The Romance of Antar
The romantic figure of Antar, or Antarah, takes the same place in Arabian literature as that of Achilles among the Greeks. The Cid in Spain, Orlando in Italy, and Arthur in England, are similar examples of national ideals put forth by poets and romance writers as embodiments of a certain half-mythic age of chivalry, when personal valor, prudence, generosity, and high feeling gave the warrior an admitted preeminence among his fellows. The literature of Arabia is indeed rich in novels and tales. The "Thousand and One Nights" is of world-wide reputation, but the "Romance of Antar" is much less artificial, more expressive of high moral principles, and certainly superior in literary style to the fantastic recitals of the coffee house and bazaar, in which Sinbad and Morgiana figure. A true picture of Bedouin society, in the centuries before Mohammed had conquered the Arabian peninsula, is given us in the charming episodes of Antar. We see the encampments of the tribe, the camels yielding milk and flesh for food, the women friends and councillors of their husbands, the boys inured to arms from early days, the careful breeding of horses, the songs of poet and minstrel stirring all hearts, the mail-clad lines of warriors with lance and sword, the supreme power of the King--often dealing out justice with stern, sudden, and inflexible ferocity. Among these surroundings Antar appears, a dazzling and irresistible warrior and a poet of wonderful power. The Arab classics, in years long before Mohammed had taken the Kaaba and made it the talisman of his creed, were hung in the little shrine where the black volcanic stone was kept. They were known as Maallakat, or Suspended Books, which had the same meaning among Arabian literati as the term classic bore among the Italian scholars of the Renaissance. Numbered with these books of the Kaaba were the poems of Antar, who was thus the Taliessin of Arabian chivalry.
It is indeed necessary to recollect that in reading the episodes of Antar we have been taken back to the heroic age in the Arabian peninsula. War is considered the noblest occupation of a man, and Khaled despises the love of a noble maiden "from pride in his passion for war." Antar has his famous horse as the Cid had his Babicca, and his irresistible sword as Arthur his Excalibur. The wealth of chiefs and kings consists in horses and camels; there is no mention of money or jewelry. When a wager is made the stakes are a hundred camels. The commercial spirit of the Arabian Nights is wanting in this spirited romance of chivalry. The Arabs had sunk to a race of mere traders when Aladdin became possessed of his lamp, and the trickery, greed, and avarice of peddlers and merchants are exhibited in incident after incident of the "Thousand and One Nights." War is despised or feared, courage less to be relied upon than astute knavery, and one of the facts that strikes us is the general frivolity, dishonesty, and cruelty which prevail through the tales of Bagdad. The opposite is the case with Antar. Natural passion has full play, but nobility of character is taken seriously, and generosity and sensibility of heart are portrayed with truthfulness and naiveté. Of course the whole romance is a collection of many romantic stories: it has no epic unity. It will remind the reader of the "Morte d'Arthur" of Sir Thomas Malory, rather than of the "Iliad." We have chosen the most striking of these episodes as best calculated to serve as genuine specimens of Arabian literature. They will transport the modern reader into a new world--which is yet the old, long vanished world of pastoral simplicity and warlike enthusiasm, in primitive Arabia. But the novelty lies in the plot of the tales. Djaida and Khaled, Antar and Ibla, and the race between Shidoub and the great racers Dahir and Ghabra, bring before our eyes with singular freshness the character of a civilization, a domestic life, a political system, which were not wanting in refinement, purity, and justice. The conception of such a dramatic personage as Antar would be original in the highest degree, if it were not based upon historic fact. Antar is a more real personage than Arthur, and quite as real and historic as the Cid. Yet his adventures remind us very much of those which run through the story of the Round Table.
The Arabs, in the days of romance, were a collection of tribes and families whose tents and villages were spread along the Red Sea, between Egypt and the Indian Ocean. There were some tribes more powerful than others, and the result of their tyranny was often bitter war. There was no central monarchy, no priesthood, and no written law. The only stable and independent unit was the family. Domestic life with its purest virtues constituted the strong point amongst the Arabian tribes, where gentleness, free obedience, and forbearance were conspicuous. Each tribe bore the name of its first ancestor, and from him and his successors came down a traditionary, unwritten law, the violation of which was considered the most heinous of offences. There was no settled religion before the conquest of Mohammed; each tribe and each family worshipped whom they would--celestial spirits, sun and moon, or certain idols. In the account given in Antar of the Council of War, the ancients, or old men of the tribe, came forth with idols or amulets round their necks, and the whole account of the council, in which the bard as well as the orator addressed the people, is strictly accurate in historic details. The custom of infanticide in the case of female children was perfectly authorized among the Arabs, and illustrates the motive of the pretty episode of Khaled and Djaida. War was individual and personal among the Arabs, and murder was atoned for by murder, or by the price of a certain number of camels. Raising of horses, peaceful contests in arms, or poetic competitions where each bard recited in public his compositions, formed their amusements. They were very sensible to the charms of music, poetry and oratory, and as a general rule the Arab chieftain was brave, generous, and munificent.
All these historic facts are fully reflected in the highly emotional tale of "Antar," which is the greatest of all the national romances of Arabia. It would scarcely be possible to fix upon any individual writer as its author, for it has been edited over and over again by Arabian scribes, each adding his own glosses and enriching it with incidents. Its original date may have been the sixth century of our era, about five hundred years before the production of the "Thousand and One Nights."
The Early Fortunes of Antar
At the time the "Romance of Antar" opens, the most powerful and the best governed of the Bedouin tribes were those of the Absians and the Adnamians. King Zoheir, chief of the Absians, was firmly established upon his throne, so that the kings of other nations, who were subject to him, paid him tribute. The whole of Arabia in short became subject to the Absians, so that all the chiefs of other tribes and all inhabitants of the desert dreaded their power and depredations.
Under these circumstances, and as a consequence of a flagrant act of tyranny on the part of Zoheir, several chieftains, among whom was Shedad, a son of Zoheir, seceded from the Absian tribe, and set out to seek adventures, to attack other tribes, and to carry off their cattle and treasure. These chieftains arrived at the dwelling-place of a certain tribe, named Djezila, whom they fought with and pillaged. Amongst their booty was a black woman of extraordinary beauty, the mother of two children. Her name was Zebiba; her elder son was Djaris; her younger Shidoub. Shedad became passionately enamoured of this woman, and yielded all the rest of his share in the booty in order to obtain possession of her and her two children. He dwelt in the fields with this negress, whose sons took care of the cattle. In course of time Zebiba bore a son to Shedad. This child was born tawny as an elephant; his eyes were bleared, his head thick with hair, his features hard and fixed. The corners of his mouth drooped, his eyes started from his head, his bones were hard, his feet long; he had ears of prodigious size, and his glance flashed like fire. In other respects he resembled Shedad, who was transported with delight at the sight of his son, whom he named Antar.
Meanwhile the child waxed in strength, and his name soon became known. Then the companions of Shedad wished to dispute the possession of the boy with him, and King Zoheir was informed of the matter. He demanded that the boy should be brought into his presence, and Shedad complied. As soon as the king caught sight of this extraordinary child, he uttered a cry of astonishment, and flung him a piece of goat's flesh. At the same moment a dog, who happened to be in the tent, seized the meat and ran off with it. But Antar, filled with rage, pursued the animal, and, violently taking hold of him, drew his jaws apart, splitting the throat down to the shoulders, and thus recovered the meat. King Zoheir, in amazement, deferred the matter to the Cadi, who confirmed Shedad's possession of Zebiba, and her three children, Djaris, Shidoub, and Antar.
Shedad therefore provided a home for Zebiba, in order that his sons might be educated in their business of tending the herds. It was at this time that Antar began to develop his strength of body, his courage, and intelligence. When he was ten years of age he slew a wolf which threatened to attack the herds committed to his charge. Although brutal, headstrong, and passionate, he early exhibited a love of justice, and a disposition to protect the weak, especially women. He put to death a slave who beat an old woman, his slave and companion; and this action, although at first misunderstood, eventually gained the admiration of King Zoheir, who treated Antar with distinction, because of his nobility of character. In consequence of this action, which had been so much applauded by King Zoheir, the young Arab women and their mothers hung round Antar to learn the details of this courageous deed, and to congratulate him on his magnanimity.
Among the young women was Ibla, daughter of Malek, the son of Zoheir. Ibla, fair as the full moon, was somewhat younger than Antar. She was accustomed to banter him in a familiar way, feeling that he was her slave. "And you," she said to him, "you, born so low, how dared you kill the slave of a prince? What provocation can you have against him?" "Mistress," replied Antar, "I struck that slave because he deserved it, for he had insulted a poor woman. He knocked her down, and made her the laughing stock of all the servants." "Of course you were right," answered Ibla, with a smile, "and we were all delighted that you escaped from the adventure safe and sound. Because of the service you have rendered us by your conduct, our mothers look upon you as a son, and we as a brother."
From that moment Antar made the service of women his special duty above all others. At that time the Arabian ladies had the habit of drinking camel's milk morning and evening, and it was especially the duty of those who waited upon them to milk the camels, and to cool it in the wind before offering it to them. Antar had been for some time released from this duty, when one morning he entered the dwelling of his uncle Malek, and found there his aunt, engaged in combing the hair of her daughter Ibla, whose ringlets, black as the night, floated over her shoulders. Antar was struck with surprise, and Ibla, as soon as she knew that he had seen her, fled and left him with his eyes fixed abstractedly on her disappearing form.
It was from this incident that the love of Antar for the daughter of his uncle took its origin. He saw how Ibla shone in society, and his passion grew to such an extent that he ventured to sound her praises, and to express the feeling she excited in him by writing verses which, while they gained the admiration of the multitude, incurred also the envy of the chieftains. Moreover his father could not pardon the presumption of Antar, who, born a slave, had dared to cast eyes on his free-born cousin.
When therefore he slew a slave who had slandered him, his father ordered him to be flogged, and sent away to watch over the cattle in the pastures. He had now before him a fresh opportunity for exhibiting his prodigious strength and invincible courage. A lion attempted to attack the herds committed to his care. He killed it at the very moment that his father Shedad, enraged against him, had come, accompanied by his brother, to do him ill. But a mingled feeling of admiration and fear held their hands, and in the evening, when Antar returned from the pastures, his father and his uncle made him seat himself at dinner with them, while the rest of the attendants stood behind them.
Meanwhile King Zoheir was called upon a warlike expedition against the tribe of Temin. All his warriors followed him; the women alone remained behind. Shedad entrusted them to the protection of Antar, who pledged his life for their safety. During the absence of the warriors, Semiah, the lawful wife of Shedad, conceived the idea of giving an entertainment on the bank of the lake Zatoulizard. Ibla attended it with her mother, and Antar witnessed all the amusements in which his beloved took part. His passion for her became intensified. He was once tempted to violate the modesty of love by the violence of desire, but, at that moment, he saw a great cloud of dust rise in the distance; the shouts of war were heard; and suddenly the warriors of the tribe of Cathan appeared on the scene, and, descending on the pleasure-seekers, carried off the women, including Ibla. Antar, being unarmed, ran after one of the horsemen, seized him, strangled and threw him to the ground. Then he put on the armor of the vanquished foe, attacked and put to flight the tribe of Cathan, rescued the women, and obtained a booty of twenty-five horses. From that moment Semiah, the wife of Shedad, who hitherto had a pronounced aversion to Antar, conceived a sincere affection for him.
King Zoheir, meantime, had returned victorious from his expedition. Shedad returned at the same moment, and went to visit his herds. Seeing Antar surrounded by horses which he did not know, and mounted upon a fine black courser, he asked, "Where did these animals, and particularly this superb horse, come from?" Then Antar, not willing to betray the imprudence of Semiah, declared that, as the Cathanians had left their horses behind them, he had seized them. Shedad was indignant, and treated Antar as a robber, reproached him for his wickedness, and after repeatedly telling him how wrong it was to rouse discord among the Arabs, struck him with his whip, with such violence as to draw blood. Then Semiah, distressed by the sight of this unjust treatment, took off her veil, letting her hair fall over her shoulders, took Antar into her arms and told all that had happened and how she and all the other women of her tribe were indebted to this hero for their honor and liberty. Shedad could not restrain his tenderness on learning the magnanimity of his son's silence. Soon afterwards King Zoheir, to whom this incident had been related, summoned Antar into his presence, and declared that a man who could exhibit such courage and generosity was bound to become preeminent among his companions. All the chieftains who surrounded the king congratulated Antar, and one of his friends, in order to give the court a complete idea of this young man's remarkable gifts, asked him to recite some of his verses.
In compliance with this request he recited a poem in praise of warriors and war, and the king and all the court manifested their delight. Zoheir bade Antar approach, gave him a robe of honor, and thanked him. That evening Antar departed with his father Shedad, his heart full of joy over the honors which had been lavished on him, and his love for Ibla still more heightened.
In spite of the indisputable virtues of Antar, in spite of the great services he had rendered the Absians, the chieftains of this tribe still regarded him as merely a common slave and tender of cattle. The beginning of his rise to favor excited a feeling of keen hatred, and caused many plots to be laid against him. A series of intrigues was entered upon, the aim of which was the death of the hero. But each attack upon his reputation and his life redounded to his benefit, and furnished him with an opportunity of putting his enemies to silence and defeat. For by his generosity and magnanimity, even his envious foes felt themselves under obligation to him. On each of his triumphs the mutual love between himself and Ibla went on increasing.
After the performance of many feats as a horseman, Antar came into possession of a famous horse named Abjer, and a sword of marvellous temper, Djamy--and every time he appeared on the field of combat, as well as when he returned victorious from the fight, he made a poetic address, finishing with the words, "I am the lover of Ibla." At the conclusion of a war in which he had performed prodigies of valor, King Zoheir gave him the surname of Alboufauris, which means, "The Father of Horsemen."
The greater grew his name, the more highly he was honored by King Zoheir, so much the more did the hatred of the chieftains and the love of Ibla towards him increase. But it came to pass that Ibla was asked in marriage by Amarah, a stupid youth, puffed up by his wealth and lineage. Antar, on hearing the news, was transported with rage, and attacked his young rival with such violence that all the Arabian chiefs begged of Zoheir to punish the aggressor. The king left to Shedad, Antar's father, the pronouncing of sentence. Shedad had, like the others, viewed the rise of Antar, the black slave, to favor, with jealous eye, and sent him back to the pastures to keep the herds.
It was at this point that the greatness of Antar's character appeared in its full dimensions. The hero submitted with resignation to the orders of his father, "to whom," he said, "he owed obedience as to his master, since he was his slave"; and he swore to him, in the presence of witnesses, not to mount horse, nor engage in battle, without his permission. Tears flowed from his eyes, and before departing for the pastures he went to see his mother Zebiba, and to talk with her concerning Ibla. "Ibla?" said his mother--"but a moment ago she was here beside me, and said to me, 'Comfort the heart of Antar, and tell him from me, that even should my father torture me to death in trying to change my mind, I would not desire nor ask for other husband than Antar.'"
These words of Ibla filled with rapture the heart of Antar, as he started for the pastures in company with his brothers, Djaris and Shidoub.
At this time the tribe of Abs, which Zoheir ruled over, was at war with that of Tex, on account of the carrying off of Anima, daughter of the chief of the Tex, a man known as "The Drinker of Blood." Animated by the desire to take vengeance and recover his daughter, this chief and his army fell upon the Absians like a thunderbolt. The Absians were defeated, and their women, among whom was Ibla, taken prisoners. All pride was then, in this time of need, laid aside, and to their assistance Antar was summoned. But before acting Antar laid down his conditions, and stipulated that, in case he succeeded in subduing the foe and recovering the women, Ibla should be given him in marriage. Malek, the father of Ibla, and Shedad, the father of Antar, assented, and bound themselves by an oath to fulfil these conditions and to reinstate Antar in all the honors and dignities belonging to him.
Antar was victorious. He rescued Ibla, and received grateful expressions of gratitude from his beloved, while King Zoheir gave him the kiss of royal honor. Everything seemed to unite in fulfilling the hopes of Antar. But at the very moment in which he was honored by royal felicitations, several chieftains, indignant at the elevation of a black slave, employed every means to prevent his marriage with Ibla, and to force him to undertake enterprises which would prove fatal to him. Shedad, his father, and Malek, the father of Ibla, connived at these plots. They demanded of Antar, who was of that trusting disposition which belongs to generous and brave men, that he give as a wedding present to his bride, a thousand camels, of a particular breed, not to be found excepting on the borders of the Persian kingdom. The hero made no remark on hearing this treacherous demand, and was so eager to please Ibla, that he took no count of the difficulties to be undergone. He set off and soon found himself engaged in conflict with a large army of Persians, who made him prisoner, and led him off with the view of bringing him into the presence of their king. There he was taken, bound and on horseback, when at that instant, the news came that a fierce lion of extraordinary size was ravaging the country. It was alleged that even armed men fled before it. Antar, who was on the point of being put to death, asked the King of Persia to cause his arms at least to be unbound, and to let him confront the lion. His prayer was granted; he rushed upon the savage creature, and transfixed it with his lance. Nor was this the only service he did the King of Persia, who in gratitude for many others, not only gave Antar the thousand camels he was looking for, but loaded him with treasures, with which to do homage to Ibla.
On his return Antar was received with a rapturous welcome by the Absian tribe. But the hostile and the envious continued to plot against him. They still aimed at preventing his marriage, and compassing his death. Amarah, who aspired to Ibla's hand, backed by all the chieftains hostile to Antar, renewed his suit and pretensions. Ibla was carried off from her house among the Absians, and taken to another tribe. Then Antar set out in search of her, and at length rescued her: their mutual love was intensified by this reunion. By a series of wiles and intrigues skilfully conducted, the chiefs who surrounded Ibla persuaded her to demand still further dowry from Antar. She spoke of Khaled and Djaida, whose history has already been related; she said, in presence of Antar, that that young warrior girl would not consent to marry Khaled, saving on the condition that her camel's bridle be held by the daughter of Moawich. This word was sufficient for Antar, and he promised to Ibla that Djaida should hold the bridle of her camel on her wedding day; and more than that, the head of Khaled should be slung round the neck of the warrior girl. Thus the hero, constantly loving and beloved by Ibla, incessantly deceived by the cunningly devised obstacles raised by his foes, sustained his reputation for greatness of character and strength of arm, submitted with resignation to the severest tests, and passed victoriously through them all. After the death of King Zoheir, whom he avenged, he undertook to assist Cais, Zoheir's son, in all his enterprises, and after a long series of adventures which tired the patience, love, and courage of Antar, this hero, recognized as chief among Arabian chieftains, obtained the great reward of his long struggles and mighty toils, by marriage to his well-loved Ibla.
Khaled and Djaida
Moharib and Zahir were brothers, of the same father and mother; the Arabs call them "brothers germane." Both were, renowned for courage and daring. But Moharib was chief of the tribe, and Zahir, being subject to his authority, was no more than his minister, giving him counsel and advice. Now it happened that a violent dispute arose between them. Zahir subsequently retired to his tent, in profound sorrow, and not knowing what course to take. "What is the matter with you?" asked his wife, "Why are you so troubled? What has happened to you? Has any one displeased or insulted you--the greatest of Arab chiefs?" "What am I to do?" replied Zahir; "the man who has injured me is one whom I cannot lay hands on, or do him wrong; he is my companion in the bosom of my family, my brother in the world. Ah, if it had been any one but he, I would have shown him what sort of a man he was at odds with, and have made an example of him before all the chiefs of our tribes!" "Leave him; let him enjoy his possessions alone," cried his wife, and, in order to persuade her husband to take this course, she recited verses from a poet of the time, which dissuade a man from tolerating an insult even at the hands of his parents.
Zahir assented to the advice of his wife. He made all preparations for departure, struck his tents, loaded his camels, and started off on the road towards the camp of the Saad tribe, with whom he was in alliance. Yet in spite of all, he felt a keen pang at separating himself from his brother--and thus he spoke: "On starting on a journey which removes me from you, I shall be a thousand years on the way, and each year will carry me a thousand leagues.... Even though the favors you heap upon me be worth a thousand Egypts, and each of these Egypts had a thousand Niles, all those favors would be despised. I shall be contented with little so long as I am far from you. Away from you, I shall recite this distich, which is worth more than a necklace of fine pearls: 'When a man is wronged on the soil of his tribe, there is nothing left him but to leave it; you, who have so wickedly injured me, before long shall feel the power of the kindly divinity, for he is your judge and mine, he is unchangeable and eternal."
Zahir continued his journey, until he reached the Saad tribe, when he dismounted from his horse. He was cordially received and was pressed to take up his abode with them. His wife was at that time soon to become a mother, and he said to her: "If a son is given to us, he will be right welcome; but if it be a daughter, conceal her sex and let people think we have a male child, so that my brother may have no reason to crow over us." When her time came Zahir's wife brought into the world a daughter. They agreed that her name should be actually Djaida, but that publicly she should be known as Djonder, that people might take her for a boy. In order to promote this belief, they kept up feasting and entertainment early and late for many days.
About the same time Moharib, the other brother, had a son born to him, whom he named Khaled (The Eternal). He chose this name in gratitude to God, because, since his brother's departure, his affairs had prospered well.
The two children eventually reached full age, and their renown was widespread among the Arabs. Zahir had taught his daughter to ride on horseback, and had trained her in all the accomplishments fitting to a warrior bold and daring. He accustomed her to the severest toils, and the most perilous enterprises. When he went to war, he put her among the other Arabs of the tribe, and in the midst of these horsemen she soon took her rank as one of the most valiant of them. Thus it came to pass that she eclipsed all her comrades, and would even attack the lions in their dens. At last her name became an object of terror; when she had overcome a champion she never failed to cry out: "I am Djonder, son of Zahir, horseman of the tribes."
Her cousin Khaled, on the other hand, distinguished himself equally by his brilliant courage. His father Moharib, a wise and prudent chief, had built houses of entertainment for strangers; all horsemen found a welcome there. Khaled had been brought up in the midst of warriors. In this school his spirit had been formed, here he had learned to ride, and at last had become an intrepid warrior, and a redoubtable hero. It was soon perceived by the rest of the army that his spirit and valor were unconquerable.
Eventually he heard tell of his cousin Djonder, and his desire to see and know him and to witness his skill in arms became extreme. But he could not satisfy this desire because of the dislike which his father showed for his cousin, the son of his uncle. This curiosity of Khaled continued unsatisfied until the death of his father Moharib, which put him in possession of rank, wealth, and lands. He followed the example of his father in entertaining strangers, protecting the weak and unfortunate, and giving raiment to the naked. He continued also to scour the plains on horseback with his warriors, and in this way waxed greater in bodily strength and courage. After some time, gathering together a number of rich gifts, he started, in company with his mother, to visit his uncle. He did not draw rein until he reached the dwelling of Zahir, who was delighted to see him, and made magnificent preparations for his entertainment; for the uncle had heard tell on many occasions of his nephew's worth and valor. Khaled also visited his cousin. He saluted her, pressed her to his bosom, and kissed her forehead, thinking she was a young man. He felt the greatest pleasure in her company, and remained ten days with his uncle, regularly taking part in the jousts and contests of the horsemen and warriors. As for his cousin, the moment she had seen how handsome and valiant Khaled was, she had fallen violently in love with him. Her sleep left her; she could not eat; and her love grew to such a pitch that feeling her heart completely lost to him, she spoke to her mother and said: "O mother, should my cousin leave without taking me in his company, I shall die of grief at his absence." Then her mother was touched with pity for her, and uttered no reproaches, feeling that they would be in vain. "Djaida," she said, "conceal your feelings, and restrain yourself from grief. You have done nothing improper, for your cousin is the man of your choice, and is of your own blood. Like him, you are fair and attractive; like him, brave and skilful in horsemanship. Tomorrow morning, when his mother approaches us, I will reveal to her the whole matter; we will soon afterwards give you to him in marriage, and finally we will all return to our own country."
The wife of Zahir waited patiently until the following morning, when the mother of Khaled arrived. She then presented her daughter, whose head she uncovered, so as to allow the hair to fall to her shoulders. At the sight of such charms the mother of Khaled was beyond measure astonished, and exclaimed: "What! is not this your son Djonder?" "No! it is Djaida--she the moon of beauty, at last has risen." Then she told her all that had passed between herself and her husband, and how and why they had concealed the sex of their child. "Dear kinswoman," replied the mother of Khaled, still quite surprised, "among all the daughters of Arabia who have been celebrated for their beauty I have never seen one more lovely than this one. What is her name?" "I have already told you that it is Djaida, and my especial purpose in telling you the secret is to offer you all these charms, for I ardently desire to marry my daughter to your son, so that we may all be able to return to our own land." The mother of Khaled at once assented to this proposal, and said: "The possession of Djaida will doubtless render my son very happy." She at once rose and went out to look for Khaled, and communicated to him all she had seen and learned, not failing to extol especially the charms of Djaida. "By the faith of an Arab," said she, "never, my son, have I seen in the desert, or in any city, a girl such as your cousin; I do not except the most beautiful. Nothing is so perfect as she is, nothing more lovely and attractive. Make haste, my son, to see your uncle and ask him for his daughter in marriage. You will be happy indeed if he grants your prayer: Go, my son, and do not waste time in winning her."
When Khaled had heard these words, he cast his eyes to the ground, and remained for some time thoughtful and gloomy. Then he replied: "My mother, I cannot remain here any longer. I must return home amid my horsemen and troops. I have no intention of saying anything more to my cousin; I am convinced that she is a person whose temper and ideas of life are uncertain; her character and manner of speech are utterly destitute of stability and propriety. I have always been accustomed to live amid warriors, on whom I spend my wealth, and with whom I win a soldier's renown. As for my cousin's love for me, it is the weakness of a woman, of a young girl." He then donned his armor, mounted his horse, bade his uncle farewell, and announced his intention of leaving at once. "What means this haste?" cried Zahir. "I can remain here no longer," answered Khaled, and, putting his horse to a gallop, he flung himself into the depths of the wilderness. His mother, after relating to Djaida the conversation she held with her son, mounted a camel and made her way towards her own country.
The soul of Djaida felt keenly this indignity. She brooded over it--sleepless and without appetite. Some days afterwards, as her father was preparing with his horsemen to make a foray against his foes, his glance fell on Djaida, and seeing how altered she was in face, and dejected in spirit, he refrained from saying anything, thinking and hoping that she would surely become herself again after a short time.
Scarcely was Zahir out of sight of his tents, when Djaida, who felt herself like to die, and whose frame of mind was quite unsupportable, said to her mother: "Mother, I feel that I am dying, and that this miserable Khaled is still in the vigor of life. I should like, if God gives me the power, to make him taste the fury of death, the bitterness of its pang and torture." So saying, she rose like a lioness, put on her armor, and mounted her horse, telling her mother she was going on a hunting expedition. Swiftly, and without stopping, she traversed rocks and mountains, her excitement increasing as she approached the dwelling-place of her cousin. As she was disguised, she entered, unrecognized, into the tent where strangers were received. Her visor was, however, lowered, like that of a horseman of Hijaz. Slaves and servants received her, offered her hospitality, comporting themselves towards her as to one of the guests, and the most noble personages of the land. That night Djaida took rest; but the following day she joined the military exercises, challenged many cavaliers, and exhibited so much address and bravery, that she produced great astonishment among the spectators. Long before noon the horsemen of her cousin were compelled to acknowledge her superiority over themselves. Khaled wished to witness her prowess, and, surprised at the sight of so much skill, he offered to match himself with her. Djaida entered the contest with him, and then both of them joining in combat tried, one after another, all the methods of attack and defence, until the shadows of night came on. When they separated both were unhurt, and none could say who was the victor. Thus Djaida, while rousing the admiration of the spectators, saw the annoyance they felt on finding their chief equalled in fight by so skilful an opponent. Khaled ordered his antagonist to be treated with all the care and honor imaginable, then retired to his tent, his mind filled with thoughts of his conflict. Djaida remained three days at her cousin's habitation. Every morning she presented herself on the ground of combat, and remained under arms until night. She enjoyed it greatly, still keeping her _incognito_, whilst Khaled, on the other hand, made no enquiries, and asked no questions of her, as to who she was and to what tribe she might belong.
On the morning of the fourth day, while Khaled, according to his custom, rode over the plain, and passed close to the tents reserved for strangers, he saw Djaida mounting her horse. He saluted her, and she returned his salute. "Noble Arab," said Khaled, "I should like to ask you one question. Up to this moment I have failed in courtesy towards you, but, I now beg of you, in the name of that God who has endowed you with such great dexterity in arms, tell me, who are you, and to what noble princes are you allied? For I have never met your equal among brave cavaliers. Answer me, I beseech you, for I am dying to learn." Djaida smiled, and raising her visor, replied: "Khaled, I am a woman, and not a warrior. I am your cousin Djaida, who offered herself to you, and wished to give herself to you; but you refused her--from the pride you felt in your passion for arms." As she spoke she turned her horse suddenly, stuck spurs into him, and dashed off at full gallop towards her own country.
Khaled filled with confusion withdrew to his tent, not knowing what to do, nor what would be the end of the passionate love which he suddenly felt rise within him. He was seized with disgust for all these warlike habits and tastes, which had reduced him to the melancholy plight in which he found himself. His distaste for women was changed into love. He sent for his mother and related to her all that had occurred. "My son," she said, "all these circumstances should render Djaida still dearer to you. Wait patiently a little, until I have been able to go and ask her of her mother." She straightway mounted her camel, and started through the desert on the tracks of Djaida, who immediately on her arrival home had told her mother all that had happened. As soon as the mother of Khaled had arrived, she flung herself into the arms of her kinswoman and demanded Djaida in marriage for her son, for Zahir had not yet returned from his foray. When Djaida heard from her mother the request of Khaled, she said, "This shall never be, though I be forced to drink the cup of death. That which occurred at his tents was brought about by me to quench the fire of my grief and unhappiness, and soothe the anguish of my heart."
At these words the mother of Khaled, defeated of her object, went back to her son, who was tortured by the most cruel anxiety. He rose suddenly to his feet, for his love had reached the point of desperation, and asked with inquietude what were the feelings of his cousin. When he learned the answer of Djaida his distress became overwhelming, for her refusal only increased his passion. "What is to be done, my mother," he exclaimed. "I see no way of escaping from this embarrassment," she replied, "excepting you assemble all your horsemen from among the Arab sheiks, and from among those with whom you are on friendly terms. Wait until your uncle returns from the campaign, and then, surrounded by your followers, go to him, and in the presence of the assembled warriors, demand of him his daughter in marriage. If he deny that he has a daughter, tell him all that has happened, and urge him until he gives way to your demand." This advice, and the plan proposed moderated the grief of Khaled. As soon as he learned that his uncle had returned home, he assembled all the chiefs of his family and told his story to them. All of them were very much astonished, and Madi Kereb. one of the Khaled's bravest companions, could not help saying: "This is a strange affair; we have always heard say that your uncle had a son named Djonder, but now the truth is known. You are certainly the man who has most right to the daughter of your uncle. It is therefore our best course to present ourselves in a body and prostrate ourselves before him, asking him to return to his family and not to give his daughter to a stranger." Khaled, without hearing any more, took with him a hundred of his bravest horsemen, being those who had been brought up with Moharib and Zahir from their childhood, and, having provided themselves with presents even more costly than those they had taken before, they started off, and marched on until they came to the tribe of Saad. Khaled began by complimenting his uncle on his happy return from war, but no one could be more astonished than Zahir at this second visit, especially when he saw his nephew accompanied by all the chieftains of his family. It never for a moment occurred to him that his daughter Djaida had anything to do with Khaled's return, but thought that his nephew merely wished to persuade him to return to his native territory. He offered them every hospitality, provided them with tents and entertained them magnificently. He ordered camels and sheep to be killed, and gave a banquet; he furnished his guests with all things needful and proper for three days. On the fourth day Khaled arose, and after thanking his uncle for all his attentions, asked him for his daughter in marriage, and begged him to return to his own land. Zahir denied that he had any child but his son Djonder, but Khaled told him all that he had learned, and all that had passed between himself and Djaida. At these words Zahir was overcome with shame and turned his eyes to the ground. He remained for some moments plunged in thought, and after reflecting that the affair must needs proceed from bad to worse, he addressed those present in the following words: "Kinsmen, I will no longer delay acknowledging this secret; therefore to end the matter, she shall be married to her cousin as soon as possible, for, of all the men I know, he is most worthy of her." He offered his hand to Khaled, who immediately clasped it in presence of the chiefs who were witnesses to the contract. The dowry was fixed at five hundred brown black-eyed camels, and a thousand camels loaded with the choicest products of Yemen. The tribe of Saad, in the midst of which Zahir had lived, were excluded from all part in this incident.
But when Zahir had asked his daughter's consent to this arrangement, Djaida was overwhelmed with confusion at the course her father had taken. Since he let his daughter clearly understand that he did not wish her to remain unmarried, she at last replied: "My father, if my cousin desires to have me in marriage, I shall not enter into his tent until he undertakes to slaughter at my wedding a thousand camels, out of those which belong to Gheshem, son of Malik, surnamed 'The Brandisher of Spears.'" Kahled agreed to this condition; but the sheiks and the warriors did not leave Zahir before he had collected all his possessions for transportation to his own country. No sooner were these preparations completed than Khaled marched forth at the head of a thousand horsemen, with whose assistance he subdued the tribe of Aamir. Having thrice wounded "The Brandisher of Spears," and slain a great number of his champions, he carried off their goods and brought back from their country even a richer spoil than Djaida had demanded. Loaded with booty he returned, and was intoxicated with success. But when he asked that a day should be fixed for the wedding, Djaida begged him to approach, and said to him: "If you desire that I become your wife, fulfil first of all my wishes, and keep the engagement I make with you. This is my demand: I wish that on the day of my marriage, some nobleman's daughter, a free-born woman, hold the bridle of my camel; she must be the daughter of a prince of the highest rank, so that I may be the most honored of all the daughters of Arabia." Khaled consented, and prepared to carry out her wishes. That very day he started with his horsemen, and traversed plains and valleys, searching the land of Ymer, even till he reached the country of Hijar and the hills of Sand. In this place he attacked the tribe-family of Moawich, son of Mizal. He burst upon them like a rain-storm, and cutting a way with his sword through the opposing horsemen, he took prisoner Amima, daughter of Moawich, at the very moment when she was betaking herself to flight.
After having accomplished feats which rendered futile the resistance of the most experienced heroes, after having scattered all the tribes in flight, and carried off all the wealth of all the Arabs in that country, he returned home. But he did not wish to come near his tents until he had first gathered in all the wealth which he had left at different points and places in the desert.
The young maidens marched before him sounding their cymbals and other instruments of music. All the tribe rejoiced; and when Khaled appeared, he distributed clothing to the widows and orphans, and invited his companions and friends to the feast he was preparing for his wedding. All the Arabs of the country came in a crowd to the marriage. He caused them to be regaled with abundance of flesh and wine. But while all the guests abandoned themselves to feasting and pleasure, Khaled, accompanied by ten slaves, prepared to scour the wild and marshy places of the land, in order to attack hand to hand in their caverns the lions and lionesses and their cubs, and bear them slain to the tents, in order to provide meat for all those who attended the festival.
Djaida had been informed of this design. She disguised herself in coat of mail, mounted her horse, and left the tents; as three days of festivities still remained, she hastily followed Khaled into the desert, and met him face to face in a cavern. She flung herself upon him with the impetuosity of a wild beast, and attacked him furiously, crying aloud, "Arab! dismount from your horse, take off your coat of mail, and your armor; if you hesitate to do so, I will run this lance through your heart." Khaled was resolved at once to resist her in this demand. They engaged in furious combat. The struggle lasted for more than an hour, when the warrior saw in the eyes of his adversary an expression which alarmed him. He remounted his horse, and having wheeled round his steed from the place of combat, exclaimed: "By the faith of an Arab, I adjure you to tell me what horseman of the desert you are; for I feel that your attack and the violence of your blows are irresistible. In fact, you have prevented me from accomplishing that which I had intended, and all that I had eagerly desired to do." At these words Djaida raised her visor, thus permitting him to see her face. "Khaled," she cried, "is it necessary for the girl you love to attack wild beasts, in order that the daughters of Arabia may learn that this is not the exclusive privilege of a warrior?" At this cutting rebuke Khaled was overcome with shame. "By the faith of an Arab," he replied, "no one but you can overcome me; but is there anyone in this country who has challenged you, or are you come hither merely to prove to me the extent of your valor?" "By the faith of an Arab," replied Djaida, "I came into this desert solely for the purpose of helping you to hunt wild beasts, and in order that your warriors might not reproach you for choosing me as your wife." At these words Khaled felt thrilled with surprise and admiration, that such spirit and resolution should have been exhibited in the conduct of Djaida.
Then both of them dismounted from their horses and entered into a cavern. There Khaled seized two ferocious wild beasts, and Djaida attacked and carried off a lion and two lionesses. After these exploits they exchanged congratulations, and Djaida felt happy to be with Khaled. "Meanwhile," she said, "I shall not permit you to leave our tents until after our marriage." She immediately left him in haste and betook herself to her own dwelling.
Khaled proceeded to rejoin the slaves whom he had left a little way off, and ordered them to carry to the tents the beasts he had slain. Trembling with fright at the view of what Khaled had done, they extolled him with admiration above all other champions of the land.
The feasts meanwhile went on, and all who came were welcomed with magnificence. The maidens sounded their cymbals; the slaves waved their swords in the air, and the young girls sang from morn till evening. It was in the midst of such rejoicings that Djaida and Khaled were married. Amima, the daughter of Moawich, held the reins of the young bride's camel, and men and women alike extolled the glory of Djaida.
The Absians and Fazareans
King Cais, chief of the Absians, distrusting the evil designs of Hadifah, the chief of the tribe of Fazarah, had sent out his slaves in every direction to look after Antar. One of these slaves on his return said to the king: "As for Antar, I have not even heard his name; but as I passed by the tribe of Tenim, I slept one night in the tents of the tribe Byah. There I saw a colt of remarkable beauty. He belonged to a man named Jahir, son of Awef. I have never seen a colt so fine and swift." This recital made a profound impression upon Cais. And in truth this young animal was the wonder of the world, and never had a handsomer horse been reared among the Arabs. He was in all points high-bred and renowned for race and lineage, for his sire was Ocab and his dam Helweh, and these were horses regarded by the Arabs as quicker than lightning. All the tribes admired their points, and the tribe of Byah had become celebrated above all others, because of the mare and stallion which pertained to it.
As for this fine colt, one day, when his sire Ocab had been put out on pasture, he was being led by the daughter of Jahir along the side of a lake at noonday, and there he saw the mare Helweh, who was tethered close to the tent of her master. He immediately began to neigh, and slipped his halter. The young girl in her embarrassment let him go, and for modesty took refuge in the tent of a friend. The stallion remained on the spot until the girl returned. She seized the halter and took him to the stables.
But her father discerned the anxiety which she could not conceal. He questioned her, and she told him what had happened. He became furious with rage on hearing her story, for he was naturally choleric; he ran among the tents, flinging off his turban, and crying at the top of his voice, while all the Arabs crowded round him, "Tribe of Byah, tribe of Byah! Kinsmen and friends, hear me." Then he related what his daughter had told him. "I cannot permit," he added, "that the blood of my horse should be blended with that of Helweh; yet I am not willing to sell him for the most costly sheep and camels; and if I cannot otherwise prevent Helweh from bearing a colt to my stallion, I shall be glad if some one will put the mare to death." "By all means," cried his listeners, "do as you please, for we can have no objection." Such were the usual terms of Arabian courtesy.
Nevertheless, Helweh, in course of time, bore a fine colt, whose birth brought great joy to her master. He named the young horse Dahir. The colt waxed in strength and beauty, until he actually excelled his sire Ocab. His chest was broad, his neck long, his hoofs hard, his nostrils widely expanded. His tail swept the ground, and he was of the gentlest temper; in short, he was the most perfect creature ever seen. Being reared with the greatest care, his shape was perfect as the archway of a royal palace. When the mare Helweh, followed by her colt, was one day moving along the shore of a lake, Ocab's owner chanced to see them. He seized the young horse, and took him home with him, leaving his mother in grief for his difference. "As for Jahir," he said, "this colt belongs to me, and I have more right to him than anyone else."
The news of the colt's disappearance soon reached his owner's ears. He assembled the chiefs of the tribe, and told them what had happened. They sent to Jahir, and he was reproached bitterly. "Jahir," they said, "you have not suffered, yet have done injustice, in that you carried off that which belonged to another man." "Say no more," answered Jahir, "and spare me these reproaches, for, by the faith of an Arab, I will not return the colt, unless compelled by main force. I will declare war against you first." At that moment the tribe was not prepared for a quarrel; and several of them said to Jahir: "We are too much attached to you to push things to such an extreme as that; we are your allies and kinsmen. We will not fight with you, though an idol of gold were at stake." Then Kerim, son of Wahrab (the latter being the owner of the mare and colt, a man renowned among the Arabs for his generosity), seeing the obstinacy of Jahir, said to him: "Cousin, the colt is certainly yours, and belongs to you; as for the mare here, accept her as a present from my hand, so that mother and colt will not be separated, and no one will ever be able to accuse me of wronging a kinsman."
The tribe highly applauded this act, and Jahir was so humiliated by the generosity with which he had been treated, that he returned mare and colt to Kerim, adding to the gift a pair of male and a pair of female camels.
Dahir soon became a horse of absolute perfection in every point, and when his master Kerim undertook to race him with another horse, he rode the animal himself, and was in the habit of saying to his antagonist, "Even should you pass me like an arrow, I could catch you up, and distance you," and in fact this always happened.
As soon as King Cais heard tell of this horse, he became beside himself with longing and mortification, and his sleep left him. He sent to Kerim, offering to buy the horse for as much gold or silver as the owner demanded, and adding that the price would be forwarded without delay. This message enraged Kerim. "Is not this Cais a fool, or a man of no understanding?" he exclaimed. "Does he think I am a man of traffic--a horse-dealer, who cannot mount the horses he owns? I swear by the faith of an Arab that if he had asked for Dahir, as a present, I would have sent the horse, and a troop of camels besides: but if he thinks of obtaining him by bidding a price, he will never have him; even were I bound to drink the cup of death."
The messenger returned to Cais, and gave him the answer of Kerim, at which the latter was much annoyed. "Am I a king over the tribes of Abs, of Adnan, of Fazarah, and of Dibyan," he exclaimed, "and yet a common Arab dares to oppose me!" He summoned his people and his warriors. Immediately there was the flash of armor, of coats of mail, and swords and helmets appeared amid the tents; the champions mounted their steeds, shook their spears, and marched forth against the tribe of Byah. As soon as they reached their enemy's territory they overran the pastures, and gathered an immense booty in cattle, which Cais divided among his followers. They next made for the tents and surprised the dwellers there, who were not prepared for such an attack: Kerim being absent with his warriors on an expedition of the same sort. Cais at the head of the Absians, pushing his way into the dwellings, carried off the wives and daughters of his foe.
As for Dahir, he was tethered to one of the tent-pegs, for Kerim never used him as a charger, for fear some harm might befall him, or he might be killed. One of the slaves who had been left in the encampment, and had been among the first to see the approach of the Absians, went up to Dahir for the purpose of breaking the line by which he was hobbled. This he failed to accomplish, but mounting him, and digging his heels into his flanks, he forced the horse, although he was hobbled, to rush off prancing like a fawn, until he reached the desert. It was in vain that the Absians pursued him; they could not even catch up with the trail of dust that he left behind him.
As soon as Cais perceived Dahir, he recognized him, and the desire of possessing him became intensified. He hurried on, but his chagrin was great, as he perceived that, do what he would, he never could catch up with him. At last the slave, perceiving that he had quite out-distanced the Absians, dismounted, untied the feet of Dahir, leapt again into the saddle, and galloped off. Cais, who had kept up the pursuit, gained ground during this stop, and coming within ear-shot of the slave, shouted out, "Stop, Arab, there is no cause for fear; you have my protection; by the faith of a noble Arab, I swear it." At these words the slave stopped. "Do you intend to sell that horse?" said King Cais to him, "for in that case you have the most eager buyer of all the Arabian tribesmen." "I do not wish to sell him, sire," replied the slave, "excepting at one price, the restoration of all the booty." "I will buy him then," the King answered, and he clasped the hand of the Arab as pledge of the bargain. The slave dismounted from the young horse, and delivered him over to King Cais, and the latter overjoyed at having his wish, leapt on to his back, and set out to rejoin the Absians, whom he commanded to restore all the booty which they had taken. His order was executed to the letter. King Cais, enchanted at the success of his enterprise, and at the possession of Dahir, returned home. So great was his fondness for the horse that he groomed and fed him with his own hands. Soon as Hadifah, chief of the tribe of Fazarah, heard that Cais had possession of Dahir, jealousy filled his heart. In concert with other chiefs he plotted the death of this beautiful horse.
Now it came to pass that at this time Hadifah gave a great feast, and Carwash, kinsman of King Cais, was present. At the end of the meal, and while the wine circulated freely the course of conversation turned to the most famous chiefs of the time. The subject being exhausted, the guests began to speak about their most celebrated horses, and next, of the journeys made by them in the desert. "Kinsmen," said Carwash, "none of you ever saw a horse like Dahir, which belongs to my ally Cais. It is vain to seek his equal; his pace is absolutely terrifying. He chases away sorrow from the heart of him who beholds him, and protects like a strong tower the man who mounts him." Carwash did not stop here, but continued to praise, in the highest and most distinguished language, the horse Dahir, until all of the tribe of Fazarah and of the family of Zyad, felt their hearts swell with rage. "Do you hear him, brother?" said Haml to Hadifah; "come, that is enough," he added, turning towards Carwash. "All that you have said about Dahir is absolute nonsense--for at present there are no horses better or finer than mine, and those of my brother."
With these words he ordered his slaves to bring his horses and parade them before Carwash. This was done. "Come, Carwash, look at that horse." "He is not worth the hay you feed him on," said the other. Then those of Hadifah were led out; among them was a mare, named Ghabra, and a stallion called Marik. "Now look at these," said Hadifah. "They are not worth the hay they eat," replied Carwash. Hadifah, filled with indignation at these words: "What, not even Ghabra?" "Not even Ghabra, or all the horses in the world," repeated Carwash. "Would you like to make a bet for us with King Cais?" "Certainly," answered Carwash--"I will wager that Dahir will beat all the horses of the tribe of Fazarah, even if he carries a hundred weight of stone on his back." They discussed the matter for a long time, the one affirming the other denying the statements, until Hadifah closed the altercation by saying, "I hold to the wager, on condition that the winner takes from the loser as many male and female camels as he chooses." "You are going to play me a nice trick," said Carwash, "and for my part I tell you plainly that I won't bet more than twenty camels; the man whose horse loses shall pay this forfeit." The matter was arranged accordingly. They sat at table until nightfall, and then rested.
The next day Carwash left his tent at early morn, went to the tribe of Abs, to find Cais, whom he told about the wager. "You were wrong," said Cais. "You might have made a bet with anyone excepting Hadifah, who is a man of tricks and treachery. If you have made the wager, you will have to declare it off." Cais waited until certain persons who were with him had retired, then he at once took horse, and repaired to the tribe of Fazarah, where everybody was taking their morning meal in their tents. Cais dismounted, took off his arms, and seating himself among them began to eat with them, like a noble Arab. "Cousin," said Hadifah to him jokingly, "What large mouthfuls you take; heaven preserve me from having an appetite like yours." "It is true," said Cais, "that I am dying of hunger, but by Him who abides always, and will abide forever, I came not here merely to eat your victuals. My intention is to annul the wager which was yesterday made between you and my kinsman Carwash, I beg of you to cancel this bet, for all that is uttered over cups and flagons is of no serious account, and ought to be forgotten." "I would have you to know," was the answer, "that I will not withdraw from the challenge, unless you forfeit the camels which are staked. If you accept this condition, I shall be perfectly indifferent to everything else. Nevertheless, if you wish it, I will seize the camels by force, or, if it be your good pleasure, I will waive every claim, save as a debt of honor." In spite of all that Cais could say, Hadifah remained firm in his resolution, and as his brother began to deride Cais, the latter lost his temper, and with a face blazing with wrath he asked of Hadifah, "What stake did you offer in your wager with my cousin?" "Twenty she-camels," said Hadifah. "As for this first wager," answered Cais, "I cancel it, and propose another one in its stead: I will bet thirty camels." "And I forty," replied Hadifah, "I make it fifty," was the retort of Cais. "Sixty," quickly added the other; and they continued raising the terms of the wager, until the number of camels staked was one hundred. The contract of the bet was deposited in the hands of a man named Sabic, son of Wahhab, and in the presence of a crowd of youths and old men. "What shall be the length of the race?" asked Hadifah of Cais. "One hundred bow-shots," replied Cais, "and we have an archer here, Ayas, the son of Mansour, who will measure the ground." Ayas was in fact the strongest and most accomplished archer then living among the Arabs. King Cais, by choosing Ayas, wished the course to be made long, knowing the endurance of his horse, and the longer distance Dahir had to travel, the more he gained speed, from the increased excitement of his spirit. "Well now, we had better fix the day for the race," said Cais to Hadifah. "Forty days will be required," replied Hadifah, "to bring the horses into condition." "You are right," said Cais, and they agreed that the horses should be trained for forty days, that the race should take place by the lake Zatalirsad, and that the horse that first reached the goal should be declared winner. All these preliminaries having been arranged, Cais returned to his tents.
Meanwhile one of the horsemen of the tribe of Fazarah said to his neighbors: "Kinsmen, you may rest assured that there is going to be a breach between the tribe of Abs and that of Fazarah, as a result of this race between Dahir and Ghabra. The two tribes, you must know, will be mutually estranged, for King Cais has been there in person; now he is a prince and the son of a prince. He has made every effort to cancel the bet, but Hadifah would by no means consent. All this is the beginning of a broil, which may be followed by a war, possibly lasting fifty years, and many a one will fall in the struggle."
Hadifah hearing this prediction, said: "I don't trouble myself much about the matter, and your suggestion seems to me absurd." "O Hadifah," exclaimed Ayas, "I am going to tell you what will be the result of all your obstinacy towards Cais." Then he recited some verses, with the following meaning: "In thee, O Hadifah, there is no beauty; and in the purity of Cais there is not a single blot. How sincere and honest was his counsels, although they were lacking in prudence and dignity. Make a wager with a man who does not possess even an ass, and whose father has never been rich enough to buy a horse. Let Cais alone; he has wealth, lands, horses, a proud spirit, and he is the owner of this Dahir, who is always first on the day of a race, whether he is resting or running--this Dahir, a steed whose feet even appear through the obscurity of night like burning brands." "Ayas," replied Hadifah, "do you think I would break my word? I will take the camels of Cais, and will not permit my name to be inscribed among the number of those who have been vanquished. Let things run their course."
As soon as King Cais had regained his tents he hastened to tell his slaves to begin the training of his horses, and to pay especial attention to Dahir. Then he told his kinsmen all that had taken place between himself and Hadifah. Antar was present at this recital, and as he took great interest in all that concerned the king, he said, "Cais, calm your fears, keep your eyes well open, run the race, and have no fear. For, by the faith of an Arab, if Hadifah makes any trouble or misunderstanding, I will kill him, as well as the whole tribe of Fazarah."
The conversation on this subject continued until they reached the tents, which Antar declined to enter before seeing Dahir. He walked several times round this animal, and saw at a glance that the horse actually possessed qualities which astonished any one who saw him.
Hadifah quickly learned the return of Antar, and knew that the hero was encouraging King Cais to run the race. Haml, Hadifah's brother, had also heard the news, and in the distress which he felt remarked to Hadifah, "I fear lest Antar should fall upon me, or some one of the family of Beder, and kill us, and thus render us disgraced. Give up this race, or we are ruined. Let me go to King Cais, and I will not leave him until he promises to come to you and cancel the contract." "Do as you please," answered Hadifah. Thereupon Haml took horse, and went immediately to King Cais. He found him with his uncle Assyed, a wise and prudent man. Haml approached Cais, saluted him by kissing his hand, and after saying that he was the bearer of an important message, added: "Kinsman, you know that my brother Hadifah is a low fellow, whose mind is full of intrigues. I have spent the last three days in trying to persuade him to cancel this wager. At last he has said: 'Very good, if Cais comes to me, and wishes to be released from the contract, I will annul it; but do not let any Arab think that I abandon the bet through fear of Antar.' Now you, Cais, are aware that the greatest proof of attachment between kinsmen is their willingness to give way to one another. So I am here to beg that you will come to the dwelling of my brother Hadifah and ask him to give up the race, before it causes trouble, and the tribe be utterly driven away from its territories." At this address of Haml, Cais became flushed with shame, for he was trusting and generous. He at once arose, and leaving his uncle Assyed in charge of his domestic business, he accompanied Haml to the land of Fazarah. When they were midway on their journey Haml began to utter lavish praises of Cais to the latter's face, and to blame his own brother's faults, in the following terms: "O Cais, do not let your wrath be stirred up against Hadifah, for he is verily a man headstrong and unjust in his actions. O Cais, if you persist in holding to the bet, great disasters will follow. Both you and he are impulsive and passionate, and this is what causes me to feel anxiety about you, Cais. Put aside your private feelings, be kind and generous, and it will come to pass that the oppressor himself will become the oppressed."
Haml continued to abuse his brother, and to flatter Cais with expressions of admiration all the way, until in the evening they arrived at the tribe of Fazarah. Hadifah, who at the moment was surrounded by many powerful chiefs, upon whose aid he depended in the hour of need, had changed his mind since his brother Haml's departure, and in place of coming to terms and making peace with Cais he had determined to yield in nothing, but to maintain rigorously the conditions of the coming race. He was speaking of this very matter with one of the chiefs at the moment when Cais and Haml presented themselves before him. As soon as Hadifah saw Cais, he resolved to cover him with shame. Turning therefore to his brother, he asked: "Who ordered you to go to this man? By the faith of a noble Arab, even if all the men who cover the surface of the earth were to come and importune me, saying, 'O Hadifah, give up one hair of these camels,' I would not yield until a lance had pierced my heart and a sword stricken the head from my shoulders." Cais crimsoned, and immediately remounted his horse, bitterly reproaching Haml. He returned home with the utmost haste, and found his uncle and brothers waiting for him in extreme anxiety. "O my son!" said his uncle Assyed as soon as he saw him, "you have had a disastrous journey, for it has caused you to be disgraced."
"If Hadifah had not been surrounded by certain chiefs, who gave him treacherous counsels, I could have arranged the whole affair," answered Cais. "There is now nothing left but to carry out the race and the bet."
King Cais did not sleep the whole of that night. On the morrow he thought of nothing but the training of his horses during the forty days' interval before the race. All the Arabs of the land agreed to come to the pastures and see the race, and when the forty days had expired the horsemen of the two tribes came in a crowd to the banks of lake Zatalirsud. Next arrived the archer Ayas, who, turning his back to the lake at the point where the horses were to start, drew his bow as he walked toward the north a hundred times, and measured out to the goal the course of a hundred bow-shots. Soon the horsemen of Ghitfan and Dibyan arrived, for they were of the same territory, and because of their friendly relations and kinship were comprised as one tribe under the name of Adnan. King Cais had begged Antar not to show himself on this occasion, fearing that his appearance might cause dissension. Antar listened to this advice, but was unable to rest quiet in the tents. The interest he felt in Cais, and the deep distrust with which the falseness of the Fazareans--who were always ready for treason--inspired him, induced him to show himself. Girding on his sword Dhami, and mounting his famous charger, Abjer, he took with him his brother Shidoub, and reached the spot fixed upon for the race, in order that he might watch over the safety of King Zoheir's sons. On his arrival he seemed to excel all that crowd, like a lion clad in coat of mail. He carried his naked sword, and his eyes flashed like blazing coals. As soon as he had reached the middle of the crowd, he cried out with a loud voice, that struck terror to all hearts: "Hearken, noble Arabian chieftains and men of renown assembled here--all of you know that I was supported and favored by King Zoheir, father of King Cais, that I am a slave bound to him, by his goodness and munificence; that it is he who caused my parents to acknowledge me, and gave me my rank, making me to be numbered among Arab chiefs. Although he is no longer living, I wish to show my gratitude to him, and bring the kings of the land into subjection to him, even after his death. He has left a son, whom his brothers have acknowledged, and have set on the throne of his father. This son is Cais, whom they have thus distinguished, because of his wisdom, rectitude, and noble heart. I am the slave of Cais, and am his property; I intend to be the supporter of him whom I love, and the enemy of whosoever resists him. It shall never be said, as long as I live, that I have suffered an enemy to affront him. As to the conditions of this wager, it is our duty to see them observed. The best thing, accordingly, to do is to let the horses race unobstructed, for victory comes from the creator of day and night. I make an oath, therefore, by the holy house at Mecca, by the temple, by the eternal God, who never forgets his servants and never sleeps, that if Hadifah commits any act of violence, I will make him drink the cup of vengeance and of death; and will make the whole tribe of Fazarah the byword of all the world. And you, Arab chieftains, if you sincerely desire the race to take place, conduct yourselves with justice and impartiality; otherwise, by the eyes of my dear Ibla, I will make the horses run the race in blood." "Antar is right," the horsemen shouted on all sides.
Hadifah chose, as the rider of Ghabra, a groom of the tribe of Dibyan. This man had passed all his days and many of his nights in rearing and tending horses. Cais, on the other hand, chose as rider of Dahir a groom of the tribe of Abs, much better trained and experienced in his profession than was the Dibyanian. When the two contestants had mounted their horses King Cais gave this parting instruction to his groom: "Do not let the reins hang too loosely in managing Dahir; if you see him flag, stand up in your stirrups, and press his flanks gently with your legs. Do not urge him too much, or you will break his spirit." Hadifah heard this advice and repeated it, word for word, to his rider.
Antar began to laugh. "By the faith of an Arab," he said to Hadifah, "you will be beaten. Are words so scarce that you are obliged to use exactly those of Cais? But as a matter of fact Cais is a king, the son of a king; he ought always to be imitated by others, and since you have followed, word by word, his speech, it is a proof that your horse will follow his in the desert."
At these words the heart of Hadifah swelled with rage and indignation, and he swore with an oath that he would not let his horse run that day, but that he wished the race to take place at sunrise, next morning. This delay was indispensable to him in preparing the act of perfidy which he meditated, for he had no sooner seen Dahir than he was speechless with astonishment at the beauty and perfections of the horse.
The judges had already dismounted and the horsemen of the various tribes were preparing to return home, when Shidoub began to cry out with a loud voice, "Tribes of Abs, of Adnan, of Fazarah and of Dibyan, and all here present attend to me for an instant, and listen to words which shall be repeated from generation to generation." All the warriors stood motionless. "Speak on," they cried, "what is your will? Perhaps there may be something good in your words." "Illustrious Arabs," continued Shidoub, "you know what happened in consequence of the match between Dahir and Ghabra: I assure you on my life that I will outstrip both of them in running, even were they swifter than the wind. But listen to the condition I offer; if I am the winner, I am to take the hundred camels which are at stake; but if I am beaten, I am to forfeit fifty." Upon this one of the Sheiks of Fazarah exclaimed, "What is that you are saying, vile slave? Why should you receive a hundred camels if you win and only forfeit fifty if you lose?" "Do you ask why, ancient mire of a dunghill," replied Shidoub, "because I have but two legs to run on and a horse has four, not counting his tail." All the Arabs burst out laughing; yet as they were astonished at the conditions proposed by Shidoub, and extremely curious to see him run the race, they agreed that he should make the hazardous experiment.
When all had returned to the tents Antar said to Shidoub: "Come, now, thou son of a cursed mother, how dared thou say that thou couldst outstrip these two horses, whose race all horsemen of our tribes have assembled to see, and who all the world admits have no equals in speed, not even among the birds of the air?" "By him who created the springs in the rocks and who knows all things," replied Shidoub, "I will outstrip those two horses, be they fleet as the winds. Yes, and my victory will have an advantageous result, for when the Arabs hear of it, they will give up all idea of pursuing me, when I run across the desert." Antar laughed, for he was in doubt about Shidoub's plan. The latter went to find King Cais and his brothers, and the other witnesses of the race, and made oath on his life that he would outstrip the two horses. All present acknowledged themselves witnesses of the oath, and left the spot, filled with astonishment at the proposition.
As for the trickster Hadifah, in the evening he summoned one of his slaves named Dames, a rascal, if ever there was one. "O Dames," he said, "you frequently boast of your cunning, but hitherto I have had no opportunity of putting it to the proof." "My Lord," answered the slave, "tell me in what way I can be useful to you." "I desire," said Hadifah, "that you go and post yourself in the great pass. Remain in this place, and go and hide yourself there in the morning. Watch the horses well, and see if Dahir is in advance. If he is, show yourself suddenly, strike him on the head, and cause him to stop, so that Ghabra may outstrip him, and we may not incur the disgrace of defeat. For I confess that since I have seen Dahir, his excellent points have made me doubt the superiority of Ghabra, and I fear my mare will be beaten, and we shall become the laughing stock of all the Arabs." "But, sir, how shall I distinguish Dahir from Ghabra when they advance, both of them wrapped in a cloud of dust?" Hadifah replied, "I am going to give you a sign, and to explain how the matter may be free from difficulty." As he spoke he picked up some stones from the ground and said: "Take these stones with you at sunrise, begin to count them, and throw them to the earth, four at a time. You must repeat the operation five times, and the last time Ghabra will arrive. That is the calculation I have made, so that if a cloud of dust presents itself to you, and some of the stones, a third or a half of them, still remain in your hand, you may be sure that Dahir has gained first place, and is before your eyes. You must then hurl a stone at his head, as I said, and stop his running, so that my mare may gain the lead." The slave agreed to do so. He provided himself with stones and went to hide himself at the great pass, and Hadifah felt confident of gaining the wager.
At the dawn of day, the Arabs, coming from all quarters, were assembled on the race ground. The judges gave the signal for the start, and the two riders uttered loud shouts. The racers started like flashes of lightning which dazzle the sight and seemed like the wind when, as it blows, it increases in fury. Ghabra passed ahead of Dahir and distanced him. "Now you are lost, my brother of the tribe of Abs," cried the Fazarean groom to the Absian, "try and console yourself for this defeat." "You lie," retorted the Absian, "and in a few moments you will see how completely you are mistaken. Wait till we have passed this uneven ground. Mares always travel faster on rough roads than on smooth country." And so it happened, for when they arrived in the plain, Dahir shot forward like a giant, leaving a trail of dust behind him. It seemed as if he went on wings, not legs; in the twinkling of an eye he had outstripped Ghabra. "Here," cried the Absian to the Fazarean groom, "send a messenger from me to the family of Beder, and you yourself drink the bitter cup of patience behind me." Meanwhile Shidoub, swift as the north wind, kept ahead of Dahir, bounding like a fawn and running like an ostrich, until he reached the defile where Dames was hidden. The slave had only thrown down less than a third of his pebbles, when he looked up and saw Dahir approaching.
He waited till the horse passed close by him, and suddenly showed himself with a shout, and hit the racer violently between the eyes with a stone. The horse reared, stopped one moment, and the rider was on the point of being unseated. Shidoub was a witness to the incident, and having looked at the slave, recognized him as belonging to the treacherous Hadifah. In the violence of his rage he flung himself upon Dames, and struck him dead with his sword: then he approached Dahir for the purpose of speaking soothingly to him, and starting him again on the race; but, alas, the mare Ghabra rushed up like the wind. Then Shidoub, fearing defeat, thinking of the camels he would forfeit, set out running at full speed towards the lake, where he arrived two bow-shots in advance of the horses. Ghabra followed, then Dahir last, bearing on his forehead the mark of the missile; his cheeks were covered with blood and tears.
All the spectators were astounded on seeing the agility and endurance of Shidoub; but as soon as Ghabra had reached the finish the Fazareans uttered loud shouts of joy. Dahir was led home all bleeding, and his rider told the men of the tribe of Abs what the slave had done. Cais examined the wound of his horse and asked for full details of the occurrence. Antar grew crimson with anger, and laid his hand upon his invincible sword, as if impatient to annihilate the tribe of the Fazareans. But the sheiks restrained him, although with difficulty, after which they went to Hadifah to cover him with shame, and to reproach him with the infamous deed he had done. Hadifah denied it, with false oaths, affirming that he knew nothing of the blow dealt to Dahir; then he added, "I demand the camels which are due to me, and I do not admit the treacherous pretext on which they are being withheld."
"That blow is doubtless of evil augury for the tribe of Fazarah," said Cais. "God will certainly give us victory and triumph, and destroy them. For Hadifah only desired this race to take place in order that it might cause trouble and discord, and the disturbance which this contest is sure to excite will stir up one tribe against another, so that there will be many men killed, and children made orphans." The conversation which followed among the tribesmen became more and more excited, confusion followed, shouts rang out on all sides, and drawn swords flashed. Bloodshed would have resulted had not the sheiks and wise men dismounted and with bared heads mingled with the crowd, with humble mien, imploring them, until at last the matter was settled as harmoniously as possible. It was agreed that Shidoub should receive the amount of the wager--a hundred camels from the tribe of Fazarah, and that Hadifah should abandon his claims and refrain from all dispute. Such were the measures taken to extinguish the hostility and disorder which threatened to burst out among the tribes. Then the different families retired to their own dwellings, but the hearts of all were filled with bitter hatred. One whose resentment seemed keenest was Hadifah, especially when he learned of the slave Dames's death. As for Cais, he was also filled with mute rage and intense hatred. Yet Antar tried to reassure him. "King," he said to him, "do not let your heart be a prey to mortification; for I swear by the tomb of King Zoheir, your father, that I will cause disgrace and infamy to fall on Hadifah, and it is only from regard for you that I have up to this time delayed action." Soon after all returned to their tents.
The following morning Shidoub killed twenty of the camels he had won the day before, and caused the meat to be distributed among the widows and those who had been wounded and crippled in war. He slaughtered twenty others, which he used in entertaining the tribe of Abs, including women and slaves. Finally, the next day, he killed the rest of the camels and made a great feast near the lake Zatalirsad, to which he invited the sons of King Zoheir and his noblest chieftains. At the end of this banquet, when the wine circulated among the guests, all praised the behavior of Shidoub. But the news of the camel slaughter and of all the feasting was soon known to the tribe of Fazarah. All the enraged tribesmen hastened to seek Hadifah. "What," said they, "while we were first in the race, slaves and traitorous Absians have eaten our camels! Send for an equal number of camels, by all means; but if he refuses them let us make a terrible war upon the Absians."
Hadifah raised his eyes upon his son Abou-Firacah. "Mount horse at once," he said to him, "and go and say to Cais: my father says that you must this instant pay the wager, or he will come and seize the amount by main force, and will bring trouble upon you." There was then present a chief among the sheiks, who, hearing the order that Hadifah had given to his son, said: "O Hadifah, are you not ashamed to send such a message to the tribe of the Absians? Are they not our kindred and allies? Does this proposal harmonize with the counsel and desire of allaying dissensions? The genuine man shows gratitude for generosity and kindness. I think it quite reasonable to expect that you desist from this perverse mood, which will end in our total extermination. Cais has shown himself quite impartial and has done wrong to no one; cherish, therefore, peace with the horsemen of the tribe of Abs. Take warning from what happened to the slave Dames; he struck Dahir, the horse of King Cais, and God punished him at once; he is left bathed in his slavish blood. I beg you to listen to none but wise counsels; act nobly, and abandon base designs. While you are thus forewarned as to your situation, keep a prudent eye on your affairs." This discourse rendered Hadifah furious. "Contemptible sheik! Dog of a traitor!" he exclaimed. "What! Must I be in fear of Cais and the whole tribe of the Absians? By the faith of an Arab, I will let all men of honor know that if Cais refuse to send the camels I will not leave one of his tents standing." The sheik was indignant, and to increase the fear he would cast into the heart of Hadifah he spoke to him in verses, to the following effect: "Insult is cowardliness, for it takes by surprise him who is not expecting it, as the night enwraps those who wander in the desert. When the sword shall once be drawn look out for blows. Be just and do not clothe thyself with dishonor. Enquire of those who know the fate of Themond and his tribe, when they committed acts of rebellion and tyranny. They will tell you that a command of God from on high destroyed them in one night, and on the morrow they lay scattered on the ground, their eyes turned towards the sky."
Hadifah dissembled his contempt for these verses and the sheik who had pronounced them, but he ordered his son to go at once to Cais. Abou-Firacah started for the tribe of Abs, and as soon as he arrived there repaired to the home of Cais, who was absent. The messenger asked then for his wife Modelilah, the daughter of Rebia. "What do you desire of my husband?" she asked. "I demand my due, the prize of the horse race." "Misfortune take you and that which you demand," she replied. "Son of Hadifah! Do you not fear the consequences of such perfidy? If Cais were here he would send you to your death, instantly." Abou-Firacah returned to his father, to whom he told all that the wife of Cais had said "What, you coward," shouted Hadifah, "do you come back without completing your errand? Are you afraid of the daughter of Rebia? Go to him again."
As Abou-Firacah reminded his father that it was now near night-fall, the message was postponed until the next day. As for Cais, when he re-entered his home, he learned from his wife that Abou-Firacah had come to ask for the camels. "By the faith of an Arab," he said, "if I had been here I would have slain him. But the matter is closed; let us think no more of it." Yet King Cais passed the night in grief and annoyance until sunrise, at which time he betook himself to his tent Antar came to see him. Cais rose, and making him take a seat, mentioned the name of Hadifah. "Would you believe he had the shamelessness to send his son to demand the camels of me? Ah, if I had been present I would have slain the messenger." Scarcely had he finished uttering these words when Abou-Firacah presented himself on horseback. Without dismounting, and uttering no word of salutation or preface, he said: "Cais, my father desires that you send him that which is his due; by so doing your conduct will be that of a generous man; but if you refuse, my father will come against you, carry off his property by force, and plunge you into misfortune."
On hearing these words Cais felt the light change to darkness before his eyes. "O thou son of a vile coward," he exclaimed "how is it that you are not more respectful in your address to me?" He seized a javelin and plunged it into the breast of Abou-Firacah. Pierced through, the young messenger lost control of his horse.--Antar dragged him down and flung him on the ground. Then, turning the horse's head away from the direction of Fazarah, he struck him on the flank with a holly-stick, and the horse took the road towards the pastures, and finally entered his stable, all covered with blood. The shepherds at once led him to the tents, crying out, "Misfortune! Misfortune!"
Hadifah became furious. He smote upon his breast, repeating the words: "Tribe of Fazarah, to arms, to arms, to arms!" and all the disaffected came to Hadifah once more, begging him to declare war on the Absians, and to take vengeance on them. "Kinsmen!" replied Hadifah, with alacrity, "let none of us sleep to-night without our armor on." And so it happened.
At break of day Hadifah was on horseback; the warriors were ready, and only women and children and the feeble were left in the tents. Cais, on the other hand, after slaying Abou-Firacah, expected that the Fazareans would come and attack himself and his warriors; he therefore prepared for battle. Antar was charged with taking the necessary reconnoitre. He left in the tents only women, children, and those too feeble to bear the sword; then he put himself in command of the heroes of Carad. Nothing could be more brilliant than the ranks of the Absians in their coats of mail and gleaming weapons. These preparations caused an anxious moment for both parties. They marched forth against each other, and the sun had scarcely appeared, before scimitars flashed, and the whole country was in a turmoil.
Antar was impatient to press forward, and satisfy his thirst for battle; but, lo! Hadifah, dressed in a black robe, advances, his heart broken by the death of his son. "Son of Zoheir," he cried to Cais, "it is a base action to slay a child; but it is good to meet in battle, to decide with these lances which shall predominate, you or me." These words cut Cais to the quick. Hurried along by passion he left his standard and rushed against Hadifah. Then the two chiefs, spurred on by mutual hatred, fought together on their noble chargers, until nightfall. Cais was mounted on Dahir, and Hadifah on Ghabra. In the course of this combat the exploits of the past were eclipsed. Each tribe despaired of his chieftain's safety, and they were eager to make a general attack, in order to stop the struggle of the chieftains and the fury with which they contended. Cries began to be heard in the air. Scimitars were drawn, and lances advanced over the ears of Arabian chargers. Antar approached certain Absian chiefs and said, "Let us attack the traitors." He prepared to charge, when the ancients of the two tribes came forth into the middle of the plain, with heads uncovered, their feet bared, and their idols hung from their shoulders. Standing between the two armies they spoke as follows: "Kinsmen and allies, in the name of that harmony which has hitherto prevailed among us, let us do nothing that will make us the byword of our slaves. Let us not furnish our enemies with ground for reproaching us. Let us forget all matter of dispute and dissension. Let us not turn wives into widows and our children into orphans. Satisfy your warlike ardor by attacking those among the Arabs who are your real foes; and you, kinsmen of Fazarah, show yourselves more humble and less haughty, towards your brethren the Absians. Above all, forget not that insolent wrong has often caused the destruction of many tribes, which have had sore reason to regret their impious actions; in this way many men have been deprived of their possessions, and a vast number been plunged into the gulf of despair and regret. Expect the fatal hour of death, the day of dissolution, for it is upon you. You will be rent asunder by the threatening eagles of destruction, and enclosed in the dark prison-house of the tomb. Take care, that when your bodies are separated from life, men may think about you without any other memory than that of your virtues."
The sheiks talked together for a long time, and meanwhile the flame of passion which had been kindled in the soul of the two heroes, Cais and Hadifah, became quenched. Hadifah withdrew from the fight, and it was agreed that Cais should pay as the price of Abou-Firacah's blood a quantity of cattle and a string of camels. The sheiks did not wish even then to quit the field of battle until Cais and Hadifah embraced each other and had agreed to all the arrangements. Antar was crimson with rage. "O King Cais," he exclaimed, "what have you done? What! while our swords flash in our hands shall the tribe of Fazarah exact a price for the blood of its dead? And we never be able to obtain retaliation excepting with our spear points! The blood of our dead is shed, and shall we not avenge it?" Hadifah was beside himself on hearing these words. "And you, vile bastard," said Antar to him, "you son of a vile mother, must your honor be purchased at the expense of our disgrace? But for the presence of these noble sheiks I would annihilate you and all your people this very instant."
Then Hadifah's indignation and anger overleaped all bounds. "By the faith of an Arab," he said to the sheiks, "I wish to hear no talk of peace at the moment that the enemy is ready to spear me." "Do not talk in that way, dear son of my mother," said Haml to his brother. "Do not dart away on the path of imprudence; abandon these gloomy resolutions. Remain in peace with the allies of the Absians, for they are shining stars: the burnished sun that guides all Arabs who love glory. It was but the other day that you wronged them by causing the horse Dahir to be wounded, and thus erred from the path of justice. As for your son, he was justly slain, for you had sent him to demand something that was not due you. After all, nothing is so proper as to make peace, for he who would seek and stir up war is a tyrant, and an oppressor. Accept therefore the compensation offered you, or you are likely to call up around us a fire which will burn us in the flames of hell." Haml concluded with verses of the following import: "By the truth of him who has rooted firm the mountains, without foundations, if you decline to accept the compensation offered by the Absians, you are in the wrong. They acknowledge Hadifah as their chief; be a chief in very deed, and be content with the cattle and camels offered you. Dismount from the horse of outrage, and mount it not again, for it will carry you to the sea of grief and calamity. Hadifah, renounce like a generous man, all violence, but particularly the idea of contending with the Absians. Make of them and of their leader a powerful rampart against the enemies that may attack us. Make of them friends that will remain faithful, for they are men of the noblest intentions. Such are the Absians, and if Cais has acted unjustly towards you, it is you who first set him the example some days ago."
When Haml finished these verses, the chiefs of the different tribes thanked him, and Hadifah having consented to accept the compensation offered, all the Arabs renounced violence and war. All who carried arms remained at home. Cais sent to Hadifah two hundred camels, six men-slaves, ten women-slaves, and ten horses. Thus peace was reestablished and every one rested in tranquillity throughout the land.