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King Shah Bekht And His Vizier Er Rehwan
by [?]

As for the youth, he gave his governor a thousand dirhems and despatched him to his father, to fetch money from him, so he might pay the rest of the girl’s price, saying to him, ‘Be not [long] absent.’ But the governor said in himself, ‘How shall I go to his father and say to him, “Thy son hath wasted thy money and wantoned it away”?[180] With what eye shall I look on him, and indeed, I am he in whom he confided and to whom he hath entrusted his son? Indeed, this were ill seen. Nay, I will fare on to the pilgrimage[181] [with the caravan of pilgrims], in despite of this fool of a youth; and when he is weary [of waiting], he will demand back the money [he hath already paid] and return to his father, and I shall be quit of travail and reproach.’ So he went on with the caravan to the pilgrimage[182] and took up his abode there.

[Footnote 180] lit. loved with it.

[Footnote 181] It is not clear what is here meant by El Hejj; perhaps Medina, though this is a “visitation” and not an obligatory part of the pilgrimage. The passage is probably corrupt.

[Footnote 182] It is not clear what is here meant by El Hejj; perhaps Medina, though this is a “visitation” and not an obligatory part of the pilgrimage. The passage is probably corrupt.

Meanwhile, the youth abode expecting his governor’s return, but he returned not; wherefore concern and chagrin waxed upon him, because of his mistress, and his longing for her redoubled and he was like to slay himself. She became aware of this and sent him a messenger, bidding him to her. So he went to her and she questioned him of the case; whereupon he told her what was to do of the matter of his governor, and she said to him, ‘With me is longing the like of that which is with thee, and I misdoubt me thy messenger hath perished or thy father hath slain him; but I will give thee all my trinkets and my clothes, and do thou sell them and pay the rest of my price, and we will go, I and thou, to thy father.’

So she gave him all that she possessed and he sold it and paid the rest of her price; after which there remained to him a hundred dirhems. These he spent and lay that night with the damsel in all delight of life, and his soul was like to fly for joy; but when he arose in the morning, he sat weeping and the damsel said to him, ‘What aileth thee to weep?’ And he said, ‘I know not if my father be dead, and he hath none other heir but myself; and how shall I win to him, seeing I have not a dirhem?’ Quoth she, ‘I have a bracelet; do thou sell it and buy small pearls with the price. Then bray them and fashion them into great pearls, and thereon thou shalt gain much money, wherewith we may make our way to thy country.’ So he took the bracelet and repairing to a goldsmith, said to him, ‘Break up this bracelet and sell it.’ But he said, ‘The king seeketh a good[183] bracelet; I will go to him and bring thee the price thereof.’ So he carried the bracelet to the Sultan and it pleased him greatly, by reason of the goodliness of its workmanship. Then he called an old woman, who was in his palace, and said to her, ‘Needs must I have the mistress of this bracelet, though but for a single night, or I shall die.’ And the old woman answered, ‘I will bring her to thee.’

[Footnote 183] Syn. whole or perfect (sehik).

So she donned a devotee’s habit and betaking herself to the goldsmith, said to him, ‘To whom belongeth the bracelet that is in the king’s hand?’ Quoth he, ‘It belongeth to a man, a stranger, who hath bought him a slave-girl from this city and lodgeth with her in such a place.’ So the old woman repaired to the young man’s house and knocked at the door. The damsel opened to her and seeing her clad in devotee’s apparel,[184] saluted her and said to her, ‘ Belike thou hast an occasion with us?’ ‘Yes,’ answered the old woman; ‘I desire privacy and ablution.'[185] Quoth the girl, ‘Enter.’ So she entered and did her occasion and made the ablution and prayed. Then she brought out a rosary and began to tell her beads thereon, and the damsel said to her, ‘Whence comest thou, O pilgrim?'[186] Quoth she ‘[I come] from [visiting] the Idol[187] of the Absent in such a church.[188] There standeth up no woman [to prayer] before him, who hath an absent friend and discovereth to him her need, but he acquainteth her with her case and giveth her tidings of her absent one.’ ‘O pilgrim,’ said the damsel, ‘we have an absent one, and my lord’s heart cleaveth to him and I desire to go to the idol and question him of him.’ Quoth the old woman, ‘[Wait] till to-morrow and ask leave of thy husband, and I will come to thee and go with thee in weal.’