"O friends, the story of this pilgrim hear;
This humble being is the prince of Persia; my father was king of that country, and had no children except myself. In the season of my youth, I used to play with my companions at chaupar/2/ cards, chess, and backgammon; or mounting my horse, I used to enjoy the pleasures of the chase. It happened one day, that I ordered my hunting party, and taking all my friends and companions with me, we sallied forth over the plains. Letting loose the hawks [of various sorts] on ducks and partridges, we followed [them] to a great distance. A very beautiful piece of land appeared in sight; as far as the view extended, for miles around, what with the verdure and the red flowers, the plain seemed like a ruby. Beholding this delightful scene, we dropped the bridles of our horses and moved on at a slow pace [admiring the charming prospect]. Suddenly, we saw a black deer on the plain, covered with brocade, and a collar set with precious stones, and a bell inlaid with gold attached to its neck; fearless it grazed, and moved about the plain, where man never entered, and where bird had never flapped a wing. Hearing the sound of our horses' hoofs, it started, and lifting up its head, looked at us, and moved slowly away.
On perceiving it, such became my eagerness that I said to my companions, remain where you are, I will catch it alive, take care you do not advance a step, and do not follow me. I was mounted on such a swift horse, that I had often gallopped him after deer, and confounding their bounds, had seized them one after another with my hand. I pushed after it; on seeing me, it began to bound, and swiftly fled away; my horse also kept pace with the wind, but could not overtake the very dust it raised. The horse streamed with sweat, and my tongue also began to crack from thirst; but there was no alternative. The evening was approaching, and I did not know how far I had come, or where I was. Having no other chance [of getting the animal], I employed stratagem towards it, and having taken out an arrow from the quiver, I adjusted my bow, drew the arrow to its full length, aimed it at its thigh, and pronouncing the name of God, I let it fly. The very first arrow entered its leg, and, limping away, it went towards the foot of the mountain. I dismounted from my horse, and followed it on foot; it took to the mountain, and I at the same time gave it chase. After many ascents and descents, a dome appeared; when I got near it, I perceived a garden and a fountain; but the deer disappeared from my sight. I was greatly fatigued, and began to wash my hands and feet [in the fountain].
All at once the noise of weeping struck my ears, as issuing from the dome, and as if some one was exclaiming, "O, child, may the arrow of my grief stick in the heart of him who hath struck thee; may he derive no fruit from his youth, and may God make him a mourner like me." On hearing these words, I went to the dome, and saw a respectable old man, with a white beard, and well dressed, seated on a masnad, and the deer lying before him; he was drawing the arrow from its thigh, and uttering imprecations [on the shooter]. I made him my salam, and joining my hands together, I said, "Respectable sir, I have unknowingly committed this fault; I did not know it [was your deer]; for God's sake pardon me." He answered, "You have hurt a dumb animal; if you have committed this cruel act through ignorance, God will forgive you." I sat down near him, and assisted him in extracting the arrow; we pulled it out with great difficulty; and having put some balsam to the wound, we let [the deer] go. We then washed our hands, and the old man gave me some food to eat, which was then ready; after satisfying my hunger and thirst, I stretched myself out on a four-footed bedstead.
After having fed well, I slept soundly through fatigue. In that sleep, the noise of weeping and lamentation struck my ears; rubbing my eyes, when I looked round, then neither the old man nor any one else was in that apartment. I lay alone on the bed, and the room was quite empty. I began to look with alarm in all directions, and perceived a pardah in a corner which was down; going to it, I lifted it up, and saw that a throne was placed there, on which was seated an angelic woman of about fourteen years of age; her face was like the moon, and her ringlets on both sides [of her head] hung loose; she had a smiling countenance; and she was dressed like a European, and with a most charming air; she was seated [on the throne] and looking forward. The venerable old man lay prostrate before her, with his head on her feet, and he was weeping bitterly, and he seemed to have lost his senses. On seeing the old man's condition, and the woman's beauty and perfection, I was quite lost, and having become lifeless, I fell down like a corpse; the old man seeing my senseless state, brought a bottle of rose water, and began to sprinkle it over my face; when I recovered, I got up, and went up to the angelic woman and saluted her; she did not in the least return my salute, nor did she open her lips. I said, "O lovely angel, in what religion is it right to be so proud, and not to return a salute.
'Although to speak little is becoming, yet not so much so;For the sake of Him who hath created thee, pray give me an answer; I am come here by chance, and the pleasing of a guest is a requisite duty." I talked much to her, but it was of no use; she heard me, and sat silent like a statue. I then advanced, and laid my hand on her feet; when I touched them, they felt quite hard; at last, I perceived that this beautiful object was formed of stone, and that Azur/3/ had formed this statue. I then said to the idol-worshipping old man, "I struck an arrow in thy deer's leg, but thou hast with the dart of love pierced my heart through and through; your curse has taken place; now tell me the full particulars of these [strange circumstances]; why hast thou made this talisman, and why, having left [human] habitations, dost thou dwell in woods and mountains? Tell me all that has happened to thee."
When I pressed him greatly, he said, "This affair has indeed ruined me; dost thou also wish to perish by hearing it?" I exclaimed, "Hold, thou hast already made too many evasions; answer to the purpose, or else I will kill thee." Seeing me very urgent, he said, "O youth, may God the Almighty keep every person safe from the scorching flame of love; see what calamities this love hath produced; for love, the woman burns herself with her husband, and sacrifices her life;/4/ and all know the story of Farhad and Majnun; what wilt thou gain by hearing my story? Wilt thou leave thy home, fortune and country, and wander for nothing?" I gave for answer, "Cease, keep thy friendship to thyself; conceive me now thy enemy, and if life is dear to thee, tell me plainly [thy story]." Perceiving there was no alternative, his eyes filled with tears, and he began to say, "The following is this miserable wretch's story: --This humble servant's name is Ni'man Saiyah. I was a great merchant; arrived to these years, I have traversed all parts of the world for the purpose of trade, and have been admitted to the presence of all kings.
"Once the fancy came into my mind that I had wandered over the regions of the four corners [of the world], but never went to the Island of the Franks,/5/ and never saw its king, citizens and soldiers-- I knew nothing of its manners and customs-- so that I ought to go there also for once. I took the advice of my acquaintances and friends, and resolved [on the voyage]; I took with me some rarities and presents from various places, such as were fit for that country, and collecting a qafila of merchants, we embarked on board a ship and set sail. Having favourable winds, we reached the island in a few months and put up in the city. I saw a magnificent city, to which no city could be compared for beauty. In all the bazars and streets the roads were paved and watered; such was the cleanliness that a bit of straw could not be seen; why then make mention of dirt? The buildings were of every variety, and at night the streets were lighted, at intervals, by two rows of lamps; without the city were delightful gardens, in which rare flowers and shrubs and fruits were seen [in rich profusion], such as no where else could be [seen] except in Paradise. In short, whatever I may say in praise of this [magnificent city] would not exceed [the truth].
"The arrival of our merchants was much talked of. A confidential eunuch/6/ mounted on horseback, and attended by many servants, came to our qafila, and asked the merchants, "Who is your chief?" They all pointed to me; the eunuch came to my place; I rose up to receive him with respect, and we saluted each other; I seated him on the masnad, and offered him the pillow; after which I asked him to tell me what was the occasion which afforded me the honour of his visit; he replied, 'The princess has heard that some merchants are arrived, and have brought much merchandise, for which reason she has desired me to bring them to her presence; so come, and take along with you whatever merchandise may be fit for the courts of kings, and gain the happiness of kissing her threshold.'
"I gave for answer, 'To-day, indeed, I am greatly fatigued; to-morrow I will attend her with my life and property; whatever I have by me, I will present as a nazar [to the princess], and whatever pleases her, the same is her majesty's property.' Having made this promise, I gave him rosewater and betel, and dismissed him. I called all the merchants near me, and whatever rarities each had, we collected together, and those of my own I took also, and went in the morning to the door of the royal seraglio. The door-keeper sent word of my arrival, and orders came to bring me to the presence; the same eunuch came out, and taking my hand in his, he led me along, whilst we talked in friendly converse. Having passed the apartments of the female attendants of the princess, he conducted me into a noble apartment. O friend, you will not believe it, but so beautiful was the scene, that you might say the fairies had been let loose there with their wings shorn. On whatever side I looked, there my sight became transfixed, and my limbs were torn away [from under me]; I supported myself with difficulty, and reached the royal presence. The moment I cast my eyes upon the princess, I was ready to faint, and my hands and feet trembled.
"I contrived, with some difficulty, to make my salutation. Beautiful women were standing in rows to the right and left, with their arms folded. I laid before the princess the various kinds of jewels, fine clothes, and other rich rarities that I had brought with me; from these she selected some, (inasmuch as they were all worthy of choice). She was greatly pleased, and delivered them to her head-servant, and he said to me, that their prices should be paid the next day, according to the invoice. I made my obeisance, and was pleased within myself that under this pretext I should have to come again the next day. When I took my leave and came out, I was speaking and uttering words like those of a maniac. In this state I came to the serai, but my senses were not right; all my friends began to ask what was the matter with me; I replied, that from going and returning so far, the heat had affected my brain.
"In short, I passed that night in tossing and tumbling [about in my bed]. In the morning, I went again and presented myself [to wait on the princess], and entered the seraglio along with the confidential servant, and saw the same scene I had seen the day before. The princess received me kindly, and sent every one [present] away, each to his own occupation. When there became a dispersion of them, she retired to a private apartment, and called me to her. When I entered, she desired me to sit down; I made her my obeisance, and sat down. She said, 'As you have come here, and have brought these goods with you, how much profit do you expect on them?' I replied, 'I had an ardent desire to see your highness, which God hath granted, and now I have got all I wished; I have acquired the prosperity of both worlds. Whatever prices are marked in the invoice, half is the prime cost, and half profit.' She replied, 'No, whatever price you have marked down shall be paid; moreover, you shall receive presents besides, on condition that you will do one thing, which I am about to order you.'
"I replied, 'This slave's life and property are at your service, and I shall think @@@ as the happiness of my destinies if they can be of any use to your highness; I will perform [what you desire] with my life and soul.' On hearing these words, she called for a qalam-dan, wrote a note, put it into a small purse made of pearls, wrapped the purse in a fine muslin handkerchief, and gave it to me; she gave me likewise a ring which she took from off her finger, as a mark [by which I might make myself known]; she then said to me, 'On the opposite side [of the city] is a large garden, its name is Dil-kusha, or "Delight of the Heart." Go you there. A person named Kaikhusru is the superintendent [of the garden]; deliver into his hands the ring, and bless him for me, and ask a reply to this note, but return quick, as if you ate your dinner there and drank your wine here;/7/ you will see what a reward I shall give you for this service.' I took my leave, and went along inquiring my way. When I had gone about two kos, I saw the garden. When I reached it, an armed man seized me, and led me into the garden gate. I saw there a young man with the looks of a lion; he was seated on a stool of gold, with an air of state and dignity, having on an armour [forged] by Da,ud,/8/ with breast plates, and a steel helmet. Five hundred young men, holding each in his hands a shield and sword, and equipped with bows and arrows, were drawn up in a line, and ready [to execute his orders].
"I made him my salam, and he called me to him; I delivered him the ring, and, paying him many compliments, I showed him the handkerchief, and mentioned also the circumstance of having brought him a note. The moment he heard me, he bit his finger with his teeth, and slapping his head, he said, 'Perhaps your evil destiny hath brought you here. Well, enter the garden; an iron cage hangs on a cypress tree, in which a young man is confined; give him this note, receive his answer, and return quickly.' I immediately entered the garden; what a garden it was! you might say that I had entered alive into Paradise. Every individual parterre bloomed with variegated flowers; the fountains were playing, and the birds were warbling [on the trees]. I went straight on, and saw the cage suspended from the tree, in which I perceived a very handsome young man. I bent my head with respect, and saluted him, and gave him the sealed and enveloped note through the bars of the cage. That young man opened the note and read it, and inquired of me about the princess with great affection.
"We had not yet done speaking, when an army of negroes appeared, and fell on me on all sides, and began to attack me without delay with their swords and spears; what could one single unarmed man do? In a moment they covered me with wounds; I had no sensation or recollection of myself. When I recovered my senses, I found myself on a bed, which two soldiers were carrying along [on their shoulders]; they were speaking to each other; one said, 'Let us throw the corpse of this dead man on the plain; the dogs and crows will soon eat it up.' The other replied, 'If the king should make investigation, and learn this circumstance, he will bury us alive, and grind our children to paste; what! are our lives become a burthen to us, that we should act so rashly?'
"On hearing this conversation, I said to the two [ruffians] Gog and Magog, 'for God's sake take some pity on me, I have still a spark of life left; when I die, do with me what you please; the dead are in the hands of the living;/9/ but tell me what has happened to me; why have I been wounded, and who are you? pray explain thus much to me.' They then having taken pity on me, said, 'The young man who is confined in the cage is the nephew of the king of this country; and his father was previously on the throne. At the time of his death he gave this injunction to his brother: 'My son, who is heir to my throne, is as yet young and inexperienced; do you continue to guide the affairs of state with zeal and prudence; when he is of age, marry your daughter to him, and make him master of the whole empire and treasury.'
"After saying this his majesty died, and the younger brother became king; he did not attend to the [late king's] last injunctions; on the contrary, he gave it out that [his nephew was] mad and insane, and put him into a cage, and has placed such strict guards on the four sides of the garden that no bird can there flap its wing; and many a time he has administered to [his nephew] the poison called halahal;/10/ but his life is stronger and the poison has had no effect. Now the princess and this prince are lover and mistress; she is distracted at home, and he in the cage; she sent him a love-letter by your hands; the spies instantly conveyed intelligence [of this circumstance] to the king; a body of Abyssinians were ordered out and treated you thus. The king has consulted his Wazir on the means of putting to death this imprisoned prince, and that ungrateful wretch has persuaded the princess to kill the innocent prince with her own hands in the king's presence.'
"I said, 'Let us go, that I may see this scene even in my dying moments.' They at last agreed [to my request], and the two soldiers and myself, though wounded, went to the scene and stood in silence in a retired corner. We saw the king seated on his throne; the princess held in her hand a naked sword; the prince was taken out of the iron cage, and made to stand before [the king]; the princess, becoming an executioner, advanced with the naked sword to kill her lover. When she drew near the prince, she threw away the sword and embraced him. Then that lover said to her, 'I am willing to die thus; here, indeed, I desire thee, --there, also, I shall wish for thee.'/11/ The princess said, 'I have come, under this pretext to behold thee.' The king, on seeing this scene, became greatly enraged, and reproached the Wazir, and said, 'Hast thou brought me here to see this sight?' The [princess's] confidential servant separated the princess from the prince, and conducted her to the seraglio. The Wazir took up the sword, and flew with rage at the prince to end with one blow his unfortunate existence. As he lifted up his arm to strike, an arrow from an unknown hand pierced his forehead, so that [his head] was cleft in twain, and he fell down.
"The king, seeing this mysterious event, retired into his palace; and they put the young prince again into the cage, and carried him to the garden; I likewise came out from where I was. On the road, a man called me and conducted me to the princess; seeing me severely wounded, she sent for a surgeon, and enjoined him very strictly, 'cure this young man quickly, and perform the ablution of recovery. Your welfare depends on it; as much care and attention as you bestow on him, so many presents and favours you will receive from me.' In short, the surgeon used his skill and assiduity according to the princess's injunctions, and at the end of forty days, having caused me to be bathed and washed, he presented me to the princess. She asked me, 'Is there now anything else left to be done.' I replied, that through her humanity I was quite recovered. The princess then gave me a rich khil'at and a large sum of money, as she had promised; yea, she even gave me as much more, and then dismissed me.
"I took all my friends and servants with me, and set out from that country [to return home]. When I reached this spot, I desired all of them to return to their native country, and I erected on this hill this building, and got a statue made of the princess. I took up my residence here, and having rewarded my servants and slaves according to their respective merits, I dismissed them, saying, whilst I live, I leave it to you to provide me with food; beyond this act, you are your own masters. They supply me with subsistence from gratitude, and I, with heart at ease, worship this statue; whilst I live, this will be my sole [care and] employment; these are my adventures which you have just heard." O, Darweshes! on hearing his story, I, having thrown the kafni over my shoulders, and having put on the habit of a pilgrim, set out with extreme desire to see the country of the Franks. After long wandering over mountains and through woods, I began to resemble Majnun Farhad.
At last, my strong desire carried me to the same [European] city [where the old statue-worshipper had been]; I wandered through its streets and lanes like a lunatic, and I often remained near the seraglio of the princess; but I could get no opportunity to have an introduction to her. I was greatly vexed that I should not obtain the object for which I had undergone such misery and toil, and come so far. On day, I was standing in the bazar when all at once the people began to run away, and the shopkeepers, having shut up their shops, also fled. What crowds there were [a moment before], and how deserted the place became [all of a sudden]! I soon perceived a young man rushing forward from a side street; he was like Rustam in appearance, and roared like a lion; he flourished a naked sword in each hand; he was in armour, with a pair of pistols in his girdle, and kept muttering something to himself like an inebriated maniac; two slaves followed him, clothed in woollen, and bearing on their heads a bier covered with velvet of Kashan.
On seeing this sight, I determined to proceed with it; those I met dissuaded me from it, but I would not hear them. Pushing forward, the young man went towards a grand mansion; I also went along with him. He looked back, and perceiving me, he wished to give me a blow and cut me in two; I swore to him that this was the very thing I wished, saying, "I forgive you my blood; relieve me by some means or other from the misery of life, for I am grievously afflicted; I have knowingly and voluntarily put myself in your way; do not delay [my execution]." Seeing me determined to die, God infused compassion into his heart, and his anger cooled, and he asked me with much kindness and gentleness, "Who art thou and why art thou tired of life?"
I replied, "Sit down awhile that I may tell you; my story is very long and tedious. I am caught in the claws of love, for which reason I am desperate." On hearing this, he unfastened his waist band, and having washed his hands and face, he took some food and gave me some likewise. When he finished his meal, he said, "Say what has befallen thee?" I related all the adventures of the old man and the princess, and the cause of my going there, [i. e. to Europe]. On hearing them he wept at first, and then said, "What numbers of homes this unfortunate [princess] has ruined! Well, thy cure is in my hands; it is probable that through the means of this guilty being thou wilt attain thy wishes; do not give way to anxiety; be confident." He then ordered the barber to shave me, and to apply to me the bath;/12/ his slave brought me a suit of clothes and dressed me: then the young man said to me, "This bier which thou seest is that of the late young prince, who was confined in the iron cage; another Wazir murdered him at last through treachery; he indeed has obtained release though he has been wrongfully slain. I am his foster brother; I put that Wazir to death with a blow of my sword, and made the attempt to kill the king; but he entreated mercy, and swore that he was innocent; I having spurned him as a coward, allowed him to escape. Since then, my occupation has been this, to carry the bier, in this manner, through the city, on the first Thursday of every moon, and to mourn for the [murdered prince]."
On hearing these circumstances, from his mouth, I attained some consolation, saying, "If he should wish it, then my desires will be accomplished; God has favoured me greatly, since he has made such a mad man well inclined towards me; so true is it, that if God is favourable, all goes well." When the evening came, and the sun set, the young man took up the bier, and instead of one of the slaves, he put it on my head and took me along with him. He said, "I am going to the princess, and will plead for thee as much as I am able; do not thou open thy lips, but remain silent and listen." I replied, "Whatever you advise, I will strictly do; God preserve you, for you feel pity on my case." That young man proceeded towards the royal garden, and when we entered it, I perceived a marble platform of eight sides, in an open space of the garden, on which was spread an awning of silver tissue with pearl fringe, and erected on poles set with diamonds; a rich brocade masnad, with pillows, was spread under the awning. The bier was placed there, and we were both ordered to go and sit under a tree [which he pointed out].
In a short time, the lights of flambeaux appeared, and the princess herself arrived, accompanied by some female attendants before and behind her; melancholy and anger were visible in her looks; she mounted the platform and sat down [on the masnad]. The foster-brother stood before her with folded arms, then sat down at a respectable distance on a corner of the farsh. The prayer for the dead was read; then the foster-brother said something; I, having applied my ear, was listening with attention. At last, he said, "O princess of the world, peace be upon you! The prince of the kingdom of Persia, hearing, in your absence, of your beauty and excellence, has abandoned his throne, and becoming a pilgrim like Ibrahim Adham;/13/ he is arrived here, after overcoming many difficulties and undergoing great fatigue. The pilgrim hath quitted Balkh/14/ for thee; he hath wandered for some time through this city in distress and misery; at last, forming the resolution to die, he joined me; I attempted to alarm him with my sword; he presented his neck, and conjured me to strike without delay, adding, that was his wish. In short, he is firmly in love with you; I have proved him well, and have found him perfect in every way. For this reason I have mentioned him to you; if you take pity on his case and be kind to him, as he is a stranger, it would not be doing too much [on the part] of one who fears God and loves justice."
On hearing this speech, the princess said, "Where is he? if he is really a prince, then it does not signify, let him come before us." The foster-brother got up and came [to where I was] and took me with him. I, on seeing the princess, became exceedingly overjoyed, but my reason and my senses departed. I became dumb; I had not power to speak. The princess shortly after returned [to her palace], and the foster-brother came to his own residence. When we reached his house, he said, "I have related all the circumstances [you mentioned] to the princess from beginning to end, and have likewise interceded for you; now do you go there every night without fail and indulge in pleasure and joy." I fell at his feet; [he lifted me up and] clasped me to his bosom. All the day, I continued counting the hours until the evening came, that I might go and see the princess. When the night arrived, I took leave of that young man, and went to the princess's lower garden; I sat down on the marble platform, reclining on my pillow.
A hour after, the princess came slowly, attended by one female servant only, and sat down on the masnad; it was through my happy destinies that I lived to see this day! I kissed her feet; she lifted up my head, and embraced me, and said, "Conceive this opportunity as fortunate; mind my advice; take me from hence, and go to some other country." I replied, "Come along." After having thus spoken, we both got out of the garden, but we were so confused, through wonder and joy, that we could not use our hands and feet, and we lost our road; we went along, in another direction, but found not a place of rest. The princess got angry, and said, "I am now tired, where is your house? hasten to get there; otherwise what do you mean to do? My feet are blistered; I shall [be obliged to] sit down somewhere on the road."
I replied, "My slave's house is near; we have now reached it; be easy in your mind, and march on." I indeed told a falsehood, but I was at a loss where to take her. A locked door appeared on the road; I quickly broke the lock, and we entered the place; it was a fine house, laid out with carpets, and flasks full of wine were arranged in the recesses, and bread and roast meat were ready in the kitchen. We were greatly fatigued, and drank each of us, a glass of Portugal wine with our meat, and passed the whole night together in mutual bliss. In this scene of felicity when the morning dawned, an uproar was raised in the town that the princess had disappeared. Proclamations were issued in every district and street; and bawds and messengers were despatched with orders, that wherever she was to be found, she might be seized [and brought to the king]; and guards of royal slaves were posted at all the gates of the city. Those guards received orders not to let an ant pass without the royal permission; and that whoever would bring any intelligence of the princess should receive a khil'at and a thousand pieces of gold as a present. The bawds roamed through the whole city and entered every house.
I, who was ill fated, did not shut the door. An old hag, the aunt of Satan (may God make her face black), with a string of beads in her hand, and covered with a mantle, finding the door open, entered without fear, and standing before the princess, lifted up her hands and blessed her, saying, "I pray to God that he may long preserve you a married woman, and that thy husband's turban may be permanent! I am a poor beggar woman, and I have a daughter who is in her full time and perishing in the pains of child-birth; I have not the means to get a little oil which I may burn in our lamp; food and drink, indeed, are out of the question. If she should die, how shall I bury her? and if she is brought to bed, what shall I give the midwife and nurse, or how procure remedies for the lying-in woman? it is now two days since she has lain hungry and thirsty. O, noble lady! give her, out of your bounty, a morsel of bread that she may eat the same along with a drink of water."
The princess took pity on her, and called her near her, and gave her four loaves, some roast meat, and a ring from her little finger, saying, "having sold this, make jewels [for your daughter] and live comfortably; and come occasionally to see me, the house is yours." The old hag having completely gained the object she came in search of, poured heartfelt blessings on the princess, saluted her and trotted off. She threw away the loaves and meat at the door, but kept the ring snug, saying to herself, "the clue to trace the princess is now in my possession." As God wished to preserve us from this calamity, just then the master of the house arrived; he was a brave soldier, mounted on an Arab horse, with a spear in his hand, and a deer hanging by the side of his saddle. Finding the door of his house open, the lock broken, and the old hag coming out of it, he was enraged, and seized her by the hair and dragged her to the house. He tied both her feet with a rope, and hung her on the branch of a true with her head down and her feet uppermost; so that in a short time the old devil died in agonies. The moment I saw the soldier's looks, I was overcome with such fear that I turned quite pale, and my heart began to tremble with dread. That brave man seeing us both alarmed, gave us assurances of safety, and added, "You have acted very imprudently; you have done the deed and left the door open."
The princess, smiling, said, "The prince said it was the house of his slave, and brought me here under a deception." The soldier observed, "The prince said truly, for all the people are the slaves and servants of princes; all are reared and fed from their favour and protection. This slave is yours without purchase; but to conceal secrets is consonant to good sense. O, prince, you and the princess's coming to this humble roof, and honouring me with your presence, will be a source of happiness to me in both worlds; and you have thus dignified your slave. I am ready to sacrifice my life for you; in no way will I withhold either it or my property [from your service]; you may repose here in confidence; there is now no danger. If this vile bawd had gone away in safety, she would have brought calamity [upon you]; remain here now as long as you please, and let this servant know whatever you require; he will procure it. What is the king! angels themselves shall have no tidings of your being here." The brave fellow spoke such words of comfort, and gave such confidence, that we became more easy in our mind. Then I spoke, "Well said, you are a brave fellow; when I am able, I will show you the return for this kindness; what is your name?" He answered, "This slave's name is Bihzad Khan. In short, for the space of six months, he performed from his heart and soul all the duty required, and we passed our time very comfortably.
One day, my country and my parents recurred to my recollection, which made me pensive and melancholy. Seeing my thoughtful looks, Bihzad Khan joined his hands together, and stood before me,/15/ and began to say, "If on the part of this slave any failure has occurred in performing his duty, then let the same be stated." I said, "For God's sake, why mention this? you have behaved to us in such a manner, that we have lived in this city as comfortably as any one does in his mother's womb; for I had committed such an act that every individual straw had become my enemy. Who was such a friend to us, that we could have tarried here a moment? May God preserve you in happiness! You are a brave man." Bihzad Khan then said, "If you are tired of this place, I will conduct you in safety wherever you wish to go." I then said, "If I could reach my own country, I should see my parents; I am in this state; Lord knows what may have been their condition. I have attained the object for which I quitted my country; and it is proper I should now return [to my relations]; they have no tidings of me, whether I am dead or alive; [God knows] what sorrow they may feel in their hearts." That brave man replied, "It is very proper ,--let us go." Saying this, he brought a Turkish horse for me, which could travel a hundred kos a-day, and a swift quiet mare of unclipped wings/16/ for the princess, and made us both mount; then putting on his cuirass and arming himself completely, he mounted on his horse and said, "I will go before, do you follow me with full confidence."
When we came to the city gate, he gave a loud cry, and with his mace broke the bolt, and frightened the guards; he vociferated to them, "Ye rascals, go and tell your master that Bihzad Khan is carrying off the princess Mihrnigar, and the prince Kamgar, who is his son-in-law; if he has any spark of manhood, then let him come out and rescue her; do not you be saying that I carried her off in silence and by stealth, otherwise let him stay in the fort and enjoy his repose." This news soon reached the king; he ordered the Wazir and general to seize the three rebellious ones, and bring them tied neck and heels to the royal presence, and cut off their heads and lay them before the throne. After a short time, a numerous body of troops appeared, and the heavens and earth were darkened by a whirlwind of dust. Bihzad Khan placed the princess and me on the abutment of an arch of the bridge which, like the bridge of Jaunpur, consisted of twelve arches, and he himself turned about, and pushed his horse towards the troops; he rushed in among them like a growling lion; the whole body was dispersed like a flock of sheep,/17/ and he penetrated to the two chiefs and cut off both their heads. When the chiefs were killed, the troops dispersed, as the saying is, that "All depends on the head; when it is gone, all is lost." The king came immediately to their assistance, with a body of armed troops; Bihzad Khan completely defeated them also.
The king fled; so true it is that "God alone gives victory;" but Bihzad Khan behaved so bravely, that perhaps even Rustam himself could not have equalled his valour. When he saw that the field of battle was cleared, and that no one remained to pursue him, and that there was nothing to apprehend, he came confidentially to the place where we were, and taking the princess and me along with him, he pushed forward. The duration of the journey is rendered short; we reached the boundaries of my country in a short time. I despatched a letter to the king, (who was my father), mentioning my safe arrival; he was quite rejoiced on reading it, and thanked God [for His goodness]. As the withered plant revives by water, so the joyful tidings renovated his drooping spirits; he took all his amirs with him, and advanced for the purpose of receiving me as far as the banks of a large river, and an order for boats [to cross us over] was issued to the superintendent of rivers. I saw the royal train from the opposite bank; from eagerness to kiss my father's feet, I plunged my horse into the river, and swimming over, I rode up to the king; he clasped me with eager fondness to his [paternal] bosom.
At this moment, another unforeseen calamity overwhelmed us. The horse on which I was mounted was perhaps the colt of the mare on which the princess rode, or they had been perhaps always together, for seeing my horse plunge into the river, the mare became restive, followed my horse, and likewise plunged into the river with the princess, and began to swim. The princess being alarmed, pulled the bridle; the mare was tender mouthed and turned over; the princess struggled, and sank with the mare, so that not a trace of either was ever seen again. On seeing this circumstance, Bihzad Khan dashed into the river on horseback to afford assistance to the princess; he got into a whirlpool and could not extricate himself; all his efforts with his hands and feet were vain, and he also sank. The king seeing these sad circumstances, sent for nets and had them thrown into the river, and ordered the boatmen and divers [to look for the bodies]; they swept the whole river, but could find nothing./18/ O Darweshes! this dreadful occurrence affected me so much that I became mad and frantic; I became a pilgrim, and wandered about, ever repeating these words, --"Such has been the fate of these three; that you have seen, now view the other side." If the princess had vanished or died anywhere, I should then have some kind of consolation for my heart, for I would have gone in search of her, or have borne the loss with patience; but when she perished before my eyes [in this dreadful manner], I could not support [the shock]. At last, I determined to perish with her in the stream, that I might perhaps meet my beloved one in death.
I according plunged into that same river one night in order to drown myself, and went up to the neck in the water; I was on the point of stepping forward and diving down, when the same veiled horseman who saved you two,/19/ came up and seized my arm; he consoled me, and said to me, "Be comforted; the princess and Bihzad Khan are alive; why do you uselessly throw away your life? such events do occur in the world. Do not despair of the help of God; if you live, you will some day or other meet the two persons [for whom you are going to sacrifice your life]. Proceed now to the empire of Rum; two other unfortunate Darweshes are gone there already; when you meet them, you will attain your wishes." O Darweshes! I am come here to you, according to the advice of my heavenly Mentor; I firmly hope that each of us will gain the desires of his heart. These have been this pilgrim's adventures, which he hath related to you fully and entirely.
The phrase kot bundh baithna signifies to squat down as a
does when easing nature, the two hands being clasped together round the
legs a little below the knees.
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