Facsimile and Transcript
with love a hundred thousand times more than ever.
Smiling, she asked him, "What strange disorder seized you? How could a wise man like you be guilty of such an indiscretion?"
"Ah," said he, "it was very hard to be so severely punished for one kiss of that charming hand."
"Well," said she, "I love you so dearly that to compensate the misfortune you shall have free leave to kiss both my hands and my feet as often as you please, but beware of further indiscretion or you know what will happen—
His bursting joy so long denied
Impetuous all restraint defied
So glad to wanton unconfined
She like pistachios bursts its rind5
He prostrated himself on the ground for delight. The music played and the cup of friendship went jovially round till the decline of day. Then night closed her sable canopy over their heads and they spread their couches of repose. Gheti Afroz ordered his couch as before to be spread on the other side of the basin of water.
Melech Mahommed objected, "How can I then have pleasure of kissing your hands and feet?"
She said, "I do not wish to have you to punish again for indiscretion."
He protested. She relented
and finally permitted him to have his couch placed by her own.
"Ah," thought Melech Mahommed, "I see she has more affection for me than she is willing to show. I was anxious to have an opportunity of admiring her even at a distance, and she has given me a place close beside her."
The goblet went round. They were both warmed with wine and hour after hour he kissed her hands and her feet. He could not help aspiring to her lips and her mouth.
"Ah," said he, "there is nothing like lip to lip. How shall I accomplish this?"
Fear of falling from his present good fortune and being again converted into a beast restrained him, but for all that he could not command himself. Ah, that mischievous power of wine, when does it leave a person the power of self-restraint?
"Betide whatever betide," said he as he placed his two hands on the sides of her couch and bent to kiss her peach-like lip.
As his breath reached her nostrils, she awaked and saw that he had assumed a strange position. Smiling disdainfully, she said, "Ah, you simpleton, what was it you promised? Be cautious or you must
once more take your departure."
Melech Mahommed retreated to his couch in disgrace. "Gods, what a fate is mine," said he to himself, "to be still baffled of attaining my desire at the very moment when it seems within my reach." –
When the golden sun appeared at the windows of the East, they assembled round the basin of the water. Gheti Afroz exclaimed—
"Where is the fair cheeked damsel you
From whose soft pearly hand alone
The ruddy goblets as they flow,
Can mitigate the lovers woe,"
Ruh Afza immediately entered with the silver featured cupbearers and brought in the ruby wine, saying—
"Well may the ruby boast its hew
Mid jewels hanged to court the view
But golden cups of ruby wine
The ruby’s richest hues outshine."6
When night had arrayed the world in her party-coloured vesture, they retired to their couch of repose and, the conversation having turned on jewels, Melech Mohammed said that he possessed two which were brilliant as the lamp of the night. Gheti Afroz requested he would send for them next morning.
When Gheti Afroz fell asleep,
Melech Mohammed, impelled by love, advanced and, laying hold of her hand, moved it over his eyes. Casting his eyes on her lips, he exclaimed—
"In fancy once with headlong haste
I dared that ruby lip to taste
And never never from my heart
Can the dear delusion part."
He could have wished to have restrained the impetuosity of his passion but was quite unable—
That sugared juicy lip too sweet
With lips of mortal man to meet
Inflamed his soul that lip to gain
Might recompense an age of pain
No longer able to brook restraint, he snatched a kiss immediately.
Gheti Afroz awoke and angrily exclaimed, "Ha, water bird, what is that?"
Melech Mohammed fluttered pendulously and in a moment appeared in the form of a water bird.
At that period of the story Semen Ruh, the queen of Azar Shah, asked, "Did the poor, unfortunate lover ever regain his form?"
Orders were immediately issued to beat the drums for joy and proclaim the success of the Sheik and his disciples, who then
proceeded as follows.
When Melech Mohammed was changed into a water bird, servants of the princess drove him away from the couch. It was a dark night, and, as he did not know where to bend his course, he remained in the basin of the water.
"A malice on bad luck,"said he, "what a jade of a star is mine to play me such a dog’s trick."
When the golden sun displayed his radiance from the east, Gheti Afroz, according to custom, sealed herself by the basin of water.
Observing backwards and forwards, she exclaimed, "Ah, you impatient creature, did not I tell you to be respectful or some misfortune would happen? But you would not listen to me, and now, why do you flutter about there which can avail you nothing? Why do you not go to your uncle, who perhaps may restore you to your own form?"
Melech Mahommed now perceived that, though he stayed a thousand years, it would be to no purpose, so he immediately got under wing for his own city.
He immediately threw off the falcon, which soon grasped Melech Mohammed like grim death by the neck with his talons. Unable to extricate himself, almost at the last gasp he precipitated himself with the falcon into the lake. After two or three plunges beneath the surface, the hawk, who had got out of his element and whose feathers were all ruffled and spoiled by the water, released his prey and with extreme difficulty got out of the lake.
The king was angry when he saw that he did not fetch the quarry and told the falconer who had charge of him that he should suffer for having neglected the hawk. Melech Mohammed repined quite despairingly of escaping while the king continued his diversion. When the king departed, the falconer whom he had chided returned to the lake, thinking the bird which had been wounded might still linger behind. As ill luck would have it, he observed Melech Mahommed on the act of taking his flight.
"Blessed be the mark," said he. "Here is the very bird." He immediately threw off a falcon. Melech Mahommed saw a very large falcon pursuing him and put all his hope in flight. The hawk
pounced at him and seized him in the air. The water bird with great difficulty dragged him again under water and escaped severely wounded in the struggle.
Melech Mahommed remained in the lake till the danger was over, when he took flight and, arriving at his uncles house, perched on the roof. His uncle at that very time was looking at the game which had been brought in and expressing his regret that the water bird had escaped from the clutches of the hawk and the hawk had been dabbled in the water.
Melech Mahommed thought this a fit time to make his appearance and, draggled and stained with blood as he was, darted into the middle of the party. Every body was surprised at the circumstance and thought it ominous for a water fowl to venture amid a company of men. But, when Danish Bait saw the woeful flight in which the bird was with his feathers and wings all ruffled and bespattered with blood, he immediately divined that it was Melech Mahommed who had been wounded by the claws of the hawk.
He said, "Water bird, if you be my nephew, rustle your feathers." The bird complied and
his uncle railed at him bitterly. "Miscreant," said he, "you would have been finely served had the hawk ended your unlucky days. Did I not tell you to avoid these ill fated beings? But you would still return to that place of perdition."
After sitting long silent and sulky he began to pity the poor bird and said, "If you will take a solemn oath never again to be a miscreant I will forgive you this once."
The water bird nodded assent and Danish Bait sent the eunuch Cafoor for the box of medicine. He put a little of it into his mouth, by virtue of which he recovered his own form. After a severe admonition, he proceeded to his own house and his people, who had been greatly alarmed at his absence, came round him.
They demonstrated, "What a sad madness is this which has fallen over on you, to be constantly deserting us in so strange a manner. Your uncle has taken a solemn oath that if you do so any more, he will have no pity on you though you should die for it."
He told them that he repented of his freaks and resolved never again to go.
The Third Transformation of the Ass
Melech Mahommed lived for some time in his usual manner and every day visited his
uncle. But, as he was one night sitting at home, he heard a strange tumult in the air and, looking up, he saw Gheti Afroz seated in a splendid throne surrounded with hosts of Perizadiz, music of exquisite modulation playing before her; a miraculous spectacle with strange hubbub and riotous mirth diffused all over the face of the sky.
At this sight, Melech Mohammed was ready to dance alone. "What a poor ninny am I," thought he, "to have deserted so delectable a company to live in a pitiful place like this."
Till the Perezadis disappeared he stood staring as if he would gaze his eyes out, and then, like a frantic person, he ordered his horse for he would go to visit his uncle. As this was his usual practice, nobody had any suspicion of him. Having taken the jewels which he had mentioned to Gheti Afroz along with him, he mounted his horse and took the load to the palace of the Peris.
When he come to the door, he rattled the ring and called out, "Open to the faithful Melech Mahommed."
So said, so done. He entered and saw Gheti Afroz a thousand times more charming than ever, arrayed in robes of unearthly splendor and seated on her throne.
As soon as she saw him,
she cried, "Come away. You are welcome. I am glad to see that you have not forgotten me."
She gave him a seat on her own cushion and enquired after his adventures. He produced jewels and presented them in the most respectful manner. She gave them to her steward, saying, "Well, well, but Melech Mahommed, when did you get rid of the form of a water bird?"
Fetching a deep sigh he answered—
Wound on wound and grief on grief
And still to sigh without relief
Must be the hapless lover’s part
I fence your beauty pierce his heart7
"But it is yourself," said she, casting her arms round his neck, "who have brought all these woes on your own head. How can I prevent them?" She added with an embrace—
To kiss my hands and kiss my feet
For true love is no longer meet
Now to my glowing lips aspire
But there but there restrain desire
He protested that the honour equally exceeded his deserts and his expectations. Goblets of ruby were then ushered in by the silver-featured cupbearers, bustling and jingling the glasses to show their alacrity.
They enjoyed the festive board till midnight when their couches were prepared by the basin of water.
In a moment, a strange tumult spread over the azure expanse of heaven. Gheti Afroz and Melech Mohammed started from their sleep and enquired from Ruh Afza the cause of the unusual noise. A messenger announced the arrival of Filsoof , her father’s Vizier. At that instant, the Vizier entered the door and with profound obeisancepresented a letter. She placed it on her eyes and, having perused it, cast a blushful look down on the ground. The Vizier, however, took up the conversation in a style of respectful remonstrance.
"Princess," said he, "what sort of baseness is this to be engaged in to associate yourself with a mortal man? What have the Perizadis to do with mankind? Our whole race is in a passion at your conduct, and affection scarce lives in the breast of your father, though he is continually reminding himself that—
A child whose faults unnumbered rise
Is blameless in his father’s eyes
For children joys uncounted give
But childless it is death to live
Shake off this base infatuation
immediately and come along with me to your father. It is long since all your relations have been anxious to see you."
After a long pause, Gheti Afroz raised her eyes and said, "This letter of reprehension is, I see, a fabrication of your own and is as futile as it is false. This man of mortal race has been long a tried friend of mine. For me, he has endured every kind of misery. I have several times changed him into the shape of some animal, but in spite of all my injuries he has been faithful and has not forsaken my society. I am now ashamed to confess the vehemence of me affection for him, for I have neither peace nor tranquility except in his presence and could not live out of his sight."
With this she threw her arms round the neck of Melech Mohammed and they mutually impressed the most fervent kisses on each others’ lips. The Vizier sighed with indignation while Melech Mohammed repeated this stanza—
All earthly happiness in mine
No more I joy no more repine
No care have I of good or ill
Save of my sovereign lady’s will
The Vizier saw no remedy for the evil and remained silent for pure rage.
"Vizier," said Gheti Afroz, "my father and mother have no longer any affection for me. Tell them to set their hearts on some other. I am entangled in the mazes of an earthly love—
My father leaves me without a mock?
But when were the chickens hatched by the cock
My haughty mother adieu to thee
My humble love is enough for me
My brother of me has little heed
Two harvests we of different seed
But let my busy prying aunt
Be careful to avoid my haunt
The little ant my aunt shall be
For my earthly love is enough for me.8
When the Vizier heard this, unable any longer to restrain himself, he rose and said abruptly, "God’s curse on my head if ever more I see thy face."
"Amen," said Gheti Afroz.
He shook open the fold of his garment. "Long be the life of Ansar Shah. We have nothing more to do with thee," and immediately he departed with his attendants.
When he presented himself before Ansar Shah, he related the bad
success of his mission and mentioned what he had seen and heard. The elder brother of Gheti Afroz immediately proposed to pay her a visit and reclaim her to her duty. "At all events," said Ansar Shah, "let us destroy this man of mortal mirth, and then her affections may take another course."
Melech Mohammed, however, was all the while congratulating himself extremely on all that had happened. "Ah," said he, "I go on prosperously."
"You see in what style," said Gheti Afroz, "for the love of another, I have dismissed my father’s Vizier."
"My soul is unable to express the fervor of my gratitude," answered Melech Mohammed.
The silver-limbed cupbearers bought in the ruby wine and, after having quaffed several goblets, they embraced each other tenderly. They passed the time in affectionate caresses till midnight, when then retired to the same couch.
"Be cautious," said Gheti Afroz, "not to transgress your prescribed limits, and be not guilty of any indiscretion that you will have cause to repent of."
"I am too happy," he answered, "to be permitted to kiss your hands and feet."
their arms affectionately around each other’s necks, they laid themselves down to sleep. Sleep, however, was the least thing that Melech Mohammed thought of, as the verse says—
Ah how can patience e’er reside
With youthful sovereigns drunk with pride
Ah how can patience e’er empty
A youthful lover drunk with joy
Incapable of rest, he rose and beheld the Narcissus-like eyes of the princess closed in the profound sleep of wine and the drops of perspiration standing on her brow. Melech Mohammed said, as he kissed her hand and her cheek—
Upon her rosy features shine
The pearly dews of joyous wine
As dew drops bright the rose pervade
Whose leaves expand beneath the shade
"Betide what may," thought he, "I will endure no more delay."
As he attempted to unloose the cestus of desire, Gheti Afroz started from sleep. "Melech Mohammed," said she, "why will you not love compassion on yourself? Are you so anxious to be again under wing?"
Melech Mohammed, ashamed of his
conduct, retired to his couch, and, after some reflection and a cup of reconciliation, Gheti Afroz again lay down to sleep—
The Loseph new of golden light
From daemon gloom emerges bright
So Tunis shone when bursting free
From the dark monster of the sea
Gheti Afroz arose and walked with Melech Mahommed through the garden, afterwards taking him along with her in the ornamented car. They went a-hunting into the desert. They hunted east, they hunted west, wherever there was plenty of game. Then they prepared to noble feast in a spot of uncommon beauty, roasted the produce of the chase, and jovially quaffed the flowing goblet, after which they turned their faces homeward and arrived at the palace in the twinkling of an eye. The musicians then brought their instruments and struck up the most delightful harmony and they amused themselves with music and dancing—
When evening starred with roses bright
Returns with soft and dangerous light
And quick the ruddy goblets move
Sin in the tempting hour of love
As down the West the Sun declines
His disk a golden goblet shines
To bathe in western water sent
O’er the green fritted firmament
As slow the dusky mists congeal
Their magic lines of fate reveal
Their freckled character which lie
Obscure along the evening sky
Like a lion for the chase
Upstarts the moon with sanguine face
And tell the raven night be o’er
Immerses fierce her claws in gore
When evening set in, she ordered her car. Having seated herself with Melech Mahommed and attended with innumerable torches, they set out for the garden of the Shah. In a moment they had entered the gate and were traversing the garden; they proceeded to the brink of the reservoir and, there having seated themselves, they passed the goblet jovially round ’til half the night was spent. Then they remounted the car, returned to the place in an instant, and retired to their couches of repose again.
Melech Mahommed rested
by the side of the Princess. He awaked during the night and saw Gheti Afroz in all her charms sleeping in a careless position and bathing her lovely face in the dew of her perspiration. He exclaimed—
How fair the scene that courts my view
A sweet rose garden bathes in dew
Pure as the crystal streams that run
From the dear fountain of the sun9
He kissed her charming countenance. Perceiving that she was greatly overcome with wine, he said to himself, "Hap what may, I will assay," and quickly unloosed the cestus of desire.
That instant Gheti Afroz awoke and, perceiving his indiscretion in great fury, exclaimed, "Ha! Cursed ass, what is that?" Melech Mahommed without remedy instantly took a long leap in the form of an ass—
At this period of the narration, the queen Semen Ruh again raised her eyes and enquired if the poor fellow ever recovered his own form. The drums were immediately ordered to be beat for joy. Ansar Shah expressed the proudest gratitude to the
Sheik and his disciples and they all said by the blessing of God the queen would certainly recover from her malady.
When the servant of Gheti Afroz saw that Melech Mahommed was transformed into an ass, they took sticks and beat him and drove him out of the apartments of the queen.
"God a mercy," thought he. "What an unlucky job is this I have brought on my own head. What shall I do now, or what scheme I fall upon?" Having no other resource, he trudged off to the city and, coming to his uncle’s house, attempted to enter. The Chobolans presently saluted him with their cudgels and, having thrashed him well, drove him away. It was then he felt all the disgrace of his ass’s shape and being quite at a loss to which hand to turn himself, he consoled himself with the idea that—
Whatever by a friend is thrown
Is lucky, be it stick or stone.
He then took the road to his own house, when who should he encounter but his own servants again, who ran for sticks to beat him. But there the ass had the heels of them, and scampering nimbly into his own house he tumbled
directly into his bed.
"By all that is wonderful," said the servants. "This can be nobody but our master and love has made an ass of him as it oft has done of many good men. Who ever heard of an ass going to bed? Aye, it can be nobody but our master. He would not mind what his uncle told him." They then proceeded to inform him of the indignation of his uncle at his infamous conduct and that he had taken a solemn oath never to pity him though he should die. The doleful ass showed by his mumping that he knew their meaning. Day passed after day, but no remedy came for the poor ass.
At last his servants said, "It is true the old curmudgeon will have no pity on him but yet it is fit that we should try what can be done." They set out in a body to Danish Bait and told him that his nephew was again transformed, and transformed into an ass too. The vizir was quite ashamed at the account and reviled him bitterly.
"No," said he, "though the soul should go out of his unlucky