Facsimile and Transcript
carcass I will have nothing to do with him. Let him wear his ass hide to the end of time, till death strip it over his ears." The servants of Melech Mahommed were quite nonplussed and returned all in the dumps to their master the ass. Finding there was no remedy, he resigned himself to fate like an ass of patience—
Disasters on my head let fall
Thy humble slave shall bear them all
And unrepiningly submit
To all Majestic power deems fit.
Nine weary months he remained in this situation, and all the while his uncle made not the least enquiry after him.
The visit of King Anu Shah to the Place of the Peries
It happened by chance one night that Anu Shah, King of that country, was carousing on the terraced roof of his places when the Perizadis with the sound of mirth and exquisite music appeared on the face of the sky; strange and splendid company such as had never else been seen. He beheld Gheti Afroz in splendid array seated on a throne composed of a single polished jacinth, a vizir beautiful as the Moon
with the flowing goblet passing and repassing before her. Anu Shah was inflamed with love at her aspect.
"What a wonderfully charming place," said he, "it must be the residence of these Perizadis. Their charms would render any place quite delightful. I wonder if it possible for a person to form an acquaintance with them."
"Who fails of that fares the better," said Danish Bait, "for they never fail some way or other to ruin the person that has any intercourse with them. They generally conclude by changing him into some animal, and he is lucky man that ever recovers his own form."
"Amusing enough, to be sure," said the King, "but the question is how to get acquainted with them."
Said another vizir, who owed a sort of grudge to Danish Bait: "Of all the men in the world, nobody is so well acquainted with them as his own nephew who has visited them a hundred times and could tell you all about them had they not out of pure good will and friendship lately changed him into an ass."
"Oh send for him, by all means," said the Shah. "I long to hear what account he gives of them.”
Danish Bait, who during the narration was ready to sink into the ground for perfect shame, protested and swore that he has never had a nephew in existence.
“Poh” said the shah, “be done with your nonsense, and bring him instantly here, or I shall be quite indignant.”
Danish Bait saw that all his asseverations gained no credit and, fearful of provoking the prince, he was forced to trudge off to his nephew’s house. The poor ass, who had long been moping sadly about, no sooner saw his uncle than he made him an awkward bow and attempted to resign his place to him. Danish Bait, with great indignation, told him the place of an ass was fit only for an ass and began to revile him in the bitterest torn.
“Abominable, worthless animal,” said he, “Did not I tell you to what a black end you would bring yourself? It is not enough for you to bring ruin on your own head, but you must bring irretrievable disgrace on every person connected with you. I have now left you to wear your ass’s hide for 9 months to see if it be possible to make you feel your own disgrace. And now, though you ought to be left to die in that pretty figure you cut, come along instantly
for King Anu Shah wishes to hear the history of this pretty amour of yours, which gave you so much satisfaction. Bring a halter youth,” said he to the servants, “So that we may teach him to relish the sweetness of love.”
They bound a halter round the neck of the helpless ass and led him out of the door. Danish Bait mounted his horse and ordered them to drive him on before them so that everybody might see an idiot in his true shape. Melech Mahommed took it all with patience, thinking it less than he deserved to pay for his folly.
When Danish Bait, however, had proceeded a few paces, he began to pity his situation: “Though he is but an ass at best, though he bears my nephew’s name, and people would not,it would be well done of me to carry him to court in this situation.” He therefore turned out of the public road and when he came to his own house, he sent the eunuch Cafoor to bring the box of medicine. He found it nearly empty.
“Bring water,” cried he, “An ass must by all means fill his belly.” He diluted what remained of the medicine and poured it down the throat of the ass which immediately took a
couple of skips. Melech Mahommed recovered his own form. Clothes were brought to him and, after he had dressed himself, they mounted on horseback and proceeded to pay their devoirs to the Shah.
The Shah, quite impatient, no sooner set eyes on Melech Mahommed then he asked how he came to quit the society of the Perizadis.
“Oh,” said Danish Bait, “they were too clever for him. It is one the slightest of their tricks to change a man into an ass. By the same token has this hopeful nephew of mine been one for these 9 months.”
“Ass or dog,” said Melech Mahommed, “It is all too little to drive the pleasure of a single interview with them out of a person’s head.”
After a full and particular account of all his adventures, Anu Shah requested him to carry a message to Gheti Afroz.
“For when” said he, “can we find so proper a messenger as you who have so much frequented their society?” Of all things in the world this was what Melech Mahommed most ardently desired, for he saw he should now have the sanction of both the king and the court, whereas he had formerly been
obliged to slink off without his uncle’s knowledge or permission.
The Shah’s message was couched in these terms: “Princess, it is now some time since you have taken up your residence in the confines of my territories, but notwithstanding my ardent desire of your society, you have never afforded me an opportunity of indulging it. We have been neighbours a long while. Why should we not live on terms of intimacy or at least as visiting acquaintance? I am extremely desirous of such an intercourse and if you will give me leave, I propose shortly to have an hour’s conversation with you and to take a look at the wonders of your Palace.”
Melech Mahommed set off with speed and quickly arrived at the door of the Palace of the Peries. He called out, “Open to the faithful Melech Mahommed. The door was instantly opened. He entered and saw Gheti Afroz sitting on the brink of the basin of water.”
As soon as she saw him, she cried, “Come away, you are welcome. I have long been thinking of you. See, here is your place, still vacant.” And with the most affectionate tenderness, she placed him by her side. She immediately ordered wine to be brought in to drive away the memory of
past sorrows. After they had quaffed several goblets, she asked him when he recovered his own form. Melech Mahommed answered in the words of the poet:
“Impassioned love that once consigned
My nown a jest to all mankind
Woe all my mistress left to me
Between my soul and misery”10
“But all that has befallen you has happened through your own impatience,” said the Princess. “What can a man expect who is devoid of self-command?”
While they were still conversing on the subject, a tremendous menacing noise was heard from the sky. Suddenly, a host of Perizadis filled the whole air. A Perizada in the confidence of Ansar Shah entered the palace and after due obeisance announced: “This is the order of Ansar Shah. If Gheti Afroz with due respect immediately surrender herself before us, she is permitted to see the light of our countenance. If she refuses, I will order her to be brought in fetters. This our order.”
Gheti Afroz cast her eyes down on the ground and remained silent. Melech Mahommed now began to recollect the message of the Shah, which the caresses of his mistress had
driven quite out of his memory.
“Princess,” said he. “I ought to have delivered a message, which I bring you from King Anu Shah. He has been seized with a violent longing for your society and is anxious to obtain your acquaintance. He says you have lived a long time in his vicinity without taking any notice of him and asks why you and he should not be better acquainted. And now, if he can obtain your permission, he proposes to pay you a visit of ceremony.”
Gheti Afroz said, “Very good. The same idea has often occurred to myself, but its execution has always been deferred from time to time. Enjoy the feast and quaff the wine till I have dismissed this Perizada when I will give you an answer.”
Then turning to the Perizada, she said: “Has Ansar Shah no sense of pride that he will still persist in teasing me with messages? Are not the harshness of my answer and the ignominious manner which I dismissed the Vizir sufficient to convince him that I have completely renounced his allegiance? He is provoked by my conduct and I am full of resentment of him. Go. This is your answer. If Asar Shah be inclined to send his host against me tell him to do it quickly
and he shall quickly see how black a day shall dawn upon their heads.”
When the Peri saw that this key would open the coffin, he departed to report his success to Asar Shah. No sooner was he gone than Melech Mahommed passionately clasped her round the neck and attempted to snatch a kiss. But tossing his arm, she forwardly rejected his caresses, saying, “There is a time for everything. There is an end of the head hacks and heart burnings you constantly cause me.”
Melech Mahommed desisted and said with some peevishness, “Why should you turn your resentment on me? Is it my reward for presenting you with two such fine jewels to hear such a speech from your lips. “
Gheti Afroz replied with bitterness, “Do you think I value your jewels? Of what worth are they to me?” And she immediately ordered Ruh Afza to bring some tables entirely set out with jewels. Ruh Afza went to the treasurer and ordered him to bring in several tables of jewels arranged in the manner of lustres together with the jewels of Melech Mahommed. Gheti Afroz in an angry tone said, “There are your jewels take them away with as many others as you please.”
Melech Mahommed looked up and saw that the whole house was illuminated with the brilliancy of the precious stones as when the sun emerges from the darkness of night. Every jewel seemed to out-value the riches of the whole world and, in comparison with their splendor, his own seemed quite devoid of brilliancy.
“What an arch blockhead” thought he, “to have offended Gheti Afroz for such a trifle.”
An hour passed away and the princess did not condescend to look on the side of the house where he was. Melech Mahommed then bent down his eyes on the ground and began to weep and wail bitterly till at last the princesses was melted and began to be sorry for the words she had uttered.
“Melech Mahommed,” said she, “how would you find in your heart to speak to me so unkindly and now you are like to break your heart at the harsh speech which you yourself provoked.”
“Ah! What luckless fate is mine
Doomed mid untasted joys to pine
Ah, who could dream that cruel pride
Should on that charming lip reside
Bitterness and gall have chased
The ripe, the rich pistachios’ taste”
features of Gheti Afroz relaxed and with a tender smile, she cast her arms round the neck of Melech Mahommed and kissed his check. Mutual caresses soon expelled the rust and canker of resentment from their hearts and Gheti Afroz added, “Let us quite forget what each of us said, for affection is sickened by such hasty discourse.”
Melech Mahommed felt a painful sense of obligation at the least token of affection and was quite ashamed of her tenderness.
Gheti Afroz then observed to him, “But you are a messenger at present. You must return and gratify the wish of King Anu Shah and tell him from me that I am extremely rejoiced that it is the inclination of the Shah to illuminate with the light of his presence this dark and paltry cottage of mine. Observe, however, that I shall only permit three persons to enter my palace. Let one of these be the Shah, another Danish Bait, and the third a poor silly sweetheart of mine whom you know.” Gheti Afroz then called the cooks of her household and ordered them to prepare a thousand dishes of every various kind.
“What need of such formidable preparations for only three guests?” asked Melech Mahommed.
The princess replied, “It is true I have only
invited three guests into my palace, but the Shah may station his whole army outside. But pray,” said she, “What is the number of the Shah’s army?”
He answered, “Eighty thousand.”
“Prepare eighty thousand dishes,” said the princess.
He replied, “That is quite extravagant, a great deal less will be sufficient.”
Impatient of contradiction, she immediately ordered them to make ready a hundred thousand dishes. She directed her cooks to provide themselves with materials and to take care to be rather abundant than scanty in their preparations. She then wrote to conciliate her father and informed her brothers that she would shortly present himself in her father’s court, but on the sole condition that in the interval she should not be teased by messengers.
“At present,” said she, “I have engaged my promise to receive ceremonious visit from King Anu Shah and am now busied in preparing the entertainment. I am quite anxious to enjoy the pleasure of your society, but yet it is proper to respect the dignity of a sovereign. For this cause I entreat you to send me Meher Anglez and Shok Anguz with two companies of musicians and
dancers to entertain the monarch with suitable respect. They shall be sent back at the close of the entertainment of Ansar Shah. Grant this favor to his daughter and she will be ever bound to him in all devotion.”
The letter was dispatched by one of her confidential servants and, in an instant, was presented with due respect at the Durbar of Ansar Shah.
Ansar Shah read the letter and, in fury, tore it to pieces. “Musicians and dancers,” said he, “I will not send her so much as one hair for a day.” The messenger of Gheti Afroz wished herself only safety out of their presence, but the elder brother of the princess felt all his affection for her revive and, kneeling before his father ,he began to petition for his sister: “To incur blame is the forte of the inferior, but to pardon offenses is the glory of the superior.
If Justice vengeful that a fault is done
All due protection in her worth outrun
Which canst thou say will deeper blame deserve
Who errs himself or bids the law to swerve
Gheti Afroz has no doubt behaved improperly, but as she hopes for pardon from the generosity of the Shah, she was ashamed to raise her voice in his presence.
He honours not the Lord of day
Who lauds the brilliance of his ray
Nor shall disgrace accuse from him
Who says that motes in sunbeams swim
No speck can dim the rays divine
That round the sun of impere shine11
But since so noble a personage as King Anu Shah is to be her guest, it is probable that she may have made proud promises and that the expectation of every eye is turned upon her. To disappoint her at this time by frustrating her promise would be to cover her with indelible disgrace. Anu Shah too would perhaps say Ansar Shah refuses to grant you the musicians and performances so you falsely boasted of what you could not perform. Now there can be no doubt but that she has expected from your generosity that the performers with their musical instruments arrayed
in rich garments and adorned with splendid jewels would be sent at her request.”
Ansar Shah perceived that what her brother proposed was nothing more than reasonable, but he answered haughtily, “She has turned her back on me and associated herself with the face of man. God grant that in her life no pleasure may come of it.”
All this the messenger of Gheti Afroz heard but said nothing. In short, after some altercation, Ansar Shah directed his son to deliver the two persons required with the companies of musicians too.
“Messenger, send them off,” said he, “to that unhappy girl and let her keep them and let me never see their face again.”
The messenger made prostration and the two Peris departed and, in the twinkling of an eye, arrived in the presence of Gheti Afroz. Gheti Afroz was greatly delighted when:
Sweet maiden’s sugar-lipped advance
Skilled to weave the merry dance
On their heads, their veils they throw
O’er there backs their tresses flow
Their raven locks in ringlets twine
Amid them countless jewels shine
Plump their forms; each slender waist
Seems too small to be embraced
Gheti Afroz, after their arrival, requested Melech Mahommed to present her respects to the Shah and to tell him that she expected him. With all host at the end of three days, Melech Mahommed returned with speed to the court of King Anu Shah, who was expecting him with extreme impatience. The Shah enquired what answer he brought.
Melech Mahommed replied, “May the life of the king be long and prosperous. She received your message with many expressions of pleasure and she hopes at the end of three days to be able to receive you with suitable respect. She, however, requests that her intimate guests may be only there: your Majesty Danish Bait and your servant. But all your host may pitch their tents without the place and sent down in rank and file to the banquet.”
Anu Shah was highly delighted and could hardly prevail on himself to wait for the expiration of the three days.
He often caught himself repeating:
“Tomorrow ah the thought with sweet
Tomorrow with my love to meet
A night without a moon like that
Was never seen by man Iwis.”
When the three days were nearly expired, Melech Mahommed, who was as impatient as Anu Shah, proposed to visit Gheti Afroz and bring intelligence in what state her preparations were. He took horse and quickly arrived at her residence. As he entered, he observed that the garden, the doors, and the walls of the palace were all adorned in the most incomparable style —
The groves of Irem fanned as long
In many an Eastern poets song
Where spicy fragrance filled the air
Could never with these groves compare
In the garden, he saw Gheti Afroz seated on a splendid golden throne of gold looking so lovely and so charming that her lover was ready to resign his soul.
As soon as she saw him she cried, “Come away! Come away. How do you like my preparations? I am happy to show them to you first.” She then asked what news of Anu Shah.
He replied, “The eyes of the kings are constantly fixed on the road to your palace.
As he who with attentive ear
awaits the crier’s voice to hear
announced that fasting days expire
So sits Shah with keen desire
His eager eyes incessant roam
Towards the portals of your dome”
Gheti afroz said, “Let him come with all possible speed.”
Melech Mahommed instantly returned to the court of the Shah and reported that his presence was expected.
Anu Shah ordered his drums to beat and trumpets to play and his army to assemble. He then dressed himself in the sabif of a cavalier and ordered his harsemer to blow their bugles.
So loud the shrilling bugles play
That hearts of warriors melt away
By brazen drums resounding hoarse
The sun is startled in his course
The Marshals in every street arranged the army numerous as the waves of the ocean and, when the whole was completed, the Shah mounted on horseback. A poet thus described his steed:
On a course swift and strong
He like a tempest rushed along
Swift as the breeze the fiery horse
Yet smooth as water in its course
Like nighting glanced his rapid feet
The perizdi race to meet
His twinkling ears at every prance
Like daggers in his front advance
White as the Sumbals living mows
His man wide on the breezes flows
His footsteps like the lapse of time
No ear can catch their falling chime12
Having mounted on horseback, the cavalcade proceeded to the place of the Peries. When Melech Mahommed struck the ring, instantly the door was opened. The Shah, having arranged his host in order and directed them to pitch their tents without, entered the palace along with Danish Bait. There, they encountered Ruh afroz, who came with certain Perizadis to salute him at his entrance. When the eyes of the Shah fell on Ruh Afra he was astonished at her beauty.
Sudden before his dazzled eyes
He saw a lovely charmer rise
Sweet as the soft Narcissus flower
Beneath her Beauty’ss tyrant power
Bound in her ringlets cruechain
Hosts of lovers wift in vain
The Shah was quite captivated by her charms
and enquired if this was Gheti afroz.
Melech Mahommed replied, “This is only Ruh Afza, her cupbearer, and one of the meanest of her attendants. If the damsel herself be willing, the princess will give her to you in a present.”
“That,” said the Shah, “would be the summit of happiness. For in heart and soul I am quite enamored with the fair.” Ruh Afza took the hand of the Shah and conducted him into the garden. Nothing could express his astonishment at the view. Its gates and walls were entirely composed of jacinth and turquoise rubies and emeralds, pearls, rock, crystal, and every species of precious stone. The carpets were of velvet golden tissue and silk spregged and flowered and of an indigo colour. Damsels fair as the silver moon were stationed in every avenue with wines of every kind and goblets formed of a single emerald, while the choicest sweetmeats were piled on trays with gold. In every avenue was placed a throne formed of sandal and aloes wood adorned with splendid carpets and, on every bough, were perched parrots and parroquets of harmonious voices opening