The Book Of The Thousand Nights And A Night, Vol 1 Page-164

The Book Of The Thousand Nights And A Night, Vol 1

A plain and literal translation of the arabian nights entertainments

in my mind, “Needs must some one have lighted these candles.” Then I went forth and came to the kitchen and thence to the buttery and the King’s treasure chambers; and continued to explore the palace and to pace from place to place; I forgot myself in my awe and marvel at these matters and I was drowned in thought till the night came on. Then I would have gone forth, but knowing not the gate I lost my way, so I returned to the alcove whither the lighted candles directed me and sat down upon the couch; and wrapping myself in a coverlet, after I had repeated somewhat from the Koran, I would have slept but could not, for restlessness possessed me. When night was at its noon I heard a voice chanting the Koran in sweetest accents; but the tone thereof was weak; so I rose, glad to hear the silence broken, and followed the sound until I reached a closet whose door stood ajar. Then peeping through a chink I considered the place and lo! it was an oratory wherein was a prayer niche[FN#311] with two wax candles burning and lamps hanging from the ceiling. In it too was spread a prayer carpet whereupon sat a youth fair to see; and before him on its stand[FN#312] was a copy of the Koran, from which he was reading. I marvelled to see him alone alive amongst the people of the city and entering saluted him; whereupon he raised his eyes and returned my salam. Quoth I, “Now by the Truth of what thou readest in Allah’s Holy Book, I conjure thee to answer my question.” He looked upon me with a smile and said, “O handmaid of Allah, first tell me the cause of thy coming hither, and I in turn will tell what hath befallen both me and the people of this city, and what was the reason of my escaping their doom.” So I told him my story whereat he wondered; and I questioned him of the people of the city, when he replied, “Have patience with me for a while, O my sister!” and, reverently closing the Holy Book, he laid it up in a satin bag. Then he seated me by his side; and I looked at him and behold, he was as the moon at its full, fair of face and rare of form, soft sided and slight, of well proportioned height, and cheek smoothly bright and diffusing light; in brief a sweet, a sugar stick,[FN#313]. even as saith the poet of the like of him in these couplets:— That night th’ astrologer a scheme of planets drew, * And lo! a graceful shape of youth appeared in view: Saturn had stained his locks with Saturninest jet, * And spots of nut brown musk on rosy side face blew:[FN#314] Mars tinctured either cheek with tinct of martial red; * Sagittal shots from