when his father came in to him and said, "O my son, of a truth, Al-Hajjaj hath put a cheat upon the damsel and hath taken her; but from hour to hour Allah giveth relief." However grief redoubled on Ni'amah, so that he knew not what he said nor knew he who came in to him, and he fell sick for three months his charms were changed, his father despaired of him and the physicians visited him and said, "There is no remedy for him save the damsel." Now as his father was sitting one day, behold he heard tell of a skillful Persian physician, whom the folk gave out for perfect in medicine and astrology and geomancy. So Al-Rabi'a sent for him and, seating him by his side, entreated him with honour and said to him, "Look into my son's case." Thereupon quoth he to Ni'amah, "Give me thy hand." The young man gave him his hand and he felt his pulse and his joints and looked in his face; then he laughed and, turning to his father, said, "Thy son's sole ailment is one of the heart." He replied, Thou sayest sooth, O sage, but apply thy skill to his state and case, and acquaint me with the whole thereof and hide naught from me of his condition." Quoth the Persian, "Of a truth he is enamoured of a slave-girl and this slave-girl is either in Bassorah or Damascus; and there is no remedy for him but reunion with her." Said Al-Rabi'a, "An thou bring them together, thou shalt live all thy life in wealth and delight." Answered the Persian, "In good sooth this be an easy matter and soon brought about," and he turned to Ni'amah and said to him, "No hurt shall befall thee; so be of good cheer and keep thine eyes cool and clear." Then quoth he to Al-Rabi'a, "Bring me out four thousand dinars of your money;" so he gave them to him, and he added, "I wish to carry thy son with me to Damascus; and Almighty Allah willing, I will not return thence but with the damsel." Then he turned to the youth and asked, "What is thy name?"; and he answered "Ni'amah." Quoth the Persian, "O Ni'amah, sit up and be of good heart, for Allah will reunite thee with the damsel." And when he sat up the leach continued, "Be of good cheer for we set out for Damascus this very day: put thy trust in the Lord and eat and drink and be cheerful so as to fortify thyself for travel." Upon this the Persian began making preparation of all things needed, such as presents and rarities; and he took of Al-
- Probably suggested by the history of Antiochus and
Stratonice, with an addition of Eastern mystery such as geomancy.