Page:The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night - Volume 3.djvu/41

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he sendeth thee this letter by me, and I know not what is in it;" and handed it to her. Then the Princess took the letter and read it; and when she understood it, she exclaimed, "Whence cometh and whither goeth this merchant man that he durst address such a letter to me?" And she slapt her face saying, "'Whence are we that we should come to shopkeeping? Awah! Awah! By the lord, but that I fear Almighty Allah I had slain him;" and she added, "Yea, I had crucified [1] him over his shop door!" Asked the old woman, "What is in this letter to vex thy heart and move thy wrath on this wise? Doth it contain a complaint of oppression or demand for the price of the stuff?" Answered the Princess, "Woe to thee! There is none of this in it, naught but words of love and endearment. This is all through thee: otherwise whence should this Satan [2] know me?" Rejoined the old woman, "o my lady, thou sittest in thy high palace and none may have access to thee; no, not even the birds of the air. Allah keep thee, and keep thy youth from blame and reproach! Thou needest not care for the barking of dogs, for thou art a Princess, the daughter of a King. Be not wroth with me that I brought thee this letter, knowing not what was in it; but I opine that thou send him an answer and threaten him with death and forbid him this foolish talk; surely he will abstain and not do the like again." Quoth the Lady Dunya, "I fear that, if I write to him, he will desire me the more." The old woman returned "When he heareth thy threats and promise of punishment, he will desist from his persistence." She cried, "Here with the ink case and paper and brazen pen;" and when they brought them she wrote these couplets,

  1. Arab. "Salb" which may also mean hanging, but the usual term for the latter in The Nights is "shanak." Crucifixion, abolished by the superstitious Constantine, was practised as a servile punishment as late as the days of Mohammed Ali Pasha the Great e malefactors were nailed and tied to the patibulum or cross-piece without any sup pedaneum or foot-rest and left to suffer tortures from flies and sun, thirst and hunger. They often lived three days and died of the wounds mortifying and the nervous exhaustion brought on by cramps and convulsions. In many cases the corpses were left to feed the kites and crows; and this added horror to the death. Moslems care little for mere hanging. Whenever a fanatical atrocity is to be punished, the malefactor should be hung in pig-skin, his body burnt and the ashes publicly thrown into a common cesspool.
  2. Arab "Shaytán" the insolent or rebellious one is a common term of abuse. The word I. Koramc, and borrowed as usual from the Jews. "Satan" occurs four times in the O.T. of which two are in Job where, however, he is a subordinate angel.