Page:Arabiannightsent07burtiala.djvu/20

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4
Alf Laylah wa Laylah.

war was Sahim, who drave his destrier between the two lines and played with swords and spears and turned over all the Capitula of combat till men of choicest wits were confounded. Then he cried out, saying, "Who is for fighting? Who is for jousting? Let no sluggard come out or weakling!" Whereupon there rushed at him a horseman of the Kafirs, as he were a flame of fire; but Sahim let him not stand long before him ere he overthrew him with a thrust. Then a second came forth and he slew him also, and a third and he tare him in twain, and a fourth and he did him to death; nor did they cease sallying out to him and he left not slaying them, till it was noon, by which time he had laid low two hundred braves. Then Ajib cried to his men, "Charge once more," and sturdy host on sturdy host down bore and great was the clash of arms and battle-roar. The shining swords out rang; the blood in streams ran and footman rushed upon footman; Death showed in van and horse-hoof was shodden with skull of man; nor did they cease from sore smiting till waned the day and the night came on in black array, when they drew apart and, returning to their tents, passed the night there. As soon as morning morrowed the two hosts mounted and sought the field of fight; and the Moslems looked for Gharib to back steed and ride under the standards as was his wont, but he came not. So Sahim sent to his brother's pavilion a slave who, finding him not, asked the tent-pitchers,[1] but they answered, "We know naught of him." Whereat he was greatly concerned and went forth and told the troops, who refrained from battle, saying, "An Gharib be absent, his foe will destroy us." Now there was for Gharib's absence a cause strange but true which we will set out in order due. And it was thus. When Ajib returned to his camp on the preceding Night, he called one of his guardsmen by name Sayyar and said to him, "O Sayyar, I have not treasured thee save for a day like this; and now I bid thee enter among Gharib's host and, pushing into the marquee of their lord, bring him hither to me and prove how wily thy cunning be." And Sayyar said, "I hear and I obey." So he repaired to the enemy's camp and stealing into Gharib's pavilion, under the darkness of the night, when all the men had gone to their places of rest, stood up as though he were a slave to serve Gharib, who presently,

  1. Arab. "Farrásh" (also used in Persian), a man of general utility who pitches tents, sweeps the floors, administers floggings, etc. etc. (Pilgrimage iii. 90.)