Now I was drunken and my clothes were drenched with the blood; and as I passed along the road, I met a thief. When he saw me, he knew me and said to me, "Harkye, such an one!" "Well?" answered I, and he said, "What is that thou hast with thee?" So I acquainted him with the case and he took the head from me. Then we went on till we came to the river, where he washed the head and considering it straitly, said, "By Allah, this is my brother, my father's son. and he used to spunge upon the folk." Then he threw the head into the river. As for me, I was like a dead man [for fear]; but he said to me, "Fear not neither grieve, for thou art quit of my brother's blood."
Then he took my clothes and washed them and dried them, and put them on me; after which he said to me, "Get thee gone to thy house." So I returned to my house and he accompanied me, till I came thither, when he said to me, "May God not forsake thee! I am thy friend [such an one, who used to take of thee goods on credit,] and I am beholden to thee for kindness; but henceforward thou wilt never see me more."'
The company marvelled at the generosity of this man and his clemency[FN#152] and courtesy, and the Sultan said, 'Tell us another of thy stories.'[FN#153] 'It is well,' answered the officer, 'They avouch that
A MERRY JEST OF A THIEF.
A thief of the thieves of the Arabs went [one night] to a certain man's house, to steal from a heap of wheat there, and the people of the house surprised him. Now on the heap was a great copper measure, and the thief buried himself in the corn and covered his head with the measure, so that the folk found him not and went away; but, as they were going, behold, there came a great crack of wind forth of the corn. So they went up to the measure and [raising it], discovered the thief and laid hands on him. Quoth he, "I have eased you of the trouble of seeking me: for I purposed, [in letting wind], to direct you to my [hiding-]place; wherefore do ye ease me and have compassion on me, so may God have compassion on you!" So they let him go and harmed him not.
And for another story of the same kind,' continued the officer,
STORY OF THE OLD SHARPER.
'There was once an old man renowned for roguery, and he went, he and his mates, to one of the markets and stole thence a parcel of stuffs. Then they separated and returned each to his quarter. Awhile after this, the old man assembled a company of his fellows and one of them pulled out a costly piece of stuff and said, "Will any one of you sell this piece of stuff in its own market whence it was stolen, that we may confess his [pre-eminence in] sharping?" Quoth the old man, "I will;" and they said, "Go, and God the Most High prosper thee!"
So on the morrow, early, he took the stuff and carrying it to the market whence it had been stolen, sat down at the shop whence it had been stolen and gave it to the broker, who took it and cried it for sale. Its owner knew it and bidding for it, [bought it] and sent after the chief of the police, who seized the sharper and seeing him an old man of venerable appearance, handsomely clad, said to him, "Whence hadst thou this piece of stuff?" "I had it from this market," answered he, "and from yonder shop where I was sitting." Quoth the prefect, "Did its owner sell it to thee?" "Nay," replied the thief; "I stole it and other than it." Then said the magistrate, "How camest thou to bring it [for sale] to the place whence thou stolest it?" And he answered, "I will not tell my story save to the Sultan, for that I have an advertisement[FN#154] wherewith I would fain bespeak him." Quoth the prefect, "Name it." And the thief said, "Art thou the Sultan?" "No," replied the other; and the old man said, "I will not tell it but to himself."
So the prefect carried him up to the Sultan and he said, "I have an advertisement for thee, O my lord." "What is thine advertisement?" asked the Sultan; and the thief said, "I repent and will deliver into thy hand all who are evildoers; and whomsoever I bring not, I will stand in his stead." Quoth the Sultan, "Give him a dress of honour and accept his profession of repentance." So he went down from the presence and returning to his comrades, related to them that which had passed and they confessed his subtlety and gave him that which they had promised him. Then he took the rest of the stolen goods and went up with them to the Sultan. When the latter saw him, he was magnified in his eyes and he commanded that nought should be taken from him. Then, when he went down, [the Sultan's] attention was diverted from him, little by little, till the case was forgotten, and so he saved the booty [for himself].' The folk marvelled at this and the fifteenth officer came forward and said, 'Know that among those who make a trade of knavery are those whom God the Most High taketh on their own evidence against themselves.' 'How so?' asked they; and he said.
THE FIFTEENTH OFFICER'S STORY.
'It is told of a certain doughty thief, that he used to rob and stop the way by himself upon caravans, and whenever the prefect of police and the magistrates sought him, he would flee from them and fortify himself in the mountains. Now it befell that a certain man journeyed along the road wherein was the robber in question, and this man was alone and knew not the perils that beset his way. So the highwayman came out upon him and said to him, "Bring out that which is with thee, for I mean to slay thee without fail." Quoth the traveller, "Slay me not, but take these saddle-bags and divide [that which is in] them and take the fourth part [thereof]." And the thief answered, "I will not take aught but the whole." "Take half," rejoined the traveller, "and let me go." But the robber replied, "I will take nought but the whole, and I will slay thee [to boot]." And the traveller said, "Take it."
So the highwayman took the saddle-bags and offered to kill the traveller, who said, "What is this? Thou hast no blood-feud against me, that should make my slaughter incumbent [on thee]. Quoth the other, "Needs must I slay thee;" whereupon the traveller dismounted from his horse and grovelled on the earth, beseeching the robber and speaking him fair. The latter hearkened not to his prayers, but cast him to the ground; whereupon the traveller [raised his eyes and seeing a francolin flying over him,] said, in his agony," O francolin, bear witness that this man slayeth me unjustly and wickedly; for indeed I have given him all that was with me and besought him to let me go, for my children's sake; yet would he not consent unto this. But be thou witness against him, for God is not unmindful of that which is done of the oppressors." The highwayman paid no heed to this speech, but smote him and cut off his head.
After this, the authorities compounded with the highwayman for his submission, and when he came before them, they enriched him and he became in such favour with the Sultan's deputy that he used to eat and drink with him and there befell familiar converse between them. On this wise they abode a great while, till, one day, the Sultan's deputy made a banquet, and therein, for a wonder, was a roasted francolin, which when the robber saw, he laughed aloud. The deputy was angered against him and said to him, "What is the meaning of thy laughter? Seest thou default [in the entertainment] or dost thou mock at us, of thy lack of breeding?" "Not so, by Allah, O my lord," answered the highwayman. "But I saw yonder francolin and bethought myself thereanent of an extraordinary thing; and it was on this wise. In the days of my youth, I used to stop the way, and one day I fell in with a man, who had with him a pair of saddle-bags and money therein. So I said to him, 'Leave these bags, for I mean to kill thee.' Quoth he, 'Take the fourth part of [that which is in] them and leave [me] the rest.' And I said, 'Needs must I take the whole and slay thee, to boot.' Then said he, 'Take the saddle-bags and let me go my way.' But I answered, 'Needs must I slay thee.' As we were in this contention, he and I, behold, he saw a francolin and turning to it, said, 'Bear witness against him, O francolin, that he slayeth me unjustly and letteth me not go to my children, for all he hath gotten my money.' However, I took no pity on him neither hearkened to that which he said, but slew him and concerned not myself with the francolin's testimony."
His story troubled the Sultan's deputy and he was sore enraged against him; so he drew his sword and smiting him, cut off his head; whereupon one recited the following verses:
An you'd of evil be quit, look that no evil yon do; Nay, but do good, for the like God will still render to you. All things, indeed, that betide to you are fore-ordered of God; Yet still in your deeds is the source to which their fulfilment is due.
Now this[FN#155] was the francolin that bore witness against him.'
The company marvelled at this story and said all, 'Woe to the oppressor!' Then came forward the sixteenth officer and said, 'And I also will tell you a marvellous story, and it is on this wise.
THE SIXTEENTH OFFICER'S STORY.
I went forth one day, purposing to make a journey, and fell in with a man whose wont it was to stop the way. When he came up with me, he offered to slay me and I said to him, "I have nothing with me whereby thou mayst profit." Quoth he, "My profit shall be the taking of thy life." "What is the cause of this?" asked I. "Hath there been feud between us aforetime?" And he answered, "No; but needs must I slay thee." Therewithal I fled from him to the river-side; but he overtook me and casting me to the ground, sat down on my breast. So I sought help of the Sheikh El Hejjaj[FN#156] and said to him, "Protect me from this oppressor!" And indeed he had drawn a knife, wherewith to cut my throat, when, behold, there came a great crocodile forth of the river and snatching him up from off my breast, plunged with him into the water, with the knife still in his hand; whilst I abode extolling the perfection of God the Most High and rendering thanks for my preservation to Him who had delivered me from the hand of that oppressor.'
ABDALLAH BEN NAFI AND THE KING'S SON OF CASHGHAR.[FN#157]
There abode once, of old days and in bygone ages and times, in the city of Baghdad, the Abode of Peace, the Khalif Haroun er Reshid, and he had boon-companions and story-tellers, to entertain him by night Among his boon-companions was a man called Abdallah ben Nan, who was high in favour with him and dear unto him, so that he was not forgetful of him a single hour. Now it befell, by the ordinance of destiny, that it became manifest to Abdallah that he was grown of little account with the Khalif and that he paid no heed unto him; nor, if he absented himself, did he enquire concerning him, as had been his wont. This was grievous to Abdallah and he said in himself, "Verily, the heart of the Commander of the Faithful and his fashions are changed towards me and nevermore shall I get of him that cordiality wherewith he was wont to entreat me." And this was distressful to him and concern waxed upon him, so that he recited the following verses:
If, in his own land, midst his folk, abjection and despite Afflict a man, then exile sure were better for the wight. So get thee gone, then, from a house wherein thou art abased And let not severance from friends lie heavy on thy spright. Crude amber[FN#158] in its native land unheeded goes, but, when It comes abroad, upon the necks to raise it men delight. Kohl[FN#159] in its native country, too, is but a kind of stone; Cast out and thrown upon the ways, it lies unvalued quite; But, when from home it fares, forthright all glory it attains And 'twixt the eyelid and the eye incontinent 'tis dight.
Then he could brook this no longer; so he went forth from the dominions of the Commander of the Faithful, under pretence of visiting certain of his kinsmen, and took with him servant nor companion, neither acquainted any with his intent, but betook himself to the road and fared on into the desert and the sandwastes, knowing not whither he went. After awhile, he fell in with travellers intending for the land of Hind [and journeyed with them]. When he came thither, he lighted down [in a city of the cities of the land and took up his abode] in one of the lodging-places; and there he abode a while of days, tasting not food neither solacing himself with the delight of sleep; nor was this for lack of dirhems or dinars, but for that his mind was occupied with musing upon [the reverses of] destiny and bemoaning himself for that the revolving sphere had turned against him and the days had decreed unto him the disfavour of our lord the Imam.[FN#160]
On this wise he abode a space of days, after which he made himself at home in the land and took to himself comrades and got him friends galore, with whom he addressed himself to diversion and good cheer. Moreover, he went a-pleasuring with his friends and their hearts were solaced [by his company] and he entertained them with stories and civilities[FN#161] and diverted them with pleasant verses and told them abundance of histories and anecdotes. Presently, the report of him reached King Jemhour, lord of Cashghar of Hind, and great was his desire [for his company]. So he went in quest of him and Abdallah repaired to his court and going in to him, kissed the earth before him. Jemhour welcomed him and entreated him with kindness and bade commit him to the guest-house, where he abode three days, at the end of which time the king sent [to him] a chamberlain of his chamberlains and let bring him to his presence. When he came before him, he greeted him [with the usual compliment], and the interpreter accosted him, saying, "King Jemhour hath heard of thy report, that thou art a goodly boon-companion and an eloquent story-teller, and he would have thee company with him by night and entertain him with that which thou knowest of anecdotes and pleasant stories and verses." And he made answer with "Hearkening and obedience."
(Quoth Abdallah ben Nan) So I became his boon-companion and entertained him by night [with stories and the like]; and this pleased him to the utmost and he took me into especial favour and bestowed on me dresses of honour and assigned me a separate lodging; brief, he was everywise bountiful to me and could not brook to be parted from me a single hour. So I abode with him a while of time and every night I caroused with him [and entertained him], till the most part of the night was past; and when drowsiness overcame him, he would rise [and betake himself] to his sleeping-place, saying to me, "Forsake not my service for that of another than I and hold not aloof from my presence." And I made answer with "Hearkening and obedience."
Now the king had a son, a pleasant child, called the Amir Mohammed, who was comely of youth and sweet of speech; he had read in books and studied histories and above all things in the world he loved the telling and hearing of verses and stories and anecdotes. He was dear to his father King Jemhour, for that he had none other son than he on life, and indeed he had reared him in the lap of fondness and he was gifted with the utterest of beauty and grace and brightness and perfection. Moreover, he had learnt to play upon the lute and upon all manner instruments of music and he was used to [carouse and] company with friends and brethren. Now it was of his wont that, when the king rose to go to his sleeping-chamber, he would sit in his place and seek of me that I should entertain him with stories and verses and pleasant anecdotes; and on this wise I abode with them a great while in all cheer and delight, and the prince still loved me with an exceeding great love and entreated me with the utmost kindness.
It befell one day that the king's son came to me, after his father had withdrawn, and said to me, "Harkye, Ibn Nafil" "At thy service, O my lord," answered I; and he said, "I would have thee tell me an extraordinary story and a rare matter, that thou hast never related either to me or to my father Jemhour." "O my lord," rejoined I, "what story is this that thou desirest of me and of what kind shall it be of the kinds?" Quoth he, "It matters little what it is, so it be a goodly story, whether it befell of old days or in these times." "O my lord," said I, "I know many stories of various kinds; so whether of the kinds preferrest thou, and wilt thou have a story of mankind or of the Jinn?" "It is well," answered he; "if thou have seen aught with thine eyes and heard it with thine ears, [tell it me."Then he bethought himself] and said to me, "I conjure thee by my life, tell me a story of the stories of the Jinn and that which thou hast heard and seen of them!" "O my son," replied I, "indeed thou conjurest [me] by a mighty conjuration; so [hearken and thou shalt] hear the goodliest of stories, ay, and the most extraordinary of them and the pleasantest and rarest." Quoth the prince, "Say on, for I am attentive to thy speech." And I said, "Know, then, O my son, that
STORY OF THE DAMSEL TUHFET EL CULOUB AND THE KHALIF HAROUN ER RESHID.
The Vicar of the Lord of the Worlds[FN#162] Haroun er Reshid had a boon-companion of the number of his boon-companions, by name Ishac ben Ibrahim en Nedim el Mausili,[FN#163] who was the most accomplished of the folk of his time in the art of smiting upon the lute; and of the Commander of the Faithful's love for him, he assigned him a palace of the choicest of his palaces, wherein he was wont to instruct slave-girls in the arts of lute-playing and singing. If any slave-girl became, by his instruction, accomplished in the craft, he carried her before the Khalif, who bade her play upon the lute; and if she pleased him, he would order her to the harem; else would he restore her to Ishac's palace.
One day, the Commander of the Faithful's breast was straitened; so he sent after his Vizier Jaafer the Barmecide and Ishac the boon-companion and Mesrour the eunuch, the swordsman of his vengeance; and when they came, he changed his raiment and disguised himself, whilst Jaafer [and Ishac] and Mesrour and El Fezll[FN#164] and Younus[FN#165] (who were also present) did the like. Then he went out, he and they, by the privy gate, to the Tigris and taking boat, fared on till they came to near Et Taf,[FN#166] when they landed and walked till they came to the gate of the thoroughfare street.[FN#167] Here there met them an old man, comely of hoariness and of a venerable and dignified bearing, pleasing[FN#168] of aspect and apparel. He kissed the earth before Ishac el Mausili (for that be knew but him of the company, the Khalif being disguised, and deemed the others certain of his friends) and said to him, 'O my lord, there is presently with me a slave-girl, a lutanist, never saw eyes the like of her nor the like of her grace, and indeed I was on my way to pay my respects to thee and give thee to know of her; but Allah, of His favour, hath spared me the trouble. So now I desire to show her to thee, and if she be to thy liking, well and good: else I will sell her.' Quoth Ishac, 'Go before me to thy barrack, till I come to thee and see her.'
The old man kissed his hand and went away; whereupon quoth Er Reshid to him, 'O Ishac, who is yonder man and what is his occasion?' 'O my lord,' answered the other, 'this is a man called Said the Slave-dealer, and he it is who buyeth us slave-girls and mamelukes.[FN#169] He avoucheth that with him is a fair [slave-girl, a] lutanist, whom he hath withheld from sale, for that he could not fairly sell her till he had shown her to me.' 'Let us go to him,' said the Khalif,'so we may look on her, by way of diversion, and see what is in the slave-dealer's barrack of slave-girls.' And Ishac answered, 'Commandment belongeth to God and to the Commander of the Faithful.' Then he went on before them and they followed in his track till they came to the slave-dealer's barrack and found it high of building and spacious of continence, with sleeping-cells and chambers therein, after the number of the slave-girls, and folk sitting upon the benches.
Ishac entered, he and his company, and seating themselves in the place of honour, amused themselves by looking on the slave-girls and mamelukes and watching how they were sold, till the sale came to an end, when some of the folk went away and other some sat. Then said the slave-dealer, 'Let none sit with us except him who buyeth by the thousand [dinars] and upwards.' So those who were present withdrew and there remained none but Er Reshid and his company; whereupon the slave-dealer called the damsel, after he had caused set her a chair of fawwak,[FN#170] furnished with Greek brocade, and it was as she were the sun shining in the clear sky. When she entered, she saluted and sitting down, took the lute and smote upon it, after she had touched its strings and tuned it, so that all present were amazed. Then she sang thereto the following verses:
Wind of the East, if thou pass by the land where my loved ones dwell, I pray, The fullest of greetings bear to them from me, their lover, and say That I am the pledge of passion still and that my longing love And eke my yearning do overpass all longing that was aye. O ye who have withered my heart and marred my hearing and my sight, Desire and transport for your sake wax on me night and day. My heart with yearning is ever torn and tortured without cease, Nor can my lids lay hold on sleep, that Sees from them away.
'Well done, O damsel!' cried Ishac. 'By Allah, this is a fair hour!' Whereupon she rose and kissed his hand, saying, 'O my lord, the hands stand still in thy presence and the tongues at thy sight, and the eloquent before thee are dumb; but thou art the looser of the veil.'[FN#171] Then she clung to him and said, 'Stand.' So he stood and said to her, 'Who art thou and what is thy need?' She raised a corner of the veil, and he beheld a damsel as she were the rising full moon or the glancing lightning, with two side locks of hair that fell down to her anklets. She kissed his hand and said to him, 'O my lord, know that I have been in this barrack these five months, during which time I have been withheld[FN#172] from sale till thou shouldst be present [and see me]; and yonder slave-dealer still made thy coming a pretext to me[FN#173] and forbade me, for all I sought of him night and day that he should cause thee come hither and vouchsafe me thy presence and bring me and thee together.' Quoth Ishac, 'Say what thou wouldst have.' And she answered, 'I beseech thee, by God the Most High, that thou buy me, so I may be with thee, by way of service.' 'Is that thy desire?' asked he, and she replied, ' Yes.'
So Ishac returned to the slave-dealer and said to him, 'Harkye, Gaffer Said!*' 'At thy service, O my lord,' answered the old man; and Ishac said, 'In the corridor is a cell and therein a damsel pale of colour. What is her price in money and how much dost thou ask for her?, Quoth the slave-dealer, 'She whom thou mentionest is called Tuhfet el Hemca.'[FN#174] 'What is the meaning of El Hemca?' asked Ishac, and the old man replied, 'Her price hath been paid down an hundred times and she still saith, "Show me him who desireth to buy me;" and when I show her to him, she saith, "This fellow is not to my liking; he hath in him such and such a default." And in every one who would fain buy her she allegeth some default or other, so that none careth now to buy her and none seeketh her, for fear lest she discover some default in him.' Quoth Ishac, 'She seeketh presently to sell herself; so go thou to her and enquire of her and see her price and send her to the palace.' 'O my lord,' answered Said, 'her price is an hundred dinars, though, were she whole of this paleness that is upon her face, she would be worth a thousand; but folly and pallor have diminished her value; and behold, I will go to her and consult her of this.' So he betook himself to her, and said to her, 'Wilt thou be sold to Ishac ben Ibrahim el Mausili?' 'Yes,' answered she, and he said, 'Leave frowardness,[FN#175] for to whom doth it happen to be in the house of Ishac the boon-companion?'[FN#176]
Then Ishac went forth of the barrack and overtook Er Reshid [who had foregone him]; and they walked till they came to their [landing-]place, where they embarked in the boat and fared on to Theghr el Khanekah.[FN#177] As for the slave-dealer, he sent the damsel to the house of Ishac en Nedim, whose slave-girls took her and carried her to the bath. Then each damsel gave her somewhat of her apparel and they decked her with earrings and bracelets, so that she redoubled in beauty and became as she were the moon on the night of its full. When Ishac returned home from the Khalifs palace, Tuhfeh rose to him and kissed his hand; and he saw that which the slave-girls had done with her and thanked them therefor and said to them, 'Let her be in the house of instruction and bring her instruments of music, and if she be apt unto singing, teach her; and may God the Most High vouchsafe her health and weal!' So there passed over her three months, what while she abode with him in the house of instruction, and they brought her the instruments of music. Moreover, as time went on, she was vouchsafed health and soundness and her beauty waxed many times greater than before and her pallor was changed to white and red, so that she became a ravishment to all who looked on her.
One day, Ishac let bring all who were with him of slave-girls from the house of instruction and carried them up to Er Reshid's palace, leaving none in his house save Tuhfeh and a cookmaid; for that he bethought him not of Tuhfeh, nor did she occur to his mind, and none of the damsels remembered him of her. When she saw that the house was empty of the slave-girls, she took the lute (now she was unique in her time in smiting upon the lute, nor had she her like in the world, no, not Ishac himself, nor any other) and sang thereto the following verses:
Whenas the soul desireth one other than its peer, It winneth not of fortune the wish it holdeth dear. Him with my life I'd ransom whose rigours waste away My frame and cause me languish; yet, if he would but hear, It rests with him to heal me; and I (a soul he hath Must suffer that which irks it), go saying, in my fear Of spies, "How long, O scoffer, wilt mock at my despair, As 'twere God had created nought else whereat to jeer?"
Now Ishac had returned to his house upon an occasion that presented itself to him; and when he entered the vestibule, he heard a sound of singing, the like whereof he had never heard in the world, for that it was [soft] as the breeze and richer[FN#178] than almond oil.[FN#179] So the delight of it gat hold of him and joyance overcame him, and he fell down aswoon in the vestibule, Tuhfeh heard the noise of steps and laying the lute from her hand, went out to see what was to do. She found her lord Ishac lying aswoon in the vestibule; so she took him up and strained him to her bosom, saying, 'I conjure thee in God's name, O my lord, tell me, hath aught befallen thee?' When he heard her voice, he recovered from his swoon and said to her, 'Who art thou? ' Quoth she, 'I am thy slave-girl Tuhfeh.' And he said to her, 'Art thou indeed Tuhfeh?' 'Yes,' answered she; and he, 'By Allah, I had forgotten thee and remembered thee not till now!' Then he looked at her and said, 'Indeed, thy case is altered and thy pallor is grown changed to rosiness and thou hast redoubled in beauty and lovesomeness. But was it thou who was singing but now?' And she was troubled and affrighted and answered, 'Even I, O my lord.'
Then Ishac seized upon her hand and carrying her into the house, said to her, 'Take the lute and sing; for never saw I nor heard thy like in smiting upon the lute; no, not even myself!' 'O my lord,' answered she, 'thou makest mock of me. Who am I that thou shouldst say all this to me? Indeed, this is but of thy kindness.' 'Nay, by Allah,' exclaimed he, 'I said but the truth to thee and I am none of those on whom pretence imposeth. These three months hath nature not moved thee to take the lute and sing thereto, and this is nought but an extraordinary thing. But all this cometh of strength in the craft and self-restraint.' Then he bade her sing; and she said, 'Hearkening and obedience.' So she took the lute and tightening its strings, smote thereon a number of airs, so that she confounded Ishac's wit and he was like to fly for delight. Then she returned to the first mode and sang thereto the following verses:
Still by your ruined camp a dweller I abide; Ne'er will I change nor e'er shall distance us divide. Far though you dwell, I'll ne'er your neighbourhood forget, O friends, whose lovers still for you are stupefied. Your image midst mine eye sits nor forsakes me aye; Ye are my moons in gloom of night and shadowtide. Still, as my transports wax, grows restlessness on me And woes have ta'en the place of love-delight denied.
When she had made an end of her song and laid down the lute, Ishac looked fixedly on her, then took her hand and offered to kiss it; but she snatched it from him and said to him, 'Allah, O my lord, do not that!' Quoth he, 'Be silent. By Allah, I had said that there was not in the world the like of me; but now I have found my dinar[FN#180] in the craft but a danic,[FN#181] "for thou art, beyond comparison or approximation or reckoning, more excellent of skill than I! This very day will I carry thee up to the Commander of the Faithful Haroun er Reshid, and whenas his glance lighteth on thee, thou wilt become a princess of womankind. So, Allah, Allah upon thee, O my lady, whenas thou becomest of the household of the Commander of the Faithful, do not thou forget me!' And she replied, saying, 'Allah, O my lord, thou art the source of my fortunes and in thee is my heart fortified.' So he took her hand and made a covenant with her of this and she swore to him that she would not forget him.
Then said he to her, 'By Allah, thou art the desire of the Commander of the Faithful![FN#182] So take the lute and sing a song that thou shalt sing to the Khalif, whenas thou goest in to him.' So she took the lute and tuning it, sang the following verses:
His love on him took pity and wept for his dismay: Of those that him did visit she was, as sick he lay. She let him taste her honey and wine[FN#183] before his death: This was his last of victual until the Judgment Day.
Ishac stared at her and seizing her hand, said to her, 'Know that I am bound by an oath that, when the singing of a damsel pleaseth me, she shall not make an end of her song but before the Commander of the Faithful. But now tell me, how came it that thou abodest with the slave-dealer five months and wast not sold to any, and thou of this skill, more by token that the price set on thee was no great matter?'
She laughed and answered, 'O my lord, my story is a strange one and my case extraordinary. Know that I belonged aforetime to a Mughrebi merchant, who bought me, when I was three years old, and there were in his house many slave-girls and eunuchs; but I was the dearest to him of them all. So he kept me with him and used not to call me but "daughterling," and indeed I am presently a clean maid. Now there was with him a damsel, a lutanist, and she reared me and taught me the craft, even as thou seest. Then was my master admitted to the mercy of God the Most High[FN#184] and his sons divided his good. I fell to the lot of one of them; but it was only a little while ere he had squandered all his substance and there was left him no tittle of money. So I left the lute, fearing lest I should fall into the hand of a man who knew not my worth, for that I was assured that needs must my master sell me; and indeed it was but a few days ere he carried me forth to the barrack of the slave-merchant who buyeth slave-girls and showeth them to the Commander of the Faithful. Now I desired to learn the craft; so I refused to be sold to other than thou, till God (extolled be His perfection and exalted be He!) vouchsafed me my desire of thy presence; whereupon I came out to thee, whenas I heard of thy coming, and besought thee to buy me. Thou healedst my heart and boughtedst me; and since I entered thy house, O my lord, I have not taken up the lute till now; but to-day, whenas I was quit of the slave-girls, [I took it]; and my purpose in this was that I might see if my hand were changed[FN#185] or no. As I was singing, I heard a step in the vestibule; so I laid the lute from my hand and going forth to see what was to do, found thee, O my lord, on this wise.'
Quoth Ishac, 'Indeed, this was of thy fair fortune. By Allah, I know not that which thou knowest in this craft!' Then he arose and going to a chest, brought out therefrom striped clothes of great price, netted with jewels and great pearls, and said to her, 'In the name of God, don these, O my lady Tuhfeh.' So she arose and donned those clothes and veiled herself and went up [with Ishac] to the palace of the Khalifate, where he made her stand without, whilst he himself went in to the Commander of the Faithful (with whom was Jaafer the Barmecide) and kissing the earth before him, said to him, 'O Commander of the Faithful, I have brought thee a damsel, never saw eyes her like for excellence in singing and touching the lute; and her name is Tuhfeh."[FN#186] 'And where,' asked Er Reshed, 'is this Tuhfeh, who hath not her like in the world?' Quoth Ishac, 'Yonder she stands, O Commander of the Faithful;' and he acquainted the Khalif with her case from first to last. Then said Er Reshid, 'It is a marvel to hear thee praise a slave-girl after this fashion. Admit her, so we may see her, for that the morning may not be hidden.'
Accordingly, Ishac bade admit her; so she entered, and when her eyes fell upon the Commander of the Faithful, she kissed the earth before him and said, 'Peace be upon thee, O Commander of the Faithful and asylum of the people of the faith and reviver of justice among all creatures! May God make plain the treading of thy feet and vouchsafe thee enjoyment of that which He hath bestowed on thee and make Paradise thy harbourage and the fire that of thine enemies!' Quoth Er Reshid, 'And on thee be peace, O damsel! Sit.' So she sat down and he bade her sing; whereupon she took the lute and tightening its strings, played thereon in many modes, so that the Commander of the Faithful and Jaafer were confounded and like to fly for delight. Then she returned to the first mode and sang the following verses:
By Him whom I worship, indeed, I swear, O thou that mine eye dost fill, By Him in whose honour the pilgrims throng and fare to Arafat's hill, Though over me be the tombstone laid, if ever thou call on me, Though rotten my bone should be, thy voice I'll answer, come what will. I crave none other than thou for friend, beloved of my heart; So trust in my speech, for the generous are true and trusty still.
Er Reshid considered her beauty and the goodliness of her singing and her eloquence and what not else she comprised of qualities and rejoiced with an exceeding joyance; and for the stress of that which overcame him of delight, he descended from the couch and sitting down with her upon the ground, said to her, 'Thou hast done well, O Tuhfeh. By Allah, thou art indeed a gift'[FN#187] Then he turned to Ishac and said to him, 'Thou dealtest not equitably, O Ishac, in the description of this damsel,[FN#188] neither settest out all that she compriseth of goodliness and skill; for that, by Allah, she is incomparably more skilful than thou; and I know of this craft that which none knoweth other than I!' 'By Allah,' exclaimed Jaafer, 'thou sayst sooth, O my lord, O Commander of the Faithful. Indeed, this damsel hath done away my wit' Quoth Ishac, 'By Allah, O Commander of the Faithful, I had said that there was not on the face of the earth one who knew the craft of the lute like myself; but, when I heard her, my skill became nothing worth in mine eyes.'
Then said the Khalif to her, 'Repeat thy playing, O Tuhfeh.' So she repeated it and he said to her, 'Well done!' Moreover, he said to Ishac, 'Thou hast indeed brought me that which is extraordinary and worth in mine eyes the empire of the earth.' Then he turned to Mesrour the eunuch and said to him, 'Carry Tuhfeh to the lodging of honour.'[FN#189] Accordingly, she went away with Mesrour and the Khalif looked at her clothes and seeing her clad in raiment of choice, said to Ishac, 'O Ishac, whence hath she these clothes?' 'O my lord, answered he, 'these are somewhat of thy bounties and thy largesse, and they are a gift to her from me. By Allah, O Commander of the Faithful, the world, all of it, were little in comparison with her!' Then the Khalif turned to the Vizier Jaafer and said to him, 'Give Ishac fifty thousand dirhems and a dress of honour of the apparel of choice.' 'Hearkening and obedience,' replied Jaafer and gave him that which the Khalif ordered him.
As for Er Reshid, he shut himself up with Tuhfeh that night and found her a clean maid and rejoiced in her; and she took high rank in his heart, so that he could not endure from her a single hour and committed to her the keys of the affairs of the realm, for that which he saw in her of good breeding and wit and modesty. Moreover, he gave her fifty slave-girls and two hundred thousand dinars and clothes and trinkets and jewels and precious stones, worth the kingdom of Egypt; and of the excess of his love for her, he would not entrust her to any of the slave-girls or eunuchs; but, whenas he went out from her, he locked the door upon her and took the key with him, against he should return to her, forbidding the damsels to go in to her, of his fear lest they should slay her or practise on her with knife or poison; and on this wise he abode awhile.
One day as she sang before the Commander of the Faithful, he was moved to exceeding delight, so that he took her and offered to kiss her hand; but she drew it away from him and smote upon her lute and broke it and wept Er Reshid wiped away her tears and said, 'O desire of the heart, what is it maketh thee weep? May God not cause an eye of thine to weep!' 'O my lord,' answered she, 'what am I that thou shouldst kiss my hand? Wilt thou have God punish me for this and that my term should come to an end and my felicity pass away? For this is what none ever attained unto.' Quoth he, 'Well said, O Tuhfeh. Know that thy rank in my esteem is mighty and for that which wondered me of what I saw of thee, I offered to do this, but I will not return unto the like thereof; so be of good heart and cheerful eye, for I have no desire for other than thyself and will not die but in the love of thee, and thou to me art queen and mistress, to the exclusion of all humankind.' Therewith she fell to kissing his feet; and this her fashion pleased him, so that his love for her redoubled and he became unable to brook an hour's severance from her.
One day he went forth to the chase and left Tuhfeh in her pavilion. As she sat looking upon a book, with a candlestick of gold before her, wherein was a perfumed candle, behold, a musk-apple fell down before her from the top of the saloon.[FN#190] So she looked up and beheld the Lady Zubeideh bint el Casim,[FN#191] who saluted her and acquainted her with herself, whereupon Tuhfeh rose to her feet and said, 'O my lady, were I not of the number of the upstarts, I had daily sought thy service; so do not thou bereave me of thine august visits.'[FN#192] The Lady Zubeideh called down blessings upon her and answered, 'By the life of the Commander of the Faithful, I knew this of thee, and but that it is not of my wont to go forth of my place, I had come out to do my service to thee.' Then said she to her, 'Know, O Tuhfeh, that the Commander of the Faithful hath forsaken all his concubines and favourites on thine account, even to myself. Yea, me also hath he deserted on this wise, and I am not content to be as one of the concubines; yet hath he made me of them and forsaken me, and I am come to thee, so thou mayst beseech him to come to me, though it be but once a month, that I may not be the like of the handmaids and concubines nor be evened with the slave-girls; and this is my occasion with thee.' 'Hearkening and obedience,' answered Tuhfeh. 'By Allah, O my lady, I would well that he might be with thee a whole month and with me but one night, so thy heart might be comforted, for that I am one of thy handmaids and thou art my lady in every event.' The Lady Zubeideh thanked her for this and taking leave of her, returned to her palace.
When the Khalif returned from the chase, he betook himself to Tuhfeh's pavilion and bringing out the key, opened the door and went in to her. She rose to receive him and kissed his hand, and he took her to his breast and seated her on his knee. Then food was brought to them and they ate and washed their hands; after which she took the lute and sang, till Er Reshid was moved to sleep. When she was ware of this, she left singing and told him her adventure with the Lady Zubeideh, saying, 'O Commander of the Faithful, I would have thee do me a favour and heal my heart and accept my intercession and reject not my word, but go forthright to the Lady Zubeideh's lodging.' Now this talk befell after he had stripped himself naked and she also had put off her clothes; and he said, 'Thou shouldst have named this before we stripped ourselves naked.' But she answered, saying, ' O Commander of the Faithful, I did this not but in accordance with the saying of the poet in the following verses:
All intercessions come and all alike do ill succeed, Save Tuhfeh's, daughter of Merjan, for that, in very deed, The intercessor who to thee herself presenteth veiled Is not her like who naked comes with thee to intercede.'
When the Khalif heard this, her speech pleased him and he strained her to his bosom. Then he went forth from her and locked the door upon her, as before; whereupon she took the book and sat looking in it awhile. Presently, she laid it down and taking the lute, tightened its strings. Then she smote thereon, after a wondrous fashion, such as would have moved inanimate things [to delight], and fell to singing marvellous melodies and chanting the following verses:
Rail not at the vicissitudes of Fate, For Fortune still spites those who her berate. Be patient under its calamities, For all things have an issue soon or late. How many a mirth-exciting joy amid The raiment of ill chances lies in wait! How often, too, hath gladness come to light Whence nought but dole thou didst anticipate!
Then she turned and saw within the chamber an old man, comely of hoariness, venerable of aspect, who was dancing on apt and goodly wise, a dance the like whereof none might avail unto. So she sought refuge with God the Most High from Satan the Stoned[FN#193] and said, 'I will not give over what I am about, for that which God decreeth, He carrieth into execution.' Accordingly, she went on singing till the old man came up to her and kissed the earth before her, saying, 'Well done, O Queen of the East and the West! May the world be not bereaved of thee! By Allah, indeed thou art perfect of qualities and ingredients, O Tuhfet es Sudour![FN#194] Dost thou know me?' 'Nay, by Allah,' answered she; 'but methinks thou art of the Jinn.' Quoth he, 'Thou sayst sooth; I am the Sheikh Aboultawaif[FN#195] Iblis, and I come to thee every night, and with me thy sister Kemeriyeh, for that she loveth thee and sweareth not but by thy life; and her life is not pleasant to her, except she come to thee and see thee, what while thou seest her not. As for me, I come to thee upon an affair, wherein thou shall find thine advantage and whereby thou shalt rise to high rank with the kings of the Jinn and rule them, even as thou rulest mankind; [and to that end I would have thee come with me and be present at the festival of my son's circumcision;[FN#196]] for that the Jinn are agreed upon the manifestation of thine affair.' And she answered, 'In the name of God.'
So she gave him the lute and he forewent her, till he came to the house of easance, and behold, therein was a door and a stairway. When Tuhfeh saw this, her reason fled; but Iblis cheered her with discourse. Then he descended the stair and she followed him to the bottom thereof, where she found a passage and they fared on therein, till they came to a horse standing, Teady saddled and bridled and accoutred. Quoth Iblis, '[Mount], in the name of God, O my lady Tuhfeh;' and he held the stirrup for her. So she mounted and the horse shook under her and putting forth wings, flew up with her, whilst the old man flew by her side; whereat she was affrighted and clung to the pummel of the saddle; nor was it but an hour ere they came to a fair green meadow, fresh-flowered as if the soil thereof were a goodly robe, embroidered with all manner colours.
Midmost that meadow was a palace soaring high into the air, with battlements of red gold, set with pearls and jewels, and a two-leaved gate; and in the gateway thereof were much people of the chiefs of the Jinn, clad in sumptuous apparel. When they saw the old man, they all cried out, saying, 'The Lady Tuhfeh is come!' And as soon as she reached the palace-gate, they came all and dismounting her from the horse's back, carried her into the palace and fell to kissing her hands. When she entered, she beheld a palace whereof never saw eyes the like; for therein were four estrades, one facing other, and its walls were of gold and its ceilings of silver. It was lofty of building, wide of continence, and those who beheld it would be puzzled to describe it. At the upper end of the hall stood a throne of red gold, set with pearls and jewels, unto which led up five steps of silver, and on the right thereof and on its left were many chairs of gold and silver; and over the dais was a curtain let down, gold and silver wrought and broidered with pearls and jewels.
The old man carried Tuhfeh up [to the dais and seated her] on a chair of gold beside the throne, whilst she was amazed at that which she saw in that place and magnified her Lord (extolled be His perfection and exalted be He!) and hallowed Him. Then the kings of the Jinn came up to the throne and seated themselves thereon; and they were in the semblance of mortals, excepting two of them, who were in the semblance of the Jinn, with eyes slit endlong and jutting horns and projecting tusks. After this there came up a young lady, fair of favour and pleasant of parts; the light of her face outshone that of the flambeaux, and about her were other three women, than whom there were no fairer on the face of the earth. They saluted Tuhfeh and she rose to them and kissed the earth before them; whereupon they embraced her and sat down on the chairs aforesaid.
Now the four women who thus accosted Tuhfeh were the princess Kemeriyeh, daughter of King Es Shisban, and her sisters; and Kemeriyeh loved Tuhfeh with an exceeding love. So, when she came up to her, she fell to kissing and embracing her, and Iblis said, 'Fair befall you! Take me between you.' At this Tuhfeh laughed and Kemeriyeh said, 'O my sister, I love thee and doubtless hearts have their evidences,[FN#197] for, since I saw thee, I have loved thee.' 'By Allah,' replied Tuhfeh, 'hearts have deeps,[FN#198] and thou, by Allah, art dear to me and I am thy handmaid.' Kemeriyeh thanked her for this and said to her, 'These are the wives of the kings of the Jinn: salute them. This is Queen Jemreh,[FN#199] that is Queen Wekhimeh and this other is Queen Sherareh, and they come not but for thee.' So Tuhfeh rose to her feet and kissed their hands, and the three queens kissed her and welcomed her and entreated her with the utmost honour.
Then they brought trays and tables and amongst the rest a platter of red gold, inlaid with pearls and jewels; its margents were of gold and emerald, and thereon were graven the following verses:
For the uses of food I was fashioned and made; The hands of the noble me wrought and inlaid. My maker reserved me for generous men And the niggard and sland'rer to use me forebade. So eat what I offer in surety and be The Lord of all things with thanks- giving repaid!
So they ate and Tuhfeh looked at the two kings, who had not changed their favour and said to Kemeriyeh, 'O my lady, what is yonder wild beast and that other like unto him? By Allah, mine eye brooketh not the sight of them.' Kemeriyeh laughed and answered, 'O my sister, that is my father Es Shisban and the other is Meimoun the Sworder; and of the pride of their souls and their arrogance, they consented not to change their [natural] fashion. Indeed, all whom thou seest here are, by nature, like unto them in fashion; but, on thine account, they have changed their favour, for fear lest thou be disquieted and for the comforting of thy mind, so thou mightest make friends with them and be at thine ease.' 'O my lady,' quoth Tuhfeh, 'indeed I cannot look at them. How frightful is yonder Meimoun, with his [one] eye! Mine eye cannot brook the sight of him, and indeed I am fearful of him.' Kemeriyeh laughed at her speech, and Tuhfeh said, 'By Allah, O my lady, I cannot fill my eye with them!'[FN#200] Then said her father Es Shisban to her, 'What is this laughing?' So she bespoke him in a tongue none understood but they [two] and acquainted him with that which Tuhfeh had said; whereat he laughed a prodigious laugh, as it were the pealing thunder.
Then they ate and the tables were removed and they washed their hands; after which Iblis the Accursed came up to Tuhfeh and said to her, 'O my lady Tuhfeh, thou gladdenest the place and with thy presence enlightenest and embellishest it; but now fain would these kings hear somewhat of thy singing, for the night hath spread its wings for departure and there abideth thereof but a little.' Quoth she, 'Hearkening and obedience.' So she took the lute and touching its strings on rare wise, played thereon after a wondrous fashion, so that it seemed to those who were present as if the palace stirred with them for the music. Then she fell a-singing and chanted the following verses:
Peace on you, people of my troth! With peace I do you greet. Said ye not truly, aforetime, that we should live and meet? Ah, then will I begin on you with chiding than the breeze More soft, ay pleasanter than clear cold water and more sweet. Indeed, mine eyelids still with tears are ulcered and to you My bowels yearn to be made whole of all their pain and heat. Parting hath sundered us, belov'd; indeed, I stood in dread Of this, whilst yet our happiness in union was complete. To God of all the woes I've borne I plain me, for I pine For longing and lament, and Him for solace I entreat
The kings of the Jinn were moved to delight by that fair singing and fluent speech and praised Tuhfeh; and Queen Kemeriyeh rose to her and embraced her and kissed her between the eyes, saying, 'By Allah, it is good, O my sister and solace of mine eyes and darling of my heart!' Then said she, 'I conjure thee by Allah, give us more of this lovely singing.' And Tuhfeh answered with 'Hearkening and obedience.' So she took the lute and playing thereon after a different fashion from the former one, sang the following verses:
Oft as my yearning waxeth, my heart consoleth me With hopes of thine enjoyment in all security. Sure God shall yet, in pity, reknit our severed lives, Even as He did afflict me with loneness after thee. Thou whose desire possesseth my soul, the love of whom Hold on my reins hath gotten and will not let me free, Compared with thine enjoyment, the hardest things are light To win and all things distant draw near and easy be. God to a tristful lover be light! A man of wit, Yet perishing for yearning and body-worn is he. Were I cut off, beloved, from hope of thy return, Slumber, indeed, for ever my wakeful lids would flee. For nought of worldly fortune I weep! my only joy In seeing thee consisteth and in thy seeing me.
At this the accursed Iblis was moved to delight and put his finger to his arse, whilst Meimoun danced and said, 'O Tuhfet es Sudour, soften the mode;[FN#201] for, as delight, entereth into my heart, it bewildereth my vital spirits.' So she took the lute and changing the mode, played a third air; then she returned to the first and sang the following verses:
The billows of thy love o'erwhelm me passing sore; I sink and all in vain for succour I implore. Ye've drowned me in the sea of love for you; my heart Denies to be consoled for those whom I adore. Think not that I forget our trothplight after you. Nay; God to me decreed remembrance heretofore.[FN#202] Love to its victim clings without relent, and he Of torments and unease complaineth evermore.
The kings and all those who were present rejoiced in this with an exceeding delight and the accursed Iblis came up to Tuhfeh and kissing her hand, said to her, 'There abideth but little of the night; so do thou tarry with us till the morrow, when we will apply ourselves to the wedding[FN#203] and the circumcision.' Then all the Jinn went away, whereupon Tuhfeh rose to her feet and Iblis said, 'Go ye up with Tuhfeh to the garden for the rest of the night.' So Kemeriyeh took her and carried her into the garden. Now this garden contained all manner birds, nightingale and mocking-bird and ringdove and curlew[FN#204] and other than these of all the kinds, and therein were all kinds of fruits. Its channels[FN#205] were of gold and silver and the water thereof, as it broke forth of its conduits, was like unto fleeing serpents' bellies, and indeed it was as it were the Garden of Eden.[FN#206]
When Tuhfeh beheld this, she called to mind her lord and wept sore and said, 'I beseech God the Most High to vouchsafe me speedy deliverance, so I may return to my palace and that my high estate and queendom and glory and be reunited with my lord and master Er Reshid.' Then she walked in that garden and saw in its midst a dome of white marble, raised on columns of black teak and hung with curtains embroidered with pearls and jewels. Amiddleward this pavilion was a fountain, inlaid with all manner jacinths, and thereon a statue of gold, and [beside it] a little door. She opened the door and found herself in a long passage; so she followed it and behold, a bath lined with all kinds of precious marbles and floored with a mosaic of pearls and jewels. Therein were four cisterns of alabaster, one facing other, and the ceiling of the bath was of glass coloured with all manner colours, such as confounded the understanding of the folk of understanding and amazed the wit.
Tuhfeh entered the bath, after she had put off her clothes, and behold, the basin thereof was overlaid with gold set with pearls and red rubies and green emeralds and other jewels; so she extolled the perfection of God the Most High and hallowed Him for the magnificence of that which she saw of the attributes of that bath. Then she made her ablutions in that basin and pronouncing the Magnification of Prohibition,[FN#207] prayed the morning prayer and what else had escaped her of prayers;[FN#208] after which she went out and walked in that garden among jessamine and lavender and roses and camomile and gillyflowers and thyme and violets and sweet basil, till she came to the door of the pavilion aforesaid and sat down therein, pondering that which should betide Er Reshid after her, whenas he should come to her pavilion and find her not. She abode sunken in the sea of her solicitude, till presently sleep took her and she slept
Presently she felt a breath upon her face; whereupon she awoke and found Queen Kemeriyeh kissing her, and with her her three sisters, Queen Jemreh, Queen Wekhimeh and Queen Sherareh. So she arose and kissed their hands and rejoiced in them with the utmost joy and they abode, she and they, in talk and converse, what while she related to them her history, from the time of her purchase by the Mughrebi to that of her coming to the slave-dealers' barrack, where she besought Ishac en Nedim to buy her, and how she won to Er Reshid, till the moment when Iblis came to her and brought her to them. They gave not over talking till the sun declined and turned pale and the season of sundown drew near and the day departed, whereupon Tuhfeh was instant in supplication to God the Most High, on the occasion of the prayer of sundown, that He would reunite her with her lord Er Reshid.
After this, she abode with the four queens, till they arose and entered the palace, where she found the candles lit and ranged in candlesticks of gold and silver and censing-vessels of gold and silver, filled with aloes-wood and ambergris, and there were the kings of the Jinn sitting. So she saluted them, kissing the earth before them and doing them worship; and they rejoiced in her and in her sight. Then she ascended [the estrade] and sat down upon her chair, whilst King Es Shisban and King El Muzfir and Queen Louloueh and [other] the kings of the Jinn sat on chairs, and they brought tables of choice, spread with all manner meats befitting kings. They ate their fill; after which the tables were removed and they washed their hands and wiped them with napkins. Then they brought the wine-service and set on bowls and cups and flagons and hanaps of gold and silver and beakers of crystal and gold; and they poured out the wines and filled the flagons.
Then Iblis took the cup and signed to Tuhfeh to sing; and she said, 'Hearkening and obedience.' So she took the lute and tuning it, sang the following verses:
Drink ever, O lovers, I rede you, of wine And praise his desert who for yearning doth pine, Where lavender, myrtle, narcissus entwine, With all sweet-scented herbs, round the juice of the vine.
So Iblis the Accursed drank and said, 'Well done, O desire of hearts! but thou owest me yet another song.' Then he filled the cup and signed to her to sing. Quoth she, 'Hearkening and obedience,' and sang the following verses:
Ye know I'm passion-maddened, racked with love and languishment, Yet ye torment me, for to you 'tis pleasing to torment. Between mine eyes and wake ye have your dwelling-place, and thus My tears flow on unceasingly, my sighs know no relent. How long shall I for justice sue to you, whilst, with desire For aid, ye war on me and still on slaying me are bent! To me your rigour love-delight, your distance nearness is; Ay, your injustice equity, and eke your wrath consent. Accuse me falsely, cruelly entreat me; still ye are My heart's beloved, at whose hands no rigour I resent.
All who were present were delighted and the sitting-chamber shook with mirth, and Iblis said, 'Well done, O Tuhfet es Sudour!' Then they gave not over wine-bibbing and rejoicing and making merry and tambourining and piping till the night waned and the dawn drew near; and indeed exceeding delight entered into them. The most of them in mirth was the Sheikh Iblis, and for the excess of that which betided him of delight, he put off all that was upon him of coloured clothes and cast them over Tuhfeh, and among the rest a robe broidered with jewels and jacinths, worth ten thousand dinars. Then he kissed the earth and danced and put his finger to his arse and taking his beard in his hand, said to her, 'Sing about this beard and endeavour after mirth and pleasance, and no blame shall betide thee for this.' So she improvised and sang the following verses:
Beard of the old he-goat, the one-eyed, what shall be My saying of a knave, his fashion and degree? I rede thee vaunt thee not of praise from us, for lo! Even as a docktailed cur thou art esteemed of me. By Allah, without fail, to-morrow thou shalt see Me with ox-leather dress and drub the nape of thee!
All those who were present laughed at her mockery of Iblis and marvelled at the goodliness of her observation[FN#209] and her readiness in improvising verses; whilst the Sheikh himself rejoiced and said to her, 'O Tuhfet es Sudour, the night is gone; so arise and rest thyself ere the day; and to-morrow all shall be well.' Then all the kings of the Jinn departed, together with those who were present of guards, and Tuhfeh abode alone, pondering the affair of Er Reshid and bethinking her of how it was with him, after her, and of that which had betided him for her loss, till the dawn gleamed, when she arose and walked in the palace. Presently she saw a handsome door; so she opened it and found herself in a garden goodlier than the first, never saw eyes a fairer than it. When she beheld this garden, delight moved her and she called to mind her lord Er Reshid and wept sore, saying, 'I crave of the bounty of God the Most High that my return to him and to my palace and my home may be near at hand!'
Then she walked in the garden till she came to a pavilion, lofty of building and wide of continence, never saw mortal nor heard of a goodlier than it [So she entered] and found herself in a long corridor, which led to a bath goodlier than that whereof it hath been spoken, and the cisterns thereof were full of rose-water mingled with musk. Quoth Tuhfeh, 'Extolled be the perfection of God! Indeed, this[FN#210] is none other than a mighty king.' Then she put off her clothes and washed her body and made her ablution, after the fullest fashion,[FN#211] and prayed that which was due from her of prayer from the evening [of the previous day].[FN#212] When the sun rose upon the gate of the garden and she saw the wonders thereof, with that which was therein of all manner flowers and streams, and heard the voices of its birds, she marvelled at what she saw of the surpassing goodliness of its ordinance and the beauty of its disposition and sat meditating the affair of Er Reshid and pondering what was come of him after her. Her tears ran down upon her cheek and the zephyr blew on her; so she slept and knew no more till she felt a breath on her cheek, whereupon she awoke in affright and found Queen Kemeriyeh kissing her face, and with her her sisters, who said to her, 'Arise, for the sun hath set.'
So she arose and making the ablution, prayed that which behoved her of prayers[FN#213] and accompanied the four queens to the palace, where she saw the candles lighted and the kings sitting. She saluted them and seated herself upon her couch; and behold, King Es Shisban had changed his favour, for all the pride of his soul. Then came up Iblis (whom God curse!) and Tuhfeh rose to him and kissed his hands. He in turn kissed her hand and called down blessings on her and said, 'How deemest thou? Is [not] this place pleasant, for all its loneliness and desolation?' Quoth she, 'None may be desolate in this place;' and he said, 'Know that no mortal dare tread [the soil of] this place.' But she answered, 'I have dared and trodden it, and this is of the number of thy favours.' Then they brought tables and meats and viands and fruits and sweetmeats and what not else, to the description whereof mortal man availeth not, and they ate till they had enough; after which the tables were removed and the trays and platters[FN#214] set on, and they ranged the bottles and flagons and vessels and phials, together with all manner fruits and sweet-scented flowers.
The first to take the cup was Iblis the Accursed, who said, 'O Tuhfet es Sudour, sing over my cup.' So she took the lute and touching it, sang the following verses:
Awaken, O ye sleepers all, and profit, whilst it's here By what's vouchsafed of fortune fair and life untroubled, clear. Drink of the first-run wine, that shows as very flame it were, When from the pitcher 'tis outpoured, or ere the day appear. O skinker of the vine-juice, let the cup 'twixt us go round, For in its drinking is my hope and all I hold most dear. What is the pleasance of the world, except it be to see My lady's face, to drink of wine and ditties still to hear?
So Iblis drank off his cup, and when he had made an end of his draught, he waved his hand to Tuhfeh, and putting off that which was upon him of clothes, delivered them to her. Amongst them was a suit worth ten thousand dinars and a tray full of jewels worth a great sum of money. Then he filled again and gave the cup to his son Es Shisban, who took it from his hand and kissing it, stood up and sat down again. Now there was before him a tray of roses; so he said to her 'O Tuhfeh sing upon these roses.' Hearkening and obedience,' answered she and sang the following verses:
O'er all the fragrant flowers that be I have the prefrence aye, For that I come but once a year, and but a little stay. And high is my repute, for that I wounded aforetime My lord,[FN#215] whom God made best of all the treaders of the clay.
So Es Shisban drank off the cup in his turn and said, 'Well done, O desire of hearts!' And he bestowed on her that which was upon him, to wit, a dress of cloth-of-pearl, fringed with great pearls and rubies and broidered with precious stones, and a tray wherein were fifty thousand dinars. Then Meimoun the Sworder took the cup and fell to gazing intently upon Tuhfeh. Now there was in his hand a pomegranate-flower and he said to her, 'Sing upon this pomegranate-flower, O queen of men and Jinn; for indeed thou hast dominion over all hearts.' Quoth she, 'Hearkening and obedience;' and she improvised and sang the following verses:
The zephyr's sweetness on the coppice blew, And as with falling fire 'twas clad anew; And to the birds' descant in the foredawns, From out the boughs it flowered forth and grew, Till in a robe of sandal green 'twas clad And veil that blended rose and flame[FN#216] in hue.
Meinsoun drank off his cup and said to her, 'Well done, O perfect of attributes!' Then he signed to her and was absent awhile, after which he returned and with him a tray of jewels worth an hundred thousand dinars, [which he gave to Tuhfeh]. So Kemeriyeh arose and bade her slave-girl open the closet behind her, wherein she laid all that wealth. Then she delivered the key to Tuhfeh, saying, 'All that cometh to thee of riches, lay thou in this closet that is by thy side, and after the festival, it shall be carried to thy palace on the heads of the Jinn.' Tuhfeh kissed her hand, and another king, by name Munir, took the cup and filling it, said to her, 'O fair one, sing to me over my cup upon the jasmine.' 'Hearkening and obedience,' answered she and improvised the following verses:
It is as the jasmine, when it I espy, As it glitters and gleams midst its boughs, were a sky Of beryl, all glowing with beauty, wherein Thick stars of pure silver shine forth to the eye.
Munir drank off his cup and ordered her eight hundred thousand dinars, whereat Kemeriyeh rejoiced and rising to her feet, kissed Tuhfeh on her face and said to her, 'May the world not be bereaved of thee, O thou who lordest it over the hearts of Jinn and mortals!' Then she returned to her place and the Sheikh Iblis arose and danced, till all present were confounded; after which he said to Tuhfeh, 'Indeed, thou embellishest my festival, O thou who hast commandment over men and Jinn and rejoicest their hearts with thy loveliness and the excellence of thy faithfulness to thy lord. All that thy hands possess shall be borne to thee [in thy palace and placed] at thy service; but now the dawn is near at hand; so do thou rise and rest thee, as of thy wont' Tuhfeh turned and found with her none of the Jinn; so she laid her head on the ground and slept till she had gotten her rest; after which she arose and betaking herself to the pool, made the ablution and prayed. Then she sat beside the pool awhile and pondered the affair of her lord Er Reshid and that which had betided him after her and wept sore.
Presently, she heard a blowing behind her; so she turned and behold, a head without a body and with eyes slit endlong; it was of the bigness of an elephant's head and bigger and had a mouth as it were an oven and projecting tusks, as they were grapnels, and hair that trailed upon the earth. So Tuhfeh said, 'I take refuge with God from Satan the Stoned!' and recited the Two Amulets;[FN#217] what while the head drew near her and said to her, 'Peace be upon thee, O princess of Jinn and men and unique pearl of her age and her time! May God still continue thee on life, for all the lapsing of the days, and reunite thee with thy lord the Imam!'[FN#218] 'And upon thee be peace,' answered she, 'O thou whose like I have not seen among the Jinn!' Quoth the head, 'We are a people who avail not to change their favours and we are called ghouls. The folk summon us to their presence, but we may not present ourselves before them [without leave]. As for me, I have gotten leave of the Sheikh Aboultawaif to present myself before thee and I desire of thy favour that thou sing me a song, so I may go to thy palace and question its haunters[FN#219] concerning the plight of thy lord after thee and return to thee; and know, O Tuhfet es Sudour, that between thee and thy lord is a distance of fifty years' journey to the diligent traveller.' 'Indeed,' rejoined Tuhfeh, 'thou grievest me [for him] between whom and me is fifty years' journey. And the head said to her, 'Be of good heart and cheerful eye, for the kings of the Jinn will restore thee to him in less than the twinkling of an eye.' Quoth she,' I will sing thee an hundred songs, so thou wilt bring me news of my lord and that which hath befallen him after me.' And the head answered, saying, 'Do thou favour me and sing me a song, so I may go to thy lord and bring thee news of him, for that I desire, before I go, to hear thy voice, so haply my thirst[FN#220] may be quenched.' So she took the lute and tuning it, sang the following verses:
They have departed; but the steads yet full of them remain: Yea, they have left me, but my heart of them doth not complain. My heart bereavement of my friends forebode; may God of them The dwellings not bereave, but send them timely home again! Though they their journey's goal, alas I have hidden, in their track Still will I follow on until the very planets wane. Ye sleep; by Allah, sleep comes not to ease my weary lids; But from mine eyes, since ye have passed away, the blood doth rain. The railers for your loss pretend that I should patient be: 'Away!' I answer them: ' 'tis I, not you, that feel the pain.' What had it irked them, had they'd ta'en farewell of him they've left Lone, whilst estrangement's fires within his entrails rage amain? Great in delight, beloved mine, your presence is with me; Yet greater still the miseries of parting and its bane. Ye are the pleasaunce of my soul; or present though you be Or absent from me, still my heart and thought with you remain.
The head wept exceeding sore and said, 'O my lady, indeed thou hast solaced my heart, and I have nought but my life; so take it.' Quoth she, 'An I but knew that thou wouldst bring me news of my lord Er Reshid, it were liefer to me than the empery of the world.' And the head answered her, saying, 'It shall be done as thou desirest.' Then it disappeared and returning to her at the last of the night, said, 'Know, O my lady, that I have been to thy palace and have questioned one of the haunters thereof of the case of the Commander of the Faithful and that which befell him after thee; and he said, "When the Commander of the Faithful came to Tuhfeh's lodging and found her not and saw no sign of her, he buffeted his face and head and rent his clothes. Now there was in thy lodging the eunuch, the chief of thy household, and he cried out at him, saying, 'Bring me Jaafer the Barmecide and his father and brother forthright.' The eunuch went out, confounded in his wit for fear of the Commander of the Faithful, and whenas he came to Jaafer, he said to him, 'Come to the Commander of the Faithful, thou and thy father and brother.' So they arose in haste and betaking themselves to the Khalif's presence, said to him, 'O Commander of the Faithful, what is to do?' Quoth he, 'There is that to do which overpasseth description. Know that I locked the door and taking the key with me, betook myself to the daughter of mine uncle, with whom I lay the night; but, when I arose in the morning and came and opened the door, I found no sign of Tuhfeh.' 'O Commander of the Faithful,' rejoined Jaafer, 'have patience, for that the damsel hath been snatched away, and needs must she return, seeing she took the lute with her, and it is her [own] lute. The Jinn have assuredly carried her off and we trust in God the Most High that she will return.' Quoth the Khalif, ' This[FN#221] is a thing that may nowise be' And he abode in her lodging, eating not neither drinking, what while the Barmecides besought him to go forth to the folk; and he weepeth and abideth on this wise till she shall return." This, then, is that which hath betided him after thee.'
When Tuhfeh heard this, it was grievous to her and she wept sore; whereupon quoth the head to her, 'The relief of God the Most High is near at hand; but now let me hear somewhat of thy speech.' So she took the lute and sang three songs, weeping the while. 'By Allah,' said the head, 'thou hast been bountiful to me, may God be with thee!' Then it disappeared and the season of sundown came. So she arose [and betook herself] to her place [in the hall]; whereupon the candles rose up from under the earth and kindled themselves. Then the kings of the Jinn appeared and saluted her and kissed her hands and she saluted them. Presently, up came Kemeriyeh and her three sisters and saluted Tuhfeh and sat down; whereupon the tables were brought and they ate. Then the tables were removed and there came the wine-tray and the drinking-service. So Tuhfeh took the lute and one of the three queens filled the cup and signed to Tuhfeh [to sing]. Now she had in her hand a violet; so Tuhfeh sang the following verses:
Behold, I am clad in a robe of leaves green And a garment of honour of ultramarine. Though little, with beauty myself I've adorned; So the flowers are my subjects and I am their queen. If the rose be entitled the pride of the morn, Before me nor after she wins it, I ween.
The queen drank off her cup and bestowed on Tuhfeh a dress of cloth-of-pearl, fringed with red rubies, worth twenty thousand dinars, and a tray wherein were ten thousand dinars.
All this while Meimoun's eye was upon her and presently he said to her, 'Harkye, Tuhfeh! Sing to me.' But Queen Zelzeleh cried out at him and said, 'Desist, O Meimoun. Thou sufferest not Tuhfeh to pay heed unto us.' Quoth he, 'I will have her sing to me.' And words waxed between them and Queen Zelzeleh cried out at him. Then she shook and became like unto the Jinn and taking in her hand a mace of stone, said to him, 'Out on thee! What art thou that thou shouldst bespeak us thus? By Allah, but for the king's worship and my fear of troubling the session and the festival and the mind of the Sheikh Iblis, I would assuredly beat the folly out of thy head!' When Meimoun heard these her words, he rose, with the fire issuing from his eyes, and said, 'O daughter of Imlac, what art thou that thou shouldst outrage me with the like of this talk?' 'Out on thee, O dog of the Jinn,' replied she, 'knowest thou not thy place?' So saying, she ran at him and offered to strike him with the mace, but the Sheikh Iblis arose and casting his turban on the ground, said, 'Out on thee, O Meimoun! Thou still dost with us on this wise. Wheresoever thou art present, thou troubleth our life! Canst thou not hold thy peace till thou goest forth of the festival and this bride-feast[FN#222] be accomplished? When the circumcision is at an end and ye all return to your dwelling-places, then do as thou wilt. Out on thee, O Meimoun! Knowest thou not that Imlac is of the chiefs of the Jinn? But for my worship, thou shouldst have seen what would have betided thee of humiliation and punishment; but by reason of the festival none may speak. Indeed thou exceedest: knowest thou not that her sister Wekhimeh is doughtier than any of the Jinn? Learn to know thyself: hast thou no regard for thy life?'
Meimoun was silent and Iblis turned to Tuhfeh and said to her, 'Sing to the kings of the Jinn this day and to-night until the morrow, when the boy will be circumcised and each shall return to his own place.' So she took the lute and Kemeriyeh said to her, (now she had in her hand a cedrat), 'O my sister, sing to me on this cedrat.' 'Hearkening and obedience,' replied Tuhfeh, and improvising, sang the following verses:
My fruit is a jewel all wroughten of gold, Whose beauty amazeth all those that behold. My juice among kings is still drunken for wine And a present am I betwixt friends, young and old.
At this Queen Kemeriyeh was moved to exceeding delight and drank off her cup, saying, 'Well done, O queen of hearts!' Moreover, she took off a surcoat of blue brocade, fringed with red rubies, and a necklace of white jewels, worth an hundred thousand dinars, and gave them to Tuhfeh. Then she passed the cup to her sister Zelzeleh, who had in her hand sweet basil, and she said to Tuhfeh, 'Sing to me on this sweet basil.' 'Hearkening and obedience,' answered she and improvised and sang the following verses:
The crown of the flow'rets am I, in the chamber of wine, And Allah makes mention of me 'mongst the pleasures divine; Yea, ease and sweet basil and peace, the righteous are told, In Eternity's Garden of sweets shall to bless them combine.[FN#223] Where, then, is the worth that in aught with my worth can compare And where is the rank in men's eyes can be likened to mine?
Thereat Queen Zelzeleh was moved to exceeding delight and bidding her treasuress bring a basket, wherein were fifty pairs of bracelets and the like number of earrings, all of gold, set with jewels of price, the like whereof nor men nor Jinn possessed, and an hundred robes of coloured brocade and an hundred thousand dinars, gave the whole to Tuhfeh. Then she passed the cup to her sister Sherareh, who had in her hand a stalk of narcissus; so she took it from her and turning to Tuhfeh, said to her, 'O Tuhfeh, sing to me on this.' 'Hearkening and obedience,' answered she and improvised and sang the following verses:
Most like a wand of emerald my shape it is, trow I; Amongst the fragrant flow'rets there's none with me can vie. The eyes of lovely women are likened unto me; Indeed, amongst the gardens I open many an eye.
When she had made an end of her song, Sherareh was moved to exceeding delight and drinking off her cup, said to her, 'Well done, O gift of hearts!' Then she ordered her an hundred dresses of brocade and an hundred thousand dinars and passed the cup to Queen Wekhimeh. Now she had in her hand somewhat of blood-red anemone; so she took the cup from her sister and turning to Tuhfeh, said to her, 'O Tuhfeh, sing to me on this.' Quoth she, 'I hear and obey,' and improvised the following verses:
The Merciful dyed me with that which I wear Of hues with whose goodliness none may compare. The earth is my birth-place, indeed; but my place Of abidance is still in the cheeks of the fair.
Therewith Wekhimeh was moved to exceeding delight and drinking off the cup, ordered her twenty dresses of Greek brocade and a tray, wherein were thirty thousand dinars. Then she gave the cup to Queen Shuaaeh, Queen of the Fourth Sea, who took it and said, 'O my lady Tuhfeh, sing to me on the gillyflower.' Quoth she 'Hearkening and obedience,' and improvised the following verses:
The season of my presence is never at an end 'Mongst all their time in gladness and solacement who spend, Whenas the folk assemble for birling at the wine, Whether in morning's splendour or when night's shades descend. The pitcher then of goblets filled full and brimming o'er With limpid wine we plunder, that pass from friend to friend.
Queen Shuaaeh was moved to exceeding delight and emptying her cup, gave Tuhfeh an hundred thousand dinars. Then arose Iblis (may God curse him!) and said, 'Verily, the dawn gleameth.' Whereupon the folk arose and disappeared, all of them, and there abode not one of them save Tuhfeh, who went forth to the garden and entering the bath, made her ablutions and prayed that which had escaped her of prayers. Then she sat down and when the sun rose, behold, there came up to her near an hundred thousand green birds; the branches of the trees were filled with their multitudes and they warbled in various voices, whilst Tuhfeh marvelled at their fashion. Presently, up came eunuchs, bearing a throne of gold, set with pearls and jewels and jacinths white and red and having four steps of gold, together with many carpets of silk and brocade and Egyptian cloth of silk welted with gold. These latter they spread amiddleward the garden and setting up the throne thereon, perfumed the place with virgin musk and aloes and ambergris.
After that, there appeared a queen, never saw eyes a goodlier than she nor than her attributes; she was clad in rich raiment, embroidered with pearls and jewels, and on her head was a crown set with various kinds of pearls and jewels. About her were five hundred slave-girls, high-bosomed maids, as they were moons, screening her, right and left, and she among them as she were the moon on the night of its full, for that she was the most of them in majesty and dignity. She gave not over walking, till she came to Tuhfeh, whom she found gazing on her in amazement; and when the latter saw her turn to her, she rose to her, standing on her feet, and saluted her and kissed the earth before her.
The queen rejoiced in her and putting out her hand to her, drew her to herself and seated her by her side on the couch; whereupon Tuhfeh kissed her hands and the queen said to her, 'Know, O Tuhfeh, that all that thou treadest of these belong not to any of the Jinn,[FN#224] for that I am the queen of them all and the Sheikh Aboultawaif Iblis sought my permission[FN#225] and prayed me to be present at the circumcision of his son. So I sent to him, in my stead, a slave-girl of my slave-girls, to wit, Shuaaeh, Queen of the Fourth Sea, who is vice-queen of my kingdom. When she was present at the wedding and saw thee and heard thy singing, she sent to me, giving me to know of thee and setting forth to me thine elegance and pleasantness and the goodliness of thy breeding and thy singing. So I am come to thee, for that which I have heard of thy charms, and this shall bring thee great worship in the eyes of all the Jinn.'[FN#226]
Tuhfeh arose and kissed the earth and the queen thanked her for this and bade her sit. So she sat down and the queen called for food; whereupon they brought a table of gold, inlaid with pearls and jacinths and jewels and spread with various kinds of birds and meats of divers hues, and the queen said, 'O Tuhfeh, in the name of God, let us eat bread and salt together, thou and I.' So Tuhfeh came forward and ate of those meats and tasted somewhat the like whereof she had never eaten, no, nor aught more delicious than it, what while the slave-girls stood compassing about the table and she sat conversing and laughing with the queen. Then said the latter, 'O my sister, a slave-girl told me of thee that thou saidst, "How loathly is yonder genie Meimoun! There is no eating [in his presence]."'[FN#227] 'By Allah, O my lady,' answered Tuhfeh, 'I cannot brook the sight of him,[FN#228] and indeed I am fearful of him.' When the queen heard this, she laughed, till she fell backward, and said, 'O my sister, by the virtue of the inscription upon the seal-ring of Solomon, prophet of God, I am queen over all the Jinn, and none dare so much as look on thee a glance of the eye.' And Tuhfeh kissed her hand. Then the tables were removed and they sat talking.
Presently up came the kings of the Jinn from every side and kissed the earth before the queen and stood in her service; and she thanked them for this, but stirred not for one of them. Then came the Sheikh Aboultawaif Iblis (God curse him!) and kissed the earth before her, saying, 'O my lady, may I not be bereft of these steps!'[FN#229] O Sheikh Aboultawalf,' answered she, 'it behoveth thee to thank the bounty of the Lady Tuhfeh, who was the cause of my coming.' 'True,' answered he and kissed the earth. Then the queen fared on [towards the palace] and there [arose and] alighted upon the trees an hundred thousand birds of various colours. Quoth Tuhfeh, 'How many are these birds!' And Queen Wekhimeh said to her, 'Know, O my sister, that this queen is called Queen Es Shuhba and that she is queen over all the Jinn from East to West. These birds that thou seest are of her troops, and except they came in this shape, the earth would not contain them. Indeed, they came forth with her and are present with her presence at this circumcision. She will give thee after the measure of that which hath betided thee[FN#230] from the first of the festival to the last thereof; and indeed she honoureth us all with her presence.'
Then the queen entered the palace and sat down on the throne of the circumcision[FN#231] at the upper end of the hall, whereupon Tuhfeh took the lute and pressing it to her bosom, touched its strings on such wise that the wits of all present were bewildered and the Sheikh Iblis said to her, 'O my lady Tuhfeh, I conjure thee, by the life of this worshipful queen, sing for me and praise thyself, and gainsay me not.' Quoth she, 'Hearkening and obedience; yet, but for the adjuration by which thou conjurest me, I had not done this. Doth any praise himself? What manner of thing is this?' Then she improvised and sang the following verses:
In every rejoicing a boon[FN#232] midst the singers and minstrels am I; The folk witness bear of my worth and none can my virtues deny. My virtues 'mongst men are extolled and my glory and station rank high.
Her verses pleased the kings of the Jinn and they said, 'By Allah, thou sayst sooth!' Then she rose to her feet, with the lute in her hand, and played and sang, whilst the Jinn and the Sheikh Aboultawaif danced. Then the latter came up to her and gave her a carbuncle he had taken from the hidden treasure of Japhet, son of Noah (on whom be peace), and which was worth the kingdom of the world; its light was as the light of the sun and he said to her, 'Take this and glorify thyself withal over[FN#233] the people of the world.' She kissed his hand and rejoiced in the jewel and said, 'By Allah, this beseemeth none but the Commander of the Faithful.'
Now the dancing of Iblis pleased Queen Es Shuhba and she said to him, 'By Allah, this is a goodly dancing!' He thanked her for this and said to Tuhfeh, 'O Tuhfeh, there is not on the face of the earth a skilfuller than Ishac en Nedim; but thou art more skilful than he. Indeed, I have been present with him many a time and have shown him passages[FN#234] on the lute, and there have betided me such and such things with him.[FN#235] Indeed, the story of my dealings with him is a long one and this is no time to repeat it; but now I would fain show thee a passage on the lute, whereby thou shall be exalted over all the folk.' Quoth she to him, 'Do what seemeth good to thee.' So he took the lute and played thereon on wondrous wise, with rare divisions and extraordinary modulations, and showed her a passage she knew not; and this was liefer to her than all that she had gotten. Then she took the lute from him and playing thereon, [sang and] presently returned to the passage that he had shown her; and he said, 'By Allah, thou singest better than I!' As for Tuhfeh, it was made manifest to her that her former usance[FN#236] was all of it wrong and that what she had learnt from the Sheikh Aboultawaif Iblis was the origin and foundation [of all perfection] in the art. So she rejoiced in that which she had gotten of [new skill in] touching the lute far more than in all that had fallen to her lot of wealth and raiment and kissed the Sheikh's hand.