Page:The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night - Volume 4.djvu/25

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Who hath taken her?" and Ni'amah replied, "An old woman of such and such a mien, clad in woollen raiment and carrying a rosary of beads numbered by thousands." Rejoined the other, "Find me the old woman and I will get thee back thy slave-girl." "And who knows the old woman?" retorted Ni'amah. "And who knows the hidden things save Allah (may He be extolled and exalted!)?" cried the Chief, who knew her for Al-Hajjaj's procuress. Cried Ni'amah, "I look to thee for my slave-girl, and Al-Hajjaj shall judge between thee and me;" and the Master of Police answered, "Go to whom thou wilt." So Ni'amah went to the palace of Al-Hajjaj, for his father was one of the chief men of Cufa; and, when he arrived there, the Chamberlain went in to the Governor and told him the case; whereupon Al-Hajjaj said, "Hither with him!" and when he stood before him enquired, "What be thy business?" Said Ni'amah, "Such and such things have befallen me;" and the Governor said, "Bring me the Chief of Police, and we will commend him to seek for the old woman." Now he knew that the Chief of Police was acquainted with her; so, when he came, he said to him, "I wish thee to make search for the slave-girl of Ni'amah son of Al-Rabi'a." And he answered, "None knoweth the hidden things save Almighty Allah." Rejoined Al-Hajjaj, "There is no help for it but thou send out horsemen and look for the damsel in all the roads, and seek for her in the towns."—And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

When it was the Two Hundred and Forty-First Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Al-Hajjaj said to the Captain of the Watch, "There is no help for it but thou send out horsemen, and look for the damsel on all the roads and seek for her in the towns." Then he turned to Ni'amah and said to him, "And thy slave-girl return not, I will give thee ten slave-girls from my house and ten from that of the Chief of Police." And he again bade the Captain of the Watch, "Go and seek for the girl." So he went out, and Ni'amah returned home full of trouble and despairing of life; for he had now reached the age of fourteen and there was yet no hair on his side cheeks. So he wept and lamented and shut himself up from his household; and ceased not to weep and lament, he and his mother, till the morning,