The Tale of the Four Dervishes (Ghasseh-e Chahar Dervish, Persian is a collection of allegorical stories by Amir Khusro written in Persian in the late 13th century.
Legend has it that Amir Khusro's master and Sufi saint Nizamuddin Auliya had fallen ill. To cheer him up, Amir Khusro started telling him a series of stories in Hazar-o yek shab (Arabian Nights) style. By the end of the stories, Nizamuddin Auliya had recovered, and prayed that anyone who listened to these stories would also be cured.
The book is in some ways similar to the Thousand and one nights in its method of dovetailing unfinished stories within each other. The central character is a king, Azad Bakht, who falls into depression after thinking about his own mortality, and so sets out from his palace seeking wise men. He comes upon four dervishes in a cemetery, and listens in to their fantastical stories.
These stories were originally written in Persian by Amir Khusro as "Ghasseh-e Chahar Darvesh" (The Tale of the Four Dervishes). It was initially translated by an unknown author into Urdu but the language was a highly literate one and was not understood by general public to enjoy. In 1801, College of Fort William in
started a project translating Indian literature. Mr. John Borthwick Gilchrist, a famous scholar of literature, asked Mir Amman, an employee of the college, to translate it into the Urdu language. Mir Calcutta translated it from Persian into everyday Urdu, under the title Bagh o Bahar (The Garden and the Spring Season). Later, in 1857, Duncan Forbes retranslated it into English. The translation of Mir Amman is still enjoyed as a classical work of literature for the common daily language of its time. Amman
"Beloved of God, turn towards me, and hear this helpless one's narrative.
O my friends, the place of my birth, and the country of my forefathers, is the land of Yaman;/2/ the father of this wretch was Maliku-t-Tujjar,/3/ 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 lakhsof rupis in cash, and merchandise of different countries. He had two children born to him; one was this pilgrim, who, clad in the kafni/4/ and saili,/5/ 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 **019** 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,/6/ [after the death of my parents,] my relations and strangers of every degree assembled [to perform the rites of mourning.] When the Fatiha/7/ for the dead was finished, they tied on this pilgrim's head the turban of his father;/8/ 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;/9/ the farrashes/10/ spread the carpets, and hung up thepardas/11/ and magnificent chicks./12/ 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/13/ 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/14/ of the choicest wines, and send for beautiful mistresses to participate in the pleasures thereof, and enjoy yourself in their company."
**020** 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."/15/Had I possessed even the treasures of Karun,/16/ 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]/17/ 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,**021** 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,/18/ 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,/19/ 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,/20/kababs,/21/ 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 **022** 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/22/ of gold and laid them before me, saying, "A caravan of merchants is on the point of setting out for Damascus./23/ 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;/24/ 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,/25/ 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,/26/and having marked my forehead with tika,/27/ "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 **023** 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,/28/ 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/29/ 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,/30/and even in this agony of death, she recollects him! I was muttering this **024** 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/31/ 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/32/ 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 inclosed 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;**025** 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."/33/
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,/34/ 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,/35/ he cleansed **026**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,/36/ 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,/37/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/38/ 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,/39/ and [a purse of] gold pieces I laid before 'Isa, the surgeon. I ordered elegant carpets to be spread for that fair one/40/, and caused her to sit upon the masnad./41/ 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./42/ 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./43/ 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 **027** 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."/44/ 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,/45/ and placed them before her-- she having written a note in a fair hand, delivered it to me, and said, "There is a Tirpauliya/46/ near the fort; in the adjoining street is a large mansion, and the master of that house is called Sidi Bahar;/47/ 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,] **028** 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,/48/ 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/49/ was such, that a whole multitude stopped in the street **029** 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/50/ 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/51/ him so hastily; therefore, to please him, I sat down again and said, "I agree to your request with all my heart,/52/ 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 **030** 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."/53/
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;/54/ 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!"/55/ 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/56/ been present at that hour, **031** he would have forgot his strains; and Baiju-Ba,ora/57/ 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/58/ so highly, and spoke of with such affection! I muttered the form of exorcism,/59/ 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 **032** 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/60/
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, **033** were spread in all directions, and rich masnads were laid out. Betelboxes, gulab-pashes, 'itr-dans, pik-dans,/61/ 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/62/ 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/63/ of ice were arranged, and the goglets/64/ 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;/65/ 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: **034**
"She on whom God hath bestowed beauty has no need of ornaments;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,/66/ arrived like an unexpected evil.
To please my guest I was compelled to advance, and receive her with the utmost kindness, **035** 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,/67/ 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./68/ 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,/69/ 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."/70/ 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 **036** in the assembly became inebriated and stupefied; I also became senseless.
*On to the conclusion of the Adventures of the First Darwesh*
N O T E S
/1/ The phrase do zanu ho baithna denotes a mode of sitting peculiar, more especially, to the Persians. It consists in kneeling down and sitting back on one's heels, a posture the very reverse of easy, at least, so it appears to us good Christians, accustomed to the use of chairs &c.
/2/ Arabia Felix, the south-west province of the peninsula.
/3/Maliku-t-Tujjar means the chief of merchants; it is a Persian or Arab title. The first title the East India Company received from the court of Dilli was 'Umdatu-t-Tujjar, or the noble merchants. Haji Khalil, the ambassador from Persia to the Bengal government, who was killed at Bombay, was Maliku-t-Tujjar; and after him Muhammad Nabi Khan, who likewise was ambassador from the Persian court, and came to Bengal; he has since experienced the sad uncertainty of Asiatic despotism; being despoiled of his property, blinded, and turned into the streets of Shiraz to beg. [S]
/4/ The peculiar dress worn by faqirs. V. "Qanooni Islam."
/5/ The seli, or saili, is a necklace of thread worn as a badge of distinction by a certain class of faqirs.
/6/ The fortieth day is an important period in Muhammadan rites; it is the great day of rejoicing after birth, and of mourning after death. To dignify this number still more, sick and wounded persons are supposed, by oriental novelists, to recover and perform the ablution of cure on the fortieth day. The number "forty" figures much in the Sacred Scriptures, for example, "The flood was forty days upon the earth," the Israelites forty years in the wilderness, &c., &c.
/7/ The Fatiha is the opening chapter of the Kur,an, which, being much read and repeated, denotes a short prayer or benediction in general.
/8/ This is the general mode of investiture in Hindustan to offices, places, &c.; to which a khil'at, or honorary dress, is added.
/9/ That part of a dwelling where male company are received.
/10/Farrashes are servants whose duty it is to spread carpets, sweep them and the walls; place the masnads, and hang up the pardas and chicks, pitch tents, &c.
/11/Pardas are quilted curtains, which hang before doors, &c.
/12/Chicks are curtains, or hanging screens, made of fine slips of bamboos, and painted and hung up before doors and windows, to prevent the persons inside from being seen, and to keep out insects; but they do not exclude the air, or the light from without. If there is no light in a room, a person may sit close to the chick, and not be seen by one who is without.-- However, no description can convey an adequate idea of pardas and chicks to the mere European.
/13/ I hope the reader will pardon me for the use of this old-fashioned Scottish expression which conveys the exact meaning of the original, viz., "muft par khane-pine-wale", i.e, "gentlemen who eat and drink at another's cost." The English terms, "parasites," or "diners out," do not fully express the meaning, though very near it.
/14/ Literally, "quaff the wine of the Ketaki, and pluck the flower of the rose." The Ketaki, a highly odoriferous flower, was used in giving fragrance to the wine.
/15/ A Persian proverb, like our own "Lightly come, lightly go."
/16/ A personage famed for his wealth, like the Croesus of the Greeks.
/17/ The reader will observe, in the original, that the terms rah-bat, a "highway," and bhent-mulakat, "a meeting," consist each of two nouns denoting precisely the same thing, only one of them is of Musalman usage, and the other Hindu. Such expressions are very common in the language.
/18/ Literally, "black takas," or copper coins, in opposition to "white" or silver; an expression similar to what we, in the vernacular, call "browns."
/19/Sharbat is a well-known oriental beverage [S: "similar to lemonade"], made in general with vegetable acids, sugar and water; sometimes of sugar and rose water only; to which ingredients some good Musalmans, on the sly, add a leettle rum or brandy.
/20/Pulao, (properly "pilav," as pronounced by the Persians and Turks,) is a common dish in the East. It consists of boiled rice well dried and mixed with eggs, cloves and other spices, heaped up on a plate, and inside of this savoury heap is buried a well-roasted fowl, or pieces of tender meat, such as mutton, &c.; in short, any good meat that may be procurable.
/21/Kabab is meat roasted or fried with spices; sometimes in small pieces, sometimes minced, sometimes on skewers, but never in joints as with us, though they make kababs of a whole lamb or kid.
/22/ The tora is a bag containing a thousand pieces (gold or silver). It is used in a collective sense, like the term kisa, or "purse," among the Persians and Turks; only the kisa consists of five hundred dollars, a sum very nearly equal to 1000rupis.
/23/ The word in the original is Damishk, an Indian corruption of the Arabic Dimashk, which latter mode of pronunciation I have followed in my printed edition.
/24/ The grand street where all the large shops are. In oriental towns of considerable size, there is generally a distinctbazar for each species of goods, such as "the cloth bazar," "the jewellery bazar," &c.
/25/ The merchant would have rather a puzzling voyage of it, if he went by sea from Yaman to Damascus.
/26/ The sacred rupee, or piece of silver, is a coin which is dedicated to the Imam Zamin, or "the guardian Imam," (a personage nearly allied to the guardian saint of a good Catholic), to avert evils from those who wear them tied on the arm, or suspended from the neck.
/27/ To mark the forehead with tika, or curdled milk, is a superstitious ceremony in Hindustan, as a propitious omen, on beginning a voyage or journey. It is probable that the Musulmans of India borrowed this ceremony, among several others, from the Hindus.
/28/ Literally, "when half the night was on this side, and half on that."
/29/ The dopatta is a large piece of cloth worn by women, which covers the head and goes round the body; the act of drawing her dopatta over her face is mentioned as a proof of her modesty. Men likewise wear the dopatta flung over the shoulders, or wrapped round the waist. It is often of gauze and muslin.
/30/ This is Mir Amman's plain expression. Ferdinand Smith's translation savours somewhat of the Hibernian, viz., "She still loves him who has murdered her."
/31/ "The ghari is the 60th part of 24 hours, or 24 of our minutes. It may be observed that the ghari was a fixed quantity, not subject to variation, like the pahar, which last, in the north of India, was made to vary from seven to nine gharies, according to the season of the year, or as it referred to the day or night in the same season. Since the introduction of European watches and clocks, the term ghari is applied to the Christian hour of sixty minutes.
/32/ Literally, "became such a mountain."
/33/ 'Isa is the name of Jesus among the Muhammadans; who all believe, (from the New Testament, transfused into the Kuran,) in the resurrection of Lazarus, and the numerous cures wrought by our Saviour. This, perhaps, induced Mir Amman to call the wonder-performing barber and surgeon 'Isa.
/34/ The Arabic expression is salam 'alaikum or 'alaika, i.e. "Peace be on you" or "on thee." This mode of greeting is used only towards Musulmans; and when it has passed between them, it is understood to be a pledge of friendly confidence and sincere good will.
/35/ The nim is a large and common tree in India, the leaves of which are very bitter, and used as a decoction to reduce contusions and inflammations; also to cleanse wounds.
/36/ The spirit drawn from the leaves of an aromatic tree which grows in Kashmir, called Bed-Mushk; it is a tonic and exhilarating.
/37/ A humble deportment when addressing superiors in India; and through complaisance, used sometimes to equals.
/38/ An act of ceremony ever observed amongst the well-bred in India, when a visitor takes leave. 'Itr is the essence of any flower, more especially of the rose (by us corruptly called "otto of roses"); and betel is a preparation of the aromatic leaf so generally used in the East, more especially in India. The moment they are introduced, it is a hint to the visitor to take leave.
/39/ The khil'at is a dress of honour, in general a rich one, presented by superiors to inferiors. In the zenith of the Mughal empire these khil'ats were expensive honours, as the receivers were obliged to make rich presents to the emperor for thekhil'ats they received. The khil'at is not necessarily restricted to a rich dress; sometimes, a fine horse, or splendid armour, &c., may form an item of it.
/40/ The word pari, "a fairy," is frequently used figuratively to denote a beautiful woman.
/41/Masnad means literally a sort of counterpane, made of silk, cloth, or brocade, which is spread on the carpet, where the master of the house sits and receives company; it has a large pillow behind to lean the back against, and generally two small ones on each side. It also, metaphorically, implies the seat on which kings, nawwabs, and governors sit the day they are invested with their royalty, &c. So that to say that Shah-'Alam sat on the masnad on such a day, means that he was on that day invested with royalty.
/42/ Asiatics divide the world into seven climes [S: and suppose that a constallation presides over the destiny of each clime]; so to reign over the seven climes means, metaphorically, to reign over the whole world; "king of the seven climes" was one of the titles of the Mogul emperors.
/43/ Literally, "it was not in the power of eyesight to dwell upon her splendour."
/44/ A Persian proverb, somewhat illustrative of a story told of a West India "nigger," whom his master used to over-flog. "Ah, massa," said Sambo, "poor man dare not vex-- him damned sorry though."
/45/ The qalam-dan, literally "the pen-holder," means here the small tray containing pens, inkstand, a knife, &c.
/46/Tirpauliya means three arched gates; there are many such which divide grand streets in Indian cities, and may be compared to our Temple Bar in London, only much more splendid.
/47/ Ethiopian, or Abyssinian slaves, are commonly called Sidis. They are held in great repute for honesty and attachment.
/48/ The chauk is in general a large square in Asiatic cities, where are situated the richest shops; it is sometimes a large wide street.
/49/ In the original there is a play on the word 'alam which signifies "beauty," "the world," also "a multitude of people," or what the French call "tout le monde."
/50/ Literally, "the observance of the [form of greeting] "sahib salamat," or "salam 'alaika," by which he had been at first accosted by his customer. --Vide note /34/ on this subject.
/51/ The verb uthna, like the Persian bar-khastan, is used idiomatically in the sense of "to go away," to "vanish."
/52/ Literally, "your command is on my head and eyes," a phrase imitated from the Persian "ba sar o chashm."
/53/ The phrase "rah dekhna," literally to look at the road," (by which a person is expected to come;) hence, very naturally and idiomatically it signifies "to be anxiously waiting for one." Again, rah dikhana is the causal form, signifying "to make one wait," or "keep one waiting."
/54/ The word janwar means "an animal," in general; but it is frequently used in the more restricted sense of "a bird".
/55/ The "evil eye" is a supersitious notion entertained by the ignorant in all countries even until this day. The Asiatics suppose that uncommon qualities of beauty, fortune or health, raise an ominous admiration admiration, which injures the possessor. To tell parents that their children are stout and healthy, is a mal-à-propos compliment; also to congratulate women on their healthy appearance is often unwelcome; the same ridiculous and supersitious accompany all admiration of beauty, fortune, &c. For this reason the visitor, in this case, do not compliment his host on the beauty of his person or the splendour of his dress; but instead make use of the above exclamation.
/56/ A celebrated musical performer in upper Hindustan, and considered as the first in his art. He lived in the reign of Akbar, somo 300 years ago.
/57/ A celebrated singer in upper Hindustan, who lived about 600 years ago. Tan-Sen and Ba,ora are still held in the highest reverence by singers and musical performers. In the original, there is a play on the words to tan and ba,ora which scarcely needs to be pointed out.
/58/ The original is, "jis ki itni ta'rif aur ishtiyak zahir kiya," where the word kiya agrees with ishtiyak only, being the noun nearest. A shallow critic would be apt to say that this is bad grammar.
/59/ "La haul parhna," to repeat or recite the "La haul," or more fully, "La haul wa la kuwwat illa b-Illahi;" meaning, "there is no power nor strength but in God." An exclamation used by Musalmans in cases of sudden surprise, misfortune, &c.
/60/ The insignia of state among the grandees of India.
/61/ The gulab-pash is a silver or gold utensil, like a French bottle, to sprinkle rose water on the company; the 'itr-dan one to hold essences, and pik-dans are of brass or silver to spit in, called by the French crachoirs.
/62/ The abdar-khana is a room appropriated to the cooling of water in ice or saltpetre, by the servant called the abdar.
/63/ Small leaden mugs with covers for the congelation of ice.
/64/ To cool the water which they contain; they are made of pewter.
/65/ The masnad and its large back pillow are criterions of Asiatic etiquette. To an inferior or dependant, the master of the house gives the corner of the masnad to sit on; to an equal or intimate friend, he gives part of the large pillow to lean on; to a superior, he abandons the whole pillow, and betakes himself to the corner of the masnad.
/66/ A kind of palki or sedan, for the conveyance of the women of people of rank in India.
/67/ A sign of afflicting surprise.
/68/ Majnun, a lover famed in eastern romance, who long pined in unprofitable love for Laili, an ugly hard-hearted mistress. The loves of Yusuf and Zulaikha, Khusru and Shirin, also of Laili and Majnun, are the fertile themes of Persian romance.
/69/ The Muhammadans reckon their day from sunset.
/70/ By sitting and drinking with the young merchant, when he ought to wait on his guests, and attend to their entertainment.
|**036** When the morning came, and the sun had risen the height of two spears,/1/ my eyes opened, but I saw nothing of the preparations, the assembly, or the beautiful lady-- only the empty house remained-- but in a corner [of the hall] something lay folded up in a blanket; I unfolded it, and saw the corpses of the young merchant and of his [black] woman, with their heads severed from their bodies. On seeing this sight, my senses forsook me, and my judgment was of no avail [in explaining to me] what this was and what had happened. I was staring about me, in every direction with amazement, when I perceived a eunuch (whom I had seen in the preparations of the entertainment). I was somewhat comforted on seeing him, and asked him an explanation of these strange events. He replied briefly, "What good will it do thee to hear an explanation of what has happened, that thou askest it?"|
I also reflected in my mind, that what he said was true; however, after a short pause, I said to the eunuch, well, do not tell it to me; but inform me in what apartment is the beloved lady. He answered, "Certainly; whatever I know I will relate to thee; but [I am surprised] that a man like thee, possessed of understanding, should, without her ladyship's permission, and without fear or ceremony, have indulged in a wine-drinking party after an intimacy of only a few days./2/ What does all this mean?"
I became much ashamed of my folly [and felt the justice] of the eunuch's reprobation. I could make no other reply than to say, "indeed I have been guilty, pardon me." At last the eunuch, becoming gracious, pointed out the beloved lady's abode, and took his leave; he himself went to bury the two beheaded bodies. I was free from any participation in that crime, and was anxious to meet the beautiful lady. After a painful and difficult search, I arrived at eventide in that street, [where she then was] according to (the eunuch's) direction; and in a corner near the door I passed the whole night **037** in a state of agitation. I did not hear the sound of any person's footsteps, nor did any one ask me about my affairs. In this forlorn state the morning came; when the sun rose, the lovely fair one looked at me from a window in the balcony of the house. My heart only knows the state of joy I felt at that moment. I praised the goodness of God.
In the meanwhile, an eunuch came up to me, and said, "Go and stay in this [adjoining] mosque; perhaps your wishes may, in that place, be accomplished, and you may yet gain the desires of your heart." According to his advice I got up from the place [where I had passed the night], and went to the mosque; but my eyes remained fixed in the direction of the door of the house, to see what might appear from behind the curtain of futurity. 1 waited for the arrival of evening with the anxiety of a person who keeps the fast [of Ramazan]./3/ At last the evening came, and the heavy day was removed from my heart. All at once the same eunuch who had given me the directions to find out the lady's house, came to the mosque. After finishing the evening prayer, having come up to me, that obliging person, who was in all my secrets, gave me much comfort, and taking me by the hand, led me along with him, proceeding onwards at last having made me sit down in a small garden, he said: "Stay here until your desire [of seeing your mistress] be accomplished." Then he himself having taken his leave, went, perhaps, to impart my wishes to the beautiful lady. I amused myself with admiring the beauty of the flowers of the garden, and the brightness of the full moon, and the play of the fountains in the canals and rivulets, a display like that of the months of Sawan and Bhadon; but when I beheld the roses, I thought of the beautiful rose-like angel, and when I gazed on the bright moon, I recollected her moon-like face. All these delightful scenes without her were so many thorns in my eyes.
At last God made her heart favourable to me. After a little while that lovely fair one **038** entered from the [garden] door adorned like the full moon, wearing a rich dress, enriched with pearls, and covered from head to feet with an embroidered veil; she stepped along the garden walk, and stood [at a little distance from me]. By her coming, the beauties of that garden, and the joy of my heart, revived. After strolling for a few minutes about the garden, she sat down in the alcove on a richly-embroidered masnad. I ran, and like the moth that flutters around the candle, offered my life as a sacrifice to her, and like a slave stood before her with folded arms. At this moment the eunuch appeared, and began to plead for my pardon and restoration to her favour. Addressing myself to him, I said, I am guilty, and culpable; whatever punishment is fixed on me, let it be executed. The lady, though she was displeased, said with hauteur, "The best thing that can be done for him now is that he should receive a hundred bags of gold pieces, and having got his property all right, let him return to his native country."
On hearing these words, I became a block of withered wood; if any one had cut my body, not a drop of blood would have issued; all the world began to appear dark before my sight; a sigh of despair burst involuntarily from my heart, and the tears flowed from my eyes. I had at that time no hope from any one except God; driven to utter despair, I ventured to say, "Well, [cruel fair,] reflect a moment, that if to this unfortunate wretch there had been a desire for worldly wealth, he would not have devoted his life and property to you. Are the acknowledgments due to my services, and my having devoted my life to you, flown all of a sudden from this world, that you have shown such disfavour to a wretch like me? It is all well; to me life is no longer of any use; to the helpless, half-dead lover there is no resource against the faithlessness of the beloved one."
On hearing these words, she was greatly offended, and frowning with anger, she exclaimed, "Very fine indeed! What, thou**039** art my lover! Has the frog then caught cold?/4/ O fool, for one in thy situation to talk thus is an idle fancy; little mouths should not utter big words: no more-- be silent-- repeat not such presumptuous language; if any other had dared to behave so improperly, I vow to God, I would have ordered his body to be cut in pieces, and given to the kites [of the air]; but what can I do? --Your services ever come to my recollection. Thou hadst best now take the road [to thy home;] thy fate had decreed thee food and drink only until now in my house!" I then weeping, said, if it has been written in my destiny that I am not to attain the desires of my heart, but to wander miserably through woods and over mountains, then I have no remedy left. On hearing these words, she became vexed and said, "These hints and this flattering nonsense are not agreeable to me; go and repeat them to those who are fit to hear them." Then getting up in the same angry mood, she returned to her house. I beseeched her to hear me, but she disregarded what I said. Having no resource, I likewise left the place, sad and hopeless.
In short, for forty days this same state of things continued. When I was tired of pacing the lanes of the city, I wandered into the woods, and when I became restless there, I returned to the lanes of the city like a lunatic. I thought not of nourishment during the day, or sleep at night; like a washerman's dog, that belongs neither to the house nor the ghat./5/ [The existence of man depends on eating and drinking; he is the worm of the grain. Not the least strength remained in my body. Becoming feeble, I went and lay down under the wall of the same mosque; when one day the eunuch aforementioned came there to say his Friday prayers, and passed near me; I was repeating at the time, slow from weakness, this verse:
"Give me strength of mind to bear these pangs of the heart, or give me death;**040** Though in appearance my looks were greatly altered, and my face was such that whoever had seen me formerly would not have recognised me to be the same person; yet the eunuch, hearing the sounds of grief, looked at me, and regarding me with attention, pitied me, and with much kindness addressed me, saying, "At last to this State thou hast brought thyself." I replied, what was to occur has now happened; I devoted my property to her welfare, and I have sacrificed my life likewise; such has been her pleasure; then what shall I do?On hearing this, he left a servant with me, and went into the mosque; when he finished his prayers, and [heard] theKhutba,/6/ he returned to me, and putting me into a miyana,/7/ had me carried along to the house of that indifferent fair, and placed me outside the chick [of her apartment]. Though no trace of my former self remained, yet as I had been for a long while constantly with the lovely fair one, [she must have recognised me]; however, though knowing me perfectly, she acted as a stranger, and asked the eunuch who I was. That excellent man replied, "This is that unfortunate, ill-fated wretch who has fallen under the displeasure and reprehension of your highness; for this reason his appearance is such; he is burning with the fire of love; how much soever he endeavours to quench the flame with the water of tears, yet it burns with double force. Nothing is of the least avail; moreover he is dying with the shame of his fault." The fair lady jocosely said, "Why dost thou tell lies? I received from my intelligencers,/8/ many days ago, the news of his arrival in his own country; God knows who this is of whom you speak." Then the eunuch, putting his hands together, said, "If security be granted to my life,/9/ then I will be so bold as to address your highness." She answered, "Speak; your life is secure." The eunuch said, "Your highness is by nature a judge of merit; for God's sake lift up the screen from between you, and recognise him, and take pity on his lamentable condition. Ingratitude is not proper. Now **041** whatever compassion you may feel for his present condition is amiable and meritorious-- to say more would be [to outstep] the bounds of respect; whatever your highness ordains, that assuredly is best."
On hearing this speech [of the eunuch], she smiled and said, "Well, let him be who he will, keep him in the hospital; when he gets well, then his situation shall be inquired into." The eunuch answered, "If you will condescend to sprinkle rose-water on him with your own royal hands, and say a kind word to him, then there may be hopes of his living; despair is a bad thing; the world exists through hope." Even on this, the fair one said nothing [to console me]. Hearing this dialogue, I also continued becoming more and more tired of existence. I fearlessly said, "I do not wish to live any longer on these terms; my feet are hanging in the grave, and I must soon die; my remedy is in the power of your highness; whether you may apply it or not, that you only know." At last the Almighty/10/ softened the heart of that stony-hearted one; she became gracious and said, "Send immediately for the royal physicians." In a short time they came and assembled [around me]; they felt my pulse and examined my urine with much deliberation; at last it was settled in their prægnosis, that "this person is in love with some one; except the being united with the beloved object, there is no other cure; whenever he possesses her he will be well." When from the declaration of the physicians my complaint was thus confirmed, the fair lady said, "Carry this young man to the warm bath, and after bathing him and dressing him in fine clothes, bring him to me." They instantly carried me out, and after bathing me and clothing me well, they led me before the lovely angel; then that beautiful creature said with kindness, "Thou hast constantly, and for nothing, got me censured and dishonoured; now what more dost thou wish? Whatever is in thy heart, speak it out quite plainly."
O, Darweshes!/11/ at that moment my emotions were such that [I thought] I should have died with joy, and swelled**042** so greatly with pleasure, that my jama/12/ could hardly contain me, and my countenance and appearance became changed; I praised God, and said to her, this moment all the art of physic is centered in you, who have restored a corpse like me to life with a single word; behold, from that time to this, what a change has taken place in my circumstances [by the kindness you have shewn]." After saying this, I went round her three times,/13/ and standing before her, I said, "your commands are that I should speak whatever I have in my heart; this boon is more precious to your slave than the empire of the seven climes; then be generous and accept this wretch! keep me at your feet and elevate me," On hearing this ejaculation, she became thoughtful for a moment; then regarding me askance, she said, "Sit down; your services and fidelity have been such that whatever you say becomes you; they are also engraven on my heart. Well; I comply with your request."
The same day, in a happy hour, and under a propitious star the kazi/14/ quite privately performed the marriage rites. After so much trouble and afflictions, God shewed me this happy day, when I gained the desires of my heart; but in the same degree that my heart wished to possess this angelic lady, it felt equally anxious and uneasy to know the explication of those strange events [which had occurred]; for, up to that day I knew nothing about who she was; or who was that brown, handsome negro, who on seeing a bit of paper, delivered to me so many bags of gold; and how that princely entertainment was prepared in the space of one pahar; and why those two innocent persons were put to death after the entertainment; and the cause of the anger and ingratitude she showed me after all my services and kindnesses; and then all at once to elevate this wretch [to the height of happiness.]. In short, I was so anxious to develop these strange circumstances and doubts, that for eight days after the marriage ceremonies, notwithstanding my great affection for her, I did not attempt to **043** consummate the rites of wedlock. I merely slept with her at night, and got up in the morning "re non effectâ."
One morning I desired an attendant to prepare some warm water in order that I might bathe./15/ The princess smiling, said, "Where is the necessity for the hot water?" I remained silent; but she was perplexed [to account] for my conduct; moreover, in her looks the signs of anger were visible; so much so, that she one day said to me, "Thou art indeed a strange man; at one time so warm before, and now so cold! what do people call this [conduct]? If you had not manly vigour, then why did you form so foolish a wish? I then having become fearless, replied, "O, my darling, justice is a positive duty; no person ought to deviate from the rules of justice. She replied, "What further justice remains [to be done]? whatever was to happen has taken place." I answered, in truth, that which was my most earnest wish and desire I have gained; but, my heart is uneasy with doubts, and the man whose mind is filled with suspicions is ever perplexed; he can do nothing, and becomes different from other human creatures. I had determined within myself that after this marriage, which is my soul's entire delight, I would question your highness respecting sundry circumstances which I do not comprehend, and which I cannot unravel; that from your own blessed lips I might hear their explanation; then my heart would be at ease." The lovely lady frowning, said, "How pretty! you have already forgotten [what I told you]; recollect, many times I have desired you not to search into my concerns, or to oppose what I say; and is it proper in you to take, contrary to custom, such liberties?" I laughing replied, as you have pardoned me much greater liberties, forgive this also. That angelic fair, changing her looks and getting warm, became a whirlwind of fire, and said; "You presume too much; go and mind your own affairs; what advantage can you derive from [the explanation of) these circumstances?" I answered, "the greatest shame in this world is the exposure of our person; but we are conversant **044** with one another [in that respect], hence as you have thought it right to lay aside this repugnance with me, then why conceal any other secrets from me?"
Her good sense made her comprehend my hint, and she said, "This is true; but I am very apprehensive if I, wretched, should divulge my secrets; it may be the cause of great trouble." I answered, what strange apprehensions you form! do not conceive in your heart such an idea of me, and relate without restraint all the events of your life; never, never, shall they pass from my breast to my lips; what possibility, then, of their reaching the ear of another?" When she perceived that, without satisfying my curiosity she should have no rest, being without resource, she said, "Many evils attend the explanation of these matters, but you are obstinately bent upon it. Well, I must please you; for which reason I am going to relate the events of my past life-- take care; it is equally necessary for you to conceal them [from the world]; my information is on this condition."
In short, after many injunctions, she began the relation [of her life] as follows: --"The unfortunate wretch before you is the daughter of the King of Damascus; he is a great sovereign among sultans; he never had any child except me. From the day I was born I was brought up with great delicacy and tenderness, in joy and happiness under the eye of my father and mother. As I grew up I became attached to handsome and beautiful women; so that I kept near my person the most lovely young girls of noble families, and of my own age; and handsome female servants of the like age, in my service. I ever enjoyed the amusements of dancing and singing, and never had a care about the good or evil of the world. Contemplating my own condition thus free from care, except the praises of God, nothing else occupied my thoughts.
**045** "It so happened that my disposition became suddenly of itself so changed, that I lost all relish for the company of others, nor did the gay assembly afford me any pleasure; my temper became melancholic, and my heart sad and confused; no one's presence was agreeable to me, nor did my heart feel inclined for conversation. Seeing this sad condition of mine, all the female servants were overwhelmed with sorrow and fell at my feet [begging to know the cause of my gloom]. This faithful eunuch, who has long been in my secrets, and from whom no action of my life is concealed, seeing my melancholy, said, 'If the princess would drink a little of the exhilarating lemonade,/16/ it is most probable that her cheerful disposition would be restored; and gladness return to her heart.' On hearing him say so, I had a desire [to taste it], and ordered some to be prepared immediately.
"The eunuch went out [to make it up], and returned, accompanied by a young boy, who brought a goblet of the lemonade, carefully prepared and cooled in ice. I drank it, and perceived it produced the good effect ascribed to it; for this piece of service I bestowed on the eunuch a rich khil'at,/17/ and desired him to bring me a goblet of the same every day at the same hour. From that day it became a regular duty, that the eunuch came, accompanied by the boy who brought the lemonade, and I drank it. When its inebriating quality took effect, I used in the elevation of my spirits to jest and laugh with the boy, and beguile my time. When his timidity wore off, he began to utter very agreeable speeches, and related many pleasant anecdotes; moreover, he began to heave sighs and sobs. His face was handsome and worth seeing; I began to like him beyond control. I, from the affections of my heart, and the relish I felt for his playful humour, every day gave him rewards and gratuities; but the wretch always appeared before me in the same clothes that he had been accustomed to wear, and they even were dirty and soiled.
**046** "One day I said to him, you have received a good deal [of money] from the treasury, but your appearance is as wretched as ever; what is the cause of it? have you spent the money, or do you amass it?" When the boy heard these encouraging words, and found that I enquired into his condition, he said with tears in his eyes, 'Whatever you have bestowed on this slave, my preceptor has taken from me; he did not give me one paisa/18/ for myself; with what shall I make up other clothes, and appear better dressed before you? it is not my fault, and I cannot help it.' At this humble statement of his, I felt pity for him; I instantly ordered the eunuch to take charge of the boy from that day, to educate him under his own eye, and give him good clothes, and not to allow him to play and skip about with other boys; moreover, that my wish was, he should be taught a respectful mode of behaviour, to fit him for my own princely service, and to wait on me. The eunuch obeyed my orders, and perceiving how my inclinations leaned, he took the utmost care of him. In a little time, from ease and good living, his colour and sleekness changed greatly, like a snake's throwing off its slough; I restrained my inclinations as much as I could, but the [handsome] form of that rogue/19/ was so engraven on my heart, that I fondly wished to keep him clasped to my bosom, and never take my eyes off him for a moment.
"At last, I made him enter into my companionship, and dressing him in a variety of rich clothes and all kinds of jewels, I used to gaze at him. In short, by being always with me, my longing eyes were satisfied and my heart comforted; I every moment complied with his wants and wishes; at last, my condition was such, that if on any urgent occasion he was absent for a moment from my sight, I became quite uneasy. In a few years he became a youth, and the down appeared on his cheeks; his body **047** and limbs were well formed! then there began to be a talk about him out of doors among the courtiers. The guards of all descriptions began to forbid him from coming and going within the palace. At length, his entrance into it was quite stopped, and without him I had no rest; a moment [of absence on his part,] was an age [of pain on mine]. When I heard these tidings of despair, I was as distracted as if the day of judgment had burst over me; and such was my condition that I could not speak a word [to express my wishes]: nor yet could I live separated from him. I had no means of relief; O God, what could I do; a strange kind of uneasiness came over me, and in consequence of my distraction I addressed myself to the same eunuch [who was in all my secrets], and said to him, 'I wish to take care of this youth. In fact, the best plan is for you to give him a thousand gold pieces, to set him up in a jeweller's shop in the chauk, that he may from the profit of his trade live comfortably; and to build him a handsome house near my residence; to buy him slaves, and hire him servants and fix their pay, that he may in every way live at his ease.' The eunuch furnished him with a house, and set up a jeweller's shop for him to carry on the traffic, and prepared everything that was requisite. In a short time, his shop became so brilliant and showy, that whatever rich khil'ats or superb jewels were required for the king and his nobles, could only be procured there; and by degrees his shop so flourished, that all the rarities of every country were to be found there; and the daily traffic of all other jewellers became languid in comparison with his. In short, no one was able to compete with him in the city, nor was his equal [to be found] in any other country.
"He made a great deal of money/20/ by his business; but [grief for his] absence daily preyed on my mind, and injured my health; no expedient could be hit upon by which **048** I might see him, and console my heart. At last, for the purpose of consultation, I sent for the same experienced eunuch, and said to him, 'I can devise no plan by which I may see the youth for a moment, and inspire my heart with patience. There remains only this method, which is to dig a mine from his house and join the same to the palace.' I had no sooner expressed my wish, than such a mine was dug in a few days, so that on the approach of evening the eunuch used to conduct the young man through that same passage, in silence and secrecy [to my apartment]. We used to pass the whole night in eating and drinking, and every enjoyment; I was delighted to meet him, and he was rejoiced to see me. When the morning star appeared, and the muwazzin/21/ gave notice [of the time for morning prayers], the eunuch used to lead the youth by the same way to his house. No fourth person had any knowledge of these circumstances; [it was known] only to the eunuch and two nurses who had given me milk, and brought me up.
"A long period passed in this manner; but it happened one day that when the eunuch went to call him, according to custom, then he perceived that the youth was sitting sorrowful and silent. The eunuch asked him, 'Is all well to-day? why are you so sad? Come to the princess; she has sent for you.' The youth made no reply whatever, nor did he move his tongue. The eunuch returned alone with a similar face, and mentioned to me the young man's condition. As the devil was about to ruin me, even after this conduct I could not banish him from my heart; if I had known that my love and affection for such an ungrateful wretch would have at last rendered me infamous and degraded, and would have destroyed my fame and honour; then I should have at that moment shrunk back from such a proceeding, and should have done penance; I never again should have pronounced his name, neither should I have devoted my heart to the shameless [fellow]. But it was to happen so; for this reason I took no heed of his improper conduct, and his not coming I imagined to be the affectation and airs of those [who are conscious of being] beloved; its consequences I have sadly rued, and thou art now also informed **049** of these events without hearing or seeing them; or else where were you, and where was I? Well, what has happened is past. Bestowing not a thought on the conceited airs of that ass, I again sent him word by the eunuch, saying, 'if thou wilt not come to me now, by some means or other I will come to thee; but there is much impropriety in my coming there; --if this secret is discovered, thou wilt have cause to rue it; so do not act in a manner that will have no other result than disgrace; it is best that thou comest quickly [to me], otherwise imagine me arrived [near thee]. When he received this message, and perceived that my love for him was unbounded, he came with disagreeable looks and affected airs.
"When he sat down by me, I asked him, 'what is the cause of your coolness and anger to-day; you never showed so much insolence and disrespect before, you always used to come without making any excuses.' To this he replied, 'I am a poor nameless wretch; by your favour, and owing to you, I am arrived to such power, and with much ease and affluence I pass my days. I ever pray for your life and prosperity; I have committed this fault in full reliance on your highness's forgiveness, and I hope for pardon. As I loved him from my soul and heart, I accepted his well-turned apology, and not only overlooked his knavery, but even asked him again with affection, what great difficulty has occurred that you are so thoughtful? mention it, and it shall be instantly removed.'
"In short, in his humble way, he replied, 'Everything is difficult to me; before your highness, all is easy,' At last, from the purport of his discourse and conversation, it appeared that an elegant garden, with a grand house in it, together with reservoirs, tanks and wells, **050** of finished masonry, was for sale, situated in the centre of the city and near his house; and that with the garden a female slave was to be sold, who sung admirably and understood music perfectly. But they were to be sold together, and not the garden alone, 'like the cat tied to the camel's neck;'/22/ and that whoever purchased the garden must also buy the slave; the best of it was, the price of the garden was five thousand rupees, and the price of the slave five hundred thousand. [He concluded saying], 'Your devoted slave cannot at present raise so large a sum.' I perceived that his heart was greatly bent on buying them, and that for this reason he was thoughtful, and embarrassed in mind; although he was seated near me, yet his looks were pensive and his heart sad: as his happiness every hour and moment was dear to me, I that instant ordered the eunuch to go in the morning and settle the price of the garden and the slave, get their bills of sale drawn up, and deliver them to this person, and pay the price to their owner from the royal treasury.
"On hearing this order, the young man thanked me, tears of joy came upon his face; and we passed the night as usual in laughing and delight; in the morning he took leave. The eunuch, agreeably to my orders, bought and delivered over to him the garden and the slave. The youth continued his visits at night, according to custom [and retired in the morning]. One day in the season of spring, when the whole place was indeed charming, the clouds were gathering low, and the rain drizzling fell, the lightning also continued to flash [through the murky clouds], and the breeze played gently [through the trees]-- in short, it was a delightful scene. When in the taks/23/ the liquors of various colours, arranged in elegant phials, fell upon my sight; my heart longed to take a draught. After I had drank two or three cupfulls, instantly the idea of the newly purchased **051** garden struck me. An irrepressible desire arose within me, when in that state, that for a short time I should enjoy a walk in that [garden]. When the stream of misfortune flows against us, we struggle in vain against the tide./24/ I involuntarily took a female servant with me, and went to the young man's house by the way of the mine; from thence I proceeded to the garden, and saw that the delightful place was in truth equal to the Elysian fields. As the raindrops fell on the fresh green leaves of the trees, one might say they were like pearls set in pieces of emerald, and the carnation of the flowers, in that cloudy day, appeared as beautiful as the ruddy crepuscle after the setting sun; the basons and canals, full of water, seemed like sheets of mirrors, over which the small waves undulated.
"In short, I was strolling about in every direction in that garden, when the day vanished and the darkness of night became conspicuous. At that moment, the young man appeared on a walk [in the garden]; and on seeing me, he approached with respect and great warmth of affection, and taking my hand in his, led me to the pavilion./25/ On entering it, the splendour of the scene made me entirely forget all the beauty of the garden. The illuminations within were magnificent; on every side, gerandoles, in the shape of cypresses, and various kinds of lights in variegated lamps were lighted up; even theshabi barat,/25b/ with all its moonlight and its illuminations, would appear dark [in comparison to the brightness which shone in the pavilion]; on one side, fire-works/26/ of every description were displayed.
"In the meantime, the clouds dispersed, and the bright moon appeared like a lovely mistress clothed in a lilac-coloured robe, who suddenly strikes our sight. It was a scene of great beauty; as the moon burst forth, the young man said, 'Let us now go and sit in the balcony which overlooks the garden.' I had become so infatuated, that whatever the wretch proposed I implicitly obeyed; now he led me such a dance, that **052** he dragged me up [to the balcony.] That building was so high, that all the houses of the city and the lights of the bazar, appeared as if they were at the foot of it. I was seated in a state of delight, with my arms round the youth's neck; meanwhile, a woman, quite ugly, without form or shape, entered as it were from the chimney, with a bottle of wine in her hand; I was at that time greatly displeased at her sudden entrance, and on seeing her looks, my heart became alarmed. Then, in confusion, I asked the young man, 'who is this precious hag; from whence have you grubbed her up?' Joining his hands together, he replied, 'This is the slave who was bought with the garden through your generous assistance.'
I had perceived that the simpleton had bought her with much eager desire, and perhaps his heart was fixed on her; for this reason, I, suppressing my inward vexation, remained silent; but my heart from that moment was disturbed and displeasure affected my temper; moreover, the wretch had the impudence to make this harlot our cup-bearer. At that moment I was drinking my own blood with rage, and was as uneasy as a parrot shut up in the same cage with a crow: I had no opportunity of going away, and did not wish to stay. To shorten the story, the wine was of the strongest description, so that on drinking it a man would become a beast. She plied the young man with two or three cups in succession of that fiery liquor, and I also bitterly swallowed half a cupful at the importunity of the youth; at last, the shameless harlot likewise got beastly drunk, and took very unbecoming liberties with that vile youth; and the mean wretch also, in his intoxication, having become regardless, began to be disrespectful, and behave indecently.
"I was so much ashamed, that had the earth opened at the moment I would have willingly jumped into it; but in consequence of my passion for him, I, infatuated, even after all these circumstances, remained silent. However, he was completely **053** a vile wretch, and did not feel the value of my forbearance. In the fervour of intoxication, he drank off two cups more, so that his little remaining sense vanished, and he completely drove from his heart all respect for me. Without shame, and in the rage of lust, the barefaced villain consummated before me his career of infamous indecency with his hideous mistress, who, in that posture, began to play off all the blandishments of love, and kissing and embracing took place between the two. In that faithless man no sense of honour remained; neither did modesty exist in that shameless woman; 'As the soul is, so are the angels.'/27/ My state [of mind] at the time was like that of a songstress who having [lost the musical time,] sings out of tune. I was invoking curses on myself for having come there, saying that I was properly punished for my folly. At last, how could I bear it? I was on fire from head to foot, and began to roll on live coals. In my rage and wrath I recollected the proverb, that 'It is not the bullock that leaps, but the sack;/28/ whoever has seen a sight like this?' in saying this to myself, I came away thence.
"That drunkard in the depravity of his heart thought, if I was offended now, what then would be his treatment the next day, and what a commotion I should raise. So he imagined it best to finish my existence [whilst he had me in his power.] Having formed this resolution in his mind with the advice of the hag, he put his patka/29/ round his neck and fell at my feet, and taking off his turban from his head, began to supplicate [my forgiveness] in the humblest manner. My heart was infatuated towards him; whithersoever he turned I turned; and like the handmill I was entirely under his control. I implicitly complied with all he desired; some way or other he pacified me, and persuaded me to retake my seat. He again took two or three cupfulls of the fiery liquor, and he induced me to drink some also. I, in the first place, was already inflamed with rage, and secondly, after drinking such strong liquor I soon became quite senseless-- no recollection remained. Then that unfeeling, ungrateful, cruel wretch **054** wounded me with his sword; yea, further, he thought he had completely killed me. At that moment, my eyes opened, and I uttered these words, 'Well, as I have acted, so I have been rewarded; but do thou screen thyself from the consequences of shedding unjustly my blood.
Let it not so happen that some tyrant should seize thee;
do 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./30/ God so ordained that He made thee arrive there; and, He made thee the means of saving my life. After undergoing these disgraces, I am ashamed to reflect that I should yet live and show my face to any one. But what can I do? the choice of death is not in our hands; God, after killing me, hath restored me to life; let us see what is written in my future fate. In all appearance, your exertions and zeal have been of use, so that I have been cured of such wounds. Thou hast been ready to promote my wishes with thy life and property, and whatever were thy means, thou hast offered [them cheerfully]. In those days, seeing thee without money and sad, I wrote the note to Sidi Bahar, who is my cashier. In that note, I mentioned that I was in health and safety in such a place, and I said, "convey the intelligence of me, unfortunate, to my excellent mother."
"The Sidi sent by thee those trays of gold for my expenses; and when I sent thee to the shop of Yusuf the merchant, to purchase khil'ats and jewels, **055** I felt confident that the weakminded wretch, who soon becomes friends with every one, conceiving you a stranger, would certainly form an intimacy with you, and indulging his conceit, invite you to a feast and entertainment. This stratagem of mine turned out right, and he did exactly what I had imagined in my heart. Then, when you promised him to return, and came to me and related the particulars of his insisting upon it, I was heartily pleased with the circumstance; for I knew that if you went to his house, and there ate and drank, you would invite him in return, and that he would eagerly come; for this reason, I sent thee back quickly to him. After three days, when you returned from the entertainment, and, quite abashed, made me many apologies for staying away so long, to make you easy in your mind, I replied, 'it is of no consequence; when he gave you leave then you came away; but to be without delicacy is not proper, and we should not bear another's debt of gratitude without an idea of paying it; now do you go and invite him also, and bring him along with you.' When you went away to his house, I saw that no preparations could be got ready for the entertainment at our house, and if he should all at once come, what could I do? but it fortunately happened that from time immemorial, the custom of this country has been for the kings to remain out for eight months in the year, to settle the affairs of the provinces, and collect the revenues, and for four months, during the rains, to stay [in the city] in their auspicious palaces. In those days, the king, this unfortunate wretch's father, had gone into the provinces some two or four months previously to arrange the affairs of the kingdom.
"Whilst you were gone to bring the young merchant [to the entertainment], Sidi Bahar imparted the particulars of my present situation to the queen (who is the mother of me, impure). Again I, ashamed of my guilty conduct, went to the queen **056** and related to her all that happened to me. Although she, from motherly affection and good sense, had used every means to conceal the circumstance of my disappearance, saying, 'God knows what may be the end of it;' she conceived it wrong to make public my disgrace for the present, and for my sake she had concealed my errors in her maternal breast; but she had all along been in search of me.
"When she saw me in this condition, and heard all the circumstances [of my misfortune], her eyes filled with tears, and she said, 'O unfortunate wretch! thou hast knowingly destroyed the honour and glory of the throne; a thousand pities that thou hadst not perished also; if instead of thee I had been brought to bed of a stone, I should have been patient; even now [it is not too late to] repent; whatever was in thy unfortunate fate has happened; what wilt thou do next? Wilt thou live or die?' I replied, with excessive shame, that in this worthless wretch's fate it was so written, that I should live in such disgrace and distress after escaping such various dangers; it would have been better to have perished; though the mark of infamy is stamped on my forehead, yet I have not been guilty of such an action as can disgrace my parents.
"The great pain I now feel is, that those base wretches should escape my vengeance, and enjoy their crime in each other's company, whilst I have suffered such affliction from their hands: it is a pity that I can do nothing [in order to punish them]. I hope one favour [from your majesty], that you would order your steward to prepare all the necessary articles for an entertainment at my house, that I may, under the pretence of an entertainment, send for those two wretches, and punish them for their deeds and also inflict vengeance for myself. In the same manner that he lifted his hand upon me and wounded me, may I be enabled to cut them to pieces; then my heart will be soothed; otherwise I must continue glowing in this fire of resentment, and ultimately I must be burnt **057** to cinders. On hearing this speech, my excellent mother became kind from maternal fondness, and concealed my guilt in her own breast, and sent all the necessaries for the entertainment by the same eunuch who is in my secrets. Every necessary attendant came also, and each was ready in his own appropriate occupation. In the time of evening, you brought the [base villain who is now dead]; I wished the harlot should likewise come.
"For this reason I earnestly desired you to send for her; when she also came and the guests were assembled, they all became thoroughly intoxicated and senseless by drinking largely of wine; you also got drunk along with them, and lay like a corpse. I ordered a Kilmakini/31/ to cut off both their heads with a sword; she instantly drew her sword and cut off both their heads, and dyed their bodies with their blood. The cause of my anger towards thee was this, that I had given thee permission for the entertainment, but not to become an associate in wine-drinking, with people thou hadst only known for a few days. Assuredly this folly on thy part was anything but pleasing to me; for when you drank till you became senseless, then what hopes of aid from you remained? But the claims of thy services so cling around my neck, that, notwithstanding such conduct, I forgive thee. And now, behold, I have related to thee all my adventures from the beginning to the end; do you yet desire in your heart any other [explanations]? In the same manner that I have, in compliance with your wishes, granted all you requested, do you also in like manner perform what I desire; my advice on this occasion is, that it is no longer proper either for you or me to remain in this city. Henceforward you are master."
O devoted to God!/32/ the princess having spoken thus far, remained silent. I, who with heart and soul considered her wishes paramount to everything, and was entangled in the net of her affections, replied, "whatever you advise, that is best, and I will without hesitation **058** carry the same into effect." When the princess found me obedient, and her servant, she ordered two swift and high-mettled horses (which might vie with the wind in speed), to be brought from the royal stables, and kept in readiness. I went and picked out just such beautiful and high spirited horses as she required, and had them saddled and brought [to our house]. When a few hours of the night remained, the princess put on men's clothes, and arming herself with the five weapons,/33/ mounted on one of the horses; I got on the other, completely armed, and we set out in the same direction.
When night was over, and the dawn began to appear, we arrived on the banks of a certain lake; alighting from our horses, we washed our hands and faces; having breakfasted in great haste, we mounted again and set off. Now and then the princess spoke, and said, "I have for your sake left fame, honour, wealth, country and parents all behind me; now, may it not so happen, that you also should behave to me like that faithless savage." Sometimes I talked of different matters to beguile the journey, and sometimes replied to her questions and doubts, saying "O princess, all men are not alike; there must have been some defect in that base villain's parentage, that by him such a deed was done; but I have sacrificed my wealth and devoted my life to you, and you have dignified me in every way. I am now your slave without purchase, and if you should make shoes of my skin and wear them, I will not complain." Such conversation passed between us, and day and night to travel onward was our business. If through fatigue we sometimes dismounted somewhere, we then used to hunt down the beasts and birds of the woods, and having lawfully slain them, and applied salt from the salt-cellar, and having struck fire with steel/34/ (from a flint), we used to broil and eat them. The horses we let loose [to graze], and they generally found sufficient to satisfy their hunger from the grass and leaves.
**059** One day we reached a large even plain, where there was no trace of any habitation, and where no human face could be seen; even in this [solitary and dreary scene], owing to the princess's company, the day appeared festive and the nights joyful. Proceeding on our journey, we came suddenly to a large river, the sight of which would appal the firmest heart./35/ As we stood on its banks, as far as the eye could reach, nothing was to be seen but water; no means of crossing was to be found. O God [cried I], how shall we pass this sea! we stood reflecting on this sad obstacle for a few moments, when the thought came into my mind to leave the princess there, and to go in search of a boat; and that until I could find some means to pass over, the princess would have time to rest. Having formed this plan, I said, "O princess, if you will allow me, I will go and look out for a ferry or ford." She replied, "I am greatly tired, and likewise hungry and thirsty; I will rest here a little, whilst thou findest out some means to pass over [the river]."
On that spot was a large pipal/36/ tree, forming a canopy [of such extent], that if a thousand horsemen sheltered themselves under its wide-spread branches, they would be protected from the sun and rain. Leaving there the princess, I set out, and was looking all around to find somewhere or other on the ground, or the river, some trace of a human being. I searched much, but found the same nowhere. At last, I returned hopeless, but did not find the princess under the tree; how can I describe the state of my mind at that moment! my senses forsook me, and I became quite distracted. Sometimes I mounted the tree, and looked for her in every individual leaf and branch; sometimes, letting go my hold, I fell on the ground, and went round the roots of the tree as one who performs the tasadduk/37/. Sometimes I wept and shrieked at my miserable condition; now I ran from west to east, then from north to south. **060** In short, I searched everywhere,/38/ but could not find any trace of the rare jewel [I had lost]; when, at last, I found I could do nothing, then weeping and throwing dust over my head, I looked for her everywhere.
This idea came into my mind, that perhaps some of the jinns had carried her away, and had inflicted on me this wound; or else that some one had followed her from her country, and finding her alone, had persuaded her to return to Damascus. Distracted with these fancies, I threw off and cast away my clothes, and becoming a naked faqir, I wandered about in the kingdom of Syria from morn until eve, and at night lay down to rest in any place [I could find]. I wandered over the whole region, but could find no trace of my princess, nor hear any thing of her from any one, nor could I ascertain the cause of her disappearance. Then this idea came into my mind, that since I could find no trace of that beloved one, even life itself was a weariness. I perceived a mountain in some wilderness; I ascended it, and formed the design of throwing myself headlong [from its summit], that I might end my wretched existence in a moment, by dashing my head to pieces against the stones, then would my soul be freed from a state of affliction.
Having formed this resolution within myself, I was on the point of precipitating myself [from the mountain], and had even lifted up my foot, when some one laid hold of my arm. In the meanwhile, I regained my senses, and looking round, I saw a horseman clothed in green, with a veil thrown over his face, who said to me, "Why dost thou attempt to destroy thy life; it is impious to despair of God's mercy; whilst there is breath, so long there is hope. Three Darweshes will meet thee a few days hence, in the empire of Rum, who are equally afflicted with thyself, entangled in the same difficulties, and who have met with adventures similar to thine; the name of the king of that country is Azad Bakht; he is also in great trouble; when he meets you and the other three Darweshes, **061** then the wishes and desires of the heart of each of you will be completely fulfilled."
I instantly laid hold of the stirrup [of this guardian angel,] and kissed it, and exclaimed, "O messenger of God, the few words you have pronounced have consoled my afflicted heart; but tell me, for God's sake, who you are, and what is your name." He replied, "My name is Murtaza 'Ali,/39/ and my office is this, that to whomsoever there occurs a danger or difficulty, I am at hand to afford relief." Having said this much, he vanished from my sight. In short, having set my heart at ease from the happy tidings I received from my spiritual guide [Murtaza 'Ali], "the remover of difficulties," I formed the design of [proceeding to] Constantinople. On the road I suffered all those misfortunes which were decreed me by fate; with the hopes of meeting the princess. Through the assistance of God, I am come here, and by good fortune I have become honoured by your presence. The promised meeting has taken place between us, and we have enjoyed each other's society and conversation; now it only remains for us to be known to, and acquainted with, the king Azad Bakht.
Assuredly after this, we five shall attain the desires of our hearts. Do you also beseech the blessings of God, and say amen. O ye holy guides! such have been the adventures which have befallen this bewildered wanderer, which have been faithfully related in your presence; now let us look forward [to the time] when my trouble and sorrows will be changed into joy and gladness by the recovery of the princess. Azad Bakht, concealed in silence in his corner, having heard with attention the story of the first Darwesh, was greatly pleased; then he betook himself to listen to the adventures of the next Darwesh.
N O T E S
/1/ A figurative and highly poetic expression as old as Homer. In this instance it is said to signify that the sun had been two gharis above the horizon.
/2/ Literally, "a friendship of two days," where the number two is employed indefinitely to denote "few."
/3/ The month of Ramazan, consisting of thirty days, is the Lent of the Muhammadans. During tgat whole period, a good Musalman or "true believer," is not allowed either to eat, or drink, or smoke from sunrise to sunset. This naturally explains the anxiety they must feel for the arrival of evening; more especially in high latitudes, should the Ramazan happen in the middle of summer. As a mere religions observance this same fast, enjoined by Muhammad, is the most absurd, the most demoralizing, and the most hurtful to health that ever was invented by priestcraft. The people are forced to starve themselves during the whole day, and consequently they overeat themselves during the whole night, when they ought to be asleep in their beds, as nature intended. Hence they fall by thousands an easy prey to cholera, as happened in Turkey a few years ago. The fast of Lent among tho followers of the Pope of Rome is, though in a less degree, liable to the same censure. Why, instead of these unwholesome observances, do not the priests, whether of Mecca or of Rome, preach unto the people temperance and regularity of living? Ah, I forgot, the priests both of Mecca and of Rome can always grant dispensations and indulgences to such good people as can adduce weighty reasons to that effect.
/4/ As frogs live in wet, they are not supposed to be extremely subject to catch cold; the simile is introduced to ridicule the extravagant idea of a merchant's son presuming to be in love with a princess. The simile is a proverb.
/5/ Washermen in India, in general, wash their linen at the ghats, and their dogs of course wander thither from home after them, and back again. This is one of their proverbs, and answers to ours of "Kicked from piller to post."
/6/ The Khutba is a brief oration delivered after divine service every Friday (the Musalman Sabbath,) in which the officiating priest blesses Muhammad, his successors, and the reigning sovereign.
/7/ A kind of sedan chair, or palki.
/8/ The Khabar-dars are a species of spies stationed in various parts of oriental kingdoms in order to forward intelligence to headquarters.
/9/ A mode of humble address, when the inferior presumes to state something contrary to what the superior maintains or desires; and as human life in India was, in olden times, not only precarious, but considered as insignificant, the oriental slave acts prudently by begging his life before he presumes to be candid.
/10/ Literally, "He who is the changer of hearts."
/11/ Here the first Darwesh addresses himself directly to the other three, who were his patient listeners.
/12/ The jama is an Asiatic dress, something like a modern female gown, only much more full in the skirts. It is made of white cloth or muslin.
/13/ A superstitious custom in India; it implies that the person who goes round, sacrifices his life at the shrine of the love, prosperity and health of the beloved object. [S: It is one of the affectations of Eastern love, and is only more ridiculous than those of Europe by being more outré.]
/14/ The kazi is the judge and magistrate in Asiatic cities; he performs the rites of marriage, settles disputes, and decides civil and criminal causes. As the Muhammadan laws are derived from their religious code, the Kuran, the kazi possesses both secular and ecclesiastical powers.
/15/ All good Musalmans bathe after performing the rites of Venus, hence the purport of the princess's simple question is obvious enough. [S: They cannot say their prayers, they pretend to say, in a polluted state. Infatuated beings! to suppose that the most exquisite bliss of life can pollute! but the Quran says so, and they think it impious to doubt or question its mandates.
/16/ Called warku-l-khiyal; it is made from the leaves of the charas, a species of hemp; it is a common inebriating beverage in India; the different preparations of it is called ganja, bhang, &c.
/17/ Literally a "weighty khil'at," owing to the quantity of embroidery on it. The perfection of these oriental dresses is, to be so stiff as to stand on the floor unsupported.
/18/ The paisa is the current copper coin of India; it is the 64th part of a rupee, and is in value as nearly as possible 3/4 of our halfpenny, or a farthing and a-half.
/19/ The word kafir denotes literally, "infidel," or "heathen." It is here used as a term of endearment, just as we sometimes use the word "wicked rogue."
/20/ Literally, "lakhs of rupees." In India money accounts are reckoned by hundreds, thousands, lakhs and crores, instead of hundreds, thousands, and millions, as with us. A hundred thousands make a lakh, and a hundred lakhs, acrore. As the Indian mode of reckoning, though simple enough, is apt to perplex the beginner, let us take for example the number 123456789, which we thus point off, --123,456,789; but in India it would be pointed as follows: --12,34,56,789, and read 12 crores, 34 lakhs, fifty-six thousand seven hundred and eighty-nine.
/21/ The muwazzin is a public crier, who ascends the turret or minaret of a mosque and calls out to the inhabitants the five periods of prayers; more especially the morning, noon and evening prayers.
/22/ This is a proverb, founded on a short story, viz.: "A certain Arab lost his camel; he vowed, if he found it, to sell it for a dinar, merely as a charitable deed. The camel was found, and the Arab sorely repented him of his vow. He then tied a cat on the camel's neck, and went through the city of Baghdad, exclaiming, 'O, true believers, here is a camel to be sold for a dinar, and a cat for a thousand dinars; but they cannot be sold the one without the other.'"
/23/Taks are small recesses in the walls of apartments in Asia, for holding flower-pots, phials of wine, fruits, &c.
/24/ In the original it is a proverb, "When evil comes, the dog will bite even the man that is mounted on a camel," said of a person who is extremely unfortunate.
/25/ The term barah-dari is applied either to a temporary pavilion, or a permanent summer-house; it is so called from the circumstance of its having "twelve doors," in honour of the twelve Imams. --Vide *[author's introduction, note 10]*.
/25b/ [S: The Shabrat is a Mahomedan festival which happens on the full moon of the month of Shaban; illuminations are made at night and fire-works displayed; prayers are said for the repose of the dead, and offerings of sweetmeats and viands made to their manes. A luminous night-scene is therefore compared to the Shabrat. Shaban is the eighth Mahomedan month.]
/26/ The various kinds of fire-works here enumerated admit not of translation.--Vide vocabulary.
/27/ A proverb meaning that people or things are well matched; as the soul, at the hour of death, is committed to the charge of good or evil angels, according to its desert.
/28/ A proverb applied to those who act in a manner utterly at variance with their condition.
/29/ The patka is a long and narrow piece of cloth or silk, which is wrapped round the waist; among the rich a shawl is the general patka. The act of throwing one's patka round the neck and prostrating one's self at another's feet, is a most abject mark of submission.
/30/ Literally, "a collar or yoke, round my neck."
/31/ The Mughal princes in the days of their splendour had guards of Kalmuc, or Kilmak, women for their seraglios; they were chosen for their size and courage, and were armed; other Tartar women were likewise taken, but they all went by the general name of Kilmakini.
/32/ Here the first Darwesh resumes his address to his three companions.
/33/ In a note to my edition of Mr. F. Smith's translation of the Baghobahar, 1851, I inserted the following "petition." "May I request some friend in India, for auld lang syne, to ask any intelligent munshi the exact meaning of panchon hathiyar bandhna, showing him at the same time the original where the expression occurs." To this request I received, a few months ago, a very kind and satisfactory reply from Lieut. J.C. Bayley, 36th Regt., M.N.I., which I have the pleasure here to insert; and at the same time, I beg to return my best thanks to that gentleman. "The five weapons are, 1st, thetalwar or sword; 2nd, the pesh-kabz or dagger; 3rd, the tabar or battle-axe; 4th, the barchhi or lance; 5th, the tir o kamanor the bow and arrows. The phrase, panchon hathiyar bandhna is very nearly equivalent to our expression, 'to be armed cap à pié.'" I may add to Lieut. B.'s obliging account that in more recent times, the "bow and arrows" are very naturally superseded by "a pair of pistols." Still the meaning of the phrase is the same in either case.
/34/ The word chikmak is wrongly called "a flint" in the dictionaries. It merely denotes the piece of steel used in striking a fire. The flint is called chikmak ka pathar.
/35/ Literally, "at the seeing of which the liver would be turned into water."
/36/ The pipal or "ficus religiosa," is a large tree venerated by the Hindus; it affords a most agreeable shade, as its leaves are large, in the shape of a heart. Many writers confound it with the "ficus Indicus" or "baniyan tree," or rather, they devise an imaginary tree compounded of the two species, investing it with the heart-shaped leaves of the former, and the dropping and multiplying stems of the latter.
/37/ Respecting the ceremony called the tasadduk, vide note [*13*].
/38/ Literally, "much dust did I sift the dust."
/39/ Murtaza 'Ali, the son-in-law of the prophet; one of his surnames is Mushkil-kusha, or "the remover of difficulties." The Saiyids, who pretend to be descended from 'Ali, wear green dresses, which is a sacred colour among the Muhammadans.