Page:The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night - Volume 4.djvu/17

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Ni'amah bin al-Rabi'a and Naomi his Slave-girl.

There lived once in the city of Cufa[1] a man called Al-Rabí'a bin Hátim, who was one of the chief men of the town, a wealthy and a healthy, and Heaven had vouchsafed him a son, whom he named Ni'amah Allah.[2] One day, being in the slave-brokers' mart, he saw a woman exposed for sale with a little maid of wonderful beauty and grace on her arm. So he beckoned to the broker and asked him, "How much for this woman and her daughter?" He answered "Fifty dinars." Quoth Al-Rabi'a "Write the contract of sale and take the money and give it to her owner." Then he gave the broker the price and his brokerage and taking the woman and her child, carried them to his house. Now when the daughter of his uncle who was his wife saw the slave, she said to her husband, "O my cousin, what is this damsel?" He replied, "Of a truth, I bought her for the sake of the little one on her arm; for know that, when she groweth up, there will not be her like for beauty, either in the land of the Arabs or the Ajams." His wife remarked, "Right was thy rede", and said to the woman "What is thy name?" She replied, "O my lady, my name is Tauflík.[3]" "And what is thy daughter's name?" asked she? Answered the slave, "Sa'ad, the happy." Rejoined her mistress; "Thou sayst sooth, thou art indeed happy, and happy is he who hath bought thee." Then quoth she to her husband, "O my cousin, what wilt thou call her?"; and quoth he, "Whatso thou chooses";

  1. The name is indifferently derived from the red sand about the town or the reeds and mud with which it was originally built. It was founded by the Caliph Omar, when the old Capital-Madáin (Ctesiphon) opposite was held unwholesome, on the West bank of the Euphrates, four days' march from Baghdad and has now disappeared. Al-Saffáh, the first Abbaside, made it his Capital—and it became a famous seat of Moslem learning; the Kufi school of Arab Grammarians being as renowned as their opponents, the Basri (of Bassorah). It gave a name to the "Cufic" characters which are, however, of much older date.
  2. "Ni'amat" = a blessing, and the word is perpetually occurring in Moslem conversation, "Ni'amatu'lláh" (as pronounced) is also a favourite P.N. and few Anglo-Indians of the Mutiny date will forget the scandalous disclosures of Munshi Ni'amatu 'llah, who had been sent to England by Nana Sahib. Nu'm = prosperity, good fortune, and a P. N. like the Heb. "Naomi."
  3. i.e. "causing to be prosperous", the name, corrupted by the Turks to "Tevfik," is given to either sex, e.g. Taufik Pasha of Egypt, to whose unprosperous rule and miserable career the signification certainly does not apply.