Page:The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night - Volume 4.djvu/22

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She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the old hag fell to visiting daily Ni'amah's house and frequenting his slave wife, Naomi; and both ceased not to honour her, and she used to go in to them morning and evening and all in the house respected her till, one day, being alone with Naomi, she said to her, "O my lady! by Allah, when I go to the Holy Places, I will pray for thee; and I only wish thou wert with me, that thou mightest look on the Elders of the Faith who resort thither, and they should pray for thee, according to thy desire." Naomi cried, "I conjure thee by Allah take me with thee!"; and she replied, "Ask leave of thy mother in law, and I will take thee." So Naomi said to her husband's mother, "O my lady, ask my master to let us go forth, me and thee, one day with this my old mother, to prayer and worship with the Fakirs in the Holy Places." Now when Ni'amah came in and sat down, the old woman went up to him and would have kissed his hand, but he forbade her; so she invoked blessings[1] on him and left the house. Next day she came again, in the absence of Ni'amah, and she addressed Naomi, saying, "We prayed for thee yesterday; but arise now and divert thyself and return ere thy lord come home." So Naomi said to her mother-in-law, "I beseech thee, for Allah's sake, give me leave to go with this pious woman, that I may sight the saints of Allah in the Holy Places, and return speedily ere my lord come back." Quoth Ni'amah's mother, "I fear lest thy lord know;" but said the old woman, "By Allah, I will not let her take seat on the floor; no, she shall look, standing on her feet, and not tarry." So she took the damsel by guile and, carrying her to Al-Hajjaj's palace, told him of her coming, after placing her in a lonely chamber; whereupon he went in to her and, looking upon her, saw her to be the loveliest of the people of the day, never had he beheld her like. Now when Naomi caught sight of him she veiled her face from him; but he left her not till he had called his

  1. Easterns, I have observed, have no way of saying "Thank you;" they express it by a blessing or a short prayer. They have a right to your surplus: daily bread is divided, they say and, eating yours, they consider it their own. I have discussed this matter in Pilgrimage i. 75-77, in opposition to those who declare that "gratitude" is unknown to Moslems.