Facsimile and Transcript
Tales of the Peries
There is a story which every class of author is fond of relating, whether they be learned historians or skillful astrologers, whether they record the deeds of ancient times, or collect the grape clusters in the harvest of language, whether they adorn the wonders of reality or display the beauties of fiction.
In the time of the celebrated Sheik Sunian, the Emperor Azar Shah reigned in Abez, a city in the Western region of the World. Azar Shah had long been anxious for an heir, but his queen Lulullah brought him no children. On a day he convened all the Astrologers of the city, and ordered them to examine the Semen Ruh, Daughter of the King of the East. In elegance of form this lady surpassed all comparison. The splendour of the full Moon grew dim before her countenance and the sun was darkened by the rays of her
No maid of mortal charms but far
Excelling each celestial star,
Well may she boast her regal stem
Fair jewel of the diadem
The beams that round her forehead play
Surpass the moon’s empurpled ray.1
One of the Vizirs named Khujisteray ben Moosahib, a wise and knowing man, arose and bending the forehead of obedience to the ground said, "May the King live forever, the world will never see a sovereign like thee whose reign is crowned with good fortune and the favor of God. He whom thou shalt order to undertake the journey of the East shall quickly make by the crown of his head, by the sole of his foot, ‘by dint of gold, by courage bold, or any means of mortal mold,’ the desire of the Emperor be accomplished."
In like manner another Vizir rose and said, "May the fortune of the Emperor be expanded like a full blown blossom. His orders shall certainly be fulfilled."
An elegant epistle was immediately penned and given to Khujisteray, with the most singular
curiosities and rarities of the country, to carry to the regions of the East. The Vizir set out and, after a long journey, arrived at the Eastern Sea, but with whatever speed he travelled, the news of his route preceded his arrival at the court of the Emperor of the East. When the object of his mission was reported to the emperor, he expressed great surprise that such should be the popular talk before any Embassy had come from the west.
The Vizir Khujisteray appeared in the Hall of audience, and according to the custom of ambassadors presented to the King of the East the Letter with all the curiosities and rarities which he had brought. The Emperor was highly pleased with the presents and, with the utmost joy and satisfaction, received the proposal contained in the Letter. He requested the Vizir to remain a few days till the bridal festivities could be prepared, at the end of which he promised to permit him to commence his journey. The Vizir kissed the ground, took his leave in the most respectful manner, and went to reside in a caravanserai.
The Emperor entered the harem and related the news to the Mother of the Princess. The Princess, as well the Mother, was greatly pleased at the intelligence. The naqqare of joy, was ordered to be beat and the
Court prepared for the nuptial festivities.
In a few days every thing was ready. The Princess was arrayed in royal robes and golden ornaments splendid as those of the famous Emperor Khosroo, mounted on an Elephant whose howdah and caparison shone like gold, and attended by maids beautiful as the Sun in its splendor, boys of elegant form, and Eunuchs graceful as the Moon in countenance. All were arrayed in princely garments and proceeded along with Khujisteray. From stage to stage, from caravanserai to caravanserai, they journeyed onwards in a procession, to use the words of the Poet Huzret Mullah, like a rose garden in its beauty—
As o’er the sands they hold their way,
Their tents they pitch with banners gay,
The desert blooms through all its coasts,
Fair as the meads which China boasts.
They arrived at length in the vicinity of Abez. In the neighborhood of that city was a garden named Baghi Murad which had been made by the father of Azar Shah; it was planted with various kinds of trees. The pine, the cypress, the boser, The fir, and the elm there intermingled their branches, clashing each other like a
sweet basil, the hyacinth, and others of a similar species were arranged in order on several banks and channels of running water and were dispersed among the roots of the trees according to the verse—
Where’er the rivulet wanders slow
A thousand musky roses blow,
Where languid streamlets sleep between
The verdure wakes in livelier green,
While every rose a thousand tints,
Along its blushing leaves depaints
And as the glowing petals smile
Sweet fragrance makes for many a mile.2
In this new Paradise of a garden, they halted. They pitched a tent under fortunate auspices, spread beautiful carpets, and displaced furniture rich as that of Khosroo. They illuminated the tent with a luster, and there the Princess Semen Ruh took up her residence. The report of their arrival reached Azar Shah and as the poet Huzret Mullahsays—
The present precious moment seize,
When fortune falls in every breeze,
And ere the Power have time to roam
Bestir yourself invite her home.
The Emperor immediately ordered the
fifes and the cymbals to be sounded, the streets to be adorned with
At last she thought of a will. She bent both her eyes downward on her feet and skillfully planned a scheme to supplant the Princess. When Semen Ruh learned that the Emperor was impatient to visit her, she ordered green carpets and rich garments to be strewed from the streets of the city to the lanes of the garden and commanded the damsels beautiful as Peries and her youths whose faces rivaled the moon in gracefulness to present him with basins filled with rubies, jacinths, emeralds, and pearls. The King arrived in the garden adorned in the splendid manner. In every place Semen Ruh had caused rich carpets to be spread for his reception. A throne of polished emerald was in one quarter, in another a throne of ruby, jacinth, and fretted gold. The Emperor was astonished at the magnificence of the exhibition
At last she thought of a will. She bent both her eyes downward on her feet and skillfully planned a scheme to supplant the Princess.
When Semen Ruh learned that the Emperor was impatient to visit her, she ordered green carpets and rich garments to be strewed from the streets of the city to the lanes of the garden and commanded the damsels beautiful as Peries and her youths whose faces rivaled the moon in gracefulness to present him with basins filled with rubies, jacinths, emeralds, and pearls. The King arrived in the garden adorned in the splendid manner. In every place Semen Ruh had caused rich carpets to be spread for his reception. A throne of polished emerald was in one quarter, in another a throne of ruby, jacinth, and fretted gold.
The Emperor was astonished at the magnificence of the exhibition
and seated himself on the throne, greatly delighted with the grandeur of the lady’s taste. He ordered a royal feast to be prepared and invited all the vizirs, the judges, the nobles, the skillful men of business, and the principal persons of the city. The king embraced Khujisteray and rewarded him with the highest honors. He presented him with royal robes, a diadem adorned with gold and jewels, a scimitar, a dagger, and a sash of curious worksmanship. He gave also the steedDewzard, which he had kept as a memorial of his own father, with the bridle and saddle likewise ornamented with gold and jewels.
That night they spent in festivity; it was like the conjunction of the moon and the planet Jupiter, and afterwards Semen Ruh was conducted in the most magnificent manner to the royal harem—
On the Emperors burnished throne
The splendid moon of beauty shone
His heart wild thrilling with delight
He hardly dared to trust his sight.
No sooner had the glance of the emperor lighted on the earth-illuminating fair Semen Ruh, then an arrow from the bent bow of her brows pierced his bosom. It penetrated to the very wing and notch of the arrow, and he said with a sigh—
Gentle be the beauty reign
Oe’r captives which the smiles enchain.
When Semen Ruh beheld the king she descended from the throne and stood before him, veiling her face with the fold of her garment. The king could not restrain himself. Flinging the arm of affection over the neck of desire, he drew her to his bosom and snatched an invaluable kiss from her ruby lips. Having taken the hand of the fair, he seated her on the throne and gently unveiling her face. The timid drops of perspiration on her sweet countenance shone like the dew drops on the ruby rose. Azar Shah gently dried them with the fold of his tunic and said—
The timid drops of dew that grace
A jasmine coloured charmer’s face
Exceed the rapid torrent force
That wastes a country in its course.3
The attendants all withdrew and the curtains were drawn on the four sides of the chamber. The emperor drew Semen Ruh amorously to his side, but no sooner did she meet his embrace than the keenness of desire instantly departed and he perceived himself under the influence of a magical charm. The king had immediate recourse to his physicians and astrologers, but they were equally at a loss concerning the nature of his malady and the means of affecting a cure.
At last a magician more knowing that the rest informed him of
the famous Sheik Sunian of Baghdad. The King directly called his vizir Khujisteray and desired him to go and prevail on Sheik Sunian to undertake the cure.
"Beseech him to pity my situation and not to reckon the fatigues of the journey, painful to the sole of his foot."
Immediately Khujisteray set off. In a few days he reached the presence of the Sheik and related to him the particulars of his commission. The Sheik made many excuses and the Vizir made lamentations till the importunity of the latter prevailed and he succeeded in conducting him safely to the city of Abez. The King came out to meet him and introduced him into the city with great honors.
When all the particulars were related minutely to the Sheik, he said there were two disciples who perfectly understood the distemper. The name of the one was Danadil but he was absent on his travels in the region of the south. The name of the other was Roshen Zemir but he too was unluckily absent in the North.
The Sheik immediately addressed a letter to them in these terms: "We are in the city of Abez in the presence of Azar Shah. On sight of this letter proceed to join us with the utmost haste and without delay."
The two disciples received the letters and, proceeding with the utmost expedition, arrived in the presence of the
him that his former queen had bewitched him by a spell, from which, with Heaven, she would endeavour to free him. The king rewarded him nobly and the magician, having by his skill discovered the charm which was buried beneath the ground, dug it up and recovered the king completely.
That wicked and crafty woman no sooner perceived that the spell was broken than she fell on another contrivance. She took a magical stone of such potency that a little of its powder swallowed instantly deprived a person of his senses. She grated a little of it to powder and gave it to a trusty and skillful servant to mix secretly with the food of Semen Ruh.
The servant too well acquitted herself of the wicked commission. In a single hour, the mind of the princess was alienated and she became deplorable frantic. Night came, but she replied to the tenderest caresses of the king with the coldest indifference and aversion. In vain he attempted to soothe her. Thee next day her distemper was a hundred times worse and soon increased beyond all remedy. Azar Shah was greatly distressed. Again he assembled his astrologers and physicians and ordered them on pain of death to find some remedy for her malady.
All their efforts were vain and they came in a body to the king, saying, "Kill or reward us the stars. The business does not prosper in our hands, but if any man in the world can cure her it is
They were immediately conducted to court with due honors by the vizir. The Sheik related to them the particulars of the case and all five, the King, his vizir, the Sheik, and his disciples, began to concert measures for the cure.
After a dead pause, Danadil raised his head and said, "Reverend Senior (Din), the case is indeed beyond the Power of Medicine unless the method I propose succeeds. Let the Princess be diverted and amused by marvelous stories and tales of wonders. When her heart is engaged by the stories of the past perhaps the intoxication of frenzy will go out of her head."
"Who knows such stories better than yourself," said the Sheik. "Relate then the wonders you yourself have seen and heard, but relate them in such a manner that when you and I are dead and gone they may still be recorded in the page of existence."
Danadil ,without further apology, desired the sitting room to be prepared, and as soon as carpets were spread and the queen brought in he thus commenced his narration.
The Tale of Melech Mahommed and Gheti Afroz, Queen of the Peris, and the First Transformation of the Dove.
Once on a day, as Melech Mahommed, a brother of mine, was on his travels, he came by chance to a town called Ekbalia and took up his lodging in a caravanserai. The first watch of the night was suddenly illuminated with brilliant lights and began to resound with the Perizadisarrayed in garments of golden tissue advanced in troop and, with wonderful tumult, spread themselves over the whole face of the sky. They were a marvelous company such as had never been heard or seen.
In surprise, he asked some people of the place, "What is this and who are these?"
Somebody told him that it was Gheti Afroz, Daughter of the king of the Peris and that, having quarreled with her father, she resided in this lower world. Her place was in the vicinity of the city.
"Can a person see her?" said he.
"Better for him to fail of
it," said the other, "for she generally changes her visitants into the shape of some animal."
It seems my brother had some animal inclinations. "Ah," said he, "that must be very fine and curious," and off he set for that place.
Next morning when he came near the place, he saw that the top of it reached to the very sky; the building consisted of alternate layers of burned bricks and pure silver, and at least the one half of all the birds in the air and all the doves in the universal world were perched on the roof.
He came up to the door, which was shut, and cried aloud, "Open to Melech Mahommed."
As nobody ever came there because of the fear of being a beast, the Princess had ordered when any one approached to open the door and give him his deserts. Accordingly the door was opened and, without dread or fear, in stepped Melech Mahommed. He saw a throne composed of a single jacinth and adorned with the richest cushions and carpets. A lady beautiful as the silver moon sat on the throne with a hundred Perizadis brilliant as so many stars standing round her—
What can Descriptions powers avail
The pen the pencils art must fail
No power of fancy e’er portrayed
The graces of that peerless maid
Sweet angel nature formed to prove
The fond fidelity of love
Her mouths sweet circle formed a line
The pencil never drew one so fine
Her ruby lips appeared when closed
Arose leaf in two halves disposed.4
When Melech Mahommed saw these Daughters of Paradise, their queen fair as the mid-month moon and her damsels and musicians arranged in rows before her, he stood stupefied with wonder.
The back of the Queen was towards him as he entered, but she perceived him with the corner of her eyes and, pointing to a golden seat near the throne, said, "Come, come along, you are welcome." As soon as he had seated himself, she enquired, "Whence, who, and why have you come hither?"
Melech Mohammed answered like one drunk and distracted—
Drunk with the win of love I roam
This path and seek no other home
Far from my grasp stole? the tie
Of prudence though for love I die.
Gheti Afroz immediately gave him a place in her affections, and ordered Ruh Afza, a Perazadi that excelled in elegance of
form, to bring the ruby coloured
"He who stomachs an apple must be angry indeed," said Ruh Afza. "Better, however, it were a quince," said Gheti Afroz, and immediately a quince as a sign of welcome was presented to Melech Mahommed. Still, however, my brother’s confusion prevented him from entering on conversation till the ruby wine, that foe to modesty, was handed round in silver goblets. Ruh Afza acted the cup-bearerand, when she had presented ten goblets to Melech Mahommed, he became a little more tranquil. Gheti Afroz then looking him in the face said, "How do you now guess I will make you a present of your fair cup bearer? "The object of my devotion is single and sufficient," said he. "I can receive no other." Gheti Afroz was pleased and said, "I am glad to find your affection so refined and shall be happy to see you some days in this company, but man is an impatient creature. From his impatience results many misfortunes which he is very apt to lay to our charge. You had better take Ruh Afza as a remedy of
"He who stomachs an apple must be angry indeed," said Ruh Afza.
"Better, however, it were a quince," said Gheti Afroz, and immediately a quince as a sign of welcome was presented to Melech Mahommed. Still, however, my brother’s confusion prevented him from entering on conversation till the ruby wine, that foe to modesty, was handed round in silver goblets. Ruh Afza acted the cup-bearerand, when she had presented ten goblets to Melech Mahommed, he became a little more tranquil.
Gheti Afroz then looking him in the face said, "How do you now guess I will make you a present of your fair cup bearer?
"The object of my devotion is single and sufficient," said he. "I can receive no other."
Gheti Afroz was pleased and said, "I am glad to find your affection so refined and shall be happy to see you some days in this company, but man is an impatient creature. From his impatience results many misfortunes which he is very apt to lay to our charge. You had better take Ruh Afza as a remedy of
impatience and with the throat of a thirsty lip imbibe the wine of her affection."
"The sight of you is too propitious to me," said Melech Mahommed. "I am too much delighted with the view of these charms."
In such conversation the day passed, and at night Gheti Afroz ordered a couch to be prepared for Melech Mahommed in the chamber of Ruh Afza.
Melech Mahommed said, "What cruel speech is this a second time? Is not the view of your charms enough for me?"
Gheti Afroz bent her under lip with a sarcastic smile. "I fear you will not be as easily satisfied, but remember any indiscretion will be your farewell to my society."
"The view of your charms even from a distance is too great a pleasure for me," said he. "I shall be in no danger of indiscretion."
"You know best," said Gheti Afroz.
Within the place was a basin of water, on the one side of which she ordered her own couch to be spread and on the other that of Melech Mahommed. That night he passed very vexatiously.
Next day they caroused by the basin of water and Ruh Afza was cup bearer of the party. Melech Mahommed’s love waxed so warm that he could brook no further delay and passionately threw
himself at the feet of Gheti Afroz.
"Be content and cautious," said the princess, "for any indiscretion will make a beast of you, and that you will find no easy thing to remedy. It is better to be patient even under a thousand difficulties. Be seated and compose yourself."
But in the victory of the senses, what room is there for patience or propriety? A Perizadi brought in a scented rose to present to the princess. Melech Mahommed led her forward in hopes that his hand might chance to touch that of Gheti Afroz. The princess stretched out her hand to take the Rose when Melech Mahommed, devoid of self command, fixed an impassionate kiss on it.
"Ah, you cursed billing dove,"said Gheti Afroz, "what is that for?"
Immediately, Melech Mohammed, baffled of his desire, whirled round and round in the form of a dove.
The poor dove was quite petrified at this token of affection. The live long day he flew from turret to turret and hopped from branch to branch before his unrelenting mistress, but, finding it was all to no purpose, he next took the nearest road to his own house. He flew into it without ceremony but presently observed with very little satisfaction that his servants, with great glee, were setting ginsand traps to catch him.
This was an unforeseen stroke, but providence
stood his friend and it came into the head of one of them to say, "Poor little dove. Let it go my lads, for the love of our master who has not been seen these many days."
Then they let him go, but he overheard one of them say to another, "Our master’s uncle Danish Bait, the King’s vizir of this city, has been enquiring after him, and I told him that Melech Mahommed had not been seen since he set out for the place of the Peries. ‘For the place of the Peries,’ said he, ‘that cursed race, can, in a single moment, turn a man into a beast. If he comes looking, let me know, and do not let him return to them.’"
When the dove heard this, he thanked his stars and immediately flew to the house of Danish Bait. The Vizir was sitting on his seat of dignity, surrounded by the mew of business and engaged in the discussion of some important matters. The dove flew round the chamber and perched on the lap of his uncle.
Danish Bait thought a mere bird would not have been so familiar with him and immediately conjectured this to be his nephew, metamorphosed by the Perizadis into the shape of a dove. He called Cafoor, a eunuch of the Seraglia , to bring him a box of medicine. Having inserted
a little of it to the bill of the dove, it fluttered round and round in a circle and immediately Melech Mahommed recovered his own form.
Danish Bait embraced his nephew with great joy. He strenuously advised him to send for his effects and his servants and never to visit that caravanserai again, for if the same misfortune befell him a second time he would be unable to restore him.
"I have done with it," said his nephew. "I may well think one visit enough."
When Melech Mahommed returned to his own house, his servants all came to congratulate him and enquire what had befallen him.
"Befallen me?" said he. "I fell into your hands, and a fine hospitable reception I met with. You wanted to cut off my head with my own knife. God-a-mercy that I got out of your clutches."
His servants could not comprehend his meaning till he mentioned the circumstance of the dove. When they thanked their stars that worse had not happened, Melech Mahommed rewarded handsomely the man whose compassion had saved his life, and the man for many days lived as happy as the day was long.
The Second Transformation of the Water Bird
By chance, as he was sitting one night in
a musing mood, he thought, "I wonder if Gheti Afroz has ever compassionated the situation she reduced me to."
The more he mused, the more he got perplexed, till at last he called for wine to drive the thought out of his head. He tossed off a couple of goblets, but instead of driving he idea out of his head, it drove it into his heart till he became quite impatient to see her again.
"Make an ass or a dog of me," said he, "I will not desert the lovely charmer."
He kicked down his bottle and glass on the ground, quite forgetting his uncle’s advice, and up he got to set out for the Place of Gheti Afroz. The people of the house, when they perceived his intention, ran with doleful hubbub to hinder him, all in vain-
Fearful of harm without delay
Where love and beauty led the way
He took the path intend to gain
His heart’s dear solace all in vain.
When he came to the door of the palace, he called aloud, "Open to the faithful Melech Mohammed."
The door was opened. In he went and saw Gheti Afroz dressed in robes of incomparable beauty. Her lovely face was flushed with the juice of the grape, and she sat in such a delicious posture that he was enflamed