the new host, found that it was indeed a mighty many. But as soon as they came to it behold, they knew that it was the army of the King of the Ebony Islands, wherein was their father, King Kamar al-Zaman in person. Now when they looked upon him, they kissed ground and wept; but, when he beheld them, he threw himself upon them weeping, with sore weeping, and strained them to his breast for a full hour. Then he excused himself to them and told them what desolation he had suffered for their loss and exile; and they acquainted him with King Ghayur's arrival, whereupon he mounted with his chief officers and taking with him his two sons, proceeded to that King's camp. As they drew near, one of the Princes rode forward and informed King Ghayur of Kamar al-Zaman's coming, whereupon he came out to meet him and they joined company, marvelling at these things and how they had chanced to foregather in that place. Then the townsfolk made them banquets of all manner of meats and sweetmeats and presented to them horses and camels and fodder and other guest-gifts and all that the troops needed. And while this was doing, behold, yet another cloud of dust arose and flew till it walled the view, whilst earth trembled with the tramp of steed and tabors sounded like stormy winds. After a while, the dust lifted and discovered an army clad in coats of mail and armed cap-à-pie; but all were in black garb, and in their midst rode a very old man whose beard flowed down over his breast and he also was clad in black. When the King of the city and the city folk saw this great host, he said to the other Kings, "Praised be Allah by whose omnipotent command ye are met here, all in one day, and have proved all known one to the other! But what vast and victorious army is this which hemmeth in the whole land like a wall?" They answered, "Have no fear of them; we are three Kings, each with a great army, and if they be enemies, we will join thee in doing battle with them, were they three times as many as they now are." Meanwhile, up came an envoy from the approaching host, making for the city. So they brought him before Kamar al-Zaman, King Ghayur, Queen Marjanah and the King of the city; and he kissed the ground and said, "My liege lord cometh from Persia-land; for many years ago he lost his son and he is seeking him in all countries. If he find him with you, well and good; but if he find him not, there will be war between him and you and he will waste your city." Rejoined Kamar al-Zaman, "It shall not come to that; but how is thy master
Page:The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night - Volume 4.djvu/43
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