Page:The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night - Volume 1.djvu/452

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Alf Layah wa Laylah.

Arabs and Persians, the Turks and Daylamites, 1 whoso hath might in him, let him come to us." Then she made a spring. and landed on the other side of the stream and said to Sharrkan, laughing, "Parting with thee is right grievous to me, O my lord; but get thee to thy mates before dawn, lest the Knights come upon thee and pick thee up on their lance-points. Thou hast no strength to defend thee against a woman, so how couldst thou hold thine own amongst men of might and Knights ? " Sharrkan was confounded and called to her (as she turned from him making towards the convent), " O my lady, wilt thou go away and leave the miserable stranger, the broken-hearted slave of love?" So she turned to him laughing and said, "What is thy want? I will grant thee thy prayer." " Have I set foot in thy country and tasted the sweetness of thy courtesy," replied he, " and shall I return without eating of thy victual and tasting thy hospitality ; I who have become one of thy servitors ? " " None baulks kindliness save the base," she rejoined, "honour us in Allah's name, on my head and eyes be it ! Mount thy steed and ride along the brink of the stream over against me, for now thou art my guest." At this Sharrkan was glad and, hastening back to his horse, mounted and walked him abreast of her, and she kept faring on till they came to a drawbridge 2 built of beams of the white poplar, hung by pullies and steel-chains and made fast with hooks and padlocks. When Sharrkan looked, he saw awaiting her upon the bridge the same ten handmaids whom she had thrown in the wrestling-bouts ; and as she came up to them, she said to one in the Greek tongue, " Arise and take the reins of his horse and conduct him across into the convent." So she went up to Sharrkan and led him over, much puzzled and perturbed with what he saw, and saying to himself, "O would that the Wazir Dandan were here with me that his eyes might look upon these fairest of favours." Then he turned to the young lady and said to her, "O marvel of loveliness, now I have two claims upon thee ; first the claim of good-fellowship, and secondly for that thou hast carried me to thy home and offered me thy hospitality. I am now under thy commandance and thy guidance ; so do me one last favour by accompanying me to the lands of Al-Lslam ; where thou shalt look upon many a lion-hearted warrior and thou shalt learn who I am." When she heard this she was angered and said to him, "By the truth

The people of the region south of the Caspian, which is called " Sea of Daylam." It has a long history ; for which see D'Herbelot, s.v., " Dilem." 3 Coptic convents in Egypt still affect these drawbridges over the keep-moat.