Page:The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night - Volume 4.djvu/59

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the kiss on the palm of his hand and said to him, "What wouldest thou be at?" Quoth Mahmud, "In very sooth I brought thee hither that I might take my pleasure with thee in this jousting ground, and we will comment upon the words of him who saith,

'Say, canst not come to us one momentling, * Like milk of ewekin
     or aught glistening
And eat what liketh thee of dainty cake, * And take thy due of
     fee in silverling,
And bear whatso thou wilt, without mislike, * Of spanling,
     fistling or a span long thing?'"

Then Mahmud of Balkh would have laid hands on Ala al-Din to ravish him; but he rose and baring his brand, said to him, "Shame on thy gray hairs! Hast thou no fear of Allah, and He of exceeding awe?[1] May He have mercy on him who saith,

'Preserve thy hoary hairs from soil and stain, * For whitest colours are the easiest stained!'"

And when he ended his verses he said to Mahmud of Balkh, "Verily this merchandise[2] is a trust from Allah and may not be sold. If I sold this property to other than thee for gold, I would sell it to thee for silver; but by Allah, O filthy villain, I will never again company with thee; no, never!" Then he returned to Kamal-Al-Din the guide and said to him, "Yonder man is a lewd fellow, and I will no longer consort with him nor suffer his company by the way." He replied, "O my son, did I not say to thee, 'Go not near him'? But if we part company with him, I fear destruction for ourselves; so let us still make one caravan." But Ala al-Din cried, "It may not be that I ever again travel with him." So he loaded his beasts and journeyed onwards, he and his company, till they came to a valley, where Ala al-Din would have halted, but the Cameleer said to him, "Do not halt here; rather let us fare forwards and press our pace, so haply we make Baghdad before the gates are closed, for they open and shut them

  1. Koran xiii. 14.
  2. i.e.. his chastity: this fashion of objecting to infamous proposals is very characteristic: ruder races would use their fists.