Page:The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night - Volume 3.djvu/56

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abide with thee, the more love and longing and passion and desire increase on me, for that I have not yet fulfilled the whole of my wish." Asked she, "What then wouldst thou have, O light of my eyes and fruit of my vitals? If thou desire aught beside kissing and embracing and entwining of legs with legs, do what pleaseth thee; for, by Allah, no partner hath any part in us." [1] But he answered "It is not that I wish: I would fain acquaint thee with my true story. Know, then, that I am no merchant, nay, I am a King the son of a King, and my father's name is the supreme King Sulayman Shah, who sent his Wazir ambassador to thy father, to demand thee in marriage for me, but when the news came to thee thou wouldst not consent." Then he told her his past from first to last, nor is there any avail in a twice told tale, and he added, "And now I wish to return to my father, that he may send an ambassador to thy sire, to demand thee in wedlock for me, so we may be at ease." When she heard these words, she joyed with great joy because it suited with her own wishes, and they passed the night on this understanding. But it so befel by the decree of Destiny that sleep overcame them that night above all nights and they remained till the sun had risen. Now at this hour, King Shahriman was sitting on his cushion of estate, with his Emirs and Grandees before him, when the Syndic of the goldsmiths presented himself between his hands, carrying a large box. And he advanced and opening it in presence of the King, brought out therefrom a casket of fine work worth an hundred thousand diners, for that which was therein of precious stones, rubies and emeralds beyond the competence of any sovereign on earth to procure. When the King saw this, he marvelled at its beauty; and, turning to the Chief Eunuch (him with whom the old woman had had to do), said to him, "O Kafur, [2] take this casket and wend with it to the Princess Dunya." The Castrato took the casket and repairing to the apartment of the King's daughter found the door shut and the old woman lying asleep on the threshold; whereupon said he, "What! sleeping at this hour?" When the old woman heard the Eunuch's voice she started from sleep and was terrified and said to him, "Wait till I fetch the key." Then she went forth and fled for her life. Such was her case; but as regards the Epicene he, seeing her alarm, lifted the door off its hinge pins, [3] and entering found the Lady Dunya with her arms round the neck of Taj al-Muluk and both fast asleep. At this sight he was confounded and was preparing to return to the King, when the Princess awoke, and seeing him, was terrified and changed colour and waxed pale, and said to him, "O Kafur, veil thou what Allah hath veiled!" [4] But he replied, "I cannot conceal aught from the King"; and, locking the door on them, returned to Shahriman, who asked him, "Hast thou given the casket to the Princess?" Answered the Eunuch, "Take the casket, here it is for I cannot conceal aught from thee. Know that I found a handsome young man by the side of the Princess and they two asleep in one bed and in mutual embrace." The King commanded them to be brought into the presence and said to them, "What manner of thing is this?" and, being violently enraged, seized a dagger and was about to strike Taj al-Muluk with it, when the Lady Dunya threw herself upon him and said to her father, "Slay me before thou slayest him." The King reviled her and commended her to be taken back to her chamber: then he turned to Taj al-Muluk and said to him, "Woe to thee! whence art thou? Who is thy father and what hath emboldened thee to debauch my daughter?" Replied the Prince, "Know, O

  1. The lady proposing extreme measures is characteristic: Egyptians hold, and justly enough, that their women are more amorous than men.
  2. "O Camphor," an antiphrase before noticed. The vulgar also say "Yá Taljí"=O snowy (our snowball), the polite "Ya Abú Sumrah !" =O father of brownness.
  3. i.e. which fit into sockets in the threshold and lintel and act as hinges. These hinges have caused many disputes about how they were fixed, for instance in caverns without moveable lintel or threshold. But one may observe that the upper projections are longer than the lower and that the door never fits close above, so by lifting it up the inferior pins are taken out of the holes. It is the oldest form and the only form known to the Ancients. In Egyptian the hinge is called Akab=the heel, hence the proverb Wakaf' al-báb alá 'akabin; the door standeth on its heel; i.e. every thing in proper place.
  4. Hence the addresses to the Deity: Yá Sátir and Yá Sattár--Thou who veilest the sins of Thy Servants! said e.g., when a woman is falling from her donkey, etc.