Qissa Chahaar Darvesh
तर्जुमा मीर अम्मन देहलवी
I now commence my tale; pay attention to it, and be just to its merits. In the "Adventures of the Four Darwesh," it is thus written, and the narrator has related, that formerly in the Empire of Rum there reigned a great king, in whom were innate justice equal to that of Naushirwan, and generosity like that of Hatim. His name was Azad-Bakht, and his imperial residence was at Constantinople, (which they call Istambol.) In his reign the peasant was happy, the treasury full, the army satisied, and the poor at ease. They lived in such peace and plenty, that in their homes the day was a festival, and the night was a shabi barat. Thieves, robbers, pickpockets, swindlers, and all such as were vicious and dishonest, he utterly exterminated, and no vestige of them allowed he to remain in his kingdom. The doors of the houses were unshut all night, and the shops of the bazar remained open. The travellers and wayfarers chinked gold as they went along, over plains and through woods; and no one asked them, "How many teeth have you in your mouth," or "Where are you going?"
There were thousands of cities in that king's dominions, and many princes paid him tribute. Though he was so great a king, he never for a moment neglected his duties or his prayers to God. He possessed all the necessary comforts of this world; but male issue, which is the fruit of life, was not in the garden of his destiny, for which reason he was often pensive and sorrowful, and after the five regulated periods of prayer, he used to address himself to his Creator and say, "O God! thou hast, through thy infinite goodness blest thy weak creature with every comfort, but thou hast given no light to this dark abode. This desire alone is unaccomplished, that I have no one to transmit my name and support my old age. Thou hast everything in thy hidden treasury; give me a living and thriving son, that my name and the vestiges of this kingdom may remain."
In this hope the king reached his fortieth year; when one day he had finished his prayers in the Mirror Saloon, and while telling his beads, he happened to cast his eyes towards one of the mirrors, and perceived a white hair in his whiskers, which glittered like a silver wire; on seeing it, the king's eyes filled with tears, and he heaved a deep sigh, and then said to himself, "Alas! thou hast wasted thy years to no purpose, and for earthly advantages thou hast overturned the world. And all the countries thou hast conquered, what advantage are they to thee? Some other race will in the end squander these riches. Death hath already sent thee a messenger; and even if thou livest a few years, the strength of thy body will be less. Hence, it appears clearly from this circumstance, that it is not my destiny to have an heir to my canopy and throne. I must one day die, and leave everything behind me; so it is better for me to quit them now, and dedicate the rest of my days to the adoration of my Maker."
Having in his heart made this resolve, he descended to his lower garden. Having dismissed his courtiers, he ordered that no one should approach him in future, but that all should attend the Public Hall of Audience, and continue occupied in their respective duties. After this speech the king retired to a private apartment, spread the carpet of prayer, and began to occupy himself in devotion: he did nothing but weep and sigh. Thus the king, Azad Bakht passed many days; in the evening he broke his fast with a date and three mouthfuls of water, and lay all day and night on the carpet of prayer. Those circumstances became public, and by degrees the intelligence spread over the whole empire, that the king having withdrawn his hand from public affairs, had become a recluse. In every quarter enemies and rebels raised their heads, and stepped beyond the bounds [of obedience]; whoever wished it, encroached on the kingdom, and rebelled; wherever there were governors, in their jurisdictions great disturbance took place; and complaints of mal-administration arrived at court from every province. All the courtiers and nobles assembled, and began to confer and consult.
At last it was agreed, "that as his Highness the Wazir is wise and intelligent, and in the king's intimacy and confidence, and is first in dignity, we ought to go before him, and hear what he thinks proper to say on the occasion," All the nobles went to his Highness the Wazir, and said: "Such is the state of the king and such the condition of the kingdom, that if more delay takes place, this empire, which has been acquired with such trouble, will be lost for nothing, and will not be easily regained." The Wazir was an old, faithful servant, and wise; his name was Khiradmand, a name self-significant. He replied, "Though the king has forbidden us to come into his presence, yet go you: I will also go-- may it please God that the king be inclined to call me to his presence." After saying this, the Wazir brought them all along with him as far as the Public Hall of Audience, and leaving them there, he went into the Private Hall of Audience, and sent word by the eunuch to the royal presence, saying, "this old slave is in waiting, and for many days has not beheld the royal countenance; he is in hopes that, after one look, he may kiss the royal feet, then his mind will be at ease." The king heard this request of his Wazir, and inasmuch as his majesty knew his length of services, his zeal, his talents, and his devotedness, and had often followed his advice, after some consideration, he said, "call in Khiradmand." As soon as permission was obtained, the Wazir appeared in the royal presence, made his obeisance, and stood with crossed arms. He saw the king's strange and altered appearance, that from extreme weeping and emaciation his eyes were sunk in their sockets, and his visage was pale.
Khiradmand could no longer restrain himself, but without choice, ran and threw himself at [the king's] feet. His majesty lifted up the Wazir's head with his hands, and said, "There, thou hast at last seen me; art thou satisfied? Now go away, and do not disturb me more-- do thou govern the empire." Khiradmand, on hearing this, gnashing his teeth, wept said, "This slave, by your favour and welfare, can always possess a kingdom; but ruin is spread over the empire from your majesty's such sudden seclusion, and the end of it will not be prosperous. What strange fancy has possessed the royal mind! If to this hereditary vassal your majesty will condescend to explain yourself, it will be for the best-- that I may unfold whatever occurs to my imperfect judgment on the occasion. If you have bestowed honours on your slaves, it is for this exigency, that your majesty may enjoy yourself at your ease, and your slaves regulate the affairs of the state; for if your imperial highness is to bear this trouble, which God forbid! of what utility are the servants of the state?" The king replied, "Thou sayest true; but the sorrow which preys on my mind is beyond cure.
"Hear, O Khiradmand! my whole age has been passed in this vexatious career of conquest, and I am now arrived at these years; there is only death before me; I have even received a message from him, for my hairs are turned white. There is a saying; 'We have slept all night, and shall we not awake in the morning?' Until now I have not had a son, that I might be easy in mind; for which reason my heart is very sorrowful, and I have utterly abandoned everything. Whoever wishes, may take the country and my riches. I have no use for them. Moreover, I intend some day or other, to quit everything, retire to the woods and mountains, and not show my face to any one. In this manner I will pass this life of [at best but] a few days' duration. If some spot pleases me, I shall sit down on it; and by devoting my time in prayers to God, perhaps my future state will be happy; this world I have seen well, and have found no felicity in it." After pronouncing these words, the king heaved a deep sigh, and became silent.
Khiradmand had been the Wazir of his majesty's father, and when the king was heir-apparent he had loved him; moreover, he was wise and zealous. He said (to Azad Bakht,) "It is ever wrong to despair of God's grace; He who has created the eighteen thousand species of living beings by one fiat, can give you children without any difficulty. Mighty sire, banish these fanciful notions from your mind, or else all your subjects will be thrown into confusion, and this empire, --with what trouble and pains your royal forefathers and yourself have erected it!-- will be lost in a moment, and, from want of care, the whole country will be ruined; God forbid that you should incur evil fame! Moreover, you will have to answer to God, in the day of judgment, when he will say, 'Having made thee a king, I placed my creatures under thy care; but thou hadst no faith in my beneficence, and thou hast afflicted thy subjects [by abandoning thy charge.'] What answer will you make to this accusation? Then even your devotion and prayers will not avail you, for the heart of man is the abode of God, and kings will have to answer only for the justice of their conduct. Pardon your slave's want of respect, but to leave their homes, and wander from forest to forest, is the occupation of hermits, but not that of kings. You ought to act according to your allotted station: the remembering of God, and devotion to him, are not limited to woods or mountains: your majesty has undoubtedly heard this verse, 'God is near him, and he seeks him in the wilderness; the child is in his arms, and there is a proclamation [of its being lost] throughout the city.'
"If you will be pleased to act impartially, and follow this slave's advice, in that case the best thing is, that your Majesty should keep God in mind every moment, and offer up to him your prayers. No one has yet returned hopeless from his threshold. In the day, arrange the affairs of state, and administer justice to the poor and injured; then the creatures of God will repose in peace and comfort under the skirt of your prosperity. Pray at night; and after beseeching blessings for the pure spirit of the Prophet, solicit assistance from recluse Darweshes and holy men, [who are abstracted from worldly objects and cares;] bestow daily food on orphans, prisoners, poor parents of numerous children, and helpless widows. From the blessings of these good works and benevolent intentions, if God please, it is to be fervently hoped that the objects and desires of your heart will all be fulfilled, and the circumstances for which the royal mind is afflicted, will likewise be accomplished, and your noble heart will rejoice! Look towards the favour of God, for he can in a moment do what he wishes." At length, from such various representations on the part of Khiradmand the Wazir, Azad Bakht's heart took courage, and he said, "Well, what you say is true; let us see to this also; and hereafter, the will of God be done."
When the king's mind was comforted, he asked the Wazir what the other nobles and ministers were doing, and how they were. He replied, that "all the pillars of state are praying for the life and prosperity of your majesty; and from grief for your situation, they are all in confusion and dejected. Show the royal countenance to them, that they may be easy in their minds. Accordingly, they are now waiting in the Diwani Amm." On hearing this, the king said, "If God please, I will hold a court to-morrow: tell them all to attend." Khiradmand was quite rejoiced on hearing this promise, and lifting up his hands, blessed the king, saying, "As long as this earth and heaven exist, may your majesty's crown and throne remain. Then taking leave [of the king,] he retired with infinite joy, and communicated these pleasing tidings to the nobles. All the nobles returned to their homes with smiles and gladness of heart. The whole city rejoiced, and the subjects became boundless [in their transports at the idea] that the king would hold a general court the next day. In the morning, all the servants of state, noble and menial, and the pillars of state, small and great, came to the court, and stood each according to his respective place and degree, and waited with anxiety to behold the royal splendour.
When one pahar of the day had elapsed, all at once the curtain drew up, and the king, having ascended, seated himself on the auspicious throne. The sounds of joy struck up in the Naubat-Khana, and all the assembly offered the nazars of congratulation, and made their obeisance in the hall of audience. Each was rewarded according to his respective degree and rank, and the hearts of all became joyful and easy. At midday his majesty arose and retired to the interior of the palace; and after enjoying the royal repast, retired to rest. From that day the king made this an established rule, viz., to hold his court every morning, and pass the afternoons in reading and in the offices of devotion; and after expressing penitence, and beseeching forgiveness from God, to pray for the accomplishment of his desires.
One day, the king saw it written in a book, that if any one is so oppressed with grief and care as not to be relieved by [any human] contrivance, he ought to commit [his sorrows] to Providence, visit the tombs of the dead, and pray for the blessing of God on them, through the mediation of the Prophet; and conceiving himself nothing, keep his heart free from the thoughtlessness of mankind; weep as a warning to others, and behold [with awe] the power of God, saying, "Anterior to me, what mighty possessors of kingdoms and wealth have been born on earth! but the sky, involving them all in its revolving circle, has mixed them with the dust.
"Now, if you look [for those heroes], not one vestige of them remains, except a heap of dust. All of them, leaving their riches and possessions, their homes and offsprings, their friends and dependants, their horses and elephants, are lying alone! All these [worldly advantages] have been of no use to them; moreover, no one by this time, knows even their names, or who they were; and their state within the grave cannot be discovered; (for worms, insects, ants, and snakes have eaten them up;) or [who knows] what has happened to them, or how they have settled their accounts with God? After meditating on these words in his mind, he should look on the whole of this world as a perfect farce; then the flower of his heart will ever bloom, and it will not wither in any circumstance." When the king read this admonition in the book, he recollected the advice of Khiradmand the Wazir, and found that they coincided. He became anxious in his mind to put this in execution; "but to mount on horseback, [said his majesty to himself,] and take a retinue with me, and go like a king, is not becoming; it is better to change my dress, and go at night and alone to visit the graves of the dead, or some godly recluse, and keep awake all night; perhaps by the mediation of these holy men, the desires of this world and salvation in the next, may be obtained."
Having formed this resolution, the king one night put on coarse and soiled clothes, and taking some money with him, he stole silently out of the fort, and bent his way over the plain; proceeding onwards, he arrived at a cemetery, and was repeating his prayers with a sincere heart. At that time, a fierce wind continued blowing, and might be called a storm. Suddenly the king saw a flame at a distance which shone like the morning star; he said to himself, "In this storm and darkness this light cannot shine without art, or it may be a talisman; for if nitre and sulphur be sprinkled in the lamp, around the wick, then let the wind be ever so strong, the flame will not be extinguished--or may it not be the lamp of some holy man which burns? Let it be what it may, I ought to go and examine it; perhaps by the light of this lamp, the lamp of my house also may be lighted, and the wish of my heart fulfilled." Having formed this resolution, the king advanced in that direction; when he drew near, he saw four erratic fakirs, with kafnis on their bodies, and their head reclined on their knees; sitting in profound silence, and senselessly abstracted. Their state was such as that of a traveller, who, separated from his country and his sect, friendless and alone, and overwhelmed with grief, is desponding and at a loss. In the same manner sat these four Fakirs, like statues, and a lamp placed on a stone burnt brightly; the wind touched it not, as if the sky itself had been its shade, so that it burnt without danger [of being extinguished.]
On seeing this sight, Azad Bakht was convinced [and said to himself] that "assuredly thy desires will be fulfilled, by the blessing [resulting from] the footsteps of these men of God; and the withered tree of thy hopes shall revive by their looks, and yield fruit. Go into their company, and tell thy story, and join their society; perhaps they may feel pity for thee, and offer up for thee such a prayer as may be accepted by the Almighty." Having formed this determination, he was about to step forward, when his judgment told him, O fool, do not be hasty! Look a little [before thee.] What dost thou know as to who they are, from whence they have come, and where they are going? How can we know but they may be Devs or Ghuls of the wilderness, who, assuming the appearance of men, are sitting together? In every way, to be in haste, and go amongst them and disturb them, is improper. At present, hide thyself in some corner, and learn the story of these Darweshes." At last the king did so, and hid himself in a corner with such silence, that no one heard the sound of his approach; he directed his attention towards them to hear what they were saying amongst themselves. By chance one of the Fakirs sneezed, and said, "God be praised." The other three Kalandars, awakened by the noise he made, trimmed the lamp; the flame was burning bright, and each of them sitting on his mattress, lighted their hukkas, and began to smoke. One of these Azads said, "O friends in mutual pain, and faithful wanderers over the world! we four persons, by the revolution of the heavens, and changes of day and night, with dust on our heads, have wandered for some time, from door to door. God be praised, that by the aid of our good fortune, and the decree of fate, we have to-day met each other on this spot. The events of to-morrow are not in the least known, nor what will happen; whether we remain together, or become totally separated; the night is a heavy load, and to retire to sleep so early is not salutary. It is far better that we relate, each on his own part, the events which have passed over our heads in this world, without admitting a particle of untruth
[in our narrations;] then the night will pass away in words, and when little of it remains, let us retire to rest." They all replied, "O leader, we agree to whatever you command. First you begin your own history, and relate what you have seen; then shall we be edified."
ADVENTURES OF THE FIRST DARWESH
The first Darwesh, sitting at his ease, began thus to relate the events of his travels:
"Beloved of God, turn towards me, and hear this helpless one's narrative.
Hear what has passed over my head with attentive ears,
Hear how Providence has raised and depressed me.
I am going to relate whatever misfortunes I have suffered; hear the whole narrative."
O my friends, the place of my birth, and the country of my forefathers, is the land of Yaman; the father of this wretch was Maliku-t-Tujjar, a great merchant, named Khwaja Ahmad. At that time no merchant or banker was equal to him. In most cities he had established factories and agents, for the purchase and sale (of goods); and in his warehouses were lakhs of rupis in cash, and merchandise of different countries. He had two children born to him; one was this pilgrim, who, clad in the kafni and saili, is now in your presence, and addressing you, holy guides; the other was a sister, whom my father, during his life time, had married to a merchant's son of another city; she lived in the family of her father-in-law. In short, what bounds could be set to the fondness of a father, who had an only son, and was so exceedingly rich! This wanderer received his education with great tenderness under the shadow of his father and mother; and began to learn reading and writing, and the science and practice of the military profession; and likewise the art of commerce, and the keeping of accounts. Up to [the age of] fourteen years, my life passed away in extreme delight and freedom from anxiety; no care of the world entered my heart. All at once, even in one year, both my father and mother died by the decree of God.
I was overwhelmed with such extreme grief, that I cannot express [its anguish.] At once I became an orphan! No elder [of the family] remained to watch over me. From this unexpected misfortune I wept night and day; food and drink were utterly disregarded. In this sad state I passed forty days: on the fortieth day, [after the death of my parents,] my relations and strangers of every degree assembled [to perform the rites of mourning.] When the Fatiha for the dead was finished, they tied on this pilgrim's head the turban of his father; they made me understand, that, "In this world the parents of all have died, and you yourself must one day follow the same path. Therefore, have patience, and look after your establishment; you are now become its master in the room of your father; be vigilant in your affairs and transactions." After consoling me [in this friendly manner,] they took their leave. All the agents, factors and employés [of my late father] came and waited on me; they presented their nazars, and said, "Be pleased to behold with your own auspicious eye the cash in the coffers, and the merchandise in the warehouses." When all at once my sight fell on this boundless wealth, my eyes expanded. I gave orders for the fitting up of a diwan-khana; the farrashes spread the carpets, and hung up the pardas and magnificent chicks. I took handsome servants into my service; and caused them to be clothed in rich dresses out of my treasury. This mendicant had no sooner reposed himself in [the vacant] seat [of his father] than he was surrounded by fops, coxcombs, "thiggars and sornars," liars and flatterers, who became his favourites and friends. I began to have them constantly in my company. They amused me with the gossip of every place, and every idle, lying tittle tattle; they continued urging me thus. "In this season of youth, you ought to drink of the choicest wines, and send for beautiful mistresses to participate in the pleasures thereof, and enjoy yourself in their company."
In short, the evil genius of man is man: my disposition changed from listening constantly [to their pernicious advice.] Wine, dancing, and gaming occupied my time. At last matters came to such a pitch, that, forgetting my commercial concerns, a mania for debauchery and gambling came over me. My servants and companions, when they perceived my careless habits, secreted all they could lay hand on; one might say a systematic plunder took place. No account was kept of the money which was squandered; from whence it came, or where it went:
"When the wealth comes gratuitously, the heart has no mercy on it."
Had I possessed even the treasures of Karun, they would not have been sufficient to supply this vast expenditure. In the course of a few years such became all at once my condition, that, a bare skull cap for my head, and a rag about my loins, were all that remained. Those friends who used to share my board, and [who so often swore] to shed their blood by the spoonful for my advantage, disappeared; yea, even if I met them by chance on the highway, they used to withdraw their looks and turn aside their faces from me; moreover, my servants, of every description, left me, and went away; no one remained to enquire after me, and say, "what state is this you are reduced to?" I had no companion left but my grief and regret.
I now had not a half-farthing's worth of parched grain [to grind between my jaws,] and give a relish to the water I drank: I endured two or three severe fasts, but could no longer bear [the cravings of] hunger. From necessity, covering my face with the mask of shamelessness, I formed the resolution of going to my sister; but this shame continued to come into my mind, that, since the death of my father, I had kept up no friendly intercourse with her, or even written her a single line; nay, further, she had written me two or three letters of condolence and affection, to which I had not deigned to make any reply in my inebriated moments of prosperity. From this sense of shame my heart felt no inclination [to go to my sister,] but except her house, I had no other [to which I could resort.] In the best way I could, on foot, empty-handed, with much fatigue and a thousand toils, having traversed the few [intervening] stages, I arrived at the city where my sister lived, and reached her house. My sister, seeing my wretched state, invoked a blessing upon me, embraced me with affection, and wept bitterly; she distributed [the customary offerings to the poor] on the occasion of my safe arrival, such as oil, vegetables, and small coins, and said to me, "Though my heart is greatly rejoiced at this meeting, yet, brother, in what sad plight do I see you?" I could make her no reply, but shedding tears, I remained silent. My sister sent me quickly to the bath, after having ordered a splendid dress to be sewn for me. I having bathed and washed, put on these clothes. She fixed on an elegant apartment, near her own, for my residence. I had in the morning sharbat, and various kinds of sweetmeats for my breakfast; in the afternoon, fresh and dried fruits for my luncheon; and at dinner and supper she having procured for me pulaos, kababs, and bread of the most exquisite flavour and delicious cookery; she saw me eat them in her own presence; and in every manner she took care of me. I offered thousands upon thousands of thanksgivings to God for enjoying such comfort, after such affliction [as I had suffered.] Several months passed in this tranquillity, during which I never put my foot out of my apartment.
One day, my sister, who treated me like a mother, said to me, "O brother, you are the delight of my eyes, and the living emblem of the dead dust of our parents; by your arrival the longing of my heart is satisfied; whenever I see you, I am infinitely rejoiced; you have made me completely happy; but God has created men to work for their living, and they ought not to sit idle at home. If a man becomes idle and stays at home, the people of the world cast unfavourable reflections on him; more especially the people of this city, both great and little, though it concerns them not, will say, on your remaining [with me and doing nothing,] 'That having lavished and spent his father's worldly wealth, he is now living on the scraps from his brother-in-law's board.' This is an excessive want of proper pride, and will be our ridicule, and the subject of shame to the memory of our parents; otherwise I would keep you near my heart, and make you shoes of my own skin, and have you wear them. Now, my advice is that you should make an effort at travelling; please God the times will change, and in place of your present embarrassment and destitution, gladness and prosperity may be the result." On hearing this speech my pride was roused; I approved of her advice, and replied, very well, you are now in the place of my mother, and I will do whatever you say. Having thus received my consent, she went into the interior of her house, and brought out, by the assistance of her female slaves and servants, fifty toras of gold and laid them before me, saying, "A caravan of merchants is on the point of setting out for Damascus. Do you purchase with this money some articles of merchandise. Having put them under the care of a merchant of probity, take from him a proper receipt for them: and do you also proceed to Damascus. When you arrive there in safety, receive the amount sales of your goods, and the profit which may accrue [from your merchant,] or sell them yourself [as may be most convenient or advantageous."] I took the money and went to the bazar; and having bought articles of merchandise, I delivered them over in charge to an eminent merchant, and set my mind at ease on receiving a satisfactory receipt from him. The merchant embarked with the goods on board a vessel, and set off by sea, and I prepared to go by land. When I took leave of my excellent sister, she gave me a rich dress and a superb horse with jewelled harness; she put some sweetmeats in a leather bag and hung it to the pummel of my saddle, and she suspended a flask of water from the crupper; she tied a sacred rupee on my arm, and having marked my forehead with tika, "Proceed," said she, suppressing her tears, "I have put thee under the protection of God; thou showest thy back in going, in the same happy state show me soon your face." I also said, after repeating the prayer of welfare, "God be your protector also. I obey your commands." Coming out from thence, I mounted my horse, and having placed my reliance on the protection of the Almighty, I set forward, and throwing two stages into one, I soon reached the neighbourhood of Damascus.
In short, when I arrived at the city gate, the night was far advanced, and the door-keepers and guards had shut them. I made much entreaty, and added, "I am a traveller, who has come a long journey, at a great rate; if you would kindly open the gates, I could get into the city and procure some refreshment for myself and my horse." They rudely replied from within, "There is no order to open the gates at this hour; why have you come so late in the night?" When I heard this plain answer of theirs, I alighted from my horse under the walls of the city, and spreading my housing, I sat down; but to keep awake, I often rose up and walked about. When it was exactly midnight, there was a dead silence. What do I see but a chest descending slowly from the walls of the fortress! When I beheld this [strange sight], I was filled with surprise, thinking what talisman is this! perhaps God, taking pity on my perplexity and my misfortunes, has sent me here some bounty from his hidden treasure. When the chest rested on the ground, I approached it with much fear, and perceived it was of wood. Instigated by curiosity, I opened it; I beheld in it a beautiful lovely woman (at the sight of whom the senses would vanish), wounded and weltering in her blood, with her eyes closed, and in extreme agonies. By degrees her lips moved, and these sounds issued slowly from her mouth, "O faithless wretch! O barbarous tyrant! Is this deed which thou hast done, the return I merited for all my affection and kindness! Well, well! give me another blow [and complete thy cruelty]: I entrust to God the executing of justice between myself and thee." After pronouncing these words, even in that insensible state, she drew the end of her dopatta over her face; she did not look towards me.
Gazing on her, and hearing her exclamations, I became torpid. It occurred to me, what savage tyrant could wound so beautiful a lady! what [demon] possessed his heart, and how could he lift his hand against her! she still loves him, and even in this agony of death, she recollects him! I was muttering this to myself; the sound reached her ear; drawing at once her veil from her face, she looked at me. The moment her looks met mine, I nearly fainted, and my heart throbbed with difficulty; I supported myself by a strong effort, and taking courage, I asked her, "tell me true, who art you, and what sad occurrence is this I see; if you will explain it, then it will give ease to my heart." On hearing these words, though she had scarce strength to speak, yet she slowly uttered, "I thank you! how can I speak? my condition, owing to my wounds, is what you see; I am your guest for a few moments only; when my spirit shall depart, then, for God's sake, act like a man, and bury unfortunate me in some place, in this chest; then I shall be freed from the tongue of the good and bad, and you will earn for yourself a future reward." After pronouncing these words, she became silent.
In the night I could apply no remedy; I brought the chest near me, and began to count the gharis of the remaining night. I determined, when the morning came, to go into the city and do all in my power for the cure [of this beautiful woman]. The short, remaining night became so heavy a load, that my heart was quite restless. At last, after suffering much uneasiness, the morning approached--the cock crowed, and the voices of men were heard. After performing the morning prayer, I enclosed the chest in a coarse canvas sack, and just as the gates opened, I entered the city. I began to inquire of every man and shop-keeper where I could find a mansion for hire; and after much search, I found a convenient, handsome house, which I rented. The first thing I did, was to take that beautiful woman out of the chest, and lay her on a soft bed made up of flocks of cotton, which I had removed to a corner. I then placed a trusty person near her, and went in search of a surgeon. I wandered about, asking of every one I met who was the cleverest surgeon in the city, and where he lived. One person said, "There is a certain barber who is unique in the practice of surgery, and the science of physic; and in these arts is quite perfect. If you carry a dead person to him, by the help of God, he will apply such remedies as will bring him to life. He dwells in this quarter [of the city,] and his name is 'Isa."
On hearing this agreeable intelligence, I went in search of him, and after several inquiries, I found out his abode from the directions I had received. I saw a man with a white beard sitting under the portico of his door, and several men were grinding materials for plasters beside him. For the sake of complimenting him, I made him a respectful salam, and said,--"having heard of your name and excellent qualities, I am come [to solicit your assistance.] The case is this: I set out from my country for the purpose of trade, and took my wife with me, from the great affection I had for her; when I arrived near this city, I halted at a little distance, as the evening had set in. I did not think it safe to travel at night in an unseen country; I therefore rested under a tree on the plains. At the last quarter of the night, I was attacked by robbers; they plundered me of all the money and the property they could find, and wounded my wife, from avidity for her jewels. I could make no resistance, and passed the remainder of the night as well as I could. Early in the morning I came into this city, and rented a house; leaving her there, I am come to you with all speed. God has given you this perfection in your profession; favour this [unfortunate] traveller, and come to his humble dwelling; see my wife, and if her life should be saved, then you will acquire great fame, and I will be your slave as long as I live." 'Isa, the surgeon, was very humane and devout; he took pity on my misfortune, and accompanied me to my house. On examining the wounds, he gave me hopes, and said, "By the blessing of God, this lady's wounds will be cured in forty days; and I will then cause to be administered to her the ablution of cure."
In short, the good man having thoroughly washed all the wounds with the decoction of nim, he cleansed them; those that he found fit for stitching, he sewed up; and on the others he laid lint and plasters, which he took out of his box, and tied them up with bandages, and said with much kindness, "I will continue to call morning and evening; be thou careful that she remain perfectly quiet, so that the stitches may not give way; let her food be chicken broth administered in small quantities at a time, and give her often the spirit of Bed-Mushk, with rose water, so that her strength may be supported." After giving these directions, he took his leave. I thanked him much with joined hands, and added, "From the consolation you have bestowed, my life also has been restored; otherwise, I saw nothing but death before me; God keep you safe." And after giving him 'Itr and betel, I took leave of him. Night and day I attended on that beautiful lady with the utmost solicitude; rest to myself I renounced as impious, and in the threshold of God I daily prayed for her cure.
It came to pass that the merchant [who had charge of my merchandise,] arrived, and delivered over to me the goods I had entrusted to his care. I sold them as occasion required, and began to spend the amount in medicines and remedies. The good surgeon was regular in his attendance, and in a short time all the wounds filled up, and began to heal; a few days after she performed the ablution of cure. Joy of a wonderful nature arose [in my heart]! A rich khil'at, and [a purse of] gold pieces I laid before 'Isa, the surgeon. I ordered elegant carpets to be spread for that fair one, and caused her to sit upon the masnad. I distributed large sums to the poor [on the joyous occasion,] and that day I was as happy as if I had gained possession of the sovereignty of the seven climes. On that beautiful lady's cure, such rosy, pure colour appeared in her complexion, that her face shone like the sun, and sparkled with the lustre of the purest gold. I could not gaze on her without being dazzled with her beauty. I devoted myself entirely to her services, and zealously performed whatever she commanded. In the full pride of beauty and consciousness of high rank, if ever she condescended to cast a look on me, she used to say, "Take care, if my good opinion is desirable to you, then never breathe a syllable in my affairs; whatever I order, perform without objection; never utter a breath in my concerns, otherwise you will repent." It appeared, however, from her manners, that the return due to me for my services and obedience, was fully impressed on her mind. I also did nothing without her consent, and executed her commands with implicit obedience.
A certain space of time passed away in this mystery and submission--I instantly procured for her whatever she desired. I spent all the money I had from the sale of my goods, both principal and interest. In a foreign country [where I was unknown], who would trust me? that by borrowing, affairs might go on. At last, I was distressed for money, even for our daily expenses, and thence my heart became much embarrassed. With this anxious solicitude I pined daily, and the colour fled from my face; but to whom could I speak [for aid]? What my heart suffered, that it must suffer. "The grief of the poor man [preys] on his own soul." One day the beautiful lady, from her own penetration, perceived [my distressed state] and said, "O youth! my obligations [to you] for the services [you have rendered] me are engraven on my heart as indelible as on stone; but their return I am unable to make at present. If there be any thing required for necessary expenses, do not be distressed on that account, but bring me a slip of paper, pen, and ink." I was then convinced that this fair lady must be a princess of some country, or else she would not have addressed me with such boldness and haughtiness. I instantly brought her the writing materials, and placed them before her-- she having written a note in a fair hand, delivered it to me, and said, "There is a Tirpauliya near the fort; in the adjoining street is a large mansion, and the master of that house is called Sidi Bahar; go and deliver this note to him."
I went according to her commands, and by the name and address she had given me, I soon found out the house; by the porter I sent word of the circumstance [of my having brought] a letter. The moment he heard [my message,] a handsome young negro, with a flashy turban on his head, came out to me; though his colour was dark, his countenance was full of animation. He took the note from my hand, but said nothing, asked no questions, and at the same pace [without a pause] entered the house. In a short time he came out, accompanied by slaves, who carried on their heads eleven sealed trays covered with brocade. He told the slaves, "Go with this young man, and deliver these trays." I, having made my salutation, took my leave of him, and brought [the slaves with their burdens] to our house. I dismissed the men from the door, and carried in the trays entrusted to me to the presence of the fair lady. On seeing them she said, "Take these eleven bags of gold pieces and appropriate the money to necessary expenses; God is most bountiful." I took the gold, and began to lay it out in immediate necessaries. Although I became more easy in my mind, yet this perplexity continued in my heart. "O God, [said I to myself,] what a strange circumstance is this! that a stranger, whose person is unknown to me, should, on the mere sight of a bit of paper, have delivered over to me so much money without question or inquiry. I cannot ask the fair lady to explain the mystery, as she has beforehand forbidden me." Through fear, I was unable to breathe a syllable.
Eight days after this occurrence, the beloved fair one thus addressed me: --"God has bestowed on man the robe of humanity which may not be torn or soiled; and although tattered clothes are no disparagement to his manhood, yet in public, in the eyes of the world he has no respect paid to him [if shabbily clothed]. So take two bags of gold with thee, and go to the chauk, to the shop of Yusuf the merchant, and buy there some sets of jewels of high value, and two rich suits of clothes, and bring them with thee." I instantly mounted my horse, and went to the shop described. I saw there a handsome young man, clothed in a saffron-coloured dress, seated on a cushion; his beauty was such, that a whole multitude stopped in the street from his shop as far as the bazar to gaze at him. I approached him with perfect pleasure, having made my "salam 'alaika." I sat down, and mentioned the articles required. My pronunciation was not like that of the inhabitants of that city. The young merchant replied with great kindness, "Whatever you require is ready, but tell me, sir, from what country are you come, and what are the motives of your stay in this foreign city? If you will condescend to inform me on these points, it will not be remote from kindness." It was not agreeable to me to divulge my circumstances, so I made up some story, took the jewels and the clothes, paid their price, and begged to take my leave. The young man seemed displeased and said, "O sir, if you wished to be so reserved, it was not necessary to show such warmth of friendly greeting in your first approach. Amongst well-bred people these amicable greetings are of much consideration." He pronounced this speech with such elegance and propriety, that it quite delighted my heart, and I did not think it courteous to be unkind and leave him so hastily; therefore, to please him, I sat down again and said, "I agree to your request with all my heart, and am ready [to obey your commands.]"
He was greatly pleased with my compliance, and smiling he said, "If you will honour my poor mansion [with your company] to-day, then having a party of pleasure, we shall regale our hearts for some hours [in good cheer and hilarity."] I had never left the fair lady alone [since we first met,] and recollecting her solitary situation, I made many excuses, but that young man would not accept any; at last, having extorted from me a promise to return as soon as I had carried home the articles I had purchased, and having made me swear [to that effect,] he gave me leave to depart. I, having left the shop, carried the jewels and the clothes to the presence of the fair lady. She asked the price of the different articles, and what passed at the merchant's. I related all the particulars of the purchase, and the teasing invitation I had received from him. She replied, "It is incumbent on man to fulfil whatever promise he may make; leave me under the protection of God, and fulfil your engagement; the law of the prophet requires we should accept the offers of hospitality." I said, "My heart does not wish to go and leave you alone, but such are your orders, and I am forced to go; until I return, my heart will be attached to this very spot." Saying this, I went to the merchant's: he, seated on a chair, was waiting for me. On seeing me, he said, "Come, good sir, you have made me wait long."
He instantly arose, seized my hand, and moved on; proceeding along, he conducted me to a garden; it was a garden of great beauty; in the basons and canals fountains were playing; fruits of various kinds were in full bloom, and the branches of the trees were bent down with their weight; birds of various species were perched on the boughs, and sung their merry notes, and elegant carpets were spread in every apartment [of the grand pavilion which stood in the centre of the garden]. There on the border of the canal, we sat down in an elegant saloon; he got up a moment after and went out, and then returned richly dressed. On seeing him, I exclaimed, "Praised be the Lord, may the evil eye be averted!" On hearing this, exclamation, he smiled, and said, "It is fit you, too, should change your dress." To please him, I also put on other clothes. The young merchant, with much sumptuousness, prepared an elegant entertainment, and provided every article of pleasure that could be desired; he was warm in his expressions of attachment to me, and his conversation was quite enchanting. At this moment a cupbearer appeared with a flask [of wine] and a crystal cup, and delicious meats of various kinds were served up. The salt-cellars were set in order, and the sparkling cup began to circulate. When it had performed three or four revolutions, four young dancing boys, very beautiful, with loose, flowing tresses, entered the assembly, and began to sing and play. Such was the scene, and such the melody, that had Tan-Sen been present at that hour, he would have forgot his strains; and Baiju-Ba,ora would have gone mad. In the midst of this festivity, the young merchant's eyes filled suddenly with tears, and involuntarily two or three drops trickled down [his cheeks]; he turned round and said to me, "Now between us a friendship for life is formed; to hide the secrets of our hearts is approved by no religion. I am going to impart a secret to you, in the confidence of friendship and without reserve. If you will give me leave I will send for my mistress into our company, and exhilarate my heart [with her presence]; for in her absence, I cannot enjoy any pleasure."
He pronounced these words with such eager desire, that though I had not seen her, yet my heart longed for her. I replied, your happiness is essential to me, what can be better [than what you propose]; send for her without delay; nothing, it is true, is agreeable without the presence of the beloved one. The young merchant made a sign towards the chick and shortly a black woman, as ugly as an ogress, on seeing whom one would die without [the intervention of] fate, approached the young man and sat down. I was frightened at her sight, and said within myself, is it possible this she-demon can be beloved by so beautiful a young man, and is this the creature he praised so highly, and spoke of with such affection! I muttered the form of exorcism, and became silent. In this same condition, the festive scene of wine and music continued for three days and nights; on the fourth night, intoxication and sleep gained the victory; I, in the sleep of forgetfulness, involuntarily slumbered; next morning the young merchant wakened me, and made me drink some cups of a cooling and sedative nature. He said to his mistress, "To trouble our guest any longer would be improper."
He then took hold of both my hands, and we stood up. I begged leave to depart; well pleased [with my complaisance], he gave me permission [to return home]. I then quickly put on my former clothes, and bent my way homewards, waited on the angelic lady. But it had never before occurred in my case, to leave her by herself and remain out all night. I was quite ashamed of myself for being absent three days [and nights], and I made her many apologies, and related the whole circumstances of the entertainment, and his not permitting me [to come home sooner]. She was well acquainted with the manners of the world, and smiling said, "What does it signify, if you had to remain to oblige your friend; I cheerfully pardon you, where is the blame on your part; when a man goes on occasions of this sort to any person's house, he returns when the other pleases to let him. But you having eaten and drunk at his entertainments for nothing, will you remain silent, or give him a feast in return? Now I think it proper you should go to the young merchant, and bring him with you, and feast him two-fold greater than he did you. Give yourself no concern about the materials [for such an entertainment]; by the favour of God, all the requisites will soon be ready, and in an excellent style, the hospitable party will obtain splendour." According to her desire, I went to the jeweller, and said to him, "I have complied with your request most cheerfully, now do you also in the way of friendship, grant my request." He said, "I will obey you with heart and soul."
Then I said, "If you will honour your humble servant's house with a visit, it will be the essence of condescension. That young man made many excuses and evasions, but I would not give up the point. When [at length] he consented, I brought him with me to my house; but on the way I could not avoid making the reflection, that "if I had had the means, I could receive my guest in a style which would be highly gratifying to him. Now I am taking him with me, let us see what will be the result." Absorbed in these apprehensions, I drew near my house. Then how was I surprised to see a great crowd and bustle at the door; the street had been swept and watered; silver mace and club bearers
were in waiting. I wondered greatly [at what I saw], but knowing it to be mine own house, I entered, and perceived that elegant carpets befitting every apartment, were spread in all directions, and rich masnads were laid out. Betel boxes, gulab-pashes, 'itr-dans, pik-dans, flower pots, narcissus-pots, were all arranged in order. In the recesses of the walls, various kinds of oranges and confectionery of various colours were placed. On one side variegated screens of talk, with lights behind them were displayed, and on the other side tall branches of lamps in the shape of cypresses and lotuses, were lighted up. In the hall and alcove camphorated candles were placed in golden candlesticks, and rich glass shades were placed over thorn; every attendant waited at his respective post. In the kitchen the pots continued jingling; and in the abdar-khana there was a corresponding preparation; jars of water, quite new, stood on silver stands, with percolators attached, and covered with lids. Further on, on a platform, were placed spoons and cups, with salvers and covers; kulfis of ice were arranged, and the goglets were being agitated in saltpetre.
In short, every requisite becoming a prince was displayed. Dancing girls and boys, singers, musicians and buffoons, in rich apparel, were in waiting, and singing in concert. I led the young merchant in, and seated him on the masnad; I was all amazement [and said to myself] "O God, in so short a time how have such preparations been made?" I was staring around and walking about in every direction, but I could nowhere perceive a trace of the beautiful lady; searching for her, I went into the kitchen, and I saw her there, with an upper garment on her neck, slippers on her feet, and a white handkerchief thrown over her head, plain and simply dressed, and without any jewels:
"She on whom God hath bestowed beauty has no need of ornaments;
Behold how beautiful appears the moon, without decorations."
She was busily employed in the superintendence of the feast, and was giving directions for the eatables, saying, "have a care that [this dish] may be savoury, and that its moisture, its seasoning and its fragrance, may be quite correct." In this toil that rose-like person was all over perspiration.
I approached her with reverence, and having expressed my admiration of her good sense, and the propriety of her conduct, I invoked blessings upon her. On hearing my compliments, she was displeased, and said, "various deeds are done on the part of human beings which it is not the power of angels [to perform]: what have I done that thou art so much astonished? Enough, I dislike much talk; but say, what manners is this to leave your guest alone, and amuse yourself by staring about; what will he think of your behaviour? return quickly to the company, and attend to your guest, and send for his mistress, and make her sit by him." I instantly returned to the young merchant, and shewed him every friendly attention. Soon after, two handsome slaves entered with bottles of delicious wine, and cups set with precious stones, and served us the liquor. In the meantime, I then observed to the young merchant, I am in every way your friend and servant; it were well that your handsome mistress, to whom your heart is attached, should honour us with her presence; it will be perfectly agreeable to me, and if you please, I will send a person to call her. On hearing this, he was extremely pleased, and said, "Very well, my dear friend, yon have [by your kind offer] spoken the wish of my heart." I sent a eunuch [to bring her]. When half the night was past, that foul hag, mounted on an elegant chaudol, arrived like an unexpected evil.
To please my guest I was compelled to advance, and receive her with the utmost kindness, and place her near the young man. On seeing her, he became as rejoiced as if he had received all the delights of the world. That hag also clung round the neck of that angelic youth. The [ludicrous] sight appeared, in plain truth, such as when over the moon of the fourteenth night, an eclipse comes. As many people as were in the assembly began to put their fore-fingers between their teeth, saying [to themselves] "How could such a hag subdue the affections of this young man!" The eyes of all were turned in that direction. Disregarding the amusements of the entertainment, they began to attend only to this strange spectacle. Some apart observed, "O friends, there is an antagonism between love and reason! what judgment cannot conceive, this cursed love will show. You must behold Laili with the eyes of Majnun. All present exclaimed, "Very true, that is the fact."
According to the directions of the lady, I devoted myself to attending on my guests; and although the young merchant pressed me to eat and drink equally with himself, yet I refrained from fear of the fair [one's displeasure], and did not give myself up to eating and drinking, or the pleasures of the entertainment. I pleaded the duties of hospitality as my excuse for not joining him [in the good cheer]. In this scene of festivity three nights and days passed away. On the fourth night, the young merchant said to me with extreme fondness, "I now beg to take my leave; for your good sake I have utterly neglected my affairs these three days, and have attended you. Pray do you also sit near me for a moment, and rejoice my heart," I in my own heart imagined that "if I do not comply with his request at this moment, then he will be grieved; and it is necessary I should please my new friend and guest;" on which account I replied, "it is a pleasure to me to obey the command of your honour;" for "a command is paramount to ceremony." On hearing this, the young merchant presented me a cup of wine, and I drank it off; then the cup moved in such quick successive rounds, that in a short time all the guests in the assembly became inebriated and stupefied; I also became senseless.
When the morning came, and the sun had risen the height of two spears, 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. 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 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]. 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 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 art my lover! Has the frog then caught cold? 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.[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;
Whatever may have been written in my destiny, O God! let it come soon."
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, he returned to me, and putting me into a miyana, 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, 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, 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 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 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! at that moment my emotions were such that [I thought] I should have died with joy, and swelled so greatly with pleasure, that my jama 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, 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 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 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. 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 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.
"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, 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, 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.
"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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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, 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;' 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 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 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. 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. 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, 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 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 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 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.'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; 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 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 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 thou wash off my blood from thy garment; what has happened is past.'
"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. 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, 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 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 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 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! 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 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, 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 (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.
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. 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 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. Sometimes I wept and shrieked at my miserable condition; now I ran from west to east, then from north to south. In short, I searched everywhere, 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, 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, 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