our fate, that we should pick up wood every day, place it on our heads, and sell it in the bazar, and [with its produce] procure bread and salt; or one day the tiger of the woods will carry us off: peace, mind thy work; why should Hatim fall into our hands, and the king give us so much money?' The old woman heaved a cold sigh, and remained silent.
"Hatim had heard the words of the two [old people], and conceived it unmanly and ungenerous to conceal himself to save his life, and not to conduct those helpless ones to the object of their desire. True it is, that a man without pity is not a human being, and he in whose heart there is no feeling is a butcher.
'Man was created to exercise compassion,In short, Hatim's manly mind would not allow him to remain concealed, after what he had with his own ears heard [from the woodman]; he instantly came out, and said to the old man, 'O friend, I myself am Hatim, lead me to Naufal; on seeing me, he will give thee whatever amount of money he has promised.'/5/ The old woodman replied, 'It is true that my welfare and advantage certainly consist in doing so, but who knows how he will treat thee; if he should put thee to death, then what shall I do? This, on my part, can never be done-- that I should deliver over thee to thine enemy for the sake of my own avarice. In a few days I shall spend the [promised] wealth, and how long shall I live? I must die at last; then what answer shall I give to God?' Hatim implored him greatly, and said, 'Take me along with thee-- I say so of my own pleasure; I have ever desired that, should my wealth and life be of use to some one or other [of my fellow creatures], then so much the better.' But the old man could not in any way be persuaded to carry Hatim along with him, and receive the [proclaimed reward. At last, becoming hopeless, Hatim said, 'If you do not carry me in the way I wish, then I will go of myself to the king, and say, this old man concealed me in a cave in the mountains,' The old man smiled and said, 'If I am to receive evil for good, then hard will be my fate.' During this conversation, other men arrived, and a crowd assembled [around them]; perceiving the person they saw to be Hatim, they instantly seized him and carried him along; the old man also, a little in the rear, followed them in silent grief. When they brought Hatim before Naufal, he asked, 'Who has seized and brought him here?' A worthless, hard-hearted [boaster] answered, 'Who could have performed such a deed except myself? This achievement belongs to my name, and I have planted the standard [of glory] in the sky.' Another vaunting fellow clamoured, 'I searched for him many days in the woods, and caught him at last, and have brought him here; have some consideration for my labour, and give me what has been promised.' In this manner, from avidity for the [promised] pieces of gold, every one said he had done the deed. The old man, in silence, sat apart in a corner, and heard all their boastings, and wept for Hatim. When each had recounted his act of bravery and enterprise, then Hatim said to the king, 'If you ask for the truth, then it is this; that old man, who stands aloof from all, has brought me here; if you can judge from appearances, then ascertain the fact, and give him for my seizure what you have promised; for in the whole body the tongue/6/ is a most sacred [member]. It is incumbent upon a man to perform what he has promised; for in other respects God has given tongues to brutes likewise; then what would have been the difference between a man and other animals?'
"Naufal called the old wood-cutter near him, and said, 'Tell the truth; what is the real state of the matter; who has seized and brought Hatim here?' The honest fellow related truly all that had occurred from beginning to end, and added, 'Hatim is come here of his own accord for my sake.' Naufal, on hearing this manly act of Hatim's, was greatly astonished, and exclaimed, 'How surprising is thy liberality! even thy life thou hast not feared to risk [for the good of others]!' With regard to all those who laid false claims to having seized Hatim, the king ordered them to have their hands tied behind their backs, and instead of five hundred pieces of gold, to receive each five hundred strokes of a slipper on their heads, so that their lives might perish [under the punishment]. Instantly, the strokes of the slippers began to be laid on in such a style, that in a short time their heads became quite bald. True it is, that to tell an untruth is such a guilt, that no other guilt equals it; may God keep every one free from this calamity, and not give him a propensity for telling lies; many people persevere in uttering falsehoods, but at the moment of detection they meet with their dessert.
"In short, Naufal, having rewarded all of them according to their desserts, thought it contrary to gentlemanly conduct and manliness of character to harbour enmity and strife towards a man like Hatim, from whom multitudes received happiness, and who, for the sake of the necessitous, did not even spare his own life, and was entirely devoted to the ways of God. He instantly seized Hatim's hand with great cordiality and friendship, and said to him, 'Why should it not be the case?/7/ such a man as you are can perform such an action.' Then the king, with great respect and attention, made Hatim sit down near him, and he instantly restored to him the lands and property, and the wealth and moveables, he had confiscated; and bestowed on him anew the chieftainship of the tribe of Ta,i, and ordered the five hundred pieces of gold to be given to the old man from the treasury, who, blessing [the king], went away."
When I had heard the whole of this adventure of Hatim's, a spirit of rivalry came into my mind; and this idea occurred to me, viz., "Hatim was the only chief of his own tribe [of Arabs]. He, by one act of liberality has gained such renown, that to this day it is celebrated; whilst I am, by the decree of God, the king of all Iran; and it would be a pity if I were to remain excluded from this good fortune. It is certain that in this world no quality is greater than generosity and liberality; for whatever a man bestows in this world, he receives its return in the next. If any one sows a single seed, then how much does he reap from its produce! With these ideas impressed upon my mind, I called for the lord of the buildings, and ordered him to erect, as speedily as possible, a grand palace without the city, with forty high and wide gates./8/ In a short time, even such a grand palace as my heart wished for, was built and got ready, and in that place every day at all times, from morning till night, I used to bestow pieces of silver and gold on the poor and helpless; whoever asked for anything in charity, I granted it to the utmost of his desire.
In short, the necessitous entered [daily] through the forty gates, and received whatever they wanted. It happened one day that a faqir came in from the front gate and begged some alms. I gave him a gold piece; then the same person entered through the next gate, and asked two pieces of gold; though I recollected him [to be the same faqir], I passed over [the circumstance] and gave them. In this manner he came in through each gate, and increased a piece of gold in his demand each time; and I knowingly appeared ignorant [of the circumstance], and continued supplying him according to his demand. At last he entered by the fortieth gate, and asked forty pieces of gold-- this sum I likewise ordered to be given him. After receiving so much, the faqir re-entered from the first gate and again begged alms: his conduct appeared to me highly impudent, and I said, hear, O avaricious man, what kind of a faqir art thou, that dost not even know the meaning of the three letters which compose the word [Arabic: faqr] faqr (poverty); a faqir ought to act up to them. He replied, "Well, generous soul, explain them yourself." I answered, "[Arabic: f] fe means faqa (fasting); [Arabic: q] qaf signifies qina'at (contentment); and [Arabic: r] re means riyazat (devotion);/9/ whoever has not these three qualities, is not a faqir. All this which you have received, eat and drink with it, and when it is done, return to me, and receive whatever thou requirest. This charity is bestowed on thee to relieve immediate wants and not for the purpose of accumulation. O avidious! from the forty gates thou hast received from one piece of gold up to forty; add up the amount, and see by the rule of arithmetical progression how many pieces of gold it comes to; and even after all this, thy avarice hath brought thee back again through the first gate. What wilt thou do after having accumulated so much money? A [real] faqir ought only to think [of the wants] of the passing day; the following day the great Provider [of necessaries] will afford thee a new pittance. Now evince some shame and modesty; have patience, and be content; what sort of mendicity is this that thy spiritual guide hath taught thee?"
On hearing these reproaches of mine, he became displeased and angry, and threw down on the ground all [the money] he had received from me, and said, "Enough, sir, do not be so warm; take back your gifts and keep them, and do not again pronounce the word generosity. It is very difficult to be generous; you are not able to support the weight of generosity, when will you attain to that station?/10/ you are as yet very far from it. The word [Arabic: sakhy] Sakhi (generous), is also composed of three letters; first act up to the meaning of those three letters, then you will be called generous." On hearing this I became uneasy, and said to the faqir, well, holy pilgrim, explain to me the meaning of those three letters. He replied, "from [Arabic: s] sin is derived sama,i (endurance); from [Arabic: kh] khe comes khauf-i Ilahi (fear of God); and from [Arabic: y] ye proceeds yad (remembrance of one's birth and death). Until one is possessed of these three qualities, he should not mention the name of generosity; and the generous man has also this happiness, that although he acts amiss [in other points], yet he is dear to his Maker [on account of his generosity]. I have travelled through many countries, but except the princess of Basra, I have not seen a [person really] generous. The robe of generosity God hath shaped out on [the person] of that woman; all others desire the name, but do not act up to it." On hearing this, I made much entreaty, and conjured him [by all that was sacred] to forgive my rebuke, and take whatever he required. He would not, on any account, accept my proffered gifts, but went away repeating these words, "Now if thou wert to give all thy kingdom, I would not spit upon it, nor would I even * *."/11/ The pilgrim went away, but having heard such praises of the princess of Basra, my heart became quite restless, and no way could I be easy. Now this desire arose within me, that by some means or other I must go to Basra and take a look at her.
In the meantime, the king, my father, died, and I ascended the throne. I got the empire, but the idea [I had formed of going to Basra] did not leave me. I held a consultation with the wazir and nobles, who were the support of the throne, and the pillars of the empire, saying, I wish to make a journey to Basra. Do ye remain steady in your respective stations; if I live, then the duration of the journey will be short; I will soon be back. No one seemed pleased at the idea of my going; in my helplessness, my heart continued to become more and more sorrowful. One day, without consulting any one, I privately sent for the resourceful wazir, and made him regent and plenipotentiary [during my absence], and placed him at the head of the affairs of the empire. I then put on the ochre-coloured habit [of a pilgrim], and, assuming the appearance of a faqir, I took the road to Basra alone. In a few days, I reached its boundaries, and [constantly] began to witness this scene; wherever I halted for the night, the servants of the princess advanced to receive me, and made me halt at some elegant house, and they used to provide me in perfection with all the requisites of a banquet, and to remain in attendance on me all night with the utmost respect. The following day, at the next stage, I experienced the same reception. In this comfort I journeyed onwards for months; at last I entered [the city of] Basra. I had no sooner entered it, than a good-looking young man, well dressed, and well-behaved, who carried wisdom in his looks, came up to me, and said with extreme sweetness of address, "I am the servant of pilgrims; I am always on the look out to conduct to my house all travellers, whether pilgrims or men of the world, who come to this city; except my house alone, there is no other place here for a stranger to put up at; pray, holy sir, come with me, bestow honour on my abode, and render me exalted.
I asked him, "what is the noble name of your honour?" He replied, "they call the name of this nameless one Bedar Bakht." Seeing his good qualities and affable manners, I went along with him and came to his house. I saw a grand mansion fitted up in a princely style-- he led me to a grand apartment, and made me sit down; and sending for warm water, he caused [the attendants] to wash my hands and feet; and having caused the dastar-khwan/12/ to be spread, the steward placed before me alone a great variety of trays and dishes, and large quantities of fruit and confectionery./13/ On seeing such a grand treat, my very soul was satiated, and taking a mouthful from each dish, my stomach was filled; I then drew back my hand from eating./14/
The young man became very pressing, and said, "Sir, what have you eaten? all the dinner remains as it were for a deposit;/15/ eat some more without ceremony." I replied, "there is no shame in eating; God prosper your house, I have eaten as much as my stomach can contain, and I cannot sufficiently praise the relish of your feast, and even now my tongue smacks with their flavour, and every belch/16/ I make is absolutely perfumed, now pray take them away." When the dastar-khwan was removed, they spread a carpet of kashani velvet, and brought to me ewers and basins of gold, with scented soap and warm water, wherewithal I might wash my hands; then betel was introduced, in a box set with precious stones, and spices of various kinds; whenever I called for water to drink, the servants brought it cooled in ice. When the evening came, camphorated candles were lighted up in the glass shades; and that friendly young man sat down near me and entertained me with his conversation. When one watch of the night had elapsed, he said to me, "be pleased to sleep in this bed, in front of which are curtains and screens." I said, "O, Sir, for us pilgrims a mat or a deer-skin is sufficient; this [luxury] God has ordained for you men of the world."
He replied, "All these things are for pilgrims; they do not in the least belong to me." On his pressing me so urgently, I went and lay down on the bed which was softer than even a bed of flowers. Pots of roses and baskets of flowers were placed on both sides of the bedstead, and aloes and other perfumes were burning; to whichever side I turned, my senses were intoxicated with fragrance; in this state I slept. When the morning came, [the attendants] placed before me for breakfast, almonds, pistachio nuts, grapes, figs, pears, pomegranates, currants, dates, and sharbat made of fruit. In this festive manner I passed three days and nights. On the fourth day I requested leave to depart. The young man said, with joined hands, "Perhaps I have been deficient in my attentions to you, for which reason you are displeased." I replied with astonishment, "for God's sake, what a speech is this? the rules of hospitality [require one to stay] three days-- these have I fulfilled; to remain longer would be improper; and besides this, I have set out to travel, and if I remain merely at one place, then it will not suit; for which reason I beg leave to depart; in other respects, your kindness is such that my heart does not wish to be separated from you."
He then said, "Do as you please; but wait a moment, that I may go to the princess and in her presence mention [the circumstance]; and as you wish to depart [be it known to you], that all the wearing apparel and bedding, also the vessels of silver and gold, and the jewelled vessels in this guest's apartment, are your property; whatever directions you may give for the purpose of taking them away, an arrangement [to that effect] shall be made." I answered, "cease/17/ to talk in this manner; I am a pilgrim, and not a strolling bard; if such avarice had a place in my heart, then why should I have turned pilgrim; and where would be the evil of [my leading] a worldly life?" That kind young man replied, "If the princess should hear of this circumstance [of your refusal], she will discharge me from my employment, and God knows what other punishment I shall receive; if you are so indifferent [to possess them], then lock up all these articles in a room, and put your seal on the door, and you may hereafter dispose of them as you please."
I would not accept [his offer], and he would not submit [to me]. At last, this plan was adopted, I locked them all up in a room, and put my seal on the door, and waited [with impatience] for leave of departing. In the meantime a confidential eunuch, having on his head an aigrette, and a short robe round his loins, and a golden mace studded with gems in his hand, accompanied by several other respectable attendants, filling [various] offices, came near me with this splendour and pomp. He addressed me with such kindness and complaisance that I cannot express it, and added, "O, sir, if shewing kindness and benevolence, you do me the favour to dignify my humble dwelling with your presence, then it will not be far from courtesy and condescension.
Perhaps the princess will hear that a traveller had been here, and no one had received him with courtesy and politeness; and that he had gone away as he came; for this reason God knows what punishment she will inflict on me, or how far her displeasure will be raised; yea more, it is a matter affecting my life," I refused to listen to his request, but through dint of solicitations he overcame my resistance, and conducted me to another house, which was better than the first Like the former host, he entertained me twice a day for three days and nights, with the same kind of meals, and in the morning and afternoon sherbet, and fruits for passing away the time, and he told me that I was the master of all the rich gold and silver dishes, carpets, &c, and that I might do with them whatever I pleased.
On hearing these strange proposals, I was quite confounded, and wished that I might by some means take my leave and escape from this place. On perceiving my [embarassed] countenance, the eunuch said, "O creature of God, whatever your wants or wishes may be, impart them to me, that I may lay them before the princess." I replied, "in the garb of a pilgrim, how can I desire the riches of this world, which you offer me unasked, and which I refuse?" He then said, "The desire of worldly goods forsakes the heart of no one, for which reason some poet has composed these verses:--
"I have seen [ascetics] with nails unpared;
On hearing these [lines], I replied, "what you say is true, but I want nothing; if you will permit, I will write out a note and send it which will express my wish, and which you will convey to the presence of the princess, it will be [doing me] a great favour, as if I had received all the riches in the world." The eunuch said, "I will do it with pleasure, there is no difficulty in it." I immediately wrote a note to the following purport: --first, I began with the praise of God; I then related my circumstances and situation, saying, "that this creature of God had, some days since, arrived in the city, and from the munificence of her government, had been taken care of in every way; that I had heard such accounts of her highness's generosity and munificence, as had raised in me an ardent desire to see her, and that I had found those qualities four-fold greater than they had been represented. Your nobles now tell me to set forth before you whatever wants or wishes I may have; for this reason I beg to represent to you without ceremony the wishes of my heart. I am not in want of the riches of this world. I am also the king of my own country; my sole reason for coming so far and undergoing such fatigues, was the ardent desire I had to see you, which motive only has conducted me here in this manner quite alone. I now hope through your benevolence to attain the wishes of my heart; I shall then be satisfied. Any further favours will rest with your pleasure; but if the request of this wretch is not granted, then he will wander about in this same manner, encountering hardships, and sacrifice his restless life to the passion he feels for you. Like Majnun and Farhad,/21/ he will end his life in some forest or mountain."
Having written my wishes, I gave the note to the eunuch; he carried it to the princess. After a short while, he returned and called me, and conducted me to the door of the seraglio. On arriving there, I saw an elderly and respectable woman dressed in jewels, sitting on a golden stool, and many eunuchs and other servants richly clothed, were standing before her with arms across. I imagining her to be the superintendent of affairs, and regarding her as a venerable [person], made her my obeisance; the old lady returned my salute with much civility, and said, "Come and sit down, you are welcome; it is you who wrote an affectionate note to the princess." I feeling ashamed, hung down my head and remained sitting silent.
After a short pause, she said, "O, young man, the princess has sent you her salam,/22/ and said thus, 'There is nothing wrong in my taking a husband; you have solicited me [in marriage]; but to speak of your kingdom, and to conceive yourself a king in this mendicant state, and to be proud of it, is quite out of place; for this reason, that all men among each other are certainly equal; although superior consideration ought to be due to those who are of the religion of Muhammad. I also have wished for a long while to marry, and as you are indifferent to worldly riches, to me likewise God has given such wealth as cannot be counted. But there is one condition, that first of all you procure my marriage portion.'/23/ The marriage-gift of the princess," added the old lady, "is a certain task to perform, if yon can fulfil it." I replied, "I am ready in every way, and I shall not be sparing of my wealth or life; tell me what the task is, that I may hear it. The old woman then said, "Remain here to-day, and tomorrow I will tell it to you." I accepted [her proposal] with pleasure, and taking my leave, I came out.
The day had in the meantime passed away, and when the evening came, a eunuch called upon me, and conducted me to the seraglio. On entering, I saw that the nobles, the learned, the virtuous, and the sages of the divine law were present. I likewise joined the assembly and sat down. In the meantime the cloth for the repast was spread, and eatables of every variety, both sweet and salt, were laid out. They all began to eat, and with courtesy solicited me to join them. When dinner was over, a female servant came out from the interior [of the seraglio] and asked, "Where is Bahrawar? call him." The servants in waiting brought him immediately; his appearance was very respectable, and many keys of silver and gold were suspended from his waist. After saluting me, he sat down by me. The same female servant said, "O, Bahrawar, whatever thou hast seen, relate it fully [to this stranger]."
Bahrawar, addressing himself to me, began the following narration: --"O, friend! our princess possesses thousands of slaves, who are established in trade; among them I am one of the humblest of her hereditary servants. She sends them to different countries with goods and merchandise, worth lakhs of rupees, of which they have the charge; when these return [from the respective countries to which they were sent to trade], then the princess, in her own presence, inquires of them the state and manners of such country, and hears [their different accounts]. Once it so happened that this meanest [of her slaves] went to the country and city of Nimroz/24/ to trade, and perceiving that all the inhabitants were dressed in black, and that they sighed and wept every moment, and it appeared to me that some sad calamity had befallen them. From whomsoever I asked the reason [of these strange circumstances], no one would answer my inquiry. One day, the moment the morning appeared, all the inhabitants of the city, little and great, young and old, poor and rich, issued forth. They went out and assembled on a plain; the king of the country went there also mounted on horseback, and surrounded by his nobles; then they all formed a regular line, and stood still.
"I also stood among them to see the strange sight, for it clearly appeared that they were waiting for [the arrival of] some one. In an hour's time a beautiful young man, of an angelic form, about fifteen or sixteen years of age, uttering a loud noise, and foaming at the mouth, and mounted on a dun bull, holding something in one hand, approached from a distance, and came up in front of the people; he descended from the bull, and sat down [oriental fashion] on the ground, holding the halter of the animal in one hand, and a naked sword in the other; a rosy-coloured, beautiful [attendant] was with him; the young man gave him that which he held in his hand; the slave took it, and went along showing it to all of them from one end of the line to the other; but such was the nature [of the object], that whoever saw it, the same involuntarily wept aloud and bitterly [at the strange sight]. In this way he continued to show it to every one, and made every one weep; then passing along the front of the line, he returned to his master again.
"The moment he came near him, the young man rose up, and with the sword severed the attendant's head [from his body], and having again mounted his bull, galloped off towards the quarter from whence he had come. All [present] stood looking on. When he disappeared from their sight, the inhabitants returned to the city. I was anxiously asking every one I met the real meaning of this strange occurrence; yea, I even held out the inducement of money and beseeched and flattered them to get an explanation, who the young man was, and why he committed the deed [I had seen], and from whence he came, and where he went, but no one would give me the slightest information on the subject, nor could I comprehend it. When I returned here, I related to the princess the astonishing circumstance I had seen. Since then, the princess herself has been amazed [at the strange event], and anxious to ascertain its real cause. For which reason she has been fixed on this very point as her marriage portion, that whatever man will bring her a true and particular account of that strange circumstance, she will accept him [in marriage]; and he shall be the master of all her wealth, her country, and herself."
[Bahrawar concluded by saying], "You have now heard every circumstance; reflect within yourself if you can bring the intelligence [which is required] respecting the young man, then undertake the journey towards the country of Nimroz, and depart soon, or else refuse [the conditions and the attempt], and return to your home." I answered, "If God please, I will soon ascertain all the circumstances [relating to the strange event], and return to the princess with success; or if my fate be unlucky, then there is no remedy; but the princess must give me her solemn promise she will not swerve from what she engages [to perform]. And now an uneasy apprehension arises in my heart; if the princess will have the benevolence to call me before her, and allow me to sit down outside the parda, and hear with her own ears the request I have made, and favour me with an answer from her own lips; then my heart will be at ease, and every thing will be possible for me." These my requests the female servant related to the fairy-formed princess. At last, by way of condescension, she ordered me to be called before her.
The same female returned, and conducted me to the apartment where the princess was; what [a display of beauty] I saw! Handsome female slaves and servants, and armed damsels, from Kilmak, Turkistan, Abyssinia, Uzbak Tartary and Kashmir, were drawn up in two lines, dressed in rich jewels, with their arms folded across, and each standing in her appropriate station. Shall I call this the court of Indra? or is it a descent on the part of the fairies? an involuntary sigh of rapture escaped [from my breast], and my heart began to palpitate; but I forcibly restrained myself. Regarding them all around, I advanced on; but my feet became each as heavy as a hundred mans./25/ Whenever I gazed on one of those lovely women, my heart was unwilling to proceed farther. On one side [of the saloon] a screen was suspended, and a stool set with precious stones was placed near it, as well as a chair of sandal-wood; the female servant made me a sign to sit down on the [jewelled] stool; I sat down upon it, and she seated herself on the [sandal-wood chair]; she said, "Now, whatever you have to say, speak it fully and from the heart."
I first extolled the princess's excellent qualities, also her justice and liberality; I then added, that "ever since I have entered the limits of this country, I saw at every stage accommodations for travellers and lofty buildings; and found everywhere servants of all grades appointed to attend upon travellers and necessitous persons. I have likewise spent three days at every halting place, and the fourth day, when I wished to take my leave, no one said with good will, "You may depart;" and whatever articles and furniture had been [applied to my use] at those places, such as chequered carpets,/26/ &c., &c., I was told that they were all mine, and that I might either take them away or lock them up in a room, and put my seal on it; that, should it be my pleasure, whenever I came back I might take them away. I have done so; but the wonder is, that if a lonely pilgrim like me has met with such a [princely] reception, then there must be thousands of such pilgrims who will resort to your dominions; and if every one is hospitably received in the same manner [as myself], sums incalculable must be spent. Now, whence comes the great wealth of which there is such an expenditure, and of what nature is it? The treasures of Karun would not be equal to it; and if we look at the princess's territories, it would appear that their revenues would hardly suffice to defray the kitchen charges, setting the other expenses aside. If the princess would condescend to explain this [seeming wonder] with her own lips, then, my mind being set at ease, I shall set out for the country of Nimroz; and reaching it by some means or other, after having learned all the particulars [of the strange circumstance], I will return, if God should spare my life, to the presence of the princess, and attain the desires of my heart."
On hearing these words, the princess herself said, "O youth, if you have a strong desire to know the exact nature of these circumstances, then stay here to-day also. I will send for you in the evening, and the account of my vast riches shall be unfolded to you without any reservation." After this assurance, I retired to my place of residence, and waited anxiously, (saying,) "when will the evening arrive, that my curiosity may be gratified?" In the meantime a eunuch brought some covered trays on the heads of porters, and laid them before me, and said, "The princess has sent you a dinner/27/ from her own table; partake of it." When he uncovered the trays before me, the rich fragrance [of the meats] intoxicated my brains, and my soul became satiated. I ate as much as I could, and sent away the rest, and returned my grateful thanks [to the princess.] At last, when the sun, the traveller of the whole day, wearied and fatigued, reached his home, and the moon advanced from her palace, attended by her companions, then the female servant came to me and said, "Come, the princess has sent for you."
I went along with her; she led me to the private apartment; the effect of the lights was such that the shab-i kadr/28/ was nothing to it. A masnad, covered with gold, was placed on rich carpets, with a pillow studded with jewels; over it an awning of brocade was stretched, with a fringe of pearls on [silver] poles studded with precious stones; and in front of the masnad artificial trees formed of various jewels, with flowers and leaves attached, (one would say they were nature's own production,) were erected in beds of gold; and on the right and left, beautiful slaves and servants were in waiting with folded arms and down-cast eyes, in respectful attitude. Dancing women and female singers, with ready-tuned instruments, attended to begin their performances. On seeing such a scene and such splendid preparations, my senses were bewildered. I asked the female servant [who came with me] "there is here such gay splendour in the scene of the day, and such magnificence in that of the night, that the day may very justly be called 'Id, and the night shab-i barat; moreover, a king who possessed the whole world could not exhibit greater splendour and magnificence. Is it always so at the princess's court?" The servant replied, "The princess's court ever displays the same magnificence you see now; there is no abatement [or difference], except that it is sometimes greater: sit you here; the princess is in another apartment, --I will go and inform her of your arrival."
Saying this, the nurse went away and quickly returned; she desired me to come to the princess. The moment I entered her apartment I was struck with amazement. I could not tell where the door was, or where the walls, for they were covered with Aleppo mirrors, of the height of a man, all around, the frames of which were studded with diamonds and pearls. The reflection of one fell on the other, and it appeared as if the whole room was inlaid with jewels. At one end a parda was hung, behind which the princess sat. The female servant seated herself close to the parda, and desired me to sit down also; then she began the following narrative, according to the princess's commands-- "Hear, O intelligent youth! The sultan of this country was a potent king; he had seven daughters born in his house. One day, the king held a festival, and these seven daughters were standing before him [superbly dressed], with each sixteen jewels, twelve ornaments, and in every hair an elephant pearl. Something came into the king's mind, and he looked towards his daughters and said, 'If your father had not been a king, and you had been born in the house of some poor man, then who would have called you princesses? Praise God that you are called princesses; all your good fortune depends on my life.'
"Six of his daughters being of one mind, replied, 'Whatever your majesty says, is true, and our happiness depends on your welfare alone.' But the princess now present, though she was younger [than all her sisters], yet even in sense and judgment, even at that age, she was superior to them, all. She stood silent, and did not join her sisters in the reply they made; for this reason, that to say so was impious. The king looked towards her with anger, and said, 'Well, my lady, you say nothing; what is the cause of this?' Then the princess, tying both her hands with a handkerchief, humbly replied, 'If your majesty will grant me safety [of my life], and pardon my presumption, then this humble slave will unfold the dictates of her heart.' The king said, 'Speak what thou hast to say.' Then the princess said, 'Mighty king, you must have heard, that the voice of truth is bitter; for which reason, disregarding life at this moment, I presume to address your majesty; whatever the great Writer has written in [the book of] my destiny, no one can efface, and in no way can it be evaded. "Whether you bruise your feet [by depending on your own exertions], or lay your head on the carpet [in prayer], your fate [written] on the forehead, whatever it be, shall come to pass."
"'That Almighty Ruler, who has made you a king, He indeed also has made me a princess. In the arsenal of his omnipotence, no one has power. You are my sovereign and benefactor, and if I should apply the dust which lies under your auspicious feet, as a colyrium [for my eyes], then it would become me; but the destinies of every one are with every one.' The king, on hearing this [speech], became angry; the reply displeased him highly, and he said with wrath, 'What great words issue from a little mouth! Now let this be her punishment, that you strip off whatever jewels she has on her hands and feet, and let her be placed in a sedan-chair, and set down in such a wilderness, where no human traces can be found; then we shall see what is written in her destinies.'"
The phrase char-zanu ho-baithna, signifies "to sit down with the
legs crossed in front as our tailors do when at work." It is the ordnary
mode of sitting among the Turks.
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