She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the Queen continued: “Barakhiya said to Bulukiya, ‘In two days thou hast come a journey of threescore and ten months; moreover when thou mountedst the mare, she was affrighted at thee, knowing thee for a son of Adam, and would have thrown thee; so they bound on her back these two camels by way of weight to steady her.’ When Bulukiya heard this, he marvelled and thanked Allah Almighty for safety. Then said the King, ‘Tell me thy adventures and what brought thee to this our land.’ So he told him his story from first to last, and the King marvelled at his words, and kept Bulukiya with him two months.” Upon this Hasib Karim al-Din after he had marvelled at her story, again besought the Serpent-queen saying, “I pray thee of thy goodness and graciousness command one of thy subjects conduct me to the surface of the earth, that I may return to my family;” but she answered, “O Hasib, I know that the first thing thou wilt do, after seeing the face of the earth will be to greet thy family and then repair to the Hammam bath and bathe; and the moment thou endest thine ablutions will see the last of me, for it will be the cause of my death.” Quoth Hasib, “I swear that I will never again enter the Hammam bath so long as I live, but when washing is incumbent on me, I will wash at home.” Rejoined the Queen, “I would not trust thee though thou shouldst swear to me an hundred oaths; for such abstaining is not possible, and I know thee to be a son of Adam for whom no oath is sacred. Thy father Adam made a covenant with Allah the most High, who kneaded the clay whereof He fashioned him forty mornings and made His angels prostrate themselves to him; yet after all his promise did he forget and his oath violate, disobeying the commandment of his Lord.” When Hasib heard this, he held his peace and burst into tears; nor did he leave weeping for the space of ten days, at the end of which time he said to the Queen, “Prithee acquaint me with the rest of Bulukiya’s adventures.” Accordingly, she began again as follows: “Know, O Hasib, that Bulukiya, after abiding two months with King Barakhiya, farewelled him and fared on over wastes and deserts nights and days’ till he came to a high mountain which he ascended. On the summit he beheld seated a great Angel glorifying the names of God and invoking blessings on Mohammed. Before him lay a tablet covered with characters, these white and those black,530 whereon his eyes were fixed, and his two wings were outspread to the full, one to the western and the other to the eastern horizon. Bulukiya approached and saluted the Angel, who returned his salam adding, ‘Who art thou and whence comest thou and whither wendest thou and what is thy story?’ Accordingly, he repeated to him his history, from first to last, and the Angel marvelled mightily thereat, whereupon Bulukiya said to him, ‘I pray thee in return acquaint me with the meaning of this tablet and what is writ thereon; and what may be thine occupation and thy name.’ Replied the Angel, ‘My name is Michael, and I am charged with the shifts of night and day; and this is my occupation till the Day of Doom.’ Bulukiya wondered at his words and at his aspect and the vastness of his stature and, taking leave of him, fared onwards, night and day, till he came to a vast meadow over which he walked observing that it was traversed by seven streams and abounded in trees. He was struck by its beauty and in one corner thereof he saw a great tree and under it four Angels. So he drew near to them and found the first in the likeness of a man, the second in the likeness of a wild beast, the third in the likeness of a bird and the fourth in the likeness of a bull, engaged in glorifying Almighty Allah, and saying, ‘O my God and my Master and my Lord, I conjure Thee, by Thy truth and by the decree of Thy Prophet Mohammed (on whom be blessings and peace!) to vouchsafe Thy mercy and grant Thy forgiveness to all things created in my likeness; for Thou over all things art Almighty!’ Bulukiya marvelled at what he heard but continued his journey till he came to another mountain and ascending it, found there a great Angel seated on the summit, glorifying God and hallowing Him and invoking blessings on Mohammed (whom Allah assain and save!), and he saw that Angel continually opening and shutting his hands and bending and extending his fingers. He accosted him and saluted him; whereupon the Angel returned his salam and enquired who he was and how he came thither. So Bulukiya acquainted him with his adventures including his having lost the way; and besought him to tell him, in turn, who he was and what was his function and what mountain was that. Quoth the Angel, ‘Know, O Bulukiya, that this is the mountain Kaf, which encompasseth the world; and all the countries the Creator hath made are in my grasp. When the Almighty is minded to visit any land with earthquake or famine or plenty or slaughter or prosperity, He biddeth me carry out His commands and I carry them out without stirring from my place; for know thou that my hands lay hold upon the roots of the earth,’ “—And Shahrazed perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
530 This is the “Lauh al-Mahfúz,” the Preserved Tablet, upon which are written all Allah’s decrees and the actions of mankind good (white) and evil (black). This is the “perspicuous Book” of the Koran, chaps. vi. 59. The idea again is Guebre.
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the Queen continued: “When the angel said, ‘And know thou that my hands lay hold upon the roots of the earth,’ he asked, ‘And hath Allah created other worlds than this within the mountain Kaf?’ The Angel answered, ‘Yes, He hath made a world white as silver, whose vastness none knoweth save Himself, and hath peopled it with Angels, whose meat and drink are His praise and hallowing and continual blessings upon His Prophet Mohammed (whom Allah bless and keep!). Every Thursday night531 they repair to this mountain and worship in congregation Allah until the morning, and they assign the future recompense of their lauds and litanies to the sinners of the Faith of Mohammed (whom Allah assain and save!) and to all who make the Ghusl ablution of Friday; and this is their function until the Day of Resurrection.’ Asked Bulukiya, ‘And hath Allah created other mountains behind the mountain Kaf?’; whereto he answered, ‘Yes, behind this mountain is a range of mountains five hundred years’ journey long, of snow and ice, and this it is that wardeth off the heat of Jahannam from the world, which verily would else be consumed thereby. Moreover, behind the mountain Kaf are forty worlds, each one the bigness of this world forty times told, some of gold and some of silver and others of carnelian. Each of these worlds hath its own colour, and Allah hath peopled them with angels, that know not Eve nor Adam nor night nor day, and have no other business than to celebrate His praises and hallow Him and make profession of His Unity and proclaim His Omnipotence and supplicate Him on behalf of the followers of Mohammed (whom Allah bless and keep!). And know, also, O Bulukiya, that the earths were made in seven stages, one upon another, and that Allah hath created one of His Angels, whose stature and attributes none knoweth but Himself and who beareth the seven stages upon his shoulders. Under this Angel Almighty Allah hath created a great rock, and under the rock a bull, and under the bull a huge fish, and under the fish a mighty ocean.532 God once told Isa (with whom be peace! ) of this fish, and he said, ‘O Lord show me the fish, that I may look upon it.’ So the Almighty commanded an angel to take Isa and show him the fish. Accordingly, he took him up and carried him (with whom be peace!) to the sea, wherein the fish dwelt, and said, ‘Look, O Isa, upon the fish.’ He looked but at first saw nothing, when, suddenly, the fish darted past like lightning. At this sight Isa fell down aswoon, and when he came to himself, Allah spake to him by inspiration, saying, ‘O Isa, hast thou seen the fish and comprehended its length and its breadth?’ He replied, ‘By Thy honour and glory, O Lord, I saw no fish; but there passed me by a great bull, whose length was three days’ journey, and I know not what manner of thing this bull is.’ Quoth Allah, ‘O Isa, this that thou sawest and which was three days in passing by thee, was but the head of the fish;533 and know that every day I create forty fishes like unto this.’ And Isa hearing this marvelled at the power of Allah the Almighty. Asked Bulukiya, ‘What hath Allah made beneath this sea which containeth the fish?’; and the Angel answered, ‘Under the sea the Lord created a vast abyss of air, under the air fire, and under the fire a mighty serpent, by name Falak; and were it not for fear of the Most Highest, this serpent would assuredly swallow up all that is above it, air and fire and the Angel and his burden, without sensing it.’”—And Shahrazed perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the angel said to Bulukiya when describing the serpent, “‘And were it not for fear of the Most Highest, this serpent would assuredly swallow up all that is above it, air and fire, and the Angel and his burden, without sensing it. When Allah created this serpent He said to it by inspiration, ‘I will give thee somewhat to keep for me, so open thy mouth.’ The serpent replied, ‘Do whatso Thou wilt;’ and opened his mouth and God placed Hell into his maw, saying, ‘Keep it until the Day of Resurrection. When that time comes, the Almighty will send His angels with chains to bring Hell and bind it until the Day when all men shall meet; and the Lord will order Hell to go open its gates and there will issue therefrom sparks bigger than the mountains.’ When Bulukiya heard these things he wept with sore weeping and, taking leave of the Angel, fared on westwards, till he came in sight of two creatures sitting before a great shut gate. As he drew near, he saw that one of the gatekeepers had the semblance of a lion and the other that of a bull; so he saluted them and they returned his salam and enquired who and whence he was and whither he was bound. Quoth he, ‘I am of the sons of Adam, a wanderer for the love of Mohammed (whom Allah assain and save!) and I have strayed from my way.’ Then he asked them what they were and what was the gate before which they sat, and they answered, ‘We are the guardians of this gate thou seest and we have no other business than the praise and hallowing of Allah and the invocation of blessings on Mohammed (whom may He bless and keep!).’ Bulukiya wondered and asked them, ‘What is within the gate?’; and they answered, ‘We wot not.’ Then quoth he, ‘I conjure you, by the truth of your glorious Lord, open to me the gate, that I may see that which is therein.’ Quoth they, ‘We cannot, and none may open this gate, of all created beings save Gabriel, the Faithful One, with whom be peace!’ Then Bulukiya lifted up his voice in supplication to Allah, saying, ‘O Lord, send me thy messenger Gabriel, the Faithful One, to open for me this gate that I may see what be therein;’ and the Almighty gave ear unto his prayer and commanded the Archangel to descend to earth and open to him the gate of the Meeting-place of the Two Seas. So Gabriel descended and, saluting Bulukiya, opened the gate to him, saying, ‘Enter this door, for Allah commandeth me to open to thee.’ So he entered and Gabriel locked the gate behind him and flew back to heaven. When Bulukiya found himself within the gate, he looked and beheld a vast ocean, half salt and half fresh, bounded on every side by mountain ranges of red ruby whereon he saw angels singing the praises of the Lord and hallowing Him. So he went up to them and saluted them and having received a return of his salam, questioned them of the sea and the mountains. Replied they, ‘This place is situate under the Arsh or empyreal heaven; and this Ocean causeth the flux and flow of all the seas of the world; and we are appointed to distribute them and drive them to the various parts of the earth, the salt to the salt and the fresh to the fresh,534 and this is our employ until the Day of Doom. As for the mountain ranges they serve to limit and to contain the waters. But thou, whence comest thou and whither art thou bound?’ So he told them his story and asked them of the road. They bade him traverse the surface of the ocean which lay before him: so he anointed his feet with the juice of the herb he had with him, and taking leave of the angels, set out upon the face of the sea and sped on over the water nights and days; and as he was faring, behold, he met a handsome youth journeying along like himself, whereupon he greeted him and he returned his greeting. After they parted he espied four great Angels wayfaring over the face of the sea, and their going was like the blinding lightning; so he stationed himself in their road, and when they came up to him, he saluted them and said to them, ‘I ask you by the Almighty, the Glorious, to tell me your names and whither are ye bound?’ Replied the first Angel, ‘My name is Gabriel and these my companions are called Isráfíl and Míká’íl and Azrá’íl. There hath appeared in the East a mighty dragon, which hath laid waste a thousand cities and devoured their inhabitants; wherefore Allah Almighty hath commanded us to go to him and seize him and cast him into Jahannam.’ Bulukiya marvelled at the vastness of their stature and fared on, as before, days and nights, till he came to an island where he landed and walked about for a while,”—And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
534 i.e. Lakes and rivers.
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that “Bulukiya landed on the island and walked about for a while, till he saw a comely young man with light shining from his visage, sitting weeping and lamenting between two built tombs. So he saluted him and he returned his salutation, and Bulukiya said to him, ‘Who art thou and what are these two built tombs between which thou sittest, and wherefore this wailing?’ He looked at him and wept with sore weeping, till he drenched his clothes with his tears; then said, ‘Know thou, O my brother, mine is a marvellous story and a wondrous; but I would have thee sit by me and first tell me thy name and thine adventures and who thou art and what brought thee hither; after which I will, in turn, relate to thee my history.’ So Bulukiya sat down by him and related to him all that had befallen him from his father’s death,535 adding, ‘Such is my history, the whole of it, and Allah alone knoweth what will happen to me after this.’ When the youth heard his story, he sighed and said, ‘O thou unhappy! How few things thou hast seen in thy life compared with mine. Know, O Bulukiya, that unlike thyself I have looked upon our lord Solomon, in his life, and have seen things past count or reckoning. Indeed, my story is strange and my case out of range, and I would have thee abide with me, till I tell thee my history and acquaint thee how I come to be sitting here.’” Hearing this much Hasib again interrupted the Queen of the Serpents and said to her, “Allah upon thee, O Queen, release me and command one of thy servants carry me forth to the surface of the earth, and I will swear an oath to thee that I will never enter the Hammam-bath as long as I live.” But she said, “This is a thing which may not be nor will I believe thee upon thine oath.” When he heard this, he wept and all the serpents wept on his account and took to interceding for him with their Queen, saying, “We beseech thee, bid one of us carry him forth to the surface of the earth, and he will swear thee an oath never to enter the bath his life long.” Now when Yamlaykhá (for such was the Queen’s name) heard their appeal, she turned to Hasib and made him swear to her an oath; after which she bade a serpent carry him forth to the surface of the earth. The serpent made ready, but as she was about to go away with him, he turned to Queen Yamlaykha and said, “I would fain have thee tell me the history of the youth whom Bulukiya saw sitting between two tombs.” So she said: “Know, O Hasib, that when Bulukiya sat down by the youth and told him his tale, from first to last, in order that the other might also recount his adventures and explain the cause of his sitting between the two tombs.”—And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
535 Here some abridgement is necessary, for we have another recital of what has been told more than once.
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the Queen continued: “When Bulukiya ended his recount, the youth said, ‘How few things of marvel hast thou seen in thy life, O unhappy! Now I have looked upon our lord Solomon while he was yet living and I have witnessed wonders beyond compt and conception.’ And he began to relate
‘Know, O my brother, that my sire was a King called Teghmús, who reigned over the land of Kabul and the Banu Shahlán, ten thousand warlike chiefs, each ruling over an hundred walled cities and a hundred citadels; and he was suzerain also over seven vassal princes, and tribute was brought to him from the broad lands between East and West. He was just and equitable in his rule and Allah Almighty had given him all this and had bestowed on him such mighty empire, yet had He not vouchsafed him a son (though this was his dearest wish) to inherit the kingdom after his decease. So one day it befell that he summoned the Olema and astrologers, the mathematicians and almanac-makers, and said, ‘Draw me my horoscope and look if Allah will grant me a son to succeed me.’ Accordingly, they consulted their books and calculated his dominant star and the aspects thereof; after which they said to him, ‘Know, O King, that thou shalt be blessed with a son, but by none other than the daughter of the King of Khorásán.’ Hearing this Teghmus joyed with exceeding joy and, bestowing on the astrologers and wizards treasure beyond numbering or reckoning, dismissed them. His chief Wazir was a renowned warrior, by name ‘Ayn Zár, who was equal to a thousand cavaliers in battle; so him he summoned and, repeating to him what the astrologers had predicted, he said, ‘O Wazir, it is my will that thou equip thee for a march to Khorasan and demand for me the hand of its King Bahrwan’s daughter.’ Receiving these orders the Wazir at once proceeded to get ready for the journey and encamped without the town with his troops and braves and retinue, whilst King Teghmus made ready as presents for the King of Khorasan fifteen hundred loads of silks and precious stones, pearls and rubies and other gems, besides gold and silver; and he also prepared a prodigious quantity of all that goeth to the equipment of a bride; then, loading them upon camels and mules, delivered them to Ayn Zar, with a letter to the following purport. ‘After invoking the blessing of Heaven, King Teghmus to King Bahrwan, greeting. Know that we have taken counsel with the astrologers and sages and mathematicians, and they tell us that we shall have boon of a boy child, and that by none other than thy daughter. Wherefore I have despatched unto thee my Wazir Ayn Zar, with great store of bridal gear, and I have appointed him to stand in my stead and to enter into the marriage-contract in my name. Furthermore I desire that of thy favour thou wilt grant him his request without stay or delay; for it is my own, and all graciousness thou showest him, I take for myself; but beware of crossing me in this, for know, O King Bahrwan, that Allah hath bestowed upon me the Kingdom of Kabul, and hath given me dominion over the Banu Shahlan and vouchsafed me a mighty empire; and if I marry thy daughter, we will be, I and thou, as one thing in kingship; and I will send thee every year as much treasure as will suffice thee. And this is my desire of thee.’ Then King Teghmus sealed the letter with his own ring and gave it to the Wazir, who departed with a great company and journeyed till he drew near the capital of Khorasan. When King Bahrwan heard of his approach, he despatched his principal Emirs to meet him,537 with a convoy of food and drink and other requisites, including forage for the steeds. So they fared forth with the train till they met the Wazir; then, alighting without the city, they exchanged salutations and abode there, eating and drinking, ten days; at the end of which time they mounted and rode on into the town, where they were met by King Bahrwan, who came out to greet the Wazir of King Teghmus and alighting, embraced him and carried him to his citadel. Then Ayn Zar brought out the presents and laid them before King Bahrwan, together with the letter of King Teghmus, which when the King read and understood, he joyed with joy exceeding and welcomed the Wazir, saying, ‘Rejoice in winning thy wish; and know that if King Teghmus sought of me my life, verily I would give it to him.’ Then he went in forthright to his daughter and her mother and his kinsfolk, and acquainting them with the King of Kabul’s demand sought counsel of them, and they said, ‘Do what seemeth good to thee.’—And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
536 This name, “King of Life,” is Persian: “Tegh” or “Tigh” means a scimitar and “Bahrwán,” is, I conceive, a mistake for “Bihrún,” the Persian name of Alexander the Great.
537 Arab. “Mulákát” or meeting the guest which, I have said, is an essential part of Eastern ceremony, the distance from the divan, room, house or town being proportioned to his rank or consideration.
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that “King Bahrwan consulted his daughter and her mother and his kinsfolk and they said, ‘Do what seemeth good to thee.’ So he returned straightway to the Minister Ayn Zar and notified to him that his desire had been fulfilled; and the Wazir, abode with him two months, at the end of which time he said to him, ‘We beseech thee to bestow upon us that wherefore we came, so we may depart to our own land.’ ‘I hear and obey,’ answered the King. Then he prepared all the gear wanted for the wedding; and when this was done he assembled his Wazirs and all his Emirs and the Grandees of his realm and the monks and priests who tied the knot of marriage between his daughter and King Teghmus by proxy. And King Bahrwan bade decorate the city after the goodliest fashion and spread the streets with carpets. Then he equipped his daughter for the journey and gave her all manner of presents and rarities and precious metals, such as none may describe; and Ayn Zar departed with the Princess to his own country. When the news of their approach reached King Teghmus, he bade celebrate the wedding festivities and adorn the city; after which he went in unto the Princess and abated her maidenhead; nor was it long before she conceived by him and, accomplishing her months, bare a man-child like the moon on the night of its full. When King Teghmus knew that his wife had given birth to a goodly son, he rejoiced with exceeding joy and, summoning the sages and astrologers and mathematicians, said to them, ‘I would that ye draw the horoscope of the newborn child with his ascendant and its aspects and acquaint me what shall befall him in his lifetime.’ So they made their calculations and found them favourable; but, that he would, in his fifteenth year, be exposed to perils and hardships, and that if he survived, he would be happy and fortunate and become a greater king than his father and a more powerful. The King rejoiced greatly in this prediction and named the boy Janshah. Then he delivered him to the nurses, wet and dry, who reared him excellently well till he reached his fifth year, when his father taught him to read the Evangel and instructed him in the art of arms and lunge of lance and sway of sword, so that in less than seven years he was wont to ride a-hunting, and a-chasing; he became a doughty champion, perfect in all the science of the cavalarice and his father was delighted to hear of his knightly prowess. It chanced one day that King Teghmus and his son accompanied by the troops rode out for sport into the woods and wilds and hunted till mid afternoon of the third day, when the Prince started a gazelle of a rare colour, which fled before him. So he gave chase to it, followed by seven of King Teghmus’s white slaves all mounted on swift steeds, and rode at speed after the gazelle, which fled before them till she brought them to the sea shore. They all ran at her to take her as their quarry, but she escaped from them and, throwing herself into the waves,”—And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that “when Janshah and the Mamelukes ran at the gazelle, to take her as their quarry, she escaped from them and, throwing herself into the waves, swam out to a fishing bark, that was moored near the shore, and sprang on board. Janshah and his followers dismounted and, boarding the boat, made prize of the gazelle and were minded to return to shore with her, when the Prince espied a great island in the offing and said to his merry men, ‘I have a longing to visit yonder island.’ They answered, ‘We hear and obey,’ and sailed on till they came to the island, where they landed and amused themselves with exploring the place. Then they again embarked and taking with them the gazelle, set out to return homeward, but the murk of evening overtook them and they missed their way on the main. Moreover a strong wind arose and crave the boat into mid-ocean, so that when they awoke in the morning, they found themselves lost at sea. Such was their case; but as regards King Teghmus, when he missed his son, he commanded his troops to make search for him in separate bodies; so they dispersed on all sides and a company of them, coming to the sea shore, found there the Prince’s white slave whom he had left in charge of the horses. They asked him what was become of his master and the other six, and he told them what had passed whereupon they took him with them and returned to the King and acquainted him with what they had learnt. When Teghmus heard their report, he wept with sore weeping and cast the crown from his head, biting his hands for vexation. Then he rose forthright and wrote letters and despatched them to all the islands of the sea. Moreover he got together an hundred ships and filling them with troops, sent them to sail about in quest of Janshah, while he himself withdrew with his troops to his capital, where he abode in sore concern. As for Janshah’s mother, when she heard of his loss she buffeted her face and began the mourning ceremonies for her son making sure that he was dead. Meanwhile, Janshah and his men ceased not driving before the wind and those in search of them cruised about for ten days till, finding no trace they returned and reported failure to the King. But a stiff gale caught the Prince’s craft which went spooning till they made a second island, where they landed and walked about. Presently they came upon a spring of running water in the midst of the island and saw from afar a man sitting hard by it. So they went up to him and saluted him, and he returned their salam, speaking in a voice like the whistle538 of birds. Whilst Janshah stood marvelling at the man’s speech he looked right and left and suddenly split himself in twain, and each half went a different way.539 Then there came down from the hills a multitude of men of all kinds, beyond count and reckoning; and they no sooner reached the spring, than each one divided into two halves and rushed on Janshah and his Mamelukes to eat them. When the voyagers saw this, they turned and fled seawards; but the cannibals pursued them and caught and ate three of the slaves, leaving only three slaves who with Janshah reached the boat in safety; then launching her made for the water and sailed nights and days without knowing whither their ship went. They killed the gazelle, and lived on her flesh, till the winds drove them to a third island which was full of trees and waters and flower-gardens and orchards laden with all fashion of fruits: and streams strayed under the tree shade: brief, the place was a Garden of Eden. The island pleased the Prince and he said to his companions, ‘Which of you will land and explore?’ Then said one of the slaves, ‘That will I do’; but he replied, ‘This thing may not be; you must all land and explore the place while I abide in the boat.’ So he set them ashore,”— And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
538 Arab. “Sifr”: whistling is held by the Badawi to be the speech of devils; and the excellent explorer Burckhardt got a bad name by the ugly habit.
539 The Arabs call “Shikk” (split man) and the Persians “Nímchahrah” (half-face) a kind of demon like a man divided longitudinally: this gruesome creature runs with amazing speed and is very cruel and dangerous. For the celebrated soothsayers “Shikk” and “Sátih” see Chenery’s Al–Hariri, p. 371.
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that “the Prince set them ashore, and they searched the island, East and West, but found no one; then they fared on inland to the heart thereof, till they came to a Castle compassed about with ramparts of white marble, within which was a palace of the clearest crystal and, set in its centre a garden containing all manner fruits beyond description, both fresh and dry, and flowers of grateful odour and trees and birds singing upon the boughs. Amiddlemost the garden was a vast basin of water, and beside it a great open hall with a raised dais whereon stood a number of stools surrounding a throne of red gold, studded with all kinds of jewels and especially rubies and seeing the beauty of the Castle and of the Garden they entered and explored in all directions, but found no one there, so after rummaging the Castle they returned to Janshah and told him what they had seen. When he heard their report, he cried, ‘Needs must I solace myself with a sight of it;’ so he landed and accompanied them to the palace, which he entered marvelling at the goodliness of the place. They then visited every part of the gardens and ate of the fruits and continued walking till it waxed dark, when they returned to the estrade and sat down, Janshah on the throne in the centre and the three others on the stools ranged to the right and left. Then the Prince, there seated, called to mind his separation from his father’s throne-city540 and country and friends and kinsfolk; and fell a-weeping and lamenting over their loss whilst his men wept around him. And as they were thus sorrowing behold, they heard a mighty clamour, that came from seaward and looking in the direction of the clamour saw a multitude of apes, as they were swarming locusts. Now the castle and the island belonged to these apes, who, finding the strangers’ boat moored to the strand, had scuttled it and after repaired to the palace, where they came upon Janshah and his men seated.” Here the Serpent-queen again broke off her recital saying, “All this, O Hasib, was told to Bulukiya by the young man sitting between the two tombs.” Quoth Hasib, “And what did Janshah do with the apes?”; so the Queen resumed her tale: “He and his men were sore affrighted at the appearance of the apes, but a company of them came up to the throne whereon he sat and, kissing the earth before him, stood awhile in his presence with their paws upon their breasts in posture of respect. Then another troop brought to the castle gazelles which they slaughtered and skinned; and roasting pieces of the flesh till fit for food they laid them on platters of gold and silver and spreading the table, made signs to Janshah and his men to eat. The Prince and his followers came down from their seats and ate, and the apes ate with them, till they were satisfied, when the apes took away the meat and set on fruits of which they partook and praised Allah the most Highest. Then Janshah asked the apes by signs what they were and to whom the palace belonged, and they answered him by signals, ‘Know ye that this island belonged of yore to our lord Solomon, son of David (on both of whom be peace!), and he used to come hither once every year for his solace,’”—And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
540 Arab. “Takht” (Persian) = a throne or a capital.
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when Janshah asked the apes by signs to whom the palace belonged, they answered him by signals, “‘Of a truth this place belonged of yore to our lord Solomon, son of David (on both of whom be peace!), who used to come hither once every year for his solace, and then wend his ways.’ Presently the apes continued, ‘And know, O King, that thou art become our Sultan and we are thy servants; so eat and drink, and whatso thou ever bid us, that will we do.’ So saying, they severally kissed the earth between the hands of Janshah and all took their departure. The Prince slept that night on the throne and his men on the stools about him, and on the morrow, at daybreak, the four Wazirs or Captains of the apes presented themselves before him, attended by their troops, who ranged themselves about him, rank after rank, until the place was crowded. Then the Wazirs approached and exhorted him by signs to do justice amongst them and rule them righteously; after which the apes cried out to one another and went away, all save a small party which remained in presence to serve him. After awhile, there came up a company of apes with huge dogs in the semblance of horses, each wearing about his head a massive chain; and signed to Janshah and his three followers to mount and go with them. So they mounted, marvelling at the greatness of the dogs, and rode forth, attended by the four Wazirs and a host of apes like swarming locusts, some riding on dogs and others afoot till they came to the sea-shore. Janshah looked for the boat which brought him and finding it scuttled turned to the Wazirs and asked how this had happened to it; whereto they answered, ‘Know, O King, that, when thou camest to our island, we kenned that thou wouldst be Sultan over us and we feared lest ye all flee from us, in our absence; and embark in the boat, so we sank it.’ When Janshah heard this, he turned to his Mamelukes and said to them, ‘We have no means of escaping from these apes, and we must patiently await the ordinance of the Almighty.’ Then they fared on inland and ceased not faring till they came to the banks of a river, on whose other side rose a high mountain, whereon Janshah saw a multitude of Ghuls. So he turned to the apes and asked them, ‘What are these Ghuls?’ and they answered, ‘Know, O King, that these Ghuls are our mortal foes and we come hither to do battle with them.’ Janshah marvelled to see them riding horses, and was startled at the vastness of their bulk and the strangeness of their semblance; for some of them had heads like bulls and others like camels. As soon as the Ghuls espied the army of the apes, they charged down to the river bank and standing there, fell to pelting them with stones as big as maces; and between them there befell a sore fight. Presently, Janshah, seeing that the Ghuls were getting the better of the apes, cried out to his men, saying, ‘Unease your bows and arrows and shoot at them your best shafts and keep them off from us.’ They did so and slew of the Ghuls much people, when there fell upon them sore dismay and they turned to flee; but the apes, seeing Janshah’s prowess, forded the river and headed by their Sultan chased the Ghuls, killing many of them in the pursuit, till they reached the high mountain where they disappeared. And while exploring the said mountain Janshah found a tablet of alabaster, whereon was written, ‘O thou who enterest this land, know that thou wilt become Sultan over these apes and that from them there is no escape for thee, except by the passes that run east and west through the mountains. If thou take the eastern pass, thou wilt fare through a country swarming with Ghuls and wild beasts, Marids and Ifrits, and thou wilt come, after three months’ journeying, to the ocean which encompasseth the earth; but, if thou travel by the western pass, it will bring thee, after four months’ journeying, to the head of the Wady of Emmets.541 When thou hast followed the road, that leads through this mountain, ten days,’ “—And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
541 Arab. “Wady al-Naml”; a reminiscence of the Koranic Wady (chaps. xxvii.), which some place in Syria and others in Táif.
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Janshah read this much upon the tablet and found, at the end of the inscription, “‘Then thou wilt come to a great river, whose current is so swift that it blindeth the eyes. Now this river drieth up every Sabbath,542 and on the opposite bank lies a city wholly inhabited by Jews, who the faith of Mohammed refuse; there is not a Moslem among the band nor is there other than this city in the land. Better therefore lord it over the apes, for so long as thou shalt tarry amongst them they will be victorious over the Ghuls. And know also that he who wrote this tablet was the lord Solomon, son of David (on both be peace!).’ When Janshah read these words, he wept sore and repeated them to his men. Then they mounted again and, surrounded by the army of the apes who were rejoicing in their victory, returned to the castle. Here Janshah abode, Sultaning over them, for a year and a half. And at the end of this time, he one day commanded the ape-army to mount and go forth a hunting with him, and they rode out into the woods and wilds, and fared on from place to place, till they approached the Wady of Emmets, which Janshah knew by the description of it upon the alabaster tablet. Here he bade them dismount and they all abode there, eating and drinking a space of ten days, after which Janshah took his men apart one night and said, ‘I purpose we flee through the Valley of Emmets and make for the town of the Jews; it may be Allah will deliver us from these apes and we will go God’s ways.’ They replied, ‘We hear and we obey:’ so he waited till some little of the night was spent then, donning his armour and girding his sword and dagger and such like weapons, and his men doing likewise, they set out and fared on westwards till morning. When the apes awoke and missed Janshah and his men, they knew that they had fled. So they mounted and pursued them, some taking the eastern pass and others that which led to the Wady of Emmets, nor was it long before the apes came in sight of the fugitives, as they were about to enter the valley, and hastened after them. When Janshah and his men saw them, they fled into the Emmet-valley; but the apes soon overtook them and would have slain them, when behold, there rose out of the earth a multitude of ants like swarming locusts, as big as dogs, and charged home upon the apes. They devoured many of their foes, and these also slew many of the ants; but help came to the emmets: now an ant would go up to an ape and smite him and cut him in twain, whilst ten apes could hardly master one ant and bear him away and tear him in sunder. The sore battle lasted till the evening but the emmets were victorious. In the gloaming Janshah and his men took to flight and fled along the sole of the Wady.”—And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
542 This is the old, old fable of the River Sabbation which Pliny ((xxx). 18) reports as “drying up every Sabbath-day” (Saturday): and which Josephus reports as breaking the Sabbath by flowing only on the Day of Rest.
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that “in the gloaming Janshah and his men took to flight and fled along the sole of the Wady till the morning. With the break of day, the apes were up and at them, which when the Prince saw, he shouted to his men, ‘Smite with your swords.’ So they bared their blades and laid on load right and left, till there ran at them an ape, with tusks like an elephant, and smote one of the Mamelukes and cut him in sunder. Then the apes redoubled upon Janshah and he fled with his followers into the lower levels of the valley, where he saw a vast river and by its side a mighty army of ants. When the emmets espied Janshah they pushed on and surrounded him, and one of the slaves fell to smiting them with his sword and cutting them in twain; whereupon the whole host set upon him and slew him. At this pass, behold, up came the apes from over the mountain and fell in numbers upon Janshah; but he tore off his clothes and, plunging into the river, with his remaining servant, struck out for the middle of the stream. Presently, he caught sight of a tree on the other bank; so he swam up to it and laying hold of one of its branches, hung to it and swung himself ashore, but as for the last Mameluke the current carried him away and dashed him to pieces against the mountain. Thereupon Janshah fell to wringing his clothes and spreading them in the sun to dry, what while there befell a fierce fight between the apes and the ants, until the apes gave up the pursuit and returned to their own land. Meanwhile, Janshah, who abode alone on the river-bank, could do naught but shed tears till nightfall, when he took refuge in a cavern and there passed the dark hours, in great fear and feeling desolate for the loss of his slaves. At daybreak awaking from his sleep he set out again and fared on nights and days, eating of the herbs of the earth, till he came to the mountain which burnt like fire, and thence he made the river which dried up every Sabbath. Now it was a mighty stream and on the opposite bank stood a great city, which was the capital of the Jews mentioned in the tablet. Here he abode till the next Sabbath, when the river dried up and he walked over to the other side and entered the Jew city, but saw none in the streets. So he wandered about till he came to the door of a homestead, which he opened and entering, espied within the people of the house sitting in silence and speaking not a syllable. Quoth he, ‘I am a stranger and anhungered;’ and they signed to him, as to say, ‘Eat and drink, but speak not.’543 So he ate and drank and slept that night and, when morning dawned, the master of the house greeted him and bade him welcome and asked him, ‘Whence comest thou and whither art thou bound?’ At these words Janshah wept sore and told him all that had befallen him and how his father was King of Kabul; whereat the Jew marvelled and said, ‘Never heard we of that city, but we have heard from the merchants of the caravans that in that direction lieth a land called Al–Yaman.’ ‘How far is that land from this place?’ asked Janshah, and the Jew answered, ‘The Cafilah merchants pretend that it is a two years and three months’ march from their land hither.’ Quoth Janshah, ‘And when doth the caravan come?’ Quoth the Jew, ‘Next year ’twill come.’ “—And Shahrazed perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
543 They were keeping the Sabbath. When lodging with my Israelite friends at Tiberias and Safet, I made a point of never speaking to them (after the morning salutation) till the Saturday was over.
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the Jew was questioned anent the coming of the caravan, he replied, “‘Next year ’twill come.’ At these words the Prince wept sore and fell a-sorrowing for himself and his Mamelukes; and lamenting his separation from his mother and father and all which had befallen him in his wanderings. Then said the Jew, ‘O young man, do not weep, but sojourn with us till the caravan shall come, when we will send thee with it to thine own country.’ So he tarried with the Jew two whole months and every day he went out walking in the streets for his solace and diversion. Now it chanced one day, whilst he paced about the main thoroughfares, as of wont, and was bending his steps right and left, he heard a crier crying aloud and saying, ‘Who will earn a thousand gold pieces and a slave-girl of surpassing beauty and loveliness by working for me between morning and noontide?’ But no one answered him and Janshah said in his mind, ‘Were not this work dangerous and difficult, he would not offer a thousand diners and a fair girl for half a day’s labour.’ Then he accosted the crier and said, ‘I will do the work;’ so the man carried him to a lofty mansion where they found one who was a Jew and a merchant, seated on an ebony chair, to whom quoth the crier, standing respectfully before him, ‘O merchant, I have cried every day these three months, and none hath answered, save this young man.’ Hearing his speech the Jew welcomed Janshah, led him into a magnificent sitting-room and signalled to bring food. So the servants spread the table and set thereon all manner meats, of which the merchant and Janshah ate, and washed their hands. Then wine was served up and they drank; after which the Jew rose and bringing Janshah a purse of a thousand diners and a slave-girl of rare beauty, said to him, ‘Take maid and money to thy hire.’ Janshah took them and seated the girl by his side when the trader resumed, ‘To-morrow to the work!’; and so saying he withdrew and Janshah slept with the damsel that night. As soon as it was morning, the merchant bade his slaves clothe him in a costly suit of silk whenas he came out of the Hammam–Bath. So they did as he bade them and brought him back to the house, whereupon the merchant called for harp and lute and wine and they drank and played and made merry till the half of the night was past, when the Jew retired to his Harim and Janshah lay with his slave-girl till the dawn. Then he went to the bath and on his return, the merchant came to him and said, ‘Now I wish thee to do the work for me.’ ‘I hear and obey,’ replied Janshah. So the merchant bade his slaves bring two she-mules and set Janshah on one, mounting the other himself. Then they rode forth from the city and fared on from morn till noon, when they made a lofty mountain, to whose height was no limit. Here the Jew dismounted, ordering Janshah to do the same; and when he obeyed the merchant gave him a knife and a cord, saying, ‘I desire that thou slaughter this mule.’ So Janshah tucked up his sleeves and skirts and going up to the mule, bound her legs with the cord, then threw her and cut her throat; after which he skinned her and lopped off her head and legs and she became a mere heap of flesh. Then said the Jew, ‘Slit open the mule’s belly and enter it and I will sew it up on thee. There must thou abide awhile and whatsoever thou seest in her belly, acquaint me therewith.’ So Janshah slit the mule’s belly and crept into it, whereupon the merchant sewed it up on him and withdrew to a distance,”—And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that “the merchant sewed up the mule’s belly on Janshah and, withdrawing to a distance, hid himself in the skirts of the mountain. After a while a huge bird swooped down on the dead mule and snatching it up, flew up with it to the top of the mountain, where it set down the quarry and would have eaten it; but Janshah, feeling the bird begin to feed, slit the mule’s belly and came forth. When the bird saw him, it took fright at him and flew right away; whereupon he stood up and looking right and left, saw nothing but the carcasses of dead men, mummied by the sun, and exclaimed, ‘There is no Majesty and there is no Might save in Allah, the Glorious, the Great!’ Then he looked down the precipice and espied the merchant standing at the mountain-foot, looking for him. As soon as the Jew caught sight of him, he called out to him, ‘Throw me down of the stones which are about thee, that I may direct thee to a way whereby thou mayst descend.’ So Janshah threw him down some two hundred of the stones, which were all rubies,544 chrysolites and other gems of price; after which he called out to him, saying, ‘Show me the way down and I will throw thee as many more.’ But the Jew gathered up the stones and, binding them on the back of the mule, went his way without answering a word and left Janshah alone on the mountain-top. When the Prince found himself deserted, he began to weep and implore help of Heaven, and thus he abode three days; after which he rose and fared on over the mountainous ground two month’s space, feeding upon hill-herbs; and he ceased not faring till he came to its skirts and espied afar off a Wady full of fruitful trees and birds harmonious, singing the praises of Allah, the One, the Victorious. At this sight he joyed with great joy and stayed not his steps till, after an hour or so, he came to a ravine in the rocks, through which the rain torrents fell into the valley. He made his way down the cleft till he reached the Wady which he had seen from the mountain-top and walked on therein, gazing right and left, nor ceased so doing until he came in sight of a great castle, towering high in air. As he drew near the gates he saw an old man of comely aspect and face shining with light standing thereat with a staff of carnelian in his hand, and going up to him, saluted him. The Shaykh returned his salam and bade him welcome, saying, ‘Sit down, O my son.’ So he sat down at the door of the castle and the old man said to him, ‘How camest thou to this land, untrodden by son of Adam before thee, and whither art thou bound?’ When Janshah heard his words he wept bitterly at the thought of all the hardships he had suffered and his tears choked his speech. Quoth the Shaykh, ‘O my son, leave weeping; for indeed thou makest my heart ache.’ So saying, he rose and set somewhat of food before him and said to him, ‘Eat.’ He ate and praised Allah Almighty; after which the old man besought him saying, ‘O my son, I would have thee tell me thy tale and acquaint me with thine adventures.’ So Janshah related to him all that had befallen him, from first to last, whereat the Shaykh marvelled with exceeding marvel. Then said the Prince, ‘Prithee inform me who is the lord of this valley and to whom doth this great castle belong?’ Answered the old man, ‘Know, O my son, this valley and all that is therein and this castle with all it containeth belong to the lord Solomon, son of David (on both be peace!). As for me, my name is Shaykh Nasr,545 King of the Birds; for thou must know that the lord Solomon committed this castle to my charge,’”—And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
544 Arab. “La’al” and “Yákút,” the latter also applied to the garnet and to a variety of inferior stones. The ruby is supposed by Moslems to be a common mineral thoroughly “cooked” by the sun, and produced only on the summits of mountains inaccessible even to Alpinists. The idea may have originated from exaggerated legends of the Badakhshán country (supposed to be the home of the ruby) and its terrors of break-neck foot-paths, jagged peaks and horrid ravines: hence our “balas-ruby” through the Spanish corruption “Balaxe.” Epiphanius, archbishop of Salamis in Cyprus, who died A.D. 403, gives, m a little treatise (De duodecim gemmis rationalis summi sacerdotis Hebræorum Liber, opera Fogginii, Romae, 1743, p. 30), a precisely similar description of the mode of finding jacinths in Scythia. “In a wilderness in the interior of Great Scythia,” he writes, “there is a valley begirt with stony mountains as with walls. It is inaccessible to man, and so excessively deep that the bottom of the valley is invisible from the top of the surrounding mountains. So great is the darkness that it has the effect of a kind of chaos. To this place certain criminals are condemned, whose task it is to throw down into the valley slaughtered lambs, from which the skin has been first taken off. The little stones adhere to these pieces of flesh. Thereupon the eagles, which live on the summits of the mountains, fly down following the scent of the flesh, and carry away the lambs with the stones adhering to them. They, then, who are condemned to this place watch until the eagles have finished their meal, and run and take away the stones.” Epiphanius, who wrote this, is spoken of in terms of great respect by many ecclesiastical writers, and St. Jerome styles the treatise here quoted, “Egregium volumen, quod si legere volueris, plenissimam scientiam consequeris ,” and, indeed, it is by no means improbable that it was from the account of Epiphanius that this story was first translated into Arabic. A similar account is given by Marco Polo and by Nicolò de Conti, as of a usage which they had heard was practiced in India, and the position ascribed to the mountain by Conti, namely, fifteen days’ journey north of Vijanagar, renders it highly probable that Golconda was alluded to. He calls the mountain Albenigaras, and says that it was infested with serpents. Marco Polo also speaks of these serpents, and while his account agrees with that of Sindbad, inasmuch as the serpents, which are the prey of Sindbad’s Rukh, are devoured by the Venetian’s eagles, that of Conti makes the vultures and eagles fly away with the meat to places where they may be safe from the serpents. (Introd. p. xiii., India in the Fifteenth Century, etc., R. H. Major, London, Hakluyt Soc. MDCCCLVII.)
545 Elder Victory: “Nasr” is a favourite name with Moslems.
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that “Shaykh Nasr pursued, ‘Thou must know that the lord Solomon com misted this castle to my charge and taught me the language of birds and made me ruler over all the fowls which be in the world; wherefore each and every come hither once in the twelvemonth, and I pass them in review: then they depart; and this is why I dwell here.’ When Janshah heard this, he wept sore and said to the Shaykh, ‘O my father, how shall I do to get back to my native land?’ Replied the old man, ‘Know, O my son, that thou art near to the mountain Kaf, and there is no departing for thee from this place till the birds come, when I will give thee in charge to one of them, and he will bear thee to thy native country. Meanwhile tarry with me here and eat and drink and divert thyself with viewing the apartments of this castle.’ So Janshah abode with Shaykh Nasr, taking his pleasure in the Wady and eating of its fruits and laughing and making merry with the old man, and leading a right joyous life till the day appointed for the birds to pay their annual visit to the Governor. Thereupon the Shaykh said to him, ‘O Janshah, take the keys of the castle and solace thyself with exploring all its apartments and viewing whatever be therein, but as regards such a room, beware and again beware of opening its door; and if thou gainsay me and open it and enter there, through nevermore shalt thou know fair fortune.’ He repeated this charge again and again with much instance; then he went forth to meet the birds, which came up, kind by kind, and kissed his hands. Such was his case; but as regards Janshah, he went round about the castle, opening the various doors and viewing the apartments into which they led, till he came to the room which Shaykh Nasr had warned him not to open or enter. He looked at the door and its fashion pleased him, for it had on it a padlock of gold, and he said to himself, ‘This room must be goodlier than all the others; would Heaven I wist what is within it, that Shaykh Nasr should forbid me to open its door! There is no help but that I enter and see what is in this apartment; for whatso is decreed unto the creature perforce he must fulfil.’ So he put out his hand and unlocked the door and entering, found himself before a great basin; and hard by it stood a little pavilion, builded all of gold and silver and crystal, with lattice-windows of jacinth. The floor was paved with green beryl and balas rubies and emeralds and other jewels, set in the ground-work mosaic-fashion, and in the midmost of the pavilion was a jetting fountain in a golden basin, full of water and girt about with figures of beasts and birds, cunningly wrought of gold and silver and casting water from their mouths. When the zephyr blew on them, it entered their ears and therewith the figures sang out with birdlike song, each in its own tongue. Beside the fountain was a great open saloon with a high dais whereon stood a vast throne of carnelian, inlaid with pearls and jewels, over which was spread a tent of green silk fifty cubits in width and embroidered with gems fit for seal rings and purfled with precious metals. Within this tent was a closet containing the carpet of the lord Solomon (on whom be peace!); and the pavilion was compassed about with a vast garden full of fruit trees and streams; while near the palace were beds of roses and basil and eglantine and all manner sweet-smelling herbs and flowers. And the trees bore on the same boughs fruits fresh and dry and the branches swayed gracefully to the wooing of the wind. All this was in that one apartment and Janshah wondered thereat till he was weary of wonderment; and he set out to solace himself in the palace and the garden and to divert himself with the quaint and curious things they contained. And first looking at the basin he saw that the gravels of its bed were gems and jewels and noble metals; and many other strange things were in that apartment.”—And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that “Janshah saw many strange things and admirable in that apartment. Then he entered the pavilion and mounting the throne, fell asleep under the tent set up thereover. He slept for a time and, presently awaking, walked forth and sat down on a stool before the door. As he sat, marvelling at the goodliness of that place, there flew up from mid sky three birds, in dove-form but big as eagles, and lighted on the brink of the basin, where they sported awhile. Then they put off their feathers and became three maidens,546 as they were moons, that had not their like in the whole world. They plunged into the basin and swam about and disported themselves and laughed, while Janshah marvelled at their beauty and loveliness and the grace and symmetry of their shapes. Presently, they came up out of the water and began walking about and taking their solace in the garden; and Janshah seeing them land was like to lose his wits. He rose and followed them, and when he overtook them, he saluted them and they returned his salam; after which quoth he, ‘Who are ye, O illustrious Princesses, and whence come ye?’ Replied the youngest damsel, ‘We are from the invisible world of Almighty Allah and we come hither to divert ourselves.’ He marvelled at their beauty and said to the youngest, ‘Have ruth on me and deign kindness to me and take pity on my case and on all that hath befallen me in my life.’ Rejoined she, ‘Leave this talk and wend thy ways’; whereat the tears streamed from his eyes, and he sighed heavily and repeated these couplets,
‘She shone out in the garden in garments all of green,
open vest and collars and flowing hair beseen:
‘What is thy name?’ I asked her, and she replied, ‘I’m she
Who roasts the hearts of lovers on coals of love and teen.’
Of passion and its anguish to her made my moan;
‘Upon a rock,’
she answered, ‘thy plaints are wasted clean.’
‘Even if thy heart,’ I told her, ‘be rock in very deed,
Yet hath God made fair water well from the rock, I
When the maidens heard his verses, they laughed and played and sang and made merry. Then he brought them somewhat of fruit, and they ate and drank and slept with him till the morning, when they donned their feather-suits, and resuming dove shape flew off and went their way. But as he saw them disappearing from sight, his reason well nigh fled with them, and he gave a great cry and fell down in a fainting fit and lay a-swooning all that day. While he was in this case Shaykh Nasr returned from the Parliament of the Fowls and sought for Janshah, that he might send him with them to his native land, but found him not and knew that he had entered the forbidden room. Now he had already said to the birds, ‘With me is a young man, a mere youth, whom destiny brought hither from a distant land; and I desire of you that ye take him up and carry him to his own country.’ And all answered, ‘We hear and we obey.’ So he ceased not searching for Janshah till he came to the forbidden door and seeing it open he entered and found the Prince lying a-swoon under a tree. He fetched scented waters and sprinkled them on his face, whereupon he revived and turned.”— And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
546 These are the “Swan-maidens” of whom Europe in late years has heard more than enough. It appears to me that we go much too far for an explanation of the legend; a high-bred girl is so like a swan in many points that the idea readily suggests itself. And it is also aided by the old Egyptian (and Platonic) belief in pre-existence and by the Rabbinic and Buddhistic doctrine of ante-natal sin, to say nothing of metempsychosis. (Joseph Ant. xvii.. 153.)
547 The lines have occurred before. I quote Mr. Payne for variety.
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that “when Shaykh Nasr saw Janshah lying a-swoon under the tree he fetched him somewhat of scented waters and sprinkled them on his face. Thereupon he revived and turned right and left, but seeing none by him save the Shaykh, sighed heavily and repeated these couplets,
‘Like fullest moon she shines on happiest night,
fair, with slender shape bedight.
Her eye-babes charm the world with gramarye;
Her lips remind of
rose and ruby light.
Her jetty locks make night upon her hips;
Ware, lovers, ware ye
of that curl’s despight!
Yea, soft her sides are, but in love her heart
Outhardens flint, surpasses syenite:
And bows of eyebrows shower glancey shafts
Despite the distance
never fail to smite.
Then, ah, her beauty! all the fair it passes;
Nor any rival her
who see the light.’
When Shaykh Nasr heard these verses, he said, ‘O my son, did I not warn thee not to open that door and enter that room? But now, O my son, tell me what thou sawest therein and acquaint me with all that betided thee.’ So Janshah related to him all that had passed between him and the three maidens, and Shaykh Nasr, who sat listening in silence said, ‘Know, O my son, that these three maidens are of the daughters of the Jann and come hither every year for a day, to divert themselves and make merry until mid afternoon, when they return to their own country.’ Janshah asked, ‘And where is their country?’; and the old man answered, ‘By Allah, O my son, I wot not:’ presently adding, ‘but now take heart and put away this love from thee and come with me, that I may send thee to thine own land with the birds.’ When Janshah heard this, he gave a great cry and fell down in a trance; and presently he came to himself, and said, ‘O my father indeed I care not to return to my native land: all I want is to foregather with these maidens and know, O my father, that I will never again name my people, though I die before thee.’ Then he wept and cried, ‘Enough for me that I look upon the face of her I love, although it be only once in the year!’ And he sighed deeply and repeated these couplets,
‘Would Heaven the Phantom548 spared the friend at night
And would this love for man were ever dight!
Were not my heart afire for love of you,
Tears ne’er had
stained my cheeks nor dimmed my sight.
By night and day, I bid my heart to bear
Its griefs, while fires of love my body blight.’
Then he fell at Shaykh Nasr’s feet and kissed them and wept sore, crying, ‘Have pity on me, so Allah take pity on thee and aid me in my strait so Allah aid thee!’ Replied the old man, ‘By Allah O my son, I know nothing of these maidens nor where may be their country; but, O my son, if thy heart be indeed set on one of them, tarry with me till this time next year for they will assuredly reappear; and, when the day of their coming draweth near, hide thyself under a tree in the garden. As soon as they have alighted and doffed their feather-robes and plunged into the lake and are swimming about at a distance from their clothes, seize the vest of her whom thy soul desireth. When they see thee, they will come a bank and she, whose coat thou hast taken, will accost thee and say to thee with the sweetest of speech and the most witching of smiles, ‘Give me my dress, O my brother, that I may don it and veil my nakedness withal.’ But if thou yield to her prayer and give her back the vest thou wilt never win thy wish: nay, she will don it and fly away to her folk and thou wilt nevermore see her again Now when thou hast gained the vest, clap it under thine armpit and hold it fast, till I return from the Parliament of the Fowls, when I will make accord between thee and her and send thee back to thy native land, and the maiden with thee. And this, O my son, is all I can do for thee, nothing more.’ “—And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
548 Arab. “Al–Khayál”: it is a synonym of “al-Tayf’ and the nearest approach to our “ghost,” as has been explained. In poetry it is the figure of the beloved seen when dreaming.
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that “quoth Shaykh Nasr to Janshah, ‘Hold fast the feather-robe of her thy soul desireth and give it not back to her till I return from the Parliament of the Fowls. And this, O my son, is all I can do for thee, nothing more.’ When Janshah heard this, his heart was solaced and he abode with Shaykh Nasr yet another year, counting the days as they passed until the day of the coming of the birds. And when at last the appointed time arrived the old man said to him, ‘Do as I enjoined thee and charged thee with the maidens in the matter of the feather-dress, for I go to meet the birds;’ and Janshah replied, ‘I hear and I obey, O my father.’ Then the Shaykh departed whilst the Prince walked into the garden and hid himself under a tree, where none could see him. Here he abode a first day and a second and a third, but the maidens came not; whereat he was sore troubled and wept and sighed from a heart hard tried; and he ceased not weeping and wailing till he fainted away. When he came to himself, he fell to looking now at the basin and now at the welkin, and anon at the earth and anon at the open country, whilst his heart grieved for stress of love-longing. As he was in this case, behold, the three doves appeared in the firmament, eagle-sized as before, and flew till they reached the garden and lighted down beside the basin. They turned right and left; but saw no one, man or Jann; so they doffed their feather-suits and became three maidens. Then they plunged into the basin and swam about, laughing and frolicking; and all were mother-naked and fair as bars of virgin silver. Quoth the eldest, ‘O my sister, I fear lest there be some one lying ambushed for us in the pavilion. Answered the second, ‘O sister, since the days of King Solomon none hath entered the pavilion, be he man or Jann;’ and the youngest added, laughing, ‘By Allah, O my sisters, if there be any hidden there, he will assuredly take none but me.’ Then they continued sporting and laughing and Janshah’s heart kept fluttering for stress of passion: but he hid behind the tree so that he saw without being seen. Presently they swam out to the middle of the basin leaving their clothes on the bank. Hereupon he sprang to his feet, and running like the darting levee to the basin’s brink, snatched up the feather-vest of the youngest damsel, her on whom his heart was set and whose name was Shamsah the Sun-maiden. At this the girls turned and seeing him, were affrighted and veiled their shame from him in the water. Then they swam near the shore and looking on his favour saw that he was bright faced as the moon on the night of fullness and asked him, ‘Who art thou and how camest thou hither and why hast thou taken the clothes of the lady Shamsah?’; and he answered, ‘Come hither to me and I will tell you my tale.’ Quoth Shamsah, ‘What deed is this, and why hast thou taken my clothes, rather than those of my sisters?’ Quoth he, ‘O light of mine eyes, come forth of the water, and I will recount thee my case and acquaint thee why I chose thee out.’ Quoth she, ‘O my lord and coolth of my eyes and fruit of my heart, give me my clothes, that I may put them on and cover my nakedness withal; then will I come forth to thee.’ But he replied, ‘O Princess of beautiful ones, how can I give thee back thy clothes and slay myself for love longing? Verily, I will not give them to thee, till Shaykh Nasr, the king of the birds, shall return.’ Quoth she, ‘If thou wilt not give me my clothes withdraw a little apart from us, that my sisters may land and dress themselves and lend me somewhat wherewithal to cover my shame.’ ‘I hear and obey,’ answered he, and walked away from them into the pavilion, whereupon the three Princesses came out and the two elder, donning their dress, gave Shamsah somewhat thereof, not enough to fly withal, and she put it on and came forth of the water, and stood before him, as she were the rising full moon or a browsing gazelle. Then Shamsah entered the pavilion, where Janshah was still sitting on the throne; so she saluted him and taking seat near him, said, ‘O fair of face, thou hast undone thyself and me; but tell us thy adventures that we may ken how it is with thee.’ At these words he wept till he drenched his dress with his tears; and when she saw that he was distracted for love of her, she rose and taking him by the hand, made him sit by her side and wiped away the drops with her sleeve; and said she, ‘O fair of face, leave this weeping and tell us thy tale.’ So he related to her all that had befallen him and described to her all he had seen,”—And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
She continued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that “the lady Shamsah said to Janshah, ‘Tell us thy tale;’ so he related to her all that had befallen him; and, after she had lent attentive ear she sighed and said, ‘O my lord, since thou art so fondly in love with me, give me my dress, that I may fly to my folk, I and my sisters, and tell them what affection thou hast conceived for me, and after I will come back to thee and carry thee to thine own country.’ When he heard this, he wept sore and replied, ‘Is it lawful to thee before Allah to slay me wrongfully?’ She asked, ‘O my lord, why should I do such wrongous deed?’; and he answered, ‘If I give thee thy gear thou wilt fly away from me, and I shall die forthright.’ Princess Shamsah laughed at this and so did her sisters; then said she to him, ‘Be of good cheer and keep thine eyes cool and clear, for I must needs marry thee.’ So saying, she bent down to him and embraced him and pressing him to her breast kissed him between the eyes and on his cheeks. They clipped and clasped each other awhile, after which they drew apart and sat down on the throne. Then the eldest Princess went out into the garden and, plucking somewhat of fruits and flowers, brought them into the pavilion; and they ate and drank and laughed and sported and made merry. Now Janshah was singular in beauty and loveliness and slender shape and symmetry and grace, and the Princess Shamsah said to him, ‘O my beloved, by Allah, I love thee with exceeding love and will never leave thee!’ When he heard her words, his breast broadened and he laughed for joy till he showed his teeth; and they abode thus awhile in mirth and gladness and frolic. And when they were at the height of their pleasure and joyance, behold, Shaykh Nasr returned from the Parliament of the Fowls and came in to them; whereupon they all rose to him and saluted him and kissed his hands. He gave them welcome and bade them be seated. So they sat down and he said to Princess Shamsah, ‘Verily this youth loveth thee with exceeding love; Allah upon thee, deal kindly with him, for he is of the great ones of mankind and of the sons of the kings, and his father ruleth over the land of Kabul and his reign compasseth a mighty empire.’ Quoth she, ‘I hear and I obey thy behest’; and, kissing the Shaykh’s hands stood before him in respect. Quoth he, ‘If thou say sooth, swear to me by Allah that thou wilt never betray him, what while thou abidest in the bonds of life.’ So she swore a great oath that she would never betray Janshah, but would assuredly marry him, and added, ‘Know, O Shaykh Nasr, that I never will forsake him.’ The Shaykh believed in her oath and said to Janshah, ‘Thanks be to Allah, who hath made you arrive at this understanding!’ Hereupon the Prince rejoiced with exceeding joy, and he and Shamsah abode three months with Shaykh Nasr, feasting and toying and making merry.”— And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
Last updated on Thu Mar 30 16:01:09 2006 for eBooks@Adelaide.