Page:The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night - Volume 4.djvu/23

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page needs to be proofread.

Chamberlain, whom he commanded to take fifty horsemen; and he bade him mount the damsel on a swift dromedary, and bear her to Damascus and there deliver her to the Commander of the Faithful, Abd al-Malik bin Marwan. Moreover, he gave him a letter for the Caliph, saying, "Bear him this letter and bring me his answer and hasten thy return to me." So the Chamberlain, without losing time, took the damsel (and she tearful for separation from her lord) and, setting out with her on a dromedary, gave not over journeying till he reached Damascus. There he sought audience of the Commander of the Faithful and, when it was granted, the Chamberlain delivered the damsel and reported the circumstance. The Caliph appointed her a separate apartment and going into his Harim, said to his wife, "Al Hajjaj hath bought me a slave-girl of the daughters of the Kings of Cufa[1] for ten thousand dinars, and hath sent me this letter."— And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

When it was the Two Hundred and Fortieth Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the Caliph acquainted his wife with the story of the slave-girl, she said to him, "Allah increase to thee His favour!" Then the Caliph's sister went in to the supposed slave-girl and, when she saw her, she said, "By Allah, not unlucky is the man who hath thee in his house, were thy cost an hundred thousand dinars!" And Naomi replied, "O fair of face, what King's palace is this, and what is the city?" She answered, "This is the city of Damascus, and this is the palace of my brother, the Commander of the Faithful, Abd al-Malik bin Marwan.[2]" Then she resumed, "Didst thou not know all this?" Naomi said, "By Allah, O my lady, I had no knowledge of it!"; when the other asked, "And he who sold thee and took thy price did he not tell thee that the Caliph had bought thee?" Now

  1. Cufa (Kufah) being a modern place never had a "King,"
    but as the Hindu says, " Delhi is far" it is a far cry to Loch
    Awe. Here we can hardly understand "Malik" as Governor or
    Viceroy: can it be syn. with Zú-mál-(moneyed)?
  2. Abd al-Malik has been before mentioned as the "Sweat of a Stone," etc. He died recommending Al-Hajjaj to his son, Al-Walid, and one of his sayings is still remembered. "He who desireth to take a female slave for carnal-enjoyment, let him take a native of Barbary; if he need one for the sake of children, let him have a Persian; and whoso desireth one for service, let him take a Greek." Moderns say, "If you want a brother (in arms) try a Nubian; one to get you wealth an Abyssinian and if you want an ass (for labour) a Sáwahíli, or Zanzibar negroid."