Happy is Eloquence when thou art named her sire|
⚪ But mourns she whenas other man the title claimed.
O Lord of fairest presence, whose illuming rays
⚪ Clear off the fogs of doubt aye veiling deeds high famed,
Ne’er cease thy face to shine like Dawn and rise of Morn
⚪ And never show Time’s face with heat of ire inflamed!
Thy grace hath favoured us with gifts that worked such wise
⚪ As rain clouds raining on the hills by words enframed:
Freely thou lavishedst thy wealth to rise on high
⚪ Till won from Time the heights whereat thy grandeur aimed.
Now when the Sage ceased reciting, the King rose quickly to his feet and fell on his neck; then, seating him by his side he bade dress him in a sumptuous dress; for it had so happened that when the King left the Hammam he looked on his body and saw no trace of leprosy: the skin was all clean as virgin silver. He joyed thereat with exceeding joy, his breast broadened6 with delight and he felt thoroughly happy. Presently, when it was full day he entered his audience hall and sat upon the throne of his kingship whereupon his Chamberlains and Grandees flocked to the presence and with them the Sage Duban. Seeing the leach the King rose to him in honour and seated him by his side; then the food trays furnished with the daintiest viands were brought and the physician ate with the King, nor did he cease companying him all that day. Moreover, at nightfall he gave the physician Duban two thousand gold pieces, besides the usual dress of honour and other gifts galore, and sent him home on his own steed. After the Sage had fared forth King Yunan again expressed his amazement at the leach’s art, saying, “This man medicined my body from without nor anointed me with aught of ointments: by Allah, surely this is none other than consummate skill! I am bound to honour such a man with rewards and distinction, and take him to my companion and my friend during the remainder of my days.” So King Yunan passed the night in joy and gladness for that his body had been made whole and had thrown off so pernicious a malady. On the morrow the King went forth from his Serraglio and sat upon his throne, and the Lords of Estate stood about him, and the Emirs and Wazirs sat as was their wont on his right hand and on his left. Then he asked for the Sage Duban, who came in and kissed the ground before him, when the King rose to greet him and, seating him by his side, ate with him and wished him long life. Moreover he robed him and gave him gifts, and ceased not conversing with him until night approached. Then the King ordered him, by way of salary, five dresses of honour and a thousand dinars.7 The physician returned to his own house full of gratitude to the King. Now when next morning dawned the King repaired to his audience hall, and his Lords and Nobles surrounded him and his Chamberlains and his Ministers, as the white encloseth the black of the eye.8 Now the King had a Wazir among his Wazirs, unsightly to look upon, an ill omened spectacle; sor did, ungenerous, full of envy and evil will. When this Minister saw the King place the physician near him and give him all these gifts, he jaloused him and planned to do him a harm, as in the saying on such subject, “Envy lurks in every body;” and the saying, “Oppression hideth in every heart: power revealeth it and weakness concealeth it.” Then the Minister came before the King and, kissing the ground between his hands, said, “O King of the age and of all time, thou in whose benefits I have grown to manhood, I have weighty advice to offer thee, and if I withhold it I were a son of adultery and no true born man; wherefore an thou order me to disclose it I will so do forthwith.” Quoth the King (and he was troubled at the words of the Minister), “And what is this counsel of thine?” Quoth he, “O glorious monarch, the wise of old have said:—Whoso regardeth not the end, hath not Fortune to friend; and indeed I have lately seen the King on far other than the right way; for he lavisheth largesse on his enemy, on one whose object is the decline and fall of his kingship: to this man he hath shown favour, honouring him with over honour and making of him an intimate. Wherefore I fear for the King’s life.” The King, who was much troubled and changed colour, asked, “Whom cost thou suspect and anent whom doest thou hint?” and the Minister answered, “O King, an thou be asleep, wake up! I point to the physician Duban.” Rejoined the King, “Fie upon thee! This is a true friend who is favoured by me above all men, because he cured me with some thing which I held in my hand, and he healed my leprosy which had baffled all physicians; indeed he is one whose like may not be found in these days—no, not in the whole world from furthest east to utmost west! And it is of such a man thou sayest such hard sayings. Now from this day forward I allot him a settled solde and allowances, every month a thousand gold pieces; and, were I to share with him my realm ’twere but a little matter. Perforce I must suspect that thou speakest on this wise from mere envy and jealousy as they relate of the King Sindibád.”——And Shahrázád perceived the dawn of day, and ceased saying her permitted say. Then quoth Dunyázád, “O my sister, how pleasant is thy tale, and how tasteful, how sweet, and how grateful!” She replied, “And where is this compared with what I could tell thee on the coming night if the King deign spare my life?” Then said the King in himself, “By Allah, I will not slay her until I hear the rest of her tale, for truly it is wondrous.” So they rested that night in mutual embrace until the dawn. Then the King went forth to his Hall of Rule, and the Wazir and the troops came in, and the audience chamber was thronged and the King gave orders and judged and appointed and deposed and bade and forbade during the rest of that day till the Court broke up, and King Shahryar returned to his palace.
Her sister said, “Do you finish for us thy story if thou be not sleepy,” and she resumed:—It hath reached me, O auspicious King and mighty Monarch, that King Yunan said to his Minister, “O Wazir, thou art one whom the evil spirit of envy hath possessed because of this physician, and thou plottest for my putting him to death, after which I should repent me full sorely, even as repented King Sindibad for killing his falcon.” Quoth the Wazir, Pardon me, O King of the age, how was that?” So the King began the story of
1. The geography is ultra-Shakespearean. “Fárs” (whence “Persia”) is the central Province of the grand old Empire now a mere wreck, “Rúm” (which I write Roum, in order to avoid Jamaica) is the neo-Roman or Byzantine Empire, while “Yunan” is the classical Arab term for Greece (Ionia) which unlearned Moslems believe to be now under water. [back]
3. Arab. “Nadím,” a term often occurring. It denotes one who was intimate enough to drink with the Caliph, a very high honour and a dangerous. The last who sat with “Nudamá” was Al-Razi bi’llah A.H. 329 = 940. See Al-Siyuti’s famous “History of the Caliphs” translated and admirably annotated by Major H. S. Jarrett, for the Bibliotheca Indica, Calcutta, 1880. [back]
4. Arab. Maydán (from Persian); Lane generally translates it “horse course” and Payne “tilting yard.” It is both and something more; an open space, in or near the city, used for reviewing troops, races, playing the Jeríd (cane-spear) and other sports and exercises: thus Al-Maydan=Gr. hippodrome. The game here alluded to is our “polo,” or hockey on horseback, a favourite with the Persian Kings, as all old illustrations of the Shahnamah show. Maydan is also a natural plain for which copious Arabic has many terms, Fayhah or Sath (a plain generally), Khabt (a low-lying plain), Bat’há (a low sandy flat), Mahattah (a plain fit for halting) and so forth. (Pilgrimage iii., 11.) [back]
6. A popular idiom and highly expressive, contrasting the upright bearing of the self-satisfied man with the slouch of the miserable and the skirt-trailing of the woman in grief. I do not see the necessity of such Latinisms as “dilated” or “expanded.” [back]
7. All these highest signs of favour foreshow, in Eastern tales and in Eastern life, an approaching downfall of the heaviest; they are so great that they arouse general jealousy. Many of us have seen this at native courts. [back]